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Communications and Public Affairs

Voice and Tone

To effectively connect with our audiences, we tell our stories with a distinctive voice and tone that reflects our brand personality. Our voice is confident and genuine; our tone can vary depending upon our audience.


We tell our stories in a way that reinforces our brand personality. We demonstrate the University of South Carolina’s values by showing that we are:

  • Ambitious: We set high standards for ourselves and for those who join us in our quest to build healthier and more educated communities.
  • Confident: We trust in our abilities to be a force for positive change and we develop leaders in our faculty, students and alumni who value diversity and teamwork.
  • Successful: We continue to expand on our tradition of scholarship and leadership to create new generations of bold thinkers and committed problem solvers.
  • Genuine: We are a welcoming community that put our ethics into practice by displaying personal integrity and respect for others.
  • Vibrant: We have an undeniable spirit and a boundless energy that grows from our thirst for knowledge and our commitment to improve our way of life.

When writing has the right voice, it:

  • Provides vivid, specific examples to back up what we say about the University of South Carolina and establish context
  • Highlights USC's people and their stories to convey our messages
  • Demonstrates how the university makes a positive impact throughout the state of South Carolina and beyond, as well as on the lives of individual students, and where USC makes a difference
  • Makes the message personal; puts a face on our achievements


The tone of our stories should be vibrant and easy to read.

Tailor your tone to the intended audience.

  • Prospective students or prospective donors?
  • Faculty or parents?
  • Alumni or staff?
  • In-state or out-of-state?

Where appropriate, make it personal.

  • Use first and second person
  • "You can" vs. "students can"
  • "Our campus" vs. "the campus"

Be true, authentic and persuasive.

  • Speak confidently and authentically to the strengths of individual colleges and the university at large

Be conversational.

  • Write like you are talking to a friend
  • Avoid sounding stuffy or institutional
  • When writing about complex research and related topics, find ways to explain the work with analogies, examples, illustrations, photos and graphs
  • Use action verbs instead of passive