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Page Descriptions. Retired 2012-May-20

The following standards were retired on May 20, 2012. This page will serve to document this Web standards change. Return to the Web Standards Change Log for May 2012, or visit the current Descriptions Section of the Web Design Standards.


This page is part of the California Department of Education (CDE) Web Design Standards, which only apply to specific CDE Web sites. Visit the CDE Web Standards to determine if these standards apply to a specific Web product (Web site, Web page, Web document, or Web application) that has been developed by or for the CDE.

Most Web pages (not including Web applications) on all CDE Web sites are created using Adobe's Contribute software templates. WebNETS, which is a custom software application that was created by CDE staff, is also necessary in order to create and process most Web pages on the CDE's public Internet site. Portions of these standards, where noted, apply only to CDE users of Contribute or WebNETS software; or to Web application developers.

Return to Design Standards

Along with the metadata page title and keywords, the metadata description is an important element of Web pages and documents. A good description helps Web site visitors decide whether they will visit a particular page or not. Often the description will be included below the page or document title in search engine results. The description is allowed and expected to be longer and more complete than the page or document title in most cases. In addition to being used by search engines, well-written descriptions can become part of the page or document content.


A description is a concise but complete explanation about the content of a Web page or document.


  • All Web pages that might be indexed by search engines (including the CDE's internal search engines) must have an HTML metadata description.
  • Usually a complete sentence is most appropriate, but multiple sentences are acceptable, as well as sentence fragments when they are necessary.
  • All descriptions must use a period (.) at the end, even if they are sentence fragments.
  • A page description must be different from descriptions of other pages.
  • A page description must never be a repeat of the page title; it should be more descriptive and expansive than the title.


  • Abbreviations and acronyms should be spelled-out in the page description. When abbreviations and acronyms must be used in both the page title and the page description, they must be spelled out in the page content very near the top of the page. Additional page content may need to be added to comply with this standard.
  • Page descriptions should have between 50-200 characters including spaces.
  • Placing important keywords close to the beginning of the description, or to each other, will usually increase the search engine ranking of the page or document.

For the Intranet

Contribute must be used to enter page descriptions into Web pages for the Intranet. After creating a new page or when editing an existing page, the page description may be accessed while in "edit" mode by choosing Format and then Keywords and Description from the main menu in Contribute.

For the Internet

WebNETS is used to allow Contribute users to enter the page description metadata into CDE Internet Web pages. Once entered into WebNETS, the page description will be included in the background HTML code of the Web page. In the Page Description section of WebNETS there is a checkbox with the following instruction: "Display on Web page (does not apply to non Web documents)". If this box is checked then the page description will be displayed below the page title on the Web page. If the box is unchecked then the page description information will not be displayed on the Web page.

Web Applications

HTML metadata page descriptions must be specified for main or login pages and for others if the page will be indexed by search engines. Use <meta name="robots" content="noindex,nofollow"> if the page is not a main or login page and should not be indexed.

Questions:   Web Services Office |
Last Reviewed: Tuesday, September 26, 2017
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