Flowcharts, Swimlanes, and Timelines: Alternatives to Prose in Communicating Legal-bureaucratic Instructions to Civil Servants

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)229-272
Number of pages44
JournalJournal of Business and Technical Communication
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2018
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • Stefania Passera

Research units


Government-published documents often fail to communicate clearly – with citizens, but also with “professional readers” like civil servants. Visual or multimodal approaches remain rare. In particular, this is an unhelpful practice in regards to legal-bureaucratic instructions (e.g. contracts, rules, policies), which exist to guide compliant behavior. The study explores the development and the experimental evaluation of a diagrammatic guide for public procurement Terms & Conditions, addressed to civil servants. Results show that the diagrammatic format, in comparison to prose, significantly enhances comprehension accuracy and answering speed, and is perceived as more appealing and functional by the users.

    Research areas

  • Document Design, Information Design, Legal/Regulatory Writing, Manual Writing/Instructions, Organizational Communication

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