Content Preparation Guidelines – NPM Website Projects

We ask that you follow these guidelines when writing website content and preparing content documents for submission to NPM.

The writing guidelines will help you write clearer, more compelling content that makes your website stronger. The processes, meanwhile, will save time, reduce confusion, minimize errors and revisions, make the process easier for you and us, and generally help us deliver a better quality website sooner.

Thanks for taking time to review the guidelines and follow them!

Writing Style

  • Write conversationally—like you talk. Avoid a stilted style, jargon words and complex structure. Your writing should generally be easily digestible for an eighth-grade reading level.
  • Speak directly to your reader. Use the word “you” frequently.
  • Conjunctions are fine (we’ll, isn’t, don’t, etc.)
  • Focus on benefits, but include features, too. Features are what your product/service DOES. Benefits are what it does FOR customers (saves time, saves money, makes life easier, etc.)
  • Keep sentence length short (typically 20 words or less).
  • Paragraph length should also be short. Keep them to a few sentences and no more than 4-5 lines of text on a published web page.

Website content preparation guidelines

The Content Document

  • Prepare your content in a Word document with the name of each page clearly identified in the document section or filename. For example: “Home” or “About” or “Products,” etc.
  • IMPORTANT: Each page you prepare should map to the site outline you have approved. Please use the exact names of the pages as they appear in the outline. This enables us to immediately understand where the content will fit into your new site structure.
  • At the top of the page, include the page name and keywords for which the page is being optimized (if applicable).
  • Word count for SEO optimized pages should be at least 300 words. Well-optimized pages often require far more than that, so don’t be concerned about length. We will lay out the page so it’s reader-friendly regardless of the length.

Formatting Tips

  • Generally you should avoid most formatting (e.g. tabs/indents, lines typed in capital letters). Boldface, bullets, italics and numbering are OK to use. Do not use the space bar to format text into columns or indents. All of this will need to be manually removed.
  • Avoid underlining. In website content, this indicates links. Instead, use bold or capital letters for emphasis.
  • If you are working with text copied from a website, PDF document, etc., please use the “paste special” command and choose “unformatted text” before pasting into Word.
  • Single space after periods. The old rule about double-spacing after periods dates back to the days of manual typewriters and does not apply to digital word processing. It causes unintended spaces in website content and must be manually removed.
  • Do not include text boxes or lined sections in the document.

Giving Instructions to the Designer

If you want to include notes about content to pass on to the designer:

  • Indicate instructions to the page designer in red font.
  • Indicate hyperlinks in blue underlined font. If the link target is not obvious, put the target URL in parentheses after the requested link.
  • Feel free to insert image recommendations or references in red text at approximate points where they might be inserted during layout.

When done, please email your content as attachments, not in the body of an email. Or bring it to your Design Session on a USB drive. Word or rich text files strongly preferred–please avoid PDFs.