Components

Textarea

<div class="govuk-form-group">
  <label class="govuk-label" for="more-detail">
    Can you provide more detail?
  </label>
  <span id="more-detail-hint" class="govuk-hint">
    Do not include personal or financial information, like your National Insurance number or credit card details.
  </span>
  <textarea class="govuk-textarea" id="more-detail" name="more-detail" rows="5" aria-describedby="more-detail-hint"></textarea>
</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.
describedBy string Text or element id to add to the aria-describedby attribute to provide description for screenreader users.
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.
label object Required. Options for the label component. See label.
hint object Options for the hint component. See hint.
errorMessage object Options for the errorMessage component (e.g. text). See errorMessage.
formGroup object Options for the form-group wrapper See formGroup.
classes string Classes to add to the textarea.
attributes object HTML attributes (for example data attributes) to add to the textarea.
Options for formGroup
Name Type Description
classes string Optional classes to add to the form group (e.g. to show error state for the whole group)
Options for label
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` argument 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` argument will be ignored.
for string Required. 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
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` argument 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` argument will be ignored.
id string Required. 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 "textarea/macro.njk" import govukTextarea %}

{{ govukTextarea({
  name: "more-detail",
  id: "more-detail",
  label: {
    text: "Can you provide more detail?"
  },
  hint: {
    text: "Do not include personal or financial information, like your National Insurance number or credit card details."
  }
}) }}

When to use this component

Use the textarea component when you need to let users enter an amount of text that’s longer than a single line.

When not to use this component

Users can find open-ended questions difficult to answer. It might be better to break up one complex question into a series of simple ones, for example where users can select from options using radios.

If you need to ask an open question

Do not use the textarea component if you need to let users enter shorter answers no longer than a single line, such as a phone number or name. In this case, you should use the text input component.

How it works

There are 2 ways to use the textarea 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-form-group">
  <label class="govuk-label" for="more-detail">
    Can you provide more detail?
  </label>
  <span id="more-detail-hint" class="govuk-hint">
    Do not include personal or financial information, like your National Insurance number or credit card details.
  </span>
  <textarea class="govuk-textarea" id="more-detail" name="more-detail" rows="5" aria-describedby="more-detail-hint"></textarea>
</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.
describedBy string Text or element id to add to the aria-describedby attribute to provide description for screenreader users.
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.
label object Required. Options for the label component. See label.
hint object Options for the hint component. See hint.
errorMessage object Options for the errorMessage component (e.g. text). See errorMessage.
formGroup object Options for the form-group wrapper See formGroup.
classes string Classes to add to the textarea.
attributes object HTML attributes (for example data attributes) to add to the textarea.
Options for formGroup
Name Type Description
classes string Optional classes to add to the form group (e.g. to show error state for the whole group)
Options for label
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` argument 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` argument will be ignored.
for string Required. 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
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` argument 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` argument will be ignored.
id string Required. 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 "textarea/macro.njk" import govukTextarea %}

{{ govukTextarea({
  name: "more-detail",
  id: "more-detail",
  label: {
    text: "Can you provide more detail?"
  },
  hint: {
    text: "Do not include personal or financial information, like your National Insurance number or credit card details."
  }
}) }}

Label textareas

You must label textareas. Placeholder text is not a suitable substitute for a label, as it disappears when users click inside the textarea.

Labels must be aligned above the textarea they refer to. They should be short, direct and written in sentence case. Do not use colons at the end of labels.

Use appropriately-sized textareas

Make the height of a textarea proportional to the amount of text you expect users to enter. You can set the height of a textarea by by specifying the rows attribute.

<div class="govuk-form-group">
  <label class="govuk-label" for="more-detail">
    Can you provide more detail?
  </label>
  <span id="more-detail-hint" class="govuk-hint">
    Do not include personal or financial information, like your National Insurance number or credit card details.
  </span>
  <textarea class="govuk-textarea" id="more-detail" name="more-detail" rows="8" aria-describedby="more-detail-hint"></textarea>
</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.
describedBy string Text or element id to add to the aria-describedby attribute to provide description for screenreader users.
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.
label object Required. Options for the label component. See label.
hint object Options for the hint component. See hint.
errorMessage object Options for the errorMessage component (e.g. text). See errorMessage.
formGroup object Options for the form-group wrapper See formGroup.
classes string Classes to add to the textarea.
attributes object HTML attributes (for example data attributes) to add to the textarea.
Options for formGroup
Name Type Description
classes string Optional classes to add to the form group (e.g. to show error state for the whole group)
Options for label
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` argument 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` argument will be ignored.
for string Required. 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
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` argument 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` argument will be ignored.
id string Required. 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 "textarea/macro.njk" import govukTextarea %}

{{ govukTextarea({
  name: "more-detail",
  id: "more-detail",
  rows: "8",
  label: {
    text: "Can you provide more detail?"
  },
  hint: {
    text: "Do not include personal or financial information, like your National Insurance number or credit card details."
  }
}) }}

Do not disable copy and paste

Users will often need to copy and paste information into a textarea, so do not stop them from doing this.

Limiting the number of characters

If there’s a good reason to limit the number of characters users can enter, you can use the character count component.

Error messages

Error messages should be styled like this:

<div class="govuk-form-group govuk-form-group--error">
  <label class="govuk-label" for="more-detail">
    Can you provide more detail?
  </label>
  <span id="more-detail-hint" class="govuk-hint">
    Do not include personal or financial information, like your National Insurance number or credit card details.
  </span>
  <span id="more-detail-error" class="govuk-error-message">
    Enter more detail
  </span>
  <textarea class="govuk-textarea govuk-textarea--error" id="more-detail" name="more-detail" rows="5" aria-describedby="more-detail-hint more-detail-error"></textarea>
</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.
describedBy string Text or element id to add to the aria-describedby attribute to provide description for screenreader users.
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.
label object Required. Options for the label component. See label.
hint object Options for the hint component. See hint.
errorMessage object Options for the errorMessage component (e.g. text). See errorMessage.
formGroup object Options for the form-group wrapper See formGroup.
classes string Classes to add to the textarea.
attributes object HTML attributes (for example data attributes) to add to the textarea.
Options for formGroup
Name Type Description
classes string Optional classes to add to the form group (e.g. to show error state for the whole group)
Options for label
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` argument 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` argument will be ignored.
for string Required. 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
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` argument 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` argument will be ignored.
id string Required. 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 "textarea/macro.njk" import govukTextarea %}

{{ govukTextarea({
  name: "more-detail",
  id: "more-detail",
  label: {
    text: "Can you provide more detail?"
  },
  hint: {
    text: "Do not include personal or financial information, like your National Insurance number or credit card details."
  },
  errorMessage: {
    text: "Enter more detail"
  }
}) }}

Make sure errors follow the guidance in error message and have specific error messages for specific error states.

If the input is empty

Say “Enter [whatever it is]”.
For example, “Enter 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”.

If the input is too short

Say “[whatever it is] must be [number] characters or more”.
For example, “Summary must be 10 characters or more”.

If the input is too long or too short

Say “[whatever it is] must be between [number] and [number] characters”.
For example, “Summary must be between 10 and 400 characters”.

If the input uses characters that are not allowed and you know what the characters are

Say “[whatever it is] must not include [characters]”.
For example, “Summary must not include è and £”.

If the input uses characters that are not allowed and you do not know what the characters are

Say “[whatever it is] must only include [list of allowed characters]”.
For example, “Summary must only include letters a to z, hyphens, spaces and apostrophes”.

Research on this component

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

Get in touch

If you’ve got a question, idea or suggestion share it in #govuk-design-system on cross-government Slack (open in app) or email the Design System team on govuk-design-system-support@digital.cabinet-office.gov.uk

Discuss ‘Textarea’ on GitHub