Writing tools and resources

ALPHA. This guidance is provided as a general starting point for anyone designing online content, or working on digital projects that involve designing new content or reworking old content. It is a work in progress, and we welcome feedback and suggestions to improve the advice. Contact us with your feedback.

This guide provides an overview of the basics you should consider when writing online content. There are many online resources where you can read more about any of these topics.

A few good starting points are listed below.

Online styleguides

Many organisations, including governments, publish their styleguides online. They are all similar but some have more detail in certain areas.

All of them can give you a starting point if you are developing a content strategy or writing guidelines for your web writers.

New Zealand government

UK government

Australian government


Content brief

Use a content brief when you are creating a page of content, and get any subject matter experts (SMEs), or content providers to use the same template. Use this to consistently collect all the information you will need when you you come to enter the page into a content management system (CMS). Use coloured styles for each heading level to help you keep the heading hierarchy clear.

Some basic things to capture would include:

  • Page title  h1 and the meta title
  • Metadata description
  • Keywords
  • URL
  • Page type or page template
  • Page author
  • Page owner or SME
  • Review cycle — does it need review in 1, 3, 6 or 12 months?
  • Page notes — reference any images, media or other downloadable files that might be attached to this page.

Example content brief template (DOC 33KB)

Content quality checklist

A list of criteria you can check off before a page is published to make sure it:

  • meets accessibility standards
  • is clearly written for a particular purpose
  • is optimised for search
  • is usable and correct.

Content quality checklist