Draft a policy

This section contains writing tips for drafting a new policy. 

Choose a title

Begin with a commonly used key-word, identify the purpose of the policy in as few words as possible.

Use the appropriate language and style

  • Use simple, plain, grammatical English. 
  • Keep sentences short, 15-20 words at most; use adjectives and adverbs sparingly.
  • Include one main idea per paragraph; keep paragraphs short.
  • Use the same terminology throughout the document to avoid ambiguity.
  • Use the third person (“they” not “you”).
  • Use the present tense.
  • Write in the active voice. For example, “Joe will do it” rather than “It will be done”.
  • Use “shall” for mandatory actions, rather than “may” or “should”, which imply recommendations.
  • Refer to the UFV Style Guide for correct punctuation and capitalization.

Check if the criteria have been met

Review your draft to check if the criteria have been met. Ask the following questions:

  • Does it contain one or more clear principles?
  • Will it be useful for the intended users, e.g. service users, staff and management/committee members?
  • Is it clear and understandable?
  • Is it congruent with the UFV mission, values, and goals?
  • Are related policies and/or legislation listed (but only those that would provide edification to readers of this policy)?
  • Are readers directed to appropriate procedures and who is responsible for implementing the procedures?
  • Does it cover all areas relevant for accreditation and legislative requirements?
  • Is it easy to find and access the policy online?

Printable version: Policy writing guide


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