Users interact with text differently online than they do in print, and most people tend to scan website text to find what information is relevant to them.

For this reason, it's important to make text content clear, concise and easy to navigate with headings and shorter chunks of text.

Clear and concise

Write using plain English in short, clear sentences and paragraphs.

Avoid the use of complex words and phrases that wouldn't be familiar to a wider audience.

Expand on any acronyms when they're first used.

Swap eg, ie, etc,  for the full words 'for example', 'that is', 'and so on'. 

Keep word counts to a minimum

Content type Number of words

8 words

Sentence 15-20 words
Opening paragraph 30 words
Other paragraphs 60 words
Webpage 600 words

Emphasise text using bold

Avoid BLOCK CAPITALS, italics and underlining when emphasising text. Instead, make them bold.

People with dyslexia can find italicised words harder to read as the letters may have a jagged outline and can seem to run together.

However, some scientific terms need to use italics.

Use images to break up bigger blocks of text

Adhere to guidelines on accessible images and how to create Alternative Text.

Keeping content on a page to a minimum

Accessibility of content for all users is our priority and putting great amounts of content on one page will have a negative effect on accessibility. 

Also, most content is accessed on mobile phones and we would encourage you to break the content up into an easy-access format.


Lists can make text easier to understand by breaking up dense or complex paragraphs. Lists can also provide a break in the document flow and encourage users to stick with the content.

Use lists to:

  • Present key terms and concepts
  • Organise information into meaningful chunks
  • Convey sequencing necessary for processes and procedures
  • Create links to additional information
  • Facilitate Scanning

Dos and Don'ts

  • Do use the list or paragraph formatting

  • Don't create lists manually

  • Do Use an ordered list

  • Don't nest lists if not needed

  • Don't create lists manually

  • Do Use the standard bullets

  • Don't use custom bullets (they are not recognised by screen readers)