This basic guide shows the style to be used for words which frequently appear in University publications. The aim is to achieve a consistent house style.
Refer to Cambridge online dictionary when in doubt.
Abbreviations should be avoided unless there is no room to spell out the words in full (see acronyms).
Dr is an exception and should always be used rather than Doctor
Do not use full stops in abbreviations: HEFCE not H.E.F.C.E.
Try to avoid eg, etc, ie instead use 'for example' 'and so on' and 'in other words'.
Use initial capitals and ampersands
Faculty of Engineering & Design
Department of Education
School of Management
School for Health
But one can use just ‘Education’ as shorthand in subsequent uses in the same text.
No full stops - BA, MA, PhD
Use as sparingly as possible and always write out in full for the first mention on a page, with the acronym in brackets immediately after. After the first instance, where possible use a reference, such as ‘the agency’.
The South West Regional Development Agency (SWRDA) is to improve the economy of the south-west. The agency promotes the strengths of the region and helps people to regenerate their communities.
it's - abbreviation of "it is"
its - meaning "belonging to it" (analogous to "his")
student's - belonging to one student
students' - belonging to many students
students - plural of student (no apostrophe)
Book and article titles
Book and journal titles should be italicised, article titles should be roman with single inverted commas, and use caps and italics where appropriate:
The Book of Daniel by E L Doctorow
‘The Problem of the Italian South’; History Today, 1999
The Guardian, The Independent.
Lists of more than four items should be bulleted when writing for the web, each starting with a lower case letter, and there should be a full stop after the last bullet point.
Names, job titles, faculties, departments and course titles always have initial capitals.
Academic subjects are lower case when referring to the academic discipline, upper case when referring to a full departmental name:
She had been interested in chemistry since an early age and so decided to study at the University of Bath's Department of Chemistry.
Always use initial capitals when referring specifically to this University but not others:
At this University, many undergraduate courses are five years long, which is not the case at some other universities.
The following are lower case:
- email (note, one word)
- homepage (note, one word)
- online (note, no hyphen)
- web page (note, two words)
Small words (in, at, of, the, and, on) are not capitalised even in titles.
In general it is better to avoid capitals if you can – they interrupt the flow of the eye when reading. The names of planets and seasons are lower case.
The correct way to write a course title is BSc(Honours) Chemistry or BSc(Hons) Chemistry. Note there is no space between BSc and (Honours)
Day, date, month, year: Tuesday 28 March 2006 (note no punctuation).
This can be abbreviated if space is short, when it should appear as 28/03/06.
Directions and position
south-west not South West or south west
He walked north-east from the campus
(Except in titles - South West Regional Development Agency).
Describe as ‘people with disabilities’ not ‘the disabled’.
‘Non-disabled people’ not ‘able-bodied people’.
There are no capital letters in email addresses. If an email address comes at the end of a sentence it should not be followed by a full stop. This avoids any confusion about whether the full stop is part of the address.
Equality & Diversity
Make sure language is fair and does not constitute any form of harassment or discrimination, particularly in relation to the nine protected characteristics identified in the Equality Act 2010: age, disability, gender, marriage & civil partnerships, pregnancy & maternity, race, religion & belief, sexual orientation & transgender. Further advice
Use sentence case rather than title case:
University wins prestigious award not University Wins Prestigious Award
Where possible, leave out articles: 'a', 'an', 'the' etc
Generally, use where one word qualifies the next: mid-summer.
- A Levels
- Deputy Vice-Chancellor (note no first hyphen).
Use the British -ise rather than the American -ize.
Italicise foreign words, book and newspaper titles.
Avoid jargon when writing for a wider audience; broadsheet newspapers assume a reading age of 14 and we should do the same.
Use words for one to ten, numerals for 11 upwards, percentages and for money.
However, always use words at the beginning of a sentence (except in headlines):
Thirteen University students were among a group of 45 who won £150 each for their prize-winning essays on the stabilising of the UK inflation rate at around 2 per cent in the past four years; 11 of the students were highly commended.
£1,500, not £1500
If the figure is millions, use the word million: £3.3 million. (£3.3m is permissible in headlines). If the figure is in billions, use billion: £5.4 billion (£5.4bn is permissible in headlines). Round numbers to one decimal place unless there is a particular need for more precision.
A billion is one thousand millions.
Use per cent not % except in tables or long lists of percentages.
No hyphens and no brackets: 01225 381234
The exception is with international numbers: +44(0)1225 381234
Internal numbers are given as: ext: 1234.
Use double quotation marks for speech: " "
Single quotation marks should be used in headlines and when writing a quote within a quote:
Professor Jamal said: "Anyone who says 'I understand quantum physics' doesn't understand it at all."
Use closing quotation marks at the end of a quotation, not at the end of each paragraph of a quotation. But use beginning quotation marks to start each new paragraph of quotations:
Professor Brown made the following points:
"The 20th century has been rightly called the century of physics.
"But the 21st century will be the century of biology."
Writing about ethnicity
Don’t use ‘ethnic’ to mean black or Asian people. In a UK sense they are an ethnic minority; in a world sense, white people are the ethnic minority.
Don't use 'race' or 'racial' except in the phrase 'racial discrimination' or 'racist' (because we are all members of the human race and not biologically distinct).
Write African-Caribbean not Afro-Caribbean
Write Asian not Oriental (because it's Eurocentric)
Write south-east Asian not far-Eastern (because it's Eurocentric)
Alumnus (male, singular)
Alumna (female, singular)
Alumni (if referring to mix of male and female or more than one male alumnus)
Alumnae (plural female).
Use am and pm in the 12 hour clock system:
6am (note no gap)
Professor can be abbreviated to Prof (no full stop) only when there are space issues.
Always abbreviate Doctor to Dr
Give one forename in full and avoid initials.
Start with www, omitting the http:// unless the address contains no www, then write in full.
University of Bath never Bath University.