Web Style Guide

What's different about creating for the Web?

Introduction Capitalization
References   Abbreviations
Copyright Concerns   Titles
Numbers, Times and Dates   Questions?


Writing for the web is vastly different than writing for print. The first paragraph must speak quickly and forcefully to the reader while summarizing the information to follow. It's a less formal medium, too; web articles often speak with a more individual voice and are more colloquial as a result. At Drury, we relax some style rules to accommodate the needs of the web, while still maintaining the basic rules of AP style throughout the site.

Before continuing, we encourage you to review the Print Style Guide in addition to reading this guide, which will focuses on how web style is different from Drury's print style. In general, web style accepts more abbreviations and other devices to minimize the number of pixels it takes to express an idea.

If you have questions or would like advice on creating content for the web, call the Office of web Communications at 873-6956.

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Drury style is based on current editions of:

  • The Associated Press Stylebook and Briefing on Media Law
  • The Chicago Manual of Style
  • Webster's New World Collegiate Dictionary

Keep in mind that users tend to scan content rather than read it. For that reason, it's importantt to format and create your content in ways that break up the text into easily scannable copy that includes headings and bulletpoints. For guidance in writing for the web effectively, try:

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Copyright Concerns

Even though it's much easier to copy what you want, information, images and intellectual property found on the Internet are still protected by law. Some web site policies allow visitors to make one copy for personal use; very few allow unauthorized duplication of anything most of us would consider valuable.

The bottom line: don't copy without permission!

This means:

  • Do not copy that cool image and use it in a PowerPoint presentation, a brochure or on your site.
  • Do not copy and paste text.
  • Do not share copyrighted materials like music.
  • Do not use images you found through a Google Images search without verifying and complying with the conditions of its use.

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Only use photos and images that Drury explicity owns, or that is published with permission or under a Creative Commons license. If you need assistance locating images owned by Drury, please contact the Office of Marketing & Communications.

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Numbers, Times and Dates

Numerals are used for grades: 1st grade, 2nd grade; not first grade, second grade.

Periods are used in "a.m." and "p.m." and day names are spelled out: The meeting is Thursday at 11 a.m.

Spell out months unless listed with a specific date: The event is in November. The program is scheduled for Nov. 2 at 3 p.m.

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While web style is more informal, it is not acceptable to forgo capitalization entirely, as often happens during online chats or in email. When writing content for the web, capitalize the first word of a sentence and the first person pronoun "I."

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In all cases, focus on making your meaning clear. Assuming you can meet that goal, words that would not be abbreviated in print may be abbreviated online, especially compass directions and thoroughfares. Use postal abbreviations for states. Words that are abbreviated in spoken English may be abbreviated online. Even as you abbreviate, retain proper capitalization:

  • N. Jefferson St.
  • St. Louis, MO
  • Las Vegas, NV
  • Want info?
  • This week's Convo speaker

Ampersands (&) are also much more common, and more widely acceptable:

  • American Lit & Culture

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For the web, quotes should only be used when actually quoting a person, for clarity and because quotation marks add more characters to a page. For that reason, accepted print style does not apply online. Instead, all works should be italicized:

  • Of Mice and Men
  • Star Wars
  • My Favorite Martian
  • Turandot

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A complete user guide for Drury's Content Management System, along with a copy of the web style guide, are available to all content managers. If you would like a copy, please contact the Office of Web Communications at 873-6956.

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