Getting the writing right will become second nature with practice. But regardless of word choices, tone, and voice, the single most important thing you can do to “get it right” is to ensure that your material has a call to action (CTA). Ask your reader to do something and do it now: enroll today, request more information, find out more by clicking here, donate today, download your copy nowthese are all CTAs. Mediocre writing with a strong CTA yields better results than great writing with no CTA.

The CTA for this section is: keep reading to learn more about writing in the NSU style.

Your writing should be appropriate for your audience and the channel you’re using to reach them. A commencement program for doctoral students will sound very different from a recruitment email targeting high school seniors.

Here are a few before-and-after examples of overly stiff, wordy writing that have been revised into our shark voice.

Before: Located in beautiful Fort Lauderdale, Florida, NSU has not only met, but also exceeded, the expectations of students since its founding. Our excellent faculty, dedicated staff, and outstanding students take great pride in their membership in the NSU community.

After: For more than 50 years, NSU students have had an unfair advantage. They learn from industry experts, build professional relationships, experience careers first-hand, and live and play in a premier vacation destination. That edge is why NSU alumni are sharks for life.

Before: The biology major at the Halmos College of Natural Sciences and Oceanography is designed to offer students a science-intensive course of study necessary for graduate studies in medicine and other health-related fields. The curriculum offers students a solid grounding in biological and physical sciences, as well as experiences in research and independent study. Students have the opportunity to work one-on-one with professors specializing in the fields of biology, chemistry, organic chemistry, anatomy and physiology, endocrinology, cell biology, genetics, physics, and astronomy.

After: A biology degree from NSU’s Halmos College of Natural Sciences and Oceanography will give you an edge in the highly competitive career fields hiring biology grads, such as medicine, environmental protection, genetics, or health services. Whether you’re saving corals in the blue Atlantic or studying pollution trends in the classroom, you’ll get personal attention. You’ll have real work opportunities. And you’ll earn credit for your research. From panther genetics to cures for cancer, your biology degree from Halmos will prepare you to dominate your chosen field.

Before: A degree from Nova Southeastern University will allow you to compete for good jobs.

After: At NSU you’ll get a degree and an edge. Be a shark.

Regardless of the topic, make your writing something you yourself would want to read. If you’re not sure, read your work out loud (preferably when you’re alone), and maybe record it to your phone or tablet. You’ll hear right away if it’s too stiff and filled with jargon.

Finally, your message can sound right but still fail if it’s not personal enough for your audience to connect with. No one wants to read a letter or email that begins, “Dear Sir or Madam.” Today, even the ads we see online are personalized. So it’s critical that the university communicates with its many audiences in a personal way that’s appropriate for the topic and the channel used.