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0. Tracking and Process Requirements

Tools and templates

Related Resources

Charters are formally developed by the Team, with community input. In practice, ideas for new charter development come from a range of sources: Community Groups, Interest Groups, Workshops, input to the Strategy Incubation Pipeline. Team documents proposals in the Strategy Team's Incubation Pipeline (Funnel), and moves them through the pipeline (left to right) as they progress.

In particular, Community Groups and Interest Groups may develop draft charters (or draft the "scope" and "deliverables" section of a charter) when they identify work items that they believe are ready for the Recommendation track.

The Strategy Team identifies a charter shephered, through the process documented in the "chartering" column of the public Pipeline. Each area of exploration or possible new work is shown as a GitHub issue. Interested community members are invited to add comments to the issue thread with information or expressions of support or concern, and to share pull requests on draft charters.

For both new charters and recharters, please create an issue in the Strategy Repo and add a card for the issue to the Incubation Pipeline as soon as possible.

Keep the Project Management Lead (for existing groups) and/or the Strategy Lead (for new groups) in the loop.

For existing groups, the Chair and Team Contact should work with the WG to create a new charter and develop rationale as to why the change is necessary. This reason need not be overly formal. For instance, it may be no more complex than, "we need three more months to complete our deliverable commitments and are fairly certain we can complete them within those three months." If the Working Group or the Chair proposes changes to the charter, they should send them to the Team Contact, who should see that the request is reviewed by the Project and Strategy Leads in a timely manner.

Team Contacts and others proposing charters should start from the Charter Template, rather than copying an existing Group charter, as the template reflects the latest guidance from Membership and the Director/W3M on common matters of structure.

1. New Groups: Advance Notice

W3C Process requires Team notify the Advisory Committee when a charter for a new Working Group or Interest Group is in development. The exact timing of the advance notice may vary from charter to charter. In practice, if the advance notice would precede the formal call for review by only a short delay, we skip the advance notice.

The Team should consult How to Send Advance Notice of Work to the Advisory Committee for more information and a template announcement.

2. Existing Groups: Minor Changes and Extensions

The Chair(s) and Group may make requests for minor changes and extension via their Team Contacts(s), who will forward the requests to the Project and Strategy Leads. Include a justification, which might be as simple as "we need three more months to complete our deliverable commitments and are fairly certain we can complete them within those three months."

3. Charter Creation

TL;DR: use the current Charter template for both new charters and recharters - it will prompt for the inclusion of Patent Policy language and otherwise help you meet the list of charter requirements in the Process.

For existing groups, the charter assistant helps in producing the list of exclusion drafts. Use the proper shortname in the URL.

The Team Contact or shepherd works with the Strategy Team and interested community participants to draft a provisional charter. See the Charter template and W3C Process Document for the list of charter requirements. The Team Contact may wish to share drafts of the provisional charter with relevant interest groups and interested community of W3C members prior to Advisory Committee review.

Timeline: due to the discussion needing to happen with the community and the need for horizontal review, this takes 1.5 to 4 months for existing groups.

3.1 Horizontal Review

Once there is agreement on a draft charter, ideally among Team Contact(s), candidate chairs(s), relevant interest groups, and interested community members, seek review from the Strategy Team and horizontal reviewers by:

  1. Opening a Chartering issue in the Strategy Repo,
  2. Adding a card for the issue to the Incubation Pipeline,
  3. Adding the Horizontal review requested label to the issue, and
  4. Optionally, announce the new charter-in-progress to team-strategy and/or on a Strategy Team call.

Horizontal reviewers will usually respond within two weeks, though it is wise to allow for additional time.

If you need to reach the horizontal reviewers as a group, use the team-horizontal list.

When the Charter is brought to W3M, the Team Contact should note the horizontal review status in the Pipeline. If team was unable to obtain timely review, then the Team Contact can move ahead with the charter nevertheless, and should report this to W3M.

4. Charter Approval by W3M

W3M approval of a charter is required unless there are no substantive changes from a previously approved charter.

The W3M process for approving new Charters is described in the (Team-only) documentation on W3M evaluation of Proposed Charter and AC Reviews. The Strategy or Project Lead (or delegate) informs the W3C Communications Team of W3M approval by sending email to

Timeline: this takes 2 weeks.

Charter Extension and Update

Note: Is the Group aware that its charter is being extended? Please inform the group before discussion within W3M.

W3M resolved to adopt the Policy on W3C Group Charter End Dates, effective 18 June 2015.

W3M amended the policy on 17 November 2021: charter extension can only be up to 6 months beyond the end date of the current charter. Any request for more than 6 months MUST treated as rechartering.

If W3M resolves to extend a charter, the Strategy or Project Lead (or delegate) sends e-mail to the W3C Communications Team in the form of an extension announcement; see the charter extension template.

The W3C Communications Team:

Updating the Charter

5. Advisory Committee Review of the Charter

Per section 5.2.3 of the W3C Process, The Director must solicit Advisory Committee review of every new or substantively modified Working Group or Interest Group charter. The Director is not required to solicit Advisory Committee review prior to a charter extension or for minor changes. The review period must be at least 28 days. Any Advisory Committee representative may request an extended review period of any new or substantively modified Working Group charter, if submitted with a Member’s comments in response to the Call for Review (see extension template). Upon receipt of any such request, the Director must ensure that the Call for Participation for the Working Group occurs at least 60 days after the Call for Review of the charter.

Timeline: this takes 5 weeks minimum. Formal objections to a charter will add more time.

5.1 Organizing the Call for Review

Note: Team Contacts should ensure that their Working Group participants are aware of the review.

The Team Contact:

The W3C Communications Team encourages the Team Contact to include in the request a draft Call for Review, created by using this template (although the URI to the questionnaire may not yet exist).

The W3C Communications Team (or the motivated Team Contact) builds a Call for Review questionnaire. The URI for the questionnaire is added to the Call for Review announcement to members. In case of renewal of an existing charter, it is also useful to include a diff (You may wish to use the HTML diff tool) between current and proposed charters in the Call for Review questionnaire.

Once the Head of W3C Communications (or explicit delegate) has approved the Call for Review and the questionnaire, the W3C Communications Team:

  1. Sends the Call for Review to
  2. Sends a version of the announcement to (archive). Use this template (and see the example). The announcement must include:
  3. Send the same email Note: used to cc but due to mailing list configuration issues, we stopped that practice.

Note: Starting in January 2007, W3C makes all charters public during Advisory Committee review.

5.2 Evaluating the Review Results

W3M evaluation of the review results proceeds the same way as W3M evaluation of Review Results.

Beginning in July 2014, the Director instituted an experimental practice when it comes to approving Working Group Charters.

Generally, the Director will expect to receive reviews for Charter proposals from at least 5% of the Membership. If this 5% threshold is not met, the Charter may still be approved, but additional scrutiny is warranted, and resource allocation may be limited. Additionally, the Director will continue to consider the number of declarations of intent to participate or implement the output of the Working Group.

Given the diversity of work underway in the Consortium, including groups that focus on horizontal reviews (e.g. accessibility, security, and internationalization), as well as technologies that are initially focused on by some segment of the Web's stakeholders, there are times where exceptions to this practice may be warranted. In those cases, the Director will document reasons why the exception is warranted.

5.3 Managing Changes to Charters

Very minor changes may be made in place to a charter. If there are only very minor changes to a charter resulting from the review, the (future) Director's decision includes the original charter URI and an explanation of the changes and their rationale.

If substantive changes are proposed in response to charter review, Team must send the charter with proposed changes, the HTML diff, and an explanation of the changes and their rationale to all who reviewed the charter, copying the member-archived mailing list, accompanied by a request for response (with a deadline of a minimum one week response time) if reviewers have concerns or if the changes would alter their reviews. If the work continues or derives from an existing Group or community effort, Team should also send the HTML diff and a public rationale to that Group or community. These communications should note that the Director has not yet approved the charter.

Suggested wording: Please let us know by [date+1 week] if you have concerns or if this change would alter your review.

If anyone expresses new concern in response to the re-review, Team may attempt to resolve the concern (with re-review), formally open a new AC charter review, or the Director may treat it as an objection and overrule it.

If there are substantive changes, before any announcement, the staff:

  1. Mints a new URI for the version of the charter that includes the changes. In the "Charter History" section of the charter, please link to the original (reviewed) charter.
  2. Modifies the original charter in place with the following status sentence at the top:
    <p class="todo">This charter has been replaced by <a>[a newer version]</a>.</p>

6. Announcement of Director's Decision, Call for Participation

Per section 5.2.3 of the W3C Process, any Advisory Committee representative may request an extended review period of any new or substantively modified Working Group charter, if submitted with a Member’s comments in response to the Call for Review. Upon receipt of any such request, the Director must ensure that the Call for Participation for the Working Group occurs at least 60 days after the Call for Review of the charter.

Please ensure that the following are done and you have documentation before requesting to announce a group:

  1. W3M has approved the group, whether or not preceded by an Advisory Committee Review
  2. The group exists in the Groups DB.
  3. All relevant mailing lists exist. If not, Team Contact may create the mailing list(s).
  4. The main mailing list is associated with the group via the Group Service Management interface.
  5. Make sure the charter is public (since 2007, charters are public during AC review) and any final edits (e.g., addition of link to page for joining the group) have been made.
  6. Customize the "onboarding" message that will be sent to participants as they join the group.

All Working Groups and Interest Groups appear in their respective group list and have a public list of participants (except for Interest Groups that are not managed by IPP).

The W3C Communications Team should try to minimize the number of messages sent to the Advisory Committee, while ensuring that each message is clear. In general, the W3C Communications Team sends one email combining the group approval (Director's Decision) and the call for participation.

Timeline: this takes a week at most.

6.1 Organizing the Director's Decision, Call for Participation

The Team contact sends a draft announcement (combing Director's Decision and Call for Participation) to the W3C Communications Team ( (using the template as a starting point, see sample announcement). The announcement must indicate:

It is useful to include notice of the 45 day timeframe in case when existing participants of the Group under the previous charter need to re-join the group because a charter has new deliverables in-scope.

In order to avoid confusion, it's also useful to state that existing participants under the previous charter are not required to leave/re-join the group, when the new charter doesn't have new deliverables involving new patent commitment.

Note: Per the 2021-01-13 W3M resolution (team-only), the calls for participation should include guidance to consider diversity (available from the template):

The announcement must also indicate when appropriate:

The Head of W3C Communications (or explicit delegate) must approve the Director's Decision and Call for Participation before the W3C Communications Team sends it to The W3C Communications Team SHOULD announce the Director's decision within two weeks after the end of the AC review (or send an email setting new expectations). An announcement is made if the proposal is approved or rejected.

If the group is approved, it is a good practice that the W3C Communications Team also:

If the group is rejected, it is a good practice that the W3C Communications Team follows-up on the Advance Notice in public-new-work to close the loop for the public record.

6.2 After sending the Director's Decision, Call for Participation

After sending the Director's Decision and Call for Participation:

Note: When we recharter a Working Group and the charter scope has changed, we enter the CFP into the Group DB, which triggers messages to the group participants that they must rejoin. If the new charter is not substantively different, do not register the new CFP.

Note: Team Contacts with questions about how an Invited Expert joins a group should consult the Team Policy for Invited Experts.

Timeline for Charter creation

Depending on the complexity of the charter, the time to draft and get a charter approved by the W3C Director may vary greatly. Each section above gives expectation on how long it takes. This section gives guidance on how to manage the overall timeline.

  1. You should be planning for 4 months to get a charter approved for a group, if starting from nothing. More may be needed if the scope or deliverables are controversial.
  2. Some of the steps can be done in parallel.
  3. Make sure to have the Project Management Lead (for existing groups) and/or the Strategy Lead in the loop.

Revision History

Coralie Mercier for Philippe Le Hégaret, guidebook editor
Yep, it's on GitHub.