Branded Tone, Voice, Language, and Style when Writing About Avila University

We primarily speak with a diverse audience of young, academic, and optimistic individuals, so the tone in our communications is caring, genuine, personal, and enthusiastic. Often our communications are celebrating the stories of Avila students, so our voice needs to be authentic, aspirational, accessible, and inclusive. Our audience needs to walk away seeing themselves at Avila through our messaging.

Avila’s Communication Tone

Avila University’s brand is communicated through individual stories that reflect Avila’s values

  • The worth, dignity, and potential of every human
  • Diversity and its expression
  • Right relationships
  • Excellence in teaching and learning
  • Development of the whole person
  • Service to the Dear Neighbor

Based on the charism of our founders, the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet, these values are what differentiates Avila from other institutions. And this is what also differentiates the University’s tone, style, and voice.

The tone of our University marketing and communications is optimistic, vibrant, and reflective of a diverse array of students, faculty, staff, and alumni that make up the Avila community. This comes across in how we share our stories with aspirational and confident language to showcase our achievements and our impact on the greater community.

Saying a lot with a little is important.

Copy, headlines, captions, and text are written and edited carefully, making certain to lead with the most important information. 

  • Use inclusive language in the body text like “you,” “we,” and “our.”
  • Getting your message across in three to five brief sentences is ideal. 
  • Skip flowery language and fluff. Get. To. The. Point.
  • Long copy is still an option, but make certain it is reader-friendly, using bullet points, subheads, and engaging text that leads the reader down the page.

AP Style Guide

Generally, Avila University follows the “Associated Press Stylebook”, which is used by journalists. Academic papers might follow MLA or the Chicago Manual of Style, but Avila follows AP for our publications because the style is familiar to a broad audience. 


Use Oxford commas, also known as serial commas, before the conjunction in a series. She brought pie, milk, and cookies to the party. The icing was red, white, and blue.

Put periods and commas inside an end quote. “Here we are,” he said. She replied, “Yes, that’s true.”

Use only one space after a period.


Spell out states in all cases (no longer use abbreviations).  


  • Always lowercase and include periods for a.m./p.m.
  • Use numerals for time: 5 p.m. (not five p.m. or 5 o’clock)
  • Always use the words “noon” or “midnight” instead of expressing the time as numerals (12 a.m., 12 p.m.)


  • Faculty teach; however, they are not to be referred to as teachers. Use correct titles.
  • Do not use professor as a title unless the person is a full professor. (Prof. is the correct abbreviation.)
  • Instructor is a title and should only be used for those who hold that rank.
  • Faculty is a collective noun that uses a singular verb.
  • The word “emeritus” (male) or “emerita” (female) follows “professor” for those retired faculty members who hold the rank. (e.g., He is a professor emeritus of history.)


  • Position titles are only capitalized when they precede a name.
    Professor of Biology Amy Adamson, Ph.D.
    Amy Adamson, Ph.D., professor of biology
  • With the exception of languages (English, Spanish, Russian, etc.), academic disciplines are not capitalized.
  • Degree titles are not capitalized.
  • bachelor’s degree, master’s degree, doctoral degree, bachelor of science, bachelor of (fine) arts, master of (fine) arts, etc.

Academic units

On the first reference, use the official name of academic departments. For example, the Department of Kinesiology. On the second reference, “kinesiology department” is acceptable.


Abbreviations on web pages can help convey a message quickly and efficiently. 

However, they can also be confusing, especially for first-time visitors who may not be familiar with your program. Additionally, abbreviations can cause confusion for visitors who have different accessibility needs and may be using adaptive technology. 

  • Organizations, departments, programs, etc. should be spelled out on the first reference. For example, the College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences should be spelled out on the first reference, and then CLASS can be used on subsequent references if necessary. 
  • Avoid less common techniques such as adding periods between letters or spelling phonetically. 
  • Keep your audience in mind. If there is a chance for confusion, take the time to provide clarification within the sentence or paragraph. Make sure to consider adaptive technology. 

Naming and Systems Names

Naming: In our external communications, we will use Avila University primarily. We will use Avila in internal communications on campus, and where reasonable.

We will not use “AU” except in isolated, required situations. Whereas there are too many AU colleges and universities competing for that moniker, Avila in higher education is almost exclusively ours. 

In most instances, Avila University follows AP Style. 


Avila University is used as the first reference in communications directed to individuals off-campus, such as admissions materials to prospective students, email updates for parents/family, messages to alumni, advertisements, news releases for local media, etc.

Avila is used on the second reference in most instances. It is used as the first reference for communications solely directed to individuals on campus and on social media.

When referring to Avila, University should be uppercase. Ie: The University will be closed on Friday.


President Jim Burkee, Ph.D.. should be used in the first reference. Second references can use President Burkee,  Jim, or Burkee depending on the formality of the communication.

President Burkee is married to Hanen. She prefers to be addressed using her first name only. In formal situations, Hanen Burkee is used.


Avila’s building names are unique in that several buildings share multiple names depending on the floor you’re on and the entrance you’re using.

The Goppert Performing Arts Center, Goppert Theatre, and the Borserine Nursing Education Center, all share the same building.

NOTE: We use the “re” spelling of theatre when referring to Goppert Theatre or the Department of Theatre 

Carondelet Hall and Hodes Center share a building.

The Hooley-Budschu Library and Learning Commons, and Whitfield Center also share a building. 

Technically, Ridgway Hall and Dallavis Center also share a building, but their entrances are so far apart they are often considered two separate buildings.

Other campus buildings include:

  • Blasco Hall (administration)
  • Foyle Hall/Orschein Memorial Chapel
  • Mabee Fieldhouse
  • Marian Center (dining hall, bookstore)
  • O’Rielly Hall (sciences)
  • Schlumpberger Facility
  • Thomas R. Zarda Family Athletic Complex (Zarda or “the Z”)
  • The Pavillion (athletic facility
  • Wylie Hall (residence hall)
  • Thompson Hall (residence hall)

Campus landmarks:

  • JHOP is the accepted abbreviated name for the Jeanne Hamilton Olofson Plaza
  • St. Teresa of Avila statue
  • The Quad is the accepted name for the central grounds surrounded by Marian Center, Blasco, O’Rielly, and Foyle Halls
  • The Caf is acceptable for the dining hall on the second reference or in context.
  • The Z is acceptable for the athletic fields on the second reference or in context.
  • The Moat is the sunken courtyard surrounding Marian Center.


When referring to graduates of Avila University, use the following: alumnus (singular, masculine), alumna (singular, feminine), alumnae (plural, feminine), alumni (plural, masculine, group of graduates when gender is not known)

On the first reference, the graduation year should follow the name of the alumnus.
Jean Green ’56 (Please note the direction of the apostrophe)

Degree abbreviations before the graduation year are added only for graduate degrees, not undergraduate degrees. These abbreviations do not have periods, except for MAE.d, and Ph.D. If the graduate holds more than one degree from Avila, list all years of graduation and give the abbreviation of any advanced degrees. All graduation years should be listed after the graduate’s name and the years should be separated by commas.

  • Jean Green, MBA ’56 
  • Mary Green, Ph.D. ’56 
  • James Green, MSOD ’77, MBA ’79
  • Sally Green, MSK ‘21
  • Pat Green, MSP ‘83
  • Jerry Green, MAE.d ‘46
  • Terri Green, MAM ‘91

Following AP style we do not use the title Dr. unless the person is a medical doctor.

Academic Organization

Avila University is organized into three Colleges, 11 Schools, one Institute, and three academic Centers and Initiatives:

  • Center for Truth, Racial Healing, and Social Justice
  • CSJ Center for Heritage, Spirituality, and Service
  • Buchanan Initiative for Peace and Nonviolence
  • College of Professional Schools (CPS)
  • School of Education
  • School of Visual and Communication Arts (VISCOM)
  • Avila Institute for Professional Studies
  • College of Science and Health (CSH)
  • School of Natural and Applied Sciences (SNAS)
  • School of Computer Sciences and Mathematics
  • School of Nursing
  • School of Imaging Sciences
  • College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences (CLASS)
  • School of Humanities
  • School of Performing Arts
  • School of Psychology and Cognitive Science
  • School of Social Sciences

The following are Centers in name only and are not academic units:

  • Center for Digital Advocacy
  • Center for Student Excellence
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