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Content clinic 28 May: what we talked about

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The information in this blogpost may now be out of date. See the current GOV.UK content and publishing guidance.

The GOV.UK content clinic is an opportunity for departmental and agency editors to meet each other and get their questions answered by a GDS content designer. Here's what we talked about.

July content clinic: Bristol

We'll be holding our usual content clinic at the Department for Transport on 23 July. But for editors in the south-west of the UK, we’re hosting an extra clinic at the Environment Agency in Bristol on 30 July. We’ll send details out shortly.

'We': when to use it

We were asked if it's OK to use 'we' in place of the name of the agency or department responsible for the content.

In the ‘about us’ section of the organisation home page, the style guide says ‘lead with ‘We’ - it will be very obvious who the ‘we’ is on this page.’

In policies, 'we' is also used, for example, 'We announced our intention to do x as part of the coalition agreement.'

However, it’s not obvious who ‘we’ is in all content. For example, in a publication or detailed guide, users might enter the content in the middle of a page. They could arrive at an H2 heading from the navigation bar on the side, or skim read from the top until they find the section they want.

Using 'we' is fine, as long as you're making it clear as much as possible who the 'we' is. Don't assume the audience will know. Each time you use 'we', make sure you've already used the full name of the department or agency in that specific section.

Performance platform

We demoed the performance platform, which shows in real time how a department's and agency's content is performing.  Peter Jordan's blog explains more about the dashboards, how they've been built and how they'll be used.

HTML: when to use it

We were asked if future iterations of HTML documents will include paragraph numbering for legal documents. The example given was a legal document which was being transferred to HTML from a publication. You can currently number the headers in an HTML document, but you can't number the paragraphs. HTML documents are designed to allow the user to navigate easily on a web page. A legal document has probably been designed to be read offline by lawyers who need to refer to subsections. When content has been created specifically for the web, it should be in the HTML format. If it's being recreated for the web, for example a brochure which was originally designed for print, or the legal document above, it should probably be a PDF. Content not designed for the web shouldn't be forced into a web-friendly format like HTML.

Archiving content

Gavin Dispain at the Department of Transport (DfT) showed archived WebTAG content where they’ve replaced the PDF with one which says ‘archived content’ at the top and points to the current regulations. This is so that people who’ve bookmarked the attachment link will know the content is out of date (the old link will redirect to the new PDF).


We were asked about submitting requests for campaigns. We’ve published standards and guidelines on the blog, which should be read with the blog post on campaign fulfilments. You should speak to GDS as early as possible so that we can help you develop your campaign.


We were asked if it’s OK to put more than 1 form on a page. If there are multiple forms which need to be filled in together as part of an application, they could go on 1 page (as long as none of the forms are used for another application, as this would lead to duplication). Jeni Pitkin from the Environment Agency showed us how they’ve used the content types to make an application process easier. The application forms for an environmental permit are grouped in a collection. The types of permit each have a publication page, with all the relevant forms attached, for example the application for a groundwater permit.

Contact information

We talked about contact information. We know these have been done inconsistently up to now and we’ll look into it. When we have a definitive answer, we’ll blog about it.

Thank you

Thanks to everyone who attended the clinic. A particular thanks to those who submitted questions, including:

  • Ale Delcueto from DfE
  • Jeni Pitkin from the Environment Agency
  • Kate Hall Strutt from HM Treasury
  • Linda Steele from the Office of the Public Guardian
  • Fiona Pugh from the Homes and Communities Agency
  • Alan Cooke from the Home Office
  • Gavin Dispain from DfT

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  1. Comment by Tom Ripley posted on

    What does "Use the name of the department or agency at least every H2." mean, please?

    • Replies to Tom Ripley>

      Comment by Rosie Cowling posted on

      Hi Tom,

      By writing the name of the department of agency after each H2 (rather than 'we'), it will be clear to any users jumping into the content who the 'we' is.

      For example it's clear who the 'we' in the 2nd sentence is here:
      'The Environment Agency is the leading public body protecting and improving the environment in England and Wales. We make sure that air, land and water are looked after by everyone...'

      However, a user jumping into this H2 would not who 'we' is.

      I hope that's clear.

      Rosie, GDS

  2. Comment by Tom Ripley posted on

    Thanks Rosie. Your message didn't help until I realised that that by 'H2' you meant 'Top level heading' - now it all makes sense.

  3. Comment by Rosie Cowling posted on

    Hi Tom. I've amended the 'we' section from your feedback. I hope it's now clearer.

    Rosie, GDS