As a nation we are being beseiged by bureaucratese - or what some call gobbledygook.

Many of us are being victimized either by forms that are written in a language that we cannot understand - or printed so small that we need a magnifying glass to read it.That is the conclusion of a non-profit research group called Document Design Center at the American Institutes for Research in Washington, D.C.

Not surprisingly, this avalanche of often-inscrutable forms, letters and notices are often coming from the government.

Singled out for special criticism were the Social Security and Veterans Administrations. One change-of-address form for the Social Security Administration requires 20 pieces of information.

Many of the disturbing forms come from hospitals, doctors and commercial insurers, while others come in the form of phone bills, loan applications, credit-card statements, pension amendments and the odd prescription-drug warning.

A voter registration form contains printed instructions in 4-point type, while a notice from the Post Office is in 3-point type. By contrast, this editorial is printed in 10-point type.

Many forms, especially health-insurance forms, are printed in green ink on green paper - or blue ink on blue paper, making it impossible, even in good light, to read.

One credit-card application asks for the usual credit history - including the applicant's bank, address, phone number and bank account number - all in a box measuring 1.2 inches by 0.1 inches.

Even in Utah, Steve Johnson, director of Utahns Against Hunger has called the bureacratic system a barrier to people who might be eligible for food stamps. Filling out the required monthly reports, he said, is like "filling out little income tax forms."

Although collecting all these forms was undoubtedly humorous at times to researchers, it is not funny to respondents who feel frustrated, confused, angry and intimidated.

Many people who have difficulty with the forms blame themselves, and some fail to file insurance claims because they were too complicated.

The key was given by one of the researchers who said that "the biggest problem is that the person making the form doesn't talk to the person using the form."

Surely, all organizations - including the government - should digest this report and begin immediately to design simple, clearly stated forms that can be easily read and interpreted by the average person.