Tone Of

If messaging is what we say...
tone of voice is how we say it.

Tone of Voice Principles

Energetic, empowering, and self-affirming

Proud yet approachable

Determined and ambitious

Clear and strong

How to do it

Energetic, Empowering & Self-Affirming

Use calls to action to energize your copy and empower your audience. "Achieve your quest for knowlege."

Keep sentences short. Don’t use ten words when five will do. Don’t use five when one will do.

Speak directly to your audience. Address their needs head on. Don’t make them guess what you’re trying to say.


Confidence is appealing. So don’t be afraid to brag about how great NKU is!

You can even use the word proud. We’re proud to announce, We’re proud of our students, We’re proud to be Division #1.

Support your main message (Leadership, Impact, or Thirst) with compelling reasons to believe.

Yet Approachable

Write the way people speak. Use plain language and keep it informal. Read your piece out loud. Does it sound natural? If not, try again.

Write in the first and second person. Use fragments to make a point.

Never refer to NKU in the third person! Consider: NKU believes in lasting impact vs. We believe in lasting impact.

Determined & Ambitious

Use the active tense, not the passive tense.

Banish boring vocabulary—but don’t be bombastic. Simple words used in unexpected ways feel powerful and ambitious (i.e.) Focus. Explore. Engage. Lead. And amplify your impact.

Clear & Strong

Stick to one or two clearly defined points in your writing.

Use white space to break up large blocks of copy. Periods are your friend. So are emdashes. When a sentence gets too long—break it down.

When a paragraph gets too long, break it up. Use short lists and bullets to organize information. Present each topic or point separately, and use descriptive section headings. Get more web writing tips at

Don’t use tone of voice in every single sentence. Instead, use it to craft your overall message and to find ways to be more engaging.