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.
The majority of the entries in this writing guide were taken from the Associated Press Stylebook. If you have questions that cannot be 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.
Terminology Specific to UIC
9.4-tesla magnet: This is one of the world’s most powerful magnetic resonance imaging machine for human studies; it is housed at UIC’s Center for Magnetic Resonance Research.
ACCC: This is the acronym for the Academic Computing and Communications Center. Be mindful of the third C in the acronym. In general, acronyms should be avoided if their use could cause confusion among readers. If acronyms are used, spell out the name of the unit in the first mention and only use the acronym on second reference. There is no need to put the acronym in parenthesis after the first mention.
athletics designation: UIC’s teams play in Division I-AAA of the NCAA. The conference is called the Horizon League. Note that the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, a member of the Big Ten Conference, has an athletics program entirely separate from UIC’s.
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 abbreviate with the acronym GCC. Commitment is the correct term to describe UIC’s pledge to improve the quality of life in Chicago and other cities. It is not proper to refer to it as an initiative because it has existed for more than 10 years.
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 Administration. For more information, visit the Great Cities Institute website at greatcities.uic.edu
Horizon League: This is the NCAA conference of which UIC is a member.
Jane Addams Hull-House Museum: Note there are two d’s in Addams. Hyphenate Hull-House. Learn more at the Hull House website.
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 Public and Government Affairs MC 289 or 2705 University Hall MC 289. Official business cards demonstrate the correct format.
massmail, mass mail: Lowercase. As one word, it is used as a noun or verb referring to UIC’s system for bulk distribution of email messages. As two words, it is a generic verb phrase to describe the sending of a single piece to a large audience.
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: Be mindful that, because there are multiple prefixes at UIC, five-digit extensions will be inadequate for anyone calling from a noncampus phone.
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, in parentheses.
Research I: The Carnegie Foundation’s classification has been abandoned and is no longer operative for UIC or any other university. For alternative positioning statements, refer to the “Defining the university” section of the brand guidelines.
residence hall: This is the term used at UIC, rather than dorm or dormitory.
Sparky D. Dragon: This is the official mascot of UIC athletics. In writing for external audiences, refer to the character by its full name or as Sparky, but specify that it is a mascot: Mascot Sparky D. Dragon will be on hand to welcome new students.
streets around UIC: Be mindful that roadways around UIC take a variety of suffixes: Roosevelt Road, Ashland Avenue, Halsted Street, Congress Parkway. If you do not know a street’s official suffix, check the U.S. Postal Services Web site; entering only the street name, with city and state, will deliver the appropriate suffix. 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” and “UA.” 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 non-standard spelling for the word theatre. Note that this is a departure from the Associated Press Stylebook.
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 or CCC. Use of the former name should be discontinued.
UIC Student Center West: Formerly the Chicago Illini Union or CIU. Use of the former name should be discontinued.
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. On second reference, use Urbana, not UIUC.
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. 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.
University of Illinois Hospital & Health Sciences System: Use the full name in first or formal references with the parenthetical (UI Health) following the full name. Subsequent references can be abbreviated by using UI Health. Do not use University of Illinois Medical Center, UIMCC, UIC Hospital or UIHHSS.
When referring to Mile Square Health Center, always use UI Health Mile Square Health Centers on the first reference. UI Health is used for the hospital, clinics, and health science colleges when referring to anything clinical or patient focused, as well as translational research. Teaching and other research are activities of the colleges. Separating University of Illinois from at Chicago in the formal name applies only to the medical center and related clinics. All health sciences colleges remain the University of Illinois at Chicago College of Medicine, Dentistry, etc. Bear in mind that teaching and research are activities of the colleges only, not the medical center.
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 the majority 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.
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 would not be 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 2005–2006 academic year, federal funding to UIC grew, or Federal funding to UIC grew during academic year 2005–2006. 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 2005 and ending in June 2006 may be abbreviated FY 2006.
adviser: Rather than advisor. Always lowercase: A student may request a change of academic adviser.
African-American: Note that this is a departure from AP style.
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.
- 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: Asian alone is not acceptable to describe Americans of Asian descent.
associate (chancellor, professor): Do not hyphenate with any other word in a person’s title.
- Capitalize if using directly before a person’s name in running text: Our speaker today is Associate Chancellor for Public and Government Affairs Morgan Jones.
- Capitalize when the person’s complete name and title are standing alone: Morgan Jones, Associate Chancellor for Public and Government Affairs.
- Lowercase and set off with commas when the title follows the person’s name in running text: Morgan Jones, associate chancellor for public affairs, is speaking today.
- Lowercase if using generically: Morgan Jones is an associate chancellor at UIC.
At UIC, the title associate chancellor takes the preposition for, rather than of: associate chancellor for public affairs, not associate chancellor of public affairs. See also, capitalization of people’s titles.
awards: Capitalize the name of all awards, including the word award if it’s 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.
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).
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. When in doubt, lowercase.
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: Capitalize as a formal title before a name: Chairwoman Lisa Garcia will preside. Do not capitalize otherwise: Lisa Garcia is chairwoman of the new committee. Avoid using chair or chairperson when the gender of the person is known, unless either is an organization’s formal title for an office. See also, capitalization of people’s titles.
chancellor: Capitalize as a formal title before a name: Chancellor Sylvia Manning 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.
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 (freshmen), sophomore, junior, senior—all lowercase. class year, class-year abbreviations:
- In running text, use either of the following forms to note class year: John Jones, a 1987 graduate; 1987 graduate John Jones.
- When alumnus 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 an alumnus is listed with his or her spouse, place the alumnus’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.
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 Web site 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.
course work: Spell as two words, not hyphenated.
- 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 2000.
- The current year is generally assumed. Unless clarity is at risk, omit the year when the date written is in the current year. For example, a story in a quarterly publication issued in June 2006 might say, Commencement was celebrated on May 5, not on May 5, 2006. However, if the same story appears in an annual publication issued in December, clarity might require inclusion of the year.
- To express a range of years, it is acceptable to use either 2000–2005 or 2000–05, except in reference to the year 2000; do not use 1999–00 to mean 1999–2000.
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 abbreviation with commas: Jane Smith, MD, attended the event.
Note that a sound argument can be made for either inclusion or omission of periods in degree abbreviations. If you feel compelled to depart from the guidelines, do—at a minimum— be diligent about maintaining consistency within a document.
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.
Note that the recommendations here are based on AP style and are very much the standard for news reporting and general interest writing. However, the style may contradict some units’ traditional practice. If you feel compelled to depart from the guidelines, do—at a minimum—be diligent about maintaining consistency within document.
doctor: It is the practice at UIC to avoid using the courtesy title Dr. before anyone’s name because the title does not clarify the person’s specialty, which is most important. Instead, place the individual’s degree designation after the name, set off with commas: John Jones, DDS, was honored at the ceremony.
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.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.
- spelling: e-mail, or E-mail if it’s the first word in a sentence
- format: In running text, do not set off e-mail addresses using italics, underline or angle brackets (). Breaking an address at a hyphen or inserting a hyphen in order to break an address can lead to a misinterpretation of the address. If you must break the address, try to do so before a punctuation mark, moving the underscore, @ or dot down to the next line. If the address is at the end of a sentence, follow it with a period as you normally would.
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.
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. The construction here is preferred to F.A.Q., faq or f.a.q.
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 Web site 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.
Gender Identity: Not synonymous with sex. Gender refers to a person’s social identity. Sex refers to biological characteristics. encompassed terms transgender, cisgender, non-binary.
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.
- Even on first reference, use Gov. as a formal title before a name in running text: Gov. Bruce Rauner 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.
health care: Two words. One word can be used if called for in proper nouns.
Hispanic: Latina or Latino 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.
home page: Two words, lowercase. Note that home page is not synonymous with Web site. Only the first page of a site is called the home page.
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 Web site 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: Always capitalize.
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.
Latina, Latino: See Hispanic.
- 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.
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.
more than, over: Use more than to refer to quantities: More than 24,000 students attend UIC. Use over to write about spatial relationships: The banner hangs over the entrance.
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.
nonprofit, not-for-profit: Can be used interchangeably, but in any given document, choose one word and use it consistently.
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.
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: Place the area code in parentheses and put a space between the area code and the prefix: (312) 996-7000. For toll free numbers, the area code alone, without the 1, is sufficient: (800) 555-5555. See also, phone numbers at UIC in the Terminology Specific to UIC section.
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.
residence hall: This is the term used at UIC, rather than dorm or dormitory.
R.S.V.P.: Spell with all capitals and periods after each letter.
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 2005 semester.
sexual orientation: Use this term, rather than sexual preference. The preferred terms are gay, lesbian, and bisexual, as opposed to homosexual.
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. Again, do 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.
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: Titles of works always retain the spelling of the original title. Capitalize the principal words, including prepositions and conjunctions of four or more letters. Sometimes it is necessary to alter the punctuation of titles for the sake of clarity. For example, a colon may be added between a title and a subtitle. Use unformatted type (i.e., no bold, no italics) without quotation marks when referencing the Bible (capitalized) or the title of a book series, e.g., the Lord of the Rings trilogy.
Use italics for titles and subtitles* of:
- books that have been published (Titles of book-length manuscripts that are under contract to be published may be italicized, but the fact that they are forthcoming should be noted.)
- operas and other long musical compositions
- poems that are long and published as stand-alone piece
- newspaper sections published separately
* Note the following departure from AP style: When writing titles or subtitles in a document that will appear in plain text or may be converted to plain text, forego italics and use quotation marks. The reason is that italics cannot be displayed in plain text.
Use quotation marks, without italics, for titles of:
- articles and features in periodicals and newspapers
- chapters of books
- lectures and papers read at meetings
- manuscripts in collections
- poems that are short or in collections
- radio programs
- short stories and essays
- songs and other short musical compositions
- television programs
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 at 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 Web site 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
vice (chancellor, provost, president): Do not hyphenate with any other word in a person’s title.
- Capitalize if using directly before a person’s name in running text: Our speaker today is Vice President for Academic Affairs Joanne Smith.
- Capitalize when the person’s complete name and title are standing alone: Joanne Smith, Vice President for Academic Affairs.
- Lowercase and set off with commas when the title follows the person’s name in running text: Joanne Smith, vice president for academic affairs, will retire at the end of this year.
- Lowercase if using generically: Joanne Smith is one of three vice presidents at the University of Illinois.
- At UIC, titles including the word vice takes the preposition for, rather than of: vice provost for faculty affairs, not vice provost of faculty affairs.
voice mail: Spell as two words without a hyphen.
Web addresses and references:
- spelling: Web is capitalized, as is World Wide Web. Generally, Web stands alone, not joined with the word that follows, which should be lowercase: Web site, Web page. The exception is Webmaster, one word.
- format: Drop the http:// tag for brevity’s sake, unless the URL does not start with www: www.uic.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).
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: 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: 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, do not leave spaces on either end. Note that this is a departure from AP style.
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 two 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 a very hot surface. It was an extremely hot surface. It was a white-hot surface.
possessives: Follow these guidelines to form possessives:
- To singular common nouns not ending in s, add ’s: professor’s study guide.
- To singular common nouns ending in s, add ’s unless the next word begins with s: class’s professor, but class’ syllabus.
- 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.
- 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. The practice of putting two spaces at the end of a sentence is a carryover from the days of typewriters that afforded every character the same width. Today, with the prevalence of proportionally spaced fonts, the practice is no longer necessary and even.