Writing for the Catalog

In an attempt to reduce redundancy among catalog sections, we have created a couple of charts that compare the distinguishing attributes of both fields. For a more complete guide on how best to create and use catalog text, especially marketing text, please reference the Catalog Style Guide.


Comparison: Marketing Text vs. Program Description
Attribute Marketing Text Program Description
Audience Prospective students Prospective students, current students, faculty, future employers, funding sources (VA, foreign sponsors, etc.), ABOR, other educators and schools, accreditation bodies
Limit 50 words 150 words (undergraduate); 450 words (graduate)
Purpose To make an emotional connection with the student, or to draw them in so they continue reading To present factual basic and specialized information about the academic program in a way that helps students decide if this is the right program for them as well as providing clarity for current students about what they should be learning in the program and any special opportunities they could have while in it.
Updateability Text is not archived, so it can be updated on-demand. Text is included in academic catalog archive, so it can be updated only during the yearly catalog review.
Answers These Questions
  • What's in it for me (the future student)?
  • How will I benefit from this program? OR
  • What is a unique aspect of the program (academic opportunities), college or department, or research?
  • What is the program? (name)
  • What, generally, does it prepare students to do?
  • What do students learn, or what things are expected to be learned by the end of the program?
  • What questions does it ask students to pursue, or what problems does it train students to try to solve?
  • How do students learn (special courseware, labs, field exercises, practicum, etc.)?
  • Are students encouraged to join a lab or faculty research group?
  • Are there any special experiences in the program (internships, iTeach, semester in DC, etc.)?
  • Concentrations: How does this concentration differ from other concentrations under the same umbrella degree?
  • Grad: Industry justification? Market need?
  • Grad: On what does faculty research or teaching interests focus?
Catalog Style Notes May use a colloquial name for the program, if program name is used (e.g., MSIM for Master of Science in information management); catalog style does not apply to program name in this field; writing style is encouraged to be more informal (should use second person voice "you") Program name must be used in program description; catalog style applied to all references to name; style must be more formal - third person voice only
Hyperlinks Text may be hyperlinked as long as it is an ASU URL; to direct to a non-ASU site, the full URL must be used All hyperlinks must be spelled out, including ASU URLs
What Does Not Belong Here Admission information, curricular content (culminating experience changes, extra courses, concentration information, etc.), anything already stated in the program description Hyperbole or hyperbolic statements, admission information, campus information, course listings, careers (undergraduate only)


Need help?

  1. Your department’s marketing team is the best resource to help you pinpoint what to feature in your marketing text and program description and how best to present it. Please reference this Google doc for your college’s marketing contact person.
  2. You can refer to the Catalog Style Guide for information specific to the Academic Catalog and for great ways to think about and start creating marketing text.
  3. It also may help to familiarize yourself with the ASU brand and platform, as well as the language section of the ASU Brand Guide’s writing style guide.


Comparison: Career Opportunities vs. ONET Codes
Attribute Career Opportunities ONET Codes
Audience Prospective students, current students, parents, funding sources Prospective students, current students, parents, funding sources
Style Descriptive text in catalog style Prescriptive codes provided by the Bureau of Labor and Statistics https://www.onetonline.org/
Limit 150 words 10 codes
Purpose To connect transferable skills developed through the program to possible career pathways Details growth data and salary data of jobs
In Other Words Star-shaped degrees: ASU degrees can prepare students for multiple, interdisciplinary careers. A major does not always equal a career trajectory, and a career increasingly consists of a composite of jobs held throughout the working life. Round peg jobs: often have a singular focus; BLS data can lag behind in creating occupational titles for new fields (e.g., biomimicry)
Updateability Catalog exception: Although text is archived, it can be updated on demand Text is not archived, so it can be updated on-demand.
Answers These Questions
  • What kind of companies or organizations do graduates end up working in?
  • What program-learned skills help them succeed and progress in their career?
  • Do graduates go on to advanced degrees? In this field? In related fields or professional programs (e.g., MD)?
  • Are there cutting-edge career areas a student in this field could go into?
  • Where could the future of the field take a student?
  • Is there a way jobs listed in the ONET field could be purposefully stacked to create a career?
  • What jobs are currently available and established in this field or related to this field?
  • Do jobs in this field have a bright outlook?
  • Are these green occupations?
  • What’s the growth rate for this occupation?
  • What’s the median salary for people with this job?
What Does Not Belong Here Admission information, curricular content, campus information, course listings, anything already stated in the program description Anything that is not an ONET code


Note: Degree Search does not display the official ONET title as listed on https://www.onetonline.org/. Instead, we have worked with Career and Professional Development Services to create alternate titles that better how a student may search for a career (e.g., "doctor" instead of "physician").