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Style guide


Style guide
All the Universitys communications should be consistent, easy to understand, accessible and professional. This document
provides a common basis for our written communications. We should try to use plain English at all times, so that our
messages come across clearly and strongly. These editorial guidelines will help to make sure that, within that plain English,
our style is consistent.
These guidelines should be followed by administrators, web content editors, marketing staff, academics in fact anyone
producing written copy for print, web or e-communications.
Remember that internal communications, to staff and students, are just as important as those for an external audience.

Good writing
 Begin with the conclusion
Put the most important information at the start of the content (the inverted pyramid), such as who, what, where,
when, why and how.
 Short sentences
Keep the sentences simple, with one main idea, but dont take it too far and make the writing too terse. Aim at a
sentence of 15-20 words.
 You and we
Replace formal terms with you and we where appropriate to the content.
Use short, simple words avoiding jargon and over-use of acronyms.
 Wasted words
Cut to the chase avoid welcome to the Department style content and complement the navigation choices on a page
or in a section rather than just repeating them.
 Paragraph breaks
Use paragraph breaks often try to keep paragraphs under about 60 words.
 Main heading
A good heading is crucial to help people assess and understand whats on a page.
These break up sections and enable the audience to scan content more effectively. They should be meaningful but
relatively short.
 Active verbs
Use active verbs in preference to passive verbs (which are normally longer and contain less emphasis).
 Keywords first
Avoid wasted words eg Information about.


UWE >> Brand Book >> Style guide

Lists are clearer and easier to scan than paragraphs. Use sparingly though as lists can be over-used.
 Long pages
Avoid long pages as they make it difficult for readers to find relevant information and break text into sections.
Writing for the web guidelines are available on the UWE website.

1. Editorial basics
1.1 Name of the University
Use the form of the Universitys name that is appropriate to the context:
UWE Bristol
For general use.
University of the West of England
Use when first referred to in document; thereafter UWE Bristol.
University of the West of England, Bristol
This is the official registered name for use in contracts, cheques and official documents.
For informal use.
1.2 Layout for print
Text should be left justified, with a point size of 12pt.
The preferred fonts are Arial in Office 2007. Headings and titles are in VAG rounded.
1.3 Headings and titles
Use upper and lower case, not all capitals. How to get to Frenchay, not How To Get To Frenchay.
Avoid using italics unless referring to a book, play or film.
1.4 Logo
Rules for use of the University logo are given on page 6.
1.5 Copyright symbol
The copyright symbol should always be used when asserting rights to something, for legal reasons, but should not be used
in the body of the text.

UWE >> Brand Book >> Style guide


2. Editorial details
2.1 Figures
2.1.1 Dates
Should be written in the form day, date (without st, rd, th), month (in full), four-digit year:
Friday 29 February 2010
2.1.2 Times
Use the 24-hour clock. A colon (not full stop) should separate the hours and minutes (complies with International
Standard ISO 8601).
Do not use hrs or hours after times:
The bar opens at 08:00. (not The bar opens at 08:00 hrs.)
2.1.3 Numbers
Numbers up to ten are written in full (three, five, nine). Ten and over are given in figures. Numbers over 1,000 have
comma separators: 1,962 not 1962.
Per cent should be written in full in the text: in graphs and tables use %.
2.2 Telephone numbers
UWE telephone numbers should be written as follows:
+44 (0)117 32 #####, where the five hash marks represent the relevant extension number.
2.3 Addresses
Unless it is necessary to save space, quote addresses in the format that would be used in a letter, without indentation or
Department of Art and Design
University of the West of England
Bower Ashton Campus
Kennel Lodge Road
off Clanage Road
Bristol BS3 2JT
When it is necessary to save space, the address can be written on one (or more) lines, with the elements of the address
separated by commas:
Department of Art and Design, University of the West of England, Bower Ashton Campus, Kennel Lodge Road, off
Clanage Road, Bristol BS3 2JT, UK.
2.4 Bulleted lists
Punctuation and capitalisation of items in a list depends on the length and content of the items. Short items may be
better lower case and without final punctuation.
2.5 IT-related
E-mail preferred (email is French and German for enamel; the hyphen also helps to standardise terms for all electronic
activity, cf e-business, e-commerce, e-media, e-learning).


UWE >> Brand Book >> Style guide

log in/log on (verb) login/logon (noun) website one word

online (one word)

Web addresses should normally be written Add the protocol prefix http:// only if the address does not
begin with www. The protocol prefix should also be added in all cases where it is not www.
2.6 Acronyms
Use only those acronyms and abbreviations that are commonly understood by the general population outside of a
university context. In other cases, do not use abbreviations.
For the names of organisations, do not use an acronym, except where the organisation is generally referred to by its
abbreviation and is sufficiently well known to the general population that the full name is not necessary, such as BBC.
If the organisation is commonly known by its full name, for the first occurrence quote the full name first, followed by
the acronym in brackets:
eg Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE)
However, if the organisation is better known by its acronym, quote this first, with the full name in brackets:
SCONUL (Society of College, National and University Libraries)
If the formal name of an organisation includes a preceding definite article, this should be included and capitalised:
JISC (The Joint Information Systems Committee)
2.7 Abbreviations
Avoid full stops in abbreviations:

(not U.W.E.)
(not U.K.)
(not U.S.A.)

St Matthias
BA(Hons) (no space between BA and bracket, capital H for Hons)

(not extn)



(not Prof)
(not Jan)
(not Mon)

2.8 Apostrophes
Dont use an apostrophe for plurals of abbreviations:




UWE >> Brand Book >> Style guide


Masters degree in History.

Regulations for Masters degrees.
2.9 Ampersand
The ampersand (&) should never be used except when it forms part of a corporate name where the ampersand is
always used:

Marks & Spencer

Faculty of Environment and Technology

2.10 Capitalisation
Capitalise words when referring to the following:
a) A particular university, faculty, course, campus or library. The Faculty (when referring to a particular Faculty)
the Library (when referring to UWE libraries, or a particular UWE library) the Campus (when referring to a
particular Campus). Accounting and Finance.

Job titles or grades of staff. An Assistant Librarian Faculty Administrator.

2.11 Quotation marks

Use double quotation marks for direct speech, singles elsewhere. Where the quote goes to a second paragraph, dont
close the quotes at the end of the first para:
The results, she said, Of the first year exams will be available in June."
2.12 Compound words
When a compound noun is used as an adjective, the two words should be hyphenated, No hyphen is used when a
compound noun is used as an adverb.
part-time students may use this service
if you study part time
off-campus access requires a username and password
you need a password to access this resource off campus
many full-text electronic journals are available
the full text of many articles is available
2.13 Hyphens
Vice-Chancellor, Pro Vice-Chancellor
2.14 Bibliography
Use Harvard referencing
Nicolle, L, 1990. Data protection: laying down the law. Management Computing, 13(12), pp 48-49, 52.
Hemingway, E, 2003. Better reading French: a reader and guide to improving your understanding of written French.
Chicago: McGraw-Hill.


UWE >> Brand Book >> Style guide

3. Words
3.1 Tricky word pairs

lose (no longer have)

principle (truth or standard)

continuous (unbroken)

compliment (say nice things)
complimentary (free)

discreet (prudent)

except (with exception to)

effect (verb make happen)

lead (present tense)

its (possessive)

your (belonging to you)

their (belonging to them)

dependant (noun)
3.2 Nouns and verb forms

advise (verb)

practise (verb)

devise (verb)

feed back (verb)

log in (verb)

log on (verb)

set up (verb)

loose (not fastened)

principal (main thing or person)
continual (something occurring repeatedly)
complement (add something that is lacking)
discrete (separate)
accept (receive / agress to)
affect (verb have an impact on)
led (past tense)
its = it is
youre = you are
there (position) theyre = they are
dependent (adjective)

advice (noun)
practice (noun)
device (noun)
feedback (noun)
login (noun)
logon (noun)
setup (noun)

3.3 Commonly misspelt words and preferred spellings

Commonly misspelt words:




The following spellings are preferred:


UWE >> Brand Book >> Style guide




3.4 Irregular singulars and plurals

criterion (singular)

phenomenon (singular)


appendix (single)

criteria (plural)
phenomena (plural)
alumni (males or males/females) (alumnae f)
appendices (plural)

3.5 Less and fewer

Use fewer when referring to countable items and less when referring to quantities that cannot be counted:
fewer places are available than last year (number of places can be counted)
less space is available (space cannot be counted)
3.6 Among/between

between = two

between two people

among three people

among = more than two

use among and not amongst

3.7 British English
Use British, not American English
British English

American English

licence (noun), license (verb)

practice (noun), practise (verb)
fulfil, fulfilment
enrol, enrolment
television programme
computer program
enquire (to ask a question)
inquire (to investigate)
enquiry (a question)
inquiry (an investigation)

license (noun), license
or licence (verb)
practice (noun), practice (verb)
fulfill, fulfillment
enroll, enrollment
television program
computer program

Use standard British English terminology:

fill in
mobile phone


fill out
not upcoming
not outwith
not counterclockwise
not transportation
not movie
cellular phone or cell phone
not xerox
not mail

UWE >> Brand Book >> Style guide

4. Further information
The Plain English Campaign website
Information on design of material for web and print is at
Writing for the web guidance is at
Also see
The New Oxford Dictionary of English
Harts Rules
Copy-Editing, Judith Butcher
Oxford Guide to Plain English, Martin Cutts, 2007, 2nd edition, OUP
Writing for the Web, Jakob Nielsen,
Drivel Defence software allows you to check how readable your English really is:
If you need any help or advice in producing your communications, please contact Marketing and Communications,
For advice on web page development and maintenance, contact

UWE >> Brand Book >> Style guide