Adding "Select..." as first option (placeholder) of dropdown list

  • Would it be considered a good practice to add the word "Select..." as the first option of a dropdown list? I think it's redundant and not at all necessary and what is in the dropdown list should be only a list of options that are available, not instructions.

    Am I wrong?

    Edit: Just to make it clear, by first option I don't mean DEFAULT. Most of the answers are about default option being preselected etc. That's not what this question is about. It's about displaying the combobox with "Select..." or other instructional text so people know they have to select something in there.

    The reason the answers discuss default values is that this question really *is* about default values. What you are calling a "placeholder" is a default value. You may be distinguishing between the two in thinking that a "placeholder" that would not pass input validation is in fact not a "default" (I am just guessing here. I really don't know how you are trying to define them differently.), but many (most?) people would call whatever appears in the box before any user interaction the "default".

    @A.M. I disagree. The most immediately obvious is a selection for which there is NO default, the requirement being that the form user MUST make the choice. The purpose of the placeholder text would be to indicate that without driving the user through an error response for failing to choose one of the selections.

  • JohnGB

    JohnGB Correct answer

    8 years ago

    A dropdown list (or combobox) should already be a clear indication that you need to select an item from there, so wasting the first item by telling someone this is redundant and a poor idea.

    The only times that I would recommend having some other text in the dropdown are:

    1. when it is not essential to select an item
    2. when you want effectively to select all items.

    Here are some examples:

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    A default value that is clearly not a valid option (all of the options here: and the one given by the questioner) provides more than just an indication that an item needs to be selected (the role you say the mere presence of a list or box fulfills). It also provides a clear indication that what option appears there right now *was not selected by you*, and that can be valuable.

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Content dated before 7/24/2021 11:53 AM

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