Student Systems Help Center

Curriculum Management – Style Guide

MyPlan Style and Format Guidance

This document will provide guidance for grammar, style, and format for the Department, Program, and Credential (minor/degree) information for MyPlan’s program-exploration features and, eventually, the general catalog. For information on how to get started using UW CM, visit the Getting Started Guide

Overviews

For every department, program, degree, and minor you are responsible for, write a short narrative description (overview). Program and credential overviews will be subject to curricular review, whereas department overviews will not.

Overviews should:

  • be composed of information that is directly about the item being described
  • avoid marketing language
  • avoid the use of numerical or bulleted lists
  • be as concise as possible (ideally under 500 characters) and only include information about what department/program/credential is
  • NOT include requirements

To best serve the breadth of readers (freshmen, seniors, international, etc.), you should avoid:

  • technical jargon
  • acronyms
  • abbreviations

NOTE: In some publications and tools (MyPlan, etc.), the overview will be truncated, so it is very important that the first sentence or two can stand alone as an overview of your Department, Program, Degree, or Minor. It is also important to avoid the use of numerical or bulleted lists or use non-standard ascii characters, as they may not display properly.

Example of a Poorly-Written Overview

The XYZ major has been among the most popular at the UW for over 40 years! In XYZ, you will get the chance to use our labs, which are state of the art, with the latest in xanthropic credibulators and are home to some of the nation’s top PI’s. You will also be based out of ABC building which has stunning views of Lake Washington and the Cascade mountains.

Example of a Well-Written Overview

Biochemistry is the study of the living organism at the molecular level. It draws on the techniques of analytical, organic, inorganic, and physical chemistry in determining the molecular basis of vital processes.

Contact Information

Verify and/or provide contact information (website, phone, email, physical location, etc.)  for your programs. These should be as specific to the program as possible.

Field Description Format
Website A url that points towards the area of your departmental website that deals with the specific program.

For example, for the undergraduate program, these would be good choices:

Do not include initial codes such as “http://” or “https://”
Phone # Likely the department phone number. If your department has a specific person/group that manages contacts for undergrad/grad/etc., you may want to use their phone number. xxx-xxx-xxxx
Email Advising email address that handles communication with students/ prospective students. Must be an alias (econadv@uw.edu) rather than a personal email address to ensure continuity. xxxxx@yyyy.zzz
Facebook Facebook account most specific to students/prospective students of the particular program. This will be the url for the account, without “http://” or “https://”:
www.facebook.com/
Twitter Twitter account most specific to students/prospective students of the particular program. This will be the url for the account, without “http://” or “https://”:
twitter.com/
LinkedIn LinkedIn account most specific to students/prospective students of the particular program.   This will be the url for the account, without “http://” or “https://”:

Example:

www.linkedin.com/…

Complete Format and Style Guidelines

Department

The content you provide is published in MyPlan’s program exploration feature, and eventually the General Catalog. The content will is not governed by curricular review but will be reviewed for style and grammar prior to publication.

Field Max Length Purpose Additional Format and Style Guidelines Examples
Overview 1000 characters

(<500 characters recommended for best display in MyPlan)

Introduce readers to the scope of work done by the department and introduce the subjects studied within it. In some interfaces the description could be truncated, so the first 1-2 sentences should stand alone in explaining what is unique about your department.
  • The Henry M. Jackson School of International Studies organizes and supports interdisciplinary teaching and research in international affairs. The department consists of a group of interdisciplinary area-studies programs on major world regions, as well as topical and comparative programs of study that transcend national and regional boundaries.
Phone# xxx-xxx-xxxx Phone number most appropriate for the level (undergrad, grad, etc.) it is related to. In cases where there is an extension, you should use a comma to separate the main number from the extension.
  • 206-616-1234
  • 206-621-1500, ext. 2
Website n/a Link to the most specific page your department has for the department or program (e.g. department home page for the department url, the undergraduate program sub-page for the undergraduate program url.) Do not include initial codes such as “http://” or “https://” in your url.
Email Advising email address that handles communication with students/prospective students. Should be an alias (econadv@uw.edu), rather than a personal email address to ensure continuity. xxxxx@yyyy.zzz
Social Links Enable students to easily contact and interact with your department via your social media accounts. As with all URLs, do not include initial codes such as “http://” or “https://” in your url.

Program

Program includes majors and minors. In essence, it is the curricular area of study, rather than the thing a student graduates with (see Credential below).

Field Max. Length Purpose Format Guidelines Examples
Overview 1000 characters
(<500 characters recommended for best display in MyPlan)
Provide a succinct introduction to the area of study. You should have a unique description for each program your department is responsible for.
NOTE: The overview will be subject to curricular review, so keep that in mind when deciding what aspects of the program will be appropriate to highlight.
  • In some interfaces the description could be truncated, so the first 1-2 sentence should stand alone as an introduction to the program.
  • It should be expected that some students will have little or no frame of reference for many programs, so descriptions should be very high-level, and should be written in plain English.
  • A Business Administration degree provides a liberal arts curriculum along with a full spectrum of the many areas of business. Students can take a variety of upper division electives or choose to specialize in one area of business by declaring a formal option.
  • Biochemistry is the study of the living organism at the molecular level. It draws on the techniques of analytical, organic, inorganic, and physical chemistry in determining the molecular basis of vital processes.

Credential

A credential is the specific degree that a student graduates with or the minor that that is transcripted – it is the level at which a student’s academic record is audited in our degree audit system.  Note that minors generally offer only one credential and thus the program and the credential are, for all practical purposes, interchangeable, whereas majors may offer multiple credentials.

 

Field Max. Length   Purpose Format Guidelines Examples
Overview 1000 characters
(<500 characters recommended for display in MyPlan)
Clearly explain how that particular credential is different than other credentials in the program, and help students determine which credential best fits their interests. You should have a unique description for each degree or minor your department is responsible for. For programs with only one associated credential, the credential overview will likely be very similar to the program overview.
NOTE: The overview will be subject to curricular review, so keep that in mind when deciding what aspects of the credential will be appropriate to include.
  • In some interfaces the description could be truncated, so the first 1-2 sentences should stand alone in explaining what is unique about that particular credential as compared to other credentials in the program.
  • The Computer Science and Software Engineering (CSSE) minor provides students with the necessary programming and software management skills to work within a software development environment within their major discipline. Courses for the CSSE minor are programming intensive and require a strong foundational knowledge of programming skills to be successful.
  • The Information Systems options provides students with coursework emphasizing technical tools to design, develop, and manage information technologies in a business setting.

Grammar and Spelling

Most of the following rules are taken from the UW Brand Style and Punctuation Guide and will help you to navigate some of the more frequent issues that arise when writing descriptions.

Abbreviations and Acronyms

  • Spell out for first citation and follow with the abbreviation or acronym in parentheses: “The Center for Engineering Learning and Teaching (CELT) adopted new procedures. CELT focuses its research on …”
  • Avoid overuse of acronyms; include only if necessary to clarify multiple references in copy or if the organization/program/etc. is more commonly known by an acronym.

Ampersands

  • Ampersands should not be used.

Capitalization

  • In general, avoid unnecessary capitalization.
  • Departments: Capitalize the formal name of an academic department (the University of Washington Department of Communication); lowercase the informal name except for words that are proper nouns or adjectives (the geography department, the law school, the Italian department).
  • Capitalize places, buildings, and monuments such as Suzzallo Library, Mary Gates Hall, the Ave, the Quad, University Bridge, etc.

URLS

  • Do not include initial codes such as “http://” or “https://” in your url.

All other Grammar and Style Questions

In keeping with UW Brand style and punctuation guidelines we recommend consulting the following resources for any grammar or style questions that arise that are not covered above or in the UW Brand guidelines:

“The primary references for all University of Washington communications are the latest editions of The Associated Press Stylebook and Webster’s New World College Dictionary.”