What is the best wording for a popup message that notifies the user that the value they just entered is a duplicate value?

The wordings I've considered are:

  1. The value you entered is already in the list.
  2. This value is already in the list.
  3. That value is already in the list.

Option 1 sounds the best to me; but my philosophy is that if you can get the message across just as well with fewer words, you should. Other than that, I don't see any obvious reasons to pick one over the others. Or perhaps there's another wording I didn't think of.

  • Is the full list visible or accessible to the user? Did they create it, collaboratively? Which consequence does this (probably annoying) popup have, i.e. is it really necessary?
    – Crissov
    Commented Dec 3, 2014 at 16:01
  • @Crissov The full list is visible to the user. They potentially created it, though the other entries could have been entered by someone else. However, only one person has write access to the list at any time.
    – Sildoreth
    Commented Dec 5, 2014 at 22:34
  • Then I hope you are talking about a non-modal notification, not a true popup window that requires interaction (like hitting OK or Cancel without it making a difference). For the wording, the existing answers are helpful.
    – Crissov
    Commented Dec 6, 2014 at 12:35

2 Answers 2


Make the message as specific as possible. For example if the name of the column is "Product Code" and the user entered 12345, display the following message.

Product 12345 is already in list

Also ommit needless words like "The", "This", "That" to make the message shorter. Maybe you can remove "is" also.

  • I generally dislike the approach of mentioning values in validation messages. That behavior breaks down easily with moderately long values. I'd say that as long as the feedback is immediate, the value doesn't need to be mentioned.
    – Sildoreth
    Commented May 20, 2022 at 18:09

"The value you entered is already in the list" is a little redundant because I know I just entered the value. I would go with "This value is already in the list". The tone of the message depends on the audience. Friendly (i.e. wordier) is nicer for consumers.

I would also think about whether "value" is an appropriate word for the audience. Programmers and techies know what it means, but for everyone else it's programming jargon. Perhaps "entry" or something more specific about what the value actually is. Like "This city is already in the list", etc.

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