/ Public Affairs and Marketing

Style and Grammar

It’s important to spell words correctly, use proper punctuation and follow consistent conventions. Good web writing is never careless or sloppy.

However, don’t get too hung up on the technicalities of “proper” writing. Knowing all the rules of grammar won’t make you a good writer. Instead, focus relentlessly on your reader. We’d rather you write simply and clearly to address your audience’s questions in ways they easily understand than construct a flawless sentence.

If you’re unsure about the best way to communicate something, talk to your fellow Authors, Editors and Publishers. They are an invaluable resource.

House rules

While we generally follow the AP Stylebook, there are a few exceptions.

For example, we use periods instead of hyphens to format phone numbers (e.g., 616.395.7000), and we never include “www.” at the front of a web address (e.g., hope.edu).

We’ll add to this list of exceptions in a Hope College Web Style Guide. In the meantime, ask Public Affairs & Marketing if you have any specific questions about how Hope handles certain styles.

7 tips for effective proofreading 

Walk away 
Take a break or switch tasks for a while and come back to your writing later with fresh eyes. Does everything still make sense?
Double-check your facts and links 
Make sure links, numbers, dates, names and other claims are accurate.
Read it out loud 
When you read something out loud, you get a better sense of how your words and tone will come across to someone else. As you read, pay attention. Does your tongue trip over any words? Replace difficult words or rephrase. Do you feel impatient or bored in certain places, or hear a little voice in the back of your head going “blah, blah, blah”? Cut words to get to the point more quickly.
Use a dictionary 
Make sure you’ve used the right words. If you’re unsure, look it up. If it’s a word a lot of people could be confused by, consider picking a different word. Pay special attention to homophones — words that have the same pronunciation but different spellings and meanings (e.g., “compliment” vs. “complement”).
Print it out 
Reviewing what you’ve written in a different format can open your eyes to things you previously missed.
Read it backwards
When we’re reading normally, our brains tend to automatically correct mistakes and fill in gaps to help us make sense of what we’re seeing. This can make it tricky to catch typos and missing words. One way to break this pattern and catch errors is to “read” backwards, right to left, starting with the last word you’ve written. This will allow you to focus on individual words rather than on sentences and paragraphs.
Ask for help 
The beauty of working as part of a content team with other Authors, Editors and Publishers is that you don’t have to figure everything out yourself. In fact, you should never publish something that no one else has looked at. A new set of eyes can often immediately spot errors you’ve overlooked. Our content is better when we work together.

Styling text in the CMS

The website was designed and developed with careful consideration for typography and text styling. By entering appropriate content in the correct fields within the CMS, the correct text styles will be applied automatically.

How to style text

  • Use italics to indicate book titles and the like.
  • Use the predefined heading and subheading styles to break up content.
  • Use the predefined blockquote style to indicate a quote or testimonial.
  • Do not use italics for emphasis.
  • Do not use underlines (users think they’re links).
  • Do not use bold for emphasis.
  • Emphasis should be communicated through how you write and organize your content.
  • Do not manually change the color of text.
  • Do not manually adjust font size.
  • Do not use UPPERCASE for anything except acronyms.
  • Do not double-space between sentences.
  • Do not hit Enter/Return to add additional spacing between paragraphs.
  • The site will automatically apply the correct amount of whitespace.