This pattern is best shown when searching on Google. When a user starts typing (in this case stack), four suggestions show up on a dropdown list below but also, at the same time, the one that is at the top shows in the input field in grey color. (See the picture below.)

Is there any particular UX improvement in duplicating information? Don't just autocomplete or suggestion suffice?

example of Google's autocomplete/suggestion input

1 Answer 1


Autocomplete and suggestion features serve different, though similar, purposes.


Autocomplete is there to make it faster for you to complete your search. If you for example want to search for "wikipedia puppies", and start typing, you will get an intermediate stage of:

enter image description here

You can see that the autocomplete has provided me the option of completing "wiki" with "wikipedia". If I were to then press tab I would get the following:

enter image description here

So in this case I've used autocomplete to complete a word. It could also have been a phrase, as is the case below:

enter image description here


suggestion on the other hand simply shows probabilistic searches matching against searches that other people have made. This is in a way an autocomplete function, but it also provides options and more of a complete search than partially finishing your sentence. It also provides more alternatives, that a simple tab to autocomplete. You can also think of the autocomplete as a fast selection of the most probable suggestion.

  • 2
    Very well put. +1 for me not knowing that pressing tab will fill in the area but not submit!
    – UXerUIer
    Feb 12, 2015 at 17:24

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