Portland Community College | Portland, Oregon

Linking to other documents

Are you looking for information on other file types, such as PDF? Check out the linking to other documents page.

Websites are made up of folders and files on a web server. Almost every page you view on the PCC website is an individual HTML file. These files are organized in a simple folder structure that makes navigating the site easy. Folders and files should also follow PCC's naming convention, outlined below.

Directory (folder) structure

Directory definitions

The folder structure on the web server. For example:
Folders on the pcc.edu server:
  • about
  • resources
    • web
The folders make these URLs:
  • pcc.edu/about/
  • pcc.edu/resources/
  • pcc.edu/resources/web/
The web page's address on the server. The URL displays in your browser's address bar.
404 (Page Not Found)
The generic page that displays when you try to visit a page on the server that doesn't exist. Updating broken links and being careful when moving and renaming files can help avoid this.

A simple directory structure can greatly improve the website's usability. Short URLs are easier to remember, and consistent folder and file naming keeps the website organized.

When creating folders and pages, keep similar pages together in logically-named folders. Keep names simple and generic (more on naming below).

Moving and renaming

Moving or renaming files is dangerous – it can lead to broken links and frustrated users. No one wants to land on the 404 Page Not Found page. If you use a good structure from the start, you shouldn't need to make these types of changes. If you do need to move or rename a file, make sure to update all the links pointing to it. If you need help with this, contact the Web Team.

PCC directory basics

The pcc.edu server is very organized. We have a simple system for naming folders and files to make it as easy as possible for users to navigate the site. Note the organization of sub-category, document and image folders:

  • Basic structure: pcc.edu/category/department/optional-sub-category/file.html
    • Example: pcc.edu/resources/web/documentation/organization.html
    • There can be more than one level of sub-category folders, but don't go overboard.
  • Documents: pcc.edu/category/department/documents/document.file-type
    • Example: pcc.edu/resources/web/documents/browsers.pdf
  • Images: pcc.edu/category/department/images/image.file-type
    • Example: pcc.edu/resources/web/images/computer.jpg
  • Source files: pcc.edu/category/department/_source/file.file-type
    • Example: pcc.edu/resources/web/_source/computer-cutout.psd
    • Never link to source files (or zipped folders). They should only be on the server if the file will need to be updated in the future for use on the website. ** The web server should never be used for file storage! Only files actually used on the website should be on the server.

Naming guidelines

There are a few rules you should follow when naming folders and files. You may see different conventions on other websites, but these are the PCC guidelines:

  • Use all lowercase letters. It's easier to remember a URL when case isn't an issue.
    • Example: guidelines.html not Guidelines.html
  • Do NOT use spaces. If you need to separate two words use a hyphen (-). Don't use an underscore – they disappear in underlined text.
    • Examples:
      • Spaces turn into %20 in URLs – not very friendly! Example: pcc.edu/resources/web/web%20guidelines.pdf
      • You can't easily tell that this URL has underscores when it's underlined: pcc.edu/url_using_underscores.html
      • This is a good example of a file name, using lowercase letters, a hyphen and no spaces: pcc.edu/resources/web-guidelines.html
  • Avoid the use of strange characters.
    • Don't use characters such as $, &, * or #. Only use lowercase letters, numbers and hyphens.
  • Use descriptive names, but don't go overboard. The ideal name is long enough to be clear in meaning but short enough to be flexible. Avoid the over-use of abbreviations and remember that what might make perfect sense to you may be unrecognizable to another person.
    • Examples for the page Folder and file names on the website:
      • This acronym is short, but isn't clear. You may know it means "folder file names website", but others don't: pcc.edu/ffnw.html
      • This full name is too long: pcc.edu/folder-and-file-names-on-the-website.html
      • This is a good compromise: pcc.edu/folder-file-names.html
  • Use index.html for index (home) pages, not index.htm or default.htm.