We’ve found that several programs that read webpages for those with visual impairment read ‘eg’ incorrectly, so we’re updating the style guide.
Most people who use these programs are used to their quirks, but it’s jarring to hear the wrong words. And while ‘e.g.’ gets read correctly by screen readers, there are better, clearer ways of introducing examples for all users.
We promote the use of plain English on GOV.UK. We advocate simple, clear language. Terms like eg, ie and etc, while common, make reading difficult for some.
Anyone who didn’t grow up speaking English may not be familiar with them. Even those with high literacy levels can be thrown if they are reading under stress or are in a hurry - like a lot of people are on the web.
So we’re phasing them out. We’ve changed our style guide as follows, and we’re letting content designers across government know.
eg, etc and ie
‘eg’ can sometimes be read aloud as ‘egg’ by screen reading software. Instead use ‘for example’ or ‘such as’ or 'like' or ‘including’ - whichever works best in the specific context.
‘etc’ can usually be avoided. Try using ‘for example’ or ‘such as’ or ‘including’. Never use ‘etc’ at the end of a list starting with ‘for example’ or ‘such as’ or ‘including’.
‘ie’ - used to clarify a sentence - isn’t always well understood. Try (re)writing sentences to avoid the need to use it. If that isn’t possible, use an alternative such as ‘meaning’ or ‘that is’.
We’re not going for a ‘big bang’ approach. You’ll still see these words on GOV.UK for a while - we have over 4,000 uses of ‘eg’ alone. So, at GDS, we’ll stop using these phrases in new content, and when we’re updating existing pages, we’ll replace the eg, etc and ie.