Aug 17 2008

Form Elements: 40+ CSS/JS Styling and Functionality Techniques


Designing effective web forms isn’t easy, as we need to figure out more practical styling and functionality techniques to provide a great user experience.

Recently there have been a number of noteworthy techniques such as styling different form fields, live validation, Context highlighting, trading options from field to another, slider controls and more – using CSS and different Javascript libraries. Below we present findings of search to more than 40 tutorials and demos to showcase the capabilities and robustness of CSS and Javascript.

You might be interested to check other CSS related posts:

1-Styling dropdown select boxes- To style a dropdown select box is heavy work. This is an experiement on how you can style select box options items.

form field

2-<select> Something New, Part 1-With a little DOM scripting and some creative CSS, you too can make your <select>s beautiful… and you won’t have to sacrifice accessibility, usability or graceful degradation.

form field

3-Styling even more form controls-There are a lot of controls that can be used in an HTML form. Roger Johansson offers an extensive report on the ways you can use CSS to style web form controls.

form field

4-Check it, don’t select it-The biggest problem with multiple-select boxes is that selecting multiple options is a pain, especially if there are enough to create a scrollbar within the box. Here is a good technique for replacing the cumbersome select box with a scrollable checklist. You can check the demo here.

form field

5-DropDown – xHTML/CSS/Javascript replacement of classic selectbox-While there is no problem with styling input fields, styling selectbox is more complicated and solution isn’t perfect. This tutorial brought visualy better solution based on xHTML/CSS/Javascript called dropdowns.

form field

6-Masked Input Plugin- A masked input plugin for the jQuery javascript library. It allows a user to more easily enter fixed width input where you would like them to enter the data in a certain format (dates,phone numbers, etc). It has been tested on Internet Explorer 6/7, Firefox 1.5/2, Safari, and Opera.

form field

7-Custom Checkbox with jQuery- Provides the ability to customize the design of checkboxes in your web forms. You can use the default skin and the Safari skin which are provided with the package.

form field

8-LiveValidation- LiveValidation is a small open source javascript library for making client-side validation quick, easy, and powerful. It comprises of two main parts. Firstly, it provides developers with a rich set of core validation methods, which can also be used outside the context of forms. Secondly, it provides your visitors with real-time validation information as they fill out forms, helping them to get it right first time, making the forms easier, quicker and less daunting to complete.

form field

9-FancyForm- FancyForm is a powerful checkbox replacement script used to provide the ultimate flexibility in changing the appearance and function of HTML form elements. It’s easy to use and degrades gracefully on all older, non-supporting browsers.

form field

10-Styling disabled text inputs- A disabled text input usually has a grayed-out look, and the value is not able to be modified by user input. Here is how you can style them. You can also check this demo page for different examples Styling disabled form controls with CSS

form field

11-PrettyCheckboxes- A simple jQuery plugin to customize the checkboxes and radio buttons.

form field

12- Building a better web forms: Context highlighting using jQuery- Due to complexity of web appications, sometimes you often need to find a way to focus a user on a current context. Here is a nice way of achieving this effect. Check out the demo here

form field

13-Control.SelectMultiple This control uses a combination of a standard select input, and a collection of checkbox inputs to create an alternative to the standard select multiple control. It’s primary benefit besides a vastly improved experience for selecting multiple items is that for single item selection, it behaves like a normal select input.

form field

14- Justify elements using jQuery and CSS- When creating a web form you have to make a functional and visually aligned layout. You can do so by justifing all labels to have the same width. And the simplest way to do this is to use jQuery.

form field

15-jQuery Form Input Example Plugin- A jQuery plugin to specify examples within form inputs (i.e. text fields and text areas) that disappear on user focus. Check out the demo here.

form field

16-Jquery-Autotab- Autotab is a jQuery plugin that provides auto-tabbing and filtering on text fields in a form

form field

17-jquery-asmselect- A progressive enhancement to “select multiple” form elements. Check out a demo here and here.

form field

18-jQuery.AddToList- A very customisable plugin that hooks into select lists. An ‘open-form’ event or trigger value display a form (any dom element you specific, that contains a <form>). AddToList will then ajax submit the form, and if it’s successful, and a new item to your list. Check out a demo here.

form field

19-Easy Multi Select Transfer with jQuery- A perfect example to demonstrate the simple and compact nature of jQuery coding allowing options to be traded from one multi select to another.

form field

20-fValidator- fValidator is an open source (free) unobtrusive javascript tool for easy handling form validation. Check out the examples here.

form field

21-Grow a textarea-Just make a form, and this script will add the ability to resize each textarea.

form field

22-jQuery selectbox replacement- This is an unobtrusive jQuery plugin that allows you to replace the HTML select box with a styled dropdown menu. Check out the demo here.

form field

23-Unobtrusive Slider Control V2- Sliders can be associated with both text input and select list form elements. All of the slider’s configuration parameters should be defined within the associated form element’s className Check out the demo here.

form field

24- jQuery Field Plug-in- This plugin greatly expands the ability to retrieve and set values in forms beyond jQuery's standard val() method (and Mike Alsup's Form Plug-in's fieldArray() method) by allowing you to interact with all types of form field elements (except input[@type="file"], which is a read-only element.) It works the same way for text elements as it does for radio, checkbox and select elements.

form field

25-jquery.combobox- jquery.combobox is an unobtrusive way of creating a HTML type combobox from a existing HTML Select element(s).
A combobox is technically a ‘Select’ HTML element. Check out the demo here.

form field

26-Checkboxes, Radio Buttons, Select Lists, Custom HTML Form Elements- This JavaScript and CSS will allow you to use custom images for checkboxes, radio buttons and select lists.

form field

27-ToggleFormText plug-in example- ToggleFormText is a jQuery plugin to enable help text for input fields.

form field

28-Password field with strength meter- Password strength meter extension class for the extjs library.

form field

29-STYLING FILE INPUTS WITH CSS AND THE DOM- File inputs are the bane of beautiful form design. No rendering engine provides the granular control over their presentation designers desire. This simple, three-part progressive enhancement provides the markup, CSS, and JavaScript to address the long-standing irritation.

form field

30-Pin plugin for Prototype, Remember Field’s Values- Pin plugin for prototype which aims to remember some field’s values. Check out the demo here.

form field

31-accessible, javascript-enhanced, css-able form elements for mootools- A javascript-class (based on mootools) customFormElements, which gives you the opportunity to style your own checkboxes and radiobuttons via css.

form field

32-Resizeable Textboxes- What we are going to create today is a textbox with resize handles on the bottom, right, and bottom-right corner. The resize handles do what you might expect – grabbing the right edge will let you resize the width, grabbing the bottom will let you resize the height, and grabbing the corner will let you resize either.

form field

33-Resizeable Textboxes- Browsers do not let you style file inputs. File Style plugin fixes this problem. It enables you to use image as browse button. You can also style filename field as normal textfield using css. It is written using JavaScript and jQuery. Check out the demo here.

form field

34-jQuery AlphaNumeric- jQuery AlphaNumeric is a javascript control plugin that allows you to limit what characters a user can enter on textboxes or textareas.

form field

35-Mootools Form Hints- Mootools/Javascript Form Helper
Allows inline help in form input fields.

form field

36-MultiSelect- MutliSelect is a clean way to display a drop down and allow multiple options to be selected with just the mouse and without taking up more room that you need. With just a single line of code, MultiSelect styles up any select with a new and simple drop down. Check out the example here.

form field

37- Watermark Input Plugin- This is a watermark input plugin for jQuery. Currently this is a beta release. This simple plugin allows forms with limited space to display additional information about the contents of a field.

form field

38-Select box manipulation

form field

39-Spinner Control How to integrate Spinner control on your form inputs.

form field

40-Autohelp Sometimes it’s important to tell the user what’s expected of him. Especially when filling out a complicated form. This plugin uses the title attribute to display help in a separate DOM element.

form field

41-Custom Select boxes with jquery – A working example of a jquery custom select box with icons. Check out the demo here

form field

About the Author

The jungle is alive: Be it a collaboration between two or more authors or an article by an author not contributing regularly. In these cases you find the Noupe Editorial Team as the ones who made it. Guest authors get their own little bio boxes below the article, so watch out for these.


Comments and Discussions
  • Tommy J., 17 August 2008

    You seem to just repost the same stuff all the time… what about something original?!

    • Tommy J., 01 February 2011

      go away troll.

  • NaldzGraphics, 17 August 2008

    this are nice list.thanks for sharing.

  • Bob, 17 August 2008

    “Browsers do not let you style file inputs.”

    Why am I able to do this in Opera? It isn’t a browser? Also half of these don’t work in Opera, so fail.

    • duh, 21 April 2010

      You use opera – so fail.

      • Bob, 23 June 2011

        I use it for all the sites that don’t work in my other main browser – ie6.

      • Randy Beaver, 26 August 2011

        You use ie6. So double fail.

      • Dave, 01 August 2012

        LMFAO!! – You don’t have the skills to patch these to work in your beloved Opera – Triple Fail!

  • Janko, 17 August 2008

    Hey, thanks for listing my articles! Great list, btw!

  • Shazza, 17 August 2008

    Really liked this, so many different variations on styling fields. Thats why I love jQuery.

  • Cosmi, 17 August 2008

    Some very creative solutions, my fav is the Shaun Inman file input solution. Good job

  • Moni, 18 August 2008

    Deleting our comments now? That’s weak. Do you do that to all you readers, i have a screen shot, I don’t see anything wrong with the one I made previously.

    really, this annoys me.

  • Paul, 18 August 2008

    great list. I released a plugin the other day to create custom select boxes in jquery.
    Check it out
    You might want to add it to the list.

  • Noupe, 18 August 2008

    Hey Everyone,
    Thanks to everyone, i am glad you liked this post.

    Couple of you mentioned that the content of this post have been posted here before, which is strange. This post is highlighting techniques one can use to make form completion easy and painless to users. Many of the techniques mentioned here are new, so i guess this wasn’t covered before.

    As for Moni, i apologize but your comment was deleted by mistake with another 2 comments which were marked as spam. There was no intention to do so.

    Our policy always welcome user’s suggestions and opinions to move forward since all what we want is to provide useful content that is really appreciated by you guys.

    Thanks Everyone :)

  •, 18 August 2008

    Very good information. Thanks

  • Noupe, 18 August 2008

    Thanks for letting us know about your plugin, very creative. I added it to the list :)

  • Paul, 18 August 2008

    No probs. Thanks for listing it.

  • Nahinu, 18 August 2008

    Sweet, now I can finally CSS forms, the hardest things to CSS.

  • bangbouh, 18 August 2008

    Great list. Thanks!

  • bigwinner, 18 August 2008

    Thanks for posting this. I just discovered noupe last week and it’s already one of my favorite blogs.

  • Lowell, 18 August 2008

    more.. whitespace.. please.. eyes hurt

  • Dan, 18 August 2008

    Please don’t use auto-tabbing. 1 in 100 websites use it so everyonce and I while I’ll go to tab through a form and it messes everything up. DONT USE AUTO-TABs!

  • liam, 18 August 2008

    Another amazing post, I really love how these look, adds something interesting to those boring forms for sure.

  • United Voices, 18 August 2008

    cool form elements styling techniques. thanks for sharing mate.

  • Krazd, 18 August 2008

    Wow that is some unique stuff. Dugg!!

  • budda, 18 August 2008

    What about covering some functionality techniques for giving error feedback on form validation?

  • Max | Design Shard, 18 August 2008

    Awesome Great list, I love CSS, and this wwill help alot

    Max | Design Shard

  • autotab isbad, 18 August 2008

    Auto-tabbing is terrible for user experience because it deviates from the simple convention of moving through a form.

  • John, 18 August 2008

    If the republished articles bother you your welcome to leave, no one is forcing you to stay. Even if they are it is a nice bump for people who haven’t seen them.

  • Mamnun, 19 August 2008

    Awesome list. Thanx!

  • Serkan Gürkan, 20 August 2008

    Great and long list..
    Amazing thank you..

  • Ken, 23 August 2008

    great post. i’ve always used forms with basic styles. This post has given me some great ideas in giving basic forms a new face-lift. thx for the post!

  • booyah, 27 August 2008

    thanks for the great list, gets the creative juices flowing…

    geez the internet must really suck with Opera…

  • Ross, 31 August 2008

    This is great, very useful cos I’m trying to get away from the generic forms you see in most website so this is inspiration at its best. Dugg!

  • Vic, 02 September 2008

    Nice piece of collection. Very much appreciated

  • blogsarticle, 09 September 2008

    Great and long list..
    Amazing thank you..

  • toy, 18 September 2008

    hey the custom drop down select zip file is empty
    can you repost it up there?

  • Daniel, 28 September 2008

    If I saw this site a month a go I would save lot’s of time doing the CSS (and is not so beatyfull as this ones :| )

  • Custom Software Development, 01 November 2008

    Excellent Resource Collection.. Thanks guy.

  • Indra, 06 November 2008

    Great list, but i try to use all jquery for js.

  • betsson, 13 November 2008

    Thanks your article,its great.

  • dlmlmd, 14 November 2008

    how it not work in opera 9?

    height:expression((document.body.clientHeight-90) + ‘px’ );

    IE is work.
    help me

  • Rene, 17 November 2008

    Excellent resource, some great examples.

  • Red72, 22 October 2009

    When I was a young sergeant in the 82d, pulling CQ duty, a fight broke out in the company day room. ,

  • Mr.Carrot100, 23 October 2009

    Money that did not result in population or GDP growth would have to come back to the government in some way, and I see most of that in some form of taxation, in addition to certain fees. ,

  • John Secada, 01 December 2009

    Man! Look this form style plugin! It`s the most complete form style plugin! Works at IE 6 7 8, Safari (win and mac), firefox (win and mac), Opera, Chrome…

  • Martin Ivanov, 19 December 2009

    Here is another one form styling routine:

  • Hossein, 25 February 2010

    very good.

    this style is very nice.

  • ramalho, 04 March 2010

    Hi WEB Family,

    Great article & very useful.

    Thanks for sharing

  • Ranjit, 02 April 2010

    Very nice collections.. Thanks!

  • Waleed, 25 July 2010

    Create a #registration #form using #HTML5 and #CSS3

  • e-Stonia, 07 September 2010

    Is there any Ajax slider with just two options – on the left option 1 and on the right option 2?

  • Indonesia Property, 23 December 2010

    Amazing Style Css.. thank you

  • Daniel, 05 January 2011

    I’ve been working on another way to style form dropdowns with out css that seems to work pretty well. A bit of a fail as it doesn’t like Opera. Any help would be great.

  • tech, 22 February 2011

    i thing this is a very nice list, thanks for sharing, good job.

  • Ekta, 02 March 2011

    Thanks for sharing..

  • David Coe, 06 March 2011

    Thanks for the list guys! Bookmarked for later!

  • AndyPants, 08 March 2011

    Like it , loads to choose from bookmarked the page some great web design will look even better with nice styled forms, thanks very much:)

  • RED, 10 May 2011

    Great Post!!

    I’ve been looking for something like this, most of our clients have special needs when it come to forms especially the select element.

    Thanks again!

  • Dariusz, 06 June 2011

    most of the links in not working any more

  • punithan, 13 September 2011

    great stuff!!!!!

  • Yordan, 03 October 2011


  • Voku, 06 October 2011

    Thx for sharing!!! :)

  • kannankrp, 01 November 2011

    Very Useful Jquery collections…

  • Asad, 16 July 2012

    There are a lot of work to do. Thanks

search form
image description image description