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Writing Style Guide

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The U. T. System Office of the Board of Regents uses a style for official Board documents as noted in these guidelines below and in the Meetings Style Guide found within this site.

The Chicago Manual of Style is followed.

Abbreviations of degrees, time expressions, and countries' names take periods with no space between the elements: M.F.A., p.m., U.K., U.S.

Use periods but no space for names, Example: J.B. Pace

Acronyms for job titles and names of most organizations, centers, buildings, forms, tests and other objects are generally spelled without periods: CEO, CIA, SAT, TAAS, etc.

Plural forms of acronyms receive an "s" and no apostrophe: She ordered two BLTs with avocado.

Academic degrees  use: 

  • bachelor's degree
  • master's degree
  • master's, doctorate
  • doctoral degree
  • B.A., M.A., Ph.D., LL.D., M.D., Ed.D., etc.

academic departments
Capitalize if referring to a specific department or other academic unit by its full proper name. Examples: the Department of History, the College of Liberal Arts, the School of Nursing. Otherwise, lower case: the history department, the college, the nursing school.

academic titles
Capitalize titles only when preceding a name; otherwise, lower case. Before a name, give a person only one title: Do not use phrases such as Dean of Liberal Arts and Professor of English Joe Smart. (A better alternative: Dean of Liberal Arts Joe Smart, who is also a professor of English, said hi.) Do not use German academic style, Dr. Prof. Smartz.

Very long titles are more readable when placed after a name: Joe Smart, dean of the College of Business Administration and Graduate School of Business. (See also, titles.)

Acronyms that are not well known should be spelled out on the first reference.

Agenda Item
Always capitalize the A and I when referring to Board of Regents' Agenda Items.

This word construction is taken directly from its Latin origins. Therefore, the noun forms are gender specific:

  • Alumna - one woman
  • Alumnae - a group of women
  • Alumnus - one man
  • Alumni - a group of men or a group of men and women.
  • It's rare to see the feminine plural form, "alumnae." Most often the form "alumni" is used for any group of graduates.

Bauer House
Use without "the." Example: Bauer House is the official residence of the Chancellor. I'll meet you at Bauer House at noon.

Use "between" to show a relationship between two objects only. Use "among" when it's more than two.

Biannual is twice a year. Biennial is every two years.

The Board of Regents
The U. T. System Board of Regents is preferred.

Avoid using U. T. Board of Regents.

Capitalize Chancellor when used without a name, but otherwise use lower case for titles used without names.

Capitalize all references to "Board" or "Regent." (She is a Regent. He is on the Board.) All titles are capitalized. (Bob Smith is Vice Chairman.)

See the U. T. System Board of Regents website for correct names and titles for the Regents. 

Note:  In some documents, "Board" or "Regent" will be capitalized even when they stand alone. For example, in an official program for a ceremonial event such as a Santa Rita Award dinner, capitalize the words "Board" and "Regent" when they stand alone. But do not capitalize them in a news release or less formal documents.

Only "Rules and Regulations" are italicized in Regents' Rules and Regulations . Regents' Rules  is acceptable on the second reference.

Board of Regents correspondence
Use the following examples: Dear Chairman Jones, Vice Chairman Johnson, or Regent Smith. See also, "chairman."

campus (see also, institutions)
Campus is not considered an accurate description of the U. T. institutions because some of the institutions have more than one "campus." For example, U. T. Austin has the main campus and the J. J. Pickle Research Campus. Please use "institution" instead of "campus." Also, please note: using "component(s)" is no longer acceptable.

Official names are capitalized; unofficial, informal, shortened or generic names are not. This rule applies to offices, buildings, schools, departments, programs, centers, etc. (see also, titles and academic titles.)

Avoid using ALL CAPS in headlines or text as it indicates shouting.

Phrases such as the center, the institute, or the new museum are not capitalized. Examples:

  • the Office of Admissions and Registrar, the registrar's office, the registrar.
  • the College of Business, the business college, the college.
  • the U. T. Austin Library, the library.
  • Capitalize official names of bulletins, forms, conventions, conferences, classes, etc. Dr. Johnson will teach Advanced Environmental Geology next semester. He will teach advanced geology.

Capitalize when referring to the building. Using "Capitol building" is redundant. The committee met in the Capitol to discuss capital expenditures. The Capitol is in Austin, which is the capital city of Texas.

Lower case when used with a number: 20th century, 21st century. Avoid using superscript letters.

The Board of Regents' style is to use the term Chairman in all references to board positions, even for female members. Capitalize all references. For example, "Mrs. Jones is Vice Chairman of the Board of Regents and Chairman of the Facilities Planning and Construction Committee."

chief business officers

Use a comma before the "and" or other conjunctions in a series. Red, white, and blue.

committee names
Capitalize the names of committees, e.g., the Academic Affairs Committee will meet on Thursday. 

components  (see also, campus or institutions)
This term is no longer acceptable. Use institution instead. 

continuous(ly) means without interruption, unbroken; continual(ly) means again and again.

The full proper name is 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. Second reference: the court or the appeals court.

Data is a plural noun, and normally takes plural verbs and pronouns

Example: The data have been gathered. This sentence is referring to individual pieces of data.

Exception: When data is referred to as a unit, it becomes a collective noun and takes singular verbs and pronouns. The data is accurate.

When referring to a date in a letter or news story, use December 3, not Dec. 3, or December 3rd. Do not abbreviate months.

(north, south, east, west). If a region is commonly known, it is capitalized. Tyler is in East Texas. The U. T. System owns land in West Texas. Otherwise, do not capitalize. Austin is north of San Antonio.

e.g., i.e. 
The abbreviation e.g. means "for example." The abbreviation i.e. means "that is" or "in other words." Always follow e.g. and i.e. with a comma.

Lower case, no hyphen. Do capitalize when it's the first word of a sentence or bullet.

Insure means to establish a contract for insurance of some type. Ensure means to guarantee. Assure means to convince. Ensure, insure, and assure are interchangeable in many contexts where they indicate the making certain or inevitable of an outcome, but insure sometimes stresses the taking of necessary measures beforehand, and assure distinctively implies the removal of doubt and suspense from a person's mind.

ethnic designations
Hyphenate African-American, Asian-American, Mexican-American, Cuban-American, etc. Use Anglo rather than white in contexts in which there are also references to Hispanics, Latinos, etc. When summarizing enrollments data, etc., use these designations as a preferred alternative to U.S. Census designations or other government usage: Anglo, African-American, Hispanic, Mexican-American, Asian-American, American Indian (or Native American), Foreign.

executive officers

When a text refers to numbered graphs or tables, refer to them in the text as Figure 1, Figure 2, etc. That is, italicize the reference in the text. On the figure itself, the label (Figure 1, Figure 2, etc.) does not need to be italicized. Note: Figures in an appendix should be designated according to the letter of the appendix. E.g., Figure A-1, Figure B-6, etc.

fiscal year
Capitalize when referring to a specific fiscal year e.g., Fiscal Year 2009. Abbreviated FY. Use FY only once when referring to a range of years. Example: FY 2006-2001 and not FY 2006 - FY 2001.

They are lowered to half-staff, not half-mast.

full time, full-time
Hyphenate as an adjective. Otherwise, two words. He is a full-time faculty member. He teaches full time. (See hyphens.)

One word.

general revenue
Capitalize General Revenue Appropriations except when quoting the Texas Constitution.

health care
"Health care" as two words is preferred as a noun and an adjective.

Hyphenate when it is an adjective. The University has high-quality programs. Otherwise, no hyphen: The University is known for its high quality. (This rule on hyphens also applies to many other words.)

Italicize when referring to the court case

Do not hyphenate adverbial phrases. Proofreaders are culturally elite people. Do hyphenate compounds used as adjectives before a noun: a far-reaching decision, a much-needed vacation, a thought-provoking article, a University-related program. Do not use two hyphens together as a dash (--). Use an emdash.

Institutions (see also, campus)
Always use the institution's complete name on first reference and its official abbreviation (below) on second reference. In general, when referencing the U. T. institutions collectively, use the term "institutions" and not "components" or "campuses." Second references can also be "the University," "the institution," "the Health Science Center," "the Medical Branch," "the Health Center," etc. Also, use a space between M. and D. in M. D. Anderson.

Do not use hyphens between "UT" and the rest of the name: for example UT-Arlington or UT-Medical Branch.

Exception:  In less formal situations or in tables, charts, and graphs, the periods in UT may be omitted to improve readability. (Example: UTEP.)

Institution References:  In accordance with the Regents' Rules and Regulations, Rule 40601, the institutions should be listed in the following order with the following abbreviations on second reference. Other generally accepted abbreviations are in parenthesis. For charts, further abbreviations may be used as long as the meaning is clear (e.g., "Arlington," "Austin," etc.)

Institution Abbreviation*
The University of Texas at Arlington  U. T. Arlington 
(also UTA) 
The University of Texas at Austin  U. T. Austin
(also UTAUS; never UTA) 
The University of Texas at Dallas  U. T. Dallas
(also UTD) 
The University of Texas at El Paso U. T. El Paso
(also UTEP) 
The University of Texas Permian Basin U. T. Permian Basin
(also UTPB) 
The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley U. T. Rio Grande Valley
(also UTRGV)
The University of Texas at San Antonio  U. T. San Antonio
(also UTSA) 
Stephen F. Austin State University, a Member of the University of Texas System Stephen F. Austin State University
(also Stephen F. Austin or SFA)
The University of Texas at Tyler ** U. T. Tyler
(also UTT) 
The University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center  U. T. Southwestern Medical Center
(also "Southwestern" or UTSWMC) 
The University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston U. T. Medical Branch - Galveston
(also the Medical Branch or UTMB) 
The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston U. T. Health Science Center - Houston
(also UTHSCH, UTHSC-H, or UTHSC-Houston) 
Never use U. T. Houston. 
The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio  U. T. Health Science Center - San Antonio
(also UTHSCSA, UTHSC-SA, or UTHSC-San Antonio)
The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center  U. T. M. D. Anderson Cancer Center
(also M. D. Anderson, UTMDA, Cancer Center, or UTMDACC) 
The University of Texas System  U. T. System 
The University of Texas System Administration  U. T. System Administration 
The University of Texas System Board of Regents  U. T. System Board of Regents

* less formal abbreviations are in parenthesis
** When referencing the The University of Texas Health Science Center at Tyler, use the Health Science Center at U. T. Tyler

See Regents' Rules and Regulations, Rule 40601, for more information including official names for satellites, colleges, and schools.

Always capitalize. 

Not judgement.

Refer to bills as House Bill 1 or Senate Bill 1, or as H.B. 1 or S.B. 1 (periods but no space between the letters, then a space between the letters and the number). Use codifications after the legislative session, e.g.,  Texas Government Code Section 41.44.

Do not capitalize this adjective. Ex: That is a legislative matter.

Capitalize this noun in all references to a particular legislative body, such as the Texas Legislature, which can also be referred to as the Legislature. Do not capitalize legislature when it is used in a generic way: The law-making body in a democracy is called a legislature.

Nobel laureate
Capitalize Nobel, not laureate.

Nobel Prize
Also, Nobel Prize in physics, Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine. But, Nobel Peace Prize. In economics, the correct designation is Nobel Memorial Prize in Economics. Nobel Prize winner. But, Nobel prize-winning scientist.

In most cases, use numerals for numbers 10 and above, but spell out numbers one through nine. 

Examples:  He has finished six of his 14 tasks. 

Exceptions:  Use numerals with the words "million," "billion," (The city has 3 million people) and "percent" (there was a 3 percent reduction in the budget).

Note:  In practice, we make some exceptions to the above style on numbers. In digests, special tables, some bulleted items, or other cases where a judgment has been made that statistics ought to stand out, we use all numerals, even for 1 through 9. Thus, the Almanac section of the Annual Report.

One word, no hyphen. 

One word. Preference is to use the % symbol in a sentence.  There was a 3 % reduction in the budget.

Exception: Top 10 Percent Rule 

plural acronyms
No apostrophe. RFQs, IDs, ABCs, the '60s. Do not use an apostrophe to form the plural of any proper noun. The Cunninghams will attend the meeting.

Also: decision-maker. Exception: policyholder.

Principal as a noun is a chief person or thing; as an adjective, it means first in importance. Principle is a noun meaning a fundamental truth, doctrine or law; a guiding rule or code of conduct; a method of operation.

In general, follow the rules found in any standard dictionary or grammar book, and be consistent. Remember that punctuation marks go inside quote marks.

quotation marks
Set quotation marks outside of periods and commas. "There are several people missing," he said. He wrote a report called "Our Stylish Guidelines."

Regents' Rules and Regulations
Do not underline. Italicize" Rules and Regulations" only. 

Do not capitalize the names of the four seasons. 

Do capitalize season when followed by a year. 

  • I went to school this fall. 
  • I registered in Fall 2005. 
  • I attended U. T. for the Fall Semester 2005. 

Capitalize semester when followed by a year. I attended U. T. for the Fall Semester 2005

sentence spacing
General Practice (AP and CMS guidelines): One space between sentences.

special item
Do not capitalize in a text. The University requested a new special item for research support.

state and federal
Lowercase state and federal in all references, except as part of corporate or governmental bodies that use the word as part of their formal names. Lowercase state and federal when used as an adjective to distinguish something from state, county, city, town, or private entities. Capitalize "State of Texas." 


  • The official website for the State of Texas provides access to state and local government agencies.
  • I visited the U. T. System's institutions in the state of Texas.
  • The State has evidence to the contrary.
  • That is a federal offense.
  • The State Board of Equalization collects sales taxes.
  • We will visit three states during our summer vacation.
  • The Federal Bureau of Investigation has been subject to much scrutiny and criticism lately.
  • Her business must comply with all county, state, and federal laws.  

state abbreviations
For addresses and tables/charts use the two-letter abbreviations adopted by the Postal Service with no periods.

Hyphenate as an adjective: He has a state-of-the-art computer system. Avoid other usages, such as "His computer is state of the art."

System (see also, U. T. System)
This is the U. T. System, not U. T. Systems.

One word, no hyphen.

One word.

One word.

Texas Education or Government Code
Use a comma when referring to a chapter of the code, but not when referring to a section of the code.

Texas Education Code, Chapter 79

Texas Education Code Section 79.02

thank you
Two words. Never thank-you.

that, which, who, whom
Use who and whom when referring to people and to animals with a name. Robert Jones is the person who designed the course. Use that and which in reference to inanimate objects and to animals without a name.

In most cases, Associated Press style is preferred. Examples: 2 p.m., 6:30 a.m., 9 o'clock.

Capitalize a person's title when it precedes the name. Do not capitalize a title when it follows a name or stands by itself. (Exception: It is permissible to capitalize Chancellor or Regent.) In general publications, do not use "Dr." or "M.D." See also, academic titles.


  • President Larry Smith 
  • Dr. Larry Smith, President of U. T. Austin, made a presentation. 
  • The President of the Faculty Senate was early. 
  • The Chancellor and the Chairman of the Board were on time. 
  • James L. Smith, surgeon and professor of oncology at U. T. M. D. Anderson Cancer Center, attended the meeting.

Use [instead of "flagship"] to denote a premier research university.

tuition deregulation/flexibility
Use only "tuition flexibility."

One word.

One word.

under way
It is almost always two words. According to the dictionary, it does not necessarily have a nautical connotation.

United States
Spell out as a noun, abbreviate as an adjective. No space in U.S.

Capitalize when reference is to a U. T. institution. The University has a wonderful library. See also, U. T. System References.

No space between "U." and "S."

The conservative approach is to use this word only with reference to language, and to use the noun use in other cases. Their usage of the English language is impeccable. Their electricity use is getting out of hand.

U. T. System (see also, System)

This is the U. T. System, not U. T. Systems.

Use "The University of Texas System" on first reference and "the U. T. System" on second reference.

It is also correct to refer to "the System" on second reference, as long as the meaning is clear. It is also correct to use the term System Administration when referring to the specific administrative offices of the System in Austin. 

Periods and a space between "U" and "T" are required on Agenda Items or official documents submitted to the Board.

vice chairman
Uppercase. (Bob Smith is Vice Chairman.) 

video conferencing
Do not use as a verb.

Washington, D.C.
Use a comma after Washington and periods after the D and C. There is no space between the D and C.

Use an uppercase "W". Netscape is a Web browser.

One word, no hyphen.

One word, no hyphen.

web page
Web page is still two words, although webpage is becoming more accepted and can be used in more informal communication.

one word, no hyphen.

West Texas
Capitalize. The U. T. System owns land in West Texas. See also, directions.

Use commas to set off nonrestrictive phrases such as those beginning with which/who. A nonrestrictive phrase or clause does not restrict or limit the meaning of the word it is modifying. It is, in a sense, interrupting the sentence to add extra information. Even though removing the non-restrictive element would result in some loss of meaning, the sentence would still make sense without it. 

Example (nonrestrictive):  The country of Haiti, which for decades has suffered with grinding poverty and mind-numbing violence, is unfamiliar with the workings of a true democracy.

Example (restrictive):  Those residents of Texas who do not hold well-paying jobs must resent the common portrayal of the state as a land of opportunity.

Note:  although commas are preferred, you can use two other punctuation marks to set off nonrestrictive phrases or other parenthetical information: parentheses and dashes.

  • Enclosing the phrase in parentheses reduces the importance of that information: Mr. Grundy's driving record (with one small exception) was exemplary.
  • Placing the phrase between dashes emphasizes the material: Mr. Grundy's driving record -- with one exception -- was exemplary.

Who, whom:  Use who when someone is the subject of a sentence, clause or phrase and use whom when someone is the object of a verb or preposition .

Who, whom, that, which:  Use who and whom when referring to people and to animals with a name. Robert Jones is the person who designed the course. Use that and which in reference to inanimate objects and to animals without a name.

One word. Also, workplace, workroom, workshop, workstation, workweek, workwoman, workman, etc.

World Wide Web
Three words, capitalized.

In most cases, use the full four-digits of a year's designation. Enrollment for fall 1998 is up. The Legislature is working on appropriations for the 2000-2001 biennium. We are out of travel money for FY 1999. She graduated in 1924. Occasionally it will be preferred to use only the last two digits, such as The Class of '68 welcomes you to Austin.