This is more a matter of usage and common sense than anything, but I'm faced with the following problem. I have a dropdown with things like greater, equal, between, and then a field where numbers can be entered. So it basically looks like this:

[dropdown ^] [__number_field__]

The idea is that you select the appropriate option from the dropdown, enter a number in the field next to it, and then the associated search would look for things that have that a value eg. greater than 5, as in this example:

[greater ^] [__5__]

The options in the dropdown are:

  • equal
  • not equal
  • greater
  • greater or equal
  • less
  • less or equal
  • between
  • is empty

Technically, when we use these in full sentences, we use them with "to" added after each equal, and "than" added after each "greater/less" - and of course we use "and" between the two values mentioned in the "between" case.

But is it ok, in a form, to use these without the to/than/and? To me it looks weird and off (possibly because I read things in my inside voice when I read - which I know is a bad habit - and it sounds weird and off), but is it perhaps common usage to skip the preposition?

2 Answers 2


This is probably a UX or GD question, but here goes...

No, it's not comon usage, and there's really no need to unless space is at such a premium that "greater than or equal to" won't fit (in which case you might consider "at least" for that one, and "at most" for "less than or equal to").

Dropdown from Microsoft Excel 2003

[ Microsoft Excel 2003 Conditional Formatting dialog ]

As you say, these are read as sentences: "Cell value 1 is greater than or equal to value" and truncating it offers no benefit and actively harms readability.

  • And if space is at such a premium, you would do just as well to simply use <, >, <=, >=, ==, !=, etc. instead of words. Commented Mar 31, 2015 at 10:01

Given that this appears to be more of a computing question than a general usage of the language I would answer as such. The industry standard would be to use "greater than", "less than", "equal to" etc.

I know that the shorter forms that you have used above give the same result, but from a user interface point of view you have to take into account people who don't necessarily use English as their first language.

Also, adding the "than" and "to" at the end actually helps with the automatic recognition in our brains. It's similar to the reasoning behind using upper and lower case when presenting road signs. The human brain automatically completes to what it expects. If you use the list above the user will actually spend slightly longer taking in each option.

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