General style guide

This guide covers some of the most common style issues on our website.

For a full list of styles, spelling and grammar conventions, follow the GOV.uk style guide.

  • use initial capitals for full names of places (for example, Lincolnshire County Council)
  • use lower case for commonly-used names (for example, the council)
  • use lower case for job titles
  • write headings in lower case, which can also be used as meta tags – concise and descriptive
  • write in the first person (for example,'we provide this service' - not 'the council provides this service')
  • write in an active voice, not passive
  • British English standard spelling, -ise not –ize
  • use the built-in headings in Word  for all headings and sub headings (under Home tab – default black and white)
  • website, email and internet are one word, lower case (except at the start of a sentence)
  • use double quotes for reported speech and when referring to an excerpt from a quote
  • single quotes are only used in page titles
  • no exclamation marks, block capitals, italics or underlines for emphasis
  • use left justify for text
  • do not use footnotes – insert the additional note at the relevant point in the main body of text
  • do not use watermarks – if they contain important information include it in the body of text

Addresses

  • write street numbers, names and postcodes
  • do not use punctuation
  • always write out Street (not St), Road (not Rd)
  • when letters are included, always lower case

Numbers

  • one to nine written out, 10 upwards in numbers with the following exceptions:
    • you are talking about a step or point in a list (for example, in point 5 of the text)
    • century always write out (for example, nineteenth century)
    • bus numbers (for example bus 5, 6, 7 or 27)
    • times, 6am, 9pm, 5.30pm
    • where it would be inconsistent (for example, children aged 4-10 rather than four-10)
    • where unit of measurement is abbreviated (for example, km)
    • where version of software (for example, Internet Explorer 5)
    • 60s not 1960s, and not 60's
  • always use figures with decimal points and percentages
  • use symbols with figures (for example, £243.57)
  • spell out amounts of objects over one hundred thousand (for example, three million people)
    • the rule of figures over 10 still applies (for example, 12 billion people)
  • use figures for amounts of money over one hundred thousand (for example, £3m, £5bn)
  • avoid numbers at the beginning of sentences. If this is not possible always write it in full

Currency

  • prices should have the currency first then number, closed up (for example, £9.99, £10,000)
  • do not include decimal point if whole number (for example, £5)
  • millions should be written as £1 million, £1.5 million

Tables

  • apply header rows to tables (within a table, select layout tab/repeat header rows)
  • do not split or merge cells
  • do not have any blank cells, rows or columns
  • use left justify for column headers
  • use right justify to line up a column of figures to the decimal place
  • do not use nested tables

Dates

  • should follow the format: day, date, month, year
  • only a year if the event is not in the current year (for example, Monday 7 September 2000)
  • do not use date suffixes st, nd, rd, th

Times

  • use am or pm, no space (for example, 9am, 7pm)
  • use a full stop to separate hours and minutes (for example, 5.30pm)
  • use noon and midnight, not 12am or 12pm

Distances and measurements

  • conversions (in brackets) should be provided where useful - for example, 16km (10 miles)
  • write out kilometres etc when using numbers (one to nine) - for example, eight kilometres (five miles)
  • use abbreviations (mm, cm, m, km) when using numbers 10 and over – for example 80km (50 miles)
  • always write out miles, inches, hectares and acres
  • when area – use sq ft, sq metres, sq miles, sq kilometres

Abbreviations

  • do not abbreviate days and months
  • do not use full stops in abbreviations or spaces between initials, (for example, BBC, mph)
  • spell out less well-known abbreviations first time followed by the abbreviation in brackets
  • it is not necessary to spell out well-known ones, such as EU, UN, US, BBC, CD
  • acronyms take initial cap: Aids, Isa, Mori, Unison
  • use all caps only if the abbreviation is pronounced as the individual letters

And or &

  • only use & where it is part of an official title or name (for example, Marks & Spencer)
  • do not use & for services (for example fire and rescue)

Bullet points

  • useful for breaking up chunks of text and clarifying it
  • they serve the same purpose as a semi-colon or comma in continuous text
  • should start with initial lower-case, no full-stop (including for final point)
  • should have no double-line spacing between them
  • should be prioritised and, where possible, should not run to more than one line

Underlining

  • do not underline text or headings as this could be confused with a hyperlink

Common mistakes

  • council is singular (for example, the council is... not the council are)
  • never abbreviate to Cllr. It should be Councillor John Smith, then Councillor Smith
  • do not use self-referential terms such as 'click here' or 'follow this link'.
  • do not use words that date content such as ‘new’
  • do not use named emailed addresses or phone numbers. Team email addresses only
  • do not use 'see below' or 'see on the right' as different devices show content in different places