Writing Guidelines & Tips

Writing Guidelines & Tips

When something is well written, it lets people focus on the message. When something is poorly written, it distracts people from the message. We've compiled some simple tips with examples to provide some basics on good writing.

Before you begin, make sure you have a clear communication strategy. Outline your goals so you know what you’re trying to achieve. Make sure you understand who you’re talking to and why. And be sure that you’re using the right kinds of communication tools to reach your audience.

Then, plan what you want and need to communicate before you begin writing. Planning is the key to good writing. Before you write, ask yourself:

  • Who is the target audience(s) for my communication?
  • What do I need my target audience to know?
  • What do I want them to do?
  • How does my message support the university’s brand?
  • What does this say about UNT?
  • How will I know if my communication is successful?

Some tips to ensure your communication resonates with your audience are:

Use direct, clear, concise sentences that are easy to understand and to the point. Always be accurate and honest.

What's the difference?
  • More direct: We're here to challenge and support you so you can get the most out of your education and your time at UNT.   
  • Indirect: We're focused on providing a high-quality education and a fulfilling college experience so you can learn and grow. 

Choose contractions when appropriate. They convey our casual, welcoming nature.

What's the difference?
  • Contractions: We're so glad you chose UNT!
  • No contractions: We are so glad you made the choice to attend UNT!

Use active voice, rather than passive, whenever possible.

What's the difference?
  • Active Voice: UNT offers 200 programs.
  • Passive Voice: Two hundred programs are offered at UNT.

Show, don’t tell. Use examples that make the university, our programs and initiatives personable.

What's the difference?
  • Showing: Victoria Garcia was the valedictorian of her high school class and could have gone to any college she wanted. Yet, she chose UNT because she could study computer science and engineering, along with physics, to fulfill her dream of exploring black holes for NASA. And she could embrace the challenge and camaraderie of being a student in UNT's Honors College. Victoria is one of 4,000 talented freshmen who chose UNT this year.
  • Telling: Because of UNT's high-quality programs and its academically rigorous Honors College, the university has experienced an increase in the number of high-achieving high school students choosing to attend UNT over other top institutions.

Be relevant. Keep your audience in mind and write or speak with that audience’s perspective. Ask yourself what that audience cares about and write to appeal to them while also making your greater point about UNT and our impacts. Apply these basic questions: So? So what? Now what?

​What's the difference?
  • Better relevance: UNT's Texas Academy of Mathematics and Science enables highly talented high school students to attend college courses while earning their high school diplomas. It's an important pipeline for STEM education, nurturing the next generation of innovators, and is one of the many ways that UNT advances science, engineering and technology for a better world.  
  • Some relevance: UNT's Texas Academy of Mathematics and Science enables highly talented students to attend college courses while earning their high school diplomas.

Provide necessary context. Don’t expect your audience to know what you know, and don’t leave them guessing about what you mean.

What's the difference?
  • With context: UNT is one of the state's eight emerging research universities, a designation for research universities on track to become top national research universities.
  • No context: UNT is one of the state's eight emerging research universities.

Avoid technical jargon, acronyms and unnecessary big or fancy words.

What's the difference?
  • No jargon:  There is a surge of first-time college students attending UNT.
  • Jargon: UNT has experienced a surge in FTIC student enrollment.