This Brand Lexicon is a companion to the Brand Guidelines. It includes the unique characteristics expressed in the personality of the School’s tone of voice and brand language. The aim is to provide guidance to reduce confusion of preferred conventions as well as achieving language consistency and clarity. It is a living lexicon to be honed and updated by the Communications team.
Avoid jargon. Write in plain English.
Be engaging. Make your writing reflect the passion and intellect you share with your readers for the subject matter.
Be lucid. Simple sentences help. Keep complicated constructions to a minimum.
Do not be stuffy. Use the language of everyday speech.
Make your structure obvious.
State your meaning precisely. (Vague: slightly behind schedule/Precise: One day late)
Tell readers what they need to know, not just what you want to say. Give them the exact information they need, along with opportunities to learn more. And keep in mind what your reader does not know. Examine everything from the reader’s point of view.
Write so that you cannot be misunderstood.
Write to catch the attention of the reader.
Abbreviations and Acronyms
Use the symbol * not the word ‘star’. No apostrophe in the plural (this is also the case for GCSEs).
Write phrases in their full form on first appearance:
Heads of Department (not HoDs)
Independent Schools Council (not ISC)
Use the short version from then on.
There is no need to include the initials of an institution or organisation if it is not referred to again.
If the short version is more familiar than the full one like FAQs, GCSEs or BBC, you do not need to write it out.
Do not use sprinklings of abbreviations and acronyms; you will end up irritating rather than informing your reader.
Do not use contractions such as aren’t, can’t, couldn’t, don’t, won’t.
Be direct. Use the active voice.
Should be used when they are part of the name of a company as it appears on the Companies House Register.
DO NOT USE CAPITALS FOR LARGE AMOUNTS OF TEXT. IT IS HARD TO READ AND OVERWHELMING. The general rule is use as few capital letters as possible, if in doubt use lower case unless it looks nonsensical, however certain words or groups of words require them:
A level (not A-level or A Level)
Executive Leadership Team
Short Leave/Long Leave
Head of School/ Head of House
House (House spirit, House Captain)
House names (Airlie, Barry)
Locations (LAC, PAC, AMS)
Names of academic subjects (History, English e.g. In History, Charlotte is working well (but Charlotte is an excellent historian…))
Scholarships and Exhibition Awards
School capitalisation: Wycombe Abbey is a prestigious school…at the heart of the School’s success
Staff titles (job titles should be written with a bracket)
Summer Term/Autumn Term/Spring Term
Year groups: UIII (Year 7), LIV (Year 8), UIV (Year 9), LV (Year 10), UV (Year 11), LVI (Year 12), UVI (Year 13)
Do not capitalise:
individual sports (unless it is a subject)
names of extra-curricular clubs (except for those which are recognised schemes, such as The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award [Bronze/Silver/Gold])
names of meals (breakfast, lunch, tea, and supper)
seasons (summer holidays, the autumn)
skills or topics within subject areas
university (unless referring to a specific ie. University of Bath)
Write email addresses in full, in lower case and as active links. Do not have any other words in the link. (Email: email@example.com)
Care should be taken to conform to traditional rules of grammar and in the construction of your sentences and paragraphs. Please give particular attention to the following:
Use of apostrophes:
the girls (more than one, no possession)
the girl’s (belongs to one)
the girls’ (belongs to more than one, plural ending in s)
the girl’s uniforms (belongs to more than one, plural not ending in s)
UIIIs (not UIII’s)
GCSEs (not GCSE’s)
Use of full stops at the end of bullet points — i.e. use them after full sentences but not after incomplete sentences.
Use of commas:
Use commas as an aid to understanding. Too many in one sentence can be confusing.
Do not put commas after question-marks.
Use of dashes:
Use dashes to introduce an explanation, amplification, paraphrase. The dash symbol is different to the hyphen symbol, for a dash, press ‘space hyphen space’ (to get this: –, whereas a hyphen is this: -)
Use of exclamation marks:
Use sparingly. Double or triple should never occur.
Use of hyphens:
There is no firm rule established. Generally though hyphens are used with compound adjectives (e.g. she is a well-organised girl) but not otherwise (e.g. her planner is well organised)).
Boarders (not boarding students)
Girls or pupils (not students)
Daughter should be used in correspondence with parents, use girl in other situations
Wycombe Abbey (not Wycombe Abbey School, Wycombe, WAS or W.A.S.)
Do not use long sentences. Check sentences over 25 words to see if you can split them to make them clearer.
Use British English rather than American English.
Take care to use the correct forms of practice (noun)/practise (verb).
Where ‘z’ or ’s’ can be used for verbs use ’s’ (organised not organized).
Where a single or double ’s’ or ’t’ can be used for verbs, use a single ’s’ or ’t’ (focused not focussed).
Full pupil names should never appear in text published online, instead use first name and year (Lucy, UVI).
Generally, write out numbers in full if the number is between one and ten; use digits if it is higher than this.
Please put only one space after a full stop.
Words to Avoid
Agenda (unless it is for a meeting)
Deliver (services are delivered – not concepts like improvements or priorities)
Dialogue (we speak to people)
Facilitate (instead, say something specific about how you are helping)
Impact (do not use as a verb, only as a noun)
Leverage (unless in the financial sense)
Liaise (use sparingly)
Strengthening (unless it refers to a structure)
Tackling (unless it is lacrosse or some other sport)
Wycombe Abbey Words
Big School (Assembly Hall/ Assembly)
Dining Room (cafeteria/ canteen)
Mufti (casual clothes/ non-uniform)
Seniors (alumnae) (not Wycombe Seniors)