U.S. Department of Energy - Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy
EERE Communication Standards & Guidelines
One of the most useful features of a website is its ability to link to related content. Links can transport users to specific areas of Web pages, other pages within a site, or external websites. Learn about:
EERE disclaims responsibility for content on non-federal sites on the Website Policies page, which is linked from the footer on most EERE Web pages.
All websites must follow these requirements.
Follow the U.S. Department of Energy's Linking Policy
All links from EERE to any other website must follow DOE's Linking Policy. If you have questions about what sites you are permitted to link to, ask the EERE Web Manager.
Tell Visitors When You Link Offsite
When sending a visitor to a site outside of EERE, E-government standards require that you notify visitors that they are leaving EERE.
- When writing a link, identify the website and webpage you're linking to in the link text or in the surrounding description (e.g., See ENERGY STAR's information on Federal Tax Credits for Energy Efficiency).
- When you code an external link on a site that's hosted on one of EERE's official hosting environments, built-in code will automatically add pop-up windows that warn users they're going to another site.
Example of the pop-up box that appears when you link to external websites on EERE.
This pop-up box will appear whenever you link to a site that does not belong to EERE. If a site was created by EERE, then the pop-up will appear when:
- The site does not have a .GOV URL
- The site is not hosted in one of EERE's approved hosting environments
- The site is not in EERE's template and is not approved to be out-of-template
- The site does not meet EERE's Quality Assurance standards.
If your website isn't hosted in OpenText or at NREL, then you will need to add the pop-up script to your website. Add the following code to your site:
Following these best practices leads to higher quality content.
Write Clear, Descriptive Links
Because links are navigational tools, they should be written in a way that makes them easy to understand, and makes their purpose clear and obvious. All links should:
- Be short and precise
- Be as descriptive as possible about what you are linking to (wrong: "next" right: "next chapter")
- Emphasize only the distinctive words in a list of links:
- Wrong: "renewable energy info for homeowners, renewable energy info for small businesses"
Renewable energy info for:
- Small businesses
Always Embed Links
Embedded links look like this:
See the EERE News website.
It's almost always better to embed links than to write out the URL of the page you're linking to (e.g., http://eere.energy.gov/).
Embedded links help your users understand what you are linking to and why. They are easier to read and are more useful to users who use assistive technology, such as screen readers, to access your site. They also help your website's Search Engine Optimization.
Do not Refer to Web Functions
When writing a link, you should never refer to a Web function such as "click here." Instead, use active words such as "Scan our list of researchers" or "See the DOE press release."
Link to Related Content throughout EERE
You should include links to other relevant sites or sections of your site in your text. Try to have at least one hyperlink for every screen of content.
Explain Links to External Websites
Help your users understand why you are linking to a specific site. Instead of lists of "related links," consider explaining what the value of a site is or what content in particular you find is valuable. Providing context can help your readers better understand why these links are important to your content.
Link Shortening Websites
Shortened URLs are usually used on social media feeds, such as Twitter, or when you do not have the ability to embed links or the space to use a marketing URL. The service you use depends on the type of URL you're shortening:
Responding to Requests to Link From or To EERE
EERE receives many requests to link to external sites and for permission from external sites to link to EERE. If you are a Webmaster, you need to know how to handle requests to link to and from the EERE website. Below are guidelines for handling these requests.
Requests for EERE to Link to External Sites
Links to external websites can provide additional information that may be useful for visitors to your site. These links should be carefully selected to ensure that the information is useful, accurate, and timely.
Always consider EERE's linking policy when evaluating requests to add external links. You may use the following template when responding to a submission that is not appropriate for EERE:
Thank you for your request to link your site from the U.S. Department of Energy's Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) website. Unfortunately, we will not be able to link to your site for the following reasons:
- [List linking criteria here]
We appreciate your interest in the EERE website.
EERE [Site Name] Webmaster
Requests for External Sites to Link to EERE
External sites often request permission to link to EERE sites. Links to EERE are always welcome, but use of the DOE or EERE logo or header is not allowed. You may want to use the following template when responding to requests to link to EERE and use the logo:
Thank you for your inquiry and your interest in linking to the EERE website. You are welcome to link to the EERE website, but unfortunately we cannot grant permission for you to use the DOE or EERE logos.
Also, please note that links or other materials may not be used to state or imply the endorsement of EERE or any EERE employee of a commercial product, service, or activity or be used in any other manner that might mislead the public. Our full Website Policies, which include linking, can be found here: http://www.eere.energy.gov/webpolicies/.
Thanks again for your interest.
EERE [Site Name] Webmaster