Web Style and Writing Guide
Please follow these guidelines when creating content for the Modesto Junior College website.
Writing for the web
- Write using an inverted pyramid style. The most important information should go at the top of the page. Extra info and details should go toward the bottom.
- Don't welcome people to the page. Get right to the point.
- Always write in the third person: "Our students will ... " as opposed to "You will ... " You don't know when you're writing who your audience will be.
- The first time you refer to something that has an acronym in the text of a page, spell it out. (For Example: "Extended Opportunity Programs & Service" or "Yosemite Community College District.") Subsequent references can use the acronym (EOPS or YCCD.)
- Keep your paragraphs short. 1-3 sentences is a good length.
- Use headers and subheaders to organize the information on your page to help readers find what they're looking for. If you have more than 4 or 5 paragraphs in a section, you risk losing your audience.
- When it doubt, cut it out. You won't be able to answer every question for every student on your page. Cut it as short as you can bear, then cut another 10 percent.
- The contact information for your division or department must appear on every page unless there is a compelling reason why it should not. For your convenience, it's a part of the template.
- The banner at the top of the page should be relevant to the subject matter of the page. If you can't find a banner that works for you, contact your web developer.
- Link directly to referenced information. If you refer to Financial Aid, make the word "Financial Aid" into a link to the Financial Aid Department. Don't use Click Here or instruct the reader to "Click the link on the left."
- If you have a large number of short pieces of information, such as an FAQ, use anchor tags and links from the top of the page.
- Use bold, italics and exclamation points sparingly, if at all. Italics should be used to denote the title of a published work, or to add stress to a word or phrase. Whole paragraphs or headings should never be bold or italicized.
- Never use underline. The stylesheet will take care of links, and nothing else should ever be underlined.
- Do not write in all capital letters.
- All text should be black and left-aligned.
- Text should appear as actual typed text on the page, as opposed to text contained in an image. Text that is a part of a logo is the only exception.
- Images should support and enhance the page, not distract from the content. No page needs more than three images in addition to the headers.
- All images require a complete and descriptive "Image description" field.
- Images found on other websites are never appropriate to use on our pages, unless the source site explicitly states that they can be used freely and without attribution. If you need additional photos, contact your campus photographer.
- Tables should never be used for formatting. Tables should only used to display tabular data.
File and technical Information
- Keep your pages up to date and don't create a page that you don't plan to update regularly. Read every page in your section at least once every six months to make sure the content is correct. If you have too many pages to keep up to date, then you have too many pages and it's time to eliminate some.
- Images on the page should be in .jpg or .png format, and have a maximum width of 800px and a maximum file size of about 100kb.
- Nearly all content should go directly onto web pages. Only posters/flyers, print-and-complete forms and documents that represent a fixed point in time, such as meeting minutes or an accreditation report, belong in .pdf format.
- Microsoft Word, Excel, and Powerpoint files are never appropriate for the web.
- Links to PDF files and offsite links (links that point to pages not on mjc.edu) should
use the "Open in new window (_blank)" option in the Target pull-down menu.
- All web pages require a .pcf file extension.