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.


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.



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,…

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.


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


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

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


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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When referring informally to campus, do not capitalize the word campus. "UNLV campus," "main campus," "Paradise campus," etc.

The main UNLV campus is 329 acres in size. This does not include leased land such as the Paradise campus, nor does it include satellite locations such as the Shadow Lane campus.

One word

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


Capitalize the names of centers on campus.

The UNLV Writing Center.
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

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


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

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


Remember, the order is time, date, place. (see "Time" for more detail)

Example: The going-away reception is set for 2 pm. Aug. 30 at the Tam Alumni Center

Do not capitalize the names of departments when used in text unless one of the words is a proper noun.

He enrolled in the department of civil engineering.

He enrolled in the civil engineering department.


He enrolled in the English department.

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


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


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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No dash between e and mail. Do not capitalize.

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Do not capitalize the word federal.


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

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

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Health Care

Always two words, never one.


Lowercase, one word.

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

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

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Always capitalized.

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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.


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.

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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.

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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Non-degree-seeking students

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

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


The correct spelling is online (not on-line)


"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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Phone Numbers

List phone numbers using hyphens to separate all the sections.


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

Ext. 5-0927

See entry under "Public Safety, Department of"

Premier Research University

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


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

Example: The students' projects were judged by chemistry professor Jane Smith.
Public Safety, Department of

The name of this university department, like all other departments, is not capitalized.

Example: The department of public safety recently hired six new officers.

Use only one space after a period.

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


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


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

Room 121 of Maude Frazier Hall

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


Do not capitalize "semester" or "term."

Example: Homecoming takes place annual during fall semester.

Lowercase, one word.


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")

Southern Nevada

Capitalize Southern Nevada.


Do not capitalize the word state.

Example: The case will be reviewed by the state attorney general's office. Or: He was named citizen of the year by the state of Nevada.

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Do not capitalize "term" or "semester."

Example: She plans to finish her studies during the summer term.

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.

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

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


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.

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.

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.

Thomas & Mack Center

Use "center" on second reference.

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: President Len Jessup is confident that UNLV 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.

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This is the proper spelling of the event(s) celebrating diversity that normally takes place on campus in the spring.

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.


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.

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Webpage is one word, lowercase. "webpage"


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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