Components

Character count

Help users know how much text they can enter when there is a limit on the number of characters.

<div class="govuk-character-count" data-module="govuk-character-count" data-maxlength="200">
  <div class="govuk-form-group">
    <h1 class="govuk-label-wrapper">
      <label class="govuk-label govuk-label--l" for="with-hint">
        Can you provide more detail?
      </label>
    </h1>
    <div id="with-hint-hint" class="govuk-hint">
      Do not include personal or financial information like your National Insurance number or credit card details.
    </div>
    <textarea class="govuk-textarea govuk-js-character-count" id="with-hint" name="withHint" rows="5" aria-describedby="with-hint-info with-hint-hint"></textarea>
  </div>
  <div id="with-hint-info" class="govuk-hint govuk-character-count__message">
    You can enter up to 200 characters
  </div>
</div>
Nunjucks macro options

Use options to customise the appearance, content and behaviour of a component when using a macro, for example, changing the text.

Some options are required for the macro to work; these are marked as “Required” in the option description.

If you’re using Nunjucks macros in production with “html” options, or ones ending with “html”, you must sanitise the HTML to protect against cross-site scripting exploits.

Primary options
Name Type Description
id string Required. The ID of the textarea.
name string Required. The name of the textarea, which is submitted with the form data.
rows string Optional number of textarea rows (default is 5 rows).
value string Optional initial value of the textarea.
maxlength string Required. If maxwords is set, this is not required. The maximum number of characters. If maxwords is provided, the maxlength option will be ignored.
maxwords string Required. If maxlength is set, this is not required. The maximum number of words. If maxwords is provided, the maxlength option will be ignored.
threshold string The percentage value of the limit at which point the count message is displayed. If this attribute is set, the count message will be hidden by default.
label object Required. The label used by the character count component. See label.
hint object Can be used to add a hint to the character count component. See hint.
errorMessage object Can be used to add an error message to the character count component. The error message component will not display if you use a falsy value for errorMessage, for example false or null. See errorMessage.
formGroup object Additional options for the form group containing the character count component. See formGroup.
classes string Classes to add to the textarea.
attributes object HTML attributes (for example data attributes) to add to the textarea.
spellcheck boolean Optional field to enable or disable the spellcheck attribute on the character count.
countMessage object Additional options for the count message used by the character count component. See countMessage.
textareaDescriptionText string Message made available to assistive technologies to describe that the component accepts only a limited amount of content. It is visible on the page when JavaScript is unavailable. The component will replace the %{count} placeholder with the value of the maxlength or maxwords parameter.
charactersUnderLimitText object Message displayed when the number of characters is under the configured maximum, maxlength. This message is displayed visually and through assistive technologies. The component will replace the %{count} placeholder with the number of remaining characters. This is a pluralised list of messages.
charactersAtLimitText string Message displayed when the number of characters reaches the configured maximum, maxlength. This message is displayed visually and through assistive technologies.
charactersOverLimitText object Message displayed when the number of characters is over the configured maximum, maxlength. This message is displayed visually and through assistive technologies. The component will replace the %{count} placeholder with the number of characters above the maximum. This is a pluralised list of messages.
wordsUnderLimitText object Message displayed when the number of words is under the configured maximum, maxwords. This message is displayed visually and through assistive technologies. The component will replace the %{count} placeholder with the number of remaining words. This is a pluralised list of messages.
wordsAtLimitText string Message displayed when the number of words reaches the configured maximum, maxwords. This message is displayed visually and through assistive technologies.
wordsOverLimitText object Message displayed when the number of words is over the configured maximum, maxwords. This message is displayed visually and through assistive technologies. The component will replace the %{count} placeholder with the number of characters above the maximum. This is a pluralised list of messages.
Options for formGroup object
Name Type Description
classes string Classes to add to the form group (for example to show error state for the whole group).
attributes object HTML attributes (for example data attributes) to add to the form group.
beforeInput object Content to add before the textarea used by the character count component. See formGroup beforeInput.
afterInput object Content to add after the textarea used by the character count component. See formGroup afterInput.
Options for formGroup beforeInput object
Name Type Description
text string Required. Text to add before the textarea. If html is provided, the text option will be ignored.
html string Required. HTML to add before the textarea. If html is provided, the text option will be ignored.
Options for formGroup afterInput object
Name Type Description
text string Required. Text to add after the textarea. If html is provided, the text option will be ignored.
html string Required. HTML to add after the textarea. If html is provided, the text option will be ignored.
Options for countMessage object
Name Type Description
classes string Classes to add to the count message.
Options for label component
Name Type Description
text string Required. If html is set, this is not required. Text to use within the label. If html is provided, the text option will be ignored.
html string Required. If text is set, this is not required. HTML to use within the label. If html is provided, the text option will be ignored.
for string The value of the for attribute, the ID of the input the label is associated with.
isPageHeading boolean Whether the label also acts as the heading for the page.
classes string Classes to add to the label tag.
attributes object HTML attributes (for example data attributes) to add to the label tag.
Options for hint component
Name Type Description
text string Required. If html is set, this is not required. Text to use within the hint. If html is provided, the text option will be ignored.
html string Required. If text is set, this is not required. HTML to use within the hint. If html is provided, the text option will be ignored.
id string Optional ID attribute to add to the hint span tag.
classes string Classes to add to the hint span tag.
attributes object HTML attributes (for example data attributes) to add to the hint span tag.
{% from "govuk/components/character-count/macro.njk" import govukCharacterCount %}

{{ govukCharacterCount({
  name: "withHint",
  id: "with-hint",
  maxlength: 200,
  label: {
    text: "Can you provide more detail?",
    classes: "govuk-label--l",
    isPageHeading: true
  },
  hint: {
    text: "Do not include personal or financial information like your National Insurance number or credit card details."
  }
}) }}

When to use this component

Always test your service without a character count first.

Only use the character count component when there is a good reason for limiting the number of characters users can enter. For example, if there is:

  • evidence that users are likely to enter more information than they need to
  • a legal or technical reason that means an entry must be no more than a certain number of characters

When not to use this component

If your users keep hitting the character limit imposed by the backend of your service then try to increase the limit rather than use a character count.

How it works

It tells users how many characters they have remaining as they type into a textarea with a character limit.

Users will get updates at a pace that works best for the way they interact with the textarea. This means:

  • sighted users will see a count message that updates as they type
  • screen reader users will hear the count announcement when they stop typing.

This component does not restrict the user from entering information. The user can enter more than the character limit, but are told they’ve entered too many characters. This lets them type or copy and paste their full answer, then edit it down.

The count message appears below the textarea so that:

  • it’s clearly separate from any hint text or error message above the textarea
  • if it’s below the visible screen area, users will still see it again when they scroll down to send their response

This component uses JavaScript. If JavaScript is not available, users will see a static message in place of the count message, telling them how many characters they can enter.

There are 2 ways to use the character count component. You can use HTML or, if you’re using Nunjucks or the GOV.UK Prototype Kit, you can use the Nunjucks macro.

<div class="govuk-character-count" data-module="govuk-character-count" data-maxlength="200">
  <div class="govuk-form-group">
    <h1 class="govuk-label-wrapper">
      <label class="govuk-label govuk-label--l" for="with-hint">
        Can you provide more detail?
      </label>
    </h1>
    <div id="with-hint-hint" class="govuk-hint">
      Do not include personal or financial information like your National Insurance number or credit card details.
    </div>
    <textarea class="govuk-textarea govuk-js-character-count" id="with-hint" name="withHint" rows="5" aria-describedby="with-hint-info with-hint-hint"></textarea>
  </div>
  <div id="with-hint-info" class="govuk-hint govuk-character-count__message">
    You can enter up to 200 characters
  </div>
</div>
Nunjucks macro options

Use options to customise the appearance, content and behaviour of a component when using a macro, for example, changing the text.

Some options are required for the macro to work; these are marked as “Required” in the option description.

If you’re using Nunjucks macros in production with “html” options, or ones ending with “html”, you must sanitise the HTML to protect against cross-site scripting exploits.

Primary options
Name Type Description
id string Required. The ID of the textarea.
name string Required. The name of the textarea, which is submitted with the form data.
rows string Optional number of textarea rows (default is 5 rows).
value string Optional initial value of the textarea.
maxlength string Required. If maxwords is set, this is not required. The maximum number of characters. If maxwords is provided, the maxlength option will be ignored.
maxwords string Required. If maxlength is set, this is not required. The maximum number of words. If maxwords is provided, the maxlength option will be ignored.
threshold string The percentage value of the limit at which point the count message is displayed. If this attribute is set, the count message will be hidden by default.
label object Required. The label used by the character count component. See label.
hint object Can be used to add a hint to the character count component. See hint.
errorMessage object Can be used to add an error message to the character count component. The error message component will not display if you use a falsy value for errorMessage, for example false or null. See errorMessage.
formGroup object Additional options for the form group containing the character count component. See formGroup.
classes string Classes to add to the textarea.
attributes object HTML attributes (for example data attributes) to add to the textarea.
spellcheck boolean Optional field to enable or disable the spellcheck attribute on the character count.
countMessage object Additional options for the count message used by the character count component. See countMessage.
textareaDescriptionText string Message made available to assistive technologies to describe that the component accepts only a limited amount of content. It is visible on the page when JavaScript is unavailable. The component will replace the %{count} placeholder with the value of the maxlength or maxwords parameter.
charactersUnderLimitText object Message displayed when the number of characters is under the configured maximum, maxlength. This message is displayed visually and through assistive technologies. The component will replace the %{count} placeholder with the number of remaining characters. This is a pluralised list of messages.
charactersAtLimitText string Message displayed when the number of characters reaches the configured maximum, maxlength. This message is displayed visually and through assistive technologies.
charactersOverLimitText object Message displayed when the number of characters is over the configured maximum, maxlength. This message is displayed visually and through assistive technologies. The component will replace the %{count} placeholder with the number of characters above the maximum. This is a pluralised list of messages.
wordsUnderLimitText object Message displayed when the number of words is under the configured maximum, maxwords. This message is displayed visually and through assistive technologies. The component will replace the %{count} placeholder with the number of remaining words. This is a pluralised list of messages.
wordsAtLimitText string Message displayed when the number of words reaches the configured maximum, maxwords. This message is displayed visually and through assistive technologies.
wordsOverLimitText object Message displayed when the number of words is over the configured maximum, maxwords. This message is displayed visually and through assistive technologies. The component will replace the %{count} placeholder with the number of characters above the maximum. This is a pluralised list of messages.
Options for formGroup object
Name Type Description
classes string Classes to add to the form group (for example to show error state for the whole group).
attributes object HTML attributes (for example data attributes) to add to the form group.
beforeInput object Content to add before the textarea used by the character count component. See formGroup beforeInput.
afterInput object Content to add after the textarea used by the character count component. See formGroup afterInput.
Options for formGroup beforeInput object
Name Type Description
text string Required. Text to add before the textarea. If html is provided, the text option will be ignored.
html string Required. HTML to add before the textarea. If html is provided, the text option will be ignored.
Options for formGroup afterInput object
Name Type Description
text string Required. Text to add after the textarea. If html is provided, the text option will be ignored.
html string Required. HTML to add after the textarea. If html is provided, the text option will be ignored.
Options for countMessage object
Name Type Description
classes string Classes to add to the count message.
Options for label component
Name Type Description
text string Required. If html is set, this is not required. Text to use within the label. If html is provided, the text option will be ignored.
html string Required. If text is set, this is not required. HTML to use within the label. If html is provided, the text option will be ignored.
for string The value of the for attribute, the ID of the input the label is associated with.
isPageHeading boolean Whether the label also acts as the heading for the page.
classes string Classes to add to the label tag.
attributes object HTML attributes (for example data attributes) to add to the label tag.
Options for hint component
Name Type Description
text string Required. If html is set, this is not required. Text to use within the hint. If html is provided, the text option will be ignored.
html string Required. If text is set, this is not required. HTML to use within the hint. If html is provided, the text option will be ignored.
id string Optional ID attribute to add to the hint span tag.
classes string Classes to add to the hint span tag.
attributes object HTML attributes (for example data attributes) to add to the hint span tag.
{% from "govuk/components/character-count/macro.njk" import govukCharacterCount %}

{{ govukCharacterCount({
  name: "withHint",
  id: "with-hint",
  maxlength: 200,
  label: {
    text: "Can you provide more detail?",
    classes: "govuk-label--l",
    isPageHeading: true
  },
  hint: {
    text: "Do not include personal or financial information like your National Insurance number or credit card details."
  }
}) }}

If you’re asking more than one question on the page

If you’re asking more than one question on the page, do not set the contents of the <label> as the page heading. Read more about asking multiple questions on question pages.

<div class="govuk-character-count" data-module="govuk-character-count" data-maxlength="200">
  <div class="govuk-form-group">
    <label class="govuk-label" for="label-as-page-heading">
      Describe the nature of your event
    </label>
    <textarea class="govuk-textarea govuk-js-character-count" id="label-as-page-heading" name="labelAsPageHeading" rows="5" aria-describedby="label-as-page-heading-info"></textarea>
  </div>
  <div id="label-as-page-heading-info" class="govuk-hint govuk-character-count__message">
    You can enter up to 200 characters
  </div>
</div>
Nunjucks macro options

Use options to customise the appearance, content and behaviour of a component when using a macro, for example, changing the text.

Some options are required for the macro to work; these are marked as “Required” in the option description.

If you’re using Nunjucks macros in production with “html” options, or ones ending with “html”, you must sanitise the HTML to protect against cross-site scripting exploits.

Primary options
Name Type Description
id string Required. The ID of the textarea.
name string Required. The name of the textarea, which is submitted with the form data.
rows string Optional number of textarea rows (default is 5 rows).
value string Optional initial value of the textarea.
maxlength string Required. If maxwords is set, this is not required. The maximum number of characters. If maxwords is provided, the maxlength option will be ignored.
maxwords string Required. If maxlength is set, this is not required. The maximum number of words. If maxwords is provided, the maxlength option will be ignored.
threshold string The percentage value of the limit at which point the count message is displayed. If this attribute is set, the count message will be hidden by default.
label object Required. The label used by the character count component. See label.
hint object Can be used to add a hint to the character count component. See hint.
errorMessage object Can be used to add an error message to the character count component. The error message component will not display if you use a falsy value for errorMessage, for example false or null. See errorMessage.
formGroup object Additional options for the form group containing the character count component. See formGroup.
classes string Classes to add to the textarea.
attributes object HTML attributes (for example data attributes) to add to the textarea.
spellcheck boolean Optional field to enable or disable the spellcheck attribute on the character count.
countMessage object Additional options for the count message used by the character count component. See countMessage.
textareaDescriptionText string Message made available to assistive technologies to describe that the component accepts only a limited amount of content. It is visible on the page when JavaScript is unavailable. The component will replace the %{count} placeholder with the value of the maxlength or maxwords parameter.
charactersUnderLimitText object Message displayed when the number of characters is under the configured maximum, maxlength. This message is displayed visually and through assistive technologies. The component will replace the %{count} placeholder with the number of remaining characters. This is a pluralised list of messages.
charactersAtLimitText string Message displayed when the number of characters reaches the configured maximum, maxlength. This message is displayed visually and through assistive technologies.
charactersOverLimitText object Message displayed when the number of characters is over the configured maximum, maxlength. This message is displayed visually and through assistive technologies. The component will replace the %{count} placeholder with the number of characters above the maximum. This is a pluralised list of messages.
wordsUnderLimitText object Message displayed when the number of words is under the configured maximum, maxwords. This message is displayed visually and through assistive technologies. The component will replace the %{count} placeholder with the number of remaining words. This is a pluralised list of messages.
wordsAtLimitText string Message displayed when the number of words reaches the configured maximum, maxwords. This message is displayed visually and through assistive technologies.
wordsOverLimitText object Message displayed when the number of words is over the configured maximum, maxwords. This message is displayed visually and through assistive technologies. The component will replace the %{count} placeholder with the number of characters above the maximum. This is a pluralised list of messages.
Options for formGroup object
Name Type Description
classes string Classes to add to the form group (for example to show error state for the whole group).
attributes object HTML attributes (for example data attributes) to add to the form group.
beforeInput object Content to add before the textarea used by the character count component. See formGroup beforeInput.
afterInput object Content to add after the textarea used by the character count component. See formGroup afterInput.
Options for formGroup beforeInput object
Name Type Description
text string Required. Text to add before the textarea. If html is provided, the text option will be ignored.
html string Required. HTML to add before the textarea. If html is provided, the text option will be ignored.
Options for formGroup afterInput object
Name Type Description
text string Required. Text to add after the textarea. If html is provided, the text option will be ignored.
html string Required. HTML to add after the textarea. If html is provided, the text option will be ignored.
Options for countMessage object
Name Type Description
classes string Classes to add to the count message.
Options for label component
Name Type Description
text string Required. If html is set, this is not required. Text to use within the label. If html is provided, the text option will be ignored.
html string Required. If text is set, this is not required. HTML to use within the label. If html is provided, the text option will be ignored.
for string The value of the for attribute, the ID of the input the label is associated with.
isPageHeading boolean Whether the label also acts as the heading for the page.
classes string Classes to add to the label tag.
attributes object HTML attributes (for example data attributes) to add to the label tag.
Options for hint component
Name Type Description
text string Required. If html is set, this is not required. Text to use within the hint. If html is provided, the text option will be ignored.
html string Required. If text is set, this is not required. HTML to use within the hint. If html is provided, the text option will be ignored.
id string Optional ID attribute to add to the hint span tag.
classes string Classes to add to the hint span tag.
attributes object HTML attributes (for example data attributes) to add to the hint span tag.
{% from "govuk/components/character-count/macro.njk" import govukCharacterCount %}

{{ govukCharacterCount({
  id: "label-as-page-heading",
  name: "labelAsPageHeading",
  maxlength: 200,
  label: {
    text: "Describe the nature of your event"
  }
}) }}

Consider if a word count is more helpful

In some cases it may be more helpful to show a word count. For example, if your question requires a longer answer.

Do this by setting data-maxwords in the component markup. For example, data-maxwords="150" will set a word limit of 150.

<div class="govuk-character-count" data-module="govuk-character-count" data-maxwords="150">
  <div class="govuk-form-group">
    <h1 class="govuk-label-wrapper">
      <label class="govuk-label govuk-label--l" for="word-count">
        Enter a job description
      </label>
    </h1>
    <textarea class="govuk-textarea govuk-js-character-count" id="word-count" name="wordCount" rows="5" aria-describedby="word-count-info"></textarea>
  </div>
  <div id="word-count-info" class="govuk-hint govuk-character-count__message">
    You can enter up to 150 words
  </div>
</div>
Nunjucks macro options

Use options to customise the appearance, content and behaviour of a component when using a macro, for example, changing the text.

Some options are required for the macro to work; these are marked as “Required” in the option description.

If you’re using Nunjucks macros in production with “html” options, or ones ending with “html”, you must sanitise the HTML to protect against cross-site scripting exploits.

Primary options
Name Type Description
id string Required. The ID of the textarea.
name string Required. The name of the textarea, which is submitted with the form data.
rows string Optional number of textarea rows (default is 5 rows).
value string Optional initial value of the textarea.
maxlength string Required. If maxwords is set, this is not required. The maximum number of characters. If maxwords is provided, the maxlength option will be ignored.
maxwords string Required. If maxlength is set, this is not required. The maximum number of words. If maxwords is provided, the maxlength option will be ignored.
threshold string The percentage value of the limit at which point the count message is displayed. If this attribute is set, the count message will be hidden by default.
label object Required. The label used by the character count component. See label.
hint object Can be used to add a hint to the character count component. See hint.
errorMessage object Can be used to add an error message to the character count component. The error message component will not display if you use a falsy value for errorMessage, for example false or null. See errorMessage.
formGroup object Additional options for the form group containing the character count component. See formGroup.
classes string Classes to add to the textarea.
attributes object HTML attributes (for example data attributes) to add to the textarea.
spellcheck boolean Optional field to enable or disable the spellcheck attribute on the character count.
countMessage object Additional options for the count message used by the character count component. See countMessage.
textareaDescriptionText string Message made available to assistive technologies to describe that the component accepts only a limited amount of content. It is visible on the page when JavaScript is unavailable. The component will replace the %{count} placeholder with the value of the maxlength or maxwords parameter.
charactersUnderLimitText object Message displayed when the number of characters is under the configured maximum, maxlength. This message is displayed visually and through assistive technologies. The component will replace the %{count} placeholder with the number of remaining characters. This is a pluralised list of messages.
charactersAtLimitText string Message displayed when the number of characters reaches the configured maximum, maxlength. This message is displayed visually and through assistive technologies.
charactersOverLimitText object Message displayed when the number of characters is over the configured maximum, maxlength. This message is displayed visually and through assistive technologies. The component will replace the %{count} placeholder with the number of characters above the maximum. This is a pluralised list of messages.
wordsUnderLimitText object Message displayed when the number of words is under the configured maximum, maxwords. This message is displayed visually and through assistive technologies. The component will replace the %{count} placeholder with the number of remaining words. This is a pluralised list of messages.
wordsAtLimitText string Message displayed when the number of words reaches the configured maximum, maxwords. This message is displayed visually and through assistive technologies.
wordsOverLimitText object Message displayed when the number of words is over the configured maximum, maxwords. This message is displayed visually and through assistive technologies. The component will replace the %{count} placeholder with the number of characters above the maximum. This is a pluralised list of messages.
Options for formGroup object
Name Type Description
classes string Classes to add to the form group (for example to show error state for the whole group).
attributes object HTML attributes (for example data attributes) to add to the form group.
beforeInput object Content to add before the textarea used by the character count component. See formGroup beforeInput.
afterInput object Content to add after the textarea used by the character count component. See formGroup afterInput.
Options for formGroup beforeInput object
Name Type Description
text string Required. Text to add before the textarea. If html is provided, the text option will be ignored.
html string Required. HTML to add before the textarea. If html is provided, the text option will be ignored.
Options for formGroup afterInput object
Name Type Description
text string Required. Text to add after the textarea. If html is provided, the text option will be ignored.
html string Required. HTML to add after the textarea. If html is provided, the text option will be ignored.
Options for countMessage object
Name Type Description
classes string Classes to add to the count message.
Options for label component
Name Type Description
text string Required. If html is set, this is not required. Text to use within the label. If html is provided, the text option will be ignored.
html string Required. If text is set, this is not required. HTML to use within the label. If html is provided, the text option will be ignored.
for string The value of the for attribute, the ID of the input the label is associated with.
isPageHeading boolean Whether the label also acts as the heading for the page.
classes string Classes to add to the label tag.
attributes object HTML attributes (for example data attributes) to add to the label tag.
Options for hint component
Name Type Description
text string Required. If html is set, this is not required. Text to use within the hint. If html is provided, the text option will be ignored.
html string Required. If text is set, this is not required. HTML to use within the hint. If html is provided, the text option will be ignored.
id string Optional ID attribute to add to the hint span tag.
classes string Classes to add to the hint span tag.
attributes object HTML attributes (for example data attributes) to add to the hint span tag.
{% from "govuk/components/character-count/macro.njk" import govukCharacterCount %}

{{ govukCharacterCount({
  name: "wordCount",
  id: "word-count",
  maxwords: 150,
  label: {
    text: "Enter a job description",
    classes: "govuk-label--l",
    isPageHeading: true
  }
}) }}

Avoid narrow limits

When using a character count, try to set the limit higher than most users will need. Find out what this is by doing user research and data analysis.

If the limit is far higher than users are likely to reach

You can choose to display a character count message when the length of text within the textarea passes a certain ‘threshold’ of characters. This is useful when a character limit is needed due to the technical limitations of the service, but users are unlikely to reach that limit.

To do this, set the threshold in the component markup as a percentage. For example, data-threshold="75" will show the count message only when the user has entered a length of text that’s 75% of the limit or more.

Screen reader users will hear the character limit when they first interact with a textarea using the threshold option. Sighted users will not see anything until the count message is shown – though you might choose to include the character limit in the hint text.

<div class="govuk-character-count" data-module="govuk-character-count" data-maxlength="1000" data-threshold="85">
  <div class="govuk-form-group">
    <h1 class="govuk-label-wrapper">
      <label class="govuk-label govuk-label--l" for="threshold">
        Can you provide more detail?
      </label>
    </h1>
    <textarea class="govuk-textarea govuk-js-character-count" id="threshold" name="threshold" rows="5" aria-describedby="threshold-info">This example of a textarea has a character limit of 1000 characters. The character count is hidden, but will appear when more than 850 characters are entered in this textarea. Type some more text into this textarea to see the character count appear. This paragraph will now repeat 2 more times.

This example of a textarea has a character limit of 1000 characters. The character count is hidden, but will appear when more than 850 characters are entered in this textarea. Type some more text into this textarea to see the character count appear. This paragraph will now repeat 1 more time.

This example of a textarea has a character limit of 1000 characters. The character count is hidden, but will appear when more than 850 characters are entered in this textarea. Type some more text into this textarea to see the character count appear.</textarea>
  </div>
  <div id="threshold-info" class="govuk-hint govuk-character-count__message">
    You can enter up to 1000 characters
  </div>
</div>
Nunjucks macro options

Use options to customise the appearance, content and behaviour of a component when using a macro, for example, changing the text.

Some options are required for the macro to work; these are marked as “Required” in the option description.

If you’re using Nunjucks macros in production with “html” options, or ones ending with “html”, you must sanitise the HTML to protect against cross-site scripting exploits.

Primary options
Name Type Description
id string Required. The ID of the textarea.
name string Required. The name of the textarea, which is submitted with the form data.
rows string Optional number of textarea rows (default is 5 rows).
value string Optional initial value of the textarea.
maxlength string Required. If maxwords is set, this is not required. The maximum number of characters. If maxwords is provided, the maxlength option will be ignored.
maxwords string Required. If maxlength is set, this is not required. The maximum number of words. If maxwords is provided, the maxlength option will be ignored.
threshold string The percentage value of the limit at which point the count message is displayed. If this attribute is set, the count message will be hidden by default.
label object Required. The label used by the character count component. See label.
hint object Can be used to add a hint to the character count component. See hint.
errorMessage object Can be used to add an error message to the character count component. The error message component will not display if you use a falsy value for errorMessage, for example false or null. See errorMessage.
formGroup object Additional options for the form group containing the character count component. See formGroup.
classes string Classes to add to the textarea.
attributes object HTML attributes (for example data attributes) to add to the textarea.
spellcheck boolean Optional field to enable or disable the spellcheck attribute on the character count.
countMessage object Additional options for the count message used by the character count component. See countMessage.
textareaDescriptionText string Message made available to assistive technologies to describe that the component accepts only a limited amount of content. It is visible on the page when JavaScript is unavailable. The component will replace the %{count} placeholder with the value of the maxlength or maxwords parameter.
charactersUnderLimitText object Message displayed when the number of characters is under the configured maximum, maxlength. This message is displayed visually and through assistive technologies. The component will replace the %{count} placeholder with the number of remaining characters. This is a pluralised list of messages.
charactersAtLimitText string Message displayed when the number of characters reaches the configured maximum, maxlength. This message is displayed visually and through assistive technologies.
charactersOverLimitText object Message displayed when the number of characters is over the configured maximum, maxlength. This message is displayed visually and through assistive technologies. The component will replace the %{count} placeholder with the number of characters above the maximum. This is a pluralised list of messages.
wordsUnderLimitText object Message displayed when the number of words is under the configured maximum, maxwords. This message is displayed visually and through assistive technologies. The component will replace the %{count} placeholder with the number of remaining words. This is a pluralised list of messages.
wordsAtLimitText string Message displayed when the number of words reaches the configured maximum, maxwords. This message is displayed visually and through assistive technologies.
wordsOverLimitText object Message displayed when the number of words is over the configured maximum, maxwords. This message is displayed visually and through assistive technologies. The component will replace the %{count} placeholder with the number of characters above the maximum. This is a pluralised list of messages.
Options for formGroup object
Name Type Description
classes string Classes to add to the form group (for example to show error state for the whole group).
attributes object HTML attributes (for example data attributes) to add to the form group.
beforeInput object Content to add before the textarea used by the character count component. See formGroup beforeInput.
afterInput object Content to add after the textarea used by the character count component. See formGroup afterInput.
Options for formGroup beforeInput object
Name Type Description
text string Required. Text to add before the textarea. If html is provided, the text option will be ignored.
html string Required. HTML to add before the textarea. If html is provided, the text option will be ignored.
Options for formGroup afterInput object
Name Type Description
text string Required. Text to add after the textarea. If html is provided, the text option will be ignored.
html string Required. HTML to add after the textarea. If html is provided, the text option will be ignored.
Options for countMessage object
Name Type Description
classes string Classes to add to the count message.
Options for label component
Name Type Description
text string Required. If html is set, this is not required. Text to use within the label. If html is provided, the text option will be ignored.
html string Required. If text is set, this is not required. HTML to use within the label. If html is provided, the text option will be ignored.
for string The value of the for attribute, the ID of the input the label is associated with.
isPageHeading boolean Whether the label also acts as the heading for the page.
classes string Classes to add to the label tag.
attributes object HTML attributes (for example data attributes) to add to the label tag.
Options for hint component
Name Type Description
text string Required. If html is set, this is not required. Text to use within the hint. If html is provided, the text option will be ignored.
html string Required. If text is set, this is not required. HTML to use within the hint. If html is provided, the text option will be ignored.
id string Optional ID attribute to add to the hint span tag.
classes string Classes to add to the hint span tag.
attributes object HTML attributes (for example data attributes) to add to the hint span tag.
{% from "govuk/components/character-count/macro.njk" import govukCharacterCount %}

{% set textareaValue -%}
This example of a textarea has a character limit of 1000 characters. The character count is hidden, but will appear when more than 850 characters are entered in this textarea. Type some more text into this textarea to see the character count appear. This paragraph will now repeat 2 more times.

This example of a textarea has a character limit of 1000 characters. The character count is hidden, but will appear when more than 850 characters are entered in this textarea. Type some more text into this textarea to see the character count appear. This paragraph will now repeat 1 more time.

This example of a textarea has a character limit of 1000 characters. The character count is hidden, but will appear when more than 850 characters are entered in this textarea. Type some more text into this textarea to see the character count appear.
{%- endset %}

{{ govukCharacterCount({
  name: "threshold",
  id: "threshold",
  maxlength: 1000,
  threshold: 85,
  value: textareaValue,
  label: {
    text: "Can you provide more detail?",
    classes: "govuk-label--l",
    isPageHeading: true
  }
}) }}

Error messages

Error messages should be styled like this:

<div class="govuk-character-count" data-module="govuk-character-count" data-maxlength="350">
  <div class="govuk-form-group govuk-form-group--error">
    <h1 class="govuk-label-wrapper">
      <label class="govuk-label govuk-label--l" for="exceeding-characters">
        Enter a job description
      </label>
    </h1>
    <p id="exceeding-characters-error" class="govuk-error-message">
      <span class="govuk-visually-hidden">Error:</span> Job description must be 350 characters or less
    </p>
    <textarea class="govuk-textarea govuk-textarea--error govuk-js-character-count" id="exceeding-characters" name="exceeding" rows="5" aria-describedby="exceeding-characters-info exceeding-characters-error">A content designer works on the end-to-end journey of a service to help users complete their goal and government deliver a policy intent. Their work may involve the creation of, or change to, a transaction, product or single piece of content that stretches across digital and offline channels. They make sure appropriate content is shown to a user in the right place and in the best format.</textarea>
  </div>
  <div id="exceeding-characters-info" class="govuk-hint govuk-character-count__message">
    You can enter up to 350 characters
  </div>
</div>
Nunjucks macro options

Use options to customise the appearance, content and behaviour of a component when using a macro, for example, changing the text.

Some options are required for the macro to work; these are marked as “Required” in the option description.

If you’re using Nunjucks macros in production with “html” options, or ones ending with “html”, you must sanitise the HTML to protect against cross-site scripting exploits.

Primary options
Name Type Description
id string Required. The ID of the textarea.
name string Required. The name of the textarea, which is submitted with the form data.
rows string Optional number of textarea rows (default is 5 rows).
value string Optional initial value of the textarea.
maxlength string Required. If maxwords is set, this is not required. The maximum number of characters. If maxwords is provided, the maxlength option will be ignored.
maxwords string Required. If maxlength is set, this is not required. The maximum number of words. If maxwords is provided, the maxlength option will be ignored.
threshold string The percentage value of the limit at which point the count message is displayed. If this attribute is set, the count message will be hidden by default.
label object Required. The label used by the character count component. See label.
hint object Can be used to add a hint to the character count component. See hint.
errorMessage object Can be used to add an error message to the character count component. The error message component will not display if you use a falsy value for errorMessage, for example false or null. See errorMessage.
formGroup object Additional options for the form group containing the character count component. See formGroup.
classes string Classes to add to the textarea.
attributes object HTML attributes (for example data attributes) to add to the textarea.
spellcheck boolean Optional field to enable or disable the spellcheck attribute on the character count.
countMessage object Additional options for the count message used by the character count component. See countMessage.
textareaDescriptionText string Message made available to assistive technologies to describe that the component accepts only a limited amount of content. It is visible on the page when JavaScript is unavailable. The component will replace the %{count} placeholder with the value of the maxlength or maxwords parameter.
charactersUnderLimitText object Message displayed when the number of characters is under the configured maximum, maxlength. This message is displayed visually and through assistive technologies. The component will replace the %{count} placeholder with the number of remaining characters. This is a pluralised list of messages.
charactersAtLimitText string Message displayed when the number of characters reaches the configured maximum, maxlength. This message is displayed visually and through assistive technologies.
charactersOverLimitText object Message displayed when the number of characters is over the configured maximum, maxlength. This message is displayed visually and through assistive technologies. The component will replace the %{count} placeholder with the number of characters above the maximum. This is a pluralised list of messages.
wordsUnderLimitText object Message displayed when the number of words is under the configured maximum, maxwords. This message is displayed visually and through assistive technologies. The component will replace the %{count} placeholder with the number of remaining words. This is a pluralised list of messages.
wordsAtLimitText string Message displayed when the number of words reaches the configured maximum, maxwords. This message is displayed visually and through assistive technologies.
wordsOverLimitText object Message displayed when the number of words is over the configured maximum, maxwords. This message is displayed visually and through assistive technologies. The component will replace the %{count} placeholder with the number of characters above the maximum. This is a pluralised list of messages.
Options for formGroup object
Name Type Description
classes string Classes to add to the form group (for example to show error state for the whole group).
attributes object HTML attributes (for example data attributes) to add to the form group.
beforeInput object Content to add before the textarea used by the character count component. See formGroup beforeInput.
afterInput object Content to add after the textarea used by the character count component. See formGroup afterInput.
Options for formGroup beforeInput object
Name Type Description
text string Required. Text to add before the textarea. If html is provided, the text option will be ignored.
html string Required. HTML to add before the textarea. If html is provided, the text option will be ignored.
Options for formGroup afterInput object
Name Type Description
text string Required. Text to add after the textarea. If html is provided, the text option will be ignored.
html string Required. HTML to add after the textarea. If html is provided, the text option will be ignored.
Options for countMessage object
Name Type Description
classes string Classes to add to the count message.
Options for label component
Name Type Description
text string Required. If html is set, this is not required. Text to use within the label. If html is provided, the text option will be ignored.
html string Required. If text is set, this is not required. HTML to use within the label. If html is provided, the text option will be ignored.
for string The value of the for attribute, the ID of the input the label is associated with.
isPageHeading boolean Whether the label also acts as the heading for the page.
classes string Classes to add to the label tag.
attributes object HTML attributes (for example data attributes) to add to the label tag.
Options for hint component
Name Type Description
text string Required. If html is set, this is not required. Text to use within the hint. If html is provided, the text option will be ignored.
html string Required. If text is set, this is not required. HTML to use within the hint. If html is provided, the text option will be ignored.
id string Optional ID attribute to add to the hint span tag.
classes string Classes to add to the hint span tag.
attributes object HTML attributes (for example data attributes) to add to the hint span tag.
{% from "govuk/components/character-count/macro.njk" import govukCharacterCount %}

{{ govukCharacterCount({
  id: "exceeding-characters",
  name: "exceeding",
  maxlength: 350,
  value: "A content designer works on the end-to-end journey of a service to help users complete their goal and government deliver a policy intent. Their work may involve the creation of, or change to, a transaction, product or single piece of content that stretches across digital and offline channels. They make sure appropriate content is shown to a user in the right place and in the best format.",
  label: {
    text: "Enter a job description",
    classes: "govuk-label--l",
    isPageHeading: true
  },
  errorMessage: {
    text: "Job description must be 350 characters or less"
  }
}) }}

If a user tries to send their response with too many characters, you must show an error message above the field as well as the count message below it.

The error message tells users what went wrong and how to fix it. The count message provides live feedback and updates as a user types.

The input shows a red border only when the user tries to enter more than the character limit. If the number of characters is within the limit, the input does not show this border even when there’s been an error. We felt it might cause the user difficulty if the border disappeared once they started typing.

Make sure errors follow GOV.UK guidance on writing error messages and have specific error messages for specific error states.

If the input is empty

Say ‘Enter [whatever it is]’.

For example, ‘Enter a summary’.

If the input is too long

Say ‘[whatever it is] must be [number] characters or less’.

For example, ‘Summary must be 400 characters or less’.

Research on this component

The Government Digital Service (GDS) developed and tested this component in a prototype of the ‘Apply for a temporary event notice’ service.

During this research, the component was tested with 17 users, including those with low digital skills and users with disabilities.

Read more about this research in the Design System wiki on GitHub.

Known issues and gaps

In Internet Explorer 11, JAWS will ignore any set threshold and announce the character count, even if the user entered less than the threshold.

In Chrome version 99, JAWS will not announce the hint or character count of a pre-populated textarea. This is a known issue for the developer of JAWS.

Also, this component counts some characters as multiple characters. For example, emojis and some non-Latin characters.

Services using this component

The component is used in a number of services, including the following.

Department for Education

Publish teacher training courses

Government Digital Service

Content publisher application

Next steps

More user research is needed to find out:

  • how to decide between a character limit and a word limit
  • if highlighting characters over the limit in red would be helpful for users
  • how the component might work with lower as well as upper limits
  • if enabling a character count on text inputs would be useful

If you’ve used this component, get in touch to share your user research findings.

Help improve this component

To help make sure that this page is useful, relevant and up to date, you can:

Tell us if your service uses this component

Take part in our usage survey (opens in a new tab) to help us improve this component to better meet the needs of the services that use it.

Need help?

If you’ve got a question about the GOV.UK Design System, contact the team.