The information in this blogpost may now be out of date. See the current GOV.UK content and publishing guidance.
We ran a slightly smaller content clinic this month, due to the Tube strike. But there was still plenty to talk about, including style issues, infographics, accessibility and broken links.
We discussed which words should and shouldn't be capitalised. Lower case is preferable because it's easier and faster to read (about 17% faster than upper case). Names, proper nouns and official titles should be capitalised, eg the Department of Health. After the first mention, refer to it as 'the department'.
Official titles, like the Access to Work grant, or legislation, like the Animal Welfare Act 2006 should be capitalised. Publication page titles shouldn't (but document titles should be written as it is in the document). See the A to Z in the style guide for common examples.
Today (13 May)
We were asked whether you have to write the date after every mention of 'today' in a news story or press release. We decided that it makes sense to write the date only after the first mention, rather than every time.
The style guide says: 'Write all numbers in numerals (including 1 to 9) except where it’s part of a common expression and it would look strange, eg ‘one or two of them’. Use common sense.' Most numbers should always be written in numerals, but one/1 can be tricky.
'According to research, 1 in 4 people experience mental health issues, but one of the best ways to prevent them is to control stress.'
In this example, we used figures for '1 in 4' because it's a statistic. We think it would look odd to say '1 of the best ways', because it's a commonly used phrase and not necessarily numerical.
Accessibility - PDFs
People asked if they need bookmarks on PDFs. Yes, it helps with accessibility. It can be time consuming, but it's important to do.
Filtering documents in Whitehall when bulk-publishing
At the moment the filter automatically changes to 'published' when you publish a page. This can be annoying when you have multiple documents to publish as it takes you back to the list of published pages, rather than your list of pages to publish. We were asked if this can be changed.
We've asked our publishing team to look at it and it's in their backlog. In the meantime, try opening each page you need to publish in a new tab and close it as it changes to the 'published' view.
Editors told us that there are increasing requests in departments to produce infographics. While they can be great, they can make it harder for the user to understand something and take longer to read. Also, they must legally be accessible (ie screenreaders won't read the words in the image so they must be duplicated in the written content on the page).
If you've produced an infographic, consider publishing it on social media. The Department for Transport links to Flickr from GOV.UK.
Broken link report
Last week we sent a report to every department and agency that had broken links on departmental pages on GOV.UK. This should make fixing them much easier and faster. We'll be sending a report regularly and as broken links are fixed, it will hopefully get smaller every time.
Next content clinic
The next clinic will be 28 May at the Department for Transport, London, 3pm to 4:30pm. We'll send details on applying to come very soon.