Writing for this website


The Council has a legal responsibility to make sure the information on this website:

  • is clear and easy to read
  • works on different devices, such as phones and tablets
  • is accessible and easy to use for people with disabilities

These pages explain how to plan and write content for www.southtyneside.gov.uk.

The Digital Team can help you to publish information online.

If you are preparing any information that needs to be published on this website, please get in touch with us as soon as possible by emailing webteam@southtyneside.gov.uk.

What to include

This is a task-based website. It is based on best practice from central government, and the GOV.UK website.

This website should help residents to complete their task, or find specific information.

We should only publish information that our residents need to know.

We should not publish everything we can.

Start with the essential information.

Only add more detail if it is needed for the user to understand something, or complete their task.

We do this because:

  • people come to this website for something specific
  • research shows people scan web pages, and usually only read about 20 - 28% of the content
  • unnecessary content clutters up the page, and makes it difficult to find important information

We should publish

  • information that is specific to South Tyneside Council and services the Council offers
  • information that the Council must publish by law

We should not publish

  • general information that is not the Council's responsibility to provide
  • information that is available elsewhere; we should link to other useful information instead

Writing in plain English

We use simple language to make sure information is clear, to the point, and easy to read.

We should:

  • use simple words
  • use short sentences 
  • use headings
  • use lists
  • explain abbreviations 
  • not use jargon 
  • take out any unnecessary information
  • avoid FAQs, and instead group similar content together under clear headings

We do this because we know some users:

  • may struggle to read complex words and sentences (the average reading age in the UK is 9 years old)
  • speak English as a second language
  • may be in a hurry, or in a stressful situation, and need clear information that is easy to understand

More information

We follow best practice from GOV.UK when writing for this website. 

See GOV.UK Content design: planning, writing and managing content.

The Plain English Campaign also provides an A to Z of complicated words to avoid, and the plain English words you should use instead.

See Plain English Campaign: A to Z of alternative words.

Design and layout

South Tyneside Council provides this website to deliver clear information and online services for residents.

It is purposefully designed to be as simple and easy to use as possible, for everyone who needs to use it.

We keep the design and layout of the website simple by:

  • displaying text in a large, easy to read font
  • avoiding bright, contrasting colours
  • avoiding decorative images
  • keeping interactive features as easy to use as possible
  • only adding new design features if it will help the user to understand information or complete a task

We do this because:

  • some people have disabilities, such as dyslexia, that make it difficult to read text
  • some people have difficulties using a mouse, and use a keyboard to move around the website
  • some people use software to read the text out loud, and need information to be laid out as simply as possible
  • it provides value for money for our residents, by focussing on easy to use information and online services, rather than unnecessary features


Images should only be included if they are needed to help show or explain something.

For example:

Diagrams that help to explain how something works should only be used to support information that is already published on the website.

You should not publish information in the form of images, such as posters, or infographics. This information should be published as text on the page instead.

This is because:

  • stock images that are only for decoration do not help a user to understand information or complete a task
  • information included in images can't be seen by software that reads text out loud (used by people with visual impairments)
  • search engines can't read text within images


Wherever possible, we should not use PDF, Word, Excel and PowerPoint documents to publish information online.

Instead, we should publish information on web pages.

This is because:

  • documents don't work well with software that reads text out loud (used by people with visual impairments)
  • documents designed for print can be difficult to read on a mobile phone
  • information published within a document can't be found easily by search engines

New policies and strategies that need to be available online can be published as online documents, for example:


Videos must include subtitles and should only be used to support information that is already published on the website in plain text.

Information should not be published in video format only.

This is because:

  • we should not expect people to watch a full video to find important information
  • some users may not be able to watch the video because they have a slow internet connection, low signal, or limited data on their phone
  • some users may not be able to hear the sound on the video, because of a disability, or because they are using the website in a busy or loud place
  • information included in videos can't be found by search engines