Brand Writing Best Practices

Editorial Style

For editorial and journalistic content, Mizzou follows the Associated Press Stylebook. MU-specific issues are covered in the MU Style Guide. If a discrepancy exists between the two styles, the MU Style Guide takes precedence.

In some fields, writers and editors might also follow discipline-specific guides, such as the MLA Style Manual. Regardless of the field, in communications produced by university information specialists for general audiences, the MU Style Guide and the Associated Press Stylebook take precedence over other guides.

 

Headlines

Keep headlines focused, yet creative.
Headlines are the best, and maybe only, opportunity to grab the reader’s attention and encourage them to keep reading. They need to be quick, clear and intriguing. Don’t try and say everything or you’ll confuse (and lose) your audience.

Review the content on Narrative & Key Messaging
This is the core of our messaging and will inspire your headlines (and copy). For example, the term “Show me” invites readers in, connects with Missourians living in the Show Me state, and creates a platform for confident and attention-grabbing statements. In addition to being a bold way to kick-off a headline, it can also be a powerful way to punctuate one.

Branded Headline Templates

No time to come up with a snappy headline? Great news: Mizzou’s brand messaging has been designed to be adaptable for a wide variety of marketing opportunities. Jump-start your headline with one of these taglines templates:

Tagline Examples
Show Me ________.

SHOW ME AFFORDABILITY

SHOW ME HOW OLD LOVE LETTERS CAN CHANGE THE WAY WE READ A LITERARY GIANT

_____________?
We Can Show You / We Can Show You How.

LOOKING FOR A BROADER PERSPECTIVE? WE CAN SHOW YOU.

READY TO CHANGE THE WORLD? WE CAN SHOW YOU HOW.

Where People Meet Possibility.

FROM CHICAGO TO THE QUAD, THIS IS WHERE PEOPLE MEET POSSIBILITY

MISSOURI EXTENSION: WHERE PEOPLE MEET POSSIBILITY

In the Midst of What Matters.

UNDERGRAD RESEARCH AT MIZZOU: IN THE MIDST OF WHAT MATTERS

IN THE MIDST OF WHAT MATTERS — GAME DAY SPIRIT AT MIZZOU

Missouri Research. ______ Impact.

Missouri Research. Global Impact.

Missouri Research. Midwest Impact.

Missouri Research. Maryville Impact.

 

Copy

Before you start writing, make sure you know:

  • Who your audience is (review Audiences, Voice & Tone)
  • What it is you want them to get out of it — what do they need to know?
  • What tone will convey this information the best? Should it be curious, ambitious or maybe a bit of both?
  • Gather relevant information, data, names, dates and details

After identifying these core items, review the content on Narrative & Key Messaging. This is the core of our messaging and can inspire the cadence of your copy. Feel free to pull portions of the narrative and integrate it into your copy when relevant. 

Remember to stay on message:

  • Move beyond simply stating facts to connect with your audience.

Instead of saying: We have four degree programs...
Say: Discover degree programs designed for those with an entrepreneurial spirit. 

  • Show the human element behind our success.

Instead of saying: Mizzou has many research opportunities...
Say: At Mizzou, students work with renowned researchers...

  • Create a strong emotional tie with your audience.

Instead of saying: We make an impact.
Say: We're in the middle of the middle, making changes to our communities and impacting the state of Missouri — and beyond.

Review your copy — is it in Mizzou's voice?

GUT-CHECK:

  • Does the tone of what you are writing inspire the reader?
  • Does it reflect Mizzou’s key message?

Don't forget to use copy to influence visual choices:

  • Our brand does not rely only on written words. Refer to the Visual Identity section of the web site for graphic treatments and photography. Coordinate these elements to enhance your copy – your messaging should be the star.

Captions

Clear, concise captions can pull curious readers further into the page while ensuring that those merely skimming the page can garner the most important information.

How to write enticing captions

  • Generate interest and intrigue. Engage readers.
  • Add details that aren’t in the accompanying story.
  • Use active verbs and energetic language.
  • For every photograph, provide a caption with specific information, if available. Captions accompanying generic or decorative photographs, such as pictures of campus icons, can provide background information or a bit of MU history.
  • Be honest and accurate. If using an old photo, identify the date. If using a photo for illustrative rather than documentary purposes, make that clear in your caption.
  • Use “from left” rather than “from left to right” when identifying multiple people or things.
  • Don’t editorialize. Avoid subjective adjectives. Let your readers decide whether someone or something is beautiful, happy, troubled, etc.
  • Because readers know you are referring to the photograph, omit phrases such “is shown” or “pictured above.”
  • Try to use present tense, but use past tense to refer to events that preceded the taking of the photo or that are not pictured in the photo.
  • Don’t point out the obvious, such as gestures or colors, except when writing alternative text to accompany photos online. Alternative text can be detected by a screen-reader and provide photo information to users who are visually impaired.
  • Before publishing the photos online or in print, double-check the photos and captions for accuracy and consistency.