Content basics

How to get your content into Sitecore and the corporate web standards you need to follow

See the building blocks guide for information on building specific elements in Sitecore.

Copying and pasting content into Sitecore

Copying and pasting content from MS Word and emails directly into Sitecore can cause issues.

Pages must be built in valid HTML, but copying and pasting content into Sitecore can result in invalid HTML being generated. Invalid HTML can look ok when viewed in a browser, so you need to check the HTML before publishing your work.

Invalid HTML can prevent pages from publishing!

There are steps you can take to make sure your HTML is valid:

  • copy and paste your content from Word or an email into Notepad first. Then copy and paste the content from Notepad into Sitecore. This won't solve all problems but it will solve many of them
  • paste your content in as plain text. Use the 'Paste plain text' tool in the toolbar (the icon looks like a clipboard)
  • use the Format stripper tool in the Rich Text Editor. This tool looks like a paintbrush held at an angle, and can be found in the toolbar of the Rich Text Editor. The Format Stripper will remove tags that may cause issues in your HTML, such as <span>....</span> tags
  • check the HTML code before saving. Do this using the HTML tab at the bottom of the Rich Text Editor

There are several things to look out for when checking your HTML:

  • make sure individual paragraphs are in HTML paragraph tags. Paragraph tags look like this: <p>...</p>. Sitecore will often use HTML line breaks (<br />), the equivalent of a 'soft break' on a keyboard, instead. Replace these with paragraph tags
  • make sure there are no span tags (<span>...</span>) in your code, even after using the Format stripper tool. The Format stripper doesn't always pick up all span tags
  • remove any 'style' code, such as style="color:#ffffff" (often seen within paragraph tags)
Some pages have had special HTML tags added to them to make them display properly. Removing these tags could cause problems. If in doubt, ask a colleague before making any changes
Reading age

Aim for 9 year old reading age.

Use the Hemingway app to analyse your content and make it easier to read.

The Hemingway App measures readability by U.S. grade. 9 year olds would normally be in 3rd grade or 4th grade.

Reading skills

Children quickly learn to read common words (the 5000 words they use most). They then stop reading these words and start recognising their shape. This allows people to read much faster. Children already read like this by the time they’re 9 years old.

People also don’t read one word at a time. They bounce around - especially online. They anticipate words and fill them in.

Your brain can drop up to 30% of the text and still understand. Your vocabulary will grow but this reading skill stays with you as an adult. You don’t need to read every word to understand what is written.

This is why we tell people to write on Hantsweb for a 9 year old reading age.

Even if you have put your content through Hemingway, you still need to sanity check it. A short sentence with easy to read words can still be hard to understand if the context or meaning are not right.
Spelling

Check spelling and grammar for each page (and before sending to testers or the business for testing or review).

Voice and tone

Voice and tone - summary

  • be concise 
  • use active voice (don't use 'please')
  • address the user as 'you'
  • don't capitalise
  • don't use italics
  • don't use underlines to emphasise a piece of text
  • don't use bold
  • use contractions such as 'don't' (rather than 'do not')
  • dates and times - use the 12 hour clock (include 'am or 'pm') and use 'to' with date ranges, eg 7am to 5.30pm. Use midday, not 12pm nor 12 noon
  • use gender-neutral text
  • use plain English
  • be careful when writing about disability
  • be careful when using ‘we’

Full voice and tone guide

Headings

Use the style selector in the Rich Text Editor to apply headings to your text.

Corporate web standards

  • Check headings are correctly applied, in order, starting at level 2 (level 3 for guide step content). Don't skip any levels
  • Make headings short and clear
  • Don't make headings bold

Level 1 headings (main page headings) are added to the Page title field in Content Editor.

Links and documents

Use the 'Hyperlink manager' tool for external links (links to pages not in Sitecore). Use the 'Insert Sitecore link' tool for internal links (links to pages in Sitecore)

Linking to a particular Sitecore guide step - for links that are embedded in a piece of text

  1. View the guide page in a browser
  2. Click on the required step using the summary steps on the right hand side of the page. Make a note of the step number (it will be something like #step-0)
  3. Open the page that you want to put the link into. Insert an internal Sitecore link to the guide page as a whole
  4. View the HTML for the page. The link will look something like this:
    Web editors checklist - internal link in HTML view
  5. Add the step number (#step-0 or similar) to the link, before the final quote mark ("). Accept and save

Linking to a particular Sitecore guide step - for links that are attached to a tile

  1. View the guide page in a browser
  2. Click on the required step using the summary steps on the right hand side of the page. Make a note of the step number (it will be something like #step-0).
  3. Create a new internal link object in Common Content. Click 'Add link' and select the guide page from the navigation tree
  4. Click 'Search for a link'. Add the step number to the 'Anchor' field. Accept and save

Adding URL parameters to internal links - for links that are embedded in a piece of text

  1. In Experience Editor, view the HTML for the page that contains the link. The link will look something like this:
    Web editors checklist - internal link in HTML view
  2. Add parameter (eg ?id=xxxx) to the link, before the final quote mark ("). Accept and save.

Adding URL parameters to internal links - for links that are attached to a tile

  1. In Content Editor, open the internal link object. Click 'Lock and Edit'
  2. Click 'Search for a link'. Add parameter (eg q=xxxx) to the Query String field. Accept and save

Creating anchors

  • Open your page / text block for editing. Click where you want the anchor to be added
  • Click the Hyperlink Manager icon. When the Hyperlink Manager box is displayed on screen, select the Anchor tab
  • In the Name box, type in your chosen name for the anchor
  • Click Accept and then Save
  •  

Linking to anchors

Links embedded within some text

  1. In the Rich Text Editor, insert a Sitecore link and point it to the page that contains the anchor
  2. Change to HTML view and locate the HTML tag for the link
  3. Insert #xxxx just before the closing quote mark of the HTML link tag where xxxx is the name you gave your anchor

Links on tiles etc

  1. Create a new internal link object in Common Content. Click Add link and select the destination page from the navigation tree
  2. Click 'Search for a link'. Add the name of your anchor to the Anchor field. Accept and save

Document links

  • Check documents are in HantsFile and 'approved for publication' or already published. Ask the business to deal with any documents which are not.
  • Document link text needs to explain exactly what the document is - use 'Dropped kerb application guidance', not 'Guidance', 'User guide' or 'Application guidance'. These are too ambiguous

Learn.IT guidance on publishing HantsFile documents

Corporate web standards

  • Ensure link text makes sense when taken out of context, eg use 'Guidance on using xyz', not just 'Guidance'
  • Don't use 'click here' or 'more...' as link text
  • Don't use URLs as link text
  • Do use email addresses as link text (don't hide the email address from the user)
  • Don't use the same link text for multiple links on one page that point to different destinations. You can have multiple links pointing to the same destination page but with different link text.
  • Don't link to Hantsnet pages (intranet) from Hantsweb (internet)
  • When pointing to new pages, check they have been published and the links work
  • Don't allow pages to open in a new window. The exception is AchieveForms, where it may be useful to have a guidance document open when completing a form
  • Redirects must be approved by a web content strategist.

Don't be afraid of using more than a couple of words for link text. Longer link text is easier for people to successfully press (think of users with tiny mobile device screens and people with poor motor skills) but don't write an essay.

Lists

How to create a list

Tables

How to create a table

Contact details

Email addresses

Write the email address in full, eg hantsweb@hants.gov.uk. Put 'Email' in front if it's not embedded within a piece of text.

Phone numbers

Put 'Phone' in front.

Addresses

Use address rendering if you can.

Example

Contact the Corporate Web Team

Email hantsweb@hants.gov.uk

Phone 01962 846544

Guide pages
  • Use level 3 headings and below within a guide step (guide step headings are rendered as level 2 headings)
  • Avoid using questions in guide step headings

More information about on creating guide pages

Abbreviations and jargon

Abbreviations

Only use abbreviations on a page after the name has been written in full with the abbreviation in brackets.

Example

Hampshire Biodiversity Information Centre (HBIC) provides an independent and impartial data service.

Data maintained by HBIC is comprehensive and covers designated sites, habitats and species.

Jargon

Don't use jargon (unless for technical reasons or you have explained its meaning).

Referring to Hampshire County Council and its services
  • Do not abbreviate Hampshire County Council to HCC. You can refer to 'the County Council'.
  • Check with a service how they want to be referred to. Be consistent.