Creating Checkboxes Based on SQL Results

You should not use this code on a production website.

Warning: This tutorial uses old techniques. It is insecure and will leave your server vulnerable to SQL Injection attacks.This tutorials also uses mysql_ functions that are no longer support. For updated tutorials look for a PDO or MySQLi tutorial.This post will be delete or revised in the future.

This tutorial will walk you through creating a database of categories and then using the categories in the database to create a series of checkboxes. This could be used for forum or board that will allow them to select a category of their story/comment. Let’s begin.

I will be doing all of this code and execution on my local PC thanks to WAMP Server which can be installed by following Installing a WAMP Server. To get started we will need to create our database. To do this, run the following in your SQL editor:


CREATE TABLE `tutorial` (
  `CatID` int(3) NOT NULL auto_increment,
  `Category` varchar(100) NOT NULL,

INSERT INTO `tutorial` (`CatID`, `Category`) VALUES
(1, 'Cars'),
(2, 'Trucks'),
(3, 'Baseball'),
(4, 'Basketball'),
(5, 'Football'),
(6, 'Houses'),
(7, 'Root Beer'),
(8, 'Gatorade'),
(9, 'Speakers'),
(10, 'Computers'),
(11, 'Databases'),
(12, 'Software');

This will create our table that we will be using for this tutorial. Now we need to create the file that will pull these values to our site and show them in an orderly fashion. Create an index.php in your www root of your WAMP server and open it in your favorite text editor.


$conn = mysql_connect ("localhost","user_name","password") or die ('cannot connect to database error: '.mysql_error());
mysql_select_db ("tutorial");

$sql = 'select * from `tutorial` order by Category';
$result = mysql_query($sql);

if (!$result) {
    echo "DB Error, could not list customers\n";
    echo 'MySQL Error: ' . mysql_error();
$cats = 1

This first section of the file simply creates the connection to the database and select all the categories from the table named tutorial (which we just created). It sets all the results to the variable of results. Make sure you change the code to have your databases user name and password in the proper locations. If it receives no results it throws an error and displays it to the browser window. The final thing you see is that we created a variable of cats so that we can keep track of how many items have been inserted.

<form name="category" method="post" action="insert.php">

Select your story topic(s)<br /><br />
<table border = "1" cellpadding = "5">

Next, we set up our form. Then we create a table so that the items can be aligned properly.


while ($row = mysql_fetch_row($result)) 
if (($cats / 3) == 1){
	echo "<td align = 'right'>$row[1]:<input type='checkbox' name=$row[1] value=$row[1] /> <br /></td></tr><tr>";
	$cats = 1;
	echo "<td align = 'right'>$row[1]:<input type='checkbox' name=$row[1] value=$row[1] /> <br /></td>";



This section so to process everything in the brackets of the “while” clause to be executed until $row (the results returned from our query) contains no information. The first line of the while clause checks to see if this is the third category we have entered since we declared cats to be 1. If it is, it echoes the line after it which shows the category in a column and then ends the row and starts a new one. Otherwise, it just puts the value in a new column and leaves the row tag open and increments the variable by one. This way every third category will be placed on a new row. The final line clears the results from the variable.

</tr></table><br /><br />

<input type='submit' value='Insert Comment'>

Then we close the final row and end the table. Then we create a couple of breaks and make the submit button to allow the user to submit the values and finally close the form. If you have followed these steps you should get a page similar to this:


If you go into the database and add more items, or change the items in there the page will automatically show your changes without the need to change the code like below:

This concludes this tutorial. We will continue to take this a step further in the next tutorial. If you have any questions, please leave a comment. I hope this was easy to follow and thanks for reading.

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  • Ron

    I was looking forever for some help on checkboxes and your advice was very easy and straight forward. Thank you very much.

    P.S. I am looking forward to your lesson on how to enter the values into the database.

  • Richard Ngibuini

    I was wondering whether there is a way to submit multiple forms to a php file such as you might find in a quiz with more than one questions in one page.
    I am getting stuck since the rule is you can only submit one form at time.

  • mike

    Thank you very much for this information! I’ve been searching for the answer for quite some time.

    How would I get the results of the checked boxes?

  • Mike,
    Your help on checkboxes and your advice was very easy and straight forward (besides that it works!). Thanks.

    Now — where is the insert.php file called for in the sample. I’m assuming I need to use explode (as I want to put all of the boxes checked into a single field) ie: cars-football-houses AND can’t figure out what the array name is or how to enter the values into the database

  • How would I go about reading values from a mysql database to create a popup menu in for form for setting shopping cart options? I am creating a photoblog and client wants to sell images via paypal but each image is available in different sizes and prices. I woul dlike to read in the size and price info from the database where I have the photos stored but do not know how to build a form popup menu that would read in the option values from a mysql database.

    Refer to for what I am trying to accomplish

  • Great way to get away from hard coding everything on your site. Much easier to adapt and also the script is transferable from site to site.

  • This is very interesting stuff. I had quite a hard time making a simply form back in the day. thanks for this.

  • Great post.Thanks a lot.

  • aizle

    elow….can you help me about my thesis….?????
    its not easy to make a site especially making a connection….can you give me some guide to connect this in database using WAMP 2.0….the same with your topic about the check box….

  • Eduardo Jorge

    Hi Mike!
    Great post!
    I’m newbie in php and i understand all that you have done!
    It works great!
    But i ask you if i wan’t to retrieve all boxes with some checked in a form to make changes and submit again?
    I hope you can help me if you understood what i want to say!