In the public sector, forms are used as part of the customer engagement
process. This ranges from enquiry forms to contracts. Increasingly,
there can be an option for members of the public to access and
complete forms that are provided online. The Universal Design guidance
for both print and online forms is similar.
Forms should be easy to read and complete without assistance. To
do this it is important to consider that members of the public have
different needs and skills related to visual or literacy difficulties.
Therefore, by better designing forms to meet the needs of people with
specific difficulties, you will be better meeting the needs of all members
of the public.
Guidelines for the design of forms are as follows:
Give the form a clear title.
Identify whom the form is for and its purpose.
Give instructions in bullet points on the first page.
If users need reference numbers or documentation to complete the
form, ensure that they know this before starting. Awareness can be
raised with an obvious “Before you begin, you will need...” message
at the top of the form.
Divide the form into clear and logical sections each with an
informative heading and a clear number.
Use a larger font for section headings.
Place, if needed, “Official use only” sections near the end of the
Avoid unnecessary or repeated questions.
Position questions directly across from the space for giving answers.
Make sure users have enough space for providing answers.
Where possible, use boxes rather than lines for answers.
Use as many ‘tick-box’ questions as possible.
Make sure ‘tick-boxes’ are clearly linked to the answer.
Ensure that ‘tick-box’ borders and answer lines are solid and at least
one point wide.
Make it clear which fields are mandatory and must be completed.
Scannable forms, which allow one character per square, are increasingly
being used. Where these forms are used, provide boxes that are large
enough and leave adequate space between the squares.