Formatting emails and letters
GOV.UK Notify uses Markdown to format content.
You can see formatting instructions while you’re editing a template:
- Go to the Templates page.
- Add a new template or choose an existing template and select Edit.
- Scroll down to see a guide to the available Markdown.
Email templates can include:
Letters can include:
You cannot use bold, italics, underlined text, different typefaces or fonts. This is because they can make it harder for people to read what you’ve written.
Use bullet points to help words or phrases stand out in your emails and letters.
Copy this example to add bullet points:
Introduce bullet points with a lead-in line ending in a colon: * leave one empty line space after the lead-in line * use an asterisk or a dash followed by a space to add an item * start each item with a lowercase letter, do not end with a full stop * leave one empty line space after the last item
To create sub-items, add an indent of 2 spaces before the asterisk or dash.
There’s more guidance about bullet points on GOV.UK.
Use a heading to tell recipients what your email or letter is about.
For emails, use subheadings to break up the rest of your content. Your first subheading must come after a heading.
For letters, use headings to break up the rest of your content.
Write all headings and subheadings in sentence case.
Use one hash symbol followed by a space for a heading in emails and letters, for example:
# This is a heading
Use 2 hash symbols followed by a space for a subheading in emails, for example:
## This is a subheading
There’s more guidance about headings on GOV.UK.
Use a horizontal line to create separate sections in an email template.
To add a horizontal line between 2 paragraphs, use 3 dashes. Leave one empty line space after the first paragraph. For example:
First paragraph --- Second paragraph
Use inset text to differentiate a block of text from the content that surrounds it, for example:
- additional information
To add inset text, use a caret. For example:
^ You must tell us if your circumstances change.
Use inset text very sparingly – it’s less effective if it’s overused.
There’s more guidance about inset text in the GOV.UK Design System.
Use numbered steps instead of bullet points to guide a user through a process, or when the order of the items in a list is relevant.
You do not need a lead-in line for a numbered list.
Copy this example to add numbered steps:
1. Leave one empty line space before starting your list. 2. Enter a number followed by a full stop and a space to add an item. 3. Start each item with a capital letter and end it with a full stop. 4. Leave one empty line space after the last item.
To create sub-items, add an indent of 2 spaces before the number.
To insert a page break in a letter template, use 3 asterisks. For example:
Content on page 1 *** Content on page 2