One of the first headings in the GOV.UK editorial style guide is ‘Ever-changing style guide’. And it has just changed again.
Biggest change for GOV.UK
We tested the Inside Government part of GOV.UK earlier in the year, with content from 10 government departments. We’re now working with all departments to produce all of government’s policy pages.
Janet Hughes leads the work to produce policies for the Inside Government part of GOV.UK.(@janethughes). She co-ordinates and works on all the policy content that will be moved onto GOV.UK later this year and says:
“Right now, if you want to know what the government is doing on a subject, you need to know which department is responsible. You’ll probably need to go to a number of government sites to find all the information you want. You’ll have to read white papers, research papers, consultation documents, speeches, news releases, blogs, web pages, minutes of meetings, and more – all covering the same subject but in very different ways.
“We are working with government departments to produce a comprehensive, consistent set of pages that will explain the government’s policies to anyone who is interested. We are making them easy to find and presenting them in a consistent format so it’s much quicker and simpler to find what you are looking for.
“Plain language is an important part of what we are doing on GOV.UK. We want to provide information that is useful and relevant for experts and anyone else who might be interested. We are not removing the detail from policies – we are making it clearer.”
Words to avoid
We have included a list of words that shouldn’t be used on policy pages.
These words are often used in a way that is perfectly understandable to others in the same industry, organisation or peer group, but can have very different meanings to anyone outside of those groups. By using this sort of language, we are excluding people from understanding what government is doing.
Take ‘land’ for example. I think of grass, fields and possibly landing aircraft. For some in government, ‘land’ means getting widespread agreement.
The guide is still changing. We learn with every round of testing and there’s a list of things we want to look at so now we will start all over again. Have a look at the current version and expect another update soon.