What's a good tone of voice to help users while completing forms? See labels in the examples below.

I'm thinking of either a...

  • very compact '0/200 characters' to indicate their total number of characters added.
  • more 'human like' phrase telling users how many characters they have left.
  • No help labels at all.

enter image description here

The first one leaves more space while the other might be a bit 'friendlier'. However, both could come across like a requirement. Users can leave an optional field empty.

What's your experience? Or do you have any research that might support this?


  • 2
    Tone of voice is generally set out in corporate guidelines and is dependant on the audience you're trying to talk to. If you don't have this information or anyone who understands the audience to that degree then it's probably worth carrying out some research to find out what other systems/products your audience is using and which ones they feel are easiest to understand. Apr 25, 2017 at 8:36
  • @AndrewMartin +1 I think this is a very good answer and should be presented as such.
    – Michael Lai
    Apr 25, 2017 at 22:31
  • 1
    @MichaelLai Thanks for the support but I didn't present it as an answer because it doesn't really answer the question. it's more of a comment that might help the OP understand the context of the problem a little more. They specifically ask for a binary answer (A or B) with research to support and my comment meets neither of those criteria. - Although I do find that UX problem solving is often a case of understanding which is the right question to ask. Apr 26, 2017 at 7:59

2 Answers 2


The tone should be similar to the tone of your application. In the case of forms, I would try to show the simpler version, so that it delivers the message easier.

Stack overflow uses "x characters left"

stack overflow

And twitter uses a countdown of characters


I really like the way that stack overflow delivers the message because it seems friendlier, but with focusing on the information. So if you got to choose between your 1st and the 2nd version, I would go for the 1st, because it focuses on the information.


It is very important to provide personalized tone of voice in forms as it helps users to enter correct form details. It becomes very important when user is exposed to enter long form details as the user at point lost the context of what he/she is filling.

When you help a user to enter correct details, you also help him/her to save time.

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