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Requirements of the standard

This section outlines the best practice principles of the standard. Criteria for how to apply the principles, and ensure adherence to the standard, are specified in the 'Guidelines for adherence to the standard' section.

  • The layout of the self-administered paper questionnaire must enable respondents to quickly understand where and how to answer, as well as clearly showing how to move to the next question.
  • The layout needs to be simple, clear, and spacious as this makes it easier for respondents to see where each question starts and finishes, and where to mark responses. Keep visual elements to a minimum, and have sufficient space between elements.
  • Use spacing to identify appropriate groups, such as the elements in a question. All the elements in a question, such as number, question wording, instructions, and response options, should be closer to each other than to any other elements on the page.
  • Use alignment to create smooth and continuous lines throughout the questionnaire.
  • Use shape, colour, and shading to draw attention to, and distinguish between, different elements in the questionnaire.
  • Keep layout consistent. As respondents work through the questionnaire they quickly learn to associate particular visual information with particular requests. Brightness, colour, shape, and location of the information should be consistent throughout the questionnaire, to define the navigational path to be followed, and the tasks required along the way.
  • Ensure the order in which information is presented to respondents is logical. Respondents should not be required to connect information from separate locations in order to understand and answer the question.
  • Ensure text is legible.
  • Consecutive and simple numbering, from the beginning to the end of the questionnaire, is necessary for correct navigation.
  • Minimise the use of matrices and tables, as they are difficult to follow and create a discord in the usual navigational path.
  • If the questionnaire is going to be imaged electronically, it needs to adhere to the imaging instructions also.

Guidelines for adherence to the standard

This section specifies the criteria for adherence to the standard.

The criteria cover the following aspects of self-administered paper questionnaire layout:

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