Common form content errors

Date adopted: 
July 18, 2023
Last update: 
July 31, 2023

The content on this page is currently in draft as our team finalizes it. We expect to finalize this page in August. In the meantime, if you have any questions, email [email protected].

The advice on this page is for department staff tasked with creating the initial draft of a form. These are some of the common content errors the forms design sees when they review the drafts.

By addressing these issues before you submit your draft form, you will save time and speed up the team's ability to publish your form. We also recommend you loop in your department communications lead to help with this. They are trained in all of the writing requirements and will add value to your draft.

Before you start drafting your form

Have a look at the Creating content section of this website. Familiarizing your self with these sections will help you avoid some of the common mistakes we see. 

If you'd rather not immerse yourself in content guidance, you can also contact your department communications lead and they can take on this role for you.

Watch out for these common errors as you draft your form

Hyperlink text

Common errors we see

  • pasting the entire URL into the form.
  • linking to content that does not help the person filling out the form.
  • link or button text that is not written to the standards.

How to avoid these errors

  • Do not paste an entire URL into your form (unless you are drafting a PDF form that will be printed)
  • When possible, use calls to action when you write text for links or buttons. For example, if the call to action is to “Visit to download a template” you would hyperlink that text rather than paste the full URL.
  • Try to write link text in the active voice. If a person is completing a form to apply for a grant, the link text could be "Start my grant application."
  • The text you hyperlink is a promise to the user. Clicking on the link shoudl fulfil that promise. in the example above, "Visit to download a template," that link should take the person to the exact spot where they can download the template. You would not want to have them go to a page with 6 templates where they they have to figure out where to go and which template is the correct one. 

For example

Common errors we see

  • ie
  • i.e
  • ex

How to avoid these errors

The best way to indicate "for example" is to write out, "for example." In cases where you must use an abbreviation, use "e.g."

Refer to the Style Guide for detailed guidance. 


Before you add a table to a form, follow our advice when and how to use tables.

Title and section headings

Common error we see

Title and section headings written in camel case. For example, "Applicant Information."

How to avoid this error

The title and section headings should be in sentence case. Do not use all caps or camel case. For example, "Applicant information."

Exception: Section headings for PDF forms are in all caps.

Units of measurement

Common errors we see

  • Units of measurement are not indicated
  • Units of measurement abbreviations are not correct
  • Units of measurement are not consistent. 

How to avoid these errors

  • Always indicate what units of measurement you want people to input. You can include this as hint text.
  • Make sure you are using the correct abbreviation for the unit of measurement. Follow the advice in the Style Guide.
  • Be consistent throughtout your form. Avoid switching from metric to imperial. If you do need both forms of measurement, use hint text to indicater why. 

Using the word "please"

Common error we see

  • Use of the word "please."

How to avoid this error

There is no arguing that it’s polite to say “please” but you should not say it in your form. When people interact with the government, it’s important to be direct and remove ambiguity. It's much clearer for the end user if you clearly state what they need to do.