General guidance

Checkboxes are used for a list of options where the user may select multiple options, including all or none.

Checkbox states

The checkbox control allows for three states: selected, unselected, and indeterminate. The indeterminate state comes into play when the checkbox contains a sublist of selections, some of which are selected, and some unselected.

Click target

Users should be able to select the checkbox by clicking on the box directly or by clicking on its label.

Default selection

The default view of a set of checkboxes is having no option selected.

The default state for checkboxes is unchecked.

By default, checkboxes are unchecked.

Checkbox vs. radio button

Whereas radio buttons represent a group of mutually exclusive choices, users can select one or more checkboxes from a group. In use cases where only one selection of a group is allowed, use the radio button component instead of the checkbox.

Checkbox vs. toggle switch

Generally, toggle switches are preferred when the resulting action will be instantaneously applied, without the need for further confirmation. Checkboxes generally represent one input in a larger flow which requires a final confirmation step.




If necessary, a heading can accompany a set of checkboxes to provide further context or clarity. Use sentence case for checkbox headings. In the example below, “IBM designers” would be the heading for the set of checkboxes.


Always use clear and concise labels for checkboxes. Be explicit about the results that will follow if the checkbox is selected. Labels appear to the right of checkboxes.


See the data table section for guidance on how to use checkboxes within a table.