1.10 Ensure a logical tab order for controls, input fields and other objects

In most operating systems, the Tab key can be used to move the focus between user interface elements such as controls, text fields and application objects. The order in which the elements come into focus should reflect the logic of the interface.

For example, a simple form used to collect personal information about the user might contain text fields for title, given name, family name, and three lines of address, with a button to submit the details. The logical tab order would place the title and name fields together and place the three lines of address together, because that is how these items are grouped logically. The button would be last because that is the last thing the user does on the form. A tab order which interspersed the name fields with the address fields and had the button in the middle would not reflect the logic of how users think about the information and how they fill out and submit forms. Note that the logical ordering of tile, given name and family name varies from culture to culture, so there may not be a single, universally correct, tab order. Similar guidelines are:

  • 1.4 Adhere to the standard keyboard access methods
  • 1.5 Do not require use of a pointing device


Tabbing is the primary method of accessing application objects via the keyboard. A logical tab order maximises efficiency by allowing keyboard users to predict roughly how many tabs will be needed to get to an object, where the tab will land next and what will be the most efficient direction to tab in. For blind users who cannot see the screen, it enables them to easily create a mental model of the interface layout. When filling in forms, a logical tab order means that the next piece of information that needs to be provided is always the obvious one.

Not providing a logical tab order reduces efficiency and can cause errors in forms where users type information into the wrong fields or reach the Submit button without realising they have yet to fill in some fields.

Directions and Techniques

There are no specific techniques recommended for this guideline.

How you could check for this:

There are no specific test methods recommended for this guideline.