Should a field display it's value in the title attribute (tooltip)?

For example, lets say we have a text input field and a select menu, both have a value that is fairly long, but the field width is smaller, resulting in truncated text. Also lets say the fields are disabled.

In this scenario, should I make it a practice to display the field's value in the title attribute so that the user can hover over it to see the full value?

I know without this for select menus, you can click it to see the full length, and inputs you can select the text, but this limits the user from being able to glance at it, also with disabled selects, you can't open the dropdown.

  • I would contend that tooltips still don't allow the user to glance at it, rendering that point moot. I still like the idea though - text inputs in particular can be annoying to read a long value in
    – Scoots
    Commented Jul 3, 2018 at 18:09

1 Answer 1


Generally it's better not to display a field value in a tool-tip.

If it's necessary it may indicate a bad design solution. When a field is disabled its actual value should not be important in the given context. When a value doesn't reasonably fit a control (e.g. a text field), it most likely indicates that the size of the control should be changed.

However, when a disabled field was already set by a user (or from some external source) and was made uneditable later on, it's alright to show its value in its tooltip since there is no other possibility to examine it.

When there is a number of disabled fields that a user may want to inspect, you should consider introducing a reporting facility (like exporting to a PDF document), rescuing your users from hovering over on every single field one by one.

If you'd like to provide some information about a disabled field for curious users, you can always do it by showing a tool-tip bubble with a clarification in a natural language, elaborating on the purpose of the field and what values it can hold.

  • The use case here is an assessment that is done yearly, users need to be able to open old assessments that are now locked (disabled fields) so they can't change anything, but it still allows them to see what was done at that time. A lot of the fields provided are open ended text inputs where we won't know how long the answer could be and can only adjust the size a certain amount.
    – BlueCaret
    Commented Jul 4, 2018 at 15:02
  • 1
    @BlueCaret, in that case it is perfectly fine to show the actual value of a locked field since otherwise the value cannot be examined, I will adjust my answer accordingly. Commented Jul 5, 2018 at 3:08

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