Official Government Website

Content Guidelines

Write for Scanning

Web visitors skim web pages to find the information they want. Even under great conditions, your customers will read about 28% of the text on a page.

You can help your visitors find the content they need quickly by following these guidelines.

Keep it Short

Want your content to be read and understood? Keep it short. You can achieve a 58% increase in usability simply by cutting your words in half.

  • Start with your most important point.
  • Focus your message and delete unnecessary information.
  • User shorter words that are easy to understand.
  • Shorten your paragraphs and sentences.
  • Test your page/site’s readability

Group Your Content

Users view your content in chunks, scanning it for words that match the action they are trying to accomplish. To help them find what they are looking for:

  • Break your content into small sections.
  • Use headings to separate the sections.
  • Use the headings in order. A big idea should be a larger font. Sub-ideas will have a smaller font.
  • Headings should use simple keywords that appeal to your audience.

The Order of Your Content

Help visitors find the information they are seeking without scrolling past old or seldom used information. Order your information by:

  • Make sure your most popular content is easy to find.
  • Placing the newest content at the top.
  • Grouping similar content.

Writing Your Link Text

Your visitors want to know what your page is about and where they can go from here. Links tell them what they can do next. People scan for headings, content groups and links, to determine what they can do and where they can click.

You want to be clear about what each click means. Good link text will:

  • Answer the question, “What will I get when I click this link?”
  • Begins with keywords. People primarily look at the first two works of a link.
  • Avoid generic words like click here or read more. These phrases do not communicate the content they are linked to.
  • Help your search ranking, usability and accessibility by using meaningful words. If your link read aloud alone does not make sense, it will not make sense to a screen reader or help your ranking on Google.

Link Placement

Don’t make your visitors hunt through the middle of long paragraphs for your links. Place your links above a paragraph or below a paragraph or in a bullet list. Make them easy to find when you skim a page.

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