I am in the process of updating my teaching and research descriptions the main website of my university. It seems many of the best descriptions are written in the 3rd person, but as far as I am aware, they were all written by the individual being described. Presumably those willing to talk about themselves in the 3rd person also put in the effort to have a good web presence. It seems disingenuous to write about myself in the 3rd person. My university has no guidance or policy on this issue (it must be an oversight given how much they love to manage everything). Is there a preferred style for official descriptions on the web? The webpage is dynamically from a CMS system so it is possible that some pages (either now or in the future) would present the content in a way that it is not obviously linked to an individual.

  • Personal pages, it is fine to use first person. Department pages, like faculty listings, I generally see these as 3rd person. Alternatively, are you talking about yourself, or as if the department is talking about you?
    – Compass
    Dec 16, 2014 at 18:21
  • @Compass I feel like if the department was talking about me the format would be more structured then it is, but the text is presented as part of a faculty listing.
    – StrongBad
    Dec 16, 2014 at 18:33
  • 1
    I don't think there's anything wrong with first person with faculty listings, I just see more of them in 3rd person, like Dr. Potato has been cultivating at University of Tuber for the past decade.
    – Compass
    Dec 16, 2014 at 18:35

2 Answers 2


I think that it depends on whether the web site is written from a personal or an institutional perspective.

  • Personal perspective: On my own web page, I use first person because I have formatted it as a web page about me personally and about my personal work.

  • Institutional perspective: A close colleague of mine has formatted their page as "Name Laboratory", and it includes description of both themselves and of all of the students and postdocs in their group. Their web page is written in the third person, including their self-description, because it is from outside perspective of the group as a collective, rather than their own perspective.

Just as in most questions of writing and tense, either can be correct, and I think the question is really about which you feel most comfortable doing.


I've seen both 3rd and 1st being used. Though I mostly see 1st person used. I'd opt for 1st person to properly propel your voice.

Many of the 3rd person ones that I have seen are non-personal and feel awkward as I can't get a sense of the voice of the author.

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