How to correctly name this in English (in an official documentation for an IT system or in an instruction for filling up some form):

enter image description here

Should I name this:

  • a radio button,
  • a radio-button,
  • a radiobutton,
  • an option button,
  • an option-button,
  • and optionbutton
  • other name.

Similar question resulted with an answer that form with space is much more popular and often used.

Simiral Google Ngram search reveals that:

  • writing with space ("radio button" and "option button") are much more popular,
  • "optionbutton" and "option-button" was never used or is not found withing Google Ngram,
  • "radiobutton" and "radio-button" usage is very low.

It seems that (similarly to "check box"), "radio button" is the most widely used.


How to correctly name this in English (in an official documentation for an IT system or in an instruction for filling up some form)

These are two different requirements:

  • In your official documentation, you should use the name that your application uses for this element. For example, if your solution is written in HTML, then you should use the term radio buttons:

    Radio buttons are like checkboxes except that when several share the same control name, they are mutually exclusive: …

  • For user instructions, use whatever is clear to your users. In most cases, you don't need to name the element as such at all - you can say simply:

    Select • under age if you are less than 18 years old;

    If you do need to refer to it, I believe option would be the best non-technical term to use:

    Select the • under age option if you are less than 18 years old;

  • I think you're making a wrong assumption here. Did you assume that I'm writing documentation for some kind of source code? I'm writing a documentation for a end product, a working system. My user has absolutely no idea (and shouldn't have), in which language my system is written. It can by HTML, Java, Visual Basic for Excel or anything. For this reason, I can't judge usage of correct name -- whether it will be "radio button" or something else -- based on technology used to write software, for which I'm writing my documentation. Again, this is language-oriented, not technology-like question. – trejder Jan 13 '17 at 14:04
  • 1
    Well, then the second part of my answer is the only part you should consider. – michael.hor257k Jan 13 '17 at 14:07

This should be in a technical forum.

You are pro'ly too young to have witnessed the use of old "transistor radios" that competed for a while with the old amplifier-valves radios.

The radios of that era would have a row of buttons. At any one time, only one button in the row can remain depressed. Pressing one down, would cause the currently depressed button to pop up.

Browser radio buttons are called "radio buttons" not because of how they look, but how they behaved. Modern era browser radio buttons are now by convention round, as the ones you show.

However, technically and historically speaking, if you program them to allow multiple-selection, then you should no longer call them radio buttons.

You can spell the phrase as "radio button" or "radio-button". AFA hyphens are concerned, read When to use a hyphen to coin a new word and when to omit a hyphen? .

Checkboxes originate in the paper forms we still have to fill in till this day, in govt offices, hospitals, job applications, tax filings, etc. Check or tick as many as applicable. i.e., multiple-selections allowed. Modern convention expect checkboxes to be rectangular or squarish. However, programmers are known to give checkboxes the behaviour of radio-buttons.

So the questions should be

  • If checkboxes are programmed to behave as radio buttons, should we call them radio buttons?
  • Conversely, if radio buttons are programmed to allow multiple selection, are they still "radio buttons"?

The answer would be

  • Stick to the expected convention. Do not confuse the application or its users.
  • Well... in short. (1) I'm old enough to know transistor radios with radio buttons. (2) I don't quite get your part about programming radio buttons to allow multi selection. They're no longer radio buttons in this case and this issue has nothing to my question or answer. (3) Part about programming checkboxes to behave like radio buttons (or vice versa) also seems to be out of my understanding. My question and answer (both mine and other expected) has nothing to do with checkboxes, with elements behavior or with programmatic change of this behavior. – trejder Jan 13 '17 at 14:00
  • Finally, (4) no, this shouldn't be in technical forum. This is a purely language-oriented question. You must be missing something or mixing certain things. – trejder Jan 13 '17 at 14:00

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