Content

All content should be written in plain English wherever possible. A mechanism should be available for identifying specific pronunciation of words where meaning cannot be determined without pronunciation. Words that may be unknown or ambiguous (such as technical or complicated terms) should be defined through adjacent text or via a definition list or glossary. When appropriate, the language of sections of content that are a different language must be identified, for example, by using the lang attribute <blockquote lang="us-fr">.

Blocks of text must be no more than 80 characters wide, not be fully justified and have adequate line spacing (at least ½ height of text) and paragraph spacing (at least 1½ the line spacing).

Only use ampersands in brand names, trademarks, formal titles or in logotypes eg Legal & General, Marks & Spencer.

Capitals draw attention to a particular word, but they can also make a sentance slower to read and so avoid using capitals wherever possible. Only uise BLOCK CAPITALS for abbreviations.

Expansions for abbreviations should be provided by expanding or explaining the definition the first time it is used, using the <abbr> element, or linking to a definition or glossary. Abbreviations like FSA, ISA and IFA can make clumsy–sounding names and products a lot easier to read, but they can also confuse your reader. For acronynms and initialisms, use all capitals without full stops and write out what they stand for when you first use them using an <abbr> element.

Instructions must not rely upon shape, size, or visual location. They also must not suggest a particlar method of activating them such as ‘click’. Instead words such as ‘follow’ should be used. As such examples such as “Click the square icon to continue” or “Instructions are in the right–hand column” must be avoided. A final point is that instructions must not rely upon sound (eg, “A beeping sound indicates you may continue.”).

Any sizes specified, other than for imagery, must use relative units

Do not provide seperate versions of the same content for different devices or software. Use techniques such as responsive design or conditional comments instead.

An accessibility statement must be available on each site and should be linked to on every page.


Semantics

All the content on the page should be marked up in the appropriate semantic elements. Headings should be used where appropriate and be correctly nested, concise and accurately describe the content that follows. Make sure your headings are clear and meaningful, because people use them as signposts to find what they’re looking for in a rush eg So say now “your policy covers your children” instead of “important changes to your policy”. Just use a capital for the first letter of the first word and leave the rest in lower case.


Title attibutes

Where extra information is required on an element beyond that which can be reasonably included directly in the text (such as on a link in order to keep the link text concise) this can be provided through the title attribute. This should only be used to provide extra information, do not duplicate what is already provided.


Alternative text

Where images are included within a page and the image is an integral part of the page content (ie it is not simply used for decoration) appropriate alternative text should be included. All images must include the alt attribute, however when they are used for decoration it may be empty. Alternative text can be provided either through the alt attribute or through the surrounding text if this is more appropriate.

The alternative text used should provide the user with the information provided by the image – do not simply descibe what the image shows, write what would be needed to be there if it was not shown.


Tabular data

In data tables row and column headers must be identified (td for data and th for headers). More complex relationships between data in tables must be described using thead, tfoot, tbody to group rows and col and colgroup to group columns.

A table title must be descriptive and there must be text on the page that introduces the table or provides a summary.