Drop-Down Menus and Combo Boxes

Drop-down menus and combo boxes allows users to select one option from a list of values.

Within a drop-down menu, the selected option is always visible--users display additional options by clicking a drop-down button.

A combo box combines a text input box with a menu. Users can either select a menu option or enter a value.

    A rich combo box combines a text input box with a two-column menu.


  • Use a drop-down menu or combo box for presenting options when screen real estate is limited.
  • Use a combo box for items that have a specific format, such as dates and times.
  • Use a rich combo box to add images or labels to the menu.
  • Strive for 10 or fewer menu items.  You can use more if users are familiar with the set of choices.
  • List the items in a logical order. For example, order a list of available memory by size (2 MB, 8 MB, and 4 GB). Default to alphabetic or numeric order for items that are not specifically ordered.
  • If "None" is a valid value, include it as a menu item.  Otherwise, users won't be able to reset the menu to "None" after another value is chosen. 

    none|Dropdown with None as the default.
  • Use sentence-style capitalization for the menu items.  Exception: If the item is a product name, use the capitalization as defined in the trademark.
  • Provide a default value whenever possible.  Typically the default is the most-common, safe choice.  The default value need not be the first item in the list.

Visual Specification

Drop-down Menu

Combo Box

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