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Format text for legibility

Avoid "walls of text"

It is easier to read text when it is chunked into meaningful groups. Users tend to scan text rather than reading each word.

Keep text short

If you are tempted to write a large amount of text on the screen, consider:

  1. Using a link
  2. Adding a progressive disclosure element that lets a user click to read more.

Your user is very goal oriented when using a legal form. They rarely come to a form to be educated about the law. Help them get to the end as quickly as possible by using only as much text as they need.

Usually, you can avoid writing a lot of instructional text by adding additional questions.

Use headings to group longer text

If you follow the rule about keeping text short, headings are rarely needed inside the interview. You may use headings when longer explanations are needed and inside instructions that your user takes with them when they finish the interview.

For accessiblity reasons, headings should always follow in order from H1, to H2, and then H3 and so on. Do not skip a level. In docassemble, the question title is H1, so you should stick with H2 and below.

Use sentence case, not Title Case for page headings

Sentence case only capitalizes the first word while Title Case capitalizes each word in a sentence. Sentence case is easier to read and most websites use it.

Keep headings short

A heading should only be about one line of text on the screen.

Use lists and bullets to group information

Use lists and bullets to make it easy for your user to understand the information at a glance.

Learn more.

Use tables when they are clearer than the alternative

Tables can break up a complex rule or list of examples into something that is easier to scan and understand at a glance.

IfAnd a fair percentage to take off of the rent wasThen the amount you can ask for would be
You had a minor problem with mice10%$200
You had no heat during a mild part of the winter50%$1000
You could not lock your doors25%$500

Keep tables simple. Not all users can easily read tables. But the table may still be easier to understand than a large wall of text. It is a good idea to limit them to situations when you are providing your user extra context or information rather than when they need the information to keep going.

Only use all capital letters for acronyms and initialisms

Sentences written with all capital letters are harder to read. Use them only when the word is always written in all capital letters. Do not use capital letters for emphasis.

For example, the Department of Children and Families (DCF), Transitional Assistance for Families and Dependent Children (TAFDC).

Use bold for emphasis. Avoid underlines, italics, or all capital letters

Bold text is easy to identify and read.

When you are on a webpage, underlines should always mean a link to a new page. Italics are hard to read. Capital letters are similarly difficult to read.

Apply basic design principles

Use contrast, repetition, alignment and proximity to make it easier for your user to read the information.

Your guided interview platform may already make a lot of choices for you that affect alignment and contrast. When you customize or add a lot of text, though, you need to keep them in mind yourself.

The Non-designer's Design Book is a terrific introduction to basic design concepts.