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Web Style Guide

St. Norbert College’s Identity Standards

An identity standard puts a face on an organization. It helps people recognize St. Norbert College when they see our printed and online communications. In order to build awareness of who we are, it’s essential that our communications be consistent in look and tone. An identity is also conveyed by the use of certain colors and fonts. The Web Steering Group has approved design samples that will be used as templates for your web pages.

St. Norbert College’s web pages are the College’s link with the world. They facilitate communication with various internal and external audiences: trustees, alumni, current students, potential students and their parents, current employees, potential employees and donors. The content must reflect St. Norbert’s position as a Catholic College, built upon Norbertine ideals. It must also adhere to the mission and educational purpose of the College and the philosophy of the rights of the individual person.

St. Norbert College has developed this style guide as a service to the various departments that will have content posted on our web site. The purpose is to help communicators achieve a consistent and professional image for the site.

In general, we follow The Associated Press Stylebook’s guidelines, unless we’ve indicated otherwise.

Quick reference
  • Single space after periods in all writing, not just on the web.
  • Web site is two words, lowercased unless at the beginning of a sentence. 

Use of the St. Norbert College Name and Logo


Always use St. Norbert College, St. Norbert or "the College" in your writing. Don’t use Saint Norbert College or SNC. The words “St. Norbert” are never separated by a line break unless caused by scalable web pages.

The College logo must be used in its entirety and reproduced from authorized original illustrations. It may not be redrawn, reproportioned or modified in any way. Please refer to the graphic request form and identity guide for more information.

Use of University of Wisconsin School Names

University of Wisconsin schools follow this pattern: University of Wisconsin-Whitewater. University of Wisconsin-Green Bay may be abbreviated to UWGB when attached to joint initiatives.

A St. Norbert College/UWGB program promotes international projects on both campuses.

Writing for the Web

It’s a fact—people read differently on the web. Reading text onscreen can be unpleasant, so many readers scan onscreen and print relevant pages for reading. Most frequently, users roam from one page to another collecting important bits of information from a variety of sources. They want to be able to quickly determine the contents of a page, get the information they want and move on.

In order to make text easy to scan, follow these guidelines:
  • Highlight key words in bold
  • Write meaningful sub-headings so information is easy to find
  • Use bulleted lists
  • Use short paragraphs to communicate a single idea
  • Target 300-400 words per page
  • Write captions for photos
  • Use left justification for your text
  • Use the default setting for fonts
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Clear and Concise Communication

Users can enter a site at any page and move between pages as they choose. For this reason, each page must be more independent than printed pages in a publication. It’s important to explain the topic of each page and not assume the user has seen the previous page.

The word count for the online version of a given topic should be about half the word count when writing for print. Also, users don’t like to scroll through masses of text, so put key information at the top.

Since the web is an informal medium compared to print, use an informal, conversational style of writing including lots of contractions. Sentences should be clear, concise and to the point. Be sure information is accurate and up-to-date. To maintain credibility, be objective and avoid exaggerated claims. Back to top

Use of Links

A common characteristic of web writing is the inclusion of hypertext links to create or supplement concepts. A list of related links can reinforce the content and help users who don’t have the necessary background to understand or use the page. But adding links must be done thoughtfully. If there’s no sustained narrative, readers are sent aimlessly searching for information.

Without careful organization, a web site can easily become fragmented. It’s important to include backlinks to a departmental home page and to the St. Norbert College home page. Use the link tool icon to create web-site addresses. Back to top

Word Usage

Word choice sets the tone for communications. You can make your communications easy to read and understand (clear, concise and conversational) by choosing simpler words:

Avoid Use
accommodate
acquire
advise
affirmative
am in possession of
approximately
ascertain
attempt
cognizant
commencing
compel
complete
concerning
cooperate
deem
desire
determine
effect
endeavor
ensuing
execute
expedite
forward
generate
illustrate
in addition

serve
get
tell, write
yes
have
about
find out
try out
aware, know
beginning
make
fill out
about
work with
think
want
find out
make
try
following
sign, do
rush
send
make, cause
show
also

Avoid Use
in order to
in view of the fact
inquire
locate
methodology
numerous
observe
occurs
personnel
prior to
pursuant to
remainder
render
represents
request
retain
reveal
solicit
stated
submit
subsequent to
sufficient
terminate
utilize
with respect to
without delay
to
because
ask
find
methods, way
many
watch, see
happens
people
before
under
rest of
give, send
is
need
keep
show
ask
said
send
after
enough
end
use
about
now

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Spelling

Here are some words that can be spelled more than one way. We’ve adopted the spellings listed below:

  • advisor, not adviser
  • course work (two words)
  • e-mail (or E-mail at the beginning of a sentence; hyphenate)
  • fax (or Fax at the beginning of a sentence), not FAX
  • grade point average (don’t hyphenate)
  • GPA (all capitals, no periods)
  • internet
  • online

Note the spellings of theatre/theater:

  • Webb Theatre
  • Walter Theatre
  • Fort Howard Theater

Vice President or vice president (no hyphen)

web site (two words, lowercase w and s; or Web site at the beginning of a sentence)

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Addresses

Use the abbreviations Ave., Blvd. and St. only with a numbered address. Spell them out and capitalize them when they’re part of a formal street name without a number. Similar words (alley, drive, road, terrace, etc.) are always spelled out.

  • 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.
  • Maple Avenue
  • 16 Capri Drive
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Dates

Abbreviate months with six or more letters if they’re used with a specific date. Spell out those with five or fewer letters.
  • Aug. 13
  • June 6
Always spell out the month when it’s used without a specific date.
  • We went on vacation in September.
Spell out the days of the week. Abbreviations may be used in tables.

For days of the month, use only numerals not ordinals (21st, 2nd, 3rd or 9th).
  • May 2
  • Sept. 3
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Numbers


Academic years should be referred to as 2006-07, rather than 2006-2007. 

Spell out numbers one through nine. Use numerals for 10 and over.
  • Jack and Mary Smith had three sons and two daughters.
  • The company has 10 station wagons and two buses.
Spell out numbers at the beginning of a sentence except a number that identifies a calendar year.
  • Twenty professors attended the convention.
  • 1492 was the year Columbus discovered America.
Always use numerals in percentages.
  • 4 percent
  • 0.6 percent
Use all numerals for ranges.
  • 1-15 students
Spell out fractions, using hyphens between the words.
  • two-thirds
  • three-quarters
Always use figures for ages, even for inanimate objects.
  • a 2-year-old girl
  • the 9-year-old building
Use figures to express exact or approximate amounts of money.
  • 5 cents
  • $7
  • more than $5 million a year
When writing dimensions, use numerals and spell out inches, feet, yards, etc.
  • The basketball player is 6 feet 5 inches tall.
  • The boat is 30 feet long and 10 feet wide.
Use these forms for highways identified by number.
  • U.S. Highway 1
  • Interstate 495 (first time)
  • Route 58
  • I-495 (subsequent references)
Use hyphens to connect the elements of telephone numbers. When supplying an extension number, use the style below.
  • 920-333-1000
  • 920-567-2345, Ext. 2606
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States

Spell out the names of all 50 states when they stand alone within the text.

Use the following abbreviations for the names of states when they’re used with city names in text or datelines:
Ala.
Ariz.
Ark.
Calif.
Colo.
Conn.
Del.
Fla.
Ga.
Ill.
Ind.
Kan.
Ky.
La.
Md.
Mass.
Mich.
Minn.
Miss.
Mo.
Mont.
Neb.
Nev.
N.H.
N.J.
N.M.
N.Y.
N.C.
N.D.
Okla.
Ore.
Pa.
R.I.
S.C.
S.D.
Tenn.
Vt.
Va.
Wash.
W.Va.
Wis.
Wyo.
The names of eight states aren’t abbreviated when used




with a city name: Texas, Maine, Iowa, Idaho, Hawaii, Alaska, Ohio and Utah.
  • Houston, Texas
  • Cleveland, Ohio
Use two-letter Postal Service abbreviations only with full addresses including ZIP code.

Use one comma between the city and the state name, and another comma after the state name, unless it falls at the end of a sentence. The same rule applies to cities outside the United States.
  • She was traveling from Des Moines, Iowa, to Boston, Mass., in June.
Put a comma after names of cities, towns and villages and abbreviate state names. Use parentheses to set off the abbreviated state names when they follow the names of counties and other geographical names. When the name of a community appears as part of a proper name, the state is similarly identified in parentheses after the place name as soon as it’s convenient to do so.
  • St. Paul, Minn.
  • Brown County (Wis.)
  • Kenosha (Wis.) High School
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Capitalization

Official names, titles and acronyms are capitalized. Informal, shortened or generic terms aren’t.
  • the Center for Advanced Study, the center
  • the chair of the department; Mark Richards, chair of the Department of Mathematics; the chair
  • the College of Law, the law college, the college
  • the dean of the college; Joseph Brown, dean of the College of Engineering; Joseph Brown, the dean
  • the Department of Biology, the biology department, the department
  • the Office of Admissions and Records, OAR, the admissions office, this office
  • Professor Mary Reynolds; Mary Reynolds, professor of English; the professor
Use initial capitals for complete, official degree names.
  • Bachelor of Arts
  • Master of Science
  • Use lowercase for a generic form.
  • bachelor’s degree in French
  • master’s degree in biology
Use periods with abbreviations of degree names.
  • B.A.
  • M.S.
  • LL.D.
  • Ph.D.

Capitalize proper nouns and common nouns when they become an integral part of a full name of a person, place or thing. Use lower case when these common nouns stand alone in subsequent references.

  • Republican Party, the party leaders
  • Fox River, the river

Use lowercase for words that indicate compass direction.

  • north
  • south
  • western
Capitalize specific geographic regions.
  • the Midwest
  • the Panhandle

Capitalize formal titles before a name. Use lowercase after a name.

  • President George Bush
  • George Bush, the president

Use lowercase for spring, summer, fall and winter unless the season is used in a formal name.

  • Winter Carnival
  • Summer Olympics

Capitalize the word room when used with the number of the room.

  • Room 200, Nicolet Hall

Capitalize terms of study if referring to a specific term and year, but use lowercase if the use is generic.

  • Fall 2005
  • spring semester

In general, use a generic equivalent unless it’s essential to use a trademark. When a trademark is used, capitalize the name and use the trademark symbol (™).

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Bullet Points

Bulleted lists make your writing easy to read. They’re like visual signposts, but they can lose their effectiveness if used too frequently.

It’s best to introduce a vertical list with a complete grammatical sentence followed by a colon. Capitalize the first word of each line.

When using bullet points, make sure the items in your list are similar in sentence structure (nouns, verbs, complete sentences).
These are the items you need to apply to St. Norbert College:
• Completed application
• Application fee
• Official high school transcript
• Standardized test results
• Counselor recommendation
• Personal statement

There are several things I still must do before I leave for Washington:
• Buy a plane ticket
• Make a hotel reservation
• Rent a car
• Cancel the mail
• Find a dog sitter
• Pack my suitcase

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Active Voice vs. Passive Voice


Voice indicates whether the subject is performing or receiving the action. A verb is in the active voice when its subject is performing the action. A verb is in the passive voice when the subject is being acted upon.

Use the active voice as much as possible. Your writing will be more direct and vigorous, and your sentences will be more concise.

Active voice:
  • Five people reviewed the budget.
  • The committee decided not to approve the purchase.
  • The Smiths made a large donation to the church.
  • The boy drove the car into a tree.
  • Everyone in the family enjoyed Grandma’s pie.

Passive voice:

  • The budget was reviewed by five people.
  • The decision not to approve the purchase was made by the committee.
  • A large donation to the church was made by the Smiths.
  • The car was driven into a tree by the boy.
  • Grandma’s pie was enjoyed by everyone in the family.

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Parallelism

Use parallel structure for similar elements within a sentence or list. Adjectives should be paralleled by adjectives, nouns by nouns, dependent clauses by dependent clauses, and so on.

  • Nonparallel: The new sales training program is stimulating and a challenge. (Adjective and noun.)
  • Parallel: The new sales training program is stimulating and challenging. (Two adjectives.)
  • Nonparallel: This printer is easy to operate, efficient and it is relatively inexpensive. (Two adjectives and a clause.)
  • Parallel: This printer is easy to operate, efficient and relatively inexpensive. (Three adjectives.)

Parallelism is especially important in lists.

Nonparallel:
There were many causes that created changes in Renaissance England:
  • Extended trade routes.
  • The merchant class became more powerful.
  • The death of feudalism.
  • Quarreling among religions.
(Full sentence and sentence fragments.)

Parallel:
There were many causes that created changes in Renaissance England:

  • Extension of trade routes.
  • Increased power of the merchant class.
  • Death of feudalism.
  • Rise of religious quarrels.

(All nouns.)

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Sources: The Associated Press Stylebook and Briefing on Media and Law, 2002; The Gregg Reference Manual, 2005.



Index of Styles

Use of the St. Norbert College Name and Logo

Use of University of Wisconsin School Names

Writing for the Web

Clear and Concise Communication

Use of Links

Word Usage

Spelling

Addresses

Dates

Numbers

States

Capitalization

Bullet Points

Active Voice vs. Passive Voice

Parallelism






Office of Communications

Phone: (920) 403-3557
Fax: (920) 403-4010
E-mail: mediarel@snc.edu


St. Norbert College • 100 Grant Street • De Pere, WI 54115-2099 • 920-337-3181