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Content Guide

Introduction

This guide helps writers create content that’s easy to understand and meets people where they are. Government websites often talk at readers rather than to or with them. As with other facets of its online presence, .gov writing tends to describe the government’s concerns in “governmentese,” leaving users frustrated by information that is neither actionable nor understandable.

This guide takes that frustration into account, as well as several commonly supported guidelines about writing for the web. Using this guide can help content designers benefit from our experience to date, incorporate user feedback into the editorial process, and build trust by communicating in a consistent manner.

We created this guide for reference on an as-needed basis. It’s here when you’re wondering whether to capitalize the word federal, for instance, or when you’re wondering how to create a friendly, informational tone.

To this end, we’ve structured the guide into descriptively named sections.

IA Approach

Tips and standards for developing user-centered content

IA Style

Grammar, spelling, and mechanics

Other

Detailed guidance for web and print elements

Find the topic you’re looking for in the left hand navigation to get started. We aren’t opposed if you’d like to read this guide start to finish, of course.

If you have any suggestions or want to get involved, please contact Web Team

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An official website of the U.S. Department of the Interior

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