In Partnership with AOL Search


Editing Style Guidelines

The purpose of these guidelines is to advise editors on good editorial judgment and decision making. End users should be able to determine relevancy without having to visit a site. So, directory annotations (i.e. titles and descriptions) should objectively describe a site's subject and/or contents. The main intent of these style guidelines are:

You should be accommodating of various individual styles, and avoid adopting a fundamentalist view of these guidelines by being overly critical and nitpicky of URL format, titles and descriptions. Editors should keep in mind that while the quality of the annotations is important for relevancy, the quality of the links themselves are most important to DMOZ's overall quality and usefulness.

Capturing the Correct URL

Related Guidelines: Redirects and Cloaked URLs and Multilingual Sites


The title should identify the site, not describe it. It should be both informative and concise.

Good titles ....

More about titles and Title examples


The description gives specific information about the content and/or subject matter of the site. It should be informative and concise, usually no longer than one or two lines. The basic formula for a good description is Description = Subject + Content.

In some cases, the contents of all the sites in your category will be the same. For example, sites about businesses or organizations all contain similar information such as an "about" page, a products and services section, etc. In these cases, it's fine to just describe what the company does, focusing on its products, services and specializations (i.e. the subject).

The following are the basic principles for writing good descriptions.
Good descriptions:

  1. Are concise, informative, and objective, telling end-users what they will find when they visit a web site.
    • Highlight the unique subjects and contents of the site, thus allowing the user to appropriately determine relevancy.
    • Include relevant and specific terms that will make it easier for the end-user to determine a site's relevancy to his/her query.
  2. Use logical sentence or phrase structure and proper punctuation and capitalization to make it easier for users to read directory listings.
    • Start descriptions with a capital letter and end with a period.
    • Use third person pronouns whenever possible, and avoid first and second person pronouns (e.g. "you", "your", "we", "us", "our", "I", or "me") as they are too subjective.
    • Check for spelling errors.
    • Avoid using acronyms or abbreviations unless they are commonly understood by potential users of the category.
  3. Do not read like advertisements, sales pitches, opinions, or editorial reviews. DMOZ does not advertise or review web sites.
    • Avoid superlatives commonly used in advertising, such as "best", "most", "greatest", or "cheapest."
    • Do not use emphatic punctuation (e.g., "!!!" ), all caps to denote emphasis, ampersands ( "&" ) or ellipses ( "..." ).
    • Do not give your personal review of any aspect of the website.
  4. Do not include excessive and unnecessary keyword repetition and other superfluous information.
    • Do not repeat the entire site title.
    • Do not excessively repeat the category name, keywords, or phrases, or overuse adjectives.
    • Do not use specific dates, prices, time-sensitive numbers, or similar information that is subject to change.
    • Do not enter overused sentences and phrases, such as those starting with: "This site is...", "Site includes ..." or ending with "etc.", "and more".
    • Do not include: street/mailing and e-mail addresses, nearest intersection/highway exit, telephone/fax numbers, instructions for use of answering systems, hours of operation, prices, or other URLs.
  5. Do not make reference to illegally obtained content (e.g. pirated versions of software and music).
  6. May include limited quotations from a site (such as a brief quotation from a site's about page or similar informational areas) if paraphrasing proves too difficult.
More about describing sites, including examples.

DMOZ Note Field

Also known as "editor notes", this field is available for an editor to communicate pertinent information about a web site to fellow editors.

Examples of some of the types of comments appropriate for this field are:

When adding, deleting, and moving sites, or changing a listing's URL, automatic notes document the action. However, you should mention a reason so your actions are clear to other editors who may edit the URL. A reason must be given when deleting a site.

Sort Date Field

The date field may be used for the media publication date of items such as articles and reviews, or for time limited events such as conferences. Site listings with a date are sorted by this date (not alphabetically). They are placed together at the bottom of the page, below listings that do not have a date. A site with a date cannot be marked cool.

The revision date of regularly updated sites should not be reflected in the date field, as it is subject to change.

The date field is not for entering the date the listing was edited, or for other reasons for controlling the order in which sites are displayed in the category.

Cool Sites

A site that stands out among the rest in your category may be designated as a "cool" site. A "cool" site should be the most definitive, complete and content rich site on your subject. The site should also have a usable design (people should be able to read the content) and intuitive navigation (links should work and be easy to find). Ideally, since the cool site is the best site in your category, there should be only one. However, two cool sites may be appropriate in some instances.

Editors may not cool their own sites or any sites with which they are affiliated, including business or personal affiliations. Doing so is contrary to DMOZ's policy and mission to provide a fair and objective resource for end-users. It is also contrary to this policy to request another editor to cool a site with which you are affiliated. Misuse of the cool site feature may result in removal of your editing privileges. Please see the section on Conflicts of Interest for further explanations.

Note: Please utilize the cool site award as opposed to creating categories entitled "Editor's_Picks" or similar.

More about cooling sites