I work on a form, in which there are questions allowing either multiple choices or selecting just one. An example:

Which of the sweeties do you like:

  • [ ] chocolate
  • [ ] lollipops
  • [ ] cookies
  • ( ) none

In the above, [ ] represent checkboxes and ( ) represents radiobuttons. User can select multiple sweeties, but upon selecting "none" all the checkbox fields should be cleared, and vice versa: when "none" is selected, selecting any of the checkboxes should clear the radio in "none".

From UX perspective, is it ok to follow this way?


Just to clarify: "None" does not mean "none of the above". Instead, it means that user does not like sweeties at all. In other words: the options included as checkboxes are just a subset of all possible sweeties. User can choose one/multiple of the sweeties or select "none". One conclusion is that the form does not cover a situation when user likes other sweeties than the ones listed as options, so definitely the form should also include "Other, please specify:" field as well.


Ha! After 2 years I found it here:

User Experience Research Studies registration form

So at least I am not alone in my belief that this is the right way to do it.

  • 9
    why not just make the "none" option a checkbox and follow the same behaviour (clear all the other checkboxes when none is selected)?
    – Savv
    Apr 22, 2013 at 12:24
  • 3
    It is not typical for checkboxes to clear the other fields, that's why. But it is a concept anyway. Apr 22, 2013 at 12:36
  • 5
    @DominikOslizlo it's certainly not unheard of. For instance, there's often a 'all' option in checkbox lists, with the 'all' also being a checkbox that toggles the selection of the rest.
    – DA01
    Apr 22, 2013 at 15:50
  • 2
    Why do you even need the none option? It just adds complexity and is exactly the same as not having any checkboxes selected. Apr 22, 2013 at 19:38
  • 2
    This is not a Valid Question to begin with. You don't put check-boxes and ratio buttons in the answer. You could use two separate questions for each and if answer was "yes" for first answer, you ask the other depending upon that. Have a look at some properties of Question which make it valid or invalid. wiki.answers.com/Q/What_is_a_valid_question Apr 23, 2013 at 0:05

6 Answers 6


There should never be just one radio button, as it breaks the user's expectations on how they work. Radio buttons are meant to allow selection of one and only one item from a set of several radio buttons.

If you really want to use radio buttons, you could either go with this approach:

() I like the following sweeties:
  [] chocolate
  [] lollipops
  [] cookies
() I don't like sweeties.

Or you can change the "none" radio button to a "clear selections" button.

  • This is something I considered as well. From programming point of view it would be - probably - dealt with this way, just the first radio could be hidden so that there would be a list of checkboxes and one radio below. Apr 22, 2013 at 12:38
  • Ok, seems that this is the optimal solution. Thanks for your help, mates! Apr 22, 2013 at 16:40

The current option of check boxes and radio button in that layout is not a good choice. It looks confusing. There are a few ways you can handle this:

  • Split it into two questions: 1. Do you like sweeties? and if yes, then 2. What kind of sweeties do you like? If no, then move on to the next question.

  • Turn it into a dynamic/interactive question.

Do you like sweeties?

( ) Yes

( ) No

When the user clicks on Yes, you can have an accordion reveal or just pop down the subsequent options.


Do you like sweeties?

( ) Yes

...[ ] chocolate

...[ ] lollipops

...[ ] cookies

( ) No

  • Yes, both ideas are good, actually the second one is what I considered as an alternative. I didn't want to include too much dynamics in showing/hiding sections due to other reasons, anyway (a constraint which is bit complicated to explain...). Apr 22, 2013 at 16:33
  • 1
    @Dominik: Would disabling the checkboxes when the "no" radio button is selected (and automatically selecting "yes" if the user checks any box) be an acceptable alternative? That seems to be a fairly common user interface pattern, from what I've seen (which of course doesn't necessarily make it good, or suitable for your use case). Apr 22, 2013 at 20:22
  • Yes, it's one of the ways to go. It would not make the form 'float' upon selecting yes/no, just make some options unavailable. Apr 22, 2013 at 20:53

Ask yourself if the none option is really needed. Without it a user simply checks the sweeties he/she likes, or check none. To clear he/she unchecks them.

The wording could be Please check the sweeties you like.

A good thing of this solution is that it works also when javascript is disabled.

  • 1
    It's +1, as this answer would be perfect if only this was a little bit different form. In my case, the meaning of 'none' is, however, a bit deeper than 'none of the above'. It holds additional value, so the meaning is 'I don't eat any, neither the above not any other' so I believe the meaning would be a bit distorted by using this method. However, the rewording idea is good in this case. Apr 22, 2013 at 16:38

Trying some lateral thinking here, you say that "none" in your case really means "none of the above, and no others either". If so, couldn't you just invert the logic, getting rid of the "none" option and replacing with a checkbox labelled "other" (or even "other, please specify:", with a text field for free-form entry), like this:

Which sweeties do you like?
    [ ] chocolate
    [ ] lollipops
    [ ] cookies
    [ ] other: ____________________
  • "Other" is a good option to include, however "none" means something else in this case. Apr 22, 2013 at 20:49
  • 3
    @Dominik: What I meant is that, instead of having a "none of the above, and no others" option, you could instead have a "something else" option, so that leaving all the checkboxes including that one unchecked would literally mean "none of the listed options, and nothing else either". Apr 22, 2013 at 21:21
  • yes, because - I might like sweets, but it might be gum or something else...
    – Mateo
    Jun 8, 2015 at 18:59

All the other answers are suggesting you shouldn't do this. I have a counter-argument:

I have been a member in five different survey companies: one worldwide, three Nordic/Scandinavic and one local. Almost every single one of the surveys contains this kind of questions, a mix of checkboxes and radio buttons.

For example, advertising is one of the most popular topics in surveys, and the questions would be like this:

In last month, have you seen advertising for following brands?

  • [] Brand 1
  • [] Brand 2

  • [] Brand 20

  • () None of the above
  • () Don't want to answer

In general, None of the above, Don't want to answer, Not applicable, Don't know, are the most common radio button additions in all kinds of checkbox question sets.

In comparison to opening the actual question set (as per rk):

  • If you see yes/no, you might not remember any specific brand, it's an open-ended question without suggestions, so you'll get a greater percentage of no clicks then you would otherwise.
  • If you see the brand name, it might remind you that you indeed saw an ad from that company.

If this style is confusing, I doubt it would be so widely adopted.


Having no checkboxes checked does not convey information - you can't tell whether the user simply missed the question entirely or not. If you must have an answer, then the two level approach (2 radio buttons, with checkboxes under one of them) is the only thing that will work.

Also, you can have only one radio button, it is just that it is irrevocable, which is exactly what you want in some cases! For example: click here if you read this notice. ( )" (They can't un-read it.)

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