Tone of Voice

What is Our Voice?

Just as our design uses a distinctive look and feel that sets our brand apart, the words we use – the copy we create, the story we tell – must be distinctly our own. Capturing the unique UCI voice is critical to the success of every communication. Creating consistency in tone across every written or spoken communication is an important responsibility that rests with each of us. We speak for UCI.


At UCI, we believe in the infinitely curious.
The tinkerers and the dreamers.
We believe in the innate and varied talents of people young and old,
Regardless of their background.
And we believe in the courageous of thought.
The ones willing to fail. Again and again.
Until one day, they don’t.
Over 50 years ago, the university was founded on the belief that when you have the courage to see things differently,
To see opportunity where others see impossibility,
Amazing things will happen.
Barriers will be broken and life-enhancing discoveries will be unearthed.
At UCI, we stop at nothing to change the world, to save lives and deliver the extraordinary.

Guiding Principles

Make It Accessible

While UCI is home to many kinds of specialized knowledge, each with its own distinctive vocabulary, in our general communications we should speak in an articulate way that is accessible to a general audience. Avoid jargon or technical language. Steer clear of overused buzzwords. Aim to sound intelligent, but never stuffy or pretentious. Most importantly, keep your audience in mind and always craft your language to connect with them and foster understanding.

Keep It Conversational

While you may aim for an academic writing style in professional publications, when we write for a general audience, a conversational tone is key. Keep sentences short. Don’t use more words than necessary. Keep the tone active, not passive. Ask yourself, “Would this sound natural if I said it in conversation?” If not, simplify what you have to say.

Be Inspiring

A sense of optimism is central to our brand. The ingenuity and pioneering spirit that we embody should inform every communication. Underlying everything we say is a simple message: anything that we can envision and imagine, we can accomplish.

Try to Tell a Story

It’s almost always easier to relate to a narrative of some kind, as opposed to an abstract idea. So where possible, show, don’t tell. Be specific and concrete. Bring a person, team, department or unit to life by sharing their achievement. Give specifics, add details for color, and try to paint a meaningful picture that people can relate to.

Illustrate Our Impact

Our brand is all about “Illuminating the differences that make a difference.” There are a multitude of ways to do this – through a story, a quote, a fact, an allusion. Our goal is to engage our viewers and readers in moments that surprise them with something they didn’t expect – a new way of seeing the world.

Key Messaging

Audience Tone Examples
  • Gateway to the world
  • Nurturing your unique strengths
  • Free to be me
  • We take you beyond the classroom and into the world. Our faculty are the most accomplished innovators who believe in activating your ideas toward real-world impact. Here, the brightest and the most passionate are making their distinctive mark through UCI.
  • We enthusiastically embrace the bold, the one-of-a-kind, the independent mind. Those who see things differently. Who know differently. Who do differently. Those with the ability to shine brighter.
  • Forge your own path to real-world impact
  • Global preeminence (not a regional school)
  • We not only know how innovation happens but more importantly, who makes it happen. Here we embrace the difference-makers that make a real difference. Whether [discovering the harmful effects of CFCs on the ozone layer or being recognized for breakthrough Alzheimer’s research or catapulting California’s only new law school to national standing], each of these accomplishments started with unique contributions of intellect, imagination and creativity. Those with the resolve and courage to pursue a new idea. Through UCI it was made real.
  • Proud to be an Anteater
  • I’m a better me because of my time at UCI
  • You’re a part of a group of individuals that didn’t fit predetermined molds – but who instead looked farther, investigated more, thought differently. Today, we carry the torch of this intention in everything we do and in everything we continue to create. The result has been a plus 50-year reputation of unwavering excellence, worldwide recognition and an impressive community of diversified, continued support. As alumni together, we continue to make a difference through our UCI ties.
  • Legacy and impact
  • Global preeminence (not a regional school)
  • Those of us in the world who aim higher, who are selective in our contributions, who seek to support pioneering work in a lasting, sustainable way, aren’t persuaded only by innovative ideas; there must be action, and ultimately, impact. We are proud that our award-winning faculty and highly engaged student body give donors an opportunity to be participants in such important work. Those who give here know their support and legacy won’t just shine for today, but will continue to grow, to shine brighter, for generations to come.
  • Global preeminence (not a regional school)
  • Creating impact locally and globally
  • UCI makes my community better
  • We are proud to be a globally preeminent University located in the heart of Orange County. As the second largest employer, and the provider of world-class health care to our community, we are deeply invested in and connected to the people who help us shine brighter. We are the Anteaters. We are the difference-makers – making a difference here at home and around the world.

General Rules

First, Second and Subsequent References: “UCI” is preferred in all textual references to the university, though “University of California, Irvine” may be suitable for certain target audiences. For unfamiliar – particularly regional, national and international – audiences, use the university’s full name for added clarity; for campus and other familiar audiences, use “UCI” in the first reference.

Headlines and Headings: Headlines and headings in correspondences, publications, websites, etc., are often subject to spacing constraints and, thus, require significant flexibility in their application. Therefore, it is acceptable to use “UCI” in headlines and headings. Other words, such as “campus” or “university,” may be appropriate to avoid redundancy.

Titles and Names: Since the family of “UCI” and “University of California, Irvine” wordmarks are preferred in most graphical applications, and since “UCI” is the preferred first textual reference to the university, the names of titles and/or programs should follow suit. Whenever possible. “UCI Medical Center” and “UCI Foundation” are two examples of recently updated references. For reasons of continuity or familiarity, “UCI” is allowable in such applications.

Text vs. Graphics: The “UCI” and “University of California, Irvine” wordmarks should only be used as graphic elements (as provided in official artwork available on the campus’s Graphic Identity Standards website), and should not be replicated in textual forms.

Common Uses

UCI: The preferred textual reference to the university, particularly when addressing familiar or internal audiences. May be used in headlines, subheads and quotes (if it’s what the speaker said).

University of California, Irvine: Preferred as a first reference for non-local or unfamiliar audiences.

Campus Language – A Brief History: The University of California, Irvine opened in 1965 and for much of its history has been referred to by its full name or the initials UCI. “UCI” traditionally was preferred over “UC Irvine,” in part because in our early days the city of Irvine did not yet exist and awareness of the Irvine name was limited. Because the campus’s founders likened the abbreviated UCI name to such prestigious research universities as MIT and UCLA, the UCI identity grew in popularity. Logos were created and signs erected. Over time, “UCI” has indeed become synonymous with one of America’s leading public research universities for countless faculty, staff, alumni, students and community members. There is only one UCI!