Formatting on the Web

See more common formatting conventions and information on formatting contact information.

Use bold and italics in moderation
Overusing these formatting tools detracts from their intended use, which is usually to emphasize a section of text. Some people try to emphasize an entire paragraph by using bold or italics, which makes it harder to read and detracts from the emphasis effect. However, usability research shows that it is more effective to use bold or italics for a single word or phrase, or at most, a sentence.

Avoid using all capitals except for acronyms
Using all capitals makes text more difficult for readers to interpret. Research shows that the human mind uses the ascending and descending parts of letters to help determine the shape of a word. But when faced with a word or phrase in all caps, the brain has no ascenders or descenders to help interpret the shape of the word, seeing instead a rectangle with no identifying features. Therefore, to help the reader interpret the information on the Web page more easily and quickly, avoid using all caps where possible. If you must use all caps, limit the usage to only a word or phrase.

Never use underlines
Underlines are another formatting tool that should not be used. Usability studies show that Web users expect anything they see underlined to be a hyperlink. Therefore, underlines should not be used for formatting purposes on the Web. When you create a hyperlink, the underline is applied for you by the style sheet, so even in that instance, there is no need to add underline formatting.

Consider using heading styles
There are several pre-formatted heading styles that you can use when formatting your text. The heading style list is available in the top row of the formatting toolbar. It is the left drop-down list that usually says Paragraph.

Alignment
While there are several options for aligning the text on a page, usability studies recommend using left justification whenever possible. Left justified text is easier for the reader to follow from line to line. It also works best with our current responsive design.

Using tables
While we don't recommend using tables unless the data needs to be presented in a table to make sense, you can use tables in the CMS. Table formatting is not universal from browser to browser, and so, when using tables, you can't guarantee that the table formatting you're seeing is how everyone will see the page.

File names
Although modern operating systems allow file names with spaces in them, it is recommended when uploading a file for use on the Web that you first rename the file without spaces in the file name. Some people use underscores (File_Name.pdf) in file names in place of spaces, or capitalize the first letter of words in the file name (FileName.pdf) to help with readability.

Often the computer will change a space in a file name to %20, which stops the file from working. Do not upload files to the CMS that have %20 in the file name. The best way to avoid this is to use file names without spaces.

Adhering to the university Style Guide
Follow the spelling and name conventions outlined in the university Style Guide, including the following common problems:

  • Don't use a capital U on the word university unless you're using a proper name, such as University of Puget Sound.
  • Use Puget Sound when referencing the university as opposed to the more familiar UPS.
  • The university standard is to spell email without a hyphen and to refer to "sending an email." It is also preferred to use "email message" as a noun rather than as a verb: "send an email message" versus "email me."