The BU Edge in Writing

What makes the writing from BU different than the writing from any other university?

The BU Edge

Know your audience. Understand what they’re hoping to learn or gain and always write with it in mind.

Know your stuff. Write as if you’re the expert. Because the truth is, you are.

Tell a good story. If you’re excited to write it, chances are good your audience will be excited to read it. So leave the clichés at home. Think about new ways to engage your readers and help them see BU in a different light.

Use the active voice. In the passive voice, ideas can sound vague. They also run the risk of burial under a mountain of prepositional phrases.

But be conversational. Be smart and clear. Use plain English, as if you’re speaking to a friend or colleague.

Be inclusive. We are a big, diverse university. Our communications should address and embrace that fact.

But most of all, tell the truth. Our audience is smart and can tell when something is manufactured. So write honestly and from the heart. Your readers will appreciate it.

When Writing for BU

Here are a few DOs and DON'Ts.

  • DO use headlines to identify WHO and WHAT.
    Who is our expert and what are they doing? What’s the game-changing project or work they’re undertaking? How can we explain it in a succinct and engaging way?
  • DO use headlines to intrigue and pique interest.
    What is going to make people sit up and pay attention? What’s going to make them need to know more? In our examples, we're achieving this through unexpected combinations of disciplines—in research, scholarship, and the arts.
  • DO use the body copy to round out the story.
    Be specific. And don’t be afraid to tout the project team’s achievements. Ask yourself, why is this important and, more importantly, why should anyone care?
  • DO tell the full story.
    Context is key. But don’t use 25 words when 10 will do.
  • DON’T sacrifice clarity for brevity. Be concise and brief, but not at the expense of clarity. Once you’re done writing, step back and take a critical and objective eye to your work. Read it aloud. Is it direct and succinct? Is an outsider with no additional context likely to comprehend it? If the answer to either question is no, edits are likely needed.
  • DON’T sound institutional or overly authoritative. The brand voice is personal and down-to-earth. Write clearly and directly and use “you” instead of the third-person to engage your audience.
  • DON’T assume everyone knows BU. Remember that other universities have the initials BU. So be sure you don’t confuse your reader, and make sure you have established the identity of Boston University.