Editorial Style 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.

For information about branding and design guidelines, see the Design Toolkit.

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). AP Style abbreviates 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).
  • Use st, nd, rd, or th only if dates are adjectives. The event will take place July 15.The July 15th show has been cancelled.
  • 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, 2019, deadline.
  • Use the year with the month only if it is not the current year.
  • 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.
The abbreviation e.g. stands for exempli gratia, meaning for example; i.e. stands for id est, which means that is (in other words). In each of these cases, set off the abbreviation with parentheses and insert a comma after the un-italicized abbreviation: Most UNC Charlotte students are from southeastern states (e.g., North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia). The UNC Charlotte telephone directory is available to all employees (i.e., faculty members, staff members and student employees).

Avoid using etc. (abbreviation for etcetera) in most cases. If items are not important enough to list, do not include them.

Mailing Addresses

In running text, do not use abbreviations for any part of a street address: North, South, East, West, Street, Avenue, Boulevard, Place, Court, Lane, or the state. UNC Charlotte is on University City Boulevard, Charlotte, North Carolina, 28213. She works at 2700 North Tryon 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:

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

General references to streets, roads, avenues, and places are not capitalized.

Do not use abbreviations if the number is omitted from an address. He lives on East 42nd Street.

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 should always appear in capital letters.

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., etc. 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. (e.g., St. Louis) in the names of cities, saints and other place names but spell out Fort (Fort Lauderdale, Fort Bragg).

State Names

Spell out the names of states when used narratively, whether standing alone or used in conjunction with a city, town, village or military base.

In tabular material or if space is a consideration, the two-letter ZIP code postal abbreviation is acceptable.

Use commas before and after state abbreviations 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: 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: AP Style and ZIP code abbreviations for eight states that are never abbreviated in datelines or text: AK (Alaska), HI (Hawaii), ID (Idaho), IA (Iowa), ME (Maine), OH (Ohio), TX (Texas), UT (Utah). Also: District of Columbia (DC).

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. (See AP Style Guide for lists of cities.)

Academic Degrees

If mention of degrees is necessary to establish credentials, the preferred form is to 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., LL.D., Ph.D.

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.

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.

Do not use courtesy titles (Dr. John Jones) to indicate academic degrees.

Academic Disciplines

Capitalize only when it is a proper name. Jill Jones is an English major. A professor of geography and earth sciences delivered the lecture.


Two correct spellings exist for this word: adviser and advisor. While adviser is the preferred AP style spelling, advisor appears to be the preferred version for everyday use and among the members of the academic advising profession.

Colleges/Graduate School

Capitalize when using the formal name of the college:

  • Belk College of Business (Belk College acceptable on second reference)
  • College of Arts + Architecture (CoAA)
  • College of Computing and Informatics (CCI)
  • Cato College of Education (Cato College acceptable on second reference)
  • College of Health and Human Services (CHHS)
  • College of Liberal Arts & Sciences (CLAS)
  • William States Lee College of Engineering (Lee College of EngineeringLee College acceptable on second reference)
  • Graduate School

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 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 2019 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

Course titles used narratively should be capitalized and appear in quotation marks. (However, quotation marks do not apply to course title entries in the course catalog.)

Departments and Programs

Full formal names of UNC Charlotte academic departments and programs are capitalized: the Department of Biology, Department of Communication Studies, the Office of International Programs; the Women’s and Gender Studies Program.

Lowercase the department/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 the divisions: Division of Academic Affairs, Division of Business Affairs, Division of Student Affairs, Division of University Advancement. Lowercase in general reference. As an exception to AP Style, it is acceptable to capitalize informally, too.


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.

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.

To avoid confusion, 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

Use quotation marks around the formal title of a lecture.


Lowercase in all instances: She has been accepted for the fall 2002 semester. Commencement marks the official end of the spring semester. He plans to attend summer sessions.

Board of Trustees

Capitalize when referring to UNC Charlotte’s. The UNC Charlotte Board of Trustees will meet tomorrow.

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.


Do not capitalize campus.  

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

Class of

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

Departments and Administrative Units

As a rule, official names are capitalized (Department of Chemistry, Atkins Library) and unofficial names are not (chemistry, the library). Lowercase unofficial names of departments or offices (the admissions office).

Many UNC Charlotte administrative units, (i.e., Facilities Management, Information Technology Services, Auxiliary Services, Parking and Transportation Services) have a history of being referenced in this manner, without being designated an office or department. It is acceptable to capitalize these campus units.


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


  • 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.
  • Cities: Capitalize if it is part of 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.)
  • 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 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: (President, Professor) when they precede a proper name. History Professor Joseph Brown was the speaker. (Lower case with the title appears after a name. Joseph Brown, professor of history, was the professor of history, was the speaker.)
  • 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; except at the beginning of a sentence or where noted, use lower case.

  • 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.
  • home page (not 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 www.uncc.edu.

Websites for the University’s departments and programs indicate first the department, then the University.  Admissions.uncc.edu; studentaffairs.uncc.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 if given in parentheses after first use: The UNC Charlotte Student Government Association (SGA) 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.

Do not parenthesize after a first spelled-out use if the organization will not be mentioned subsequently.

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]) See faculty.

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.


Avoid use of terms that carry a potentially negative interpretation, like victimafflicted and strickenPeople with disabilities, not the disabled or disabled people. Do not use normal to mean the opposite of having a disability. Lowercase terms that describe groups or individuals by physical characteristic or disability. Concert attendees who have a hearing impairment can request headphones.

Ethnicity, Nationality, Race

The terms “black” and “white” should be lowercase. With the exception of Native American and French Canadian, hyphenate terms describing dual ethnic heritages (African-American, German-American). Whenever possible, use a specific designation (Puerto Rican, Cuban) rather than Hispanic or Latino/a. Some Native American groups prefer Indian American; use a specific tribal designation (Cherokee, Navajo) when possible.

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.’

Gender-Neutral Language

As a rule, use nonsexist language: business executive, not business manpolice officer, not policemanfemale student, not coed studenthumankind, not mankind.

Avoid writing “he” when referring to an unspecified individual. Rewrite the sentence in plural or avoid the use of pronouns altogether. If using a singular pronoun, write “he or she” not “he/she.”


Denotes a person from—or whose ancestors were from—a Spanish-speaking land or culture. Latina or Latino are sometimes preferred, but Hispanic is acceptable. Defer to the preference of the subject, and use a more specific identification when possible, such as CubanPuerto Rican or Mexican-American.

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) clauses; "which" 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 theatre in referring to the College of Art + Architecture Department of Theatre. However, it is the Anne Belk Theater in the Robinson Hall for the Performing Arts.

Per AP Style, use theater generically and theatre when it is part of a proper name (Shubert Theatre).

Word Choice and Specificity

  • Freshman, freshmen:  If possible, use first-year student instead. Do not use freshmen as an adjective.
  • Fundraising, fundraiser: one word
  • Grade, grader: Hyphenate in combining forms: a fourth-grade student, a 12th-grade pupil, first-grader, 10th-grader.
  • 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.
  • Upperclass students: If possible, use juniors and seniors instead.
  • Vice chancellor (and other such titles): No hyphen.


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 video Lower Thirds

In general (see examples below):

  • Graduation year comes before program abbreviation (see examples below)
  • Always use a “smart” apostrophe (’) for graduation year abbreviation.
  • Bachelor’s degrees: If we ever need to say BA or BS, do not use periods.
  • Master’s degrees: Identify the program (rather than M.A. or M.S.) in all caps, without periods: 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
  • 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 (15 percent), 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 percent, 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 preferred over upper- and lowercase. (In either case, 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 to in infinitives. If a headline includes a colon, the first word following the colon should be capitalized.

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 if there’s a person, place or situation that the reader is likely to want to identify.

Ideally, captions should be written in complete sentences and an attempt should be made to describe the reason for the photo. Do not write, “Pictured here are…”

Use (left)(from left), or the like only if there might be confusion about identities. When identification is clear, do not use (left to right or l-r).

Do not use a middle initial if a full name with 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, even those ending in s, are formed by adding s: Susan’s desk, Chris’s office.

Possessives of plural nouns not ending in s are formed by adding ’swomen’s studies.

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).


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 (e.g., 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.


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 had toast, orange juice, and ham and eggs for breakfast.

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).

Hyphenate words beginning with the prefix self.

When a compound modifier—two or more words used to express a single concept—precedes a noun, use hyphens to link all of the words in the compound except the adverb very and all adverbs that end in -lya study-abroad program, on-campus housing, a devil-may-care attitude, a very difficult class, an exceptionally good performance.

Most combinations are not hyphenated when they occur after a noun. 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 vicevice chair, vice president.

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 (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.


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. They go outside when they apply to the whole sentence.

Commas should not be used in combination with exclamation or question marks.


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.

When noting a person’s graduation year, use the accepted abbreviated format for the year: ’85, ’01. When using the graduation year, it is not necessary to also designate as an alumna/us as it is implied. 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” apostrophe (’) for graduation year abbreviation.
  • Bachelor’s degrees: If we ever need to say BA or BS, do not use periods.
  • Master’s degrees: Identify the program (rather than M.A. or M.S.) in all caps, without periods: 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

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. This is automatically created in Word when you type “something—something” (word-hyphen-hyphen-word).

En dashes (–) are used to express a range, such as Monday – Friday. This is automatically created in Word when you type “something – something” (word-space-hyphen-space-word).

Note: Use a space before and after en dashes, but not with hyphens or em dashes.


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. 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 exception to AP Style.) UNC Charlotte should be used for subsequent references.

Never use UNCC except for referring to websites or email addresses. Do not use UNC, Univ. of NC or similar shortcuts.

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.

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 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 versusBrown v. Board of Education.


Names of associations, organizations, conferences, meetings, etc., follow the same guidelines as for compositions, except that the article "the" preceding a name is lowercased even when it is part of the formal title and the organization capitalizes it. Use the group’s punctuation and abbreviations for its name.

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.