Page Title Standards

The page title, also called a "title tag," appears at the top of the browser window in the title bar and appears in the tabs (when used). It identifies the page content users are viewing.

Why are page titles (title tags) important?

  1. Google and other search engines place a lot of weight on title tags when ranking search results.
  2. A search engine results page, also known as SERP, uses the page title as the link to the page.
  3. By default, the title tag is what appears in the user's bookmarks or favorites when they bookmark a page. If your title tag is "Programs," the bookmark will be "Programs."

Best practices for page titles

Best practice is for every page in a website—which means every Web page at WMU—to have a unique title tag. If the title tag consisted only of the page title (examples: advising, contact, directory, programs), there could be dozens or hundreds of identical title tags in the WMU website. If the title tag on every page in a section consisted only of the name of the section (examples: Information Technology, University Relations, Haworth College of Business), there would be dozens or hundreds of identical title tags in the WMU website.

WMU standards for title tags

All of the following standards are based on best practices. Most of these standards are automatically applied in the WMU content management system.

    1. Capitalize all key words in the title, unless you are replicating a headline or title of an article. Do not use abbreviations or acronyms (except WMU) in page titles. Do not use ampersands. Do not use ALL CAPS.
    2. Use a pipe ( | ) as a delimiter. Do not use hyphens, colons or other marks. WMU CMS automatically inserts a pipe.

Use: Directory | University Relations | Western Michigan University
Not: Directory - University Relations - Western Michigan University
Not: Directory :: University Relations :: Western Michigan University

    1. Title tags consist of no more than three elements separated by pipes (|). The site name, Western Michigan University, is always the final element in every page title (except the University home page). The section name (example: Haworth College of Business) is always immediately to the left of the site name. On the home page of a section, there are only two elements.

Example: Haworth College of Business | Western Michigan University

For every other page in a section, there are three elements. The first element is the page title. The section and site names are always the second and third elements, regardless of how many levels deep the page occurs in the section. WMU CMS enforces this standard.

Page Title | Section Name | Site Name

The title tag for an About page in the business college section would be:
About | Haworth College of Business | Western Michigan University

The title tag for a Facts page under About in the same section would be:
Facts | Haworth College of Business | Western Michigan University

    1. Do not include descriptions or tag lines. WMU CMS enforces this standard.

Use: College of Humanities | Western Michigan University
Not: College of Humanities | Offering 25 degree programs

The single exception is the WMU home page.
Western Michigan University | A top 100 national university

    1. Omit Center for, Department of, Division of, Office of, Office of the Vice President for, etc., from title tags. The only exceptions are College of, School of, and units named for people, and in those cases, use only the person's last name.

Use: College of Arts and Sciences | Western Michigan University
Not: Arts and Sciences | Western Michigan University

Use: Frostic School of Art | Western Michigan University
Not: Gwen Frostic School of Art | Western Michigan University

Use: English | Western Michigan University
Not: Department of English | Western Michigan University
Not: English Department | Western Michigan University

Use: Research | Western Michigan University
Not: Office of the Vice President for Research | Western Michigan University
Not: Research Office | Western Michigan University

Approved March 24, 2010
Web Governance Council

Revised May 30, 2012