University of Wisconsin-Superior
Swenson Hall 2100
Belknap and Catlin
P.O. Box 2000
Superior, WI 54880
How to write for the Digests
The purpose of the digests is for internal University communications. It allows the campus to easily email an automated system, which in turn, sends a daily email with all the messages it received for the day. This system consolidates many messages that would normally end up in your inbox into one single message list.
The headline is the first thing people see that advertises your news or event; it is the deciding factor on whether or not a person clicks on it to find out more. Readers will scan all the headlines for the digest, make sure yours gets the right attention it deserves in a positive way.
Now that you have the interest of the reader (which is the hardest part) and the reader has invested the time and energy to learn more about your article, you will want to present them with the details of your news or event.
Sometimes we need to attach a file to a message, such as a PDF, spreadsheet or other documents. The recommended size limit of an attachment is around 60k. Did you know that each person who receives the Digest also gets a copy of your attachment? This will over time, fill-up the email server's hard drive, reducing the amount of available disk space for future use.
If you attachment is small, under 60k, feel free to attach it to the email you send to the Digest. If your attachment is quite large - 100k+, you should think about putting that file somewhere on the Network or Website, then in your email insert text and hyperlink to the document. Linking to a document that lives elsewhere is a great way to reduce the file size of your email.
Inserting a picture into an article is useful to show the reader what the event or news article is all about. We encourage this on the website when posting a news or event. However, with the digests it has some drawbacks:
Many digest articles include multiple fonts such as Times, Arial and Calibri - all in the same article body. Sometimes, these different fonts also carry different styles, such as weight (bold), italics, size, etc. On top of that, these fonts are also in multiple colors, such as red, green, blue, yellow, orange.
Why are these articles like this? The author thinks it "helps" - it decorates the message, it adds some "jazz", makes it more "fun". Some color might be useful to highlight certain points, but too much can be overwhelming and your reader may become more focused on that instead of the actual message.
The best advice anyone can give you regarding article publication is use only one or two fonts. This will make the article body easier to read and less cluttered. Use one font for a heading and another for body text. This will make your article look more presentable and professional - giving you and your department or group more credibility. Don't pick strange fonts that are only on your computer - ones that no one else has, such as "Algerian" or "Jokerman". Stay with Arial and Times New Roman. Campus computers have these fonts installed, as do most computers off campus.
Colors - keep everything black text on a white background. This has been proven to be the most usable and readable color scheme for reading text on a computer screen. You may change the colors of a heading, but keep the color to something that is easy on the eyes, such as dark blue or dark green - not bright yellow or light red. Always keep the background color white.
Styles - keep special formatting to a minimum, such as bolded text and italicized text. Any additional styles to a text block make it harder for a reader to quickly read your content. Imagine trying to read a whole article or even a whole sentence that is all italics - ick!
ADA Compliance - all our messages should meet accessibility standards, meaning - people with low vision issues or are restricted to only a keyboard or other input device should still be able to consume your information. More ADA information is found at ada.gov.
A recent update to the website News/Events System is the ability to compose your message on your department website and have it appear in the Staff and Student Digests.
Posting your news/event to your department website is preferable for articles that you want the public and internal faculty/staff to see. When you post a news or event to your department website, it has many more outlets that allow people to consume your information. To put a website News/Event into Staff/Student digest:
When you post an article to your department website, it will meet ADA compliance by default. It will also take care of any font issues and make it conform to University Standards. To see an example of an article submitted to Staff Digest via CommonSpot, check out any of the Technology Services Tech Tips.
Only post relevant articles to the Digests. Relevancy also applies to your department's CommonSpot website. The campus doesn't need to know there are brownies in room 113. The Digests are an "official" method of campus-wide communication and are restricted to "official" messages that affect most or all of the campus community.
It doesn't hurt to include your article into the Digests for multiple days in a row. Sometimes people don't read the Digest every single day, maybe on the 3rd day they do and are finally informed about your announcement. However, don't go over-board. The campus doesn't need to see the same article running in the Digests for more than 1 work week. If people haven't read your article over the course of a full week, most likely they aren't going to.
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