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Terms and Punctuation

Campus units at UIC each have diverse audiences and unique messages that must be communicated across various media. However, all of these varied marketing and communications efforts have one common link: The message is most effective when it is delivered with clarity and consistency. Likewise, every collection of UIC publications — whether from a single unit or from various offices — will be more authoritative in a reader’s mind when each piece reinforces the voice of the others with a consistent style.

Most of the entries in this writing guide are consistent with the Associated Press Stylebook. If you have questions that are not answered by the guide, you can reference the complete Associated Press Stylebook (order a hard copy or downloadable PDF, or subscribe to have access to content online). For the few instances that are a departure from AP style, sources include the Chicago Manual of Style, Strunk and White’s The Elements of Style, Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary, and the Electronic Encyclopedia of Chicago.

View the University of Illinois Style Guide.

Terminology Specific to UIC Heading link

athletics designation: The UIC Flames compete in 18 NCAA Division I sports. As of July 2022, they are members of the Missouri Valley Conference. Formerly, they competed in the Horizon League.

C: The letter C in UIC is not to be used as the first letter of a subsequent word that begins with the letter C, e.g., UICampus. Also, always insert a space between UIC and the subsequent word.

campus regions: Lowercase. When writing about sides of campus, use the words “the” and “of campus” — the south side of campus, the east side of campus, the west side of campus.

Avoid using east campus and west campus, which could imply distinctly separate campuses.

Great Cities Commitment: Spell out the phrase on first reference; Great Cities is an acceptable abbreviation in subsequent references. Do not use acronym GCC. Commitment is the correct term to describe UIC’s pledge to improve the quality of life in Chicago and other cities.

Great Cities Institute: Serves as UIC’s central point for new initiatives in interdisciplinary, applied urban research. It is structured as a research unit within the College of Urban Planning and Public Affairs. For more information, visit the Great Cities Institute website at greatcities.uic.edu

Missouri Valley Conference: This is the NCAA conference of which UIC is a member (as of July 1, 2022).

Jane Addams Hull-House Museum: Note the spelling of “Addams.” Hyphenate Hull-House.

mail code: Two words. Abbreviate as MC (capital letters, no periods or slash) and leave a space between the acronym and the number.

Place the abbreviation and the number after the department name or office number: Office of Strategic Marketing and Communications MC 289 or 2705 University Hall MC 289. Official business cards demonstrate the correct format.

neighborhoods near UIC: Use these spellings for the most commonly identified neighborhoods surrounding UIC: Little Italy, Greektown, Pilsen, the Loop, Little Village, Chinatown, Near West Side.

phone numbers at UIC: Always include the full prefix when writing a phone number. Also, when writing a phone number in a document for external audiences, preface it with the area code (use hyphens).

residence hall: This is the term used at UIC, rather than dorm or dormitory.

Sparky: This is the official mascot of UIC athletics.

streets around UIC: Roadways around UIC take a variety of suffixes: Roosevelt Road, Ashland Avenue, Halsted Street, Congress Parkway. Use of the abbreviations St., Ave. and Blvd. are acceptable in numbered addresses; all other suffixes should be spelled out in all uses.

System Offices: Term used to describe the offices that report to the President of the University of Illinois System. These offices provide services for the three universities and the System overall. This term should replace the use of “University Administration.” Use University of Illinois System Offices on first reference. Acceptable second references include U of I System Offices, System Offices, U of I System offices, and System offices.

theatre: University of Illinois Chicago uses the nonstandard spelling for the word theatre. Note that this is a departure from the Associated Press Stylebook.

UI Health: Short for the University of Illinois Hospital & Health Sciences System. UI Health is the University of Illinois Chicago’s academic health enterprise. It is used for the hospital, clinics and health science colleges when referring to anything clinical or patient focused, as well as translational research. All health sciences colleges retain the university name in their formal names: the University of Illinois Chicago College of Medicine, Dentistry, etc. Bear in mind that teaching and research are activities of the colleges only, not the medical center.

Whenever possible, UI Health should be defined as the university’s health system or academic health enterprise to clearly identify UI Health as part of UIC: UI Health, which is the academic health system of the University of Illinois Chicago, broke ground on a new clinical building on July 20.

Note: Do not use the phrase “UI Health faculty.” Only use “UIC faculty.”

Health care is written as two words; one word can be used if called for in proper nouns.

University of Illinois Hospital & Health Sciences System: Can be used in formal references to UIC’s academic health system.  Subsequent references can be abbreviated by using UI Health.

University of Illinois Hospital: Used to refer specifically to the hospital that is part of UI Health, if necessary for clarity. Do not use University of Illinois Medical Center or UIC Hospital.

UI Health Mile Square Health Center: Used for the network of community clinics that receives funding from the government as a federally qualified health center. Always include UI Health and write out Mile Square Health Center (singular) on the first reference. UI Health Mile Square or Mile Square is OK on second reference. If referring to one Mile Square clinic, be specific: UI Health Mile Square Health Center-Englewood on first reference and Mile Square-Englewood on second reference. Or more generically on second reference: Mile Square’s Englewood clinic or Mile Square clinics in Englewood, Back of the Yards and Cicero.

UIC Flames: Capitalize in all references to the nickname for UIC athletic teams. Use with the university acronym on first reference. It can stand alone on subsequent references: The UIC Flames have won their first 11 games this season. Fans of the Flames are hoping to see their team go to the NCAA tournament.

UIC Student Center East: Formerly the Chicago Circle Center.

UIC Student Center West: Formerly the Chicago Illini Union.

University Library: This is the formal collective name for the UIC libraries listed by their individual names below:

  • Richard J. Daley Library
  • Library of the Health Sciences – Chicago
  • Crawford Library of the Health Sciences – Rockford
  • Library of the Health Sciences – Peoria
  • Library of the Health Sciences – Urbana

University of Illinois System: This is the name of Illinois’ largest public university system, which comprises three universities in Chicago, Urbana-Champaign and Springfield. Acceptable second references are: U of I System, System or University of Illinois. Find the U of I System online at www.uillinois.edu.

Use University of Illinois judiciously, as the general public typically interprets an unqualified mention to mean only the Urbana-Champaign campus. Do not refer to the Urbana-Champaign campus simply as Illinois. On first reference, use the full name of the university rather than the acronym.

University of Illinois Alumni Association: The membership organization for alumni of all three University of Illinois campuses. Find the association online at www.uiaa.org.

University of Illinois Chicago: Not University of Illinois-Chicago or University of Illinois at Chicago. Use the full name rather than the acronym on first reference. Do not put it in parentheses after first mention of the full name. The acronym will be understood and is acceptable to use in subsequent references.

University of Illinois Board of Trustees: Capitalize all principal words. In subsequent references, use the board (lowercase).

University of Illinois Foundation: Spell out the full name on first reference. It is acceptable to use the foundation (lowercase) in subsequent references. Find the foundation online at www.uif.uillinois.edu. The corresponding department at UIC is the Office of Vice Chancellor for Advancement.

General Terminology Heading link

The following entries were selected for inclusion in this guide for one of a few reasons: they concern terminology that is frequently used in university communications; they recommend answers to common style questions that have more than one possible solution; or they concern some of the most frequently encountered errors in writing. Again, the source for most of these entries is the Associated Press Stylebook, and you are encouraged to refer to that text to answer any question not clarified by the content here.

A

abbreviations and acronyms: Do not follow the name of a college, department, organization, project, etc., with an abbreviation or acronym in parentheses. If an abbreviation or acronym is not clear on second reference without this arrangement, do not use it. Names not commonly known by your audience should not be abbreviated.

academic year, fiscal year: In running text, it is most clear to name both years that comprise the academic or fiscal year: During the 2020–2021 academic year, federal funding to UIC grew, or federal funding to UIC grew during academic year 2020–2021. In abbreviations, frequently preferred for charts, tables and lists, it is acceptable use AY or FY followed by the calendar year during which the academic or fiscal year ends. For example, a fiscal year beginning in July 2020 and ending in June 2021 may be abbreviated FY 2021.

adviser: Rather than advisor. Always lowercase: A student may request a change of academic adviser.

African American: No hyphen. See also, Black.

age: Always use numerals: He is 3 years old. Hyphenate the adjective form: She has a 3-year-old son.

alma mater: Spelled as two words, lowercase.

alumna, alumnae, alumnus, alumni: Use the correct word for gender and number. Avoid using “alum.”

  • Alumna is feminine singular: Michelle is an alumna of UIC.
  • Alumnae is feminine plural: Michelle and Eva are alumnae of UIC.
  • Alumnus is masculine or gender-neutral singular: James is an alumnus of UIC. We hope every alumnus will attend Homecoming.
  • Alumni is masculine or gender-neutral plural: James and George are alumni of UIC. Michelle, Eva, James and George are alumni.

ampersand (&): Use the ampersand when it is part of an institution’s formal name: the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. It should not otherwise be used in place of “and.”

a.m., p.m.: This construction is preferable to am or AM or A.M. See also, times.

an: Use “an” before a word that begins with a vowel or that, when spoken, sounds like it begins with a vowel: An NIH-sponsored training program will commence in January. Use “an” before words that begin with a silent “h” (an hour). Use “a” before words that begin with a pronounced “h” (a historic moment).

Asian American: No hyphen. When possible, refer to a person’s country of origin or follow the person’s preference. For example: Filipino American or Indian American.

associate (chancellor, professor): Do not hyphenate with any other word in a person’s title. At UIC, the title associate chancellor takes the preposition “for,” rather than “of.” See also, capitalization of people’s titles.

awards: Capitalize the name of all awards, including the word “award” if it is part of the formal name. Lowercase “award” in generic or subsequent references: The Dean’s Scholar Award allows a student to work full time on dissertation research. The award is highly competitive.

B

Black: Use the capitalized term as an adjective in a racial, ethnic or cultural sense: Black people, Black culture, Black literature, Black studies, Black colleges. For the most up-to-date information, review “race-related coverage” in the AP Stylebook.

board of trustees, board of directors: Only capitalize as part of a formal name: The University of Illinois Board of Trustees. In subsequent references, use the board (lowercase).

C

campuswide, universitywide: Each is one word without a hyphen.

capital, capitol: The word capital (lowercase) refers to the city which serves as a seat of government: Springfield is the capital of Illinois. The word capitol refers to a physical building that houses a governmental body. Capitalize U.S. Capitol and the Capitol when referring to the building in Washington or to an identified state’s capitol building: Mayor Daley met with legislators at the Illinois Capitol this morning.

capitalization of people’s titles (occupational):

  • Capitalize if using directly before a person’s name in running text: The keynote will be delivered by Dean Mary Smith. Dean Smith is a nationally recognized expert in the field.
  • Capitalize when the person’s complete name and title are standing alone: Mary Smith, Dean.
  • Lowercase and set off with commas when the title follows the person’s name in running text: Mary Smith, dean, will deliver the keynote.
  • Lowercase if using generically: Mary Smith is a dean at UIC.
  • If a title is occupational, do not capitalize: faculty member Kevin Johnson, movie star Nicole Kidman, astronaut Neil Armstrong. See also, associate, interim, legislative titles, vice.

capitalization of place names: Capitalize popular or legendary names. Do not place them within quotation marks: the Windy City, the Big Apple, Honest Abe, the Big Hurt. Capitalize directional words —and related common nouns, if applicable — when they refer to an understood region: the Midwest, the South, the East Coast, Southeast Asia, Northern Ireland, the Western Hemisphere. Otherwise, lowercase directional words: northwest Mississippi.

capitalization of proper nouns: Capitalize common nouns when they are an integral part of the official name of a place or thing: Honors College, Millennium Park, State Street. Lowercase these nouns when they stand alone in subsequent references: The Honors College is located in Burnham Hall. The college’s main office is open daily from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. When writing the names of multiple institutions of the same type, lowercase the common noun: The Graduate and Honors colleges are located on the east side of campus.

chairman, chairwoman, chairperson:

chancellor: Capitalize as a formal title before a name: Chancellor Michael Amiridis wrote the opening letter for the report. Otherwise, lowercase: The chancellor’s letter was the opening piece in the report. See also, capitalization of people’s titles.

Chicago Public Schools: This is the formal name of the city’s public school district. Capitalize all words when referring to that entity, and do not place the word the before it: UIC is partnering with Chicago Public Schools on the project. It is acceptable to use the acronym CPS in subsequent references. Lowercase public schools when speaking generically: Test scores continue to rise in Chicago public schools on the Near West Side.

Child care: Two words.

City of Chicago: Capitalize when referring to the government of the city: The City of Chicago announced plans for a Veterans Day commemoration. Lowercase in generic references: UIC is located in the great city of Chicago. When writing about Chicago, do not include Illinois (or any abbreviation of it) after the city name.

class levels: The terms for undergraduate students at UIC are freshman, sophomore, junior, senior — all lowercase.

  • In running text, use either of the following forms to note class year: John Jones, a 1987 graduate; 1987 graduate John Jones.
  • When alumni status is obvious from the context, use class-year contractions with no comma between name and year: John Jones ’87.
  • When a person has multiple degrees, list each one, separated with commas, and include the class year after each degree: John Jones ’87, MS ’89, PhD ’92. Note that the first year listed is understood to indicate the year the bachelor’s degree was received.
  • When writing about two or more alumni, place the name of the earlier graduate first: Jane Smith ’85 and John Jones ’87 were recognized at the reception.
  • When a graduate is listed with his or her spouse, place the graduate’s name second and put the class year after his or her name: Michael and Lisa Garcia ’92.
  • When two alumni are married, place the class year after each individual’s name, attaching the last name only to the second person’s first name: Lisa ’92 and Michael Garcia ’93.
  • In instances of two or more alumni from the same family, refer to each with full names and place dates of graduation following each name: Siblings Kevin Williams ’87, Joseph Williams ’89 and Lisa Williams Jones ’92 were involved in the community food drive.
  • Note the direction of the apostrophe (it is not a single quotation mark) when used with class years.

college, university: Capitalize when part of a formal name. Lowercase when standing alone in subsequent references: The College of Pharmacy was founded more than 145 years ago. The college is still one of the nation’s leading educators of pharmacists. When writing the names of multiple colleges or universities, lowercase the common noun: The Graduate and Honors colleges are located on the east side of campus. See also, capitalization of proper nouns.

Note that in describing the relationship between a faculty member and college, the correct phrasing is that the title includes “in the college,” not “at the college.” John Smith, professor of physics in the UIC College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, is the keynote speaker.

commencement: Capitalize when referring to the annual ceremony of UIC or one of its colleges; lowercase in other usage.

committee: Capitalize when part of a formal name: Academic Professional Advisory Committee; lowercase in subsequent references to the committee and in all generic references.

company names: Use the full formal name spelled and punctuated as the company prefers. To ascertain preference, refer to the company’s website and look for use of the name in running text, as opposed to in the logo, which may use graphic elements not functional in running text. If the company’s name begins with a lowercase letter (e.g., eBay) retain that spelling, capitalizing the first letter only when the name is the first word in a sentence.

Congress: Capitalize U.S. Congress and Congress when referring to the U.S. legislature or when referring to another country’s government that uses the term.

council: Capitalize when part of a formal name: Council for Excellence in Teaching and Learning. Lowercase in subsequent references to the council and in all generic references.

course names: Capitalize all principal words. Do not italicize or put inside quotation marks: Students who enjoyed American Civilization to the Late Nineteenth Century might also be interested in Topics in Urban History. See also, department names.

D

dates:

  • Always use numerals, without -st, -nd, -rd, or -th: May 10.
  • If writing the month, date and year, separate date from year with a comma: May 10, 2000.
  • If writing the month, date and year in running text, set off the year with commas: May 10, 1996, was their graduation date.
  • Write dates in the sequence month-date-year: May 10, 2000. Avoid the following constructions: 5/10/00, 5-10-00, 10 May 2000.
  • If writing a time with a date, write in the sequence day-date-time: Tuesday, May 10, 9 a.m.
  • If writing the month and date, abbreviate Jan., Feb., Aug., Sept., Oct., Nov. and Dec. Spell out March, April, May, June and July: The exhibit runs from Jan. 10 through April 27.
  • If writing the name of a month without date or year, spell it out: The exhibit opens in January.
  • If writing only the month and year, spell out the month name and do not use a comma before the year: May 2021.
  • The current year is generally assumed. Unless clarity is at risk, omit the year when the date written is in the current year.
  • To express a range of years, it is acceptable to use either 2020–2021 or 2020–21.

dean’s list: Lowercase.

degrees: Lowercase and use an apostrophe in bachelor’s degree and master’s degree. Note that associate degree does not take the possessive form. In the long form construction, capitalize principal words and do not use an apostrophe: Bachelor of Science or Master of Arts.

It is recommended that degrees be abbreviated without periods: BS, MA, PhD, MD, MBA, DDS, MPH, BSW, PharmD, PsyD, EdD. When the degree abbreviation is extremely rare or is likely to be unfamiliar to your readers, spell out the degree. When an abbreviation is used after a name, set off the    with commas: Jane Smith, MD, attended the event.

See also, doctor and capitalization of people’s titles.

department names: Capitalize a department name when it stands alone or is written as an official and formal name, which should be preceded by UIC (note: not UIC’s): The UIC Department of History received seven grants last year. Subsequent references should be written more simply as the department, the history department or the department of history (lowercase).

Do not capitalize names of departments in other uses, except words that are proper nouns: Robin Brown has taught in the department of history and the department of English. Note that in describing the relationship between a department and its college, the correct phrasing is that the department is in the college, not of the college: The department of occupational therapy in the College of Applied Health Sciences is top ranked in its field.

doctor:  Use Dr. in first reference as a formal title before the name of an individual who holds a doctor of dental surgery, doctor of medicine, doctor of optometry, doctor of osteopathic medicine, doctor of podiatric medicine, or doctor of veterinary medicine.

For people who hold PhDs, the optimal construction is: Jane Smith, who has a doctorate in sociology (may substitute PhD for doctorate). Again, the reason is to clarify the specialty.

dorm, dormitory: It is the practice at UIC to use the term residence hall.

E

e.g., i.e.: Use periods after each letter, and set off using appropriate punctuation that indicates the phrase is parenthetical to the rest of the sentence: The judges will accept submissions in any media (e.g., print, electronic, videotape).

E.g. is the abbreviation of the Latin phrase exempli gratia (for example). It is used before providing an example that illustrates a statement made in the preceding phrase: Root vegetables (e.g., potatoes, carrots, parsnips) are generally low-fat and vitamin-rich. To remember the proper use of e.g., think of it as standing for example given. See also, for example.

I.e. is the abbreviation of the Latin phrase id est (that is). It is used to reword a statement made in the preceding phrase: Root vegetables, i.e., vegetables that grow underground, are generally low-fat and vitamin-rich. To remember the proper use of i.e., consider that its most common synonymous phrase, in other words, begins with the same letter, “i.”

email: not e-mail; use Email if it is the first word in a sentence.

emeritus: Capitalize and place after the formal title: Dean Emeritus Jane Smith. Lowercase when it follows the name: The speaker was introduced by Jane Smith, dean emeritus of the college.

emoticons: Use of typographical symbols, such as :-), to indicate mood in writing should be restricted to personal correspondence.

F

fact sheet: Spell as two words, not hyphenated.

faculty: The word functions as a plural noun when used alone and should take a plural verb form: At UIC, faculty take time to talk with students.

However, the word functions as a singular noun when used with “the” and should take a singular verb form: At UIC, the faculty takes time to talk with students.

FAQ: This abbreviation of frequently asked questions is acceptable on first reference.

fellow: Capitalize only in named fellow posts or fellowships: Humphrey Fellow, Abraham Lincoln Graduate Fellowship. Lowercase in general references: Michael Reyes has been elected a fellow of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers.

fiscal year: See academic year, fiscal year.

for example: In citing an example, either use this phrase, spelling out example., or use e.g. Do not use abbreviations such as ex: to introduce an example. See also, e.g., i.e.

foundation names: Use the full formal name spelled and punctuated as the foundation prefers.

To ascertain preference, refer to the foundation’s website and look for use of the name in running text, as opposed to in the logo, which may use graphic elements not functional in running text.

If the name begins with a lowercase letter, retain that spelling, capitalizing the first letter only when the name is the first word in a sentence.

Fulbright Scholar: Always capitalize.

full-time, full time: Hyphenate only when used as a modifier: Full-time students are eligible for the award. Interested students who are enrolled full time should apply by October 31.

fundraise, fundraising, fundraiser: Each is one word in all cases.

G

Gender identity: Not synonymous with sex. Gender refers to a person’s social identity. Sex refers to biological characteristics. Language around gender is evolving; please refer to the AP Stylebook for the latest updates.

General Assembly: Capitalize when referring to the Illinois legislature or to any identified state’s legislature that uses the same title. Note that not all state legislatures take the title General Assembly.

governor:

  • Even on first reference, use Gov. as a formal title before a name in running text: Gov. J.B. Pritzker says he will support the measure.
  • In formal documents, such as invitations and event programs, it is acceptable to spell out Governor in a formal title.
  • Spell out and capitalize before a name in a direct quotation. The pundit added, “It’s noteworthy that Governor Blagojevich was the first Democrat in 30 years to be elected to lead Illinois.”
  • Spell out and lowercase in general or subsequent uses: Gov. Jim Edgar has not yet announced his intention to run for reelection, but the governor will seek a second term.

GPA: All capitals, no periods. This is an acceptable abbreviation of grade point average. If using the longer form, note there are no hyphens.

grades: Capitalize but do not italicize letter grades. Use apostrophes for plurals: Frank received five A’s and two B’s.

H

health care: Two words. One word can be used if called for in proper nouns.

Hispanic: Latina, Latino  or Latinx is also acceptable; use whichever term is preferred by the subject.

Homecoming: Capitalize when referencing the annual event of a college or university; lowercase in generic usage.

homepage: One word, lowercase. Note that homepage is not synonymous with website. Only the first page of a site is called the homepage.

I

i.e.: See e.g., i.e.

initials: Use periods but not spaces to separate two or more consecutive initials: George H.W. Bush.

institution names: Use the full formal name spelled and punctuated as the institution prefers. To ascertain preference, refer to the institution’s website and look for use of the name in running text, as opposed to in the logo, which may use graphic elements not functional in running text.

If the name begins with a lowercase letter, retain that spelling, capitalizing the first letter only when the name is the first word in a sentence.

interim positions: Lowercase interim in running text, even preceding formal titles: The discussion’s moderator will be interim Director of Graduate Studies Corinne Smith. Capitalize when the person’s complete name and title are standing alone: Corinne Smith, Interim Director of Graduate Studies. See also, capitalization of people’s titles.

internet: Lowercase.

J

Jr., Sr.: Abbreviate as shown and use only with full names. Do not set off with a comma: John F. Kennedy Jr. Also, the notation of II, III, IV, etc., may be used if the subject prefers. Again, do not set off with a comma.

L

Latina, Latino, Latinx: See Hispanic.

legislative titles:

  • Even on first reference, use Rep., Reps., Sen., and Sens. as formal titles before one or more names in running text: Sens. Durbin and Obama have said they will vote against the bill.
  • In formal documents, such as invitations and event programs, it is acceptable to spell out Senator or Representative in titles.
  • Spell out and capitalize these titles before one or more names in a direct quotation. The president remarked, “Senator Clinton is the only sitting senator whose portrait hangs in the White House.”
  • Spell out and lowercase representative and senator in general or subsequent uses: Sen. Barack Obama is garnering national attention. The senator has appeared on dozens of national news programs.
  • The terms congressman and congresswoman are acceptable alternates to representative but are not preferred as titles.
  • If necessary for clarification, use U.S. or state before the legislator’s title: U.S. Sen. Barack Obama and state Rep. Edward Acevedo.

listserv: Lowercase and do not add an “e” to the end of the word.

M

Minority, minorities: Not a preferred term to describe an individual, group or groups by racial or ethnic background in the U.S. Instead, for stories in which race or ethnic background is relevant, choose specific and informative language. Examples:

  • “The poll found that Black and Latino Americans are bearing the brunt of the pandemic’s financial impact,” not “…minorities are bearing the brunt of the pandemic’s financial impact.”
  • “Recruiting faculty from communities that have been historically underrepresented in academia is an important part of the college’s commitment to diversity,” not “Recruiting faculty from minority communities is an important part of the college’s commitment to diversity.”

months: When a month is used with a specific date, abbreviate only Jan., Feb., Aug., Sept., Oct., Nov. and Dec. Spell out March, April, May, June and July. Also, spell out any month name when used alone or with a year alone. See also, dates.

Mr., Mrs., Ms.: The use of these courtesy titles is rarely needed. If necessary, use on first reference only, referring to the individual by last name only in subsequent references. In formal documents, such as invitations and event programs, it is acceptable to use the courtesy title with each reference to the individual.

N

nonprofit, not-for-profit: Generally can be used interchangeably, but in any given document, choose one word and use it consistently.

numbers: In general, spell out one through nine: The Yankees finished second. He had nine months to go. Use figures for 10 or above.

Note: Please see the AP Stylebook for common exceptions, such as age, physical distance, rank, ratios, etc.

O

off-campus, off campus (on-campus, on campus): Hyphenate only when used as a modifier: Off-campus housing is affordable, but I’d prefer to live on campus.

online: One word, no hyphen.

P

part-time, part time: Hyphenate only when used as a modifier: It is estimated that 400 part-time faculty teach in U.S. departments of medicine.

Working part time has both challenges and advantages.

PhD, PhDs: Note capitalization and lack of punctuation. See also, doctor.

phone/fax numbers: Use hyphens: 312-996-7000. For toll free numbers, the area code alone, without the 1, is sufficient: 800-555-5555.

principal, principle: Principal refers to a person who has controlling authority or is in a leading position: principal investigator. Principle refers to a fundamental rule, law, doctrine or assumption.

professor: See capitalization of people’s titles.

pronouns: Use an individual’s preferred pronoun. If unknown, consider rewording the sentence to avoid gendered pronoun assumptions. If they/them/their use is preferred, explain in the text that the person prefers a gender-neutral pronoun and/or be sure that the phrasing does not imply more than one person, as they/them/their are also plural pronouns.

R

rank: Use construction No. followed by rank: UIC was Jenny’s No. 1 choice, UIC was ranked No. 2. Do not use the number sign (pound sign, hashtag).

residence hall: This is the term used at UIC, rather than dorm or dormitory.

RSVP: The abbreviation for the French repondez s’il vous plait, it means please reply.

S

scholars, scholarships: Capitalize only in named scholar posts or scholarships: Fulbright Scholar, University Scholar, Kerr Scholarship, Charlemae Hill Rollins Scholarship.

semester: Lowercase references to academic periods in running text: the fall 2021 semester.

sexual orientation: Use this term, rather than sexual preference. Include sexual orientation only when it is pertinent to a story.  Language around gender and sexuality is evolving; please refer to the AP Stylebook for the latest updates.

Sr., Jr.: Abbreviate as shown and use only with full names. Do not set off with a comma: Martin Luther King Sr. Also, the notation of II, III, IV, etc., may be used if the subject prefers (not set off with a comma).

staff: The word functions as a plural noun when used alone and should take a plural verb form: Staff are invited to attend. However, the word functions as a singular noun when used with “the” and should take a singular verb form: The staff is invited to attend.

T

textbook: Spell as one word.

times: Use numerals except for noon and midnight; do not write 12 noon or 12 midnight. Use a colon to separate hours from minutes, but do not use :00 to express even hours: 4 p.m., not 4:00 p.m. To express a time range in running text, use from and to: The luncheon presentation will run from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. A hyphen is acceptable when the time range stands alone: Noon–3 p.m. See also, a.m., p.m.

titles (occupational): See capitalization of people’s titles.

titles of works: Apply these guidelines to the titles of books, movies, plays, poems, albums, songs, operas, radio and television programs, lectures, speeches, and works of art. Put quotation marks around the names of all such works except the Bible, the Quran and other holy books, and books that are primarily catalogs of reference material. Capitalize all words in a title except articles (a, an, the); prepositions of three or fewer letters (for, of, on, up, etc.); and conjunctions of three or fewer letters (and, but, for, nor, or, so, yet, etc.) unless any of those start or end the title. Capitalize both parts of a phrasal verb: “What To Look For in a Mate”; “Turn Off the Lights in Silence.” Capitalize to in infinitives: “What I Want To Be When I Grow Up.”

U

UIC today: Note the lowercase “t.”

University of Illinois Chicago School of Law: Can also use UIC Law or School of Law (do not use references to former name of UIC John Marshall Law School).

United States: Use the abbreviation U.S. when expressing an adjective: The U.S. government produces dozens of resources on the topic. It may be spelled out or abbreviated as U.S. when used as a noun: The UIC College of Nursing is one of the top 10 nursing colleges in the United States (or U.S.). Do not use USA or U.S.A. as the name of the country.

university, college: Capitalize when part of a formal name. Lowercase when standing alone in subsequent references: The University of Illinois Chicago is one of the largest employers in the city. More than 12,000 people work at the university. When writing the names of multiple universities or colleges, lowercase the common noun: DePaul and Loyola universities are cosponsors of the UIC-hosted event. See also, capitalization of proper nouns.

universitywide, campuswide: Each is one word without a hyphen.

universities other than UIC: When writing about the University of Wisconsin or the University of California or any other multicampus system, always specify the campus and use that system’s punctuation: University of Wisconsin-Madison and University of California, San Diego. Refer to the university’s website to determine punctuation. Do not capitalize the word “the” before the university name unless it is a part of the official name: The Ohio State University

V

vice (chancellor, provost, president): Do not hyphenate with any other word in a person’s title. See also, capitalization of people’s titles.

voicemail: One word.

W

web addresses and references:

  • Spelling: web is lowercase. World Wide Web is capitalized. Generally, web is joined with the word that follows: website, webcam, webcast, webfeed, webmaster, webpage. But web address, web browser. Format: Drop the http:// tag for brevity’s sake, unless the URL does not start with www: edu, but http://studentaid.ed.gov. When a URL cannot fit on a line of text, avoid breaking it at a hyphen or inserting a hyphen in order to break it, which can lead to a misinterpretation of the URL. If you must break the URL, try to do so before a punctuation mark, moving a hyphen, slash or dot down to the next line. If the URL is at the end of a sentence, follow it with a period as you normally would.

work-study: This is a hyphenated adjective, usually modifying program. Lowercase general references to a work-study program, but capitalize official references to Federal Work-Study (the program for undergraduates) and Federal Graduate Work-Study (the program for graduate students).

Punctuation Heading link

The rules governing punctuation are extensive and complex. In this document, only the most common errors are highlighted and explained.

For comprehensive details on the use of virtually all punctuation marks, consult the “Punctuation Guide” in the Associated Press Stylebook.

colon: Use a single space after a colon. When using in running text, capitalize the first word after the colon if it is the beginning of a complete sentence. For example, “We must remember one thing: The project will fail unless we secure complete funding in advance.” When using the colon to introduce a list, do not capitalize the first word after the colon unless it is a proper noun. For example, “Our success will depend on our ability to secure fundamental resources: time, funding and space.”

commas in a series: Use commas to separate elements in a series, but do not place a comma before the conjunction in a simple series: The American flag is red, white and blue. If one of the elements in the series contains its own conjunction, then do place a comma before the final conjunction: The required courses are Building Design Studio IV, Design and the City, and Cooperative Education.

dash: The most common dash, accurately called the em dash, has three widespread uses within sentences:

  • To denote an abrupt break in thought: In the country’s first election, some people stood in line for hours — and the waiting was no small feat for many who were elderly or ill — just to exercise their hard fought right to vote.
  • To set off a series: He listed the qualities — humor, compassion, consistency — that he believes make a good professor great.
  • To expand upon a phrase in order to add emphasis or explanation: To feed, clothe and shelter the poor — these are admirable achievements.

When using em dashes, leave spaces on either end. Avoid using em dashes in documents that will be transmitted electronically or converted to electronic format. The reason is that dashes might be converted into plain characters, usually hyphens. This will make it difficult for the reader to interpret your message.

ellipsis: Use an ellipsis to indicate the removal of one or more words in condensing quotes and text. For example, take this passage: Anne Winters, professor of English, has been named winner of the 2005 Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize for her work, “The Displaced of Capital.” The award will be presented Nov. 3 at the Academy of American Poets’ annual awards ceremony.

  • To remove text within one sentence, insert the ellipsis with no other punctuation: Anne Winters … has been named winner of the 2005 Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize for her work, “The Displaced of Capital.” The award will be presented Nov. 3 at the Academy of American Poets’ annual awards ceremony.
  • If the passage before the ellipsis constitutes a grammatically complete sentence, either in the original or in the condensed version, place a period at the end of the last word before the ellipsis: Anne Winters, professor of English, has been named winner of the 2005 Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize. … The award will be presented Nov. 3 at the Academy of American Poets’ annual awards ceremony.

exclamation point: It is rarely necessary to use an exclamation point, especially in professional and academic communication.

It is never acceptable to use two or more exclamation points consecutively.

hyphen: The hyphen has three common uses within sentences:

  • To join words that, if not joined, might lead to ambiguity: The course is designed for small-business owners. (The businesses, not the owners, are small.)
  • To join two or more words that function together to form an adjective phrase that describes another word: The administration maintains a zero-tolerance policy for steroid use. (Zero-tolerance describes policy.)
    • Do not use hyphens when the words are not used as an adjective phrase to describe another word: The administration has zero tolerance for steroid use. (Zero alone describes tolerance.)
    • Do not use a hyphen to join the word very or any adverbs that end in -ly to other words in the modifying phrase: It was an extremely hot surface. It is an easily remembered rule.
  • To show a range: 15-20 years of experience, Monday-Friday. Note there are no spaces on either side of the hyphen. Other constructions are acceptable to show a range: 15 to 20 years, Monday through Friday.

percentage: use the percent symbol: 5% or 10%, not five percent or 10 percent. Use the percent symbol for all percentages, even in a range: 3%-4%, not 3-4%

possessives: Follow these guidelines to form possessives:

Singular nouns

  • To singular common nouns not ending in s, add ’s: professor’s study guide.
  • To singular common nouns ending in s, add ’s: class’s professor, the virus’s reach
  • To singular proper nouns not ending in s, add ’s: UIC’s neighborhood.
  • To singular proper nouns ending in s, add only the apostrophe: Achilles’ heel.

Plural nouns

  • To plural common nouns ending in s, add only the apostrophe: states’ rights.
  • To plural common nouns not ending in s, add ’s: women’s rights.

To nouns that are plural in form but singular in meaning, add only the apostrophe: mathematics’ rules, United States’ policy.

To two or more nouns

  • Add ’s only to the last noun if ownership is joint: Mom and Dad’s house.
  • Add ’s to each noun if ownership is separate: Mom’s and Dad’s jobs.

quotation marks: Only use single quotation marks (‘ ’) to denote quotes within quotes. Use double quotation marks (“ ”) for every quote. Double quotation marks can also be used when using a word in an ironical sense or when introducing an unfamiliar term. In the latter case, do not continue using quotation marks on subsequent references to that unfamiliar term.

To use quotation marks with other punctuation, follow these rules:

  • The period and the comma always go inside the quotation marks: “This recognition is the greatest honor of my life,” he said. “It doesn’t get any better than this.”
  • The dash, semicolon, question mark and exclamation point belong inside the quotation marks when they apply to the quoted matter only. They belong outside the quotation marks when they apply to the whole sentence: She asked, “What are you reading?” Can you believe he responded by saying “none of your business”?

spacing between sentences: Use a single space after a period at the end of a sentence.