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The UAB Marnix E. Heersink School of Medicine is a frontrunner in medical education, research, and patient care in the heart of the southeast. A consistent, professional style helps us communicate scientific discovery, excellent care, and innovative training programs with efficiency.

This style guide is a reference for Heersink faculty, staff, and trainees. It is specific to the Heersink School of Medicine but also includes content from the UAB Campus Style Guide and AP Style Guide. The principles listed in this guide can be used for publications, news, social media, and internal copy, such as email.


For internal news articles and official internal emails

  • Heersink School of Medicine on first mention

  • Heersink, school, we, our(s) on second mention

For Newsletter, email, and web, use plural first-person pronouns often: we, our, us

There is no acronym; do not use HSOM

For historical references or content that references historical events, include Heersink

        Example: The Heersink School of Medicine Department of Surgery was
        founded in 1973



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

Companies and groups: Abbreviate only familiar divisions, agencies, and associations

Example: NIH, CDC

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

Example: The abbreviation for Alabama is Ala., and with ZIP code is AL


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 UAB is an alumnus or alumna, and together they are alumni 

Do not use "alum" 

Article Titles
Titles of articles should be lowercase unless first word or a proper noun

No ampersand

Board certified


Hyphenate when used to modify a noun or when it follows a form of the verb “to be”

Example: Dr. Smith is a board-certified oncologist. In 1975, he was board-certified in oncology.

Unhyphenated in every other instance

Example: Dr. Smith is board certified in plastic surgery.


Avoid unnecessary capitals.

Use them for proper names 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

Example: Spring Semester 2018, summer program, Winter Olympics

Subjects and disciplines: In general, do not capitalize academic subjects or medical specialties

Example: She majored in philosophy. His doctor specializes in oncology.

Do capitalize subjects or disciplines based on proper nouns

Example: 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

Example: 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

Example: The following classes were listed: mathematics, history, and music.


The most frequent use of a colon is at the end of a sentence to introduce lists, tabulations, text, etc. A colon shouldn’t separate a verb and its direct object in a sentence

Capitalize the first word after a colon only if it is a proper noun or the start of a complete sentence 

Example: He promised this: The company will make good all the losses. 

Do not capitalize the first word after a colon if the phrase following the colon is not a complete sentence

Example: There were three considerations: Expense, time, and feasibility.


Use the Oxford comma in most correspondence except for when writing articles for University Relations

Example: Felix went to the store, the mall, and the outlet shopping center.

Copyright symbols

Do not use in text (i.e. for brand name pharmaceuticals)

Applies to trademark as well


Use COVID-19, not Covid-19, COVID19, Covid19, etc.

When referring to variants, use their Greek name

Example: alpha variant


If it has a date with it, then abbreviate months with more than five letters

Example: Jan. 4, Feb. 5, Aug. 6, Sept. 7, Oct. 9, Nov. 10, Dec. 11

April 13, May 15, June 3, July 17 

If the month doesn’t have a date after it, then spell out the full month

Example: She went to work in January

Omit “on” when using dates

Example: Mini Medical School will take place Jan. 15


Use dialog in computing contexts

Example: dialog box

Use dialogue when referring to a conversation 

Example: Jamie and Matthew had a dialogue about yesterday’s meeting.


Use dashes to denote an abrupt change in thought in a sentence or an emphatic pause, but avoid overuse of dashes to set off phrases when commas would suffice

When a phrase that otherwise would be set off by commas contains a series of words that must be separated by commas, use dashes to set off the full phrase 

Example: He listed the qualities—intelligence, humor, independence—that he liked in an executive.

Our rule varies from the AP style rule in that we do not put spaces between a word and an em-dash

Create an em dash by writing a word plus two hyphens then another word and a space

Example: Change is also the inspiration behind another campaign—the Campaign for UAB.

Health care 

Always use “health care” (two words, no hyphen) whether as a noun or adjective 

Example: The U.S. health care system; health care delivery teams.

Only use health care as one word when it is in a proper noun 

Example: the UAB Healthcare Educators Academy


According to the AP Stylebook, the use of a hyphen is far from standardized. The fewer the hyphens, the better. Use them only when not using them creates confusion

Example: loose-knit group, but tax code changes.

Junior, Senior

Abbreviate as Jr. and Sr. only with full names of persons. Do not precede with a comma 

Example: Martin Luther King Jr.


Not mannequins (for simulation-related copy)


Use full name plus degree abbreviations on first usage 

Example: William Smith, M.D., Ph.D.

Use last name only on following usages 

The exception is that you use the full name on subsequent references when you are using two people with the same last name as sources, such as a father and son

Only begin using full names after introducing the second person


Spell numbers at the beginning of sentences, except a calendar year

Example: 1993 was a banner year for UAB.

Spell whole numbers below 10, except in statistical data. Use figures for 10 and above

Example: They had 10 dogs. They had three cats.

Use numerals when referring to credit hours

Example: The course carries 3 hours of credit.

In citing percentages, use the figure followed by percent

Example: 4 percent

When referring to millions of dollars, always use the figure followed by million

Example: $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

Example: two million volumes, 12 million people.

For ages, use numbers

Example: a 2-year-old child, a student in her 30s

Plural or Possesive

Apostrophes with clinical department names (internal rule):
Whenever possible, avoid using apostrophe + S with clinical department names (ex: do not use "the UAB Department of Neurology’s residency program"; instead, use "the UAB Department of Neurology residency program").

Possessives for names ending in “S”

Use an apostrophe without “s” to create the possessive of a name ending in “s” 

Example: Lewis’ journey to medical school was a winding path

Quotation marks

Used with quotes, punctuation goes inside the quotation marks

Example: “I am so excited to start my residency,” she said. “I can’t wait to make a difference with my career!”

State, Federal

Lowercase in all references, except as the formal name of a corporate or governmental body

Example: state universities or federal grants

Capitalize its use in formal names

Example: Federal Communications Commission or State of Alabama seal.

Student classifications

Do not capitalize freshman, sophomore, junior or senior

Example: He is a senior communications major.

Do capitalize class designations

Example: The Senior Class sponsored the lecture.

Titles/books and Periodicals

Do not use quotations around the names of magazines, newspapers, the Bible, or books that are catalogs of reference materials

Example: The Washington Post first reported the story. He reads the Bible every morning. 

Use quotation marks around the titles of books, songs, television shows, computer games, poems, lectures, speeches and works of art 

Example: Author Porter Shreve read from his new book “When the White House Was Ours.” They sang “The Star-Spangled Banner” before the game.

Do not underline or italicize any of the above

Vice President

Do not hyphenate

Race and Gender


Ethnicity recognizes differences between people mostly on the basis of language and shared culture.

"A sense of common ancestry based on cultural attachments, past linguistic heritage, religious affiliations, claimed kinship, or some physical traits."


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

Example: chair—instead of chairman, business executive—instead of businessman


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)


Use Black/African-American for inclusivity

More information on gender, race, and ethnicity can be found in the UAB ODEI Inclusive Language Guide 

Titles and Departments  

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

Example: Ron Thompson, M.A., is pursuing a doctorate.

Capitalize formal names of specific degrees

Example: 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

Example: bachelor's and master's degrees

Academic departments

Capitalize the name of a department or unit only when it appears as part of an official name

Example: Department of Anthropology or anthropology department.

On second reference, do not capitalize department

Example: The department later announced its research results.

Lowercase nouns in plural uses

Example: the schools of Engineering and Health Professions, the departments of Chemistry and Biology.

Academic titles

Capitalize and spell out formal titles such as professor, dean, president, chancellor, professor emeritus, and chair only when they precede a name

Example: Professor Jane Smith

Lowercase elsewhere

Board of Trustees, Directors

Capitalize when using these official names 

Use lowercase "the board" for all other references

Example: The Board of Trustees began its meeting. The board discussed funding for the new center.


Capitalize center when it is a proper noun 

Example: the UAB Center for Clinical and Translational Science

Lowercase it when it is used alone in a sentence 

Example: The center will help scientists

O’Neal Comprehensive Cancer Center at UAB

On first reference use O’Neal Comprehensive Cancer Center at UAB

On second and reoccurring references use O’Neal Comprehensive Cancer Center or O’Neal Cancer Center


[Name], dean of the UAB Heersink School of Medicine


Chair is preferred: department chair, instead of chairman/chairwoman


Only terminal degrees, no masters degrees in articles, social, or email copy

Departments/divisions in Heersink

Capitalize them if they are part of a proper noun, but lowercase them if they are not

Example: UAB Department of Surgery; researchers in the surgery department


This word added to formal titles denotes distinguished individuals who have retired but retain their rank

Example: Professor Emeritus Samuel Alan Morrison or Samuel Alan Morrison, professor emeritus of history.

Endowed positions

List a faculty member’s endowed position on first reference after their names. Find endowed positions here


Capitalize when used with the full name of the institute

Example: UAB Institute for Translational Research

Lowercase when used alone in a sentence 

Example: The institute will provide assistance to scientists.

Medical degrees

Use periods when abbreviating degrees with two letter or Ph.D.; do not insert spaces after each one

Example: M.D., DDS, DMD, or R.N.

Set off the abbreviation with commas when used after a name

Example: Ron Johnson, M.D., is perfecting a new device.

Do not use a courtesy title when listing a degree

Correct Incorrect
Dr. Wendy Robbins 
Wendy Robbins, M.D.
Dr. Wendy Robbins, M.D



Do not use any degree abbreviation as a noun

Correct Incorrect
He earned his doctorate in medicine He earned his M.D.



Capitalize formal names of specific degrees

Example: Doctor of Medicine in Orthopaedics


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

Example: His doctor is part of the Department of Pediatrics. The announcement came from the pediatrics department.

Lowercase nouns in all plural uses

Example: the departments of Emergency Medicine and Radiology, Neurology, and Neurosurgery clinics

Do not abbreviate department

For official names, consult the UAB Campus Directory


Use OB/GYN Not ObGyn,Ob/Gyn or OB-GYN or Ob-Gyn



Example: John M. Smith, M.D., professor of Pathology 

Does not follow AP style

Titles/Professional titles

In general, follow AP Style. Capitalize title when it immediately precedes the name 

Example: Professor of Pathology John Smith, M.D. 

Do not capitalize when the title follows the name

Example: John Smith, M.D., professor of Pathology

Titles can be found at UAB Scholars


The UAB Health System is the official name for the organization that manages and supports the various components within the UAB Medical Center, surrounding clinics and affiliates throughout Alabama. Always capitalize "UAB Health System." After the first reference, "the Health System" is acceptable 

The UAB Health System comprises UAB Hospital, UAB Highlands, The Kirklin Clinic, UAB Health Centers, Callahan Eye Foundation Hospital, a dozen member and affiliate hospitals within Alabama, more than 10 cancer associates in the Southeast, and Viva Health

UAB Medicine

UAB Medicine is the name and primary brand for the clinical facilities and services provided by faculty in the Heersink School of Medicine through the UAB Health System

University of Alabama Health Services Foundation

The official name of the faculty practice program. Always capitalize

On subsequent references, the Health Services Foundation is acceptable, as are the abbreviations HSF and UAHSF

Veterans Affairs Medical Center

The official name of the VA Hospital

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"

Voice and Tone

Attribution verbs

Use past tense attribution verbs 

Example: said, stated

For feature articles in magazines, you can use present tense attribution verbs 

Example: says, states


Use active voice not passive voice

Example: is instead of will be

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