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Bootstrap Form Control: A Guide on How to Master It

Form controls are essentially HTML elements like <input>, <textarea>, and <select> that allow users to enter data. They are a crucial part of any website because they enable interaction between the user and the site. Without form controls, websites would be static and uninteractive, limiting their usefulness and usability.

This article aims to provide a deep dive into Bootstrap form controls. We will explore what form controls are, how they function, and how to use them effectively in Bootstrap. We’ll also delve into advanced topics like form control customization, layout, validation, and even advanced form controls like file inputs, range sliders, and color pickers.

The goal of this article is to equip developers with a solid understanding of Bootstrap form controls. By the end of this guide, readers should be able to confidently implement and customize form controls in their own projects. Whether you’re a beginner looking to learn more about form controls or an experienced developer seeking to expand your knowledge, this article is designed to meet your needs.

Understanding Form Controls

Forms play a pivotal role in web development by enabling user interaction and data input. Bootstrap, a popular front-end framework, simplifies the process of creating aesthetically pleasing and responsive forms. In this section, we will delve into the fundamentals of form controls, exploring their types and functionalities.

Check out this video below to learn more about Bootstrap Forms

What are Form Controls?

Form controls are the interactive elements within a form that allows users to input data, make selections, and interact with a website. They are essential for gathering information, such as user details, login credentials, and search queries. In HTML, form controls are typically represented by <input>, <textarea>, and <select> tags. Each of these tags has a type attribute that specifies the kind of input expected. For instance, <input type=”text”> creates a single-line text input field, while <input type=”radio”> creates a radio button. Bootstrap enhances the styling and behavior of these controls, providing a consistent and visually appealing user experience across various devices.

One of the key benefits of using Bootstrap for form controls is its ability to ensure a consistent display across different browsers and devices. This is achieved through the use of Bootstrap’s form control classes. For example, the .form-control class applies certain styles to form controls to ensure they have a uniform appearance.

In addition to basic form controls, Bootstrap also supports more complex ones like checkboxes and radio buttons. These can be created using the .form-check class along with the appropriate input types.

Types of Form Controls

  1. Text Inputs (<input type=”text”>):

    • Basic text input fields allow users to enter alphanumeric characters.

    • Used for various purposes, such as names, email addresses, or general text input.

    • Bootstrap provides styling classes to enhance the appearance of text inputs, ensuring a cohesive design.

  2. Password Inputs (<input type=”password”>):

    • Conceals user input to safeguard sensitive information like passwords.

    • Bootstrap allows easy customization of password input styles, ensuring a seamless integration with the overall design.

  3. Email Inputs (<input type=”email”>):

    • Specifically designed for email addresses, this input type helps in validating and formatting email entries.

    • Bootstrap provides classes to style email inputs, maintaining a consistent look with the rest of the form.

  4. Number Inputs (<input type=”number”>):

    • Restricts input to numeric values, useful for fields like age, quantity, or any numerical data.

    • Bootstrap’s form control classes can be applied to number inputs for improved styling.

  5. Date Inputs (<input type=”date”>):

    • Allows users to pick a date from a calendar widget.

    • Bootstrap ensures a visually appealing date input with its predefined styles.

  6. Textarea (<textarea>):

    • Enables multi-line text input, suitable for longer responses or comments.

    • Bootstrap provides classes for resizing and styling textareas to maintain a cohesive design.

  7. Select Dropdowns (<select>):

    • Presents a list of options for users to choose from.

    • Bootstrap enhances the appearance of select dropdowns, providing a clean and modern interface.

  8. Checkboxes (<input type=”checkbox”>) and Radio Buttons (<input type=”radio”>):

    • Checkboxes allow users to select multiple options, while radio buttons restrict selection to a single option.

    • Bootstrap offers styling classes for checkboxes and radio buttons, ensuring a polished look.

  9. File Inputs (<input type=”file”>):

    • Enables users to upload files from their device.

    • Bootstrap enhances the appearance of file inputs and provides customization options.


Here’s an example of a checkbox form control in Bootstrap:

<div class="form-check">
 <input type="checkbox" class="form-check-input" id="exampleCheck1">
 <label class="form-check-label" for="exampleCheck1">Check me out</label>

In this example, the form-check class is used to group the checkbox input and its associated label together. The form-check-input class applies specific styles to the checkbox, while the form-check-label class is used to style the label.

After understanding the basics of form controls, we will now move on to discuss how to apply Bootstrap classes to form controls for styling. This section will cover various Bootstrap classes and how they can be used to customize the appearance of form controls.

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Using Form Controls in Bootstrap

Bootstrap provides several classes that can be used to style form controls. The primary class used is .form-control, which applies a uniform style to textual form controls like <input>, <select>, and <textarea>. This class includes styles for general appearance, focus state, sizing, and more.

Here’s an example of how to use the input class form control (.form-control class):

 <div class="form-group">
   <label for="exampleFormControlInput1">Email address</label>
   <input type="email" class="form-control" id="exampleFormControlInput1" placeholder="name@example.com">
 <!-- More form controls go here -->

In this example, the form-control class is applied to an email input field. The class ensures that the input field has a consistent appearance across different browsers and devices.

Bootstrap also provides other classes for different types of form controls. For instance, the .form-control-file class is used for file inputs:

 <div class="form-group">
   <label for="exampleFormControlFile1">Example file input</label>
   <input type="file" class="form-control-file" id="exampleFormControlFile1">

In this case, the form-control-file class is used instead of the form-control class. The diagram below shows how the two examples are represented.

multiple files input and input class

Finally, Bootstrap allows you to arrange form controls in a grid layout using the .form-row class. This is particularly useful when you need to create a form with multiple columns:

 <div class="form-row">
   <div class="form-group col-md-6">
     <label for="inputEmail4">Email</label>
     <input type="email" class="form-control" id="inputEmail4" placeholder="Email">
   <div class="form-group col-md-6">
     <label for="inputPassword4">Password</label>
     <input type="password" class="form-control" id="inputPassword4" placeholder="Password">
 <!-- More form controls go here -->

In this example, the form-row class is used to create a row of form controls, and the col-md-6 class is used to specify that each control should take up half of the row.

These examples showcase how Bootstrap classes can be seamlessly integrated into different types of form controls, ensuring a consistent and visually appealing design. Experiment with these classes to achieve the desired look and feel for your forms, and don’t hesitate to explore additional Bootstrap documentation for further customization options.

Learn more about form controls using this video below:

In the next section, we will discuss how to customize form controls using Bootstrap’s Sass variables.

Customizing Form Controls

Bootstrap’s flexibility extends beyond its predefined styles. It empowers developers to customize form controls using Sass variables, allowing for tailored designs that align with specific project requirements. In this section, we’ll explore how to leverage Bootstrap’s Sass variables to customize form labels, text, and input fields.

Customizing with Sass Variables

Bootstrap’s Sass variables serve as the building blocks for customization. By modifying these variables, developers can influence the visual aspects of form controls. Let’s delve into examples that demonstrate the customization of form labels, text, and input fields.

Changing $form-label-* Variables for Label Customization:

Bootstrap offers a range of $form-label-* variables that control label styling. These variables include font size, color, and font weight.

// Example: Modifying label font size and color
$form-label-font-size: 16px;
$form-label-color: #3498db;

// Additional customization options go here

By adjusting these variables, you can achieve label styles that seamlessly integrate with your overall design.

Changing $form-text-* Variables for Text Customization:

Similarly, Bootstrap provides $form-text-* variables for customizing text within forms. These variables cover aspects like font size, color, and line height.

// Example: Modifying text font size and color
$form-text-font-size: 14px;
$form-text-color: #2ecc71;

// Additional customization options go here

Customizing these variables enables you to control the appearance of text elements within your forms.

Changing $input-* Variables for Input Field Customization:

To customize input fields, Bootstrap offers $input-* variables. These variables control attributes such as border-radius, box shadow, and border color.

// Example: Modifying input field border radius and border color
$input-border-radius: 8px;
$input-border-color: #e74c3c;

// Additional customization options go here

Adjusting these variables allows you to create input fields that seamlessly blend with your design aesthetic.

Complete Code Example:

Let’s combine these customization examples into a comprehensive code snippet:

// Customizing form labels
$form-label-font-size: 16px;
$form-label-color: #3498db;

// Customizing form text
$form-text-font-size: 14px;
$form-text-color: #2ecc71;

// Customizing input fields
$input-border-radius: 8px;
$input-border-color: #e74c3c;

// Additional customization options go here

// Import Bootstrap Sass
@import 'bootstrap';

// Your custom styles go here

By incorporating these Sass variables into your project, you gain granular control over the styling of form controls. Experiment with different values to achieve the desired visual impact, ensuring that your forms align harmoniously with the overall design of your web application.

In addition to using Sass variables, you can also write custom CSS rules to further customize form controls. For instance, you could add a custom class to a form control and define the styles for this class in your CSS file. Here’s an example:

.custom-input {
 border-color: #ff0000; /* Red border */

In this example, a custom class named custom-input is defined, which changes the border color of the input field to red.

After customizing form controls, the next step is to style form control states. This involves applying different styles to form controls depending on their state (e.g., active, disabled, readonly).

Form Control States

Form controls can exist in various states, including active, disabled, and readonly. Each state represents a different user interaction and requires different visual feedback. In this section, we’ll explore the different states of form controls and demonstrate how to style them effectively.

  1. Active State: An active form control is one that the user is currently interacting with. For example, when a user clicks inside a text input field to start typing, the input field is considered active. Active form controls often have a different visual style compared to their default state to indicate that they are ready to accept user input.

    <!-- Example: Active state for a text input -->
    <input type="text" class="form-control form-control-lg active" placeholder="Active Input">
  1. Disabled State: A disabled form control is one that the user cannot interact with. Disabled form controls are often grayed out or dimmed to visually indicate that they are not available for interaction. For instance, a form control may be disabled if it is not relevant to the current situation or if it is waiting for some condition to be met.

    <!-- Example: Disabled input state for a button -->
    <button type="button" class="btn btn-primary" disabled>Disabled Button</button>
  1. Readonly State: A readonly form control is similar to a disabled form control in that the user cannot modify its value. However, unlike a disabled form control, a readonly form control still appears normal and is not grayed out or dimmed. Readonly form controls are often used when displaying values that the user can view but not edit.

    <!-- Example: Readonly state for a text input -->
    <input type="text" class="form-control" value="Readonly Text" readonly>

Code examples showing the usage of the Form control states

Here is the complete code showing how the states work:

   <div class="mb-3">
      <label for="exampleActive" class="form-label">Active Input</label>
      <input type="text" class="form-control form-control-lg active" id="exampleActive" placeholder="Active Input">
   <div class="mb-3">
      <label for="exampleDisabled" class="form-label">Disabled Button</label>
      <button type="button" class="btn btn-primary" id="exampleDisabled" disabled>Disabled Button</button>

   <div class="mb-3">
      <label for="exampleReadonly" class="form-label">Readonly Text</label>
      <input type="text" class="form-control" id="exampleReadonly" value="Readonly Text" readonly>

   <!-- Additional form elements go here -->
   <button type="submit" class="btn btn-primary">Submit</button>

This example showcases the application of Bootstrap styles to different form control states. Experiment with these styles to ensure a seamless and intuitive user experience, providing clear visual cues for each form control state.

disabled boolean attribute and other states to enhance user focuses

In Bootstrap, you can control the state of form controls using the :active, :disabled, and :readonly pseudo-classes in combination with Bootstrap’s form control classes. Here’s an example of how to style a form control in its active state:

.form-control:active {
 border-color: #ff0000; /* Red border when active */

In this example, the border color of the form control changes to red when it is active. In the next section, we will discuss how to layout form controls effectively.

Form Control Layout

Layout plays a critical role in the user experience of a form. It determines how form controls are arranged on the page and how they respond to different screen sizes.

Strategies for Effective Form Control Layout

  1. Grid System Integration:

    • Leverage Bootstrap’s grid system to create a responsive layout for your forms.

    • Utilize the container, row, and col classes to structure and organize form elements.

  2. Grouping Related Controls:

    • Group-related form controls within a form-group for improved visual clarity.

    • Use the mb-* classes to add margin-bottom space between form groups.

  3. Alignment and Consistency:

    • Maintain consistency in the alignment of form controls for a polished appearance.

    • Use utility classes like text-left, text-center, or text-right to align form controls as needed.

  4. Horizontal Form Layout:

    • Implement a horizontal form layout for a more compact and streamlined appearance.

    • Apply the form-horizontal class to the form element, and use the col-* classes for input fields within form-group divs.

Bootstrap provides several classes to manage form layouts, including vertical forms, horizontal forms, and inline forms.

Vertical Form

Vertical forms are the default layout in Bootstrap. Labels are placed above the form controls, and each pair of label and control is wrapped in a .form-group div for proper spacing. Here’s an example:

 <div class="form-group">
   <label for="exampleFormControlInput1">Email address</label>
   <input type="email" class="form-control" id="exampleFormControlInput1" placeholder="name@example.com">
 <!-- More form controls go here -->

Horizontal Form

Horizontal forms place labels and controls side by side, often within a grid system. This layout is ideal for forms with many fields or for displaying related information. Here’s an example:

 <div class="form-group row">
   <label for="inputEmail3" class="col-sm-2 col-form-label">Email</label>
   <div class="col-sm-10">
     <input type="email" class="form-control" id="inputEmail3" placeholder="Email">
 <!-- More form controls go here -->

Inline Form

Inline forms place labels and controls on the same line. This layout is best used for forms with few fields, such as search bars or login forms. Here’s an example:

<form class="form-inline">
 <label class="sr-only" for="inlineFormInputName2">Name</label>
 <input type="text" class="form-control mb-2 mr-sm-2" id="inlineFormInputName2" placeholder="Jane Doe">
 <!-- More form controls go here -->

In the next section, we will discuss how to validate form inputs using Bootstrap’s validation classes.

Form Validation

Form validation is a crucial aspect of web development to ensure that user-submitted data meets the specified criteria. Bootstrap provides a set of validation classes that simplify the process of highlighting and displaying validation feedback to users. In this section, we’ll provide an overview of how to validate form inputs using Bootstrap’s validation classes and include code examples to illustrate the concepts.

Overview of Bootstrap Validation Classes

Bootstrap’s validation classes work by adding visual cues to form controls based on their validation state. The key classes include:

  • .is-valid: Applied to form controls that have passed validation successfully.

  • .is-invalid: Applied to form controls that have failed validation.

These classes trigger visual changes, such as color adjustments and feedback messages, making it clear to users whether their input is valid or requires correction.

Basic Form Validation Example

Let’s explore a simple example demonstrating how to apply Bootstrap’s validation classes to a form:

   <!-- Text Input with Validation -->
   <div class="mb-3">
      <label for="username" class="form-label">Username</label>
      <input type="text" class="form-control is-invalid" id="username" placeholder="Enter your username" required>
      <div class="invalid-feedback">
         Please enter a valid username.

   <!-- Email Input with Validation -->
   <div class="mb-3">
      <label for="email" class="form-label">Email Address</label>
      <input type="email" class="form-control is-valid" id="email" placeholder="Enter your email" required>
      <div class="valid-feedback">
         Looks good!

   <!-- Password Input with Validation -->
   <div class="mb-3">
      <label for="password" class="form-label">Password</label>
      <input type="password" class="form-control is-invalid" id="password" placeholder="Enter your password" required>
      <div class="invalid-feedback">
         Password must be at least 8 characters long.

   <!-- Submit Button -->
   <button type="submit" class="btn btn-primary">Submit</button>

In the above example:

  • The required attribute is used to enforce that the input must be filled out.

  • The .is-valid and .is-invalid classes are applied to showcase successful and failed validation, respectively.

  • The .valid-feedback and .invalid-feedback classes are used to provide feedback messages corresponding to the validation state.

Form validation is a powerful tool to enhance user experience by providing real-time feedback on input accuracy. Bootstrap’s validation classes, combined with JavaScript for custom scenarios, make the implementation of form validation a streamlined process.

In the following sections, we will explore additional advanced features and best practices for mastering Bootstrap form controls, ensuring you have a comprehensive understanding of their capabilities.

Advanced Form Controls

While basic form controls like text inputs, checkboxes, and select boxes are common, several advanced form controls can enhance the functionality and user experience of your forms. These include range sliders, color pickers, and more.

Range Sliders: Range sliders let users select a numeric value within a defined range. You can create a range slider in Bootstrap using the <input type=”range”> element. Here’s an example:

Color Pickers: Color pickers allow users to choose a color from a palette. While Bootstrap doesn’t provide a built-in color picker, you can use third-party libraries like jscolor or Pickr to add one to your form.

If you want to speed up development time and not have to worry about writing custom codes yourself, check out our repository of more than 10,000+ AI-generated custom components for you to choose from.

Best Practices for Using Bootstrap Form Control

Best PracticeDescription
Use Appropriate ClassesBootstrap provides a variety of classes to style form controls. Make sure to use the appropriate classes for your form controls to ensure they have a consistent appearance across different browsers and devices.
Validate User InputAlways validate user input on the server side, even if you have client-side validation. This is to ensure data integrity and security.
Provide Valuable FeedbackWhen validating user input, provide valuable, actionable feedback to your users. This helps them understand what they did wrong and how to fix it.
Use Flexbox for LayoutBootstrap uses flexbox for form layouts, which makes it easy to create flexible and responsive forms. Make sure to leverage this feature when arranging your form controls.
Customize Form ControlsDon’t be afraid to customize form controls to fit your specific needs. You can use Bootstrap’s Sass variables or write custom CSS rules to achieve this.
Handle Form Control StatesDifferent form controls have different states (e.g., active, disabled, readonly). Make sure to handle these states appropriately to provide a smooth user experience.
Use Advanced Form Controls WiselyWhile advanced form controls like file inputs, range sliders, and color pickers can enhance the functionality of your forms, they should be used judiciously. Not all forms require these advanced controls, and overusing them can lead to a cluttered and confusing interface .

Final Thoughts

Throughout this comprehensive guide, we’ve covered the fundamentals of Bootstrap form controls, from understanding their purpose to learning how to use, customize, and validate them. We’ve also explored advanced form controls like file inputs, range sliders, and color pickers.

Bootstrap form controls are versatile and customizable, making them a powerful tool for creating interactive and user-friendly web forms. Whether you’re a beginner just starting out or an experienced developer looking to expand your skills, mastering Bootstrap form controls can significantly enhance your web development capabilities.

Remember, the key to effective form design lies not only in the choice of form controls but also in their arrangement, customization, and validation. By carefully considering these aspects, you can create forms that not only gather the necessary information from users but also provide a seamless and enjoyable user experience.

If you want to learn more about Bootstrap Form Control, check out this YouTube video tutorial below:

Victor Yakubu

Victor Yakubu