This website is run by the Central Office of Information, the government's executive agency for publicity procurement.
This page contains assistance on using the Central Office of Information site. This includes how to download and read documents from the site, what to do if you have problems accessing pages and how to refine results from the search function.
The majority of content on the Central Office of Information website is provided in the normal HTML webpage format viewable through any web browser software.
However, there is some content - such as the COI Annual Report and Accounts - that is provided in non-HTML webpage format. This is so that we can provide the content in exactly the same style and appearance that is already offered through other channels.
Non-HTML webpage formats used on this site include:
Adobe Acrobat PDF format
PDF files can be read using Adobe Reader software, which is available for many different computer systems including Windows, Macintosh, Linux and Palm. Visit the Adobe website to obtain the Adobe Reader software.
Microsoft Word and Excel formats
Microsoft documents and spreadsheets can still be read even if you have not bought the commercial Word and Excel programs. Microsoft offer a range of free 'viewer' programs for download; however, these programs are only available for Windows systems. Word and Excel viewers are available from the Microsoft website.
Antiword is a free, open-source program that allows Microsoft Word documents to be opened and read on Linux and Mac OS X systems, among others. You can download Antiword from the developer's site.
RTF format is a limited-capability alternative to the Microsoft Word format. As this format is intended for use across a wide range of word processors on all computing systems, you will probably already have a text editing program capable of reading this format without having to make any additional downloads.
Please note, COI can make no guarantees or assurances about the quality or security of any software obtained from third party sites. COI does not endorse or support any third party product or software.
Downloading and saving files
Most files will automatically download to your computer if you click on the link to that file. Depending on your browser settings, you may be asked where you would like to save the document, or it may open automatically within the current browser window.
If you would prefer to take greater control over the downloading and saving of a document, then you can also right-click (in Windows) or control-click (on a Macintosh) on the link to the document and select the option entitled 'Save Target As', 'Save Link As' or 'Save Linked File As' (depending on your type of browser). The normal save dialog box will appear and you can choose where to store the document on your local computer.
Help with problems accessing pages
This website has been built to allow compatibility with all types of browser on any computer operating system. Although the appearance of the website will vary according to the capabilities of your system, the site itself should still work. If the site does not function properly for you, please use the 'Problem with website' contact form and include your browser/operating system version so that we can investigate.
If you click on a link anywhere on the site and get an error message saying that the page you were looking for cannot be found, please use the 'Problem with website' contact form to let us know where the original link was so that we can investigate the problem and fix it.
If a page persistently fails to load in your browser, it is possible that a corrupt local version of the page has been temporarily stored by your browser. You can clear this out by refreshing the page: hold down the control (or command on a Macintosh) and shift keys at the same time as clicking on the browser's refresh icon. (The refresh icon is usually shown as one or two arrows going around in a circle.)
There may be occasions when the internet itself is congested and is particularly slow displaying pages. This is outside the control of the Central Office of Information, but should be an infrequent occurrence.
Using the search function
The search function appears on every page of the Central Office of Information website under the heading 'Search this site'. Simply typing in the word or words that you are looking for and pressing the 'Search' button will return all pages that contain any of the words.
For example, searching for the words press and release would return all pages where press appears, all pages where release occurs and all pages where both words occur.
This is usually enough for most users' searches, but the search function on this website is capable of fine-tuning the results further if required.
For example, if you want to insist on a word appearing on all the pages that the search function returns, add a '+' in front of that word to ensure that it must appear at least once. Searching for +press and release will now omit any page were the word release occurs without the word press also somewhere on the page; searching for +press and +release similarly finds only those pages with both words present.
If you are looking for a particular phrase, rather than all pages were all the words appear somewhere on the page, then surround the phrase with quote marks: "press release" returns pages with that specific phrase but omits pages where the words appear but not together.
You can also ask for pages that do not have a specific word: press and -release omits all pages where the word release occurs.
The Central Office of Information's intention is that this website should be usable and accessible to all users and conform to the Guidelines for UK government websites.
For more information on the steps we have taken to optimise accessibility, including how to use access keys, please see our accessibility statement.