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Background and context

This standard addresses the design and layout considerations for self-administered paper questionnaires produced by Statistics New Zealand. The focus is on the format of the questionnaire and the appearance of individual pages.

It is important to have a layout standard because graphical features guide respondents through questionnaires. Many respondents rely on layout and visual aids for information about what needs to be read, and in what order.

Rationale for the standard

The rationale for the standard is to ensure that the layout of self-administered paper questionnaires conforms to best practice and is consistent across Statistics NZ.

Conforming to best practice will:

  • reduce non-response, as a questionnaire that is attractive and easy to complete encourages people to respond
  • reduce measurement error, as poor layout can cause questions to be overlooked or responses to be biased.

Consistency across all self-administered paper questionnaires produced by Statistics NZ will:

  • make the questionnaires identifiable as coming from Statistics NZ, and 
  • assist in the perceived validity and authenticity of the questionnaire, which will encourage respondents to participate.

In addition, adherence to this standard will support the needs of Statistics NZ's imaging process.

Development of the standard

This standard is founded in best practice as recommended by academic research and international statistical agencies, while taking into account the needs of Statistics NZ. Also included are considerations for the visually impaired and those with learning difficulties.

This standard specifies the required and recommended layout of the body of self-administered paper questionnaires. It does not cover the front and the back page, or the content of the questionnaire, as these are subject to their own standards.

This standard applies to all self-administered paper questionnaires produced by Statistics NZ. The standard excludes:

  • diaries
  • Excel questionnaires.

Designers of diaries should, however, attempt to adhere to the standard as much as is practically possible. The standard represents best practice in data collection for all other government agencies. A standard for Excel questionnaires will be developed in the future.

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