Tips and Guidelines
Writing doesn't have to be a chore. You'll get by with a little help from your friends in Digital Communications, who have come up with some suggestions, recommendations, and instructions to help you get started and improve your work.
- You know your students, and you know what’s important to them. Show and tell them how and why we can fulfill their needs.
- Write in the second person. Orient the copy towards the reader, not yourself.
- If your audience doesn’t immediately need the information, leave it out.
- Encourage the reader to do something. Visit one of our campuses and take a tour. Sit in on a class. Attend a game and rock out with the Green Machine.
- Provide information that's relevant to your audience. For example, a research page aimed at undergrads should talk about real opportunities they can take advantage of, not the latest findings from a professor who isn't in their school or college.
- Don’t exaggerate. The reasons to come here are strong enough to stand on their own.
Form Follows Function
- Write in inverted pyramid style. The most important information goes at the top.
- If certain words aren't working for you, toss them. You can always get more.
- Don’t shout! Use exclamation points sparingly, if at all.
- Don't build emphasis with italics, bold lettering, underlining or a combination (underlined italics? ugh). If text really needs to shine, pull it out and put a headline on it.
- Don’t put words in all uppercase or fill your message with emoticons. It's distracting and unsophisticated.
- Make sentences clear and of varying lengths.
- Keep punctuation basic; if you have a long sentence with complicated punctuation, you're going to start losing people.
- Plain language and concrete words outshine abstract and buzz words every time.
- Avoid a solid block of text; no one will read it. Break your content into a series of small paragraphs. It's much less intimidating.
- Organize your information. Group similar information together.
- Use headlines and headers to help people understand what they're reading.
Getting It Together
- Don’t be nebulous; be specific. Simpler is better.
- Don't be a rambling rose. See if you can cut some words or a sentence. If you can remove padding, you’re more likely to keep the readers' interest long enough for them to feel a connection with Mason.
- Re-evaluate and assess your work: Does the text convey the goal message of this page?
- Double-check and triple-check such information as names, titles, dates, locations, urls. If you're talking about a particular professor, give them a chance to read the text before you go live.
- Don't repeat yourself on the page or on your site.
- Let your text sit overnight, then read it again.
- Get someone to back read your content to make sure that people who aren't you can follow your line of thinking.