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GSS > Requesting to upload content on the website > Checklist for creating content for the Government Statistical Service (GSS) website

Checklist for creating content for the Government Statistical Service (GSS) website

Content published on the GSS website must meet legal accessibility standards.

It is also important to be consistent in any online communication. This is because people don’t usually read content online, they scan it. Consistency helps people to scan content so it’s easier for them to find what they want. This is why we also follow the style guides provided by the Government Digital Service and the Office for National Statistics.

This checklist will help you check over your content to make sure you are meeting the legal accessibility standards and following the style guides.

Checklist

Acronyms

We must expand acronyms when we first use them.

Example of bad practice:

This seminar is the latest in a series organised jointly by the RSS, the RES, ESCoE, ONS and the SPE.

Example of good practice:

This seminar is the latest in a series organised jointly by the Royal Statistical Society (RSS), the Royal Economic Society (RES), the Economic Statistics Centre of Excellence (ESCoE), Office for National Statistics (ONS) and the Society of Professional Economists (SPE).

Common issues:

The only acronyms that do not have to be expanded on first use are BBC and NHS.

GSS and ONS must always be expanded on first use to Government Statistical Service and Office for National Statistics respectively.

If a page is very long, we should expand acronyms on their first use within each section as we know users often skim read and skip to sections lower down.

When we spell an acronym out we should put capital letters at the start of each word in the acronym, e.g. ‘Senior Civil Service (SCS)’.

 

Bold and italic fonts

We must not use bold, italics or different colours to draw words out of text as this is bad practice in terms of accessibility.

We must not mix up different types of fonts on the website. It is best practice to consistently use one type of font across the whole website.

When you use our online submission form you can select headings formatting from the text editor to make headings and subheadings clear. Email gsshelp@statistics.gov.uk if you want help with doing this.

 

Bullet points

We need to be consistent in how we present bullet points.We follow the advice for bullet points given in the Office for National Statistics’ style guide.

 

Capital letters

Too many capital letters make sentences hard to read.

We should only use capital letters for proper nouns and the first word in a sentence or heading.

If you are referring to any ‘groups’ or ‘schemes’ or ‘teams’ then the names of these are generally considered proper nouns. This means these words also get a capital letter as they are part of the proper noun. E.g. the ‘Good Practice Team’.

Common issues:

  • If you are referring to any ‘groups’ or ‘schemes’ or ‘teams’ then the names of these are generally considered proper nouns – this means these words also get a capital letter as they are part of the proper noun, e.g. the ‘Good Practice Team’.
  • We don’t capitalise the word government on the GSS website.
  • If we refer to the Code of Practice for Statistics with its full name we give it capital letters and treat it as a proper noun.
  • If we refer to the Code of Practice as ‘the code’ we don’t give the word ‘code’ a capital letter.
  • The term “National Statistics” is a proper noun but the term “official statistics” is not (this is the convention across multiple government websites)

 

Dashes

Don’t use dashes to indicate a span of time or range of monetary amounts. Dashes used in this way can be confusing for screen readers. Use “to” instead.

Examples of bad practice:

£36,00 – £40,000

January – December

Examples of good practice:

£36,000 to £40,000

January to December

 

Dates

Write dates in this order: date, month, year.

Don’t use “st”, “nd”, “rd” and “th”.

If the day of the week is relevant, put it before the date.

Write out months in full.

Examples of good practice:

12 March 2014.

Monday 3 March 2014.

 

Email addresses

We need to be consistent in how we embed email addresses.

Emails should be given in full and should be lowercase, even if they are names.

Example of good practice:

Contact gss.capability@statistics.gov.uk.

 

Format

We are no longer publishing content as documents or PDFs or spreadsheets, except in very exceptional circumstances. Please email gssnet@statistics.gov.uk if you think you need to publish content in one of these formats.

Reasons to move away from PDFs, documents and spreadsheets:

  • They are not best practice in terms of accessibility
  • Search engines cannot look inside these formats meaning content is harder to find.
  • These formats are harder to keep up to date than webpages because the editing process takes longer and the editable copy of the PDF often gets lost.

Read more about why website content should be published in HTML and not PDF.

 

Headings

The Government Digital Service recommends sticking to 65 characters for page titles to ensure a search engine never cuts off the end of your content.

 

Hyperlinks (i.e. links to different webpages)

  • Check all hyperlinks in your content are sending users to the correct place.
  • Don’t use directional text for hyperlinks such as “click here” or “see below” – this sort of text is misleading for users with screen readers.
  • Hyperlink text should be a specific description of the destination page, not just “blog post” or “network”.
  • If you are linking to a document published on another website please link to the page the document lives on, not the document itself.

Example of good practice:

You can find more information about accessibility on gov.uk.

 

Numbers

We follow the advice on writing numbers from the Office for National Statistics’ style guide:

Main points:

  • Write all numbers 10 and over as numerals, up to 999,999.
  • Write numbers one to nine as words unless they are dates.
  • In numbers of 4 digits or more use commas after every 3 decimal places e.g. 2,548.
  • Write out millions and billions and use lower case e.g. 2.5 million, 148 billion.
  • Write out and hyphenate fractions e.g. two-thirds, three-quarters.
  • Percentages: use the symbol with no space between it and the number e.g. 6%
  • For money, use the major currency unit before the amount e.g. £15, $76.56.
  • Write out rankings first to ninth, then use numerals e.g. 10th, 51st.
  • When using rankings don’t use superscript for “st”, “nd”, “rd” and “th”.

 

Quotes and speech marks

When it comes to quotes and speech marks we follow the Government Digital Service style guide.

 

Readability and plain English

All content on the GSS website should have a readability score of Grade 9 or lower and be written in plain English. If it is not, we will have to make edits to the language used.

If your content does not contain any sensitive unpublished material, paste it into the online Hemingway App. It will give you a grade level score.

If you can’t use the Hemingway App, then use the readability tools on Microsoft Word. This will give you a “Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level”. How to find your readability score on Word.

The Hemingway App is more helpful than Word so use this if you can.

You can also look at this list of words to avoid from the Government Digital Service style guide.

Find out more about plain English.

 

Spelling and grammar

Always run a spelling and grammar check and correct any mistakes.

 

Symbols

Write out ‘and’ at all times. Do not use an ampersand symbol.

If a forward slash symbol is used to show ‘or’,  replace it with the word ‘or’. If a slash is needed, there should be no space either side of it.

When it comes to percentages – use the symbol with no space between it and the number e.g. ‘6%’.