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NCI Digital Media Guidelines

  • Updated: 05/03/2012

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Recommended Content Elements

The following content elements and approaches are recommended as best practices for all NCI websites.

Introductory Text

Brief introductory, explanatory sentences at the top of every content page or menu (“list”) page help Web visitors recognize the content they seek.  Describing the content on the page helps our visitors quickly know they have found the right information. Key words in the text also help search engines identify our content.

Examples: Coping with Cancer: Supportive and Palliative Care; Screening and Testing to Detect Cancer

Key Points Box

Key points make your message stand out. Listing key points at the top of the content page helps Web visitors see the most important information and may quickly answer their questions. Using a text box with white space makes the bulleted list easier to read.

Examples:  Cancer Vaccines; Colon Cancer Treatment PDQ (patient summary)

Headings and Subheadings

Web visitors tend to scan Web pages rather than read line-by-line Web text.  Useful, descriptive headings and subheadings help Web visitors quickly find what they are looking for. Some search engines such as Google and Yahoo only list the page titles in their search results page. Using concise and meaningful titles on all pages can help orient users as they browse a page or scan lists for particular URLs.

Use headings and subheadings on list and content pages to:

  • break up long sections of text into “readable chunks”
  • make Web content easier to scan
  • increase search engine optimization
  • inform and compel Web visitors to continue reading

The NCI Dictionary of Cancer Terms ( is the source for over 7,000 glossary terms. Add glossary term links for words that may be new to your audience, especially for content intended for patients, friends, and families.

The Percussion Web Content Management System and CDR content authoring/publishing systems have glossification elements that make it easy for content owners to add glossary links.

Glossary links in NCI content are most often presented as underlined hyperlinked text in NCI’s standard dark gray font color. Links to other NCI content embedded in text or “anchor links” to content within the same document are generally presented in dark red font color.

Examples:  Understanding Prognosis and Cancer Statistics: Questions and Answers

Hyperlinks Within Text

Whenever possible, use the exact page title of the destination document or page when adding a hyperlink within content.

Hyperlink the actual document title or key phrase. You do not need to hyperlink the entire sentence. Do not include the quotation marks, commas, or periods.


How to Present Reference Citations

American Cancer Society.: Cancer Facts and Figures 2011. Atlanta, Ga: American Cancer Society, 2011. Also available online. Last accessed June 20, 2011.

Claus EB, Risch N, Thompson WD: Autosomal dominant inheritance of early-onset breast cancer. Implications for risk prediction. Cancer 73 (3): 643-51, 1994. [PUBMED Abstract]

Gail MH, Brinton LA, Byar DP, et al.: Projecting individualized probabilities of developing breast cancer for white females who are being examined annually. J Natl Cancer Inst 81 (24): 1879-86, 1989. [PUBMED Abstract]