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This page is a great resource for all things social media. Check out some tips on accessibility, Facebook and Instagram specific tips, and general best practices. Towards the bottom of the page, you will also find additional helpful resources. If you have any questions or recommendations for additional topics, please reach out to

Overall Best Practices


Using correct spelling is an easy way to maintain brand trust and credibility with your audience. Double-check all spelling before posting.

JMU Guidelines

Dates and Times
Time Examples: 
6:30 a.m, 10 p.m., noon, midnight

Date Examples: Aug 1, August 1
Do not use a “-th,” “-nd,” “-st” or “-rd” at the end of the numerical date

Oxford Comma
Do not use the oxford comma. Meaning, when typing out a list, do not include the comma before the final “and” in a series. You may, however, when the word “and” occurs in one of the items in the series.

En and Em Dashes
An em dash (Option+Shift+hyphen on Apple devices) can be used in place of a colon or parentheses, or to indicate an abrupt change in thought. Set off with a space on both sides.
We expect a big crowd — if the weather is nice.
We expect a big crowd — if the weather is nice — for Homecoming.

En dashes (Option+Hyphen on Apple devices) may be used in ad copy to denote a duration of time. For consistency with Associated Press style, do not use en dashes in news body copy.
May 2-June 3
the 2019-20 academic year, fiscal year 2019-20

When a date or year is preceded by the word "from," do not use a hyphen, use "to."
from May 2 to June 3

Other JMU Guidelines
For a comprehensive list, check out JMU's A–Z Editoral Style Guide. If what you are looking for is not listed, then follow AP Style guidelines.


Ask questions to encourage conversations in your comments. Try to avoid asking “yes/no” questions and use open-ended questions instead.

When appropriate, include a “Call To Action” such as “register to join our event.”

Being authentic and approachable is crucial for a successful social media presence. Show your (or your brand’s) personality on posts.  Also, keep the tone more conversational to appear more welcoming. 

Images vs Graphics

As mentioned previously, authenticity resonates with audience members. Because of this, images (especially non-stock photos) tend to fare more favorably than graphics. However, graphics are preferred if you're sharing important information. When using graphics with text, limit the amount of text. Also, make sure that any information in the graphic is in the caption and/or in the alt-text.


Alternative Text (Alt-Text)

Alternative Text, also known as Alt-Text, ensures access to images by a screen reader software and can also be added to improve the site's search engine optimization (SEO). Platforms and social media sites, like Cascade, Canvas or Microsoft Office have made it easier to add alt-text to make pages and images more accessible towards people who have limited or capped internet functionality, ensuring inclusiveness. 

Alt-Text is relatively easy in that it requres a good image description and then an application of that description to the image it is describing on the site. All of this is done behind the scenes of the platform or social media by the uploader. A good rule to remember is that all images should have alt-text unless the image is just decorative. It should be noted that if the image is a decorative image, it needs to be coded as just that, a decorative image.

For more information on alt-text, check out this resource from JMU's Office of Disability Services.

Color Contrast

The difference between two colors, either in the foreground or background (or even in the body text, logos and essential diagrams), is color contrast. Checking for color contrast helps the readability of the content your putting out, but also ensure accessibility for people who may be color blind and other similar or relating conditions like those who have low vision or blindness.

There are a couple ways to check color contrast using a contrast check online, using JMU trusted color combinations from the style guide, or even optimizing color programs that various platforms now have.  There are also a couple other ways to make color visuals more accessible, you can communicate results of things like graphs and charts in text and in color, or you can even create hyperlinks with different text colors. It is important to make your creative materials as inclusive as possible to broaden your audience to as many people as possible.

For more information on color contrast and for a step-by-step guide on using a Contrast Checker, check out this resource from JMU's Office of Disability Services.

Closed Captioning

Closed captions are used in videos to describe the text that is being said, as well as any noise that can be heard, speaker identification and any other relevant audio. In order to be fully accessible, you should always assume that those that use closed captioning cannot hear any audio at all that way it takes into account any audio and makes it as inclusive as possible. 

Closed captioning is more detailed than subtitles and other forms of captioning like open captioning, live captions, and transcriptions. It accounts for any sound to the audience members that is not visually apparent to people and is a big part of what is happening in the video. 


Hashtags are also a great way to gain popularity on a post or page. However, it is important that when you hashtag a word or multiple words within one hashtag, all beginning letters of that work is capitalized. This ensures that screens readers will be able to pick up on the word or individual words and not read it as one full word (if you are using multiple words in the hashtag).

Doing this is also friendlier for people who are blind, visually impaired, or have a cognitive disability or dyslexia. It helps people to differentiate the words in the hashtag. Capitalizing the letter of the first words in the hashtag allows people to find patterns and acts as a cue that the word is separate from other words.

Correct Examples: 

#James #Madison #Univeristy or #JamesMadisonUniverisity

Incorrect Examples: 

#Jamesmadisonuniversity or #jamesmadisonuniversity


Sure, emojis are fun to use but don't always provide people with the most universal experience. Say you write a great caption and then add 10 smiley faces with star eyes at the end. A screen reader will read that as, "smiley face with star eyes" and then will proceed to say that nine more times. Not only does this make the experience of using a screen reader more difficult for people who need them, but it may even make your audience smaller, thus minimizing your messages capacity to reach the most people possible. That's why it is important to keep the emoji use to a limited amount, such as one or two per post. 

Custom Fonts

It's important that when writing captions or anything online that you use the JMU Typography guide as a reference to find out what fonts work best. Fonts that may be custom and not used frequently have the tendency to be read on screenreaders wrong. Fonts like Sans-serif and Serif are usually the most highly recommended to use for font types. 

What makes these fonts better and more accessible? These fonts have a certain height, width, thickness and readability on screenreaders. Fonts that are more legible appeal to a wider audience and thus allow the most amount of people possible to hear and read your message. 


Days and Times to post 

Optimal days and times to post varies between audiences and current trends and data. However, there are some “safe” days and times to post on Facebook. Typically, anyday between Monday and Friday is a safe bet. It’s important to note that early in the morning (before 10 a.m.) and the afternoon (from 1 to 3 p.m.) are good options for posting, because that’s when people are on their phones.

How to apply Alt-text

For a step-by-step guide on applying alt text on Facebook, please check out this guide from JMU's Office of Disability Service.


Days and Times to post

Optimal days and times to post varies between audiences and current trends and data. However, there are some “safe” days and times to post on Instagram. Typically, anyday between Monday and Friday is a safe bet. It’s important to note that early in the morning (before 10 a.m.) is the best option for posting, because people are checking their phones first thing in the morning.


It’s important to note that Instagram does not allow you to link URLs in the caption. To avoid posting an unlinkable link, put your links in your page’s bio and add “click the link in our bio” to your captions (when applicable). If you have more than one link, then LinkTree would be a great resource. You can organize your links and customize your account for free.

How to apply Alt-Text

For a step-by-step guide on applying alt text on Instagram, please check out this guide from JMU's Office of Disability Service. 

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