Content presentation - Warning callout

Use a warning callout to help users identify and understand warning content on the page, even if they do not read the whole page.

Open this warning callout custom heading example in new window
Copy
<div class="nhsuk-warning-callout">
  <h3 class="nhsuk-warning-callout__label">
    <span role="text">
      <span class="nhsuk-u-visually-hidden">Important: </span>
      School, nursery or work
    </span>
  </h3>
  <p>Stay away from school, nursery or work until all the spots have crusted over. This is usually 5 days after the spots first appeared.</p>
</div>
Copy
{% from 'warning-callout/macro.njk' import warningCallout %}

{{ warningCallout({
  "heading": "School, nursery or work",
  "HTML": "<p>Stay away from school, nursery or work until all the spots have crusted over. This is usually 5 days after the spots first appeared.</p>"
}) }}

When to use a warning callout

Use this callout for information that:

  • is time critical
  • could have a significant effect on someone's health
  • addresses a common or significant misconception or mistake

When not to use a warning callout

Do not use a warning callout

  • in transactional pages - we haven't tested them there yet
  • if you need to tell a user to contact their GP or get medical help - use a care card instead
  • if the information is not important enough for a warning callout - use inset text instead

How to use a warning callout

Try to give the callout a short, clearly worded heading. Headings help people scan the page for warnings and understand what's relevant to them.

Make the callout concise, specific and self-contained. For example, do not introduce a callout with the words "If this happens...". Explain the circumstances.

Do not break the flow with a callout. Think about whether you need it and the best place to put it.

Avoid having more than 2 callouts on a page. We want to reassure people, not to scare them.

If possible, put at least 1 short paragraph of text between 2 callouts or between an action link and a callout.

Accessibility

The heading and background contrast ratio is 11.92:1 and the content and background contrast ratio is 13.69:1. These go beyond AAA guidelines.

Headings

The callout should have a specific heading, for example "School, nursery or work", prefixed with the visually hidden text Important:. This will help users with screen readers understand that the information is important.

If the heading is simply the word "Important" or it includes the word "important", you do not need to use visually hidden text.

Open this warning callout example in new window
Copy
<div class="nhsuk-warning-callout">
  <h3 class="nhsuk-warning-callout__label">
    Important
  </h3>
  <p>For safety, tell your doctor or pharmacist if you're taking any other medicines, including herbal medicines, vitamins or supplements.</p>
</div>
Copy
{% from 'warning-callout/macro.njk' import warningCallout %}

{{ warningCallout({
  "heading": "Important",
  "HTML": "<p>For safety, tell your doctor or pharmacist if you're taking any other medicines, including herbal medicines, vitamins or supplements.</p>"
}) }}

Research

In testing, users noticed the yellow callouts and understood them as a warning.

Our research shows that clearly worded callout headings:

  • help users spot relevant information quickly
  • help users who cannot distinguish callouts by their colour
  • are better than icons, like exclamation marks, which may not be accessible and can be interpreted in different ways

We've tested warning callouts in pages with lots of content. We haven't yet tested them in forms or transactional content.

We haven't tested links in warning callouts. If you want to include a link, please test it and let us know.

Help improve this page

The manual is a community effort. Anyone can help improve and grow it.

To help make sure the Warning callout guidance is useful, relevant and up to date, you can:

Need help?

If you’ve got a question about the NHS digital service manual or want to feedback, get in touch.

Updated: October 2020