<input> elements of type checkbox are rendered by default as square boxes that are checked (ticked) when activated, like you might see in an official government paper form. They allow you to select single values for submission in a form (or not).

<input id="checkBox" type="checkbox">

Note: Radio buttons are similar to checkboxes, but with an important distinction — radio buttons are grouped into a set in which only one radio button can be selected at a time, whereas checkboxes allow you to turn single values on and off. Where multiple controls exist, radio buttons allow one to be selected out of them all, whereas checkboxes allow multiple values to be selected.

Value A DOMString representing the value of the checkbox.
Events change and input
Supported common attributes checked
IDL attributes checked and value
Methods select()

Value

A DOMString representing the value of the checkbox. This is never seen on the client-side, but on the server this is the value given to the data submitted with the checkbox's name. Take the following example:

<form>
  <div>
    <input type="checkbox" id="subscribeNews" name="subscribe" value="newsletter">
    <label for="subscribeNews">Subscribe to newsletter?</label>
  </div>
  <div>
    <button type="submit">Subscribe</button>
  </div>
</form>

In this example, we've got a name of subscribe, and a value of newsletter. When the form is submitted, the data name/value pair will be subscribe=newsletter.

If the value attribute was omitted, the submitted data would be given a default value of on, so the submitted data in that case would be subscribe=on.

Note: If a checkbox is unchecked when its form is submitted, there is no value submitted to the server to represent its unchecked state (e.g. value=unchecked); the value is not submitted to the server at all.

Using checkbox inputs

We already covered the most basic use of checkboxes above. Let's now look at the other common checkbox-related features and techniques you'll need.

Handling multiple checkboxes

The example we saw above only contained one checkbox; in real-world situations you'll be likely to encounter multiple checkboxes. If they are completely unrelated, then you can just deal with them all separately, as shown above. However, if they're all related, things are not quite so simple.

For example, in the following demo we include multiple checkboxes to allow the user to select their interests (see the full version in the Examples section).

<fieldset>
  <legend>Choose your interests</legend>
  <div>
    <input type="checkbox" id="coding" name="interest" value="coding">
    <label for="coding">Coding</label>
  </div>
  <div>
    <input type="checkbox" id="music" name="interest" value="music">
    <label for="music">Music</label>
  </div>
</fieldset>

In this example you will see that we've given each checkbox the same name. If both checkboxes are checked and then the form is submitted, you'll get a string of name/value pairs submitted like this: interest=coding&interest=music. When this data reaches the server-side, you should be able to capture it as an array of related values and deal with it appropriately — see Handle Multiple Checkboxes with a Single Serverside Variable, for example.

Checking boxes by default

To make a checkbox checked by default, you simply give it the checked attribute. See the below example:

<fieldset>
  <legend>Choose your interests</legend>
  <div>
    <input type="checkbox" id="coding" name="interest" value="coding" checked>
    <label for="coding">Coding</label>
  </div>
  <div>
    <input type="checkbox" id="music" name="interest" value="music">
    <label for="music">Music</label>
  </div>
</fieldset>

Providing a bigger hit area for your checkboxes

In the above examples, you may have noticed that you can toggle a checkbox by clicking on its associated <label> element as well as on the checkbox itself. This is a really useful feature of HTML form labels that makes it easier to click the option you want, especially on small-screen devices like smartphones.

Beyond accessibility, this is another good reason to properly set up <label> elements on your forms.

Indeterminate state checkboxes

In addition to the checked and unchecked states, there is a third state a checkbox can be in: indeterminate. This is a state in which it's impossible to say whether the item is toggled on or off. This is set using the HTMLInputElement object's indeterminate property via JavaScript (it cannot be set using an HTML attribute):

inputInstance.indeterminate = true;

A checkbox in the indeterminate state has a horizontal line in the box (it looks somewhat like a hyphen or minus sign) instead of a check/tick in most browsers.

There are not many use cases for this property. The most common is when a checkbox is available that "owns" a number of sub-options (which are also checkboxes). If all of the sub-options are checked, the owning checkbox is also checked, and if they're all unchecked, the owning checkbox is unchecked. If any one or more of the sub-options have a different state than the others, the owning checkbox is in the indeterminate state.

This can be seen in the below example (thanks to CSS Tricks for the inspiration). In this example we keep track of the ingredients we are collecting for a recipe. When you check or uncheck an ingredient's checkbox, a JavaScript function checks the total number of checked ingredients:

  • If none are checked, the recipe name's checkbox is set to unchecked.
  • If one or two are checked, the recipe name's checkbox is set to indeterminate.
  • If all three are checked, the recipe name's checkbox is set to checked.

So in this case the indeterminate state is used to state that collecting the ingredients has started, but the recipe is not yet complete.

  var overall = document.querySelector('input[id="EnchTbl"]');
  var ingredients = document.querySelectorAll('ul input');

  overall.addEventListener('click', function(e) {
    e.preventDefault();
  });

  for(var i = 0; i < ingredients.length; i++) {
    ingredients[i].addEventListener('click', updateDisplay);
  }

  function updateDisplay() {
    var checkedCount = 1;
    for(var i = 0; i < ingredients.length; i++) {
      if(ingredients[i].checked) {
        checkedCount++;
      }
    }

    if(checkedCount === ingredients.length + 1) {
      overall.checked = true;
      overall.indeterminate = false;
    } else if(checkedCount <= ingredients.length + 1 && checkedCount > 1) {
      overall.checked = false;
      overall.indeterminate = true;
    } else {
      overall.checked = false;
      overall.indeterminate = false;
    }
  }

Note: If you submit a form with an indeterminate checkbox, the same thing happens as if the form were unchecked — no data is submitted to represent the checkbox.

Validation

Checkboxes do support validation (offered to all <input>s). However, most of the ValidityStates will always be false. If the checkbox has the required attribute, but is not checked, then ValidityState.valueMissing will be true.

Examples

The following example is an extended version of the "multiple checkboxes" example we saw above — it has more standard options, plus an "other" checkbox that when checked causes a text field to appear to enter a value for the "other" option. This is achieved with a simple block of JavaScript. The example also includes some CSS to improve the styling.

HTML

<form>
  <fieldset>
  <legend>Choose your interests</legend>
    <div>
      <input type="checkbox" id="coding" name="interest" value="coding">
      <label for="coding">Coding</label>
    </div>
    <div>
      <input type="checkbox" id="music" name="interest" value="music">
      <label for="music">Music</label>
    </div>
    <div>
      <input type="checkbox" id="art" name="interest" value="art">
      <label for="art">Art</label>
    </div>
    <div>
      <input type="checkbox" id="sports" name="interest" value="sports">
      <label for="sports">Sports</label>
    </div>
    <div>
      <input type="checkbox" id="cooking" name="interest" value="cooking">
      <label for="cooking">Cooking</label>
    </div>
    <div>
      <input type="checkbox" id="other" name="interest" value="other">
      <label for="other">Other</label>
      <input type="text" id="otherValue" name="other">
    </div>
    <div>
      <button type="submit">Submit form</button>
    </div>
  </fieldset>
</form>

CSS

html {
  font-family: sans-serif;
}

form {
  width: 600px;
  margin: 0 auto;
}

div {
  margin-bottom: 10px;
}

fieldset {
  background: cyan;
  border: 5px solid blue;
}

legend {
  padding: 10px;
  background: blue;
  color: cyan;
}

#otherValue
{
  display: none;
}

#other:checked ~ #otherValue
{
  display: inline-block;
}

Specifications

Specification Status Comment
HTML Living Standard
The definition of '<input type="checkbox">' in that specification.
Living Standard  
HTML5
The definition of '<input type="checkbox">' in that specification.
Recommendation  

Browser compatibility

Feature Chrome Firefox (Gecko) Internet Explorer Opera Safari
Basic support (Yes) (Yes) (Yes) (Yes) (Yes)
Feature Android Firefox Mobile (Gecko) IE Mobile Opera Mobile Safari Mobile
Basic support (Yes) 4.0 (2.0) (Yes) (Yes) (Yes)

See also

Document Tags and Contributors

 Last updated by: Sheppy,