A consistent writing style is a vital part of communicating the Indiana University South Bend brand to our audience. When you write on behalf of Indiana University South Bend, it’s important to follow our established writing guidelines in order to ensure all pieces have a voice and tone that aligns with the IU South Bend brand.
Keep IU South Bend’s personality in mind when writing. Our personality is what sets our university apart and gives us a unique identity. All writing should aim to convey our brand personality.
- Globally minded
Voice is the main way to get our brand personality across in writing. A strong voice makes the material attention-grabbing and compelling to our audience and influences what types of words/phrases, sentence structure, and tone to use.
According to IU Communications brand guidelines, the official voice of all Indiana University campuses is:
- Intelligent, not pedantic
- Caring, not sapping
- Welcoming, not pandering
- Confident, not arrogant
- Down-to-earth, not self-effacing
Tone is essentially the attitude toward the audience and infers the type of relationship between the reader and the writer. It will vary depending on who you are talking to, in what setting, and the purpose. Tone is generally either informal or formal.
You would likely use an informal tone when communicating with prospective/current students, especially on a website or social media.
- Casual, more similar to a conversational style
- Often uses first/second person pronouns
- Short, simple sentences
- Colloquial words/phrases (figures of speech/slang)
A formal writing tone is generally utilized when it is necessary for the writer to establish themselves as particularly knowledgeable on a subject, such as for invitations for lectures or in correspondence with potential donor
- Professional and authoritative
- Third person pronouns
- Longer, more complex sentences
- Precise terminology
Social media is the channel to implement the brand personality at its most direct level. Don’t speak at your audience, talk with them. Sound like a real person and feel free to “let loose” a bit more. Social media is the time to have more fun when writing, and sound more relaxed. Keep it short and to the point with your writing. If more information is needed, provide a link where they can learn more instead of inundating them with details.
When you’re writing for a website, it’s important to craft and arrange your content in a way that is accessible to visitors. Use words/phrases in your content that the average person in your audience is more likely to type into a search engine, rather than relying only on jargon or less commonly utilized keywords. This helps ensure your website copy displays in relevant search results. Even with longer, in-depth pieces, it’s essential find a way to break up your content, such as with bulleted list or bold headings, to make it easier to absorb.
News writing requires an objective and purely informative style. Convey necessary details clearly, without a lot of additional filler or anything that could be considered subjective or biased. Deliver your key message within a limited word count so readers don’t have to read several paragraphs to learn the most valuable information. Include personal quotes from relevant subjects when possible to make news stories less dry and to tell more of a story, even within the confines of a news format.
Break it up
Embrace bulleted lists, summary wrap-ups, short sentences, and strategic bolding or other formatting. Don’t require your reader to devote significant time to thoroughly reviewing blocks of text in order to absorb the material. Remember: it’s not all about what you want to say, it’s about what they are willing to read.
Tell a story
Even non-fiction can use a storytelling format. Aim to answer the necessary questions (Who, what, when, where, why?) by relaying it as a brief, cohesive story/description instead of a listing of facts/details.
How would you like your reader to ideally feel after reading a piece you wrote? Inspired to apply? Determined to make a difference and donate? Intrigued to check out your lecture? Focus on making your reader feel a desired emotion when you write. Include supporting details, quotes, statistics, or anecdotes.