Editorial Style Guide
The University of Tennessee System Office of Communications and Marketing maintains the department’s editorial style to ensure consistency and professionalism in publications and official information shared with the public. The UT System Administration style guidelines are to be followed in the interest of professionalism required in serving the president, administration and the UT Board of Trustees.
The Editorial Style Guide is a resource for preparing written material for distribution to or publication by the news media, on the UT System website, within internal broadcast email to employees, newsletters, brochures and other official communication on behalf of UT System Administration.
It is intended to ensure consistent and correct usage of titles and acronyms in reference to UT campuses, institutes, offices, facilities and their leaders.
Generally, this guide follows Associated Press style, particularly for spelling, capitalization, abbreviations, and the like. Additional guidelines have been prepared for specific University entities, offices or titles not specifically addressed in AP style.
In the interest of supporting the University as a whole and helping readers easily understand written material, all divisions, departments, and offices should strive to follow these guidelines. Our office is available to review and edit written material, both to assist in style consistency and to help resolve questions of grammar, punctuation, and related matters.
If you have questions or suggestions for the Editorial Style Guide, call the office of Communications and Marketing at 865-974-8184 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Table of Contents
- University of Tennessee Information
- Use of Graphics
- Board of Trustees and Committees
- Buildings and Names of Structures
- College Names Within the University
- Elected Officials and Governing Bodies
- Federal, State
- G.I. Bill
- Political Parties, Philosophies
- Seasons of the Year, Semesters, Holidays
- Titles of Departments and Administrative Areas
- Titles of Works
- Spelling & Hyphenation
- URLs and Website Names
- University Policy [Publications, Non-Discrimination Statements]
University of Tennessee Information
The University of Tennessee is the official name of the statewide system of higher education formed in 1968, led by the UT president and governed by the UT Board of Trustees. UT System Administration offices are located on the University of Tennessee, Knoxville campus. The campuses in Knoxville, Chattanooga, Martin and Memphis are headed by chancellors and unified in their mission of teaching, research and public service.
In addition to the four degree-granting universities, the UT System includes the statewide institutes of agriculture and public service, UT Extension with an office in every Tennessee county, and numerous other facilities dedicated to fulfilling the System’s statewide mission.
Each campus, and the Space Institute at Tullahoma, has “UT” in its name. This is a distinct advantage for UT visibility, but the complexity of the system makes it important to use consistent terminology when communicating about the University and its campuses.
Referring to the Institution
- University of Tennessee: Name of the governing body for the statewide University of Tennessee System. On second and subsequent reference, UT System (capitalized as shown). The UT System may be referred to as “the University” on second or subsequent mention and, if so, University must be capitalized.
- University of Tennessee System Administration: Name of the administrative body. On second and subsequent reference, UT System Administration (capitalized as shown).
Proper names of University of Tennessee System Administration Offices or Departments and senior staff titles
- Office of the President;
UT President Randy Boyd;
- Office of Academic Affairs and Student Success;
Vice President for Academic Affairs and Student Success
- Office of Audit and Compliance;
Chief Audit and Audit and Compliance Officer
- Office of Finance;
Chief Financial Officer
- Office of Communications and Marketing;
Associate Vice President for Communications and Marketing
- Executive Vice President and Chief Operations Officer
- Office of the General Counsel;
General Counsel Matthew Scoggins
- Office of Government Relations and Advocacy;
Vice President for Government Relations and Advocacy
- Office of Human Resources;
Chief Human Resources Officer Brian Dickens
- Office of Research;
Vice President for Research, Outreach and Economic Development
- University of Tennessee National Alumni Association
When referring to a University of Tennessee system entity, do so as shown below. Use full name on first mention and partial name indicated on second or subsequent reference.
Each campus or institute headed by a chancellor or vice president is listed with appropriate title and name of chief executive. Interim positions should always lead with ‘interim’. Style for all names of people is last name only on second reference.
For specific information on referencing colleges, departments or units within the following entities, click the institution name to visit each’s website and reference naming or editorial guidelines found there.
- University of Tennessee, Knoxville;
UT Knoxville or UTK;
Chancellor Donde Plowman
- University of Tennessee at Chattanooga;
UT Chattanooga or UTC;
Chancellor Steve Angle
- University of Tennessee at Martin;
UT Martin or UTM;
Chancellor Keith Carver
- University of Tennessee Health Science Center;
UT Health Science Center or UTHSC.
Chancellor Steve Schwab
- University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture;
UT Institute of Agriculture or UTIA;
Senior Vice President/Senior Vice Chancellor for Agriculture Tim Cross
- University of Tennessee Institute for Public Service;
Vice President Herb Byrd
- University of Tennessee Space Institute;
UT Space Institute or UTSI;
Executive Director Mark Whorton
- University of Tennessee Alumni Association;
UT Alumni Association or UTAA.
- University of Tennessee Foundation;
UT Foundation or UTFI.
- University of Tennessee Research Foundation;
UT Research Foundation or UTRF.
- The University of Tennessee Research Park at Cherokee Farm
UT Research Park
- University of Tennessee Advocacy Council
UT Advocacy Council.
- University of Tennessee President’s Council;
UT President’s Council.
‘Doctor’ or ‘Dr.’
Use Dr. in first reference as a formal title before the name of an individual who holds a doctor of dental surgery, doctor of medicine, doctor of optometry, doctor of osteopathic medicine, doctor of podiatric medicine, or doctor of veterinary medicine: Dr. Jonas Salk.
The form Dr., or Drs., in a plural construction, applies to all first-reference uses before a name, including direct quotations. Do not continue the use of Dr. in subsequent references.
Do not use Dr. before the names of individuals who hold other types of doctoral degrees. Instead, when necessary or appropriate for a specific audience: Cassandra Karoub, who has a doctorate in mathematics, was lead researcher. In a list: Stephanie D’Ercole, Ph.D.[Contents]
Use of Graphics
If the University of Tennessee System visual identity mark appears on the cover of a publication or on any other printed matter that has words on it, the words UT System or University of Tennessee System need not be used on the same page as part of a title, heading, or cover text. The mark serves as the identifier.
Proper names are always capitalized.
“The” is not part of the University of Tennessee proper name and, thus, is not capitalized other than as may be required at the beginning of a sentence.
The title of a position is capitalized when it precedes the name of the person who holds the position. Titles are not capitalized when they follow names.
- University of Tennessee President Joe Johnson
- Joe Johnson, president of the University of Tennessee
- UT Vice President for Academic Affairs and Student Success Linda Martin
- Linda Martin, UT vice president for academic affairs and student success
- University of Tennessee Chief Financial Officer David Miller
- David Miller, UT chief financial officer
Board of Trustees and Committees
Used as a proper name, Board of Trustees and UT Trustees are capitalized, as are committee names, such as Advancement and Public Affairs committee. The word committee is not capitalized.
The following capitalizations are used in reference to titles of members of the board:
Trustee Kara Lawson; Chair John Compton; Audit and Compliance Committee Chair Amy Miles
When not in reference to a specific person, capitalizations are not used:
- The vice chair called the meeting to order.
- Each new trustee completes an orientation session.
Buildings and Names of Structures
Proper names of buildings, thoroughfares and monuments are capitalized:
the White House; the Capitol (when referring to the U.S. Capitol or state Capitol buildings); Andy Holt Tower; the Min Kao Engineering Building; the Patten House; the Tom Elam Library; the Student Activities Center; and so on.
College Names Within the University
Uppercase College when used as part of the proper name of a college; lowercase otherwise.
- Joe was accepted into the UT College of Veterinary Medicine.
- Academic advisers help students choose appropriate college courses.
Elected Officials and Governing Bodies
Lowercase when used alone:
Most senate incumbents are in favor of the change.
Capitalize when used as the proper name:
U.S. Senate; U.S. House of Representatives; U.S. Congress.
Capitalize when used in reference to a member and his or her title:
U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander;U.S. Rep. Steve Cohen.
Do not refer to members as nor use as titles “Congressman” or “Congresswoman.”
Tennessee General Assembly:
Capitalize, but do not capitalize the informal name, Tennessee legislature.
Capitalize the proper names of the two legislative bodies:
Tennessee Senate; Tennessee House.
Capitalize a member’s title in reference to a specific individual, but otherwise lowercase:
- We met state Sen. Richard Briggs.
- We met the newly elected state senator.
Lowercase: The program is awaiting state and federal funding.
Capitalize, periods on G.I., no space; capitalize Bill.
Capitalize in reference to a specific, named campus event:
UT Chattanooga Homecoming 2018.
Lowercase in general use:
Anne looked forward to the family’s homecoming.
Political Parties, Philosophies
Names of national and international political organizations, movements, and alliances and of members of political parties are capitalized, but not the words political party, movement and platform.
Seasons of the Year, Semesters, Holidays
The four seasons are not capitalized.
Semesters are not capitalized: fall semester, spring break, summer session.
Religious holidays are capitalized, as are most secular holidays.
Titles of Departments and Administrative Areas
On first reference, use the full name of a department or administrative area, and capitalize all words except prepositions. On second and subsequent reference, when only a partial name is used, lowercase as shown.
- The Office of Human Resources is conducting the executive search.
- The human resources department will contact prospective candidates.
Titles of Works
Capitalize all words except prepositions, unless the author did otherwise or the AP style manual requires otherwise.[Contents]
Words or Numerals
Generally, use words in reference to numbers one through nine, and numerals in reference to numbers 10 and above.
- All four sessions were attended by at least 15 people.
- Three finalists were chosen from the pool of 52 candidates.
Numerals are always used to refer to time of day, dates, ages, percentages—with “percent” always spelled out, not indicated by the percent sign:
- Classes for children 6 and older begin at 8 am on May 10.
- Tuition is not expected to increase more than 3 percent.
If the specific age is used as an adjective or as a substitute for a noun, it should be hyphenated. Don’t use apostrophes when describing an age range.
- A 21-year-old student.
- The student is 21 years old.
- The girl, 8, has a brother, 11.
- The contest is for 18-year-olds.
- He is in his 20s.
Generally, the same guideline applies as in words and numerals. Use words to refer to ordinal numbers first through ninth, and numeral versions of ordinal numbers 10th and above.
- He graduated first in his class, while his twin brother graduated 20th.
- All of the children in fifth grade were mentored by students in 10th grade.
More and Over
Over and under indicate place. Greater than and less than indicate degree. Use more than or fewer than to reference a numeric value.
- Fewer than 4 percent of new hires decline healthcare benefits.
- More than 5,000 graduates became donors within five years of graduation.
- Less than half of all freshmen live off campus.
Use figures: 865-555-1500. Use hyphens, not periods.
For toll-free numbers: 800-111-1000.
If extension numbers are needed, use a comma to separate the main number from the extension: 865-555-1500, ext. 2.
Always use figures in numbered addresses. Abbreviate Ave., Blvd., and St. and directional cues when used with a numbered address. Always spell out other words such as alley, drive and road. If the street name or directional cue is used without a numbered address, it should be capitalized and spelled out.
If a street name is a number, spell out First through Ninth and use figures for 10th and higher.
Examples of correctly formatted addresses:
- 101 N. Grant St.
- Northwestern Avenue
- South Ninth Street
- 102 S. 10th St.
- 605 Woodside Drive
No apostrophe: 1920s, 1980s, mid-1970s
Spell out thirties, forties, fifties, sixties
Spelling & Hyphenation
Don’t hyphenate compounds with words ending in ly:
Highly regarded leader; ridiculously long half-time show; beautifully decorated office; quickly drawn character.
Hyphenate words in phrases used as adjectives before a noun.
- The proposal was a last-ditch effort at compromise.
- The candidate produced a mile-long list of ideas.
- one-time bonus; 100-yard dash; one-foot margin; full-time employee; 30-day pay period; eight-week session.
When a number and unit of measurement are used adjectivally, they are hyphenated
12-inch ruler; nineteenth-century painter.
Hyphenate half compounds
- Robert was only half-awake during the lecture.
- Mike refused to consider the half-baked request.
- Halfhearted and halfway are spelled without hyphenating.
Any like words can be spelled without hyphenating.
Childlike; lifelike; birdlike.
Self words should be hyphenated.
Self-employed; self-serving; self-sufficient
Use a hyphen with all proper nouns and wide:
Don’t hyphenate other wide words: statewide, nationwide, countywide.
Multi words are not hyphenated unless such spelling makes for awkward reading.
- Multimedia; multifaceted; multipurpose
- Multi-talented; multi-generational
- nondegree-seeking student
Spelling, hyphenation and usage rules for common terms
- adviser, except in the case of a job title: Special Advisor to the President on Diversity and Inclusion
- child care (two words)
- classwork: one word; course work, two words
- daytime; nighttime
- decision-making process; the process of decision making
- fundraiser; fundraising
- 15-week semester
- grade-point average
- healthcare (one word)
- Internet (capitalized)
- lifelong (adjective)
(daylong; monthlong; weeklong; yearlong)
- life span (noun); life-span (adjective)
- long-range (adjective)
- long-term (adjective)
- longtime (adjective)
- on-site (hyphenate as adjective or adverb)
- ultra don’t hyphenate: ultrafine, ultraviolet
- under don’t hyphenate: underline, underfunded
- workforce, workplace, workstation; but work site
Off Campus, On Campus
As adverb, no hyphens; as adjective, hyphens.
- The students rented an apartment off campus for the summer.
- On-campus space is unavailable.
URLs and Website Names
Preferred practice is to drop “http://”, “https://” or “www” in URL (web address) references. Most web servers will accept URLs with or without “www” and redirect as necessary, or the “www” prefix may conflict with another subdomain (example: news.tennessee.edu).
There may be exceptions in cases when the URL won’t work for certain browsers if the “www” is not inserted as part of the address. It is recommended that the URL be tested and confirmed — including whether the use of “www” is necessary — before it is included in written communication. Treat each case as practical considerations demand.[Contents]
University Policy [Publications, Non-Discrimination Statements]
The University of Tennessee is an EEO/AA/Title VI/Title IX/Section 504/ADA/ADEA institution in the provision of its education and employment programs and services. All qualified applicants will receive equal consideration for employment without regard to race, color, national origin, religion, sex, pregnancy, marital status, sexual orientation, gender identity, age, physical or mental disability, or covered veteran status.[Contents]