When a user is asked to fill in a text area box will the quantity of text that user inputs be affected in any way by the size of the text area?

Are there any studies of this?

Smaller text area


Bigger text area

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3 Answers 3


Size of the field (width and height) signals to the user what is expected. Think of width for DD_MM_YYYY input fields. If your field is to narrow in height, it will probably lead user to leave less text than if it was bigger in height.
Havent been able to find studies but hypothesis seems clear.
You can affect desired user input with microcopy also https://uxplanet.org/how-to-introduce-guiding-microcopy-in-forms-94dc44444c9d


Text input fields are ideally sized to let the user see as much of their input as possible. Starting with adequate default sizes and allowing the user to expand the field are good practices.

UXPlanet has some more tips on text fields.

  • Hello, Thank you for the answer but it is not related to my question. I was asking how and if it affects users to give out more or less words because they were influenced by the size of the input box
    – Chris
    Commented Feb 13, 2020 at 6:16
  • In Donald Norman's "The Design of Everyday Things", he discusses affordances and signifiers, which communicate what something does and how it wants the user to interact with it. For example, the handles on Push and Pull doors. Textbox size can be a signifier to a user for how much content is ideal (single-line fields tell the user to enter shorter answers than multi-line fields.) I'd start with those concepts if you need to make an argument for an ideal field size.
    – Izquierdo
    Commented Feb 18, 2020 at 22:18

There is no doubt that it would affect some users, especially if it the application is asking for input that can have a large range of variation (e.g. what do you think about something).

These days, it is actually very common to see the use of other signals and hints to help the user understand the expectation of the input (e.g. char limit), although in most cases free text fields have the expectation for the users that it will be free or subject to the amount of text they want to provide - unless otherwise stated.

As with everything in UI and interaction design, context is the key so if you are asking questions that would seem to require a lengthy answer but you provide a small space, it might be expected that this area will expand (e.g. scroll when you reach the end). On the other hand, if it is a simple question that doesn't require a length response and you provide a large space, it gives the impression that you don't really pay attention to the user experience.

You can find studies and recommendations from the NNg group relating to form field design such as this article: https://www.nngroup.com/articles/web-form-design/

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