Radio button


When to use

Use a radio button group to choose one option from 2–4 mutually exclusive options.

Do not use radio buttons if:

  • Several options in a group can be selected. Use a group of checkboxes instead.
  • There are only 2 opposite yes/no options. Use a checkbox instead.

  • There are 5 and more options that can be charted on an axis, e.g. time delay. Use a slider instead.

  • There are 5 and more options. Use a drop-down list:



Consider using a drop-down list if:

  • The screen space is limited.
  • The option might be used less often than other options on the screen.
  • There are other drop-down lists in the same group of UI components. A radio button group is more noticeable than a drop-down list so it will look like a more important setting.
  • There is a combination of several UI components for one setting: The automatic updates setting consists of a checkbox, three lengthy-labeled options in a dropdown and a button.

How to use


A label accompanies each checkbox and is placed next to it.

If a label is long, split it into two lines. Avoid labels that take more than two lines. See recommendations on writing concise labels below.

To implement this, use HTML formatting:

JRadioButton radioButton = new JRadioButton(
    "<html>Show options before adding<br>to version control</html>");

Writing guidelines

Use sentence-style capitalization.

Do not use ending punctuation.

Use the imperative form of verbs.

Do not use negation in labels as it complicates understanding.



Make labels short and intelligible — see Writing short and clear text.

Group label

Always start a radio button group with a group label. It explains what the options are for.

Use a checkbox or another radio button as a group label if the radio button group needs to be turned on or off.

Use a colon at the end of a group label.

Sizes and placement

If a radio button group depends on another control, e.g. a checkbox, follow the rules for dependent controls. Otherwise, follow the rules for independent controls.