Writing style guide

This condensed UAB Guide to Style and Design provides guidelines and examples to help maintain consistency in written materials produced throughout UAB. It is based on three common style guides: the Associated Press (AP) Stylebook, The Chicago Manual of Style and the American Medical Association (AMA) stylebook.

If you have a style question not answered in this guide, refer to one of the three books mentioned above, and use its recommendations consistently throughout your writing.

 


 

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N P Q R S T U V W Y Z


A

ABBREVIATIONS/ACRONYMS

Abbreviations should be used sparingly and only after spelling out words on first use.

The abbreviation for the University of Alabama at Birmingham is UAB, without periods or spaces separating the letters. 

  • Companies and groups: Abbreviate only familiar divisions, agencies and associations. Use capital letters, omit periods and do not space between letters: YMCA, UNESCO. Less familiar organizations should be spelled out with their abbreviations or acronyms in parentheses immediately following the first use: General Clinical Research Center (GCRC). Afterward, the initials may be used alone.

  • States: When the names of states or territories of the United States stand alone, they should be spelled in full. The two-letter form is specified by the U.S. government for use in ZIP code addresses only. The abbreviation for Alabama is Ala., and the ZIP code is AL.

  • Time: Abbreviate and lowercase a.m. and p.m. using periods but no spaces: 8 a.m.

ACADEMIC DEGREES

Most common degrees include B.A. (Bachelor of Arts), M.A. (Master of Arts), M.S. (Master of Science), Ed.D. (Doctor of Education), Ph.D. (Doctor of Philosophy).

  • Do not use spaces after periods when abbreviating degrees. Set off the abbreviation with commas when used after a name: Ron Thompson, M.A., is pursuing a doctorate.

  • Do not use a courtesy title such as Dr. when listing a degree: Dr. Arnold Robinson or Arnold Robinson, Ph.D. — not Dr. Arnold Robinson, Ph.D.

  • List only the highest degree a person has received: Tammy Smith, Ph.D. — not Tammy Smith, B.A., M.A., Ph.D.

  • Capitalize formal names of specific degrees: Bachelor of Science, Bachelor of Arts in Accounting, Doctor of Philosophy. When referring to degrees in general, lowercase the first letter of the degree and use an apostrophe: bachelor's and master's degrees.

ACADEMIC DEPARTMENTS/UNITS

  • Capitalize the name of a department or unit only when it appears as part of an official name: Department of Anthropology or anthropology department.

  • On second reference, do not capitalize department, etc.: The department later announced its research results.

  • Lowercase nouns in plural uses: the schools of Engineering and Business, the departments of Chemistry and Biology.

ACADEMIC MEDICAL CENTER

The Academic Medical Center comprises the six academic schools of Dentistry, Health Professions, Medicine, Nursing, Optometry and Public Health, plus UAB Hospital and the Joint Health Sciences departments. When using this term, use the full designation: Academic Medical Center of the University of Alabama at Birmingham.

ACADEMIC TITLES

  • Capitalize and spell out formal titles such as professor, dean, president, chancellor, professor emeritus and chair only when they precede a name: Professor Jane Smith. Lowercase elsewhere.

  • Do not use a title with a degree: Professor Jane Smith or Jane Smith, Ph.D. — not Professor Jane Smith, Ph.D.

ADDRESSES

Every UAB unit has two addresses: a mailing address and a physical address. Both should appear on brochures and collateral material. Official unit names, building abbreviations and building ZIP+4 codes are listed in the UAB Campus Directory.

Mailing address: The mailing address should be printed in capital letters with no punctuation. In most cases, the descriptor "Mailing Address:" should precede it.

  • For UAB Hospital units:

OFFICIAL UNIT NAME
BUILDING ABBREVIATION AND SUITE NUMBER

619 19TH ST S

BIRMINGHAM AL 35249-XXXX

  • For UAB Kirklin Clinic units:

OFFICIAL UNIT NAME

TKC + FLOOR NUMBER

2000 6TH AVE S

BIRMINGHAM AL 35233-XXXX

  • For ALL other UAB units:

OFFICIAL UNIT NAME

BUILDING ABBREVIATION AND SUITE NUMBER

1720 2ND AVE S

BIRMINGHAM AL 35294-XXXX

 

Physical address: The physical address identifies street and building location. The physical address does not need a city, state or ZIP code nor does it need to appear in all capital letters. It should follow this format:

Official Unit Name

Building Name and Suite Number

Street Number and Name

• Use numerical figures for numbered street names: 9th Street NOT Ninth Street.

• Directional modifiers such as North and South should follow Street, Avenue, etc.: The Administration Building is on 20th Street South.

 

Special case: Return addresses listed on envelopes should follow this special format:

OFFICIAL UNIT NAME

BUILDING ABBREVIATION AND SUITE NUMBER
Street Number and Name
 (not capitalized)

For Hospital units:
619 19TH ST S
BIRMINGHAM AL 35294-XXXX

For TKC units:
2000 6TH AVE S
BIRMINGHAM AL 35294-XXXX

For all other UAB units:
1720 2ND AVE S

BIRMINGHAM AL 35294-XXXX

 

ALUMNI SOCIETY

UAB National Alumni Society is the organization's official name. Use the full name on first reference. Alumni Society is acceptable afterward.

ALUMNUS, ALUMNI, ALUMNA, ALUMNAE

An alumnus is a man who has attended a school. An alumna (alumnae in the plural) is a woman (or women) who attended. Groups of men and women are alumni. Anyone who has ever attended the University of Alabama at Birmingham is an alumnus or alumna, and together they are alumni. Do not use "alum."  

 




B

 

BLAZE

The name of the mascot for UAB’s athletic programs. Do not use quotation marks: The pep rally featured Blaze and the cheerleaders.

BLAZERS

The name given to UAB teams that participate in intercollegiate athletic programs.

BOARD-CERTIFIED

Lowercase. Hyphenate when used to modify a noun or when it follows a form of the verb "to be." Dr. Smith is a board-certified oncologist. In 1975, he was board-certified in oncology.

BOARD OF TRUSTEES, DIRECTORS

Capitalize when using these official names. Use lowercase "the board" for all other references. The Board of Trustees began its meeting. The board discussed funding for the new center.

BUILDINGS

In formal communication, use the official names of campus facilities and capitalize the names: Hill University Center is open. On general reference lowercase facility names: After touring the campus, they returned to the university center.

 


 

C

CAPITALIZATION

Avoid unnecessary capitals. Use them for proper names (see Academic Titles) and also according to the principles listed below. Official names of UAB units and organizations are listed in the UAB Campus Directory.

  • Seasons: Use lowercase for seasons of the year except when the season is part of a formal name: fall term, Spring Term 1998, summer program, Winter Olympics.
  • Subjects and disciplines: In general, do not capitalize academic subjects or medical specialties: She majored in philosophy. His doctor specializes in oncology. Do capitalize subjects or disciplines based on proper nouns: She studied for her finals in English and African-American studies.
  • After a colon: If the information introduced by a colon is a complete sentence, quotation or a speech, a capital letter should be used. I wish to make the following announcement: All employees must sign out before leaving for lunch. If the information is a series or phrase, use a lowercase letter. The following classes were listed: mathematics, history and music.

CENTER

Capitalize only when used as part of an official name: the Center for AIDS Research but the AIDS center. For official names, consult the official list of UAB Centers or the UAB Campus Directory. Lowercase the term "centers of excellence."

CHAIRMAN, CHAIRWOMAN, CHAIRPERSON

Chair is preferred: department chair.

CHILDREN'S HOSPITAL

Official name of the health-care system is Children's of Alabama. The new hospital facility is The Benjamin Russell Hospital for Children (BRHFC).

COURTESY TITLES

In general, do not use the courtesy titles Miss, Mr., Mrs. or Ms. with first and last names: Jane Smith, Jimmy Smith. The exception is addressing correspondence.

In news writing, the courtesy title is not used: Smith says — not Mr. Smith says.

 


 

D

DASH

There are several types of dashes: the hyphen, the en dash, the em dash. They have specific uses:

  • En dash (-): Use to indicate continuing or inclusive numbers or time periods: 1964-1965 or March-June 2012.

  • Em dash (—): Use to inject explanatory or qualifying material into a sentence: The people — the ones who were the most interested — made a special effort to attend the meeting.

DATES

  • Spell out months when used alone or with the year only: September 2012.

  • Abbreviate months when used as part of complete dates: Sept. 1, 2012.  (Except March, April, May, June and July)

  • Never use a comma between a month (or season) and year: April 2012 or fall 2012.

  • A comma follows the year when a specific date is mentioned mid-sentence: Feb. 8, 1990, was the date of the party.

  • Do not use "on" with dates: The program ends Dec. 15.

  • To indicate sequences or times, use an en dash (-): Apply here 8 a.m.-4 p.m. May 7-9.

  • Do not use ordinals (st, rd, or th) with dates: Oct. 14 — not Oct. 14th.

  • Do not abbreviate days of the week: Tuesday, Sept. 12, 2012.

DIRECTIONS

Lowercase north, northeast, south, western, etc., when used to indicate compass direction: He drove south toward Montgomery. Robert is from eastern Nebraska.

Capitalize directions when they designate regions or are part of proper names: Alabama is in the South. She went hiking in West Virginia.

 


 

E

EMERITUS

This word added to formal titles denotes distinguished individuals who have retired but retain their rank: Professor Emeritus Samuel Alan Morrison or Samuel Alan Morrison, professor emeritus of history.

EEO STATEMENT

An Equal Opportunity Statement must be printed on all publications directed to individuals outside the university community.

  • Catalogs and Handbooks: The full text of the UAB Equal Opportunity Policy and the UAB Sexual Harassment Policy must be included in all student catalogs, student handbooks and official employee handbooks. 

  • All other UAB publications may contain the following abbreviated equal opportunity statement:

"The University of Alabama at Birmingham prohibits discrimination in admission, educational programs, and other student matters on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, age, national origin, disability unrelated to program performance, veteran status or genetic or family medical history."

  • Solicitations and applications for student admissions: Printed solicitations and applications for student admission must contain one of the following abbreviated equal opportunity statements:

"All qualified applicants will receive consideration for admission without regard to race, color, religion, sex, national origin, or disability unrelated to the performance of an essential eligibility requirement."


"UAB is an equal education opportunity institution."
 

  • Solicitations and applications for employment: Printed solicitations and applications for employment must contain one of the following abbreviated equal opportunity statements:

"All qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to race, color, religion, sex, national origin, or disability unrelated to the performance of an essential job function."

"UAB is an equal employment opportunity employer."

 


 

F

FUND RAISING, FUND-RAISING, FUND-RAISER

The first is a noun, the second an adjective, the third a noun: The banquet was for fund raising. We had a fund-raising dinner. The marathon was a fund-raiser.

 


 

G

GENDER

In general references use gender-neutral words. Avoid using "man" or "woman" as a suffix or prefix. Use "person" instead, or change the construction of the sentence: chair — instead of chairman, business executive — instead of businessman.

 


 

H 

HEALTH CARE, HEALTH-CARE

Two words. The only exception to this is the UAB Mental Healthcare System, which uses the one-word form as part of its official name. Used as an adjective, “health care" is hyphenated: She sought health care in the health-care system.

HEALTH SERVICES FOUNDATION

See University of Alabama Health Services Foundation. UAHSF

HEALTH SYSTEM

See UAB Health System


 

I

ITALICS

  • Italicize titles of plays, television shows, motion pictures, books, journals, magazines, newspapers, newsletters, long poems published as books, and gallery and museum exhibitions: Abstraction and Isolation is showing at the Birmingham Museum of Art.

  • Italicize foreign language words and phrases; if surrounding text is italicized, set the title or word in regular type: He graduated summa cum laude. Or She has a certain je ne sais quoi about her.


 

J

Jr., II, III

Do not precede Jr. with a comma: Joe Johnson Jr. Numerals following names never take commas: Joe Johnson III.

 


 

K

KALEIDOSCOPE

Italicize the official name of the UAB student newspaper: Kaleidoscope — not The Kaleidoscope.


 

L

LIBRARIES

Individual UAB library names are as follows: Mervyn H. Sterne Library, Lister Hill Library of the Health Sciences and Reynolds Historical Library. On subsequent references Sterne Library and Lister Hill Library are acceptable.

 


 

M

MEDICAL CENTER

Can be used to describe the location of a unit, event or activity occurring within UAB's Academic Health Center. It should be capitalized: Construction is taking place in many areas of the Medical Center.

MEDICAL DEGREES

  • Use periods when abbreviating degrees; do not insert spaces after each one: M.D., D.D.S., D.M.D. or R.N.

  • Set off the abbreviation with commas when used after a name: Ron Johnson, M.D., is perfecting a new device.

  • Do not use a courtesy title when listing a degree: Dr. Wendy Robbins or Wendy Robbins, M.D. — not Dr. Wendy Robbins, M.D.

  • Do not use any degree abbreviation as a noun: He earned his doctorate in medicine — not He earned his M.D.

  • Capitalize formal names of specific degrees: Doctor of Medicine in Orthopaedics.

MEDICAL DEPARTMENTS/ UNITS/ SPECIALTIES

  • Capitalize the name of a department or clinic along with the words department, division, clinic and center only when they appear as part of an official name: His doctor is part of the Department of Pediatrics. The announcement came from the pediatrics department.

  • Lowercase nouns in all plural uses: the departments of Emergency Medicine and Radiology, Neurology and Neurosurgery clinics.

  • Do not abbreviate department.

  • For official names, consult the UAB Campus Directory.

 


 

N

nondiscrimination

UAB's publications should reflect the university's commitment to equal opportunity and nondiscriminatory practices in all aspects of employment and education. Respect and a balanced representation should be given regarding gender, race, ethnic group, age and ability. Non-discriminatory principles apply to all written materials.

  • All promotional materials distributed to individuals outside the university community must contain a statement reflecting the university's policy on nondiscrimination and affirmative action. (See EEO statement.)

NUMBERS

  • Spell numbers at the beginning of sentences, except a calendar year: 1993 was a banner year for UAB.

  • Spell whole numbers below 10, except in statistical data. Use figures for 10 and above: They had 10 dogs.

  • Use numerals when referring to credit hours: The course carries 3 hours of credit.

  • In citing percentages, use the figure followed by percent: 4 percent.

  • When referring to millions of dollars, always use the figure followed by million: $4 million.

  • When referring to millions of entities other than dollars, spell out whole numbers below 10 (except in statistical data) and use figures for 10 and above: two million volumes, 12 million people.

  • For ages, use numbers: a 2-year-old child, a student in her 30s.

 


 

P

PRESIDENT

Capitalize when preceding a name: President Jane Smith. Lowercase in all other uses: Jane Smith, president

 


 

Q

QUOTATION MARKS

The period and comma are always inside quotation marks: He said, "I'm leaving." Or "I'm leaving," he said.

The dash, semicolon, question mark and exclamation point go inside the quotation marks only when they apply to the quoted matter: He yelled, "Stop!" Can you believe he actually yelled, "Stop"?

  • Direct quotation: Only the exact words of speakers or writers should be included within quotation marks: "I have no intention of staying," he said. Or He hesitated to leave, but said he “just couldn’t stay.”
  • Single quotation marks: Use only when quotes appear inside a quotation: "He told her, ‘I don’t need this class.’"

 


 

R

ROOM

Uppercase when referring to specific rooms in specific buildings: Hill University Center Room 346.

ROTC

Acronym for Reserve Officers Training Corps. Abbreviation acceptable on all references, with no periods.


 

S

SCHOOLS

A list of UAB schools is online. Do not capitalize school unless it is part of an official name.

The schools of Medicine and Dentistry are officially named the University of Alabama School of Medicine and the University of Alabama School of Dentistry. It is also acceptable to refer to them as UAB schools in this manner: the School of Dentistry at UAB or the UAB School of Dentistry.

STATE, FEDERAL

Lowercase in all references, except as the formal name of a corporate or governmental body: state universities or federal grants.

Capitalize its use in formal names: Federal Communications Commission or State of Alabama seal.

STATES

  • Names of states or territories of the United States stand should always be spelled in full when used alone: I live in Alabama.

  • Combined with a city, you may abbreviate them: Birmingham, Ala.

  • The two-letter form (AL, GA, TN) is specified by the U.S. government for ZIP code addresses only.

STUDENT CLASSIFICATIONS

  • Do not capitalize freshman, sophomore, junior or senior: He is a senior communications major.

  • Do capitalize class designations: The Senior Class sponsored the lecture.

 


 

U

UAB ENTERTAINMENT!

The official name of the UAB Department of Music’s record label. Always include the exclamation point.

UAB HEALTH CENTERS

The official name of UAB’s neighborhood clinics. Always capitalize and use UAB in the name.

UAB HEALTH SYSTEM

Always capitalize. After the first reference, "the Health System" is acceptable if it is capitalized: He used the services of the UAB Health System. This clinic is a part of the Health System.

The UAB Health System comprises UAB Hospital, UAB Highlands, The Kirklin Clinic, UAB Health Centers, Callahan Eye Foundation Hospital and Viva Health.

UAB, UNIVERSITY, UNIVERSITY OF ALABAMA SYSTEM

The official names of the members of the University of Alabama System are The University of Alabama, University of Alabama at Birmingham and University of Alabama in Huntsville. Lowercase unless in a specific title.

  • For University of Alabama at Birmingham, use UAB or the university on second reference: She attended University of Alabama at Birmingham. She loved the university, and recommended UAB to her friends.

  • For The University of Alabama, located in Tuscaloosa, use UA or the university on second reference  — not UAT or Alabama.

  • For University of Alabama in Huntsville, use UAH or the university on second reference. 

UNIVERSITY OF ALABAMA HEALTH SERVICES FOUNDATION

The official name of the University of Alabama School of Medicine’s faculty practice program. Always capitalize. On subsequent references the Health Services Foundation is acceptable, as are the abbreviations HSF and UAHSF.

UNIVERSITY OF ALABAMA HOSPITAL, UAB HOSPITAL, UNIVERSITY HOSPITAL

  • The official name is University of Alabama Hospital, and it should be used on all official documents (e.g., legal contracts and forms).

  • UAB Hospital is preferred on advertising, brochures, patient materials, signs, banners, etc.

  • UAB University Hospital and UAB’s University Hospital are acceptable in other usage.



 

V

VETERANS AFFAIRS MEDICAL CENTER

The official name of the VA Hospital.

VICE PRESIDENT

Do not hyphenate.

VIVA HEALTH

Viva Health is the official name of the UAB Health System’s managed-care company. Refer to the company by its full name; do not abbreviate as "Viva."


 

W

Web, World Wide Web

In general, capitalize "Web" and use it as a separate word: She clicked on the Web link. 

When writing out World Wide Web addresses, "http://" is not required: She found her doctor’s name at www.health.uab.edu.

webmaster, website

Exceptions to the capitalization rule. This is one word, lowercase: His department launched a website. He is its webmaster.

 


 

Y



years

Use an "s" without an apostrophe to indicate spans of decades or centuries: the 1890s, the ’80s, UAB Hospital was dedicated in the early 1900s.

Use an apostrophe to abbreviate class years: She belonged to the class of ’72.

 


 

Z

ZIP code

ZIP stands for Zone Improvement Program and should be in all caps.