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Use guidelines to make content production clear and simple

7 min read

A guideline is a helpful instruction for your content creators. By using guidelines, you can provide your content creators with organizational information as well as helpful tutorial‑like steps for common tasks.

For example, you can tell your creators who will review the content they write or how they should tag content items with taxonomy. You can remind them about the style, tone, and voice they should use when writing. Or you can help them insert images correctly.

Table of contents

    There are two types of guidelines in Kontent. When creating a content type, you can put guidelines into a dedicated guidelines element or use guideline field in individual elements. The dedicated guidelines element is good for complex instructions because it can contain formatted text, lists, images, or links.  On the other hand, the guideline field in other elements is useful when you want to point out something specific to a particular element. For instance, its purpose or a piece of advice about what to include.

    Guidelines are purely internal. None of the users of your app or website will see them, only the people with access to your project in Kontent.

    Proper guidelines lead to fewer questions

    When building a content type for, say, an article, you can use guidelines elements to include various types of information that will help your content creators later sail through the production process smoothly. You can inform your content reviewers that they need to pass the content item for a legal review when they're done. And you can insert an image with your company's org chart so it's easy to find out who the appropriate person for the legal review is.

    Well-thought-out guidelines can help not only your regular content creators but also newcomers to your team or freelancers you hire. If they can find all the important information in guidelines, they don't have to come to you asking about every detail and can start writing right away.

    To create a guideline using the guidelines element:

    1. In Content model, open a content type.
    2. Click Guidelines in the right-hand sidebar.
    3. Write instructions into the guidelines element you've added.
      • You can format the text and insert headings, links, tables, or images.
    4. Click Save changes at the top of the screen.
    How to add a guidelines element to a content type

    Click Guidelines on the right to add the Guidelines element into the content type.

    If you are using more complex kinds of content in the app you're creating, like tweets or videos, your creators will appreciate a little help. Write a list of steps on how to add this sort of content. Add helpful screenshots showing them where to find the right button or link relevant pages that go into further detail. You can link the tutorials in our Kontent documentation, for instance.

    Organize elements in type

    When a content type is complex and contains a lot of elements with different purposes, your content creators could easily get lost in it. The good way to avoid this is to organize the elements into content groups by their purpose and then further divide the elements using guidelines within the groups themselves. If you have, say, some elements for content and some for metadata, split them into two content groups. Then use guidelines to separate elements in each group into sections. In the metadata group, you can use guidelines to divide the elements by their function – metadata for SEO, for e-commerce, or for social networks. Provide a clear explanation for each section so everybody knows why the section is there and what do you expect them to put into it.

    Explain elements with guidelines

    Metadata for browser and for social networks divided and explained by guidelines.

    Help your content creators understand each element

    The guidelines in individual content or supporting elements help your creators use the elements more efficiently. Use these guidelines to tell them the purpose of each element, restrictions you've placed on the elements, or common mistakes to avoid.

    Guidelines in elements are simple text that can't be formatted in any way. Therefore, keep the instructions short and simple. If you need to elaborate on some topic, write it into the guidelines element. This way, you can separate general complex instructions and the more specific ones so your content creators don't get lost in all the information.

    To insert a guideline into an element:

    1. In Content model, open a content type.
    2. At the bottom of the element you want to add the guideline for, click the text field with the hint Write optional guidelines for this element.
    3. Type the instructions.
    4. Click Save changes.
    Adding textual guidelines to an element

    Guidelines in an image content type

    Let's see how guidelines can be helpful when used in a content type for images. Although you can insert an image directly into the rich text editor in Kontent, it can be useful to create a content type for images where you can also have a caption and an alt text of the image.

    The text field for the alt text would have a guideline instructing your creators to describe what's in the image. The caption field guideline would then tell your creators to use it in case they want a visible caption for the image.

    Image content type with element guidelines

    Image content type with its elements separated in groups.

    Word of advice

    Remember to maintain your guidelines. Whenever you change your content model, you need to make sure the guidelines still apply, are up-to-date, and don't miss anything. Guidelines that are inaccurate could do more harm than no guidelines at all.

    Avoid writing guidelines that are about some specific content. Include that information in a content brief instead.

    Use guidelines to help and advise, don't rely on them when it comes to limitations. If you need to, always set the limitations and requirements for the element.

    What's next?

    As you can see, using guidelines can very much streamline the creation process of content. When you provide guidelines, your content creators don't have to ask the same questions again and again because when they're stuck, the guidelines come to rescue. And if, despite the fact you've added guidelines to content types, your creators still come to you asking the same question repeatedly, that's a cue for you the guidelines are missing some crucial information. When you review the existing guidelines and add what's missing, everybody will save time - you won't have to explain the same thing again and your creators won't have to think hard how to do something only to end up coming to you for help. They'll feel more competent and create better content.

    Check-out these articles to dive deeper into content modeling: