Georgia Tech Research Institute

Is it necessary for every form element to have a label?

The Section 508 standard 1194.22(n) is often misinterpreted; it is not necessary for every form element to have a label, though it is recommended when tables are used. It is generally sufficient for the form field text label to precede the form field. The problem occurs when the explanatory text appears in a different table cell from the field itself, which may prevent screen readers from associating the two items. If the text description is not placed immediately adjacent to the form field, the <label> tag should be used to label the form field in the background so that the association can be made for those using screen readers. This is an issue commonly misinterpreted by automated checkers, which will flag any form fields that do not have the <label> tag.