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Home  >  About IEEE  >  Digital Publishers Toolkit  >  Style Guide

Content is any piece of information found on a digital page, including text, images, and multimedia and page elements such as contact information (name, phone number, e-mail address, etc.).

This page contains the style guide for creating, editing, and maintaining content within IEEE.org.

View the content provider checklist (PDF, 180 KB)

 

Legal considerations

Do not use content from another digital site (including IEEE digital sites) without permission. For example, do not use Google images found through search without permission of the owner.

Provide the source of all content that is not original once permission for publishing has been obtained.

 
 

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Tone and voice

  • Use the organization name, not “we” or “our,” e.g., "IEEE conducts meetings ..." or "The Regional Activities Board will meet ..." Avoid first-person language.
  • Use the second person for instructional material. For public content where information is directed at the user, refer to the user as “you.”
  • Use common language. Compared to print, digital is a more informal and immediate medium. Be sure that all potential audiences understand the content.
  • Focus on the user’s needs rather than presenting the organizational view of IEEE. Only describe individual organizational units (OUs) or boards when doing so is integral to the user's understanding of the surrounding content or when soliciting user involvement in the organization.
  • Avoid making exaggerated claims or using promotional language to describe products and services. Use factual, objective information in place of “marketese” to present information more objectively.
  • Avoid IEEE jargon and terms or explanations that may not be understood by non-members or a more general audience. Spell out acronyms on first usage or avoid entirely if not essential.
  • Write in the active voice, which emphasizes the “doer” of the action, not the “receiver.”
    Yes: “IEEE members hold more patents than do any other professional society members.”
    No: “More patents have been awarded to IEEE members than to members of any other professional society.”
    (The first sentence is shorter, yet it conveys the same message as the other; it also more accurately describes what IEEE does.)
  • Use conventional terminology when providing directions or instructions. There is a varied understanding among users as to what many digital site features are called. If using acronyms or terminology specific to IEEE, make sure to explain or define it as needed.
  • Avoid using self-referential terms, such as “click here,” “follow this link,” and “this digital site.”

References to IEEE

  • Avoid adding an apostrophe to the name IEEE, such as "IEEE's publication." Instead use “... publication of IEEE.”
  • Use "IEEE," not the "Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers" or "the Institute."
  • Use "IEEE," not "we" or "our."
  • Use "IEEE," not "the IEEE."
  • Only use IEEE when referring to an activity or policy of the overall organization. If the statement refers to a specific area of IEEE only, be sure to clearly state this.

When "IEEE" is part of the name of a product, publication, service, Society, or other title, it should never be dropped. This applies to first and subsequent references. (Examples: IEEE Xplore®, IEEE Spectrum, IEEE Computer Society).

 
 

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Amount of content

The purpose of the page should determine the length of the content.  

Use short pages, or those containing one or two screens of text at most, for the first few levels of a digital site where users are scanning for link choices. 

Longer pages (those that require more scrolling) may be more acceptable deeper within the site where related content can be printed and read later.

The primary measure of page length should be content. Think through your material; create logical divisions and subdivisions based on the structure of your information. You should not arbitrarily divide your information simply to conform to acceptable page length.

When creating deeper pages within the site, where scrolling may not be avoidable, the following devices should be considered to make the content more easily readable and navigable:
• anchor links to bookmarks throughout the page with "back" links to return the user to "top";
• subheadings and relevant links (where appropriate) to serve as signposts for the user;
• bulleted copy and meaningful graphics or pull quotes to break up larger blocks of text;
• end links allowing the user to access other relevant pages without having to scroll back to the top of the page.

 
 

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Timeliness of content

Keeping accurate and timely content establishes credibility for IEEE as a trustworthy source of information. To ensure timeliness of content:

  • Update pages regularly in order to keep information, such as data and statistics, timely and accurate.
  • When using statistical data on your page, ensure that the information is current and up-to-date and is accompanied by the source from which it was derived, along with the date the data was compiled.
 
 

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Page layout and formatting

Show importance or priority by:

  • placing important elements near the top of the page;
  • making key words or phrases bold (use sparingly);
  • using white space around important elements to make them stand out.

Some ways to show relationships between content include:

  • grouping items together or placing them in proximity to each other to show similarity;
  • nesting items under another item to show a child/parent relationship.
     

Other tips for creating a more readable, interesting page layout include:

  • using headings and sub-headings;
  • breaking text into short paragraphs;
  • using bulleted lists;
  • incorporating links to other relevant content within your text;
  • using left and right columns for appropriate content;
  • using images, charts, graphs, and/or tables to present or support complex information.
 
 

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Content writing strategies

Writing content for the digital platform versus writing for print
Do not simply move print content onto your digital pages. Instead, write content that can be quickly and efficiently read by a user in the most concise manner possible.

Printing versus reading online
If your content is likely to be read online, create shorter pages that are cross-linked.

If your content is likely to be printed from the digital platform, create one long page. 
 

Considering audience and tasks
Determine your page’s potential audience members.

Establish the goals each of these audience members may want to achieve on your page, and create a page that helps users easily accomplish these goals.
 

Considering user language
All content must be written in English.

Establishing context/orientation
Let the user know where he or she is on every page. Establish the topic by using a unique page heading.

Link to background information where necessary.

Scannability
Use the following devices to increase scannability:
• Use shorter (50–80 characters per line) rather than longer line lengths (100 characters per line).
• Use left alignment for headings, sub-headings, and text.
• Link where appropriate.
• Use lists rather than paragraphs wherever possible.
• Include only one main idea in each paragraph.
• Put the most important information at the top.
• Start the page with the conclusion as well as a short summary of the remaining content.
• Use headings where applicable.
• Never use capitalization (CAPS) for emphasis.
• Use short, simple words that are to the point.
• Be concise and focused.

For longer pages, use the following tools to make the page easily scannable:
• anchor links;
• subheadings and relevant links;
• bulleted copy;
• quotes;
• meaningful graphics or pull quotes to break up larger blocks of text;
• end links.

Making effective use of lists

Follow these guidelines when presenting your content in a list format.

• Use numbered lists when the order of entries is important.
• Use bulleted lists whenever the order of the entries is not important.
• Generally, limit the number of items in a single list to no more than nine.
• Generally, limit lists to no more than two levels: primary and secondary.

International writing conventions
Use the following formats:

Dates
  • Formal correspondence: DD MONTH YYYY (e.g., 17 September 1999)
  • Computer applications: YYYY-MM-DD (1999-09-17) or YY-MM-DD (e.g., 99-09-17)
Phone numbers
  • US: Plus sign/one/area code/number (e.g., +1 732 555 1212). 
  • Non-US: Use appropriate country code.
  • Note: Be sure that forms address the phone number formats of all international audience members, not just the US format.
Seasons Use the month or quarter of the year to refer to dates, not the season. 
 
Time zone Use local, military, and UTC (e.g., 2:00 p.m. ET/14:00/1800 UTC-05).
 
Currency When referencing to US currency, include a “US” in front of the dollar sign (e.g., US$25).
 
Humor and colloquialism Avoid using puns, clichés, popular expressions, and jargon in your writing.

Numbering conventions
When using a number between zero and ten, spell out the number (e.g., "three" or "ten").

When using any number higher than ten, use the numeric version (e.g., "12" or “300”).
 

Capitalization
The titles of all IEEE digital pages should be in title case.

Section headers, form fields, and all other page content should be written in sentence case. Only proper nouns and titles should be capitalized.

Punctuation of the following commonly-used IEEE terms is as follows:

Uppercase Lowercase
  • Section
  • Region
  • Society
  • Council
  • Chapter
  • Student Branch
  • Chapter
  • Student (or Life, Senior, etc.)
    member
  • unit
  • organizational unit
  • geographic unit
  • committee
  • member

 

British spellings and terminology
Change all British spellings to American spellings where applicable. 
 

Plurals
Adhere to standard grammar and punctuation rules when it comes to pluralization of typical words.

The plural of calendar years do not take the apostrophe before the “s.” For example, the plural form of 1990 is 1990s.


Hyphens, en dashes, and em dashes
Use the hyphen to combine words and to separate numbers that are not inclusive.

Use the en dash to represent the words “to,” “through,” or “and.” Use it between page numbers, years, names, a range of values, or for opposites. When using the en dash to represent a range, if the word “from” occurs, the word “to” must be used rather than the en dash (e.g., “ranges from 5 to 50 times”).

Use the em dash to mark a suspension of the sentence, or like a parentheses, to mark a subordinate thought within a sentence.

Words that are often confused
Be sure to use the correct and more accurate word in context.

 
 

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Search optimization

At a minimum, all sites must adhere to the following best practices for SEO:

Home page and top-level landing pages metadata descriptions

  • should be well written to convey the purpose of the site;
  • should include primary, relevant keywords.

Proper use of page titles throughout the site

  • should include keywords relevant to the page content;
  • should be no more than 65 characters (including spaces) in length;
  • should use H1 header tags.
 
 
 

File naming

The following guidelines should be used:

  • Directory and file names should be made as short as possible, while still having meaning to the user, to avoid excessively long URLs.
  • The landing page of a section should be named "index," while all other files (pages) within the folder should have names that refer to the page title.
  • Each file name within a section should be unique.
  • Use all lowercase and avoid special characters (including spaces) when creating file and folder names. Underscores (_) are acceptable in place of spaces.
 
 

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Copy width

Lines of text should be no longer than half the width of the screen for optimum readability.

 
 

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Multimedia and interactivity guidelines

Design

Adhere to the design elements and IEEE Master Brand standards within the IEEE Visual Identity Guidelines (PDF, 3.1 MB) 
 

Usability and accessibility guidelines

  • Clearly identify the number of steps at the beginning of a sequence. For example, step 1 of 5 (if applicable).
  • Providing an explanation of the animation file before it begins will help users better understand the animation and associated content.
  • Indicate which type of viewer/player is necessary and provide a link to download the viewer/player (if applicable).
  • If the file is downloadable, always indicate file type and size in parentheses after the link; for example, IEEE presentation template (ZIP, 755 KB).
  • Allow animation to be user-controlled. The user should be able to pause, stop, replay, or ignore animation or other multimedia elements.
  • Place actionable controls (such as buttons) in an inherent place within the file so users do not have to search for a way to advance.
  • The typeface size within the file should not appear smaller than 8pt or .07 em.
  • The file should have an absolute end and not loop.
  • Provide an HTML or transcripted version of the file for users using assistive technology.

 

 
 

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Advertising

Advertising on IEEE.org is restricted.

Contact the Digital Innovations Team with any questions regarding advertising on this site.

 
 

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