Editorial Style Guide

Editorial Style Guide

The Office of Strategic Communications uses Associated Press style and strongly recommends that all colleges and schools, and particularly our clients, rely on it as an essential tool. Our office works with dozens of units at Maryland on many kinds of editorial content. Using a consistent style, along with clear and concise writing, is more efficient, produces more readable copy and strengthens the university's messages.

Most entries in this university stylebook are specific to the University of Maryland; others are reminders of AP style regarding common errors. This guide generally seeks to avoid repeating information available in The Associated Press Stylebook. Specific entries in “The Associated Press Stylebook” or this guide supersede those in other reference books, such as “The Chicago Manual of Style.”

For answers to concerns not addressed here, please contact University Editor Lauren Brown at lbrown12@umd.edu or 301.405.4612.

Another resource is the Grammar Hotline, offered by the Department of English Writing Center. It can be reached during normal business hours at 301.405.3785.

academic degrees: Use B.A., B.S., M.A., M.S. and Ph.D., but MBA, MLS and MPP, and M.Arch. and M.Jour. UMD alums are presumed to have earned at least a bachelor’s degree, so there is no need to include B.S. or B.A. before their graduation year: Katie Fox ’13 or Ryan Blaustein ’11, M.S. ’14.

academic departments: Capitalize the formal name of a college, department, division or unit: School of Public Policy, Office of the Vice President for Academic Affairs, the Department of Entomology, etc. Lowercase in an informal usage, such as the entomology department.

academic disciplines: Lowercase, such as ethnic studies, astronomy and history, except when the study discipline includes words that are normally capitalized: Jewish studies.

acronyms: Avoid whenever possible. When referring multiple times to an agency or group in an article, set off with parentheses following the first reference: the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Some acronyms, such as FBI or NASA, are acceptable in all instances. Consult The AP Stylebook entry on this topic for details.

alma mater: Lowercase. It also requires a pronoun or article: Support your alma mater by joining the University of Maryland Alumni Association.

alum, graduate: The recommended gender-inclusive terms for an individual who attended a school; alums and graduates are the plural terms. Singular alumna and alumnus and plurals alumnae and alumni are options when individuals or organizations identify themselves as such, but avoid assumptions.

alumni association: The University of Maryland Alumni Association is called the Alumni Association on second reference. This is an exception to university and AP guidelines.

APIDA: Asian Pacific Islander Desi Americans. UMD student leaders request that UMD use this term that intentionally includes people from South Asia to encompass people from more than 40 countries, instead of AAPI, for Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. Spell out the full term of APIDA, as the acronym is not widely known outside these communities; use APIDA only in direct quotations and explain the term. Be specific if possible when referring to a group under that umbrella.

Black: Capitalize when used as an adjective in a racial, ethnic or cultural context. This is consistent with 2020 AP guidance that acknowledges a shared history, identity and culture of Black people, including those in the African diaspora and within Africa. The adjective white remains lowercase. Avoid using Brown, which AP calls "a broad and imprecise term," except when in direct quotes. See the AP stylebook’s “race-related coverage” entry for details.

business names: Inc., LLC and Ltd. are usually unnecessary. When they are used, do not include a comma before them. Abbreviate corporation and com­pany as Corp. and Co., respectively, when used as part of a firm's name.

capitalization: Capitalize only proper nouns and formal titles including the University of Maryland, the Department of Kinesiology or Associate Professor Joseph Richardson Jr. Don’t capitalize people’s titles after their names or secondary references to university, state, school, etc. Consult the AP Stylebook entry on this topic for details.

civil rights: Lowercase, along with civil rights era and civil rights movement.

Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center: On second reference, it may be shortened to The Clarice, not CSPAC or the Clarice Smith Center.

class years: Include after the alum’s name: Photographer John T. Consoli ’86 is creative director of Terp magazine. (Note the direction in which the apostrophe is facing.)

Cole Field House: As the building is transformed into a home for athletics, academics and research, use the original name rather than Cole Student Activities Building.

commas: In a list of three or more items, do not place a serial comma before the and, or or nor. Note the preceding sentence for an example of university comma usage in a series. If a serial comma would improve clarity in a lengthy or difficult sentence, however, it can be added.

courses and lectures: Use quotations around course titles, such as "History of the Americas." Capitalize course names and codes, such as History 101. Otherwise, do not capitalize common, nonspecific course subjects: I missed my psychology class and was late for history.

courtesy titles: Avoid Mr., Mrs., Miss, Ms. and Mx. Use Dr. on first reference only for someone who holds a medical degree, i.e., a dentist, podiatrist or surgeon.

cyber: When the combining form is used, follow the general rule for prefixes and do not use a hyphen: cybersecurity, cybercafé, cybernetwork.

dashes: Do not use spaces on either side of an em dash: This sentence—the one containing the dashes—is an example. The en dash is half the length of an em dash and longer than a hyphen. Common uses include: 1990–95, October–November 1994 and 9 a.m.–5 p.m. Another option: from 1990 to 1995 (not from 1990–1995), from October to November 1994 and between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. Do not use spaces around an en dash.

dates: Abbreviate the month when the date is included, except for March, April, May, June and July. In a sentence, put a comma after the year, if it is included. Commencement on May 21, 2021, was held at Maryland Stadium. If the event is taking place this year, or did within one year of the publication date, the year is implied and unnecessary to include.

Discovery District: A hub of research and economic growth that includes the former University of Maryland Research Park and extends to Baltimore Avenue developments including the Hotel at the University at Maryland. We no longer use the titles University of Maryland Research Park or M Square.

ellipsis ( … ): In general, treat an ellipsis as a three-letter word, constructed with three periods and two spaces. The marching band practices … outside the window. At the end of a sentence, use a period (or ques­tion mark or exclamation point), then the ellipsis: The marching band is practicing. … It is outside the window. A comma goes before the ellipsis if the sentence needs one there. Do not use ellipses at the beginning or end of a direct quote.

email: Not e-mail. But: e-newsletter and e-book.

emerita, emeritus: Special designations approved by the university. Emeritx is a gender-inclusive option. Use the version used by the individual to describe themself.

endowed chairs: In most cases, capitalize full name, including discipline, such as the Minta Martin Professor of Engineering . But: the Sergey Brin Chair of mathematics. Consult the professor or a development officer in the school or college to ensure accuracy.

ethnicity: Ethnicity, a characterization of people based on shared ancestry, history, geography, culture, etc. is distinct from race. For example, a person could identify their ethnicity as Hispanic and their race as white. See entry on race.

ex officio: No caps, no hyphen.

faculty: A plural noun. Preferred: faculty members.

first-ever: First says it all; drop ever.

grade point average: Do not hyphenate. Preferred: GPA.

honors classes: Do not capitalize. Use honors biology or honors English. Exceptions: the Honors College and the University Honors program.

Indigenous: A term used to refer to the original inhabitants of a place. The land that the University of Maryland resides on today used to be home to the Piscataway tribe, the Indigeneous people of the Chesapeake Bay region.

initials: Do not put spaces between names of people using multiple initials, unless the person specifically requests it: J.P. Morgan, J.B. Robb, C. D. Mote, Jr..

internet: Lowercase.

job titles: Capitalize only when using a formal title before someone’s name. The exception is a line-by-line list.

junior, senior: Abbreviate as Jr. and Sr. only with full names of people. Do not precede with a comma, unless the person specifically requests it. The same goes for II, III and IV, etc.

LGBTQ+ Equity Center: The name change from LGBT Equity Center reflects how the unit has been describing its communities and work in recent years.

living-learning programs: We no longer use living and learning programs, at the request of the Office of Undergraduate Studies.

M Square: The former University of Maryland Research Park. It has since been absorbed into the Discovery District and no longer has this name.

military titles: Capitalize and correctly abbreviate a rank used before a person’s name. Use retired before the rank, not ret. afterward. Consult the detailed AP stylebook entry on this topic for more information.

minority: Avoid using as a synonym for disadvantaged, marginalized or minoritized. The term refers to those who constitute less than half of a group; it should not be employed as shorthand for people of color, either individually or in groups.

national academies: Lowercase except when referring to a specific academy by name.

numbers: Spell out the numbers one through nine, and use numerals for 10 and up. But spell out any number starting a sentence, and use numerals for ages within sentences.

percent: Use % rather than spell out the word.

Ph.D.: Write out doctorate if the degree is used in a sentence: John Smith received his doctorate in psychology.

Philip Merrill College of Journalism: On second reference, do not use a “the” before Merrill College: Student-run reporting groups at Merrill College include Left Bench and Stories Beneath the Shell.

professor: Use only when referring to full professors. Identify other faculty members with their proper title: Assistant Professor Courtney Paulson recently joined the Department of Decision, Operations and Information Technologies. As a title, it should be capitalized only before the person's name.

programs: Capitalize the names of formal programs: University Honors, College Park Scholars or the Banneker-Key Scholarship Program.

pronouns: Avoid using he/she, he or she, him/her or him or her when referring to an unspecified person. Rephrase, use they or them or replace the student, the applicant, etc. as appropriate for the context. The LGBTQ+ Equity Center and GLAAD have further resources on gender-inclusive language.

race: Race, a construct based on perceived shared physical traits and used in many social and legal contexts, is distinct from ethnicity. White is a race and should be identified in the same instances as any other race would be. Avoid mentioning a person’s race or ethnicity unless relevant. See entry on ethnicity.

residence hall: The Department of Resident Life’s preferred term for a dormitory building. The Department of Resident Life avoids the term dorm.

serial commas: Use only when necessary to add clarity in a lengthy or complex list, or when the formal name of a unit includes one, such as College of Computer, Mathematical, and Natural Sciences and the School of Theatre, Dance, and Performance Studies.

service learning: Do not hyphenate unless used as an adjective.

staff: Singular, not plural. Use an article to precede it: The staff is offering a seminar series.

state of Maryland: Do not capitalize state. Also: city of Baltimore.

terms of study: A specific semester is capitalized: Fall 2021 or Spring 2022, but remains lowercase if generic: the spring semester.

Terrapins: Capitalize on all references to the university's athletic teams.

time: Do not use capital letters or extraneous zeros: 2 p.m. In addition, 12 a.m. should be referred to as midnight and 12 p.m. as noon whenever possible to avoid confusion.

theater: Correct when used to refer to the field of study. But Maryland’s school title is School of Theatre, Dance, and Performance Studies.

trademark symbols: Unnecessary. Capitalization implies a name brand.

University Libraries: Use the before identifying the University Libraries.

University of Maryland, College Park: The full, formal name of the university. Note the comma. Do not use an em dash or “at.” In most cases, use simply the University of Maryland. On subsequent references, use Maryland, UMD or the university, or Terrapins or Terps in appropriate references. Prohibited: U-MD, UM and U of M. UMCP is allowed only when referring also to the University of Maryland, Baltimore campus, particularly the MPowering the State initiative, for clarity.

URLs: Drop the http:// portion of the Web address when www. is already included. In many cases, the www. can be cut as well. If the URL is at the end of a sentence, add a period.

Xfinity Center: Not XFINITY Center.