Different forums call for different styles
For news stories and press releases, your style should be direct and informative. This is actually one place where quirkiness and witticisms aren’t needed—the goal is to convey information efficiently and gain media coverage.
Headlines are their own special category—doing them well is really an art. It takes practice, but here are some tips.
Sometimes you just need to say what it is and summarize
- Determined to increase diversity in the sciences
- High school students wrestle with ethical quandaries
- Did life begin on land rather than in the sea?
Other times you can be playful if the story allows
- Let the trash-talking begin: UCSC joins national college recycling competition
- Reef madness: A coral grows at UC Santa Cruz
- Turkey tale: How the big birds have pecked their way into campus legend
Play with words
Take a cue from the article itself
- Type and literature and poetry
- Things everyone cares about
- A visionary, a genius, and the human genome
Seek common phrases to tweak
Try to think of common phrases that echo the words in the article and make a play on them. Careful not to be offensive in some way; think it through from every perspective. It’s a good idea to Google a phrase and make sure it’s not something horrible.
Play with pop culture references
Here’s your chance to shine with smart, creative, witty posts. Social media is, by nature, ephemeral and made for short attention spans. So short, simple, fun, and smart is best. Be genuine and heartfelt, however—snarkiness or cattiness are not appropriate for university social media platforms. A platform such as Facebook can, by nature, consist of longer blurbs than Twitter (which, of course, are limited to 140 characters). However, you don’t want to write long on Facebook, either, and risk losing attention. Approximately 30- to 50-word posts are ideal. To write a Tweet, dispense with articles such as “a” and “the”—and even punctuation such as periods—to trim the post down to fit, and keep it to the basics. Always hashtag it with #ucsc, plus any other relevant hashtags (#UCSCAlumniWeekend, #kzsc, #vinyl, #stewardship, #ucscnaturalreserves, for example). Hashtags can be upper- or lowercase.
Example of a tweet:
Writing for email
Getting emails right—to the right people, at the right time, and in the right voice—might look easy, but it’s not. It takes work and careful attention to detail. Just like paper mail, each email sent from UC Santa Cruz should be clear in purpose and meaningful to the person receiving it. We want people to open emails from UC Santa Cruz and feel good about hearing from us. Please see
Writing for fundraising
There are best practices specific to development (fundraising) writing. Many people and organizations ask for money, and people who give get many requests. Giving is a choice.
See this complete guide on ways to inspire support.
Writing for the web
Writing for the web is a bit different than writing for print. Essentially, web writing needs to be more concise so that website visitors can get their information as quickly as possible. Following are some tips for writing for the web.
The No. 1 problem people have with any website is that they can’t get to the content as fast as they want to get it. Help people complete the task they came there to do. People have no patience online. They will scan in couple seconds, and if they don’t see what they came there for, they are simply going to leave. As a rule, people must connect with your page in five seconds or less. Scanability is very important. Use subheads. They make sites scannable. Avoid long blocks of dense text. No paragraph should be more than five lines long. Avoid jargon. Ask yourself if the language you’re using is understandable by people not in that field. Convert jargon to words normal people can understand. Don’t over-glow. If you claim to be “prestigious” or the “gold standard” when you’re not, it’s not believable or credible, so it actually hurts your reputation. If you can’t substantiate the claim, take it off the site. Keep reading levels low. Within the high school level. Do analytics research to find out what people coming to the site most often want to do. This will help guide you on the content of the page.
Try to avoid the overly flowery—we can all fall into that trap easily! Have a colleague rein you in if you need editing.
UC Santa Cruz Alumni Weekend 2016 This weekend is for you—Come Home Save the date April 29–May 1, 2016 UC Santa Cruz touches the heart and fires the imagination. Here, you were challenged and encouraged, surprised and amazed, emboldened and enraptured. Come Home—to see old friends, engage your mind, reawaken memories, and walk paths both familiar and new. Alumni Weekend 2016—This Weekend is for You
UC Santa Cruz Alumni Weekend 2016 This weekend is for you—Come Home Save the date April 29–May 1, 2016 UC Santa Cruz touches the heart and fires the imagination. Your onetime “home away from home” is waiting for you come back and get fired up again. Join us for a fun-filled weekend of lectures, music, fresh food, and good wine while you roam paths both familiar and new. Look for a complete listing of Alumni Weekend events in the UC Santa Cruz alumni magazine coming out in March. Alumni Weekend 2016—This Weekend is for You. COME HOME.