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Style Guidelines | Version 1.0

Voice

Our voice is how we convey ourselves to external audiences in writing. It embodies the unique spirit and attitude of our institution. Through our voice, we bring to life the constructive tension, intellectual curiosity, ambition, and impact at the core of the Vassar College Identity. When writing for different audiences, keep in mind the tone words listed in the Strategy section of the Style Guidelines.

Headlines

Headlines should always grab the attention of your audience and keep them curious to read more. There are two primary headline modes in the Vassar style that can be used depending on the audience and the intent of the piece.

Edges

The Edges headline system is a short, impactful headline mode that plays up the concept of edges meeting by juxtaposing contrasting nouns and verbs. This system is meant to create a sense of tension and action and work closely with the accompanying imagery.

  • PERSPECTIVES CROSS
  • IDEAS COLLIDE
  • PASSIONS INTERSECT
  • MINDS ARE CHANGED
  • PASSION BURNS BRIGHT
  • HORIZONS MEET

Story

The Story headline system allows for more nuanced messaging that works closely with longer form storytelling in body copy.

  • IT’S TIME TO FACE THE MUSIC AND LET IT MOVE YOU.
    Reference to alumnae/i Fitz Patton’s pursuit of studying music
  • WHERE GOALS BECOME GREATER
    Reference to alumnae/i Ethan Zohn’s nonprofit grassroots soccer
  • SEARCHING FOR CONTRAST
    Reference to student story about editing Contrasts Magazine
  • CLASHING GRACEFULLY
    Reference to student story about athletics

Body Copy

Body copy should support and keep the energy of the initial message in the headline. When crafting long-form messaging, always be as concise as possible. Body copy should be easy to follow, but shouldn’t give everything away at once. We should entice the reader by starting with an intriguing opening, followed by the supporting evidence or information needed.

High Level Messaging

example copy (undergraduate)

Vassar is fueled by an abundant energy. A creative force, a curious spirit, propelling our pursuits, hobbies, studies, and artistic endeavors. As we feed off one other’s energy, we further ignite our own fascinations. We can be freakishly motivated, deeply inspired, and incredibly unique. We can also be super chill. But we are never just one thing. Eccentric types and introverts, open-minded folks and opinionated ones. And no matter who we are, how we’re feeling, or what we’re doing, we share that universal spark that illuminates the world around us. We invite you to explore the things that spark our world and maybe discover something that sparks yours as well.

Storytelling

example copy (alumnae/i)

There are infinite paths between your A and B. None of them right. None of them perfect. But that’s the beauty of pursuing your passions. It can be unsettling and thrilling. You’ll find setbacks and challenges constantly. Course corrections frequently. And successes often come rarely. But if you’re willing to embrace the tension and resistance that meets you with every step, you will find some amazing results.

Against his father’s wishes and support, sound designer and composer Fitz Patton ’88 was steadfast in his artistic pursuit. Patton’s father wanted his son to study science, and pulled his financial support when that was not the path Patton chose. But after making his case to Vassar financial aid, he was given the chance to take the risk he longed for.

“It was clear to me that I had been given this tremendous opportunity to function independently, to pursue what I cared about. It came from a spirit of generosity on the part of the college, a sense of humanity, and the principles by which Vassar is governed.”

And he turned it to gold. Patton has since amassed a long resume of accomplishments, and winning the 2019 Tony for his sound design of then Broadway hit, Choir Boy, certainly tops the list. He’s faced his fair share of struggles, and there will be more down the road. But making magic is never easy.

Editorial Style Guide

The Office of Communications often fields questions about style, grammar, and usage. We have compiled this style guide to answer some of the more frequently asked questions. With some exceptions, we adhere to The Chicago Manual of Style from the University of Chicago Press.

Vassar-Editorial-Style-Guide.pdf

Basic editorial guidelines

Phone numbers

Area codes should always be placed in parentheses, and numbers are delimited by hyphens. Don’t use periods or spaces. Phone numbers should always be linked, via tel. For U.S. numbers, include the country code, 1, in the URL.

(XXX) YYY-ZZZZ

Email addresses

Email addresses should always be set in lowercase.

person@example.com

Em dashes

Do not use hyphens in place of em dashes. Do not have space around em dashes.

Correct: “We quarrelled last March—just before he went mad, you know.”

Incorrect: “We quarrelled last March — just before he went mad, you know.”

Incorrect: “We quarrelled last March -- just before he went mad, you know.”

En dashes

En dashes should be use to indicate a numerical range. Do not use hyphens in place of en dashes, and do not have space around en dashes.

Correct: We quarrelled from March 6–9.

Incorrect: We quarrelled from March 6 – 9

Incorrect: We quarrelled from March 6--9.

Class years

Indicate class years with an apostrophe. Do not use backticks or straight single quotes.

Correct: Meryl Streep ’71

Incorrect: Meryl Streep `71

Quotes and apostrophes

Textual (curly and/or angled) quotes/apostrophes are preferable to numerical (straight) ones.

Correct: “Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.”

Incorrect: "Why, sometimes I've believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast."

Underlines

Underlines are reserved for links. Do not use them to emphasize text; use bold instead.

Correct: It’s always tea-time.

Incorrect: It’s always tea-time.