In a form indicating which fields are required are often indicated by a asterisk (*). How should I indicate that a column in an editable table contains required fields?

One of the options is to add a * to the top of the column:


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I haven't seen this solution before, but I can imagine that this is clear to users.

Or use an asterisk on each row, to make it clear that each field is required:


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This appears to clutter the view and doesn't really add much to the first solution. So far I think the first solution is better, how to indicate required fields in a table?

2 Answers 2


Style guides of the main operating systems don't include a standard for what you are requesting. Despite this, it's a good practice to use resources that can be familiar to users. Your first option uses the asterisk in the header, a field label equivalent, so it's quite similar to its regular use and would be my personal choice.

The second option would be equivalent to placing the asterisk in a field, something unusual that could lead to confusion (it seems part of the "answer").

Strengthen the asterisk by color can be interesting too. Anyway, you should avoid relying solely on color to avoid accessibility problems.

  • +1 thanks for mentioning the accessibility. I wouldn't opt for the color coding also because it usually indicates a validation error after the values have been entered and not a mandatory field. Commented Apr 22, 2013 at 16:19

Color coding the fields while in editable mode might be a solution without cluttering up the UI, use a color transition as soon as the the user tries to update something that is not valid. Maybe RED might be your friend.

  • 5
    Colors as the only visual cue is often a bad idea because of color blindness. Colors in combination of other cues, like an icon, is a more common approach. Commented Apr 22, 2013 at 16:19
  • That's a great point.
    – edocetirwi
    Commented Apr 22, 2013 at 16:57

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