Publishing Online and in Print
Whenever you distribute or display information to the public as part of an Extension activity, you are publishing for Extension.
That includes printed materials (everything from letters to brochures, program handouts, and fact sheets), PowerPoint presentations, Web pages and videos. All of these materials represent Extension and reinforce our organizational identity.
This section of the style guide provides the guidelines and links to resources you need to publish Extension materials that give the public a consistent message in an attractive package.
Equal Employment Opportunity Statement
ADA Accommodation Statement
Using Photographs and Graphics
Respect Copyright Laws
Use High-quality Image Galleries
Acknowledge the Source
Use the Proper File Type
Follow Simple Rules of Photo Composition
Think Before You Write
Edit Your Writing
News Writing and Releases
Miscellaneous Tips on AP Style
Requirements for Web Pages
Requirements for Videos
Requirements for Print
Requirements for PowerPoints
All materials distributed to the public either online, as a presentation, or in print should include the Extension logo in a prominent position. Guidance for logo placement is provided in the logo use section of this guide and in the templates provided for different kinds of publications in the Toolkit.
If your publication or presentation is produced in partnership with another organization, the Extension logo should be placed as directed in the co-branding section of this guide.
If a printed publication written, edited, or designed at N.C. State or N.C. A&T, the university logo should be included based on instructions in each university’s logo use guidelines:
Any publication printed by Cooperative Extension, other than those published for sale, is required to include a cost statement. The law (Statute 143-170(a)) applies to documents printed in quantities greater than 200. It applies to documents printed by professional printers, campus print shops and those printed in-house by county centers.
Campus Administration states that the funding source used to print a document is not a factor in determining whether the document should have a cost statement. This applies to county or federal funds. Once the funds are being used by Extension, a state agency, the funds are to be administered according to state policy.
The law defines printing costs to include "printing costs in the form of labor and materials, and other identifiable design, typesetting, and binding costs." To determine print costs for a job printed by an outside vendor or campus print shop, simply take the total cost of the job and divide it by the number of pieces printed for the per copy price.
There are two ways to calculate costs when you print in-house.
1. Contact the copier manufacturer and request the specifications for your printer. Ask for an average page count for a lot of toner. Divide the toner cost by the page count. Add the cost of paper (price per ream divided by pages in ream) to determine your total and per copy costs.
2. Contact your copier manufacturer and supply the model number. Ask them to tell you the average price per printed sheet. Not all representatives are well-informed, so you may need to ask around to find someone who can assist you. Once you have the cost, add the paper cost and use the total and per piece cost in the cost statement, which appears below.
English: (Number of copies) copies of this public document were printed at a cost of $_____, or $_____ per copy.
Spanish: Declaración de costos. Se imprimieron _____ copias de este documento público a un costo de $_____; es decir, $_____ por copia.
Use this statement on all printed and digital materials distributed to outside audiences. This includes informal brochures, program handouts, postcards and Web pages. This statement affirms that Extension adheres to the Equal Employment Opportunity Act mandate for organizations that receive federal funding.
English: North Carolina State University and North Carolina A&T State University commit themselves to positive action to secure equal opportunity regardless of race, color, creed, national origin, religion, sex, age, veteran status or disability. In addition, the two Universities welcome all persons without regard to sexual orientation.
Spanish: La universidad N.C. State University y la universidad N.C. A&T State University se comprometen a llevar a cabo acciones positivas para asegurar la igualdad de oportunidades independientemente de la raza, el color de la piel, el credo, el origen nacional, la religión, el sexo, la edad, la condición de veterano de guerra, o la discapacidad de la persona. Además, las dos universidades acogen a toda persona independientemente de su orientación sexual.
Use this statement on all stationery and newsletters. It includes the Equal Employment Opportunity statement plus a description of Extension as an organization that involves cooperation among federal, state, and local entities.
English: North Carolina State University and North Carolina A&T State University commit themselves to positive action to secure equal opportunity regardless of race, color, creed, national origin, religion, sex, age, veteran status, or disability. In addition, the two Universities welcome all persons without regard to sexual orientation. North Carolina State University, North Carolina A&T State University, U.S. Department of Agriculture, and local governments cooperating.
Spanish: La universidad N.C. State University y la universidad N.C. A&T State University se comprometen a llevar a cabo acciones positivas para asegurar la igualdad de oportunidades independientemente de la raza, el color de la piel, el credo, el origen nacional, la religión, el sexo, la edad, la condición de veterano de guerra, o la discapacidad de la persona. Además, las dos universidades acogen a toda persona independientemente de su orientación sexual. N.C. State University, N.C. A&T State University, Departamento de Agricultura de Estados Unidos y los gobiernos locales que cooperan.
The certification statement includes the cooperating statement plus a statement about Extension’s congressional mandate. Use it on formal publications, such as formal reports and the official numbered publications produced by Extension specialists at N.C. State University and N.C. A&T State University and published in print or digitally.
English: Distributed in furtherance of the acts of Congress of May 8 and June 30, 1914. North Carolina State University and North Carolina A&T State University commit themselves to positive action to secure equal opportunity regardless of race, color, creed, national origin, religion, sex, age, veteran status, or disability. In addition, the two Universities welcome all persons without regard to sexual orientation. North Carolina State University, North Carolina A&T State University, U.S. Department of Agriculture, and local governments cooperating.
Spanish: Se distribuye como respaldo de las leyes del Congreso del 8 de mayo y el 30 de junio de 1914. La universidad N.C. State University y la universidad N.C. A&T State University se comprometen a llevar a cabo acciones positivas para asegurar la igualdad de oportunidades independientemente de la raza, el color de la piel, el credo, el origen nacional, la religión, el sexo, la edad, la condición de veterano de guerra, o la discapacidad de la persona. Además, las dos universidades acogen a toda persona independientemente de su orientación sexual. N.C. State University, N.C. A&T State University, Departamento de Agricultura de Estados Unidos y los gobiernos locales que cooperan.
ADA Accommodation Statement
This statement offers assistance to anyone who participates in a program or event and needs special accommodations. Use it whenever you invite the public to an event. For county events, the contact name should be someone in the county office. If you need assistance filling an accommodations request, contact Sheri Schwab, CALS Personnel, 919.515.1381.
English: For accommodations for persons with disabilities, contact ________________ at xxx.xxx.xxxx, ext. xxx, no later than five business days before the event.
Spanish: Para informarse sobre adaptaciones para personas con discapacidades, comuníquese con ___ ___ llamando al xxx.xxx.xxxx ext.xx a más tardar cinco días hábiles antes del evento.
If commercial products or chemicals are mentioned in a publication, use one of the following disclaimers:
When brand names but not agricultural chemicals are mentioned, use the short-form disclaimer.
English: The use of brand names in this publication does not imply endorsement by the North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service of the products or services named nor discrimination against similar products or services not mentioned.
Spanish: El uso de nombres de marcas comerciales en esta publicación no implica la aprobación de Carolina del Norte por el Servicio de Extensión Cooperativa de los productos o servicios nombrados ni discriminación contra productos o servicios similares no mencionados.
When agricultural chemicals are mentioned, use the long-form disclaimer.
English: Recommendations for the use of agricultural chemicals are included in this publication as a convenience to the reader. The use of brand names and any mention or listing of commercial products or services in this publication does not imply endorsement by North Carolina Cooperative Extension nor discrimination against similar products or services not mentioned. Individuals who use agricultural chemicals are responsible for ensuring that the intended use complies with current regulations and conforms to the product label. Be sure to obtain current information about usage regulations and examine a current product label before applying any chemical. For assistance, contact your county Cooperative Extension agent.
Spanish: Recomendaciones para el uso de productos agroquímicos, se incluyen en esta publicación como una comodidad para el lector. El uso de nombres de marcas comerciales en esta publicación no implica la aprobación de Carolina del Norte por el Servicio de Extensión Cooperativa de los productos o servicios nombrados ni discriminación contra productos o servicios similares no mencionados. Los individuos quienes usan químicos agrícolas son responsables de asegurar que el uso propuesto cumple con las regulaciones actuales y conforma a la etiqueta del producto. Asegúrese de obtener información actual sobre las regulaciones del uso y que examine la etiqueta actual del producto antes de aplicar el químico. Para obtener asistencia, póngase en contacto con su agente de Extensión Cooperativa del condado.
Photographs and graphics can enliven digital and printed publications with attractive images that help to convey your message. Remember these guidelines when using them in Extension publications, Web sites and presentations.
- Respect copyright laws.
- Respect the privacy of people that you photograph.
- Take advantage of image galleries (link to in Marketing toolkit) to obtain copyright-free photographs for both online and printed publications.
- Acknowledge the source of the photograph or image.
- Use the proper file type for the medium—digital or printed.
- Follow rules of composition to improve the pictures you take.
Also remember that the N.C. Cooperative Extension logo should be one of the graphics you use on any publication to advertise or support Extension activities.
Obtain permission to use photographs and graphics from other sources. Unless the site or publication states that a graphic or photo is available for free use by the public, all photographs and graphics published online and in print are copyrighted. You must obtain permission for use from the site or publication owner.
Be sure to obtain permission via e-mail or in writing, and file the permission where you can retrieve it if needed. Approval by phone will not suffice if someone questions you about using an image.
- If you are using photographs that you take during Extension activities, be sure to obtain permission from those involved. The level of permission required depends on the subject’s age: Obtain permission from parents or guardians to use photographs of minors. If you take a picture of someone under 18 for use in a printed or digital publication, be sure to obtain written permission from the minor’s parents or guardian. (Note: Children participating in 4-H activities should be covered by a 4-H photo release.) The child’s name or location should never be provided with a photograph on a Web site. When submitting photos for publication in a newspaper, include the child’s name, parents’ name and home town, but not street address.
- When shooting at an event, let your subjects know who you are and how you will use the photos. If an adult objects to their photo being taken, do not include that person in any photos that might be used for publication.
Use High-Quality Image Galleries
The Department of Communication Services online image gallery contains digital photographs for use by N.C. State University faculty and staff.
You will be asked for your Unity password and I.D. to enter the site. You can download free low-resolution images for digital publishing. High-resolution photographs are available by request.
Several federal agencies provide image galleries that you can use for free in educational materials. Each site stipulates the conditions of use. Usually an acknowledgement of the source or the photographer is required. Visit the photo galleries to find images you can use for free.
Acknowledge the source of any photographs or graphics used in your publication. This protects you and N.C. Cooperative Extension from charges of copyright infringement. It also maintains the copyright of photographs and graphics that you provided.
If you use a photograph provided by the Department of Communication Services, add a statement to acknowledge use:
- Acknowledge use at the end of the publication:
Example: Photo on page x courtesy of Communication Services at N.C. State
- Or use small print at the bottom or along the right side of the photograph:
Example: Communication Services, N.C. State
If you use a photograph from the U.S. Department of Agriculture or another agency, add a statement to acknowledge courtesy of use. If the owner provides no instructions for acknowledgement, use a standard statement:
- Acknowledge use at the end of the publication in an acknowledgements section: Example: Photograph on page x courtesy of the USDA Agricultural Research Service.
- Or use small print at the bottom or side:
Example: USDA Agricultural Research Service.
When submitting your own photos to news media, indicate that the photo source is N.C. Cooperative Extension. An employee name can also be provided, but it is not required unless the employee has copyrighted the photo by publishing it elsewhere.
In general, use medium-resolution JPEG files in Web pages, word processing files, and PDF files that will be viewed on-screen only and not printed for distribution. The acceptable resolution for on-screen viewing is 72 dpi.
Use high-resolution JPEG, TIFF, or EPS files in publications that will be printed for distribution using offset printing, digital printing, a laser printer or an inkjet printer. An image should have a resolution of 300 dpi at its print size. An image resolution of less than 300 dpi produces poor quality printing.
Use medium-resolution JPEG files for PowerPoint presentations. A resolution of 150 dpi will usually suffice.
Many Web sites about photography provide basic rules for taking effective photographs. Here are a few examples:
Whether you follow the rules or break them for effect, make sure you do the following:
- For digital photography, pay attention to file size. Make sure you create a file that’s large enough to provide adequate resolution for the intended use: on-screen viewing or in print.
- Pay attention to lighting, and use a flash when needed.
- Avoid clutter around the photograph’s primary image—the subject you want the viewer to notice.
Writing involves five steps: thinking about what you need to say, gathering information, writing, editing what you have written, and proofreading by someone other than the author. These steps usually don’t occur in order. Sometimes we gather information, think a little, write, edit, think some more, go back to gather information to fill in gaps, and then write and edit some more.
Sometimes writing is easy. When you type a quick response to a specific e-mail inquiry, you read your message through to be sure it makes sense, perform a spell-check, and press send!
E-mails seem easy because you know exactly whom you are addressing (your audience), what they need to know, and what you want to say. If you can think about more difficult writing tasks in the same way, you will have a head start on the writing process.
Think Before You Write
Writing consists of a message (the content) and how it is delivered (the style). Think about content and style as you begin your writing project. These questions can help you to get started:
- What do you want to accomplish? Do you want to convince people to come to a program or event? Or do you want to give them information about how to complete a task that matters to their livelihood, like fertilizing a crop? Your information goal will help you to determine the best way to deliver your message. An invitation to participate in a program requires a brochure or handout. Detailed instructions for using a piece of equipment might work best in a printed handout, a PowerPoint, a Web page, or a video.
- Who is your audience? What are they likely to prefer? The marketing toolkit provides some demographic profiles (link to Marketing Kit profiles) of Extension audiences and the subjects they find most interesting based on survey data. Use the data to find out all you can about the people you want to reach with your message. Adapt your writing style to your target audience’s age and education level.
- Why should they care about this information? What will get their attention? For example, if you are writing text for a brochure about your program on preventing diabetes, focus on the key benefits of good nutrition.
Remember those basic questions from grammar school? Who, what, when, where, and why? Collect the information you need to answer the basics in enough detail to give your audience what they need to know about an event or topic.
Highlight the most important points, and group related information under each. An outline can help you organize information under key topics and establish a structure for your brochure, newsletter, report, or Web page. As you think about structure, decide what information is likely to have the most importance for your audience. It should come first.
Just write. You can edit, add more information, and polish your style later. Get something down to work with. These basic writing tips can help you create text that people want to read:
- Use short sentences of 15 to 20 words. They are easiest to comprehend. Use punctuation to break up longer sentences. Readers lose interest in long unpunctuated sentences.
- Use short paragraphs. Long paragraphs turn into a gray mass in print. Short paragraphs create visual breaks on a page.
- Avoid technical jargon unless you are writing for a technical audience that uses the same vocabulary. If you must use technical words when writing about science, explain each term when it is first used. Provide simple definitions, and compare the term’s meaning with something familiar to your audience.
- Rely on the “you” approach. Imagine your typical readers and address your writing to them. Make it personal.
Edit Your Writing
- Editing is just as important as writing. This is the stage for polishing the words, organization, and style of your publication, whether it is digital or in print. Let your work sit for at least 24 hours before editing. You will view it with a fresh perspective.
- Read the text aloud for content and style. The ear often hears errors that your eye doesn’t catch.
- Make sure your organization flows logically from one topic to another. Delete, substitute, rearrange, and insert text as needed. Keep related information about a key topic together. Use headings to organize information and direct the reader through the flow of topics.
- Get rid of words that don’t add to the meaning. Adverbs (descriptive words that end in “ly”) often can be removed unless they convey something essential about a verb or adjective. Prepositional phrases (phrases that begin with words such as of, in, by, to) often signal places where text can be rephrased to be more direct and active.
- Vary sentence and paragraph lengths. Keep some short to emphasize key points, and follow up with a longer sentence or paragraph. This will vary the rhythm and add interest.
- Check your work for accuracy. Verify all numbers, including phone numbers, and the spelling of all names and special terms. Use your word processing spelling and grammar feature and a dictionary. Access the Microsoft Word spelling and grammar feature by left-clicking the Tools pull-down menu and selecting “spelling and grammar.” You can also press F7.
- Invest in a style guide. Style guides prescribe how to handle common matters of style, such as treatment of numbers, hyphenation of compound words, capitalization of geographical terms and punctuation.
The Associated Press Style Guide, often referred to as the “AP style guide,” is available online and at most bookstores. AP style is the style guide used for Extension publications other than numbered publications. (link to miscellaneous tips on AP style)
The Chicago Manual of Style is the industry standard for book publishers if you have a question the AP guide doesn’t answer. This style guide is used for numbered Extension publications.
The Elements of Style is one of many books about style that address common mishaps in word use and grammar.
- (If you are using photographs and graphics, make sure they support a key point and enhance its meaning. Check placement and captions.
- Ask a colleague to read the next draft. After your first edit, prepare a new draft and give it to a colleague for editing. A fresh reader will see things you have overlooked.
- Review once more before you print, publish online, or present.
News releases require a special style of writing. Important information should go at the beginning of every news release, followed by information of lesser importance. In addition, be sure to answer the “five w’s” – who, what, when, where and why – in your news release.
All news media use Associated Press style rules in determining how to write dates, what to capitalize and how to abbreviate names or terms. Some AP tips are provided below. To learn more, purchase a copy of the Associated Press Style Manual, available from most bookstores.
Each news release should begin with the date of distribution, followed by a media contact name (the person who wrote it) and contact information (e-mail address and phone number). Remember to include a cell phone number as a contact for an event that will take place away from your county center.
Be sure to find out how your local news media like to receive news. Most news outlets prefer e-mail messages. Many do not like to receive news as attachments because of the risk of corrupted files.
Get multiple uses out of your news releases. These news stories also can be incorporated into your county newsletters. Also, post news items to the “News” section of your county home page. If you alert your clients to subscribe to your RSS feeds (see the bottom link on county home pages), they will be alerted automatically through their RSS feed reader whenever you post a news item to your site. For more on RSS feeds,
See the template (link to template in Marketing Toolkit) for Cooperative Extension news releases. It includes instructions for use.
Miscellaneous Tips on AP Style
- Never start a sentence with a number. Spell out numbers below 10 and use numerals for other numbers.
- Spell out the word “percent” instead of using the symbol.
- Capitalize a job title used before names.
Example: Department Extension Leader Jane Doe
Use lowercase in titles that follow names. (The word “Extension” is always capitalized when it stands for North Carolina Cooperative Extension.)
Example: Jane Doe, department Extension leader
- Handouts are “fliers,” not flyers. Flyers have wings!
- People are residents of a state, but citizens of a nation.
- Lowercase a.m. and p.m.; use periods after each letter.
- Precede dollar amounts with the dollar sign. Do not follow with the word dollar(s).
- Lowercase directions such as “west” or “southeast,” unless they are part of a name (for example, the Southeast District).
All county home pages use the North Carolina Cooperative Extension Web Site content management system developed by Extension Information Technology for the public state, district and county Web sites. The content management system allows counties flexibility in choosing a photo banner for the top of the page, creating one special “Extension Center” page for office-specific information, and adding content throughout the system.
On the home page, counties can add “Special Announcement,” a customized message, image, and image caption. Counties can also choose to turn off the “Featured Content” on the home page. News articles entered using the “News” feature and Events entered into the Extension Calendar will also display on the home page and on specific topic pages. Counties can also customize the “About” and “FAQ” pages.
The “Special Announcement” banner should include no more than two short announcements at any time and should be no longer that 3-4 inches. Including too much information in the banner detracts from other features of the Web site. Counties are encouraged to use photos to illustrate announcements, rather than clip art.
Elsewhere in the site, counties can add content in the form of messages, text links, and hyperlinked images with captions on all the topic pages. Counties can also add their own content pages using the content editor, upload images into their own image library, and upload PDF, DOC, XLS, PPT, RTF, and MP3 files into their own file library.
The pages are designed to use photo images that can be uploaded to the site and inserted into the page. Follow the guidelines for using photographs and graphics. Also, avoid using moving images, as they detract from the user’s attention rather than reinforcing it. The use of “clip art” is discouraged throughout the site.
Information on the county Web pages can be found on the CES Web site or by contacting your local Area Information Management Agent.
Use the writing tips and news writing for text. Check grammar, spelling and punctuation for a Web page just as you would for a printed document.
Make sure your Web site is accessible (link to Accessibility section in this style guide) as specified by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). This is a legal requirement that applies to all the content on a Web site, including linked PDF files, Word documents, audio content, and videos.
When you are writing text and putting together images and other content for a Web page, you must consider the needs of users who may have hearing or sight impairments. Official Web pages that are available to the general public and unauthenticated users must be created in an accessible format.
Web pages created for restricted distribution to a specific group must provide accessible content upon request to accommodate a person with a disability.
Accessible format standards are defined in detail on these sites:
Web Accessibility Initiative
Section 508 federal guidelines
State of North Carolina Web site development guidelines
All images and graphics must be tagged with alternate text so users can both see and hear image content. A transcript must be available for audio content so that users with hearing impairment can read the content. Videos must include synchronized captions that describe the action onscreen in sync with a readable version of any spoken words.
Accessibility also applies to linked word processing files and PDF files. Alternate text must be provided for photographs and graphics. Tables must read properly with a screen reader. The text must read in the proper order.
If you need assistance with preparing accessible online files, these resources are available:
Accessible IT at N.C. State University
The site includes information on software, training, and tutorials to help you create accessible content.
The Department of Communication Services at N.C. State University has a video team that produces audio and video for an hourly fee. Contact the video team with your questions concerning video and audio production. Studio facilities and classroom facilities are available, as well as a video library and sales catalog.
If you produce video footage for distribution to the public as an Extension news item or educational tool, follow these guidelines.
- Include the Extension logo. The logo must be on the first frame a user encounters. It can also be used at the end of the video as a second use.
- Include the appropriate disclaimer if brand names or chemicals are mentioned or discussed
- Provide a synchronized captioned file for any videos placed on a Web site. All online materials must be accessible to people who have disabilities, including those who have poor eyesight or hearing. A transcript will not suffice for a video. The content must be captioned, and the captions must be synchronized with the film. This is a federal and state legal requirement. If you need assistance with captioning a video file, contact the Communication Services video team.
- If you link to videos produced elsewhere and published on Web sites not affiliated with N.C. State University or N.C. Cooperative Extension, you do not have to provide a captioned file. You cannot, however, create a video, post it on another site, link to it and thereby avoid synchronized captioning. If you or anyone involved with Extension produces the video footage, it must be captioned and the captions must be synchronized with the action in the video. This is a federal and state legal requirement.
- Use Extension templates for brochures, handouts, and fact sheets. These templates take care of the basics for you and convey a consistent Extension look. Insert your own text and photographs to create a custom look.
- If you are not using a template, be sure to include the Extension logo.
- If you are not using a template, be sure to include the Extension Equal Employment Opportunity statement on brochures and handouts. Include Extension’s certification statement in formal fact sheets and reports.
- Include the required cost statement.
- Include any needed disclaimer.
- Follow the guidelines for using photographs and graphics.
- Cull your mailing list. North Carolina law requires mailing list to be revised, corrected and updated on or before July 1 of each year. The easiest way to do this is to create a notice in the newsletter that appears on the opposite side of the page where the recipient’s mailing address appears. The notice should state, "If you want to continue receiving this publication, please cut out and mail this notice to (insert address here). Please make any corrections to your address on the mailing label when you send it back.”
- Use the writing tips for text Check grammar, spelling and punctuation.
- Refer to a dictionary and the Associated Press style guide if you are unsure about spelling, punctuation or word use.
- If an online version is provided as a text, word processing, or PDF file, make sure that it meets accessibility standards. This is a federal and state law and a university requirement that applies to all content on a Web site.
- Use the Extension templates for PowerPoint presentations. These templates take care of a basic design for you and convey the Extension look. Customize with your text and images.
- If you are not using a template, include the Extension logo on the first or last slide of each PowerPoint presentation.
- If you are not using a template, include the appropriate disclaimer if you mention product brand names or chemical names.
- Follow the guidelines for using photographs and graphics.
- Use the writing tips for text.
- Check grammar, spelling, and punctuation. Refer to a dictionary and the Associated Press style guide if you are unsure about spelling, punctuation or word use.
- If an online version is provided, make sure that it meets accessibility standards. This legal requirement applies to all content on a Web site.