Writing for the Web

When students visit our website, they are looking for more than academic and financial aid information, they are trying to get a feel for our culture. They want to know if they'd feel welcome and if they'd fit in. For many people, college can be intimidating. Our job is to make them feel welcome and that they can achieve their college goals by attending one of our colleges. That's why the Julie persona was developed.

Organizations need to have a voice so that all communications are consistent in a number of ways. Voice shows our personality and helps set us apart. Because we want to sound like people, not robots, our Julie persona has the following voice characteristics.

  • We're approachable, not authoritarian.
  • We use conversational language, not stilted, pretentious words.
  • We're empathetic to our readers/listeners.
  • We show compassion and concern.
  • We're knowledgeable, but not highbrow and elitist. We don't use academic jargon and acronyms.
  • We're authentic. Our writing and speaking voice should be genuine and trustworthy.

The goals for writing in the Julie persona are:

  • Earning trust.
  • Building the readers confidence.
  • Helping people the way Julie was helped.
  • Seeing students succeed.

The main priority is reaching and engaging the audience. To do that, copy should be written in a voice they can relate to.

There are certain webpages that may have to be written to conform to accreditation language or other regulations. In these cases, we make an exception.

Tone is the verbal expression of mood. The Julie voice and tone remains the same when we are writing for students.

Julies overall tone is:

  • Positive and Polite
  • Service Oriented
  • Supportive
  • Interested
  • Patient
  • Respectful

Good web writing is clear and concise. It also takes planning. Before you begin to write, ask yourself these questions.

  1. Who am I writing for?
  2. What do I want them to understand or learn?
  3. What part of the student experience or journey am I supporting?
  4. What thoughts, feelings, and actions am I addressing?
  5. What opportunities am I taking advantage of?
  6. What actions am I inspiring?
    • People are scanning for information, so put the most important information first. Cover the basics of who, what, when, where, why and how.
    • Think about the readers questions and answer them in your content.
    • Anticipate the words your reader would use, and use those words.

Avoid outdated phrases such as:

  • Click here for... (this is also not compliant with ADA/Section 508 requirements)
  • Welcome to the XYZ page!
  • The mission of XYZ department is to...
  • On this page/in this section, you will find...

In most cases, we follow Associated Press (AP) style guidelines. Sometimes this may seem counter to what you learned in English class, such as not capitalizing certain words, not using postal abbreviations, abbreviating words you'd normally spell out and eliminating the serial/Oxford comma. You will not be required to learn this style, but keep in mind that content editors will use it when editing your copy. A few examples of AP style are below:

  • Dr. John Doe, associate dean of students, has office hours from 8 a.m. 5 p.m. Monday Friday.
  • Paducah, Ky., is home to West Kentucky Community and Technical College.
  • Gov. Andy Beshear spoke at the press conference.
  • The American flag is red, white and blue.

Keep copy on each page as brief as possible. If a page requires long copy, break it up with accordions, bullets, subheads or numbers.

In addition to good copy, content includes photos, video and other graphic elements that increase engagement. Whenever possible, please use these along with your copy to help keep your pages interesting, or discuss ideas for these elements with your web designer.

Creative headlines draw people in and pique their interest. Use interesting headlines on each page.

Instead of this... Try this...
Transfer Ready for the next step?
Student Life There's a lot going on here!
Programs Find your program and get going!
Financial Literacy Be smart about managing your money
Careers Pathway Initiative Which path will you take to your new career?

Because we use a conversational, approachable voice, the words we choose make a difference. Here are some examples that should help you when writing in Julies voice.

Instead of this... Try this...
For more information, call Got questions? Give us a call.
To enroll, students must We know enrolling for classes can be stressful,
but we'll walk you through it.
Please utilize the correct form We're happy to walk you through the process.
We know this can be overwhelming.
A KCTCS education prepares students to When you complete your program, you'll be
qualified for a good job.
In order to receive federal student aid, students
must make satisfactory academic progress.
You'll be asked to meet specific academic standards to
receive financial aid.
Changes in public policy can foster improved
mission integration.
Good legislation helps us do a better job of serving you.
Realization of educational, career Reaching your goals/ Achieving your dreams and life goals.
Our mission is to facilitate the educational process. We're here to help you.
The purpose of this is Here's why we do this
Prior to Before
Per semester A/each semester
File your paperwork. Fill out and submit your application
Individualized Personalized, custom
KCTCS We, us, our
KCTCS believes We believe
Students You, your
Students can You can
In the event that If
Attain Reach
Utilize Use
Endeavors Tries
Initialization/Initialize Starts
Modality Way, Style
Currently Now
Shall Will, Can
Must Should, Needs
Erroneous False, Flawed
Enroll Become a student
Baccalaureate degree Bachelor's degree
Co-curricular/Extra Curricular. Activities outside the classroom, such as sports, music,
drama, debate and art.
Tutorial Class, lesson, program

Avoid internal acronyms and abbreviations. Instead, use the name on first reference and explain the program. For example:

Instead of this... Use this...
FERPA A federal privacy and confidentiality law called the
Federal Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA).
FAFSA The Free Application for Federal Student Aid. You'll
hear it called FAFSA.
FFELP Family Education Loan Program, which provides
low interest loans to students.
SAP Satisfactory Academic Progress, which means...

Spell out Kentucky Community and Technical College or the college name on first reference followed by the abbreviation in parentheses. In all mentions following that, use KCTCS or college abbreviations, like ACTC or Ashland.