Writing for the Web

It is important that we keep our new sites as consistent as possible to help improve the user experience.

When writing for the web, please refer to the items listed below and follow UBC’s brand guidelines.


Tone

When creating content, remember to write to and for your audience. Include content that will benefit your reader and help them accomplish their goals while shortening the distance between you and your reader through inclusive language.

By speaking directly to our students — by using the pronoun ‘you’ — we remove barriers and promote inclusivity. It shows we care and puts the focus on our audience and how we can support them in reaching their greatest potential.

Tip: If speaking directly to your audience in marketing communications, ‘you’ is warmer and more engaging than writing in the third person.


Voice

Understanding how UBC’s personality influences our communication efforts increases the potential of the relationships we can have with our desired audiences. Our voice and tone should humanize our brand and inspire empathy, engagement, and dialogue.

UBC’s personality traits:

  • Innovative
  • Bold
  • Entrepreneurial
  • Open
  • International
  • Sustainable

Tip: Use an active and personal voice rather than a passive voice to keep content concise and easy to comprehend.


Length

Write concisely. Short sentences and paragraphs improve the scannability of the page for all users (paragraphs should be roughly three sentences long).

Be direct and specific by using simple language, avoiding jargon, and removing words that provide no additional value to make your site easy to comprehend by any user.


Acronyms

In the first reference, spell out “University of British Columbia”, “the Department of Psychology” and “School of Public Policy and Global Affairs”. In following references, “UBC”, “UBC Psychology” and “SPPGA” is acceptable.

Tip: To avoid confusion when referring to the people within a faculty, use ‘faculty members’ rather than the overarching ‘faculty’.


Punctuation

In public and internal communications, UBC favours the more modern, informal, and accessible trend to eliminate the periods and otherwise unnecessary punctuation as per the Canadian Press Stylebook: Bachelor of Arts, BA; Doctor of Philosophy, PhD.


Capitalization

In recent years, there is a growing trend to move away from more formal styles heavy in capitalization and punctuation, and towards greater informality and inclusiveness involving less capitalization and ‘looser’ punctuation.

UBC favours the ‘lowercase style’ as it improves readability and increases the prominence of the words that do warrant capitalization. In no way does the use of lowercase reduce the importance nor credibility of a department or an individual’s position or reputation.

Rather than weigh the writing down with unnecessary and excessive capitalization (which quickly wearies the reader’s eye and attention), the adept use of white space, em-dashes, typestyle and typeface can — and will — achieve a more modern, lighter style that works well across print and digital mediums.

Capitalize the unit:
UBC Psychology
Department of Psychology

Do not capitalize programs:
psychology program
BA in psychology
major program
honours program
minor in psychology


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