Content style guide - How to write good questions for forms

Guidance for people working on forms, questionnaires and transactional services.

This guidance will help you understand:

  • which questions to include
  • how to write them well
  • how to write other content for your form or transaction, for example: instructions, help text and error messages

What is a form?

A form is a page that asks users for information in order to give them a service. It could be a web page or a paper page.

Form design and this guidance

Good form design consists of:

  • interaction design - making the form easy to use
  • content design - making it easy to understand and answer
  • service design - making it easy for the user to get things done

This guidance focuses on writing good questions - making them easy to understand and answer - and getting the right answers. It will help you design better digital forms and, if your service still needs them, paper forms. It may also be useful if you're working on questionnaires or surveys.

Use our tested styles, components and patterns to build forms that are easy to use (interaction design).

Find out more about service design in the GOV.UK guidance on "Designing good government services: an introduction".


A lot of people have helped us with this guidance.

  • We've tested it with a number of digital teams in the NHS and have learnt from their work.
  • We've built on the GOV.UK service manual and the GOV.UK Design System.
  • Caroline Jarrett was our forms design subject matter expert.

Would you like to contribute to this guidance?

Please let us know how this has worked for you and, in particular, if you have research findings to share. This will help us improve it for everyone.

Before you start, you will need a GitHub account. It's an open forum where we collect feedback.

If you have any questions, you can message us on Slack. You will need a Slack account if you do not have one. Or you can contact us by email.

Updated: November 2019