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    Quick Reference Tips

    Reminders

    • dotCMS seems to work fastest on Safari for Macs and Firefox for PCs.
    • Remember to choose the folder/host when creating a new piece of content!

    • Regardless of which page your content item appears on in your site, it should be saved to the main folder in your dotCMS structure.

    • Naming scheme for "Title" fields is the dotCMS folder path along with content name, with dashes between each element (ex. other - wac - training - quick reference tips), and no capitalization.

    • If you are not seeing the changes to your page when you view it live, try republishing the page.

    • Keep in mind the preferred image dimensions (see below).

    Recommended Image Dimensions


    • Image LocationWidthHeight
      "People" pages thumbnails 200 px 200 px 
      Hero Images 1920 px  725 px 
      Web Page Content Photos >800 px  >800 px 

    Best Practices: Do's and Don'ts

    Do’s

    Don’ts

    Images

    • Provide appropriate alternative text (“image description”
    • Re-size image files before uploading
    • Re-name files before uploading
    • Do not use images in place of text

    Links

    • Ensure links make sense out of context
    • Do not write links as “here,” “click here,” or “read more”
    • Do not use the URL as the link text
    • Do not copy and paste dotCMS URLs from the browser’s address bar

    Email Addresses

    • Type out the entire email address as the link text
    • Select “OK” when asked to add a mailto: prefix

     

    Headings

    • Provide appropriate, hierarchical document headings
    • Do not skip heading sizes
    • Do not format text (e.g., bold) in place of headings
    • Do not use headings for content that is not a heading (e.g., paragraphs)

    Styles

    • Use the “intro” format if you have an introductory paragraph that you would like to stand out
    • Do not bold, italicize, or use headings for entire paragraphs
    • Never underline text

    dotCMS-specific

    • Unpublish a PDF directly in the folder that it lives in when removing an outdated PDF from a page
    • Be specific when titling web page content
    • Do not edit over someone else’s existing widget. Make a new widget instead.

    Writing for the Web

    General Principles

    People absorb information differently on the web; approach writing for the web in a different way than you would writing for print. In writing, re-writing, or editing for the website, here are seven things to keep in mind:

    1. Be concise.

    Keep word counts low, especially on top-level pages that should be telling the story rather than conveying lots of detailed information. Most basic informational pages ought to be no longer than 400-500 words, and top-level pages and section homepages should aim for between 150-300 words.

    2. Use an opening paragraph to summarize page content.

    Flipping through the site, any visitor should be able to quickly absorb the most important information on the page to determine whether she needs to take the time to read the entire page.

    On primary public-facing pages (that is, all pages one click away from the home page), the text should be written specifically with a first-time visitor in mind. This is because inside page landings are common with search engines (e.g. landing inside a website from a Google search). Every page should be treated as a first entry point to a website.

    3. Use plain language.

    Reading through a webpage, any visitor should be able to quickly understand what you are communicating to them. Use concrete, common words. Use the simplest tense of a verb possible. Use you/your and the active voice. Use useful headings.

    The benefits of plain language are both tangible and intangible: Plain language gets your message across in the shortest time possible. More people are able to understand your message. There is less chance that your content will be misunderstood, so you spend less time explaining it. If your document gives instructions, your readers are more likely to understand them and follow them correctly.

    4. Be conversational, but not clever.

    The use of contractions (it’s, we’re, you’ll, etc.) is encouraged. Some of the rules that are applied to formal writing don’t apply as strictly to web writing. For example, if the natural rhythm of a sentence is best suited by ending it with a preposition, so be it.

    CC is staffed by an extremely knowledgeable and thoughtful group, and using words like "our" and "we" can help convey that online. Again, one of the best ways to check the style of web writing is to read it to yourself out loud.

    5. Use meaningful subheadings to guide a reader through the page content.

    Along with short paragraphs, breaking up a page with subheadings allows a reader to quickly determine what information is most important for their needs. This is a good general principle for all content pages of a site; for long, policies-and-procedures-type pages, it’s absolutely essential.

    As a general rule, use subheading for every 125 or so words of web content. Top-level pages often benefit from a much more widespread use of headings and subheadings. Many good top-level pages pair small subheadings with short paragraphs to give a visitor a very clear idea of what’s to be found throughout that section of the site.

    "Overuse white space" is a good rule of thumb for web writing. Reading from computer screens is on average 25 percent slower than from paper, so short paragraphs and frequent subheadings give users more room to read.

    6. Use text formatting, like bulleted lists, pull quotes, and paragraph breaks, to quickly convey information.

    On most basic content pages there shouldn’t be more than one or two bulleted or numbered lists. If you have a page that is burdened with lots of lists, you may want to consider alternative ways of presenting that content.

    7. The text should guide readers around the site.

    Links within the text are important means of limiting duplicate information and directing visitors to key content throughout the site. On section homepages, these links should complement the navigation as a secondary means of directing readers to section sub-pages. Be judicious: Too many links within a paragraph also diminishes their effectiveness as content guides.

    Take a look at the full guidelines for writing for the web at Colorado College.

    Related Links

    Contact

    Charlotte "Lo" Wall '19
    Web Communications Paraprofessional
    lwall@coloradocollege.edu
    719-389-6139