University Writing Style Guide — A-C
- abbreviations, acronyms
- A few universally recognized abbreviations are
required in some circumstances. Examples: Dr., Mr., Mrs., Jr., a.m., p.m.,
but in general, avoid alphabet soup.
- An acronym is a word formed from the first
letter or letters of a series of words: laser (light amplification by
stimulated emission of radiation). An abbreviation is not an acronym.
- For companies, associations, organizations, etc.,
use the official name on first reference unless an acronym is the most common
reference. Examples: FBI, CIA, NFL.
- On second reference, an abbreviation or acronym may
be used if the meaning will be clear to readers. Don't follow an organization's
full name with an abbreviation or acronym in parentheses or set off by dashes.
If an abbreviation or acronym will not be clear on second reference, don't use
it. The University of Northern Colorado is located in Greeley. UNC
offers more than 100 undergraduate programs and more than 100 graduate programs.
- Abbreviate junior and senior as part
of a name; do not set off with commas: John Doe Jr.
- UNC is acceptable on second reference.
- Also see academic degrees
- academic degrees
- Lowercase degree names but capitalize the field or
major in running text and whenever the degree name is used generically. Generic
uses often are introduced by a, the, his or her. She earned
her bachelor's degree in History at UNC and is now pursuing a master's degree.
- Capitalize the name of a degree when it is
displayed on a resume, business card, diploma, alumni directory, or anywhere it
looks like a title rather than a description.
- Avoid abbreviations of academic degrees in
narrative text. When abbreviating degree
names, generally use periods: B.A. in Psychology; B.S. in Chemistry. EXCEPTION: Listings of alumni or programs of study
in campus publications.
- In features, news stories, etc., omit the periods
in degree abbreviations consisting of three or more letters: She received
an MBA in 2000. EXCEPTION: Degree abbreviations consisting of three
or more letters that use a combination of upper and lowercase letters require
periods: Ph.D.; Ed.D.
- Avoid redundancies: Jane Doe, Ph.D., NOT Dr.
Jane Doe, Ph.D. Note: Use Dr.
before a name only when the person has a medical degree (see entries on
academic titles and Dr.)
- Use an apostrophe when writing bachelor's
degree, or master's degree but not when naming the full degree: bachelor
of arts degree.
- academic departments
- The University of Northern Colorado has academic
departments and programs. Use of either term is acceptable.
- Also see academic units
- academic majors, minors, emphases and concentrations
- Capitalize the names of academic
majors, minors, emphases and concentrations in narrative text. He's
majoring in Business Administration with an Accounting emphasis and minoring in
- Note: This is a deviation from the AP Style Guide.
- academic titles
- Use Dr. before a name only when the person
in question has a medical degree (M.D., DMD, DDS or DVM).
- Do not use an academic title with a degree: Professor
John Smith or John Smith, Ph.D., NOT Professor John Smith,
- Capitalize and spell out formal titles such as president
and chair ONLY when they precede a name: President John Smith.
- Do not use academic and job titles in conjunction: Dean
Jane Doe NOT Dean Dr. Jane Doe.
- academic units
- The University of Northern Colorado has academic departments
or programs within schools within six academic colleges.
- Capitalize the
official names of colleges, schools and departments/programs. Lowercase
generic references to them. She's dean of the College of Natural and Health
Sciences. She's a professor in the School of Nursing. She's the top student in
our nursing school. He's a professor of Anthropology. He joined
the faculty as a professor of Physical Education in 1997.
- Where possible, use full names on first reference
and acronyms or informal names thereafter: the College of Humanities and
Social Sciences, CHSS or HSS; the College of Education and Behavioral Sciences,
CEBS or EBS.
- If the college is named after someone, include the
honoree's last name: Monfort College of Business. First names and
initials need be included only in the most formal settings, such as
commencement programs: Kenneth W. Monfort College of Business.
- On first reference for external communications,
preface the name of the school or college with the University of Northern
Colorado's unless the full university name has been used earlier: the
University of Northern Colorado's College of Performing and Visual Arts.
On second reference, informal names are lowercase: the performing and
visual arts college.
- Capitalize proper nouns and adjectives in all
references: She teaches in the English program.
- University, college, school department
and program are never capitalized unless they are part of the
official name or the first word of a sentence.
- Although ACT officially stands for American College
Test, the acronym is sufficient even on first reference: ACT, no
- advisor, adviser
- Advisor is the preferred spelling at the
University of Northern Colorado.
- affect, effect
- Affect is
usually used as a verb and mean to influence.
- Effect is
usually used as a noun and means result.
- affirmative action statement
- Use of an affirmative action
statement is required on all publications intended for external audiences, staff,
faculty, students and parents. It is not optional. Do not alter the wording of
these statements. For more detail information about the statements, consult the
University Counsel; for advice on placing the statements, consult University
- The statement should be set in
small Roman type (not italic) and placed at the end of a document with Affirmative
Action as the paragraph header for the longest version.
- Long Version (use in
documents such as catalogs and employment applications) reprint BOT Policy
Manual Section 1-1-508(1)
- Human Resource Services is
responsible for implementation of affirmative action, programs and coordination
of Title VI and VII of the Civil Rights act of 1964, Title IX of the Education
Amendments of 1973, the Vietnam Era Veteran's Readjustment Act of 1974, and
Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Americans with
Disabilities Act of 1990. For more information about these provisions or about
issues of equity or fairness, or claims of discrimination contact the
AA/EEO/Title IX Officer, Marshall Parks, Director, Human Resource Services,
University of Northern Colorado, Carter Hall 2002, Greeley, CO 80639, or call
- Medium Version (use in most
multi-page publications such as Viewbook and handbooks for students, employees
and parents, and other guides)
- The University of Northern Colorado
has a strong institutional commitment to the principles of diversity, including
Title IX, and takes affirmative action to achieve those ends. The university does
not discriminate in its educational and employment programs and activities on
the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, age, disability, creed,
religion, sexual preference or veteran status. For more information or issues
of equity or fairness, or claims of discrimination contact the AA/EEO/Title IX
Officer at University of Northern Colorado, Human Resource Services, Carter
Hall 2002, Greeley, Colorado 80639, or call 970-351-2718.
- Short Version (use when
space does not allow the use of medium version, such as the bottom of
letterhead and posters)
- The University of Northern Colorado
is an equal opportunity/affirmative action institution that does not
discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, age,
disability, creed, religion, sexual preference or veteran status. For more
information or issues of equity or fairness or claims discrimination contact
the UNC AA/ EEO/ Title IX Officer at University of Northern Colorado, Human
Resource Services, Carter Hall 2002, Greeley, CO 80639 or call 970-351- 2718.
- afterward, backward, forward, toward
- These words do not need an 's' at the end.
use figures. If used as an adjective, use hyphens (e.g., the 5-year-old boy;
the professor, 35, teaches a new course; the woman is in her 30s.)
- Athletics term. Often
accompanied by First-Team and Second-Team.
- alma mater
- The college one attended. It's not capitalized.
- alumnus, alumni, alumna, alumnae
- Alumnus is the masculine
singular form; alumni is the masculine or mixed masculine and feminine
plural noun; alumna is the feminine singular noun; alumnae is the
- a.m., p.m.
- Don't use 0s to designate hours and lowercase with
periods in narrative text and most promotional materials: 8 a.m.; 11 p.m.
Noon is 12 p.m.; midnight is 12 a.m. Both times are better
expressed without the number as simply noon or midnight. Do not
use A.M. or P.M. or am or pm.
- Do not use an ampersand (&) in running text
unless it is part of a trademarked or registered business name. Proctor
& Gamble; College of Humanities and Social Sciences.
- Ampersands are acceptable in page headers or
references to page headers in a publications' table of contents. College of
Humanities & Social Sciences.
- Do not use this construction.
- Do not use an apostrophe when forming plurals of
dates or abbreviations: 1960s, M.D.s, Ph.D.s
- bachelor's degree
- Lowercase with apostrophe.
- Proper spelling for formal use. In
informal uses, BBQ is acceptable.
- The name given to University of Northern Colorado
teams that participate in intercollegiate sports. Does not need an apostrophe
to show possession. Capitalize it but not the rest of the team name: the
Bears men's basketball team; the Bears women's cross-country team.
- No hyphen necessary and means every other month. Semimonthly
means twice a month.
- No hyphen necessary and means every other week. Semiweekly
means twice a week.
- bizarre, bazaar
- Bizarre means something unusual. Bazaar is a fair.
- black, white
- Both are lowercase when used to describe racial
- Board of Trustees
- Capitalize when using full name. Use the board
or the trustees (lowercase) for subsequent references: The
University of Northern Colorado Board of Trustees met to discuss the proposal.
The board discussed the proposal. The trustees voted on the issue.
- book titles
- Italicize book titles. Use quotation marks in
identifying chapter names within a book. Also see composition titles
- Capitalize buildings that have a formal name,
including the words Hall or Center: Kepner Hall; Student
Health Center. Capitalize only proper nouns in common references: the
center moved to a new building.
- Use lowercase for buildings with generic names that
reflect the discipline taught or the activity it houses: the visual arts
building, the dining hall.
- Capitalize names of rooms or areas within
buildings: Spruce A in the University Center, the UC's Fireside
- For rooms that
are numbered, the preferred style is: Carter Hall 2009; Michener Library
- bus, buses, busses
- Bus is
a vehicle of public transportation. Buses is the plural form of bus. Busses
- Capitalize when used with the full name of the
campus as a proper noun: West Campus, Central Campus. Lowercase when
it stands alone: Recruiters from several local companies visited campus. Hyphenate as modifier (e.g., an on-campus program)
- campus community
- A collective term used for students, faculty and
staff at UNC.
- Also see university community
- One word.
- The full, formal names of colleges, schools and
programs are capitalized: the College of Education and Behavioral Sciences; the
School of Communication; the University of Northern Colorado Journalism
- Use lowercase on second or generic
reference: the communication school; the college's faculty; the school's
- Capitalize the full, formal names of centers and
institutes and use lowercase on second reference or in informal usage: The
Center for International Education has moved. The center is keeping the same
- Capitalize the formal names of campus organizations
and ongoing programs: University Honors Program; Student Representative
- Do not capitalize
university or college when it stands alone to refer to UNC or a specific
college, respectively (e.g., The university is in Greeley; the college is
housed in McKee Hall.)
- Also see buildings, composition titles, titles
- Capitol, capitol, capital
- Capitol is used when referring to the building in
Washington, D.C. Lowercase capitol is used when referring to any
building in which government business is conducted. Lowercase capital is
the city where a government is located.
- The president held
the State of the Union Address at Capitol on Monday.
- Denver is the capital
- The mayor's office is
located in the capitol.
- A handbook for students that provides information about
the university, campus rules and regulations, and courses. Capitalize when used
with year. The 2009-2010 Catalog is the most current catalog at UNC. The
catalogs at UNC are very useful.
- Do not
- Do not capitalize in city of
constructions: The city of Greeley is in northern Colorado.
- classes, courses
- Lowercase when making a general reference to
subjects: He studies math and economics. Uppercase when referring to a
specific class or when the class name includes a proper noun or numeral: I
took Math and Liberal Arts, and Elementary Spanish I.
- One word.
- Coed (not co-ed) residence halls
house both male and female students. Never use coed to refer to a female
- collective nouns
- The collective nouns faculty and staff
can take singular or plural verbs, depending on whether group members are
acting individually or as a group. The sociology program faculty meets
regularly with the criminal justice program faculty. The staff sometimes
disagree among themselves.
- colleges and universities
- For colleges and universities other than the
University of Northern Colorado, use the full formal name on first reference;
abbreviations and acronyms may be used in subsequent references.
- Avoid excessive use. Use commas to avoid confusion
and provide clarity for the reader.
- Do not use a comma before the final conjunction in
a simple series: The color choices for the car were red, green and blue. EXCEPTION: A serial comma can be used when an
integral element of the series requires a conjunction - the programs of
physics, journalism, recreation, and chemistry and biochemistry - or in a
complex series of phrases.
- Do not use a comma to introduce a subordinate
clause: He decided not to go to class because he didn't want to expose
others to potentially contagious germs.
- Do not use a comma to set off essential
information: John's sister Amanda is arriving from Denver today. NOT John's sister, Amanda, is arriving from Denver
today. This implies that John has only one sister when in fact he has
three. However, the following is correct: John's father, Peter, is
remaining in Denver.
- DEPENDENT CLAUSES: If the second half of a compound
sentence does not contain its own subject and predicate, do not separate the
clauses with a comma: The ATM is in the University Center and is available
24 hours a day.
- INDEPENDENT CLAUSES: Use a comma between the two
independent clauses of a compound sentence (preceding the conjunctions and,
but, or, nor, for, so and yet). The second half of the sentence must
contain its own subject and verb: The ATM is in the University Center, and
it is available 24 hours a day.
- DATE: Use a comma between a specific date and year:
Jan. 1, 1999. A comma should follow the year when a specific date is
mentioned mid-sentence: May 11, 1988, was the date of the party. Do not
use a comma between month and year or season and year: July 2006; fall
- LOCATIONS: When using a city name with a state or
country in a sentence, place a comma afterward: She is a Denver, Colo.,
- INTRODUCTORY PREPOSITIONAL PHRASES: Use a comma to
separate a prepositional phrase of more than four words when the phrase comes
at the beginning of a sentence or if a comma is needed for clarity. At first
Tim thought Beth was smart. Of all the girls he knew in the class, she
impressed him most.
- commencement, Commencement
- Uppercase the formal ceremony; lowercase for
generic usage: This year's Commencement has been moved to Jackson Field.
The university holds commencements in December and May every year.
- compass directions
- Compass directions are not capitalized. He lived
just north of the campus.
- composition titles
- Use italics for titles of books,
magazines, journals, newspapers, newsletters, plays, operas, movies, television
and radio shows, and gallery and museum exhibitions.
- Note: This is a departure from AP
- Use quotation marks for subsets of
these major categories and short works. Examples: short stories, poems, a
specific episode of a television show, magazine and newspaper articles, songs
and individual works of art.
- Capitalize the first and last word of the title
along with all verbs, nouns and principal words: A Man Named Horse.
Capitalize all prepositions and conjunctions in a title that consist of four or
more letters: One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, The House That Jack Built.
- Contractions make for informal,
conversational-sounding copy and are acceptable and preferred for most
non-academic writing. Avoid purely colloquial contractions like what'll.
Full verb forms can be used in non-academic writing for emphasis.
specific course titles and put in quotes (e.g., Bob Smith, professor of
Communication, teaches the graduate-level course "Media Relations in Ethical
- courtesy titles
- Courtesy titles such as Mr.,
Mrs., Ms., etc. are generally omitted except in commencement and
- Also see titles
- cum laude
- A Latin phrase meaning with distinction;
lowercase. cum laude.