Fill out forms with fury

There comes a day in columnists' lives when they realize they have written

about everything they know anything about.

I realized this a couple years ago, after the fourth column, but now I'm running

out of things that I've even heard of. So instead of ranting and raving about

the commercialization of Valentine's Day or the plight of the American economy

or the Canadian women's curling team or the combination of the three, I decided

to dive deeper into the topic of forms.

If you missed the first one (which about 15 people read, and one guy read the

headline), here's

a little background on the topic. For those of you

ready to move on and learn the differences between certain

form materials, keep reading. Or, if you are dead set

on researching the Canadian women's curling team, go

to Salt Lake City and be a part of the Olympics IMMEDIATELY!

Most of you have filled out forms online.  The trick here, though, is

the different ways to capture information. The most basic, of course, is a text

field.

Enter amount spent on Valentine's Day gifts:

When a form is submitted, information is captured based on the entered value

of this text field. By naming the text field, when a person or database receives

this information, it is stored in the proper place. On top of that, you can

assign an initial value to text field like the following:

Enter amount spent on Valentine's Day gifts:

Another popular way to grab information is with checkboxes and radio buttons.

Checkboxes allow multiple choices, while radio buttons allow just one choice.


How many Valentines

did you have?

What did you get

your Valentine(s)?

Check all that apply.

Zero

One

Two

Three of more

I Mormon-sized.

Flowers

Candy

T-shirt showing favorite professional wrestler

Underwear showing favorite wrestler

Favorite wrestler

Radio Buttons
Checkboxes

Again, you can specify initial values. This is great for radio buttons because

if you supply an initial value for a radio button, some information will be

entered for that field. There are many forms that require certain things filled

out, and this is one way to make sure that happens.

Pulldown and list menus are also used frequently to grab data. Like the difference

between checkboxes and radio buttons, pulldown menus allow one choice while

list menus can allow multiple choices.

What worries you the most about the American economy?
How many members of the Canadian women's curling

team do you know?

Pulldown Menu
List Menu

Another possibility is the use of a jump menu, which is similar to a pulldown

menu. But when you make a selection, you are automatically taken to another

page or more information appears to make an additional selection. For instance,

on cars.com, when you select

a make to view, the list of models that corresponds to that make appears.

At least now you should have a better understanding of why Web sites ask for

information in different formats. And because Valentine's Day is over, and the

Olympics soon will be, there's just one thing for me to worry about: a topic

for my next column!