Tips for designing forms

  • Use the ruler to set tabs and to position elements. Choose View - Ruler to see the current paragraph settings.
  • Use tables to align elements on a form. Nested tables give you very precise control over how you present content. In addition, you can use tables to create certain text effects, such as having text wrap around a picture.
  • Group related information together. Use sections for approvals or other special access needs. Create subforms that group design elements you use in multiple forms.
  • When designing multiple forms for an application, locate particular fields, especially data such as name, department, current date, and due date, in a consistent place and a consistent order.
  • Place hidden fields together at the end or beginning of a form. Assign a different text color to hidden fields.
  • Computed fields are evaluated from beginning to end. Place dependent fields after the fields they depend on.
  • Use centered text at the beginning of a form only. It tends to get lost when used farther down on the form.
  • Hide elements that users don't need to see when they are editing, reading, or printing. In particular, hide nonessential graphics while printing.
  • Provide actions and hotspots to let users take action quickly.
  • Use collapsible sections to organize a form and make it easier for users to see the information they need. Set the section properties to expand the section in one context and collapse it in another.

Tips for designing forms for composite applications

Composite applications incorporate a number of different components in the same user experience. If you are creating a form to use as a composite application component, be aware that it may be positioned in different areas of the screen, and combined with multiple other components.

For more information about the elements of composite applications, refer to the IBM® Composite Application wiki at