University of Vermont

UVM Self-help Web Guide

Editorial Style Guidelines

The University of Vermont follows Associated Press style guidelines on its website.

AP style, which is used by most American newspapers and other media in addition to numerous college and university communications offices, allows writers and editors to present information as clearly, concisely and consistently as possible. AP style works well for Web audiences because they, like newspaper readers, tend to "scan" copy.

A few writing tips

As mentioned, people scan when reading online. Therefore, when writing for the Web, it's best to remember to "keep it short and simple." For instance:

  • Make copy "scannable" by using bulleted lists (like this) and subheadings to break up copy.
  • Use shorter sentences and paragraphs. If you have a long paragraph, consider offering some highlights then a "read more" link to another page for those who are interested in knowing more about that topic.
  • Unless your site is an intranet for your organization only, then write for the general user who might not know your organization in-depth.
  • Don't use bureaucratic "insider-y" language that only you or your co-workers will understand. If you use an uncommon acronym, then spell it out on first reference.
  • Remember that all types of people, including those who do not speak English or those with disabilities, may be visiting your site. Using simpler language will make it easier for them, or any special translators they use to read websites, to understand.

Do you want more tips for creating great Web content? A few articles by Web content expert Gerry McGovern:

Last modified February 21 2013 01:44 PM