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Classifying information

Do you work with information about rights, advice and the law? Do you display this information on a website, or store it in a database or filing system?

If so, the CCS (content classification scheme) is a way of classifying information which can benefit your organisation and its users.


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The CCS is a 'content classification scheme' designed for use on websites providing information to members of the public on rights and legal issues. The aim of the CCS is to make it easier for users of rights and legal information websites to track down the information they're looking for. It does this by:

  • providing standard vocabulary to encourage the consistent use of language across different websites
  • ensuring that the standard vocabulary reflects that which is in common use
  • providing a standard framework within which to categorise rights and legal information materials
  • providing standard categories for use in the 'Subject' field of metadata to facilitate 'intelligent searching' (see How the CCS works: metadata for more detail).

The CCS is free for use by any independent or public sector agency. It is a valuable resource for any organisation that needs to manage rights and legal information. The scheme (CCS headings and CCS thesaurus) can be downloaded from the menu on the right-hand side of the page. When you download the scheme don't forget to register for updates. That way we can let you know when we've revised the scheme, for example, to reflect changes to legislation. To register for updates click here: Using the CCS and getting updates


The CCS was developed by the Department for Constitutional Affairs in 2001 in partnership with Advice Services Alliance as a part of the Legal and Advice Sectors Metadata Scheme, to create an 'intelligent search engine' for the Just Ask website, now Community Legal Advice. It built on existing good practice in the advice sector, such as earlier schemes developed by Citizens Advice, Shelter, and DIAL UK. Some organisations have used it as the basis for a more specialist scheme, such as Shelter, which has based its own content classification scheme on the CCS, extending it substantially to deal in greater detail with information on housing and homelessness.

Keeping up to date

Up until 2010 the CCS was managed by Advicenow for the CLA team at the Legal Services Commission. It had a user panel to deal with updates to the scheme so that it could be improved and adapted to reflect changes in the law. With closure of the CLA site we lost the funding to maintain the panel. We continue to maintain the CCS ourselves while we search for further funding.

The user panel consisted of staff from user organisations including: Advice Services Alliance Advicenow Project, Citizens Advice, and Shelter. The panel dealt with minor non-controversial wording changes by email and held meetings to agree more substantial changes to the scheme.

Membership of the panel provided an excellent opportunity for networking, the exchange of ideas and knowledge and keeping up-to-date with changes.

If you think the scheme should be changed in some way, for example because of new legislation, please get in touch to let us know:info@advicenow.org.uk

Web standards project

The web standards project ran from 2001/2 to promote good practice in accessibility and the use of the CCS. It was funded by the Invest to Save Budget and run by Lasa. You can download the Web standards project report from the menu on the right-hand side of the page.

July 2011

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