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 Political Science.
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, Ph.D.
Capitalize and spell out formal titles such as president and chair ONLY when they precede a name: President John Smith. Lowercase elsewhere.
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 periods.
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 Publications.
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  970-351-2718.
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.
Always 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 feminine plural.

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 groups.
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 Lounge.
For rooms that are numbered, the preferred style is: Carter Hall 2009; Michener Library L-9.
bus, buses, busses
Bus is a vehicle of public transportation. Buses is the plural form of bus. Busses means kisses.


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 Program.
Use lowercase on second or generic reference: the communication school; the college's faculty; the school's journalism program.
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 phone number.
Capitalize the formal names of campus organizations and ongoing programs: University Honors Program; Student Representative Council.
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 of Colorado.

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 spell out.
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 college student.
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 1999.
LOCATIONS: When using a city name with a state or country in a sentence, place a comma afterward: She is a Denver, Colo., native.
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 style.
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.
Capitalize specific course titles and put in quotes (e.g., Bob Smith, professor of Communication, teaches the graduate-level course "Media Relations in Ethical Business.")
courtesy titles
Courtesy titles such as Mr., Mrs., Ms., etc. are generally omitted except in commencement and convocation programs.
Also see titles
cum laude
A Latin phrase meaning with distinction; lowercase. cum laude.

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