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Branding & Graphic Standards


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Chris Kelly

Branding and Style Guidelines

Brand integrity is a fragile thing. When large numbers of individuals are tasked with representing one institution, it becomes very easy for that institution’s story to inadvertently become diluted, misconstrued, or even rewritten.

The images, symbols, online content, and written material we present to the public define who we are and create a shared perception of our institution. We represent a single institution, and although our programs and activities are diverse, it’s important that we communicate a consistent message throughout all our recruiting, advertising, and promotions. This consistency helps build a successful and cohesive university brand and establish UAFS as a nationally recognized university.

Please refer to these style and best practice guides when creating content for the web or any marketing pieces. Know that your University Marketing and Communications team is here to help. If you have any questions or concerns, do not hesitate to give us a call or drop us a note. Thank you in advance for your continued support of UAFS.



General best practices

UAFS speaks to four main target audiences:

  1. Prospective students and their families
  2. Alumni, donors, community members
  3. Current students, faculty, and staff
  4. General public

Your first paragraph is the most important one. As such it should be brief, clear, and to the point in order to quickly engage the user. Use short paragraphs. Large blocks of text can look like walls and act as such to the user. Research has shown that short, concise paragraphs and bulleted lists work best for web use. Two sentence paragraphs are encouraged.

Write in an inverted pyramid style. Place the most important information at the top, extra info toward the bottom.

In most cases it's best to use subheadings to clarify the subject of various sections on a page. Users want to skim and scan for information. Headings help this process exponentially. Always use heading styles in order (H2 before H3, etc.).

Don't waste space welcoming people to the page. There is no need, and most users ignore any welcome text as filler. Get to the meat – that is what they came for.

Name your page clearly. The page title and the navigation title should match as closely as possible. They should also clearly articulate the subject of the page. Do not use "Welcome to Communications!" Instead, say "Communications Office."

Do not tell users to "use the links on the left." Put the information or links you are referring to right there instead. Links should ideally be three to five words. Never link a single word, especially not “Here.”

Be careful when linking to outside sources (sites that are not part of In some cases (federal financial aid, regulations, etc.), linking to outside sources is necessary, but in general, listing multiple outside links on a page is an outdated practice. If you have to link to multiple outside sources, be sure to include descriptive information to let the reader know why these links are important. Also, be sure to check the links often to make sure they are still accurate. Outside links should always be set to open in a new page.

Italics are never to be used due to accessibility. Use quotations marks for any titles or other pieces of text that might otherwise be italicized.

Do not underline text. On the web, an underline equals a link. Giving a sentence an underline for emphasis is misleading and also an accessibility issue.

Avoid exclamation points. We know UAFS is awesome, but exclamation points on websites can make it look unprofessional. Let the content speak for itself.

Lists (bulleted, numbered, outlined, etc.) and accordions must have two or more items. A single item should stand on its own. Always use bullets unless items/tasks must be carried out in a specific order.

Keep your content up to date. Out-of-date content reflects poorly on the user's overall opinion of the website and the university and can cause confusion and misdirection. It also degrades the trust of the user to later find information on the website. If you put up info that needs to be updated later, mark it on your calendar with a reminder so you don't forget. Give yourself the time necessary for the page to get through workflow.

If a pdf is mostly or entirely a table of information, put the information directly on the page as a table instead of linking to the pdf.

Keep your tone conversational, as if you’re speaking directly to a potential new student. Use “you” and “we.” The only exception to this should be for policies and when detailing potentially negative subjects (i.e., academic probation, legal sanctions, etc.), in which case use “student/s” in general.

When listing more than two items, always use the serial or Oxford comma.

Do not use double spaces between sentences.

Keep it brief. A total word count of 400-500 per page is ideal (this page not withstanding).

Be inclusive. Always use them/they/their as opposed to he/him/his or she/her/hers.


Common Styles

University of Arkansas - Fort Smith, with a hyphen or short dash set between single spaces in body copy (the official logo contains a hyphen between spaces), should be used on first reference. The legal name, University of Arkansas at Fort Smith, is used only in legal documents.
On second reference, use UAFS or “the university.” DO NOT use UA Fort Smith, UA-Fort Smith, U.A. Fort Smith, or any variation of U of A Fort Smith.

Always spell out the full name of the building on first reference or in a contact area (Baldor Technology Center, Smith-Pendergraft Campus Center, Boreham Library, Windgate Art and Design). When using the building and room together, the style should be Building Name + Room Number (Baldor Technology Center 122, Boreham Library 203). Treat named rooms the same as numbered (Smith-Pendergraft Campus Center Reynolds Room, Business and Industrial Institute Latture Conference Center).

Spell out and capitalize titles before a name. Lowercase titles after a name. Titles used on their own should always be lowercase. Capitalize the name of the office/department but lowercase the concentration: director of Housing and Residential LIfe; associate professor of biology. Do not use a degree title in addition to an academic title: Dr. Terisa Riley, chancellor; Chancellor Terisa Riley, Ph.D.; Chancellor Dr. Terisa Riley. Do not use Dr. along with a degree: Terisa Riley, Ph.D. Pick one and stay consistent.

Majors should always be lowercase, with the exception of proper nouns. Full, formal degrees should be capitalized. Concentrations should be lowercase when used with a formal degree, with the exception of proper nouns. Common degree titles may be used with or without specific concentrations and should always be lowercase.
Bachelor of Arts     bachelor’s degree in math    bachelor’s
Master of Education      master’s degree in English     master’s
Doctor of Philosophy     doctoral degree     doctorate
Associate of Arts     associate degree     associate

Spell out the full street name when not using a number (Kinkead Avenue, Waldron Road). Abbreviate only Road, Street, Boulevard, and Avenue when used in conjunction with a number (5210 Grand Ave., 1117 Waldron Rd.), but spell out all others. Use postal abbreviations without periods for the states in full mailing addresses with a ZIP code (AR, OK).

Use hyphens, not parentheses, to separate all sections (479-788-7000).

For all email addresses, capitalize the first and last names as necessary (,, If the email address is for a department, capitalize all words necessary (,,

Times should always be written with a numeral and a designation of a.m. or p.m. (lowercase) with a space in between (10:30 a.m.; 6 p.m.). Do not use :00. Designate 12 a.m. as midnight and 12 p.m. as noon without the numerals (midnight; noon; 12 midnight). Time ranges should be set off with a dash (no space) if both are a.m./p.m. and with “to” if the times span a.m. to p.m. (8-10 a.m.; 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.).

Abbreviate January (Jan.), February (Feb.), August (Aug.), September (Sept.), October (Oct.), November (Nov.), and December (Dec.) when used with a specific date. Never use an ordinal (st, nd, rd, th) after the date. Use a day with the date, if possible: Wednesday, Aug. 6.

The order for event listings is always time, date, place (2 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 2, Boreham Library 202).

Use quotes for the titles of all books, articles, lectures, movies/plays, works of art, and pieces of music. Do not use quotes for titles of magazines, newspapers, or journals. Again, do not use italics for any online content.

Always use links when possible, but if you have to write out a full web address, it is not necessary to include http:// or www. For example, just say, not or

Spell out numbers one through nine.

When used on their own, always lowercase “university” and “campus.”