Appendix D: Design checklist


  • Do not crowd your design with too much clutter (typographic or images). Make sure there is a good amount of white space.
  • Avoid large blocks of unbroken text.
  • Use strong alignment (left aligned or right aligned) and avoid centred alignment unless there is a good design reason for it.


  • Make sure all charts and graphs have a legend.
  • Be sure all charts, graphs, and images are relevant and improve the reader’s understanding of the content.
  • Accessibility tip: Use relevant icons and images to break up large chunks of text. This helps with accessibility for neurodiverse readers or readers with low literacy.


  • Make sure colours are significantly different from each other if you are trying to use them for contrast.
  • Be sure colours relate to the emotions and associations appropriate for your design. This may be culturally specific.
  • Accessibility tip: Use colours that reduce visual glare: use a neutral background and use less intense colours but maintain good contrast. This can help dyslexic or neurodiverse readers.
  • Accessibility tip: Avoid using red and green together, because to someone with colourblindness, they can look similar. It is better to use orange/blue, blue/red, or blue/brown.


  • Group related information together; there should not be too much white space between related items.
  • Avoid “trapped white space” (blank space that is boxed in by design elements).


  • Ensure headings and body text are significantly different to provide contrast: for example, different sizes and/or weights, or significantly different fonts.
  • Use clear, legible fonts for body text.
  • Accessibility tip: Consider using a dyslexic-friendly font like Open Dyslexic or Dyslexie. These are also friendly to many neurodiverse readers.
  • Establish visual hierarchy using contrast: a large/heavier/different coloured font will draw the reader’s eye first and indicate where they should start reading or indicate important information.
  • Accessibility tip: Avoid using all capitals for body text (brief headings may be OK). It takes up more space and is harder to scan because there is less difference between the shapes of the letters.


For your convenience, you can access a copy of the checklist here: Plain Language – Appendix D Design Checklist [.pdf]. This will open in a new window.


“No one will ever complain because you made something too easy to understand.” (Tim Radford)





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