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How you should write for GOV.WALES.

First published:
3 October 2019
Last updated:

A

A* A*s

The top grade in GCSEs and A levels. Use the symbol * not the word ‘star’. No apostrophe in the plural.

A level

No hyphen. Lower case level.

Abbreviations and acronyms

The first time you use an abbreviation or acronym explain it in full on each page unless it’s well known, like UK, NHS or BBC. This includes government departments or schemes. Then refer to it by initials.

Do not use full stops in abbreviations: NHS, not N.H.S.

Do not use an acronym if you’re not going to use it again later in the text.

Able-bodied

Do not use this. Use non-disabled.

act, act of Senedd Cymru

Lower case. Only use upper case when using the full title: Land Transaction Tax and Anti-avoidance of Devolved Taxes (Wales) Act 2017, for example.

Active voice

Use the active rather than passive voice. 

Addressing the user

Address the user as ‘you’ where possible. Content on the site often makes a direct appeal to get involved or take action: ‘You can apply for a blue badge by contacting your local authority’, for example.

Adviser

For example, special adviser. Not advisor, but advisory is the correct adjective.

Ages

Do not use hyphens in ages unless to avoid confusion, although it’s always best to write in a way that avoids ambiguity. For example, ‘a class of 15 16-year-old students took the A level course’ can be written as ‘15 students aged 16 took the A level course’.

Agile

Upper case when referring to the Agile Manifesto and principles and processes, otherwise use lower case.

Americanisms

Organise not organize. Exceptions include where it’s part of a specific name, for example ‘4th Mechanized Brigade’.

You ‘fill in’ a form, not ‘fill out’ a form.

Ampersand

Use 'and' rather than an '&' unless part of a brand name, for example HM Revenue & Customs.

animal health

Lower case.

Antisocial

No hyphen.

A-road

Hyphenated.

armed forces

Lower case.

Arm’s length body

Apostrophe, no hyphen.

B

Bacs (Bankers Automated Clearing System)

Acronym should come first as it’s more widely known than the full name. Please note that the acronym has changed to Bacs.

Backend

Used in a technical context, not 'back-end' or 'back end'.

Bank details

When adding bank details in content about paying a government body:

  • use spaces rather than hyphens in sort codes - 60 70 80 (not 60-70-80)
  • do not use spaces in account numbers - 10025634

Banned words

See words to avoid.

Blog post

Use 2 words when referring to an article published on a blog. A blog is the site on which a blog post is published.

Bold

Only use bold to refer to text from interfaces in technical documentation or instructions.

You can use bold to explain what field a user needs to fill in on a form, or what button they need to select. For example: 'Select Create content.'

Do not use bold in other situations, for example to emphasise text.

To emphasise words or phrases, you can:

  • front-load sentences
  • use headings
  • use bullets

Brackets

Use (round brackets), not [square brackets]. The only acceptable use of square brackets is for explanatory notes in reported speech.

“Thank you [Foreign Minister] Mr Smith.”

Do not use round brackets to refer to something that could either be singular or plural, like ‘Check which document(s) you need to send to Rural Payments Wales’.

Always use the plural instead, as this will cover each possibility: ‘Check which documents you need to send to Rural Payments Wales’.

Brexit

Brexit has happened. Use transition period to refer to the time between 1 February and 31 December 2020.

Britain

See geography and regions.

BTEC National Diploma

Upper case.

Bullet points

Usually use bullet points between paragraphs of text and in this case:

  • use a lead-in sentence and follow it with a colon (:)
  • use lower-case at the start of each bullet
  • do not use full stops within bullet points, where possible start another bullet point or use commas or semi-colons to expand on an item
  • do not put a full stop, ‘or’, ‘and’, ‘;’ after the bullets
  • ensure bullets make sense running on from the lead-in sentence
  • do not use numbered bullets unless appropriate, for example the 7 core aims for children and young people

You may use bullet points immediately following a heading and in this case each bullet point:

  • starts with a capital letter
  • finishes with a full stop
  • is short (no more than one sentence)

Bullets should normally form a complete sentence following from the lead text. But it’s sometimes necessary to add a short phrase to clarify whether all or some of the points apply. For example, ‘You can only register a pension scheme that is (one of the following):’

The number and type of examples in a list may lead the user to believe the list is exhaustive. This can be dealt with by:

  • checking if there are other conditions (or if the list is actually complete)
  • listing the conditions which apply to the most users and removing the rest
  • consider broader terms in the list which capture more scenarios (and could make the list exhaustive)
  • creating a journey to specialist content to cover the remaining conditions

business plan

Lower case. Do not use upper case even in the title of a business plan publication.

business statement

Lower case.

C

Capitals

Never use BLOCK CAPITALS for large amounts of text as it's difficult to read.

Capitalise:

  • buildings
  • place names
  • brand names
  • job titles, ministers’ role titles: Minister for Science and Skills
  • the Earth (our planet), Planet Earth and Earth sciences
  • faculties, departments, institutes and schools
  • names of groups and directorates, for example Health and Social Services Group
  • titles of specific acts or bills: Trade Union (Wales) Bill (but use ‘the act’ or ‘the bill’ after the first time you use the full act or bill title)
  • names of specific, named government schemes well known to people outside, for example Right to Buy

Do not capitalise:

  • government never Government, even when referring to an elected administration, (so not the Afghanistan Government) unless part of a specific name, like Welsh Government or Welsh Local Government Association
  • minister, never Minister, unless part of a specific job title, like Minister for Science and Skills or referring to the Welsh Ministers as a group
  • department or ministry never Department or Ministry, unless referring to a specific one: Ministry of Justice, for example
  • page titles or the titles of publications only initial cap on first word and the entire title in single quote marks, for example ‘Implementing self-financing for council housing’ (unless it includes a phrase which should be capitalised for other reasons for example ‘Review of the Right to Buy scheme’)
  • white paper, green paper, command paper
  • group or directorate, unless referring to a specific group or directorate, for example Welfare Reform Task and Finish Group
  • departmental board, executive board, the board
  • policy themes, for example sustainable communities, local enterprise zones

care worker

Two words. Lower case.

Caveats

Do not let caveats dictate unwieldy grammar for example say 'you can' rather than 'you may be able to'.

chair of governors

Lower case.

CHAPS (Clearing House Automated Payment System)

The acronym should come first as it’s more widely known than the full name.

Checkbox

Not 'check box'.

chief constable

Lower case except where it’s a title with the holder’s name, like Chief Constable Matt Jukes.

childcare

Lower case.

Childminder, childminding

One word.

Civil Service

Upper case.

civil servants

Lower case.

Classwork

One word.

Click

Don’t use 'click' when talking about user interfaces because not all users click. Use 'select'.

coastguard

Lower case.

code of practice

Lower case.

Commercial software

Not 'third-party software'. Also use 'commercial' for types of software, for example 'commercial word processor'.

community council

Lower case except in a name: Pentyrch Community Council

community resilience

Lower case.

competence order

Lower case unless used in the full title, like the National Assembly for Wales (Legislative Competence) (Social Welfare) Order 2008.

consultation responses

Lower case.

continuous improvement

Lower case.

Contractions

Use non-negative contractions, for example 'they've', 'we'll'. Avoid using 'should've', 'could've', 'would've' as these are hard to read.

Do not use negative contractions, for example don't and can't. Strong evidence shows users misread these and risk making the wrong decisions.

Co-operation

Hyphenated.

core standards

Lower case.

coronavirus (COVID-19)

Lower case (coronavirus).

Council

Use 'local authority' to refer to councils.

Council Tax

Upper case.

county borough council

Lower case except in a name: Caerphilly County Borough Council

Coursework

One word.

credit unions

Lower case.

Cross-curricular learning

Hyphenated.

Curriculum for Wales

Upper case.

Curriculums

Not curricula.

customs union

Lower case. Only use upper case when part of the title of a specific customs union: the European Union Customs Union, for example.

Cyber bullying

Two words. Lower case.

D

Data

Treat as a singular noun: The data is stored on a secure server. Note that data is always plural in Welsh.

Data set

Not 'dataset'.

Dates and times

Use upper case for months: January, February.

Do not use a comma between the month and year: 14 June 2012.

We use ‘to’ in date ranges not hyphens, en rules or em dashes. For example:

  • tax year 2011 to 2012
  • Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm (put different days on a new line, do not separate with a comma)
  • 10 November to 21 December

Do not use quarter for dates, use the months: ‘department expenses, January to March 2013’.

Midnight is the first minute of the day, not the last. You should consider using '11:59pm' to avoid confusion about a single, specific time. For example, 'you must register by 11:59pm on Tuesday 14 June' can only be read 1 way. But 'you must register by midnight on Tuesday 14 June' can be read in 2 ways (the end of Monday 13, or end of Tuesday 14).

When referring to today (as in a news article) include the date: ‘The minister announced today (14 June 2012) that…’

Always explain what your date range represents, for example ‘tax year 2013 to 2014’ or ‘September 2013 to July 2014’. Date ranges can be the academic year, calendar year or tax year. This is why date ranges must be very clear.

Deaf

Upper case, refers to people who use British Sign Language as their first or preferred language. It is also a cultural definition for people who are part of the Deaf community.

deaf

Lower case, as deaf can describe or identify anyone who has any form of hearing loss. 

department

Lower case except when in the title: the Department of Work and Pensions.

deputy permanent secretary

Lower case in text. Upper case in titles: Owen Evans, Deputy Permanent Secretary, Education and Public Services.

devolved administrations

Lower case.

diploma

Lower case unless part of a title like Edexcel L2 Diploma in IT.

Direct Debit

Upper case.

Direct Debit Instruction

Upper case.

director

Lower case in text. Upper case in titles

director general

Lower case. No hyphen.

Disability

The things which society, the environment, or policy do to a person with an impairment which disadvantages them.

Disabled people or disabled person

Use these. Do not use people with a disability or person with a disability.

Discretionary Assistance Fund

Upper case

E

early years

Lower case.

the Earth

Upper case for the Earth, Planet Earth and Earth sciences, with lower case for ‘the’.

Eco-schools

Hyphenated.

eg, etc and ie

eg can sometimes be read aloud as ‘egg’ by screen reading software. Instead use ‘for example’ or ‘such as’ or ‘like’ or ‘including’ whichever works best in the specific context.

etc can usually be avoided. Try using ‘for example’ or ‘such as’ or ‘like’ or ‘including’. Never use etc at the end of a list starting with these words.

ie used to clarify a sentence is not always well understood. Try (re)writing sentences to avoid the need to use it. If that is not possible, use an alternative such as ‘meaning’ or ‘that is’.

Education Maintenance Allowance (EMA)

Upper case

Email

One word.

Email addresses

Write email addresses in full, in lower case and as active links. Do not have any other words in the link, including labels like this:

Email: name@domain.gov.uk

emergency plan

Lower case.

Estyn judgements

Lower case and not in inverted commas: Olchfa School was judged excellent in its latest Estyn inspection.

There are 4 Estyn grades:

  • Excellent – very strong, sustained performance and practice
  • Good – strong features, although minor aspects may require improvement
  • Adequate and needs improvement – strengths outweigh weaknesses, but important aspects require improvement
  • Unsatisfactory and needs urgent improvement – important weaknesses outweigh strengths

European Commission

Leave unabbreviated to distinguish from the European Community. Write out in full at first mention, then call it the Commission.

European Economic Area (EEA)

Avoid using as it is not widely understood. Say ‘the EU, Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein’.

When rules covering the EEA also cover Switzerland, say ‘the EU, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein’.

European Union vs European Community

Use EU when you mean EU member states: EU countries, EU businesses, EU consumers, goods exported from the EU, EU VAT numbers.

EC should be used when it’s EC directives, EC Sales List.

euros, the euro

Lower case.

Excel

Upper case because Excel is a brand name.

executive director

Lower case in text. Upper case in titles

Extended Project Qualification

Upper case.

Extra-curricular

Hyphenated

F

FAQs

You should avoid using FAQs on GOV.WALES. If you write content by starting with user needs, you will not need to use FAQs.

finance and procurement

Lower case.

Fine

Use ‘fine’ instead of ‘financial penalty’.

For example, 'You’ll pay a £50 fine'.

For other types of sanction, say what will happen to the user - you’ll get points on your licence, go to court and so on. Only say ‘civil penalty’ if there’s evidence users are searching for the term.

Describe what the user might need to do, rather than what government calls a thing.

fire and rescue service

Lower case.

Fixed-term exclusions

Hyphenated.

foot and mouth disease

Lower case.

foundation degrees

Lower case.

foundation schools

Lower case.

foundation phase

Lower case.

Freedom of Information

You can make a Freedom of Information (FOI) request, but not a request under the FOI Act.

Frontend

Not 'front-end' or 'front end'.

free school meals

Lower case.

further education (FE)

Lower case.

G

GCSE, GCSEs

No full stops between the initials. No apostrophe in the plural.

general election

Lower case, but upper case if referring to a specific election. For example, the 2019 General Election.

Geography and regions

Compass directions are all in lowercase: north Wales, south Wales.

The same applies to geopolitical regions: the west, western Europe, the far east, south-east Asia.

Note the following: Middle East, Central America, North America, South America, Latin America.

You can use a capital for a shortened version of a specific area or region if it’s commonly known by that name, for example ‘the Gulf’ for the Persian Gulf. If it’s not in common use in the media use lowercase, for example ‘the strait’ for ‘the Strait of Hormuz’.

Great Britain refers only to England, Scotland and Wales excluding Northern Ireland.

If you are telling users about multiple areas, use: ‘England, Scotland and Wales’.

Use UK and United Kingdom in preference to Britain and British (UK business, UK foreign policy, ambassador and high commissioner). Note British embassy, not UK embassy.

Governing body

Singular noun. The governing body is meeting today. It will decide who to appoint.

government

Lower case even when specific: Afghanistan government, UK government.

Welsh Government as this is the organisation's name.

government offices

Lower case.

government procurement card

Lower case.

governor

Lower case.

Green Paper

Upper case.

Group

Upper case for names of groups, directorates and organisations: Housing Information Group

Lower case when a group has a very generic title like working group or research team.

guidance

Lower case: Welsh language terminology guidance.

Gypsies

Upper case because Gypsies are recognised as an ethnic group under the Race Relations Act.

H

harbour authority

Lower case unless part of a proper noun: Cardiff Harbour Authority.

harbour master

Lower case.

Headings

Headings should be a few words of helpful, descriptive text which aid page scanning. Try and use at least 1 heading every 2 paragraphs to help visitors distinguish which blocks of text are for them as they scan a page. Only initial cap on the first word.

Use the appropriate heading style for each heading.

Do not be afraid to be creative to make sure you convey what’s in the text below although avoid presenting headings as questions. 'Who can apply' not 'Who can apply?'

Headteacher

One word. You can use head if the context is clear.

health protection team

Lower case unless it’s the title of an organisation: North Wales Health Protection Office.

Hidden disability

Do not use this. Use invisible impairment.

higher education (HE)

Lower case.

Hyphenation

Hyphenate:

  • re + word starting with ‘e’, for example re–elect
  • co-ordinate.

Do not hyphenate:

  • reuse
  • reorder
  • reopen
  • email
  • antisocial

Do not use a hyphen unless it’s confusing without it, for example, a little used-car is different from a little-used car. 

Use ‘to’ for time and date ranges, not hyphens.

I

Impairment

The thing about a person which is different.

Impairment and disability do not mean the same thing.

implementation period

Always lower case.

individual development plan

Lower case.

individual education plan

Lower case.

initial teacher education

Lower case.

INSET day

Upper case.

International Baccalaureate

Upper case.

internet

Lower case.

Invisible impairment

Use this. Do not use hidden disability.

Italics

Do not use italics. Use single quotation marks if referring to a document, scheme or initiative.

J

Jargon

Avoid unnecessary jargon, legalistic prose, unexplained abbreviations or acronyms, rarely used Latin terms (for example inter alia, ad hoc, ibid).

We lose trust from our users if we write government buzzwords and jargon. Often, these words are too general and vague and can lead to misinterpretation or empty, meaningless text. We need to be concrete, use plain English and be very clear about what we are doing.

Job titles

Specific job titles and ministers’ role titles are upper case: Minister for Science and Skills.

Generic job titles and ministers’ role titles are lower case: director, minister.

K

Key Stage

Upper case and numeral: Key Stage 4.

L

law

Lower case even when it’s ‘the law’.

legal aid

Lower case.

Legal language

Legal content can still be written in plain English. It’s important that users understand content and that we present complicated information simply.

If you’re talking about a legal requirement, use ‘must’. For example, ‘your employer must pay you the National Minimum Wage (NMW)’.

If you feel that ‘must’ does not have enough emphasis, then use ‘legal requirement’, ‘legally entitled’ or similar. For example: ‘Once your child is registered at school, you’re legally responsible for making sure they attend regularly’.

When deciding whether to use ‘must’ or ‘legally entitled’ or similar, consider how important it is for us to talk about the legal aspect, as well as the overall tone of voice.

If a requirement is legal, but administrative, or part of a process that will not have criminal repercussions, then use: ‘need to’. For example: ‘You will need to provide copies of your marriage certificate’.

This may be a legal requirement, but not completing it would just stop the person from moving on to the next stage of a process, rather than committing a more serious offence.

legislative competence order

Upper case if used as the full title: the National Assembly for Wales (Legislative Competence) (Social Welfare) Order 2008.

Lower case otherwise: the legislative competence orders (LCOs) are approved, rejected or withdrawn.

Life cycle

Not 'lifecycle' or 'life-cycle'.

Links

Front-load your link text with the relevant terms and make them active and specific. Always link to online services first. Offer offline alternatives afterwards, when possible.

See:

Lists

Lists should be bulleted to make them easier to read.

Very long lists can be written as a paragraph with a lead-in sentence if it looks better: ‘The following countries are in the EU: Spain, France, Italy…’

local authority

Lower case. Do not use LA.

Use local authority, instead of local council where possible.

local council

Lower case.

Use local authority instead of local council where possible.

Looked-after children

Hyphenated.

Lottery

Always use the National Lottery if that’s what you mean.

M

Maths content

Use a minus sign for negative numbers: –6

Ratios have no space either side of the colon: 5:12

One space each side of symbols: +, –, ×, ÷ and = (so: 2 + 2 = 4)

Use the minus sign for subtraction. Use the correct symbol for the multiplication sign (×), not the letter x. You can find the multiplication sign in Word by going to Insert>Symbol.

Write out and hyphenate fractions: two-thirds, three-quarters.

Write out decimal fractions as numerals. Use the same number format for a sequence: 0.75 and 0.45

See numbers.

Measurements

Use numerals and spell out measurements at first mention:

  • 4 metres squared
  • 10 kilograms (except in where abbreviations can be used to save space).

Do not use a space between the numeral and abbreviated measurement: 3,500kg not 3,500 kg.

Abbreviating kilograms to kg is fine - you do not need to spell it out.

If the measurement is more than one word, for example ‘kilometres per hour’ then spell it out the first time it is used with the abbreviation. From then on, abbreviate. If it is only mentioned once, do not abbreviate.

Use Celsius for temperature, for example 37°C.

See numbers.

Member of the Senedd (MS)

Capital letters. Formerly Assembly Member (AM).

member states of the EU

Lower case.

memorandum of understanding

Lower case.

Metaphors

See words to avoid.

military

Lower case.

Millions

Always use million in money (and billion): £138 million.

Use millions in phrases: millions of people.

But do not use £0.xx million for amounts less than £1 million.

Do not abbreviate million to m.

minister

Use upper case for the full title, like Minister for Economy and Transport, or when used with a name, as a title, like Education Minister Kirsty Williams.

When used without the name, shortened titles are lower case: The health and social services minister welcomed the research team.

Mixed-sex schools

Hyphenated.

modern foreign languages

Lower case.

Money

Use the £ symbol: £75

Do not use decimals unless pence are included: £75.50 but not £75.00

Do not use £0.xx million for amounts less than £1 million.

Write out pence in full: calls will cost 4 pence per minute from a landline.

Months

See dates and times.

MP

Do not use Member of Parliament, just MP. 

Multidisciplinary

One word.

Multi-ethnic

Hyphenated.

Multi-year funding

Hyphenated.

Multilingual

One word.

N

N/A

Separate with a slash. Only use in tables.

national

Lower case.

Refers to Wales. If a policy area, such as justice, covers England and Wales, it should always be referred to as ‘England and Wales’. Any policy area, for example welfare and defence, which covers the whole of the UK, should be referred to as UK policy, a UK-wide issue or UK government policy.

National Adoption Service

Upper case

National Assembly for Wales

See Welsh Parliament.

national curriculum

Lower case.

national reading and numeracy test results

Lower case

National Insurance

Upper case. But following words are lower case, for example National Insurance number.

national pupil database

Lower case.

newly qualified teacher

Lower case.

Non-disabled

Use this. Do not use able-bodied.

non-executive director

Lower case in text, upper case in titles:[name], Non-executive Director,[department or organisation].

Numbers

Write all numbers in numerals (including 2 to 9).

Do not use numerals when it’s part of a common expression like ‘one or two of them’.

Do not start a sentence with a numeric, use the word.

If a number starts a sentence, write it out in full (Thirty-four, for example) except where it starts a title or subheading.

Use ‘one’ unless:

  • you’re talking about a step or point in a list, for example ‘in point 1 of the design instructions’
  • the numeral makes more sense, for example when comparing numbers such as ‘1 person in every 13’

For numerals over 999 insert a comma for clarity. ‘It was over 9,000’.

Use a % sign for percentages, so 50%.

Use ‘500 to 900’ and not ‘500–900’.

Spell out common fractions like one-half.

Use a ‘0’ where there’s no digit before the decimal point.

Use ‘to’ in address ranges: 49 to 53 Cherry Street.

See measurements.
See ordinal numbers.
See maths content.

nursery school

Lower case.

O

Obliques (slashes)

The / symbol is usually used to show ‘or’ or ‘and’. Use the correct ‘or’ or ‘and’ instead of the slash to avoid confusion.

If a slash is needed, there should be no space either side of it.

One-year-on

If used adjectivally, hyphenate and use one rather than 1. See numbers.

Online

One word.

online services

Lower case if the service name starts with a verb – write the sentence so the user knows what action they can take. For example: You can apply for planning permission online.

Only use upper case if the name of the service you’re referring to contains a named thing. For example: You can apply for Museum Accreditation online.

open source software

Lower case. Not 'Open Source software' or 'OS software'.

opposition

Lower case even for the opposition and opposition leader.

Or

Do not use slashes instead of 'or'. For example, 'Do this 3/4 times'.

oral statement

Lower case.

order

Lower case unless used as the full title: Standing Order 22.

Ordinal numbers

Spell out first to ninth. After that use 10th, 11th and so on.

In tables, use numerals throughout. See numbers.

Organisations

All organisations are singular: The government has decided to sell assets.

Use the singular verb form when referring to organisations by name. Use ‘they’ when replacing an organisation name with a pronoun.

The definite article can be used when referring to the organisation by its full name, but should not be used with the organisation’s acronym: ‘You should contact the Care Inspectorate Wales if…’ but ‘You should contact CIW if…’

P

Parliament

Upper case.

pathfinder

Lower case.

PDF

Upper case. No need to explain the acronym.

Penalty

See fine.

People with a disability or person with a disability

Do not use. In most contexts use disabled people or disabled person. If your context means that you are referring to people with impairments then use impairments. For example “people with impairments are disabled by barriers in society”.

Per cent

Use per cent not percent. Percentage is one word. Always use % with a number. See numbers.

performance management

Lower case

Physical education or PE

You can write in full or use the initials.

plain English

Lower case plain and upper case English unless in a name, for example the Plain English Campaign.

Use plain English, it’s easier for users to read and understand.

Do not use formal or long words when easy or short ones will do. Use ‘buy’ instead of ‘purchase’, ‘help’ instead of ‘assist’, and ‘about’ instead of ‘approximately’. Also use shorter sentences.

We also lose trust from people if we write government buzzwords and jargon. Often, these words are too general and vague and can lead to misinterpretation or meaningless text.

We use Hemingway Editor to help us write clearly, and make sure there are no ‘very hard to read’ sentences in the text. Do not paste sensitive unpublished information into Hemingway, it is a security risk. Use the Flesch-Kincaid reading level tool (on Microsoft) instead.

Planet Earth

Upper case.

police

Lower case, even when referring to ‘the police’.

police service

Lower case. Note that police force is usually avoided.

policy statement

Lower case.

Pre-school

Hyphenated.

Prime Minister

Use Prime Minister [name] and the Prime Minister.

Proforma

Do not use proforma - say what it is in plain English: a template or form, for example. Be specific about what to do with it.

programme

Lower case: Building for the future programme, Innovative housing programme.

public health

Lower case.

public sector

Lower case.

Pupil Development Grant

Upper case

pupil referral unit

Lower case.

Q

qualified teacher status

Lower case.

The Queen

Upper case.

Quotes and speech marks

In long passages of speech, open quotes for every new paragraph, but close quotes only at the end of the final paragraph.

Use single quotes:

  • in headlines
  • for links
  • for unusual terms
  • when referring to words or publications, for example 'View 'understanding Capital Gains Tax'.'

Use double quotes in body text for direct quotations.

Use the block quote markup for quotes longer than a few sentences.

R

religious education

Lower case.

resilience

Lower case.

Rt Hon

No full stops.

S

school admissions code

Lower case.

school development plan

Lower case.

Scientific names

Capitalise the first letter of the first part of the scientific name. Do not use italics.

Seasons

Spring, summer, autumn, winter are lower case.

Semicolons

Avoid semicolons as they are often mis-read. Long sentences using semicolons should be broken up into separate sentences instead.

Self-employment

Hyphenate this noun.

Sentence length

Do not use long sentences. Keep average sentence length 20 words or fewer.

Service children

Recognised term for children whose parents serve in the armed forces.

Services

Lower case, even when referring to the armed forces services or the services.

Sign in or log in

Use sign in rather than log in (verb) for calls-to-action where users enter their details to access a service.

Do not use login as a noun - say what the user actually needs to enter (like username, password, National Insurance number).

sixth form

Lower case. Not hyphenated

Sixth former

Not hyphenated.

sixth-form college

Hyphenated. Lower case.

SMEs

This acronym means small and medium-sized enterprises. Use SME for the singular.

Social model of disability

Says that society, the environment, policy and practice can all disable people by creating barriers. It is Welsh Government policy to use the social model of disability in language and practice.

See:

Spaces

One space after a full stop, not 2.

special educational needs or special educational needs and disabilities (SEN/D)

Lower case, but use upper case for the acronym.

special measures

Lower case.

Special needs

Do not use. Use additional learning needs or access requirements, depending on context.

strategy

Lower case. Do not capitalise a named strategy: transport strategy.

standing order

Lower case unless used as the full title: Standing Order 22.

Subdomain

Not 'sub domain' or 'sub-domain'.

Summaries

See summaries.

summary of consultation responses

All lower case.

summer school

Lower case.

T

Tables

Tables are used to present tabular data. 

Tables are not used to control page layout.

Tables must be accessible, if you are unsure what this means contact the Corporate Digital Team.

In tables, words should always be left aligned and numbers should always be right aligned.

Team

Lower case: youth offending team, Behavioural Insights team.

teamwork

Lower case. One word.

Technical terms

Use technical terms where you need to. They’re not jargon. You just need to explain what they mean the first time you use them.

Telephone numbers

Use ‘Telephone: 011 111 111’ or ‘Mobile:’ not ‘Mob:’.

Use spaces between city and local exchange. Here are the different formats to use:

  • 01273 800 900
  • 029 2087 2087
  • 0800 890 567
  • 07771 900 900
  • 077718 300 300
  • +44 (0)29 2087 2087
  • +39 1 33 45 70 90

When a number has been chosen to be memorable, group the numbers into easily remembered units, for example 0800 80 70 60.

Temperature

Use Celsius: 37°C

Titles

Page titles should:

  • be 65 characters or less
  • be unique, clear and descriptive
  • be front-loaded and optimised for search
  • consider using a colon
  • not contain dashes or slashes
  • not have a full stop at the end
  • not use acronyms unless they are well-known, like EU
  • be sentence case

Document (file) titles should:

  • be the formal title of the document
  • not have a full stop at the end
  • be sentence case

Follow the more detailed guidance in content types > publications.

town council

Lower case, except when part of a name: Brecon Town Council.

Trade marks

Avoid using trademarked names where possible - so tablet not iPad.

Trade mark is 2 words but trademarked is one word.

Trading Standards

Upper case.

transition period

The period of time between 1 February and 31 December 2020 during which the UK and EU are negotiating their future relationship. Not transition phase, implementation phase or implementation period.

On the relationship with the EU, use ‘negotiations on the future relationship with the EU'.

Lower case.

Travellers

Upper case because Irish Travellers are recognised as an ethnic group under the Race Relations Act. New age travellers is lower case.

Twitter account

Upper case. Twitter is a trademarked name.

U

UK government

Never HM government.

unique pupil number

Lower case.

URL

Upper case. No need to explain the acronym.

user ID

Lower case ‘user’.

Username

Not 'user name'

V

VPN

Upper case. No need to explain the acronym. When describing a VPN that is always on, write it like this: ‘always-on’ VPN. Note the single quotes and hyphen.

Vulnerable

Do not use to refer to disabled people. Anyone can become vulnerable for different reasons at different times in their lives. Disabled people are often described as vulnerable and this is often wrong and does nothing to promote equality.

W

Wales Adoption Register

Upper case.

Wales Resilience Forum (and Local Resilience Forum)

Upper case

Webchat

One word. Not ‘web chat’.

Webpage

One word.

Web server

Not 'webserver'.

Wellbeing

One word. But use ‘Well-being’ when referring to the Social Services and Well-being (Wales) Act 2014.

Welsh Assembly

Do not use Welsh Assembly.

The 2 organisations are the Welsh Government and Welsh Parliament.

Welsh Baccalaureate

Can be shortened to Welsh Bacc. Full title is Welsh Baccalaureate Qualification (WBQ). Upper case.

Welsh Government

Use Welsh Government. Do not use Welsh Assembly.

Welsh language style guide

The Welsh version of this style guide is different, as some aspects are relevant to 1 language but not the other. Use the English style guide when writing in English and the Welsh when writing in Welsh.

Welsh National Tests

Upper case.

White Paper

Upper case.

Welsh Parliament

From 6 May 2020, National Assembly for Wales is known as Welsh Parliament or Senedd Cymru.

Word

Upper case when referring to the Microsoft product as it’s a brand name.

Words to avoid

We use plain English on GOV.WALES, so please avoid using these words:

  • agenda (unless it’s for a meeting)
  • advancing
  • collaborate (use working with)
  • combating
  • commit or pledge (we need to be more specific - we’re either doing something or we’re not)
  • countering
  • deliver (pizzas, post and services are delivered - not abstract concepts like improvements or priorities)
  • deploy (unless it’s military or software)
  • dialogue (we speak to people)
  • disincentivise (and incentivise)
  • empower
  • facilitate (instead, say something specific about how you’re helping)
  • focusing
  • foster (unless it’s children)
  • impact (do not use this as a synonym for have an effect on, or influence)
  • initiate
  • key (unless it unlocks something. A subject or thing is not key - it’s probably important)
  • land (as a verb only use if you’re talking about aircraft)
  • leverage (unless in the financial or mechanical sense)
  • liaise
  • overarching
  • progress (as a verb - what are you actually doing?)
  • promote (unless you’re talking about an ad campaign or some other marketing promotion)
  • robust
  • slimming down (processes do not diet)
  • streamline
  • strengthening (unless it’s strengthening bridges or other structures)
  • tackling (unless it’s rugby, football or some other sport)
  • transforming (what are you actually doing to change it?)
  • utilise

Avoid using metaphors – they do not say what you actually mean and lead to slower comprehension of your content. For example:

  • drive (you can only drive vehicles, not schemes or people)
  • drive out (unless it’s cattle)
  • going forward (it’s unlikely we are giving travel directions)
  • in order to (superfluous - do not use it)
  • one-stop shop (we are government, not a retail outlet)
  • ring fencing

With all of these words you can generally replace them by breaking the term into what you’re actually doing. Be open and specific.

World War 1, World War 2

Upper case and numbers.

written statement

Lower case.

X

Y

Yr arddulliadur

Welsh language style and language guide for Welsh Government translators, and for third party translators for Welsh Government. You should use the arddulliadur along with this style guide when writing in Welsh for GOV.WALES.

Z

Zero-hours contract

Not 'zero-hour contract' or 'zero hours contract'.

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