I just watched someone struggle with a form.
The form was part of a normal online shop. It had reloaded after submitting, annotating the required field for the phone number with a red text above, reading "Please enter value" (translated from German "Bitte Wert eingeben", matched well by the English variant).
It was clear enough that it was about the required field, although it was scrolled out of sight (which is to blame on Microsoft's netbook screen specification, mostly).
But the irritating part was: The person understood the word "value" in "Please enter value" as "amount of money" - being unfamiliar with the computer science term "value of a variable", and nervous about not doing anything wrong, it caused a strong unsettledness.
Now, this text was obviously not good.
Ignoring other ways of notification except a label:
How to find a good text for it?
Possibly varying texts for different fields?