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Web writing guide: style tips

Abbreviations and acronyms

  • Use all caps for acronyms.
  • State an acronym in parentheses after the first full reference in text. Thereafter use the abbreviation or acronym.

Example: Resident Assistants (RAs) (Note: no apostrophe.)

Capitalization

  • In headings and headlines, capitalize the first word only, plus any proper nouns in the heading. This is the preferred “down” style, consistent with university print publications.

Example: Chancellor Smith announces new doctoral degree program

Not: Chancellor Smith Announces New Doctoral Degree Program

  • Typically, do not use Mr., Mrs., or Ms. Instead, use the last name on second reference.

  • Use initial caps for a title when it precedes the name. Use lower case when the title follows a name.

Examples: Chancellor Kim Smith; Kim Smith, chancellor.

  • Spell out Professor when it precedes a name. Do not use Professor and Doctor together.
  • Capitalize administrative entities when they are used as titles. When making a second reference, without the title, use lowercase.

Examples: Department of Chemistry, Office of the Provost, Campus Center; the department, the center, the college, the university

  • Do not capitalize majors and minors, except when the word or words are proper nouns that require capitalization, such as French.

  • Write academic degrees in lowercase, except when used as titles or in lists. Abbreviations of academic degrees are always capitalized.

Examples

He is pursuing a bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering.
I'd like to introduce Jane Smith, Juris Doctor.
Peggy has an MFA in painting.

Contact information

Format telephone numbers using periods. This is the preferred UMass Dartmouth style.

Example: 508.999.8000 (no parentheses around the area code, and periods rather than hyphens).

The alternate is to use 508-999-8000. Be sure the format is consistent across the site and certainly within the page.

Dates

  • Omit commas in dates with only a month and year.

    Example: June 2009
  • Use commas for dates with month, day, and year; or day, month, date, and year.

    Example: Tuesday, December 1, 2009
  • Use commas to set off the year when it follows the date. (Or eliminate the year entirely when it’s implied. This is often the case on web pages, where readers expect to find timely information.)

    Example: On Wednesday, November 23, 2011, the university will close for Thanksgiving break.
    Or: On Wednesday, November 23, the university will close for Thanksgiving break
  • Abbreviate days of the week when space is limited (such as in tables):
    Mon., Tue., Wed., Thu., Fri., Sat., Sun.
    Or, for course catalogs: M T W R F

Gender

Text intended to apply to both sexes should be written so that no gender bias is suggested.

  • Avoid singular pronouns (he, she, his, hers) when referring to both sexes. Substitute they, their or you, your. (Remember, they and their are plural: Students will need their new ID cards.)
  • If absolutely necessary, both pronouns can be used with or. Avoid he/she or his/her:

Example: An individual must sign her or his own ballot.

Lists

Generally, short items in a list do not need punctuation after each item. Use closing punctuation at the end of each item in the list when each item stands alone as an independent sentence.

  • Introduce a list with a sentence that ends in a period, a phrase that ends in a colon, or a heading (such as H3). When you use a heading, do not use a colon after the heading.

Example: The Advancement Office plays a critical role in the success of UMass Dartmouth by:

  • establishing a strong alumni network
  • bridging relationships to the community
  • developing resources for our students

Use numbered rather than bulleted lists when:

  • the preceding text names a specific number of items in the list
  • the items must follow a specific sequence
  • the list sets a chronology

Numbers

Spell out

  • The numbers one to nine

Example: They have funded five agencies this year.

  • A number that is the first word of a sentence

Example: Eleven more agencies will be funded by the end of 2009.

Use numerals

  • For 10 or greater

    Example:
    Can she possibly write 12 feature stories this year?
  • For any number associated with a unit of measure

    Example:
    The pages are only 7 inches wide.
  • Before an abbreviation or symbol

    Example:
    Use a standard 8 1/2” x 11” page
  • To identify pages, figures, steps, and diagrams

    Example:
    Refer to Figure 2 for details.
  • To write percentages

    Example:
    The new website has 20% fewer pages than the old one.
  • For all decimals, even those less than 10

    Example: Leave at least 4.5 feet between the units.
  • For lists and data

 For ranges of numbers

  • Use "to" or "through" in text

    Example:
    pages 12 to 18
  • Use "–" in tables and charts (see en dash)

    Example:
    pages 12–18

When there is more than one number in a sentence

  • If one number is 10 or greater, use all numerals.

    Example:
    They have 24 computers and 4 servers.
  • If two numbers are used consecutively in a sentence, use a numeral for one and spell out the other.

    Example:
    Enter seven 5-digit codes.

Miscellaneous

  • Place a zero (0) before decimals less than one (0.35).
  • Separate the digits of numbers into thousands.

Examples: 1,230 students, $11,432

Photo credits

Photo credits are not necessary for photographs taken by staff photographers or that are the property of UMass Dartmouth. However, it is appropriate to give credit when posting a photo that has been offered for university use as a courtesy. Suggestion: use T4's H5 option for text.

Photo courtesy of Jane Smith

Time

  • Use lowercase, no space, and no periods:

Examples: 6am and 8pm; from 7 to 8:30am

  • Use noon or 12pm
  • Typically, omit :00 in references to times on the hour. Example: 9am; not 9:00am

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