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This is an extended version of Content Essentials checklist, with examples and explanations.

Keep the checklist handy while editing: Download the PDF

← Web Content Guidelines

Include the most important information at the top

With clear titling and headers, there's no need to orient the reader with background information.

Most users read information online in an "F" shape, so begin with the main point at the very top of the page.

 Eliminate blocks of text

Paragraphs of text look inpenetrable on the web. Blocks of text do not effectively act like a conversation or let users grab and go.

If you see big blocks of text, try:

  • Removing empty words, such as "very"
  • Insert a bulleted list or two
  • Creating shorter paragraphs. Create smaller chunks of information per paragraph.

Single sentence paragraphs are fine for the web.

 Break up text with H2 and H3 headings

Good headings help users get a quick overview of the page, facilitate scanning, improve accessibility for users with screen-readers, and improve readibility of sections.

Make sure headings are tagged properly in HTML i.e., do not make headings by manually changing their font size and styles.

Check out the "Using headings" section on the Writing Style Guide for advice on writing effective headings.

 Present information in bulleted lists whenever possible

 Use active voice

Try Instead of
Find copiers on the first floor. Copiers can be found on the first floor.
If you use your Duke ID Card to make copies, each copy is $0.07. Copies paid with cash are $.10. Locate a copier that accepts cash. Copies are $.10 each if paid for with cash. While all public access machines use the card system, only a limited number accept cash. Check the listing below for a breakdown of where cash copies can be made.
Try Instead of
Renew your books in time to avoid library fines. To learn more about library fines, click here.
Find a printer. Find more information about printers on this web page.

 Use at least one visual element from the Visual Style Guide

You may find a style perfect for your purpose! Consider experimenting with:

  • Lead text as summary for your page
  • Changing the spacing of your bulleted lists
  • Creating inline lists or lists with multiple columns

 Include illustrations/images

Consider including a photograph to set the mood in your page or including key images to include a concept. For example, the Study Zone Policies page reproduces images from signage found in the Libraries.

Read more about accessibility in the "Make content accessible" section of the Writing Style Guide.

 Use alt text for illustrations/images that convey substantive information.

You can find more guidelines and places to find images in the "Using images" section of the Writing Style Guide.

 Adhere to Shared Terminology Guide

Imagine being new to academic libraries, and hearing different names for the very same locations and services! Compare your word choices to our Shared Terminology for Web Content guide.

 Re-visit your content

You're not done yet! All good writing is re-writing. Remember to check your work. Consider adopting some of the strategies outlined in the Writing Style guide under "Check Your Work."