The information in this blogpost may now be out of date. See the current GOV.UK content and publishing guidance.
We've been piloting an editorial quality report for departments to help maintain the content’s clarity and usability.
These reports are a chance for departments to get detailed feedback on content quality and identify areas for improvement. We're now working on the second round of these reports so it's time to explain them and share the criteria we use.
Spot check report: how it's put together
We take random samples of content from a given time period and look at how closely it follows GOV.UK style and principles.
We look at:
- how much has been force published
- where content isn’t following GOV.UK style and principles (errors)
- how many articles need a rewrite
Force publishing: without a second pair of eyes
This figure should be 0%. Force publishing should only happen in exceptional circumstances. Even when content is force published, someone in the team needs to look it over as soon as is possible. Keeping an eye on this figure helps us to see how well departments’ internal quality processes are working.
40% of content checked in the first round of spot checks was force published and 50% of content needed a rewrite.
Checking content is to style
We check how closely it follows the style guide as well as guidance given on the Inside GOV.UK blog. When a GDS editor has reviewed the sample of content, it is checked again by a second editor and then re-edited. Where we find content isn’t to style, we count it as either a major or minor error and give an explanation of what the error is.
Major errors stop the user understanding the content or completely disrupt their experience on GOV.UK.
A title that doesn’t give the user any idea of what the content is about would be a major error as it actively prevents users finding content through search.
Minor errors make it harder for a user to understand or use the content.
Typos or incorrect Markdown would be minor errors.
When you’ll need to rewrite content
If we find content has more than 5 errors in the first 10 sentences, we'll ask your team to rewrite it.
We also ask departments to rewrite content if:
- it's in the wrong format (eg a detailed guide that should be a policy supporting detail page)
- it's in the wrong section of GOV.UK (eg it should be in the 'mainstream' section because it's information for citizens or businesses)
- the text is so unclear that the page doesn't fulfill its main purpose
Criteria we use to decide errors
We've significantly refined the criteria we use. We've come up with the following list of major and minor errors. We want to be as transparent as possible about what we base our decisions on.
Who sees the report
We send the full final report to the single point of contact (SPOC) for each department. Individual editors also get to see comments on content they have published.
High-level figures for each department are circulated to all departments once each round of spot checks is complete. These figures include force publishing rates, overall number of rewrites and the number of major errors per item.
If you haven’t seen one yet, ask your SPOC or managing editor to let you have a look at the last report for your department.
Please also send reports to the relevant policy teams so they can become more familiar with GOV.UK style. Helping policy teams understand the reasoning behind GOV.UK style should help reduce the amount of re-editing for future content.