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Writing for the web

How we write content for our website and online services.

How people read online

People read differently online than they do on paper. They do not necessarily read top to bottom or even from word to word. Instead users only read about 20 to 28% of a web page.

For more information see the Neilson Norman Group’s article on how people read on the web.

Creating web content

When you write for the web, start with the same question every time: what does the user want to know?

Meeting that need means being:

  • specific
  • informative
  • clear and to the point

Depending on what your user needs are, you may also need to:

  • reduce the amount of content you plan to publish
  • split one big piece of content into smaller pieces
  • change the format of the content
  • put some content in other areas of the website
  • remove content from our website
  • publish your content elsewhere, like a blog or social media

You’ll need to consider all of this when planning your content. You will also need to consider how long the content will stay on our website and what will happen to it after it’s out of date.

You can find lots of useful information on writing for the web and optimising content for searches on GOV.UK.

Links

Links are found in nearly all web pages. Links allow users to move from page to page.

Our linking policy

Our website has a linking policy which sets out our guidelines for linking to other government departments, representative bodies and other organisations.

Links should be:

  • relevant to the page they are linking from
  • suitable for the likely audience

External links will be reviewed and updated as part of ongoing maintenance.

Writing good links

Points to consider are:

  • Ideally link text should match the heading of the target page. If the target page has the heading ‘Submit a recovery plan’, that's good link text. If the target page heading is too long, shorten the link text but use words from it so that users can predict where the link will take them.
  • Avoid ambiguous phrases such as ‘click here’ and ‘read more’.
  • Links should make sense when read in isolation. This helps people who use screen readers.
  • Avoid having links or buttons open new windows or tabs. If you need to open a link in a new window, say this in the link phrase. For example, ‘Link name (opens in new window)’.
  • If the link goes to a document, include the file type and size in the link phrase. For example: "Link name (PDF, 200KB)"

Find more on writing accessible links on GOV.UK

Historic content links

Content published more than two years ago, eg press releases and consultations, may not be available on the TPR website. However, you may be able to find and link to historic content on the National Archives website.

Alt text

Alt text is used as an alternative to an image for people who use screen readers to access our content.

For more information on how to write alt text see the GOV.UK style guide.

HTML or PDF?

TPR has adopted an HTML first publishing model as recommended by the Government Digital Service (GDS).

This means that in most cases we will replace old PDFs with an HTML web page when the content is reviewed.

We will use a set of principles to help us decide when to publish content only as an accessible PDF. These include it:

  • is going to be distributed as a print publication
  • benefits a very small audience
  • stands alone and does not benefit from linking to other content