Simplifying entries

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:

  1. Boxes: provided alongside the stated answers requiring a × or a tick to be entered opposite the chosen answer.

  2. The chosen words or phrases are ringed by the person completing the form.

  3. 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.

Group of checkboxes with the title:
“Goods to be be sent by (insert X in appropriate box)”
Four checkboxes with labels: “Road”, “Rail”, “Sea”, “Air”.
Sea checkbox has X within it.
Labels for each checkbox are close to the left.
Captions should be placed close to the boxes to avoid confusion and error
Group of checkboxes with the title:
“Goods to be be sent by (insert X in appropriate box)”
Four checkboxes with labels: “Road”, “Rail”, “Sea”, “Air”.
Sea checkbox has X within it.
Labels for each checkbox are the same distance from each checkbox.
It may be difficult to relate entries to captions when they are placed between boxes
Form with questions.
Question: If you intend to make an extra claim insert a cross here, Unchecked checkbox field.
Question: I am *(already/not) receiving the Special Allowance
* Delete as necessary.
Question: Is your wife living at your home address? Blank entry field.
Question: Ring the number of dependents for which your Special Allowance
is received
Options to ring are: 1,2,3,4,5,6.
Question: Tick the type of accommodation required
Furnished Flat, Blank entry field.
Furnished House, Blank entry field.
Unfurnished Flat, Blank entry field.
Unfurnished House, Blank entry field.
Furnished Bungalow, Blank entry field.
Unfurnished Bungalow, Blank entry field.
Question: State the minimum number of bedrooms needed, Blank entry field.

A mixture of methods indicating a choice may lead to errors in completing the form

Left side shows:
Right side shows:
Stacked on top of each other: Mr, Mrs, Miss.
The arrangement on the left is (in each case) preferable and reduces the need for an instruction about deleting words not applicable
Question with title: I believe this suggestion will:
Checkboxes fields with labels:
“Save time”, “Save material”, “Save space”, “Improve safety”, “Improve service”, “Improve public relations”, “Increase productivity”, “Simplify work”.
Choice is indicated by an X in the selected box(es). Rearrangement would avoid repetition of the words ‘Save’ and ‘Improve’
Question: Place a cross against. the items for which a claim is being made:
“Loss of equipment”, “Equipment replaced”, “Equipment repairs”, “Hire of equipment”.
A check is in the middle of the page, there are no boxes.
Unless the place for putting a cross is specified, errors can arise in relating the entry to the caption. A box avoids this difficulty
Question: Place a cross against. the items for which a claim is being made:
Checkboxes with labels:
“Loss of equipment”, “Equipment replaced”, “Equipment repairs”, “Hire of equipment”.
A check against “Equipment replaced” is inside a checkbox.

See also the illustration of a hospital form created by dyeline copying, page 146

Form with question: Put a tick against the day(s) of the week when it would be convenient for you to attend an evening class.
“Monday”, “Tuesday”, “Wednesday”, “Thursday”, “Friday”.
Second form with question: Attitude to work (ring appropriate answer).
Answers include:
“Keen”, “Satisfactory”, “Selective”, “Not enthusiastic”, “Work-shy”.
Not enthusiastic is ringed.
Third form with question: Weather, insert a cross in the appropriate boxes.
Checkboxes with labels:
“Clear”, “Cloudy”, “Rain”, “Snow”.
Question: Average Temperature, Blank field with Fahrenheit symbol.
Question: Humidity.
Checkboxes with labels: “High”, “Low”, “Average”.
Fourth form with question: Place a cross on figure representing your preference.
Options are numbers in boxes from 1 to 11.
Fifth form shows fields with “1/-”, Empty, “2/-”, “9d”, “3/-”, Empty, “4/-”, Empty, “5/-”, Empty.
The written entry is pointing to “9d”.
Sixth form with question: Place a tick in appropriate place.
Checkboxes with labels: “Yes”, “No”, “Do not know”.
Methods of indicating a choice between alternatives
Form with title: Please supply as under and debit the a/c. of the above named establishment.
Field for signature and date.
Table with columns for Commodity, Quantity, Price, Date supplied, and the prices.
Row 1: NATIONAL DRIED MILK Full Cream, tins, 1/2.
Row 2: FULL CREAM half cream, tins 1/2.
Row 3: COD LIVER OIL, bots, 10d.
Row 4: COD LIVER OIL (BULK SUPPLIES), gals, 17/6.
Row 5: ORANGE JUICE, bots, 5d.
Row 6: ORANGE JUICE JELLY, cases, 22/9
None of the columns have date supplied or prices filled in.
Two fields for account rendered and total.
Second form extract with title:
I declare that I am entitled to receive the value of the certificates detailed hereon and I request that the amount due may be repaid:-
Instruction to fill in (A) or (B).
(A) in case to me at, blank field, POST OFFICE, (see note 1 at back).
(B) by warrant payable through a bank to:, blank field, (see note 2 at back).
Third form extract:
Dear Sir/Madam.
You have been granted assistance of £, blank field.
as a first payment and at the weekly rate of £, blank field, thereafter subject
to any change in your circumstances. I enclose a postal draft for the first
payment which will be made at the Post Office named.
Further payment (if required) will be made
* (a) in cash on your attendance at this office at, blank field, o’clock
on, blank field.
* (b) by postal draft, following the receipt from you of the enclosed
Form 0.7, completed, not later than, blank field.
* (c) blank field
The amount payable may be reviewed at any time if your circumstances change.
If you are dissatisfied with the assistance granted you should let me (extract ends).
Methods of indicating a choice between alternatives
Four form sections.
Name field.
Address field.
(If this address is not right please correct it).
If you now have a job, please complete only PART 1.
If you are out of work, please complete only PART 2 (overleaf).
You will notice that there are two or more statements in each section and that each statement has usually a little square against it. What you are asked to do is to put an X in the square against each section which applies to you and leave the others blank. Only one square in each section should have an X in it.
Some of the statements will, if they apply to you, need to have a few details added by you.
Section 1.
My present employer is, blank field.
His address, blank field.
I am employed as (please give your exact job, for example, engineer’s
fitter, builder’s labourer, costing clerk), blank field.
I have been in this job for, blank field, weeks.
Section 2.
Checkbox field, I have had no other work since leaving the Unit.
Checkbox field, I have had other work besides my present job since leaving the Unit
(please describe the earlier job or jobs and state how long you
were in the job and reason for leaving), blank field.
Section 3.
Checkbox field, I am getting more money than I had in my last job before I went to the unit.
Checkbox field, My money is about the same as it was in my last job before I went to the
Checkbox field, My money is less than it was in my last job before I went to the Unit.
A duplicated form: note the clear and friendly instructions given to disabled persons completing this form and the method adopted for recording alternative answers