Style Guidelines

To be accessible and usable, content must be written using correct and consistent grammar and spelling

Plain English

  • Use clear and simple language.

Badly written content is neither accessible nor usable, especially for people with disabilities or learning difficulties. So please check then double-check everything you write. Always check each page after uploading it. If possible, get someone else to check your content. They may spot something you missed.

Spell check your work but do not rely solely on a spell checker. Spell checkers are not aware of the organisational style. For example, a spell checker might split 'website' into the two words 'web site' but your organisation might use the term 'website' as one word. Also, spell checkers do not spot grammatical errors. For example, if 'there' were used instead of 'their', a spell checker would not correct the mistake: "Their are style guidelines online."

Dreamweaver has a spell checker.

Spelling is particularly important in email addresses and hyperlinks where mistakes can stop the email address or hyperlink working. For example, if editor were spelt incorrectly in the email address, any email sent to this address would not get through. Or if West Bridgford were spelt with an 'e' in bridge, the following hyperlink would not work

Online style

  • Divide large blocks of information into more manageable groups.
  • Place distinguishing information at the beginning of headings, paragraphs, lists, etc.

Online content is different to general style. 'Writing for the Web' by Jakob Nielsen explains how to modify your writing style to suit the web:

  1. The Difference Between Paper and Online Presentation.
  2. Working With a Designer.
  3. Scannability.
  4. Navigation.
  5. Writing to be Read.
  6. Terms to Avoid.
  7. Editorial Review of Web Pages.
  8. Web Facts.

Organisational style

  • Maintain a consistent style across the entire website.

The entire website must be written in a consistent style. For example, to be usable, lists must have punctuation at the end of each line. However, for an entire website to be usable, all lists must have the same punctuation at the end of each line. So on your website, a period might be placed at the end of every line in a list.

Whenever you use times and dates, please check they conform to your organisational style. For example, 4.00pm on 17 May 2003.