Sign on the Dotted Line, Please

When you're a slightly-obsessive perfectionist like me, even the most menial task can get under your skin, crying out for a more effective and efficient redesign.  Case in point: filling out forms.  I am continually amazed by the lack of thought displayed by people when putting together a document that will be used by many people over a great length of time.  Generally, there are three basic categories of glaring problems:

1. Space Planning

Ever seen one of these?
Name (Last, First, Middle Initial): __________

That's long enough to write my last name, maybe.  And my last name is four letters long.  My most recent favorite was the following from a grad school questionnaire:
Describe other experiences you have had as a student that have exposed you to professors, P-12 teachers, college students and P-12 school students who are people of color and how these experiences have informed your understanding of multicultural issues and contributed to your preparation to teach children from a variety of racial, ethnic, economic, and cultural backgrounds.



Really?  That's all?  You don't want me to prove the theory of relativity or explain how a bill becomes a law?

And sometimes the form makes the opposite mistake.  Half a page down on the same form, the following:
Grade of students taught: __________________________________________________________

This makes me wonder whether I should list the grade of every student for every assignment, just to fill the space.

2. Misspellings

My department head and I recently came across a permission slip that had been left in the copier, and we attacked it with red pens before returning it to the teacher's box.  Passive-aggressive?  Maybe, but this thing was so bad, it misspelled "Catholic" and "permission" -- the purpose of the school and the purpose of the form, respectively.  One from my university recently misspelled the name of its founding order.

I understand dashing off an e-mail to one person in a hurry and not taking time to proofread.  I don't understand printing, photocopying and distributing something that clearly hasn't been looked over once.

3. Inconsistency

Mostly, this take the form of repetitiveness.  For years, my school asked me to fill out a biweekly progress report for students with learning disabilities; the form had two different places to write the date and the teacher's name.  Each time I filled it out, I indicated (through arrows, terse notes or blank spaces) that the form was repeating itself.  They never got the hint; they just stopped using the forms.

Other times, the forms ask contradictory questions, or they go so far as to invalidate themselves, as the renewal-by-mail passport application does: "Check Yes or No to the following questions."  Below the questions: "If you checked No to any of the previous questions, you MAY NOT USE THIS FORM.  Use Form DS-11 Instead!"

Well, I'm not really sure what the point of this post was.  I suppose I'm hoping, by having aired these griefs, to prevent the development of a Brazilesque society.  Plus, I have to say, I feel SO much better!