RSS Feeds and E-Mail Newsletter Content Outlines

RSS feeds and E-mail newsletters must be fully described in the content outline and samples should be included with your content proposal. A PBS Digital content manager must review and approve the content before the feeds are launched or before first issue of your e-mail newsletter can be sent to the public.

All site content policies apply for RSS feeds and e-mail newsletters, and they must comply with the PBS Privacy Policy.

RSS Versions

RSS Feeds must be produced in accordance with RSS 2.0 or Atom 1.0. Producers need to regularly test their feeds to ensure they are valid.

All feeds must use valid markup and contain no errors when run through:


Newsletters should be sent on a regular, ongoing basis, and the subscriber list must be maintained (including responding to subscribe and unsubscribe requests, and answering list-related queries).

RSS Content

All RSS feeds should be full-content feeds (full length articles).

RSS Feed Distribution and Analytics

RSS feeds should be routed through the PBS Feedburner ( system to allow for site-wide branding and analytics.

RSS Directory Structure and Title Tags

RSS feeds should be housed in a common directory structure, and follow the same title tag requirements as html pages.

XML Button

The use of an orange button with the letters "RSS" has quickly become standard on the Web. Producers should use a version of the button that is appropriate for the design of their individual site. Simple explanatory text can be associated with the button, but should not replace the button.

Producers should follow these two usability guidelines for this (and all other) buttons:

  • A button should look like it can be clicked
  • A button should be legible, but only as large as is absolutely necessary

Any use of the orange RSS button should also include a link to a single page that both defines RSS and provides the direct links to the feeds. For example, the Online NewsHour uses the following explanatory text:


RSS FEEDS RSS (or Really Simple Syndication) feeds are free updated content sent to your computer via the Internet.  RSS feeds usually contain headlines, article summaries, and links to full articles on the Web site of the organization that sends the feed. 

RSS is an easy way for you to be alerted when content that interests you appears on your favorite Web sites.  Instead of visiting a particular Web site to browse for new articles and features, RSS automatically tells you when something new is posted online. 


RSS feeds are delivered to your computer and viewed using an "aggregator" or "reader." The reader displays RSS feeds from the Web sites you select, enabling you to choose and edit the content that you want to see. 

After installing the RSS reader, you can add new RSS feeds from any Web site that offers them. 

There are dozens of RSS readers available; many are offered free of charge.  Some readers are available as desktop software that you download and install on your computer.  Others are Web-based readers that you can access on the Internet. 

Both Google and Yahoo list many of the available RSS readers. 

The reader you choose will have instructions for how to subscribe to RSS feeds.

When clicked, the user should be directed to the RSS feed, many modern browsers will "auto-discover" the feed and facilitate the subscription to the feed at the application level.

RSS Readers

Producers will not enter into a commercial agreement to promote any RSS reader program. Producers may offer links to free versions of reader programs to users and may also make visitors aware of vetted commercial products that the Producers and/or PBS find are of special merit.

Subscribe/Unsubscribe Information

The page on which the RSS feed and e-newsletter is offered, and each issue of the newsletter, must contain instructions on how to subscribe and unsubscribe, and how the user can send comments about the program and/or website.

Copyright and Reproduction Rights

Each feed and issue of the newsletter should include a copyright notice and instructions for redistributing information published in the newsletter (or obtaining permission to do so).

Sample copyright language

All information in this mailing is (c)2002 WKRP & J. Fever Productions. Redistribution in whole or part with proper credit to the source is permitted.


All information in this mailing is (c)2002 WKRP & J. Fever Productions. For permission to redistribute in whole or part, please write to [copyright inquiries e-mail address]

Non-commercial Use Language

Producers will draft legal language associated with the feed and e-newsletter to ensure proper non-commercial use of the material distributed as well as indemnifying PBS for material produced.

Producers may reference the Terms and Conditions for RSS feeds published by the Online NewsHour as an example: