I have a form with some fields with optional data that comes from a list of options.

I've build a modal with a list of options the user needs to choose that is opened once the user clicks on the field:

enter image description here

The first line (-- null--) is in fact a "NONE OPTION", where the user is choosing none of the options.

This list is used in both situations:

a. The user opens a new form and he clicks on the field, this modal is opened, he clicks in the field to choose a option. He may choose one of the options or decide to quit with no options (he can do it by clicking on the modal close as well)

b. The user has choosen already an option in a previous interaction with the field, but wants to change. He can change to a new option (by choosing it on the list) or he may decide to have no options. At that point, if he clicks on the modal close, he will keep the existing option. So, I've added the "NONE" option (--null--) in order to let him choose none of then and bring the field back to empty.

I'm really in a doubt is this is the correct way to do it and need to grab some ideas on how to "reset" this field. I cannot add buttons to the form, so the solution must be in the modal itself.

Should I keep a text (in example --null--). If so, what would be the best term to use ("None of below", "None", "No option") ? Should I keep an empty line? Any other options?


2 Answers 2


I wouldn't use the word "null" because it potentially has technical meanings that you don't intend. I'd use "None" or "Other". The dashes are fine to indicate that it's a different type of option than the others and to keep it at the top of the list. It's also reasonable to just have a blank spot at the top of the list.

However, if possible, I'd avoid drop-down boxes:

  • Drop-down boxes that auto populate tend to be slow.

  • Too many options are tedious to scroll through and select, especially when it's a repetitive data entry task. For example, when typing in customer addresses, nearly everyone knows the two-letter state/province code for where they live. Or with zip code, both city and state can be inferred. It's pointless to have drop-down boxes with 50-60 options. Then having to use that drop-down customer after customer?

  • They looks like textboxes. If users can type whatever they want, is there really any need for a "null" option. It's especially confusing when users can type whatever they want, but it ends up getting replaced with some option from the list.

  • If choices are predefined, what is the meaning of the "null" option?

Drop-down boxes do have their place. Just make sure it's the most appropriate interface for your needs. You might consider a plain selection box (no drop-down).


'None' should be an absolutely fine option provided it is visible at the top. One way to keep this option at the top is to contain it within parenthesis as '(None)'. This will automatically display it at the top and make it look different from the rest, assuming special characters are not being used in the rest of the options and that this option is a part of the actual list.

Alternatively, you can provide a clear icon (x) on the right of the field when an option is selected.

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