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Writing & Editing

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Principles of Practice for University and College Periodicals Editors
These principles were approved by the CASE Board of Trustees in November 2005.

Feature Writing
Feature Writing

Science & Medical Writing
Science & Medical Writing

Editors Forum
Conference Producing an engaging, effective periodical today involves much more than editing. You must embrace new technologies; navigate institutional bureaucracies and politics; manage people, time and budgets; and do it all without losing sight of the creativity and inspiration.

Office Space: Ghostwriting Doesn’t Have to Be Scary
CURRENTS Article Writing to key donors and prospects on behalf of institutional leaders is a high-stakes endeavor. Capturing the voice of the various university and development executives who sign the messages you write is challenging. It can be hard to find the right words or to strike the right tone, especially when apologies or condolences are part of the job. But you don't have to be a wordsmith to compose effective, strategic letters and emails. Here are some tips to help your writing.

Odds and Ends: Lighting a Communications Fire
CURRENTS Article Actor Alan Alda is using improvisational theater techniques to teach science and medical professionals how to discuss their work in a clear and relatable manner.

Call Me Mx.
CURRENTS Article "Mx."—a gender-neutral courtesy title used in place of Miss, Ms., Mrs., or Mr.—is a recent addition to Merriam-Webster's "words we're watching" list and a new entry in the online Oxford Dictionaries. Already used on official U.K. documents such as driver's licenses, it is being adopted by higher education institutions as well.

First Class
CURRENTS Article In 2015, CASE added the Platinum Categories to its Circle of Excellence awards to recognize the best-of-the-best practices in educational advancement publications, programs, and projects through a tournament-like competition in CASE's eight North American districts.

Students Help College Profile Alumni
Article,  Community College News Article The alumni relations staff at an Illinois community college recently partnered with an English 101 class on a project to interview alumni and write profiles about them. The new collaboration has already proven itself a win-win for all involved.

Start Spreading the Views
CURRENTS Article Several years ago Duke University created an op-ed service to gain better exposure for faculty members’ editorials. Instead of submitting op-eds to a handful of national newspapers, Duke’s media relations department began targeting large regional papers across the United States. Keith Lawrence, Duke’s director of media relations, writes about the results of this program, including more timely publication of pieces, and how it benefits the university and participating faculty members. He also offers suggestions, such as localizing editorials as much as possible, to other institutions considering a similar program.

How to Use “New” Media to Promote Faculty Research
Article,  BriefCASE Article It’s not always easy for media relations professionals to promote the important research taking place at their institutions. Presenters at a recent CASE conference, however, say there are plenty of social media platforms that, with a bit of strategic thinking, can be used to overcome this challenge.

Office Space: How Heaven Has Changed
CURRENTS Article Jeffrey Lott, longtime editor of the Swarthmore College Bulletin, offers some parting advice, remembrances, and a few things he'll be glad to be rid of in this essay that looks back at his experiences over the past 20-plus years.

Brand Aid Part 1: Style Guide
Turnaround Marketing Communications
Article This blog post discusses the importance of a style guide as part of a school's marketing efforts and a key element in a strong brand. Six style guides from independent schools are linked, as is a compendium of higher education institution samples. Part 2 in the Brand Aid series, "Keeping 'Customers' (a.k.a. Parents) Happy," is linked from the article.

Effective Storytelling Can Build Support, Increase Giving
Article,  BriefCASE Article Good, old-fashioned storytelling makes for compelling copy in educational websites and marketing campaigns and can lead to increased interest and support from targeted audiences. That's according to an expert on communications for nonprofits and a recent presenter of a CASE Online Speaker Series.

A Little Mystery Makes a Great Magazine Story, Speaker Says
Article,  BriefCASE Article Humor, mystery and controversy are among the elements that contribute to a compelling magazine story, according to a speaker at the 2010 CASE Editors’ Forum.

Write-Minded: Crystal Clear Communication
CURRENTS Article Tips for avoiding jargon in writing.

Advancement Achievers
CURRENTS Article Profiles of selected 2002 Circle of Excellence winners

Scientific Inquiry
CURRENTS Article A Pulitzer Prize-winning writer analyzes the forces shaping science journalism

Fanning the Fire
CURRENTS Article Every institution has stories to tell, but is your alumni magazine engaging readers with the right ones? This article looks at the importance of storytelling and examines how an editor can make a case to administration that interesting articles are the key to alumni engagement.

Special Interest Magazines: Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health -Bronze Medal
Best Practice In 2006, the editorial team of Johns Hopkins Public Health magazine took on an ambitious challenge: dedicate its two issues for the year to documenting two critical, but very different missions of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. One issue focused on public health in Africa, while a second reported on urban health in the United States.

Special Interest Magazines: Stanford University School of Medicine - Silver Medal
Best Practice Although Stanford is typically included with its Ivy League brethren, it's definitely not "old school." It's a non-traditional, distinctive, West Coast medical school that's one-half to (in the case of Harvard) one-tenth the size of its peer institutions, yet consistently makes powerful contributions to medical science. That spirit guides our editorial decisions for Stanford Medicine magazine, which focuses on stories that will contribute to the discourse on important biomedical issues while building awareness among the nation's health-care opinion leaders of the innovative research, clinical care, health-care policy and community service initiatives developed here.

Staff Writing for Independent Schools: St. Albans School - 2007 Bronze Medal
Best Practice The Bulletin is the premier publication of St. Alban's School. It is distributed three times per year to alumni, current and past parents and grandparents, faculty, staff, donors and friends.

Periodical Staff Writing for Internal Audiences: Stanford University School of Medicine - Silver Medal
Best Practice Medical Center Report arrives each week on Wednesday to over 14,000 mailboxes and e-mails throughout Stanford’s medical school. It has an annual budget of $50,000.

Periodical Staff Writing for External Audiences: University of Wisconsin-Madison - Grand Gold Medal
Best Practice On Wisconsin strives to increase awareness of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, engender feelings of pride, and strengthen connections with alumni and other key constituents by reporting news about the university and key issues in higher education accurately and honestly; keeping alumni informed about their alma mater and fellow alumni;encouraging a free exchange of ideas and viewpoints, fostering an interest in lifelong learning by sharing expertise, focusing on societal issues, and highlighting UW research that affects daily life; and upholding high standards of writing, photography or illustration, and graphic design.

Periodical Staff Writing for External Audiences: Johns Hopkins University - Silver Medal
Best Practice Published five times a year, Johns Hopkins Magazine has a circulation of 148,000 and an annual budget of $477,762.

Periodical Staff Writing for External Audiences: University of Pittsburgh - 2007 Bronze Medal
Best Practice Published quarterly, Pitt Magazine has a circulation of 235,000 and an annual budget of $500,000.

Periodical Staff Writing for External Audiences: Stanford Alumni Association - Silver Medal
Best Practice Published bimonthly, Stanford magazine has a circulation of 179,000 and an annual budget of $1,038,000.

Periodical Staff Writing for External Audiences: University of Chicago - Bronze Medal
Best Practice Published six times a year, the University of Chicago Magazine has a circulation of 133,000 and an annual budget of $544,643.

Periodical Staff Writing for External Audiences: Tufts University - Gold Medal
Best Practice Published twice a year, Tufts Dental Medicine magazine has a circulation of 12,000 and an annual budget of $75,000.

Periodical Staff Writing for External Audiences: Washington State University - Gold Medal
Best Practice Published quarterly, Washington State Magazine has a circulation of 140,000 to 150,000 and an annual budget of $334,000.

Special Interest Magazines: Harvard Medical School - Silver Medal
Best Practice The Harvard Medical Alumni Bulletin aims to provide readers with a lively view of Harvard Medical School: its rich history, its leadership in medicine today, and its legacy of talented physicians past and present.

Research Magazines: Ohio University - Silver Medal
Best Practice Perspectives seeks to serve its readers by providing information about the research, scholarly, and creative activities of Ohio University faculty, staff, and students, and about the contributions of university research in general. This is accomplished through the publication of accurate and balanced journalistic content that informs, stimulates intellectual discussion, and promotes scholarly inquiry.

Advance Work: It's Not What You Think
CURRENTS Article Take a look at donor and alumni profiles from a different perspective. What should they not be about?

Closing Remarks: Novel Ways
CURRENTS Article Branding is commercial storytelling, and campus communications and marketing pros should consider using the elements of fiction--character, plot, dialogue, scene, place, point of view, and sensory detail--when they are writing and telling their institutions’ stories. The author describes how campus writers can persuade readers of an institution’s virtues and still tell a compelling story.

Winners at Heart
CURRENTS Article Profiles of 12 winners of CASE’s 2004 Circle of Excellence awards. The winning alumni relations programs offered creative ways to generate revenue, use technology, or support a campus cause. In the development categories, campuses showed how to use flash e-mail annual giving solicitations and speech-writing students to attract donors. Communications winners relied on humor, creativity, and unconventional publications. And top advancement services shops highlighted the importance of identifying top campus prospects, working as a team, and maintaining accurate data.

AdvanceWork: Eyes Are the Prize
CURRENTS Article Half of the 10 most popular science and technology press releases distributed by EurekAlert! in 2003 were generated by colleges and universities. The senior program associate for EurekAlert!, the online news service of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, says that catchy headlines and compelling news are most likely to capture readers’ attention. Top releases in 2003 came from the University of Utah, Imperial College London, the University of Southern California, Stanford University, and the University of Washington.

AdvanceWork: We Hereby Resolve
CURRENTS Article Communications and marketing professionals share some lighthearted, work-oriented resolutions for 2004.

Get Real
CURRENTS Article Alumni magazines face stiff competition for readers' attention, primarily because many readers don't take them seriously. A seasoned alumni magazine editor offers 10 ways to help make them into publications that readers respect and want to read.

Burden of Proof(reading)
CURRENTS Article With the advent of desktop publishing, the ability to make changes up to the very last minute has resulted in a loss of quality control. The author offers tips for editors and designers on making the publications process more efficient.

Closing Remarks: Advancement's Siren Song
CURRENTS Article In this Closing Remarks column, a university editor and publications manager shares her feelings that, although advancement professionals are often underpaid, they are rewarded by a deep sense that what they are doing is important and intrinsically worthwhile. Further, the profession is great fun—especially for editors.

Science Lessons
CURRENTS Article Public information officers often find themselves in the midst of controversy surrounding their institutions’ scientific research activities. That’s only one part of communicating science, however. Even though not every project will make headlines, PIOs must communicate important, complex research every day. Key to that task is establishing rapport with the scientists, presenting science to lay readers, and explaining why it’s important without overhyping.

Write-Minded: Shelving the Books
CURRENTS Article Here’s a guide to online resources for writers, including translation programs, money and measurement converters, dictionaries, thesauri, grammar and style guides, and quotation collections.

Write-Minded: The Write Stuff
CURRENTS Article These tips can help alumni periodical writers and editors to create articles that will catch--and keep--a reader’s interest.

AdvanceWork: Make It Personal
CURRENTS Article Tips for pitching successful commencement stories

Write-Minded: Style Matters
CURRENTS Article A campus editorial style guide can improve the overall quality of an institution’s communications. This article offers tips for creating a style guide that staff and colleagues will find helpful.

Write-Minded: The Learning Curve
CURRENTS Article The editor of the alumni magazine at Northfield Mount Hermon School describes what she learned in her first months and years on the job. She offers some tips for generating fresh story ideas, such as keeping files of newsworthy alumni, looking for human-interest stories, borrowing elements of fiction, using a variety of genres, and searching creatively for writers.

Tech Support: My Word, Not Theirs
CURRENTS Article Some features of Microsoft Word can be more of a nuisance than a help. This article tells you how to banish the “office assistant,” turn off autocorrection functions, and eliminate the colored lines that flag possible grammar and spelling errors.

AdvanceWork: The Well-Stocked Editor's Desk
CURRENTS Article Where do alumni magazine editors go to check facts, figures, and style issues?

Write-Minded: Talk Amongst Yourself
CURRENTS Article Keiger, a magazine writer, explains how keeping a story journal for a large writing project helps him record and examine observations, impressions, research findings, questions, and other details that contribute to a finished article.

Write-Minded: Global Vision
CURRENTS Article Cultural, historical, linguistic, and legislative factors affect how people interpret what you write. When writing for an international advancement audience, keep in mind these possible sources of confusion: 1) terminology, because the same word can mean different things in different countries; 2) titles, which vary within and between countries; 3) idioms and jargon, which can be hard for people from other cultures to understand; 4) differences in educational and legal systems; 5) sweeping generalizations, which can be offensive or inaccurate; and 6) references to location and money.

Write-Minded: Once upon a Narrative
CURRENTS Article Storytelling tricks to bring short, factual pieces to life

Closing Remarks: Desperately Seeking Sizzle
CURRENTS Article A free-lance writer describes how he finds inspiration in even the least promising subjects for alumni profiles.

Write-Minded: Fact Check
CURRENTS Article Writers can fact-check articles without surrendering control to sources and subjects. Keiger recommends preparing a fact-check list for each person who supplied information. The document should include a list of all factual details, paraphrased quotations, and judgments the author expects to make. Keiger does not promise to make changes other than correcting factual errors, but he agrees to discuss significant problems.

Let's Get Fictional
CURRENTS Article Keiger, a senior writer for the Johns Hopkins Magazine discusses the need to develop the essential elements of strong characterization and strong narrative when writing nonfiction. When characterizing something or someone, focus on what is striking or curious. Try to catch subjects in different settings. What do the surroundings say about the individual? Listen to their speech patterns. Remember that photographs are often included in articles and this reduces the need to use traditional descriptions of people or things. It is important not just to write stories, but to tell them. Consider the place of narrative. Some stories may lend themselves to narrative, some may require that you use a hook. The key for the writer is to pay attention.

Good Chemistry
CURRENTS Article Cornell University professor of science communications Lewenstein talks about the value of bringing scientists and public information officers together during his workshops. These workshops help reporters and scientists understand what the public wants and needs to know about science. In particular, it’s important to focus on providing the public a means to develop both a practical and civic science literacy. For the most part, Lewenstein finds that campuses do a good job of promoting scientific research news.

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