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You may notice that Stanford Sites Drupal 9 websites have different styling, layout, and functionality from those built on the older Stanford Site Drupal 7. This is, in part, because we have grown our understanding of and implemented best practices in usability and accessibility. 

Stanford's policy on Accessibility of Electronic Content (6.8.1) states that electronic content is to conform to the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0 (WCAG), Level AA. Many of the changes in the latest version of Stanford Sites are intentional design choices that help Stanford websites to meet this policy. 

Here are more questions and answers about Stanford Sites Drupal websites.

Why can’t I underline text?

In print documents, such as PDFs and Microsoft Word, underlines may be used to bring attention to a section of text. However, in websites underlines traditionally are used to indicate that the text is a link. This is a convention that Stanford Sites has adopted for indicating links within text areas. 

This use of underlines also makes it possible to meet WCAG 2.0 1.3.1 and WCAG 2.0 1.4.1, which state:

  1. we use visual cues to indicate links, and
  2. color is not used as the only visual means of conveying information.

When you want to bring attention to a section of the text, consider using either bold or italics.

Why can’t I make a link open in a new tab?

Stanford sites does support opening links in a new tab. This is a decision based on user research. Please encourage site visitors to use CTRL+Click on Windows and CMD+Click on MacOS to open tabs in a new window

Can I remove the title?

No. Removing the title will confuse users and search engines. 

Titles help users find content and orient themselves on your site. Imagine being blind and listening to a screen reader. When you encounter a page without a title, you'd hear the content on the page with no real introduction. Having page titles makes it possible to meet WCAG 2.0 2.4.2

Titles are also used by search engines to index the pages on your site and make it easier to search for and find the pages on your site.

Clicking on a link to a document, such as a PDF or Word document, is different from clicking on a link to another page on a site. When you click on the document link, it can open or download the document. If you're not expecting it, the appearance of the document can be, at minimum, surprising. If you have limited bandwidth or space on your device, a downloaded document can be troublesome. 

When creating a link, the text should identify the purpose of the link and allow users to decide if they want to follow the link. The text for a link to a document should convey the title, document type, and size. For example: 

Sample (PDF, 1MB)

Using the document name, type, and size in the link text makes it possible to meet WCAG 2.0 2.4.4.

Why is there so much space between lines?

Lines that are leaded too tightly or loosely can diminish readability by making it harder for the eye to know where to return to when the line breaks.

According to the WCAG working group,

Increased spacing between paragraphs, lines, words, and characters benefits people with low vision or some cognitive disabilities.

By having sufficient space between letters, words, lines, and paragraphs, websites built on the latest version of Stanford Sites will be easier to read and meet WCAG 2.1 1.4.12, Text Spacing.

Can I change the text color?

The color and weight of text are important for making your site perceivable, especially by users with low vision and color deficiencies. The text colors on Stanford Sites were selected to meet the WCAG 2.0 1.4.3 minimum contrast ratio. Although other text colors will meet this requirement, changing the text color is not an available feature at this time.

If a different text color for headers and links is a requirement for your site, contact Stanford Web Services to discuss a custom subtheme project.

Can I add more font options?

We do not have any options for adding different font sizes. The current text styles have been rigorously tested both for how they fit into our overall design and, more importantly, for accessibility. We introduce new styles carefully and deliberately. 

Which is preferable: PDF document or HTML page?

A PDF is a Portable Document File. It's a standardized, versatile file format that is easy for presenting and exchanging documents. An HTML page uses hypertext markup language tags to define page structure and formatting. Most websites use HTML for their webpages. Although both formats are used to communicate information, their benefits differ:

PDF vs HTML Comparison Summary
Self-contained images and graphics make it easy to share



Easy to print


depends on CSS
Open to search engines





Easily created and viewed through the WYSIWYG and browser



Easy to make accessible to assistive technology



  • A PDF is self-contained with all images and graphs. The image and graphs on an HTML page are stored and loaded separately.
  • A PDF is easy to print. An HTML page may need extra CSS code in order to print accurately.
  • An HTML page is easy for search engines to find, index, and search. The contents of a PDF are not available to search engines.
  • An HTML page is easily viewed through a browser. A PDF requires additional steps such as downloading and software such as Adobe Reader before it can be viewed. 
  • Making an HTML page accessible to assistive technology such as a screen reader is easily accomplished with a standard WYSIWYG editor. Making a PDF accessible to assistive technology is a complex process and requires Adobe Acrobat Pro.

Because HTML pages are best for SEO and accessibility, we encourage the use of HTML pages for content display whenever possible. When a PDF or other document type is required or the better choice, the Office of Digital Accessibility has guidance on making these documents accessible.