Editorial Guidelines

Clear, informative writing about The University of Texas at Dallas is enhanced through the use of a consistent editorial style.

These guidelines, developed and maintained by the Office of Communications, are designed to help University departments produce high-quality communications that reflect our campus-wide commitment to excellence.

Since much of our writing is targeted to external readers — including prospective students and their families, media outlets and the greater community — the Associated Press Stylebook serves as the University’s primary style guide.

For specific questions about the University’s editorial style, please contact Periodicals.

A-Z Index Listing




Spell out an abbreviation or acronym on the first use and follow immediately with the abbreviation in parentheses if the abbreviation will be used subsequently in the same copy.

  • Right: The School of Economic, Political and Policy Sciences (EPPS) offers a broad assortment of bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degree programs.

Maintain clarity in writing by using acronyms and abbreviations sparingly. Avoid using acronyms and abbreviations at a great distance on the page from the fully worded version.

academic degrees

Do not punctuate, e.g. AuD, BA, BS, MAT, MFA, MSCS, MSEE, MSTE, PhD, MS, MBA, MPA, MPP. If referencing UT Dallas degrees for alumni, include year. Example: John S. Smith BS’95, MS’01, PhD’09 (Note: no spaces offsetting apostrophe). Also, don’t use both Dr. and PhD with the year for alumni with a doctoral degree from the University. Dr. John Smith PhD’09 (wrong). John Smith PhD’09 (correct). In a full reference in story, describe the degree as such: Dr. Jane Rodriguez earned a master’s degree in electrical engineering from the University of Minnesota.
Formal publications: For high-level University printed publications and listings such as Investiture Ceremony program, Commencement Ceremony program, degrees should be punctuated and the following style should be followed for administrators, the Cabinet, deans, etc.

  • President
  • Executive V.P.
  • V.P. for Academic Affairs/Provost
  • V.Ps – Alphabetical by last name
  • Academic deans – Alphabetical by school name
  • Non-academic deans

Richard C. Benson, Ph.D.
Eugene McDermott Distinguished University Chair of Leadership

Dennis M. Kratz, Ph.D.
School of Arts and Humanities
Ignacy and Celina Rockover Professorship

Note: Always include the chair name in the first reference or as part of the signature block for the President. Also, include chair name for all Cabinet members and deans in the official listing.

academic departments/administrative offices

Departments, divisions and offices should be capitalized when their official names are used. Use lowercase for the words department, division or office when they stand alone.

  • Right: He works in the Office of Strategic Planning and Analysis.
  • Right: She works in strategic planning and analysis.
  • Right: He has been a professor in the Department of Biological Sciences for 20 years.
  • Right: She was named the head of the biological sciences department.

academic majors

Use lowercase for majors with the exception of languages.

  • Right: She is a physics major.
  • Right: He is an English major.
  • Wrong: She is a Biology major.

academic year

An academic year straddles two calendar years. Drop the first two digits of the second year and connect with an en-dash. 2015–16

ad interim

Some administrators may prefer using the Latin phrase that denotes their interim position. The phrase is italicized. Lowercase it if it precedes a name, which also applies for “interim.” Examples: President ad interim Jane Doe led the physics discussion. She met with interim Dean John Smith.


In numbered addresses, abbreviate Avenue (Ave.), Boulevard (Blvd.), Street (St.) and compass points. Addresses that are not numbered should be spelled out.

  • Right: He lives at 1400 Main St.
  • Right: He lives on Main Street.
  • Wrong: UT Dallas is at 800 West Campbell Rd.
  • Right: UT Dallas is at 800 W. Campbell Road.
  • Right: He left his car on West Campbell Road.


Advisor is accepted spelling, not adviser. This is an exception to AP style.


Do not make general references that assume competencies or exclusions related to age.

  • Wrong: All the young students enjoyed the course.

It is acceptable to note specific age statistics.

  • Right: In fall 2016, the UT Dallas student population ranged in age from 14 to 88.

alumni (UT Dallas)

Identify all UT Dallas alumni in the article, with degree(s) and year(s) conferred placed immediately after the name. Example: John S. Smith BS’95, MS’01, PhD’09 (no spaces offsetting apostrophe). Don’t use both Dr. and PhD with the year for alumni with a doctoral degree from the University. Dr. John Smith PhD’09 (wrong). John Smith PhD’09 (correct). In printed formal publications, the University’s Nobel laureate alumnus should be written: Aziz Sancar M.D., Ph.D.’77 (no periods in titles, no MD needed if written for the web, News Center, etc.). Also, the 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)


Use lowercase and periods for a.m. and p.m.


The Board of Regents

Use either The University of Texas System Board of Regents or UT System Board of Regents. Ensure that System is used within the title. Lowercase board and regents only if used separately. (She is a regent. He is on the board.) It is permissible to capitalize Regent before a name, but otherwise lowercase the title.

See www.utsystem.edu/bor for correct name and titles for the Regents.

brown bag

Use two words. Hyphen when modifying another word, ex. brown-bag lunch


The proper name of buildings and halls should be capitalized: Green Center, Hoblitzelle Hall, Founders North.


Bulleted lists: capitalize each item. End each item with a period. Avoid semicolons to separate items.



Avoid the unnecessary use of capitals. Capitals are most commonly used for proper nouns and the first word in a sentence. Capitals may also be used for:

  1. Popular names: Places and events that do not have officially designated proper names but have popular names that are the equivalent: North Dallas, Metroplex.
  2. Derivatives: Words that are derived from a proper noun and still depend upon it for their meaning. Examples: American, English, Orwellian.
  3. Compositions: Capitalize the principal words in the names of books, magazines, movies, plays, poems, operas, songs, radio and television programs, works of art, etc.
  4. Campus buildings and landmarks: The proper name of buildings and halls should be capitalized. Examples: Green Center, Hoblitzelle Hall, Founders North. The Plinth.
  5. Centers, institutes and libraries: The formal names of centers should be capitalized, but “center” used alone should be lowercase. Examples: The Center for Quantum Physics has been honored. The center has been granted funds for additional research. The institute is noted for cutting-edge development in that field. The Eugene McDermott Library has changed its hours. The library closed at noon today.
  6. The full names of departments, divisions and offices should be capitalized. Use lowercase for the words department, division or office when they stand alone. Examples: He works in the Office of Strategic Planning and Analysis. She works in strategic planning and analysis.
  7. Classes and courses: Classes and courses should be lowercase unless you use the specific title or the name carries a proper noun or numeral. Examples: I had a class in marketing. I am taking Research Applications in Marketing. She is studying English literature.


When identifying subjects in photographs, use parentheses and directions. Examples: Dr. Jane Smith (left) attended the event. From left: John Doe, Jan Turner and Jane Smith attended the awards ceremony. Dr. John Garcia (left), director of the Bachelor of Science in Marketing program, led the classroom activity.

co-author, co-worker

Retain the hyphen. See the co- entry in the AP Stylebook.


Do not use the Oxford comma, a comma before the ‘and’ or other conjunctions in a series. Example: Orange, green and white.

composition titles

The following rules regarding capitalization, spelling, punctuation, italics and quotation marks apply to titles mentioned in text.

  • Articles (a, an, the), coordinating conjunctions (and, but, or) and most prepositions are lowercase unless they are the first or last word of the title or subtitle.
  • Titles and subtitles of published books, pamphlets, periodicals and newspapers are written in italics when they are mentioned in the text: The Dallas Morning News.
  • Titles of articles, features in newspapers, chapter titles, titles of short stories and selections in books are enclosed in quotation marks. They are not italicized.
  • Titles of dissertations, theses, manuscripts, lectures and papers read at meetings are enclosed in quotation marks. They are not italicized. Titles of motion pictures are italicized, as are titles of television and radio programs if they are part of a continuing series.
  • In regular title capitalization (also known as headline style), the first and last words and all nouns, pronouns, adjectives, verbs, adverbs and subordinating conjunctions (because, if, that) are capitalized.

course load, coursework

Course load refers to the number of course hours taken per semester. Coursework refers to work required for a class or degree.

credit hours

Use figures no matter how small the number. Examples: 3-credit-hour course. 15 hours’ credit.


dangling modifiers

Avoid modifiers that do not refer clearly and logically to some word in the sentence.

  • Wrong: Taking our seats, the game started. (Taking does not refer to the subject, game, nor to any other word in the sentence.)
  • Right: Taking our seats, we watched the opening of the game. (Taking refers to we, the subject of the sentence.)


Use dashes to denote an abrupt change in thought in a sentence or an emphatic pause. Spaces are required on both sides of dashes. Examples: He noted the characteristics — energy, concentration, curiosity — that he prized in his students.

An em dash (longer than a hyphen) can be inserted by using the following shortcut keystrokes: Ctrl, Alt, Num Lock, Hyphen on a PC, or Option, Shift, Hyphen on a Mac.

degrees, diplomas

During commencement ceremonies, candidates for graduation do not receive their diplomas. They receive their diploma cases or holders. Also, in stories, avoid saying someone “will graduate.” It’s better to say “plans to” or “expects to.” Examples: John Smith, who earned a bachelor’s degree in economics, celebrates at commencement. Jan Doe expects to graduate in the spring.

doctoral, doctorate

Doctoral is an adjective, and doctorate is a noun. Also not all doctoral degrees are PhDs at UT Dallas. The School of Behavioral and Brain Sciences offers a Doctoral in Audiology (AuD) program.

  • Right: He received his doctorate last fall.
  • Right: She is a doctoral student in the Jonsson School.
  • Wrong: She received her doctorate degree this summer.


emails and evites

sample email screenshot

General Guidelines

  1. Always include the University branding, with a link to the University’s home page, utdallas.edu.
  2. Provide a title of the event or call to action at the top (this can repeat the subject line of the email). Keep it brief and capitalize each word.
  3. Give a brief explanation of the event or speaker. The name of the speaker should be followed by a concise title or academic credential. Include the title of the presentation, capitalizing the first letter of each substantial word.
  4. Always present the event title in machine-readable text (HTML) in case images are blocked.
  5. Spell out the day and month, and include the time. Use 6 p.m. rather than 6:00 PM.
  6. Include a link to campus maps where appropriate. Provide parking information including available parking lots for attendees if applicable. If event is off campus, link to site’s location via Google maps.
  7. Include a registration link and deadline if applicable.
  8. At the bottom, provide a contact email or phone number for more information.
  9. Always include a link to view the evite online via a browser.

Evite Examples

ethnic and racial terms

The following terms are used informally in text and are NOT used as formal categories for the purposes of reports or applications:

  • African-American/black: Both terms are acceptable for Americans of African descent, but they are not necessarily interchangeable. For example, people from Caribbean nations generally refer to themselves as Caribbean-American. The terms black and white are used as both nouns and adjectives in informal writing to refer to persons of African-American and European American ancestry. Since the terms black and white are not proper nouns, they are not capitalized.
  • Asians/Asian-American: The University has a large group of distinct communities from East Asia and South Asia, so be as specific as possible and try to avoid the generic use of Asians. The term Asian-American refers to Americans of Asian descent.
  • European American: Refers to Americans of European descent.
  • Hispanic/Hispanic American/Latino: Hispanic is the preferred term for those whose ethnic origin is in a Spanish-speaking country. Hispanic American refers to American descendants whose ethnic origin is in a Spanish-speaking country. Latino is an acceptable term for Hispanics who prefer that term. In comparison, the term Anglo is often used to distinguish between Americans of European descent and Latinos.
  • Native American: Refers to those of American Indian descent.

exclamation mark

Avoid overuse of the exclamation point. Use the mark to express a high degree of surprise, incredulity or other strong emotion.


freshman, freshmen

Per AP style, use freshman when referring to one first-year undergraduate student or as a modifier. Use freshmen when referring to more than one first-year undergraduate student. Examples: Freshman Orientation will be held next week. She is a freshman in Dr. Clark’s class. The average SAT score for incoming freshmen is among the highest in the state.



Language around gender is evolving. If possible, it is best to construct sentences to avoid terms that are gender-specific. If someone specifically asks for a pronoun that is part of the greater gender inclusive spectrum, we should try to oblige. However, rewording usually is possible and always preferable. Examples: All the class members raised their hands (instead of everyone raised their hands). The foundation gave grants to anyone who lost a job this year (instead of anyone who lost their job). For more guidance, see “gender” in the AP Stylebook.


Acceptable in all references to grade-point average. Note: No periods.


headlines and labels

Headlines and labels should be written in upstyle. Capitalize only the first letter of each word, but do not capitalize articles and most prepositions. It’s best to avoid prepositions in headlines, but exceptions to the capitalization rule would be ones longer than five letters, including: beyond, around, through.

health care, healthcare

In general, it’s two words. When using the official titles of the programs offered by the University, it’s one word. Examples: He previously worked in the health care industry. She leads the Bachelor of Science in Healthcare Management program. He majored in health care studies.


Capitalize when used as part of a specific homecoming, lowercase in other uses. Examples: Homecoming 2017 will kick off in early November. The homecoming parade will be held Thursday.


Use lowercase for cum laude, magna cum laude and summa cum laude.



Capitalize the names of months in all uses. When a month is used with a specific date, abbreviate only Jan., Feb., Aug., Sept., Oct., Nov. and Dec. In formal evites, it’s acceptable to spell out the month with a specific date. Spell out when using alone, or with a year alone. When a phrase lists only a month and a year, do not separate the year with commas. When a phrase refers to a month, day and year, set off the year with commas. Examples: January 2016 was a cold month. Jan. 2 was the coldest day of the month. His birthday is May 8. Feb. 14, 2013, was the target date. She testified that it was Friday, Dec. 3, when the accident occurred.


Nobel laureate

Capitalize Nobel, not laureate.

Per the official website of the Nobel Prize organization, the preference is to refer to recipients as Nobel laureates. However, Nobel Prize winner is commonly used by the media.

Note: Nobel Prize winner (prize written uppercase). Nobel prize-winning economist (prize written lowercase).



Write as one word — percent in text copy and captions. Use % symbol for charts, graphics, etc.

plural words

  • Most words: Add s (students, professors, buildings).
  • After a hard ch: Add only s (monarchs).
  • Words ending in ch, s, sh, ss, x and z: Add es (benches, dresses, boxes).
  • Words ending in is: Change is to es (thesis/theses; crisis/crises; parenthesis/parentheses).
  • Words ending in y: If y is preceded by a consonant or qu, change y to i and add es (babies, cities, synergies). Common nouns ending in y preceded by a vowel take only the s (alloys, days, attorneys).
  • Words ending in o: If o is preceded by a consonant, most plurals require es (tomatoes, echoes). Pianos is an exception. Words ending in o, directly after a vowel, take the s (folios, radios).
  • Some words ending in f: Add s (briefs, reefs, roofs). Other words ending in f have irregular plurals with ves (hooves, shelves, lives).
  • Proper Names: The plurals of most proper names are formed by adding s (the Greens, the Garcias, the Browns). If the name ends in s or z, form the plural by adding es (the Rosses, the Rodriguezes, the Charleses). In forming plurals of proper names ending in y, ordinarily keep the y (the Kennedys, the Lowrys and the Bradys). Some exceptions are: (Alleghenies and Rockies).
  • Some words are the same in the plural as in the singular: chassis, corps, deer, moose, sheep).
  • Latin endings: Latin-root words ending in us change us to i: alumnus, alumni. Most ending in a change to ae: alumna, alumnae (formula and formulas make for an exception). Most ending in um add s (memorandums, referendums, stadiums).


  • Plural nouns not ending in s: Add ’s (the alumni’s newsletter, the children’s playground).
  • Plural nouns ending in s: Add only an apostrophe (the girls’ locker room, the students’ newspaper).
  • Singular nouns not ending in s: Add ’s (the book’s pages, the pen’s ink).
  • Singular common nouns ending in s: Add ’s (the witness’s chair, the witness’s story).
  • If a singular proper noun ends in s: Add an apostrophe (The University of Texas at Dallas’ campus).
  • Pronouns: Personal interrogative and relative pronouns have several forms for the possessives that do not involve an apostrophe (mine, ours, your, yours, his, hers, its, theirs, whose). If you are using an apostrophe with a pronoun, make sure that the meaning calls for a contraction: (you’re, it’s, there’s, who’s).


Program should be uppercased if it’s part of the official title. It is lowercased when referring to academic majors. Examples: He is part of the Academic Bridge Program. She is taking classes as part of the ATEC program. National Merit Scholars Program. She leads the Bachelor of Science in Healthcare Management program.



Use a hyphen for both the adjective and noun forms. Ex. The ribbon-cutting ceremony will be held Monday. The dean will speak at the ribbon-cutting.


schools and colleges

The proper names of schools and colleges within UT Dallas should be capitalized as follows:

  • Erik Jonsson School of Engineering and Computer Science
  • School of Arts and Humanities
  • School of Arts, Technology, and Emerging Communication
  • School of Behavioral and Brain Sciences
  • School of Economic, Political and Policy Sciences
  • School of Interdisciplinary Studies
  • Naveen Jindal School of Management
  • School of Natural Sciences and Mathematics
  • The Hobson Wildenthal Honors College

seasons and semesters

Do not capitalize seasons, semesters or terms in text. Example: He will begin classes during the fall semester.

state names

Spell out the names of the 50 U.S. states when used in the body of a story, and in mass emails when attached to an address. In the footers of emails, only use the postal code state abbreviations when a ZIP code is attached. Don’t use a ZIP code in the body of an email.

State of the University

Capitalize when referring to the annual address given by University leadership.

student classifications

Do not capitalize freshman, sophomore, junior or senior unless they appear at the beginning of a sentence or in a headline.



Academic: Capitalize and spell out formal academic titles such as chancellor, chair, president and dean when they immediately precede a name. Lowercase elsewhere. Examples: President Jane Smith, Dean John Doe, Chancellor Jane Garcia, Development Board Chair Jan Turner. Executive Vice President John Rodriguez.

Courtesy: In general, do not use the courtesy titles Mr., Mrs. or Ms. If the reference serves to avoid confusion, Mr., Mrs. or Ms. may be used in the second mention. Example: For Jane Doe, use Mrs. Doe on second reference.

Dr., Drs.: Use Dr. as a first reference before the full name of the person who has an earned doctorate in any subject. It is redundant to include both the title and the academic degree, or to combine the administrative title with the academic title. In general, use the last name without the title in subsequent references. In formal printed publications, it is OK to use the title in subsequent references. Also, when referring to the University’s president, use the title President instead of Dr. in the reference. Do not use both titles.

  • Right: Dr. John Smith is president of The University of Texas at Dallas.
  • Right: President John Smith of UT Dallas.
  • Wrong: President Dr. John Smith of UT Dallas.
  • Wrong: Senior Lecturer Dr. Jane Nguyen.
  • Right: Dr. Jane Nguyen, senior lecturer in the School of Natural Sciences and Mathematics.

Emeritus: Lowercase and never abbreviate associate professor, assistant professor, professor or senior lecturer before a name. But capitalize Professor Emeritus, Associate Professor Emeritus and Distinguished Scholar in Residence Emeritus as a conferred title before a name. Examples: senior lecturer John Smith, associate professor Jane Smith, Professor Emeritus James Garcia.

Endowed professorships/chairs: If the person holds a named professorship or chair, such as an endowed professorship, capitalize the title whether it precedes or follows the name. Examples: Dr. John Doe, Dee Wyly Distinguished University Chair in BrainHealth, Ashbel Smith Professor Dr. Jan Turner.

Others: Titles are written lowercased if they follow names or are used to help describe or identify people further. Examples: Dr. Jane Smith, associate professor of neuroscience. Dr. Jan Rodriguez, head of the cognitive neuroscience program in the School of Behavioral and Brain Sciences. For general titles, that can be lengthy in sentences, the lowercase title can be included in front of the name. Example: senior lecturer John Smith, associate professor Jane Smith.

When the title includes the specific name of an academic or administrative unit, the name of the unit is capitalized. Examples: Jane Doe, assistant director, advising and recruiting in the Teacher Development Center. John Garcia, program coordinator for New Student Programs.

Note: Keep titles consistent in captions and text throughout the publication.


university name

Use The University of Texas at Dallas in first reference. UT Dallas or University are preferred for subsequent references. Use UTD if necessary — to avoid repetition or to save space — but use it sparingly. Do not use periods after any of the capitalized letters in either case. “The” is always capitalized in the full name of the University.

  • Right: UT Dallas excels in many types of research.
  • Right: Our University is at the forefront of nanotechnology.
  • Wrong: The University in Austin offers chess scholarships.
  • Wrong: U.T.D. has one of the top chess programs in the nation.
  • Right: She attended The University of Texas at Dallas.

University of Texas System

When referencing the UT System, use “The University of Texas System” on first reference and “the UT 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.

Go to the UT System’s Writing Style Guide for more information.



The Whoosh is the UT Dallas community’s signature sign to show campus unity and spirit. For the “OK” sign resembling a tiny shooting comet, use Mini Whoosh.