Style Guide for Index Page Writing
Suggestions for the proper use of headlines, blurbs, links and labels
The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Blogs Blog is a layout format and a coverage style. Blogs can contain one or
more media types. Blog is not synonymous with “opinion.” Use this label with
Blurbs Blurbs should be one-sentence summaries of the destination content.
They should be written as complete sentences in the past tense. They can be
written in the present tense only when the destination content is live – such as
live video, live blogging or live discussions.
Byline When a blurb is part of the link package, include source or byline of the
article. Use byline if the content in-house. Use source if the link is offsite. The
byline or source information should be offset by some layout, punctuation or
typographical element. For example, the byline can be placed on its own line,
printed in all capital letters, preceded by a dash, surrounded by parentheses, or
set in bold or italic type.
Headline Use present tense. Online headlines typically need to be shorter and
more direct than newspaper headlines. A headline is a label for the destination
page. Put more emphasis on nouns and less emphasis on verbs and adjectives.
Labels Labels can be used to highlight unusual and important element of
destination page. For example, labels can describe media type, series name, live
coverage, or opinion and analysis.
Links Either use a headline or brief description of the item. Examples: Full Text
of Bush’s Speech or Video of the Car Chase or Map of the Stadium. Punctuate
and capitalize links as if they were headlines. Brevity and specificity are crucial.
Linksets Linksets are groups of linked headlines that are related to each other
and to a parent headline, blurb or label. On index pages, linksets most often
appear directly below their parent element.
Links underneath blurbs or underneath labels inherit all the properties of
those headlines or labels. This creates two rules:
1. Only group like content together in link sets.
2. Don’t repeat the parent headline’s properties in a subhead or
Group no more than three to five sub-links in a row.
Start each link on a new line. Precede each link with a bullet.
Media type If not linking to an HTML text document, be sure to give your
readers an indication of the primary media type on the destination page. Be as
specific as possible, for example Video, Live Video, Audio, Map, Chart, Timeline,
Discussion, Photo Gallery.
Opinion When placing links to opinion or analysis pieces next to links to hard
news coverage, be sure to alert readers to the opinion or analytic content.
Pipes Pipes can be used to punctuate links on the same line that inherit the
same label. Pipes are used to create as a horizontal list of bulleted items. For
example: Photos: Game Highlights | Fans Celebrate
Second person Avoid directly addressing your audience with second-person
pronouns or imperatives verbs. Avoid generic phrases such as Click Here, Read
Source See byline.
Time elements Regardless of other style rules here or in the AP Style book,
online style prefers the use of the name of the specific day of the week. Monday,
There are two reasons for this unique online style
Online writers can rarely assume readers are in one time
Online writers can’t assume that readers will read stories on
the same day they are posted.
Timestamp Timestamps should be printed next to each blurb or headline on
pages that are updated more than once a day.
If headlines and blurbs on the same page are linking to pages on which the
content is changing throughout the day, the timestamp should indicate whether
the story was posted or updated at the noted time. Timestamps without any
update designation are presumed to be posted only once, in their original format,
in the time noted in the blurb.
Timestamps can either be printed in absolutely time following hours and
minutes, following AP style (11:52 p.m. or 6 a.m.) or…
… Timestamps can also be printed in relative time. Relative timestamps
should indicate the amount of time elapsed since the last update. 15 minutes ago
OR 2 hours, 8 minutes ago
Include the time zone unless your audience could only be in one time zone.
Verb tense In links to live content, such as a live streaming video or audio, a
live blog or a live discussion, use present tense. In all other cases use past tense.