Creating text content procedure

Procedure

Intent

This procedure provides information about standards for creating and presenting text content on the RMIT web presence.

Scope

This procedure applies to all staff members who manage, create or publish content on the RMIT web presence.

Exclusions

This procedure does not apply to:

  • courseware, including scholarly and student work and learning and teaching materials
  • websites that have no relationship to RMIT (e.g., personal or private websites)

Procedure steps and actions

Procedure (including Key Points)

Responsibility

Timeline

  • Content Owner
  • Web Manager
  • Web Editor
  • Web Content Creator
  • Digital and Customer Experience Strategy
  • Ongoing

Creating Text Content

The content owner is responsible for ensuring that any text content created for the RMIT web presence must adhere to the following standards:

1. Create the text content based on the standards outlined in:

2. Create logical headings that inform users about the content that follows.

  • Do not use the following as part of any heading:
    • any special characters (including *, ! and $)
    • any punctuation marks at the end of the heading "RMIT" or "RMIT University" unless they are part of a proper name such as “myRMIT” as it often means repetition in URLs.
  • Format all headings in one of the following heading styles:
    • The first heading on each web page must be in the Heading Level 1 style.
    • There can only be one Level 1 heading on each web page.
    • A sub-heading under Heading Level 1 must follow the Heading Level 2 style, sub-heading under Heading Level 2 must follow the Heading Level 3 style and so forth.
    • Heading styles are reserved for headings only. Do not use any Heading style for emphasis or any emphasis formatting to replace Heading styles.
  • Do not use images for headings.
  • Do not create links from headings.

3. Structure hyperlinks and navigation hierarchies correctly.

  • Format links according to GUI Design Manual.
  • Create link text to be clear enough for a user to determine the purpose of the link. Do not use ambiguous link text such as “click here” or “more”.
  • Where links direct to documents, include the file type (e.g., DOC, XLS, PPT) and the size (e.g., KB, MB, GB) of the document in its name. Where the number of pages in a file exceeds five, include the number of pages in the file name. For example, “Download the Open Day Brochure [PDF, 100KB, 12 pages).”
  • Where links direct to email addresses, the text must make it clear that the link is an email address. For example, use “Email John Smith”.
  • Do not use inline named anchors (in page links) as links should be used to take a user to another page. Instead "chunk" (or break up) long pages into manageable sub-sections or pages.
  • Always open a link in the same window. Where a link takes users to a new window/tab, notify users in the link label that a new window/tab will open.
  • Follow Information Architecture Instruction for any IA-related decisions.

4. Maintain consistency in language while creating content.

  • Follow Writing for the Web Instruction for general writing style.
  • Use Web Spelling List (DOCX, 1p, 26KB) for spellings.
  • Use the clearest and simplest language. Avoiding language that will not make sense to users including jargon or difficult language. Refer to Writing for the Web Instruction for advice.
  • Refer to Content Type Instruction to ensure written content aligns with its content type.
  • With the exception of translated web pages, use the Australian English language (as defined by the Macquarie Dictionary) to compile content.
  • Where foreign language characters are used, they must be preceded with appropriate foreign language mark up (LANG).

5. Format content so that it can be effectively stored in the RMIT content management system.

  • Translate content into a format that the RMIT content management system can display, such as HTML. Some types of content that do not need to be captured as HTML include:
    • printable documents or templates that users can download
    • forms that require a written signature
    • highly complex information that cannot be conveyed in a simple web-writing style
    • content that cannot be reproduced using HTML
  • Where information cannot be presented in HTML format, prepare content documents according to the standards outlined in Web Accessibility Policy and related procedures.

6. When using tables in content, adhere to the following standards:

  • Use the standard design for tables, as outlined in the GUI Design Instruction.
  • Use a table to communicate tabular data only. Do not use it to structure content or lay out a visual display.
  • Where data is sorted into columns or rows, name column headings clearly to define the data contained in the columns.
  • Do not use fixed widths for data tables (such as centimetres). Instead, use percentage values.
  • Do not use fixed values for table text (such as pt or px). Instead, use ems or percentage values.
  • Align table data to the left of each table cell.
  • Do not use nested tables (tables containing other tables).
  • Do not use white space characters to format tables in plain text content.

7. Format content in lists, where it will break up long lists or feature content effectively.

  • Use numbered lists for procedures and where order of content is important.
  • Use bulleted lists where each point holds equal importance.
  • Make use of nested lists to define a particular point in a list.
  • Limit number of points on a list to 9 or fewer. Break a bigger list into two or more smaller lists, if needed.
  • Construct parallel sentences when using lists:
  • Start with the same part of speech (e.g., noun, verb).
  • Use the consistent verb tense (e.g., present, past, future).
  • Use the consistent voice (e.g., active or passive).
  • Use the same sentence type (e.g., statement, question).

8. Structure forms content to keep users informed about the steps and requirements.

  • Review form content to eliminate usability obstacles.
  • Group like questions, present them in a logical order and use consistent phrasing for questions.
  • Review every question to determine whether it should be included, cut, postponed to a later page or process, or explained, to encourage form completion.
  • Explain or visually indicate the number of steps in the process.
  • Set a time expectation of how long the form will take to complete.
  • Mention any disqualifiers, prerequisites or supporting information required to complete the form.
  • Avoid including links that take users out of the form, to encourage form completion.
  • Clearly indicate mandatory and optional fields and minimise the number of optional fields.
  • Structure forms in a manner that helps the user avoid and correct mistakes.
  • Provide contact details in case forms cannot be completed.
  • Add instructions to form fields, wherever needed:
    • Provide examples of the kind of data to be entered in the fields.

9. For any kind of advertisements, sponsorship and commercial content, use the following standards:

  • Do not display any commercial advertisements on the RMIT website without prior consultation with Marketing and Communications. The Vice-Chancellor (or a designee) reserves the right to authorise the display of commercial advertisements following a review by RMIT Legal Services.
  • References and links to commercial websites are permitted for information only, but advertisements (particularly paid advertisements) are not.
  • No RMIT staff member may accept payments, discounts, free merchandise or services, or any other remuneration, in return for placing content on their web pages or similar facilities. Where a staff member does so it should be dealt with under the Conflict of Interest Policy including declaration to a manager.
  • With written permission from the content owner (i.e. DVC or PVC), it is possible to display references and links to corporate sponsors as acknowledgements or expressions of appreciation for the sponsor’s support. Such acknowledgements should not endorse the sponsor or its products or otherwise induce readers to patronise the sponsor.
  • Use of RMIT logos on the website must comply with RMIT Brand (Visual Identity) Policy. Logos and trademarks from other organisations must not be modified and used only when that organisation has given written permission.

10. When adding non-text content, refer to the following standards:

11. Adhere to copyright legislation and RMIT’s Intellectual Property Policy:

  • RMIT must either be the copyright holder or have a written agreement with the copyright holder (including students) for any content used on the web. Where image, video or audio objects are used, this information must be recorded in the metadata for that object.
  • An intellectual property permission form is available on the RMIT Copyright Management Service website.
  • A copyright notice appears in the footer of all pages published on RMIT’s web presences identifying RMIT University as the copyright owner of the page’s content. External RMIT websites must also display copyright information.
  • If RMIT is not the copyright holder of any content on the page, the copyright information must be
  • displayed on the page, clearly identifying which content it refers to. For example a non-RMIT copyrighted image may be identified with the caption “Copyright © 2008 Homo Habilis”.
  • Under Australian copyright law, copyright has a limited lifespan. Content owners must ensure that any change to the content’s copyright status is reflected on the page where the content resides.

Copyright at RMIT is governed by the Australian Copyright Act (1968), RMIT Intellectual Property Policy and RMIT Acceptable Use of Information and Communications Technology Resources Policy. For advice on copyright, consult the RMIT Copyright Management Service.

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