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Production of forms and graphics for publication in legislation

Background

The PCO uses an integrated system for drafting and publishing legislation. The system is used to publish legislation both on the New Zealand Legislation website and in printed format.

This information is intended for agencies that issue drafting instructions to the PCO to:

  • inform them of how prescribed forms and graphics are produced for publication in legislation
  • provide guidance on how to format forms and supply graphics for publication in legislation drafted by the PCO.

The three common categories of prescribed forms

Forms required by clients to be prescribed in legislation usually fall within one of the following three categories:

Production and publication of forms

Text-only forms

Whenever possible, the PCO produces and publishes prescribed forms in legislation using text only.

Clients should therefore note that if instructions are supplied for a prescribed form that contains text and graphical elements such as text boxes, the PCO will draft and publish the form using text only, unless one of the next two paragraphs applies.

Pre-designed forms

If a client requires a pre-designed form to be prescribed in legislation and has advised the PCO accordingly, the client will be asked to supply the form as an entire graphic file in one of the five graphic file formats that the PCO can accept. See Acceptable graphic file formats.

Forms containing text and graphical elements

If a client requires a form to contain both text and graphical elements such as text boxes because the client considers it inappropriate to omit these elements in favour of text-based alternatives and has advised the PCO accordingly, the client will also be asked to supply the form as an entire graphic file in one of the five graphic file formats that the PCO can accept. See Acceptable graphic file formats.

Forms in Bills

It is unusual for forms to be prescribed in Acts. In Bills, forms should be included only in exceptional circumstances. Difficulties can arise in the legislative process, for example, when tracking changes to forms as the Bill progresses through the House. Also, if a form contained in an Act needs to be changed for legal reasons, an amendment to the Act is required.

Guidelines for text-only forms

If a client requires the PCO to draft a form, the client should supply the text with little or no formatting, and the PCO will draft a prescribed form to the extent that the system will allow. Whenever possible, therefore, forms should contain minimally formatted text and avoid graphical elements because:

  • the publishing tool used by the PCO is essentially a text editor, not a graphic design application
  • the format of a form is determined by the system
  • forms published in legislation (legislative forms) that attempt to match the often complex format needed for actual forms are difficult or impossible to accurately produce because:
    • the desired format may simply not be possible
    • if it were possible to achieve some of these complex format features in print, they may display badly or incorrectly on the web due to the manual "touchups" involved in achieving them
  • attempting to produce forms as they would actually be used is resource intensive for both clients and the PCO while the benefits are negligible because, in practice, actual forms are reformatted in a number of ways:
    • they may be modified by departments in terms of typeface and layout
    • they may be modified by departments for actual electronic completion
    • electronic forms viewed in a web browser will display according to user preferences.

Clients are asked to consider the following points when preparing instructions for the PCO to draft prescribed forms:

Do not use, for example:

  • text boxes
  • leader dots.

There are text-based alternatives for representing graphical elements.

Text boxes

Text boxes function as placeholders for text to be inserted by users of a form. In an actual form these might be represented by spaces, leader dots, rules, boxes, or (in an electronic form) as fields.

However, in a legislative form, text boxes need not be used. Instead, a colon should be placed after words such as name, address, etc. For example:

Applicant’s full name:
Address for service:
Email:

and not:
Applicant’s full name:  
Address for service:  
Email:  
Check boxes

A group of check boxes is equivalent to a list from which the user of a form must make a selection.

However, in a legislative form, check boxes need not be used. Instead, present items for selection in a list, preceded by an instruction, such as "Select one from the following list:", or similar. The list may be bulleted, unbulleted, or included within the text of the form presented as italicised instructions within square brackets.

In an actual form, as opposed to a legislative form, the format used, and the wording relating to the format, will be determined by the department or organisation that creates the form for users and by the delivery media. The content that users of the actual form are required to supply must be as prescribed in the legislative form.

However, while a textual list is preferred where users are required to select from a series of items, if absolutely required check boxes may still be used instead of bullet lists.

Also, do not use:

Horizontal and vertical rules

  • unnecessary horizontal or vertical rules (including variable length or variable width rules, for example, double rules or bold rules)

Leader dots

  • extra rows of leader dots as placeholders for entries such as dates, addresses, names of signatories, etc, and entries that may require considerable space in the actual form

Cues for dates

  • cues for dates, such as ".../.../20..." or "Date......", when " / /20 " and "Date:" will suffice.

Extra spaces

  • extra spaces should not be used as place holders for text.
Minimal text formatting

Text for forms should be supplied by clients with minimal formatting. PCO format will then be applied to the text and the PCO will draft a prescribed form to the extent the system will allow. For example:

Placeholder text in square brackets

  • placeholder text should be placed in square brackets (for example, "[full name]", or "[year, month]", or "[specify cash, credit card, cheque, direct debit or direct credit]")

Guidelines for forms supplied as graphic files

As noted above, clients are asked to supply the following kinds of forms to the PCO for publishing in legislation as graphic files:

Clients should supply the PCO with forms as graphic files only if it is absolutely necessary for a pre-designed form or a form with graphical elements to be prescribed in the legislation. This is because:

  • forms presented as graphics cannot be edited by the PCO
  • forms presented as graphics cannot be electronically searched
  • file sizes would be undesirably large on the web, with slower download speeds
  • forms degrade as they progress through graphics packages.
Pre-designed forms

If a client requires a pre-designed form to be prescribed in legislation, the client is asked to supply the pre-designed form as a graphic file in one of the five graphic file formats that the PCO can accept. See Acceptable graphic file formats.

If a pre-designed form supplied to the PCO by a client needs to be changed for legal reasons (for example, because of inconsistency with the primary legislation), the client will be asked to re-supply the graphic file in an amended form for publication. The PCO will not involve itself in editing forms supplied as graphics.

Forms containing text and graphical elements

If a client requires a form that contains a mixture of text and graphical elements to be prescribed in legislation, the client is asked to supply the form as a graphic file in one of the five graphic file formats that the PCO can accept. See Acceptable graphic file formats.

If a form containing a mixture of text and graphical elements supplied to the PCO by a client needs to be changed for legal reasons (for example, because of inconsistency with the primary legislation), the client will be asked to re-supply the graphic file in an amended form for publication. The PCO will not involve itself in editing forms supplied as graphics.

Guidelines for graphics

Acceptable graphic file formats

Each graphic should be supplied by clients in one of the following file formats:

  • .vsdx (Visio, preferred format)
  • .jpeg (low quality colour, no wording)
  • .tiff (high quality colour)
  • .png (black and white text)
  • .pdf (if a graphic form).

Note: For forms, flowcharts, and diagrams, the preferred PCO format is Visio (.vsdx). Provision of content in Visio format will allow smooth processing through the system and provide for a high-quality result.

Acceptable fonts

When sending forms and graphics to the PCO to be reproduced in legislation, please select fonts that can be reproduced by the system. In particular, please avoid using printer fonts. See Choosing fonts for forms and graphics for more information.

Dimensions of graphics supplied by clients

All graphics supplied to the PCO for publication in legislation must fit within the margins of a standard legislative page (135 mm wide x 185 mm deep in portrait layout, and 185 mm wide and 135 mm deep in landscape layout). However, it may be necessary for the PCO to further reduce the size of a graphic if other elements, such as headings, appear on the same page.

Resolution of graphics supplied by departments

All graphics should be supplied to the PCO by clients with a suitable resolution to enable the quality required. We recommend the following resolutions:

  • .vsdx (Visio, preferred format) 1200 dpi
  • .jpeg (low quality colour, no wording) 600 dpi
  • .tiff (high quality colour) 600 dpi
  • .png (black and white text) 300 dpi
  • .pdf (if a graphic form) 300 dpi.

Note: in the case of .tiff, do not use .jpeg compression. In the case of .jpeg, set compression to the highest quality to avoid degrading the image.

Contacting the PCO

To clarify requirements in relation to graphic file formats and resolution, clients may contact the Publications Manager (phone 04 817 6425 and ask for the manager).

What clients should bear in mind when considering whether to provide graphic files to the PCO

Editing of graphics during the drafting process

The PCO will not edit graphic files (including forms) supplied by clients. Clients will be asked to amend all graphic files (including forms) and re-supply them to the PCO for publication.

Amending of graphics after legislation containing them has been enacted

Graphics cannot be partially amended. Instead, the entire graphic file must be replaced. If a graphic must be legally amended, the PCO will ask the client that supplied the graphic file to alter the graphic and re-supply the entire amended graphic file for publication.

Public accessibility

Ability to search: graphics (including forms) are not be searchable on the New Zealand Legislation website.

Appearance of graphics: some graphics (including forms as graphics) must be reduced in size to fit within the margins of the page (135 mm wide x 185 mm deep in portrait layout, and 185 mm wide and 135 mm deep in landscape layout). It may be necessary for the PCO to further reduce the size of a graphic if other elements, such as headings, appear on the same page. This may affect the legibility of the graphic.

Size and speed of downloading graphics on the New Zealand Legislation website: graphic file sizes are typically large and can be slow to download. This could potentially affect users accessing legislation that contains graphics via the website.

Actual forms based on prescribed forms produced as graphics in legislation

In general, the majority of prescribed forms produced as graphics are not used, in reality, in that format. Actual forms may be modified in a number of ways. Exceptions to this would be forms described above as pre-designed.

Examples of forms

See below for some examples of the categories of forms discussed above. Please note that they are displayed on the older B5 page size. Legislation is now formatted for an A4 page.

Example of all forms (PDF 244Kb)

Example of a pre-designed form (PDF 196Kb)
First example of a form with text and graphical elements (PDF 21Kb)
First example of a text and graphical elements form reproduced as a text-only form (PDF 52Kb)
Second example of a form with text and graphical elements (PDF 27Kb)
Second example of a text and graphical elements form reproduced as a text-only form (PDF 39Kb)

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