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Patterns

Our digital message comes to life by merging dynamic content with uniform and scalable content patterns. We are intelligent, consistent and versatile.

Banner Images

Blurred banner image of Texas State hand signs Blurred banner image of Old Main Focused banner image of Old Main Focused banner image of logo star

Best Practices

  • Banner images are strongly recommended for the header area of all Texas State websites.
  • Images should be 1600x400 or larger.
  • Keep the focus of the image toward the center of the banner. Due to the responsive nature of the area, the viewable area of the image is unpredictable.
  • Use semi-abstract, detailed, or blurred images. Banners are best for driving impressions, not delivering content.
  • Pick a single image and use it across your entire site; this helps users identify you.

Avoid

  • Don't use images you don't own or have permission to use.
  • Avoid cluttered images or scenes with a lot of people.
  • Do not use low resolution imagery.
  • Do not use stock photography unless there is a compelling need for your unit.
  • Avoid words or type on banner images.

Resources

Buttons

Styles

Colors

Sizes

Best Practices

  • Use sparingly. Buttons should function as a primary call to action; rarely should more than one be used on a single page.
  • Be consistent. Pick a single color and style, and use those consistently across your entire site.
  • Button labels should be very short and direct.

Avoid

  • Don't use buttons for layout purposes.
  • Don't overuse; rarely does a page need more than a single button.
  • Don't use long button labels; two or three short words is all it takes.
  • Don't use long words and be aware of word wrapping on smaller devices.

Contact Information

Option 1

University Marketing
601 University Dr.
J.C. Kellam 860
San Marcos, Texas 78666
512.245.1555 (phone)
512.245.8153 (fax)
umarketing@txstate.edu

Option 2

University Marketing
601 University Dr.
J.C. Kellam 860
San Marcos, Texas 78666

Phone: 512.245.1555
Fax: 512.245.8153
Email: umarketing@txstate.edu

Best Practices

  • Always hyperlink the email address.
  • When multiple phone/fax numbers exist, use one of the above patterns to distinguish the difference.
  • Use full building names instead of abbreviations.
  • Always include address, phone number and email address. If those do not exist for your unit, please use the contact information of the parent unit.

Avoid

  • Avoid reordering contact items.
  • Don't add unnecessary social media links unless it's a primary form of contact for your audience; use of iconography is recommended in those instances.

Resources

  • Editorial style:  Building names and other useful guidelines for text are available in the Editorial Style Guide.
  • Email link syntax:  In our CMS, footer links require basic HTML. Use this snippet and replace "name" in both places with your unit's email handle. Always test.
    <a href="mailto:name@txstate.edu">name@txstate.edu</a>

Department Directory

Harrison Pranglin Albrecht - Staff  
Graphic Artist I  
JCK 860  
(512) 245-1555  
Loretta Reyes Alcala - Staff  
Administrative Asst III  
JCK  
(512) 245-1555  
Rodney Troy Crouther - Staff  
Publications Writer  
JCK 860  
(512) 245-1555  
Daniel W Eggers - Staff  
Dir, Univ Mktg  
JCK 860  
(512) 245-1555  
Caitlin Elizabeth Harvey - Staff  
Marketing Coordinator  
JCK 860  
(512) 245-1555  
Blain A Hefner - Staff  
Graphic Artist II  
JCK 860  
(512) 245-1555  
Nicole Marie Hefner - Staff  
Copy Editor  
JCK 860  
(512) 245-1555  
Kelly Marie King-Green - Staff  
Assoc Dir, University Marketing  
JCK 860  
(512) 245-1555  
Cesar D Limon - Staff  
Graphic Artist II  
JCK 860  
(512) 245-1555  
Rebecca R Lockhart - Staff  
Program Specialist  
JCK 860  
(512) 245-1555  
Joshua David Matthews - Staff  
Digital Video Specialist  
JCK 815  
(512) 245-1555  
Lauren Mikiten - Staff  
Graphic Artist I  
JCK 860  
(512) 245-1555  
chandler Prude - Staff  
Asst Dir, Univ Marketing  
JCK 815  
(512) 245-1555  
Isabel Van Dyke Ray - Staff  
Publications Writer  
JCK 860  
 
Chase Rogers - Staff  
UI/UX Designer  
JCK 814  
(512) 245-1555  
Stephanie Alyssa Schulz - Staff  
Photographer  
JCK 815  
(512) 245-1555  
Brooke Ann Thrasher - Staff  
UI/UX Designer  
JCK 860  
(512) 245-1555  
Vanessa Michelle Villescas - Staff  
Coord, Social Media  
JCK 860  
(512) 245-1555  

Best Practices

  • It's a good idea to use a department directory somewhere on your site.
  • This is best for quick and simple directory pages; if images and biographies are necessary, perhaps try an image + text pattern instead.

Avoid

  • For academic units, avoid mixing faculty and staff; keeping those groups in separate sections or pages will help your users.

Resources

  • Correcting employee info:  For editors deploying this pattern in our CMS, please contact Human Resources if you find incorrect information.
  • Faculty and staff photos:  For units wishing to add feature-rich content for their staff pages, University Marketing can assist with portrait photography.

Documents and Downloads


Simple Version

Full Version

Sample Word Document : Optional Subject (DOCX, 27 KB)
This is a sample description of a Microsoft Word document. It is intended to demonstrate the documents and downloads content pattern when used with a full description. Descriptions are optional.

Best Practices

  • Use this pattern whenever you are serving a link to a download item; this is far better for users than inlining links in paragraph or list text.
  • Use descriptions when listing multiple documents to distinguish their individual purposes.
  • Title your documents using user-friendly, descriptive terminology.
  • Capitalize all words in your title and subject, and remove all hyphens and underscores.

Avoid

  • Don't use file names or structures as display titles; remove any hyphens, underscores or other file name residuals.

Emergency Alerts

Texas State Alert

University Emergency: Texas State CLOSED July 12 due to severe weather

Updated: July 12, 2016 at 5:28 p.m. CDT

Screenshot of emergency alerts

Best Practices

  • Emergency alerts should use unique patterns that are not featured in the design interface anywhere else.
  • Area should be easy to read, interact with, click and tap.
  • Place at the top of interface and push other content down.
  • Make alert messages descriptive; indicate any action that must be taken by affected visitors.
  • At the same time, make alert messages very brief; link to an established landing page to provide more detailed information.

Avoid

  • Don't use emergency patterns for anything other than true emergencies.
  • Don't make the emergency area difficult to interact with; area should be large and easy to click/tap.
  • Don't obscure or cover up other content a user might need; push other content down instead.

Resources

Event Calendar

Expand or Collapse all.

Monica Haller: Object for Deployment / Veterans Book Project

Location:
Joann Cole Mitte (JCM); The University Galleries
Cost:
Free
Contact:
Chad Dawkins, 512.245.2664
Campus Sponsor:
The University Galleries, School of Art and Design

This exhibition runs through November 18, 2016.

The Veterans Book Project is a collection of 50 books authored collaboratively by artist Monica Haller and individuals with firsthand experience of war. Many of the authors are veterans of the recent U.S.-led wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, some are family members of soldiers, and others are Iraqi or Afghan civilians living in the United States. The books were all made in the U.S., where the wars were launched but rarely collectively seen and discussed. Haller's work spans video, installation, design, sound, photography and writing and has focused on violent and nonviolent activities in human and environmental systems. She is the recipient of a 2014 Efroymson Fellowship, a 2010 Guggenheim Fellowship, National Endowment for the Arts support in 2010, and a 2008 Jerome Fellowship, among others.

Click here for more information
more about event

Monica Haller: Object for Deployment / Veterans Book Project Opening Reception

Location:
Joann Cole Mitte (JCM); The University Galleries
Cost:
Free
Contact:
Chad Dawkins, 512.245.2664
Campus Sponsor:
The University Galleries, School of Art and Design

Opening Reception for Monica Haller: Object for Deployment / Veterans Book Project exhibition. The Veterans Book Project is a collection of 50 books authored collaboratively by artist Monica Haller and individuals with firsthand experience of war. Many of the authors are veterans of the recent U.S.-led wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, some are family members of soldiers, and others are Iraqi or Afghan civilians living in the United States.

Click here for more information
more about event

Ajax in Iraq

Location:
Theatre Center (THEA); Mainstage Theatre
Cost:
$10 students / $18 adults
Contact:
Deb Alley, 512.245.3660
Campus Sponsor:
Department of Theatre and Dance

The play follows the stories of Ajax, a fierce Greek warrior, and A.J., a female American soldier, both destroyed by the betrayal of a commanding officer. Inspired by interviews with Iraq war veterans and their families, Ajax in Iraq explores the struggle of soldiers as they try to make sense of war. (Adult content)

Performances run October 31 to November 6. See individual listings for showtimes.

Click here for more information
more about event

Best Practices

  • Use high quality thumbnail images for each event.
  • Display short and targeted event ranges whenever possible; more than 10 events stacked in a block is too much to consume.

Avoid

  • Try to avoid very long event descriptions.
  • Avoid displaying more than 10 events at a time, as this is hard to consume.

Resources

FAQ

Expand or Collapse all.

What is space?

From the perspective of an Earthling, outer space is a zone that occurs about 100 kilometers (60 miles) above the planet, where there is no appreciable air to breathe or to scatter light. In that area, blue gives way to black because oxygen molecules are not in enough abundance to make the sky blue.

Further, space is a vacuum, meaning that sound cannot carry because molecules are not close enough together to transmit sound between them. That's not to say that space is empty, however. Gas, dust and other bits of matter float around "emptier" areas of the universe, while more crowded regions can host planets, stars and galaxies.

Read more at space.com.

What is time?

Time is a component quantity of various measurements used to sequence events, to compare the duration of events or the intervals between them, and to quantify rates of change of quantities in material reality or in the conscious experience.

Read more at Wikipedia.

How big is the universe?

The universe is about 13.8 billion years old, so any light we see has to have been traveling for 13.8 billion years or less – we call this the 'observable universe'. However, the distance to the edge of the observable universe is about 46 billion light years because the universe is expanding all of the time.

Read more at phys.org.

Is there life on other planets?

Is life chemically special? The Copernican principle suggests that it probably isn't. Aliens need not look like us to resemble us in more fundamental ways. Consider that the four most common elements in the universe are hydrogen, helium, carbon, and oxygen. Helium is inert. So the three most abundant, chemically active ingredients in the cosmos are also the top three ingredients in life on Earth.

For this reason, you can bet that if life is found on another planet, it will be made of a similar mix of elements. Conversely, if life on Earth were composed primarily of, for example, molybdenum, bismuth, and plutonium, then we would have excellent reason to suspect that we were something special in the universe.

Read more at nasa.gov.

Best Practices

  • The accordion pattern suits FAQs because it makes it easier to scan the questions before accessing the answer. It can be used for similar "show/hide" content needs, but be careful not to hide content that should be exposed on the screen by default.
  • If you have more than 10 questions, create multiple FAQs and organize in logical groups with headers to break up the flow; this will be easier to digest.

Avoid

  • Don't use the accordion for content that is better exposed on the screen by default.
  • Don't make your questions or answers excessively long; keep it short and direct whenever possible.
  • Avoid using images or multimedia content inside the accordion.
  • Avoid using more than ten questions in a single FAQ grouping; favor multiple groups in that instance.

Forms

Best Practices

  • Make title and question labels very brief and descriptive. Rarely should they wrap to a second line when viewed on large screens.
  • Keep form length short and avoid insider language that would confuse users.
  • Organize form fields logically and sequentially, even grouping them into easily scannable sections with themed headers.
  • Take care to select the right type of form field for the task: selection/radios for single defined answer, checkboxes for multiple defined answers, text areas for free-form entry.
  • Use audits to validate expected entry types (i.e., Texas State email addresses, NetIDs, and other identifiers).

Avoid

  • Avoid lengthy forms whenever possible.
  • Don't overuse optional fields; instead keep forms short and ask for only the information that is absolutely necessary to fulfill the request.
  • For CMS use, do not ask for sensitive information like social security numbers. Gato forms are not fully secure (stay tuned for updates on this).

Headers

Header 1

Header 2

Header 3

Header 4

Header 5
Header 6

Best Practices

  • Headers should be used to describe whatever is in the chunk of content beneath them.
  • Keep header text very brief and descriptive; longer headers may wrap and take up a large portion of the screen on smaller devices.
  • Use headers in a semantic, logical order; don't select a particular header based on appearance alone.
  • Most pages will only require 2 or 3 levels of headers maximum; don't overdo it.
  • Headers can be boldfaced if desired; be consistent across your site.

Avoid

  • Don't use headers to convey emphasis for paragraph text; instead use a standard paragraph and apply boldfacing for emphasis.
  • Avoid using more than five words in a header.
  • Don't select headers based on appearance; instead choose the logical next header based on the hierarchy of the document.
  • Avoid italicizing headers.

Icon + Text

Best Practices

  • Select an icon that clearly matches the purpose of your accompanying text or linked content.
  • Best used side-by-side in three equal columns, as this is a recognizable layout on the modern web, and is easy to digest.
  • Pick a color option for your site and be consistent. Maroon, gold and charcoal are the icon color options.
  • Links and text are optional, but decide how you want to use the pattern and stick to it, as this sets reliable expectations for visitors.
  • In our CMS, there is character limit of 25 for the title and 150 for the paragraph.

Avoid

  • Avoid mixing colors; pick a color to use on your site and be consistent.
  • Within a single site, avoid treating some icons as links and others as static images, as this can be confusing for users. Pick a style and stick to it.
  • Do not use brand icons for any reason other than to represent the company or product it refers to.

Resources

  • Icon library:  Font Awesome has a searchable list of icons that may help you identify the right icon for your purpose, or determine if an icon represents a brand you are unfamiliar with.

Image + Caption

Without Link

San Marcos River in the morning
The San Marcos River remains a constant 72 degrees year-round.

Best Practices

  • Always add descriptive alternative text (sometimes called "alt text") to your images; this provides context for users that cannot see the content of the image.
  • Best used in multi-column layouts paired with other image/caption combos. Examples: Common Experience, Style Guide
  • Use landscape-oriented (i.e., 3:2 or 16:9) photos whenever possible, as these fit better on all devices.
  • When using multiple images in a single row, be sure to use images of the exact same dimensions for perfect row alignment. In fact, it's highly recommended to use the same dimensions for images across your entire site.
  • Make captions substantive; try to expand on the content of the image rather than simply describing what's happening.
  • Use short captions of no more than 20 words; sometimes a single word is all it takes.
  • No matter how long your captions, pick a length and stick to it across your site.
  • When linking to other sources, be sure the image and caption text give the user a strong indication of where they are being linked to.

Avoid

  • Avoid using in a single column unless the photo is very landscape-oriented.
  • Don't mix-and-match image dimensions across your site, especially when aligning images next to each other in columns. Using identically-sized images creates balance.
  • Avoid very long captions; 20 words or fewer is plenty.
  • Avoid simple descriptions of what's happening in the photo; take the opportunity to expand on the image.
  • Avoid portrait-oriented photos whenever possible.

Resources

Image + Text


Image Left

Kids of hammocks at the Theater building

San Marcos Campus

Stroll down the hill from the majestic spires of Old Main to splash in the crystal clear waters of the San Marcos River as you explore the most beautiful university campus in Texas.

Nestled along the river and the Texas Hill Country, the San Marcos campus stretches over 495 acres and includes more than 240 buildings.

Image Right

Kids of hammocks at the Theater building

San Marcos Campus

Stroll down the hill from the majestic spires of Old Main to splash in the crystal clear waters of the San Marcos River as you explore the most beautiful university campus in Texas.

Nestled along the river and the Texas Hill Country, the San Marcos campus stretches over 495 acres and includes more than 240 buildings.

Best Practices

  • Always add descriptive alternative text (sometimes called "alt text") to your images; this provides context for users that cannot see the content of the image.
  • Be flexible! Don't worry about orphans or widows; say what you need to say, be brief and chunk your content into groups of headers, short sentences and lists.
  • Favor landscape-oriented (i.e., 3:2 or 16:9) photos whenever possible, and use the same dimensions for images across your entire site. This creates balance and adds valuable patterns for your visitors.
  • Best used in single column or 2-column layouts.
  • Feel free to combine images with captions; be sure to follow image + caption best practices.
  • When used multiple times on a single page, consider alternating image side with each row.

Avoid

  • Don't mix image dimensions across your site, especially when used on the same page. Using identically-sized images creates balance.
  • Avoid long paragraphs; be brief and descriptive instead. It's rare that a paragraph should be more than four sentences; use headers so visitors can scan for the content they're looking for.
  • Avoid using low quality or small images. A good rule is to upload an image that is twice the size it will appear on the screen; let the CMS do the rest.
  • Avoid portrait-oriented photos whenever possible.
  • Avoid using lists when images are to the left.

Resources

Image Gallery

Best Practices

  • Always add descriptive alternative text (sometimes called "alt text") to your images; this provides context for users that cannot see the content of the image.
  • Keep slideshows between 5 to 15 images.
  • Don't worry about having unequal rows of images; this will change depending on device width anyway.
  • Whenever possible, use high-quality images with dimensions of no less than 1000px wide.
  • Use brief, relevant captions of 20 words or fewer; a single complete sentence is often best.
  • Both landscape and portrait style images work well in this format; feel free to alternate.

Avoid

  • Avoid slideshows with fewer than 5 images, or more than 15.
  • Avoid captions that are irrelevant or provide little context.
  • Avoid captions that are more than a single sentence.
  • Don't use low-quality images; shoot for images that are larger than 1000px wide.

Resources

Links

Best Practices

  • Make link text descriptive enough for the user to reliably predict where the link goes without needing to click it.
  • Link from words in the natural flow of the text instead of relying on phrases like "learn more" or "click here".
  • Use 3-8 words of text to link from. Complete sentences are OK.

Avoid

  • Don't attempt to change link color in the CMS text editor; it will change the color of the text without changing the color of the underline, which is inconsistent.
  • Avoid linking with phrases like "click here" or "learn more"; instead link from a natural portion of your text.
  • Avoid links that are a single word.
  • Avoid links that are longer than a single sentence.
  • Don't try to force links to open in a new tab. We've disabled this on all pages in our CMS except form pages, since users may lose data otherwise. On those pages, we automatically open all links in a new tab; no action is required.

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Full Contents

Dictionary.com Blog

Dictionary.com Editorial | Word Facts, Trends & Tips for the English Language
http://blog.dictionary.com

The Other Easter Eggs: Coded Messages and Hidden Treats

April 14, 2017 6:00AM
easter egg, turquoise

When was the last time you discovered an Easter egg hiding in plain sight? If your answer was “at the last Easter egg hunt I went to,” it’s time to expand your playing field.

The term Easter egg started popping up in the 16th and 17th centuries. As most would guess, its original meaning refers to a hollowed-out or hard-boiled egg, dyed or painted for decoration. It can also refer to an egg-shaped item, like a container or a chocolate, given as an Easter-time gift. But in the 1980s, the term Easter egg took on an additional meaning that keeps the hunt going on all year. This additional definition is from digital technology and means “an extra feature, as a message or video, hidden in a software program, computer game, DVD, etc., and revealed as by an obscure sequence of keystrokes, clicks, or actions.”

The first discovered Easter egg appeared in the 1979 Atari VCS 2600 game Adventure, created by Warren Robinett. In those days, video-game makers received no individual credit for their work from Atari, so Robinett hid the message “Created by Warren Robinett” within a one-pixel gray dot on a gray background. Robinett didn’t tell anyone about the hidden credit, but a dedicated teenaged gamer found it within a year of the game’s release and wrote to Atari about his discovery. It would have cost over $10,000 to “fix” it, so Atari executives decided to leave it in. In a 2003 interview, Robinett recounts that Steve Wright, an Atari manager at the time, loved the idea of hidden surprises in games because they reminded him of “waking up on Easter morning and hunting for Easter eggs.” So, the hidden features became known as Easter eggs.

Another famous type of gaming Easter egg is a special sequence of arrow keys and letters called the Konami Code, which acts as a cheat code. It first appeared in 1986 in the Nintendo game Gradius. Kazuhisa Hashimoto, a game programmer for Konami, found it too difficult to play through Gradius during testing, so he created the Konami Code to give the player extra power-ups. This cheat code and Easter egg has the honor of being permanently seared into the minds of video-game players around the world.

Easter eggs soon found their way into other technological sources—from DVD extras to heavily trafficked websites. Google is especially fond of these fun little surprises; if you search for “askew” in Google, the results appear tilted, and if you ask it for the “number of horns on a unicorn” it will helpfully bring up the calculator and do the math for you. Android devices are also known for their unique Easter eggs, hidden in the About section of each version of the operating system—they’ve included everything from strange illustrations to frustratingly difficult games!

Have you stumbled across an amazing hidden gem? Share your favorite Easter egg with us on Facebook or Twitter!

What’s the Difference Between a Bunny, a Rabbit and a Hare?

April 14, 2017 6:00AM
bunny

While the religious contexts of Easter can be well understood, the commercialized variants get a little crazy: an anthropomorphized bunny, baskets, pastel colors and eggs? There’s too much to tackle in that semantic basket, so we’ll answer a different crucial question: what’s the difference between a rabbit, a hare and a bunny?

Let’s start with the two that have scientific names. Hares and rabbits are both in the family Leporidae, but they’re separate species. Both animals have long ears, powerful back legs and a divided upper lip. But hares are larger than rabbits. And, instead of creating burrows, hares make nests in the grass. The exposed nesting sites of hares hint at another big difference—when they’re born, hares are precocial, with their eyes open and fur grown in, which means they don’t require a lot of parental care. Rabbits, on the other hand, are born naked, blind and helpless, which is why it’s smart for them to live in more secure dens underground.

Until the 18th century rabbits were called coneys, based on the French cunil, shortened from the Latin cuniculus. Rabbit first referred to the young of coneys until eventually the word took over in popularity. Incidentally, that’s also the origin of the name Coney Island (or Rabbit Island), the beachside amusement park in New York. It is one of the only references to coney that’s still used in North America. The word hare isn’t related to hair, but the word is possibly from the West Germanic word khasan or Dutch hase, which means “gray.”

So what about bunnies, and the Easter bunny? “Bunny” was originally (and sometimes still is) used as a term of endearment for a young girl. Over time, it started to mean a young and/or small animal, and now it usually means a rabbit. But German immigrants brought the traditions of (Kriss Kringle and) the Easter hare. The night before Easter, children would find a quiet corner in their house and make a nest out of clothing for the Easter hare to come lay eggs (the origin of the Easter basket). The word hare was dropped on its way across the Atlantic and the fuzzier, cuddlier word bunny was applied in its place.

Why a hare and not, you know, a chicken to lay those Easter eggs? The intensely short gestation period and well-known reproductive speed of hares and rabbits have a long cultural association with spring and fertility. Hares are usually shy and isolated creatures, but their spring mating ritual makes them most conspicuous to humans in March and April. The phrase “mad as a March hare” hints at that mating season, when hares can be seen boxing each other as part of their unruly courtship ritual. Eggs are also a fertility symbol, and during the Lent fast, Catholics were traditionally not allowed to eat eggs, so they became part of the Easter feast. There’s a lot happening in those relationships, but it seems that the bunny-egg entanglement is here to stay.

The Reasons to Swear. A Lot.

April 7, 2017 7:00AM
swear_words_800x800

Fair warning: The language here could get a little strong for some tastes.

Raise your hand if you’ve ever slipped up and said a curse word in front of your boss, your grandma, or anyone else you probably shouldn’t have. We’re right there with you (totally raised our hands).

Don’t be too hard on yourself. Swearing has a long history—words tend to stick around when they fill a need for a language or society, and swear words do just that. What useful purpose could expletives possibly serve? Glad you asked. Keep reading to see just a few.

Evoking Emotion

Think of swearwords like verbal exclamation points: They express emotion and emphasize emotional responses to the world around us. You know how cathartic they can be when you step on a LEGO or bump your elbow. And you know who has your back on that? Science.

A professor at Keele University in the UK led a study in 2009 where he had 67 student volunteers plunge their hands into icy water and repeat either an expletive or a neutral word, keeping their hands submerged for as long as they could. Sounds fun. They found that the students who picked expletives were able to keep their hands in the water for an average of 40 seconds longer, and they reported feeling less pain.

They also found that swearing stimulates the same part of the brain that governs your “fight-or-flight” response. You know, the ancient lizard part of your brain. So not only does swearing relieve pain, it lets you express the “fight” part of that response without resorting to physical violence. So really, those so-called “naughty words” are doing a public service to us all.

Provoking Emotion

A lot of Western culture has been influenced by Christianity. As a result, a lot of our swearing is religious, or has to do with being irreverent toward religion. A curse is “the expression of a wish that misfortune, evil, or doom befall a person, group.” Something that’s profane is “characterized by irreverence or contempt for God or sacred principles or things; irreligious.” To swear is “to make a solemn declaration or affirmation by some sacred being or object, as a deity or the Bible.”

Basically, because the Bible (and the Torah and the Koran, actually) says “You shall not misuse the name of the Lord,” it’s provocative and rebellious to say things like “God, I hate that guy,” or…

Credit: Giphy

Swearing/cursing/profanity doesn’t necessarily need to be religious to be provocative. When a six year old starts swearing, what do they say? They usually don’t pick a religious word for their first one. They go big. They drop an f-bomb or whip out the shit-word, then quickly look at you to see if/how you react. But that’s the thing. Kids (especially little ones) like to test and explore their limits. They push the boundaries of rules to learn where those boundaries are. And let’s not pretend it stops at childhood. You’ve probably said one recently just to get a rise out of someone, too. It happens, you know? When you feel something, you want others to feel it with you (for better or for worse).

Fitting In

In some cases, you might not be able to fit in unless you do swear. While swearing can be a thing we do to grab and command attention, there are some circles where it’s just such a part of the landscape that you stand out by choosing not to swear. Think of rappers and stand-up comics. Jim Gaffigan is widely known as a “clean” comic. The fact he uses little to no profanity in his work comes up in almost every interview. Hell, it’s the third sentence on his Wikipedia page.

Your anti-swearing friend might say “Sure, but that’s entertainment. You can’t do that in a professional setting.” You know what proves them wrong? Science.

The BBC wrote an intensely researched article on swearing in March 2016. In one section, they described a study about swearing at work:

A study in New Zealand for example examined the interactions and use of the term “fuck” by a team of workers at a soap factory. Researchers from Victoria University of Wellington found that while the workers regularly swore amongst themselves, they didn’t swear as much with colleagues from other teams.

They concluded that in this work context, the word “fuck” was associated with expressions of solidarity, and was used to bond members of the team, ease tensions and equalise members with different levels of power and responsibility, “as if they are saying ‘I know you so well I can be this rude to you.’”

You read that right. Swearing can be a sign of community within a work team. It’s an intimate type of language, and using it signals that you have a close enough relationship with someone to speak candidly around them. Not all studies agree on this idea, but more on that later (promise).

Fun

Let’s be real. You don’t only swear when you’re at an emotional extreme. Sometimes you just do it because it’s fun. An expletive is actually “a syllable, word, or phrase that serves to fill [a sentence] out.” Another definition is “a word considered as regularly filling the syntactic position of another, as it in It is his duty to go.” Basically, expletives just exist to fill up space in a sentence without adding any extra meaning. It makes sense if you think about it. You know that when you swear, you don’t always mean the words literally. But when you do, we can agree it’s much more fun to say the dirty word than the clean one.

Why do We Even Have These?

Don’t let people blame today’s music or TV for swearing, either. Even the Romans did it. The citizens of Pompeii famously immortalized their obscenities in some of the same ways we do today: on the walls of public buildings, restrooms, and bars. Yes, graffiti artists can trace their proud tradition back to the ancient Romans. The Romans, too, used expletives as insults, but because they saw each other naked more often than we see each other today (think public baths and bathrooms), not all expletives referring to body parts were obscene. It was considered far more offensive to refer to someone as feminine or imply they took a passive role during sex (unfortunately, misogyny has also been around for a long time).

We started getting the idea that bodies and bodily functions were “unclean” around the time of the Black Death. Widespread disease and death can de-romanticize human bodies really fast.

So Should I Do the Thing?

The short answer is “It depends.” Let’s maybe not give Grandma a heart attack today.

Not everyone is okay with swearing. Some even go so far as saying it makes you sound dumb, disrespectful, low class, or unprofessional (or all of the above). A study from 1973 found that using swearwords in a professional setting made you less credible and persuasive. Also, surprise, they found the effect was even worse if you were a woman. People assumed that choosing to use swearwords meant you were too dumb to think of different, better, or more polite words.

But.

Icona Pop:

Credit: Giphy

Newer research (from 2015) shows that someone using expletives has nothing to do with a lack of overall vocabulary. If anything, having a larger vocabulary could also mean you have a proportionally larger number of swearwords in it. Basically, if you’re intimately familiar with a language, you have a better understanding of how its insults (including slurs, expletives, and “expressive expressions” like ouch!) can or should be used.

That said, you really should be careful with expletives that are disparaging toward people of any kind (including genders, races, ethnicities, etc.). There’s a really fine line between terms that have been “reclaimed” and words that are just not okay across the board. The hard part is that different words fall into different categories for different people. Maybe you’re okay with saying bitch but the person you’re talking to isn’t. That’s totally fair, and it’s important to be mindful of other people’s boundaries. Just like those soap factory workers wouldn’t use the f-word among other teams than their own, you should really make 100% sure that whomever you’re swearing around is okay with it before you do the thing.

Another important thing to realize is that it is possible to have too much of a good thing. Swearing tends to lose its power if you do it all the time. Sorry.

So, once again: Raise your hand if you’ve ever felt personally victimized by Regina George. Just kidding, raise your hand if you’ve ever said a dirty word in the wrong context. Yeah, us too. As much as we try to filter ourselves, swearing happens. There are plenty of great reasons to do it, and the words really do serve a good purpose in today’s English. As long as you’re among company that’s on the same page with your swearing policies, let that $h!t rip.

Where Are You From, Loanword?

April 7, 2017 7:00AM
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Let’s save some time and say it: Being exposed to other cultures and languages is one of the best things that can happen to you. Throughout history, English speakers have constantly been in contact with people who speak other languages. One of the coolest things that happens from that contact is language exchange. When a word from one language gets absorbed into another language, that’s called a loanword. Scholars estimate that English has integrated loanwords from more than 300 languages. Maybe you never noticed? That’s kind of the point. When a new word gets absorbed into English it just becomes part of English.

What usually happens is that English speakers find a word in another language to describe something they don’t yet have a word for. So they “borrow” that word. Forever. That said, loanwords fall into two categories: popular loanwords and learned loanwords.

So How Does This Work?

Words borrowed from other languages are at first considered foreign words. When a word has been accepted by a large number of speakers and integrated into the everyday speech of a language community, that’s when it becomes a loanword. At this point, pronunciation of the word usually adapts to the borrowing language through a process called naturalization or assimilation. Once the word no longer seems foreign, it is, in fact, a loanword.

Popular Loanwords: Food and Fighting

Popular loanwords are everyday words. You might not even realize that some of them came from another language. Most popular loanwords are the result of cultural contact. Many of them describe food, the arts, and entertainment. You probably know sushi comes from Japanese, and taco comes from Spanish, by way of Mexico. But some other food-related loanwords you might have forgotten are pizza from Italian, lemon from Arabic, and tart from French (the French spell it tarte).

War is another way a lot of loanwords have come into English. This actually goes way back to the beginning of the language. Viking invasions of England during the Old English period brought Old Norse words like war and ugly. In 1066, the Normans (basically the French), led by William the Conqueror, invaded and took over the British Isles. That made French the language of the English court for hundreds of years. As many as 10,000 loanwords resulted from that period of English history.

Interestingly, a lot of war-related words are loanwords. We’ve borrowed a number of terms from French (including grenade, cavalry, and bayonet). We’ve also acquired a decent number of German words (likeU-boat, zeppelin, and blitz).

Learned Loanwords: Scholarship and Skills

Learned loanwords tend to come from scholarly or specialized fields, like medicine or law. It’s usually easier to see what language these words came from. English, for example, draws from Latin for a lot of medical and legal terms.

It’s not always that cut and dry, though. Sometimes it’s harder to see the line between popular and learned loanwords. The word ballet, for example, comes from French, and the terms for the different positions and steps in ballet have retained their original French names. In this case, ballet is a popular loanword. Most English speakers recognize the word as referring to a type of dance. However, the specialized terms in ballet could also be considered learned loanwords because they’re familiar to dancers and choreographers (who are skilled professionals), but largely unknown to people outside the field.

Practice vs. Practise

April 6, 2017 7:00AM
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The difference between these two mainly comes down to British vs. American spelling. In British English, practise is a verb and practice is a noun. In American English, practice is both the noun and verb form. American English doesn’t really use practise.

The Noun Practice

As a noun, practice means “habit or custom” (as in “a religious practice“). It can also mean “repeated exercise to acquire a skill” (e.g. “Hannah practices violin every day”). It can also refer to “the pursuit of a profession” (e.g. “She just retired from her medical practice“).

The Verb Practice/Practise

In American English, practice can also be a verb. It means “to do something again and again in order to master it” or “to exercise a profession.” So you could say “He practices his religion,” “She practices the violin,” or “He practices law.”

In British English, you’d write those last three examples as practise. British English is also called International English because its rules tend to apply for most of the English-speaking world. For example, “I practise the piano,” and “I plan to practise law,” show the correct spelling of practise (the verb) in British, Canadian, and Australian English.

-Ice Nouns and -Ise Verbs

American English also has some words where the verb forms end in -ise, and the noun forms of those same words end in -ice, like advise and advice. Advise is the verb (e.g. “She tried to advise him not to jump into the pool,”), and advice is the noun (e.g. “He decided not to take her advice and jumped in anyway,”). With these two, there’s no difference between International or American English.

Service is a word where both its verb and noun forms end in -ice. In the sentence “He serviced her car,” service is a verb. In the sentence, “She tipped well for the service,” service is a noun. These words are also used the same way throughout the English-speaking world.

In contrast, there are also several words that use -ise endings for both the verb and noun forms of the word. Promise, surprise, merchandise, and franchise all fall into this category. And these words, too, are the same in both International and American English.

Headlines Only

Dictionary.com Blog

Dictionary.com Editorial | Word Facts, Trends & Tips for the English Language
http://blog.dictionary.com

The Reasons to Swear. A Lot.

April 7, 2017 7:00AM

Where Are You From, Loanword?

April 7, 2017 7:00AM

Practice vs. Practise

April 6, 2017 7:00AM

Best Practices

  • Only pull feeds from sources you trust.
  • Use feeds that are relevant to your unit's core purpose, such as a blog managed by your team.
  • Favor RSS feeds from sources that are updated regularly and predictably.
  • Pull in a maximum of 10 articles; any more than that is hard for visitors to consume.
  • Sort the feed so the most recently published article is at the top, unless there is a compelling need to sort otherwise.

Avoid

  • Avoid RSS feeds that aren't relevant to your unit's core purpose.
  • Avoid pulling in more than 10 articles at a time.
  • Don't use RSS feeds from sources you don't trust.

Separator


Best Practices

  • Separators should be used to visually indicate a logical separation between pieces of content on a webpage.
  • Best used in a single column layout.

Avoid

  • Don't use separators to "frame" elements of a page or for decorative purposes; only use to indicate a logical break in the page to visitors.
  • Avoid using as the first or last element on the page; only use between elements.
  • Don't use two or more separators in a row.
  • Avoid using in multi-column layouts; use between entire rows only.

Site Map

Best Practices

  • Adding a site map to your website can be very useful for some visitors. It's not necessary for it to exist as a top-level navigation item, but somewhere logical and easy to access is recommended.
  • It's generally a good idea to alphabetize your navigation manually, but if you aren't able to do that, sort your site map to alphabetize.
  • Reviewing your site map can be a sobering reminder that your site has too much navigation, and unfortunately, simply publishing your site map won't help that much. Always strive to simplify your website architecture.

Avoid

  • Avoid thinking that a site map solves website navigation, usability or content discoverability problems; use the resources below to get started on better website architecture instead.

Slider

Best Practices

  • Always add descriptive alternative text (sometimes called "alt text") to your images; this provides context for users that cannot see the content of the image.
  • In our CMS, each slide is intended to purposefully link to other areas of your site. Never link to a blank hashtag or your home page as a bailout; use an Image Gallery slideshow instead, as links are not required.
  • Keep slideshows limited to 5 or 6 total slides; retire old slides as new content is added.
  • Slider dimensions are fixed at 16:9. Images outside of these dimensions are automatically cropped in our CMS.
  • Whenever possible, use high-quality images that are at least twice as wide as they will appear on the screen. If that's confusing, crop/size images to 1600 x 900px and go with that.
  • Best used on the larger side of a two-column layout (or either side in the case of 50/50); avoid full-width layouts, as the slider is too tall in this configuration.
  • Keep caption titles brief; 3-6 words is optimal.
  • Caption descriptions should also be brief and descriptive; 120-160 characters is optimal.
  • Decide on a length of title and description and use that as a strict standard across all your slides.
  • Be sure the image and caption text give the visitor a strong indication of where they are being linked to.

Avoid

  • In our CMS, don't leave the link field empty or link back to your home page as a bailout. If you don't have anywhere purposeful to link to, use an Image Gallery slideshow instead.
  • Avoid using images with embedded text, as these cannot be translated to other languages or interpreted by screen readers. Instead utilize the caption area to convey textual content.
  • Avoid slideshows that contain more than 5 or 6 slides.
  • Avoid low resolution images whenever possible.
  • Avoid using slider in a single column layout.
  • Don't use caption titles longer than 10 words; 3-6 is optimal.
  • Don't use caption descriptions longer than 200 characters; 120-160 is optimal.
  • Avoid captions that provide little context about where the slide link is directing the user to.
  • Avoid using more than one slider on a single page; this should rarely be necessary in practice.

Resources

Tables


Standard

Employee Phone Email Building
James Bowie 245.1555 jamesbowie@txstate.edu Old Main
William B. Travis 245.1556 williambtravis@txstate.edu Nueces
Davy Crockett 245.1557 davycrocket@txstate.edu LBJ Student Center
Sam Houston 245.1557 samhouston@txstate.edu J.C. Kellam
Stephen F. Austin 245.1558 stephenaustin@txstate.edu Alkek Library

Carded

Shrink browser width or view on smaller screen to see carded layout effect.

Employee Phone Email Building
James Bowie 245.1555 jamesbowie@txstate.edu Old Main
William B. Travis 245.1556 williambtravis@txstate.edu Nueces
Davy Crockett 245.1557 davycrocket@txstate.edu LBJ Student Center
Sam Houston 245.1557 samhouston@txstate.edu J.C. Kellam
Stephen F. Austin 245.1558 stephenaustin@txstate.edu Alkek Library

Sortable

Employee Phone Email Building
James Bowie 245.1555 jamesbowie@txstate.edu Old Main
William B. Travis 245.1556 williambtravis@txstate.edu Nueces
Davy Crockett 245.1557 davycrocket@txstate.edu LBJ Student Center
Sam Houston 245.1557 samhouston@txstate.edu J.C. Kellam
Stephen F. Austin 245.1558 stephenaustin@txstate.edu Alkek Library

Borderless

Employee Phone Email Building
James Bowie 245.1555 jamesbowie@txstate.edu Old Main
William B. Travis 245.1556 williambtravis@txstate.edu Nueces
Davy Crockett 245.1557 davycrocket@txstate.edu LBJ Student Center
Sam Houston 245.1557 samhouston@txstate.edu J.C. Kellam
Stephen F. Austin 245.1558 stephenaustin@txstate.edu Alkek Library

Li'l Type

Employee Phone Email Building
James Bowie 245.1555 jamesbowie@txstate.edu Old Main
William B. Travis 245.1556 williambtravis@txstate.edu Nueces
Davy Crockett 245.1557 davycrocket@txstate.edu LBJ Student Center
Sam Houston 245.1557 samhouston@txstate.edu J.C. Kellam
Stephen F. Austin 245.1558 stephenaustin@txstate.edu Alkek Library

Best Practices

  • Use tables only to convey information that is tabular in nature.
  • Keep table headers very short; a single word is often all that is needed.
  • Use alternating row colors unless there is a compelling need to disable; this feature helps site visitors scan table rows.
  • Default header background is Texas State gold. In our CMS, other colors from our primary and secondary color palette may be selected.
  • Though the nature of tabular data is expansive, try to keep table rows and columns to a minimum. Columns, in particular, can make viewing on mobile devices much more challenging.
  • Carded layouts are good for mobile usability if your data is basic and brief. Be sure to test this feature on smaller devices if utilized.
  • All styles above can be combined; they are not mutually exclusive features.

Avoid

  • Never use tables for layout purposes; only use tables for tabular content and/or data. In our CMS, layouts can easily be achieved with sections and column layouts.
  • Avoid long header labels.
  • Avoid making tables sortable when using fewer than 10 rows; this adds unnecessary complexity.

Twitter Feed

ICYMI: Five #TXST student playwrights shine in the Kennedy Center spotlight. https://t.co/y5RZARhEid https://t.co/d6h20uRrQY
2017-04-22T18:26:03Z
It's that time of year again for Riverfest! Follow along w/@SACA_TXSTATE as they take over the #TXST Snapchat today… https://t.co/ywpp8IYimC
2017-04-21T20:16:02Z

Best Practices

  • Our CMS allows Twitter feeds based on a Twitter handle, hashtag, or both. Only add feeds from sources you trust, and be aware that any Twitter account can use a hashtag and show up in the feed.
  • Only use feeds from accounts that publish content on a regular basis; an account your unit owns is most optimal.
  • Works well in all column layouts; display 3 or 6 tweets for an optimal look on all devices.

Avoid

  • Avoid displaying fewer than 3 tweets or more than 6. Generally, 3 or 6 tweets exactly is the optimal amount due to how they are arranged and styled on the page.
  • Avoid using feeds that you don't own or control. 

Resources

Video


YouTube

Vimeo

Best Practices

  • Only embed videos from sources you trust. Ask permission whenever possible to create a relationship with the content provider.
  • Video embeds with a strong marketing component should be brief; 3 minutes or less is a good rule. Educational content or training videos have no limit.
  • Audit video content periodically to ensure it's accurate and fresh.
  • Remove or update videos that are more than 3 years old; dated content can make your unit look unprofessional.
  • If you don't own the video content, test embed from time to time to ensure that the owner has not removed it from their channel.

Avoid

  • Avoid low quality video content.
  • Don't embed videos that are more than 3 years old; dated content hurts your messaging more than it helps.

Resources

  • Video production:  University Marketing may be available to consult with and produce video content for your unit.
  • Central channels:  Please feel free to embed and share video content found on the Texas State Vimeo and YouTube channels. Be aware that we remove older content periodically.