5.3 Language

The language used in a Government website is very important for ensuring effective communication with the target audiences. If the language on the website is complex and uses terminology which a common visitor is unfamiliar with, the very purpose of having the website will be lost.


Departments should ensure that homepage, all major entry points, and navigational elements of Government websites are written in clear language appropriate for the site’s content.


Indian Government websites cater to diverse target audience with diverse demographic profiles and educational background. Therefore it is highly desirable that the language used in the Government website is understood easily and correctly by all sections of the audiences. Departments may test the language and its comprehension with a sample set of typical visitors before making the site live for all audiences.


Writing for the web is very different from writing for the Print medium. One of the best ways of making the language web friendly is to keep the sentences short and simple. Long, convoluted sentences seem forbidding on screen and can distract the visitors.


There are tools available which can help a Department evaluate how easy to understand and comprehend the language used on their website is. Departments should use such language tools, including language software, to evaluate the readability of the website’s content.


The language used in a Government website MUST be free from any spelling or grammatical errors of any kind. Further, there should be uniformity across the site when it comes to using British/American English.


Abbreviations/Acronyms, which may be typical in Government parlance and may not be commonplace with citizens of diverse backgrounds should be avoided or expanded at all possible places. At the same time, if a short form or abbreviation of a term is more popularly known and understood by the citizens than along with its full form, the short form should be mentioned.


The language of complete web page MUST be indicated by the use of lang attribute. If there are any changes in the default language of the document, either in the document’s text or any text equivalents (e.g., captions), they MUST be clearly identified. (Ref. WCAG 3.1.1 & 3.1.2)