we have developed a search engine , as usual the search box works without having to click an extra button , once the user enter's the search query and press enter, the result is shown.

Now, my search text-box has both numerical and string searching ability in a single text-box.

Question is, what is the best way to represent to the user? so that he knows he can search both number and a string as a single search query?. My default would be this "5466 or stack" , but is looks too casual and i don't think it conveys much of a meaning to users.

  • 1
    I'm honestly not sure why you need to represent this. I've never heard of "number search" really, I can't imagine why/how it would function separately from character searches, or why users would assume they could only use letters XOR numbers but not both; it's extremely standard that search boxes use both with no differentiation. – Ben Brocka Jun 2 '12 at 12:40
  • @BenBrocka you are right, search will generally represent both. But, i have a special case where users need to be specified that they can search both. Users are technically not that good :) – sree Jun 2 '12 at 15:04
  • Do the numbers have any special significance? Are they maybe product identifiers or dates? – Peter Jun 28 '13 at 11:11

You could look at doing it interactively.

When the user clicks on the search field to enter text, have the instruction fade in below the text box in a different colour, like green, that says something straightforward like "search with numbers or letters".

That way it won't be too casual and it will never get in the way of your UI, but best of all, it reveals itself when relevant.

  • Yes i think this is one other good technique.. – sree Jun 2 '12 at 10:10

Are you doing number search for some records, e.g. user types 2 and you find articles that have 2 comments? Or are you just matching to strings with numbers? If it is the later I don't think users distinguish between "number" or "string", it is all just text so I don't think any tip is necessary. If you actually matching the records that you could provide an inline tip (disappears when the first character is typed) or include information in the label or as @Adriann suggest a dynamic tip.


enter image description here

  • my search string could either be a number or a string.. – sree Jun 2 '12 at 10:10

I think you should use a place holder text with some real example.

You can check the search used by http://www.smashingmagazine.com/

smashingmagazine search

Note: Just consider the way placeholder text "e.g. Responsive design"

  • am currently using same method , but am looking forward for something different.. – sree Jun 2 '12 at 10:11


download bmml source – Wireframes created with Balsamiq Mockups

  • yes this is what @adriann suggested back tir.... +1 for the efforts though.... – sree Jun 2 '12 at 15:06

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