Is it better to use Checkboxes or Radio Buttons, when there are two or more fields and at least one of them must be filled out to pass validation?

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My concern comes to the validation errors that will show after the user clicks save with each of the two control types at their default state.

The Checkbox validation would be: "At least one Identification Type is Required. Whereas the Radio Buttons validation would be "Social Security Number is Required".

Are there any best practices for situations where users can enter both options but only one must be entered to pass validation?

  • 1
    Is it of any business benefit or user benefit for a user to make a user enter more than one option? For example, identification type.
    – Mike M
    Commented Jul 20, 2017 at 16:22
  • A user can be two types, (a vendor and an employee). So they have two identities in the system. So in this case the user entering this information might want to tie a SSN and EIN to them.
    – L. Lemmer
    Commented Jul 20, 2017 at 16:31
  • Might be useful to add something like "Check all that apply" to the label, if you go the checkbox route.
    – Tieson T.
    Commented Jul 21, 2017 at 18:39

1 Answer 1


Is there a reason for them to have an option to choose 'BOTH' if only one is required to pass validation?

For a user, all forms are an obstacle standing in the way of their goal. Make it as easy as possible for them to complete. Why make more work for them to enter more data than necessary to meet your business requirements?

For mutually exclusive choices, stick to radio buttons.

Using checkboxes means you have to explain more.

Users may easily miss your hint text telling them that they must choose at least one if you use checkboxes. With a radio button the choices they must make are on the label itself.

  • Do you see a possibility of user error if we use radio buttons? Say they get the validation "SSN is Required"... so they fill out SSN just to pass the validation, when EIN would have been the better option of the two.
    – L. Lemmer
    Commented Jul 20, 2017 at 16:39
  • @L.Lemmer But surely the validation should be "Identification Type Required"?
    – user101673
    Commented Jul 20, 2017 at 22:05
  • Saying "Identification type is Required" might make it more clear that the user can select any of the options. Rather than with Radio Buttons seeing the default option that is selected is Required. I'm also concerned about making the choice for what the default option should be with using Radios.
    – L. Lemmer
    Commented Jul 21, 2017 at 13:02

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