Designing Public Documents: A Review of Research


Information design is about using language and design techniques to produce documents that best meet the needs of their intended audience. A great deal has been written on the subject since the Plain English Campaign drew it to public attention in the 1980s - so much so that the information designers themselves are now facing information overload.

This book provides a unique synthesis of over 250 reports and articles published on the subject - particularly in its application to public documents intended to convey information (such as leaflets and manuals) or to collect it (such as forms and questionnaires). The book draws on a wide range of disciplines - linguistics, graphic design, information science, printing, ergonomics, psychology, marketing, education and social research - to provide an invaluable overview of all the key elements of this important discipline.

Designing Public Documents is essential reading for all those involved in the subject - and, as the only available reader of its kind, is ideal course material for academics and students alike.


  • The document design process
  • The use and users of public documents
  • Reading and comprehension
  • Guielines for document designers
  • Format of documents
  • Structure of text
  • Structure of forms
  • The language of forms and leaflets
  • Aspects of visual design
  • Testing and evaluating documents
  • Editing and revising documents