I have a HTML form that is used to modify preexising values. Thus on load values are prepopulated and upon submission, a check is made so that a confirmation message could be shown upon change.

We are currently not putting values in HTML placeholder attributes. Even if we do, we're not going to benefit from their general pragmatics, because the values will not be shown. However, for my UI logic, I would like to store initial/default values somewhere in the front-end and intuitively, the placeholder attribute sounds like a good opportunity to do so.

Could you think of any semantic arguments for or against using the placeholder attribute to store the initial values? I would mostly like hlp with a systematic overview of arguments, but individual strong arguments would also be highly appreciated.

  • Are the values you load unique? Usually placeholder is an explanation of the label, an explanation of the input. The value is what the user or the system enters into the input. You want to put values in the placeholder instead of explanations? How are you using them in your UI?
    – moot
    Commented Sep 18, 2018 at 13:29
  • Yes, it is unique values, representing the entity that is loaded to possibly be modified. The form itself is unique in the sense that it represents a unique entity. Thus if one removes a value, would see the original value as a placeholder. My intended implicit semantic would be along the lines "what would the new value be given that the old one is ..." A sidenote: I do have a dedicated "reset values" button so the placeholder does not serve the user to recover values.
    – mapto
    Commented Sep 18, 2018 at 15:15

1 Answer 1


A very strong argument against using the placeholder attribute to store default values is that there is already another property with the intended semantics: defaultValue. Notice the difference between attributes and properties, which stems from HTML DOM, but is explained very well for the purposes of jQuery.

Just on the side, I've also had negative feedback from our testers who considered it confusing to users.

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