Writing

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 be effective only if they reflect consistency and clarity in their messages. 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.

Guidelines, Not Rules

The English language gives us choices 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 writing decisions. And it will help you improve the clarity and consistency of communications coming out of your office or department.

The Associated Press Stylebook is the university's primary style guide 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. For issues not addressed here, consult the AP Stylebook.

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.

Whatever style you follow, 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 cory.leahy@austin.utexas.edu or acurtis@austin.utexas.edu.