Writing Style

The Queen’s University Writing Style Guide is designed to provide quick reference to important information about the university’s writing guidelines and writing style. It is meant to be a guide for university employees who are involved in disseminating information on behalf of their unit/department and/or the university, to clarify style and best writing practices, and improve consistency.

Please refer to the Visual Identity Guide for guidance on capitalization and addresses in branded applications and marketing materials, which differs from the general writing style. Learn more about writing for the web on the WebPublish Service and Support site.

Our Audiences

Like most large post-secondary institutions, Queen’s University is a complex organization with communications directed at a broad array of audiences – including current and prospective students, staff, faculty, visiting professors and dignitaries, media, government, the general public, and local Kingston community.

Written materials are tailored to specific audiences and editorial teams should decide the most appropriate ways to effectively convey information that meets both their needs and the needs of their audiences. With that in mind, all communicators should aim to keep their writing as clear and concise as possible, and position their writing in line with the university’s strategic priorities. Avoid overly complex sentence structure and use the active voice whenever possible.

Consistency and Shared Voice

A clear, polished and distinctive style is at the heart of any written communication Queen’s University issues. Each time we reach out to our audiences, it is vital that we are readily understood. The university’s style help to bring renewed consistency to everything we write and share through one of our digital channels.

At Queen’s we already have a distinctive visual identity. It helps to set us apart from other institutions, communicates our values, and unifies the university’s many moving parts under a single visual umbrella. A consistent written style serves us the same way. It ensures that we address the world with a shared, decisive voice, while conveying a sense of unity, credibility, and authority. It is an important component of the Queen’s brand, and allows us to maintain our status as a high-quality and trusted institution.

Canadian Press Style

Queen’s University recommends following the guidelines set out in the Canadian Press Stylebook and Caps and Spelling (CP), as well as the Canadian Oxford Dictionary (Oxford) for spelling.

The Queen’s University Writing Style Guide provides additional information on style and writing conventions particular to the university and which differ from those guidelines in CP. It lists exceptions, preferences, or Queen’s-specific conventions that are not covered in CP or Oxford.

It should be noted, however, that there are special cases (particularly in promotional advertising and marketing) when editors may need some flexibility in regards to following these rules.


Queen’s continually strives to improve accessibility on campus – and that includes information available online. The Accessibility Hub provides numerous resources to guide writers, editors, and web administrators, including information on the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA), the Web Standards and Accessibility Development Guide, and specific how-to info on creating accessible documents and websites.

The WebPublish Service and Support site also hosts information and links to resources for creating accessible digital content.


Questions regarding the Queen’s University Writing Style Guide should be directed to University Communications.