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Text format

Text needs to be legible for a broad spectrum of the general population, including those with eyesight, reading, or cognitive difficulties. Text formatting should be consistent throughout the questionnaire to help respondents identify various elements, because visual variation makes it difficult for respondents to comprehend and respond to each question.

Text style

All text

  • Keep font style consistent, as using different fonts can add to respondent confusion.
  • Use Arial Maori font.
  • A font size of 11pt or 12pt is recommended for all text that is to be read by the respondent. A 10pt size can be used if necessary, but is not recommended because it is harder to read for respondents with impaired eyesight. Do not use a font that is smaller than 10pt for any text that is to be read by the respondent.
  • Avoid using capitals, italics,and underlining as they are difficult to read.
  • Red and green text may be difficult to distinguish for those with colour blindness.

Question, response option and instruction text

  • Use a plain font for question, response option, and instruction text. Plain font is easier than bold font to read for groups of words such as sentences and paragraphs, and too much bold can increase the clutter on the page. Bold can be used to emphasise key words or phrases if testing shows this is required.
  • Response option and instruction text should either be the same size as the question text, or a size smaller if space is restricted.
  • Shade question, response option, and instruction text in 100 percent black.

Use of emphasis

  • Use bold for individual words and phrases that introduce important, but easy to miss, items. However, use bold sparingly as too much emphasis may cause respondents to focus only on the words and phrases emphasised, or ignore them altogether.

Routing instructions

  • The Statistics NZ format for routing instructions, including arrows, is bold font shaded 100 percent of the questionnaire colour. This will ensure they are seen as one combined element.

Image, The Statistics NZ format for routing instructions.  top

  • Use the same sized text as the response options.

Heading and subheading text

  • The preferred Statistics NZ style for headings and subheadings is bold, white font, with a font size of 14pt for headings and 12pt or 11pt for subheadings.
Example of text style

Image, Example of text style.

Text alignment

Align text left, with a ragged right margin (see example of text style above). top

Line and word spacing

Line and word spacing needs to be sufficient so that is easy to read each piece of text.

Ensure that the right margin for your question text is aligned consistently throughout the questionnaire.

Keep line length short, as eyes can only focus clearly within a few degrees. Short lines of text will help prevent words from being skipped. With 10pt, 11pt or 12pt text, a suitable line length is about 110mm.

Be aware of awkward sentence breaks. For example, do not break a date (25 December 2009) over two lines.

Allow the top line of text to overhang the bottom line. This prevents respondents from skipping from the end of the first line to the end of the second without reading the intervening words.

If response options are right-aligned, question or instruction text should not overhang the answer box.

Do not have only one word on a new line, as it will be likely to be missed.

Example of line and word spacing

Image, Example of line and word spacing.  top

Obliques ( / )

Minimise use of obliques wherever possible, as it adds ambiguity to the question. If the oblique stands for a word such as 'or', use the word 'or' rather than the oblique.

If used, include a space on either side of the oblique to increase readability. For example, 'and / or'.

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