Content style guide

How to write for digital NHS services.

How we write

Our general principles.

Voice and tone

The way we talk in different contexts.

Inclusive language

Writing for everyone in a way that's inclusive and respectful.

Writing for accessibility

Meeting the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG 2.0).

Formatting and punctuation

From abbreviations to question marks.

A to Z of NHS health writing

Words and phrases which make our content easy to understand.

Links and PDFs

Writing good links and making PDFs accessible.

Using the style guide

This style guide is for anyone creating content for the NHS, to help make things clear and consistent across all of our services.

It's meant as a guide, not a rulebook. You're welcome to adapt a style pattern if it does not meet your users' needs.

The style guide is intended to be used alongside our guidance on creating content for users with low health literacy.

In progress

The guide will grow and change as we learn more about the language and writing styles that work best for our users.

Join the NHS.UK service manual Slack workspace or email service-manual@nhs.net to hear about and discuss changes.

Check the GOV.UK A to Z style guide and GOV.UK content design guide for any points of style that you do not find here. If it's not there, we recommend using the Oxford Dictionary for Writers and Editors.

Contribute

Let us know if you design a new content pattern or find new evidence on content style.

Updated: January 2019