Content Style Guide

This style guide will continue to be edited as necessary. If you find that you would like something added to the style guide, please post in the Moodle course forum under "Content Styles."

A style guide is a set of standards with the goal of guiding writers and content creators to contribute solid and engaging content that expresses who Castleton is. This is a living document and will be added to and updated. Readers should experience a smooth transition throughout the site.

We would like our audiences to understand the terminology faculty, staff, and students use on campus. Our writing should be:

• familiar, friendly, and straightforward
• educational and informative, but not patronizing or confusing. For example, instead of telling the reader what to do (e.g., Use the dropdown menu on the left!), consider providing a link to the appropriate page within the content.

Keep in mind that voice and tone are different. You have the same voice all of the time, but use different tones when speaking with friends, than you might use with your boss or a student.

When you are writing, consider the reader’s state of mind:

Why am I writing this?
Who is reading this?

When you finish writing a section, read it out loud. It might sound silly, but it’s important we maintain an approachable tone, one that accurately reflects our relationship-based institution. Plus, reading it out loud provides a better sense of how the reader will understand it.

Writing for the Web

Online content should be quick to read and easy to understand. Short paragraphs and lists are a plus. Write clear and compelling content. Steer clear of long or confusing words.

The look of text layout strongly affects how readers relate to content. Although a heading and list markup may not translate well to print, it creates entry points attracting the reader down the page.

Remember to only single space between sentences.

For general advice on clear, concise writing, it is hard to beat George Orwell’s rules for writing:

Never use a metaphor, simile, or other figure of speech that you are used to seeing in print.
Never use a long word where a short one will do.
If it is possible to cut a word out, always cut it out.
Never use the passive where you can use the active.
Never use a foreign phrase, a scientific word, or a jargon word if you can think of an everyday English equivalent.
Break any of these rules sooner than say anything outright barbarous.

Following are web editorial standards to use when writing your content.

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Academic Degrees

Use abbreviations:
M.A., M.S., B.A., B.S., A.S., etc.

When spelled out in a sentence, degrees should be lower-cased:
            Castleton is offering three new master’s degrees.

When standing alone, perhaps in a link or menu, capitalize:
            Master of Arts in Theater

Alumni Usage
Alumna – female singular
Alumnae – female plural
Alumni – male singular
Alumni – male plural

Bulleted Lists
Lists are your friends. Don’t get creative with the bullet design; a standard • will do. Only use numbered lists when tasks must be completed in a specific order.

Campus Buildings
Take note of the correct spelling of buildings on campus:

Adams Hall
Athletic Fields
Audet House
Babcock Hall
Calvin Coolidge Library
Campus Center
Castleton Downtown
Casella Theater
Castleton Hall
College Store
Castleton Store
Ellis Hall
Facilities Barn
Fine Arts Center
Fitness Center
Foley Hall
Gryphon Hall
Haskell Hall
Hoff Hall
Hope House
Huden Dining Hall
Jeffords Center
Leavenworth Hall
Moriarty House
Morrill Hall
North House
Old Chapel
Outdoor Classroom
President's House
Running/Fitness Trail
South House
Spartan Arena
Spartan Athletic Complex
Stafford Academic Center
Wheeler Hall
Woodruff Hall
Wright House

Capitalize only formal names. Do not capitalize the following words: web, website, internet, online, email.

Use Castleton instead of Castleton University where the subject is clearly about the University: “Castleton is pleased to present Danceworks…” 

Course Titles
When mentioning a subject, do not capitalize:
            He is taking history, psychology, and French.

When mentioning a specific course, capitalize:
He is taking History of the American Revolution, Abnormal Psychology, and French Composition.

Use 1 not 1st. Spell out the day, but abbreviate the month when followed by a date:
            On a Sunday in January
            On Sunday, Jan. 1

Use all lowercase for email addresses:

In most cases, hyperlink the person's name or department's name in order to signify email:

Katye Munger


Castleton Admissions Office

Exclamation points
Go easy on them! Do not use in alerts. Do not use more than one at the end of a sentence.

Headings and Subheadings
Headings and subheadings break content into smaller and more manageable copy to read. Be generous and descriptive with headings.

Capitalize important words in headings (except for articles, conjunctions, and prepositions). Capitalize only the first word in subheadings.

Job Titles
When a formal title precedes a proper name, capitalize:
            Professor of History Andre Fleche

When a title follows a proper name, do not capitalize:
            Andre Fleche, professor of history

Provide links when mentioning another page on the site. Don’t capitalize links or words within the links, unless a proper name.

Steer clear of stating “Click here!” or “Click for more information.” Write the sentence as you normally would and link keywords. 

The United Way of Rutland County is happy to introduce…

Numbers between one and ten are written out.  When generalizing, always write out the number:
            nine students
19 students
            hundreds of students

Some exceptions for news and press releases.

Use abbreviations when with a city, but not when talking about the state:
            Atlanta, GA
            California’s first

If an abbreviation is needed, use the postal abbreviation.
            VT not Vt., NY not N.Y., MA not Mass.

Some exceptions for news and press releases.

In general, commas should surround the state name.

Use "am" and "pm," not "a.m." and "p.m." For a range, only use the last instance, except for a timeframe that spans morning and afternoon. Do not include trailing zeros.
            9-10 am not 9:00 am to 10:00 am
            9 am - 5 pm

Some exceptions for news and press releases.

Use "University" (capitalized) when referring specifcally about Castleton, and especially following "the."

Do not spell out the whole word "versus" when you are referring to sporting events. 

Baseball vs. University of Maine at Farmington 

When in Doubt...
Follow the Associated Press Stylebook.