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Tech Tip: How to Write for the Digest

Posted on Mar 15, 2010

Many UW-Superior employees contribute to the Staff Digest System. If you plan on posting messages to the Staff Digest System, here are some basic tips which will help you communicate better to the Campus audience.

This Tech Tip is the "condensed" version. For the full version, please visit the Writing for the Digests webpage.

Purpose of 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.

Meaningful Headlines

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.

Your Article Body

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.

How to handle attachments

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.

Inserting pictures into 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, such as size limits and server space.

Fonts, colors and all that jazzy fun stuff

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.

CommonSpot News/Events System sends to the Digests

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.

Don't Spam

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.

Be sure to read the full article for specific examples and points for each topic presented in this Tech Tip.

News Contact: Mike Twining | 715-394-8008 | mtwining{atuws}
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