Webpages should be clear, brief and easy for users to scan. Essentially the opposite of typical "academic" writing.

Below are some do's and don'ts when editing college webpages. Let me know if there is something I should add.

Also refer to University Relations and Marketing's Editorial Style. It is a great collection of information such as which words to capitalize, all the proper forms of Alumni, everything anyone would want to know about punctuation ... and soooooo much more.

 

Headings

 

Webpages should be written to easily scan to the content a user is looking for. Headings help with this.

Using the proper order of headings also follows best practices for the Web Accessibility Guidelines that Oregon State has pledged to follow. Users of assistive devices are able to scan pages for relevant content by skipping through headings. Headings also help with search engine optimization.

Don't have a heading also be a link.

Use a link within the text that follows a heading.

H3

Keep H3 headings short. Avoid using full sentences as a heading. Headings are meant to be scanned. Full sentences take more cognitive effort to read.

H4

Use H4 heading instead of bold text.

While H4 headings often look similar to bold type, they do not act the same for assistive devices. Users of assistive devices are able to skip to the next heading while interacting with a page. They are not able to do so with bold text. But also, minimize your use of bold text. (see below)

 

Font size

 

Do not use H3 just to have a larger font size. While there are ways of using inline CSS styles to make some text larger... please avoid doing so. Users can increase/decrease the font size on their devices if need be.

 

Bolding

 

Avoid bolding words - and especially whole sentences and phrases. The more things are bolded - the less likely anything in particular stands out. If a sentence needs to stand out - place it on its own line. There are other ways to draw attention to it. If your writing is clear and efficient - there shouldn't be a need to bold anything.

 

Links

 

URL as link

Never use a url in your content. This isn't print.

Use this: For more information see OSU's Web Accessibility page on descriptive links.
Never this: For more information see http://oregonstate.edu/accessibility/descriptivelinks

 

Descriptive links

Avoid using the words "click here". "click" is already implied by being a link. You shouldn't need to tell someone how to click a link and people on mobile devices don't "click".

Avoid using the word "here" to designate a link. Links should be descriptive of where they go.

Use this: For more information see OSU's Web Accessibility page on descriptive links.
Instead of this: For more information about descriptive links click here.

 

Links to files

Users assume links go to another webpage. If it doesn't, you should let them know. I mostly see this for PDF files. Simply add the filetype after the link.

Use this: To apply, fill out the Undergrad LIFE Scholars application (pdf).
Instead of this: To apply, fill out the Undergrad LIFE Scholars application.

 

Contact info

 

Reduce the redundancy of contact info.

Ideally just link to the person's profile page. All contact info is located there.

Use this: For more information contact Alan Calvert.
Instead of this: For more information email Alan Calvert at Alan.Calvert@oregonstate.edu.

Side note. It's really obvious Alan.Calvert@oregonstate.edu is an email address. Please don't label it in a contact form like in the following:

Alan Calvert
Coordinator of Web and Social Media
Email: alan.calvert@oregonstate.edu
Phone: 541-737-2315


 

Exclamation points!!!!

 

Just don't.
It's similar to bolding. I've found that people that use exclamation points usually use them on every sentence. Don't yell at your audience. It's up to them to be excited by your words, not your punctuation.