• Create BookmarkCreate Bookmark
  • Create Note or TagCreate Note or Tag
  • PrintPrint



Peer-to-peer computing. A process where two computers communicate directly without the mediation of a server. One of the best examples of P2P is the Napster service.

See also [Napster]


In a Web context, a page is normally a Webpage, the entire set of content, navigation, and graphics downloaded to the browser when the reader clicks a link or enters a URL. A page may be made up of a number of screens and may thus require scrolling to move up and down it. Pages should only scroll vertically, not horizontally.

page counter

A small software program that counts the number of visits a Webpage receives and publishes that number on the page. Using a page counter is seen as amateur and is not recommended.

page design

See [Webpage design]
page dimension

See [screen size]
page downloads

One of the key ways a reader judges a website is by how quickly its Webpages download. If the pages don’t download—appear on the reader’s browser—within 10 seconds maximum, the reader is very likely to leave that website. Remember, the overriding characteristic of people who read on the Web is impatience. Some now argue that readers will wait no longer than four seconds.

As first impressions count, homepages in particular should be light, say 40 to 60 KB in file size, with a ceiling of 90 KB for all pages on the site. Page weight is not the only reason for a page to load slowly, but it’s certainly the easiest to remedy. You should also consider less straightforward impediments to quick-loading sites such as poor table design, excessive nested tables, and heavy reliance on server-side processing such as CGI scripts. The best way to find out whether your Webpages are downloading quickly is to test the website using average equipment and network speeds.

page impression

A page impression, also known as a page view, is an accepted indicator of traffic to a website that represents a complete Webpage downloaded by a reader. It is a much better indicator of traffic than a hit.

See also [page view]
See also [hit]

page layout

See [website layout and design]
page length

Page length is measured by the number of full screens a particular page of content takes up. Optimally, page length should be as short as possible. Under ideal circumstances, a homepage should fit within one screen of an average size monitor and should be no longer than two. Document pages can be longer, but they should not exceed five pages, except under extraordinary circumstances. Of greater importance to the reader is how quickly the page downloads, rather than how long it is. Remember, for the scan reader, the first page counts most.

See also [page downloads]
See also [scan reading]

page numbers

With very long documents (say 1,500 words or more), you should break up the document into separate pages and provide details on how many pages there are in a “1-2-3-4” linked format at the top and bottom of the page.

Each of the page numbers should be hyperlinked to the appropriate page, except for the page being viewed, which should be unlinked. There should also be a “Previous page” link (on all but the first page) and “Next page” link (on all but the last page). To encourage the reader to click to the next page, it’s also a good idea to bring the first subheading from the next page and turn it into a link. (It should link to the top of the next page, and not to the subheading itself.)

An example of a page number approach can be found at www.salon.com.

See also [website layout and design]

page size

See [page downloads]
page title

A page title is a form of metadata. A meaningful page title is important for three reasons. The page title plays an essential role from a search point of view, as the majority of search engines index the page title and display it as the title of the page in the search results, making it the first thing a reader sees. The page title is visible in the Title bar of the browser window. The page title is also used when the page is bookmarked by a reader.

The page title on the homepage should include the critical keywords that indicate what site the reader is entering. For example, the Microsoft homepage has the following page title: “Welcome to Microsoft’s Homepage.”

On a document page it nearly always makes sense to turn the document heading into the page title, as the heading best describes what is on this page.

Make the page title short, precise, and self-contained (it will be the most prominent aspect of a search result).

page view

Defined as one full page that the reader downloads. Often used to help advertisers get a sense of traffic on a particular page. A page view is the same as a page impression.

See also [impression]
See also [page impression]


For efficient online reading, paragraphs should be kept shorter than is typical in many kinds of offline writing. As a general rule, average paragraph length on the Web should be no longer than 50 words. For more, see page 8.

See also [lead]
See also [word processors]

parentheses and punctuation

Both the period and the question mark should be placed inside the parentheses only when the parentheses enclose a full sentence. Otherwise, the mark should be outside the parentheses.

I traveled to London yesterday (and not for the weather).

I traveled to London yesterday. (Needless to say, it was not for the weather.)

Commas, semicolons, colons, and dashes should be dropped before the closing parentheses. Also, in general, they should not come immediately before an opening parenthesis (the exception being numerals or letters in parentheses that mark enumerations in text).

The site offers clothes (some at half price), books, and glossy magazines.


If your website requires a substantial amount of new content that you cannot create, there may be a real case for exploring partnerships. The ideal partner is one that already has some of the content that you need but is not directly in competition with you.


In some circumstances it is necessary to protect content on a website behind a password-based system. All password-protected areas of the website should be clearly flagged with a phrase such as “Password protected.”

Allow a subscriber to save the password, to avoid their having to continuously re-enter password details. This can be done with cookie software. (See cookie.)

When readers request a password, they should know what they are subscribing to. The best way to do that is to give them an example of the type of content they will get (see subscription-based publishing). Ask them to first choose a username, offering alternatives if their choice is already in use. Always ask them for their email address as this will be necessary for confirmation. Structure the system so that obviously wrong email addresses will result in an error. In the Password field, ask them to input at least six characters, and advise them to mix text characters with numbers, to make it harder for someone to crack their password. Advise them against using the usual pet’s name, etc. Show an “*” for each character entered in the Password field. Ask them to confirm the password.

Where appropriate, allow a successful subscriber immediate access to the website by creating an automatic password verification system. If someone has attempted to reach a password-protected page by clicking a link from another website, for example, send them to that particular page after their subscription has been verified. Email the subscriber a verification and confirmation message, where appropriate.

See also [confirmation message]
See also [verification message]
See also [double opt-in]


A model for paying for content on a document-by-document basis. The amount of payment envisaged in most cases would be quite small (cents, pennies). This model has not really caught on because the credit card system is more suited to larger transactions, and an efficient, secure, and widely accepted form of electronic cash has not been developed.

Because quality content is expensive to create and ad revenue alone is generally not a viable business model, some sort of pay-per-view or subscription model is bound to evolve. Otherwise, commercial content has a bleak future on the Internet.


Stands for personal digital assistant, a handheld device used for basic computing tasks such as keeping personal information, maintaining diaries, sending email, and accessing the Internet.


Stands for Portable Document Format, a widely used application for electronic document distribution worldwide developed by Adobe Systems. You can create PDFs from a number of Adobe products or you can convert documents from a number of applications into PDF format and retain the fonts, formatting, colors, and graphics of that document. A PDF will display the document to the reader exactly as you intended. It also allows you to prepare a document for printing. PDFs have a relatively light file size. Viewing a PDF requires Adobe Acrobat Reader, which is available free at www.adobe.com and can be run on its own or as a browser plug-in.

Remember that while a PDF allows you to show your document as you want, your aim should be to give the reader what they want, so use PDF only if you think that the reader would like the document in that format (for example if they are likely to want a print copy), or if it is simply not economic to prepare the document in a Web format.

PDFs are anathema to scan readers, and are not picked up by most search engines. So, if you are publishing a PDF on the Web, make sure you have an HTML-based heading and summary associated with it.

See also [accessibility]

percent, per cent (%)

Spell it out in text rather than using the symbol %. One word (usually) in American English, two words in British English. Use figures (rather than words) with percent (except when it starts a sentence):

10 percent

Usage: Percent can take a singular or a plural verb depending on what is being described. Generally, what determines the form of the verb is the noun nearest to it.

Over 90 percent of people are literate. (“people” plural)

Less than 10 percent of this group agrees. (“this group” singular)

When writing percent in an email, use the word rather than the symbol, as symbols are not well translated by many email software programs.

See also [collective nouns]


Period in American English, full stop in British English. In American English, periods are always inside quotation marks. Only one space should be given between sentences.

See also [parentheses and punctuation]
See also [quotation marks]

personal digital assistant

See [PDA]

The use of technology to serve up a unique version of a Webpage according to a reader’s behavior and/or preferences. A key benefit of personalization for the regular reader is that they can create navigation shortcuts that allow them to get to the content they want faster. An excellent example of personalization is where Amazon.com recommends books to its customers based on the type of books they have previously purchased.

Personalization is a complex and expensive process that really requires a very large quantity of content and a substantial number of readers before it makes sense. Personalization is no magic answer. Poor-quality content that is personalized is still poor-quality content. However, studies show that regular readers prefer a personalization option.

Personalization has privacy implications because you need to collect information on the reader’s habits and preferences if you are to personal-ize for them. Readers should be kept fully informed of what information is being collected on them.

See also [privacy]


1,125,899,906,842,624 bytes (1,024 terabytes), abbreviated PB.

phone, fax numbers

Generally, phone numbers are referred to in the form

Tel: +353 1 818 1000

Tel: +1 212 358 1775

Fax: +353 1 883 0379

The “+” means that the caller dials their own international dial code first, for example to dial an international number from Ireland, you first dial 00. Spaces between the different parts of the number are preferable to punctuation as different countries punctuate them differently.


Short for picture element, the dots that make up an image on a computer or TV screen, and on paper by a printer. The more pixels, the better.


To use and represent the writings of another person or organization as one’s own. The ability to “cut and paste” content makes plagiarism seductively easy on the Web, and it is emerging as an area of serious concern. Every publishing organization needs to have policies and procedures in place regarding plagiarism. There are two different levels of concern:

  • Intentional plagiarism: Policy here should be unambiguous— plagiarism is unethical, and in some cases illegal. In knowledge-based organizations and in the information economy in general, few types of misconduct are more worrisome. Managers of a website must make sure that all editors, writers, and other members of the publishing team understand this. Any offenses should be treated seriously, at the least by formal reprimand, and possibly by termination of employment. Any accusations of plagiarism by readers should be reviewed at the most senior levels, and a formal policy should be in place for dealing with them. Don’t assume that “it can’t happen here.” There have been many notorious instances of intentional plagiarism at some of the world’s most highly regarded publishing organizations.

  • Unintentional plagiarism: In researching, writing, and editing content, it is all too easy to incorporate someone else’s writing inadvertently. There’s nothing wrong with using the ideas and opinions of others in an article or other written work—writers must simply make sure that the sources of opinions and ideas are noted and attributed correctly, and that they have not merely cut and pasted someone else’s writing into their own. The best way to avoid unintentional plagiarism is to insist on a rigorous and formal fact-checking process.

See also [fact checking]
See also [attribution]
See also [referencing online sources]

plain text

Text containing no formatting or special coding.

See also [ASCII]

platform independent

Platform-independent entities are either not dependent on any particular computer operating system (Windows, UNIX), or can be easily ported from one computer operating system to another. Java was developed as a platform-independent programming language. The Internet is a platform-independent environment.


Hyphenated as both noun and adjective—a tool that “plugs” into a Web browser to provide added functionality.

political terms

Capitalize the term, and the word party, when referencing a particular party, lowercase when referring to a philosophy (left, right, communist, etc.):

He is a former Republican (a member of the Republican Party).

She confessed she had communist leanings.


A website that acts as the reader’s gateway to the Internet. Portals offer a broad array of services including search engines, directories, email, chat rooms, and bulletin boards.

See also [vortal]


The possessive case of a singular noun is formed by adding’s. Although some people simply add an apostrophe to singular nouns ending in s, the ’s better reflects how it is actually pronounced:

Charles’s not Charles’

Exceptions to this are “Jesus” and “Moses,” where you add the apostrophe only.

prepositions to watch

accountable to or for

accuse of

acquit of

affiliate with or to

agree on (a point), with (a person or opinion)

ally to or with

aloof from

analogy between or with

angry with, not at

annoyed by, at, or with

aspire to, after, or toward

bored with not of

charge with

comprise (no preposition, see comprise)

consider (no preposition, don’t use as)

contrast to (something opposite), with (something different)

convict of, not for

convince of, that, not to (but can persuade of, that, and to)

compare to (when likening), with (to contrast)

correspond with (a person), to (a thing)

decision made (in American English), taken (in British English)

die of (not from)

differ from (not to or than), with (a person when disagreeing)

different from or than (not to). See different from/than

fed up with (not of )

glad at (some news), of (a possession)

impatient for (a thing), with (a person)

jealous of

part from (a person), with (a thing)

preferable to, not than

protest at, against

reconcile to (a thing), with (a person)

superior to, not than

taste of (food), for (culture, etc.)

Avoid compound prepositions such as in regard to, in connection with.


Reading is difficult on the Web and many readers will want to print out documents to read offline. Ideally, a “printer-friendly version” of every document should be provided.

The print version should contain the entire document (but without any irrelevant graphics), the publication date, author name, organization name and contact details, copyright information, and the URL for the Web version of the document.

If printer-friendly versions cannot be supplied, ensure you use the three-column approach to document page layout, with the body of the document in the center column, which ensures that part of the document will not be cut off when printed out.

See also [website layout and design]


Privacy is one of the most critical issues that content publishers face on the Internet. Because of a lack of clear legislation, Internet privacy has often been abused. People are thus wary of giving away personal information. They are increasingly concerned about websites that collect information on them without their knowledge, and take a very negative view of websites that they feel are in any way abusing their privacy.

Reader privacy is a particularly important issue when it comes to establishing a subscription-based publication service, or where a personalization system is being implemented. There are three basic principles that need to be employed when you are collecting personal information on a reader:

  • inform the reader of what information you wish to collect;

  • clearly articulate the uses this information will be put to and the benefits that will accrue to the reader;

  • allow the reader the right to view and delete information that has been collected on them.

privacy policy

The page footer should include a link to the privacy policy, which can be on a page of its own or a section in the Terms of use statement. The privacy policy should include information on whether the organization releases information to third parties; what it does with information submitted to the site and how the visitor can control it; and what it does with automatically collected info (type of browser, etc.), cookies, and so on.

See also [footer]
See also [Terms of use statement]

progress chart navigation

Progress chart navigation is highly recommended where the reader is expected to complete any process that involves more than two steps, for example, purchasing a product online or filling out a long form. Progress chart navigation clearly shows to the reader in linear chart form the number of steps involved in a process, and the steps that the reader has already completed. It should be displayed prominently near the top of the page.

Remember, readers are impatient. If they cannot get an immediate sense of the length of the process, they are likely to hit the Back button. It is also true that many readers are hesitant and unsure when using the Web. Presenting them with a clear progress chart can make them more comfortable.

An example of progress chart navigation can be found on the Iomega website (see www.iomega.com).

See also [navigation]

promoting content

Information overload is one of the most critical problems facing the information society. If your reader can’t find your content, or doesn’t know it exists, they’re not going to be able to read it. Promoting content involves bringing the reader to the website and highlighting specific documents or areas for that reader.

There are many different ways to promote content that don’t involve spending big budgets on TV or press advertising.

  • Homepage promotion: A central function of the homepage is to promote key content within the website. Larger websites will have numerous second-level homepages. These homepages should promote key content within their particular section.

  • Internal banner advertising: A banner advertising system is a useful tool to promote important content. To have a faster download and thus better first impression for the reader, many websites avoid having banner ads on the homepage, or have a smaller banner ad on homepages. See banner ad.

  • Email marketing: Email newsletters are a good way of encouraging the reader to re-visit the website. You can also place advertising text in the newsletter, but remember to clearly differentiate it from editorial content. See email marketing, email newsletter.

  • Email signatures: Email signatures are a good way to promote the content on your website. Employees send a lot of emails every day and if a short promotion is put in each signature, it can deliver a lot of exposure. See email signature.

  • Breaking news: Breaking news deals with essential content that needs to be promoted immediately and as widely as possible throughout the website. See breaking news.

  • Search engine registration and optimization: Search engines are one of the primary ways that visitors will find your website. Search engine optimization ensures that your Webpages are accessible to search engines and focused in ways that help improve the chances they will be found. See search engine registration and optimization.

  • Getting linked: When other websites link to yours it’s like embedded word of mouth and is a powerful means of promoting content. Alexa.com gives information on how many links a website has. See getting linked.

  • Offline promotion: You don’t have to spend a fortune on media campaigns, but you do need to think of ways to make your potential readers aware of your site by, for example, putting up posters in the lunchroom if you’re promoting an intranet. See offline promotion.

publication (noun)

A book, magazine, document, or website that contains content that is available to a readership. Think of your website as a publication and the objectives of your website become clearer. Your website is a publication containing content and other resources that are useful to your target readers.

publication schedule

The publication schedule defines how often new content will be published on a website. A publication without a publication schedule is unprofessional.

Key questions need to be addressed when developing a publication schedule, such as how many new documents a day/week are to be published? How often should the homepage be updated, or how often should email newsletters be published? You need to balance how frequently the reader would like to see new content with the cost of doing so. The more frequent the publication schedule, the more expensive the process. Once a publication schedule has been established, it must be rigidly adhered to. If the homepage is to be “published” at 9 A.M. every weekday, then it must be published at 9 A.M. on the dot every weekday.


Publishing is the process of creating and distributing content. To be commercially successful, publishing must get the right content to the right person at the right time and at the right price. What differentiates the practice of publishing from data or content management is that publishing takes only the best content and publishes it to a targeted readership.

Therefore, publishing alleviates information overload by publishing only the content the readers need. Data and content management often exacerbate information overload by putting in front of the reader vast quantities of content, some of it relevant, some of it not.

See also [content management]
See also [data management]
See also [information overload]

pull quotes

A small text passage that is enlarged and set apart from the main text. Because people scan read on the Web, pull quotes can be very helpful in getting them to read on. Pull quotes should be short, no more than 10 to 15 words. They may be placed within the body of the document, or in the left or right column.

From a presentation point of view, the key issue is emphasis. They should stand out in size and in format (bold or a different color can be useful). Another method is to place them in their own box, with the box having a slightly different color background. Don’t overuse this facility— once every five to six paragraphs is sufficient.

pull technology

Also known as “pull medium,” pull technology publishes content in a Web environment for a reader to visit and read. The primary example of pull technology is the Web browser. The principle here is that quality content “pulls” the reader to the website.

With pull technology the reader is very much in control, deciding exactly when and what content they want to see. However, the reader must also actively decide every single time to go to the website in question. With millions of websites out there it is becoming an increasing challenge to attract readers and keep them coming back. Therefore, most websites also seek to use “push” technology, such as email.

See also [push technology]


Pure-play is a stock-trading term that refers to ownership in a company that focuses in one area to the exclusion of other markets. Increasingly, pure-play is also used to refer to an organization that trades only on the Internet, and has no physical outlets. See also dotcom.

Pure-play was initially seen as a cost-effective business model in that there were no physical store costs. However, pure-plays lacked visibility in front of the consumer and therefore had to spend extensively on marketing.

A great number of pure-plays have gone out of business because of low brand awareness, high marketing costs, and, increasingly, competition from established offline brands with clicks-and-mortar strategies.

See also [clicks and mortar]

push technology

Also known as “push medium,” push technology sends content directly to a reader either by email, browser plug-in, or some other piece of software. In essence, push technology is an example of subscription-based publishing. The classic example of push technology is an email newsletter.

Properly used, a push approach makes a lot of sense. Instead of a reader having to decide every time to go to a website (pull technology), they can sign up for an email newsletter or other push media and get content sent to them on a regular basis.

However, push technology has suffered from improper use and extreme hype. Some organizations pushed too much content, which overwhelmed readers and upset network administrators, who saw their network slow to a crawl. A push approach works well if a limited quantity of very specific content is sent to a highly targeted readership.

Often the best approach is a combination of the push and pull technology. For example, an email newsletter (push) is distributed containing short content summaries, with links back to the website (pull) for the full document.

See also [email newsletter]
See also [pull technology]
See also [subscription-based publishing]



Not a subscriber?

Start A Free Trial

  • Creative Edge
  • Create BookmarkCreate Bookmark
  • Create Note or TagCreate Note or Tag
  • PrintPrint