Policy and Procedures Writing Guide (Attachment 2) 001

A policy articulates requirements for behavior, actions and activities of the university community in order to fulfill expectations and strategic goals. A policy may require or prohibit an action, ensure compliance with applicable laws and regulations and reduce risk. When drafting or editing policies, consider the following:

  • Policies need to be concise, consistent and easy to read. Using clear, simple language ensures policies will be understandable and easy to follow.
  • Strive for clarity and avoid jargon. Use short, everyday words when possible.
  • Write using the active voice to ensure clarity and brevity. More important, using the active voice makes it clear who is doing what.
  • Keep sentences brief. Longer sentences demand greater concentration from the reader and may make the meaning difficult to follow.
  • Choose words wisely. Use direct language like must, will, prohibited and required rather than should or should not as these words imply an action is not mandatory.
  • Be consistent. Make sure that examples and clarifying statements do not convey different meanings or interpretations.
  • Double-check that policy language does not conflict with existing policies and procedures and that all your information is factual and up-to-date.
  • Do not include personal names, specific labels (e.g., software product names) or other information that may quickly become outdated. Instead, use position titles and generic terms.
  • Spell out acronyms the first time they are used.
  • Do not use contractions or personal pronouns (such as you, we or us).
  • When in doubt, defer to the Associated Press (AP) Stylebook. Some examples include:
    • Do not capitalize a formal academic or administrative title unless it immediately precedes a personal name.
    • Capitalize the name of a college, school or department only when using the full, proper name of a specific Longwood unit; use lowercase when using the informal name. Capitalize “University” when referring to the title “Longwood University” but not generically (as in “the university”).
    • Use one space between sentences.
    • Do not use hyphens for “universitywide” and “campuswide.” In general, use hyphens to avoid ambiguity or when failing to do so would make meaning unclear (for instance small-business owner but health care center.)