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These writing best practices help you create user-friendly content for Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) websites and applications.

You can use the EERE Web Content Checklist to see if your content follows all of these best practices.

See the Web Writing Requirements page for the writing-related requirements.

Page Content

Following these best practices will help you write more effective web pages.

Intro Text

It's a requirement for all pages to have intro text, but EERE recommends you follow these guidelines when writing it. Your intro text should:

  • Contain keywords that:
    • Users type into search boxes
    • Help the page rank high in search results
    • Are important to your users
  • Not contain acronyms or abbreviations that are not defined or used on the page
  • Not include ampersands unless they are embedded in terms, e.g., R&D.

Page Titles

To distinguish web pages from each other (particularly in search engines), all web page titles should be unique. Page titles should:

  • Be concise
  • Be unique
  • Describe page content
  • Contain keywords that:
    • Your target audiences use in searches
    • Help the page rank high in search results
    • Are important to your users
  • Not contain acronyms or abbreviations
  • Not include ampersands unless they are embedded in terms, e.g., R&D.

Headers

Energy.gov has three levels of headers. Because it is difficult to read long blocks of text online, it is important to use headers to break up your content into short, separate chunks. Headers should:

  • Be used in order (header, subheader, then subsection subheader)
  • Contain keywords that:
    • Your target audiences use in searches
    • Help the page rank high in search results
    • Are important to your users
  • Describe paragraph/section content
  • Not contain acronyms or abbreviations
  • Not include ampersands unless they are embedded in terms, e.g., R&D
  • Be placed approximately every 2–3 paragraphs.

Body Text

The body of content on a web page should contain keywords that:

  • Your target audiences use in searches
  • Help the page rank high in search results
  • Are important to your users.

Body text should also be written so that it is easily "scannable." By keeping your content short and organized, you make it easier for readers to find the content they want. Use the following techniques to make your text more scannable:

  • Bullets
  • Typographical elements (e.g., larger font, bold face, or italics. Do not use underlines for anything except hyperlinks.)
  • Short sentences (no more than 20 words)
  • Short paragraphs (no more than 3 sentences)
  • Short pages (no more than 3–4 paragraphs).

Always consider the Plain Language Act when deciding how to write your content.

Links and Linking

Write Clear, Descriptive Links

Because links are navigational tools, they should be written so it's easy to understand where they point to. All links should:

  • Be short and precise
  • Be as descriptive as possible about what they link to
  • Emphasize only the distinctive words:
    • Wrong: renewable energy info for homeowners, renewable energy info for small businesses
    • Right: Renewable energy info for:
      • Homeowners
      • Small businesses

Always Embed Links

It's almost always better to embed links than to write out the URL of the page you're linking to.

For example, this is preferred:

See the EERE News website.

To:

See https://energy.gov/eere/eere-news.

Embedded links are easier to read and are more useful to users who use assistive technology, such as screen readers. They also help your website's search engine optimization.

Do not Refer to Web Functions

When writing a link, you should never refer to a web function (such as "click here for more information.") Instead, use specific words such as "Scan our list of researchers" or "See the DOE press release."

Link to Related Content throughout EERE

You should include links to other relevant sites or sections of your site in your text. Try to have at least one hyperlink for every screen of content.

Explain Links to External Websites

Help your users understand why you are linking to a specific site. Instead of creating a list of "related links," link to external websites on content pages that provide context and explain why you are linking to these websites.

Writing Clear Content

Acronyms

Define acronyms the first time they are used on a page. After the acronym has been defined, use that acronym from that point onwards.

Do not use acronyms in page names or headers, even if they have been defined elsewhere on the page.

Time-Sensitive Words

Unless you are writing a news story, don't use time-sensitive words (such as "last week," or "this year") in your content. Pages that use time-sensitive words rapidly become out-of-date. Use specific dates instead.