Skip to Main Content
UNF Brand Guide

Writing Guidelines

University communications should reflect the University's mission to provide a quality education through the use of good grammar and a consistent writing style. This style guide - as well as UNF's Visual Identity Standards - is intended to help colleges and departments communicate more effectively and in a consistent manner with members of the community, potential and current students, and parents. A well-received publication, be it printed or electronic, reflects well on the University as a whole, so even those producing interdepartmental newsletters are encouraged to use the publication and visual identity style guides. The UNF Style Guide is a supplement to The Associated Press Stylebook and addresses frequently asked questions and campus-specific style, such as building names.

Those with specific questions not covered in the UNF Style Guide are encouraged to contact the Department of Marketing and Communications at (904) 620-2125.


Academic Degrees

  • Avoid using too many abbreviations or those the reader might not recognize. When appropriate, use after a full name and set off by commas. (Ann Scott, Ph.D.)
  • Do not precede a name with a courtesy title for an academic degree and follow it with the abbreviation for the degree in the same reference. ( Pam Jones, Ph.D.)
  • Here are the abbreviations for some of the degrees awarded by UNF or commonly found among its faculty:  


  • When you feel the target audience might not understand the abbreviation, here are two correct ways to indicate the academic degree:
    1. Use a phrase and lowercase the academic degree. (John Smith has a bachelor’s degree in art; Jane Kelly has a master’s degree in psychology; David Brown has a doctorate in psychology or a doctoral degree in psychology.)
    2. Use the formal degree name without apostrophes and capitalize the academic area. (Bachelor of Arts, Master of Science, Doctor of Education)
  • The word "baccalaureate" means "bachelor's degree." Therefore, use of "degree" is redundant. (Davis received his baccalaureate from UNF.)

Florida Board of Governors

Use "Florida Board of Governors" on first reference. BOG can be used on second and subsequent references. The BOG was created by constitutional amendment in 2002 and met for the first time in January 2003. It coordinates the state system.

Grade Point Average

Do not hyphenate or use periods in abbreviation. Use all caps. (GPA)


  • Abbreviate most months if a date is included. (Jan. 2, Feb. 5, Aug. 20, Sept. 12, Oct. 31, Nov. 24 and Dec. 23)
  • Never abbreviate March, April, May, June and July, even with dates. (April 6 Debbie’s birthday.)
  • Do not abbreviate months when used alone or with only the year. Do not use a comma between the month and year. (I traveled to England in January 1992.)
  • When using a complete date, put a comma after the year, unless it ends the sentence. (She was born Aug. 1, 2001, in Jacksonville.)


Use the letters without periods. RSVP means please reply and is an abbreviation for the French “respondez s'il vous plait.”


  • Spell out the names of all 50 states whether they stand alone or are listed with a city. (Boulder, Colorado)
  • No state name is needed for Florida cities unless confusion would result (Jacksonville, Miami, Orlando, Tampa, Tallahassee)
  • No state name is needed for 30 of the country’s cities. (Atlanta, Baltimore, Boston, Chicago, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Dallas, Denver, Detroit, Honolulu, Houston, Indianapolis, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Miami, Milwaukee, Minneapolis, New Orleans, New York, Oklahoma City, Philadelphia, Phoenix, Pittsburgh, St. Louis, Salt Lake City, San Antonio, San Diego, San Francisco, Seattle and Washington)
  • When listing the state in a mailing address, use the U.S. Post Office's abbreviation. (Daytona Beach, FL; Boulder, CO.)

UNF Board of Trustees

Spell out "University of North Florida Board of Trustees" on first reference. "Board of Trustees" or "BOT" is acceptable on second and subsequent references. The "UNF" is not necessary on subsequent references or if it appears in intra-campus publications.

UNF Colleges

On first reference, spell out the name of the college in its entirety. On second reference, use only the following abbreviations for the colleges at UNF:

Brooks College of Health — BCH

Coggin College of Business — CCB

College of Arts and Sciences — COAS

College of Computing, Engineering and Construction — CCEC

College of Education and Human Services — COEHS

Hicks Honors College — HHC

Campus Buildings and Facilities

Building Names

  • Use the entire official name of campus facilities on first reference within a section. On second and subsequent references within the same section, shorten the name.
  • A list of campus facilities is presented below. Do not use building, hall, center, etc., interchangeably.
  • Student residences on campus include Osprey Crossings, Osprey Fountains, Osprey Hall, Osprey Landing and Osprey Village. Student residences should not be referred to as "dorms" or "dormitories."
  • The John A. Delaney Student Union has naming conventions within its own building: Student Union Ballrooms, Student Union Auditorium, Student Union Game Room, Student Union Graduate Lounge, Student Union meeting rooms, North Star Board Room at the Student Union, Osprey Plaza at the Student Union and Coxwell Amphitheater at the Student Union.

Using Building Names and Numbers

Identify campus facilities by name, rather than solely by building number, except on the UNF marquee and on signs where space is limited. (The meeting is in J.J. Daniel Hall, Building 1.)




Academic Offices and Departments

  • Capitalize the name of the department and the words "department" and "office.” (Department of Natural Sciences, Office of Research and Sponsored Programs, Small Business Development Center)
  • When not used as a proper name, the words "department" and "office" should not be capitalized. (The department boasts the most professors with doctorates.)

Alumni Association

The formal title is "University of North Florida Alumni Association" on first reference. It can be referred to as the "Alumni Association" on second and subsequent reference. 

Annual Fund

Capitalize all references to the UNF Annual Fund. "Annual Fund" is acceptable on second reference, but not "The Fund."

Board of Trustees

  • Capitalize "Board of Trustees" and "Trustee" as a title on first reference when referring to the UNF Board of Trustees. (The UNF Board of Trustees met in February; Last year, Trustee James Jones participated in the commencement ceremony.)
  • Lowercase second and subsequent references.

Classes and Courses

  • Use lowercase when referring to courses and classes. (As a freshman, Susan enrolled in a psychology course and a history course.)
  • In general, use uppercase when referring to the specific name of a class or if the class name includes a proper noun or numeral. There should be no quotation marks around course names. (As a freshman, David enrolled in Psychology II and U.S. History to 1877.)

Coed, Co-op

  • Do not hyphenate "coeducational," but do hyphenate "co-op" as the abbreviated form of "cooperative." Use "Co-op" for a shortened reference to the Cooperative Education Program. (She participated in the University of North Florida's Co-op Education Program.)
  • Do not use coed to refer to a person. (Osprey Hall is a coed residence hall.)


Capitalize names of specific committees and lowercase committee on second references.

(First reference: The Student Appeals Committee met Thursday; Second reference: The appeals committee met Thursday.)

Courtesy titles

  • Refer to both men and women by first and last names. Second and subsequent references generally use last names only.
  • Do not use the courtesy titles Mr., Miss, Ms. or Mrs. except in direct quotations or where needed to distinguish among people of the same last name. Reserve courtesy titles primarily for addresses and letter salutations, or when preferred in formal documents.


  • Lowercase the "e" in "email" unless it is the first word of a sentence or part of a title that uses uppercase letters.
  • Write the word "email" without a hyphen.


UNF's official celebration is capitalized as “UNF Homecoming Dinner.”


Lowercase and italicize cum laude, magna cum laude and summa cum laude.

Majors, programs

  • Do not capitalize majors, programs, specializations or concentrations of study when they are not part of a designated degree, such Bachelor of Art. (He received a bachelor's degree in criminal justice.)
  • The exceptions are languages: English, French, Spanish, etc. (Her major was French.)
  • UNF's academic terms "program" and "major" are interchangeable.

President’s Office

Capitalize when referring to UNF's President's Office.

Professional Titles

  • CPA, CEO and CIO should be written in full caps without periods.
  • Position titles such as "dean," "director" or "professor" should be capitalized only when immediately preceding a name. (Dean Mary Smith of the College of Arts and Sciences)
  • Lowercase position titles after a name. (Dr. Mary Smith, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences)
  • The title "Dr." may be used when the person holds an earned doctoral degree, either a Ph.D., Ed.D., D.B.A., M.D., etc., but only on first reference. (Dr. Kevin Jones)
  • In photo cutlines, the preferred style is to include first and last names only, omitting courtesy and professional titles.
  • A juris doctor (JD) is not considered a doctoral degree.
  • No hyphen in "vice president.”


Capitalize names of races, such as Caucasian, Hispanic and Black. Do not capitalize white when used to refer to races. Black is the preferred term unless someone prefers African American.

Regional Designations

  • Use capitals when referring to North Florida or Northeast Florida as a region. (UNF lies in the heart of Northeast Florida.)
  • Use lowercase when referring to northern Florida in geography. (Summer theater entertains northern Florida and its neighbors.)


  • Lowercase spring, summer, fall and winter, as well as all derived words. (fall semester, fall term, fall 1972, springtime, summertime.)
  • Capitalize seasons only when part of a formal name. (Spring Musicfest, Winter Olympics, Fall Commencement Ceremony)

State, Federal

  • Lowercase "state" in all references. (our state universities)
  • Use capital letters for "state" or "federal" as part of corporate or governmental bodies that use the word as part of their formal names. (Federal Emergency Management Agency)
  • Lowercase "federal" when used as an adjective to distinguish something from a state, county, city, town or private entity. (the federal loan program)
  • Except in legal documents, the term "state of Florida" is inappropriate; use Florida.

Student Classifications

  • Do not capitalize freshman, sophomore, junior or senior. (He is a senior marketing major.)
  • Freshman is the singular noun. (Susan is a freshman at UNF.)
  • Freshmen is the plural form. (John and Susan are freshmen at UNF.)
  • Only the singular “freshman” can be used as an adjective. (UNF is having a freshman seminar next week; Three freshman students enrolled in the class; The freshman class attended the lecture.)

Time of Day

  • Lowercase "a.m." and "p.m."
  • Use "noon" in lieu of 12 p.m. and "midnight" in lieu of 12 a.m. (The appointment is scheduled for noon.)
  • Times on the hour should be presented without ":00." However, times between the hours should be presented with minutes. (The event runs from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.)
  • When listing two morning or evening events, do not repeat a.m. and p.m. (The event runs from 8 – 10 a.m.)
  • Do not use "o'clock" unless it is for a more formal occasion, such as an invitation.

UNF Foundation

  • Use the precise title, the “University of North Florida Foundation Inc.," on first reference. It can be referred to as the "UNF Foundation" on second and subsequent reference.
  • Members of the UNF Foundation are referred to as board members, not trustees.
  • When referring to its board, capitalize "Board" when used with the proper name, but lowercase it when it stands alone.
  • In paragraph content, place no comma between "Foundation" and "Inc." and abbreviate Incorporated to "Inc." This rule applies to all corporations using "Inc." (He is a member of the University of North Florida Foundation Inc.)

University of North Florida

  • Use the University of North Florida on first reference. UNF is the preferred designation on second and subsequent references. (UNF opened its doors to students in 1972.)
  • “University” is another alternative on second and subsequent references within a section. (The University has six colleges.)
  • Capitalize "University" when referring specifically to the University of North Florida.
  • Lowercase "university" when referring to other institutions. Some institutions of higher education use "The" in official designations. UNF style is to use a lowercase "the" in all references. (Kelly will attend the University of West Florida.)

World Wide Web

  • Three words, no hyphens and always uppercase first letters. On second reference, use "web."
  • Other terms, all lowercase, include internet, website, webcam, webfeed, webmaster, webpage. But use home page, web address and web browser as two words. (UNF's new home page is

Composition Titles


Include quotation marks around titles of articles and features in periodicals and newspapers, chapter titles and part titles, titles of short stories, essays and individual selections in books. (Dr. Rebecca Sloane published "Reading Readiness" in the Spring 2009 issue of Early Childhood Research and Practice.)

Books, movies, songs and more

  • Use quotation marks around the titles of most books. (He read “War and Peace.”)
  • Also use quotation marks for titles of movies, plays, poems, albums, songs, operas, radio and television programs, lectures, speeches and works of art. (See the AP Style Guide for special exceptions.)
  • Do not use quotation marks for the Bible, catalogs of reference material, almanacs, directories, dictionaries, encyclopedias, gazetteers, handbooks and similar publications. (He has the latest copy of Webster's New World Dictionary.)
  • Do not use quotation marks around software titles such as Microsoft Word or Adobe.


  • Do not use quotation marks for magazine names and do not italicize. (Linda enjoys reading Entertainment Weekly.)
  • Uppercase the name of the magazine, but lowercase "magazine" unless it is a part of the publication's formal title. (David likes to read Time magazine.)


  • Do not use quotation marks for newspaper names and do not italicize. (John enjoys reading The Florida Times-Union.)
  • Capitalize "the" in a newspaper or magazine's name if that is the way the publication prefers to be known. (Richard reads The Wall Street Journal every morning.)
  • Lowercase "the" before newspaper names when several papers are mentioned, some of which use "the" as part of the name and some of which do not. (The story appeared in the New York Times, Tampa Tribune and Florida Times- Union.)
  • Use parentheses when the location is needed, but is not part of the official name. (The Huntsville (Alabama) Times.)


When to spell out numerals:

In general, spell out whole numbers one through nine and use figures for 10 and above. (There are five secretaries; Our company has 16 buildings.)

This rule applies to:

  • Grade levels (He teaches ninth grade, but will teach 10th grade next year.)
  • Numbered streets in addresses (5 Sixth3012 50th St.)
  • Numerical designations (the first semester, the 50th anniversary)
  • Centuries (the third century, the 21st century)

When to use figures in all cases (even one through nine):

  • Ages (We live in a 7-year-old house; The boy is 5 years old; The race is for 3-year-olds.)
  • Percentages (4 percentage points, 56%; precede with zero if less than one – 0.15%)
  • Decimals (2 magnitude quake; precede with zero for less than one – 0.03.)
  • Address numbers (9 Morningside Circle)
  • Distances (He walked 4 miles; He missed a 3-foot putt)
  • Millions, billions, trillions (1 million people; $2 billion)
  • Money less than a million ($4, $25, $500, $1,000, $650,000)
  • Time uses figures except for noonand midnight. (11 a.m.3:30 p.m.9-11 a.m.)
  • Temperatures use figures, except zero. (It was 8 degrees below zero.)
  • Speeds (7 mph, winds of 5 to 10 mph)
  • Rank (He was my No. 1 choice;Florida was ranked No. 3.)
  • Computer storage capacities (8 megabytes)
  • Dimensions, to indicate depth, height, length and width (He is 5 feet, 6 inches tall; The box is 4 feet long, 3 feet wide and 2 feet high; the 9-by-12 rug)
  • Highway designations (Interstate 5, U.S. Highway 1, state Route 1A)

Special rules:

  • Spell out all numbers when used at the beginning of sentences. (Twenty students registered for the class.)
  • Fractions less than one (use hyphens between words two-thirds, four-fifths)
  • Fractions larger than one (She swam 3½ laps.)

Other Usage Rules for Numerals

Days, months, years

  • Avoid using the word "on" with dates, or the phrase “held on,” when its absence would not lead to confusion. (The workshop will be Monday, Aug. 8.)
  • When referring to a sequence of dates, use a hyphen instead of the word "to." (Apply here May 7-9, 8 to 10 a.m.)
  • Whenever it does not cause confusion, drop the year in dates. (The program will end in December.)


  • Use an "s" without an apostrophe to indicate spans of decades or centuries. (UNF was founded in the 1960s.)
  • Use an apostrophe for class years when shortening the graduation year. (She belonged to the Class of '78.)

First through ninth

  • Do not use "st" or "th" with dates. (Submit applications by Oct. 14.)


  • Use the dollar sign and numbers. ($15.25)
  • Do not use a decimal and two zeros. ($15)
  • For dollar amounts beyond thousands, use the dollar sign, number and appropriate word, rather than many zeros. (The grant was $14 million.)
  • For amounts less than $1, use a numeral with "cents." (Savings amount to 3 cents an hour.)


  • Write percentages with the numeral and "%" symbol in all cases. (3.7% interest)
  • For percentages less than one, precede with a zero. (0.05%)
  • In most cases, try to limit to two-places in percentages (and all decimals).
  • Percentages should always be numerals, unless at the start of a sentence.
  • Try to avoid percentages at the start of a sentence. If it’s necessary, spell out the number and the word percent. (Seventy percent responded favorably.)

Telephone numbers

  • If a publication is strictly for use on campus, omit the area code and exchange prefix, using only the extension: (ext. 2140)
  • If the publication will be sent off campus, include the area code in parentheses with a space between the parentheses and exchange. (904) 620-2140)

Plurals and Possessives

Guidelines for Plurals:

  • Most words add s: (boys, girls, ships, villages)
  • Words ending in ch, s, sh, ss, x, z — add es: (churches, lenses, parishes, boxes, buzzes; monarchs is an exception)
  • Words ending in “is” — change is to es: (oases, parentheses, theses)
  • Words ending in y — if preceded by a consonant or qu, change y to i and add es: (armies, cities, navies, soliloquies)
  • Proper names ending in y — can be an exception to the rule: (donkeys, monkeys)
  • Words ending in o — if o is preceded by a consonant — require es: (dominoes, echoes, potatoes; exception is pianos)
  • Numbers and years: (7s, in the low 30s, the early 1920s)  
  • Acronyms: (YMCAs, CPAs, CODs, IOUs, ABCs)
  • Abbreviations: (Ph.D.s and M.A.s)
  • To pluralize compound words that are one word, add an “s” at the end. For those that involve separate words or words linked by a hyphen, make the most significant word plural: (capfuls, tablespoonfuls, daughters-in-law, presidents-elect)

Words that change from singular to plural:

Memorandum, memoranda
Symposium, symposia
Colloquium, colloquia
Millennium, millennia
Datum, data
Medium, media
Criterion, criteria
Person, people
Vita, vitae

Guidelines for Possessives:

  • Plural nouns not ending in s — add an ‘s: (the alumni's contributionswomen's rights)
  • Plural nouns ending in s — add apostrophe: (the churches' needsstates' rightsthe VIPs' entrance)
  • Nouns plural in form, singular in meaning, add only an apostrophe: (mathematics' rulesmeasles' effects)
  • For nouns the same in singular and plural, treat them the same as plurals, even if the meaning is singular: (one corps' locationthe two deer's tracksthe lone moose's antlers)
  • Singular nouns not ending in s — add 's: (the church's needsthe girl's toysthe ship's routethe VIP's seat)
  • Singular common nouns ending in s — add ‘s: (the virus’s reach, the virus’s spread; the witness’s answer, the witness’s story)
  • Singular proper names ending in s — use only an apostrophe: (Achilles' heelDickens' novelsKansas' schoolsSocrates' life)
  • Apply the rules above to compound words, but add an apostrophe or ‘s to the word closest to the object possessed: (the major general's decisionthe major generals' decisionsthe attorney general's requestthe attorneys general's request)

While many pronouns follow the rules above, some pronouns have separate forms for the possessive, which do not use an apostrophe: (mineoursyouryourshishersitstheirswhose)

Punctuation Basics

Apostrophe (‘)

  • Use an apostrophe to replace an omitted letter in a contraction. (I've, it's, don't, rock 'n' roll, 'tis the season to be jolly. He is a ne'er-do-well.)
  • Apostrophes also replace omitted figures. (The class of '62. The Spirit of '76. The '20s.)
  • Use an apostrophe to indicate a possessive. (See the Plurals and Possessives section of the Style Guide for rules about forming possessives.)

Colon (:)

  • Capitalize the first word after a colon only if it is a proper noun or the start of a complete sentence: (They promised this: The owner will pay for the repairs; There were three issues: cost, time and feasibility.)
  • Use a colon at the end of a sentence or phrase to introduce lists. (Three items are needed: cleaning supplies, buckets and water.)
  • Colons should be placed outside quotation marks unless they are part of the quotation itself.

Commas (,)

  • Do not use a comma before the last item in a series unless it is needed for clarity. (He wore a shirt that was red, white and blue.)
  • Use a comma after the city and after the state or country (Alexandria, Virginia, is my hometown; The conference is in Brussels, Belgium, next year.)
  • Use commas to separate the year from the day and after the year. Do not use a comma with a month and year without a specific date. (July 1, 1960, is our anniversary; We were married in June 1960 in Florida.)
  • Short introductory phrases such as "Last year" and "In 1989" do not always require commas. When in doubt, leave it out. (Last year 400 freshmen were admitted to UNF.)
  • The designations “Jr.,” “Sr.” and “III” should not be preceded or followed by commas after a name. (John Jones Jr. went to the party.)

Dash (—) 

  • AP Style uses the em dash, or the long dash. Put a space on both sides of the dash. (They found cookies mostly chocolate on the shelf.)
  • 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. (Four of us—Mike, Amanda, Katy and I — went to the conference last week.)
  • A dash can also be used when there is an abrupt change in the sentence or for emphasis. (We tried Steve’s idea — an idea I thought was terrible — and it somehow worked.)
  • Use a dash before an author's or composer's name at the end of a quotation. ("Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn." ― Benjamin Franklin.)

Ellipsis ( ... ) 

  • Treat an ellipsis as a three-letter word, constructed with three periods and one space on each side.
  • Use an ellipsis to indicate the deletion of one or more words in condensing quotes, texts and documents.
  • Add ending punctuation before the ellipsis as needed. (Have you seen this before? ...)

Exclamation point (!) 

Use an exclamation point to show surprise, amazement or other strong feelings, but avoid overuse. (“I was so proud of how the students helped in the community!”)

Place the mark inside quotation marks only when part of the quotation. ("That’s terrific!" she said.)

Hyphen (-) 

  • Some two-word phrases require hyphens when used as compound modifiers for nouns. (He has a full-time job; They are part-time workers; On-campus parking is limited.) These same word combination DO NOT use a hyphen when not modifiers. (Her job is full time; The work is only part time; She works on campus.)
  • Also, hyphens can be used with compound modifiers in order to make the meaning clear and avoid an unintended meaning. (small-business owner, well-known song, high-income workers, two-way street)
  • No hyphen is needed to link the adverb very and all adverbs ending in -ly. (a very good day, a slowly moving car)
  • Use a hyphen in modifiers of three or more words. (over-the-counter medicine, long-distance phone call, state-of-the-art technology)
  • Do not use a hyphen to designate dual heritage. (African American, Italian American, Mexican American)
  • Some prefixes generally require hyphens. (self-, all-, ex-, half-)
  • Some suffixes generally require hyphens. (-free, -based, -elect)
  • Hyphens can be used to shorten a compound modifier or noun phrase that shares a common word. (10-, 15- or 20-minute intervals; 5- and 6-year-olds)
  • Use hyphens when the elements are joined by toor by and express a single element. (a 10-to-15-year prison term; an 8-by-12-inch pan)

Parentheses ( ) 

  • Avoid parentheses in content as they can stop the reader. Alternatives include commas or two dashes to set off important material.
  • If used, place a period outside a closing parenthesis if the material inside is not a sentence. The office is in Founders Hall, Building 2 (on the first floor). Full sentences should include a period within the parentheses.
  • As an exception, when a phrase placed in parentheses (this one is an example) might normally qualify as a complete sentence but is dependent on the surrounding material, do not capitalize the first word or end with a period.

Periods (.) 

  • Use a single space after a period at the end of a sentence.
  • Periods always go inside quotation marks. (“You did a terrific job!” he said.)
  • In addition to using periods at the end of sentences, many abbreviations require periods. (See the abbreviations section of the style guide for those rules.)
  • Periods are also used for initials. (John A. Delaney Student Union)
  • Do not add a space between two initials. (G. Wells)
  • Abbreviations using only the initials of a name do not take periods. (JFK, MLK)

Question mark (?) 

  • Use a question mark at the end of a direct question or multiple questions in one sentence. (Who started the riot?; Did you hear him say, "What right have you to ask about the riot?")
  • Do not use question marks to indicate the end of indirect questions: (He asked who started the riot.)
  • Place a question mark inside the quotation if part of the quote. (He asked, "How long will it take?"

Quotation marks (" ") 

  • Use quotation marks around book titles, movie titles and more. (See the composition titles section in the style guide for guidelines.)
  • Use quotation marks around the speakers exact words. ("I have no intention of leaving," she said.”)
  • Use single quotation marks for a quote within a quote. (She said, “He told me, ‘I didn’t know anyone at the event.’”)

Semicolon (;) 

  • Use semicolons to separate elements of a long series or when individual items contain material that is set off by commas. (She is survived by a daughter, Sarah Jones, of Jacksonville; two sons, John Smith, of Miami, and David Smith, of Tampa; and a brother, William Grant, of Gainesville, Florida.)
  • Use semicolon to link independent clauses with no coordinating conjunction such as and, butor  (I expected his letter last week; it arrived today.)
  • Place semicolons outside quotation marks.


A, an

  • Use the article “a”before consonant sounds: a historic eventa one-year term (sounds as if it begins with a w), a UNF education (sounds like yew).
  • Use the article “an” before vowel sounds: an energy crisisan honorable man(the h is silent), an NBA record (sounds like it begins with the letter e).


  • An institution must be accurate in reporting to the public its status and relationship with the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.
  • In catalogs, brochures and advertisements, a member institution describes its relationship with the commission only according with the following statement:

The University of North Florida is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges to award baccalaureate, masters and doctorate degrees. Contact the Commission on Colleges at 1866 Southern Lane, Decatur, Georgia 30033-4097 or call 404-679-4500 for questions about the accreditation of the University of North Florida. Individual contact to the Commission on Colleges about the University of North Florida accreditation status should occur only if there is evidence that appears to support significant noncompliance with a requirement or standard.

Note: The use of the logo or seal of the Southern Association in any publication or document is prohibited.


Acronyms can save space in publications, but if the reader doesn't understand the acronym, the message is lost. In general, use the full name on first reference and the acronym on second reference, unless the acronym is well known beyond the campus (for example, GPA or CEO).


  • UNF publications may use "alums" and "alumni" to refer to its graduates, whether male or female.
  • The feminine singular is alumna, with the plural alumnae.
  • The masculine singular is alumnus, with the plural alumni, which also refers to plural for both genders.
  • Identify past and current students by their class years with an apostrophe before the year. (Sam Smith, '79, is working in Jacksonville; Sam Smith, BS, ’79, is working in Jacksonville.)


As a rule, spell out "and." Do not use the ampersand (&) except when used in company names. (He graduated from UNF’s College of Education and Human Services.)

Between and among

Use "between" to show a relationship between two objects. Use "among" when more than two objects are involved.


Use "email" in all instances without the hyphen. At the beginning of a sentence, the e should be capitalized. (Email is a convenient way to communicate.)

Ensure, insure

"Insure" means to establish a contract for insurance of some type; "ensure" means to guarantee. (They wanted to ensure that all the students were safe.)

Entitled, titled

"Entitled" means someone has the right to something. (She is entitled to the inheritance.) The word should not be used to refer to specific titles such as books, articles or art. (The article is titled "Think Before You Speak.")

Issues regarding disabilities

  • When dealing with issues regarding disabilities, care should be taken not to define a person by his/her disability or to treat the person as a victim. Don't use phrases such as "afflicted with," "confined to a wheelchair," "disabled student," and "victim of." "Disabled" is preferred to "handicapped."
  • When referring to a person with a disability, put the person first and the disability second. (The student, who is disabled, will participate in the project, so a wheelchair-accessible room is requested.)
  • When referring to parking, use the phrase "accessible parking."

On-campus, on campus

Use "on-campus" as an adjective, when modifying another word. Use "on campus" to show location. (John lives in on-campus housing; John lives on campus.)

Part-time, part time, full-time, full time

"Part-time" and "full-time" are hyphenated when used as an adjective, when modifying another word. It's "full time" and "part time" when used as nouns. (She has a full-time job; She works part time.)

Photo usage, captions

  • If a photo is used where the people are identifiable, a photo release form is needed unless the photo was taken at a public news event and is to be used in a news publication. Releases are needed for photos used for promotional purposes in publications or on the web.
  • Captions/cutlines generally should be written in the present tense. 
  • When more than one person needs to be identified in a caption, make clear who each individual is. (Joe Smith (from left), Jane Williams and Bob Jones attend the ceremony.)


Here are some examples of preferred UNF style: 

advisor, not adviser
aesthetics, not esthetics
archaeology, not archeology
audiovisual, not audio-visual
Bachelor of Science in Health is the degree; Department of Health Science is the organization
bilingual, not bi-lingual
campuswide, not campus-wide
catalog, not catalogue
chairman, chairwoman (the position is "chair"; use "chairperson" when it is the formal title)
coeducational, not co-educational (co-ed is acceptable except when used to refer to a person, but not preferred)
cooperative, not co-operative (co-op is acceptable, but not preferred)
coordinate, not co-ordinate
coursework, not course work
day care, not daycare or day-care
email, not e-mail
extracurricular, not extra-curricular
fundraiser, one word in all cases 
fundraising, one word in all cases
healthcare (noun and adjective; this is an exception to AP style which is two words)
ID, not id or I.D.
intercollegiate, not inter-collegiate
multipurpose, not multi-purpose
newly renovated (never hyphenate a word when preceded by an adverb that ends in "ly")
nonprofit or not-for-profit, not non-profit
ongoing, not on-going
online, not on-line
paraprofessional, not para-professional
percent, not per cent
preregistration, not pre-registration
preschool, not pre-school
RSVP, not R.S.V.P.
T-shirt, not t-shirt
TV, not tv or T.V.
universitywide, not university-wide
weeklong, not week-long
yearlong, not year-long
year-round, not year round or yearround 

Student classification

Use "freshman" when referring to an individual or when the word is used as an adjective, to modify another word. (The freshman went on a picnic; The freshman class went on a picnic.) Freshmen is the plural. (More than 20 freshmen went on the picnic.)

Toward, towards

One takes action toward something, not towards it. (He is working toward his degree in nursing.)