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Policy Writing Guide
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University Policy and Compliance Coordinator
Diane Whitney, J.D.






Policy Writing Guide

Keep it Simple:  A policy is not a law and shouldn't be written in legalese. It should be readily intelligible to a diverse audience of faculty, staff, and students. 

Select words carefully:

'shall' means compliance; whereas

'should' or 'may' means one may choose to follow policy, but they don't have to;


use fewer words (avoid redundancy):

"C. Purpose:  The purpose of this policy is...."

"C. Purpose:  This policy is ....."


"All faculty and staff shall..."

"Faculty and staff shall..."

Keep it General: A policy cannot be written that will take precise account of all possible situations. Its provisions need to be general enough and clear enough to be applied to unanticipated circumstances.

Keep it Helpful:  A policy should tell the reader why it exists (perhaps a federal or Board of Regents mandate), to whom it applies, when and under what circumstances it applies, and its major conditions or restrictions. A policy should also make reference to any previous policies so as to establish the historical and legal context of the current policy.

Appendix A - Policy Checklist as used by the Catholic University of America taken out of The National Association of college and University Attorneys

Examples:  To help draft a new policy here are a few examples of FSH policies 1460 or 4310 and in the APM 10.40 and 20.11 or use below template. 

        Policy Template

Drafting a Policy:

  1. identify issue(s)
  2. identify originator

  3. identify other parties of interest

  4. identify other policies possibly affected

  5. assemble team (if desired)

a. decide do we have a policy?

    (1) If so, proceed to step 6.

    (2) If not, stop.

  1. Access and fill out UI Policy Cover Sheet.

  2. Deliver to Policy Coordinator by email (apm@uidaho.edu or fsh@uidaho.edu)

  3. All new policies or those undergoing revision can be tracked on this page Tracking.

  4. Questions? Please call 885-6151.