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IT Web Style Guide

This guide was developed to help improve usability and consistency in public websites maintained by University IT and the Center for Integrated Research Computing. It includes guidelines for website design, navigation, and content. Any questions should be directed to the IT Communications Team.


Only use acronyms when convenient for readers. Spell out on first reference. (University IT is an exception.) Use full caps and no periods.

You must use a Virtual Private Network (VPN) to access some University resources from off campus.

Common Grammar and Usage Problems

Active Voice

In active voice, the subject of the sentence performs the action of the sentence.

The committee approved the new policy.

In passive voice, the subject of the sentence is acted upon.

The new policy was approved.

Active voice is clearer and more direct, and it is preferred in most cases


One word; no hyphen. (Not anti-virus) Use lowercase unless it is part of the official name of a software product.


Treat data as a plural noun and combine it with a plural verb when writing about the research meaning of the word.

The data from the pilot study are inconclusive.

Treat data as a collective noun and combine it with a singular verb when writing about data in the electronic, computer networking sense of the word.

When working with large files, the data is often compressed.

Data travels over wires, lines, networks, etc., not through them.

Inclusive Writing

Reword sentences to avoid the awkward use of he/she (his/her) or the incorrect use of their as a singular pronoun.

A user can access his/her account online.

A user can access their account online.

   ...can be rewritten as...

Users can access their accounts online.

Login vs. Log in

Login (one word) is a noun or adjective. Log in (two words) is a verb.

Go to the Gmail login page.

Log in to your Gmail account.

This also applies to logon/log on and logoff/log off.



Individuals who are blind or visually impaired often use assistive technology that reads the text of a webpage to them. For visual content, alt text is used to communicate the graphic's meaning. Always include alt text with a web graphic. It should communicate the purpose of the graphic accurately and concisely.

Image Optimization

Optimizing images to create smaller image files is a way to decrease the load time of a website.


Computer screens can only display 72 DPI (a measure of image resolution), so there is no reason to use images with higher resolutions on websites. The higher the image resolution, the larger the image file will be.

File Type

  • Use .jpg for photographs or images with gradients.
  • Use .png for images with limited color ranges or images that require transparent pixels. This is commonly used for icons.

University's Graphic Identity

The University maintains graphic identity standards to govern how the University's name, logo, typography, official seal, and official colors should be used in visual communications and printed materials. These standards are intended to create a strong, consistent public image of the University of Rochester. If you have questions about the use of any of the University's graphic elements, the IT Communications Team will consult with you.


For consistency across IT web pages, use the header classes that are preset in the style sheets, rather than styling the text. Always capitalize the first word of a header. Capitalize all words in a header except articles (a, an, the), conjunctions (and, but, or), and prepositions (of, in, on, etc.). The to of infinitives is also lowercase. No colon is needed at the end of header text.

How to Change Your Password

Choose meaningful words in context to hyperlink. Do not use click here.

To log in to your Gmail account, click here. Then enter your NetID.

   ...can be rewritten as...

Go to the Gmail login page, and enter your NetID.

Phone Numbers

Use the complete seven-digit number. Only provide the area code when the number is not in the University's area code (585). Do not direct reader to menu options since they change.

Contact the IT Help Desk at 275-2000 with any questions.

Organizational References

Data Center

The University has three data centers:

1. Primary Data Center
2. Secondary Data Center
3. Research Data Center

When referred to generally, use data centers lowercase. When referring to one data center in particular, use its proper name capitalized.

The University's data centers are controlled access environments housing critical technology equipment, applications, and data.

The Research Data Center houses the University's Blue Gene/Q supercomputer.

Help Desk

Always refer to as the IT Help Desk.

The IT Center is a facet of the IT Help Desk. It refers specifically to the student-staffed desk located in Rush Rhees Library that provides walk-in assistance.

Office of the Vice President for IT

The Office of the Vice President for IT oversees two IT organizations:

1. University Information Technology

  • The use of University IT is acceptable without the introduction required of other acronyms. Do not shorten to UIT.

2. Center for Integrated Research Computing (CIRC)

  • Always introduce acronym on first reference.

IT organization chart

University Wide and Medical Center

When referring to all divisions including the Medical Center, use University wide.

NOTE: Use University-wide (hyphenated) when before a noun. Use University wide (unhyphenated) when after a noun.

The Office of the Vice President for IT provides University-wide governance for technology initiatives.

The Center for Integrated Research Computing supports faculty University wide.

When referring to all divisions except the Medical Center, use non-Medical Center.


Mobile Responsive Design

As traffic to our websites from mobile devices increases, it is important that our websites function effectively on a variety of devices. All new websites should use University templates with a mobile responsive design. Contact Nick Scipione to have the templates configured in Cascade for you.

Search Engine Optimization

To improve a site's visibility on the web, consider these site design and content guidelines.

Writing for the Web

Writing for the web is different from writing for print. Follow these guidelines and recommendations.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) Webpages

When providing multiple FAQs for a service on the same webpage, place each FAQ in a collapsible panel.

Click here to show/hide a sample collapsible panel
This is a sample collapsible panel. This text is revealed or hidden by clicking the link above.

IT Service Webpages

Every IT service webpage should use the University IT template (2 columns, navigation menu on left). Your site-specific navigation will appear first in the menu, followed by broader University IT links.

Login Webpages

Login pages should always indicate what credentials are required (e.g., NetID, Active Directory).

Tutorial Webpages

Provide tutorials in HTML format (additional PDF format optional).

For longer or more complicated tutorials, a video format is also recommended. Screen-capture software like Camtasia can help you create videos quickly and easily. Contact the IT Communications Team to post how-to videos on the IT YouTube channel, which you can then embed on your tutorial webpage.