The government has launched a policy document to explain how to use Twitter.

A Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) official has produced a generic Twitter strategy for all government departments. The 20-page document, created by Neil Williams, head of corporate digital channels at BIS, explains what Twitter actually is and some of its key functions such as how to use hashtags and shorten links.

In a Cabinet Office blog, Williams said: "You might think a 20-page strategy a bit over the top for a tool like Twitter."

"After all, microblogging is a low-barrier to entry, low-risk and low-resource channel relative to other corporate communications overheads like a blog or printed newsletter."

Many parts of Whitehall, including Downing Street and the Foreign Office, have been pioneers in using Twitter. However, this is the first time the Government has attempted to pull its tweeting efforts together.

Amongst the recommendations, the strategy document says that departments can use Twitter to communicate better with the public and it recommends that tweets should be "human and credible".

The guide recognises that there is a danger of tweeting commercially or politically sensitive material, and sets out how tweets should be cleared for posting. It also suggests “strong” passwords are used and changed frequently in order to prevent Twitter hacking and vandalism.

Williams said when he sat down to write about Twitter, he was "surprised by just how much there is to say - and quite how worth saying it is".

BIS's Twitter strategy can also work as a generic template Twitter strategy for other government departments, he added.

The full government guide can be found here.