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Creating a Module - General: Documents

Linking to Documents

You can link to non-HTML documents, such as Office and PDF files. Rename the document so that it does not include any spaces or special characters. Underscores "_" and hyphens "-" are OK in document filenames. Examples of document types:

  • Microsoft Word
  • Microsoft Excel
  • Microsoft PowerPoint
  • PDF
  • Executables

In Contribute, select the text or menu item that will link directly to the document. Do Link > File on My Computer... and browse to the location on your computer where the document is.

When you Publish, the document will be COPIED and uploaded to a folder in your module called "documents". The web version is no longer associated with the original version.

Changing Document Content

You cannot use Contribute to edit your non-HTML document. You cannot edit the web version directly using the original editor. Contribute won't permit you to save any changes to the version which is on the web. This is intended to protect the document from unauthorized changes.

To make changes, edit the original document on your computer. Open Contribute and upload the document again. You will not see the new version until you Publish. Alert visitors about document versions and changes if necessary.

If you find yourself making frequent document changes, consider re-creating the content inside the web page instead.

Visitors and Documents

When a visitor clicks on a link that goes to a document, one of the following may happen:

  • The document opens automatically because the visitor has the correct viewing software installed and plugged into their browser.
  • They are prompted to either open the document or save it to their computer.
  • They are prompted to save it to their computer because it can't be opened directly.

If a visitor to your website does not have the correct viewing software, they will be able to save a copy of your document, but not open it.

Generally, it is a good idea to alert the visitor as to the format of the document and where they might find viewing/editing software for it.

If you have students or other collaborators that need to edit the document, they must save a copy to their computer first before attempting to edit. Their version will be a personal copy not associated with your website.

More Information

Document Issues

Before linking a non-HTML document, consider your intended audience. Not everyone has Office software, or may have only Word but not Excel or Powerpoint. PDF may have accessibility issues, and plug-in viewer versions need to be upgraded occasionally.

Non-HTML documents tend to be large. You should alert visitors about file sizes that are over 100 kb or so.

If the document is text only, consider embedding it directly into the web page. It is easier for the visitor to access and easier for you to make changes.

If your visitors need assistance opening the documents, you can provide a link to Tech Alive online documentation for visitors: Help with Rich Content. Your goal should be to make a visitor's experience as barrier-free as possible.

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