The words and tone we use help us showcase Carolina. Our copy should be direct, conversational and to the point. Our words should convey Carolina’s commitment to research and innovation, opportunity and affordability, a vibrant student life and serving the people of North Carolina and beyond.

Whenever possible, our writing should show how what happens on campus affects our audiences and how Tar Heels are always searching for new solutions to problems, seeking unique ways to tackle complex issues and giving back to our community and the world.


Carolina Next: Innovations for Public Good

Carolina Next: Innovations for Public Good is the University’s strategic plan. It focuses on the opportunities where UNC-Chapel Hill can create change and help shape the future of the University, North Carolina and beyond. The stories that we tell on our digital platforms and in our printed materials should reflect the spirit of Carolina Next and provide examples of the University’s work to meet that vision.

Carolina Next is framed around eight strategic initiatives, which represent the core areas of focus across the University. They include:

  • Build our Community Together
  • Strengthen Student Success
  • Enable Career Development
  • Discover
  • Promote Democracy
  • Serve to Benefit Society
  • Globalize
  • Optimize operations

Tone Words

The following words should be used as a guide when thinking about the emotion or attitude you want your content to convey:

  • Genuine
  • With heart
  • Inspired
  • Dynamic
  • Steadfast
  • Original
  • Sharp
  • Fun

Remember the Carolina Connection

When writing, ask these questions:

  • Why is UNC-Chapel Hill communicating about this issue or situation?
  • What makes the Carolina perspective unique?

Consider the Audience

We write for many audiences: current and prospective students, alumni, faculty and staff, policymakers, fans and the general public. Identify the primary audience before starting to write. For example, a story about faculty research usually targets members of the general public who may be interested in a better understanding of the work the faculty member does and the impact it will have on their lives.


Brevity Prevails

We are competing with hundreds of millions of active websites, plus social media, Netflix, Carolina sporting events, textbooks, blogs, family and friends. Follow these guidelines when creating written content:

  • Keep it short and to the point.
  • A story can usually be told in 400-600 words. If a story is long, consider pulling out some information and writing a second story.
  • Link to other sites/stories to provide more information; do not duplicate information located elsewhere on the website.

Tips for Displaying Digital Content

  • Use a lot of photos
  • Video, video, video
  • Use pull quotes
  • Keep paragraphs short
  • Use subheads
  • Create an infographic



For further guidance on the University’s writing style, contact Chelsey Holts, director of content strategy, at content@unc.edu.