Tone of voice

Tone of voice refers to how readers hear Birkbeck's words in their head and how they imagine our personality. The way we write can make people feel a particular way, which may stay with them long afterwards. Tone of voice is conveyed in the particular words we choose, how we construct sentences, the sound, rhythm and pace of our words and the personality we communicate.

Tone of voice has a number of important functions:

  • It ensures consistency across our publications.
  • It effectively conveys information.
  • It communicates the culture and qualities of Birkbeck.
  • It makes people feel positively and warmly towards Birkbeck.
  • It builds trust and it can influence and persuade people.

Tone will vary according to the publication and what’s appropriate, but it should, whenever possible, embody Birkbeck’s open, welcoming and encouraging ethos. Be impassioned: write about our attributes, convictions and achievements with pride and assurance - we care about our students and we are proud of the ways in which Birkbeck can change lives.

What are the values that constitute Birkbeck’s tone of voice?

  • Authoritative, intelligent and articulate
  • Egalitarian, democratic and progressive
  • Open, welcoming and respectful
  • Encouraging and empowering
  • Warm, positive and enthusiastic.

Tone of voice quick checklist

Is your writing…

  • friendly, positive and warm?
  • straightforward, clear and short?
  • specific, with facts, examples and stories?
  • in plain English and free of unnecessary jargon, surplus words and obscure, technical and overly academic language?
  • in the active voice?
  • written using welcoming pronouns (you, we)?

Birkbeck words and phrases

You may find some of the following words and phrases helpful when writing about Birkbeck.

Birkbeck: accessible; at the heart of one of the world’s greatest cities; different; enabling; encouraging; evening study; lively, student-centred location; part of the prestigious University of London; progressive; research excellence; research-intensive; special; supportive; unique; world-class university. 

Birkbeck students: able; ambitious; bright; committed; dedicated to their studies; determined to improve themselves; enthusiastic; focused; from all cultures, backgrounds and career stages; integral part of our learning community; juggling many aspects of their lives; passionate about Birkbeck; serious about their future; share their experience and expertise; treated as equals; wealth of experience; working professionals. 

Birkbeck learning: accessible; advances your career; builds your professional networks; don’t need to put your career or ambitions on hold while you study; enjoyable; evening; fits into busy lives; flexible learning; fun; innovative research; intellectually challenging; intense; real-world experience; relates the latest theory to the workplace and the wider world; special; unique. 

Birkbeck academics: active in the world; actively involved in research; bring the latest ideas into their research and teaching; deeply involved in the cultural life of London; influential thinkers and researchers; passionate about their students and their subjects; progressive; renowned experts; unconventional; write the textbooks you will be studying.