1 form.inc theme_form_element($variables)

Returns HTML for a form element.

Each form element is wrapped in a DIV container having the following CSS classes:

  • form-item: Generic for all form elements.
  • form-type-#type: The internal element #type.
  • form-item-#name: The internal form element #name (usually derived from the $form structure and set via form_builder()).
  • form-disabled: Only set if the form element is #disabled.

In addition to the element itself, the DIV contains a label for the element based on the optional #title_display property, and an optional #description.

The optional #title_display property can have these values:

  • before: The label is output before the element. This is the default. The label includes the #title and the required marker, if #required.
  • after: The label is output after the element. For example, this is used for radio and checkbox #type elements as set in system_element_info(). If the #title is empty but the field is #required, the label will contain only the required marker.
  • invisible: Labels are critical for screen readers to enable them to properly navigate through forms but can be visually distracting. This property hides the label for everyone except screen readers.
  • attribute: Set the title attribute on the element to create a tooltip but output no label element. This is supported only for checkboxes and radios in form_pre_render_conditional_form_element(). It is used where a visual label is not needed, such as a table of checkboxes where the row and column provide the context. The tooltip will include the title and required marker.

If the #title property is not set, then the label and any required marker will not be output, regardless of the #title_display or #required values. This can be useful in cases such as the password_confirm element, which creates children elements that have their own labels and required markers, but the parent element should have neither. Use this carefully because a field without an associated label can cause accessibility challenges.


$variables: An associative array containing:

  • element: An associative array containing the properties of the element. Properties used: #title, #title_display, #description, #id, #required, #children, #type, #name.

Related topics


core/includes/form.inc, line 4868
Functions for form and batch generation and processing.


function theme_form_element($variables) {
  $element = &$variables['element'];

  // This function is invoked as theme wrapper, but the rendered form element
  // may not necessarily have been processed by form_builder().
  $element += array(
    '#title_display' => 'before',
    '#wrapper_attributes' => array(),
  $attributes = $element['#wrapper_attributes'];

  // Add element #id for #type 'item'.
  if (isset($element['#markup']) && !empty($element['#id'])) {
    $attributes['id'] = $element['#id'];
  // Add element's #type and #name as class to aid with JS/CSS selectors.
  $attributes['class'][] = 'form-item';
  if (!empty($element['#type'])) {
    $attributes['class'][] = 'form-type-' . strtr($element['#type'], '_', '-');
    if (isset($element['#parents']) && form_get_error($element) !== NULL && !empty($element['#validated'])) {
      $attributes['class'][] = 'form-error';
  if (!empty($element['#name'])) {
    $attributes['class'][] = 'form-item-' . strtr($element['#name'], array(' ' => '-', '_' => '-', '[' => '-', ']' => ''));
  // Add a class for disabled elements to facilitate cross-browser styling.
  if (!empty($element['#attributes']['disabled'])) {
    $attributes['class'][] = 'form-disabled';
  // Add indentation.
  if (isset($element['#indentation'])) {
    $attributes['class'][] = 'form-item-indentation';
    $attributes['class'][] = 'form-item-indentation-' . $element['#indentation'];
    $attributes['data-indentation-depth'] = $element['#indentation'];
  $output = '<div' . backdrop_attributes($attributes) . '>' . "\n";

  // If #title is not set, we don't display any label or required marker.
  if (!isset($element['#title'])) {
    $element['#title_display'] = 'none';
  $prefix = isset($element['#field_prefix']) ? '<span class="field-prefix">' . $element['#field_prefix'] . '</span> ' : '';
  $suffix = isset($element['#field_suffix']) ? ' <span class="field-suffix">' . $element['#field_suffix'] . '</span>' : '';

  switch ($element['#title_display']) {
    case 'before':
    case 'invisible':
      $output .= ' ' . theme('form_element_label', $variables);
      $output .= ' ' . $prefix . $element['#children'] . $suffix . "\n";

    case 'after':
      $output .= ' ' . $prefix . $element['#children'] . $suffix;
      $output .= ' ' . theme('form_element_label', $variables) . "\n";

    case 'none':
    case 'attribute':
      // Output no label and no required marker, only the children.
      $output .= ' ' . $prefix . $element['#children'] . $suffix . "\n";

  if (!empty($element['#description'])) {
    $output .= '<div class="description">' . $element['#description'] . "</div>\n";

  $output .= "</div>\n";

  return $output;