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Web Style Guide

Web page design versus conventional document design

Concepts about structuring information today stem largely from the organization of printed books and periodicals and the library indexing and catalog systems that developed around printed information. The "interface standards" of books in the English-speaking world are well established and widely agreed-upon, and detailed instructions for creating books may be found in such guides as The Chicago Manual of Style. Every feature of the book, from the contents page to the index, has evolved over the centuries, and readers of early books faced some of the same organizational problems that users of hypermedia documents confront today. Gutenberg's Bible of 1456 is often cited as the first modern book, yet even after the explosive growth of publishing that followed Gutenberg's invention of printing with movable type, more than a century passed before page numbering, indexes, tables of contents, and even title pages became expected and necessary features of books. Web documents are undergoing a similar evolution and standardization.

Design precedents in print

Although networked interactive hypermedia documents pose novel challenges to information designers, most of the guidance needed to design, create, assemble, edit, and organize multiple forms of media does not differ radically from current practice in print media. Most Web documents can be made to conform to The Chicago Manual of Style conventions for editorial style and text organization. Much of what an organization needs to know about creating clear, comprehensive, and consistent internal publishing standards is already available in such publishing guides as the Xerox Publishing Standards: A Manual of Style and Design. Don't get so lost in the novelty of Web pages that basic standards of editorial and graphic design are tossed aside.