Content design: planning, writing and managing content


How and when to publish a blog.

Why blog?

Blogging makes it easier for government to talk about its work, share information, and connect with people who have a common concern.

It can help you raise awareness of new and existing government services, highlight successes and things we’re learning, and start conversations with your users.

Blogs work best when they have a specific purpose. Generic corporate blogs are not as effective as they do not give people a reason for visiting them.

Use blogs for:

  • describing any work you’re doing or thinking about
  • outlining new practice or theory in a particular area
  • sharing ideas and what you’re learning
  • inviting opinions on plans or developments

Do not use blogs for:

  • duplicating information already on GOV.UK
  • publishing content that should be published on GOV.UK, such as essential information about government services, statutory guidance and policy updates
  • news stories that should be published on GOV.UK

Replace your newsletter

Blogs help make information accessible and are easy for people to engage with. They’re also an excellent replacement for newsletters because:

  • they’re open to everyone
  • they can be shared on social media and help you start a conversation with your audience
  • they can be found by people you may not think of as your primary audience
  • they can reduce duplication by not replicating content published elsewhere
  • they routinely get more traffic than newsletters
  • users can sign up for email updates

Getting and managing a blog

The Government Digital Service (GDS) provides the WordPress platform for government blogs. The creation of a new blog is a joint decision by the GOV.UK lead for your organisation and the GDS Communications and Engagement team.

Find out how to request a new blog.


Every blog must have a named owner, who will be the main point of contact with GDS.

Blogs are part of your department’s digital content. Your department’s digital team has overall ownership and responsibility for all your blogs.

The blog owner must:

  • agree to post regularly (blogs that are not updated at least twice a month will be archived)
  • co-ordinate, schedule and check content quality of blog posts before they’re published
  • ensure all blog content is accessible and follows the GOV.UK style guide and formatting guidelines
  • manage all blog content in WordPress
  • support contributors to publish their work
  • establish moderation principles, and ensure contributors keep to them
  • manage user accounts
  • evaluate the blog’s performance using Google Analytics and other available data
  • promote it (for example on social media or internal communications channels) and add tracking to promotional links to help evaluation
  • log in to WordPress at least once every 3 months to ensure their account is not deactivated

Departmental digital teams should:

  • discuss and make recommendations on requests for new blogs before they go to GDS
  • promote the GOV.UK blogging platform within their department
  • maintain an active relationship with all blog owners in their department
  • provide editorial and technical support to their bloggers
  • check content quality of the department’s blogs

GDS will:

  • discuss and consider requests for new blogs
  • maintain the availability and security of the blogging platform
  • manage and prioritise requests for changes and additional functionality on the platform
  • provide guidance to digital teams and blog owners on requesting a blog and using the platform
  • set up new blogs and administrator accounts
  • create Google Analytics accounts for individual blogs, so blog owners can evaluate their blog’s performance
  • manage the community of blog owners across government
  • provide tools and resources for blog owners

Style and tone of voice

All content should follow the GOV.UK style guide and should be written in clear and simple language, as recommended in the Writing for GOV.UK guidelines.

There are some additional things you need to consider when writing a blog post.

Tone of voice

Blogging offers a personal way of engaging with people. Blog posts are mostly linked to named authors, who put a face to what might otherwise be perceived as a faceless organisation. It’s this personal dimension that, for users, adds credibility and a sense of openness.

This means you should write as you speak. Write as an individual, not as an impersonal organisation or team. You should still follow the style guide but this does not mean you cannot be warm or personal.

Blogs can – and should – spark conversation. This means being accountable for the things you write and responding to comments that meet your comment and moderation policy. If you engage in dialogue, both on your blog and on other social networks, it’ll improve your reader’s experience and help you learn more about them.

After you have written a blog post, read it out loud to check it’s written the way you speak. Once you’re happy, always have someone else review it and request feedback on the overall style and flow of your piece.

Creating and editing blog posts

Government blogs are hosted on WordPress. When you get a blog, GDS will send you your account details. WordPress looks very much like a word processor, with buttons at the top of the content section that allow you to format text, edit links and so on.

GOV.UK blogs use a modified version of WordPress, so will likely look different to a personal WordPress account.

Government blogs should follow these style guidelines to make sure there is a consistent user experience across the GOV.UK blog platform.


Titles should clearly tell readers what the post is about and entice them to read it. Although it’s a blog, do not try to be clever or play on words – the title should make sense in search results or when read out of context.

A blog post title should be 65 characters or fewer. This is so Google and Twitter display the full title and the user knows what to expect.

Good examples:

  • Hack the North is back, and this year it’s bigger and better
  • How we worked together to prepare for GDPR
  • Tips on how to set up and maintain your own community

Bad examples:

  • End of an era
  • The 4 magic ingredients to cook up success
  • We’re hiring
  • Weaving magic with innovation

Breaking up text

To make posts easier to read on a screen, break up the text with paragraphs, headings or relevant images to create more white space on the page. Paragraphs no more than about 5 lines long are easiest to read.


Use headings to break up the post but make sure they describe the section beneath them. People use headings to scan a page, so make them meaningful.

You can also use subheadings to break up bigger sections that already have a heading.

In WordPress:

  • use Heading 2 for headings
  • use Heading 3 for subheadings

Only use Heading 3 when you are creating a subsection within a section that already has a Heading 2.

Choosing the right images for blog posts can make them more effective and engaging. Every blog post should have at least one image. If you only have one, it should appear at the top of the post.

Images should all be at least 1,000 pixels wide to ensure they are displayed correctly in different places, including social media. They should not be wider than 3,999 pixels.

All images should also be in landscape, rather than portrait.

Once uploaded into WordPress and into a blog post, you should set the size of the image to ‘large’, which is 620 pixels wide.

You can crop pictures using free tools like if you do not have image editing software.

Every post should have a featured image. This is displayed on your blog’s homepage and on social media. The image should clearly illustrate what your blog post is about. It is usually easiest to use the same image you have put at the top of your blog post.

Featured images should not be larger than 1MB.

All images should:

  • have alternative text (“alt text”) that describes the image for people who cannot see it or use a screen reader - the GOV.UK Design System has guidance on writing good alternative text for images
  • be attributed properly to avoid copyright infringement
  • display the diversity of the Civil Service and its partners

Several government departments and organisations have public photo libraries (such as the GDS Flickr account). If you do not have access to a photo library, try using:

Text in links should be self-explanatory when read in isolation to make them accessible for those using a screen reader. Avoid link text that says ‘click here’ and phrase the link text in a way users will know what website they will be taken to if they click on the link. There is GOV.UK guidance on writing link text.


New regulations mean public sector organisations have a legal duty to make sure websites and apps meet accessibility requirements. This includes blogs. You can find more details about this legal duty on the accessibility campaign website.

Excerpt text

Write a summary of up to about 50 words for your blog post and insert it in the ‘Excerpt’ field. The excerpt should tell readers what the post is about and it should be written in a way that encourages them to read it.

The excerpt text will be displayed on your blog homepage and on social media. It will also be featured in email notifications sent to your blog subscribers. If you do not write an excerpt text, WordPress and Twitter will automatically display the first words of your post. This will likely give readers an incomplete experience so it is important to write this text.

You should not use the ‘read more’ tag to generate excerpt text.

Call to action

At the end of every blog post, you should include a call to action. This could, for example, ask your audience to:

  • follow the blog by email
  • follow the blog post’s author on Twitter
  • leave a comment and join in a conversation
  • read related posts (which you can add using the ‘related posts’ box)

You can put the call to action in a grey box by selecting ‘Highlight’ in the formats drop-down bar.

Videos and social media

You can embed social media content into your blog by pasting the URL into a new line (make sure it’s not formatted as a clickable link). This works for:

  • Twitter
  • YouTube
  • Vimeo

To add content from Instagram, select ‘Add Media’ and then ‘Insert from URL’. Paste the link and click ‘insert into post’.

You should include subtitles or a transcript when adding videos to your blog, to make them accessible.

Twitter cards

GOV.UK blogs support Twitter cards, which allow you to add photos, videos and other media to your tweets. Your blog is already set up so that the ‘card type’ is set to ‘summary below large image’.

You may need to check if you have an image set under ‘image fallback’, to make sure an image is always displayed (for example, if you forget to include a featured image in your post or if an error occurs).

Categories and tags

Every post should be categorised. If you do not do this, it will appear as ‘Uncategorised’ on your blog. It is important to categorise blogs correctly to help users navigate to other content that may be of interest, and help blog channels to strengthen their narrative. You can also use tags in your blog, but tags should not be considered a replacement for categories.

You should:

  • capitalise the first letter of any categories or tags (for example, ‘Content’ not ‘content’)
  • use categories as your primary navigation (use fewer than 10 categories in total for your blog) -add text to category pages to describe what they’re about
  • tag only if it’s absolutely necessary (for example, if there is a user need to group more than 1 post via tags)

There should be a featured post at the top of every blog. It appears in a grey box and is usually the latest blog post to be published. To make it appear, check the ‘Featured post’ box in WordPress. Make sure your featured post has a correctly sized featured image.

Author profiles

Blog posts must display your full name (for example, ‘John Smith’), not your WordPress username (for example, ‘johnsmith’). To fix this, edit your user profile. You can also write a sentence or 2 about yourself on your profile page.

You can create ‘guest author’ profiles for authors who do not have a WordPress account.

Posts can have more than one author, but ideally no more than 3. The author should be the person who has written the post and not a list of people who have worked on a particular project.

Author images

Only include an author’s image in a post if it serves a purpose, such as illustrating a profile piece. Do not include their image just to show who they are. You can add an image to an author’s profile instead.

You can add an image to your own profile by signing up to Gravatar and creating a profile image for yourself.

You can add an image for guest authors by uploading a picture to their profile.

Evaluating your blog’s performance

As a blog owner, you have access to your blog’s Google Analytics account. You are responsible for regularly evaluating your blog’s performance.

You can find a range of data relating to your blog posts and user behaviour in Google Analytics, including:

  • numbers of page views for each blog post
  • sources of traffic to your blog (for example social media, Google search or referring sites)
  • bounce rates (proportions of users who only saw one page on your blog)
  • search terms users entered into the search box on your blog to search for content

Email to ask for access to your Google Analytics account if you do not already have access.

Users who have not accessed their Google Analytics account for more than 6 months will be removed.

Archiving a blog

Blog owners can ask GDS to archive a blog that is no longer needed. If your blog is not being updated regularly, GDS will contact you to see if it should be closed.

Once your blog has been closed, its content will remain online. GDS will update its description to say that the blog is no longer being updated.

How to archive a blog

  1. Contact the GOV.UK lead from your organisation. You need to decide whether to just archive your blog or also migrate its posts to another blog, such as a parent department blog.

  2. Email with your archiving request. You should include the reasons for archiving the blog, when you’d like to archive it by, and whether you want to just archive it or also migrate posts to a parent blog.

  3. Write and publish a short final post on your blog to let your users know it will no longer be updated, and explain why. Include links to where users can find information about the topic on GOV.UK, if relevant. Set this as the ‘featured post’.

  4. Edit your blog’s ‘About’ page to tell your users this blog is no longer being updated.

  5. On the agreed archive date, GDS will take the blog off the all blogs list on, and disable comments and email alerts. GDS will also inform you of any other steps you need to take.