Coding Template for Policies and Procedures Manuals


Effective: 4/11/2000

Revised: 11/1/2013


[ASU]

Template for Policies and Procedures Manuals

for Manual Coordinators, Departments, and Policy Editors

Purpose


To present a template, and explanations of those template elements, used for the overall policy manual formatting and the formatting of individual policies produced by University Policy Manuals Group (UPMG)


Background


The policy manuals are formatted and styled in a consistent manner for greater understanding of all policies contained in the manuals. The manuals style is based on The Chicago Manual of Style.

Each manual consists of:

  • table of contents
  • revision notices
  • individual policies
  • exhibits, if applicable
  • “table files” (see explanation in Part 2, Tables in this document)
  • and

  • intermediate pages (that link to other ASU Web pages).

Part 1 explains the TOC and the revision notices that appear at the beginning of each manual.

Part 2 explains the style and formatting of individual policies.

For more information about the process for updating the policy manuals, see the: Submission Guidelines for Manual Revisions page.


Part 1: Table of Contents and Revision Notices



Table of Contents

The Table of Contents is always the “index.html” file name for a specific manual.

The table of contents features:

  1. an alphanumeric identifier for each section, which is a division that encompasses a major topic (e.g., PDP 100, “Emergencies”)
  2. an alphanumeric identifier in the appropriate range for each subsection, which is a subdivision of a major topic (e.g., PDP 101, “Emergencies—General”)

    and

  3. an alphanumeric identifier in the appropriate range for each subject, which is the individual policy and/or procedure (e.g., PDP 101–01, “Reporting an Emergency”).

Note: Subjects that do not fall under a subsection but instead, stand alone, use three-digit numbers (e.g., PDP 205, “Campus Flags”).

This system provides an orderly, topical structure for the manual that does not require strict consecutive numbering of policies throughout the manual in the event that policies might be deleted or added. Each policy, however, has a specific numerical identifier.


Manual Revision Notice

The Manual Revision Notice summarizes concisely the relevant changes to policies or procedures. It serves as a short-hand notation for users. The Effective Date is always the most current posting date.

The Manual Revision Notice uses a table such as this:

PolicySummary of Changes
ABC 123–12

Policy Title

Revision of Existing Policy

Detailed description of changes. Policy acronym and number are linked.

ABC 123–12

Policy Title

Deletion of Policy

Explanation that the policy has been deleted. No link on policy acronym and number since it does not exist.

ABC 123–12

Policy Title

New Policy

Description of new policy; often taken from the Purpose statement. Policy acronym and number are linked.


Interim Posting Notice

The Interim Posting Notice summarizes concisely the relevant changes to policies or procedures. It serves as a short-hand notation for users. The Effective Date is the interim posting date.

A separate Interim Posting Notice is prepared for every interim posting that appears in a manual before a formal posting date (i.e., 3/1; 7/1; 11/1). Thus, a manual can have more than one interim posting, in which case the sequence is most recent to last posting notice.

All Interim Posting Notices are combined into the Manual Revision Notice on the formal posting date (i.e., 3/1; 7/1; 11/1).

The Interim Posting Notice uses a table similar to the Manual Revision Notice:

PolicySummary of Changes
ABC 123–12

Policy Title

Revision of Existing Policy

Detailed description of changes. Policy acronym and number are linked.

ABC 123–12

Policy Title

Deletion of Policy

Explanation that the policy has been deleted. No link on policy acronym and number since it does not exist.

ABC 123–12

Policy Title

New Policy

Description of new policy; often taken from the Purpose statement. Policy acronym and number are linked.


Interim Posting Notice Statement

The following statement appears at the beginning of a policy that has been posted outside scheduled posting dates (i.e., 3/1; 7/1; 11/1). It is removed at the time of the scheduled posting.

Interim Posting

Note: At the request of the provost, a vice provost, or a vice president, this policy has been posted in the interim between scheduled posting dates by University Policy Manuals Group because it has significant and urgent importance for the university community. This policy will be included in the publication process by the next feasible posting for online policies and procedures.



Part 2: Template for an Individual Policy


Effective: MM/DD/YYYY

Revised: MM/DD/YYYY

[ASU] ABC 123–12: Title of Policy

Policy Heading

The policy heading consists of effective and revised dates, an ASU logo, and the policy number and title. The policy heading is similar to the one displayed above, starting at the horizontal rule.

A manual-specific, colored horizontal rule precedes and follows the policy heading.

Dates

If no revised date exists, the “Revised” remains in place with no date, but a few spaces to the right of the word.

ASU Logo and Policy Title

This portion is created with a table. The table cells provide the alignment and text wrapping necessary for longer titles and smaller browser windows.

Note: The “ABC” and “abc” portions of file names listed in this document represent the manual acronym (e.g., ACD, acd001.html).


This is a Primary Heading


The order of standard primary headings is:

  1. Purpose
  2. Source(s)
  3. Applicability/Eligibility
  4. Background
  5. Policy
  6. Exception(s)
  7. Definition(s)
  8. Procedure
  9. Additional Information
  10. Cross-Reference(s)

The Purpose, Source, and Policy primary headings should appear in each policy, except for those with policies that reside in other manuals, in which case the following statement appears: “This policy resides in XXX manual” and a link is given to the policy.

The headings followed by “(s)” should be adjusted to the plural as appropriate.

The primary heading is h2, centered, and preceded and followed by the horizontal rule gif for the specific manual.


This is a First-Level Heading

First-level headings are flush left, bold, upper/lower case, h2. A horizontal rule precedes first-level headings.

This is a Second-Level Heading

Second-level headings are flush left, bold, upper/lower-case. The headings are the same size as the text.

This is a Third-Level Heading

Third-level headings are bold, upper/lower case, indented one level (with the dd tag), as is the text following it. Consecutive third-level headings and text can be enclosed in just one set of dl tags with multiple dd and bold tags as needed. Paragraph tags may also be enclosed within dd tags.

This is a Fourth-Level Heading

Fourth-level headings are underlined, upper/lower case, indented one level (with the dd tag), as is the text following it. Consecutive third-level headings and text can be enclosed in just one set of dl tags with multiple dd and bold tags as needed. Paragraph tags may also be enclosed within dd tags.


Purpose


The Purpose statement usually begins with the word “To.” It does not need to be a complete sentence, and no end-punctuation is used. For example:

To describe the responsibilities and powers of the president of the university

Sometimes a Purpose statement might have a series of elements, which could be formatted in a list or as a set of statements set off in paragraph tags:

To describe the responsibilities and powers of the president of the university
To describe the responsibilities and powers of the executive vice-president and provost of the university

If the Purpose statement is relatively short, it could be set off in blockquotes for a better appearance; otherwise, just use paragraph tags.


Sources


General

A source represents the name and origin of the authority for the policy. Every policy should cite at least one source, even if it is no more than “University policy.”

The source may be multiple, for example, a policy may exist because of state law, a Board of Regents’ policy, and a directive from the university president.

The citation order of multiple sources is ranked as follows:

  1. federal
  2. state
  3. county
  4. city
  5. Board of Regents
  6. university.

For two university sources, the department associated with the manual/policy being revised is listed first. If there are three or more university sources, the department associated with the manual is listed first; the rest are listed in alphabetical order. For example, RSP 503-03, “Consultants, Lecturers, and Other Professional Services for Sponsored Projects,” lists the following sources:

48 Code of Federal Regulations §§1.000 to end (1986)
United States. Office of Management and Budget. OMB circular A-21, Cost Principles for Educational Institutions
Office for Research and Sponsored Projects Administration
Financial Services
Office of Human Resources
Purchasing and Business Services

Notice that the policy originated through federal regulations and guidelines; the Office for Research and Sponsored Projects Administration is listed third because the policy appears in the manual of the Office of Research and Sponsored Projects (RSP); the other three citations appear in the sources because within their respective manuals there are policies dealing with the hiring of consultants, and these policies have some degree of influence over the RSP policy. The last three sources appear in alphabetical order, not in prejudicial order.

Formatting

Sample Source Item 1
Sample Source Item 2

Sources are listed using the blockquote. Adjust the primary heading to be singular or plural depending upon the number of items.

More information about the formatting of Sources appears in the Style section, as well as sample citations.


Applicability


General

Applicability clarifies the population the policy covers. It is not a necessary element, and sometimes the heading “Eligibility” might be more appropriate.

Formatting

Sample Applicability Item 1
Sample Applicability Item 2

If the Applicability statement is relatively short, it could be set off in blockquotes for a better appearance; otherwise, just use paragraph tags.


Eligibility


General

Eligibility is similar to Applicability, but may be used to designate more specific meaning; for example, those eligible for certain benefits in a policy relating to staff and faculty.

Formatting

See the Applicability header above for format details

Background


The Background provides further information about the context of the policy’s establishment or reasons for establishment. It is not a required element/heading in the policies. It is formatted in paragraph form.


Definitions


General

Definitions are sometimes necessary to clarify legal meanings within individual policies. Some manuals, such as RSP, ACD, and SPP have separate sections of Definitions in the Introductory Matter; in these cases, significant terms within the policies link to the definition in the Definitions chapter.

Formatting

Definitions use the dl tags. The terms are presented in initial caps, regular text (not bold). If a definition is lengthy and includes such things as multiple paragraphs or ordered lists, these must all appear within the corresponding dd tag so they will be properly aligned.

Adjust the primary heading to be singular or plural depending upon the number of items.

Term 1
Definition 1
Term 2
Definition 2

To separate the terms with a blank line between them, consider enclosing each term and its definition within dl tags. Otherwise, the list of definitions, if extensive, appears “crowded” on the page. Multiple paragraphs within definitions should be separated by paragraph tags; ordered lists may also be included, but all must be enclosed within the corresponding dd tag so they will be properly aligned.


Cross-References


General

Cross references are references to other policies in the ASU Policies and Procedures Manuals. Occasionally these cross references will include references to ABOR policies, but this is unusual.

References to Other Resources or Information

References to other ASU Web pages, and/or other resources/URLs that may be useful to the user are handled as such:

  • Links to ASU-related resources, generally online are provided by linking out from an “intermediate page.” For more information, see the Intermediate Pages section of this document.
  • Links to Web sites outside of ASU are not linked, but the URL may be represented in text. Furthermore, links that are not in the ASU Policies and Procedures Manuals, and/or to other resources outside ASU are sometimes provided at the end of policy, similar to the cross-references heading under a primary heading called “Additional Information.”

Formatting

Cross references are written as:

  1. the complete manual name, if the manual is not the current manual, in italic text
  2. an em dash
  3. the policy manual acronym with policy number, both of which are linked to the policy, followed by a comma

    and

  4. the complete policy name in quotation marks.
Note: Separating or end punctuation, such as a comma or period, appears inside the quotes, but no commas are necessary for multiple policy items in list format.

For example, Manual Name Policies and Procedures Manual—XXX ###, “Policy Name.”

Furthermore, cross references are usually proceeded by a statement about what is being referenced with either a comma, preceding a single policy, or a colon preceding a list. Formatting cross references in a list format is handled in a manner similar to a numbered list.

Cross references may appear as such in policy:

For information on assistance with retrieval of keys from a locked car, see the Parking and Transit Services Policies and Procedures Manual—PTS 701, “Motorist Assistance.”

For information about family medical leave, see ACD 702–03, “Family Leave.”


Other Formatting/Stylistic Elements



Ordered and Unordered (Bullet) Lists

General

In general, lists are used as a stylistic/communication element much the same way as in other types of written documents. For example, in policies, lists can be used to outline procedural steps, for a long series of items within sentences in text, etc.

Do not end-punctuate list items (as with commas or semicolons), except for the last item or for lists that are complete sentences.

Do not capitalize the first word of each list item, unless the list is all complete sentences or otherwise requires capitalization. If a list item itself contains sentences, punctuate accordingly, but do not use a period on the closing sentence of a mid-list item. Use the period only with the last item.

The last two items in a list generally have the word “and” (or “or” or “and/or”) separating them.

Formatting

Ordered lists use the ol tag with different attributes depending upon the type of ordered list. Unordered lists use the ul tag.

Numbered List (1-2-3)

  1. list item #1
  2. list item #2

    and

  3. list item #3.

Alpha List (a-b-c)

  1. list item a
  2. list item b
  3. list item c

    and

  4. list item d

Numbered List with Nested Alpha List

  1. list item #1
  2. list item #2
    1. list item #2a
    2. list item #2b

      and

    3. list item #2c.

    and

  3. list item #3.

Interrupted Nested Table

Sometimes lists have elements interposed between numerical and alpha items, especially in Responsibility/Action tables. In such cases, one must often close the ordered list, insert a statement, then resume the ordered list. For example:

  1. the first item has a number
  2. the second item has a number and begins an alpha list
    1. alpha item
    2. beta item

      and

    3. c item

But we have some interposing text, so we have a list that contains only one item, number 3:

  1. the third numbered item.
Unordered (Bullet) List
  • list item #1
  • list item #2

    and

  • list item #3.

Tables

General

Tables are used to convey complex information and/or processes in a manner more conducive to understanding such information. Generally, a table is created if there is no other clear or more direct way to represent the information. In other words, UPMG does not advocate creating tables where text or lists are sufficient. See also the explanation of Responsibility/Action Tables in this document.

Web Accessible Tables

ASU strives to make all information published on its Web accessible to all possible users, including those who require software that “reads” Web content because of visual impairment. Some such software reads table columns top to bottom (vertically) instead of reading across rows; this can cause tabular information to be very difficult to understand for those individuals. All such tables must be recast in nontabular form in an accessory file to be read intelligently. Thus, material that does not require a table to be understood should be formatted in paragraph and list form from the beginning. This prevents the necessity of preparing and maintaining a second HTML file.

Some complex charts, of course, cannot be reformatted or rewritten. For these, a short description of the chart will suffice.

A user is directed to link to a nontabular version of a table with a link at a capital D that appears invisible on the browser.

Such accessible files have the same number as the original policy, with the word “table” appended; if more than one table appears in a policy, the accessible file is numbered sequentially, e.g., “usi201-13table1.html, usi201-13table2.html.” At the end of each accessible file, a link back to the original file appears, using the word “endtable” or “endtable1” etc.

Formatting

Strive for consistency of style. When setting up or formatting a new table, ask questions such as:

  1. Will a primary heading suffice, or does the table require a title? A title is usually part of the table at the top, centered.
  2. Will the table have borders? This will sometimes determine whether the attributes COLSPAN and ROWSPAN are used. These two attributes can help adjust spacing when items are not equivalent in size, or when excess lines (with empty cells) are not wanted.
  3. What amount of cellspacing and cellpadding is necessary?

To achieve certain kinds of borders, a table within a table may provide the desired effect. It is best, though, to keep tables as simple as possible with regard to tagging, as all browsers do not display tables exactly the same way.

Table Title Centered
Header Over Column 1Header Over Column 2
Text 1Text 2
Text 1Text 2
Text 1Text 2
Table Title
Header Over Column 1
Header Over Column 2
Text 1Text 2
Text 1Text 2
Text 1Text 2

 


Responsibility/Action Tables

General

Responsibility/Action tables provide a quick visual summary for steps to be taken in complex procedures. Because they are formatted in a table form, they need to have an accessible prose translation for users who depend on software programs that “read” the browser screen for the visually impaired (see above). Thus they require additional file creation and maintenance. Whenever possible, the editor should try to use a non-tabular framework for procedures to prevent the extra work entailed. In some cases, old relatively simple Responsibility/Action tables have persisted and should be reformatted to prose. The editor makes this formatting decision.

Formatting

Responsibility/Action text is placed in tables without cell borders. A solid black horizontal rule (created with the NOSHADE attribute) precedes and follows each table. A shaded horizontal rule (HTML default) underscores the words “Responsibility” and “Action.”

Start a new table row for each

  • new “Party” (see items 4, 5, and 7)
  • preface statement (see just before items 7 and 8)
  • continuing list after a preface statement (see item 8)

Continue an ordered list within the same TD tag that consists of consecutive steps for one “Party” (see items 1 through 3, 5 through 6, and 8 through 9).

Notice how the closing tags to the ordered lists, table data, and table rows are kept together to clearly identify a new row within the Responsibility/Action script.

Note:Spacing may not be equal between rows or between list items depending upon the sequence of Party, Responsibility step, and preface statements. This unequal spacing is a result of the prescribed tagging. Although other tagging methods are possible, they seem to present undesirable effects.

Responsibility
Action
Responsible Party 1
  1. Item 1
  2. Item 2, same responsible party
  3. Item 3, same responsible party
Responsible Party 2
  1. Item 4
    1. item #4a
    2. item #4b

      and

    3. item #4c.
Responsible Party 1
  1. Item 5
  2. Item 6
Statement Preceding Next Item:
Responsible Party 2
  1. Item 7
Statement Preceding Next Item:
  1. Item 8, same responsible party
  2. Item 9

 


Notes

In general, notes are used as a stylistic/written element much the same way as in other types of written documents. For example, in policies, notes call attention to additional important details, exceptions to procedural steps, etc.

Note:Notes use the table tag to align the text when it extends beyond one line and wraps. The text will align under the first word of the note text rather than the word “Note.”

Intermediate Pages


General

Intermediate pages are used as links to other ASU Web sites that are not controlled by the University Policy Manuals Group (UPMG). They are important because they tell the user that they are leaving a site controlled by UPMG, that UPMG is not responsible for the content of the new site, and they provide a link back to the UPMG Web site.

This notification is necessary because various sites on the ASU Web might have changed the URL or the content of the material that the policy-writers originally wished to specify and did not alert UPMG about the change.

UPMG does NOT link to any Web sites outside the ASU Web, with the exception of the Arizona Board of Regents Policy Manual. The URL to an outside source may be given in a policy, but the URL is not actively linked. This should minimize the number of “dead” links that appear on the ASU Web.

Formatting

Intermediate pages are formatted like any other policy, except they do not have a policy number.


Exhibits


Exhibits are sometimes provided so that a user can better understand something referenced in a policy, such as an organizational chart or a sample form. Exhibits are not required and some manuals do not contain any exhibits. If a manual contains exhibits, a policy entitled, “Table of Exhibits” should be provided in the “Introductory Material” section of the manual listing those exhibits.

Exhibits are named for the policies from which a user can access them. In other words, the policy that references the exhibit lends its number to the exhibit followed by a capital letter. For example, see

Some manual exhibits are available only in PDF format. Adobe Acrobat Reader is required to view these PDF files. See our main policies and procedures page for more information.

ABC ###–##Y, Exhibit Title
ABC ###–##Y, Exhibit Title

Use the explanatory phrase shown above, adjusting the primary heading to be singular or plural depending upon the number of items.

The explanatory phrase is also used on the Tables of Exhibits and sometimes, the Organizational Charts pages.


Footnotes


Footnotes are an option, if needed, but are not often used. Footnotes usually convey sources or other important information that cannot be conveyed in the in the main text/list/table for some reason, such as lack of space.

Footnotes use a small font and superscript tags. The actual footnote numbers can be linked to the footnote text.

Footnote Sample from Larger Table


Topic HeaderHeaderHeaderHeader
Item 17310 375,000 2421–01

  1. Footnote 1 item content.
  2. Footnote 2 item content.

Use of Color


Color is used as a supplemental visual aid for navigating individual policy manuals, but it not absolutely necessary in order to use the manuals’ site or understand policy. Each manual has a designated color that shows up in the “manuals acronym gif file” as well as in each of that manual’s policies as a colored horizontal rule.

Additionally, colored text is used sparingly, if at all. For example, on occasion text colored red may call attention to something important for the user as it is visually easier to spot, but the meaning of the policy itself should be understood whether colored text appears or not. For example, when printing on a black and white printer, a notice in red would not appear differently from any of the other text on the page. Furthermore, any text in color as a notice or aid for users should not be used permanently, but as a temporary measure for one or two posting cycles.

Colors of the overall site design are in accordance with the ASU Communication Guide. Colors of the Web site’s features, such as hyperlinks, are controlled by styles.


Navigation Bar/Manual Footer


Each policy ends with specific links in a navigation bar/manual-specific footer, centered at the bottom after the policy text; this signals to users that they have reached the end of a specific policy and allows quick access to other areas of that manual. For example:

ACD manual | ASU policies and procedures manuals | Index of Policies by Title | ACD manual contact | Provost’s Office Web site

Back to Top

Note: This “footer” is not to be confused with the main manuals navigation, overall manuals footer, as well as additional links, on the left, right, and bottom of the manuals’ Web pages.