Headings

Headings have to appeal to the reader at first glance and grab his/her attention. For this reason, they should be carefully constructed to avoid being rigid or dull.

Heading examples

Questions: Why not Konstanz? – Why not you? – Why study at the University Konstanz? Instructions: How to apply calls to action: Explore our Website – Find out what to do – Visit us –Do not miss our events Numbers: 5 good reasons to study with us – 3 ways the internship can benefit your career Statements: A university known for student experience – Highly rated for student satisfaction

Target group: Aliens from space?

All our readers should feel appreciated while reading our texts. For this reason we use the terms “international students/researchers” and avoid words like alien office or alien/foreign students!

Our readers are an international audience with very different English language abilities. For this reason:

Keep it simple and short!

Websites are just scanned for content. English readers tend to gloss over texts even more so than German readers. They pay special attention to the first and last words/sentences. Additionally, many international readers are not English native speakers. Since this is the case:

  • use short sentences (good sentence length: 20 words or less).
  • Summarise with bullet lists instead of large text fields.
  • Position important information at either the beginning or end of texts.
  • Use active verbs instead of the passive form commonly used in German - English readers interpret the passive form to be overly formal and impersonal.

KISS example

„The committee will inform you.“ instead of „The student will be informed by the committee.“

  • Replace a noun with a verb - using a noun is typical for German writers, which English readers consider to be overly formal and impersonal.

Example

„Please submit the thesis by [date].“ instead of „Submission of the thesis has to be made by [date].“

  • Use simple words that are easy to understand! Some examples are included in the word bank.
  • Leave out unnecessary words. In many cases, you can simply leave out phrases like „due to the fact”, „in order to”, „that”, „corresponding” etc.

Example

„Our exchange programmes with 250 universities worldwide offer...“ instead of „Due to the fact that there are exchange programmes with 250 universities worldwide...“

  • Avoid redundancies

Example

„prospects“ instead of „future prospects“ – all prospects are in the future „experience“ instead of „past experience“ – all experience is in the past

Tone of voice

  • Address your readers directly. This is easy to do in English, since English readers do not distinguish between a formal and informal “you”.
  • Appeal to emotions. The readers should feel welcomed and appreciated while being motivated to continue reading. They want to sense the individuals who make up an institution, so please always write as if communicating one-on-one.

Tone of Voice examples

„You’ll study alongside 15,000 students from 160 different countries.“ „We support you.“ (instead of „The University of Konstanz supports the student.“) „Our goals“ „You need an undergraduate degree in...“ (instead of „The potential students are required to have an undergraduate degree in…“)

What’s in it for me?

English readers want to know what advantages they stand to gain. The casual reader is less interested in image cultivation and specific informational details.

Examples:

„Your future – We’ll equip you with the skills you need to secure that dream job.“ „Enjoy studying and living in a very safe and beautiful parkland campus.“ „The University is consistently rated among the top universities in the UK for student satisfaction, so you can be sure that your experience will be a good one.“ „Wherever you are from, you can be sure that you will receive the very best support from the moment you enquire about studying with us until graduation and beyond.“ „At the University of Konstanz, you'll enjoy the very best education, delivered by academics with a rare passion for their subject, backed by a range of outstanding resources.“

How to structure your text

Attention: Picture, heading

Relevant: speak directly to your audience (“you*)

Message: Central message

Evidence: Facts, details (i.e. rankings, testimonials from other students, number of international students)

Do: Invitation to do something (“Apply”, „Attend our events”, „Contact us*)

Word bank

Write as simply as possible for our international audience. Instead of using elaborate language constructions, we should write texts that are readily understood!

Simple languageComplicated language
soaccordingly
thank someone foracknowledge
find out, get to knowacquaint oneself with
more, extraadditional
totalaggregate
carry out, doimplement
getobtain
enoughsufficient
end, stopterminate
livereside
pay, salary, wagesremuneration
aboutregarding
because ofdue to