Keep it simple
SAI recommends a tenth-grade reading level for the web. That means generally favoring shorter, simpler sentences and opting for clear, understandable language (go with “use” instead of “utilize,” or “help” instead of “facilitate”). There is a tool within the site builder that can tell you the reading level for your page. It’s not a perfect guideline for our site—when you’re explaining policies or health benefits details you can only simplify it so much—but it can give you an idea of the reading level of your writing.
Keep it brief
People don’t have as much tolerance for lengthy reading on the web. Use bullets, tabs, or expand/collapse, or jump to another page to break up text.
There are terms that are very familiar to HR staff but might not have meaning for everyone else, so be on the watch for those and avoid them.
Avoid passive voice
Instead of “benefits are provided to faculty and staff” say “JHU provides benefits to faculty and staff.”
Avoid being overly formal
In general, the About HR section is a little more formal and business-focused than the rest of the site because it has a more limited audience (mostly HR people and/or the management team). For the rest of the site, though, we’re looking for an approachable style that’s not too formal while still being professional. So, contractions are OK. These pages should sound like you’re sitting down in front of an HR professional who is explaining your benefits to you rather than like you’re reading a page from a policy manual.
Keep it upbeat and helpful
Our messaging on all the About HR pages and the home pages is that HR is “here for you” and that HR is on a mission to find, recruit, and retain the most talented and dedicated workforce. Always keep that messaging in mind.
Keep it consistent
Check this style guide and also the editorial guidelines created by JHU’s Office of Communications if you are unsure about the spelling of certain words, capitalization, use of bold and italics, etc. There are lots of JHU-specific rules that you wouldn’t necessarily know without reading these resources. You can find the editorial guidelines here: https://brand.jhu.edu/assets/uploads/sites/5/2016/08/JHU_Comm_style_guide_082916.pdf. You can also find information about JHU branding, name use, licensing and a helpful factobook, at the main Office of Communications page: https://universitycommunications.jhu.edu.