I need a method of indicating that certain fields are required within my forms on a Windows Desktop UI.

I have read and searched the Windows Design Guidelines, but can not find a standard that Windows suggests to use. Is there a standard method in Windows of indicating this?

Windows Design Guidelines: https://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/windows/desktop/dn688964.aspx

I know that a common method is to use an asterix beside required fields, is this the standard on Windows too?

N.b. I am not referring to validation messages or feedback after a user has interacted with a form, I am referring to the display of the form on initial load.

1 Answer 1


Microsoft does actually provide some guidance for this in the context of dialog boxes. They suggest a few different approaches which are similar to those found on the web, and to some extent in Mac OS.

To indicate that users must provide information in a control, consider the following options:

  • Don't indicate anything but handle missing required input with error messages. This approach reduces clutter and works well if most input is optional or users aren't likely to skip controls, thus keeping the number of error messages low.
  • Indicate required input using an asterisk at the beginning of the label. Explain the asterisk using either:
    • A footnote at the bottom of the content area that says * Required input.
    • A tooltip on the asterisk that says Required input.

This approach works well if there aren't many required controls, but poorly if most controls are required. If all controls require input, state "All input required" at an appropriate place at the top of the content area. This approach reduces clutter for this specific case.

  • 1
    Why did they put that section under 'Dialog Boxes'... thanks for providing that link, exactly what I was after
    – Dave Haigh
    Commented Jan 28, 2014 at 10:25
  • 2
    @Matt_Obee That's the best example I've ever seen of how a UX.SE answer should be written.
    – Racheet
    Commented Jan 28, 2014 at 15:35

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