University Style Guide

This style guide is for use with print publications. When writing for the web it should be used in conjunction with our digital style guide.

Key terms

It's important that we keep our terminology consistent to avoid confusing people. Here are some key terms to get right:

Campus East, Campus West not Heslington East, Heslington West

degree classes

First, 2:1, 2:2, 3rd


For all University departments always use Department of Xxx not Xxx Department, except for the Environment Department

Open Day

Use u/c when referring to the University's Open Days. Otherwise use l/c

University of York not York University (which is in Canada)

A to Z


a, an

a historic or a heroic rather than an historic or an heroic


Try to avoid shortened words since they may not be understood outside the University: postgraduate certificate not PgCert

January not Jan. or Jan

UK not United Kingdom

USA or US not United States

EU not European Union

Eg, etc, ie are set in roman without full points

Do not use ampersands unless in a formal name or trade name: City & Guilds

Use per cent not % in text. Use the symbol in headlines, charts and figures

Close up unit abbreviations: 10mm, pp1012

Close up am and pm: 5pm, 10am but 12 noon

Use Dr, Mr, Mrs, Ms, PhD, MSc, MA without full points

Spell out Professor in full: never use Prof. or Prof

Use the appropriate article (a, an, or the) with abbreviations when you would use that article in speech:The CII is part of the Department of Biology


Use these where possible except in words that have become part of English: hotel, elite. Keep when it makes a difference to the sound: café

accommodation has double c and double m

acknowledgement not acknowledgment


Write the phrase or title in full the first time it appears, followed by the acronym in brackets. After that, you can use the acronym on its own.

Where the abbreviation is better known than what it stands for there is no need to spell it out in full: BBC, NATO, IRA, AIDS


  • capitals, even if the acronym is pronounced as a word: AIDS, NATO, IPUP

Do not use:

  • full stops in acronyms or put spaces between initials



Use commas when the address is on one line: University of York, York, YO10 5DD.

If the address is on different lines do not use commas:

Department of Biology
University of York
York YO10 5DD

There is no need to include 'Heslington' in the University's address

For department addresses, put the department name before the University

Some important details:

  • no full stops at the ends of the lines
  • no comma between the number and the street name
  • do not abbreviate Road, Street or Avenue
  • postcode should appear after the town, county or city on the same line
  • no comma between town/county and postcode


Try to avoid breaking email addresses in print if possible but not if a large amount of white space is left. Should you have to break an email address, break it at the @:


Pay careful attention to capitalisation in email addresses.


There is no need to include http://www at the beginning of a web address, or a final forward slash:

It is always a good idea to check any web addresses included in a publication before going to print.

In text, try to include a web address only at the end of a sentence. Do not insert space so it moves to start the next line. If it has to run over two lines, split it at a forward slash. Make web addresses consistently bold or italic and use a full stop (not bold or italic) as closing punctuation.

For very long addresses the Digital Marketing team may provide a shortcut.

adviser not advisor

ageing not aging


Use initial capital letters in Dark Ages, Middle Ages, etc

A levels not A-Levels or A-levels

all right not alright

alumni (plural), alum (singular) not alumnus/alumna

alot this word does not exist. A lot means a great deal

American spellings

Use English spellings unless proper nouns: the US Secretary of Defense is responsible for defence. Where there is no English equivalent, and for place names, keep the American spelling: Labor Day and Pearl Harbor

amid, among not amidstamongst

ampersand (&)

Use the word and unless referring to an official company name: Smith & Nephew. Ampersands should not be used on University of York business cards and stationery

Ancient Greek not ancient Greek

any more two words

anyway one word



  • to denote possession in a noun: student's timetable
  • when replacing missing letters and numbers: students in the '70s

Do not use:

  • with possessive pronouns: yours not yours'
  • in plurals of numbers, letters or in acronyms: the 1970s not the 1970's; three As at A level, not three A's at A level; CDs not CD's

Some important uses:

 Students' Union
Overseas Students' Association
Graduate Students' Association
Freshers' Week


These are sometimes used in running text to refer a reader to an important footnote. They are rarely used in marketing materials and never on the web. Use only if absolutely necessary

audio-visual is hyphenated

awol not AWOL


Bachelors not Bachelor's or bachelors


Use with a hyphen when combined with another word to form an adjective: work-based study

benefited, benefiting not benefitted, benefitting

between and among

Use between with two people or things and among with three or more people or things

bloodstream is one word


Punctuation stays outside the brackets (parentheses) if the sentence is complete without the information inside. (A complete sentence that stands alone in brackets starts with a capital letter and ends with a stop.)


Britain and UK mean the same. Great Britain refers only to England, Wales and Scotland. Take care not to write Britain when you might mean only England and Wales, for example when referring to the education system. Use UK in the University of York address, not England

bullet points

Simple lists

Learners should identify the following organs of the human body:

  • brain
  • heart
  • lungs
  • stomach.

Note there are no initial capital letters (unless using proper nouns) and no punctuation except for a full stop at the end of the last bullet point.

Part sentences

Sentences that have been broken down into bullet points should still 'flow' throughout:

People go on holiday to:

  • have a change of scenery
  • enjoy hot weather
  • get away from editing BTEC Short Courses.

Note the colon, the lack of capitalisation and the single full stop. If the bulleted lines are very long, add a semicolon to the end of each line and end with a full stop.

Full sentences

Bulleted lists containing complete sentences should start with a capital letter and finish with a full stop.

Students must give examples of how this is implemented.

  • For mark band 1, one example is required of its implementation by either a care worker or the organisation.
  • For mark band 2, more than one example of either a care worker or the organisation is required.
  • For mark band 3, it is desirable that students give examples of both workers and the organisation.

There does not have to be a colon at the end of the preceding sentence.


café has an acute accent

Campus East, Campus West not Heslington East, Heslington West

capital letters

Also known as u/c, or upper case


  • names of people, places and organisations (proper nouns)
  • subjects at York: You don’t have to be a Music student to enjoy music.
  • names of institutions
  • King, Pope when specifically named
  • the Solar System, Sun, Moon, Earth
  • the Catalyst not The Catalyst
  • Acts of Parliament
  • British Government departments of state and agencies
  • the main words in the names of programmes and modules within text
  • months and days of the week
  • countries, rivers, lakes and mountains.

Do not capitalise:

  • the smaller words in titles such as inatoftheandon
  • generic job or occupation titles: He is the managing director of the company.
  • general subject titles: Students study all aspects of archaeology.

University: use an initial capital in specific references to York: the University. When referring to auniversity use lower case.

College: use an initial capital when referring to a specific college: The College is named after Lord James. When referring to colleges in general use lower case: Goodricke is the first college on Heslington East.

Avoid over-use of capitals as they make the text more difficult to read. Whole titles or chunks of text written in capitals should be avoided as it looks like YOU ARE SHOUTING at the reader. If you want to emphasise a word, use italic or bold instead.

Accents are not needed on capital letters.

city of York not City of York when referring generally to the city; use l/c for city

City of York Council is the full name of the Council

collective nouns

Nouns such as committee, family, government take a singular verb or pronoun when thought of as a single unit, but a plural verb or pronoun when thought of as a collection of individuals: The family can trace its history back to the Middle Ages.; The family were sitting down, scratching their heads.

colons (:)

Use colons to:

  • introduce a list
  • separate statements in a sentence, when the second statement explains the first

Never follow a colon with a dash (:-) or a capital letter unless the next word is a proper noun or title

combated, combating not combatted, combatting

compass points

Regional phrases should be in caps as in the North, the South, the West, the South East, etc but southeast England (because southeast is an adjective)

Use capitals for abbreviated compass points: NESW

CAT scan not Cat scan


Capitalise when referring to the body of the Catholic Church, but church when referring to the building

computer terms

Use the following spellings:

disk not disc except compact disc
drop-down box
email not e-mail
icon not ikon
internet not Internet
link or hyperlink
online not on-line
onscreen not on-screen
a pop-up
program not programme
world wide web or the web
web page

contact details

Always provide a telephone number and an email address. Web addresses are strongly recommended. Only provide fax numbers when required

Always provide these contact details in the following order: telephone, email, web. If including a fax machine number then the order should be: telephone, fax, email, web

Telephone numbers should always follow the format: +44 (0)1904 32XXXX

There is no need to introduce contact details with the terms Telephone, Email or Web. They are self-explanatory. If, however, it is necessary to list a fax number as well, then precede the numbers with the terms Telephone, Fax, Email or Web to separate the fax number from the telephone number


Contracted words, for example you'll for you will and we'll for we will, are fine in the right context. When writing for a student/prospective student audience, contractions can help establish a friendly, informal tone

course titles

University degree courses can be referred to as programmes or courses. The right way to write a course title is BA (Honours) History or BA (Hons) History. Programme is not capitalised unless it is part of a full course title

co-operate not cooperate

co-ordinate not coordinate



The en dash (also known as as en rule) is used as a dash. It is longer than a hyphen and has different functions. The en-dash can be found in most software under 'Symbol/Special characters'

database not data-base

datum (singular); data (plural)

day one not Day 1

It's been happening since day one


  • Write 9 March 2016 with no comma. Leave out the day of the week and year, unless needed for clarity. Do not use st, nd and th after figures
  • Write March 2009 not March 09
  • For ranges in text use 1750 to 1780 with no dash in between
  • For the academic year use 2010/11
  • For cohort years use 1st Year, 2nd Year not First Year, Second Year
  • Use c1750 not c.1750 or c 1750
  • Decades are 1960s and '60s (plural) not 1960's and '60's (unless possessive)
  • Avoid using the style 25.3.09 for dates because of the different usage in the US
  • Centuries should be written as 19th century (noun) or 19th-century literature (adjective)
  • AD comes before the date: AD350; BC comes after: 350BC. The alternative abbreviations BCE and CE both go after the date. No space between numbers and letters

decision maker, decision making not decisionmaker, decision-maker

degree classes

First, 2:1, 2:2, 3rd. Never use 1st. Use a capital when referring to a First, but lower case initial for first-class degree. Never use first degree, as this can be confused with an undergraduate degree. She was awarded a First in biology. He was awarded a 2:1 in English. She was awarded a first-class degree in chemistry


For all University departments always use Department of not XXX Department, except for the Environment Department

Department has a capital D when it is part of the department's title: Welcome to the Department of Computer Science

When referring to the specific department use an u/c D: The staff in the Department are friendly and approachable. The same applies to specific schools: Welcome to the Management School. The School has an excellent record

If you use an acronym for your department or school, such as HYMS, always make sure you also write it out in full for the first time you use it in a text

Deputy Vice-Chancellor but Pro-Vice-Chancellor with two hyphens

disc for CDs, DVDs and recordings but disk for other digital storage

drop-down box not drop down box



eg no full stop after. Use a comma before. Only use the abbreviation where space is an issue, such as in tables: We offer part-time courses in a range of subjects, eg computing, languages and the environment



Close up to previous word, but leave one space before following word. When used in direct quotation, it indicates a pause in speech... or where words are missing

email no hyphen. Less well-known e-words such as e-commerce and e-learning should be hyphenated

en masse as a single body, as one. Not on mass

en-suite not en suite or ensuite

enquire and enquiry rather than inquire and inquiry unless a formal public inquiry: the Hutton Inquiry

ensure means to make sure, insure means to arrange financial cover

enrol, enrolled, enrolling, enrolment note which forms take a double l

eras These should be in capital letters eg Gothic, Romantic, Modernist except in wider use: He had a romantic nature

etc no full stop, preceded by a comma if there are three or more items

equal opportunities (see Sensitivity in print)

Take care when describing or addressing different groups of people in print or on the web. For example:

  • deaf people or the deaf community not the deaf
  • disabled people not people with disabilities
  • wheelchair users not people in wheelchairs
  • people with AIDS not AIDS victims
  • elderly people not the elderly or old people
  • lecturers and their partners not lecturers and their wives

et al use roman, not italic, and no full stop

examination not exam

exclamation mark (!) Do not use except in quoted speech


Fairtrade not Fair trade or Fair-trade

FAQs (frequently asked questions) not FAQS

Far East use only in historical context. Use Asia or East Asia

feed back (verb) not feed-back. She was asked to feed back on the day's activities

feedback (noun) not feed-back. Her feedback was not very helpful

fewer and less

Use fewer for countable nouns/numbers and less for uncountable nouns/quantity: fewer lectures; less time

field trip not field-trip or fieldtrip

fieldwork no hyphen, not field-work or field work

final-year students are in their final year

flu (no apostrophe)

focused not focussed but focussing

foot-and-mouth disease should be hyphenated

foreign words

Use italics if not accepted as fully part of English: en masse, fait accompli. Et al has no italics and no full stop

for example

Only use the abbreviated eg (without full points) when space is an issue, such as in tables. Always use the full for example if possible

forgo not forego

forward slash (/)

Do not use a forward slash for or (male/female) or to (July/August). However, use a forward slash in place of to for academic years: 2015/16


An hour and a half has no hyphens. Similarly, two and a half years, two thirds


Broken or incomplete sentences are picked up by your spell-check as fragments. To correct them, rewrite your sentence, making sure it has a subject and a verb. Fragments are acceptable in some contexts, such as bullet points, entries in directory-style publications, or as a device in creative writing

full stop (.)

Do not use after abbreviations (BA, Mrs), acronyms (BBC) or middle initials. Try to split long sentences into shorter ones. Shorter sentences make text easier to read

NB Leave one blank space (not two) after a full stop, colon or semi-colon

full-time, part-time are hyphenated


Unlike most other adverbs, fully should be fully-hyphenated when used like this

fundraiserfundraising not fund raising or fund-raising


gauge is correct, not guage


Use u/c Government when referring to a specific one: 'the Government resigned last night'

Use l/c government in all adjectival contexts: a government minister, government expenditure

groundbreaking not ground-breaking or ground breaking



headings and titles


  • sentence case which has an initial capital letter only: This is a heading not This is a Heading
  • headings which are only one or two lines long

Do not use:

punctuation at the end of headings, unless the heading is a question. Do not add colons, full stops, hyphens or en rules after the final word of the heading

healthcare one word, without a hyphen

Heslington East is now referred to as Campus East

homepage not home page

the Hub not The Hub

hyphen (-)

Use hyphens to avoid ambiguity.

Do not use hyphens:

  • with no one
  • with compass points: northeast England
  • in adverbial phrases: The students were well dressed for the icy conditions
  • with fractions: one third; three quarters
  • for expressions such as step by step; up to date; whole school unless being used adjectivally: the step-by-step instructions; up-to-date technology

When there is another adjective or adverb preceding the hyphenated word, there does not need to be another hyphen: a well thought-out plan

The following words are never hyphenated:



ie no full stop afterwards. Use a comma before


Do not use initials in a name unless the person particularly wants them for clarity. Do not use full stops: John G P Barnes


internet use l/c, not Internet

-ise or -ize

Use s spelling, not z: organise not organize, organisation not organization, emphasise not emphasize, specialise not specialize, hypothesise not hypothesize, internationalise not internationalize


Use italics for:

  • foreign words that are not anglicised (with correct accents)
  • clarity: upon is often unnecessary; on will do
  • titles of books, journals, newspapers, films, television programmes and plays, poems, long musical compositions, paintings, sculptures and photographs, names of ships, exhibition titles

Do not use italics for:

  • tiles of articles, the Bible, the Qur'an, chapters, stories and articles within a book, shorter poems
  • v, eg, etc, ie, c, vice versa, et al, in vitro, in vivo, per capital, per se, status quo, ad hoc
  • Acts of parliament, hotels, theatre

it's or its

It's means it is. Its means belonging to it


jail, jailer not gaol, gaoler


Avoid using jargon, business-speak, corporate buzzwords – any terms that will only be understood by a select group. Marketing hyperbole should be avoided at all times

job titles and commas

No commas: Vice-Chancellor John Smith said...

With commas: John Smith, Vice-Chancellor, said...

judgement not judgment


Key Stage 1, 2, 3 caps and figures for Government's educational targets

keynote all one word and l/c unless referring to Keynote for Mac, a presentation program

kick-off (noun), but to kick off (verb)

kick-start (hyphenate, whether noun or verb)

the King’s Manor

Always use 's and l/c the: not at King's Manor or The King's Manor or Kings Manor

kilogram not kilogramme


laboratory not lab


When in common usage, there is no need to use italics, quid pro quo, QED, habeas corpus, in situ, vice versa

learned (past tense and past participle of learn); note also learned (adjective, as in scholarly)

liaise is correct, not liase

lower case

Also known as l/c or lower case; means not a capital letter


man-made not man made or manmade

masterclass one word

Masters not master's or masters

medieval not mediaeval


The media is a plural so use the plural form of the verb: the news media are not the news media is

millennium has double l and double n


Use numerals followed by the abbreviation m: £2m

minuscule not miniscule

module titles

When used in text, use u/c on all important words


Only use this when there are more than two media. No hyphen


For song titles, album titles, operas (including arias) use italics



newspapers and journals

Use italics for titles and use u/c The in the title whenever appropriate: The Times, The Sunday Times, The Economist, The Press but the Guardian, the Independent, the Daily Telegraph, the Sunday Telegraph, theObserver, the Financial Times, the Daily Mirror, the Daily Mail, the Daily Express, the Yorkshire Post

non- words are hyphenated, except nonentity which is non-hyphenated

non-governmental organisation (NGO) on first use, thereafter NGO

no one not noone or no-one

noticeboard not notice board


  • Spell out numbers up to and including ten. After ten use figures except for exact measurements and charts where figures can also be used for numbers below ten
  • For the weeks of a University term, use figures: Week 0, Week 1
  • For cohort years use 1st Year, 2nd Year not First Year, Second Year
  • Use a comma to group in threes after 999: 1,000
  • Centuries above the tenth should be written as 19th century (noun) or 20th-century literature (adjective with hyphen)
  • Always use numerals to express sums of money
  • For million, use numerals followed by the abbreviation m: £2m
  • Write out the names of foreign currencies except in tables: yen, francs, dollars. No capital letters. If the dollars are other than US, state this: $HK1,000
  • Use numbers to express per cent: 5 per cent (text or caption) and 2% in table, box, list or label
  • Never start a sentence with a number – it must always be written out or, preferably, try to reword it
  • For ranges in text use 1750 to 1780 with no dash in between
  • For the academic year use 2010/11


offline not off-line

on-campus when adjectival: On-campus events occur on campus at Campus East

ongoing not on-going

online not on-line

onscreen not on-screen

Open Day

Use u/c when referring to the University's Open Days. Otherwise use l/c


part-time, full-time

Hyphenated when used adjectivally as in full-time course but not in my course is full time

per cent

Write out in full as two words except in headlines. Use the symbol % in charts and figures only

phone number

Use the full international code when giving a University phone number in marketing material with the following spacing: +44 (0)1904 320000

place names

Use the English convention but be aware of official changes: Mumbai not Bombay. If in doubt, put the old names in brackets following the new name

policymaker one word, without a hyphen

policy making two words

postdoctoral one word, without a hyphen

postgraduate one word, without a hyphen

practice (noun) but practise (verb)

prehistoric, prehistory not pre-historic, pre-history

problem-solving is hyphenated

programme (for courses) but program (for computer programs)

programme titles

When used in text, use u/c on all important words

prophecy (noun) but prophesy (verb)

Pro-Vice-Chancellor with two hyphens but Deputy Vice-Chancellor


Use italics and u/c on major words for names of books and journals: The War of the Worlds, The Plant Journal. Use single quotation marks for journal articles



No full stops or commas to separate each qualification but use a comma between the surname and the first qualification: Andy Smith, MSc PhD

quotation marks

Use "double" quotation marks for speech and quotations from articles and books; and 'single' for a quotation within speech

Use 'single' quotation marks to put 'spin' on words or phrases.

Make sure the full stop comes inside the closing speech marks if the quote is a complete sentence: "We're very excited about this new area of research."


race capitalise formal racial distinctions: Asian, Native American, but use l/c for less-formal references: black, white

ranges (numerical) children aged from 12 to 16; not children aged from 1216

the Ron Cooke Hub not The Ron Cooke Hub


seasons are l/c, winter, but use Spring Term, the Summer Term

semi-circle is hyphenated

semi-colon (;) see Use of English

schoolchildren one word, without a hyphen

siege but seize



only one space after end punctuation (full stops, exclamations points, question marks) and after colons and semicolons

Do not use a space before:

  • am or pm: The lecture starts at 5pm.
  • an abbreviated unit: 5g, 3km



  • ise spelling instead of ize: organise not organize; emphasise not emphasize
  • -ed for past participles, not t: learned not learnt

Do not use:

  • -st for prepositions: amid not amidst; while not whilst; among not amongst

spin-out is hyphenated

stand-alone is hyphenated

subtitles one word, without a hyphen


teamwork one word, without a hyphen

telephone numbers give as an international number with the following spacing: +44 (0)1904 430000

terms should be styled Spring Term, Summer Term, Year 1, Term 4

term-time is hyphenated

Theatre, Film and Television not Theatre Film and Television

thousand can be abbreviated as k (l/c): £10k


Use am and pm, not the 24 hour clock. Use full stops not colons eg 9.30am not 09:30. There is no space between the number and the abbreviation to avoid confusion with the word am. Use 12 noon or 12 midnight to distinguish between night and day


Use Professor not Prof. or Prof

Use Dr not Doctor

Avoid using Mr, Mrs or Ms in publications unless it is requested

Vice-Chancellor is hyphenated, as is Pro-Vice-Chancellor and Lord-Lieutenant

Tweet a noun and a verb I tweeted you, I sent a tweet

Twitter handles @UoYLibrary. As with email addresses, be careful with capital letters


undergraduate one word without a hyphen

under way two words


Always refer to York as the University of York not York University (which is in Canada). Use an initial capital in specific references to York: the University. When referring to university in general use l/c: a university


v, versus no full point, no capitalisation. York v Lancaster, James versus Alcuin. Not vs or verses

Vice-Chancellor two words, hyphenated


the web but a web address

web addresses

  • For simplification, leave out the http://www. and the final forward slash:
  • It is acceptable to split a web address over two lines, but preferable not to. If splitting is unavoidable, split after a forward slash
  • Give web addresses at the ends of sentences only and end the sentence with a roman full stop
  • Give web addresses in bold or italic (consistently)
  • Always check web addresses before going to print

web page two words

website is one word, not web site or web-site. The w is lower case unless at the beginning of a sentence

Week 0, Week 1 capitalised, but a week is not

Welcome Week initial caps on both words

wellbeing not well being or well-being

while not whilst

wifi not Wi-Fi


We meet people and speak to people, not meet with people and speak with people

worldwide one word, l/c

World War I, World War II or First World War, Second World War initial caps on all words, Roman numerals if used


X-ray X is u/c


Year in Industry not year in industry

York Ambassadors Scheme no apostrophe


ize or ise?

Use s spelling, not z: organise not organize, organisation not organization, emphasise not emphasize, specialise not specialize, hypothesise not hypothesize, internationalise not internationalize

Who to contact

Writing for the web

Digital Marketing Team
ext 4127


Jilly Lovett
ext 2157

Dodi Beardshaw
ext 2626

Internal communications

Alison Sherratt
ext 4633