Writing the Monash way

The words we use, our tone of voice, and the personality and character in our language helps people understand our core principles.

Personality and tone

Understand the difference between ‘personality’ and ‘tone’.

Our personality is who we are, formed as a result of our values. Our values do not change, so neither does our core personality.

Our tone, however, can vary depending on where we are, and who we’re talking to. For instance, we talk differently to a Year 12 student about their options than we do to the Vice-Chancellor about an alumni conference.

In other words, different language is appropriate at different times. Some situations will lean towards simple, uncomplicated language. Others will need a complex vocabulary to explain complex ideas. This change in tone helps us communicate effectively with others.

Changing our tone shows respect for the situation, and the person we’re talking to. It is born out of our values – the desire to connect with people, and nurture them and the possibilities they bring.

How we write

The Monash voice is energetic, confident, to the point, inspiring and empathetic. We talk about new ideas, and use everyday words in extraordinary ways – or extraordinary words in everyday ways – if it helps people see different possibilities.

Remember, complex ideas and complex language are different things. ‘I think, therefore I am,’ captures a range of highly complex philosophical principles. Yet the language is simple.

On the other hand, complex language can render simple ideas incomprehensible.

Monash University Lectures Online uses EchoSystem, an online lecture technology incorporating both visual and audio content of lectures at Monash University. EchoSystem captures the visual content, as displayed to students in the lecture from the teaching presentation computer, and synchronises this with the recorded audio of the lecture. It does not include video of the presenter.

EchoSystem is not so complex a system that we need all those words. A simple alternative might be:

Monash University Lectures Online uses EchoSystem. You hear the lecture and see the visual presentation the lecturer delivered.

Write in short, sharp, active sentences and keep to one idea per sentence. Use personal pronouns – I, you, us, we – as though you’re talking one-on-one. Be conversational. Test your writing by reading it aloud. It should sound natural, welcoming and warm, not stuffy, convoluted or pompous.

Keep the tone youthful and upbeat, but never over-excited or over-hyped. Don’t say how good we are; write in a way that allows people the chance to draw that conclusion. Talk about possibilities and opportunities.

Who we write to

Write for your audience. They determine your tone.

At Monash, we talk with expertise and assume our audience is intelligent. Don’t write to the lowest common denominator.