How to write FAQ pages

Frequently asked questions or FAQs are a straightforward way to communicate information in small "chunks"—a hallmark of good writing for the web. FAQ pages:

  • save you time by providing your users with the information they need the most—reducing emails and phone calls to your department.
  • show that you understand your users’ needs and want to provide good service

UMass Dartmouth's audiences

UMass Dartmouth has information to share with a number of different audiences:

  • students
  • prospective students
  • faculty and staff
  • prospective faculty and staff
  • visitors
  • supporters: alumni, donors, advocates, and partners

Think of your department's FAQ page as a pathway to important information for your targeted audiences. How can you help them succeed at UMass Dartmouth?

Creating FAQ pages on the UMass Dartmouth website

T4, UMass Dartmouth's web content management system, offers templates specifically designed for posting FAQs.

The Web Development team can help you use the templates—but only you can develop the right content for your FAQ pages. Here are some guidelines to point you in the right direction.

FAQ how-to’s

1. Include the questions that really are "frequently asked"

What are the questions that crop up again and again for your department? Look through your emails, and try to remember those repetitive phone calls.

As you reflect on your FAQs, be sure to keep in mind the entire cycle of the academic year:

  • the beginning of each semester
  • mid-terms and finals
  • registration and commencement

What are the details, deadlines, and decisions that involve your department?

2. Forget the fuss

It’s the content that matters—don’t worry about images and other distractions. Make sure each answer is well written and easy to understand.

To insure comprehension, ask someone unfamiliar with your department to review your answers.

3. Get organized

Make your FAQs easy to find and use by categorizing them. Group together all questions relating to similar topics.

The T4 FAQ template will let you create headings for each topic.

4. Keep it simple

Try to keep your answers simple and direct.

If the answer involves details available on another part of the site, link to that page. Don’t replicate your entire website on your FAQ page. (If your procedures change, you’ll have to make updates in two places instead of one.)

As appropriate, embed links to critical additional information:

  • organizational chart
  • department email address and/or staff contact page
  • division/department home page
  • key publications/resources
  • feedback forms

5. Start with the essentials

Make sure your list of questions is useful is by beginning with the most common questions. Follow with less common and more complex questions.

6. Be available

Make sure you provide contact information (email, phone number) or a link to your contact page from the FAQ page, in case someone has a question that’s not listed.

7. Keep up-to-date

If details change, you must update your FAQ page with that new information.

8. Solicit new questions

A great way to show your commitment to service: create an opportunity for users to ask additional questions.