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So, I'm dealing with users who do not seem to care enough to enter their fields with proper spacing and in the right case.

For example John Harry Smith is entered as John harry smith or maybe even JOHN HARRY SMITH and Techno India, Salt Lake is entered as techno india,salt lake.

As I use this data to generate a printable registration card, it would look awful if I just left the strings as is. However, it is impossible to assume absolute title case because words in the string could indeed begin legally with a lowercase letter in some cases.

What would be a good way to deal with such strings?

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Is the number of registering users small enough that you can manually review them? I'm managing registration for a small event, and periodically scan the list, looking for out-of-place names (all caps and no caps), then editing them by hand. –  John Deters Mar 3 at 12:25

1 Answer 1

up vote 7 down vote accepted

There are two aspects here to consider :

  • You cannot always expect your users to provide perfect inputs : While there are ways to restrict users from making obvious mistakes like entering alphabetical characters in a number only field or entering a invalid email id, you cannot force users to use a specific format for everything as users will surely make mistakes and the more constraints you put on them, the slower would users complete the form and and become more frustrated possibly resulting in higher form abandonment.

Hence you could try to reduce the number of errors by formatting the strings to the format desired (Here is a solution you can potentially look at for autocapatilization ) and you can help your users by trimming out extra spaces between words and after words.

  • You can however assist your users by giving them inputs on how the text input should look like : You can provide some inline text which informs users how their inputs would be (but as stated above be forgiving of the fact that they might make mistakes) as shown below

enter image description here

Edit

I noticed that you mentioned that some legal names can be lower case and absolute upper case might not work. Hence the easiest approach to handle that would be allow the user to see a preview of the form details before submitting the form so that he can edit the details as needed. Alternatively you can do what Amazon and some other sites do where they provide the actual input versus the proposed input and ask the user to validate or confirm it.

enter image description here

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"entering alphanumeric characters in a number only field"... erm, you wanted to say alphabetic characters I believe... –  Bakuriu Mar 3 at 17:22
    
Not exactly, alphanumeric deals with both alphabets and letters so a string can have both though a numbers field will have only numbers –  Mervin Johnsingh Mar 3 at 17:23
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What I meant is that if I enter 123 into a number field I am entering alphanumeric characters; sure there is no letter there, but since digits are alphanumeric so is the whole string. If you wanted to provide an example of simple mistake you should have used alphabetic or simply not numeric. –  Bakuriu Mar 3 at 17:29
    
Valid point, I was thinking more on the lines of someone entering 123A453BC into the number field which makes it a alphanumeric entry and not just an alphabetical entry –  Mervin Johnsingh Mar 3 at 17:31
    
+1. Giving your users a chance to view their information exactly as it will be used for the registration cards gives them an opportunity to decide whether your suggested formatting (Title Case) is suitable for their content. If they choose to still keep lower case formatting at that point, you should keep their input, even if you think its improperly formatted. –  JDelossantos Mar 4 at 14:35

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