Skip to main content.

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.)
  • Do not state the acronym if there is to be no other reference to the term.
  • Most acronyms may be stated without periods: NASA, FBI.
  • Use U.S. for the United States.
  • Use 2-letter abbreviations for states: AZ, MO.

Alumni class years

  • For undergraduate class year, use a single closed quotation mark.
    • Example: Peter Smith ’03.
  • For alumni with a degree higher than a bachelor’s, use a comma after the name and after the degree.
    • Example: Ann Jones, MA ’08, and John Petri ’83, MBA ’85.
  • List the name of an earlier graduate first when listing two or more alumni.
  • For couples who graduated the same year, it is fine to list the graduation year only once.
    • Example: Chris and Christina Sun ’03.
  • If a couple is married and graduated in different years, list the earlier graduate first and the class year after each name.
    • Example: Chris ’02 and Christina Sun ’03.
  • Two or more alumni from the same family can be referred to with full names and dates of graduation following each name.
    • Example: Siblings Gigi Haven ’89, Joseph Jones ’91 and Matthew Jones ’93 wore pink in honor of breast cancer awareness.


  • 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, also known as sentence case.
    • Example: Chancellor Smith announces new doctoral degree program
    • Not: Chancellor Smith Announces New Doctoral Degree Program
    • Exception: exact names of items such as research projects or articles would be considered proper nouns and therfore, should be title case
      • Example: Increasing Massachusetts Partnerships for Advancing Computational Thinking in PK-5 Classrooms
  • 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.


  • She has an associate degree in engineering.
  • He is pursuing a bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering.
  • I'd like to introduce Jane Smith, Juris Doctor.
  • Please welcome Jim Doe, Master of Science.
  • Peggy has an MFA in painting.

Compound words

When 2 words are used together to create a new meaning, a compound is formed. Compound words may be open (written as 2 words: coffee mug), closed (written as a single word: bookstore), or hyphenated (joined by a hyphen: full-time). Sometimes, more than 2 words can form a compound: sister-in-law.

Compound words may evolve over time, moving from open or hyphenated to closed: website, email. Some compound words are hyphenated when used as adjectives before a noun but not when used after the noun: up-to-date style; style that's up to date.

If you are in doubt about how to spell a compound word, consult an online dictionary such as Merriam-Websters.

Contact information

Format telephone numbers with hyphens. This is the preferred UMassD web style.

Example: 508-999-8000 (no parentheses around the area code).
Tip: Use T4's "contact" content type for right-column contacts.


  • Omit commas in dates with only a month and year.
    • Example: June 2020
  • Use commas for dates with month, day, and year; or day, month, date, and year.
    • Example: Tuesday, December 1, 2019
  • 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 Thursday, November 23, 2017, the university will close for Thanksgiving break.
    • Or: On Thursday, 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: M T W Th F


Create content so that no gender bias is suggested.

Avoid singular pronouns (he, she, his, hers) when referring to all individuals. Substitute they, their or you, your. (Remember, they and their are plural: Students will need their new ID cards.)


Write headings that are brief and clearly expressed, being mindful of narrow screens where text might wrap to another line.

Use the "down" style of initial capitalization (also known as "sentence case") for only the first word and any proper nouns; other words are all lower case.


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 suggests a chronology


Use numbers

  • Use numbers instead of the words for numbers—even for 1 through 9—to help make content easier to scan and understand.
    • Examples: Can she possibly write 12 feature stories this year? They have funded 5 agencies 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.


  • When the number is the first word of a sentence.
  • If two numbers are used consecutively in a sentence, use a numeral for one and spell out the other.
    • Examples: Eleven more agencies will be funded by the end of 2009. Enter seven 5-digit codes.

For ranges of numbers

  • Use "to" or "through" in text.
    • Example: pages 12 to 18
  • Use a hyphen in tables and charts.
    • Example: pages 12-18


  • Place a zero (0) before decimals less than one (0.35).
  • Separate the digits of numbers into thousands.
    • Examples: 1,230 students, $11,432
  • Write a reference to the century as a number: the 21st century, 21st century problems

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 use as a courtesy. T4's "main content" and "news" types allow you to enter a photo caption; you can enter a credit there: Photo courtesy of Jane Smith.


  • Use lowercase, no space, and no periods.
  • Use 12pm or 12noon.
  • Typically, omit :00 in references to times on the hour.
    • Examples: 6am and 8pm; from 7 to 8:30am; from 7am-10pm; 9am (not 9:00am)

More information

Marketing support

Access templates, presentation tools and submit marketing job requests.

Back to top of screen