How to write for the Digests

Purpose of the Digests

The purpose of the digests is to communicate to our internal campus community. UW-Superior has two digests: one for students and one for faculty/staff. The digest system 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. Digest messages include, but are not limited to: Event promotion, meeting announcements, advising/registrar notices and more.

Meaningful Headlines

The headline is the first thing people see that tells readers the subject of your digest post; it is the deciding factor on whether or not a person clicks 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.

  • DO make it informative. Instead of saying "UWS Blood Drive," say "Donate your blood at the UWS Blood Drive." Use keywords that directly relate to your content.
  • DO get right to the point and keep it short. Instead of saying "Upcoming Training - This will show you how to do many things in Office 365," say "Upcoming Office 365 Workshop."
  • DO use a noun and a verb. Stay away from sentence fragments. Instead of saying "Parking Notice," say "Parking Lot 13 will be closed Thursday afternoon." Readers shouldn't have fundamental questions after reading your headline.
  • DON'T use exclamation marks. We all know you are very excited about your news/event, but exclamation marks are unprofessional and mean you are shouting. No one wants to be shouted at, which brings us to the next point.
  • DON'T USE ALL CAPS. All caps on the computer means you are screaming at the reader. Don't scream. All caps headlines get ignored by most readers. So instead of saying "GO TO JOHN'S RETIREMENT PARTY" say "You are invited to John's retirement party." Treat your headline like a title of a book, properly - like you are speaking to a real person, because you are.
  • DON'T use "sentence enhancers." We have all seen them, they are not "normal" parts of a sentence: "!!!~~-- (Come to my event) --~~!!!". The use of sentence enhancers is just a gimmick to try to get readers attention; this is the fast lane to an unprofessional image and will not get anyone to click on your article.

Your Announcement 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 digest post, you will want to present them with the details of your announcement.

  • DO answer the basic questions a reader will have - Who? What? Where? When? Why?
    • Who should I contact for questions?
    • What is this event about?
    • Where is this event?
    • When is this event? - dates and times so people can add it to their calendar
    • Why is this event happening? Give some background information about the event/announcement if necessary.
  • DO include contact information and links to webpages that supply more information, such as maps, directions, registration information, other webpages that talk directly about the subject.
  • DO proofread your message before sending it. We are all swamped with work, and the faster we can send the message the better. A lot of the times, you will misspell a word or forget to include basic information without knowing about it. Step back, take a deep breath and go through your article to make sure it's typo-free and says everything you need it to say.
  • DO Use Links. Links allow your readers to quickly find out more information about certain topics. If your event has a guest speaker, turn the speaker's name into a hyperlink to the guest speaker's homepage. If registration is required for your event, link to a webpage where they can register.
  • DON'T clutter your article with odd fonts, colors or background images to "get readers attention" or "to make things more interesting." Keep it simple, use the default system fonts such as Arial or Times New Roman, which will ensure that your text will look the same on all computers. It's been proven that black text on white background is the easiest and fastest way to read text on the screen, so don't make your text green or all blue. Keep in mind your message might be read by someone with low vision, so avoid using colored text or backgrounds in your messages. Black text and white background is the way it should be. More ADA information is found at ada.gov.
  • DON'T Over Use Stylized Text. Don't bold or italicize an entire paragraph. Italic text is the hardest text to read on the computer screen. Remember that people are in a hurry to quickly read your information, so make it easy for readers by sticking with regular text.
  • DON'T write everything in one long sentence or paragraph. Break portions of your article up into paragraphs instead of having one big block of text. Text broken up into shorter paragraphs helps your readers digest your information faster.

Inserting Pictures

Inserting an image into a digest post is useful to show the reader what the announcement is all about. Please consider the following:

  1. Resize your image to around 600px wide. This ensures the picture is optimized for the web and loads quickly, especially on mobile devices.
  2. Readers don't have time to be confused or distracted with a hard to read image, such as an image with embedded text, especially on university time. Just give them the raw text, perhaps with some slight formatting and call it good. If you want to show readers photos, link to a webpage that has more photos.
  3. Keep in mind that your digest post needs to be accessible. Text in images is not readable by screen readers, so make sure you have all your information as raw text in your message. Use an image as a supplement.

Don't Spam

Only post relevant announcements to the digests. 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 overboard. The maximum time frame we suggest  for digest posts is one work week.