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Word Choice (Using Appropriate Terminology)

Readability and usability go hand in hand because for your constituents to know how to navigate and understand your content, they must be able to comprehend what you are talking about.

Reading Level

Choose your reading level carefully by determining who your audience is. If your constituents are faculty, they have a different, more complex vocabulary than a student who is just learning the vocabulary of a particular academia. Graduate students will have a different set than undergraduate students, and so on.

  • For most content on the Tarleton website, aim for an 8th grade reading level to reach a broad audience.
  • For an audience with an undergraduate degree at minimum, you can aim up to 12th grade reading level.

User-Centric Word Choice

Before you came to Tarleton State University, did you know who the Purple Poo are or any of our other traditions? Do you pay for tuition  or fees at the Bursar, Business Office or Business Service? Is "marketing" referencing an office, an academic department or a degree program? Is it a residential hall, student housing or a dormitory? What is myGateway? What is SSMI? What is TMATE? What is an ALE? What is a SAP?

Use Common Names Before Introducing Jargon

Current students, faculty, staff and alumni will know more about Tarleton than prospective students, faculty and staff because they are more familiarized with our organizational structure and campus life as they interact within our community. Parents will know the names of things from their previous experiences but not realize certain terms are no longer used when they assist their students with college life.

Prospective students (and their parents), faculty and staff will work within their vocabulary set to try to understand our organizational structure, but in order to do that, we need to help them connect the dots. You must start by using terminology they will understand without knowing anything specifically about Tarleton. Once you have pointed them to your service and/or products in more commonly used terminology, you can explain in further detail what Tarleton calls them.

Given the importance of SEO to rank your webpages accordingly for prospects, you'll want to include these common terms somewhere within your content, even if you don't regularly call them these other terms when working with the Tarleton community.

Define Your Terminology

Similarly, acronyms, abbreviations and initialisms are only known by those who use them on a regular basis. Always explain your terminology to your new constituents to ease them into our community and reduce the number of calls explaining your information. To do this, start off with the full name at the top of the page along with the version you wish to use throughout the rest of the page in parentheses, e.g. Tarleton Model for Accelerated Teacher Education (TMATE).

In the example of the TMATE website, the term is used in the breadcrumbs and website title, so you don't have to define it any more than that. Other terms just need to be defined in the first paragraph on a page or even linked to for further information, particularly if Tarleton is not the owner of the information, e.g. TExES.