I am building a form. What is the best practice to ask a gender of a person in a form. In a dropdown? In radio buttons? or in some other forms? Please also tell some techniques to style these fields. Thanks in advance!


Assuming you only have two options then radio buttons would probably be more appropriate. There are quite a few articles out there showing that if you have 3 choices or less (and some 5 choice or less) then it is better, if possible, to use radio buttons. [http://uxmovement.com/forms/stop-misusing-select-menus/]

I have never heard of the labels "MALE" and "FEMALE" causing a problem. Getting cutsy such as using "Boy" and "Girl" will take some analysis unless, I suppose, your target audience is primary school children. I've seen some mismatches such as "MALE" and "WOMEN" so try to avoid that. : -)

Whatever you do don't have either "MALE" or "FEMALE" as the default.


For binary data, your options are:

  • single check box (typically for on/off)
  • 2 radio buttons
  • drop down

Any may be valid for a particular use. When there are only two options, however, I'd normally suggest you stick with radio buttons rather than forcing a user to use a drop down for just 2 options.

All that said, note that gender, while traditionally thought of as a binary value, is now considered by many to be anything but.

For example, Facbook now offers over 50 gender options: http://www.slate.com/blogs/lexicon_valley/2014/02/21/gender_facebook_now_has_56_categories_to_choose_from_including_cisgender.html

So do think about how important it is to collect gender data in the first place, and then decide if you truly need it to be binary.

  • Why only two radio button? "Do not wish to reveal" and "female" ?
    – Hennes
    Sep 16 '14 at 17:30
  • @Hennes binary data means 'only two states'. For gender, there's no reason you CAN'T have more, but if we're only asking male vs. female, only 2 are needed.
    – DA01
    Sep 16 '14 at 17:33

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