Government documents often contain crucial information for residents and businesses. Key information from documents should be rewritten into web pages.
Documents can be:

  • PDFs or Word documents - often called ‘information bulletins’ or ‘factsheets’
  • brochures - often produced for print
  • advertising posters.

Why web pages are better than documents

Information that lives in web pages is:

  • easier to find using search engines such as Google
  • better for viewing on a wide range of devices - eg: mobiles and tablets
  • follows web content accessibility guidelines - a requirement under the law. 

Rewriting documents into web pages

Rewriting key information into web pages means we can apply the new writing style.

This includes:

  • writing in plain English
  • writing in a consistent style
  • only using information the user needs
  • using subheadings to break the information up into text that can be scanned
  • using bullet points.

Accessibility under the law

Making content available on web pages makes the information more accessible to a wider range of people. This includes people with disabilities.

Under the law, we must make sure everything we publish is available in formats that can be accessed by everyone. This includes people using assistive technology such as screen readers. 

This means, where possible, web content should be published in HTML - web page format.

PDFs and accessibility

PDFs are not fully accessible in some browsers or for mobile and tablet users.

The best way to make a PDF accessible is to rewrite it into plain English on your web page.

When you can use a PDF

Some documents can’t be rewritten into web pages. These can be documents that:

  • are very long - as a guide we don’t try to rewrite documents over 30 pages
  • have an ISBN number - eg: an edition of a book
  • contain a lot of legal or technical language
  • have images, graphs or other visuals that help tell the story.

If you need to use a PDF

If you need to use a PDF, you must make the information available in another accessible format, such as a Word document.

If it is not possible to provide an alternative format, such as a detailed map, you must give contact details to allow users who can't access a PDF to get the information in another way.

You can use a PDF alone if it is a long report or reference document that would most likely be viewed from a desktop.

All PDFs must be made accessible. The link to them must show:

  • what it is - eg: the file name
  • its type - eg: PDF or Word
  • its file size.

Last updated: 28 November 2017