Skip to content

Editorial Guide

Why is it important to be consistent with the UW style and brand?

Consistency gives our audience confidence in the University of Washington. It sends a message that the UW is a unified whole, deliberate and intelligent in how it communicates. It shows that the UW is authoritative, intentional and thoughtful.

Questions? Contact editorial@uw.edu.

Being consistent — whether in our editorial style, our voice, how we avoid jargon, the way our name is written or even how we use punctuation — shows our audience that there’s competence behind the words, and that the message is deliberate and thought-out. Consistency strengthens our reputation and makes the brand more recognizable.

Of course, there are times to make exceptions. For instance, a social media post may use slang that wouldn’t be appropriate in a formal report or press release. And while we don’t overuse exclamation points, a “Congrats, graduates!” might be just the right tone for the context. But exceptions should (by definition) be occasional. The more consistently we express UW editorial style, the stronger, clearer and more recognizable our brand will be.

University of Washington editorial style is based on Associated Press style. The main references for all UW communications are the current editions of the AP Stylebook and Webster’s New World College Dictionary.

Other sources, including The Chicago Manual of Style and The Gregg Reference Manual, were consulted in creating the UW’s house style guidelines. These may be used as secondary sources if our house style and AP Style don’t address an issue you’re researching. The AP Stylebook and other references are available through the UW Libraries.

Italics are used throughout this guide to indicate examples and highlight key terms; they don’t mean that the word or phrase should be written in italics.

editorial

Capitalization

  • In general, avoid unnecessary capitalization.
  • Headlines: Use sentence case — capitalize only the first word and any proper nouns.
  • Titles: Lowercase formal titles when used alone or when set off from a name by commas (Joe Husky, dean of the College of Engineering, will open the meeting). Capitalize formal titles when they precede a name (Dean Husky).
    • See Word List entry on academic titles.
  • Boards, committees: Lowercase terms such as board of directors (Joe Husky is on the board of directors at ABC Corp.) unless it’s part of a proper name (UW Alumni Association Board of Directors).
    • See word list entry on committees, boards and leadership terms.
  • Departments: Capitalize the formal name of an academic department (the University of Washington Department of Communication); lowercase the informal name except for words that are proper nouns or adjectives (the geography department, the law school, the Italian department).
    • See word list entry on departments, colleges.
  • Capitalize places, buildings and monuments such as Suzzallo LibraryMary Gates Hallthe Avethe QuadUniversity Bridge, etc.
  • Lowercase academic season and quarters: autumn quarter, winter quarter 2019.
  • Lowercase state when referencing the state of Washington or Washington state.
    • See word list entry on Washington state.

centers, programs (capitalization of)

  • Capitalize center or program only if it is part of the formal name: Simpson Center for the Humanities; Latin American Studies Program; students in the speech pathology program will…

certificate, certificate program

  • Capitalize the formal name of a certificate program: Certificate in Project Management, Certificate in Audio Production.
  • Do not capitalize program unless it is part of the formal name. Unless using the full certificate name, do not capitalize the area of study nor the word certificate in narrative text: The Certificate in Editing program begins this fall. The editing certificate program includes a number of guest speakers.

committees, boards and leadership terms (capitalization of)

  • Capitalize committee only when it is part of a formal name: the Arboretum and Botanical Garden Committee.
  • Lowercase board of directors unless it is part of a formal name: UW Alumni Association Board of Directors. The board of directors will discuss the issue.

departments, colleges (capitalization of)

  • Capitalize the formal name of an academic department or college: the University of Washington Department of Communication, College of Arts & Sciences.
  • Lowercase the informal name (except for words that are proper nouns or adjectives): the geography department, the history department, the law school, the Italian department, the department of English.

Numbers

a.m., p.m.

  • Lowercase with periods.
  • Include a space between the numeral and a.m. or p.m.: 10 a.m.

dates

  • Use cardinal, not ordinal, numbers: April 1, not April 1stJuly 4, not July 4th.
  • Use a comma before and after the year if placing a full date (month + day + year) within a sentence: The board met on September 25, 2014, to review the report.
    • Note that while AP style uses abbreviations for months (Sept.), it is also acceptable to spell out the entire month in text when space permits.
  • Do not use a comma if only listing the month and year: The board will meet in December 2015.

fiscal years

  • The UW’s fiscal year runs from July 1 to June 30. It can be named with both calendar years or with just the closing year: The fiscal year beginning July 1, 2024, can be referred to as fiscal year 2025, fiscal year 2024–25, FY2025, or FY25.

numerals

  • Spell out one through nine.
  • Use figures for 10 and above and whenever preceding a unit of measure or referring to ages: the 9-year-old buildingthe 5-year-old boy. Also use figures for academic course numbers: History 6Philosophy 101.
    • Exception: spell out casual expressions, such as a picture is worth a thousand words.
  • Spell out numbers that begin a sentence (or recast the sentence so it doesn’t begin with a number): Forty people attended the lecture.

percent

  • In running text, use figures and the % sign: The poll shows that 45% of students agree with the initiative.
    • In charts, graphs and other visual mediums (such as ads), as well as social media and other communications where space is limited, the percent sign is also preferred. In these cases, it may be acceptable to start a full sentence with a numeral: 33% of Huskies are first-generation college students.
  • Percent takes a singular verb when standing alone or when a singular word follows an of construction: The professor says that 70% is a passing grade. It takes a plural verb when a plural word follows an of construction: She notes that 50% of the attendees were women.

graduating year

  • When using the shortened two-digit year, use a true apostrophe before the year — not a C-shaped single opening quotation mark: ’25. The apostrophe is shaped like a backwards In Mac OS it’s typed with Opt-Shift-] (Option-Shift-right-bracket). In Windows, it can be typed with alt 0146.
  • It’s appropriate to identify the graduating years of alumni and current students, usually on first reference.
  • Examples showing appropriate usage:
    • Jay Inslee, ’73, gave a speech at the event.
    • Clara McCarty, B.A. 1876, was the University’s first graduate.
    • Congrats, Class of ’28!

Punctuation

ampersands

  • Use only if part of a formal name. Otherwise spell out andCollege of Arts & Sciences, UW Professional & Continuing Education, computing and software systems.

commas (serial comma)

  • Do not use a serial comma in a simple series of nouns or phrases: red, white and blue (no comma before “and”).
  • Use a serial comma before the terminal conjunction in a complex series or in other cases where the comma provides clarity and improves readability: UW Medicine provides primary and specialty care to patients throughout the Pacific Northwest, trains medical professionals and scientists, and conducts biomedical and health services research.

dashes and hyphens

  • A hyphen (-) connects two words when they function as one word — most often, as an adjective describing a noun. Examples: life-changing experience, cutting-edge technology. Use a hyphen when the compound comes before the noun, but usually not when it’s after the noun, unless necessary for clarity. Examples: small-business owner, but she owns a small business. Exception: No hyphen used in compounds with -ly adverbs: a quickly changing situation, a beautifully painted mural. See AP Stylebook for more detailed guidance.
  • An en dash (named because it’s the width of the letter “n”) is used between ranges of numbers or dates, and between adjectival phrases containing two-word concepts: 2011–2014pages 226–229Seattle–San Francisco flight.
    • Do not use spaces before or after the en dash.
    • In text, use the words from and to instead of a dash: He attended every home football game from 1980 to 1990.
  • An em dash (the width of the letter “m”) has many uses, including: to set off a nonessential element that requires special emphasis, to set off a series with commas within a phrase or to indicate an abrupt change. Shyam Gollakota, an assistant professor in the wireless lab at the UW, is developing battery-free devices — some just half the size of a credit card — that can reflect and absorb surrounding radio signals.
    • Use a space on either side of the em dash.
    • When a parenthetical phrase in the middle of a sentence is set off with dashes, the phrase must be nonrestrictive — that is, the sentence would still make sense if you removed the parenthetical phrase. If that’s not the case, then em-dashes are not the right solution.
    • In typesetting, especially display text, it’s best to avoid starting a line with an em dash; better to have the dash fall at the end of the previous line.
    • To maintain the deliberate, emphatic effect of em dashes, use them sparingly and thoughtfully.

ellipsis ( … )

  • Use three periods with a space before and after the ellipsis: And then …

Word usage and style

active voice vs. passive voice

  • Use active voice whenever possible: Mr. Husky gave a generous gift to the College of Arts & Sciences (active) instead of The generous gift was given to the College of Arts & Sciences by Mr. Husky (passive).

composition titles

  • Capitalize principal words in composition titles, including prepositions and conjunctions of four or more letters (also known as title case).
  • Do not italicize or use quotation marks with newspaper or magazine names. Capitalize the in the name if that is the publication’s preferred style.
  • Use quotation marks around titles of books, songs, computer games, movies, operas, plays, poems, long musical compositions, television programs, specific episodes of television programs, lectures, speeches and works of art.
    • Do not use quotation marks with books that are primarily catalogs of reference material (Webster’s New World Dictionary of the American Language); holy books, such as the Bible; and certain historical documents, such as the U.S. Constitution (or just “the Constitution”) and the Declaration of Independence.
    • Do not use quotation marks with course titles: Introduction to Anthropology; Concepts in Printmaking;

Computer Science Principles.

contractions

  • Use contractions to maintain a conversational tone when it’s appropriate for the audience and platform.

gender-specific language

  • Avoid language that indicates gender unless it is truly necessary; never assume gender.
  • Use chair to refer to the head of a committee, unless the official title is chairman or chairwoman: Was a new chair elected at the meeting?
  • Use spokesperson instead of spokesman/spokeswoman, unless the person’s gender preference is known.

abbreviations and acronyms

  • Spell out for first citation and follow with the abbreviation or acronym in parentheses: The Center for Engineering Learning & Teaching (CELT) adopted new procedures. CELT focuses its research on …
  • Avoid overuse of acronyms; include only if necessary to clarify multiple references in copy or if the organization/program/etc. is more commonly known by an acronym.

headlines, headings and subheads

  • Capitalize only the first word and any proper nouns (also known as sentence case).
  • If a colon is used, capitalize the first word after the colon.

names of people

  • In narrative text, use a person’s full name at first reference.
  • For subsequent references, use only the person’s last name, per AP Style and common journalistic practice. There are exceptions where the first name may be used on its own in subsequent references, but this is much more casual. Consider which option is most appropriate for your audience and platform, and stay consistent throughout.

photo captions

  • Use the present tense: Jane Husky poses with Dubs during W Day festivities.

academic courses

  • Capitalize formal names of academic courses per standard capitalization rules for composition titles (do not enclose in quotation marks): History of Architecture; Basic Concepts of New Media.
  • Enclose more descriptive names of courses in quotation marks and use standard capitalization rules for composition titles: “The Arts of Japan: A Visual and Cultural History.”

academic degrees

  • Avoid degree abbreviations if possible. If degree information is essential to the story, try to embed more descriptive, humanizing language in the text: “UW gynecologic oncologist Jane Husky addressed the group” instead of “Jane Husky, M.D., addressed the group.”
  • Use an apostrophe in bachelor’s degreea master’s, etc. This less formal usage is preferred over Bachelor of Arts in XMaster of Science in X, etc.
  • Use periods when abbreviating: B.A., B.S., M.A., M.S., Ph.D. (Note no periods in MBA.) Use abbreviations only when it is necessary to identify many individuals by degree on first reference and the preferred descriptive method is too cumbersome.
    • Use abbreviations only after a full name and set the abbreviation off by commas: Jane Husky, Ph.D., spoke at the conference.
  • Do not combine a courtesy title with an academic degree.
    • Incorrect: Dr. Jane Husky, Ph.D.
    • Correct: Jane Husky, Ph.D. or Dr. Jane Husky.

academic season and quarters

  • Lowercase: autumn quarter or winter quarter 2019.

academic titles

  • Capitalize and spell out formal titles such as chancellor, chair, dean or provost when they precede a name. Lowercase elsewhere.
    • E.g., Jane Husky, provost at the University of Washington, studied biology. Before the lecture, Provost Jane Husky will address the group.
  • Lowercase modifiers such as department.
    • E.g., … department Chairwoman Jane Husky.

campus references and UW brands

  • Spell out the University of Washington on first reference.
    • In the noun form, always include the article (the): This year, the University of Washington will host the conference. Researchers at the UW are working to cure diseases.
    • In the adjective form, omit the article (the): University of Washington students traveled to Olympia to meet with legislators. Renowned for international collaboration, UW researchers are leading the way.
  • Acceptable second references are the UWthe University and Washington.
  • Capitalize University when referring specifically to the UW: The University will host HuskyFest this weekend. At the meeting, University leaders discussed …
  • Use the University of Washington when referring to the Seattle campus or all three campuses as a whole.
  • Never use UW Seattle or main campus.
  • On first reference, use the University of Washington Tacoma and the University of Washington Bothell. On subsequent references, use UW Tacoma and UW Bothell (note no the in the shortened reference): UW Tacoma is an urban-serving university. More than 55 degrees are available at UW Bothell.
    • Do not use the term branch campus.
    • Tacoma campus and Bothell campus are also acceptable (do not capitalize campus).
    • Limit the use of Seattle campus. Instead try rephrasing: At the University of Washington in Seattle …
    • Avoid using UWT or UWB except in internal documentation.
  • See entry on UW Medicine.
  • See entry on UW Online.
  • See entry on UW Professional & Continuing Education, UWPCE.

geographic regions

  • Lowercase north, south, northeast, etc., when they indicate compass direction: They drove east.
  • Capitalize when they designate regions: The Pacific Northwest is a hub of innovation. The storm swept across the Midwest.

majors/minors

  • Lowercase except for proper nouns or adjectives: The award recipient majored in anthropology and minored in European studies.

quarters, terms, academic seasons (capitalization of)

  • Lowercase academic quarters: spring quarter, winter quarter.

rankings

  • Use No. as the abbreviation for number to indicate position or rank: The UW is ranked No. 1 in XYZ.
  • For rankings where the UW does not rank first, the preferred usage is: According to XYZ, the UW ranks third in …

trademarks

  • The symbols ® and ™, often used in ads and product packaging, should be included at first reference but are not necessary in subsequent references.

Word list

adviser

adviser

  • Not advisor. (Note exception: UW Medicine uses patient advisors.)

alumna, alumnae, alumni, alumnus

  • Use alumnus (alumni in the plural) when referring to a man who has attended a school; alumna(alumnae in the plural) for a woman.
  • Use alumni when referring to a group of men and women.
  • If degree information is essential to the story, use description in the text rather than listing degree information: Before completing her biochemistry degree in 2012, Jane Husky …
    • If space is too limited for description, such as in a photo caption, include the graduation year after the name with commas on either side: Joe Husky, ’79, accepted the award.
    • See entry on academic degrees.

bachelor’s, bachelor’s degree, B.A., B.F.A., B.S.

  • See entry on academic degrees.

Be Boundless

  • The UW’s tagline. As text within copy, title case (capitalize the first letter of each word): Be Boundless.
  • Do not italicize (only the graphic version is italicized, and it should not be modified in any way).
  • When using the tagline as a graphic element, do not modify the formatting.
  • Lowercase boundless when using the word on its own in copy.

campuswide

  • One word, not hyphenated.

coworker

  • No hyphen (exception to AP style).

dorm/dormitory

  • Use residence hall instead, wherever possible. A “dorm” is a building, while a “residence hall” connotes a living community.

faculty

  • When referring to an academic body, treat faculty as a collective noun taking a singular verb: The UW’s faculty leads the nation in securing research funding.
  • Use faculty members with a plural verb when referring to several individuals: Faculty members in the arts department are restructuring the curriculum.

first-year student(s)

  • Refers to both first-time, full-time college students and transfer students. Use instead of freshman/freshmen, unless referring only to the freshman class.

Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center

  • Previously known as Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center and Seattle Cancer Care Alliance; these names are now out of date and should not be used.
  • “Fred Hutch” OK on second reference. Do not use other shortened forms or nicknames.
  • Examples:
    • Short: Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center is an independent organization that serves as UW Medicine’s cancer program. 
    • Long: Fred Hutch is an independent nonprofit organization that also serves as the cancer program for UW Medicine. This unique relationship allows for enhanced care coordination with one of the world’s leading integrated health systems. 

freshman, freshmen

  • Use the term first-year student(s) whenever possible, unless referring specifically to students in the freshman class.

full-time, full time

  • Hyphenate as an adjective: Many students have full-time jobs.
  • Do not hyphenate as an adverb: She goes to school full time.

fundraiser, fundraising

Harborview Medical Center

  • Use Harborview on second reference. Use HMC on internal documentation only.

health care, health-care

  • Two words as a noun, no hyphen: world-class health care.
  • Hyphenate as an adjective: health-care program.

Health Sciences Center

  • Administrative umbrella designation for the six health sciences schools (dentistry, nursing, medicine, pharmacy, public health and social work) and the affiliated multidisciplinary research centers. Full formal name: Warren G. Magnuson Health Sciences Center.

Husky Experience

  • Capitalize in all instances. For example: The Husky Experience encompasses the transformative educational opportunities that help our students discover their passions.

Huskies

  • Capitalize when referring to UW students, alumni or UW teams: Around the world, Huskies are making a positive impact through community service.

Husky Marching Band

  • Use when referring to the marching band.

Husky Nation

Legislature

  • Capitalize when preceded by the name of a state: the Washington Legislature.
  • Capitalize in subsequent specific references and in constructions such as the 100th Legislature, the state Legislature.
  • Lowercase legislature when it is used generically: No legislature has approved the amendment.

master’s, M.A., M.S.

  • See entry on academic degrees.

MBA

  • Abbreviation for Master of Business Administration; no periods.

off campus, on campus

  • Hyphenate as an adjective: on-campus dining.
  • Do not hyphenate as an adverb: dining off campus.

Pac-12

  • More common way of referring to the Pacific-12 Conference; do not put Pac in all caps.

professor

  • Do not abbreviate.
  • Do not use on second reference unless part of a quotation.

Purple Friday

Purple Pride

Rainier Vista

Red Square

  • The preposition on is typically used when describing an event happening at this location: Join your fellow Huskies on Red Square for W Day, the UW’s birthday celebration.

residence hall

  • Use instead of dorm/dormitory.

Seattle Cancer Care Alliance (SCCA)

  • An alliance between Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Seattle Children’s and UW Medicine. Cancer patients receive inpatient treatments at UW Medical Center and Seattle Children’s.
  • Use SCCA on second reference.
  • When referencing physicians who practice within the SCCA structure, use the UW faculty title: Dr. Barbara Goff, UW professor of obstetrics and gynecology practicing at Seattle Cancer Care Alliance.

Seattle Children’s

  • This is the official name. Use Children’s on second reference.
  • Many of the Seattle Children’s physicians are UW faculty members. Check the UW directory. Preferred format when writing about Seattle Children’s faculty is to use the official UW faculty title: Dr. Robert Smith, UW professor of pediatrics and chief of Seattle Children’s cardiology unit.

startup

  • No hyphen. (Note: This is an AP Style exception to Webster’s New World College Dictionary.)

statewide

student-athlete

  • Include a hyphen, per AP Style.

the Suzzallo Library Reading Room

the Ave

  • Acceptable, more colloquial way to refer to University Way (note no period on Ave).

the Quad

they, them, their (singular)

  • May be used as singular pronouns if an individual prefers them or if their gender identity is unknown.
  • Note that the singular they takes a plural verb: They are majoring in communications.

toward

  • Not towards.

underrepresented

underway

  • Closed up as both an adjective and an adverb, per AP Style.

University of Washington, UW (the)

  • See entry on campus references.

University-wide

  • Hyphenate as an adjective (also note capitalization of University when referring specifically to the UW): the University-wide event.

utilize

  • Avoid as much as possible; in most cases, “utilize” is unnecessarily academic-sounding. “Use” most often serves perfectly well in its place.

UW Bothell

  • See entry on campus references.

UW Cheer and Dance

  • Use when referring to the cheer and/or dance team.

UW Continuum College

  • UW Continuum College expands the reach of the University of Washington with programs that meet the needs of learners at various phases of their lives, including UW Professional & Continuing Education, International & English Language Programs, Summer Youth, the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute and dozens of fee-based degree programs.

UW Educational Outreach, UWEO

  • The former name of the organization now called UW Continuum College.

UW Extension

  • The former name of the organization now called UW Professional & Continuing Education.

UW Medicine

  • The umbrella name (not University of Washington Medicine) for the system. When referencing the UW’s clinical system of care, use UW Medicine health system. On second reference, refer to it as the health system.
  • Currently, UW Medicine comprises the following eight entities:
    • Harborview Medical Center: Use Harborview on second reference. Use HMC on internal documentation only.
    • Northwest Hospital & Medical Center: The full name is preferred, but Northwest Hospital may be used if space is limited. Always use an ampersand instead of andNWHmay be used for internal documentation only.
    • Valley Medical Center: Use Valley Medical Center or VMC on second reference. Never shorten to Valley for internal or external audiences.
    • UW Medical Center: Use University of Washington Medical Center on first reference primarily when communicating with markets outside of Washington, Wyoming, Alaska, Montana and Idaho (WWAMI). Otherwise use UW Medical CenterUWMC is acceptable on second reference for all audiences, but UW Medical Center is preferred. (Note: There is no the in front of UW Medical Center.)
    • UW Neighborhood Clinics: Use neighborhood clinics on second reference. When referencing where a neighborhood clinic is located, write: UW Neighborhood Ravenna Clinic, UW Neighborhood Shoreline Clinic. Do not note the number of clinics in the UW Neighborhood Clinics system; instead note that clinics can be found throughout the Puget Sound region. Where appropriate, list the clinic locations.
    • UW Physicians (UWP): The faculty practice plan. In reference to the organization, use a singular verb: UW Physicians is releasing financial reports. Otherwise, a plural verb is usually better. If the meaning is something other than physician members of the practice plan, it is better to use another form, such as: physicians affiliated with UW Medicine.
    • UW School of Medicine: On second reference, the school may be used.
    • Airlift Northwest: The shortened Airlift is used for internal audiences and on second reference in external communications. Do not use ALNW.
  • See entries on Seattle Children’s and Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center.

UW Medicine at South Lake Union

  • Refer to the South Lake Union campus as UW Medicine at South Lake Union.

UW Online

  • As a branch of UW Professional & Continuing Education (UWPCE), UW Online provides fee-based certificate and degree programs designed for working professionals.
  • Note capitalization of UW Online: As a UW Online student, you’ll join a vibrant learning community of fellow Huskies from around the globe.

UW Professional & Continuing Education, UWPCE

  • UW Professional & Continuing Education is the organization formerly known as UW Extension. UWPCE offers hundreds of courses and certificate and degree programs designed and scheduled to meet the needs of working professionals.
  • The abbreviation UWPCE may be used on second and subsequent references.
  • See entry on UW Online.

UW Tacoma

  • See entry on campus references.

Washington state

  • Lowercase state: state of Washington or Washington state.
  • Note that Washington State refers to the university in Pullman, Washington.

website

  • One word, lowercase.

work-study

yearlong