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SU Style Guide on English language usage available for anyone to use

The brand-new SU Style Guide, aimed at Stellenbosch University (SU) staff and students, has just been released, and is available here to download.

The SU Style Guide is intended as an accessible resource on English language usage for the whole of the SU community and anyone else who chooses to use it. The Guide aims to ensure that the language we use for the content and communication we provide on behalf of the University is consistent with the image of the University and consonant with our vision and identity as a university. The Style Guide therefore represents guidelines and house rules rather than a comprehensive set of universal grammar rules, and the preferences reflected in the Style Guide are those of the institution. The Guide was commissioned by the Corporate Communication and Marketing Division of the University and compiled by the SU Language Centre. The Guide is meant to be used in combination with the Brand Toolkit, which gives more guidance on the unified SU brand in terms of how we present the University visually and how we speak of it.

Language is wondrously multifaceted, which makes the context in which one would use a word or apply a rule or preference important. Therefore ample examples and tips are provided in the Guide. The Guide kicks off by summarising the most important language conventions in English in Section 1. This section could become a personal style sheet and a trusted companion whenever writing in English. The next two sections reflect more on the how of the writing we do: how to use plain language principles to reach an intended audience, and how to make science-related information engaging and relevant to help our readers care about what we write.

The next seven sections dive into the nitty gritty of English: here one can get guidance on topics such as using capitals, punctuation, abbreviations, addresses, numbers and bulleted lists. We have also included a section on general English grammar challenges. The subsequent section, Legislation and case law, gives indispensable guidance on legal writing for lay people, from writing the name of an act correctly and looking up an act name to deciphering case law citations. The Guide concludes with a section on technical tips and covers topics as diverse as using track changes in MS Word and using the 'find' function in a PDF. In terms of multilingual language support, we direct users of the Guide to two resources maintained by the Language Centre:

Works consulted are listed at the end of the document and cited in footnotes. There is also a list of sources for further reading. The Style Guide is a working document, and will be updated as necessary. The Corporate Communication and Marketing Division is the custodian of the publication. Feel free to send any comments, suggestions and enquiries to

The Language Centre is also working on institutional style guides for isiXhosa and Afrikaans.