Writing guidelines

Guidance on writing engaging and effective content.

On this page

Be active

Use active rather than passive constructions.

We teach design.

This makes the text feel more energetic and engaging than "Design is taught."

Use first and second person where appropriate

First and second person constructions place the reader in the narrative, which has an engaging, involving effect.

We've been ranked number one!

This makes us sound more active and approachable than "The University has been ranked number one."

You choose your courses.

This is more engaging than "Students choose their courses."

Avoid walls of text

Consider breaking up longer pieces of text with subheadings. This can make it easier for people to find the information they're looking for. It can also make the layout look more interesting where there's lots of text on the page.

Capital letters

Don't use capital letters to add emphasis or imply importance. Readability is reduced when using words or sentences with all capitals because all words have a uniform rectangular shape, this means readers can't identify words by their shape.

Only use capitals for names, titles, to start a sentence, for days of the week and months of the year. Where words form a course title, they may take capitals - for example Archives and Records Management. However if we're talking in general terms about the job or the field of study, it's lower case - archives and records management.

Accuracy and spelling

It goes without saying that we should ensure our communication is written correctly. Use a spell-checker programme, make sure it's set to British English, and double check with a dictionary when there's doubt - for example in pairs of words like affect and effect, or license and licence.


Everyone makes mistakes, so it's important to proofread everything we write before it's published. And as even proofreaders make mistakes, it's best to have at least two people doing the checking. Remember to check digital text as carefully as you would copy for printing - it may be easy to correct web text after publication, but thousands of people could see it in the meantime.

Writing for digital media

Copy for websites and other digital channels should generally follow the same grammatical and stylistic rules as printed text. However, it's worth remembering how digital material is consumed.

For example, you might read a digital prospectus in a more disjointed way than you would a print copy, using several different devices and keeping other documents open on the desktop while you cross-refer between them.

Website visitors tend to want information fast as they are looking to perform a specific task. We should make it easy for the user to find what he or she is looking for. Headlines, subheads and links to other pages should be clear and unambiguous.

These points should be seen as general principles, not hard-and-fast rules. Your words should reflect the style and personality of University of Dundee, but they must also be appropriate for the context you're working in.

Examples of copy

Sample pieces that could be used on a homepage, or in the introduction to a prospectus. These are meant to indicate style, not necessarily content.

Universities come in all shapes and sizes. Choose one that fits and you should have a great time as a student.

Dundee suits lots of people, and for lots of reasons. Spend a few hours on campus and you'll notice the relaxed atmosphere - although there's absolutely nothing laid-back about our commitment to exceptional teaching and research. That's why we're consistently rated among the world's best, and why University of Dundee graduates are in serious demand on the jobs market.

As for the city, Dundee fits so well you probably won't want to leave. Creative and hi-tech industries attract thousands of young people here, making it one of the fastest-growing cities in Britain. Happily, it's still one of the most affordable.

If you need another reason to try University of Dundee for size, consider the opinion of the students who study here. They've rated us number one in Scotland for the student experience, six years running.

Going to university is an adventure, a privilege and a commitment. Choosing where to go will be one of the biggest decisions you'll ever make.

The University of Dundee is a special place, and people have a great time here. It's not just the social life - although in growing, buzzing, affordable Dundee, that does tend to be pretty great. It's also a combination of excellent courses, world-class teaching and brilliant facilities. We're proud of our supportive, inclusive culture. There are lots of ways to get advice and help with everything from money matters to childcare, housing and health.

What really makes Dundee unique is the University's special relationship with the city. Our campus is a self-contained community, with everything in one beautiful place. It's right in the heart of Dundee's West End, the city's vibrant cultural hub. Everything's on your doorstep, and with one of the biggest student populations for a city its size anywhere, Dundee is geared for university life. No wonder ours are some of the happiest students in the world.