Written Style Guide

Table of Contents

Academic Degrees

Academic Departments

Academic Departments/Divisions

Acronyms

Addresses

Administrative Offices

Alumni

Board of Regents

Buildings

Centers and Institutes

Cities, Towns and States

Classes and Courses

Collective Nouns

College of Fine Arts

Commas

Commencement

Committees

Company Names

Contractions

Dates/Years

Departments

Exclamation Points

Forty Acres

Government

Homecoming

Honors

Hyphens, En-Dashes and Em-Dashes

Landmarks

Numbers: Fractions, Money, Percentages, Etc.

Plurals and Possessives

Postal Abbreviations

Quotes and Quotations

Race

Regions

Rev.

Rooms

Seasons

Semesters

Skyspace/”The Color Inside”

Social Security

Spacing

States and Regions

Student Classification

Telephone Numbers

Texas Exes

That/Which

The University of Texas at Austin

Time

Titles (Job)

Titles of Works

U.S./United States

University of Texas System


 

Academic Degrees

  • Spell out and use the lowercase: bachelor’s degree, master’s degree, doctor’s degree or doctorate.
  • You can receive a doctorate OR your doctor’s degree, but NOT your doctoral degree.
  •  If you prefer to abbreviate degrees, be sure to use periods after all the letters: B.A., M.S., Ph.D., M.S.I.A., B.F.A. (with the exception of MBA).
    • CORRECT
      • He received a master’s degree in engineering.
      • She received her master of science degree in engineering.
      • We awarded 99 doctor’s, 150 master’s and 900 bachelor’s degrees.
      • He earned a bachelor of architecture degree.
      • She has an M.S. degree in technical writing.
    • WRONG
      • He earned a bachelor’s of architecture degree.
  • Do not precede a name with a title of an academic degree and follow it with the abbreviation for that degree.
    • CORRECT
      • Larry R. Faulkner, Ph.D., was president of The University of Texas at Austin from 1998-2006.
      • Dr. Larry R. Faulkner was president of The University of Texas at Austin from 1998-2006.
    • WRONG
      • Dr. Larry R. Faulkner, Ph.D., was president of The University of Texas at Austin from 1998-2006.
  • Use Dr. in first reference as a formal title before the name of a person who holds a doctor’s degree. Do not use Dr. in the second reference, unless the person holds a doctor of medicine degree.
  • The preferred form for Ph.D. is to say a person holds a doctorate in (name their field of specialty). Second best is to say doctor’s degree.
  • Do not use Dr. before the names of those who hold honorary degrees only. References to honorary degrees must specify the degree was honorary.
  • The last name may be used with no titles at all, which is often preferable to maintain consistency.
  • Use lowercase when using bachelor’s, master’s or doctor’s degree. Use lowercase for doctorate or doctoral program.

Academic Departments

  • Capitalize the names of departments except when used in a person’s title.
    • CORRECT
      • She is a senior in the Department of Mechanical Engineering
      • The Department of Art and Art History redesigned its website.
      • The director of admissions is pleased with the applicants
  • Use lowercase for the word “department” when it stands alone.
    • CORRECT
      • She’s been with the department for three years.
      • The Department of Astronomy hosts weekly viewing nights on university telescopes.
  • Capitalize the field when it’s used to mean the department. Use lowercase for the field when it’s used in a general sense.
    • CORRECT
      • She’s a professor in the Department of Physics.
      • She’s a professor in the Physics Department
      • She’s  physics professor.
      • She majored in physics.

Academic Departments/Divisions

  • Use lowercase for majors with the exception of languages, which are proper nouns.
    • CORRECT
      • Her major is physics.
      • He’s an English major.
  • Do not capitalize academic divisions.

Acronyms

Generally, it’s fine to use acronyms if you feel they’re commonly recognized or if it helps avoid repetition. But always spell out the full name, title or phrase the first time you refer to it in text, followed immediately by the acronym in parentheses. Then use the acronym for each and every subsequent use. It is not necessary to note the acronym in parentheses if there is only one reference.

  • CORRECT
    • The National Institutes of Health (NIH) awarded the grant to the research group. The NIH funded only three such centers in the nation.
    • Researchers received a $4.5 million grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to investigate the outcomes of computerized and individual language therapies with school-age children throughout the United States. With this NIH-funded project, researchers will test the theory that language impairments and learning disabilities are caused by inadequate brain mechanisms for processing speech sounds.
  • WRONG
    • The five-year research project is funded by the National Institute on Aging of the NIH.

Addresses

These rules apply to addresses within body copy, not to addresses on envelopes.

  • Use the abbreviations Ave., Blvd., Rd., Dr. and St. only when you can include a numbered address.
    • CORRECT
      • Send mail to 405 W. 25th St.
      • Our office is on 25th Street.
  • Spell out all street names and use lower case when you’re referring to more than one in a phrase.
    • CORRECT
      • The parking lot is on San Antonio and Nueces streets.
    • WRONG
      • The parking lot is on San Antonio and Nueces Sts.
  • Capitalize formal street names, but use lowercase when used with more than one street name in text. Use lowercase when nonspecific street words stand alone.
    • CORRECT
      • Walter Webb Hall is on Guadalupe Street.
      • The building is located on the corner of 21st and Whitis streets.
      • The avenue is a dangerous street to cross.

Administrative Offices

  • Capitalize the names of departments, divisions and offices.
  • Use lowercase for the words “department,” “division” or “office” when they stand alone.
  • Capitalize the field when it’s used to mean the department, division or office specifically. Do not capitalize the field when it’s used in general.
    • CORRECT
      • He works in the Registrar’s Office.
      • She works in student affairs (the field).
      • She works in the Student Affairs Office (the university office).
      • He works in Campus Planning (the university office).
    • WRONG
      • The Division will release its report

Alumni

  • This word construction is taken directly from its Latin origins. Therefore, the noun forms are gender specific: “alumna” refers to one woman; “alumnae” refers to women; “alumnus” refers to one man; “alumni” refers to men or 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. Also, “alumnus” can refer to anyone who attended a school, not just one who graduated.
  • University of Texas at Austin alumni are most commonly known as Texas Exes. The university’s alumni association, the Ex-Students’ Association, prefers to be known as the Texas Exes.
    • CORRECT
      • The Distinguished Alumnus Award is given annually by the Texas Exes.
  • Identify past and current students by using the abbreviation for the alum’s academic degree with the graduation year. For College of Fine Arts graduates, identify the person with their academic degree, area of study and the graduation year.
    • CORRECT
      • Karen Elliott House, B.J. 1970, was recently named publisher of The Wall Street Journal.
      • Marcia Gay Harden (B.A., Theatre, 1980) participated in the university’s centennial celebration.
  • If a person received more than one degree from The University of Texas at Austin, use both years and put a comma between them.
    • CORRECT
      • Patricia Ohlendorf (B.A. 1974, J.D. 1977), is the university’s vice president for institutional relations and legal affairs.
  • On social media, degree years can be indicated with apostrophes to save space.It is important that the apostrophe points in the correct direction: down and to the left.
    • CORRECT
      • Joe Smith (B.A., Studio Art, ’77) received the Distinguished Alumnus Award this year.

Board of Regents

  • Upon first reference, use The University of Texas Board of Regents. Use lowercase when board and regents are used separately Capitalize a regent’s title only when used before the name.
    • CORRECT
      • He is a member of The University of Texas Board of Regents.
      • The board met at 9 a.m.
      • Regent Patrick Oxford addressed the issue.
      • She is a regent.
      • The Board of Regents will meet tomorrow
    • WRONG
      • The board of regents will meet tomorrow.

Buildings

  • All proper names of buildings, such as Texas Union, should be capitalized. Special building projects, such as the Tower Garden Project, should be capitalized. Terms such as “north wing” and “new residence hall” should not be capitalized, unless they are used in the title.

Centers and Institutes

  • The formal names of centers, such as the Center for Space Research or the Institute of Latin American Studies, should be capitalized, but “center” by itself should be in lowercase. The same rules apply to institutes. Upon second reference, it is not necessary to use the complete proper name.
    • CORRECT
      • The institute for Learning and Technology hosts seminars.
      • The institute will welcome dozens of affiliates.
      • The Recreational Sports Center opened in 1996.
      • The center has an exercise lounge and conditioning room.

Cities, Towns, and States

  • Use lowercase for general sections of the city, but capitalize widely recognized names for city regions.
    • CORRECT
      • The meeting will be downtown
      • Let’s go to a restaurant in South Austin.
  • Spell out the names of states
    • The conference was held in Austin, Texas last week.

Classes and Courses

  • Use lowercase when you refer to classes and courses, unless you use the specific (and complete) title or the name carries a proper noun or numeral.
    • CORRECT
      • I had a class in engineering management.
      • I’m taking Engineering Management 380.
      • I’m taking biology, Advanced Shakespeare and calculus.

Collective Nouns

  • The collective nouns “faculty” and “staff” are singular nouns. If you wish to use a plural construction, use “members of the faculty/staff” or “faculty/staff members.”
    • CORRECT
      • The faculty is represented by the Faculty Council.
      • Members of the faculty are dedicated researchers.
      • Staff members disagree among themselves on the best benefits.
      • The University of Texas at Austin staff numbers about 18,000.

College of Fine Arts

  • Upon first reference, use College of Fine Arts at The University of Texas at Austin.
  • Upon second reference, please use “the college” or Fine Arts.
  • Do not capitalize “the” in “the College of Fine Arts.
  • Do not use the acronym COFA with external audiences.

Commas

  • Omit commas for simple lists. But use them for more complex situations when needed for clarity.
    • CORRECT
      • The flag of the United States is red, white and blue.
      • The restaurant offered pancakes, French toast, and ham and eggs.
  • Do not use a comma before “Jr.” or “Sr.” after a person’s name
    • CORRECT
      • John Smith Jr.
      • John Smith IV
      • Thurston Howell III
  • Use a comma to introduce a complete, one-sentence quotation within a paragraph. A colon should be used to introduce longer quotations.
    • CORRECT
      • She said, “I don’t want to go.”
      • She said: “I don’t want to go. I’m tired. The cat’s sick, and I have no interest in modern art.”
  • Do not use a comma at the start of a partial or indirect quotation.
    • CORRECT
      • She said the play “was the finest drama Williams wrote.”
    • WRONG
      • She said the play, “was the finest drama Williams wrote.”
  • Omit the comma before “of” in writing a person’s name and address.
    • CORRECT
      • Robert Redford or Sundance, Utah
    • WRONG
      • Robert Redford, of Sundance, Utah
  • Place a comma between the city and the state name, and another comma after the state name, unless ending a sentence.
    • CORRECT
      • They moved from Phoenix, Arizona, to Austin, Texas.
      • Kansas City, Missouri, is the site of the conference.
      • Washington, D.C., was the destination.
    • WRONG
      • Kansas City, Missouri. is the site of the conference.
  • Introductory phrases such as “Last year” and “In 2001” do not require commas.
    • CORRECT
      • Last year the board approved a tuition increase.
      • In 1998 Larry Faulkner was named the university’s 27th president.
    • WRONG
      • In 1998, Larry Faulkner was named the university’s 27th president.
  • Watch for missing commas. If you’re using an interruptive clause with a comma at the end, you’d better check and insert the comma at the beginning.
    • CORRECT
      • President Powers, president of The University of Texas at Austin, spoke at the meeting.
      • Executives, such as Mr. Brown and Ms. Smith, also attended.
      • Executives such as Mr. Brown and Ms. Smith also attended.
      • She drove from Seattle, Washington, to Austin.
      • The car, which was silver, raced down the raod.
    • WRONG
      • Dr. Faulkner, president of The University of Texas at Austin spoke at the meeting.
      • Executives such as Mr. Brown and Ms. Smith, also attended.
      • She drove from Seattle, Washington To Austin.
      • The car which was silver raced down the road.

Commencement

  • Use lowercase for “commencement” in text.

Committees

  • Capitalize the formal names of groups and committees, such as Faculty Council, Long-Range Planning Committee and President’s Student Advisory Council. Use lowercase for words “committee” and “council” when they stand alone.

Company Names

  • Use Co. or Cos. when a business uses either word at the end of its proper name. If “company” or “companies” appears alone in the second reference, spell the word out.
  • When you refer to a company without its formal title, use the term “company,” not “co.”
  • Always spell out the word “company” in theatrical organizations.
  • For possessives: Ford Motor Co.’s profits.
  • Never use a comma before Inc. or Ltd. (Follow the company’s lead about other punctuation and the use of “&” or “and.”)

Contractions

  • In most non-academic writing, contractions make your text easier to read, conveying a more conversational tone. Unless a more formalized construction helps emphasize the meaning of a sentence or phrase, use contractions and use them consistently.
  • You’ll notice we’ve used contractions consistently in this publication, except for points of emphasis, as in “do not” instead of “don’t.

Dates/Years

  • When a month is used with a specific date, format it this way:
    • Jan. 1, Feb. 1, March 1, April 1, May 1, June 1, July 1, Aug. 1, Sept. 1, Oct. 1, Nov. 1, Dec. 1
  • Spell out the name of the month when using it alone or with a year alone. When using a month and a year only, do not separate with commas. When a phrase is used with a month, date and year, set both the date and year off with commas.
    • CORRECT
      • January 2002
      • Jan. 13
      • Jan. 13, 1990
      • He was born Jan. 13, 1990, in Austin, Texas.
  • Omit comma between month and year no date is included.
    • CORRECT
      • Dec. 12, 2000
      • December 2000
  • When referencing a span of years, use an en-dash with no spaces between and drop the first two numbers of the second year. If the years span a century change, use all four numbers of the second year.
    • CORRECT
      • 1979­–82
      • 2002–04
      • 1979-2004
  • Do not use the word “on” before a date or day of the week when its absence would not lead to confusion.
    • CORRECT
      • The meeting will be held Monday.
      • He will be inaugurated Feb. 22.
      • The program ends in December.
  • To describe sequences of dates or inclusive dates, use an en-dash(with no spaces between the hyphen and the characters) instead of the word “to” or “through.”
    • CORRECT
      • The box office is open Monday–Friday.
      • The performance will run Sept. 12–22.
  • Do not use suffixes with dates.
    • CORRECT
      • Oct. 14
    • WRONG
      • Oct. 14th
  • Use an “s” without an apostrophe after the year to indicate spans of decades or centuries. Use an apostrophe before the year for class years or abbreviations to indicate the first two numbers of the year are omitted.
    • CORRECT
      • The university was formed in the 1880s
      • She belonged to the Class of 1924.
      • Sharon will graduate with the Class of ’03.
      • The ’60s were famous for hippies, flower power, and the peace movement.
      • Marcia Gay Harden, B.A. 1980, spoke to the College of Fine Arts graduating class of 2001.
  • An apostrophe after the year is needed for possessives.
    • CORRECT
      • The presidential election was 1980’s biggest news story.

Departments

  • When using a department name in conjunction with the College of Fine Arts or The University of Texas at Austin, please use the following constructions.
    • CORRECT
      • Department of Art and Art History in the College of Fine Arts
      • Department of Art and Art History in the College of Fine Arts at The University of Texas at Austin
      • Department of Art and Art History at The University of Texas at Austin

Exclamation Points

  • Use them rarely.

Forty Acres

  • Capitalize and spell out Forty Acres when referring to the university’s original tract of land and when the name is used as a proper noun.
    • CORRECT
      • The original campus was on the Forty Acres surrounding the Main Building and Tower.
      • The students will attend Forty Acres Fest.
    • WRONG
      • 40 Acres
  • One exception: Creative 40 Acres, a collaboration between the College of Fine Arts and the Dean of Students
  • The original forty acres were bounded by 24th, Guadalupe, Speedway and 21st streets.

Government

  • Use lowercase when the word “federal” is an adjective: federal court, the federal government.

Homecoming

  • Use lowercase for “homecoming” unless it’s used as a title.

Honors

  • Use lowercase and italicize cum laude, magna cum laude and summa cum laude.

Hyphens, Em-Dashes and En-Dashes

  • In general, many two-word phrases are two separate words when used as a noun, verb or adverb but take a hyphen when used as an adjective. Double check the way the word(s) is (are) being used in your sentence. As a rule, phrases after the verb are not hyphenated.
    • CORRECT
      • newly renovated
    • WRONG
      • commonly-held belief
  • Adverbs ending in –ly are usually not hyphenated.
  • To hyphenate in a series, follow this example:
    • CORRECT
      • He wrote 10- to 20-page papers.
  • Use en-dashes (–) when referring to a date or number span.
    • CORRECT
      • Sept. 15–18
      • We’ll read 10–15 books.
  • En-dashes (–) can also be used for proper compound adjectives
    • CORRECT
      • pre–World War II
      • Chuck Berry–style lyrics
  • The en dash can also be used between words to represent conflict, connection, or direction.
    • CORRECT
      • the Los Angeles–London flight
      • the north–south railway
  • Use and em-dash (—), with no spaces, to offset a part of a sentence to replace commas, parenthesis or colons.
    • CORRECT
      • Upon discovering the errors—all 124 of them—the publisher immediately recalled the books.

Landmarks

  • Always use “Landmarks” as a noun and avoid using it as an adjective
    • CORRECT
      • Landmarks has many projects located around campus.
    • WRONG
  • The Landmarks program has many projects located around campus.
  • Avoid making the program function appear as part of the title
    • CORRECT
      • Landmarks, the public art program at The University of Texas at Austin….
    • WRONG
      • Landmarks Public Art Program
      • Landmarks Public Art

Numbers: Fractions, Money, Percentages, Etc.

  • Spell out numbers from one to nine. Use numerals for all numbers 10 and above. Exceptions are noted below.
    • CORRECT
      • nine poodles
      • 16 buildings
      • four miles
      • He teaches ninth grade.
  • Use figures for ages, percentages, equipment specifications, addresses, page numbers and sums of money (when using the symbol “$”).
    • CORRECT
      • She has a daughter, 2, and a son, 8.
      • 8 megabytes, 240 RAM
      • According to the chart on page 4, nearly half of the elementary school-age children in Texas receive a $5 weekly allowance.
  • Avoid starting a sentence with a number, but, if you must, spell out the number unless it’s a year.
    • CORRECT
      • Twenty students registered
      • 1914 was an important year.
  • Always use numerals (including the numbers 1-9) and spell out the word “percent” in text. “Percent” takes a singular verb when standing alone or when a singular word follows an “of” construction. Use a plural verb when a plural word follows an “of” construction.
    • CORRECT
      • Only 8 percent of the class voted.
      • He believes 50 percent is enough.
      • He believes 60 percent of the membership is coming.
      • She believes 60 percent of the members are coming.
  • Use the percent symbol (%) in charts or figures and in academic, statistical or technical writing.
  • Spell out fractions less than one, using hyphens between words. Use figures for precise amounts larger than one, converting to decimals when appropriate.
    • CORRECT
      • one-half, two-thirds
      • 1.5 liters
      • one and one-half liters
  • Use the dollar sign and numbers. Do not use a decimal and two zeros.
    • CORRECT
      • $150
      • $150.13
    • WRONG
      • $150.00
  • Use the comma in dollar amounts in the thousands.
    • CORRECT
      • $1,000
    • WRONG
      • $1000
  • For dollar amounts beyond thousands, use the dollar sign, numeral (even when less than 10) and appropriate word. Do not hyphenate in compound modifiers.
    • CORRECT
      • $14 million
      • $14 million project
    • WRONG
      • $14,000,000
      • two million

Plurals and Possessives

  • Form plurals of family names that end in “s” by adding “es.”
    • CORRECT
      • The Jameses live in Hyde Park.
      • The James family lives in Hyde Park.
  • Form plurals and possessives of proper names that end with “s,” “x” and “z” like this:
    • CORRECT
      • Burns’ poems
      • Marx’s theories
      • Savitz’s holdings
  • Plural possessives combine the two above rules:
    • CORRECT
      • the Jones family’s reputation
      • The Joneses’ reputation
  • Form plurals of the following by adding “s” alone:
    • dos and don’ts
    • CDs
    • M.A.s and Ph.D.s
    • The three Rs
    • The early 1920s
    • Several YMCAc
    • CODs and IOUs
    • In twos and threes
  • Form plurals of the following by adding ’s:
    •  S’s, A’s and I’s
    • x’s and o’s
    • SOS’s

Postal Abbreviations

  • Do not use postal or other abbreviations of states’ names in your body copy. The only acceptable place to use abbreviated state names is datelines. See States and Regions for preferred abbreviations of states in datelines.

Quotes and Quotations

  • The period and the comma always go inside the quotation marks.
    • CORRECT
      • He said, “I’m going to the store.”
      • She told us “stay in school,” which was good advice.
    • WRONG
      • He said, “I’m going to the store”.
  • The dash, the exclamation point and the question mark go inside the quotation marks when they apply to the quote only. When they apply to the whole sentence, they go outside the marks.
    • CORRECT
      • Sgt. Carter gave the following order: “Peel potatoes—then lights out!”
      • Gomer Pyle said, “Golly, Sergeant!” when he heard the news.
      • Francis Schaeffer’s book asks, “How Shall We Then Live?”
      • What did Martin Luther King mean when he said, “I have a dream”?
  • This usage prevails in the United States. Britain and Canada apply different rules. The colon and semicolon should be placed outside quotation marks. When text ending with one of these punctuation marks is quoted, the colon or semicolon is dropped.
    • CORRECT
      • The president said the plan needed “ a few minor adjustments”; however, he did not reject it entirely.
  • In running quotations, each new paragraph should begin with open quotation marks (no closing marks). Only the final paragraph should contain the closing quotation mark.
    • CORRECT
      • The speech was as follows: “Welcome, ladies and gentlemen. I have a few points to make today. The first is to thank you for this honor. My accomplishments are noteworthy only in so far as they help to advance this important field of human endeavor.“The second is to ask you to continue thinking about this critical issue. Only through continued research and experimental programs such as the one you’ve recognized today will we advance our cause and improve our society.“Finally, let me ask you to do more than turn your mental energies to this important effort. Give your total energies—in the form of financial support, volunteer time, active advocacy—for the sake of progress. Then we can all share in this special honor. Thank you.”
  • When including a quote or “highlighted” word inside another quotation, use single quotes (‘) instead of double (“).
    • CORRECT
      • In his charge to the committee, the chair said, “I have often told you, ‘don’t give up the ship.’ Thanks to your efforts, we’ve been able to reach our goal.”
      • The chair said, “I have often told you, ‘don’t give up the ship.’”

Race

  • Capitalize names of races (African American, Caucasian, Asian, Native American), but do not capitalize “black” or “white” when referring to race. Please see also section of style guide on “Sensitivities.”

Regions

  • Region names are capitalized when they stand alone and are widely understood to designate a specific geographic area.
    • CORRECT
      • western Texas
      • the West Coast, the Midwest
      • the east coast of Florida, the midwestern United States
      • South Texas, West Texas, the Panhandle, the Valley, the Hill Country

Rev.

  • When used before an individual’s name, precede it with “the.”
    • CORRECT
      • The Rev. Miller will speak at the assembly.
      • The Reverend Miller will speak.
    • WRONG
      • Rev. Miller will be there.
      • The Rev. will be there.

Rooms

  • Capitalize only when used with a number, letter or name. In combination with a building name, use the number only.
    • CORRECT
      • We’ll be in Room 100.
      • We’ll be in the training room.
      • The movie is in Batts 110.

Seasons

  • Capitalize only when used in a title or as part of a formal name. Use lowercase when these words stand alone.
    • CORRECT
      • fall semester, summer program
      • The program started in fall 1989.
      • The Spring Fling will be repeated this year.

Semesters

  • Do not capitalize semesters in text.
    • CORRECT
      • Spring Carnival takes place during the spring semester; homecoming occurs in the fall semester.

Skyspace/”The Color Inside”

  • When referring to the James Turrell without the title, “Skyspace” is capitalized but not italicized
    • CORRECT
      • James Turrell’s Skyspace lights up the sky.

Social Security

  • Use lowercase when referring to social security number. Only capitalize references to the Social Security Administration.
    • CORRECT
      • Fill in your name and social security number.
      • The forms will be forwarded to Social Security.

Spacing

  • Use a single space at the end of a sentence and after a colon. Double spaces date back to the days of typewriters, when all characters were allotted the same amount of space. Computerized typesetting adjusts the spacing for a good fit. Extra spaces create gaps and look unprofessional.

States and Regions

  • In April 2014 the AP Stylebook changed its rules regarding abbreviating states’ names. The new rule says to spell out the state, even when accompanying the name of a city, in the body of stories. The only place where a state’s name should be abbreviated is the dateline.
    • CORRECT
      • Most students come from Texas.
      • The University of Texas at Austin is in Austin, Texas.
    • WRONG
      • We have 50 students from Fla.
      • The University of Texas at Austin is in Austin, TX.
  • Use Washington, D.C. Don’t abbreviate to D.C. or, worse, DC.
  • Always spell out a state name if it’s part of a title or name: The Texas Education Agency.

Student Classifications

  • Do not capitalize “freshman,” “sophomore,” “junior,” “senior,” “postdoctoral fellow” or “graduate student.” But do capitalize as a class designation or formal title.
    • CORRECT
      • He’s a senior engineering major.
      • The Senior Class gift was the clock.

Telephone Numbers

  • If a publication is strictly for use on campus, you may omit the area code and first two digits. Use the “1”, “5” or “2” followed by the four-digit number.
    • CORRECT
      • Call us at 1-3151
  • If the publication may or will be sent off campus, include the area code as part of the complete number. Use a hyphen between the area code and number. When using telephone numbers for publication, you may wish to check for accuracy by calling the number before the final edit.
    • CORRECT
      • 512-471-3151
  • If you use more than one number, separate with the word “or” in text, or with a slash in an address listing. When providing telephone, fax, cell phone, etc., numbers in an address listing, identify each.
    • CORRECT
      • Call me at 512-471-3151/2389
      • Phone: 512-471-3151
      • Cell: 512-656-5555
      • Fax: 512-471-5812

Texas Exes

  • The university’s alumni are commonly known as Texas Exes. Also, the university’s alumni association prefers to be known as the Texas Exes.

That/Which

  • These words cause so much confusion that they deserve a section of their own. “That” and “which” often are used incorrectly in clauses.
  • When referring to a human being (or an animal with a name), any clause should be introduced by the word “who” or “whom.”
  • When referring to an object or nameless animal with an essential clause—one that cannot be eliminated without changing the meaning of the sentence—use the word “that” to introduce the clause. Essential clauses do not need commas.
  • When referring to an object or nameless animal with a non-essential clause—one that can be eliminated from the sentence without changing the basic meaning—use the word “which” to introduce the clause. If non-essential clauses appear in the middle of sentences, they may need to be set off by commas.
  • A simple test: Once your sentence is written, try reading it without the clause. If the sentence still means about the same thing, your clause should be introduced by “which.” If taking out the clause changes the meaning drastically, it should be introduced by “that.”
    • CORRECT
      • The club meeting, which was held at Starbucks, was cancelled. [Meaning: The club meeting was cancelled—we already know which club meeting it is.]
      • The club meeting that was held at Starbucks was cancelled.[Meaning: The only meeting being held at Starbucks was cancelled. Another way to think of essential clauses—you don’t really need the word “that.”]
      • The club meeting held at Starbucks was cancelled.

The University of Texas at Austin

  • The correct reference is to use “The University of Texas at Austin” the first time you refer to the title of the university in text. Upon second reference and thereafter, use “the university,” lowercase. (Presidential communications, which capitalize “the University” on subsequent references, are an exception.) When writing for internal audiences familiar with the university, it is acceptable to refer to the university as UT Austin.
    • CORRECT
      • The University of Texas at Austin is in Austin, Texas. The university was started in 1883.
  • Avoid using “UT” or “UT Austin” when communicating with mixed or outside audiences.

Time

  • Use lowercase and periods for “a.m.” and “p.m.”
  • When writing a time that falls on the hour, do not use “:00.” Simply state the hour with “a.m.,” “p.m.” or “o’clock.” Use “noon” and “midnight,” never 12 p.m. or 12 a.m.
    • CORRECT
      • 3 p.m.
      • 3–5 p.m.
      • 9 a.m.–5 p.m.
      • noon–1 p.m.
      • The concert begins at 8:30 p.m.
    • WRONG
      • 3:00 p.m.
      • 3 p.m.–5 p.m.
      • 12 noon

Titles (Job)

  • A person’s title is capitalized only when used before the name. When using a capitalized title immediately before the name, try to keep it short. Do not capitalize an occupational designation, only a true title.
    • CORRECT
      • We met President Powers.
      • The president will speak at the dinner.
      • Vice President for Student Affairs Gage Paine issues the memo.
      • Our speaker will be artist William Cooper.
  • Titles following a person’s name should appear in lowercase. Use lowercase when a title is used alone.
    • CORRECT
      • The president of The University of Texas at Austin will address the group.
      • Kevin Hegarty, vice president and chief financial officer, will host the reception.
  • Capitalize the official names of honorary chaired and university professorships. For those titles that are not honorary or for references after the name of the professor, use lowercase.
    • CORRECT
      • Sanford Levinson, the W. St. John Garwood and W. St. John Garwood Jr. Centennial Chair in Law, donated his collection to the School of Law.
      • Her years of hard work were acknowledged when she earned the rank of university professor.
  • A general rule of thumb is to always capitalize the first unit and capitalize the second unit if it’s a noun or adjective or if it has equal balance with the first unit.
    • CORRECT
      • “Twentieth-Century Poets in South America”
      • “City-States in Nineteenth Century Europe”
      • “Non-Christian Religions in North America”
  • The second unit should be in lowercase if it’s a participle modifying the first unit or if both units constitute a single word.
    • CORRECT
      • “English-speaking People throughout Asia”
      • “Medium-sized Companies with Unions”
      • “E-flat Minor Melody”
      • “Re-establishing a Youthful Outlook”
      • “Self-fulfilling Prophecies in Small-Town America”

Titles of Works

  • The title of an academic paper or journal article should be put inside quotation marks. If the journal is then named, use italics for the name of the journal.
    • CORRECT
      • His paper, “The Rhetoric of Neo-Classic Poets,” was published in Classical Literature Quarterly.
  • Use italics for book titles (including textbooks), reference books such as almanacs and dictionaries, books that are collections of works or proceedings (including journals). Use quotations for songs, lecture titles, book chapters or individual selections.
    • CORRECT
      • An excellent source for writers is The Elements of Style by Strunk and White.
      • You’ll find a copy of Encyclopaedia Britannica in my library at home.
      • In the text, Collection of Great American Short Stories, my favorite is “The Hills Are Like White Elephants.”
      • In social media, titles that would normally be in italics should be placed in quotes or all caps. (For COFA, quotes are preferred.
  • Capitalize the main words in the title of courses; quotation marks or italics are not necessary.
  •  Capitalize the name of a magazine title but do not place it in quotations or italics. Do not capitalize “magazine” unless it’s part of the publication’s title or masthead.
    • CORRECT
      • Time magazine
      • Newsweek magazine
      • The Alcalde
  • Capitalize the word “the” only if it’s part of the periodical’s title.
    • CORRECT
      • The New York Times
      • The Wall Street Journal
      • The Alcalde magazine
      • The Eyes of Texas
      • The Daily Texan
      • The Washington Post
  • When listing several publications or periodicals, lower case the initial “the” and eliminate additional references of “the” from the list.
    • CORRECT
      • We read the New York Times, Austin American-Statesman and Wall Street Journal every morning.
  • Italicize the titles of movies, plays, television shows and episodes, and radio shows.
    • CORRECT
      • University of Texas at Austin alumni Tom Jones and Harvey Schmidt created The Fantasticks, the longest-running musical in theater history.
  • Capitalize but do not use quotation marks around descriptive titles for orchestral works. Special titles of the full work should be italicized, but special titles of individual movements should be placed in quotes.
    • CORRECT
      • Bach’s Suite No. 1 for Orchestra
      • Mozart’s The Magic Flute
      • The singer wowed the audience with her rendition of “Summertime” in George Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess opera.
  • A general rule of thumb is to always capitalize the first unit and capitalize the second unit if it’s a noun or adjective or if it has equal balance with the first unit.
    • CORRECT
      • Twentieth-Century Poets in South America [book title]
      • “City-States in Nineteenth Century Europe” [article title]
      • Non-Christian Religions in North America [course title]
  • The second unit should be in lowercase if it’s a participle modifying the first unit or if both units constitute a single word.
    • CORRECT
      • “English-speaking People throughout Asia”
      • “Medium-sized Companies with Unions”
      • “E-flat Minor Melody”
      • “Re-establishing a Youthful Outlook”
      • “Self-fulfilling Prophecies in Small-Town America”

U.S./United States

  • The Associated Press, whose style guide we follow, recently approved “U.S.” as an acceptable abbreviation for “United States” as either a noun or an adjective. Previously, “United States” was the noun form and “U.S.” was the adjective form.

University of Texas System

  • The University of Texas System overseen 15 campuses.

Contact Us:

Alicia Dietrich, Public Affairs Director
College of Fine Arts
alicia.dietrich@austin.utexas.edu
Office: 512-475-7033
Cell: 512-636-1216

Rose L. Thayer, Public Affairs Specialist
College of Fine Arts
rose.thayer@austin.utexas.edu
Office: 512-232-8167
Cell: 409-779-9282

Misa Yamamoto, Visual Designer
College of Fine Arts
misayamamoto@austin.utexas.edu
Office: 512-471-3277
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