The Government of Canada’s Common Look and Feel (CLF) standard is defined by the Chief Information Officer Branch (CIOB) of the Treasury Board Secretariat and evaluated through the “Effectiveness of Information Technology Management” element of the Management Accountability Framework (a balanced score-card approach to measuring management practices across all federal departments and agencies).

This standard governs branding, usability & accessibility standards for government departments on the internet.


In 2000, the CLF standard was implemented and government departments had almost two years to make their sites compliant.

In 2007, the CLF standard was revised and a 2.0 version was released. Organizations were given two years to comply.

In 2011, the Part 2: Standard on the Accessibility, Interoperability and Usability of Web Sites has been replaced by the new Standard on Web Accessibility.

What is the future of CLF?

With various concerns having been raised over problems created by the CLF requirements, future versions of the standard may see significant changes.

The CLF 2.0 standard is being updated to:

  • take into account the most recent version of internationally accepted Web content accessibility guidelines;
  • increase flexibility of Website layout and design;
  • enable institutions to incorporate the use of innovative and emerging technologies to their online information and services.

The Guidelines

The Common Look and Feel Guidelines consist of 4 parts:

  • Part 1 – Standard on Web Addresses
  • Part 2 – Standard on the Accessibility
  • Part 3 – Standards on Common Web Page Formats
  • Part 4 – Standard on Email

Standard on Web Addresses

This part outlines how to ensure Government of Canada domain names are manages and used correctly, as well as setting guidelines on website folder and document naming conventions.

Browse official guidelines: Standard on Web Addresses

Standard on Web Accessibility

The New Standard on Web Accessibility replaces PART 2 – Standard on the Accessibility, Interoperability and Usability of Web Sites from the original CLF 2.0 Guidelines.

The objective of this standard is to ensure a high level of Web accessibility is applied uniformly across Government of Canada Web sites.

Browse official guidelines: Standard on Web Accessibility

Standards on Common Web Page Formats

This section sets to establish consistency in how Government of Canada web sites work. It’s important to maintain familiarity with users, as unanticipated navigation mechanisms and layout can cause frustration and reduce the readability of Government communications. Here you’ll find guidance on navigation mechanisms, header and footer layouts as well as where key information must be positioned.

Browse official guidelines: Standards on Common Web Page Formats

Standard on Email

The last part of the CLF 2.0 guidelines sets standards for email. It provides guidance on address nomanclatuer, the use of generic email addresses, as well as how signature blocks within emails should be formatted.

Browse official guidelines: Standard on Email


The following resources can also be found on the Common Look and Feel for the Internet 2.0 site from Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat.

Government of Canada

W3C – Technologies


Sources: and Wikipedia