Editorial and Style Guide

Our official recommendation is to follow The Associated Press Stylebook and Webster’s New World College Dictionary.


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 Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences. College of ACES. Avoid this construct: Discovery Partners Institute (DPI), and instead use the acronym as the second reference. Example: Discovery Partners Institute is coming to Chicago. DPI will be working on cutting-edge technologies.

Academic departments, majors and programs

Use lowercase as a general rule. Capitalize proper nouns and acronyms and use lowercase for informal, shortened or generic terms. Lowercase departments, but use initial capitals for the names of centers, colleges, divisions, institutes, laboratories, offices and schools.

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).

Academic titles

Do not make a distinction between assistant professor, associate professor and professor. For example, refer to each as a professor of dance or professor emeritus of dance.

Exception: Death notices and some awards distinguish between levels of professors.


Campus buildings need street addresses.

Academic advisor

Not “academic adviser.”

African American

In the names of campus entities, do not include a hyphen. Ex: African American studies, Bruce D. Nesbitt African American Cultural Center.

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.

Archives, University

University Archives on first reference; Archives on subsequent.

Asian American

In the names of campus entities, do not include a hyphen. Ex: Asian American Cultural Center; Department of Asian American Studies.


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.


Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology

First reference for external and university audiences is Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. Second and subsequent references include Beckman, the Beckman Institute or the institute.

Big Ten

Big Ten Network, Big Ten Conference or B1G Conference (using a 1 in place of the I).

Block I

Block I. The “B” is always capitalized.

Board of Trustees

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


Campuswide, citywide, nationwide, universitywide

No hyphen.

Calendar and time designation

Names of seasons or academic terms or descriptive names for days are not capitalized. Examples: spring, fall semester, summer session, election day, fall 2019 (not fall “of” 2019).

Carle Illinois College of Medicine

Carle Illinois College of Medicine at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign is the acceptable first reference. Second reference can be: CI MED or Carle Illinois College of Medicine.


See “Punctuation” below.


Uppercase for University of Illinois Commencement activities.

Composition titles

For project names, etc., initial capitalization of all words except words that are fewer than four letters.


Uppercase for University of Illinois Convocation activities.

Course titles

Uppercase titles and use quotation marks.

Course work

Two words, not hyphenated.


Hyphenated and all caps.



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.


For dates and years, use numerals. Do not use ordinals, such as -st, -nd, -rd, or -th, with dates, and use Arabic figures. Always capitalize months. Spell out the month unless it is used with a date. When used with a date, abbreviate only the following months: Jan., Feb., Aug., Sept., Oct., Nov. and Dec.

Dean’s List

Dining locations

For communications intended for first-year students, it is best practice to use the full form on first reference, followed by the abbreviated form or acronym in parentheses from First Day of Acceptance until October 1. Subsequent references should be the abbreviated form or acronym. Use abbreviations and acronyms only when they are familiar to the readers.

When it is necessary to save space, abbreviations can be used on first reference.

  • Busey-Evans Dining Hall
  • Florida Avenue Dining Hall (FAR Dining Hall)
  • Ikenberry Dining Center (IKE Dining Center)
  • Illinois Street Dining Center
  • Lincoln Avenue Dining Hall (LAR Dining Hall)
  • Pennsylvania Avenue Dining Hall (PAR Dining Hall)
  • Student Dining and Residential Programs building (SDRP)

Do not use SDRP/IKE to refer to the SDRP. Suggested rule to help eliminate confusion is to include location of the SDRP on first mention. Example: The Student Dining and Residential Programs building, located in the Ikenberry Commons, has useful spaces for students to dine, gather, and find resources they need.


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


Education Abroad

Broadly encompasses any academically anchored activity that is undertaken individually or in partnership with others outside of one’s home country. This could include study abroad, experiential or service learning, internships, virtual global learning or courses.


Always insert 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 last word before the ellipsis. Follow with a regular space and an ellipsis.


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 … .” Double-check status when external sources (including news media) refer to a faculty member as “retired.”


See University of Illinois Extension.


Facilities & Services

Second reference: F&S.

Faculty members

Use faculty members instead of faculty alone.

First-year students 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. This is also preferred compared to freshman, since some students are transfer students.


One word, no hyphen, all uses.



In general, use terms that can apply to any gender. Such language aims to treat people equally and is inclusive of people whose gender identity is not strictly male or female. Growing numbers of people, including some transgender, nonbinary, agender or gender-fluid people, use they/them/their as a gender-neutral singular personal pronoun. As much as possible, use they/them/their as a way of accurately describing and representing a person who uses those pronouns for themself.

Gies College of Business

First reference is Gies College of Business. Gies Business is acceptable on second reference.

Grade, grader

No hyphen in most cases: a fourth grade student, first grader, she is in the fifth grade. (A change in 2019.) Do hyphenate if needed to avoid confusion, such as when combined with another ordinal number: He was the sixth fourth-grade student to win the prize; she is the 10th third-grader to join.

The Grainger College of Engineering

First reference is The Grainger College of Engineering. Grainger Engineering is acceptable on second reference.

Gram stain, gram negative, gram positive

Gram should be capitalized and never hyphenated when used as Gram stain. Gram negative and gram positive should be lowercase and only hyphenated when used as a unit modifier.


He said, she said, they said

Use the name before said, unless their title is included. For example: “This is fun,” Smith said. (Not: said Smith.) Could say: “This is fun,” said John Smith, a professor of English.

Health care vs. health-care

When used as a noun, two words, no hyphen. When used as an adjective, one word, hyphenated.


Overused, the fewer the better. Use to avoid ambiguity, in compound modifiers, two-thought compounds, compound proper nouns, to avoid duplicated vowels, suspensive hyphenation (10- to 20-year sentence).


I Hotel and Conference Center

I Hotel and Conference Center. No hyphen. Always insert a space between the word “I” and “Hotel.” The “I” is always capitalized.

Illini Union

Illini Union. Using only “the Union” in written communications is too casual in most


Latin names for organisms

Use italics: e.g., first reference Escherichia coli, second reference E. coli.

Liberal Arts & Sciences, College of

College of Liberal Arts & Sciences; LAS on second reference.

Library, University

University Library on first reference; Library on subsequent.


More than, over

Both are acceptable to use to indicate a greater numerical value.


Native American

In the names of campus entities, do not include a hyphen. Ex: Native American House, Native American Heritage Month.


NetID, no space.



Preferred in place of “subjects in human research.”


AP style prefers use of “%” rather than spelling out the word.


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,” per AP Style update in 2017.



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


Re- and pre-

AP Style update in 2019: Do not hyphenate double-e combinations with re- and pre-. Exceptions are listed in AP Style and Webster’s.


“Participants” is preferred to “subjects in human research.”

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 computer science and animal sciences. Note the correct use in a school name: School of Information Sciences, not School of Information Science.

Star names

To align with astronomy nomenclature, use an asterisk in the official name to replace the word star. Example: Since 1974, the center of the Milky Way has been known to coincide with a faint source of radio noise called Sagittarius A*, pronounced Sagittarius A-star.

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. No state name is necessary if it is the same as the dateline. This also applies to newspapers cited in a story. For example, a story datelined Providence, R.I., would reference the Providence Journal, not the Providence (R.I.) Journal. Place one comma between the city and the state name and another comma after the state name, unless ending the sentence.

Two-letter abbreviations are still used in lists, credit and party affiliations.

Only use post office abbreviations in complete addresses that contain a ZIP code. Example: Champaign, IL 61820.

Study Abroad

A credit-bearing academic experience that requires physical travel and takes place outside the country where the student’s home institution is located. A study abroad experience can be both short-term (one to two weeks) or long-term (up to one year).

Strategic Communications and Marketing

Spell out on first reference. On second reference, use StratCom. “Office of” is not necessary.


Telephone numbers

Use hyphens and the area code. Example: 217-333-6544.


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


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.


University of Illinois Extension

First reference: University of Illinois Extension. Second reference: Illinois Extension.

Use “the” if there is a reference to ownership: “the University of Illinois Extension event is …”



University Library and Archives

University Library and University Archives on first reference; Library and Archives on second.

University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign

The first reference to the campus should be “University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign.”

Acceptable second references to the campus include “Illinois,” “U. of I.” and “Urbana” or the “Urbana campus” (for information about all three campuses to distinguish this campus from the Springfield and Chicago campuses). On subsequent references, make sure that the use is consistent.

University should not be capitalized when standing alone: “The university is a world-class research institute.”


If there is a www, you can drop the http://. Do not drop the https:// which is used to indicate a secure site. Do not include the www if a subdomain is listed in the URL. Example: www.mckinley.illinois.edu should be mckinley.illinois.edu, do not include the www reference.



Also web, webpage, webfeed, webcam, webcast, webmaster, home page, Internet, online and email.



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