Office of Information Technology

Frequently Asked Questions about CommonSpot

AU's Content Management System



Files and Layout


Graphics and Multimedia


Search Engine Optimization


Tagging and News Feeds 




Files and Layout

How do I add an anchor to an element in a page?

  1. Place the cursor where you want the anchor to be in the text block.
  2. Click the anchor icon and give it a name
  3. Highlight the text that you want to link to it and click the Link icon.
  4. Choose Link to Existing Page, Uploaded Document or URL and click Next
  5. Choose External URL or Relative Internal URL
  6. Enter the anchor name that you created in step #2 preceded by '#' in the URL field (e.g. "#workshop") and click Finish
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Why do I see files such as detail.cfm and login.cfm in my Page Finder?

There are reserved pages such as detail.cfm page in CommonSpot required for the proper functioning of the news and success story modules. Do not delete these pages.

The other CommonSpot system files that are in every subsite are: admin.cfm, createpage.cfm, createpage.htm, default.htm, index.cfm (this one can be used by you for landing pages), loader.cfm, login.cfm, login.htm, logout.cfm, override-getfile-error.cfm, override-search-text.cfm, upload.cfm.

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How do I change/update the displayed titles of part time staff?

  • Log into https://myAU.american.edu and click on Office Assistant and then HR/Payroll Online. 
  • Click on Dept Admin and then Employee Lists
  • Select a department from the pull-down list, if available
  • Click on the PT Staff button to view a list of all PT Staff in the department.
  • Enter the desired title in the Change position title on web profile for checked employees to: field
  • Check the boxes in the second column associated with employees who should be given the new title
  • Click the Update button

To delete an existing web profile title: Follow the instructions to add or change a title, but type a space in the "Change position title..." field before checking the boxes and clicking update.

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Graphics and Multimedia

What are the standards for images within the content management system?

  • Images should be saved in the JPEG file format with an extension of .jpg in lowercase.
  • The maximum recommended size for image files is 150KB.
  • The maximum recommended total image file size per page is 500KB.
  • Source image must be RGB (not CMYK) for all JPEG images. Make sure the bit size is the same
  • Use consistent naming convention for images i.e. 3-letter school abbreviation followed by name of the image title followed by “.jpg” (e.g. CAS Image Title.jpg)
  • Rename image file extensions from all uppercase i.e. ".JPG" to lowercase ".jpg" prior to uploading images.
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What are the image sizes permitted within the content management system?

There are four standard image sizes that are permitted to be uploaded within CommonSpot. The system dynamically generates other sizes, such as thumbnails, as needed.

  • Images used on Faculty, Staff, or Student Profile pages must be cropped to a 300x300 pixel square.
  • News and Success Story pages rely on a large feature image which must be cropped to 300x200 pixels for a landscape image or 184x276 pixels for a portrait image.
  • A Hero Single Image or Filmstrip Images must be cropped to 654x346 pixels.
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Can I use a vertical photo

No. The site's current design only accommodates horizontal images.

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What are the suggested naming conventions for images?

Photo Gallery

If you are adding an image to the photo gallery within the content management system, it is suggested that you use the following naming convention to simplify locating similar images in the future. The actual filename can be descriptive with a .jpg extension in lower case. The CommonSpot Name for the image should begin with a department or team abbreviation, followed by a hyphen, then either LAND or PORT to descibe the orientation of the photo, and finally some descriptive text.

For example, a landscape photo of David Gregory moderating Meet the Press used in an Alumni Development story should be named:
The CommonSpot Name should be ALUM-LAND David Gregory.
The filename would likely be DavidGregory.jpg.


Hero Gallery

If you are adding an image to the hero gallery within the content management system, it is suggested that you use the following naming convention to simplify locating similar images in the future. The actual filename can be descriptive with a .jpg extension in lower case. The CommonSpot Name for the image should begin with a department or team abbreviation, followed by some descriptive text.

For example, a full-size hero photo of David Gregory moderating Meet the Press used on the Alumni homepage should be named:
The CommonSpot Name should be ALUM David Gregory.
The filename would likely be DavidGregory.jpg.


Faculty, Staff, or Student Profiles

If you are adding an image to a profile page, it is suggested that you use the following naming convention. The actual filename should contain the individual's first and last name with a .jpg extension in lower case. The CommonSpot Name for the image should contain the individual's first and last name.

The CommonSpot Name should be Jane Doe.
The filename would likely be JaneDoe.jpg.

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What are the standards for audio and video files within the content management system?

  • Audio and video files should not exceed 500 MB maximum.
  • The supported audio file format is MP3.
  • The supported video file format is a Flash Video File with an extension of .flv.
  • The minimum bit rate recommended is 128 kilobytes per second for audio and 800 kilobytes per second for video.
  • The supported video resolution is 640 x 352 and video plays back at up to 29.9 fps.
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Search Engine Optimization

What is Search Engine Optimization (SEO)?

Search engine optimization (SEO) is the process of improving the volume or quality of traffic to a web site by considering how search engines work and what people search for.

Optimizing a website primarily involves editing its content and HTML coding to both increase its relevance to specific keywords and to remove barriers to the indexing activities of search engines.

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How can I optimize my site?

Read more on how to improve your SEO.

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Tagging and News Feeds

How should I choose taxonomy tags?

Tags determine which american.edu Web pages will include your news story in their news feed module. You can choose as many tags as are appropriate.

For example, a news story about an SPA alum who found a job through the Career Center should have the following tags selected: ALUMNI, SCHOOL OF PUBLIC AFFAIRS, and CAREER CENTER. The story would then appear in the News module of the Alumni, SPA, and Career Center pages.

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How should I choose the topic for a news story in the CMS?

Ask yourself, "What is this story primarily about?" The topic appears above the headline when the story is published. Keep in mind that the topic is the primary device for enticing a reader to click on the story.

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How do I remove another department's news item from my news feed?

The content tagging system was built to promote content sharing. If stories are inappropriately tagged and doesn't relate directly to your school/department please contact the content publisher and ask them to remove the school/department tag to prevent it from appearing on your site.

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Why are old news stories appearing with new ones in my news feed?

Your news module may be configured to randomly display stories in the filtered results set. Remove the random display setting by editing the layout options to display the most recent stories first.

If AUpedia, News or Success Story modules disappear from a page, check the date filtering on the module to make sure there are relevant items in the date range to be listed.

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