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The starting point for almost all online content is an HTML web page. Avoid publishing content in PDF, Word or other document format if it can be published as a web page instead.

These formats should only be used if there is a strong user need - for example a specialist report. Ideally, it should be in addition to an HTML version.

It can be difficult and time-consuming to make Microsoft Word formats (.doc and .docx) conform to Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (CWAG) and they are hard to view and access on mobile devices.

Not everyone has the MS Word application installed, so a better format for document attachments is the Open Document Format (ODT).

Word files can be converted to PDF and published. However, PDFs are not accessible to some users on mobile devices. In all cases, PDFs must be accessible to people with disabilities who use assistive technology such as screenreaders. By following WCAG guidelines and making our content more accessible to people with disabilities, our content becomes more accessible to all users. 

Learn more from the Government Digital Service about why content should be published in HTML and not PDF.

When publishing a PDF use a descriptive name, not a shorthand name or generic title such as "click here". For example:

Page last updated:
22 Mar 2022

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