Loyola University Maryland

Content Owners Network

Web Writing Tips

image divider

For clarification or help with anything listed below, please feel free to contact the department of Web communications at 410-617-5025.

How People Use the Web

  • People scan websites to find the information they’re looking for. They do not read content word-for-word. Therefore, try to keep your content short, concise, and easily scannable.
  • Formatting content with the intention of drawing attention (e.g. lots of bolded, large text) can have the opposite effect if not done properly. Keeping your page clean and organized can go a long way.

Content

  • If you are copying content from another location (such as from a Word doc or an email), make sure to paste it into and then copy it out of Notepad before pasting it into Sitecore. Pasting it through Notepad first strips all formatting so that it doesn’t cause funky formatting errors in Sitecore.
  • Web content should be 25-50% shorter than its print version
  • Break up your content into several short paragraphs – visitors are better able to skim the content to find what they’re looking for
  • Use bulleted lists and subheadlines; they’re a great way to segment content
  • Watch verb tense – keep it consistent
  • Use an active voice – it’s more clear, conversational, and engaging
  • Do not rely on bold, italics, or underlines to bring attention to important information; your content should not be too dense to locate important info; never underline content on a website since it could be misconstrued as a broken link
  • Follow the Loyola style guide to ensure uniformity in Loyola’s branding
  • Always have someone proofread your content
  • Regularly review and update content, paying particular attention to time sensitive information such as news and events. At least one thorough review should be conducted 4x/year and most certainly prior to the start of any academic semester.
  • Do not use all caps
  • Do not place copy in tables; only use tables for charting out data
  • If you are adding or editing information about your department’s curriculum, please confer with the records office to make sure you are using the appropriate wording and have the most up-to-date content. It is very important that Loyola promote their programs and course offerings accurately to abide by state regulations and for accreditation purposes. If at all possible, please link directly to the course catalogue (http://www.catalogue.loyola.edu/index.html) for information regarding your course offerings.

Links

  • Do not use “click here” for a link; links should be descriptive, but no more than five words (e.g. Use: “Visit the engineering website for more information.” Not: “For more information on engineering, click here.”)
  • When linking to an external site or to a document, make the link open in a “new window;” you don’t want readers to forget how to get back to your site. In Sitecore, you can select “New Window” from the “Target” dropdown when creating a new link.
  • Avoid using underlines for any content that is not a link, so as not to confuse your readers

Images/Files

  • Resize photos into a smaller format and optimize them for the Web before you upload them to Sitecore. Download the image resizing instructions for more information.
  • When adding an image to a page, make sure you enter a description in the “Alt Text” field. This is the text that displays when you hover your mouse over an image on a website. This also helps people with disabilities and who may be using a screen reader. This is extremely important in our efforts to be accessible and 508 compliant.
  • Do not use images or logos from other sites; there could be issues with usage rights
  • When uploading Word docs, PDFs, etc., make sure the file names do not have spaces in them to ensure clean urls. Otherwise, it will force a “%20” in the url.
  • Whenever possible, convert Word docs into PDFs before uploading them. They’re more professional and people won’t need to worry about having the correct version of Word. Just make sure they are accessible.

Navigation

  • Do not have pages buried too deep in your site; it should not take readers more than three clicks to get to the content they’re looking for
  • The right column section should support your existing site architecture and should not be used as a primary means of navigation
  • Delete or archive unused pages - Don’t just remove links to your unused web pages–delete the page entirely! Search engines can still crawl and find “orphan” pages, so if you don’t want someone still getting to your page, you should archive it or delete it. If you have questions about how to do so, contact the office of marketing and communications.

Tree Structure/URLs

  • When creating new items in the tree structure, lowercase all new web pages and uploaded files. Try to keep the titles as short and concise as possible. Also, do not include spaces to ensure clean URLs. If there are spaces, it will force a “%20” in the URL. For example, if you have a “Contact Us” page, when you create the page, name it “contact.” If you have a page called “Faculty Resources” and you need to differentiate it from your “Student Resources” page, then you can name it “facultyresources” or “faculty-resources”
  • If you need to edit a page, but are unsure where to locate it in Sitecore, use the URL to guide you (e.g., To edit http://www.loyola.edu/department/marcomm/our-services.aspx, expand the “department” folder in Sitecore, then the “marcomm” section, and then locate the “our-services” page.)

Notes specific to Sitecore

  • Heading Styles – The title of your site appears as a “heading 1” style (in the green header). This style is automatically created for you when you populate your homepage’s “Item Title” field. The title of each individual page appears as a “heading 2″ style, also automatically populated for you. For your first subhead within the text on your page, use the “heading 3” style (which shows up as the all-caps, teal color). If you need a secondary subhead, using “heading 4” (which shows up as the slightly larger, bold font)
  • Item Title – this is what appears at the top of your Web page. For example, “Faculty,” “Contact Us,” “Student Resources,” etc.
  • HTML Title Tag – you should leave this blank. This is what appears at the top of the browser window, in the browser tab, as well as in search engine results. The content for this field is dynamically created for you, so you do not need to worry about populating that field.
  • HTML Meta Description – this should be a short description of your page (no more than 150 characters). This description is often used in search engine results to give users an idea of the content they’ll find on that page.