Editorial Content

Guidelines to help you get your message across

Consider your audience

Ask yourself this question: “Will a prospective student/current student or alumni/parent/faculty user care about this information?” Copy should be organized based on what is of value to the audience.

Organize your content

Think of an inverted pyramid when you write. Get to the point in the first paragraph, and then expand upon it. Don’t make your readers think or read more than they want to.

Include sub-headings

Sub-headings make the text more scannable. Your readers tend to move to the section of a document that is most useful for them, and sub-heads are internal cues that make it easier for them to do this.

Write only one idea per paragraph

Especially online, it's important to be concise and to-the-point. People don't read web pages. They scan them. Having short, direct paragraphs is better than long, rambling ones.

Make lists

Consider using bulleted or numbered lists instead of paragraphs. They're easier to scan and remember, particularly if you keep them short.

Be brief

Sentences should be as concise as you can make them. Use only the words you need to get the essential information across.Make sure you edit and re-edit to rid content of superfluous language.

Use action words

Tell your readers what to do — visit, apply, join, comment, etc. Avoid the passive voice. “We” are SUNY Oneonta. “You” are our audience. Keep the flow of your pages moving.

Avoid jargon and idioms

Most organizations have an entire vocabulary of specialized terms that outsiders won't understand. Eliminate jargon, idioms, and unexplained acronyms as part of your writing process.

Make your links part of the copy

Like lists and subheads, links are tools to help readers scan pages. They also help you direct readers to additional content because stand out from normal text. The text you use in your links should offer readers a clue about where the link will be sending them.

Have someone else proofread your work

Don’t rely on spellcheck alone. Have a colleague review your copy for accuracy and completeness.