There are rare occasions where you need to have a submit button outside the <form> element.

Let’s say a page contains a few forms. One with settings, and another which sends a different kind of request to a totally different action, but the design dictates the submit button for the settings is somewhere which makes it damn-near impossible for it to be inside the <form> without some heavy and unreliable CSS.

For occasions like this, I like to have a fake submit button elsewhere on the page, which when clicked, submits the real submit button, via JavaScript. I have used this in Kodery before, and it works a charm.

Granted, it does require JavaScript, but when used in a web application that requires JavaScript for some crucial functions to work, this is not really an issue. If it is an issue, using a <noscript> tag or adding extra styles using (like in a proper implementation of Modernizr), you can easily show the hidden submit button.

Below, is a barebones example of the markup.

<!-- The settings form -->

<form action="/api/settings" method="post"><input name="someinput" type="text" />
<button id="the-form-button" class="hidden">Submit</button></form><!-- The pesky form in the middle of the page -->

<form action="/api/Delete" method="post"><button>Delete Things</button></form><!-- And somewhere else on the page... -->
<a href="#" data-pseudo-click-target="the-form-button">Save Settings</a>

And this is the JavaScript (jQuery in this case).

$("[data-pseudo-click-target]").on("click", function(e){
    var target = $(this).attr("data-pseudo-click-target");
    $("#" + target).click();

It may not be the best aproach for this kind of problem, but it is simple, easy to understand and is very flexible.

Update: 17-04-2014 12:09pm

Scott Riley has an alternate, but similar technique, in this gist.

The method shown in the gist uses .submit() which can be more suitable. Worth thinking about that.