Writer's Style Guide

Why Conform?

The University of Texas at Austin community takes great pride in its independence, initiative and entrepreneurial spirit. Hundreds of offices and departments on campus produce their own memos, letters, brochures, posters, invitations, fliers, booklets, catalogs, magazines and newsletters. Writers and editors around the campus have their own priorities and objectives.

But every publication or website at The University of Texas at Austin has one thing in common, no matter where it originates: They can only be effective if they reflect consistency and clarity in their messages.

These publications often have one more thing in common—the reader. Many of our audiences overlap. One reader may receive a School of Architecture newsletter, an invitation from the Office of Development, The Alcalde magazine, a brochure about the Master of Public Affairs program and a letter from the dean of students—all in one week. Imagine the confusion if every publication treats the English language differently. It makes our readers wonder if we’re really all talking about the same place—The University of Texas at Austin.

It’s for the sake of our readers that we advocate using a clear, consistent, contemporary style of writing in non-academic documents, websites or publications originating from The University of Texas at Austin.

Guidelines, Not Rules

The English language gives us choices and decisions to make when we write. It defies any would-be “rule-maker” to dictate a single way to do it. This guide will not answer all your questions. It may not help you win an argument over which way to spell “website” or whether to hyphenate “email.” But it will give you a foundation upon which to base your own writing decisions.

And it will help you improve the clarity and consistency of communications coming out of your office or department.

We’ve assembled these guidelines using the Associated Press Stylebook as a primary “authority” because much of our writing is intended for external readers—prospective students and their parents, donors and prospective donors, government officials, business leaders, news reporters and editors, and the public at large.

DO NOT apply these guidelines to technical or academic writing. Other sources can help you with this specialized kind of writing.

DO use this style guide to help you when you’re writing anything (and everything) intended for the campus audience or for the public.

We appreciate your cooperation in using these guidelines. University-wide consistency in writing style builds the credibility of our publications, demonstrates our commitment to high-quality communications and greatly enhances our audiences’ understanding of The University of Texas at Austin.

Whatever style you follow, remember that consistency and clarity are the keys to more effective communication. Make sure your preferred writing standards are consistent in all of your publications.

Just as use of the English language has changed over the years, this style guide will adapt and evolve, sometimes based on observations from people like you. If you have some rules, suggestions or pet peeves of your own about writing standards, share them with us at utopa@www.utexas.edu.

University Identity

Name

The University of Texas at Austin

Our national and international identity hinges on the words “The University of Texas at Austin.” Do not use the acronym “UT” or the abbreviated name “UT Austin” when communicating to mixed or outside audiences. Beyond our community of “insiders,” this acronym is not well or universally recognized and outside of Texas may be confused with other institutions.

When writing for internal audiences familiar with the university, it is acceptable to refer to the university as UT Austin.

Wordmark

University Wordmark: The University of Texas at Austin

The University of Texas at Austin wordmark is the official mark of the university. It has been created specifically for use as our wordmark and cannot simply be typed in. To use the wordmark, download a wordmark file and insert the file as art into the document. Visit the Wordmark page of this site to find the university’s wordmark. For more details, contact Donna Coffelt, 512-475-6078, in University Marketing and Creative Services.

“The University of Texas” and “at Austin” in the wordmark should remain together on the same line.

The registration mark ® needs to follow the wordmark on any product other than a printed publication or Web page.