Whether your position description contains the word “writing” or not, if you write in the course of a day’s work, you are a writer. What follows is a collection of tips, practical and easy, to help you make anything you write in the course of a day’s work both highly readable and consistent with UC Davis brand and style guidelines.
- First, ask yourself, does what you’re writing have a purpose? What is the point you want to make?
- Write as if you’re speaking to one specific person within your audience, not to your audience in general.
- Don’t assume the reader knows anything. Make sure you cover the who, what, when, where, why and how.
- Factor reusability into your planning. Save time and effort by creating content you can adapt and use across channels and, if possible, academic years.
- Write for scanners.
- Put your most important information first.
- Use concise sentences—25 words or fewer.
- Use short paragraphs—four sentences maximum.
- Use bulleted and numbered lists to help scanners.
- Use subheads to break up text.
- Avoid underlining for emphasis. Bolding—sparingly—is better.
- Use hyperlinks but be wary of overuse. Avoid phrases like “Read more” and “Click here.”
- Write in the active voice, e.g., “The students took the exam.” (active) not “The exam was taken by the students.” (passive)
- Use pronouns like “we” and “our” and “you.”
- Avoid overusing acronyms. Find alternatives after first or second mention, like “the center” or “our team.”
- Use simpler words, e.g., “use” instead of “utilize.”
- Omit excess words.
- Enable Readability Statistics in Microsoft Word. Aim to write at between a sixth and ninth grade reading level to maximize your content’s accessibility and impact.
- Consult the campus brand guide on voice and tone.
- Consider using “out-” words in headlines, as in our brand rallying cry, “Outgrow the Expected.”
- Make sure your content conforms to campus editorial style rules.
- Use only approved fonts: Proxima Nova, Ryman Eco and Freight Text.
- Ensure your content meets campus accessibility standards.
- Include one or more images if possible.