Voice & Writing


The University of Nebraska-Lincoln's attributes are a good place to start when considering the general attitude voiced in communications, and these descriptors help to further qualify these attributes.


Tone should vary slightly by audience (and certainly medium – e.g., social media). Generally, tone used at the university should be slightly more formal than most consumer brands but not as stuffy as most government/ institutional organizations.

Ambitious Achievement-oriented but not cutthroat

Authentic Up front but not in-your-face

Collaborative Open but not clingy

Committed Focused but not singleminded

Friendly Approachable but not bubbly

Hard-working Industrious but not dull

Inclusive Down-to-earth but not lowbrow

Smart Intelligent but not pretentious


For prospective students and families,

Nebraska is the university where their story matters. As an inclusive, Big Ten university rated as a best value, Nebraska helps students discover their potential for greatness in a college and city setting full of opportunity.

For prospective faculty and research partners,

Nebraska is the university that delivers unique potential for discovery and collaboration because Nebraska is an inclusive Big Ten university with an established culture of cross-disciplinary research.

For alumni,

the university is the organization that delivers pride and a broad network of friendly connections because Nebraska is an inclusive Big Ten university with worldwide impact.

For Nebraskans,

the university is the organization that delivers economic growth and trusted research insight because Nebraska is an inclusive Big Ten university with a land-grant commitment to the state.

For fans,

Nebraska is the university that delivers a tradition of winning the right way and a family-friendly experience because Nebraska is an inclusive Big Ten university with strong student-athlete support and welcoming gameday atmosphere.


Writers and editors who develop written material for a variety of outlets—magazines, brochures, Websites, ads, posters, and more—will benefit from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Style Guide, developed in 2006 as a comprehensive guide and tool to help university communicators present a unified, cohesive approach in the details of the written products we create. Accuracy in how we present information about the university, such as the proper and correct names of the student unions (Nebraska Union and Nebraska East Union), spellings, addresses, dates, and references to majors, colleges and programs helps build audience recognition, understanding and clarity.

In particular, please take note of this caveat regarding the use of "UNL." In written communication, the full name, University of Nebraska–Lincoln, should be spelled out when the university is first mentioned or cited. Thereafter, references should cite “the university” or “Nebraska.” “UNL” may be used (for example, when space is at a premium), but otherwise it is not preferred. Communicators should make efforts to explore other options before using “UNL.”


At go.unl.edu/styleguide , a searchable online database allows users to scroll alphabetically or search through topic listings that address correct spellings and guides for referring to unique university entities, such as colleges, buildings, titles and more, and places emphasis on language that encourages an inclusive atmosphere.

The style guide is based on the standard for news media, the Associated Press Stylebook, (the so-called "Journalists’ Bible"), which is used by most mainstream U.S. and some international media, primarily newspapers and magazines, because of its emphasis on readability and consistency in spellings, grammar and punctuation. Because many of our works, copy or stories written about the university are eventually sent or placed with news media outlets as news releases, the AP style is a useful style for all to employ.

Because your written pieces may have other specific or special audiences that commonly read or write in other styles, you may want to consider slight deviations from AP style in order to best communicate with your special audiences in specific outlets. The style references specific to the university should be followed consistently regardless of the audience.

Other writing and editorial styles that are often used in academic settings are the Chicago Manual of Style and American Psychological Association, however, these are meant for academic publishing and not for a general audience. It’s useful to first consider the audience when writing or presenting information, not only for style, but for tone, length, depth and choice of stories and messages.

The online style guide was developed by a campuswide committee of writers and editors and will be updated continually.

If you have a question or an addition or change for the guide, contact:

1217 Q 218 Lincoln NE 68588-0218
Work 402-472-4226 On-campus 2-4226