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Style guide

We apply these guidelines to all content on our website.

Abbreviations

Use the abbreviation tag to give the full text for abbreviations. Abbreviated words do not have full stops between each letter, as shown below:

  • UK
  • LDF

Abbreviated plurals do not have an apostrophe.

  • LDFs
  • PDFs

Avoid using abbreviations such as egetc and ie. Instead write them as follows:

for example, rather than eg;

  • and so on, rather than etc; and
  • in other words, rather than ie.

Apostrophes

Only use an apostrophe to show possession.

Never use an apostrophe when you are referring to plurals.

  • The 1980's - incorrect
  • The 1980s - correct

Acronyms

A user may not know what a TPO means. If you must use an acronym, spell out the phrase or title in full the first time you use it on any page. Put the acronym in brackets after the phrase or title.

For example:

  • Tree Preservation Order (TPO)

Consider using the abbreviation tag to provide the meaning of an acronym.

For example:

  • TPO

Acronyms which are words

Write acronyms that you pronounce as words as follows:

  • Ofsted (not OFSTED)
  • Defra (not DEFRA)

Ampersand

We avoid using ampersand unless a company uses them as part of their name.

Bold

We limit the use of bold on our website as it can be perceived as aggressive, or a link, as well as being difficult for visually impaired users to read.

We only use bold in the following instance:

  • a single word in a paragraph, to highlight a point.

Bullet points

Whenever there are three or more items listed in your sentence, turn them into bullet points.

We use three types of bulleted lists:

1. A list in which each point is a complete sentence

Here are the steps you will take to vote when you arrive at your polling station.

  1. First, hand over your poll card, or give your name to an official member of staff.
  2. They will check your name against the register and issue you with a ballot (voting) paper.
  3. Next, go to a voting booth and mark a cross in the box against the candidate of your choice.
  4. Finally, fold the ballot paper in half and post it into the ballot box.
  5. You are now free to leave the polling station.

2. A list which is a continuous sentence

This bulleted list:

  • follows on from a colon;
  • starts with a lowercase letter;
  • includes a semi-colon at the end of each bullet point;
  • contains a minimum of three bullets;
  • has a maximum of six to eight bullet points; and
  • ends with a full stop.

3. A list of very short points

Any good office kitchen should have a:

  • kettle
  • teapot
  • fridge, and
  • microwave.

Italics

Due to accessibility reasons we do not allow any italics on our website.

Numbers, dates and time

  • Always spell out the numbers one to nine.
  • Use figures for numbers 10 and above, except when it's the first word of a sentence.
  • Always put commas in thousands - 1,000, 44,000.
  • Write 3.5 million not 3 ½.
  • Write 7pm not 7.00pm. 

 When writing a date we follow the style of these examples:

  • on 27 April;
  • Wednesday 27 April 2019; and
  • 2001-2, but 2011-22 to show a period of time.

Underlining

As underlined words can be misinterpreted as links, we do not underline words on our website.

Uppercase words

Writing words in uppercase, or uppercasing every word in a heading, makes them very hard to read. It can also look threatening and as if you are shouting at the user.

Only use uppercase for the beginning of a sentence, or for proper nouns including:

  • specific job titles (Councillor Smith);
  • an organisation;
  • people's names;
  • the title of a publication, act or report;
  • place names;
  • specific regions (the South East);
  • religious holidays and religions (Christmas and Buddhism); and 
  • points of the compass (SE).

General nouns do not take a capital letter, for example:

  • councillors (If you refer to a person use capitals, Councillor Smith);
  • council or district council;
  • email;
  • autumn, summer, winter, spring;
  • new year;
  • south-east England; and 
  • planners or housing officers.