Style Guidelines

Style Guidelines

Style Guidelines

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The Office of Public Affairs has developed the following style guidelines to ensure consistency for official publications. In general, the use of the Associated Press Stylebook and the Chicago Manual of Style is preferred. The Merriam-Webster Dictionary is recommended.

Please note exceptions in blue boxes to some guidelines for formal documents such as Board of Regents agenda items.

For questions, contact the Office of Public Affairs at 512-499-4363. See " more resources " for other reference guides.

See also, Powerpoint Style Guidelines.

A. UT System References

The UT System

When referencing the UT System, use "The University of Texas System" on first reference and "the UT System" on second reference.

It is also correct to refer to "the System" on second reference, as long as the meaning is clear. It is also correct to use the term System Administration when referring to the specific administrative offices of the System in Austin. 

See also, institutions.

Periods and a space between "U" and "T" are permissible, but no longer necessary, in print publications or on the Web.

When publishing on the Web, do NOT use a space between "U" and "T" because there is no way to control the right margin and they might be split on two lines. 

Board Office: Periods and a space between "U" and "T" are required on agenda items or official documents submitted to the Board.

UT TeleCampus has no space and no periods. Use UTTC for second reference (not "the TeleCampus").

B. General Style Guidelines

Abbreviations

Abbreviations of degrees, time expressions, and countries' names take periods with no space between the elements: M.F.A., p.m., U.K., U.S.

Use periods but no space for names, Example: J.B. Pace

Board Office: Use Periods and a space for names, Example: J. B. Pace

Acronyms for job titles and names of most organizations, centers, buildings, forms, tests and other objects are generally spelled without periods: CEO, CIA, SAT, TAAS, etc.

Plural forms of acronyms receive an "s" and no apostrophe: She ordered two BLTs with avocado.

academic degrees  Use: 

  • bachelor's degree
  • master's degree
  • master's, doctorate
  • doctoral degree
  • B.A., M.A., Ph.D., LL.D., M.D., Ed.D., etc.
academic departments

Capitalize if referring to a specific department or other academic unit by its full proper name. Examples: the Department of History, the College of Liberal Arts, the School of Nursing. Otherwise, lower case: the history department, the college, the nursing school.

academic titles

Capitalize titles only when preceding a name; otherwise, lower case. Before a name, give a person only one title: Do not use phrases such as Dean of Liberal Arts and Professor of English Joe Smart. (A better alternative: Dean of Liberal Arts Joe Smart, who is also a professor of English, said hi.) Do not use German academic style, Dr. Prof. Smartz.

Very long titles are more readable when placed after a name: Joe Smart, dean of the College of Business Administration and Graduate School of Business. (See also, titles)

acronyms
Acronyms that are not well known should be spelled out on the first reference.

African-American

Use instead of black in most cases. (See also, ethnic designations)

Agenda Item

Always capitalize the A and I when referring to Board of Regents Agenda Items.

alumni

This word construction is taken directly from its Latin origins. Therefore, the noun forms are gender specific:

  • Alumna - one woman
  • Alumnae - a group of women
  • Alumnus - one man
  • Alumni" - a group of men or a group of men and women.
  • It's rare to see the feminine plural form, "alumnae." Most often the form "alumni" is used for any group of graduates.

Bauer House
Use without "the." Example: Bauer House is the official residence of the Chancellor. I'll meet you at Bauer House at noon.

between/among

Use "between" to show a relationship between two objects only. Use "among" when it's more than two.

biannual/biennial

Biannual is twice a year. Biennial is every two years.

The Board of Regents

UT System Board of Regents is preferred.

Avoid using UT Board of Regents.

Lowercase "board" and "regents" only if used separately. (She is a regent. He is on the board.)

It is permissible to capitalize Chancellor and Regent, but otherwise use lower case for titles.

Board Office: U. T. System Board of Regents. Capitalize all references to "Board" or "Regent." (She is a Regent. He is on the Board.) All titles are capitalized. (Bob Smith is Vice Chairman.)

See the Board of Regents' website for correct name and titles for the Regents. 

Note: In some documents, "Board" or "Regent" will be capitalized even when they stand alone. For example, in an official program for a ceremonial event such as a Santa Rita Award dinner, capitalize the words "Board" and "Regent" when they stand alone. But do not capitalize them in a news release or less formal documents.

Only "Rules and Regulations" are italicized in Regents' Rules and Regulations . Regents' Rules is acceptable on the second reference.

Board of Regents - correspondence
Use the following examples: Dear Chairman Jones, Vice Chairman Johnson, or Regent Smith. See also, "chairman."

campus (see also, institutions)

A less formal use of the term "campus" has become acceptable on the Web, however it is not considered an accurate description of the 15 UT institutions because some of the institutions have more than one "campus." For example, UT Austin has the main campus and the J. J. Pickle Research Campus. Please note: using "component(s)" is no longer acceptable.

capitalization

Official names are capitalized; unofficial, informal, shortened or generic names are not. This rule applies to offices, buildings, schools, departments, programs, centers, etc. (See also, titles and academic titles)

Avoid using ALL CAPS in headlines or text as it indicates shouting.

Phrases such as the center, the institute, or the new museum are not capitalized. Examples:

  • the Office of Admissions and Registrar, the registrar's office, the registrar.
  • the College of Business, the business college, the college.
  • the U. T. Austin Library, the library.
  • Capitalize official names of bulletins, forms, conventions, conferences, classes, etc. Dr. Johnson will teach Advanced Environmental Geology next semester. He will teach advanced geology.

Capitol
Capitalize when referring to the building. Using "Capitol building" is redundant. The committee met in the Capitol to discuss capital expenditures. The Capitol is in Austin, which is the capital city of Texas.

century

Lower case when used with a number: 20th century, 21st century. Avoid using superscript letters.

chairman

The Board of Regents' style is to use the term chairman in all references to board positions, even for female members. For example, "Mrs. Jones is vice chairman of the Board of Regents and chairman of the Facilities Planning and Construction Committee."

Board Office: Capitalize all references. (Mrs. Jones is Vice Chairman of the Board of Regents and Chairman of the Finance and Planning Committee.)

chief business officers

Lowercase.

Board Office: Capitalize.

commas

Do not use a comma before the "and" or other conjunctions in a series. Red, white and blue.

Board Office: Use a comma before the "and" or other conjunctions in a series. Red, white, and blue.

committee names

Capitalize the names of committees, e.g., the Academic Affairs Committee will meet on Thursday. 

components  (see also campus or institutions)

This term is no longer acceptable. Use institution instead. 

continuous(ly)/continual(ly)

continuous(ly) means without interruption, unnbroken; continual(ly) means again and again.

courts

The full proper name is 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. Second reference: the court or the appeals court.

data

Data is a plural noun, and normally takes plural verbs and pronouns.
Example: The data have been gathered.  This sentence is referring to individual pieces of data.
Exception: When data is referred to as a unit, it becomes a collective noun and takes singular verbs and pronouns. The data is accurate.

dates

When referring to a date in a letter or news story, use December 3 or Dec. 3, not December 3rd. Abbreviations of months are acceptable.

Board Office: Does not abbreviate months.

directions

(north, south, east, west). If a region is commonly known, it is capitalized. Tyler is in East Texas. The UT System owns land in West Texas. Otherwise, do not capitalize. Austin is north of San Antonio.

e.g., i.e.
The abbreviation e.g. means "for example." The abbreviation i.e. means "that is" or "in other words." Always follow e.g. and i.e. with a comma.

email

Lower case, no hyphen. Do capitalize when first word of sentence or bullet.

insure/ensure/assure

Insure means to establish a contract for insurance of some type. Ensure means to guarantee. Assure means to convince. Ensure, insure, and assure are interchangeable in many contexts where they indicate the making certain or inevitable of an outcome, but insure sometimes stresses the taking of necessary measures beforehand, and assure distinctively implies the removal of doubt and suspense from a person's mind.

ethnic designations

Hyphenate African-American, Asian-American, Mexican-American, Cuban-American, etc. Use Anglo rather than white in contexts in which there are also references to Hispanics, Latinos, etc. When summarizing enrollment data, etc., use these designations as a preferred alternative to U.S. Census designations or other government usage: Anglo, African-American, Hispanic, Mexican-American, Asian-American, American Indian (or Native American), Foreign.

executive officers

Lowercase.

Board Office: Capitalize.

figures

When a text refers to numbered graphs or tables, refer to them in the text as Figure 1, Figure 2, etc. That is, italicize the reference in the text. On the figure itself, the label (Figure 1, Figure 2, etc.) does not need to be italicized. Note: Figures in an appendix should be designated according to the letter of the appendix. E.g., Figure A-1, Figure B-6, etc.

fiscal year

Capitalize when referring to a specific fiscal year e.g., Fiscal Year 2009. Abbreviated FY. Use FY only once when referring to a range of years. Example: FY 2006 - 2001 and not FY 2006 - FY 2001.

flags

They are lowered to half-staff, not half-mast.

flagship

Do not use. Use "top-tier" instead.

full time, full-time

Hyphenate as an adjective. Otherwise, two words. He is a full-time faculty member. He teaches full time. (See hyphens.)

fundraising

One word.

general revenue

Lower case. The budget includes general revenue appropriations.

Board Office: Capitalize General Revenue Appropriations except when quoting the Texas Constitution.

health care

"Health care" as two words is preferred as a noun and an adjective.

high-quality

Hyphenate when it is an adjective. The University has high-quality programs. Otherwise, no hyphen: The University is known for its high quality. (This rule on hyphens also applies to many other words.)

Hopwood

Italicize when referring to the court case.

hyphens

Do not hyphenate adverbial phrases. Proofreaders are culturally elite people. Do hyphenate compounds used as adjectives before a noun: a far-reaching decision, a much-needed vacation, a thought-provoking article, a University-related program. Do not use two hyphens together as a dash (--). Use an emdash.

Institutions (see also, campus)

Always use the institution's complete name on first reference and its official abbreviation (below) on second reference. In general, when referencing the 15 UT institutions collectively, use the term "institutions" and not "components" or "campuses." Second references can also be "the University," "the institution," "the Health Science Center," "the Medical Branch," "the Health Center," etc. Also, use a space between M. and D. in M. D. Anderson.

Do not use hyphens between "UT" and the rest of the name: for example UT-Arlington or UT-Medical Branch.

Exception: In less formal situations or in tables, charts, and graphs, the periods in UT may be omitted in order to improve readability. (Example: UTEP.)

Institution References: In accordance with the Regents' Rules and Regulations, Series 40601, the institutions should be listed in the following order with the following abbreviations on second reference. Other generally accepted abbreviations are in parenthesis. For charts, further abbreviations may be used as long as the meaning is clear (e.g., "Arlington," "Austin," etc.)

Institution Abbreviation*

Board Office

The University of Texas at Arlington  UT Arlington (also UTA) 
U. T. Arlington (also UTA) 

The University of Texas at Austin  UT Austin (also UTAUS; never UTA) 
U. T. Austin (also UTAUS; neverUTA) 

The University of Texas at Brownsville  UT Brownsville (also UTB or UTB/TSC) 
U. T. Brownsville (also UTB or UTB/TSC) 

The University of Texas at Dallas  UT Dallas (also UTD) 
U. T. Dallas (also UTD) 

The University of Texas at El Paso UT El Paso (also UTEP) 
U. T. El Paso (also UTEP) 

The University of Texas-Pan American  UT Pan American (also UTPA) 
U. T. Pan American (also UTPA) 

The University of Texas of the Permian Basin UT Permian Basin (also UTPB) 
U. T. Permian Basin (also UTPB) 

The University of Texas at San Antonio  UT San Antonio (also UTSA) 
U. T. San Antonio (also UTSA) 

The University of Texas at Tyler  UT Tyler (also UTT) 
U. T. Tyler (also UTT) 

The University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center  UT Southwestern Medical Center (also "Southwestern" or UTSWMC) 
U. T. Southwestern Medical Center (also "Southwestern" or UTSWMC) 

The University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston UT Medical Branch - Galveston (also the Medical Branch or UTMB) 
U. T. Medical Branch - Galveston (also the Medical Branch or UTMB)

The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston UT Health Science Center - Houston (also UTHSCH, UTHSC-H, or UTHSC-Houston) Never use UT Houston. 
U. T. Health Science Center - Houston (also UTHSCH, UTHSC-H, or UTHSC-Houston) Never use U. T. Houston. 

The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio  UT Health Science Center - San Antonio(also UTHSCSA, UTHSC-SA, or UTHSC-San Antonio) 
U. T. Health Science Center - San Antonio (also UTHSCSA, UTHSC-SA, or UTHSC-San Antonio)

The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center  UT MD Anderson Cancer Center (also MD Anderson, UTMDA, Cancer Center, or UTMDACC) 
U. T. M. D. Anderson Cancer Center (also M. D. Anderson, UTMDA, Cancer Center, or UTMDACC) 

The University of Texas Health Science Center at Tyler  UT Health Science Center - Tyler (also UTHSCT, UTHSC-T, or UTHSC-Tyler) 
U. T. Health Science Center - Tyler (also UTHSCT, UTHSC-T, or UTHSC-Tyler) 

The University of Texas System  UT System 
U. T. System 

The University of Texas System Administration  UT System Administration 
U. T. System Administration 

The University of Texas System Board of Regents  UT System Board of Regents
U. T. System Board of Regents

*less formal abbreviations are in parenthesis

See Regents' Rules and Regulations, Series 40601 for more information including official names for satellites, colleges, and schools.

Internet
Always capitalize. 

judgment

Not judgement.

legislation

Refer to bills as House Bill 1 or Senate Bill 1, or as H.B. 1 or S.B. 1 (periods but no space between the letters, then a space between the letters and the number). Use codifications after the legislative session, e.g., Texas Government Code Section 41.44.

legislative

Do not capitalize this adjective. Ex: That is a legislative matter.

Legislature

Capitalize this noun in all references to a particular legislative body, such as the Texas Legislature, which can also be referred to as the Legislature. Do not capitalize legislature when it is used in a generic way: The law-making body in a democracy is called a legislature.

Nobel laureate

Capitalize Nobel, not laureate.

Nobel Prize

Also, Nobel Prize in physics, Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine. But, Nobel Peace Prize. In economics, the correct designation is Nobel Memorial Prize in Economics. Nobel Prize winner. But, Nobel prize-winning scientist.

noon

Not 12:00 noon. Does not need to be capitalized in agendas.

numbers

In most cases, use numerals for numbers 10 and above, but spell out numbers one through nine.

Examples: He has finished six of his 14 tasks.

Exceptions:
Use numerals with the words "million," "billion," (The city has 3 million people) and "percent" (there was a 3 percent reduction in the budget).

Note: In practice, we make some exceptions to the above style on numbers. In digests, special tables, some bulleted items, or other cases where a judgment has been made that statistics ought to stand out, we use all numerals, even for 1 through 9. Thus, the Almanac section of the Annual Report.

online

One word, no hyphen. 

percent

One word. Usually spell out in a sentence. But usually write as % when in a table or graph. There was a 3 percent reduction in the budget. Note: Top 10 Percent Rule requires all caps and the number 10.

Board Office: Use the % symbol. 

plural acronyms

No apostrophe. RFQs, IDs, ABCs, the '60s. Do not use an apostrophe to form the plural of any proper noun. The Cunninghams will attend the meeting.

policy-maker

Also: decision-maker. Exception: policyholder.

principal/principle

Principal as a noun is a chief person or thing; as an adjective, it means first in importance. Principle is a noun meaning a fundamental truth, doctrine or law; a guiding rule or code of conduct; a method of operation.

punctuation

In general, follow the rules found in any standard dictionary or grammar book, and be consistent. Remember that punctuation marks go inside quote marks.

quotation marks

Set quotation marks outside of periods and commas. "There are several people missing," he said. He wrote a report called "Our Stylish Guidelines."

Regents' Rules and Regulations

Do not underline. Italicize "Rules and Regulations" only. Always capitalize the R in Regents.

seasons

Do not capitalize the names of the four seasons. He enrolled in fall 2011. (Also, this is better than "he enrolled in the fall of 2011.")

Board Office: Capitalize season when followed by a year. 

  • I went to school this fall. 
  • I registered in Fall 2005. 
  • I attended U. T. for the Fall Semester 2005. 
semester

Do not capitalize. He enrolled in the fall semester.

Board Office: Capitalize semester when followed by a year. I attended U. T. for the Fall Semester 2005. 

sentence spacing

General Practice (AP and CMS guidelines): 1 space between sentences.

special item

Do not capitalize in a text. The University requested a new special item for research support.

state and federal

Lowercase state and federal in all references, except as part of corporate or governmental bodies that use the word as part of their formal names. Lowercase state and federal when used as an adjective to distinguish something from state, county, city, town, or private entities.

Examples:

  • The official website for the State of Texas provides access to state and local government agencies.
  • I visited UT's 15 campuses in the state of Texas.
  • The State has evidence to the contrary.
  • That is a federal offense.
  • The State Board of Equalization collects sales taxes.
  • We will visit three states during our summer vacation.
  • The Federal Bureau of Investigation has been subject to much scrutiny and criticism lately.
  • Her business must comply with all county, state, and federal laws. 

Board Office: Capitalize "State of Texas." 

state abbreviations

For addresses and tables/charts use the two-letter abbreviations adopted by the Postal Service with no periods.

state-of-the-art

Hyphenate as an adjective: He has a state-of-the-art computer system. Avoid other usages, such as "His computer is state of the art."

System

This is the UT System, not UT Systems. See also, UT System References.

Systemwide

One word, no hyphen.

telemedicine

One word.

teleconference

One word.

thank you

Two words. Never thank-you.

that, which, who, whom

Use who and whom when referring to people and to animals with a name. Robert Jones is the person who designed the course. Use that and which in reference to inanimate objects and to animals without a name.

time

In most cases, Associated Press style is preferred. Examples: 2 p.m., 6:30 a.m., 9 o'clock.

titles

Capitalize a person's title when it precedes the name. Do not capitalize a title when it follows a name or stands by itself. (Exception: It is permissible to capitalize Chancellor or Regent if that is preferred.) In general publications, do not use "Dr." or "M.D." See also, academic titles.

Examples: 

  • President Larry Smith 
  • Larry Smith, president of UT Austin, ate dinner. 
  • The president of the Faculty Senate was late. 
  • The chancellor and the chairman of the board were on time. 
  • James L. Smith, surgeon and professor of oncology at M. D. Anderson, ate dinner. 

Board Office Examples: 

  • President Larry Smith, President of U. T. Austin, ate dinner. 
  • The President of the Faculty Senate was late. 
  • The Chancellor and the Chairman of the Board were on time. 
  • James L. Smith, surgeon and professor of oncology at U. T. M. D. Anderson Cancer Center, ate dinner.
top-tier
Use instead of "flagship" to denote a premier research university.
tuition deregulation/flexibility

Use only "tuition flexibility."

underserved

One word.

underutilized

One word.

under way

It is almost always two words. According to the dictionary, it does not necessarily have a nautical connotation.

United States

Spell out as a noun, abbreviate as an adjective. No space in U.S.

University

Capitalize when reference is to a UT System institution. The University has a wonderful library. See also, UT System References.

U.S.

No space between "U." and "S."

usage

The conservative approach is to use this word only with reference to language, and to use the noun use in other cases. Their usage of the English language is impeccable. Their electricity use is getting out of hand.

UT Online Consortium 

Previously UT Telecampus. No periods between U and T.

UT System

See UT System References.

UT TeleCampus

No longer used. Now called UT Online Consortium. 

vice chairman

General Practice: Lowercase. (Bob Smith is vice chairman.)

Board Office: Uppercase. (Bob Smith is Vice Chairman.) 

video conferencing

Do not use as a verb.

Washington, D.C.

Use a comma after Washington and periods after the D and C. There is no space between the D and C.

Web

Use an uppercase "W". Netscape is a Web browser.

webcast

One word, no hyphen.

webmaster

One word, no hyphen.

web page

Web page is still two words, although webpage is becoming more accepted and can be used in more informal communication.

website

one word, no hyphen.

West Texas

Capitalize. The UT System owns land in West Texas. See also, directions.

which/who

Use commas to set off nonrestrictive phrases such as those beginning with which/who. A nonrestrictive phrase or clause does not restrict or limit the meaning of the word it is modifying. It is, in a sense, interrupting the sentence to add extra information. Even though removing the non-restrictive element would result in some loss of meaning, the sentence would still make sense without it.
 

Example (nonrestrictive): The country of Haiti, which for decades has suffered with grinding poverty and mind-numbing violence, is unfamiliar with the workings of a true democracy.

Example (restrictive): Those residents of Texas who do not hold well-paying jobs must resent the common portrayal of the state as a land of opportunity.

Note: although commas are preferred, you can use two other punctuation marks to set off non-restrictive phrases or other parenthetical information: parentheses and dashes.

  • Enclosing the phrase in parentheses reduces the importance of that information: Mr. Grundy's driving record (with one small exception) was exemplary.
  • Placing the phrase between dashes emphasizes the material: Mr. Grundy's driving record -- with one exception -- was exemplary.

Who, whom: Use who when someone is the subject of a sentence, clause or phrase and use whom when someone is the object of a verb or preposition .

Who, whom, that, which: Use who and whom when referring to people and to animals with a name. Robert Jones is the person who designed the course. Use that and which in reference to inanimate objects and to animals without a name.

workforce

One word. Also, workplace, workroom, workshop, workstation, workweek, workwoman, workman, etc.

World Wide Web

Three words, capitalized.

years

In most cases, use the full four-digits of a year's designation. Enrollment for fall 1998 is up. The Legislature is working on appropriations for the 2000-2001 biennium. We are out of travel money for FY 1999. She graduated in 1924. Occasionally it will be preferred to use only the last two digits, such as The Class of '68 welcomes you to Austin.

 

More resources:

Dictionary: www.m-w.com/
Bartlett's Quotations: www.bartleby.com/100/
Common Errors in English: www.wsu.edu/~brians/errors/
World Fact Book: www.bartleby.com/151/
Reporter's Desktop: www.reporter.org/desktop/

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