Writing Tips

In Print

University printed materials can include brochures, fliers, recruitment pieces and more.

  1. Know your audience. We have many: high school students, parents, alumni, donors, working professionals…and they each may respond best to a different writing approach, tone or word choice.
  2. Avoid jargon. Universities have a lot of internal terms that an outside audience may not understand. Try to be as simple and direct as possible; if you must use terms that you didn’t understand before you became familiar with higher education, explain them.
  3. Be consistent and professional. Each print piece WSU produces helps reinforce the university’s image. Edit carefully to avoid errors and typos. And remember: “professional” does not mean “boring.” We want to engage our audiences—if your piece is a suitable place to use humor or be a little off-beat, go for it!


Whether you're writing for a website, emails, digital ads, or social media, online readers are looking for information or wanting to complete a task—our job is to help them find what they’re looking for ASAP.

  1. Keep it short and simple. Know your main points before you start writing, so you can get right to them. Paragraphs shouldn’t contain more than two or three short sentences.
  2. Avoid jargon. Universities have an internal language that a general audience may not understand. Be as simple and direct as possible; write about “what you’ll learn” instead of “student outcomes.” Try to use keywords that you think readers will be looking for.
  3. Write for scanning, not reading. Don’t make people pick important information out of a long paragraph; break your info into chunks that people can scan quickly. Use headlines, subheads, bullet points and ordered lists to help them find what they want.
  4. Replace words with images. Is there a chart that will help you present a point more quickly than words? That’s far more likely to catch a user’s eye and help them retain the information.
  5. Write to your readers. Website language should be professional and conversational—write as if you were speaking directly to a person, using “you” language rather than third-person references (“the applicant must …”).

At WSU, we communicate with many different audiences: high school students, parents, alumni, donors, working professionals … in your digital communication,  you may be reaching all of these at once, so keep your writing simple and straightforward. However, if you have a website, email, ad or post directed at a specific group (donors, for example), you can tailor your writing style and word choice to better connect with those readers.

More information: How to Write for the Web