Naming Pages, Headings & Links

A standard approach for page titles, links and other text contributes to a unified experience across School of Medicine sites. Follow these standards so your site looks like part of the family!

Website title

Your site title appears in the header and can be displayed on one line, as it is for this website, or two lines, as seen in the screenshot below.

The Office of Medical Student Research uses the two-line site title. This arrangement not only saves valuable space, but also emphasizes the most important words of the website name.

In most cases, your website title will be the name of your business unit. Follow these guidelines for formatting the title in your site header and footer.


  • Use the official full name of the business unit, including any endowed names (e.g., John T. Milliken Department of Internal Medicine), and with regard to word order (e.g., Division of XYZ versus XYZ Division)
  • If a site title includes “and,” use an ampersand rather than spelling it out
  • If business unit’s name begins with “Unit of” – e.g., “Department of,” “Center for,” “Program in,” etc., – “Unit of” can be included on line 1 of the site title
  • However, on division sites, spell out full department name on line 1, and include the full division name on line 2

Footer (e.g., contact information):

  • If your website represents a division or section within a department, include the full name of all business units, each on a separate line, in descending order from micro to macro (e.g., section, then division, then department, then Washington University School of Medicine)
  • The site title, listed first, should be in bold
  • Spell out “and” rather than using an ampersand (note: if your footer includes Link Lists on the right, those links should use an ampersand instead of “and”)

See tutorial for editing the footer »


Contact information in the footer should list the name of your business unit first, followed by your department or center, if relevant, then Washington University School of Medicine. Link lists on the right are optional.

Homepage headline, description and button

The headline and description fields on the homepage give you the chance to immediately connect with your visitors and tell them what your group does and what they can accomplish on your website. First impressions count, so make yours great! Don’t waste this valuable space.


  • Recommended length: 74 characters max. Keeps your message concise and ensures minimal wrapping (multiple lines of text) on mobile devices
  • Should capture the value or service your group provides
  • Do not repeat your site/group name here; it should already be in the header and footer of your site
  • Resist the urge to literally welcome visitors to your website. That’s so 90s! As user experience expert Jakob Nielsen has noted:

“Cheerful ‘welcomes’ on homepages are nostalgic remnants of the early days of the Web, when getting to one of the few available sites was a feat worth acknowledging. The best welcome you can give users is a concrete definition of what they can do on the site and a clear starting point from which to begin.”


  • Recommended length: 273 characters max. Keeps your message concise and ensures minimal wrapping (multiple lines of text) on mobile devices
  • Briefly explain who you are, what you do, and – if it isn’t clear – who you serve
  • Prepare your website’s visitors to click on the button that follows; the button should link to the most important action or information on your website
  • Like your headline, use this space wisely, avoiding repetition of your site/group name or literally welcoming visitors


  • Use the homepage button for your website’s priority call-to-action; in other words, the button should call out – and link to – the page you want your target audience to visit
  • Follow the guidelines for using buttons

Page titles and subheadings

Page titles

A page’s title appears at the top of the page and should accurately convey the page’s contents.

  • Use title case; uppercase the first letter of every word except articles (the, an, a) and prepositions (at, of, on, in, etc.)
  • Avoid abbreviations
  • Use ampersands (&) instead of the word “and”

Example page titles:

  • Editorial Standards
  • Maps & Directions
  • In Vitro Fertilization (IVF)

Subheadings (heading 2 and heading 3)

Subheadings help visitors scan a page for the information they need. By organizing content, they also make pages more visually appealing and inviting to read.

In WordPress and other programming tools, headings are hierarchical, like an outline. Use heading 2 to subdivide larger content sections; if those need to be further sub-divided, use heading 3. Always style headings by selecting them from the Paragraph dropdown, rather than applying bold or underline, or changing the text size or color manually. Using the preset styles will ensure headings are style consistently across your site, and that they are updated correctly when the theme is updated.

  • Make headings descriptive and grammatically consistent with one another
  • Use lowercase, except for the first letter of the first word and proper nouns
  • No ampersands
  • Use acronyms only if the full reference has already been spelled out on the page
  • Don’t make a heading into a link; instead, use a standalone link or button (see example)

See tutorial for editing pages »

Example subheads:

  • Parking and public transit
  • Education programs and resources
  • IVF success rates

Page names in the site menus

Page names are listed in the site menus, which have limited space. As seen in the screenshot below, a page’s actual title can be longer than the page name that appears in the menu. (Edit this by using the “Left Navigation Menu” field.)

This page’s title, “Research Training Symposium and Poster Sessions,” is too long for the left menu, where it has been shortened to the colloquial name of the event: “Poster Day.”
Source: Office of Medical Student Research

  • Keep names short and descriptive
  • Use consistent voice, verb tense and grammatical construction
  • Use title case; uppercase the first letter of every word except articles (the, an, a) and prepositions (at, of, on, in, etc.)
  • Use ampersands (&) instead of the word “and”

See tutorial for adding new pages »

Example page names:

  • About
  • Patient Care
  • Research
  • Education
  • Our Team
  • Your Visit
  • Contact
  • Map & Directions

Links and buttons

Links include two components: the link text, and the target URL.

  • Example: The Contraceptive Choice Center is conducting a study…
    • Link text: Contraceptive Choice Center
    • Target URL:

Guidelines for links:

  • Be descriptive; avoid creating links that say “click here” (e.g., “To read more, visit the newsroom,” NOT, “To read more, click here“)
  • Be concise; links can span several words, but keep them to the most relevant words or phrase
  • Try the skim test: A visitor should be able to skim the links on a page and understand what they link to without reading the context
  • Avoid duplication: When two links on a page go to the same destination, you create more work for your site’s visitors who have to figure out if and how the links are different (read more about avoiding duplicate links)

Example links:

Standalone links

Typically links should appear as in-line text, but standalone links – which appear on a line of their own instead of within a paragraph – can be used to call attention to important links and actions. Standalone links may be used more generously than buttons (see button guidelines below), which should be used sparingly.

  • Start with a verb that invites visitors to do something
  • End with a double chevron / guillemet (»). Do not substitute with two greater-than symbols (>>). To create the symbol:
    • PC: Alt + 175
    • Mac: Shift + Option + \
  • If three or more standalone links appear in a row, consider making the links bullet points and removing the chevrons (»)

Example standalone links:

Join our community of physicians and scientists, and we’ll encourage you to dream big – and support you in making those dreams a reality.

Explore degree programs »

Read about our research milestones »

Find a doctor »
See maps and directions »

Example of 3 or more links (bulleted list with no guillemets):

Learn more about student research:


Using a red button as a link helps a critical call to action stand out from other content on the page.

Use buttons sparingly – only for a website’s most important actions.

  • Start with a verb, and call on visitors to take action (button = call to action)
  • Limit to three words, and preferably fewer (22 characters maximum)
  • Include no more than one button per page; in rare cases, two buttons may be used to indicate parallel calls to action for different audiences or tasks

See tutorial for adding buttons »

On the “Education” page of the School of Medicine website, a button calls attention to a link to a list of degree programs.

Adding buttons requires you, the content editor, to carefully prioritize the action you want users to take on a given page.

Example button text:

  • Apply
  • Make an appointment
  • Refer a patient

Email addresses as links

When clicked, an email address link automatically opens a draft addressed to that email – but only if the user’s computer/device has a default email application. Make all email addresses on your site into links, and use the email address itself as the link text. This allows users to click on or copy the address, based on their preferences and settings, while also making the expected link behavior clear. (See the tutorial for adding links.)

  • Use the email address – rather than the person’s or office’s name – as link text
  • Link may be in-line (within a sentence) or standalone
  • If paired with other contact information, use soft returns to group into logical, scannable chunks (e.g., mailing address as one chunk, phone number and email as another)

Example email links:

  • Contact us at to submit a request.
  • Office of Research
    Washington University School of Medicine
    660 S. Euclid Ave.
    St. Louis, MO 63110314-555-5555
  • Call: 314-555-5555
    Fax: 314-555-5555

Links to files/documents (pdf, xls, ppt, etc.)

Links to files can be in-text or standalone. (See the tutorial for linking to documents.)

  • Open link in a new window/tab
  • Include the file type as part of the link in parentheses at the end

Example links to documents:

URLs as link text

A URL / web address (e.g., should be included in your text only if promoting the URL itself is the goal of a marketing strategy. It is preferable to use descriptive words for link text, as described above.

The Office of Human Resources is promoting the URL to encourage word-of-mouth sharing of the job search website.

If you have reason to use a URL as link text, the URL should be straightforward and concise, following these guidelines:

  • 40 characters maximum
  • No repetitive or meaningless words, numbers or other characters (instead, contact WashU Medicine Marketing & Communications to request a vanity URL)
  • No http://www, trailing slashes, or file extensions like .aspx or .html (Ex:

Examples of acceptable URL link text: