Form design standards

Date adopted: 
February 21, 2018
Last update: 
November 2, 2020

Government of Yukon forms should be written following the guidance in this Digital Service Delivery Guide digital standard and the Style Guide.

This additional guidance is specific to print and digital forms.

Access to Information and Protection of Privacy (ATIPP) notice

Make sure your form only collects the information that a person is required to share so they can access a program or service.

If your form requires the user to enter personal information, you must follow the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (ATIPP) and include an ATIPP notice. This notice must identify:

  • how this information is being used;
  • under what authority it is being collected; and
  • to whom and how to contact the government for more information.

Include an ATIPP notice

You must provide us with the ATIPP notice for your form along with the rest of your form content. The notice is unique to your form and its relevant legislation. Your department ATIPP coordinator can help you write this text.

Accessibility

Our goal is to ensure all forms meet digital service standard criteria #9 whenever possible. If your form needs to meet a specific accessibility standard (such as for visually impaired users), let us know so we can design it accordingly.

Box format

Most government forms are designed using a box format. This makes it easier for the public to know where to include their information. It also gives us the greatest amount of space to collect the data.

Each box must have a label. The label will appear in the top left corner of the box without colons.

Add an example here (currently page 13 of the document)

Buttons

Any buttons used on government forms share a standard design for consistency across all departments.

Buttons are visible when the user fills out the form online, but they don’t appear when the form is printed.

Buttons should be used sparingly. Commonly used buttons include:

  • Print form;
  • Clear all fields;
  • Attach file; and
  • Submit by email.

Checkboxes and radio buttons

Use checkboxes for multi-choice boxes. When selected, a checkmark indicates a user can select multiple options.

Use radio buttons for single-choice selections. When clicked, a circle indicates a user can only select one option.

Boxes should always appear to the left of the label field and should be free of visual distractions like drop shadows.

Colour

All Government of Yukon forms are black and white only. This includes logos and other images. This is to:

  • provide users with the best contrast for on-screen reading and print;
  • create consistency across all forms and all departments;
  • reduce visual distractions; and
  • provide users with the most legible choice for scanning, faxing, and photocopying.

If your forms will be printed, you can request they be printed on coloured paper. Consider your audience and ensure the form will still be readable and the users’ information will be visible once it’s added.

Cover pages and instructional text

If your form is a complex application package, we recommend including a cover page so all of the instructions are in one place.

When instructional notes are scattered throughout the form, they create a visual distraction and reduce legibility.

This section can include details like:

  • how to fill out the application;
  • eligibility limitations;
  • deadlines and important dates;
  • required documentation;
  • definitions; and
  • who to contact for help.

Many users discard informational pages when they're no longer needed. For this reason, it's important not to request any data on these pages. Once a form is submitted, it should stand alone, without a cover page.

The cover page is page 1 of the form. Do not create a separate document. The instructions and the form should be a single unit.

Avoid using a cover page for a simple form. The amount of instructional text on a form should be relative to the overall size of the form.

See an example of a good cover page with instructional text.

Date formatting

Government of Yukon forms follow the YYYY/MM/DD format for dates.

Avoid using date pickers whenever possible. They are not reliable and can cause errors for some users.

If you're asking the user for their date of birth, word it as "date of birth" and not "birthdate" or "DOB." This is so we are consistent with the French text, "date de naissance."

Draft watermark

We apply a watermarked “DRAFT” in the background of all forms in the design process. We'll remove this when the form is approved and finalized.

Font

All Government of Yukon forms use a standardized font style, size, and typeface. Your forms designer will ensure your form meets these standards.

If your form has a specific audience with unique requirements, we'll do our best to adapt the form to those needs. For example:

  • larger fonts for users with visual impairments;
  • increased kerning or leading for users with lower literacy levels; and
  • larger margins for binding purposes.

As a general rule, we can "add or increase" but we do not "remove or reduce." This means we can increase font size to meet user needs, but we do not decrease font size below a certain point size. Most requests to decrease font size are to fit more text on a page, rather than meeting a specific user need. If this is the case, we recommend you review the text and eliminate words or fields that aren't needed. This often improves the usability of the overall form.

Footer

All government forms have the following information in the footer section in the bottom margin:

  • a unique, identifying form number (YG#);
  • page numbers;
  • distribution information, if applicable; and
  • French gender disclaimer, if applicable

French gender disclaimer

All French and bilingual forms must have a gender disclaimer. The French language uses many gender-specific words. The disclaimer lets users know that the French text on forms is written without gender preference.

Gender

Avoid asking for gender on forms unless absolutely necessary. If you must request gender, avoid binary options whenever possible. There are two alternatives:

  1. Leave a blank space for users to write whatever they choose.
    Example: Gender: __________ ; or
  2. Include "X" as an option to encompass non-binary alternatives.
    Example: [ ] Male [ ] Female [ ] X

Also avoid asking for gender-specific prefix titles like Mr. and Mrs.

Logos

All partner logos will appear to the right of the Government of Yukon logo. Any text or images that appear near the logo must respect the buffer space identified in the Government of Yukon brand standards.

All logos will be in black and white.

Interactive fields

Interactive or "fillable" forms allow users to complete the form online before, or instead of, printing it.

All government forms have interactive functionality applied to them, unless you request otherwise. This includes functions like:

  • text fields;
  • dropdowns;
  • checkboxes or radio buttons;
  • print and clear buttons; and
  • hyperlinks.

Interactive options are limited. PDF forms are designed for printing. They are not meant to be filled out online and they don't function the same as a web form.

In addition, due to the increase in proprietary PDF viewers, not all functions are available to all users. We recommend keeping your interactive requirements to a minimum, or consider replacing your PDF form with a web form.

Language

All public-facing Government of Yukon forms must adhere to the Languages Act. There are two options for these forms.

  1. Separate English and French forms
  2. Bilingual – English and French on the same page
    English in roman typeface and French in italic typeface. If both languages appear on the same line, they'll be separated with a bullet. For example, “First name • Prénom.

Links

Follow the government's guidance for writing links.

Specific to forms, links will appear in blue unless the form is intended to be printed. In that case, links will be in black. Links are not underlined.

Livecycle

We no longer support Livecycle (XML) forms. If you have an older Livecycle form, we recommend converting it to a more accessible format.

Email forms@gov.yk.ca to find out how to get your form converted.

Margins

Margins are set to 0.5 inches on all four sides. This ensures our forms can be printed, scanned, and faxed without losing any information.

Exceptions can be made for forms that require additional space for binding or finishing options. For example, hole punch, perforation, stapling, etc.

Office use only sections

“Office use only” sections are included when departments need to attach specific information directly on a submitted form. For example, the date a form was received and who received it.

Office use only sections are boxed with a grey background. They typically appear at the bottom of the last page. They don’t have any interactive functions to prevent users from typing in this space.

“Please”

Avoid using the word “please.” This just adds unnecessary words. Forms don’t need to be polite – they should be direct and clear. For example, “Please print clearly” should just be “Print clearly.”

Security

We secure (password protect) forms before they're printed or posted online. This ensures that no one can alter the form, intentionally or otherwise.

To make changes to a password-protected form, submit a forms ticket.

Signatures

Many government forms include signature fields. Currently, the government does not allow for digital signatures. All signatures must be made in ink.

Find out if a signature is required

Consult your program's policy advisor and legal counsel to find out if a signature is required.

If it is required, find out if one of these alternatives can be used to meet this requirement.

Alternatives to signatures

Use one of these alternatives if you want your form to be submitted digitally and not printed, signed, or delivered in hardcopy.

  1. Replace the signature field with a typed name.
    Example, “Submitted by: John Doe.”
  2. Replace the signature field with a checkbox declaration.
    Example, “[ ] I declare this information is true and…”

YG number (YG#)

All official government forms will have a unique identifying YG# in the bottom, left-hand corner on the first page. These numbers are assigned by the forms designer.

The YG# is a permanent number. No two forms will have the same number and old numbers will not be reused, even if the form is retired.

Your form will need a YG# if it’s:

  • public;
  • collects personal or confidential information; or
  • falls under legislation.

How to read a YG#

Example: YG(1234HPW) Rev.01/2020

  • YG = The form is owned by the Government of Yukon
  • 1234 = Unique identification number
  • HPW = The form belongs to Highways and Public Works
  • Rev. = The form has been revised from its original state
  • 01/2020 = Date of creation or last revision