Web writing guide
Updating web content in WordPress provides an opportunity to enhance the way we communicate with our audiences and engage with them using effective and relevant language. All content creators should be familiar with NAU’s Brand Book and Writing Style Guide.
This guide highlights our university brand, including core values, voice, core messages, power words, and web writing tips.
The NAU brand
Branding goes beyond just a logo. It shapes the way the world perceives us.
- sets us apart from the competition
- provides motivation, focus, and direction for content creators
- represents our promise to our audience and emotionally connects us
- creates trust and recognition
Core values Accordion Closed
- Excellence in Education – Offer a rigorous, high-quality education to all students
- Student Success – Place learner needs at the center of our academic and service planning, policies, and programs
- Educational Access – Provide all qualified students with access to higher education
- Diversity – Achieve multicultural understanding as a priority of educational and civic life
- Integrity – Operate with fairness, honesty, and the highest ethical standards to sustain a community of trust
- Civility – Support a civil, engaging, and respectful campus climate
Voice Accordion Closed
We should consistently express NAU’s brand with a personal, authentic voice.
- Think of audience first. What key message will resonate with them?
- Use the first person: we, our, us; and the second person: you, your.
- Use active voice.
- Use accessible, clear, and inclusive language to avoid alienating readers.
- Use contractions when appropriate to the target audience and the medium.
- Be concise.
Core messages Accordion Closed
Core messages describe the brand and brand values. They are not intended to be used word for word but rather should be invoked through the copy we write.
- Opportunity in every direction
- From mentorship to partnership, we’ll be with you every step of the way
- Run to the challenge
- A better world won’t wait
- For every way you envision success
Each college has additional specific key messages that cover focal points of distinction and related brand messaging. See Brand Book for more detailed information.
Power words Accordion Closed
These words are used to convey our brand personality. Use them to help express the distinct traits that shout “NAU”:
Sense of place
Web writing tips
Web audiences differ from print readers. Rather than “read,” they scan for the information to help them accomplish tasks and move on.
We have between 5 and 20 seconds to grab readers’ attention. To hook a reader, make sure to:
- Write active: Use active voice and verbs as much as possible.
- Use “we” and “you”: Engage with the reader.
- Think like a reader: Anticipate and address our audience’s goals.
- Omit needless words: The leaner, the better.
- Avoid jargon and obscure acronyms: Write so that anyone can understand the message. We are writing for a general audience, not specialists.
- Write effective headers: Create concise, informative page titles with purposeful headings and subheads.
- Front-load content: Place key information at the beginning to keep readers engaged and prompt them to action.
- Craft with purpose: State the clear purpose for each page and section, placing audience needs first.
- Anticipate the next step: Think about the reader’s journey and provide clear “calls to action” (CTAs) to help them progress (for example, request a brochure, apply for admission, engage on social media, etc.).
- Review your work: Proofread and double check to ensure all facts are correct and links are working.
- Keep it short: Length guidelines for different types of web content:
- Headers: 4–8 words
- Subheads: 1–5 words
- Sentences: 1–20 words
- Paragraphs: 1–7 sentences
- Documents: 300–500 words
- Use “sentence case” in headers: Write the header like a sentence. Capitalize only the first word and proper nouns, and don’t include a period.