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URLs in print documentation

 6:15 pm on May 13, 2002 (gmt 0)

Question recently posed by our PR departement: "Is there an excepted norm in displaying a URL in print documents? Is there a difference between ad copy (were it seems common to see just the site name: ie. www.thesite.com) and instructional copy (where it seems common to see the full url: ie. http://www.thesite.com.)"

Can't seem to find anything regarding this online, and honestly it sounds a bit nitpicky to me. But it did get my curiosity stirred a bit. :) Anyone notice any "standard" in this?



 6:25 pm on May 13, 2002 (gmt 0)

I don't know about a de facto but in general the "http: //" piece is becoming less and less used. All current browsers try HTTP first before failing. Even the www is dropped nowadays in advertisement and print media. It is presumed that if no www is present then the address is prefixed with http: //www.


 7:02 pm on May 13, 2002 (gmt 0)

>Even the www is dropped nowadays in advertisement and print media.

I agree. In the US, I'd even go so far as to say it dates the material if any prefix is included in ad material. I'm not sure about instructional copy, I will say that the "http://www." seems like unnecessary noise to me, but I'd bet excluding it might draw a few complaints from those obsessive-compulsive types that actually read instructions.

About 18 months ago, I consulted on the development of a state road & waterway map for a particular region. This question was something of a big deal. Many wanted the full url of the matching site on the cover, I wanted just the domain.... I knew the project director, so I won. It looks great.


 7:07 pm on May 13, 2002 (gmt 0)

Personally I just prefer the way www.domain.com looks... the www. and .com balance each other out when you're only using the root URL.

However, as soon as you start adding specific filenames onto the end, the whole symmetry thing gets blown out the window, so I generally add the http:// back on the beginning: http*//www.domain.com/directory/file.htm

There is no established standard, like there is for biliographic citations or whatnot. I don't think the librarians have gotten around to the URL question yet. ;)

(edited by: mivox at 7:26 pm (utc) on May 13, 2002)


 7:21 pm on May 13, 2002 (gmt 0)

I include the www because there are occassions where I refer to a subdomain such as search.thesite.com. I want the reader to get in the habit of not assuming everything starts with a www.

The protocol I don't use unless it's https or ftp.


 7:27 pm on May 13, 2002 (gmt 0)

Librarians are a lot faster off the mark than they get credit for.

A google search with the keyword phrase < internet style guide url > turns up citation guidelines at various institutions.

The American Library Association and the Library of Congress might be a good place to look too.

Apple Style Guide, Yale Style Manual, GE - Standards and Guidelines are worth looking at.


 11:16 pm on May 13, 2002 (gmt 0)

I've seen in the past (and adopted this practice myself for companies I manage) companies use this standard:

www.domain.com - when referring to the websites

domain.com - when referring to the company

If the company is not web-based, still apply the "www.domain.com" rule.

nonprof webguy

 11:49 pm on May 13, 2002 (gmt 0)

We recently updated our house style guide for print publications, and the unanimous decision in our communications department (of which I'm a member) was to drop the protocol, and just use "www.domain.org" -- whether it's on promo materials or in the fine print of some document.

For example in our publications, distributed in print and PDF, the copyright page includes the statement, "An electronic copy of this document is available on our web site, www.domain.org."

BUT, when we put URLs in our printed materials pointing to specific pages within ours or another web site that we can trust will be there, we do include the protocol. For example, in bibliographies or footnotes where we point to a government document. The key considerations for us are that the URL is stable and highly likely to be correct for a long time, doesn't require registration to reach, and is one or more levels down from the root directory.


 7:07 pm on May 14, 2002 (gmt 0)

I work for an advertising agency, so we push out media in just about every medium. We never include the [,...] I don't think it's necessary.

The only place I use the http:// is in an email or something similar as a hyperlink.


 8:17 pm on May 14, 2002 (gmt 0)

We leave off the "http://" in all print and advertising media. If we are concerned about readability we sometimes leave off the "www".

The reason I think they appear in technical documents is people cutting & pasting from the address bar into the document


 9:16 pm on May 14, 2002 (gmt 0)

I print domain.com, Inc. when I referrer to my company. If I tell people to visit my website in print I tell them to go to www.domain.com.

"If my domain is the source I may say something like this."
- from domain.com

The thing I hate is websites that don't resolve when I don't type in the www part. Like [icann.org...] does not work. I think it is important for not dot COMs to resolve to the non-www. When I type a domain name I type "Domain Ctrl-Enter" That takes me to "www.domain.com" But when I have to go to ICANN I type "ICANN.org", then remember they are screwed up and go back and add the www part.


 11:30 pm on May 14, 2002 (gmt 0)

Thanks much for the quick responses! :) Gettin' some good ideas from this.


 5:49 am on May 15, 2002 (gmt 0)

Having decided to remove the www from my URL I went thru the debate between www.domain.com and http://domain.com for printed documents. A lot of non-tech people seemed to feel that one or the other was necessary (http:// or www.)


 6:39 am on May 15, 2002 (gmt 0)

>The thing I hate is websites that don't resolve when I don't type in the www part. Like [icann.org...] does not work.

Actually, that works for me just fine. It is an ISP issue.


 11:07 pm on May 18, 2002 (gmt 0)

I cannot see many Corporations or private individuals not useing WWW.

It is a prestige symbol, ie: vanity, a must have.

I cater to many who will buy a domain name off me just for the prestige of having their stationary and business cards printed with a www.whatever.com printed on it.

Taking into account that the name that they own is the only .com in the World.

Many can replicate the TLD but there is only one .COM, so if you have it why not flaunt it.

Works for me.


 2:38 pm on May 20, 2002 (gmt 0)

So...no-one would ever hold documents on a ftp server?

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