When we write digital and print content intended for our external audiences, it's important we're consistent, user-centered, and on brand.
This page is includes our content principles, voice and tone guidelines, and a list of words to avoid. See also our content style guide.
Think about your audience. What do they want to know? What do you want them to know?
Some people will read every word you write. Others will just skim. Group related ideas together and use descriptive headers and subheaders to help everyone understand what you want them to know.
Create a hierarchy of information. Lead with the main point or the most important content, in sentences, paragraphs, sections, and pages.
Use short words and sentences. Avoid unnecessary adverbs and modifiers. Cut the fluff.
Avoid vague language that's ambiguous or open to interpretation.
When it makes sense, use us or we to refer to the library or library staff and you or your to refer to your audience. It's fine to use contractions.
In active voice, the subject of the sentence does the action. Avoid passive voice, where the subject of the sentence has the action done to it. Words like “was” and “by” may indicate that you’re writing in passive voice. Scan for these words and rework sentences where they appear.
Our voice is conversational, friendly, and easy to understand. Use direct, real people language, reflecting the library's personality, which is:
While our voice stays consistent, our tone can adjust depending on context and audience. In some cases, we'll want an informal tone, and in others we might need to be academic.
Use a tone that meets the expectations of your the audience. Consider readers' emotional states and the context of the communication. For example, your tone should be more formal when communicating with someone about their job application than when replying to someone on social media. Social media posts can include exclamation points and emoticons/emoji, but they’re not recommended for other digital and print content.
|Type of writing||Intended audience||Tone||Example|
|News story/ press release||Public, external stakeholders, staff, media, students||Direct, impartial||This university initiative will transform the Main Library, the Albert B. Weaver Science-Engineering Library, Bear Down Gym, and a new four-story building into an interconnected facility that will support collaborative, hands-on learning for generations of students.|
|students||Enthusiastic, positive, casual||
Renovations are happening, are you as excited as we are?!
|Email notification||PhD students||Direct, brief, personalized, supportive, understanding||You will still be able to access your dissertation writing room, and our staff at the Ask Us in the lobby is ready to help if you need assistance or free earplugs. Visit and bookmark our library renovations page for the latest information as the renovations move forward. If you have any questions, please let me know.|
|Web page||Building visitors||Helpful, informative, timely||
To find library spaces less impacted by construction, talk to our staff at the Ask Us desks. Try the 4th floor in the Main Library or the 5th floor in the Weaver Library or reserve a quiet study room.
This homepage of the library website provides access to the tools you’ll need to find print, electronic, and multimedia resources in our library collections and on the web.
Find print, electronic, and multimedia resources.
The University Library Special Collections maintains collections of rare books and unique archival materials that make possible in depth research on selected topics. The scope and diversity of Special Collections make it an important resource for the international academic community. Established in 1958 to house materials on the region, Special Collections now includes rare books, manuscript collections, photographs, and other materials in a wide variety of subject areas.
We offer access to rare and unique materials for scholars, researchers, and the public.
|Accounts can be renewed.||You can renew your account.|
|Workshop leaders are invited to sign up.||Sign up to be a workshop leader.|
|Affiliates who have difficulty in locating books within the stacks may request assistance from an associate.||
If you have trouble finding a book, ask us for help.
|The service desk is the location where your materials can be returned.||Return your materials to service desk.|
|If you run into problems with your laptop, computer, camera, or adaptor, the University of Arizona Libraries is the place to go to find the answers Monday through Sunday.||We've got the technology you need to get your work done.|
With thanks to the University of Dundee for inspiration.