The voice, or tone, of writing communicates a great deal about philosophy, values, and personality.

It is a generalization to say acdemic writing is always overwrought and erudite. Those just getting to know UM-Flint through your brochure or website simply want to find, understand, and act on information. Verbosity gets in their way. They think it is smart to put their needs first, write in plain language, and where appropriate, show some personality that lets them know there are real people behind the words.

The following examples are derived from U-M Ann Arbor’s new editorial guide. They show the difference in tone that arises from putting the emphasis on our audiences vs. ourselves.

Too UM-Flint Centric
  • "Our faculty features…"
  • "We are global leaders…"
  • "The University of Michigan-Flint boasts…"
More Audience Focused
  • "You’ll enjoy…"
  • "Are you ready for…"
  • "Students will be inspired to…"
We recommend UM-Flint writers strive for:
  • Clarity (to the point)
  • Simplicity (“less is more; let go of the words”)
  • Positivity (friendly; positive action; “doing” verbs)
  • Conversational tone (approachability)
  • Confidence (not boastfulness)


Just like voice and tone, word choice should value clarity and comprehension above all else. This becomes especially important when we consider our international audiences. 

Always try to: 
  • Use the most common term
  • Be mindful of jargon and campus-specific abbreviations (such as UPAV)
  • Avoid slang, colloquialisms, and local expressions (international students may not understand what it means to be "raining cats and dogs," etc.)
  • Simplify the complex

Additional information available via the U.S. Government's Plain Language Guidelines.