Our voice is an important part of our brand. It shows the world who we are, through how we speak and write. And, it’s usually the first part of our brand people will come across – so it’s important we get it right and make a good first impression. Our voice covers the words we use, the words we avoid, the way we construct our sentences. It comes from our personality as a brand. And our personality comes from our values:

Authentic

Wales is the real deal. Open, honest – our country is built on the foundations of a proud history and heritage, and shaped by a bold and beautiful landscape. We care deeply for community, culture and cynefin (one’s square mile) and want to lead the world in protecting them. Because these resources power us: green growth, global creative exports, adventure attractions, quality local produce. Our authenticity is the key to our future.

Creative

Creativity is at the heart of our nation. Our rich and enduring culture is thriving: in music, literature, art, film, television and theatre. But it’s much more than that. Everywhere you look in Wales, there are bright new ideas being put into action. It’s happening in design studios and quarry mines, factories and laboratories across the country. There’s an entrepreneurial spirit in the air. We’re not just dreaming big, we’re making it happen.

Alive 

A new Wales is emerging. Inspired by our past but looking towards the future with responsibility and creativity. Our landscapes are alive with nature and adventure. Our culture is alive with imagination. Our communities are alive with opportunity and real innovation. A new generation is investing in a bright and sustainable future, driven by talent and skill. Full of life.

Where something isn’t specified here, please follow the Guardian style guide. Where something isn’t explicitly covered, follow Guardian usage. For Government terms and departments refer to The Government Digital Service (GDS) style guide.

This is a live style guide and we are constantly adding to it and revising current sections. If you have suggestions for things to include, please get in touch with the content editorial team.

Please also refer to the content strategy guidance, individual Wales.com tone of voice and target audience guidance and Visit Wales tone of voice and target audience guidance, and the article visual style guide to see how text and media components display on a published article page.

Abbreviations and acronyms

If an acronym is not well known, always spell it out the first time. If you are using it multiple times, let people know what it is the first time then show it in brackets: for example, WTM (World Travel Market). Then you can use the acronym in your copy.

Try and avoid using e.g. – write out “for example” where possible.

SUP should be written in full as stand up paddleboarding. All lowercase, and no hyphen. Add (SUP) in brackets afterwards so that both terms can be found by search.

BAME should be written as the full phrase ‘Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic’. For any subsequent references within the same communication ‘ethnic minority’ or ‘ethnic minority communities/staff' should then be used.

Acronyms like pdf are always lowercase.

Do not use full stops in acronyms: UEFA, NHS.

Cadw is not an acronym, so should always be written as Cadw, not CADW.

Accessibility

We have made every effort to make the Wales.com and VisitWales.com websites easy to use and accessible to everyone. We have aimed to make the sites adhere to the WCAG Version 2 (AA) guidelines. See the specific Accessibility Statement for each site linked to from the site footer for more details.

Writing for accessibility goes beyond making everything on the page available as text. It also affects the way you organize content. Break text into short paragraphs to make it easy to scan. Use subheadings and bullet points to guide readers through the text.

Links

Always use meaningful links that help tell the user what the content linked to is - use the name of the business, website, or describe the content in words. Avoid using urls in their full form, or using words like “Click here”, “Click for more information” or “Read this.” Write the sentence as you normally would and link relevant keywords. Never use url paths such as https://www.sitename.com/ as this is hard for both users and screenreaders to read.

Don’t include preceding articles (a, an, the, our) when you link text. For example:

If a link comes at the end of a sentence or before a comma, don’t link the punctuation mark.

Social media links should contain the full name of the account and platform within the link, so for example:

For usage conventions see the links guidance in the Punctuation and content elements section below.

Alt tags

Alt text is a way to label images. It's especially important for people who can’t see the images on our website and rely on screen readers to understand our content. Alt text should describe the image in a brief sentence or two. People who don’t see the image should come away with the same information as if they had. You don’t need to say ‘image of…’ at the start of your description.

Contrast

If you're creating images with text over the top (e.g. image slideshows for social channels) make sure there’s enough contrast on the text so it’s easy to read. Use a contrast checker to make sure your text is readable.

Ampersand / &

As a rule, never use ampersands in body text, unless it is the part of a company name (P&O, Marks & Spencer), or in the title of a book or television programme (Gavin & Stacey).

Also ampersands can be used in the context of talking about bed and breakfasts (bnbs / b&bs), as this is a fairly standard industry term. But try to avoid using it if you can.

Apostrophes

Wales, in the possessive, is always Wales’, not Wales’s. Like Wales’ beautiful coasts, Wales’ epic mountains.

While it would be preferable to try and rephrase the sentence to switch the possessive around before it, where required, this applies to use of Visit Wales' when talking about the brand and website too.

St Davids, Pembrokeshire – Note the apostrophe difference between St Davids the location and St Davids Cathedral versus St David’s Day, or St David’s Hotel and Spa in Cardiff. If you are talking about something that belongs to the saint, remember it’s possessive – so St David’s flagon of ale.

St Donats the arts centre has no apostrophe, but St Donat’s Castle does have an apostrophe.

There is no apostrophe in St Brides or St Brides Bay.

Bilingualism

Language is a powerful tool. And we have two. While we have separate all Welsh language sites for both Visit Wales (Croeso.cymru) and Wales.com (Wales.com/cy), our language is part of our history and future. It is a deeply rooted part of our story and culture that makes us stand out – so be proud of it, and don’t be afraid to use it on our English language sites. It’s a great way of sparking curiosity, so weave in the odd word of Cymraeg into your prose, if it feels natural.

Some articles may be a need to written differently for a Welsh language audience - it wouldn't be appropriate to translate an English article about the Welsh language, or the meanings of Welsh place names into Welsh for a Welsh user. 

Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic

The acronym ‘BAME’ should not be used, instead it should be written as the full phrase ‘Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic’. For any subsequent references within the same communication ‘ethnic minority’ or ‘ethnic minority communities/staff' should then used.

Capitalisation

Unless including a named thing, e.g. Wales Coast Path, use sentence case, not title case, for all titles and headings. 

Upper case:

  • organisations (Welsh Government, Visit Wales);
  • books, films, works of art. The titles of books/films also need to be italicised (I really enjoyed reading The Mabinogion, I also loved Under Milk Wood, and Road Rage is my favourite song); however we DO NOT italicise the titles of magazines (National Geographic, Conde Nast Traveller);
  • jobs: if talking generally, jobs are lower case (chief executive, prime minister). Cap up titles, e.g. Prime Minister Dylan Thomas (but the prime minister on subsequent mentions);
  • artistic and cultural names of institutions get initial caps (National Museum of Wales, then just museum on subsequent mentions);
  • regions: South Wales, North Wales (but lowercase if talking generally about the north of Wales, or west of Wales);
  • castles and monuments: Raglan Castle, but the castle at Raglan.
  • National Park and Brecon Beacons National Park

Lower case:

  • airport (Cardiff Airport, but the airport at Cardiff);
  • geographical features (a river, a peninsula, unless it forms part of the name of the place – like the Llŷn Peninsula);
  • pdf not PDF;
  • seasons (spring, summer, autumn, winter).

Distances

We use imperial and metric systems when talking about distances. The conventions are as follows:

We use miles rather than kilometres, but where possible add in the km conversion in brackets after miles to make it easier for visitors to understand the distance. For example: 50 miles (80 km).

We use metres for shorter distances.

Make sure to write out miles / metres / millions as full words to avoid confusion. Other distances of measurement can be abbreviated as long as it's clear what they mean (for example - km for kilometres).

Font

To support the sense of place and cultural experience of Wales we have a bespoke typeface collection that takes cues from the Welsh typographical heritage. The font acts as a unifying cornerstone of the visual brand identity, representing Wales to the world in an authentic and creative way.

We’ve built in a series of glyphs and diagraphs that support sense of place and character as is required.

  • Cymru / Wales Sans is typically used as a headline font
  • Cymru / Wales Serif is used across body copy

Our fonts have been developed in conjunction with accessibility agencies to review and adjust the font where required.

The Cymru font is used across all titles on the Croeso.Cymru site. On our other language sites it should be applied to Welsh words in H2 headings. It should not be used for H3 headings on these sites, or in body copy on any site.

Inclusivity

It's important to write for and about other people in a way that’s compassionate, inclusive, and respectful.

  • Don’t reference age or disability unless it’s relevant to what you’re writing.
  • Avoid gendered language and use the singular “they.”
  • When writing about a person, use their preferred pronouns; if you don’t know those, just use their name.

For further detail see the Conscious Style Guide.

Also see the  further guidance below on the Social model of disability.

Numbers

In narrative documents (not including tables or formatted numerical documents) spell out from one to nine; then it’s numerals from 10 to 999,999, EXCEPT for distances, weights, measures and dates.

Therefore: three years old, four elephants; under-fives; two dumplings, BUT 3 miles, 1km, 8kg, 9sq m.

However, write 8 to 16 years old, not eight to 16.

Ordinal numbers follow the same pattern, so first to ninth, secondly, then 10th etc. (this does not apply to dates).

If the sentence starts with a number, always write it out in full: Seventy-six trombones in the big parade.

Million and billion are rendered as words: four million unemployed people; 8.7 million units; £1.5 billion.

Hundreds of thousands, tens of millions.

Per cent should always be per cent in body text, never %

Dates

As a general rule, try to avoid the use of dates and times, to keep content as evergreen as possible. Where required follow Guardian style guidance;

Our style on dates is: 10 September 2017 (day month year; no commas). Do not use “th”, “st” in superscript.

AD goes before the date (AD64), BC goes after (300BC); both go after the century: second century AD, fourth century BC, or 11th century AD.

Distance

Use miles rather than kilometres, but where possible add in the km conversion in brackets after miles to make it easier for visitors to understand the distance. For example: 50 miles (80 km).

Use metres for shorter distances.

Make sure to write out miles / metres / millions as full words to avoid confusion. Other distances of measurement can be abbreviated as long as it's clear what they mean (for example - km for kilometres).

Times and timescale

Use of times depends on context. 

1am, 6.30pm, etc; 10 o’clock last night but 10pm yesterday; half past two, a quarter to three, 10 to 11, etc; 2hr 5min 6sec, etc; for 24-hour clock, 00.47, 23.59; noon, midnight (not 12 noon, 12 midnight or 12am, 12pm).

Put dates in brackets when there might be ambiguity.

Years

Abbreviate decades when referring to those within the past 100 years.

  • the 00s
  • the 90s

When referring to decades more than 100 years ago, be more specific:

  • the 1900s
  • the 1890s

Place-names

Place-names must ALWAYS be checked for accuracy. 

A searchable database of Welsh place names is usually available on the Welsh Language Commissioner website. Temporarily, whilst the Welsh Language Commissioner’s new website is being developed, the Welsh Government is hosting the List of Standardised Welsh Place-names as a PDF and Xlxs files on the BydTermCymru website.  Place-names are listed in alphabetical order, but using your computer’s usual search functions, or filtering by local authority may make it easier to find the standard form of a particular name.

If you have not managed to find the name you or searching for, email your query to post@welshlanguagecommissioner.wales.

Other additional research may also be useful, e.g. checking with different tourism sites like Discover Ceredigion, finding the name on the English site, then checking it on the Welsh version of their site.

Wikipedia will usually have the Welsh place names in brackets after the English name in an article about a particular place, but not always. Visit the Welsh language Wicipedia article on the same place to double check what is acceptable in Welsh (but Wikipedia isn’t always accurate!).

The Welsh Place-Name Society are also a good resource for queries or checking. Contact them via the contact page on the website, or via their Facebook page.

The first time a place name is written use the English first and the Welsh name afterwards in brackets, to increase the visibility of the Welsh language: e.g. Cardigan (Aberteifi). Only include the Welsh in brackets the first time otherwise the page will be too long and it will interrupt the flow of the piece. Where there’s only one name for a place (English or Welsh), just use the one: e.g. Cwmtydu.

Anglesey in English is Anglesey, even though the constituency is always called Ynys Môn (in either language).

Gower is either Gower or the Gower Peninsula. NEVER the Gower. Same for Llŷn – either Llŷn, or the Llŷn Peninsula. If you go to Gower you are 'on Gower', not 'in Gower', or 'on the Gower'.
Rhossili, with double s is the English spelling. The Welsh spelling is with a single s - Rhosili.

New Quay, (two words), in Ceredigion – not Newquay, which is in Cornwall.

St Davids, Pembrokeshire – Note the apostrophe difference between St Davids the location and St Davids Cathedral versus St David’s Day, or St David’s Hotel and Spa in Cardiff. If you are talking about something that belongs to the saint, remember it’s possessive – so St David’s flagon of ale.

St Donats the arts centre has no apostrophe, but St Donat’s Castle does have an apostrophe.

There is no apostrophe in St Brides or St Brides Bay.

Wales, in the possessive, is always Wales’, not Wales’s. Like Wales’ beautiful coasts, Wales’ epic mountains.

Always use Llyn Tegid over ‘Bala Lake’.

Regions of Wales 

The regions of Wales - South Wales, Mid Wales, North Wales and West Wales should always be capitalised and should not be hyphenated.

Regions should not be capitalised when used as compass points, e.g. 'driving north on The Cambrian Way'. Ordinal directions are lowercase, written out in full and joined without a hyphen; northeast, southeast, southwest and northwest. Not North East, north-east or NE.  E.g. To the southwest is Fforest Fawr.

For the purposes of our websites, the four regions of Wales are split into tourism marketing areas as follows:

North Wales includes -

  • Llandudno and Colwyn Bay
  • North East Wales
  • Snowdonia Mountains and Coast
  • The Isle of Anglesey

Mid Wales includes -

  • Ceredigion/Cardigan Bay
  • Mid Wales and Brecon Beacons
Two maps of Wales, one highlighting the North Wales region the other the Mid Wales region
North Wales region map and Mid Wales region map

West Wales includes - 

  • Carmarthenshire
  • Pembrokeshire
  • Swansea Bay, Mumbles, Gower, Afan and the Vale of Neath

South Wales includes

  • Cardiff (capital of Wales)
  • South Wales Valleys
  • Wye Valley and Vale of Usk
  • Glamorgan Heritage Coast
Two maps of Wales, one highlighting the West Wales region the other the South Wales region
West Wales region map and South Wales region map

Punctuation and content elements

Apostrophes

Plurals DO NOT TAKE apostrophes: humans, sisters, oranges, horses. Same goes for plurals of acronyms: MCs, DJs, MP3s, CDs.

Possessive: if something belongs to someone, then an apostrophe indicates this (e.g. Gwenno’s book).

If a name or word ends with an s, it would usually take an apostrophe and a second s, but be guided by sound and pronunciation and use the plural apostrophe where it sounds better (e.g. Hedges’ rather than Hedges’s)

Wales, in the possessive, is always Wales’, not Wales’s. Like Wales’ beautiful coasts, Wales’ epic mountains.

Bold and italics

Use bold to highlight the name of a person who is the subject of an article in the intro paragraph.

Do not italicise the article intro paragraph.

Other than the above we don’t use bold in normal text on our websites.

Where they improve clarity and help to make the point, we use italics to emphasise words within a sentence, but very sparingly. One example in this VisitWales article about unusual places to stay:

"Now for some really different options. At the award-winning Willows campsite on North Wales’ Llŷn Peninsula, you can stay in a fully-insulated Hobbit Tent that resembles a circular wooden tube. Family-run Penhein Glamping in the beautiful Wye Valley offers Persian 'alachighs' – tents with high domed ceilings, comfy beds (proper ones) and wood-burning stoves to keep you cosy."

Bullet points

When using bullet points, you should:

  • end the sentence introducing the list with a colon;
  • always start bullet points with lower case letters;
  • use a semi-colon at the end of each bullet point;
  • place a full stop at the end of the final bullet point.

Headings

Unless including a named thing, e.g. Wales Coast Path, use sentence case for all titles including:

  • Editorial titles
  • H1
  • H2 / H3 (in-page titles)
  • Meta tag page titles

Frontload your keywords and try to keep headlines short (less than 75 characters if possible).

Okay: Coming soon to Cardiff: UEFA Champions League

Better: UEFA Champions League coming soon to Cardiff

The Cymru font is used across all titles on the Croeso.Cymru site. On our other language sites it should be applied to Welsh words in H2 headings. It should not be used for H3 headings on these sites, or in body copy.

Hyphens

Dog-friendly is always hyphenated.

Pet-friendly is always hyphenated.

Award-winning is always hyphenated. Multi award-winning, would be better written as multiple award-winning instead, as multi is not such a well known word for international English speakers.

Stand up paddleboarding is never hyphenated and should be written in full  (also never written as SUP).

SUP should be written in full as stand up paddleboarding first. All lowercase, and no hyphen. Add (SUP) in brackets afterwards so that both terms can be found by search.

Links

See 'Accessibility' section above for best practice guidance on adding in-line links to body copy.

Use internal links to same site pages where possible, including linking to the VW product database. Where providers do not have an internal product page, link externally to the website of the provider.

For Wales.com content, where the site is much smaller include links to the external 'sister sites' - Visit Wales, TradeandInvest.Wales, Study in Wales, in order to ensure an onward journey for users.

Use the following conventions for in-line links:

  • Internal - link between pages by using the node (/node/xxxxxx)
  • External - link to an external site using the full url (https://xxx)
  • Product databases - link to product pages using the end of the full path readable url,  include everything after visitwales.com, including the first /
  • For the English language consumer tourism site follow the example:  /attraction/castle/beaumaris-castle-cadw-2168085
    Links to the product database should not be used on the /De site, or Croeso.Cymru.

    For the Travel Trade and Meet in Wales B2B sites, the URL should start with /info/sitename, as per the following examples:
    /info/travel-trade/attraction/spa/wave-garden-spa-adventure-parc-snowdonia-2167121 or
    /info/meet-wales/activity/operator/call-wild-2166518

NOTE: Links on the consumer site in the /product/xxxx format will continue to work and need only be replaced as part of the page review process.

Quotes

When quoting, use single quotation marks at the start and end. Place full points and commas inside the quotes for a complete quoted sentence; otherwise the point comes outside, e.g. Cerys said: ‘Your style guide needs updating’. 

Use double quotation marks for words that aren’t actually quotations, for example: These are the people who put the “style” in style guide.

In headlines and standfirsts, captions and display quotes all take single quote marks.

Try to avoid parentheses in direct quotes as much as possible, where necessary, use square brackets.

If you use the 'pull quote' article component to highlight the quote within the article, use the guidance in the standard article components section of the visual style guide.

Spacing

In body copy, house style is to use one space after a full stop, not two.

No full stops in landmarks or titles (Dr Jones, not Dr. Jones – St Dogmaels, not St. Dogmaels).

Stars or *?

Many leisure and tourism businesses (like hotels or restaurants) are graded, usually with a 'star' system.

When talking about these places, our convention is to write the number and hyphenate with the word 'star' or 'stars', rather than using the symbol. 

Always: The hotel has a five-star restaurant.
Never: The hotel has a 5* restaurant.

Social model of disability

At Visit Wales we use the social model of disability in language and practice.

The historic approach to disability in the UK has been based on the Medical Model of Disability (in which a person’s impairment is seen to be the thing which disables them). The Social Model of Disability distinguishes between ‘impairment’ and ‘disability’. It recognises that people with impairments are disabled by barriers that commonly exist in society.

Put simply, the Social Model of Disability tells us that individuals may have an impairment or difference, but it is society that disables them by the obstacles we put in their way. For example:

  • A person with a mobility impairment who uses a wheelchair is disabled by a building which doesn’t include lifts, ramps or accessible toilets

Associated terminology

Impairment is the thing about a person which is different. Impairment and disability do not mean the same thing.

Disability is the things which society, the environment, or policy do to a person with an impairment which disadvantages them.

Use invisible impairment rather than hidden disability.

Use non-disabled rather than able-bodied.

Use additional learning needs or access requirements (depending on context), rather than special needs.

Do not use vulnerable to refer to people with an impairment ('disabled people'). Anyone can become vulnerable for different reasons at different times in their lives. People with an impairment are often described as vulnerable and this is often wrong and does nothing to promote equality.

Use of Medical Model terminology

Terms from the Medical Model of Disability may also be found within our website. We use these to help people find the content they are looking for when they search for certain terms. For example, we may still include phrases like ‘holidays for disabled people’ within an article or its metadata because that is what people are looking for when they use search engines.

More information

You can find further information and advice on Disability Wales' Social Model of Disability web page.

You can also watch the 'Let's Raise the Roof' animation which illustrates The Social Model of Disability.

The Wales Way

The Wales Way is a family of three routes, distinct but complementary, that grant access to the best of our nation – The Coastal Way, The Cambrian Way and The North Wales Way.

All should be capitalised when used in copy, including the The.

Tourism products

VisitWales.com is a showcase for Wales to grow our economy and promote our communities. The emphasis of the site is not to promote any individual business but on exploring Wales and its regions.

When producing content we aim for geographical spread across our content to showcase the best of what Wales has to offer at a broad level. Where lists are concerned we must cover a good regional spread and present them as must do, ten great or don't miss rather than top ten or five of the best. Where articles are authored by external contributors we respect editorial choice and so lists in this instance may be personal favourites backed by experience.

Where products are concerned, in order to ensure quality and safety. we must ensure that businesses have the necessary accreditation, grading or industry standards to be included.

How to check:
All accommodation, activities, attractions and events listed on the Visit Wales search database meet the required criteria, so the easiest way to check is to use the on-site search function.

The hygiene rating for food businesses can be found using the search function on the Food Standards Agency website
The Food and Drink Wales team can provide help and advice regarding businesses producing and serving fantastic Welsh produce.

Related stories

mug of coffee with open laptop computer showing keyboard

Content strategy approach

A summary of the content strategy for the Wales.com and Visit Wales websites, including the Cymru Wales brand.