Editorial Style Guide

As a service to the University of Nevada, Las Vegas community, the university publicity and publications group has developed this web and print style guide. We realize that there may be valid reasons for diverging from these guidelines in specific cases. Our goal was to produce a reference document that would help campus communicators adopt a style that is consistent and appropriate for university use.

The style preferences included in this guide were made after consulting the following sources: professional communicators on campus, professional communicators at other academic institutions, style guides from other academic institutions, and standard style guides for book and newspaper publishing.

As a general rule, the university follows the Associated Press Stylebook and Libel Manual (AP Stylebook). This guide is intended to highlight some of the most frequently troublesome issues and clarify style questions unique to the university.

Questions or Suggestions

As matters of style and usage continue to evolve, we will review and update the guide as needed. Please contact us with suggestions, comments, or any matters you feel should be addressed.

General

As a general rule, follow the Associated Press Stylebook and Libel Manual (AP Stylebook).

Exceptions to AP Style Punctuation

Use a comma before the word "and" in a series.
Example: Please bring your paper, pen, and notebook.

A B C D E F G H I L M N O P R S T U W

A

Academic Degrees

(Also see "Class Notes" entry)

Use "Dr." before an individual's name only for those people who have earned a doctor of dental surgery, doctor of medicine, doctor of osteopathy, or doctor of podiatric medicine degree.

Sometimes it is not necessary to indicate whether a person has earned a doctoral degree.

If it is necessary and the person holds a doctoral degree in something other than one of the fields mentioned above, place that information after the name.

Example: Laura Hunt, who has a doctorate in psychology, will lead the discussion.

In non-story formats (lists, etc.), abbreviations are permissible. Check the following list to determine which ones do not require periods:

B.A. bachelor of arts
B.S. bachelor of science
M.A. master of arts
M.S. master of science
Ph.D. doctorate of philosophy
MBA master of business administration
EMBA executive master of business administration
MFA master of fine arts
M. Arch. master of architecture
J.D. juris doctorate
D.D.S doctor of dental surgery

Also note: It is bachelor's degree, master's degree, and doctoral degree.

Example: Wilson, who has both a master's and a doctoral degree,…
Acronyms

Avoid the use of acronyms when possible unless the acronyms are incredibly well known ("FBI," for example. And, for our audiences, we hope, "UNLV".) If you are going to refer to something more than once in an article and want to use an acronym, use the full name followed by the acronym in () the first time. In subsequent references, use the acronym.

If you absolutely must use the acronym the first time (for instance, a 7-word organization that would bog down your lead) be sure to use the full name followed by the acronym in () the second time.

The rare organization is so well known that using the full name is not necessary. FBI would be an example. Check the AP Style Guide for these exceptions.

Adviser/Advisor

Use "advisor" in all instances. This differs from AP style.

All right

This is an easy one. It’s always all right. Alright is NOT a word. It does not exist, so don’t use it.

Alum, Alumna, Alumnus

Alumna refers to a woman who has graduated from an institution.

Alumnae is the plural of alumna and refers to a group of female graduates.

Alumnus refers to one man who has graduated from an institution.

Alumni is the plural of alumnus. It is used both for a group of graduates who are men and for a group of graduates that includes both men and women.

Alum is permissible in casual uses, including stories that aim for a familiar or friendly tone. For any formal document, use the full Latin words. Some examples:

Alumnae Jane Doe graduated with honors.

Mark McPherson is an alumnus of the UNLV College of Fine Arts.

Alumni from all over the world attended the event.

Ampersand

Use only when it is part of the formal name of a company, organization, or building.

Example: The Thomas & Mack Center

Do not use in text to replace “and.”

Artist-in-residence
Athletics

It is the UNLV department of athletics — with an "s."

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B

Baccalaureate

Do not capitalize baccalaureate. It is synonymous with bachelor's degree. (It also can mean a farewell sermon for a graduating class.)

Buildings

When referring to UNLV buildings, keep your audience in mind. For most on-campus audiences, the Dungan Humanities building, for example, is fine in a story. (In certain lists for on-campus audiences, even FDH would be fine.)

However, if you are writing for an off-campus audience use the full name, Flora Dungan Humanities building.

For both on- and off-campus audiences, provide more information when two buildings are named after people with the same last name.

Example for on-campus audience: Frank and Estella Beam Hall and the Beam Engineering Complex.

Example for off-campus audience: Frank and Estella Beam Hall and the Thomas T. Beam Engineering Complex.

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C

Campus

Do not capitalize. Some examples:

The campus on Maryland Parkway is the main campus. Please note that “main” is not capitalized.

The campus downtown in the medical district is properly referred to as the Shadow Lane campus.

The campus located across Tropicana Avenue immediately south of the main campus is the Paradise Campus. (It is so named because Paradise Elementary School was located there before it moved to a new building in the northwest area of the main campus.)

Campuswide
One word
Capitalization

When in doubt, do not capitalize.
See the alphabetical listing for specific word guidelines.

Centers

Capitalize the names of centers on campus.

The UNLV Writing Center.
Chair

Use instead of “chairman.”

Example: chair of the anthropology department.

Class Notes

Because the repeated use of periods in degree abbreviations can be cumbersome in a Class Notes section, the style for these entries differs somewhat from the preferred style of abbreviating academic degrees. Degree information should follow a person's name and be set off in commas in this order: the year of graduation, degree conferred (no periods), and major (spelled out). Some examples:

Joe Jones, '95 BA Psychology

Joe Jones, '95 BA Psychology and '87 MA Counseling (two degrees)

Joe Jones, '95 BA Psychology and Women's Studies (two majors)

Joe Jones, '02 MBA/MS Hotel Administration (dual master's degrees)

Note: including a major for some degrees would be unnecessary (master of architecture, juris doctorate). Using only the abbreviation is fine:

Joe Jones, '05 DDS.

For alums who indicate that they went by a different name (a maiden name, for instance) when attending, both former and current names should be included in the entry:

Jane Smith Jones
Colleges

When referring to a particular college, capitalize the name when using more than just the word "college."

Examples:

When referring to the Howard R. Hughes College of Engineering, it would be:

Howard R. Hughes College of Engineering (full name on first reference), and then on subsequent references:

College of Engineering,
Engineering College,
or the college

Lowercase college when referring to a type of college rather than to a particular college.

Example: He said he plans to attend engineering college.
Comma

Use the Oxford comma, also known as the last comma in a series of three or more things. 

Examples: 

He brought his baseball, glove, and cap to practice.

All students should wear a jacket, sweater, or sweatshirt. 

It helps avoid confusion in a sentence like:

Her office is decorated with photos of her children, Charlie and Sting. This could mean that her children are named Charlie and Sting. 

Continual or continuous

“Continual” means “over and over” or “repeated steadily.”

“Continuous” means “unbroken” or “steady.”

The lack of parking was a continual annoyance to staff members.

The students walking across Maryland Parkway formed a continuous stream.

Course work

Two words.

Courtesy Titles

Refer to both men and women by first and last name.

Susan Smith
Robert Smith

Do not use titles such as Mr., Mrs., Miss unless in a direct quotation or in other special situations:

When it is necessary to distinguish between two people who use the same last name. For married couples, brothers and sisters, etc. use a courtesy title for a woman if her preference is known, or identify her by first and last name.

In cases where a person's gender is not clear from the first name or from the story's context, indicate the gender by using he or she in subsequent reference.

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D

Example: UNLV Libraries recently acquired the Century of Science database.
Dashes

Em dashes (—) may be used for material that amplifies, explains, or digresses, but avoid using them when commas would do just as well.

Database

When a database has been given a proper name, capitalize that name, but do not italicize it or place it inside quote marks.

Dates

Use a hyphen to show a range of dates and do not repeat 20 (2012-13, not 2012-2013).

However, to, not a dash, should be used when from introduces a range of dates (from 2012 to 2013, not from 2012-13).

If the day of the month appears, use a comma before and after the year (by the Oct. 15, 2018, deadline).

Do not use a comma between the month and the year without a date (by the January 2018 deadline).

Use the year with the month only if it’s not the current year.

Do not use st, nd, rd, th, even if dates are adjectives (March 1 event, not March 1st event).

Times come before days and dates (at 4 p.m. Friday; at 9 a.m. Monday, June 7).

Months are not abbreviated unless they are used with a date. If used with a date, only these months are abbreviated:

  • January: Jan.
  • February: Feb.
  • August: Aug.
  • September: Sept.
  • October: Oct.
  • November: Nov.
  • December: Dec.

Use numerals for decades. Note that you do not need an apostrophe in the plural years (1960s, 2000s).

When dropping the century when referring to decades, use an apostrophe to indicate the truncated term: (The ’60s).

Departments

Do not capitalize the names of departments when used in text unless one of the words is a proper noun. The one exception is the Department of Public Safety.

He enrolled in the department of civil engineering.

He enrolled in the civil engineering department.

But,

He enrolled in the English department.

Also, athletics department is the correct spelling (not athletic department).

Do not capitalize. One exception is the UNLV Department of Public Safety.

Dietitian

Use "dietitian" when referring to the dietitians on campus. Not dietician.

Disabilities

Use the phrase people with disabilities, not the disabled or disabled people.

Avoid words like victim, afflicted, and stricken.

Do not use normal to mean the opposite of having a disability.

Divisions

Capitalize the names of divisions on campus. The Division of Student Life.

Doctoral vs. Doctorate

"Doctoral" is an adjective.

Example: He is studying for a doctoral degree.

"Doctorate" is a noun.

Example: She already has earned a doctorate.

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E

Email

No dash between e and mail. Do not capitalize.

Emeritus, emerita

Follows professor (professor emeritus, not emeritus professor).

Use emerita for a woman. Emeritae is the plural. (This plural form is only to be used if all people so labeled are women.)

Use emeritus for a man.

Use emeriti for the plural. This is the plural for both all-male groups and for groups that include both men and women.

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F

Facilitiate

Try to avoid. Use ease, make easier, help, guide, or simplify.

Federal

Do not capitalize the word federal.

First-come, first-served
Full time, full-time

Do not hyphenate unless the phrase is (1) operating as a compound adjective and (2) preceding the noun or object.

Example: He is a full-time faculty member.

If the phrase follows the verb or operates as an adverb, do not hyphenate.

Example: She teaches full time.

Fundraising

Noun, verb, adjective — fundraising is one word in all instances.

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G

Governor

Capitalize and abbreviate as Gov. or Govs. when used as a formal title before one or more names in regular text. Capitalize and spell out when used as a formal title before one or more names in direct quotations. Lowercase and spell out in all other uses. Some examples:

Gov. Brian Sandoval spoke at commencement.

“Having Governor Brian Sandoval as our speaker will be a great honor,” the graduating senior said.

The governor spoke about the importance of higher education.

GPA

Abbreviation for grade point average. Use the three letters capitalized without periods.

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H

Headline Tool

Confused about which words should be capitalized in your headline? Here’s a handy tool: https://capitalizemytitle.com

Once on the website, be sure to click on AP Style. Then just enter your headline.

Health Care

Always two words, never one.

Historic or historical

Use historic for places, things, and events of great significance that stand out in history.

Any occurrence in the past is an historical event. (You are more likely to use historically than historical, as in “Historically, XXXXX."

Example: The historic election of 2008 marked the first time an African-American was elected president of the United States.

Homepage

Lowercase, one word.

Example: The redesign of the homepage took months of work.
Honors

Do not capitalize the word honors, except when referencing the Honors College.

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I

Irregardless

Do not use. Use “regardless.”

Example: Regardless of the cost, plans to construct a new outhouse are proceeding.

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J

Jr., Sr., III in names

Do not set off by commas.

Example: Waldo Lydecker Jr. was an avid collector of antiques.

L

Las Vegas Valley
Example: The study will include all the municipal entities in the Las Vegas Valley.

Without the "Las Vegas" immediately in front of it, however, it is "valley," lowercase.

Lecture titles

Put quotation marks around the formal title.

Legislature

When referring to a specific legislature the word is always capitalized regardless of whether the identifier is present. Of course, the identifier should be used on first reference.

Example: Same-sex marriage is only one of the many thorny issues that will be considered by the Nevada Legislature this session.

(then, later in the same story when again referring to the Nevada Legislature) The Legislature is expected to vote on Smith's bill before the end of the month.

Less or fewer

Use “less” for things you cannot count. Use “fewer” for those things you can count. Some examples:

He has fewer years of service than Mary Lou has.

She has less common sense than a kumquat.

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M

Majors/Course of Study

Do not capitalize school or college studies, fields of study, options, curricula, major areas, or major subjects, except languages, unless a specific course is being referred to.

He is studying philosophy and English. Each student must meet core requirements in biological sciences and liberal arts. UNLV offers a curriculum in graphic arts. She is planning to enroll in Introduction to Shakespeare on Stage.

Months

When a month is used with a date, abbreviate only Jan., Feb., Aug., Sept., Oct., Nov. and Dec. Do not abbreviate March, April, May, June and July. Spell out the name of the month when using it alone or with only a year. Some examples:

Jan. 5, 2018

January

January 2018

More Than

"More than" is the correct wording when dealing with numbers.

Example: Enrollment grew by more than 1,000 students.

"Over" is best used to describe a spatial relationship.

Example: The water flowed over the dam.
Mountain West Conference

On first reference spell out the full name. On second reference MWC is acceptable.

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N

Non-degree-seeking students

This is the proper spelling and punctuation for the words describing students who are not pursuing academic degrees.

Number

You can judge whether it requires a singular or plural verb by the article that precedes it. The number requires a singular verb; a number requires a plural verb. Some examples:

The number of sororities on campus is increasing.

A number of professors are planning to retire this spring.

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O

Office

The names of offices are not capitalized. The office of marketing and public relations.

Online

The correct spelling is online (not on-line)

Over

"Over" is best used to describe a spatial relationship.

Example: The water flowed over the dam.

"More than" is preferred when dealing with numbers.

Example: Enrollment grew by more than 1,000 students.

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P

Phone Numbers

List phone numbers using hyphens to separate all the sections.

702-895-0927

When listing phone extensions internally, use a hyphen between the first and second numerals.

Ext. 5-0927
Plus

Please do not use “plus” as a substitute for “and.” Instead use “and,” “also,” or “in addition.”

Police Services

In an exception to our rule about not capitalizing the names of departments, we will be capitalizing the UNLV Department of Police Services.

Premier Research University

Premier (not premiere) is the correct spelling when referring to the university as a premier research university.

Professor

Lowercase this job descriptor when it appears in front of a name.

Example: The students' projects were judged by chemistry professor Jane Smith.
Professor-in-residence
Punctuation

Use only one space after a period.

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R

Reason why

Redundant. Just use “reason.”

RebelCard

This is the proper spelling for the campus ID card that can double as a debit card.

Rebelmail

This is the proper spelling of the email account system the university uses to communicate with students.

Room

Capitalize the word room when used to designate a particular room.

Room 121 of Maude Frazier Hall

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S

Schools

Capitalize the names of schools on campus. The School of Nursing.

The Clark County School District uses the namesakes' full names on many of its schools (example: Myrtle Tate Elementary School). Our style is to drop the first name, middle name, and any initials. Thus, "Tate Elementary School." However, consult your phone book or the school district public information office first. In instances in which there is more than one school with the same last name, a first name must be used (example: "Ira Earl Elementary School" and "Marion Earl Elementary School")

Seasons

Lowercase the seasons winter, spring, summer, and fall unless they are part of a formal name such as the Winter Olympics. (And, no, Spring Commencement is not a formal name. It’s spring commencement.)

Semesters

Do not capitalize "semester" or "term."

Example: Homecoming takes place annual during fall semester.
Since

Do not use “since” as a substitute for the word “because.”

Sitemap

Lowercase, one word.

Southern Nevada

We capitalize this well recognized section of the state.

State

Do not capitalize the word state.

Also, avoid redundancy. For instance, it is the Nevada Legislature, not the Nevada State Legislature.

Student-Athlete

The term student-athlete is hyphenated.

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T

Term

Do not capitalize "term" or "semester."

Example: She plans to finish her studies during the summer term.
That, which, who

The defining or restrictive pronoun is “that.” Use it when introducing non-parenthetic clauses: She works in the office that was remodeled. Do not set these clauses off with commas.

Use “who” when referring to a person with a name as the subject: The woman who works in the remodeled office.

The non-defining or non-restrictive pronoun is “which.” Use it when introducing parenthetic clauses: The book, which was published in 1998, has won many awards. Set these clauses off with commas.

“The” in names

Lowercase, no matter how the corporation, organization, or publication spells it — except The Lincy Institute. But, Ohio State University, not The Ohio State University.

The at the start of titles of creative works is generally capitalized (The Canterbury Tales).

theater, theatre

Use "theatre" (the British spelling) only when the place, department, or person described uses that spelling. UNLV's "theatre" department uses that spelling, thus its professors are "theatre" professor and students majoring in that field are "theatre" majors.

Examples:
UNLV theatre professor Joe Aldridge
UNLV's theatre department
The Pantages Theatre

However, "Professor Rooke enjoys taking her students to the theater."

Thomas & Mack Center

Use "center" on second reference.

Time

Use a.m. and p.m. with periods and lowercase letters. In tabular matter, the periods can be omitted to save space.

And remember, it's time, date, place.

Don't use both the day of the week and the day. The rule of thumb is to use the day of the week for events that are less than a week away. For events 7 or more days away, use dates.

Example: The going-away reception is set for 2 p.m. Thursday at the Tam Alumni Center. Or: The going-away reception is set for 2 pm. Aug. 30 at the Tam Alumni Center. But not: The going-away reception is set for 2 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 30, in the Tam Alumni Center.
Titles

Lowercase titles standing alone or in apposition.

The dean of the School of Business must approve all research projects.

Contact the budget director for further information.

Nancy A. Smith, vice president of academic issues, will speak.

Capitalize formal titles when they are used immediately before one or more names.

Example: Vice President John Doe is in charge.

But:
The task force will be led by professor Mark McPherson. (The AP Stylebook does not capitalize "professor" before a name, apparently not considering it a "formal title."

See AP Stylebook for additional guidelines.

Titles, composition

The AP Stylebook does not italicize any titles. However, our guide deviates from the AP Stylebook. That means you will italicize titles of albums, art, blogs, books, journals, magazines, movies, newspapers, pamphlets, periodicals, plays, podcasts, radio programs, and television programs.

Place the following in quotation marks: blog entries; book chapters; essays; journal, magazine or newspaper articles; lectures; podcast, radio, or television episodes; poems; short stories; songs; or unpublished works.

Websites are neither italicized nor placed in quotation marks, though webpages and sections are placed in quotes.

Top Tier

When referring to UNLV’s drive to become a Top Tier university, it should always be Top Tier with two uppercase Ts and should never be hyphenated. We view it as a singular entity, which basically means that the two words are treated as one, without punctuation.

Example: UNLV is confident it will succeed in its efforts to ascend to the Top Tier. 

Example: If UNLV is to succeed in its Top Tier aspirations, all faculty and staff members must be part of the effort.

In the latter, Top Tier is an adjective. While this normally would require a hyphen, it does not because we have deemed Top Tier — when it applies to UNLV’s effort — to be a single entity. But… 

Example: Her top-tier reputation would seem to assure her inclusion on the list of finalists for the job.

In this case, top tier is an adjective not associated with UNLV’s effort. Therefore, normal punctuation rules apply and the words are hyphenated as a compound adjective.

Toward, not towards

Example: He moved toward the stage.

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U

University of Nevada, Las Vegas

Lowercase the word university when making informal reference to the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.

The university has a 329-acre campus.

When using the university name as a stand-alone title or when referring to the university in a tabular list or address, omit the as it is not part of the institution's formal name.

UNLV as a shorter form, on second reference is acceptable. Do not use periods or spaces between the letters.

University Police

Do not capitalize.

U.S.

Be sure to use this identifier before the names of federal agencies when it is part of their name. This is necessary because sometimes state agencies have names that are identical to those of federal agencies. Only by including "U.S.," "Nevada," "Texas," etc. will readers be certain.

Example: He received a $500,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Energy.
Utilize

Avoid it. Try “use” instead.

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W

Webpage

Webpage is one word, lowercase. "webpage"

Website

Website is one word, lowercase. "website"

The university's website has a new look.
World Wide Web

Capitalize World Wide Web.

But: The shorter version, "the web," is lowercase.

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