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Web Standard: Sidebar


The sidebar is the vertical list of links in the left panel of microsite webpages. Every page within a microsite web area uses the same sidebar.

Content Requirements

  • The sidebar is part of the EPA look and feel. Do not modify it.
  • The left sidebar must be identical on all webpages within a microsite web area.
  • Use title case (initial capital letters) for all major words. Do not use all caps.
  • Use standard language terms on the sidebar menu to link to content:
    • A to Z Subject Index. Links to subject index for the Web area topic.
    • Calendar. More inclusive than upcoming events; includes public notice periods, etc.
    • Enforcement. Intended for information about civil, criminal and/or cleanup enforcement initiatives, activities and actions.
    • Frequent Questions. Do not use the acronym, “FAQ”, "Frequently Asked Questions", "Common Questions", "Key Questions" or any term other than "Frequent Questions".
    • Glossary. Definitions of key terms.
    • Grants & Funding. Resource information related to the topic.
    • Laws, or Regulations & Standards, or Laws & Regulations. Select the most appropriate term; use "Laws & Regulations" if you have content covering both areas. “Regulations & Standards” are issued under a law or statute authority.
    • Newsroom. Links to news releases, etc. Do not use “What’s New in [topic name]).”
    • Policy, or Guidance, or Policy & Guidance. Select the most appropriate term; use "Policy & Guidance" if you have content covering both areas.
    • Publications. Links of EPA produced material including videos and CD-ROMs as well as all printed material.
    • Science, or Technology, or Science & Technology. Select the most appropriate term. Use "Science" to cover science and research content. Use "Technology" for strictly application content. Use "Science & Technology" if you have content covering both areas.
    • What You Can Do. Actions, activities, ways to help for general public, students, etc.
  • Use an ampersand (&) in place of "and"
  • Do not use acronyms unless
    • the acronym is more familiar than the phrase the acronym stands for (e.g., "PCBs" is a more familiar term than "polychlorinated biphenyls") or
    • the acronym is explained in the area name at the top of the page (Persistent Bioaccumulative and Toxic (PBT) Chemical Program).
  • All text used on the left sidebar must be an active link.
  • If you have a basic information page, include it in the sidebar navigation.
  • Use the page name for the sidebar menu.
  • Sidebar navigation should only include content that addresses top tasks for top audiences of the web area. 
  •  Keep navigation simple.
    • Do not use navigation menus other than the left sidebar. Do not use right‐side boxes for navigation menus. Consider including a right side “Related Info” box on individual pages when you wish to link to related content.
    • If a section of content has a substantial hierarchy, seriously consider creating a web area for it.
  • The sidebar should not contain entries which link to:
    • Search pages or search boxes
    • PDFs or other web files (Excel, Word, etc.)
    • Outside web areas, except to a home page of a parent web area
    • the EPA archives (see Archive Web Standard)
    • outdated content
    • Graphics
    • The web area’s "Contact Us" page
      • NOTE: You may link to lists of program contacts. Label these links with specific descriptions like "State Contacts" as opposed to "Contacts" or "Contact Us." If you are soliciting comments, then use sidebar language like "Send Comments" or "Comment on the Rule" instead of "Contact Us."

About this Standard

All EPA public web content must adhere to the EPA Web Standards, the U.S. Web Design System guidelines, and the 21st Century Integrated Digital Experience Act.

Original effective date: 09/28/2005
Last approved on: 06/10/2020
Web Council review by: 06/10/2023 (or earlier if deemed necessary by the Web Council)