ISO 9241 Part 12: Presentation of information


ISO 9241-12:1998 Ergonomic requirements for office work with visual display terminals (VDTs) -- Part 12: Presentation of information.


International Standard. Will be replaced by ISO 9241-111 and ISO 9241-141.

Lifecycle Phase

Create the user experience.

Type of Guidance

Principles and general recommendations.

Application Area

  • Software
  • User testing


This part of ISO 9241 contains recommendations on how to present visual information on screens so that users can easily perform “perceptual tasks” (such as searching for information on the screen). The recommendations are based on seven guiding principles: clarity (information should be conveyed quickly and accurately); discriminabilty (information should be able to be distinguished accurately); conciseness (provide only the information necessary to complete the task); consistency (present the same information in the same way throughout the application); detectability (direct the user’s attention to the information required); legibility (information should be easy to read); and comprehensibility (the meaning should be clearly understandable). The recommendations are provided in three main areas: organisation of information; graphical objects; and coding techniques. There is no discussion of icon design in this standard. The standard has two annexes. The first is a sample procedure for assessing applicability and adherence and includes a detailed design checklist spanning 13 pages. This compliance procedure is based on the notion of “conditional compliance”: the assessor first determines which recommendations are relevant and then determines whether or not they have been adhered to. The reason for this approach is that users, tasks and technological solutions vary and it is therefore not possible to give blanket recommendations that apply to all systems that present visual information. The conditional compliance route is ISO’s acknowledgement of this variability and complexity. The second annex is a bibliography.


User interface designers and evaluators.

See Also

ISO 9241-8:1997 Ergonomic requirements for office work with visual display terminals (VDTs) -- Part 8: Requirements for displayed colours.

ISO 9241-110:2006 Ergonomics of human-system interaction -- Part 110: Dialogue principles.

ISO/IEC 11581-1:2000 Information technology -- User system interfaces and symbols -- Icon symbols and functions -- Part 1: Icons -- General.

ISO/IEC 11581-2:2000 Information technology -- User system interfaces and symbols -- Icon symbols and functions -- Part 2: Object icons.

Note: this page is a few editions behind the eBook and may be out-of-date. For the very latest on ISO 9241 get the eBook version of ISO 9241 for Beginners.

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