The words we choose reinforce our brand

Every headline we write or story we tell is an opportunity to support our brand proposition: If you have the drive to shape a better world, UBC will support you in realizing your greatest potential. Words that reflect our brand attributes — Curiosity, Initiative, Courage, Inspiring — should be used generously, and stories should be selected that reflect our values.

UBC writing should inspire people to explore their limitless potential and reflect the university’s commitment to supporting them in their efforts to make the world a better place.

Key Considerations

Key Considerations for Writing

Be generous: Write for the reader

Imagine you are having a conversation. Does it feel like you are referring to yourself constantly? Turn the tables. Make it about the other person. Shorten the distance between you and the reader through inclusive language.

The following information is meant to support students during their time at UBC. Tuition, scholarships, housing and more are included in the descriptions below for students.
Your decision to come to UBC is important to us. We’d like to help you be successful, so please explore the resources below to find your path and place at UBC.

Speak directly: Keep it precise

Be confident, but avoid being boastful in your choice of language. Write to inform; make your point early in your communication piece. Write intelligently but keep your tone warm. Banish jargon. Our language should be professional but not stilted.

UBC is an inspiring place, where open thought and open speech lead to new approaches and new initiatives that can open doors to breakthrough thinking and discoveries.
At UBC, bold thinking is given a place to develop into ideas that can change the world.

Breath test: Read out loud

Any sentence you read should survive the breath test. If you find you are running out of breath, your sentence is too long. Writing is like music. Listen for how your words flow when you say them out loud.

Informed by UBC’s core brand idea, “The Potential is Yours”, UBC brand standards provide direction for marketing and communications staff, designers, and consultants who are responsible for translating the university’s key messages across a diverse spectrum of print and digital channels that target the university’s local, national and international audiences.
As UBC’s influence and global community grows, so does our obligation to maintain excellent brand standards. These standards underpin all of our communications and enable our story to influence, inspire and engage our many audiences around the world.

Tell a story: Write to share

Anticipate how your audience will be consuming your words in today’s digital landscape. This will help you write more strategically for any given platform. Headlines in social media determine whether your content gets shared or not. Make them count.

At UBC’s Okanagan campus, Bachelor of Science students can now minor in data science.
‘The Sexiest Job of the 21st Century’ #UBC Okanagan students get serious about data science in new degree option.

Inspire: Be genuinely caring

At UBC, we care deeply about discoveries, teaching and connecting with our community. We want this to come through in our writing in a genuine way. Inspiring copy comes from focusing on how you care and why others should too. For this reason, we should place real people at the heart of all our stories.

Dr. Neil Cashman, a UBC Canada Research Chair in Neurodegeneration and Protein Misfolding, and Canadian leader in neurodegenerative diseases, is currently searching to understand the riddle of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and how to solve it at the Djavad Mowafaghian Centre for Brain Health (DMCBH) at UBC.
When Dr. Neil Cashman was a resident neurologist back in the mid 1980s, he served in the ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis) clinic at the University of Chicago. It changed his career path. “I had one year where I had three patients under my care, three teenage women, who died of ALS—and that just drove me up a wall. After that, I wanted, more than anything, to do something that could help people with ALS.”

Full Guidelines

Full Guidelines


Download the guide for information on how to write in a consistent brand style at UBC.

Project Planning Tips

Project Planning Tips

Make the most out of your project. Here are some strategies that we think will help you.

  1. Before you begin any writing project, consider how your audience will experience your writing. Who is consuming your story and why? Is it a recruitment ad or a story for your website? Each requires a different approach because each is trying to reach a particular type of audience. Consider the takeaway for your reader before you begin and write to serve your reader’s needs.
  2. Carefully analyze the context. Where will your words appear? For example, content for social media will necessarily be more compressed than a feature story. Every word counts in a tweet — it is not an opportunity to be any less stringent in grammar, spelling and clarity of message.
  3. Will your words be appearing with photos, graphic design or video? Whenever possible, work with those producing these content types and collaborate on a creative brief beforehand so your writing can be as effective as possible. We are a modern university who practice integrated communications that feature rich narratives where language, design, and media work seamlessly to tell our brand story.
  1. Ensure you fact check if you are writing a research article, announcement or press release about anyone in the UBC community. Faculty, full name and title should be correct as well as any requisite background information (degrees, previous universities, etcetera). Our researchers have dedicated an incredible amount of time to their subject areas; showcasing who they are and what they do is a high priority in our writing and getting the details right is critical.
  2. When you have a close-to-final draft prepared, have someone proof your writing. Ideally, a copy editor is useful at this stage but if you do not have access to a copy editor, share with two people in your office. Even the most proficient writers make mistakes — always take the time to correct your errors before publishing.
  3. If you are writing about a particular person, send them a final draft to correct facts only. After all, it is your story and you have worked hard to tell it from a particular communications point of view. Your subject may not have the editorial expertise to provide feedback that will improve your piece but be open and respectful of their suggestions to improve the piece.
  1. If you have published a story, consider submitting it to StoryBox. Communications and Marketing can then publish and share it on and across the University’s central social channels.
  2. Review what worked and did not work as you look back on the project. Are there improvements you could make to streamline the process for the future?
  3. If you do not currently have an online archive of your stories set up, consider doing so. This helps you get found in online search and provides a central place for prospective students, faculty and staff and the broader public to find out more about your unit, department or faculty.




These guidelines aim to help UBC communicators adopt a consistent brand style and offer a reference for university terms and inclusive language best practices.

Indigenous Communications Guide

UBC communications are inclusive, respectful and sensitive to a richly diverse community. This guide will help you to understand the correct terminology to use when writing about Indigenous peoples.

Voice and Tone Guide

This guide will provide an understanding of UBC’s unique voice and tone, and offers concrete examples to support communications work at UBC.

Storybox Content Submission Form

Do you have a story you’d like to share on the homepage? We feature a weekly publication of stories from our community on Review our guidelines on StoryBox and use our submission form.

“About UBC” Brand Copy

Need a short description of UBC for a report, presentation, or website? Download our official boilerplate message.



Opportunities to gain new insights and communication skills, whether you are a new or seasoned communicator, are always available to you at UBC.

Upcoming Workshops

Writing Fundamentals: The Craft of Story

Online | Free
Dig into the craft of writing a compelling story, with practical how-to advice and before-and-after writing samples. This LinkedIn Learning class is open to UBC faculty and staff.