For a form, I want to accept a list of text inputs (e.g. "what baby names do you like?"). It's not a multi-select situation because there is not list of default values (the user could make up unknown baby names).

I could put a text input, and a "+" button nearby so they can add more text boxes. But requires some implementation.

I could show a single text input and tell the user to enter a comma-separated list. It's really easy implementation-wise, but obviously not as good a user experience as typing separate answers in separate boxes.

Is there a good and/or standard way to handle this situation?

(StackExchange has an example of this type of thing with their "Tags" list when asking a question, but they have a list of expected values which should be used in general.)

2 Answers 2


A + button does not only require implementation but also requires (for most people)

  • mouse move to the button
  • mouse click on the button
  • mouse move back to the textfield
  • mouse click on the textfield

I consider that as too much effort for the user.

While I have seen all kinds of data separation, including space and comma, I personally don't like it.

  • Spaces in this context may not make sense at all, if you allow multiple names, e.g. German "Hans Peter" or "Karl Heinz".
  • Commas are easy to miss. They only have a few pixels

Considering all this, I'd say a clean approach would be to use newlines. It looks nice like a list, it's a clear separation, it's easy to understand and does hardly require any effort except typing the word.


Lucas Carl
Samantha Martine

To minimize users' physical (+ pressings) and cognitive (mental) efforts, you can try the approach:


download bmml source – Wireframes created with Balsamiq Mockups


  • The list of most popular names (according to stats data) allows choice, instead of typing
  • Pre-defined list is based on stats, so it can work quite well for average user
  • Text area allows manual entry, and placeholder shows the format

Con: Users' input can be biased, as you provide pre-defined list of options

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