Content style guide

We aim to be consistent across the website, online forms and other Northamptonshire County Council publications.

Please refer to the GOV.UK government digital style guide - we will follow the advice on this.

Northamptonshire-specific terms

The list of rules below provides additional guidance on how we write certain terms on the Northamptonshire website.

If you would like something added to the list, please email your suggestion to webteam@northamptonshire.gov.uk

A

Addresses

​No full stops at the end of addresses

No comma between the number and the street name

Do not abbreviate Road, Street, Avenue

No comma between town or county and postcode

Building numbers that cover a range (196-198) should be separated by a dash with no spaces

Where the address is in a city or major town, do not include the county:

Northamptonshire County Council
County Hall
Northampton
NN1 1AX

If the address is for a department, put the department name first:

Community Services
Northamptonshire County Council
County Hall
Northampton
NN1 1AX

Adoption

​Mention that children are adopted only when relevant to the story.

Use 'birth father', 'birth family' rather than 'real father', 'real family', etc.

Back to top

B

Bold

Use bold sparingly. Overuse will reduce impact.

Only use for emphasis.​

Back to top

C

Capital letters

​Headings and page titles should be in sentence case (have their first word capitalised only):

Children, families and education

Subject areas and job titles are all lower case.

Exceptions: Proper nouns, official titles (books, and so on) and course titles written in full.

Jim Harker is the leader of the county council

Final policy decisions are made by the Leader of the County Council, Jim Harker

Council

Use capital C in council only when referring to a council by its full name (ie Northamptonshire County Council).

Use lower case for council when using in a sentence without a town or city preceding it (ie 'call your local council').

When referring to the the council, or Northamptonshire County Council, use the singular form of verbs, eg

'the county council offers free parking' (not 'the county council offer')

However, use 'we' when talking on the council's behalf, eg

'we offer free parking'

Back to top

D

Disability

​Refer to the GOV.UK guide on inclusive communication for how to produce communications that include, accurately portray, and are accessible to disabled people.

Back to top

E

Exclamation mark

​Avoid use of exclamation marks!

If you have a piece of information that you want to stand out, you can use the exclamation mark style.

Back to top

H

Headings and titles

Page titles, headings and sub-headings should use sentence case: use an initial capital for the first word only.

Never use all capital letters.

How to apply for a school place

not

How To Apply For A School Place

or

HOW TO APPLY FOR A SCHOOL PLACE

Back to top

I

Italics

​Italics are hard to read on screen and should not be used as they can cause problems for people with visual impairment.

Back to top

L

Links

Link text should always clearly identify the page or document it is linking to.

If it links to a document it should also say the format and size of the document.

The appropriate icon should be displayed after the bullet and before the text:

  •   Web author user guide (PDF 215KB)
Back to top

J

Jargon

Avoid jargon and council-speak.

Sometimes terms that are specific to the council, such as Children and Young People’s Partnership, cannot be avoided. Write these terms out in full the first time they are used.

Back to top

P

Paragraphs

​Paragraphs should be kept short on web pages.

Research shows that most people will scan a web page. Heavy blocks of text are not easy to read on screen and vital points can be missed.

Use a bulleted list to emphasise the main points wherever possible.

Parents and carers

​Use 'parents and carers' instead of 'parents and guardians'.

Spell out 'and' rather than using 'parents/carers'.

Plain English

Aim to be as clear and concise as possible.

Using plain English does not mean you are dumbing down your text, rather you are delivering your message in the clearest way possible.

Don’t forget that often you are writing for a mixed audience whose first language may not be English.

see The Plain English Campaign

Back to top

S

Slashes (/)

​Avoid the use of slashes.

Where possible use 'and' or 'or' instead, eg parents or carers.

Spaces

​There should never be more than one space in succession in text, not even after a full stop.

Use one space between sentences.

Back to top

U

Underlining

​Text should never be underlined on a web page or in a document that is uploaded to a website.

Underlines indicate links and could be confusing for the user.

Back to top

W

Web addresses

Web addresses or links should be added as hyperlinks, so the full link does not display, eg

not

Back to top

 ‭(Hidden)‬ Related pages

Please Add Some Content

 ‭(Hidden)‬ Useful links

Please Add Some Content