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Rules for structure

1. Break content into chunks

Break content into short, easily digestible chunks. Each chunk is a short paragraph – no more than 5 lines long. Each chunk starts with a subtitle.


Why chunk content

It can be difficult to deliver a clear message when your paragraphs are very long.

People can’t find the key point of your argument.

Use headings

Headings add space to the page and space invites the reader in. They also help your reader quickly find what they want.

Use lists

Lists achieve the same goal as headings when they are structured properly. This means the list items are parallel and you use correct punctuation.


It can be difficult to deliver a clear message when your paragraphs are very long. People might not be able to find the key point of your argument among all the words and you might include more text. Headings can help you break up your text, adding to the space to the page and inviting the reader in, and they also help your reader quickly find what they want. Lists also achieve the same goal when they are structured properly with parallel construction and correct punctuation.

2. Page titles (h1)

Think about how the title will look in search on HSE.ie and on search engines. Use the words people will use when they search.

Titles must be:

• 65 characters or less (including spaces)
• unique, so search results don’t show lots of pages with the same title
• clear and descriptive
• front-loaded (most important information first) – use colons if you need to
• active – start with a verb if you can


• Check your payslips online
• Fostering: advice for families


• Online payslips
• Advice for families about fostering

3. Subheadings (subtitles)

Use a subheading every 3 to 5 paragraphs.

Subheadings should:

• be concise (not more than 5 words)
• be front-loaded (most important words first)
• use the same words people used in search (keywords)
• be descriptive and clear

Don’t go below H3

Try to keep to 2 layers of headings but use H3 when you need to. If you’re using H4, stop – you need to restructure your content.

Chickenpox symptoms

What are the symptoms of chickenpox?

4. Bulleted lists

Bullet points to make text easier to read. Don’t use more than 2 or 3 bulleted lists per page.

Don’t use sub-bullets.


• Make bullets short – not more than a few words long.
• Start bullets with the same part of speech (like a noun or verb).
• Only write 1 sentence per bullet.


• Put ‘and’ or ‘or’ at the end of a bullet.
• Start all bullets with the same word – it’s hard to read.

Bullets with a lead-in sentence

The bullets must make grammatical sense following on from the lead-in sentence. Use lower-case at the start of the bullet. Don’t use any full stops.

People like bullets because they:
• are easy to read
• grab attention
• signpost what a page is about

Bullets with no lead-in sentence

Start with a capital and end with a full stop. Only 1 sentence per bullet. Keep them short – only a few words. Don’t just add bullet points at the beginning of a bunch of sentences – craft them.


Cases of swine flu in 2017
• There were 12,000 reported cases of swine flu in 2017.
• Of these, 5,000 people were hospitalised.
• None of the people who got swine flu had been immunised.

Numbered lists (steps)

Only use numbered lists for sequential steps. Make each item in the list a grammatically correct sentence.


1. Fill in the form.
2. Print and sign the form.
3. Post the form to [address]

5. Links

Say exactly where the link is going.

Don’t use generic text like ‘click here’ or ‘more’ – it’s not accessible for people with visual impairments who use screenreaders.

Make links active (include a verb) or make them describe a situation.

Don’t include punctuation in links. If they are part of a full sentence in running copy, end with a full stop but don’t hyperlink the full stop.


• Download the medical card application form.
• Go to accounts
• Apply for help with nursing home costs


• Click here for the form you need.
• Accounts
• Find out about Fair Deal