Student Affairs Editorial Style Guide

Scrabble letter tiles

Which is it: U.C. Davis or UC Davis? E-mail, e-mail or email? And what about those commas in a series—should you put one before the "and"? And does it matter?

It does. Consistency lets your reader concentrate on the content before them without being distracted by variable style and usage. Our editorial style is also integral to the university’s brand and must be followed by all university units.

UC Davis style generally conforms to The Associated Press Stylebook, with some exceptions, and the Student Affairs Editorial Style Guide both complements the UC Davis Campus Style Guide and includes some further, Student Affairs-oriented exceptions.

This guide should be used as the first-line style and usage reference for Student Affairs units, supplemented as necessary by other guides in the order described below:

  1. Student Affairs Editorial Style Guide
  2. UC Davis Editorial Style Guide
  3. The Associated Press Stylebook and Briefing on Media Law
  4. The Chicago Manual of Style

In situations where a campus department or unit has a historically established style, Student Affairs style may give precedence to that style—questions and comments are welcome to samc@ucdavis.edu.

Index


Campus Terminology

abbreviations and acronyms

Spell out department/unit and program names and use acronyms only if there are repeat references. To introduce an abbreviation or acronym, run it in parentheses following the initial mention of the complete name.

Do not use periods in university abbreviations and acronyms, e.g., SAMC, UC, MU, ASUCD.

Always spell out University of California, Davis, on first reference in news releases (including comma after Davis, unless it ends a sentence). UC Davis on second reference. Never use UCD.

Otherwise, per AP, use periods in abbreviations of two letters; none with longer ones: U.S., U.N., a.m., USDA. Consult the AP Stylebook and Webster’s Third New International Dictionary in specific instances.

For commonly abbreviated academic degrees, see Campus Editorial Style Guide entry “academic degrees.”

class year

Reference class year with a left-curled apostrophe followed by the last two digits of the graduating year. Do not add a comma between the last name and the last two digits of the graduation year.

  • David Ramirez ’23

Do not disclose a student’s class year standing without their permission. Instead, refer to a student only as an undergraduate (or graduate student or doctoral student)

Generally, avoid the phrase, "Class of ..." When unavoidable, capitalize the phrase and use the full year.

  • “Class of 2024,” not “class of ’24”

department/unit names

In general, refer to the department/unit’s homepage for the correct name. Some units may have informal names that are appropriate for informal use by that unit or elsewhere with unit leadership’s permission. First reference to a department/unit should always include its full name. For example:

  • El Centro is used in some contexts by the Center for Chicanx and Latinx Academic Student Success to refer to itself or to its space.
  • The Native Nest is used in some contexts by the Native American Academic Student Success Center to refer to itself or to its space, e.g., “It was a Fall Welcome event put on by the Native American Academic Student Success Center (NAASSC), known as the Nest to the Native American community on campus.”

In some cases an element contained in a unit’s name may differ from its usage elsewhere. For example, we include a plus sign (+) as part of the term LGBTQIA+ when referring to the community, but the LGBTQIA Resource Center omits the plus sign in its name.

For general campus guidelines on style and formatting of names and for units outside of Student Affairs, follow the Campus Editorial Style Guide.

majors

In contrast to campus guidelines, use title case in all names of academic majors:

  • John Donne is majoring in Food Science
  • Geraldine Lowry's major is Mathematical Analytics and Operations Research
  • Hector Bazan is majoring in Chicana/o Studies.

Please note that undeclared and exploratory programs are not majors.

room

Capitalize room when used with a number, e.g. Room 114, South Hall.

SA Connect

The name of the official Division of Student Affairs staff newsletter.

titles

Follow campus guidelines: In general, capitalize formal or courtesy titles—president, chancellor, professor, senator—before names of individuals, and lowercase formal titles following names of individuals.

  • Chancellor Gary May
  • Gary May, chancellor of UC Davis
  • Governor Newsom
  • Gavin Newsom, governor of California
  • Pablo Reguerín, vice chancellor for Student Affairs

Lowercase occupational or descriptive titles—teacher, attorney, history professor, department chair—in all cases. (Note that professor alone stands as a formal title and warrants capitalization—an exception to AP—but "history professor," like "math teacher," is an occupation and should be lowercase.)

Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs” is the preferred style versus “of Student Affairs.” This also applies to associate vice chancellor titles within the Division of Student Affairs. “Vice Chancellor, Student Affairs” may also be used where needed to reduce character count, such as in a headline, or where the title is preceded by the word “for,” e.g., A reception was held for the vice chancellor, Student Affairs.

Additionally, academic titles should not recognize candidacy, e.g., master’s candidate. Only earned degrees should be included in academic titles. Refer to the lists entry regarding consistency when presenting a listing of individuals with degrees.

UC Davis

Acceptable in all references in internal publications. Do not use UCD. Use no periods in UC. Also see University of California, Davis, which is our style for first reference in news releases (including a comma after California and a comma, usually, after Davis, unless it ends a sentence). Never say the University of California at Davis. No line breaks.

UC Davis Life

This name is used by the Division of Student Affairs to represent its flagship social media accounts and newsletter and is reserved for this use only.

Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs

Not “Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs.” “Vice Chancellor, Student Affairs” may also be used where needed to reduce character count, such as in a headline, or where the title is preceded by the word “for,” e.g., A reception was held for the vice chancellor, Student Affairs.


Capitalization

hashtags

Single-word hashtags may be lowercase. When a hashtag contains more than one word, use “camel case.” This means capitalizing each word to improve readability and accessibility.

  • #GoAgs, not #goags
  • #UCDavisGrad, not #UCDavisgrad

headlines

Headlines should be in title case, meaning the first letter of each word four letters or longer is capitalized. All headings that function as headlines should be styled this way, whether in print or on the web. Designers are allowed limited discretion to use alternative formatting.

  • Getting Help
  • Editorial Calendar Templates

Punctuation, apart from commas and question marks, should not be included in headlines. Ampersands may be used, sparingly, in informal contexts where minimizing character count is a priority.

majors

In contrast to campus guidelines, use title case in all names of academic majors:

  • John Donne is majoring in Food Science
  • Geraldine Lowry's major is Mathematical Analytics and Operations Research
  • Hector Bazan is majoring in Chicana/o Studies.

Please note that undeclared and exploratory programs are not majors.

room

Capitalize room when used with a number, e.g. Room 114, South Hall.

titles

Follow campus guidelines: In general, capitalize formal or courtesy titles—president, chancellor, professor, senator—before names of individuals, and lowercase formal titles following names of individuals.

  • Chancellor Gary May
  • Gary May, chancellor of UC Davis
  • Governor Newsom
  • Gavin Newsom, governor of California
  • Pablo Reguerín, vice chancellor for Student Affairs

Lowercase occupational or descriptive titles—teacher, attorney, history professor, department chair—in all cases. (Note that professor alone stands as a formal title and warrants capitalization—an exception to AP—but "history professor," like "math teacher," is an occupation and should be lowercase.)

Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs” is the preferred style versus “of Student Affairs.” This also applies to associate vice chancellor titles within the Division of Student Affairs. “Vice Chancellor, Student Affairs” may also be used where needed to reduce character count, such as in a headline, or where the title is preceded by the word “for,” e.g., A reception was held for the vice chancellor, Student Affairs.

Additionally, academic titles should not recognize candidacy, e.g., master’s candidate. Only earned degrees should be included in academic titles. Refer to the lists entry regarding consistency when presenting a listing of individuals with degrees.


General Writing

advisor

This is an exception to AP style, primarily in consideration of the academic advising community’s preference.

campuswide

When used as a suffix, “wide” is not usually hyphenated.

coronavirus, COVID-19

Referring to simply the coronavirus is acceptable on first reference in stories about COVID-19. While the phrasing incorrectly implies there is only one coronavirus, it is clear in this context.

Use COVID-19 for the disease caused by the virus. But, because COVID-19 is the name of the disease, not the virus, it is not accurate to write a new virus called COVID-19. Also incorrect are usages such as “COVID-19 spreads through the air;” “scientists are investigating how long COVID-19 may remain on surfaces;” “she worries about catching COVID-19.” In each of those, it should be the coronavirus, not COVID-19.

Do not shorten to COVID, even in headlines, unless part of a quotation or proper name.

In stories, do not refer simply to coronavirus without the article the. Not: “She is concerned about coronavirus.” Omitting the is acceptable in headlines and in uses such as: “He said coronavirus concerns are increasing.”

For further guidance on coverage of coronavirus and COVID-19 beyond the scope of this style guide, refer to the AP Stylebook’s Coronavirus Topical Guide.

disabilities, disabled

Use the adjective “disabled” instead of “handicapped,” and do not use “disabled” as a noun, e.g., “the disabled.” Instead, say “persons with disabilities.” In general, defer to the group or individual’s preference, and emphasize the person rather than the disability. Per AP Style, do not describe an individual as disabled unless it is clearly pertinent to the story.

The ADA National Network offers in-depth guidelines for writing about people with disabilities. (external link)

headlines

Headlines should be in title case, meaning the first letter of each word four letters or longer is capitalized. All headings that function as headlines should be styled this way, whether in print or on the web. Designers are allowed limited discretion to use alternative formatting.

  • Getting Help
  • Editorial Calendar Templates

Punctuation, apart from commas and question marks, should not be included in headlines. Ampersands may be used, sparingly, in informal contexts such as email subject lines and in social media, when necessary to reduce character count.

lists

Use a colon before a list when the list is preceded by a complete independent clause.

  • The event is open to the entire campus community: undergraduate students, graduate students, post-docs and family members.

A colon may be used before a bulleted list introduced by a dependent or independent clause

  • The center offers:
    • Tutoring services.
    • Study space.
    • Counseling.

Vertical lists should always use bullets, not dashes, hyphens or asterisks, with the first word of each entry capitalized, whether it is a complete sentence or not.

Use parallel construction for all bullet entries. For example, if one entry is a complete sentence with punctuation, then all entries should be presented as complete sentences:

  • Orientation packets are mailed to conference participants.
  • Conference organizers contract with local food and beverage vendors.
  • Volunteer training begins toward the end of July.

If one entry is a sentence fragment opening with a verb, then all entries should be sentence fragments opening with a verb:

  • The summer program will encourage participants to:
    • Explore potential career paths.
    • Engage with resources like career advising.
    • Develop job search skills, such as interviewing.

pronouns

When possible, ask your subject what their preferred pronouns are—and use those. “They,” “them” and “their(s)” may be used as singular personal pronouns for a person whose gender is unknown:

  • “The author of the article knows what they are talking about.”

Or for a person who elects to use those pronouns:

  • “Alex said that they were going to be late to the meeting.”

The LGBTQIA Resource Center offers a useful guide to personal pronouns and their usage.

For guidance on gender and gender neutrality, see campus guidelines.

toward

Not towards.

under way

Two words.

URLs

Should be written in all lowercase, without “www,” “http://” or a terminal slash. Keep URLs as short as possible. If the URL falls at the end of a sentence, you should include a period or other terminal punctuation.

Do not use the phrase, “click here” when referencing URLs. Instead, form the sentence to support inclusion of a hyperlink:

  • Correct: “More information about the recent award can be found on the department’s website.”
  • Incorrect: “For more info, click here.”

People

advisor

This is an exception to AP style, primarily in consideration of the academic advising community’s preference.

American Indian, Native American

Both are acceptable. Do not use Indian as shorthand for American Indians.

Black

Capitalize when used in a racial, ethnic or cultural sense: Black people, Black culture, Black literature, Black studies, Black colleges.

For further guidance on race-related coverage outside the scope of this style guide, refer to the AP Stylebook’s dedicated page.

Chicano, Hispanic, Latino, Mexican American

These terms, which should be capitalized, have distinct meanings that depend, to a large extent, on the interpretations and preferences of individuals. According to the AP Stylebook, the preferred term is Hispanic for people whose ethnic origin is a Spanish-speaking country. Latino is an acceptable alternative for people who prefer that term. When possible, use a more specific identification, such as Cuban, Puerto Rican or Mexican American. Use Chicano as a synonym for Mexican American only if it is a person’s preference. Chicanx and Latinx are acceptable for groups and organizations, depending on their preference.

Chicanx and Latinx

Acceptable for groups and organizations, depending on their preference.

dreamers

It is never appropriate to use the term, "dreamers" in reference to students whose residency status is undocumented, whose tuition is exempted by AB540 or whose financial aid eligibility is defined by the California Dream Act.

ethnicity

No hyphen; in general, capitalize, e.g. African American, Black, Asian, Asian American. White is not capitalized unless it starts a sentence. Terms that substitute an “x” for a letter denoting gender—e.g., Chicanx and Latinx, Filipinx, womxn—should be used only where it is a person or group’s preference.

For guidance on specific terms, see: Chicano, Hispanic, Latino Mexican American; Chicanx and Latinx; Black; Indigenous; American Indian, Native American, people of color

first-generation student(s)

Refers to students who are self-identified as the first in their family to attend a four-year college, or no parent or guardian has obtained a degree from a four-year college. Use a hyphen and avoid the more informal “first-gen” except where preferred for the platform or audience, or when talking about the First Generation Initiative.

Indigenous

Capitalize this term used to refer to original inhabitants of a place.

LGBTQIA+

Should be used in campus communications to describe the community at large. Note that the plus sign (+) is not included in the name of the LQBTQIA Resource Center.

people of color, racial minority

The terms people of color and racial minority/minorities are generally acceptable terms to describe people of races other than white in the United States. Avoid using POC unless your subject(s) self-identify with this term.

pronouns

When possible, ask your subject what their preferred pronouns are— and use those. “They,” “them” and “their(s)” may be used as singular personal pronouns for a person whose gender is unknown:

  • “The author of the article knows what they are talking about.”

Or for a person who elects to use those pronouns:

  • “Alex said that they were going to be late to the meeting.”

The LGBTQIA Resource Center offers a useful guide to personal pronouns and their usage.

For guidance on gender and gender neutrality, see campus guidelines.

Queer

An umbrella term covering people who are not heterosexual or cisgender. It is acceptable to use for people and organizations that use the term to identify themselves.


Punctuation

ampersands

Use an ampersand (&) in place of the word and only when it is an official part of an institution of company’s name:

  • Office of Educational and Enrichment Services (ampersand not a part of name)
  • Physical Sciences & Engineering Library (ampersand a part of name)
  • AT&T

or in informal contexts, such as email subject lines and in social media, when necessary to reduce character count.

comma

Do not use a serial (or “Oxford”) comma in a series of more than two items unless it is necessary to clarify the meaning.

  • Incorrect: “Equitable advising empowers students to pursue their personal, academic, and professional goals.”
  • Correct: “Specialists continue to serve to connect students to writing, math, physics and chemistry support.”
  • Correct: “A space where students may stop by to take a break, eat lunch, study, and meet other undergraduate and graduate students.”

hyphen

Use with:

  • In-residence
  • Telephone numbers (including area codes), e.g., 530-111-2222
  • Time and date ranges
  • Work-study

Do not use with:

  • Coed
  • Ethnic designations, e.g., African American, Asian American
  • Ex officio
  • Long Range Development Plan
  • Most terms ending with suffix, “wide,” e.g., campuswide, universitywide, systemwide
  • Most terms starting with prefix, “non,” e.g., nonprofit

Time, Dates and Numbers

dates, days

When representing a date with the name of the day, set the date within commas:

  • On Wednesday, Oct. 5, she will appear …
  • Wednesday, Oct. 5, 2020

Use cardinals, not ordinal numbers: Oct. 5 (not Oct. 5th).

When a month is used with a specific date, abbreviate only Jan., Feb., Aug., Sept., Oct., Nov. and Dec. Spell out when using alone, or with a year alone.

  • October
  • November 2021

When a phrase refers to a month, day and year, set off the year with commas.

  • December 4, 2021

When referencing a range of years, such as an academic year, use only the last two digits of the closing year, e.g., 2016-17.

See also: class year

numbers

Per AP, spell out numbers one to nine in body copy and use numerals for 10 and up. Use numerals when referring to money. Never start a sentence with a numeral.

  • Incorrect: “12 students were honored with awards on May 21.”
  • Correct: “Twelve students were honored with awards on May 21.”
  • Correct: “Someone left a $5 dollar bill on a table in the CoHo.

Similarly, spell out ordinal numbers from first to ninth and use numerals for 10th, 11th and up (though never with dates).

time

Always use figures, with the exceptions of noon and midnight.

Use lowercase type and periods, but no spaces, “a.m.” and “p.m.,” when used in a sentence. Use uppercase type without periods, e.g., "AM" and "PM," for posters, fliers, LCDs, and in some social media situations and headlines where character count is a consideration.

  • 11 a.m., 3:30 p.m.
  • 3:30 that afternoon
  • 10-11 a.m. (use a hyphen for ranges)
  • 10 a.m.-3 p.m.
  • From 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
  • 10 AM-3 PM
  • Involvement Fair
    Thursday, July 9
    1 PM

See the AP Stylebook’s “times” and “time of day” entries.


Web and Computer Technology

common web and computer terms

  • eduroam
  • email
  • DavisMail
  • homepage
  • internet
  • internet of things
  • Kerberos
  • log in, log out (verb)
  • login (noun)
  • myucdavis
  • online
  • the web
  • webpage
  • website
  • Twitter feed
  • Facebook page
  • Instagram story
  • WiFi
  • Zoom

hashtags

A social media indexing device, e.g., #UCDavisLife. See the directory of common UC Davis hashtags used by the campus.

Single-word hashtags may be lowercase. When a hashtag contains more than one word, use “camel case.” This means capitalizing each word to improve readability and accessibility.

  • #GoAgs, not #goags
  • #UCDavisGrad, not #UCDavisgrad

internet

Lowercase unless beginning a sentence or part of a title or headline.

social media

Some elements of campus editorial style may be relaxed to save space or strike the right tone on social media. See: ampersands.

smartphone

One word.

URLs

Should be written in all lowercase, without “www,” “http://” or a terminal slash. If the URL falls at the end of a sentence, you should include a period or other terminal punctuation.

Do not use the phrase, “click here” when referencing URLs. Instead, form the sentence to support inclusion of a hyperlink:

  • Correct: “More information about the recent award can be found on the department’s website.”
  • Incorrect: “For more info, click here.”