Content guidelines

We design content that is optimised for the web and is focused on customer needs, and is:

  • findable
  • readable
  • understandable
  • actionable
  • shareable
  • accessible

Our writing style

We follow the Government Digital Service (GDS) writing style guide. This includes:

  • guidance on specific points of style, such as abbreviations and numbers
  • style for specific words and phrases, in terms of spelling, hyphenation and capitalisation

If there is a point of style not covered by it, we use The Guardian style guide.

How we write

We write concise, jargon-free content that:

  • is in an active, conversational voice
  • is in plain English
  • helps customers complete their task
  • does not rely on FAQs
  • uses headings, bulleted lists, tables and other formats to structure the page
  • uses short sentences and paragraphs, and rates between 60 and 70 in the Flesch Reading Ease score (this score should be understood by 13 to 15-year-olds)
  • accessible - content written with a high readability score helps us to reach people with some additional needs

Content driven by evidence

We always try to base what we publish on research into user behaviour.

We keep track of the way our users interact with our websites and applications using a variety of tools including Google Analytics, Hotjar and Siteimprove.

As our content is designed with the user’s needs in mind, we may:

  • split one big piece of content into smaller pieces
  • change the format of the content to meet the needs of our users
  • remove content from the site to avoid duplication
  • publish information elsewhere - in a news item or blog, or on a partner site or social media