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Steve Jackson Games Web Standards

Last updated: July 23, 2010

Many people are involved in creating and maintaining web pages on the SJ Games website. Please follow these standards whenever you create pages for (or edit pages on) our site - it makes maintaining our site much easier. This document is maintained by the SJ Games webmaster. If you have a question, or a suggestion for clarification, send mail to

Basic Formatting

Use physical styles for marking things as bold or italic - that means, use <b></b> for bold, and <i></i> for italic, rather than <STRONG>, <CITE> or <EM>.

When linking to a directory, be sure to put the closing slash on the link. A proper URL is, NOT

If you write anything for a news queue, or other text that is posted to multiple locations or relocated to archives, be sure to use fully qualified link targets (those that start http://) NOT relative links (e.g. "img/cover.jpg"). This is especially important for the Daily Illuminator because it is mirrored on other gaming web sites. However, most product pages, and so forth, are easier to maintain if they use relative links.

Long HTML pages (anything more than two full pages at 800x600 resolution) should have a "top of page" link at the bottom of the page.


Accessibility is important. We may specify fonts or use graphic text for titles, but large blocks of text should be left formatted in whatever font and size the user has selected. People with impaired vision choose fonts they find easy to read, and we do not want to override these.

Try to avoid excessively long link text - especially linking whole sentences. It makes the text harder to read. Also avoid extremely long paragraphs. Links must appear in a contrasting color so they are easy to identify.

No pages may depend on the presence of Java, Javascript, Flash, or other plugins. These are OK for "special features" but should never be used as the only means of navigation (with the permissible exception of Javascript for rollover images) or to display basic information. If Flash or Java are used for anything other than special features, they must detect when the plugin is missing and fall back to standard HTML.

Do not use PHP. We use straight HTML, CSS, CGI (Perl) programs, and Mason tags for serving up content.

Avoid using the "target=_blank" tag to force pages to open in a new window. If a user wants to open a new window it only takes one extra mouse click, but most browsers can't override the _blank tag to open a page in the same window. Let the user decide.

Graphic Style

Do not use blocks of light text on black backgrounds. It is pretty, but harder to read. Light HEADS or navigation bars on black backgrounds are acceptable, and often attractive. Yes, some existing pages use black backgrounds. These are being fixed as time permits.

Most sections have Server Side Includes or Mason includes for headers and navigation bars, or a template file that specifies the basic graphic style. When these exist, use them. (If you are unsure if a section has a standard header ask the Webmaster.) In addition to being easier to code, this makes updates easier and provides consistent graphic style and navigation. These includes also contain the standard navigation links needed for each page so you don't have to look them up.

If you think you see a way to improve the headers or other standard elements (or think a new section you are creating should have its own style) by all means bring that to the Webmaster's attention; do not simply ignore includes you don't like. "Assistants" who make the site harder to navigate or maintain are NOT helping.

Writing Style

Our publication style calls for all game names to appear in bold italics, regardless of who published them. A reference to one of our own games should be a link to the game's main page.

When writing pages that use the URL-fnorder, you can, for instance, just type <<GURPS>> to get an automated link in bold italic. Read the Fnord URL documentation first though.

It is never wrong to place a link to the W23 page of a game that we sell in W23.

However, do not link a page back to itself! When a game name appears on its own page, the name should be in bold italics with no link. Also, avoid placing links so densely that they make the text difficult to read. Either rephrase the text or leave excess occurrences of a name in bold italics.

SJ Games-published magazines should be in linked italics - for example Pyramid. If you link to Pyramid articles from outside the login area use the sample.cgi article display script so non-subscribers will see a sample instead of "access denied" - and bear in mind this may truncate the article. The names of magazines or non-game publications should be Italicized. General writing style should be similar to our print publications - see the authors' guidelines for details.

Pages (or news articles) written in the first person should be signed. Pages with content that ages (for example, news items, wish lists, guidelines such as these) should always be dated visibly on the page - NOT just the file date on the server. If there are pages that shouldn't be allowed to get to old, use the reminder program on the admin site.

Price and Status Updates

Use the database scripts for all references to a game's price or status. The only exceptions are dated news articles, like the Daily Illuminator.

File Permissions

Pages in an area maintained by one of our volunteers must have a group ownership of that volunteer's group (usually the game's name, like gurps) and be user and group writable (permission 664, or 775 for directories and executable files). Warehouse 23 files should have group ownership of secweb, or w23 if the Warehouse 23 clerks need to edit the files. Other web files should have group ownership of sjgadm, and similar permissions.

Final Notes

When you upload a new page, or change a page - always, always, ALWAYS TEST the page! Look at the page in your browser to make sure you haven't forgotten a closing tag, or anything similar. Check the links. Make sure any scripts function the way they are supposed to. Pages that have new styles should be viewed in several browsers to make sure all of them handle the codes correctly. Don't assume every browser follows the HTML specs exactly. In reality, few or none do. In particular, some web design programs create HTML that formats incorrectly in "competing" browsers. If you use web page creation software (instead of writing pages directly in HTML) much more testing is needed.

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