Users don’t read. They scan.

Keep copy simple, easy to scan and short. Large blocks of text are uninviting and bury important information. Break copy into small, digestible chunks. Organize content in the simplest way possible with the most important information available first, at the top of the page. Use straightforward heads and subheads whenever possible.

Apply this test.

Is my copy: Concise? Scannable? Objective?


  • Practice brevity. Write short, concise sentences.
  • Avoid extraneous words and phrases that aren’t essential to your point.
  • Check how long your page is on mobile.


  • Use lists, subheads and other design elements whenever possible.
  • Emphasize with italics and bullets.
  • Keep paragraphs short.
  • Make exceptions for easier scanning (3 vs. three, % vs. percent).


  • Don’t embellish. Use detail, not adjectives.
  • Write clearly without jargon (even for internal audiences). Avoid acronyms, too.
  • Use your audience’s language.
  • Use active voice instead of passive voice.

Tip: Use web pages to deliver the most important information. Accept that users will still call with questions. (But if they have the most important rather than everything, they’ll call less!)

University Style

All content on must follow the Communications Style Guide.


Embedding links in your content can be a great way to help users take a next step. They can also take users off of our site.

Use links if there’s related content within that provides valuable information to your user.

Do not use links if you’re driving the user off, unless there is a very good reason.

Correct: Linking to on Financial Aid pages

Incorrect: Providing 10-15 general financial aid resources that a user could easily get with a Google search

Tips for links:

  • Avoid “click here.” Hyperlink the relevant word or phrase to give context. Use clear labels that give users meaningful information about where the link will take them. Example: See the difference that your scholarships will make for you.
  • Match the link description with the content on the page. Make sure the copy in the link is consistent with the destination content.
  • Use text links. Text links are preferable to image links for users.
  • Keep linked text short. Be mindful that the link may wrap lines on other screens (particularly mobile).
  • Do not put your link in all caps. This is hard for visitors to read.

Linking to Box

Content that is static and administrative should live on Box and be linked to from

Tip: Always link to the individual file, unless you are intentionally driving to all the resources in a Box folder.

Tip: Be sure the link settings on Box match the access you want for the document: People in the company vs. people with the link.