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This document does not cover websites which are hosted by the University but which do not have a address. See Website hosting guidance for more information on this.

How URLs are used on and their formatting requirements.

URLs and changes to these standards are managed by the Head of Digital in consultation with the Content Manager and the Technical Architect, and are subject to review by the Digital Steering Group.

  1. URLs are designed to be naturally user (and SEO) friendly, and to follow a consistent, predictable, format. These guidelines set out how URLs should be constructed, and our approach to setting up additional URLs for marketing purposes.
  2. These standards apply to the website and its subdirectories and subdomains. 
  3. The style for URLs is that:
    1. URLs always need to be clear, unambiguous, easy to read, easy to type and easy to share
    2. all URLs must be in lower case
    3. URLs must use words and, wherever possible, should not contain acronyms
    4. hyphens should be used to separate words within URLs so they are easy to read, eg
    5. articles (a, an, the) and other superfluous words should not be used, eg use /contact rather than /how-to-contact-us
    6. URLs should use the verb stem, where possible, eg /apply instead of /applying
    7. each page must have a URL which is as short, memorable and unambiguous as possible, especially if a URL is going to be referred to offline
    8. URLs should be based on user need, eg /apply rather than /application-procedure
  4. Trailing slashes should not be used when sharing or printing URLs, or for providing third parties with links to content, eg use rather than 
  5. In some cases of marketing or promotional activity short URLs are needed, for these we use a url eg. rather than The standard URL formatting conventions apply but where there is a need to say the URL out loud the short URLs do not need to use hyphens. 
  6. Each organisation (faculty, department or institute) on can have a single short URL for use when promoting itself. By default this takes the shortest version of the organisation’s name in common use. This can be an acronym or words, eg or 
  7. Groups incorporate the name of the parent organisation, eg groups that are part of Faculty of Science take the short URL 
  8. Top-level redirects exist at, such as those used for organisation pages. Due to the large amount of content that already exists at the top level of, only a limited number of redirects will be allowed here. Requests will be considered by the Head of Digital on a case-by-case basis and will only be granted if the following conditions are satisfied:
    1. the URL conforms to all other requirements of the URL policy
    2. the content being promoted originates from, or is significantly relevant to, more than one organisation
    3. the URL needs to be specific to the content and make sense forever (eg include a year when using a re-direct for one-off promotion of an annual event)
    4. the URL will be used for significant, high-value marketing and promotion.
  9. A URL must not be used to directly promote any content or service that is not available on the platform. A URL must not be used to redirect a user to a URL. 
  10. The advertised start page of all transactional services will be of the form and must comply with the URL policy.
     The transactional part of the service - the dynamically generated pages where users interact with the service - will not typically be hosted on Rather, this part of the service will exist on a sub-domain of the form
  11. The ‘servicename’ part of a URL will be agreed between Digital and Computing Services in all but exceptional circumstances, and will conform to the URL policy. Hyphens may be used to separate words where appropriate, but are not mandatory for service sub-domain URLs. The URL should be a suitable unique identifier for the specific service hosted on the domain.
  12. All web addresses must be URIs, that use letters from the English alphabet, European numerals and a small set of symbols. 
  13. URLs are only acceptable when the 'service' is either:
    1. a nationally-funded JISC service or
    2. project-funded with multiple partners or
    3. aimed at commercial spin-off or
    4. targetted outside domain for commercial customers
  14. All matters of strategy and control relating to the URL standards will be determined by Digital Marketing & Communications, in consultation with Computing Services, and subject to approval from the Digital Steering Group members of the Vice-Chancellor’s Group.
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