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Accurate and honest declarations

Published on 22 January 2020

Brevity and clarity

There are two reasons for seeking to achieve both brevity and clarity: make it understandable and make it believable. Research has shown that easy to read messages are more believable and that believability increases when key text is emboldened (Halpern, 2015).

The complexity of language should not exceed the reading age of a nine year old child. A useful source of guidance on the language to use in public documents can be found on this government website: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/content-design/writing-for-gov-uk (link opens in this tab).

Questions written in plain, unambiguous language, with key words or terms highlighted in bold will assist the applicant to understand what they are being asked. Selecting an easy to read font (without italics or underlining) reduces the amount of effort required to understand text. A declaration layered with multiple terms, sub-clauses and legal language is a less effective deterrent than a concise description. The axiom ‘less is more’ applies to this principle.

Where there are many conditions that must be explicitly stated in the declaration, the designer can list a range of conditions into a group under a single acknowledgement or obligation e.g. ‘I agree’, or ‘I understand’ (see Appendix 2 - Independent Living Fund).