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Content and Formatting Best Practices

It is important that content on all sites is consistent to ensure clarity and unity and improve user experience.

Web Content Best Practices

Writing for the web is different than writing for print.

  • Keep content short, simple and scannable
  • Use headers and bulleted lists to break up content
  • Refer to the University Style Guide to ensure consistency in writing and formatting
  • Use default text formatting from the ribbon rather than adding custom styles
  • Use images and web parts only when they enhance or improve the context and usability of the content

Wording and Content Style

We follow AP Style with a few custom exceptions. Refer to the University Editorial Style Guide for more information.

Academic Language

  • Degree name formatting should be uniform. Master of Arts, Bachelor of Science are correct, also master's degree, bachelor's degree. Remember: it's either the full title and uppercase, or all lowercase and possessive.
  • Professional titles are uppercase only when they appear before a person’s name. Example: Professor Ron Swanson or Ron Swanson, professor. The prefix Dr. should be used for professionals with a medical degree and when referring to DePaul University’s president. Use Ron Swanson, PhD, for non-medical doctoral degrees.
  • DePaul University is capitalized when using the full name. Lowercase the word university otherwise. The university has 10 colleges and schools. DePaul University is located in Chicago.

Abbreviations and Acronyms

  • Per the Style Guide, we do not use periods in academic degree abbreviations. PhD, MA, MS, BA, BS, etc. are correct. Also, Bachelor of Arts is capitalized; bachelor's degree uses an apostrophe and is lowercase (see above).
  • Depending on the audience of a page, spelling out a college name with the acronym in parentheses upon first reference is preferred. For example, Kellstadt Graduate School of Business (KGSB). After that first reference, the acronym can be used. However, if the page is geared towards an outside-of-DePaul audience, the full college name is preferred for clarity. For internal, DePaul-only audiences (such as authenticated sections or pages geared toward current students), standard acronyms can be used freely. The same goes for campus buildings and facilities. Always keep the audience in mind.

Formatting and Text Style

Links

  • Before inserting a link on a page, make sure the URL is correct and that it will not return an error. Paste the URL into a new browser tab or window to test.
  • It is best not to use blue text or underline text that is not a link. Links are automatically blue and appear underlined when hovered over. To emphasize or call-out text, try bolding, italicizing or using a header to separate sections (found through the Markup Styles dropdown menu in the ribbon).
  • If a linked line of text is very long, it may be preferable to choose a shorter piece of text. Making a full sentence a link is not common practice and can cause styling problems or weaken user experience. Some PDFs have long titles, so it is often best to add parentheses at the end of the title and link the PDF there. For example, Long Several Word Title of The Article (PDF). Learn more on adding links to documents.

Page Titles/URLS

  • When creating a new page, the first thing the user does is give the page a title, which becomes the end part of the URL. It is important that the page title follows consistent formatting. All new page URLs must be all lowercase with dashes between words. For example: this page is: http://resources.depaul.edu/sharepoint/about/best-practices/Pages/style-guide-and-content-best-practices.aspx. It is especially important to not leave spaces—spaces automatically become %20 in URLs without dashes and can break.
  • Please do not repurpose pages. Once a page is created with its title/URL, it is important to keep the information on that page consistent. If the content on this page was changed to be about a web part for example, the URL would not reflect that, and it would be confusing. It is also bad for SEO. Making a new page is a much better course of action.

File Naming

Similarly to page titles, file names for documents and images should be clear and standardized. When uploaded to sharepoint, a document or image's file name becomes part of its URL, so following these practices will help prevent them from breaking.

  • Use dashes or underscores instead of spaces in file names
  • Avoid using special characters like parentheses, commas or apostrophes in files names as they can break up
  • Keep file names short and descriptive

Text Font Standards

Source Sans Pro' at 22px is the standard for regular paragraph text on a page—it is the default style and is inserted automatically.

  • Using the default fonts and styles from the editing ribbon ensures readability and consistency across your site.
  • Please do not insert custom fonts or colors—clear formats to keep content uniform.
  • Use the ribbon to bold or italicize text. Other standardized styling can be applied using the Markup Styles button in the Format Text part of the ribbon: this dropdown menu lets you choose headers and other text style options.
  • Be mindful when copying and pasting content from Word documents or other websites as it often brings the font and font size with it. To ensure the copied and pasted text is in the correct format, highlight the text and click the Clear Format button (looks like an 'A' with an eraser) in the Format Text part of the ribbon. The same goes for colored text—please do not use other font colors.
  • Avoid using underlines for emphasis—underlined text that is not a link is confusing to readers.
  • Keep text default to the left—centered text is not as readable. Please do not center text.