Techniques for WCAG 2.0

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G184: Providing text instructions at the beginning of a form or set of fields that describes the necessary input

Important Information about Techniques

See Understanding Techniques for WCAG Success Criteria for important information about the usage of these informative techniques and how they relate to the normative WCAG 2.0 success criteria. The Applicability section explains the scope of the technique, and the presence of techniques for a specific technology does not imply that the technology can be used in all situations to create content that meets WCAG 2.0.


All technologies.

This technique relates to:


The objective of this technique is to help the user avoid input errors by informing them ahead of time about restrictions on the format of data that they must enter. Instructions on such restrictions are provided at the top of forms. This technique works best for forms that have a small number of fields or those where many form fields require data in the same format. In these cases, it is more efficient to describe the format once in instructions at the top of the form rather than repeating the same information for each field that has the same restricted format requirement.


Example 1

A business networking site allows users to post descriptions of jobs they have held. The form to gather the information includes fields for the company name, job title, from and to dates, and job description. At the top of the form are the following instructions:

Example 2

A corporate directory allows users to customize information such as telephone number and job responsibilities by editing their profile. At the top of the form are the following instructions:



  1. Identify form controls that will only accept user input data in a given format.

  2. Determine if instructions are provided at the top of the form about the expected format of each of the form controls identified in 1.

Expected Results

If this is a sufficient technique for a success criterion, failing this test procedure does not necessarily mean that the success criterion has not been satisfied in some other way, only that this technique has not been successfully implemented and can not be used to claim conformance.