Maximum characters in a text box (how to say)?

Subject: Maximum characters in a text box (how to say)?
From: Geoff Hart <ghart -at- videotron -dot- ca>
To: TECHWR-L <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>, christopher macdonald <chrismac49 -at- hotmail -dot- com>
Date: Fri, 03 Feb 2006 09:08:15 -0500

christopher macdonald wondered: <<... if anyone has wording to describe how many characters can be entered into a text box. Here are a couple of samples I've seen:
Maximum characters: 256
Max char: 256
256 characters or less
256 characters or fewer>>

The ideal solution, of course, is to have a little count-down line beside the box that tells the user how many characters they have left. (I've seen this in many Web-based e-mail forms, so presumably there's open-source code out there for handling this... no reinventing the wheel!) That makes the information part of the interface and ensures that users see the information as they type.

If that's not feasible, the first and last options are the best, with the first option clearest: The 2nd uses an abbreviation that won't be familiar to everyone (you noted that you're writing for an international audience), and the third is grammatically incorrect unless you recast it: "The length must be less than 256 characters."

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Geoff Hart ghart -at- videotron -dot- ca
(try geoffhart -at- mac -dot- com if you don't get a reply)
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maximum characters in a text box (how to say): From: christopher macdonald

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