Writing Style Guide

The Office for University Relations maintains a style guide to promote clarity and consistency in writing about and for the University of Illinois System.  The styles and terms listed in this guide apply to all publications produced by or collaboration with the Office for University Relations, and serve as a guideline for all System Offices.

In most cases, the first reference for styles is the AP Stylebook. The Chicago Manual of Style is also used as a reference. Send comments, suggestions and questions to infosource@uillinois.edu with style guide in the subject line or call 217-333-6400.

A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z

Click on a letter above to jump to that section.

A

administrator/administrators

Use sparingly to avoid confusion with the former University Administration entity. See System Offices and System leadership. The preferred term for the administrators of the System is System leadership or System leaders.

B

Bachelor of arts/science/fine arts degree

No apostrophe s. Use bachelor’s degree when referring to the degree in shortened form. Use BA, BS, or BFA as needed in a list or on a CV, with no periods.

Board of Trustees

Capitalize when using the full name. No capital when only using board.

The Board of Trustees meets every other month, generally on a Thursday.
The board has several committees.
Nine trustees are appointed by the governor. The student trustees are elected by the students on their campuses.

BOT

Shortened form of Board of Trustees. Avoid use. Board is preferred. No capital.

C

campus

Avoid using to refer to the three universities in Urbana, Chicago, and Springfield. These should be referred to as universities, unless the reference is to the grounds. See also university.

UIS recently added a statue of Abraham Lincoln to its campus.

Chicago

May be used when parallel university references are needed, such as powerpoint presentations, graphs, forms, or web links (Urbana, Chicago, Springfield). For preferred first and second references for UIC in running text, see University of Illinois at Chicago.

college (as in the College of Engineering)

Do not capitalize when the full name of a college is not being used.

commas

Serial commas are generally used in print and online publications. News releases adhere to AP style which does not use a serial comma. However, a serial comma may be used “if an integral element of the series requires a conjunction.” AP also supports use of a comma before the concluding conjunction in a complex series of phrases.

The University of Illinois has campuses in Urbana-Champaign, Chicago, and Springfield.
He coordinates projects for economics, fine and applied arts, and earth and environmental sciences.

D

Dashes (—)

Put spaces around 1/m dashes. 

database; dataset

One word.

dates

Except for news releases, dates are used with the month written out and the full year. For news releases, abbreviate the month with a period: Nov.1

For references to only the month and year (no day), do not use a comma. Use a comma after year when the month, date and year are included.

President Ikenberry visited Asia in January 2007.
President Killeen spoke on September 22, 2015, in the Krannert Center for the Performing Arts.

decades

Decades are shown without an apostrophe.  70s, 90s

degrees

No periods in degrees.  PhD, MS, MSF, BS, BA

departments

Titles of departments are capitalized. An academic area of study is not capitalized.

The Department of Sociology is housed in Lincoln Hall.
She decided to major in accountancy, which pleased her parents.

E

ellipsis (…)

Put spaces around ellipsis. If an ellipsis ends a sentence, a period is not required.

email; enewsletter

No hyphen, lowercase e. Do not underline email addresses in printed publications, either in running text or in contact information. 

F

figures

References to figures are capitalized in running text.

The data in Figure 2 indicate that private support for the University of Illinois is increasing.

flagship

Should be used in reference to the U of I System. Do not use to describe one of the three universities.

The University of Illinois System is the flagship system for the state.

G

H

healthcare

One word in all references.

HTML; html 

All capitals when referring to the Hypertext Mark-up Language. Generally lower case when used in a file extension: index.html

I

Internet

Use with initial capital.

J

K

L

lower case entries

Generally, it is preferable to recast the sentence so that the sentence does not start with lower case.

Do not write: uillinois.edu is the URL for the web pages of the University of Illinois.
Instead, write: The URL for the University of Illinois System home page is uillinois.edu.

M

master of science/arts/education degree

No apostrophe s. Use master’s when referring to the degree in shortened form.

N

numbers

Numbers from one through ten are written out. Numbers greater than ten are shown in digits. Follow the Chicago Manual of Style’s mandate and remember that “consistency must sometimes give way to readability.”   Commas are use in numbers with four or more digits.

The University of Illinois System has three universities.
The U of I System offers more than 25 programs of study online.
UIC has more than 29,000 students.

O

online

One word, no hyphen, lower case.

P

percent

Write out the word in running text. Use the percent sign (%) in tables or figures.

Q

R

regional campus

UIC has regional campuses in Peoria and Rockford with College of Medicine and College of Nursing programs and programs from other UIC colleges (pharmacy), and in the Quad Cities (nursing program). When referring only to the UIC College of Medicine at each location, use the abbreviations UICOMP and UICOMR as appropriate on second reference. When referring to the overall resources and programs offered in each city, use regional campus in [city name].

President Killeen recently spoke with business leaders at the U of I System’s regional campus in Peoria.

The UIC colleges of medicine and nursing have programs on the Urbana campus that are generally not referred to as a regional campus given their location. This is also true for nursing’s program on the UIS campus. See satellite program.

S

satellite program or satellite location

The UIC colleges of medicine and nursing have programs on the Urbana campus that are generally not referred to as regional campuses given their location. This is also true for nursing’s program on the UIS campus. These are satellite programs of the colleges of medicine or nursing, etc. Locations of other services and centers that do not reside on any of the main university campuses or the regional campuses may be referred to as satellite locations (e.g. Illini Center in downtown Chicago).

state

Do not capitalize state, which is consistent with AP and Chicago styles.

The state of Illinois has numerous state-supported universities. 
The state Auditor General conducts audits at state universities.

state names 

Use AP-approved two-character state abbreviations.

Springfield

May be used when parallel university references are needed, such as powerpoint presentations, graphs, forms, or web links (Urbana, Chicago, Springfield). For preferred first and second references for UIS in running text, see University of Illinois at Springfield.

System

Initial cap on System in the University of Illinois System. Effective with the approval of the 2016 Strategic Framework, particularly to differentiate from Urbana campus. Use full name of University of Illinois System on first reference and U of I System, System, or University of Illinois on second reference. For cases of parallel reference with the universities, such as in graphs, charts, forms, etc. use System, Urbana, Chicago, Springfield.

Although both AP and Chicago recommend lower case, University of Illinois System style is to use System for references to the U of I System and system for a generic reference. See University of Illinois System.

The University of Illinois System is one of many public university systems throughout the United States.
Tim Killeen serves as president for the U of I System. (second ref)
The new policy applies to all three universities in the System. (second ref.)

System leadership/leaders

When possible, utilize the term leadership in place of “administration.” The leadership of the U of I System consists of: the governing and authoritative body of the Board of Trustees, the President (who reports to the Trustees), the executive vice president, the three university chancellors, and the other vice presidents of the System Offices.

System leaders met yesterday to discuss implementation of the Strategic Framework.
The planning committee intends to propose their ideas for the event to System leadership next week.

System Offices

Term used to describe the offices that report to the President of the University of Illinois System. These offices provide services for the three universities and the System overall. This term should replace the use of “University Administration” and “UA.” Use University of Illinois System Offices on first reference. Acceptable second references include U of I System Offices, System Offices, U of I System offices, and System offices.

Joe, Melanie, and Steve all work for University of Illinois System Offices.
The Office of Governmental Relations is one of the System offices. (2nd ref.)

System-wide

Use initial cap and hyphen. Used to refer to policies, initiatives, etc. that are applicable to all components of the University of Illinois System.

T

tables

See figures.

titles

Titles used before a name are capitalized but titles following a name or used without a name are not.

A strategic planning process was launched by President Tim Killeen during his first year in office.
Walter Knorr, chief financial officer and vice president, is the senior budget official.
The executive director determined that the office would close early due to the storm.
The chancellor and provost from UIS attended the legislative session.

U

UA

Shorthand for University Administration. Do not use. See System Offices.

UI LABS

All caps, two words. Initiative launched in late 2012 by the Office of the Vice President for Research. Initiative was funded in February 2014. In this case, UI refers to university and industry.

UIAA

Shorthand for University of Illinois Alumni Association. Use the full name on first reference. UIAA uses UI Alumni Association in some cases, but System offices should use the Alumni Association or UIAA for subsequent references.

UICOMP

University of Illinois College of Medicine at Peoria. Use the full name on first reference.

UICOMR

University of Illinois College of Medicine at Rockford. Use the full name on first reference.

UICOMU

University of Illinois College of Medicine at Urbana. Use the full name on first reference. Refers to the UIC College of Medicine satellite location in Urbana (not to be confused with Carle Illinois College of Medicine).

UIF

Shorthand for University of Illinois Foundation. Use the full name on first reference. On second reference, either UIF or the Foundation is acceptable.

UI Health

Use full name of University of Illinois Hospital & Health Sciences System on first reference, and UI Health on second reference. UI Health includes the hospital, clinics, and UIC health sciences colleges.

university

Lowercase university for a generic reference. Do not use alone with an initial cap to refer to the System.

President Killeen was among the university leaders in attendance at the national conference. 

University of Illinois System

Effective with the approval of the 2016 Strategic Framework, this is the proper way to identify the entire organization. Acceptable second references are: U of I System, System, or University of Illinois on second reference. See System.

The University of Illinois System is regarded as the premiere public university system for the state of Illinois. The value of a University of Illinois degree to its graduates is indisputable.

U of I

Shorthand for University of Illinois to be used in second references. No punctuation. Do not use UI (although this is used by some media outlets and some units, such as UI Health).

The University of Illinois System plays a vital role in economic development. Nearly $14 billion dollars is contributed to the state economy by the U of I System.

Note that some publications produced by units within the university in Urbana consider U of I to refer to that university. System offices should use U of I at Urbana-Champaign.

University of Illinois at Chicago

Full name is preferred on first reference in running text. Preferred second reference and abbreviation is UIC. Also acceptable on second reference is the university in Chicago. For parallel references in some cases, see Chicago. 

University of Illinois at Springfield

Official name of the university in Springfield. Full name is preferred on first reference in running text, and UIS on second reference. The university in Springfield is also an acceptable second reference. In 2009, UIS leaders dropped the “at” from their name. However, the official name of the institution still includes the “at” and should be used when referring to this university. For certain cases of parallel references, see Springfield.

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Use full name on first reference. Preferred second references include: U of I at Urbana-Champaignthe university in Urbana-Champaign, and Urbana-Champaign. Using Urbana without -Champaign in these instances is also acceptable. Acceptable, but not preferred, second reference choices also include Illinois and UIUC*.

The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign has conducted leading research in the area of wearable electronics for healthcare monitoring. Corporations are now partnering with many Urbana researchers for application development.
The university in Urbana-Champaign features the only College of Law in the U of I System. 

*UIUC should not be used in official publications or external communications. Use only when necessary when needed for parallels with UIC and UIS (charts and graphs, for example). In these cases, consider using Urbana, Chicago, Springfield. See Urbana or Urbana-Champaign. 

Urbana or Urbana-Champaign

May be used when parallel university references are needed, such as presentations, graphs, forms, web links, etc. (Urbana Chicago Springfield). Also an acceptable second reference for the university in running text. For preferred first and second references in running text, see University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Do not use Champaign-Urbana to refer to the university. The university was first established in Urbana and later expanded to Champaign, thus the order in the name.

URLs

Do not include http:// unless the server name is such that an element of confusion is introduced when those characters are not included. In print publications, URLs should be shown in black, not blue, and should not be underlined. The default pale blue of URLs in MS Word does not reproduce well and gets paler when copied. If a URL is at the end of a sentence, include the ending punctuation.  If a URL must be split across two lines of text, always split after a slash and introduce no new punctuation. 

Additional information can be found online at www.uic.edu/ cuppa/upa/.

U.S.

Use periods when abbreviating United States.

V

W

web; web page; website

Use lowercase. Web page is two words. Website is one word, no hyphen.

World Wide Web; WWW

Do not use.

X

Y

Z