When the username for a service is an email address should the field be called 'username' or 'email'?

6 Answers 6


Call it the email address. It's unambiguous.

A user returning to your service will always remember their email. They may not remember if they configured a special username, however.

  • 18
    Agreed. It should be called what it is. I hate services that ask me for username, I try to type in my first name, then my first name + last name and then my Twitter handle that I use as a default username everywhere just to learn they want my e-mail address. Commented Dec 10, 2012 at 22:08
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    To add to what @Mariusz observed, my question was motivated by a website with a field labeled username and some additional text saying "your username is your email address". As a user it took me a few ticks of remembering my username then noticing the extra text. I was asking to see if it was a stupid user or a less than ideal design.
    – Freiheit
    Commented Dec 10, 2012 at 22:43
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    I think something like Username (email): is OK.
    – wim
    Commented Dec 11, 2012 at 2:37
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    If you want them to login using an email address, call it that. I don't see what's so hard about that :| Commented Dec 11, 2012 at 11:03

If you want email, use email.

That said, I find that people tend to forget which email address they used to sign up. Many people have multiple email addresses. So you have to clarify what it is you're doing.

Here's how I solved it:

enter image description here

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    How do you solve for this at the login screen? This helps at the signup process but when I access your site a month later and have to log in, how am I to remember which email address I used?
    – Freiheit
    Commented Dec 11, 2012 at 16:05
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    Many people have multiple user names too. It doesn't help when you have to guess if they really mean user name or email. The issue is not during sign up, its during login.
    – n00b
    Commented Dec 11, 2012 at 16:25

Depending on the level of experience of your users, you may wish to be careful about how you ask. If you provide input boxes for "email address" and "password" then I wonder, if maybe there is a risk of some users providing their email and password.

It might also be good to give a suggestion somewhere on the page that this is a "new password for this website", for example something like - "for good security practice, we would encourage you to pick something different from your own email password".


When I come across a site where the label is username but I need to enter my email address it becomes a very frustrating user experience.

  • 1
    Try supporting this answer with specific examples and/or elaborate more. And yes, I agree: it is frustrating!
    – edgarator
    Commented Dec 11, 2012 at 21:20

The example you describe could happen during implementation of the back-end. The use case in question probably required the user to login using a "username of some kind". Either that, or the system it is built upon uses the term 'username' and the people who made the system decided that the username would be the users email address, but the front-end developers didn't get this spec when they where building the UI. Something along those lines...

To reduce confusion, you should really ask for what you want. A username is not necessarily an email, but an email is always an email. There are no good reasons to make a UI ambiguous so it should be presented as "email" in the UI.


You can get away with calling it username only if your form registers both an email address and a nickname, and both are valid as login names. Otherwise I'd fully agree @Jimmy Breck-McKye's advice.

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