Top 10 writing tips

Substandard copy and silly mistakes can damage our reputation as a University. Here are a few key tips to help you create a great piece of writing.

  1. Think about your objective. Know who your audience is and the three to five key messages you want to tell them.
  2. Have a clear structure to organise your messages concisely. Then use headings, pages, paragraphs, lists and quotes to break up your text and help signpost readers. You should communicate the most important information upfront, in the first quarter of your page.
  3. Use simple language which avoids jargon, acronyms and specialist terminology so that your work is accessible and can be understood by the majority not the minority.
  4. Write concisely. We know people are time-poor and looking to consume information quickly. Once you have drafted your copy, go back and look for words and sentences you can cut out.
  5. Avoid higher-education clichés, such as ‘world-leading’, ‘world-class’, ‘academic excellence’, ‘cutting edge’ and ‘internationally renowned’. These are impersonal and work against our tonal principles.
  6. Show, don’t tell. Use facts, figures and weblinks to back up statements with evidence and add context where necessary.
  7. Be honest. Do not use any claims that are untrue, embellished or that cannot be substantiated properly.
  8. Searchability when writing web copy. Include the keywords your audience is most likely to type into a search engine and make sure they are included at the beginning of your content.
  9. Check, check and check again: make sure that your writing has been proofread, preferably by another colleague. Be sure to follow the University’s Style Guide when proof-reading copy.  Do not rely on spell check!
  10. Need a second pair of eyes? If you have any questions on how to capture the University’s tone of voice in your copy, please contact marketinguh@herts.ac.uk.

Proofreading

Dos and don’ts of proofreading

Silly mistakes can ruin a great piece of writing and damage our reputation as a University. Whenever you write something, always make sure you take a few extra minutes to check for errors.

✅ You should ⛔️ You should never
Read it aloud Rely on spell check
Ask a colleague to read it Rush to meet a deadline
Check, check and check again! Use American spellings
Follow our style guide  
Write in our tone of voice  
Follow our 'Writing for the web guide' when developing online content

Related Guidance

Get in touch

If you have any questions please contact a member of the team:

ContactEmail
Media and PR team, Marketing and Communicationsnews@herts.ac.uk
Daisy Way, Media and PR Manager (she/her)d.way@herts.ac.uk
Marketing and Communications Business Supportmarketinguh@herts.ac.uk