Editorial Guide

The UNC Charlotte Editorial Style Guide offers a set of “rules” for creating consistent and high-quality content published by The University of North Carolina at Charlotte, and in doing so helps the University establish and maintain credibility among its various audiences. Its purpose is to simplify and expedite the writing, editing and proofreading of blogs, brochures, catalogs, fliers, marquee images, magazines, newsletters, posters, press releases, websites and other communication pieces, and resolve questions that often arise during their development.

This style guide conforms to best practices of today’s academic, public relations and news authorities, following conventions outlined in the Associated Press Stylebook (with some institutional customization) and Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary. Academic publications produced by UNC Charlotte faculty and staff members such as monographs, scholarly research, journal articles, books or dissertations should follow accepted editorial style preferences of academia and/or UNC Charlotte’s Office of Academic Affairs.

To make their intended impact, these rules should be followed most of the time; occasionally, however, bending a rule may make more sense than following it. In all matters concerning editorial style, consistency, clarity and accessibility are priority considerations.

Dates, Days of the Week and Months

  • Capitalize and spell out days of the week. Capitalize and spell out the month if used alone or with only the year: January, February 2018. Abbreviate months with specific dates: Jan. 1, Oct. 25. Abbreviate months as Jan., Feb., Aug., Sept., Oct., Nov., Dec; never abbreviate months with five or fewer letters: March, April, May, June and July.
  • For tabular material, it is acceptable to use three-letter forms without periods: Jan, Feb, Mar, Apr, May, Jun, Jul, Aug, Sep, Oct, Nov, Dec.
  • For dates, use the month and date only: The event will take place July 15. The July 15 show has been canceled. Use st, nd, rd, or th only for casual references: See you on the 15th.
  • When a phrase lists only a month and a year (March 2019), do not separate with a comma. If the month, date and year appear, use a comma before and after the year: Return financial aid applications by the March 30, 2023, deadline.
  • Use the year with the month only if referring to a year other than the current one: More than 4,000 students graduated in December 2019. UNC Charlotte will celebrate its 75th anniversary in September.
  • Use a hyphen to show a range of dates; do not repeat the first two numbers of the year if the second year is part of the same century as the first: 1985-86, 2007-15, 1995-2010.
  • Times come before days and dates: at 4 p.m., Friday; at 9 a.m., Monday, June 7.
  • Use numerals for decades: the 1960s; the ’60s.

Latin Abbreviations

  • e.g. and i.e.
    • In each of these cases, set off the abbreviation with parentheses and insert a comma after the un-italicized abbreviation: The abbreviation e.g. stands for exempli gratia, meaning for example: Most UNC Charlotte students are from southeastern states (e.g., North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia). The abbreviation i.e. stands for id est, which means that is (in other words): Our slides are due by 5 p.m., Friday (i.e., We need to submit our edits no later than 4 p.m., Thursday).
  • Etc.
    • Avoid using etc. If items are not important enough to list, do not include them. Incorrect: Students are involved in sports, clubs, research, etc. Correct: Students are involved in activities such as sports, clubs and research.

Mailing Addresses

  • In running text, use the abbreviations Ave., Blvd. and St. only with a numbered address: 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. 
  • Spell them out and capitalize when part of a formal street name without a number: The White House is on Pennsylvania Avenue. 
  • Lowercase and spell out when used alone or with more than one street name: Massachusetts and Pennsylvania avenues. 
  • Abbreviate compass points used to indicate directional ends of a street or quadrants of a city in a numbered address. Do not abbreviate if the number is omitted. She works at 2700 N. Tryon Street. UNC Charlotte is on University City Boulevard. He lives on East 42nd Street.
  • For mailing address format on a letter or envelope, use N., S., E., W., St., Ave., Blvd., Ct., Ln., and the two-letter state postal abbreviation. Do not abbreviate if the number is omitted: East 42nd Street, West 43rd Street, K Street Northwest. No periods in quadrant abbreviations NW, SE unless customary locally.

John Jones
The Dubois Center at UNC Charlotte Center City
320 E. 9th St.
Charlotte, NC 28202

  • General references to alleys, drives, streets, roads, terraces and places are always spelled out and not capitalized. Capitalize them when part of a formal name without a number.
  • Spell out and capitalize First through Ninth when used as street names; use figures for 10th and above: 7 Fifth Ave., 100 21st St.
  • ZIP is an acronym for Zoning Improvement Plan and is always capitalized.

Other Frequently Used Abbreviations

  • Use the following abbreviations when used before a full name outside direct quotations: Gov., Lt. Gov., Mr., Mrs., Rep., the Rev., Sen. and certain military titles, such as Gen., Lt. Gen., Col., and similar. Spell out all except Dr., Mr., and Mrs. when they are used before a name in direct quotations.
  • Use the abbreviations Jr., Sr. and Esq. when used after a full name. Do not precede with a comma.
  • Use the abbreviations Co., Corp., Inc. and Ltd. in the formal names of businesses.
  • Use the abbreviations a.m., p.m., A.D., B.C. when used with specific numbers: 6 p.m., 600 B.C., A.D. 96.
  • Use the abbreviation St. (St. Louis) for the names of cities, saints and other place names, but spell out Fort (Fort Lauderdale, Fort Liberty).

State Names

  • Spell out state names when used narratively, whether standing alone or used in conjunction with a city, town, village or military base.
  • In tabular material, the two-letter ZIP code postal abbreviation is acceptable.
  • Use commas before and after the state when they appear with cities: John Jones, a native of Flint, Michigan, received a bachelor’s degree in chemistry.
  • Datelines (in press releases) should contain a city name in capital letters, followed in most cases by the name of the state, abbreviated according to AP Style. They are as follows (with ZIP code abbreviations in parentheses for reference): Ala. (AL), Ariz. (AZ), Ark. (AR), Calif. (CA), Colo. (CO), Conn. (CT), Del. (DE), Fla. (FL), Ga. (GA), Ill. (IL), Ind. (IN), Kan. (KS), Ky. (KY,) La. (LA), Md. (MD), Mass. (MA), Mich. (MI), Minn. (MN), Miss. (MS), Mo. (MO), Mont. (MT), Neb. (NE), Nev. (NV), N.H. (NH), N.J. (NJ), N.M. (NM), N.Y. (NY), N.C. (NC), N.D. (ND), Okla. (OK), Ore. (OR), Pa. (PA), R.I. (RI), S.C. (SC), S.D. (SD), Tenn. (TN), Vt. (VT), Va. (VA), Wash. (WA), W.Va. (WV,) Wis. (WI), Wyo. (WY).
  • Note: The names of eight states are never abbreviated in datelines: Alaska (AK), Hawaii (HI), Idaho (ID), Iowa (IA), Maine (ME), Ohio (OH), Texas (TX) and Utah (UT).
  • AP Style indicates that prominent U.S. cities appear without the state in datelines or text, and well-known international cities appear without country identification. Domestic cities are: Atlanta, Baltimore, Boston, Chicago, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Dallas, Denver, Detroit, Honolulu, Houston, Indianapolis, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Miami. Milwaukee, Minneapolis, New Orleans, New York, Oklahoma City. Philadelphia, Phoenix, Pittsburgh, St. Louis, Salt Lake City, San Antonio, San Diego, San Francisco, Seattle, Washington D.C. (See the AP Style Guide for international references.)  

Academic Degrees

  • Do not use courtesy titles (Dr. John Jones) to indicate academic degrees.
  • If mention of degrees is necessary to establish credentials, avoid an abbreviation and use a phrase such as: John Jones, who holds a doctorate in psychology. When the need to identify many individuals by degree on first reference would make the preferred form cumbersome, use abbreviations B.A., Ed.D., J.D., M.A., M.A.T., M.S., MBA, LL.D., Ph.D. 
  • For abbreviated academic degrees use periods for two-letter degrees (B.A., M.S.) and Ed.D. and Ph.D. For three-letter abbreviated master’s degrees, such as MBA, MSN, MSW, MPA, no periods. 
  • Use apostrophes in bachelor’s degree and master’s degree. Associate degree never takes the possessive form.
  • When expressing that an individual has earned a specific degree, do not use personal pronouns. Incorrect: She earned her master’s degree in 2014. Correct: She earned a master’s degree in 2014.
  • Capitalize the formal use of the title: Bachelor of Science in Philosophy, Master of Arts in English. She discovered that earning a Bachelor of Science in Philosophy was key to her career success. (However, used generically: She discovered that earning a bachelor’s degree in philosophy was key to her success.
  • Use abbreviations for academic degrees only after full proper names; set them off with commas: John Jones, Ph.D., will give a lecture. However, the preferred method would be to identify the individual in a phrase: John Jones, associate professor of biology, will give a lecture.

Academic Disciplines

  • Capitalize when it is a proper name: Jill Jones is an English major. 
  • Capitalize when written as a full title that precedes a name: Associate Professor of Geography and Earth Sciences Mary Smith was promoted. 
  • Lowercase when used generically: A professor of geography and earth sciences delivered the lecture.
  • Use lower case when used generically/descriptively preceding a name: Geography and earth sciences professor John Jones gave the lecture. 
  • Use lower case when a complete title follows a name: John Jones, professor of geography and earth sciences, gave the lecture. Joan F. Lorden, provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs, gave the keynote address. Only capitalize a discipline in this construct when it is a proper name: Mary Smith, assistant professor of Spanish, was the tour guide.


  • Two correct spellings exist for this word: adviser and advisor. While adviser is accepted by AP Style, advisor is the preferred version for everyday use and among the members of the academic advising profession. For purposes of this Style Guide, use advisor.

Colleges/Graduate School

  • Capitalize when using the formal name of the college:
    • Belk College of Business (Belk College)
    • College of Arts + Architecture (CoA+A)
    • College of Computing and Informatics (CCI)
    • Cato College of Education (Cato College)
    • College of Health and Human Services (CHHS)
    • College of Humanities & Earth and Social Sciences (CHESS)
    • College of Science
    • William States Lee College of Engineering (Use full name on first reference; on second reference, W.S. Lee College of Engineering or W.S. Lee College.)
    • The Graduate School (Capitalize The to begin a sentence only; within a sentence use lower case.) 
    • Note: The use of ampersands and symbols in formal college names is an exception to AP style.
    • Lowercase in general reference. The dean of the Cato College of Education congratulated faculty members during the college’s annual awards ceremony.


  • When used generically, do not capitalize. Students planning to graduate in May 2022 may order tickets for commencement soon.
  • Capitalize when used in reference to the University’s formal events. Ceremonies held in May are referred to as Spring Commencement; ceremonies in December are referred to as Fall Commencement. (Do not refer to ceremonies held in December as Winter Commencement.)


  • Normally not capitalized, but do so in reference to the University’s formal event. The mayor has been asked to serve as convocation speaker. University Convocation was held Aug. 15. The chancellor delivered remarks at the annual University Convocation.

Course Titles

  • Formal course titles and class names used narratively should be capitalized (without quotation marks). I am excited to take the Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning course. 
  • Courses referred to generically should be lower case: My undergraduate studies included courses in data structures, object-oriented programming, software engineering, web design and algorithms. He took a chemistry course to fulfill the requirement.

Departments and Programs

  • Full formal names of UNC Charlotte academic departments and programs are capitalized: the Department of Biological Sciences, Department of Communication Studies, the Office of International Programs, the Women’s and Gender Studies Program.
  • Lower case when used informally: He is a biological sciences major; she is an intern with international programs.
  • Lowercase departments/majors they offer unless they are proper names: She is double-majoring in psychology and English. Jones, a communications studies professor, is the author of a new book.


  • Capitalize when using the formal names of University divisions: Division of Academic Affairs, Division of Business Affairs, Division of Student Affairs, Division of University Advancement. Provost and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs Joan F. Lorden delivered the speech. 
  • Lowercase in general reference. Joan F. Lorden is provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs.


  • Emerita and emeritus are honorary, formal titles that denote faculty members and administrators who have retired. When used, place emeritus after the title: professor emerita, dean emeritus, chancellor emeritus. Ken Lambla, dean emeritus, College of Arts + Architecture, cut the ribbon. Chancellor Emeritus Philip L. Dubois attended the event.
  • Singular: emerita refers to a woman; emeritus to a man.
  • Plural: emeritae refers to women; emeriti refers to men or to a group of men and women.

Endowed Professorships

  • Capitalize before or after the name: the Carol Grotnes Belk Endowed Chair in Nursing.


  • Use as a plural noun to refer collectively to the teachers within an educational institution or department. The history faculty will participate in the conference. The committee consisted of faculty, staff and students.
  • It is also acceptable to use faculty members or members of the faculty.

Fellowships and Other Awards

  • The formal name is capitalized (Fulbright Fellowship), but informal references (Fulbright grant) are not.

Grade Point Average

  • For audiences for whom the abbreviation GPA on initial reference might not be clear, spell out first and abbreviate subsequently. However, depending on the publication and context, it may be acceptable to abbreviate as GPA initially.
  • Do not put in quotation marks. Use an apostrophe for plurals: A’s, B’s. He received straight A’s.

Lecture Titles

  • The title of a lecture series should not appear in quotation marks. Quotation marks, however, should be used around the formal title of a lecture: The fall 2021 Personally Speaking lecture series features Gregory Gber, who will present “Falling Felines and Fundamental Physics.” 
  • Do not use quotation marks around a lecture description: Gregory Gber’s conference presentation will outline the phenomenon of falling felines and the related physics.


  • Lowercase in all instances: She has been accepted for the fall 2022 semester. Commencement marks the official end of the spring semester. He plans to attend summer sessions.


  • UNC Charlotte athletics teams are the Charlotte 49ers. The team mascot is Norm the Niner.
  • Correct usage of the term 49ers: Use singularly as a noun referring to an individual; as an adjective it should be plural. John is a proud 49er. The fans exhibited 49ers pride.
  • Use plural in reference to athletics teams: Charlotte 49ers football, 49ers basketball
  • Do not write out 49ers (Incorrect: Forty-Niners) unless it begins a sentence.

Board of Trustees

  • Capitalize when referring to UNC Charlotte’s. The UNC Charlotte Board of Trustees will meet tomorrow.
    • Board of Trustee member John Niner…
    • UNC Charlotte Trustee John Niner said…
    • John Niner, a member of the UNC Charlotte Board of Trustees, said…
  • Lower case trustee when it appears informally after the name: Jane Niner, UNC Charlotte trustee, said…

Building Names/Room Numbers

  • Capitalize the formal names of buildings: Reese Building, Cato Hall, Barnhardt Student Activity Center, Atkins Library, Student Union. Lowercase in general reference: They went to the library to study.
  • Capitalize room when referring to a specific location within an academic or administrative building. The room location always follows the building. The lecture will be in the College of Education, Room 159. Cone University Center Lucas Room is the location for the seminar.
  • List of all campus buildings by their proper names.


  • Do not capitalize campus.  
  • Do not hyphenate campuswide. (Except for university-wide, most “wide” compounds are not hyphenated.)

Campus v. on-campus

  • Use campus (rather than on-campus): Campus flu shot clinics will take place next week. The campus bookstore sells spiritwear.

Class of

  • Capitalize class as part of the proper name: Class of 1946, Class of ’99.

Departments and Administrative Units

  • Generally, academic units are known as schools and departments; administrative units are known as offices.
  • Official names are capitalized: School of Nursing, Department of Chemistry, Office of University Communications, Office of Undergraduate Admissions, Atkins Library; unofficial names are not: chemistry, university communications, the admissions office, the library).

The Dubois Center at UNC Charlotte Center City

  • When the building is referred to for the first time in a publication or article or only once, use: The Dubois Center at UNC Charlotte Center City.
  • This applies to magazine/Inside articles, websites, newsletters, press releases, donor materials, invitations, letters, signage, etc.
  • Subsequently, within a discrete piece of writing, use The Dubois Center (always with a capital T in “The,” including when it appears mid-sentence).
  • For photo captions and other “limited character” uses, when the entire name of the building is used elsewhere in an article or piece of collateral, use The Dubois Center.
  • When quoting someone, use The Dubois Center when the speaker does.
  • Never refer to the building simply as “Dubois,” even when quoting a speaker who does. Examples of correct/incorrect use:
    • Correct: The event will take place at The Dubois Center at UNC Charlotte Center City. For directions to The Dubois Center, visit uncc.edu.
    • Correct: “It’s always a pleasure to attend an event at The Dubois Center,” said John Smith, the luncheon’s keynote speaker.
    • Incorrect: “It’s always a pleasure to attend an event at Dubois,” said John Smith, the luncheon’s keynote speaker.


  • Capitalize the formal name in reference to UNC Charlotte’s annual event.

University v. university

  • Capitalize when referring to UNC Charlotte (after the first reference): The University offers majors in dozens of disciplines.
  • Use lowercase when using generically: UNC Charlotte is the second-largest university in the UNC System. UNC Charlotte is North Carolina’s urban research university. 


  • Chairman, chairwoman: Capitalize as a formal title before a name; do not capitalize as a casual position. Do not use chairperson, chair or co-chair unless it is the organization’s formal title for an office. 
  • City: Capitalize if it is part of a proper name, an integral part of an official nickname or a regularly used nickname: Baltimore City, New York City, the Windy City, City of Hope. Lowercase elsewhere: a North Carolina city, the city government, the city of Charlotte.
  • Charlotte neighborhoods: Fourth Ward, South End, SouthPark, Uptown/Uptown Charlotte, University City
  • Charlotte’s central business district is known as Center City. UNC Charlotte’s Uptown campus is known as The Dubois Center at UNC Charlotte Center City. Use the full name for first reference, subsequently as The Dubois Center. (Note: The is always capitalized for The Dubois Center.) 
  • Conferences, lecture series, symposia: Capitalize formal names: The National Conference on Wrongful Convictions and the Death Penalty.
  • Deity, sacred books and religions: God, Allah, the Bible, the Koran, Christianity, Judaism.
  • Directions and regions: Capitalize when designating regions.Tornadoes devastated parts of the Midwest. Settlers from the East migrated to the West. Lowercase when referring to compass points. She traveled east for the lecture. The storm is moving northwest.
  • Geographical areas and localities: the Eastern Shore, New York City.
  • Government bodies: U.S. Congress, Baltimore City Council.
  • Historical period: the Great Depression, the Enlightenment.
  • Holidays: Memorial Day, Halloween.
  • The start of titles of publications or works of art if it is part of the formal title: The Washington Post, The Canterbury Tales.
  • Job titles: Full title when it precedes a proper name: Professor of History Joseph Brown and Lecturer of Biological Sciences Sam Smith were the speakers. Lower case when the title appears after a name or when used informally: Joseph Brown, professor of history, was the speaker. History professor Joseph Brown and biology lecturer Sam Smith led the discussion.
  • Proper nouns and proper names.
  • Registered trademarks: Xerox, General Electric.


  • Derivative adjectives: french fries.
  • Nouns used with numbers to designate chapters, pages, etc.: chapter 1, page 125.
  • Simple directions: the east coast of Maryland.
  • The word “the” before a formal name: He attends the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. (Note: The University of North Carolina at Charlotte is an exception to the AP style guidelines.)


Use the following; lower case, except at the beginning of a sentence or where noted:

  • cyber – Use sparingly. According to the AP Style Guide, internet, digital or a similar term is preferred, as in internet shopping or online security. Follow the general rule for prefixes, which calls for no hyphen in most cases: cyberattack, cyberbullying, cybercafe, cybersecurity, cyberspace. But: Cyber Monday, cyber shopping, cyber liability insurance. AP decides when to use one word or two words on a case-by-case basis, largely on prevailing usage if the term isn’t in Webster’s New World College Dictionary. 
  • database (not data base or data-base)
  • email (not E-mail or e-mail) Note: Hyphenate all other “e” terms: e-business, e-commerce, e-procurement.
  • homepage 
  • internet (not Internet)
  • online (not on-line)
  • website (not web site or web-site)
  • World Wide Web (not World-Wide Web); web is sufficient
  • webcam, webcast, webmaster, webpage, webfeed

UNC Charlotte’s websites

  • The URL for the University website is charlotte.edu
  • Websites for the University’s departments and programs indicate first the department, then the University.  Admissions.charlotte.edu; studentaffairs.charlotte.edu.
  • For Athletics, see charlotte49ers.com.

Website addresses

  • Website addresses also are known as Uniform Resource Locators (URLs). Follow the spelling and capitalization of the website owner.
  • http:// or https:// is not needed at the start of a web address unless the address doesn’t start with www or there might be some confusion about whether it is a web address.
  • Brackets (< >) are not needed around a web address. Avoid ending a sentence with a web address; readers may think the period ending the sentence is part of the address.
  • In running text it may be helpful to set off the web address in parentheses or positioned midsentence. Avoid breaking a line in the middle of a website or email address. If an address cannot fit on one line, break the line at a punctuation mark (a dot or slash) within the address, without an inserted hyphen.
  • For text published on the UNC Charlotte homepage, use embedded links to refer browsers to other websites.


  • Acceptable on second and subsequent references: The UNC Charlotte Student Government Association held its first meeting today. The next SGA meeting will take place in two weeks.
  • Certain acronyms are acceptable without first spelling out if the initials are widely recognized: CEO, SAT, NCAA, AIDS, HMO, NASA, FBI, CIA.

Collective Nouns

  • Nouns that denote a unit take singular verbs and pronouns (class, committee, crowd, family, group, herd, jury, orchestra, team).
  • Team or group names that are plural take plural verbs (The Charlotte 49ers are in first place).
  • Some words that are plural in form become collective nouns and take singular verbs when the group or quantity is regarded as a unit: A thousand bushels is a good yield. [unit], A thousand bushels were created. [individual items], The data is sound. [a unit], The data have been carefully collected. [individual items], The faculty were happy about the changes.

Courtesy Titles

  • After a first reference, subsequent references generally use only a person’s last name, except in obituaries. Mr., Mrs., Ms., Dr., Rev., Dean, and Professor should not be used in second references except in quoted material. 
  • When it is necessary to distinguish between two people who use the same last name, as in married couples or brothers and sisters, use the first and last name. 

Ethnicity, Nationality, Race (per AP Style Guide)

  • Black(s), white(s) (n.)
    • Do not use either term as a singular noun. For plurals, Black and white are acceptable as adjectives when relevant: Black people, white people, Black teachers, white students. White officers account for 64% of the police force, Black officers 21% and Latino officers 15%. 
    • The plural nouns Blacks and whites are generally acceptable when clearly relevant and needed for reasons of space or sentence construction: He helped integrate dance halls among Blacks, whites, Latinos and Asian Americans. 
  • Black (adj.)
    • Use the capitalized term as an adjective in a racial, ethnic or cultural sense: Black people, Black culture, Black literature, Black studies, Black colleges.
  • African American
    • Acceptable for those in or from the U.S. The terms are not necessarily interchangeable. Americans of Caribbean heritage, for example, generally refer to themselves as Caribbean American. Follow an individual’s preference if known, and be specific when possible and relevant. Minneapolis has a large Somali American population because of refugee resettlement. The author is Senegalese American.
    • No hyphen. Acceptable for an American Black person of African descent. 
    • Use of the capitalized Black recognizes the common understanding that especially in the United States, the term reflects a shared identity and culture rather than a skin color alone. Also use Black in racial, ethnic and cultural differences outside the U.S. to avoid equating a person with a skin color.
    • Use Negro or colored only in names of organizations or in rare quotations when essential.
  • Asian American and Pacific Islander
    • The acronym AAPI is widely used within the Asian American and Pacific Islander communities, but is not as well known outside of them. Spell out Asian American and Pacific Islanders; use AAPI only in direct quotations and explain the term.
  • Dual heritage
    • No hyphen for terms such as African American, Asian American and Filipino American, used when relevant to refer to an American person’s heritage. The terms are less common when used to describe non-Americans, but may be used when relevant: Turkish German for a German of Turkish descent.
  • Hispanic
    • A person from — or whose ancestors were from — a Spanish-speaking land or culture. Latino, Latina or Latinx are sometimes preferred. Follow the person’s preference. Use a more specific identification when possible, such as Cuban, Puerto Rican or Mexican American. 
  • People of color
    • The term is acceptable when necessary in broad references to multiple races other than white: We will hire more people of color. Nine playwrights of color collaborated on the script. Do not use person of color for an individual.

Foreign Words

  • Many foreign words and phrases have been accepted universally within the English language, such as bon voyage, ciao, et cetera, versus. Other foreign words and abbreviations, especially legal and medical terminology, are not understood universally. In such cases, place the word/phrase in quotation marks and provide an explanation: “non compos mentis” is a Latin term meaning ‘not of sound mind.’

Said v. says in quotation attributions

  • When reporting on something someone said in the past (and just once), use said“Our team’s research has broad application potential,” Brown said. If adding a modifier, used said before the name: … said Brown, author of three books on the subject. Use says when writing about something happening in the present tense and describes an ongoing action: She kicks the ball. Goal. “Great job,” her coach says.
  • In most instances, said, added or commented are preferred over more dramatic synonyms (e.g., exclaimed, shouted, declared). Apply editorial judgement. 

Second References

  • Second and subsequent references to a person generally use only the last name, except in obituaries. Mr., Mrs., Ms., Dr., Rev., Dean and Professor should not be used in second references except in quoted material.


  • Use that for restrictive (essential) clauseswhich for nonrestrictive. Students should select courses that are part of their degree program. Fall semester, which marks the start of the traditional academic year, can be hectic.


  • Use theater generically (We purchased theater tickets for our upcoming trip to New York) and theatre when it is part of a proper name (Shubert Theatre). Note: Not all performing arts venues use theatre in their formal names (Guthrie Theater); be sure to check spellings.
  • Use theatre when referring to UNC Charlotte’s Department of Theatre. However, it is the Anne Belk Theater in the Robinson Hall for the Performing Arts.

Word Choice and Specificity

  • Freshman, freshmen:  It is also acceptable to use first-year student. 
  • Fundraising, fundraiser: one word
  • Grade, grader: No hyphen in most cases: a fourth grade student, first grader, she is in the fifth grade. 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.
  • Health care: Two words as a noun or adjective.
  • International students: Preferred over foreign students
  • Jr., Sr., III in names: Do not set off with commas: Sammy Davis Jr., Hank Williams Sr., Clarence Williams III.
  • Pronouns: Use who rather than that when referring to people or groups of people: Members of the Pride of Niner Nation Marching Band who went to France had a memorable experience. Use that for nonhuman or inanimate references. 
  • Upperclass students: If possible, use juniors and seniors instead.
  • Vice Chancellor (and other such titles): No hyphen. Vice Chancellor for University Advancement Niles Sorensen led the meeting.


  • Lowercase general references to student work-study programs, but capitalize official references to Federal Work-Study (the program for undergraduates) and Federal Graduate Work-Study (the program for graduate students).

Abbreviations for Identifying Alumni (and faculty members who are not alumni)

In general:

  • Graduation year comes before program abbreviation (see examples below)
  • Always use a “smart” apostrophe (’) for graduation year abbreviation.
  • Bachelor’s degrees: Although references to specific undergraduate degrees are rarely made, if we ever need to say B.A. or B.S.
  • Master’s degrees: Identify the program (rather than M.A. or M.S.) in all caps: MBA, MPA, MSN,. etc.
  • Doctoral degrees: Identify the type of degree, with periods and upper/lower case as indicated: Ph.D., Ed.D., etc.
  • For lines 2 and 3 (title and company), it is acceptable to use a smaller point size.

Alum with a bachelor’s degree only (year only, no reference to program)
John Smith ’10

Alum with only a master’s degree (year before program reference)
John Smith ’10 MBA

Alum with only a doctoral degree (year before degree reference; no honorary title, i.e., Dr., before name)
John Smith ’10, Ed.D.

Alum with bachelor’s and master’s degrees (year only for bachelor’s, program reference for master’s)
John Smith ’10, ’12 MBA

Alum with bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees (year only for bachelor’s, program reference for master’s, degree reference for doctoral)
John Smith ’10, ’12 MPA, ’18 Ph.D.

Alum with two bachelor’s degrees (years only, no reference to programs)
Erika Ruane ’12, ’14
Sustainability Coordinator
City of Charlotte

Alum with bachelor’s degree and is currently a student in a master’s program
Hannah Milillo ’18
Candidate, M.S. in Management

Alum with a bachelor’s and master’s from UNC Charlotte, and is also a lecturer, instructor, professor. (For faculty also with a Ph.D. from UNC Charlotte, add per the previously noted convention.)
Robin Hainline ’12, ’15 MSN
Lecturer, School of Nursing

Faculty member who did not earn any degrees from UNC Charlotte (no honorary title, i.e., Dr.)
Mary Jones
Associate Professor of Sociology

Alumni who are married
Sandon ’83 and Amy ’84 Dennis

See the Quick Guide for additional details about numbers. 

  • Spell out one through nine; use numerals for 10 and above. He has seven assignments due. She is working on 12 experiments.
  • Spell out first through ninth; thereafter 10th, 123rd.
  • Use numerals with percent mark (15%), dollar sign ($3), temperature (6 degrees), scores (7-3), page (page 2), room (room 10), line (line 9) and chapter (chapter 25).
  • In text, spell out the words degrees (temperature), feet, inches and cents. In tables, it is acceptable to use symbols.
  • Numbers beginning a sentence are always spelled out. Fifty-five miles per hour is the speed limit.
  • Fractions: Write out and hyphenate: two-thirds, three-fifths.
  • For figures greater than 999,999, use million or billion 2.3 million, 4 billion. There are probably a million ways to deal with the $2.9 trillion deficit.
  • Monetary amounts greater than 99 cents should be in numerals with a dollar sign: $4, $57.40.
  • Use a comma in a figure greater than 999 unless it’s a date.
  • For inclusive numbers, the second number should be represented by only its final two digits if its beginning digit(s) are the same as the first numbers: pages 343-47.
  • Use figures where ordinals indicate a sequence assigned in forming names, usually with geographic, military or political designations (4th Ward, 7th Fleet).
  • Use a combination of words and numerals to express units of measure. An Apple Mac Book weighs less than 3 pounds. Drink 8 ounces of water six times a day. The 8-by-10-foot Oriental rug is beautiful.


  • The use of downstyle headlines is always preferred over upper- and lowercase. (In either case, however, the headline style should be followed consistently within a publication.) In downstyle headlines, the first word and proper nouns are capitalized. In upper- and lowercase headlines, every word is capitalized except articles (a, an, the), coordinate conjunctions (and, or, for, nor), prepositions and infinitives. If a headline includes a colon, the first word following the colon should be capitalized.
  • As a rule, headlines should include a verb and articles. Do not end a headline with a preposition.

Line Breaks

  • Avoid breaking any words or breaking a hyphenated word except at the hyphen, ending a column at a hyphen and allowing more than two consecutive lines to end in a hyphen.


  • Use a numbered list only when the number or ranking of items is significant. If there is no reason for numbering items, use a bulleted list.
  • A list should be introduced by a grammatically correct sentence, followed by a colon. List items should be syntactically alike: all noun forms, all phrases, all full sentences, etc. If list items are complete sentences, they should begin with a capital letter and have closing punctuation. If list items are not complete sentences, no punctuation is necessary.

Photo Captions

  • All photos should include a caption, particularly when there is a person, place or situation to identify.
  • Ideally, captions should be written in complete sentences and should describe the reason for the photo and help tell the story. Provost Joan Lorden congratulates new graduates after the commencement ceremony.  Avoid overstating the obvious: Pictured here are… or Provost Jordan Lordan with new graduates.
  • Left to right identification of photo subjects is generally understood. When identification is clear, do not use left to right or l-r. Only if there might be confusion about identities, use left, from left, or similar (without parentheses). 
  • Do not use a middle initial with a name in a caption or call out if a full name with the initial is already in the story.
  • In a case where a caption is not a complete sentence, do not use a period.
  • Attribute photos either to the photographer or source. Photo by John Smith. Photo courtesy of Novant Health.


  • Do not use to form plurals (1950s, not 1950’s) except in the cases of single letters (straight A’s).
  • Possessives of singular nouns, including those ending in s, are formed by adding ’s: Susan’s desk, Chris’s office.
  • Singular common nouns ending in s, add ’s: the virus’s reach; the witness’s answer.
  • Possessives of plural nouns not ending in s are formed by adding ’s: women’s studies, children’s playground.  
  • Singular proper names ending in s, use only an apostrophe: Rebekah Rogers’ lab; John Burgess’ lab coat
  • Possessives of plural nouns ending in s are formed by adding an apostrophe only: the horses’ mouths.
  • In the case of plural nouns modifying other nouns, such as the parents’ newsletter, the use of the apostrophe is preferred.
  • Use apostrophes for omitted letters (’tis the season, He is a ne’er-do-well) and figures (The Class of ’62). 
  • In the case of graduation year, the apostrophe  is taking the place of the first two numbers in a year with its “flag” facing left (John Smith ’19). The easiest way to do this editorially is to type two apostrophes in a row (‘’) before typing the shortened graduation year and deleting the first one.


  • For colons, the most frequent use is at the end of a sentence to introduce lists, tabulated material or texts. For short lists, do not use a colon: Classes offered this semester include yoga, fencing and aerobics.
  • Capitalize the first word after a colon only if it is a proper name or the start of a complete sentence: He promised this: He would not go quietly.
  • Unless colons are part of a quotation, leave them outside quotation marks.
  • Use a semicolon to separate items in a series when one or more of the items contain a comma: Committee members include Mary Smith, accounting; John Jones, finance; and Jack Brown, human resources.
  • Use a semicolon to link independent clauses when a conjunction such as and or but isn’t present: A snowstorm surprised everyone during finals week; exams were administered as scheduled.


  • The rule about whether or not to use a serial (or Oxford) commas is simple: Don’t use one unless necessary for clarification:
    • Use a comma to separate elements in a series, but do not put a comma before the conjunction in a simple series. The American flag is red, white and blue. He would nominate Tom, Dick or Harry.
    • Put a comma before the concluding conjunction in a series if an integral element of the series requires a conjunction. John Jones ate toast, orange juice, and ham and eggs for breakfast.
  • When semicolons are used in a series, use one before the final conjunction: He is survived by a son, John Smith, of Chicago; three daughters, Jane Smith, of Wichita, Kansas, Mary Smith, of Denver, and Susan, of Boston; and a sister, Martha, of Omaha, Nebraska. 
  • Use a comma to introduce direct quotations: He said, “I will see you in class.” Do not use a comma at the start of an indirect or partial quotation: He said the victory put him “firmly on the road to a first-ballot nomination.”
  • In general, if you set something apart with a comma, you must follow it with a comma: The bus to Washington, D.C., will leave at noon, Friday, Nov. 15, from the Student Union.
  • Do not use a comma before the phrase as well as.


  • Use ellipses to indicate the deletion of one or more words in condensing quotes, texts or documents. Treat as a three-letter word, constructed (space/three dots/space). The reviewer wrote, “Jack Jones is unbelievable … a true talent.”


  • In general, do not hyphenate words beginning with the prefixes co, non, pre, post, or re unless there is a possibility of confusion (co-op, post-master’s) or the root word begins with a capital letter (post-Renaissance, Post-Baccalaureate Premedical Program). Per AP Style Guide, check Webster’s New World Dictionary for usage.
  • Hyphenate words beginning with the prefix self.
  • When a compound modifier — two or more words used to express a single concept or form an adjective — precedes a noun, use hyphens to link all of the words in the compound (except the adverb very and all adverbs that end in -ly): a study-abroad program, on-campus housing, a devil-may-care attitude, a very difficult class, an exceptionally good performance.
  • Most combinations — when they occur after a noun — are not hyphenated. He plans to study abroad. She lives on campus. He works part time.
  • However, when a modifier that would be hyphenated before a noun occurs after a form of the verb to be, the hyphen usually must be retained. The professor is very well-known.
  • Some combinations are so familiar that they need no hyphenation in any case: a liberal arts college. Use the dictionary as your guide; if it lists a compound term without hyphens as its own separate term, do not hyphenate it.
  • Do not hyphenate compounds with vice: vice chair, vice president, vice chancellor.
  • Hyphenate artist-in-residence, writer-in-residence, when used as an adjective before a name; do not hyphenate after. Writer-in-residence Seamus Heaney will read. Seamus Heaney is the fall 2002 writer in residence.
  • When more than one prefix is joined to a base word, hyphenate any prefixes that stand alone: He is an expert in both micro- and macroeconomics.


  • Use periods and no space when an individual uses initials instead of a first name (H.L. Mencken, J.P. Morgan).
  • In scientific citations, it is acceptable to use only a single initial and a last name. Do not use a single initial, last name (J. Jones) in normal publication text.
  • Use middle initials according to a person’s preference or where they help identify a specific individual. (It is not necessary to use a middle initial in a photo caption or call out if it is used in the accompanying story.)


If necessary to use parentheses to insert background or reference material, follow these guidelines:

  • Place a period outside a closing parenthesis if the material inside is not a sentence (such as this fragment).
  • (An independent parenthetical sentence takes a period before the closing parenthesis.)
  • When a phrase is placed in parentheses (this one is an example) might qualify as a complete sentence but is dependent on the surrounding material, do not capitalize the first word or end with a period.


  • Periods always are placed inside quotation marks.
  • Single space after a period at the end of a sentence.

Quotation Marks

  • Commas and periods always are set inside quotation marks.
  • The dash, semicolon, question mark and exclamation point go within the quotation marks when they apply to the quoted matter only. Chancellor Gaber said to students, “Hard work pays off.”
  • They go outside when they apply to the entire sentence. Did Chancellor Gaber say to students, “Hard work pays off”? 
  • Commas should not be used in combination with exclamation or question marks. “Would you like to join us for lunch?” Joe asked. 


  • The UNC Charlotte Alumni Association is the official name of the organization that supports former students/graduates: The Alumni Association offices are located in Harris Alumni Center at Johnson Glen. To save space, Harris Alumni Center is acceptable.
  • When referring to a woman or man who has attended or graduated from UNC Charlotte, use alumna and alumnus, respectively:  Jill Jones, an alumna of UNC Charlotte, works for Bank of America. Alumnus John Jones is president of the company.
  • Note: Alumna/us is not the same as a graduate. An individual who takes classes at UNC Charlotte is an alumna/us, but the person may not have completed a degree.
  • The plural of alumna is alumnae; the plural of alumnus is alumni. Use alumni when referring to a group of men and women. (Do not refer to one person as “an alumni.”)
  • When writing about a graduate, always include the graduation year. When noting a person’s graduation year, use the accepted abbreviated format for the year: ’85, ’01. When using the graduation year, do not also designate the person as an alumna/us as it is implied. Jill Jones ’85 works for Bank of America. (Incorrect: Alumna Jill Jones ’85 works for Bank of America.)  John Jones ’01, president of Jones, Inc., made a gift to the University. Joe ’80 and Mary Smith ’81 Johnson will co-chair the committee. 

In general:

  • Graduation year comes before program abbreviation (see examples below).
  • Always use a “smart” backward apostrophe (’) for graduation year abbreviation.
  • Bachelor’s degrees: If we ever need to say B.A. or B.S., use periods.
  • Master’s degrees: Identify the program (rather than M.A. or M.S.) in all caps, no periods for three-letter abbreviations: MBA, MPA, MSN, etc.
  • Doctoral degrees: Identify the type of degree, with periods and upper/lower case as indicated: Ph.D., Ed.D., etc.
  • For master’s and doctoral programs, insert the grad year before the program abbreviation


Alum with a bachelor’s degree only (year only, no reference to program)
John Smith ’10

Alum with only a master’s degree (year before program reference)
John Smith ’10 MBA

Alum with only a doctoral degree (year before degree reference; no honorary title, i.e., Dr., before name)
John Smith ’10 Ed.D.

Alum with bachelor’s and master’s degrees (year only for bachelor’s, program reference for master’s)
John Smith ’10, ’12 MBA

Alum with bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees (year only for bachelor’s, program reference for master’s, degree reference for doctoral)
John Smith ’10, ’12 MPA, ’18 Ph.D.

Alum with two bachelor’s degrees (years only, no reference to programs)
Mary Baker ’12, ’14

Alum with a bachelor’s and master’s from UNC Charlotte, and is also a lecturer, instructor, professor.(For faculty also with a Ph.D. from UNC Charlotte, add per the previously noted convention.)
Mary Baker ’12, ’15 MSN, lecturer, School of Nursing

Alumni who are married
John ’83 and Mary Baker ’84 Smith

Hyphens and Dashes

There are differences between hyphens, em-dashes and en-dashes and reasons for using them:

  • Hyphens (-) are used for compound words, sports scores, breaking words to the next line and to join compound adjectives such as full-time job.
  • Em dashes (—) are used to indicate a break in the syntax of a sentence, much like offsetting a clause with commas. Use a space before and after em dashes.
  • To create an em dash in Google docs, place the cursor where the em dash belongs, click Insert, Special Characters, type “em dash” in the Search box, click Categories, click the single em dash.
  • The en dash (–)  is used to represent a span or range of numbers, dates or time. There should be no space between the en dash and the adjacent material. Depending on the context, the en dash is read as “to” or “through.” You will find this material in chapters 8⁠–⁠12.


  • Spell out numbers one through nine. Unless beginning a sentence, use numerals for 10 and above. He has seven assignments due; she is working on 12 experiments. Same for ordinal numbers: spell out first through ninth; thereafter 10th, 23rd, 101st.
  • Telephone numbers should have hyphens, not dots or parentheses: 704-555-1234. (The exception is for UNC Charlotte business cards.) If an extension is part of a phone number, denote it as: 704-555-1234, ext. 5678. For off-campus publications, do not substitute an extension number for the complete campus number.

Serial/Oxford Comma

  • Do not use a serial (also known as Oxford) comma unless to clarify. In general, use a comma to separate elements in a series, but do not use a comma before the conjunction in a simple series. The American flag is red, white and blue. He would nominate Tom, Dick and Harry. However, use a comma before the concluding conjunction in a series if an integral element of the series requires a conjunction. John had toast, orange juice, and ham and eggs for breakfast.

The University of North Carolina at Charlotte

  • The official name of the institution is The University of North Carolina at Charlotte and is the preferred designation for first reference in all official external publications. (“The” is capitalized in this usage, as an exception to AP Style.) This presentation should be used for most formal purposes, such as diplomas.
  • For publications, articles, media releases, official university communications, use The University of North Carolina at Charlotte or UNC Charlotte initially; subsequently, use the University or continue using UNC Charlotte.
  • When referencing the University in conversation or quoted text within a written article, on social media or promotional materials, or when referring to Athletics, use “Charlotte.”
  • When referring to the institution generically, capitalize University: UNC Charlotte was founded in 1946, and since its inception, the University has been a pioneering institution.
  • Never use UNCC except for referring to websites or email addresses. Do not use UNC, Univ. of NC or similar shortcuts.
  • The campus in University City should be referred to as UNC Charlotte or UNC Charlotte Main Campus. The University’s uptown Charlotte location is The Dubois Center at UNC Charlotte Center City.


  • In editorial and promotional (posters, etc.) formats, use figures except for noon and midnight. Do not use :00 with a time; otherwise, separate hours from minutes with a colon: 10 a.m., 2:30 p.m.
  • Use lowercase letters and periods for a.m. and p.m. Use noon and midnight, not 12 a.m. or 12 p.m.
  • Do not use a hyphen or en-dash in place of “to” in a range of times introduced by from: from 5 to 7 p.m., not from 5-7 p.m.
  • Other examples: Niner Transit buses arrive at 11 a.m., noon and 1:15 p.m. The event will take place from 8 p.m. to midnight. Information sessions are scheduled from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., and 2 to 3:30 p.m.
  • Do not use o’clock except in quotes or contexts such as formal invitations.



  • Titles are capitalized and put in quotation marks.

Legal Citations

  • Use v. for versus: Brown v. Board of Education.


  • Names of associations, organizations, conferences, meetings, and similar follow the same guidelines as for compositions, except that the article “the” preceding a name is lowercase even when it is part of the formal title and the organization capitalizes it. Use the group’s punctuation and abbreviations for its 
  • Use Co. when a business uses the word as part of its formal name. Inc., Corp., and Ltd. are usually not needed but when used after the name of a corporate entity should be abbreviated without being set off by a comma.
  • Such words as club, team and conference are lowercase when used alone.


In works of art, books, computer games, lectures/speeches, movies, operas, plays, poems, song/album, and TV programs:

  • Capitalize the principal words, including prepositions and conjunctions of four or more letters. Capitalize an article (a, an, the) or words of fewer than four letters if it is the first or last word in the title.
  • Put quotation marks around the names of all such works except the Bible and books that are primarily reference material (catalogs, almanacs, dictionaries, directories, encyclopedias, gazetteers, handbooks and similar publications). Do not use quotation marks around software titles (WordPerfect, Excel).


  • Capitalize and spell out formal titles when they precede a full name (Professor Jennifer Jones); use lowercase elsewhere (Jennifer Jones, professor of history, will give a lecture).
  • Use lowercase for modifiers such as history, even when they precede a name: The lecture featured history Professor Jennifer Jones.
  • Always capitalize endowed professorships whether before or after the name: Jennifer Jones, the Robert and Jane Meyerhoff Visiting Assistant Professor, will give a lecture.
  • Compare with v. compare to – To compare to is to point out or imply resemblances between objects regarded essentially of a different order; to compare with points out differences between objects regarded as essentially the same order. Life has been compared to a pilgrimage, to a drama, to a battle. Congress may be compared with the British Parliament. Paris has been compared to ancient Athens; it may be compared with modern London. (The Elements of Style)
  • Comprise – Comprise means, literally, to embrace or include. A zoo comprises mammals, reptiles and birds (because it embraces/includes them). But animals do not comprise a zoo; they constitute a zoo. Use constitutes or composed of; the construction comprised of is always incorrect. (The Elements of Style
  • Dangling modifiers – A dangling modifier is a word or phrase that modifies a word not clearly stated in a sentence. A modifier describes, clarifies, or gives more detail about a concept. In the first example below, the phrase “After reading the original study,” the subject of the main clause that follows must be the first word. In this sentence, it is “I” who is the “doer,” therefore the revision is correct. (Purdue Online Writing Lab)
    • Incorrect: After reading the original study, the article remains unconvincing. Revised/Correct: After reading the original study, I find the article unconvincing.
    • Incorrect: Relieved of your job responsibilities, your home should be a place to relax. Revised/Correct: Relieved of your job responsibilities, you should be able to relax at home.
  • Humbled – To demean, belittle, disgrace, to experience a comeuppance. Unless this is the case, do not use “humbled” when you mean “honored.” (It literally means the opposite.) If using “humbled” is intended to demonstrate humility, remember that simply by stating so, you are demonstrating the antithesis of humility, as humility refers to freedom from pride or arrogance.  
  • Inaugural v. first annual – Nothing is annual until it happens twice. Always use “inaugural” for the first event in a series. The following year it is acceptable to use “second annual.”
  • “Irregardless” – Although the Mirriam Webster Dictionary has affirmed use of “irregardless” to mean “without regard,” the better choice remains “regardless,” which holds the original definition.
  • Male/female – Use as adjectives, not as nouns. 
  • Myriad – Innumerable or many; use as a direct synonym: Students have myriad choices for extracurricular activities. (Incorrect: Students choose from a myriad of activities.) 
  • Parenthetical phrases – Parenthetical phrases add new information to a sentence without disrupting its flow. Always offset with commas: The student-athletes, fresh off the bus from an away game, gathered in the locker room for a team meeting. 
  • Split infinitives –  Infinitives are the verb form preceded by “to.” To split an infinitive means to insert an adverb between to and the infinitive form of a verb (to suddenly go, to quickly read, “to boldly go where no one has gone before”). While not considered as “taboo” as in the past, split infinitives, generally, should be avoided. Example: This software allows your company to quickly, easily and cost-effectively manage all tasks. Stronger: This software allows your company to manage all tasks quickly, easily and cost effectively. 
  • First-come, first-served – Not “first-come, first-serve”
  • State-of-the-art (as an adjective) – When used as an adjective, use hyphens as shown: UNC Charlotte’s state-of-the-art facilities impressed prospective students.