There is a very good reason why we write long numbers as smaller clusters of 2, 3 or 4 numerals separated by spaces. Breaking down long sequences of numerals with spaces helps us read, copy and check these numerals more rapidly and more accurately. We even insert pauses when reading these numbers out.

ExamplesHow they are shown to meHow I must enter and verify them
Australian Business Number79 881 253 31279881253312
US Social Security Number520 96 1469520961469
BPAY Payment Reference Number2837 0129 7233 1834 19283701297233183419
Credit Card Number5300 0875 2126 07225300087521260722

Often, the very same organisations who display numbers with spaces on all their online and printed material are the same ones who force me to enter and verify these numbers without the spaces on their web forms. Poor form indeed.

I can’t think of a real reason why this is so. It is afterall straightforward to strip all non-numerical characters from an input field before processing the actual number. In fact it is good practice to sanitise all raw input anyway.

So why make this one thing we do every day that much harder? Why not fix this small thing right now, and massively improve the user experience? The fancy HTML5 animations can wait...

Image: Numbers via Shutterstock.