Voice & Tone

When you write web content for Bethel, make sure you take a minute to think about our visitors and users—their wants, needs, expectations, feelings, hopes, and fears.

The voice and tone you use makes a big difference in a user's experience. Wondering what we mean by "Voice & Tone"?

Voice

Bethel’s voice is consistent throughout our website, blogs, emails, social media, etc. What is our online voice?

  • Positive but not peppy
  • Confident but not showy
  • Knowledgeable but not complicated
  • Casual but not careless
  • Friendly but not phony
  • Open but not wishy-washy
  • Credible but not preachy
  • Warm but not sappy
  • Welcoming but not pushy
  • Helpful but not condescending

We want our writing to have personality and life. Think of the web and other online communication as one big conversation. This means language should be informal, easy to digest, and active.

Reserve overtly academic or formal language for the limited circumstances where it meets the needs of the content (institutional policy, federal guidelines, academic research results, etc.). Although certain areas of the site might be more formal than others (Academic Planning and Financial Aid versus Admissions and Student Life), their voice can still be warm and friendly.

For example...

Say this:

  • In this course, students explore pop culture’s impact on individuals and society.
  • The College of Arts & Sciences at Bethel University offers a compelling and complete liberal arts education grounded in Christian values. We produce talented young scientists, artists, engineers, teachers, writers, and leaders who are strong in their faith and passionate about contributing to God's work.
  • At Bethel, we develop whole students—students who not only leave as experts in business, but also grow in their personal experience.

Not this:

  • Our programme seeks to extrapolate meaning from the divergent myth-symbols and meta-narratives underlying the banal detritus that is pop culture. By doing so, we can begin the process of reconstructing our fragmentalized perception of selfhood and personhood. (Anyone want to tell me what that means? I think it has something to do with drawing life lessons out of the Jersey Shore.)
  • The College of Arts & Sciences grants baccalaureate degrees in greater than one hundred academic programmes, all undergirded by the foundational pillars of our intellectually stimulating, academically rigorous Liberal Arts curriculum.
  • Bethel University strives to provide a holistic education experience for the adult learner through an integrative model that encourages life transformation as well as academic advancement in the area of business.

Point of View

In general, use plural first person language (you, your, we, our students, our programs). This helps keep the tone conversational instead of making visitors feel like they’re reading a report done by a third party.

Say this:

  • Everything we do at Bethel is guided by our core values, rooted in Scripture. We are Christ-followers, character-builders, truth-seekers, learners, salt and light, reconcilers, and world-changers. We are, above all, a community—serving and encouraging one another toward our individual potential.
  • Ready to apply? Don't hesitate to contact our admissions team if you run into questions or need more information. Also, you’re always welcome to set up a campus visit to get a feel for community life or to talk with a professor.

Not this:

  • Bethel University is guided by core values. Bethel University’s core values are Christ-following, character-building, truth-seeking, learning, salt and light, reconciling, and world-changing. Bethel university is a community. The students at Bethel University serve and encourage each other toward their individual potential.
  • Questions about how to apply can be directed to the Bethel Seminary Office of Admissions. Prospective students can also set up a campus visit to get a feel for community life or talk with a professor.

Word Choice

It’s best to use simple, concrete words. Avoid internal jargon or acronyms. Instead of using general marketing terms, find ways to describe the Bethel experience. Help visitors create tangible images of what it’s like to be here.

“When you talk about things in concrete terms, those things become images, and images are far more convincing than jargon.” - Randall Snare, Mapped blog

Say this:

  • Welcome Week is your official start at Bethel. You'll meet new friends, learn where things are and how things are done, and experience some of the best parts of being a Bethel student.
  • We offer a doctorate in the field of education to build up and send out graduates to serve as superintendents, principals, college deans, professors, and other leaders in education systems.

Not this:

  • WW is an opportunity for incoming students to synergize with their core groups, learn about the DC, CLC, RC, and BGH, and acclimate themselves to the Bethel Community through informative, transformational orientation sessions.
  • The curriculum of the Ed.D.E.L. prepares graduates with strategic skills and an adaptable leadership paradigm that they can leverage within a number of diverse educational settings.

Tone

Tone is a bit more complicated, because it can change based on a users’ needs, wants, motivations, emotions, intentions, etc. 

Tone also changes based on the kind of web content you're writing. Take a look at these guides for some helpful tips: