The purpose of this style guide is to establish conventions for the issues that come up most frequently in our courses and collateral material. For issues not covered here, consult a current edition of The Microsoft Manual of Style for Technical Publications, The Chicago Manual of Style, and Merriam Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary. The format given in the style sheet takes precedence over a differing format given in those works.
Capitalization Specific to the University
Capitalize UW System, System Administration, UW Colleges (but do not capitalize “system” alone, “systemwide,” “university” or “university system”).
Capitalize Board of Regents (but, in most cases, do not capitalize “the board” or “the regents”).
Capitalize schools within universities when using their proper names, but do not capitalize journalism (or journalism school), nursing, engineering, law, allied health, etc.
- School of Journalism & Mass Communication
- School of Nursing
- School of Engineering
Capitalize departments within schools when using their proper names, but do not capitalize geography (or geography department), agricultural economics, biochemistry, history, linguistics, etc.
- Department of Geography
- Department of Agricultural Economics
- Department of Biochemistry
Capitalize offices within System Administration (Office of Administration, Office of University Relations, Office of Capital Planning and Budget, etc).
Capitalize titles when used specifically in front of a name, or when followed by the full name of the institution:
- Acting President Katharine Lyall
- Professor Howard Temin
- Chancellor Karl Meyer
- She is President of Radcliffe College.
But do not capitalize when these titles follow the name or stand alone within the text:
- Katharine Lyall, acting president
Exception: In bylines to articles and in lists, capitalize titles whether or not they precede a person’s name.
General Rules of Capitalization
Apply all standard rules of capitalization. Use initial capitals with words like chapter, lesson, module, section, step, unit, or week when they are followed by numbers or letters. Do not capitalize page when it is followed by a number:
- Chapter 7
- Lesson 1
- Module 3
- Part A
- Question 9
- Section 4.5
- Step 5, Unit 4
- Week 7
Spelling and Capitalization of Commonly Misused Words
- 21st century (hyphenate if used as an adjective: 21st-century jobs)
- UW Colleges
- UW HELP
- UW System
Usage and Spelling of Other Commonly Misused Words and Phrases
adviser: Not advisor.
a.m., p.m.: Use lowercase letters.
beta test: Two words, no hyphen for noun, verb, and adjective. Do not use indiscriminately. The first, in-house test is the alpha test.
Available now in beta test form. (New York Times)
course calendar: Lowercase.
Refer to the course calendar for all assignment and discussion due dates.
course guide: In running text, use initial caps and italics.
Refer to the back of your Course Guide for the answer to this question.
course pack: Two words, not coursepack or CoursePack.
cyberspace: One word, not cyber space or cyber-space.
dates: Use this format: October 1, 1998. Do not follow the number of the day with any letters; in other words, do NOT use these formats:
- October 1st
- October 2nd
- October 3rd
- October 4th
double-click, double-clicking: Always hyphenate. Do not follow with “on.”
drop-down: Use only as an adjective: drop-down box.
e-business, e-commerce: These terms have a lowercase “e” and a hyphen. The “e” is capitalized—but the “b” or “c” is not—at the beginnings of sentences and in heads with initial capitals.
e-mail: The term has a lowercase “e” and a hyphen. The “e” is capitalized—but the “m” is not—at the beginnings of sentences and in heads with initial capitals.
help: The term should have an initial capital when referring to an application’s Help features. Do not use italic or quotation marks. In instructions, use bold when referring to the button.
- The Help feature of your word processor…
- Before you complete this activity, click the Help button.
home page: The term consists of two words.
ID: OK for “identification” (noun) in technical contexts. If casting as a verb is unavoidable, use an apostrophe: ID’ed, ID’ing, ID’s.
The server ID’s the user.
Internet: Because it is a proper noun, Internet should have an initial capital.
left-hand, right-hand: Use left and right.
Click the Discussions button on the left side of the screen.
LISTSERV: (uppercase) is a trademark name for software for managing electronic mailing lists; listserv (lowercase) seems to be a widely used generic word, and AP uses it this way in news stories. Because the word is derived from a trademark product, it should not be used in plural form. Instead use listserv e-mail lists.
I subscribe to several listserve e-mail lists.
I subscribe to several listservs.
log in, log off, log on, login, logoff, logon: Log in, log off, and log on are verbs. Login, logoff, and logon are adjectives.
- Log in with your user name and password.
- Log on to the network.
- The login screen will ask you for a password.
number sign (#): Do not use before numbers.
The activities for Week 7 cover a wide range of topics.
numbers: Spell out the numbers one through one hundred (humanities style) or one through ten (scientific and business style) and all manageable round numbers (e.g., five hundred, four million). For all other numbers, use numerals. Use numerals for percentages and section numbers: 50 percent, Unit 1, Section 1. (Recast sentences to avoid beginning them with a number that should not be spelled out; if you cannot recast, spell out the number at the beginning of the sentence.)
online, offline: Always use the closed-up forms.
- Welcome to this online course
- Use your word processor to complete your assignment offline.
on-site: Not onsite.
outfront: Use only as an adjective.
Your instructor’s address can be found on the outfront pages of the course.
PDF, Portable Document Format: Use either of these forms in running text. In technical contexts, .pdf may be used.
- The link below is to a PDF file, which requires Adobe Acrobat Reader
- The documents below have been saved in Portable Document Format.
plug-in: Use a hyphen. The term is acceptable as a noun.
To obtain the plug-in, go to our Web site.
pop-up: Use only as an adjective. Use dialog box instead of pop-up window when referring to a box that contains command buttons.
- pop-up window
- When the Save As dialog box appears, type in a name for the file.
phone numbers: Use hyphens as separators.
Call 877-895-3276 to receive a printout of the handbook.
RTF, Rich Text Format: Use either of these forms in running text. In technical contexts, .rtf may be used.
- Please save the following RTF files to your computer.
- Please save your work in Rich Text Format and submit it as an attachment.
roll over, rollover: Roll over is a verb. Rollover is an adjective or noun.
- Roll over the highlighted term.
- The course will include rollover items.
text box: Two words, no hyphen. The term refers to an area inside a dialog box where the user can enter text.
toll free: Two words when used as an adverb. Hyphenate when the term is used as an adjective in front of a noun.
- Contact our technical support toll free at the number given below.
- You may use the toll-free number given below to call technical support.
toolbar: One word.
top left, top right: Use upper left and upper right instead. Hyphenate these and similar phrases when they are compound adjectives before the nouns that they modify:
upper-left corner, lower-right corner
Web, Web site, World Wide Web: Because Web refers to the proper noun World Wide Web, it should have an initial capital. Web site is two words.
watercooler: One word.
Voice and Tone
Write in a direct, conversational style.
Tailor your words to the intended audience.
Use crisp, active sentences to give more life to the written word; avoid using passive voice.
Don’t overuse acronyms. Spell out acronyms on first use.
Use short, simple words rather than large, complex ones.
Use the second-person voice rather than the third-person whenever possible.
Style and Formatting
bold in instructions: When guiding users through procedures, use bold for the names of buttons, check boxes, icons, keyboard keys, text input pages, dialog boxes, text boxes, and menu items. Do not use italic or quotation marks.
- Press the Enter Key. Then press Esc.
- After you select the text, press Ctrl+B.
- In the Edit menu, select Preferences.
- On the Comment page, paste your text into the Enter your comments text box.
- Before you complete this activity, click the Help button.
Note that when formatting punctuation after a bold word, either the fourteenth or fifteenth edition of The Chicago Manual of Style can be followed.
Sometimes it is hard to distinguish instructions from general prose. If you are dealing with a passage that lays out many small sequential steps, you are probably dealing with instructions and should use bold as outlined above. In passages without many steps–passages that aren’t procedural–use initial capitals but no bold:
- You can use the Comment page to provide feedback.
- The Glossary button provides access to general terminology.
See also emphasis.
buttons: For names of buttons, see bold in instructions above. When using pictures of buttons in instructions, do not omit the name of the button in the accompanying text.
click: In mouse instructions, click should not be followed by “on.” Do not use left-click or refer specifically to the left mouse button. The left button is the default. Specify only for the right button. The term right-click is hyphenated.
Click the title to open the document. Then right-click with your mouse anywhere in the frame.
colored text: Use sparingly.
course number and name: Use a comma between the course number and the course name. Use italic for the course name. Note that there is a comma after the name as well when the entire expression is used in the middle of a sentence.
- You must have completed BSAD 3030, Human Resource Management, before taking BSAD 3100, Compensation Management.
- Welcome to German U424-203, Third Semester German. This course builds on German 204.
ellipsis: Use the ASCII character (HTML code …) or three dots (no space between the dots) with a space on either side of the ellipsis. Use a nonbreaking space (HTML code ) before the ellipsis.
em dash/en dash: In online text, a hyphen may be used for an en dash and a double hyphen may be used for an em, without space on either side.
emphasis: For emphasis in online text, use bold; in paper text, use italic. Exceptions may be made only for online texts that make unusually heavy use of bold for various purposes; in such cases, italic text may be better.
equations: Do not use punctuation with displayed equations.
instructions: See bold in instructions.
italic: Use italic (not bold italic) for book and journal titles and other titles that would be italicized in printed works. See also emphasis.
lists: The sentence or phrase introducing a list should end with a colon. Give each item in a list an initial capital. If the list consists of sentences or completions of the introduction, follow each listed item with a period. If the list consists of fragments (not complete sentences) that do not complete the introduction or if it consists of single words, do not use punctuation after any item.
Before you begin next week’s assignments, be sure you can:
- Define this week’s five key terms.
- Summarize the important points of the reading.
- Relate the terms and points to your own experience.
You will submit the following assignments:
- Two short papers
- Five brief article reviews
- A detailed critique of one article
titles of course guide sections (print), course documents or areas (online): Use initial capitals. Do not use bold or italic. When possible, use generic names for course areas, e.g., discussion area instead of Discussions.
- Read the How to Do the Work of the Course section carefully.
- You will find short explanations of the terms used in your textbook in the Study Notes.
- Read Lecture 1.3: Greek Astronomy before you work on this assignment.
- Read through the documents in the Syllabus area.
titles of published works: Use italic (not bold italic) for book and journal titles, quotation marks for titles of magazine and journal articles.
titles of Web sites: Use italic for the names of Web sites. Use roman and quotation marks for individual pages that are part of a site.
After you have completed this week’s assignment, please go to Perseus Digital Library at http://perseus.tufts.edu and read the section “The Ancient Olympics.”
All University of Wisconsin-Extension publications should include the equal opportunity statement:
An EEO/AA employer, University of Wisconsin-Extension provides equal opportunities in employment and programming, including Title IX and ADA requirements.
It is recommended that every publication intended for an off-campus distribution contain an equal opportunity / affirmative action statement. Suggested options for statements are:
The University of Wisconsin System is committed to providing equal educational and employment opportunity regardless of race, color, creed, religion, sex, national origin, disability, ancestry, age, sexual orientation, pregnancy, marital, or rental status.
The University of Wisconsin System provides equal opportunity in employment, programming, and services.
AA/EOE (Use this option when space is at a premium.)
Program brochures and materials should include statements about accommodations for persons with disabilities:
Persons with disabilities who require alternative means for communication of program information (Braille, large print, audiotape, etc.) should contact the [program coordinator] or [office giving program].
A publication about an activity or program may also include:
Requests for reasonable accommodations for disabilities or limitations should be made prior to the date of the program or activity for which it is needed. Please do so as early as possible prior to the program or activity so that proper arrangements can be made. Requests are kept confidential.
Academic Information Series 5.3 (ACIS-5.3)
The 1982 and 1988 Board of Regents Policy on Extension assigned cooperative responsibilities and shared authority for the extension function to UW-Extension and the other UW institutions. In addition, the 1988 Regent policy on joint appointments (since identified as collaborative appointments) of faculty/staff between UW-Extension and the other UW institutions provide these individuals with faculty and academic staff standing within UW-Extension. These policies set the tone for a true partnership among UW System institutions to extend their resources to the people of Wisconsin and to achieve mutual public recognition of this important work. Extension programs and their concrete benefits to professionals, businesses and communities throughout the state are among the best public relations tools available to the UW System and its individual institutions.
The unique structure of the extension function in Wisconsin, with its shared mission between UW-Extension and the other UW institutions, its distinct but interrelated roles and responsibilities for the planning and delivery of programs, and its use of collaborative appointments for faculty/staff, presents a special challenge in how each participating institution is identified for the public and key decision-makers.
The challenge is to expand and reinforce the identity of the extension function to achieve more widespread public support, recognition, and fiscal resources to benefit all UW institutional extension programs and their contributions to the people of the state.
The UW System Board of Regents recognized this challenge in their May 1988 policy on integration of the extension function by mandating:
Consistent use of the term “extension” to identify UW institutional extension units, faculty and staff and programs within the statewide extension function.
To implement this policy, the Regents charged the Chancellor of UW-Extension, in consultation with the other UW institutional chancellors, to develop and implement as soon as feasible:
A format for uniform identification of extension units, programs and faculty and staff of the UW institutions.
The policies and guidelines in this document recognize that the extension function is planned and implemented through the collaborative effort and shared authority between UW-Extension and the other UW institutions. They call for clear and consistent identification of the various elements of this collaborative relationship.
E-mail signatures should contain the following:
University of Wisconsin-Extension
Continuing Education, Outreach & E-Learning
Phone number and area code (999-999-9999)
Web site address (examples below)
Web Site Address Examples
Research Park Address
5602 Research Park Boulevard
Madison, WI 53719
Release of Wisconsin-Extension Continuing Education, Outreach & E-Learning’s information to media outlets should be clear, consistent, and accurate.
Approved photos and logos are available through download at the UW-Extension Continuing Education, Outreach & E-Learning’s web site. [link to photos and logos pages]