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Style guide

The GovWifi style guide describes the way we write for our users.

It covers style, spelling and grammar conventions for all user-facing content published on:

It includes the most relevant parts of the GOV.UK style guide, plus some terms that are specific to GovWifi. If there’s a point of style that is not covered here, check the GOV.UK style guide.

These may be the best solutions generally, but they may not suit every piece of content. They’ll also change based on things we discover in user research.

If you have any questions, speak to a content designer.

A to Z of style

allow list

The list of public sector organisations who are eligible to use GovWifi.

Use allow list as the noun and allow as the verb. Do not use white list or whitelist.

We’d like to change this term to something more descriptive and accurate eventually.

bullet points and steps

You can use bullet points to make text easier to read. Make sure that:

  • you always use a lead-in line (a sentence that introduces the bullet points)
  • the bullets make sense running on from the lead-in line
  • you use lower case at the start of the bullet
  • you don’t use full stops within bullet points – either start another bullet point or use commas, dashes or semicolons to expand on an item
  • you don’t put ‘or’, ‘and’ after the bullets
  • if you add links they appear within the text and not as the whole bullet
  • there’s no full stop at the end of any bullets

steps

Use numbered steps instead of bullet points to guide a user through a process.

You do not need a lead-in line. You can include links, downloads and multiple sentences per step. Each step ends in a full stop because each step should be a complete sentence.

email

Email is one word. Use a lower case ‘e’ unless it’s the first word in a new sentence.

Do not write email messages or e-mails.

email addresses

Write email addresses out in full, in lower case and as active links.

Do not include any other words in the link text. Do not put a full stop after an email address even if it’s the end of a sentence.

error messages

Error messages should:

  • follow the GOV.UK style guide and design system principles
  • be in the active voice – ‘Enter your name’ not ‘Your name must have an entry’
  • explain why the error has happened without blaming the user
  • tell the person exactly what they need to do – avoid ‘Fill in this question’ or ‘Answer this question’
  • be written consistently – if one message is ‘Enter your name’ another one for a missing address should be similar, for example ‘Enter your address’, not ‘Please provide an entry for your address’

If an entry was incorrect or in the wrong format, use a format like: - ‘You must enter a valid National Insurance number’ - ‘You need to enter a valid National Insurance number’ - ‘Enter a valid National Insurance number’

If a required entry from a list of options is blank, use a format like: - ‘You must select a country’ - ‘You need to select a country’ - ‘Select a country’

GovWifi

The service name.

GovWifi account

The credentials that let an end user access the internet using GovWifi.

GovWifi admin

The application that lets organisations manage GovWifi for their buildings.

The group of people who use the GovWifi admin are admin users. They have a GovWifi admin account.

Internally it’s fine to refer to it as the admin site or application.

IP address

Or IP addresses. Do not use IP or IPs.

numbers

Write all numbers in numerals except where it’s part of a common expression and it would look strange, for example ‘one or two of them’.

phone numbers

Use phone number, mobile phone number or international phone number. There’s no need to write telephone in full.

When writing a phone number, use spaces between city and local exchange. Here are the different formats to use:

01273 800 900

020 7450 4000

0800 890 567

07771 900 900

077718 300 300

+44 (0)20 7450 4000

+39 1 33 45 70 90

When a number is memorable, group the numbers into easily remembered units like 0800 80 70 60.

plain English

All content on GovWifi should be written in plain English. Sometimes it won’t be obvious which plain English term to use. If you’re not sure, speak to a content designer.

See Writing for GOV.UK for more information and a list of words to avoid.

public sector

Use sentence case, so public sector not Public Sector.

public sector organisations

Public sector organisations can offer GovWifi to people in their buildings. It refers to any organisation that is wholly controlled by or funded by the government.

Spell out the full name of the organisation the first time you use it, with the acronym in brackets if necessary. For example, the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS). After that you can just use the acronym.

All organisations are singular, for example: ‘the government has decided to sell assets’.

RADIUS

Always capitalised.

sign in and sign up

Use sign in as the call-to-action where users need to enter their details to access a service. Use sign up where they’re doing this for the first time.

Do not use signin or signup as a noun - say what the user actually needs to enter (‘enter your username’ not ‘enter your signin details’)

text messages

Use text messages. Do not use texts or SMS.

You can use text as a verb, for example “Text ‘Go’ to 07537 417 417”.

two-factor authentication

Spell it out in full the first time you use it. After that, you can abbreviate it to ‘2FA’.

Ideally, we wouldn’t use this in user-facing content. It’s usually clearer to tell the user what they need to do, for example, ‘enter the security code from your authentication app’.

wifi

All lower case, no hyphen.

This page was last reviewed on 10 January 2021. It needs to be reviewed again on 10 July 2021 by the page owner #govwifi .
This page was set to be reviewed before 10 July 2021 by the page owner #govwifi. This might mean the content is out of date.