The way we present our services and ourselves is second in importance only to the quality of those services. That is why Hampshire County Council has a house style.
The house style covers consistent use of things like capital letters, punctuation and other layout features throughout our communications.
It also means making sure that everything we write is clear and easy to understand. Whether it is a letter to a member of the public, a committee report for members or a memo to other officers, clarity must be our aim.
This is sometimes difficult. Often, without thinking, we write long, complicated sentences and use official words or jargon to put across our message. We risk confusing our readers and it reflects badly on the County Council, making us seem remote and unfriendly. We can help prevent this if we follow some simple rules.
Much of the Style guide applies to all forms of communication. However, some points are specific to electronic communications.
All e-mail messages should be in Arial 12 point and and show the person's name, job title, telephone number and contact details in the same way as other written communication. See also the guidance given under Letters, in General layout and style. If you are on the Hampshire Public Services Network, please also include your HPSN number.
Most employees who use e-mails will use Outlook. You can set up a standard closing message in Outlook very easily. This is often referred to as a `signature' as it appears at the end of your messages. The Learn.IT website gives details of how to set up a signature.
When writing emails, there are a number of ways to insert files depending on whether or not you are using HantsFile. HantsFile users should refer to the relevant pages in Learn.IT. For documents stored outside of HantsFile, remember to insert shortcuts to files in shared folders to avoid duplicate files cluttering up memory. To insert a shortcut:
- click on Insert then select File
- select the file you need to insert in your email
- click on the arrow to the right of the Insert button and select Insert as hyperlink.
The Corporate web standards and good practice should be followed by anyone planning, writing or maintaining web pages.
Remember that most people scan web text for information rather than reading it word for word so, if possible, keep your information brief and to the point. Make sure you are writing for your target audience - see the Plain English guide for more information - and use headings and bullet points to help highlight key information.
Which form of correspondence to use
- Email - whenever possible for internal and informal external communications.
- Letters - communication with people outside the County Council.
- Memos - communication with people from other County Council departments and offices.
- Compliment slips - to accompany other items sent to people outside your department.
- Fax - communication with other departments and external organisations.