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Content Tips

Well-structured content follows basic formatting guidelines that ensure that your website is well-organized, clearly understandable to readers, and accessible to people with disabilities.

Such guidelines provide the added benefit of making your site more findable and promotable since Google and other search engines "see" pages that are well-formatted better than those that aren't. Creating well-structured content requires the usage of some basic patterns and strategies.

Headings and Page Titles

Headings are HTML tags that are used to divide sections of a page. The number in each heading indicates its level in the content’s hierarchy. By default, your page titles will be formatted as a Heading 1. The following header should be an H2, followed by an h3 if needed.

  • Heading 1: Page title
  • Heading 2: Sub-head (added in content)
  • Heading 3: Grouping or title within Sub-head (added in content)
  • Heading 4: Grouping or title within grouping (added in content)

Basic Patterns and Strategies:

  • Keep it short: skip unneeded words like “How do I...” or “Read how to...”
  • But not too short: include keywords to ensure people will understand the context of this page.
  • Keep it simple: avoid jargon and technical terms if possible.
  • Use sentence case for readability. (Page titles can be in title case if desired.)
  • Ensure all page titles in your site are unique.

Read more:

Structured Content: Paragraphs and Lists

Basic Patterns and Strategies:

  • Keep it short: cut out all superfluous text and words
  • Write your content in small chunks and mini-paragraphs: avoid the “Wall of Text”
  • Use HTML bulleted or numbered lists for steps in a task and item lists

Read more: https://swsblog.stanford.edu/blog/writing-web-5-paragraphs

Read more: https://swsblog.stanford.edu/blog/writing-web-4-lists

Calls to Action and Links

Links are used to guide people through your website or to content hosted elsewhere, and encourage your users to take specific actions.

Basic Patterns and Strategies:

  • Give a little detail: Avoid making link text too short. “Read more” or “Click Here” can cause accessibility problems.
  • Start with a verb: The most important part of a Call to Action is the leading verb. People are far less likely to click on a link that is a noun, they want to be led through your site. Rather than “About Us,” try “Read about our team.”

Read more: https://swsblog.stanford.edu/blog/writing-web-1-calls-action

Tables

Only use tables for communicating tabular data (like charts of statistics), not for page layout. The content in tables can appear awkwardly on tablet and mobile browsing. 

When creating a table, it is required for accessibility to include table headers that properly label the information its relative column and row contains.

As stated within the Web Accessibility Tutorials — Table Concepts,

Header cells must be marked up with <th>, and data cells with <td> to make tables accessible. For more complex tables, explicit associations may be needed using scope, id, and headers attributes.

The lack of table headers violates the WCAG 2.1 1.3.1 Info and Relationships standard.

    For more information regarding Table Accessibility, please check out the following resources:

     

    Check your Content

    A simple way you can check the accessibility on your page is by using the Web Accessibility Evaluation Tool at https://wave.webaim.org/ and pasting your URL into the Web page address... field.

     

    If you find yourself repeatedly checking accessibility, you may want to install the WAVE extension. It's available for both Chrome and Firefox browsers at https://wave.webaim.org/extension/.

    For more comprehensive accessibility testing, you may want to consider using services from Level Access. You can learn more at https://soap.stanford.edu/make-accessible.

    Resources

    Here are some resources for Stanford web designers, developers, and content creators that can be used as guides for producing materials that are accessible to the broadest audience possible.