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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!

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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.

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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.

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  • 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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