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Writing and page structure - Vic Gov digital guide

A well-structured page is easy for users to scan to find the information they are seeking.

Generally people only read about 25% of the words on a page, so you need to give a snapshot of the content via the headings and introductory paragraph.

Introduction

  • Put the first sentence or two of the body copy into the Introduction.
  • Use full sentences/full stops.
  • If you don't have an appropriate first sentence, use your summary (meta description).

Paragraphs

  • Present the most important information first or at least a summary of what is covered on the page. 
  • Use short, simple paragraphs (2 or 3 sentences, max 15 words per sentence).
  • Write in plain English.

Headings

  • Use headings to break up the content - the user can scan the headings to understand what the page is about.
  • Headings should be succinct and use keywords.
  • Headings must be sequential (heading 2 is followed by heading 3, *headings are important for accessibility).
  • Only one top level (H1) heading is allowed per page.

Lists

  • Bulleted lists make content scannable.
  • Numbered lists are good for steps that have to be followed in a particular order or to show priority.
  • Use a parallel structure - that is, each list item should follow from the lead in content (eg all verbs in the same form).
  • No punctuation for bulleted lists (unless each list item is a full sentence).
  • A call to action is a button or a link that clearly leads the user to the next step in their journey (Apply, Register, Subscribe, etc).
  • In-text links should clearly describe the destination.
  • Your most important links should be in your main copy. If you have a link in the body copy, generally don't use it as a related link.

We encourage you to Create a new content page in the website. This will help you to see what works online and what doesn't. If you need to start with Word to collaborate with stakeholders then you should use our Single Digital Presence content template. 

Reviewed 29 January 2019

Vic Gov digital guide