Top Writing Tips

Here’s our best writing advice, in a nutshell.

Audience first.

Your tone and word choice will change depending on whether you are recruiting students, asking for donations, promoting an event, describing policies, or just providing instructions. Define who your audience is before you write your text, and always keep your reader’s perspective in mind.

Your primary audience might be an external group, or perhaps it’s internal: current students or faculty/staff, for example. When your communication will go to more than one audience, identify your primary audience and focus on them.

Be thoughtful.

Stay true to Lewis & Clark’s mission and values. Revisit that strategic plan! Respect your audience.

Have a goal in mind.

What is the main thing you need to accomplish in your communication? Maybe you need to convey a fact, offer reassurance, or argue a point. Know why you are communicating, and don’t stray from your objective.

Be clear.

Remember that simple prose is often the most effective. Focus on what your writing needs to accomplish. Don’t overload your readers with details.

Have a sense of style.

The Lewis & Clark Style Guide is a resource for when you’ve got questions about spelling, punctuation, and how to refer to locations, people, and programs on campus.

For things that aren’t covered in our style guide, refer to the Chicago Manual of Style, 17th edition. (Watzek Library maintains an institutional subscription to The Chicago Manual of Style Online, which is available to anyone with an account.)

Know our story.

Read our undergraduate and graduate profiles online. Keep up with the latest institutional news. Follow our sports teams. Follow the institution on social media. Watch the videos on our YouTube channel. Go to events on campus. Help your audience understand how the members of our community live our vision, purpose, and values.

Know our numbers.

If you need facts and figures about Lewis & Clark, the institutional research office is the place to go.

Writing for the web is different.

The digital universe has some rules of its own. To learn what additional things you should keep in mind, see our guide to writing for the web.