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We can place a prefix and/or suffix on forms. This can be done either when creating a custom form, or you can add/edit the prefix and/or suffix on an existing form.

Also view the Element Markup page for another technique on placing markup on forms.

Prefix and Suffix on Custom Form

Here's an example that places a prefix and suffix on a custom form:

Prefix and Suffix on a Form

 * Define the form.
function my_module_custom_form(form, form_state) {
  form.prefix += '<p>Welcome to the form!</p>';
  form.suffix += '<p>Thanks for visiting the form!</p>';
  form.elements['my_text_field'] = {
    type: 'textfield',
    title: 'My Text Field'
  form.elements['submit'] = {
    type: 'submit',
    value: 'Submit'
  return form;

Alter an Existing Form's Prefix and Suffix

Here's an example that places a prefix and suffix onto the User Login form:

Form Prefix and Suffix via Form Alteration

 * Implements hook_form_alter().
function my_module_form_alter(form, form_state, form_id) {
  try {
    if (form_id == 'user_login_form') {
      form.prefix += '<p>Login to access your account.</p>';
      var register_link = l('create a new account', 'user/register');
      form.suffix += '<p>Or ' + register_link + ' to get started.</p>';
  catch (error) { console.log('my_module_form_alter - ' + error); }

Notice how we use the += operator on the prefix and suffix. That ensures us we won't overwrite any other module's alterations to the form. It is OK, to use the = operator to overwrite the prefix and/or suffix, but just be careful of what you may be overwritting.