George Mason University
George Mason University Mason
George Mason University

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.​

Personalize​​

  • 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.
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