The development team (which includes me) and the QA team were having a conversation about the formatting of tips for user creation on the enrollment page of our application.

Some members of the team believe that the formatting of all of these tips should be consistent for every field. So for example, they all should have a sentence and bullet points with criteria of that field.

Other members of the team disagreed. They say that our password tips should give instructions of what is acceptable for the password in bullet format with with a sentence potentially included, while the other fields, such as username, just contain a sentence or two.

Should all of these hints follow the same formatting or is it acceptable for different field types to have different tool tip designs and formats?

Username Hints

username tooltip

Password Hints

password tooltip

2 Answers 2


From the images provided, I would recommend going with shorter, less lengthy, tooltips in general. Google, for instance, on their account creation page has the following tool tips:

For Usernames:

Google Username Tooltip

For passwords:

Google Password Tooltip

Now you may be asking, but what about password length? For their validation they have the following:

Google Validation Error

Google uses only sentences that are short, sweet, and too the point.

Apple on the other hand uses bullet points:


Apple Tooltip


Apple Password Tooltip

Now while am personally not a fan of Apple's due to the length. They do try to present the available restrictions to the user very briefly.

Tooltip is defined (from here) as:

a small rectangular pop-up window that displays a brief description of a toolbar button when a computer mouse lands on that button; also written

Try to keep tooltips brief, concise, and not terribly long. Both of the tooltips you presented can be reduced in length whether you use bullets or sentences. Both Apple and Google keep consistent usage on their sign up pages and I would recommend in doing the same. Bullets or sentences? That's really up to you to decided, but consistency is key.


While I agree that similar information should be presented in similar ways it's also important to remember the way you're presenting it in a tool tip. The tool tip is generally viewed as an acceptable way to pass very small chunks of information to users while they are using the interface. Passing extended information this way is generally not good for usability: It distracts the user and may make them feel that the interface is more complex than it actually is.

With all that in mind, I personally believe that tool tip content should be a brief as possible - If your interface requires more detailed information in order for the user to successfully complete their tasks then either you need to redesign the interface to make it simpler and more obvious or (if a redesign is impossible/unfeasible) the explanation needs to be placed somewhere more readable than a tool tip.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.