The work of completing a form may be simplified if a series of likely answers to the question is stated and the means of choosing the appropriate answer indicated. An advantage is that answers are obtained with precision and consistency. The methods adopted to indicate a choice may be:
Boxes: provided alongside the stated answers requiring a × or a tick to be entered opposite the chosen answer.
The chosen words or phrases are ringed by the person completing the form.
The words or phrases not applicable are deleted.
The choice of entry method will depend on the conditions or circumstances in which the form may be completed; for example, speed of entering information received by telephone may require ticks to be placed against a range of preprinted entries. For all methods, clear instructions are needed to show what is to be done by the person completing the form, e.g. ‘Tick the items required’; ‘Delete words which do not apply’.
Mixed methods of indicating a choice on the same form can be confusing or cause errors in completion. A change in the method should be avoided, especially if it involves a reversal of thought for the person completing the form, e.g. a change from indicating a positive type of entry, e.g. by tick, to a negative one of deleting alternative words and phrases.
If it is anticipated that most of the answers to a series of questions will consist of the word ‘Yes’ and only a few produce qualifications or a ‘No’, the questions should be posed in an order which will avoid an abrupt sequence of thought by the person completing the form.
Rubber stamps to imprint official entries or entry spaces may save space on the form and help to simplify its printed appearance. The position of these entry spaces should facilitate turning over the forms for repetitive stamping; and should reduce the danger of obscuring other entries by faulty stamping.