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Web Reference Guide
Teachers College, Columbia University
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Web Reference Guide

Guidelines and Style Guide > Style Guide

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Guidelines and Style Guide

In effort to maintain the strong public image of Teachers College, the TC Web Advisory Group has put together this suggested document of style guidelines for each department to follow when creating or updating their respective Web sites. It is therefore the intention of this document to provide measures that will help ensure the consistency and accuracy of the Teachers College Web site, and make your job easier in the process. Thank you.

Main Page Elements

On the first page of each department's Web site, the following information should be present somewhere:

  • Teachers College, Columbia University
  • Name of that department, program, center, etc.
  • The address, box number, email, phone and contact person for general information regarding that particular site and program.
  • "Last updated" date, name of person maintaining site linked to email
  • Name of department chair, when applicable

Grammatical Style Elements

Below are common grammatical errors using Internet terminology.

  1. Please note the correct style of the following words;
    • "Web site" is two words with a capital "W;" thus abbreviating the proper name "World Wide Web"
    • "Home page" refers only to the top level or entry level page of a particular Web site. When referring to the entire site, please use the term "Web site" instead. "Main page" may also be substituted for home page. "Web page" refers to an individual page within a Web site.
  2. The voice of the site works best if it is active and in the third person.
  3. It is imperative that all site content is edited, proofed, and spell-checked. Apply the same rules to your Web pages as you would to your print documents. It is poor representation for your individual site, and poor representation for the College as a whole, if there are typos, misspellings, etc.
  4. If you need editorial guidance, here are some editorial style guides (official and unofficial) to refer to:

Update Requirements:

Each site MUST be updated at a minimum of once a semester, and whenever information becomes inaccurate. Check links frequently to make sure they are still valid URLs.

Design Considerations:

Download time
Pages within the site should be relatively fast in download time. Include "width" and "height" tags for all images. Remember to design sites with dial-up users in mind as well as users with different browser versions. ome viewers may be accessing your site from other countries where Internet access speeds are not comparable to the United States.

In addition, to ensure that the site is accessible for those with disabilities, we ask that you follow the guidelines provided by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C). Also see the W3C's "quick tips" section.

It is recommended that you run your site through Web Aim's WAVE for checking whether a site meets W3C's guidelines for accessibility.

The TC Office of the Web can provide design templates that are compliant with accessibility standards.

Design resources
We suggest that official TC sites utilize the TC CMS and web templates that are available. The templates are build to Web Accessibility standards, are coded in XHTML and CSS, and help develop a theme across all TC Web sites. In addition, the Web Office maintains an installation of Word Press for some users with site needs that cannot be met by the TC CMS. Please contact the Office of the Web to explore possibilities for hosting and maintaining your web site.

We are suggesting the prohibition of blinking text tags on all sites since it may be a distraction and does not serve an integral function. The best rule of thumb is to make sure every element within your pages serve a specific purpose.

When working on a Web site, please work on the site offline and upload the pages once they are completed. Refrain from putting "under construction" on your pages. Please test all pages offline first, before uploading to the server.

When designing your site, keep in mind that the nature of the Web is very different from that of print. Take time to organize your content effectively before developing your site.

Some thorough Web design references to look at:

Other resource sites for accessibility: