Editorial Style Guide

Words Matter

The LSU brand is one of the most recognizable in the realm of higher education. It is known not only for its unique style of purple and gold colors, but also in the strong and assured voice that transcends individual departmental units to form a cohesive, unmistakably cultural and academic feel.

Clarity Matters

Use unambiguous language.

Do this:
LSU professors teach students, excel in research, and strive to make the world a better place.

Not this:
The travails of LSU faculty exist in many forms: providing mentorship to those who seek pedagogy, uncovering the mysteries of life’s wonders, and toiling through highs and lows in a concerted effort to break through Earth’s dire circumstances with the hope of offering its inhabitants a cola and instructing them how to carry numerous, consecutive mellifluous notes.

Originality Matters

“People don’t read anymore,” Steve Jobs said in 2008 about the advent of e-readers. So, if you’re reading this, what does that say about you? It says you seek information, but are also interested in the topic. Media outlets, whether they be conventional print or online media, need content that engages the reader. Think of the interesting research and student and faculty accomplishments happening in your area and put them into plain, but intriguing language that will make the audience excited to learn about it. After all, learning is what we’re all about.

Do this:
It was a typical summer afternoon in Baton Rouge. Inside the Woman’s Center for Wellness, dozens of kids were splashing in the pool, floating on their backs, or paddling around on rafts. The scene wasn’t much different than the dozens of other recreational facilities and community pools around the city, but none of the others happened to have a six-foot tiger there to cheer on and encourage the children.

Not this:
The Woman’s Center for Wellness hosted dozens of kids for a summer swim class. LSU’s mascot Mike attended. The children were delighted.

People Matter

Academics care about the nuts and bolts of research. The general public, media outlets, and elected officials care about the bottom line: How does this affect me? Is it a cool discovery? Show and tell whenever possible with photography to enhance copy that evokes feelings within the reader. Remember, this isn’t calculus 101, they don’t need to “see the work.” They simply want to know the outcome.

Do this:

photo: exampleLSU’s Chris Austin recently discovered two new species of frogs in New Guinea, one of which is now the world’s tiniest known vertebrate, averaging only 7.7 millimeters in size – less than one-third of an inch.

Not this:

photo: exampleAssociate Professor of Biological Science Chris Austin has researched biodiversity in species for more than a decade. As many researchers do, he has had his share of starts and stops, all the while, uncovering groups of amphibians from small to large...too wordy, you’ve now lost your reader.

 

These represent but a few tips on writing. If you have other best practices inquiries, please email Todd Miller at vmille2@lsu.edu or Tamara Mizell at tmizell@lsu.edu and we will be happy to assist you.