Institutional Style

The Division of Marketing & Communications uses the Associated Press Stylebook as a guide for journalistic copy. If you are writing a news release about the university, let AP be your guide.

For marketing, more formal, literary, or academic writing, the Chicago Manual of Style is standard.

The Institutional Style Guide, also known as the UGA Editorial Style Guide, is intended to help achieve consistency, but style can always change with usage or context. These rules are not set in concrete. They may be adapted—or even ignored—when necessary for clarity, accuracy and precision.

Brand Positioning

Our brand positioning must answer four important questions in one succinct statement.

Who are we? The University of Georgia
What do we do? tackles the most pressing issues of our time,
How do we do it? by inspiring those who will lead, discover, and serve
Why does it matter? on a relentless pursuit to improve our world.

Institutional Messaging Map

Our messaging map organizes key messages into a hierarchy to ensure that our communications are clear, consistent and compelling. The messaging map prescribes what we say. Our voice is how we say it.

University of Georgia messaging map

The University of Georgia inspires those who will lead, discover and serve through…

student-centered teaching

  • experiential learning
  • research at all levels
  • leadership and entrepreneurship
  • committed faculty

a people-centered culture

  • a collaborative spirit
  • an inclusive community
  • passionate and respectful
  • service-oriented

human-centered research

  • that people need
  • that improves lives
  • that brings products to market
  • that safeguards the future

…because together we are on a relentless pursuit to improve the world through…

a higher-quality of learning.

  • is relevant
  • is forward-looking
  • instills confidence
  • fuels opportunity

a new quality of leader.

  • strong character
  • in-demand skills
  • communications savvy
  • courageous

a better quality of life.

  • stronger communities
  • growing economies
  • thriving environments
  • improved health and wellness for all


Audience Constituents Objective
The Georgia Family
  • Current students and families
  • Faculty
  • Staff and administration
  • Build alignment around Georgia’s umbrella brand story and comprehensive offer.
The Extended Family
  • Alumni and donors
  • Residents and communities in the state of Georgia
  • Bulldog fans
  • Employers in the state of Georgia
  • Civic Leaders
  • Enhance the reputation of the university and strengthen engagement and advocacy for the institution beyond athletics.
The Future Georgia Family
  • Prospective students and their families
  • Enhance the reputation of the university and strengthen engagement and advocacy for the institution beyond athletics.
  • Generate greater visibility for Georgia, building stronger relationships and partnerships.
The Public
  • Peer institutions
  • Press and media
  • National and international employers
  • Research funders
  • Institutional donors
  • Others
  • Generate greater visibility for Georgia, building stronger relationships and partnerships.


Defining our brand personality creates tangible attributes as well as a starting point for how we write, speak, respond and communicate on behalf of the university. The following personality traits will drive the voice for all University of Georgia communications.

  • Committed
    We are deeply invested, and our conviction — to our students, our state and our world — is unwavering.
  • Focused
    We are intentional and doggedly determined, guided by a love of learning and clarity of purpose.
  • Ambitious
    We are curious and innovative, tenaciously searching for better answers and more impactful solutions.
  • Nurturing
    We are a loyal, inclusive and a bonded family committed to respect for each other and our world.
  • Spirited
    We are hopeful and enthusiastic about the opportunity to help make a better future possible.
  • Enduring
    We demonstrate integrity and excellence in everything, committed to creating a lasting impact through time-honored tradition.

Voice and Tone

Our message includes so much more than what we say; it is also how we say it. Through the words we choose and how we choose to employ them, we can maintain a consistent voice and contextually relevant tone to craft a story that feels personal and real.


Comes from our unique personality or individual style. It is a constant that becomes an expectation, regardless of who we are talking to or what we are saying. A compelling and recognizable voice gives our message greater permanence and credibility.


The general attitude or character we use to communicate in the moment. These characteristics give shape to our voice. The emotion you convey can change depending on the medium, audience, context and goal.

Voice Characteristics

Inspired by elements of the brand personality, voice characteristics define how the brand sounds.

  • Driven
    We are dedicated and deeply invested in our mission. We are driven to succeed and focused on finding solutions.
  • Bright/Smart
    We are leaders and world-class researchers. Our ideas change lives.
  • Confident
    We are equipped, optimistic and ready to take on the future.
  • Sincere
    We are all heart at UGA. Our love for students, the state of Georgia and the people of the world make anything possible.
  • Inspiring
    We are forward-thinking, always innovating and hopeful for tomorrow.
  • World-Class
    We place a high value on excellence and leading in every arena, setting the bar for others who look to UGA as the gold standard.

Dos and Don’ts

Personality Voice Dos Don’ts
Committed Driven Show motivation, drive, and enthusiasm. Don’t be pushy or over-reaching.
Focused Bright/Smart Be perceptive and clever. Demonstrate quick wit and understanding. Don’t be pedantic, all-knowing, blunt, or snarky.
Ambitious Confident Be optimistic and engaging with a sense or pride. Be persuasive. Don’t be pretentious, irrelevant, or unrelatable to your audience.
Nurturing Sincere Be intentional, nurturing, inclusive, and encouraging. Don’t be excessively instructive or patronizing. Don’t be humorless.
Spirited Inspiring Be uplifting, curious and interested in ideas. Be enthusiastic. Don’t be self-righteous, pushy, or dull.
Enduring World-Class As the birthplace of public higher education in America, we show high regard for our time-honored tradition. We set a standard for excellence. Don’t be overly formal or stodgy. Don’t be boastful.


The University of Georgia’s boilerplate is standardized copy that unifies outward facing communications around core university brand pillars. A general institutional message provides a hub around which other copy can be built.


  • Academic / Institutional
  • Outreach and development relations
  • Government / Business Relations
  • Research and technological innovation
  • Educators, prospective students and families
  • Alumni, partners and fans


  • Press releases
  • Marketing collateral and other related communications
  • Wikipedia content
  • Social media posts
  • General press statements

Marketing Boilerplate for Shorter Form Use

Chartered by the state of Georgia in 1785, the University of Georgia is the birthplace of public higher education in America—launching our nation’s great tradition of world-class public education. What began as a commitment to inspire the next generation grows stronger today through global research, hands-on learning and extensive outreach. A top value in public higher education, Georgia’s flagship university thrives in a community that combines a culture-rich college town with a strong economic center.

Full Boilerplate for General Use

Chartered by the state of Georgia in 1785, the University of Georgia is the birthplace of public higher education in America—launching our nation’s great tradition of world-class public education. What began as a commitment to inspire the next generation grows stronger today through global research, hands-on learning and extensive outreach. A top value in public higher education and research, the University of Georgia tackles some of the world’s grand challenges, from combating infectious diseases and creating a dependable food supply to advancing economic growth and strengthening cyber and global security.

As Georgia’s flagship institution, the university is recognized for its commitment to student excellence through an emphasis on rigorous learning experiences both inside and outside the classroom, including hands-on research and leadership opportunities. These experiences contribute to the university’s exceptional rates in retention, graduation and career placement. Among public universities, the University of Georgia has been one of the nation’s top three producers of Rhodes Scholars over the past two decades. The university is also home to the Peabody Awards, the most prestigious prize in electronic media.

Scholars at the University of Georgia are committed to improving quality of life for all and are leaders in pivotal fields, such as vaccine development, regenerative medicine, plant sciences and more. One of the nation’s top universities for technology commercialization, the University of Georgia has ranked among the nation’s top five universities for new products to market (AUTM). It is the University’s seventh straight year among the top two.

With its comprehensive reach, the university’s 18 colleges and schools enroll more than 40,000 students and have produced over 350,000 alumni living worldwide. The University of Georgia’s initiatives extend globally while touching every corner of the state, realizing the university’s land- and sea-grant missions. The university’s eight Public Service and Outreach units, which are among the strongest in the nation, help create jobs, develop leaders and address critical challenges. Research, outreach and extension serve as major drivers of economic and workforce development and spark successful partnerships that create new businesses and train the workforce of tomorrow.

The university’s threefold teaching, research and service mission spans the globe with campuses in five Georgia locations, Washington, D.C., England and Italy, as well as partnerships in more than 50 countries on six continents.

Located in the Classic City of Athens, approximately an hour northeast of Atlanta, the university thrives in a community that combines a culture-rich college town with a strong economic center. The campus is home to nearly 800 registered student and service organizations. The university’s athletic programs—21 varsity athletic teams competing as the Georgia Bulldogs—are among the most successful in NCAA Division I, and its English bulldog mascot, Uga, consistently ranks as one of the nation’s most recognizable mascots.

At the University of Georgia, it’s more than a mission. It’s a commitment we make to our students, the state of Georgia and the world.

Editorial Headlines

For a News Release

Follow standard headline guidelines. This hed should be a quick way of getting to the point. Headline/subhead combos work great for longer headlines. This headline or hed/subhed combination will appear on the news release disseminated to media and posted on Newswise and, if appropriate, EurekAlert.

Headlines are often used as email subjects.

For UGA Today

These should be a rewritten/shortened version of the news release headline.

Top story: About 50 characters or about 7 words. These need a subhed of no more than 80 characters or 12 words max.

Lead story: Up to 65 characters, about 10 or 11 words max. This should be the Top Story headline with a couple of words added. The subhead does not appear on the home page unless changed to a different lead story format. This is done when the subhed will add vital information to the main hed.

For the News Panel on the UGA Homepage

Just 2 to 4 words, no more than 25 characters. It can be a label hed.


Columns staff will use the news release or top story headline and reword it if needed for space.

For feature stories on pages 1, 3 and 7 of Columns, a headline/dek combo is needed.

If no main headline is submitted with the story, a 2-3 word main headline will be added on the page layout and the news release or top story headline will be used as the dek.

When Columns staff are provided headlines that are too long—or too short—for the page layout, the headlines are rewritten to fit.

When pre-approved headlines on stories from certain offices are rewritten for Columns, this information is shared with the appropriate person in the President’s Office.

UGA Today right rail email

These are about 15 characters per line, with 2 or 3 lines. These headlines are written on the spot when building the newsletter using as much of the UGA Today headline as possible.

General Guidelines

Regardless of what you are writing, you want to make sure your message—and our voice— rings clear. Follow these tips when you are creating content to ensure that the spirit Georgia comes through.

Know your audience.

Identify the audience you are trying to reach or nothing you say will reach them.

Focus on one thing.

Emphasize a single message. Include more and your readers will either fail to retain what they have read or stop reading.

Make it personal.

It is important to establish a personal connection in all our communications. Use the second-person “you” and “your” to engage and motivate.

Avoid jargon.

Write clearly and keep your language personable. Jargon has its place, but our communications are not it.

Stay out of the past.

Amazing things are happening at Georgia right now. Use an active voice to tell the world about it.

Give the reader something to do.

Always include a clear call to action.

Choose wisely.

Every communication need not contain every detail. Focus on what is both important and relevant—clutter just gets in the way of our message.

Incorporate some white space.

During reading, the eye needs places to rest, so the reader can digest information and understand the message. Work with a designer to ensure that your content is well organized and makes good use of white space.

Avoid clichés.

It is easy to resort to clichés. At first blush, they sound catchy. But they should be avoided. Use personality to our advantage by being original and engaging.

Do not force excitement.

If the message is not something we would yell, it does not deserve an exclamation point. Use this mark extremely sparingly or, better yet, not at all.