This is our marketing editorial style guide. It helps us write clear and consistent content across teams and channels. Please use it as a reference when you’re writing for Cal Lutheran.
This guide goes beyond basic grammar and style points. It’s not traditional in format or content. We break a number of grammar rules for clarity, practicality, or preference.
We’ve divided the guide by topic based on the types of content we publish, so you can reference it as needed or browse in order.
- Writing Goals and Principles
- Voice and Tone
- Writing About People
- Grammar and Mechanics
- Web Elements
- Writing Emails
- Writing for Social Media
- Writing for Accessibility
- Word List
(That means "Too long; didn't read.") This guide goes into depth on many subjects. It may be more information than you need. Here are the most important things to know.
Good content is:
Voice and Tone
Cal Lutheran's voice is:
Our tone changes depending on the situation, but it's generally informal. We have a sense of humor, but we value clarity over entertainment.
Our priorities are to educate our users about our products without patronizing or confusing them, so they can get their work done and get on with their lives.
Writing About People
- Don’t reference age or disability unless it’s relevant to what you’re writing.
- Avoid gendered language and use the singular “they.”
- When writing about a person, use their preferred pronouns; if you don’t know those, just use their name.
Grammar and Mechanics
- Some people will read every word you write. Others will just scan. Help everyone by grouping related ideas together and using descriptive headers and subheaders.
- Focus your message, and create a hierarchy of information. Lead with the main point or the most important content.
- Use active voice and positive language.
- Use short words and sentences.
- Avoid unnecessary modifiers.
- Use specific examples.
- Avoid vague language.
- Be consistent. Adhere to the copy patterns and style points outlined in this guide.
- Feel free to use contractions.
- Use the serial comma. Otherwise, use common sense.
- Don’t use underline, and don’t use any combination of italic, bold, caps, and underline.
- When in doubt, read your writing out loud.
- Organize your page around one topic.
- Use clear, descriptive terms that relate to the topic in titles and headings.
- Give every image descriptive alt text.
- Buttons should always contain actions. The language should be clear and concise. Capitalize every word, including articles.
- Use sentence case for checkboxes and radio buttons.
- Use title case for drop-down menu names and sentence case for menu items.
- Use title case for form titles and sentence case for form fields. Only request information that we need and intend to use. Don’t ask for irrelevant personal information, like gender.
- Use title case for main navigation. Use sentence case for subnavigation.
- Use title case for headings and sentence case for subheadings.
- Organize headings and subheadings in a hierarchy, with heading first, followed by subheadings in order.
- Include the most relevant keywords in your headings and subheadings.
- Provide a link whenever you’re referring to a website, relevant content, and trusted external resources.
- Don’t say things like “Click here!” or “Click for more information” or “Read this.” Instead, link relevant keywords.
- Use lists to present steps, groups, or sets of info. Set up your list with a brief introduction. Number lists when the order of information is important.
Writing for Accessibility
- Create a hierarchy, with the most important information first.
- Place similar topics in the same paragraph, and clearly separate different topics with headings.
- Use plain language. Write short sentences and familiar words.
- Links should provide information on the associated action or destination. Avoid saying “click here” or “learn more.”
- Avoid using images when descriptive text will do.
- Avoid directional instructions or language that requires the reader to see the layout or design of the page.
- Label inputs on forms with clear names and use appropriate tags. Think carefully about what fields are necessary, and especially which ones you mark as required.