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Editorial style

When a communication about OSU is “on brand,” it represents the university’s brand promise authentically and accurately.


As a land-grant institution, our core values include access, scholarship, service through extension and research that contributes to the greater good of society. Our passion comes through in the stories we tell — and they should be told in an approachable, informal and conversational style.


A university’s brand voice works similarly to an individual’s. Its tone changes according to the situation — lighthearted for an event announcement, to-the-point in a campus safety policy — but the voice is the personality that remains consistent.


What you say and how you say it

Use this brand and messaging guide to inform the institutional voice in your writing (what to say), and use the following to craft your tone depending on the context (how to say it). When you’re writing about a person in a feature story, news announcement, bio, or individual profile, use third-person voice (“he” or “she”). If you decide to use first-person voice singular (“I”), make sure it’s obvious that it’s a direct quote.


Use contractions for common phrases, “we don’t” or “you’ll” or “it’s.” It may seem informal coming from an organization, but this small change makes text seem much more personal, and has become a common practice in web writing.


Information buried in long, difficult text slows the reader down and can give them the wrong impression of the university or your department. Research shows that readers and even experts prefer plain, simple language to formal academic-style text, especially on the web.


The Associated Press style

OSU follows The Associated Press style with only a few exceptions. Buying the most recent edition of The Associated Press Stylebook or signing up at can prevent spills down the most slippery of stylistic slopes.


Exceptions to AP style

Quick editorial tips to ease the way


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