In the terms of a search where a user can enter an account number into a text field, what is the most straight forward instruction for a group that may not be tech savvy.


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The account number will always begin with a character from A thru Z.

  • 7
    Let me put it this way. When have you, in the real world, ever used a sentence like "how many alphas in the alphabet?" or "what alphas would you like engraved on this necklace?".
    – JonW
    Commented Jun 17, 2013 at 14:50
  • 1
    Good point. I definitely thought letter was more straight forward, but I wasn't sure if it was just me, and if letter could mean something more than just A - Z for some people.
    – smoca
    Commented Jun 17, 2013 at 14:56
  • 1
    you could put an example: account number ABCDE12345 aseptically if there is some kind of uniform pattern like: AB-CDE-12345
    – Igor-G
    Commented Jun 17, 2013 at 14:58
  • 2
    Option 1 - 'Letter' makes sense. As a fairly literate native English speaker I haven't a clue what 'alpha' is supposed to mean !
    – PhillipW
    Commented Jun 17, 2013 at 20:08
  • 2
    None of the meanings of the word alpha allow it to be used as a sysnonym for "letter". Saying "something starts with alpha" indicates that it starts with a greek letter α.
    – Pasha
    Commented Jun 17, 2013 at 21:27

2 Answers 2


The most common usage of 'alpha' is in 'alphanumeric' characters. Ideally, I would go with Letter but, Alphabet is also a viable alternative.


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  • "and begin with an alphabet" so, abcdefghijklmnopqrstuvqxyz23453? or are we talking Cryllic123? "Alphabetical character" would be proper but long Commented Jun 18, 2013 at 21:39
  • @Yamikuronue I fail to see the difference in your examples for 'being with an alphabet'.
    – rk.
    Commented Jun 18, 2013 at 21:43
  • 1
    An alphabet is a set of characters. I was pointing out that you're typically either talking about the name of one set (like Latin or Cryllic) or the contents of one (like the string "abcdefghijklmnopqrstuvqxyz") when you use the term "alphabet", not a single character Commented Jun 19, 2013 at 0:20
  • @Yamikuronue Ah, I see. So my alternative is not a viable one. I shall correct that then.
    – rk.
    Commented Jun 19, 2013 at 0:42

First thing I noticed were "account number" and (Usually a D or G). This confused me.

From my experience, I would either A. Search in my gmail for the account # or B. find a physical piece which has my account number.


  1. You could have the first two 'letters' already filled out, assuming they are globally ubiquitous. An example would be my Permanent Resident Alien Card which starts with A# -- When I fill out an application that requires this, it's usually pre-populated. Another example would be your driver's license.

  2. have a char counter below your input field e.g. '10 characters remaining'.

  3. When you are asking for an account number, it would need context to why it needs your account number - i would have a link "forgot your account number" and have some requirements to have it sent to users email.

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