University Style Guide

  • For most communications, the Division of Marketing and Communications uses the Chicago Manual of Style, 17th edition. Chicago is the standard style guide for publishing for a general audience.

    The Associated Press Stylebook and Libel Manual is also used, particularly in work produced by the Media Relations and Sports Information offices.

    For some technology-related style issues, the Digital Team also uses the Microsoft Manual of Style, 4th edition. Manuscripts destined for academic journals and works of a similar scholarly nature may adhere to styles represented by other style guides such as the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association and the MLA Style Manual.

    The Marketing and Communications Division refers to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary and has specialty dictionaries on hand for use with certain kinds of manuscripts and terms.

    Questions regarding the University Style Guide should be directed to Matt Burglund, the University Editor, at

    acronyms and initials

    Use the full name of an organization on first reference; thereafter, use the official acronym or initials of the organization. Do not mention the acronym in parentheses immediately after the first reference. This creates redundancies.

    No matter how familiar acronyms might be to some people, there will surely be readers who do not know what they stand for. Therefore, it is a courtesy to readers to give the full name on first reference and the abbreviation on subsequent references. (Exception: referring to the Hadley Union Building as the HUB is acceptable on first reference.)

    Initials and acronyms do not get periods.

    Acronyms of five or more letters tend to become upper and lowercase words with frequent use. For example, Aluminum Company of America becomes Alcoa.

    Correct Incorrect
    SGA held its meeting Monday night. S.G.A. held its meeting Monday night.

    Chicago 10.1–10

    all caps

    Do not use all caps on the website. Use bold or italics to emphasize single words or short phrases. Don’t emphasize long phrases or whole paragraphs.

    Headings and page titles should not be entered into the CMS in all capital letters, even though they will automatically appear as all caps because of the website’s template, which may change in the future.

    Entering headings in all caps creates search engine optimization and accessibility issues (see headings for more information).

    Correct Incorrect
    The application deadline is January 1, 2017. THE APPLICATION DEADLINE IS JANUARY 1, 2017.
    Our English Faculty

    Use the proper form for the individual or group in question:

    • alumnus: one man
    • alumna: one woman
    • alumnae: a group consisting of only women
    • alumni: more than one man or mixed group

    Do not use ampersands unless a company or organization uses one in its official name.

    Correct Incorrect
    Our business school is the Eberly College of Business and Information Technology. Our business school is the Eberly College of Business & Information Technology.
    I bought coffee, chips, and a sandwich. I bought coffee, chips & a sandwich.
    She works at S&T Bank. She works at S and T bank.
    boldface, italics, and underlining

    Use boldface only to emphasize something. Using italics is preferred.

    Do not use boldface in headings.

    Do not use boldface on entire paragraphs of text. Better options are to place the text in a call-out box or use a heading to break it out.

    Do not underline. Underlining makes text look like a link.

    Correct Incorrect
    The application deadline is January 1, 2017. The application deadline is January 1, 2017.
    campus buildings

    Refer to the list of campus buildings and addresses.

    canceled vs. cancelled

    Use canceled. In the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, canceled with one l is listed first and is the preferred American spelling; cancelled with two l’s is the preferred British spelling. However, cancellation has two lls.

    Canceled is not equivalent to postponed. If your event is canceled, it is not being rescheduled. If your event is postponed, it has been pushed back from the original date or time.

    Correct Incorrect
    Our event is postponed until tomorrow. Our event is canceled until tomorrow.
    The event is canceled. The event is cancelled.
    capitalization of proper vs. common nouns

    Proper nouns are capitalized; common nouns are not. For example:

    • Council of Trustees, the trustees
    • Stapleton Library, the library
    • the University Museum, the museum
    • Indiana University of Pennsylvania, the university.

    Chicago 5.5–6

    chair, chairperson, chairman

    Use chair, unless the convention of another organization dictates otherwise.

    Chicago 8.27

    commas in a series (Oxford comma)

    IUP uses the Oxford comma.

    An Oxford comma (also known as a serial comma) is the comma that comes before the and in a series. However, news releases that are disseminated to the print media use AP style; in AP style, the Oxford comma is not used.

    Correct Incorrect
    He bought milk, eggs, and bread. He bought milk, eggs and bread.

    Chicago 6.18

    credits and credit hours

    Write out numbers smaller than 10 and the word credits in running text. If you need to abbreviate (for instance, on lists of required courses for a specific major) use cr, no period or space between cr and the number of credits, which is in numerical form.

    Correct Incorrect
    The class is worth three credits. The class is worth 3 cr.
    Basic Journalism Skills 3cr Basic Journalism Skills credits: 3
    dashes and hyphens

    The hyphen is the “dash” character found on your keyboard. It is used to form compound words.

    The en dash is longer than a hyphen but shorter than an em dash. The en dash is used for indicating ranges of numbers, letters, dates, game scores, etc.

    The em dash is the longest dash. It is used to indicate a break in thought. It is also used to link clauses.

    Microsoft Word automatically inserts an en dash or em dash depending on AutoFormat settings; the CMS editor does not. Both dashes are available on the character menu in the web editor. There should be no space before or after either type of dash.

    Correct Incorrect
    The document is a read-only file. The document is a read–only file.
    He was featured in the May–September issues of the magazine. He was featured in the May-September issues of the magazine.
    All users—except users of Auxmail—should… All users- except users of Auxmail - should..

    Chicago 6.75–89


    When the full date is given, use commas before and after the year. According to Chicago, commas are not necessary when only the month is given.

    Correct Incorrect
    The trustees met September 23, 2002, to approve the resolution. The trustees met September 23, 2002 to approve the resolution.
    The trustees met in September 2002. The trustees met in September, 2002.

    Chicago 9.30–32

    dates, ordinals with
    Correct Incorrect
    She was born April 21, 1985. She was born April 21st, 1985.

    Chicago 9.32

    department names

    Capitalize department if the name of the department is included. Department is lowercase if it stands alone.

    There is no preference as to whether the word department gets listed first or last in the title.

    Correct Incorrect
    She is a professor in the Department of Psychology. She is a professor in the department of psychology.
    She is a professor in the Psychology Department. She is a professor in the psychology department.
    She is new to the department. She is new to the Department.

    Chicago 8.67

    dialog box syntax

    From the Microsoft Manual of Style:

    These terms are most commonly used to describe user actions in dialog boxes:

    Click: Use for commands, command buttons, option buttons, and options in a list, gallery, or palette.

    Select and clear: Use for check boxes.

    Type or select: Use to refer to an item (as in a combo box) that the user can either type or select in the accompanying text box. You can use enter instead if there is no possibility of confusion.

    Microsoft 2012, 59

    dialog boxes, references to

    From the Microsoft Manual of Style:

    Use bold type in procedures that refer to dialog box titles, labels, and options. Example: On the Tools menu, click Options , and then click the View tab. Select the Bookmarks checkbox.

    Microsoft 2012, 60

    email and other electronic terms

    Use a lowercase e and hyphenate the word: e-commerce, e-money, e-zine

    Exception: Email is not hyphenated. Do not use e-mail. Note: This is a change from previous versions of the Chicago Manual of Style.

    Correct Incorrect
    Sign up for our e-zine.
    Sign up for our ezine.

    Contact the Digital Team via email.

    Contact the Digital Team via e-mail.

    Chicago 17th ed. 

    Any link to an email address needs to use that email address as the text of the link. This avoids sending users to their email programs when they had expected to follow a link.

    Correct Incorrect
    Contact the Digital Team at Contact the Digital Team.

    Use the proper form for the individual or group in question:

    • emeritus: one man
    • emerita: one woman
    • emeritae: more than one woman or group of only women
    • emeriti: more than one man or mixed group

    Capitalize when used before someone’s name. Lowercase when used alone or after someone’s name.

    Correct Incorrect
    Professor Emerita Heilman professor emerita Heilman

    Chicago 8.27

    exclamation point

    Exclamation points are typically not used. They should never be used more than once per page.

    Chicago 6.71


    FAQ stands for frequently asked questions. It does not require an s at the end.

    Microsoft 2012, 220

    fiscal year

    Because we’re trying to communicate as clearly as possible—and because most readers will probably not be accountants—it is best to use, if possible, a designation that parallels that of the academic year: fiscal year 1997–98 or FY 1997–98.

    Chicago 6.105, 9.63

    freshman vs. freshmen

    Freshman is an adjective and a noun. Freshmen is never an adjective.

    Correct Incorrect
    The new freshman class arrives next week. The new freshmen class arrives next week.
    Her son is a freshman at IUP. Her son is a freshmen at IUP.
    The new freshmen were shy at first. The new freshman were shy at first.

    On the website, headings are used for function, not for looks. Use heading 2, heading 3, etc. to mark the structure of a document, not for emphasis.

    In other words, if the document has two main sections, use heading 2 for the title of each. This is similar to the structure of a formal outline. Heading 2s mark the main divisions of the document, heading 3s mark the subdivisions of the main divisions, etc.

    Heading 1 is used only for the title of the page. This is handled automatically by the CMS. Inserting h1 elements into your content will harm the search engine optimization and accessibility of your page.

    If headings are used incorrectly, accessibility and search engine optimization problems will occur. Specifically, screen readers will have difficulty reading a page if the headings are incorrect. Search engines will also have trouble indexing the page.

    HTML (Hypertext Markup Language)

    Use semantic HTML whenever possible. In other words, don’t type bullet characters into your content, use HTML lists to create bulleted lists; don’t create headings using boldface, use the HTML headings to format headings; etc.

    Here is an article detailing 21 Basic HTML Codes Everyone Who's Not a Developer Should Know.

    Using semantic HTML makes our web pages easier for search engines to index and helps us maintain consistency throughout the site, as these elements are automatically styled to match our templates. It also improves the accessibility of our pages to the visually impaired.


    Abbreviation for the Hadley Union Building. All capital letters, no periods. Using HUB on first reference—without spelling out Hadley Union Building—is acceptable.

    Correct Incorrect
    The event took place in the HUB. The event took place in the H.U.B.

    Lowercase i, no hyphen. Capitalized at the beginning of a sentence.


    Lowercase i, no hyphen. Capitalized at the beginning of a sentence.


    Unlike iaccounts and ihelp, the I and M are capitalized with a hyphen between them.

    IUP Daily

    IUP Daily is the name of a publication and therefore italicized. There is no the in the name.

    Correct Incorrect
    I saw an article in IUP Daily. I saw an article in the IUP Daily.
    IUP’s name

    When written out, the university name should always be Indiana University of Pennsylvania. The word the should not precede Indiana University of Pennsylvania, as it is not part of the university’s name.

    After the first use of the full university name, use IUP for further references on the same page or news post. It is not necessary to include IUP on first reference. See acronyms and initials.

    When referring to IUP as “the university,” note that university is not capitalized. This follows Chicago’s general rule for capitalization of proper and common nouns.

    Correct Incorrect
    I attend Indiana University of Pennsylvania. I attend the Indiana University of Pennsylvania.
    Welcome to Indiana University of Pennsylvania. You’ll find IUP to be a great place to study. Welcome to Indiana University of Pennsylvania (IUP). You’ll find IUP to be a great place to study.
    Kovalchick Convention and Athletic Complex

    Write out Kovalchick Convention and Athletic Complex on first reference. Use Kovalchick Complex on second reference. It is not the Kovalchick Center.

    Correct Incorrect
    IUP Day takes place at the Kovalchick Convention and Athletic Complex. IUP Day takes place at the Kovalchick Center.

    Link text should identify the item being linked to. Do not use click here or learn more as link text; this creates accessibility and search engine optimization issues.

    Don’t make surrounding punctuation—such as periods, commas, or quotes—part of the link, unless you are linking an entire sentence.

    Examples: See the Travel Expense Voucher. Or, just Travel Expense Voucher.

    Correct Incorrect
    Learn more on the Alumni Relations website. Click here to learn more.
    login vs. log in

    In the verb form, it is log in. As a noun, log-in or login is acceptable.

    Sign-on follows the same rule.

    Correct Incorrect
    To make changes, you need to log in to Ektron. To make changes, you need to login to Ektron.
    The sign-on page is broken. The sign on page is broken.
    You can change your login after entering it once. You can change your log in after entering it once.
    You can change your log-in after entering it once.

    All capital except for the y. There is no space after the y.


    On first use, give first name, surname (last name), and job title. No designations (Mr., Mrs., Dr., etc.) are needed. Use just the surname thereafter, again without any designations.

    When including a job title as part of a name, it should be in lowercase letters when following a name or capitalized when in front of a name.

    Avoid initials—either in the middle of a name or at the beginning.

    Exception: when two people have the same first and last names and the reader might confuse them.

    For the trustees’ docket, use the name of the individual that is in the IUP Find People Directory.

    Correct Incorrect
    Psychology Department Chairperson Jane Doe spoke at a conference. Doe has been researching the effects of finals week stress on college students’ brains. Psychology Department Chairperson, Dr. Jane Doe spoke at a conference. Dr. Jane has been researching the effects of finals week stress on college students’ brains.
    number and date ranges

    Either include to or use an en dash:

    Correct Incorrect
    The students were assigned to read pages 10 to 50. The students were assigned to read from page 10 through page 50.
    The students were assigned to read pages 10–50. The students were assigned to read from pages 10-50.

    Years use an en dash, in this format:

    Correct Incorrect
    She was the 2014–15 scholarship winner. She was the 2014–2015 scholarship winner.
    He taught at the university 1998–2004. He taught at the university from 1998–04.

    Number ranges can be condensed by following rules:

    • If the numbers in the range are less than 100, use all digits: 3–10.

    • If the first number is 100 or a multiple of 100, use all digits: 100–104, 1,100–1,113.

    • If the first number is 101 through 109, etc. you would not include all digits: 101–8, 808–33.

    Chicago 9.58–60


    Spell out one through nine; use numerals for 10 and higher.


    • Use numerals for percentages and in other mathematical or scientific contexts.

    • Spell out all numbers, including years, when they begin a sentence. It may be preferable to reword the sentence so as not to start with a number.

    Correct Incorrect
    The three new parking lots at IUP will provide space for 500 more cars. The 3 new parking lots at IUP will provide space for five hundred more cars.
    Thirty-two faculty members in 12 departments were promoted to the rank of professor. 32 faculty members in twelve departments were promoted to the rank of professor.
    The property is held on a 99-year lease. The property is held on a ninety-nine year lease.
    About 7 percent of the property is wooded. About seven percent of the property is wooded.
    Indiana County is more than 200 years old. Indiana County is more than two hundred years old.

    Chicago 9.3


    One word in all cases, according to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary.

    Correct Incorrect
    Carl wrote an online blog. Carl wrote an on line blog.
    Carl’s blog went online. Carl’s blog went on line.
    The class is online. The class is on line.

    Chicago 7.85


    PASSHE is no longer the term preferred by Pennsylvania’s State System of Higher Education. See State System, below.


    Always give percentages in numerals. In running type, spell out the word percent.

    Correct Incorrect
    Only 5 percent of the students voted in the election. Only 5% of students voted in the election.

    Chicago 9.18


    Use roman numerals to designate each phase.

    Correct Incorrect
    The project is in Phase I. The project is in phase one.
    phone numbers

    Our format for 10-digit phone numbers is nnn-nnn-nnnn.

    Correct Incorrect
    The office’s phone number is 724-357-3062. The office’s phone number is (724) 357-3062.

    Avoid use of the word full as an adjective for professor. Each year, certain faculty members are promoted to professor, not to full professor.

    As with other titles, professor is capitalized when it precedes a person’s name.

    Correct Incorrect
    Professor Jane Leonard professor Jane Leonard
    Jane Leonard, professor of English Jane Leonard, Professor of English
    programs, majors, and degree names

    Names of degrees and majors are considered descriptive and, therefore, common nouns. Names of programs are considered proper nouns, with or without the word program included.

    Correct Incorrect
    She is a journalism and public relations major at IUP. She is a Journalism and Public Relations major at IUP.
    She is a student in the Journalism and Public Relations program at IUP. She is a student in the journalism and public relations program at IUP.

    Chicago recommends omitting periods in abbreviations of academic degrees: PhD, BA, BS, MA, MEd, DEd, BSEd, MBA, PsyD, etc.

    Correct Incorrect
    Computer Science, BS Computer Science, B.S.

    When referring to programs, concentrations, and degrees in lists, the format is: Concentration or Track, Program, Degree.

    Correct Incorrect
    Writing Studies, English, BA English, Writing Studies, BA

    Chicago 10.4

    publication names

    Chicago style does not italicize articles at the beginning of a publication’s name in running text, so proper use is the Beak, not The Beak.

    There is no article before IUP Daily or IUP Magazine

    Our student newspaper appears as: the Penn

    Chicago 8.168

    quotation marks

    Use the “curly” quotation marks and apostrophes provided in the CMS on the special characters menu, under the insert toolbar.

    Quoted material such as words, phrases, and sentences are enclosed in double quotation marks. If you are quoting an excerpt from another source and that excerpt includes a quote, those quotes would become single quotes.

    Correct Incorrect
    “To say that ‘I mean what I say’ is the same as ‘I say what I mean.’” “To say that “I mean what I say” is the same as “I say what I mean.””

    Chicago 13.28, 6.112


    Use a lowercase letter when referring to a specific semester or session: During the fall 2017 semester, plans were made for the next year’s summer sessions.


    One word, no hyphen.


    Use only one space after punctuation at the end of a sentence and after a colon.

    On the website, the CMS handles the space between paragraphs, before headings, and around list items automatically. In general, allow Ektron to control this spacing. Do not add extra blank lines between paragraphs.

    Blank lines can cause difficulties when content is printed, repurposed, or switched to a new template.

    Chicago 2.9

    State System

    On first reference, Pennsylvania’s State System of Higher Education. In subsequent references, use the System or the State System. PASSHE is no longer the term preferred by Pennsylvania’s State System of Higher Education.


    In running text, use full, not abbreviated, state name with city. In list form, Chicago recommends using the two-letter postal code with the city whenever abbreviations are needed.

    Postal Codes:

    AL, AK, AS, AZ, AR, CA, CO, CT, DE, DC, FL, GA, GU, HI, ID, IL, IN, IA, KS, KY, LA, ME, MD, MH, MA, MI, FM, MN, MS, MO, MT, NE, NV, NH, NJ, NM, NY, NC, ND, MP, OH, OK, OR, PW, PA, PR, RI, SC, SD, TN, TX, UT, VT, VA, VI, WA, WV, WI, WY.

    Correct Incorrect
    I live in Indiana, Pennsylvania. I live in Indiana, PA.

    Chicago 10.4


    Use a colon and zeros for on-the-hour times, and lowercase the a.m./p.m. Use noon and midnight to avoid confusion.

    Correct Incorrect
    I woke up at 7:00 a.m. I woke up at 7 am.

    Use the en dash when giving a range of times. This is between an em dash and a hyphen (the width of an “n”):

    Correct Incorrect
    Office hours are 9:00 a.m.–5:00 p.m. Office hours are from 9am-5pm.

    Chicago 9.38

    titles and offices

    Capitalize a title when it immediately precedes a personal name.

    The examples Chicago gives are President Lincoln; the president; Dean Mueller; the dean. (Note: Different rules may apply in lists, as opposed to running text).

    Avoid stacking titles before the name; choose one and use others elsewhere.

    Correct Incorrect
    Fine Arts Dean Michael Hood Fine Arts Dean Mr. Michael Hood
    Fine Arts Dean Michael Hood Fine Arts dean Michael Hood
    Michael Hood, dean of Fine Arts Michael Hood, Dean of Fine Arts

    Chicago 8.1, 8.18–32

    United States

    Write out United States as a noun. Use US (no periods) as an adjective.

    Chicago 10.4, 10.33

    URLs in print

    Although URLs such as work, we strongly prefer that all URLs in print items include the www., i.e., Italicize URLs in print.

    URLs in running text

    Do not put bare URLs in running text. Always use text-based links that described where the link is going. Using keywords for links is easier for users and search engine optimization.

    (A URL is the address of a web page. It is sometimes referred to as a "web address." URL stands for Uniform Resource Locator.)

    Correct Incorrect
    Find out more on the Alumni Relations website. Find out more at
    vice president

    Do not hyphenate vice president.

    web, website

    According to Chicago, web is lowercase, website is one word and web page is two. Capitalize World Wide Web.

    Chicago 7.76

    -wide words

    When using words with -wide, follow the dictionary on whether the suffix is added with a hyphen or not.

    In some instances, the two words become one: worldwide. In others they are hyphenated: university-wide.

    Chicago also states that the words are closed if they appear as such in the dictionary. If they do not appear in the dictionary, you should hyphenate them.

    Correct Incorrect
    The trend has spread worldwide. The trend has spread world wide.
    The campaign is university-wide. The campaign is universitywide.

    Additional Resources

    Fenton, Nicole, and Kate Kiefer Lee. 2014. Nicely Said: Writing for the Web with Style and Purpose. Berkeley, CA: Peachpit Press.

    Microsoft Corporation. 2012. Microsoft Manual of Style, 4th Edition. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education.

    Redish, Janice. 2012. Letting Go of the Words: Writing Web Content That Works. Waltham, MA: Morgan Kaufmann Publishers.

    University of Chicago Press. 2010. The Chicago Manual of Style, 16th Edition. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.