The government is to gradually phase out the use of eg, etc and ie on its websites to help people using screen readers and those who aren’t native English speakers.
GDS cuts out problematic shorthand etc – Photo credit: Pixabay
Persis Howe, content community manager at the Government Digital Service, said that the aim was to ensure that all government webpages used plain English.
“Several programs that read webpages for those with visual impairment read ‘eg’ incorrectly,” she said in a blogpost – it is often read as ‘egg’.
“Most people who use these programs are used to their quirks, but it’s jarring to hear the wrong words.”
She said that, although ‘e.g.’ does get read correctly by screen readers, there were clearer ways of making the same point, adding that many people who don’t have English as a first language may not understand this sort of shorthand term.
As such, the GDS style guide would be updated to require webpage authors to use ‘for example’, ‘such as’ or ‘including’ instead.
However, Howe noted that there were more than 4,000 uses of ‘eg’ on GOV.UK, and that these would remain until existing content was replaced. “We’re not going for a ‘big bang’ approach,” she said.
Other words that will be replaced over time are ‘ie’ – which Howe said was not well understood and could be replaced with ‘meaning’ or ‘that is’ – and etc, which is often not necessary and can be avoided.