Piles of documents on a desk

Adding a document to your webpage can be a great way of sharing long and detailed content with your audience that they may wish to download, read or print later, for example, large reports with multiple diagrams, long essays, detailed terms and conditions or forms.

But, linking to a document should only be used if the content is not suitable for the web page.

It is important when uploading your documents online that you consider your audience, accessibility and file naming conventions.

Document do's

  • Do consider whether the information in the document would be better on the web page.
  • Do consider your audience. Is the file content suitable for public viewing? You should make your documents available to the public, unless it contains sensitive data.
  • Do ensure the file name is concise and describes the content of the document.
  • Do create document links that include the file type in brackets e.g. File name (PDF). This is to make users aware that they are downloading a document and not just clicking on a web link.
  • Do create document link text that includes the file size in brackets e.g. File name (PDF, 4.5 MB). This is to make users aware of the size of the document they are downloading.
  • Do provide document link text that identifies the purpose of the document without needing additional context. Meaningful document links help users choose which links to open or download and is great for accessibility.
  • Do use PDF file format for your documents, unless users are required to edit the document.

Document Don'ts

  • Don’t upload a document if the content could be displayed straight on the web page. Find out more about avoiding PDF for on-screen reading.
  • Don’t use versioning or vague file naming conventions e.g. File name version 8.2 20 Jan 2017 New.
  • Don’t overwrite files with a new version name, name the file exactly as the previous file, this helps keep the CMS clean and the web links will not break.
  • Don't share documents with sensitive data to the public, you should restrict the file to an internal folder or file sharing system.

You may also be interested in finding out about best practice for uploading images.