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I'm working on a web application, which I just received a request to make all input fields collecting currency data to be right aligned.

Is there a standard for collecting currency data in a web form that mention right aligning.

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It is worth noting that the number input type (<input type="number" />) is right aligned by default. –  cimmanon Jan 10 at 15:53
    
I was not aware of that input type. Thanks! –  sykespro Jan 10 at 19:32
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3 Answers 3

up vote 4 down vote accepted

The reason that currency is normally right-aligned has to do with scanability.

It's normal to right-align any numerical data that is going to be scanned in a column. This is so that when you scan visually down the page, you're always comparing the same digits in each number.

If they're left-alighed you get this problem:

1111  
12222  
166666

If you scan visually down the left edge of this figure, in the first row, you're looking at a glyph which represents thousands, in the second row a glyph which represents 10 thousands, and in the third row a glyph which represents 100 thousands.

These glyphs aren't directly comparable.

If the numbers are instead presented like this:

  1111  
 12222  
166666

Then as you look down from a glyph to the glyph below you'll find it's directly comparable.

Since this property isn't really important on a web form, arbitrarily right-aligning a currency field there would just be cargo-cult UX.

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If I'm correct Microsoft Excel aligns currency to the right of the table cell. The person requesting the aligned might be familiar with that program (as will a lot of people be).

If your target audience isn't that wide you could easily do some research to find out if your audience is familiar with Excel. If so, right aligning currency can trigger familiarity with your user and could even make them like your app more.

Other than that, it shouldn't really matter.

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This is correct. It's a small user base that's familiar with working in Excel. –  sykespro Jan 10 at 19:29
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I believe balance sheets and accounting sheets have currency right aligned. I would say it may be what people with experience in accounting are used to. I would just recommend from a usability perspective to make sure it doesn't mess the flow of the user's input. So if the user is entering information just fine and then has to adjust dramatically to a right alignment it may be something to look into. Just my two cents.

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