Web writing style guide – Basic web page structure

Basic web page elements that help a reader scan content and improve search results on browsers.


Public Government of Alberta (GoA) web pages should consistently use the following elements across services and information pages:

  • page title
  • lead sentence
  • headings
  • paragraphs and sentences
  • contact
  • related (optional)

Page titles

A mandatory content element because well-written titles:

  • grab your attention
  • improve search results
  • show what the page is about
  • target the correct audience

All page titles use Heading 1 (H1). The distinction and use of the different heading sizes is important for search engine optimization (SEO). Learn more about headings.


The following guidelines help to optimize your titles for better search results.


Titles use a maximum of 70 characters, including spaces. Most search engines only display the first 70 characters of a title in their results.


Use sentence case except when the title is an official title of a program or service.

Avoid acronyms, remove end punctuation, and do not embed links in the title.


Content in a title must be relevant to the subject of the page. Use keywords in a natural way and avoid keyword stuffing titles.


Descriptive titles inform what you will find on a page and targets the correct audience. Vague titles, such as ‘How we are doing’ or ‘Funding’ may not give the intended search results.

Web address

Use the page title to create the webpage address or uniform resource locator (URL). This takes any guesswork out of what to use for the page URL.



Another mandatory content element because leads inform you of what you can do, learn or find on a page.

The first sentence on a page, a lead appears directly beneath the title.

Write leads with a maximum 140 characters, including spaces, and do not embed links in a lead.

Additional guidelines

  • Do not use italics.
  • Use sentence case with an end period.
  • Use keywords.
  • Use calls to action.
  • Use acronyms only if widely known by the public.
  • Avoid content used in the title.


Find upcoming job and career fairs for opportunities to meet with employers, develop career skills and find employment.


Web pages need headings and sub-headings to organize and scan content, and improve search results.


  • Nest all headings in descending order (H2, H3 and H4).
  • Use sentence case, except for proper nouns.
  • Keep headings as brief as possible.
  • Do not link headings.
  • Do not use ALL CAPS.
  • Do not use punctuation.

Heading sizes

Headings come in 6 sizes, but Alberta.ca only uses up to a Heading 4. Organizing headings in descending order allows search engines to crawl pages more effectively:

  • Heading 1 (H1) – page title only
  • Heading 2 (H2) – main topics of a page and used for in-page navigation on Alberta.ca
  • Heading 3 (H3) – sub-topic of an H2
  • Heading 4 (H4) – sub-topic of an H3
  • Heading 5 (H5) – sub-topic of an H4
  • Heading 6 (H5) – sub-topic of an H5


  • Overview [H2]
  • Eligibility [H2]
  • How to apply [H2]
    • Step 1 [H3]
      • Complete the forms [H4]
  • After you apply [H2]
    • Appeal [H3]
  • Contact [H2]


To improve readability, divide text into smaller paragraphs. One idea per paragraph.


  • Keep paragraphs short.
  • Keep sentences short.
  • Use inverted pyramid writing style.
  • Use subheadings or bullets to summarize text and make it easier to scan.
  • Use plain language – short, clear and concise.


List contact information as its own section with a proper H2 and should display, at minimum, a phone number or an email.


  • Use a lead-in sentence starting with “Connect with” and use a colon at the end to introduce contact information.
  • Adding an address is optional.
  • Follow the same format shown in the example below if adding an address.


A standard contact section on Alberta.ca looks like this:

Contact [H2]

Connect with Carrier and Vehicle Safety:

Hours: 8 am to 4 pm (open Monday to Friday, closed statutory holidays) [optional]
Phone: 780-427-8901
Toll free: 310-0000 before the phone number (in Alberta)
Email: [email protected]

Vehicle Safety
Room 109
Main Floor, Twin Atria Building
4999 98 Avenue
Edmonton, Alberta  T6B 2X3


Optional navigation section located at the bottom of a service page. Used for referral purposes, it links to relevant Alberta.ca pages that directly support the current page.

The Related module should:

  • hold a small, carefully selected number of follow-up options
  • be of interest to the same audience reading the current page
  • help people find more of the help they need
  • increase page views


  • Add a maximum of 5 links – one to 3 links is optimal for scanning.
  • Use web page titles for link names.
  • Link to Alberta.ca pages – avoid linking to external websites.
  • Do not link to documents – link from within body text where relevant or create a ‘Resources’ or ‘Publications’ subheading.
  • Do not link to legislation – link from within body text where relevant.
  • Do not link to Alberta.ca topic pages.
  • Do not use the Related module on landing pages – this sends visitors away before they have a chance to journey through the collection.