Cookies on

Cookies are small files stored on your device when you visit a website. We use some essential cookies to make this website work.

We would like to set additional cookies to remember your settings and understand how you use the site. This helps us to improve our services.

You have accepted all additional cookies. You have rejected all additional cookies. You can change your cookie preferences at any time.

Skip to main content

Writing and editing Structuring content


Research shows that the average reader only reads between 20% and 28% (opens in a new tab)  of the text on a web page. It is important to get the point of your content across as concisely as possible.

It is important to write simply and using plain language

You should also consider the reading order of your content so that it flows naturally. If you are unsure, test your content by asking someone to read through it to make sure the language and order makes sense. You can also read it out loud to check your sentences and paragraphs are not too long.

We have templates for you to use to create articles and bulletins. These will help you to follow the set structure for each release type. View the article templates and bulletin template

Use the inverted pyramid

The most important information in your content must be at the start – this is called frontloading.

We use the inverted pyramid to achieve this, placing information in order of importance on the page. This is best practice for writing online content.

The main information of the content – who, why, what, where, when and how – should appear in the first paragraphs so that most users will see it. This is because only 80% of our users tend to scroll to the end of the first section of the page. Only a small percentage of users make it to the bottom of the page.

The inverted pyramid structure is:

  1. most important information
  2. important details
  3. other general or background information

Avoid structuring your content using the traditional structure of an Introduction, Results, Conclusion and Appendices. This academic structure is not best practice for web writing as it places important information at the bottom of the page rather than at the top. This means that users have to scroll through lots of background information to find what they need.

Descriptive headings and subheadings

Headings and sub-headings within the page help users to scan your content. They are also important for people using assistive technologies to navigate a page.

Titles of releases should use the heading level 1 (H1) format and sub-headings under that move logically down the heading levels. Do not skip a level – for example, do not go from H2 to H4. Screen reader users may navigate content through heading levels so a missed level can be confusing.

Make sure headings are short, frontloaded and use the active voice.


“International migration definition”

Rather than:

“What is the standard definition of international migration?”

Use a statistical heading, describing the content of the following text, rather than a headline that describes the story. This is shorter and easier for the user to understand when scanning through the table of contents.


Consumer Prices Index

Rather than:

CPI rose by 5.5% in the 12 months to January 2022

We use standardised section headings for bulletins and articles to provide users with a consistent experience, regardless of topic.

View our bulletin structure and article structure

Avoid questions as section headings

Avoid using questions as section headings. They take users longer to scan and understand than simple headings, and users cannot take meaning from them at a quick glance. This makes it harder to find the information they need quickly.

Guidance from the Government Digital Service (GDS) (opens in a new tab)  is to use short, clear label headings that put the most important information first. These allow users to quickly scan the headings and find the topic they are interested in.

“Definition of international migration” is much easier to take meaning from quickly than “What is the standard definition of international migration?”

Avoid section headings associated with print publications

Best practice for web writing is to include clear, descriptive, and frontloaded headings. This will ensure that users can easily scan your content to find what they need.

Sections that are traditionally associated with print publications and academia are often generic and do not clearly tell the user what they can expect to find in each section. The following sections and headings should be avoided in your content:

  • Abstract
  • Executive summary
  • Disclaimer
  • Introduction
  • Background information
  • Conclusion
  • Authors and acknowledgements
  • Background notes
  • Appendices and annexes

Instead, think about what that section is trying to convey to the user and where it might be best placed.

For example, an abstract or executive summary can often be replaced with a clear and well-written page summary. A lengthy disclaimer section that is likely to be skipped by users could be replaced with a clear warning box to highlight important quality caveats.

Important information:

If you need help writing clear and descriptive section headings or structuring your content, email (opens in a new tab) 

Structuring paragraphs and sentences

As with the overall structure, each paragraph and sentence should be frontloaded with the most important information at the start.

When writing your content, your paragraphs should:

  • have no more than four sentences that follow a logical order
  • begin with the most important information for that paragraph, meaning readers can skim through the information
  • make complete sense on their own
  • cover one subject

Individual sentences should be no longer than 25 words. If they are any longer, they may need to be divided into two.

A sentence should not start with a figure. If it does, the sentence should be restructured.

“47% of people in the population of the UK are left-handed.”

Should be rewritten as:

“Left-handed people make up 47% of the UK population.”