I'm designing a web application where the user have to go through a lots of already fillec text fields (~50 a page, could be lots of pages) and must correct some of them and mark the other as "OK".

For the moment,

  • Tab allows to go to the next item
  • Typing text starts to edit the currrent text
  • And I need a shortcut that says "Validate that field and go to the next one". I thought about using something like the Ctrl key, as it is one of the only keys that is not used for entering text, but it seems strange to use Ctrl for validation...

Any thoughts/ideas?

[More details]

There are three possible actions for the user:

  • Editing the field and going to the next field (implied validation)
  • Not editing the field and going to the next field (not validated)
  • Not editing the field but validating it and jumping to the next one
  • Define validation ?
    – Mervin
    Commented Aug 22, 2012 at 8:46
  • Validation means "I read it, and that's Ok", and not I just read it (or using AndroidHustle solution would have been fine).
    – Rob
    Commented Aug 22, 2012 at 8:52
  • 50 text fields a page and how many pages?
    – Mervin
    Commented Aug 22, 2012 at 9:09
  • Up to 100 pages... Could be a lot of data
    – Rob
    Commented Aug 22, 2012 at 9:34
  • 2
    Ohhh! So the validation is performed by the user and not the application? Then I apologize, I thought the shortcut you described would trigger a system validation and not just the user checking "ok, I've looked at this input and it looks ok" Commented Aug 22, 2012 at 11:49

3 Answers 3


Given it's textfields and not textareas, I'd use:


Given the sheer amount of fields, and that it appears that mark-validated would be a frequent user action, you would like to provide a simple, easy to remember shortcut (so Ctrl-Alt-V would be a bad one).

A single key shortcut seems to be the way to go about this, but given the user is focused on a text field limits your options.

Modifier keys (Ctrl, Shift, etc.) are rarely used as shortcut alone, and if so most often it is done in a toggle fashion (so holding alt reveals passwords, releasing hides them).

With all that said, you are left with either Enter or the Fx Keys. Enter is often associated with 'confirm' action, which in your case is somewhat like the user saying 'I confirm this is validated'.

Enter is also dead-easy to remember. Given it's position on the keyboard, someone who wishes to quickly go through the fields will have left hand on tab, right hand on enter and will just go tab-tab-tab-enter-tab-tab-enter - seems pretty fun to me; definitely more fun that having to go tab-tab-tab-F1-tab-tab-F1 (with both hands around the same area of the keyboard).

  • OK, that's a suggestion, but why would you suggest this?
    – JonW
    Commented Aug 22, 2012 at 13:32
  • 2
    I've expanded my answer.
    – Izhaki
    Commented Aug 22, 2012 at 13:50
  • 1
    Great, thanks. Answers are always better when they include the reasoning behind the suggestions.
    – JonW
    Commented Aug 22, 2012 at 14:27

If there is validation to be done on every field that is edited I would suggest adding a BlurListener (listener that kicks in once the field loses focus) that validates the field. Automatically validating a field once it loses focus would be the way to go.

  • 1
    Thanks for your answer, but it doesnt work in this special case as the user can just get out of the field without validating it nor modifying it...
    – Rob
    Commented Aug 22, 2012 at 8:51
  • But you could catch if the field has been modified though? And in what scenario would a user put in data and chose not to have it validated, and why would it matter if the field is validated anyway? Commented Aug 22, 2012 at 9:25
  • I've answered in my questions -- thanks for pointing out the lack of details.
    – Rob
    Commented Aug 22, 2012 at 9:40

I suppose that amount of correct fields is greater than incorrect ones, so may be it is better to use any additional actions to mark unvalidated fields (if it is wrong supposition, or validation is an legal requirement — yes, user should make additional action to validate correct fields, not invalid).

If the field is edited, and user clicks «Tab» — it marks as validated (for instance, the border becomes green, the text — blue).

If the user sees that the field is incorrect, but can’t fill it with correct data, the user enters any simple shortcut, for instance Ctrl/Command - E, or Ctrl-Space/Cmd-Space (check for consistency in different OSes and countries, if it is not internal software). The border/font of this field may become red.

If the users sees that the field is correct, it simply jumps to another as he used to, and the border becomes green (or checkmark appears near it).

In any case, any often-used and correct user’s scenarios shouldn’t require any additional actions. And because this shortcut is used as basic tool for validating, it should be as simple as possible to press by one hand to form a stable reflex, but the particular combination is not very important, it simply should not interfere with other actions, so don’t affraid of “Ctrl” :)

P.S. Also it is good to make shortcut to go the next page. Maybe it can take place automatically, when user presses Tab in the last field.

  • Shortcut on the last field is something that wasnt done yet. Thansk for the reminder and the rest of the input.
    – Rob
    Commented Aug 23, 2012 at 10:24

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