The University of Colorado recognizes the importance of grammatical consistency and accuracy throughout its web presence and in print publications. The university uses Associate Press Style in all publications, however there are rules not covered in AP that pertain specifically to the university.
To present a consistent and high-quality standard of writing that appropriately reflects the university’s standard of excellence, this guide addresses university-related style issues, common errors and common style.
The system style guide, published by University Relations in the Office of the President, is intended to serve as an editorial guideline for language use pertaining to the university and its constituents.
Spell the name of the state out entirely in content, datelines not needing a state remain the same.
A comma continues to follow the state when in the middle of a sentence:
"Over" is now allowable in content referring to a numeral or amount of time. Previously, it was relegated to spacial references, as in being physically above something.
“Underway” is now one word,
The AP has prohibited use of the phrase “illegal immigrant” or “illegal” to describe a person, citing use of the word illegal as limited to an action, not a person. Such people are now referred to as "undocumented workers" or "undocumented immigrants."
Refer to people as “diagnosed with schizophrenia” instead of “schizophrenics.”
New words: Swag, chichi, dumpster and froufrou (swag and dumpster are OK by us; we prefer you stay away from words such as chichi and dumpster)
For questions or to make changes, please contact the Office of University Relations .
An abbreviation is a shortened or contracted form of a word or phrase used to represent the whole.
An acronym is an abbreviation that is read as a word.
Use abbreviations and acronyms in moderation.
When using uncommon abbreviations or acronyms (ones that people outside of your field of study, school or department will not recognize) define them on first use—spell out the abbreviation or acronym followed by the abbreviation or acronym in parenthesis.
NOTE: If the abbreviation or acronym is not used after the first mention, do not abbreviate it.
Common-knowledge abbreviations and acronyms do not need to be defined on first use.
Use the article that you would use when speaking.
In general, if the acronym or abbreviation is used as a noun, no article is necessary.
Include periods when abbreviating academic degrees fewer than three letters: B.A., BFA, M.A., Ph.D., M.D., etc.
Use a period with abbreviated courtesy titles (Dr., Ms., Mr., Sen., Gov., etc.).
Use Associated Press (AP) state abbreviations. Never use the two-letter postal abbreviations, unless part of a complete mailing addresses.
Only abbreviate state names when used with the name of a city.
The list of AP state abbreviations is as follows:
|District of Columbia||D.C.||Missouri||Mo.||Tennessee||Tenn.|
|Indiana||Ind.||New Mexico||N.M.||West Virginia||W.Va.|
Only abbreviate United States when it is used as an adjective.
Use periods when abbreviating United States (U.S.).
Do not use periods when abbreviating United States of America (USA).
Do not capitalize the names of degrees.
Use bachelor of, master of, and doctor of when using the name of a degree as a noun (see examples above). Use bachelor's degree, master's degree or doctorate when the degree name isn't specified or when the level of degree is used as an adjective.
The University of Colorado does not award associate degrees; however, employees may still need to reference this level of education. NOTE: Associate degree is never plural (associates) or possessive (associate's).
Abbreviating degree names is encouraged; use periods if fewer than three letters are abbreviated: B.A., BFA, M.A., Ph.D., M.D., etc.
Areas of study (e.g. music, genetics, physical therapy, electrical engineering) are not capitalized unless used as part of a proper name.
Use abbreviations for Ave., Blvd. and St. with numbered addresses. Spell out and capitalize them when referencing a formal street name without a number.
When referencing two street names without a numbered address, spell out the type of street but do not capitalize it.
Abbreviate compass points when used with a number address. Spell out compass points in other uses.
Always use figures for an address number.
Spell out and capitalize First through Ninth when used as street names. Use figures and two letters for 10th and above.
Use capital letters and periods with no space when abbreviating post office box (P.O. Box).
Spell out building names.
When referencing a specific room, write the building name followed by a comma and the room number.
Use dashes, not periods. Do not put parenthesis around the area code.
The “1” is not necessary when writing long-distance or toll-free telephone numbers.
The Board of Regents consists of nine members serving staggered six-year terms, one elected from each of Colorado's seven congressional districts and two from the state at-large. The members select their own chair and vice-chair.
The board is charged constitutionally with the general supervision of the university and the exclusive control and direction of all funds of and appropriations to the university, unless otherwise provided by law.
Proper nouns and official names are capitalized.
Common nouns and informal forms of official names are not capitalized.
Capitalize only the official and complete names of colleges, schools, departments, divisions, offices and official bodies.
Do not capitalize informal and shortened versions of schools, colleges, departments, divisions, offices and official bodies.
Avoid capitalizing a committee, center, group, program, institute or initiative unless it is officially recognized and formally named.
Capitalize the official, proper names of long-standing committees and groups and formally developed programs and initiatives.
When referring to official course titles, use initial caps. Do not use quotation marks, italics or any other formatting with course titles.
When referring to a course using the course title and course number, use commas to set off the course title.
Do not capitalize degree names when spelled out.
Capitalize degree abbreviations.
Do not capitalize major names, minor names or programs of study.
Capitalize a job title if it immediately precedes a name.
Do not capitalize titles that follow names or stand alone.
Placing the title after the name, lower case, is preferred.
Capitalize the first word, last word and all words that are more than four letters in length of publication titles (includes books, newspapers, magazines, movies, etc.). See names and titles for more rules.
Capitalize the first word, last word and all words that are more than four letters in length of titles of articles, chapters, episodes, etc.
Capitalize only the official and complete names of colleges, schools, departments, divisions and offices.
Do not capitalize informal or general references.
Do not capitalize semester names or seasons.
Capitalize the full, official names of buildings and places on campus. Examples: Old Main, North Classroom, University Center
Do not capitalize university unless using the complete proper name of the university. See university references for a list of proper names.
NOTE: This rule also applies to schools, colleges, departments, centers, institutes, etc.
Always spell out names of months when it stands alone, with specific years and when space allows. If necessary, only use abbreviations when used with a specific date.
Always use numerals as dates. Do not add suffixes (th, st, etc.) to numerals unless used for street names.
When using a specific date in running text, use a comma after the year. However, do not use a comma to separate the month and year when there is not a specific date.
Use four digits when referencing a specific year (2008).
When referencing a range of years, it is acceptable to use a two-digit year (2008-09).
If using numerals for the month, day and year (only recommended for informal documents) the format is as follows: MM/DD/YYYY, MM-DD-YYYY or MM.DD.YYYY.
If the date referenced occurs in the current year, the year is not necessary.
Use figures for time, except for noon and midnight.
Use a colon to separate hours and minutes. Do not add a colon and zeros for on-the-hour times
Specify the time of day by using a.m. or p.m. (lower-case letters with periods and no spaces between).
Avoid redundancies such as 10 a.m. in the morning.
When writing articles for publication or content for the web, be aware of federal privacy laws concerning patient and individuals’ health records and students’ academic records. The FERPA and HIPAA laws make it illegal to disclose personal information without the individual’s consent.
The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act  (FERPA) is a federal law that protects the privacy of student education records. The law applies to all schools that receive funds under an applicable program of the U.S. Department of Education. FERPA gives parents certain rights with respect to their children's education records. These rights transfer to the student when he or she reaches the age of 18 or attends a school beyond the high school level.
Students to whom the rights have transferred are "eligible students." ~ U.S. Department of Education
The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996  (HIPAA) provides federal protections for personal health information and gives patients an array of rights with respect to that information. At the same time, the permits the disclosure of personal health information needed for patient care and other important purposes. The rule specifies a series of administrative, physical and technical safeguards for covered entities to use to assure the confidentiality, integrity and availability of electronic protected health information. ;~ U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
The Colorado legislative body is called the General Assembly, not the Colorado Legislature. If you refer to it as the Colorado legislature, it’s in lower case.
Most other states go by legislature as part of the proper name. It should therefore be capitalized when presented as the formal name. Example: The Kansas Legislature; the legislature in Kansas.
First reference, use Rep., Reps., Sen. and Sens. as formal titles for one or more names. Do not capitalize the title when it follows a person’s name or stands alone.
Hyphenate compound modifiers—two or more words that modify the same noun.
Hyphenate phrases to avoid ambiguity.
In general, do not hyphenate words with prefixes and suffixes (non, pre, wide, etc.).
Hyphenate to avoid triple consonants and double vowels.
Hyphenate if the word that follows a prefix begins with a capital letter.
Use vertical lists for lists that are long or contain items on several levels.
Use vertical lists for quick-reference items or for visual prominence.
Use numbers when items on a list follow a specific order.
Use bullets as visual markers for each item.
If the introductory statement is a complete grammatical sentence, end it with a colon. List items do not begin with capital letters and do not carry closing punctuation unless they are complete sentences.
If the introductory statement is not a complete sentence, use the punctuation mark that's appropriate for the context (comma, semicolon, dash, or nothing). List items do not start with capital letters and have no closing punctuation.
Numbered items begin with a capital letter.
Do not use closing punctuation unless the item is a complete sentence.
Separate items in a series with a comma. Do not use a comma before the conjunction.
If the series contains lengthy elements or elements that require separation with a comma, use semicolons to avoid confusion. Use a semicolon before the conjunction in a series.
Spell out numbers under 10 (one through nine).
Use figures for numbers 10 and up.
Spell out a numeral at the beginning of a sentence.
Do not spell out numerals that identify a calendar year.
Decimals should not exceed two places in textual references, except for in special circumstances.
Be consistent with the number of decimal places used—if one number has two decimal places, all numbers should have two decimal places (2.25, 2.50, etc.).
Use figures with million or billion in all uses.
Always use numerals when referencing percentages.
Spell out percent unless it is included on a quick-reference list.
In general, follow AP style.
For titles of compositions (books, movies, music, etc.), follow AP style and place in quotation marks: “Gone With the Wind,” “South Park,” “How to Save a Life”
For names of periodicals, including academic journals, follow AP style; use italics: The Denver Post, (Boulder) Daily Camera, New England Journal of Medicine
For names of articles in academic journals, use quotation marks and sentence case, rather than title case: “Characteristics of black carbon aerosol from a surface oil burn during the Deepwater Horizon oil spill” appeared in Geophysical Research Letters.
In a series or list, do not use a comma before the conjunction.
Do not use a comma to separate two independent sentences; use a semicolon.
Use a comma before a conjunction when it connects two independent sentences.
Do not use a comma before a conjunction connecting a dependent clause to an independent clause.
Use a colon to introduce lists.
Capitalize the words immediately following the colon only if it is the beginning of a complete sentence or proper noun.
Use a colon to introduce long quotes.
Do not use a colon with a verb.
Use a semicolon in a series or list when items in the series are long or contain material that must be set apart by commas.
Use a semicolon to connect two independent sentences without a conjunction.
Use an em dash (longer) to mark a break in thought.
Use an en dash (shorter) to indicate a range (it replaces the word through).
See the hyphenation  section in this style guide for usage and rules.
Use a period at the end of a sentence.
Punctuation always goes inside quotation marks.
email is no longer hyphenated
internet is no longer capitalized
online is one word
website (single word, no space or hyphen), webpage
World Wide Web is the formal, proper name for the web and is rarely used; when used, however, treat as a proper noun
Affect / Effect
Affect, as a verb, means to influence.
Affect, as a noun, is used in psychology to describe an emotion.
NOTE: Affect is rarely used as a noun.
Effect, as a verb, means to cause.
NOTE: Effect is rarely used as a verb.
Effect, as a noun, means result.
Use due to only when the phrase can be substituted with caused by.
Avoid using due to in place of because. If used in place of because, the phrase should follow a form of to be and must modify a noun.
Farther / Further
Farther refers to a physical distance.
Further refers to an extension of time or degree.
i.e. / e.g.
i.e. is an abbreviation for “that is” and is always followed by a comma.
e.g. is an abbreviation for “for example” and is always followed by a comma.
Just / Only / Precisely
Avoid ‘just’ because of its secondary meaning as ‘rightful.’ Preferred use is ‘only’ when meaning a mere amount; ‘precisely’ when meaning exact.
In general, ask yourself whether the sentence can stand go without the adverb.
More Than / Over
In 2014, the Associated Press Style Guide began allowing for the use of "over" when referring to numerals and amounts, where previously it was only allowed when describing the state of being physically "above" something. The previously preferred use of "more than" is still desirable.
Use over when referring to spatial relationships
That / Which
Use that in essential clauses—those that are important to the meaning of the sentence—without commas.
Use which with nonessential clauses and set off the clause with commas.
Who / Whom
Use who as a pronoun referencing humans and animals with a name. It is never the object of a sentence, phrase or clause.
NOTE: Use who when you could replace it with he or she: Who is the guest of honor? He is the guest of honor.
Use whom when someone is the object of a verb or preposition
NOTE: Use whom when you could replace it with his or her: With whom will you be attending the dinner? I’ll attend the dinner with her.
Trademark and Registered Marks
A trademark is associated with a brand, symbol or word; there is no legal registration required to use a trademark.
The federal registration symbol (the circle-r) is used with goods or services that are officially registered with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.
When using the name of a federally registered item or service, use the circle-r (®) mark on first use.
Common words, commonly spelled/used incorrectly
Use American English spellings and not British English spellings: