An abbreviation is the shortened form of a written word. In most cases, only abbreviate names on the second reference. Avoid using abbreviations that would not be easily recognized by most readers. Try to use abbreviations sparingly. Avoid using more than one abbreviation in a sentence.
For information about how to abbreviate specific items, refer to their particular entry in this guide, the UNLV Editorial Style Guide or The Associated Press Styleguide. Some examples:
Mr. is an abbreviation of Mister.
Tsp. is an abbreviation of teaspoon.
Use anti-abortion (not pro-life or anti-choice), abortion rights (not pro-abortion, anti-life or pro-choice), and abortion doctor or abortion practitioner (not abortionist).
- Academic degrees/credentials
Include no more than the two highest-earned degrees. Use at the end of a full name on the first reference only and in captions. Always use initials. When trying to establish someone’s position as an expert in a story, refer only to his or her specialty rather than using the initials of his or her degree(s).
Do not use periods between letters of academic degrees — MD, not M.D.; PhD, not Ph.D. If the subject is an MD, PhD, or DO, refer to him or her as "Dr." on the second reference. Some examples:
Richard Baynosa, MD, seen here, with his patients.
Marc J. Kahn, MD, MBA, was named dean of the Kirk Kerkorian School of Medicine at UNLV in 2020.
- Accept, except
Accept has several different meanings but in general means one of three things — to willingly receive something, to give permission or approval to, or to regard as proper or an ultimate truth.
Except refers to an exclusion or something outside of the ordinary.
An acronym is a word formed from the first letter(s) of a series of words. Omit periods between the letters. Generally, capitalize acronyms when the series of words form a proper name, such as CDC for Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, or the individual letters are pronounced, such as HMO for health maintenance organization. Some examples:
The word laser is an acronym for light amplification by stimulated emission of radiation.
UNESCO (pronounced you-Ness-co) is an acronym for the United Nations Educational, Scientific & Cultural Organization.
Do not use in text to replace “and.”
Capitalize when using act as a piece of legislation.
Example: The Dream Act
- Acute care nursing
Use abbreviations for street, avenue, and boulevard when writing numbered addresses. All other street designations (lane, circle, alley, etc.) should be spelled out.
Do not spell out numbers in addresses. Only use the numeric form for the house or building number. However, street names that use ordinal numbers 1-9 should be spelled out and capitalized. Some examples:
1234 Main St.
7654 Willow Circle
745 Fifth Ave.
- Affect, effect
Affect is most commonly used as a verb, meaning to influence. There is seldom a need to use affect as a noun in daily language, unless describing an emotion.
Example: Supporting local businesses affects the local economy.
Effect can be used as either a verb or a noun. As a verb, it means to cause. In its noun form, it means a result.
Example: The fall of the regime was the effect of widespread protests.
Numerals should always be used for living things. For inanimate objects or when used at the beginning of a sentence, spell out the number.
When expressed as an adjective before a noun or as a substitute for a noun, use a combination of numerals and hyphens. Some examples:
John Doe, 35, is a rising star in the organization.
John Doe is 35 years old.
Thirty-five-year-old John Doe is on the fast-track to success in the organization.
The five-year-old building is already in need of repairs.
- AIDS, HIV
AIDS is acceptable in all references to “acquired immune deficiency syndrome.” AIDS is caused by the human immunodeficiency virus or HIV. HIV is acceptable in all references.
Use a hyphen when using this as a prefix. Some examples:
- Alumnus, alumni; alumna, alumnae
Alumnus is the singular, masculine form of alumni. Alumna is the singular, feminine form of alumnae. Use alumni when referring to a group of men and women.
- American Medical Association
Only use initials AMA on the second and subsequent references.
- Ampersand (&)
Use only when it is part of the name of an organization or a composition. Some examples:
U.S. News & World Report
House & Garden Magazine
Describes an event that happens once every year. Events cannot be considered annual unless they have been held for at least two successive years. If reporting on an event that is the first of an event to be held annually, note that rather than labeling it as an annual event.
Do not use the description “first annual.” Use inaugural.
Do not use another as a synonym for additional. Only use another when it doubles the original amount mentioned. Some examples:
Twenty people have signed up for classes; another 20 are expected to sign up soon.
Fifteen people agreed with the decision while another 15 dissented.
Below is an example of a misuse of another:
Three stores were severely damaged in the flood. Another 10 suffered only minor damages.
Generally, all words containing this prefix should be hyphenated, except the ones below. Note that all physics terms that use this prefix should not be hyphenated.
- Anticipate, expect
When one anticipates something, there is an implied element of preparation for the coming event. Expect does not imply that preparations have been made for what is to come.
- Anybody, any body; any one, anyone
Generally, use one word. When the emphasis is placed on a single element, use two words. Some examples:
The right smoking cessation program can help anyone kick the habit.
Any one of the many programs available could help you quit smoking.
- Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder
No hyphens or slashes. ADHD is acceptable on the second reference.
- Autism, autism spectrum disorder
Autism is appropriate for first and successive references. The term autism spectrum disorder is appropriate for the first reference, if dictated by the research or faculty member, but use autism for second reference. Avoid using ASD in all references.
- Call letters
Capitalize all letters in the name of a broadcast station. Use a hyphen to separate the individual call letters from the base call letters. It is not always necessary to include the base call letters. They should be excluded on a second reference to the station. Some examples:
- Can’t hardly
Although grammatically correct, it implies a double negative, which is never acceptable. Avoid using this phrase. The preferred form is can hardly.
Capitalize the following:
- The first word of a sentence
- The first word after a bullet
- Proper nouns (official names of places, people, or companies)
- Proper names (the Democratic Party, Fleet Street, etc.)
- Proper names of all UNLV properties
- Some common names. A common name is used when there is no official name for an area or place, but has a well-known moniker. Examples include The Green Zone, Ground Zero, etc.
- Derivatives (words that are derived from a proper noun) like American, Marxism, etc.
- Compositions, including names of publications, music, works of art, television programs, etc. Capitalization of compositions should match that of the original publication. When writing an original publication, use sentence case capitalization for the title.
- Titles, including but not limited to, Dr., Mrs., Mr., and Ms. With the exception of Dr., use titles only on the first reference to a person. On second and subsequent references, use only the last name. See MD entry.
Caregiver is preferable to caretaker when referring to the care of people.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
The abbreviation CDC is acceptable on the second and takes a singular verb.
- Certified registered nurse practitioner
The abbreviation CRNP is acceptable in all references.
- Cesarean section
C-section is acceptable on the second reference.
Follow rules of capitalization. When using more generalized terms, always lowercase.
- Click here
Must be avoided. Most Web users intuitively know to “click” at a hyperlink. The link should be the part of the text that describes the function. Some examples:
Browse common questions
For more information
- Clinical trial phases
Lowercase phase. Use the Arabic numeral, not Roman numeral.
Example: Phase 2 clinical trial
Hyphenate when creating a word that indicates status. In other combinations, do not hyphenate. Some examples:
Note that cooperation and similar words are exceptions to the rule that prefixes should be hyphenated when the following word begins with the same vowel.
- Comparison of benefits
Always spell out.
Complementary refers to the ability of a person or item to enhance or add to another.
Complimentary is in reference to something that is free of charge.
- Composition titles
Except for books that are primary catalogs of reference material (dictionaries, directories, encyclopedias, etc.), put quotation marks around titles of books, magazine articles, lectures, seminars, films and TV shows, computer games, poems, and songs.
Italicize titles of magazines, journals, and newspapers. Some examples:
"Prescription for Excellence"
"The Mary Tyler Moore Show"
The Washington Post
New England Journal of Medicine
- Comprise vs Compose
Comprise is a verb that means “to include or contain” or “to consist of.” Therefore, comprised of is incorrect.
Use comprise to introduce the complete list of items that make up a whole. Compose means “to make up or form the basis of.” Some examples:
UNLV Health comprises UNLV Neurology Clinic, UNLV Internal Medicine Clinic, and Neurodevelopment Solutions.
A team composed of UNLV surgical oncologists discovered a new gene associated with breast cancer.
The cloth is composed of cotton and polyester.
- Coordination of benefits
Spell out the initial reference. May be shortened to COB upon subsequent references in the same article.
No hyphen. Not copayment, not co-pay, not co-payment.
- CT scan
The abbreviation is acceptable for all references and it stands for computerized tomography. Never write CAT scan, which is the popular pronunciation.
Only abbreviate the following months: Jan., Feb., Aug., Sept., Oct., Nov., Dec.
Always capitalize all months and use the cardinal number, not ordinal (1st, 2nd, 3rd, etc.).
Example: Oct. 3, 2011
- Days of the week
Always capitalize. Never abbreviate unless they are used in a tabular calendar.
Departments exist at the chair and director level. Administrative departments are named with the function first followed by department, while academic departments are preceded by “department of...” Some examples:
information technology department
human resources department
department of surgery
department of internal medicine
Always lowercase the names of departments, except when used as a proper noun or when part of the official and formal name. Some examples:
department of surgery
The Kirk Kerkorian School of Medicine Department of Surgery
- Disabled, handicapped, impaired
Never mention a person’s disability unless it is crucial to the story. Of the three terms mentioned, the preferred term is disabled.
Never capitalize unless they are known by the name of the person who identified the disease or they come at the beginning of a sentence. Some examples:
KSOM Divisions are different than in other areas of the university and represent a subunit of a department. Divisions are preceded by “division of…” and should be lowercase, except when used as a proper noun or when part of the official and formal name. Some examples:
division of trauma surgery
Kirk Kerkorian School of Medicine at UNLV Division of Gastroenterology
Abbreviate to Dr. when describing those with doctorate degrees. Academic credentials follow their names on the first reference only. The abbreviation should be used only on second and subsequent references. Never write Dr. John Smith, MD. See MD entry.
- Doctor of Dental Surgery
The abbreviation DDS is acceptable in all references.
- Doctor of Medicine in Dentistry
Another accredited degree for dental medicine, abbreviated DMD.
- Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine
The abbreviation DO is acceptable in all references.
- Doctor of Podiatric Medicine
The abbreviation DPM is acceptable in all references.
- Drug addiction
Do not refer to someone as a “drug addict.” Use “someone with a drug addiction” or “someone experiencing a drug problem.”
- Drug references
In general, trade or brand names of drugs or products must be avoided. Use the generic name whenever possible.
Only refer to the trademark name if it is essential to the story. When a trademark name is used, capitalize it.
While grammatically correct to use its verb form when referring to something that has had an effect on one’s life, avoid using it in this manner. It can cause confusion in the medical setting as it has a medical definition (when something is impacted, it is either blocked or there is something lodged in a bodily passage; it can also mean that two pieces of bone have been driven together or that a tooth is wedged between the jawbone and another tooth.).
Instead, use affect.
In indicates location. Into indicates movement. Some examples:
She was in the ER.
Her family walked into her room from the hall.
- In network
Hyphenate when used as an adjective.
Avoid this term in all health plan content unless it can be sourced to a specific, non-UNLV Health document identifying the program, facility, or project noted as innovative.
Never enquire or enquiry.
- Insurance, insurance plan
Use health plan or health plan product, avoid insurance product except where required by law.
- Intensive care unit
Use ICU on the second reference.
The rules in the Prefixes apply.
Lowercase internet and intranet.
- Intrauterine Device
Abbreviate only on the second reference to IUD.
- Page numbers
Never abbreviate page as pg. Follow with figures.
Example: page 13
Primary-care physician. Spell out on initial reference.
Not per cent. Use the percent symbol (%) when numbers appear in a graph or chart.
Always capitalize. Some examples:
Old Man Winter
- Phone numbers and extensions
Always use hyphens to separate the area code, the prefix and the last four digits. Do not use parentheses.
Example: 702-825-2585 x1057
- Photo captions
Do not italicize photo captions. Include highest-earned academic degree at the end of a full name on first reference only.
Captioning a single photo: If a photo includes only two subjects, add “(left)” after the left-hand subject’s name; the subject on the right does not require a location tag. If there are more than two photo subjects, start caption with “From left:” Some examples:
Pamela Jacobs, RN, (left) reviews her department’s annual agility test results with Peggy Casey, BSN.
From left: Pamela Jacobs, RN, Peggy Casey, BSN, Sheila Shirazi, physical therapist, and J-Way Poserio, respiratory therapist.
Captioning photos that appear in a grid: Bold directional (e.g., Top right, Bottom right, etc.) and add a colon. If the photo includes only two subjects, add “(left)” after the left-hand subject’s name; the subject on the right does not require a location tag. Do not bold “(left)”. If a photo includes more than two subjects, include “From left:” at the start of the caption. Do not bold “From left:” Some examples:
Top right: Jennifer Chang, MD, (left) offers support to a patient.
Bottom left: (from left) Ardis Moe, MD.
- Physician assistant
The abbreviation PA is acceptable in all references.
Not pm, P.M., or PM.
Point of entry for a website or section of a website. A place on a website where someone can go to access numerous resources relating to your “audience.”
Acronym often used to identify a point of service health plan product.
- Position Titles
The following formats should be followed when using business titles. See titles for more information.
Example: Dean, Kirk Kerkorian School of Medicine at UNLV
All other deans should use the appropriate prefix followed by “dean for” the specific area. Some examples:
associate dean for external affairs
executive associate dean for faculty affairs
Department chairs and directors should use the format “chair of” or “director of” named department. Some examples:
chair of surgery
vice chair of medical education
executive director of space and facilities management
Elden Hamada, director of information technology security
Do not hyphenate.
- Post-traumatic stress disorder
Hyphenate post-traumatic. PTSD is acceptable on the second reference.
- Pre-existing conditions
Not preexisting or preex. Always hyphenate, never shorten.
In general, do not hyphenate when using a prefix with a word starting with a consonant. The three following rules are consistent, but do have some exceptions:
- Except for cooperate and coordinate, use a hyphen if the prefix ends in a vowel and the word that follows also begins with the same vowel.
- Use a hyphen if the word that follows is capitalized.
- Use a hyphen to join doubled prefixes (sub-subcommittee).
For exceptions to any of the above rules, check the specific entry in this guide or The Associated Press Stylebook for clarification.
- Primary care doctor, Primary care specialty
Do not hyphenate primary care.
Use a hyphen when coining words that denote support for something. Some examples:
- School Name
When referencing the Kirk Kerkorian School of Medicine at UNLV, the full name should be used in the first reference. Future references can be abbreviated to Kirk Kerkorian School of Medicine, school of medicine, or the school.
The acronym KSOM must be limited to filename abbreviations only or as a defined term in legal documents (i.e. Kirk Kerkorian School of Medicine hereinafter referred to as KSOM). It is strictly prohibited to be used in any other way and must never be used in presentations, emails, signage, promotional or event materials.
Lowercase unless part of a formal name or at the start of a sentence.
- Specialty vs Speciality
Use specialty as it’s the word used in American English.
- Stages of cancer
Use numerals 1-4.
Example: Stage 4 cancer
Spell out the names of states when listed alone in textual material. State names may be abbreviated if they appear in groups or to fit typographical requirements for tabular material. Be consistent with whichever format is chosen throughout the publication.
The following states are never to be abbreviated: Alaska, Hawaii, Idaho, Iowa, Maine, Ohio, Texas, or Utah.
- T cell (n.), T-cell (adj.)
Capitalize T. No hyphen for the noun form. Hyphenate when used as an adjective. Some examples:
He had a healthy number of T cells.
His T-cell counts increased over time.
- That vs Which (pronouns)
Use that and which in referring to inanimate objects and to animals without a name.
Use that for essential clauses, important to the meaning of a sentence, and without commas
Example: I remember the day that we met.
Use which for nonessential clauses, where the pronoun is less necessary, and use commas.
Example: The team, which finished last a year ago, is in first place.
Use figures except for noon and midnight. Use a colon to separate hours from minutes. Avoid redundancies, like 11 a.m. this morning. Never use the o’clock construct.
If the span of time falls completely within the morning or completely in the afternoon, only place the time designations on the last time noted. Some examples:
9 to 11 a.m.
4:30 to 6 p.m.
If the span of time lasts from the morning to the afternoon, place time designations on both times.
Example: 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Indicates 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
In general, confine capitalization to formal titles used directly before an individual’s name. Otherwise, lowercase titles, regardless of the importance of the position. Some examples:
The committee told President Trump that they disagreed with him.
The financial director of the hospital, John Doe, released the quarterly financial report.
Titles of compositions and broadcasts should always be capitalized and italicized.
Use trademark for the first mention; afterward you don't have to use it.
Example: daVinci™ Surgical System.
- Trauma center levels
Use Roman numerals.
Example: Level III trauma center.
- Tumor grades
Use numerals 1-4.
An individual post is called a tweet, not a twitter.
When posting to Twitter, feel free to abbreviate and truncate words as necessary. Take care to maintain the original meaning of the tweet and to avoid confusing or uncommon abbreviations.