AHS Style Guide

AHS communicators should use this guide to prepare print and digital external university communications intended for general audiences. It is based on “The Associated Press Stylebook”.

Things to know about the AHS style guide

  • This is similar to the university-wide writing style that is used by STRATCOM, the Office of the Chancellor and the Office of the Provost in communications.
  • The most important thing about writing styles is to be consistent within documents and across materials.
  • Due to the ever-changing nature of The Associated Press Stylebook, this style guide will constantly evolve.

TOP FIVE THINGS TO NOTE

  • Don’t use Dr. unless the person is an MD.
  • Times of day should be written as 1 p.m., 5 p.m., 6 a.m.; 12 p.m. is noon. 12 a.m. is midnight, but you would write 12:01 a.m., not midnight:01.
  • Do not use parentheses for acronyms on first reference. For example: The College of Applied Health Sciences (AHS). Please don’t use (AHS). Use AHS, without parenthesis, on second reference.
  • Last names for people on second reference: Dean Cheryl Hanley-Maxwell. Hanley-Maxwell said. Professor Jeff Woods. Woods said. 
  • Use initial capitals for the names of academic degrees. Example: Bachelor of Arts in Dance. Use lowercase if the use is generic (bachelor’s degree in dance). Use periods in abbreviations. Examples: B.A., M.S., Ph.D., but MBA (no periods). For doctor of audiology, use Au.D.

ABBREVIATIONS AND ACRONYMS
Use only when they are familiar to general audiences. Use the full version first and follow with the shorter form. Example: College of Applied Health Sciences. Second reference: AHS. Avoid this construct: The College of Applied Health Sciences (AHS) and use the acronym as the second reference. The College of Applied Health Sciences is holding an open house at Huff Hall on April 17. AHS will be working on cutting-edge technologies.

ACADEMIC DEPARTMENTS, MAJORS AND PROGRAMS
Capitalize proper nouns and acronyms and use lowercase for informal, shortened or generic terms. Use initial capitals for the names of departments, centers, colleges, divisions, institutes, laboratories, offices and schools. Example: Department of Speech and Hearing Science. Second reference: SHS. For degree programs, use capital initials when referring to an official name. Example: Master of Public Health, Master of Health Administration, Master of Health Technology. For majors, use lowercase unless part of a title. Example: kinesiology, community health, audiology. Health and Kinesiology Professor Wendy Rogers. Wendy Rogers, a professor in HK.

ACADEMIC DEGREES
Use initial capitals for the names of academic degrees. Example: Bachelor of Arts in Dance. Use lowercase if the use is generic (bachelor’s degree in dance). Use periods in abbreviations. Examples: B.A., M.S., Ph.D., but MBA (no periods).  For Doctor of Audiology, use Au.D.

ACADEMIC TITLES
For instructors, academic titles are important and a measure of their success. Therefore, AHS makes a distinction between assistant professor, associate professor and professor. Tenure-track professors who have not yet achieved tenure are assistant professors; tenured professors are associate professors until they are promoted to full professor, which AHS refers to as professor. Use lowercase unless it is part of someone’s title. KCH Assistant Professor Sarah Geiger. Sarah Geiger, an assistant professor in KCH. SHS Professor Emerita Cynthia Parsons Johnson. Cynthia Parsons Johnson, professor emerita in SHS.

ADDRESSES
Campus buildings need street addresses. Example: Huff Hall, 1206 South 4th Street, Champaign, Ill., 61820

ADVISER
Not advisor.

AFRICAN AMERICAN
No hyphen.

ALUMNA, ALUMNAE
Female singular and plural, respectively.

ALUMNUS, ALUMNI
Male singular and plural, respectively. Use alumni for groups consisting of males and females.

AMPERSAND
Do not use unless it is part of a formal name. (However, use Facilities and Services, even though the department uses Facilities & Services. OK to use F&S on a second reference.)

ASIAN AMERICAN
No hyphen.

AUTHOR
Do not use as a verb: Papers are “co-written” but not “co-authored.” Also, it is the author “of” the study, not the author “on” the study.

BIG TEN NETWORK
Big Ten Network. BTN on second reference is OK.

BOARD OF TRUSTEES
Lower case unless part of a formal name. The board of trustees, but the University of Illinois Board of Trustees.

BUILDINGS
Huff Hall, not George Huff Hall. Freer Hall. Speech and Hearing Science Building (B is uppercase). Chez Veterans Center. Disability Resources & Educational Services (DRES). Nugent Hall.

CAMPUS NAME
The first reference to the campus should be University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. Acceptable second references to the campus include Illinois, U. of I. (for in-state and alumni audiences), and Urbana or the Urbana campus (to distinguish this campus from the Springfield and Chicago campuses). On subsequent references, make sure that the use is consistent.

Do not use UIUC to refer to the campus. View the policy in the Campus Administrative Manual.

Do not capitalize “university” when the word appears by itself as a noun or an adjective. Correct: The University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign is a world-class research university. The university is one of the largest recipients of National Science Foundation funding in the United States.

The word “Illinois” is a singular proper name ending in an s. As such, only an apostrophe at the end is needed to indicate possession. Example: Illinois’ athletic teams.

Other campus names: University of California, Berkeley (no comma after city in university names).

CAMPUSWIDE, CITYWIDE, NATIONWIDE, UNIVERSITYWIDE
No hyphen.

CALENDAR AND TIME DESIGNATIONS
Names of seasons or academic terms or descriptive names for days are not capitalized. Examples: spring, fall semester, summer session, election day, fall 2023 (not fall “of” 2023).

COLLEGE
Uppercase when part of a title, “The College of Applied Health Sciences,” or “The College of AHS.” Lowercase when writing “the college administration.” “Huff Hall is the heart of the college.”

COURSE WORK
Two words, not hyphenated.

DATA
The word typically takes singular verbs and pronouns when writing for general audiences and in data journalism contexts: The data is sound. In scientific and academic writing, plural verbs and pronouns are preferred.

Use databank and database, but data processing (n. and adj.) and data center.

DR.
Do not use Dr. unless the person is a medical doctor or veterinarian. Do not use to indicate a Ph.D.

EMERITUS/EMERITA
Use emeritus when referring to male professors who achieved this status (not given automatically upon retirement). Use emerita when referring to female professors. Do not use in place of “retired.” This is special status not given to every faculty member who retires. “John Doe, a professor emeritus of art history, is …”

FUNDRAISING
One word, no hyphen, all uses.

ELLIPSES
Always have a space before and after …

If words that precede an ellipsis constitute a grammatically complete sentence, either in original or condensation, place a period at the end of the last word before the ellipsis. Follow with a regular space and an ellipsis.

EM DASH
Use the em dash instead of en dashes. Do not place a space before or after. You can create the e dash by holding SHIFT + OPTION and the hyphen key. — 

You can create the shorter en dash by just holding SHIFT and the hyphen key. – 

FACULTY MEMBERS
Use “faculty members” instead of “faculty” alone.

FIRST-YEAR STUDENT VS. FRESHMAN
First-year student is preferred because it is possible to still have official status as a freshman while attending classes for a third semester. This is because a student may have dropped or failed a class or did not enroll in enough hours to reach the official number needed to be a sophomore.

HE SAID, SHE SAID
Use the name before said, unless need to put their title in. For example: “This is fun,” Smith said. (Not: said Smith.) Could say: “This is fun,” said John Smith, a professor of English.

HEALTH CARE
Two words, no hyphen.

I HOTEL AND CONFERENCE CENTER
I Hotel and Conference Center

ILLINI UNION
The Illini Union may be referred to as “the Union.”

LATIN NAMES FOR ORGANISMS
Use italics: e.g. first reference Escherichia coli, second reference E. coli.

MEN AND WOMEN VS. MALE AND FEMALE
Use men and/or women when it is a noun, use male or female as an adjective.

NETID
NetID.

PERCENTAGES
Spell out percent. Do not use the symbol (%), even on second reference. Example: 71 percent of students said.

PUNCTUATION
Single space after periods and colons.

Commas and periods go inside quotes. Colons and semicolons should be placed outside the quotation marks.

Do not use serial commas unless needed for clarity.

All other punctuation: If the punctuation is part of the quotation, put it inside the quotation marks. If it’s not, put it outside.

Headlines: use single quotation marks, not double, and make apostrophes and quotation marks “dumb” (no curvature). Capitalize the initial letter of the first word, the rest of the headline should follow sentence format.

Possessives: Proper noun ending in “s,” just add an apostrophe. Singular common noun ending in S: add ‘s, even when the next word starts with an “s.”

QUAD
Main Quad to indicate the main quadrangle south of the Illini Union. Also the Engineering Quad, South Quad (south of Gregory Drive).

RESIDENCE HALLS
On-campus living accommodations for students are referred to as residence halls. Do not use “dormitory” or “dorms.” For reference, the fourth University of Illinois president, Edmund James, instituted the preferred term in 1916 at a speech at the groundbreaking ceremony of the first residence hall on campus.

SCIENCE VS. SCIENCES (IN DEPARTMENTAL AND SCHOOL NAMES)
Pay close attention to the correct usages. Example: Courses are offered in the College of Applied Health Sciences. The Department of Speech and Hearing Science offers courses in audiology and speech-language pathology.

STATE OF ILLINOIS, CITY OF CHAMPAIGN, ETC.
Use state of Illinois, city of Champaign, Champaign County.

STATE NAMES
The names of the 50 U.S. states should be spelled out when used in the body of a story, whether standing alone or in conjunction with a city, town, village or military base. Place one comma between the city and the state name and another comma after the state name, unless ending the sentence. Example: Illinois; Champaign, Illinois.

TELEPHONE NUMBERS
Use hyphens and the area code. 217-333-6544.

THEATER/THEATRE
Use theater unless part of a name: on campus, Lyric Theatre, Summer Studio Theatre Company, Virginia Theatre, Tryon Festival Theatre, Illinois Theatre (the department)

TIME
Use figures, except for noon and midnight. 1 p.m. (not 1:00 p.m.), 8:15 a.m. Avoid redundancies such as 1 p.m. this afternoon. Time before day. Avoid saying the meeting will be “held.” Instead: The lecture begins at 1 p.m. Jan. 6.

U. OF I. EXTENSION
Extension on second reference, do not use “the” unless using it as an adjective: the U. of I. Extension program ….

URLS
If there is a www, you can drop the http:// illinois.edu. Do not drop https:// which is used to indicate a secure site.

VETERAN
The v in Veteran is uppercase.

WEBSITE
Also: web, webpage, webfeed, webcam, webcast, webmaster, home page, internet, online and email.

Need more help? When in doubt, look it up in The Associated Press Stylebook.