On a form I use a select box to display a list of tenancies. So that each tenancy can be identified I have to display the full name of the tenants (there can be up to 4 tenants) and the full address of the property.

I feel this is too much information to display in a select box as it stretches the full width of the page.

Can you suggest any alternatives?

  • I think you should take a step back, and find an alternative to this verbose select box.
    – Evorlor
    Commented Jul 6, 2015 at 2:47
  • @Evorlor That's my problem, I can't seem to find an alternative hence my request for help
    – Michael LB
    Commented Jul 6, 2015 at 15:53
  • go for radio buttons
    – Ades
    Commented Jul 7, 2015 at 4:18
  • there are alternatives here, but it's hard to make a recommendation without understanding: 1. what the rest of the form looks like, and what kinds of layout constraints you have; and 2. what the actual micro-workflow is for users making a selection...it's hard to believe that users really need to read a screen's width worth of content to find the right tenancy....how do users really make a selection, in behavioral terms?
    – tohster
    Commented Jul 8, 2015 at 21:25

5 Answers 5


I gather you're using a select box because only 1 selection is valid? What about converting each option into a radio button?

e.g. https://jsfiddle.net/mz9a22cd/


I agree: drop down menus that are more than, say, five words wide are cumbersome. Users won't (perhaps can't) read all of the text, and so the extra information means they actually comprehend less. I would either a) find a unique subset of the information (the address?) and have that in the select box, or find another way to choose this (property ID, with a popup to help choose the correct property? a search function?).

  • I can't use just the property ID/address as the tenant details need to be displayed
    – Michael LB
    Commented Jul 6, 2015 at 15:59
  • They need to be displayed somewhere, but must it be as part of the control used to choose the property? For instance, if you had a database of employees, and a form where you needed to choose one, would you argue that every detail about each employee should be put into the popup menu? You're squeezing too much info into a single control, and need to split it up somehow. Commented Jul 6, 2015 at 16:45

You state that you must display the full name of (up to 4) tenants and the full address of the property. Must this information be displayed at all times, or only when the user is making their selection?

If the full information that you described need only be displayed when the user is making a selection, then abbreviated information might be used in a list (perhaps with radio buttons), while the full information might be visible with a mouse-over. If it can be used, abbreviated information should be distinctive enough to at least give the user a "hint" so they can discriminate somewhat between choices and confirm their choice via the additional "mouse-over" info.

It would also be possible to display the full information of the chosen option, once selected, and abbreviated information about the remaining options, with the full info being available via mouse-over.


My suggestion is not to put the information in one line but in a more readable way. If you read an address you would expect something like

City / ZIP

Instead of

Name, Street, City, ZIP

So why not populate the Selectlist in this way. This way the user would have to scroll down more, but it is easier to find the right tenancy.

enter image description here

  • The concern is that breaks the standard expectation of a drop down. This might be solvable via UI design, though.
    – DA01
    Commented Jul 8, 2015 at 20:19

This is similar to what BrunoH suggests:
The sample is at the bottom of the page, after a lot of code.
It's not that I recommend this plugin, I only wanted to show an example of a multiline selection artifact.
Given that you must display several names, and that the availabe screen width is not enough, then the only option left is to break the text in several lines.

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