Web Writing Conventions
The Office of Communications and Marketing developed a tutorial style guide to help campus communicators deliver messages online that are consistent in style, voice, and message. This information is intended as a style guide for Web writing and content development to help us create one voice for the University.
If your question is not covered below, see the Associated Press Stylebook. For spelling issues not covered here, consult Webster’s New Collegiate Dictionary.
The following are common style issues, specific exceptions for or explanations for AP Style, and UL Lafayette spellings:
Abbreviations and Acronyms
- Per AP Style: do not write out the full name, such as American Bar Association, and then place the abbreviation in parentheses (ABA). If the abbreviation isn’t clear from its placement or the meaning of the sentence, don’t use the abbreviation.
- In general, only use abbreviations or acronyms that the general public would quickly recognize, such as FBI, IRS, NATO
States should be abbreviated as shown below. Eight states should not be abbreviated: Alaska, Hawaii, Idaho, Iowa, Maine, Ohio, Texas and Utah.
- Two-letter Postal Service abbreviations should only be used with full addresses that include ZIP codes.
Letters should be sent to: University of Louisiana at Lafayette
104 University Circle
Lafayette, LA 70503
- Abbreviate Jr. and Sr. with full names. A comma should not precede Jr. or Sr.
Bill Smith Sr. and John Deaux Jr. will speak at the conference.
- Use “&” rather than “and” in navigational links to avoid text wrapping
Capitalize and spell out the main words in degrees and capitalize abbreviations of degrees. Abbreviation of a degree name is acceptable on first reference.
Bachelor of Arts or B.A.
Bachelor of Fine Arts or B.F.A.
Bachelor of Science or B.S.
Doctor of Philosophy or Ph.D.
Master of Arts or M.A.
Master of Fine Arts or M.F.A.
Master of Business Administration or M.B.A.
Master of Science or M.S.
Doctor of Education or Ed.D
Master’s plus 30
- Do not capitalize academic degrees used in a general sense. Note that “bachelor’s” and “master’s” end in “’s.”
a bachelor’s degree
a master’s degree
a doctoral degree or doctorate
associate degree, not associate’s degree
- In references to an academic degree, the word “degree” should not be capitalized.
He earned a Bachelor of Science degree.
- Add a lowercase “s” to make a degree abbreviation plural.
- When following a person’s name, a comma should precede a qualifier, such as Ph.D. A second comma follows the qualifier in running text.
John Smith, Ph.D.
John Smith, Ph.D., spoke at commencement.
Academic Departments and Centers
- Capitalize proper nouns, titles and acronyms, and use lowercase for informal, shortened or generic terms.
Center for Advanced Computer Studies
John Smith, chair of the Department of Mathematics
the College of Engineering; the engineering college
the dean of the college; John Smith, dean of the College of Engineering
the Office of Admissions; the admissions office
the School of Music; the music school
- Capitalize titles and spell them out when they immediately precede a proper noun. Titles following a name or used alone are lowercase.
Professor John Smith will retire after the spring semester ends.
John Smith, professor of English, will retire after the spring semester ends.
John Smith is a professor.
- Capitalize full names of endowments, such as professorships or chairs.
John Smith, Heymann/BORSF Professorship in Music I
Athletic Team Names
- The lead athletic team name is Louisianas Ragin’ Cajuns®. Teams may also be referred to as Ragin’ Cajuns®. Ragin’ Cajuns® is a federally registered trademark. It should always appear with the registered trademark symbol ® directly following the “s” in Cajuns as a subscript (see examples in previous sentence).
- Capitalize the first word in all bulleted lists.
- Treat all items within a bulleted list consistently in terms of capitalization, punctuation and sentence structure
- Do not use periods after each item in a list if the items are not complete sentences:
UL Lafayette’s mobile app includes:
- A virtual tour
- Course directory
When lists contain complete, stand-alone sentences, use periods after each and capitalize each item.
- The word “University” should be capitalized if it is used alone per the UL Lafayette name use policy.
- Do not capitalize titles when used in apposition to a name: John Jones, associate vice president of planning.
- Capitalize titles when the full and formal title precedes the name: UL Lafayette President Dr. Joseph E. Savoie, Associate Professor John Deaux.
- Capitalize all titles when used in an address or headline.
- Generally, lowercase references to proper names when not used in full: the program, the college.
- Capitalize the full and correct names of offices, such as the Office of Admissions. Do not capitalize shorthand for an office, such as the admissions office.
- Capitalize the full and correct name of events, courses, and programs.
- Do not capitalize “class,” as in “class of 1973.”
- Do not capitalize seasons: spring, summer, fall, winter
- Capitalize all the major words in page or section titles, subtitles and anchors. Minor words include conjunctions, articles, and prepositions.
- Capitalize all major navigation links appearing in the sites structure
- Italicize stand-alone works, including book titles, movie titles, academic journal titles, play titles, television show titles, names of newspapers, names of magazines, works of art and musical compositions: Mary read War and Peace on the long train ride.
Titles of book chapters, articles in academic journals or magazines, episodes of television shows, and titles of songs should be placed in quotation marks:
Led Zeppelin’s “Stairway to Heaven” won the Grammy Hall of Fame Award in 2003.
- When citing dates, always abbreviate the following months: Jan., Feb., Aug., Sept., Oct., Nov. and Dec.
Jan. 1, 2011
- Use a comma after the year in a sentence. Also use a comma when day and date are used in a sentence.
On Sept. 10, 1999, the University changed its name.
The seminar will be held Friday, March 4, 2011.
- No comma is used when only the month and year are used.
He received a bachelor’s degree in May 2010.
- The word “annual” should not be capitalized unless it is part of a proper noun.
The company conducted its Annual Run for a Cure last week.
The annual Downtown Fun Run draws about 500 people.
- An event should not be referred to as an “annual event” until it has been held for at least two consecutive years.
The first Race for a Cure will be held tomorrow. Organizers hope it will become an annual event.
- To avoid ambiguity in historical articles, use the full year: George Washington, class of 1772, is a distinguished alumnus
- For more contemporary alums: George Washington, ’72, is a distinguished alumnus
- A single, closed quotation mark replaces the first two digits of the year a person graduated. In a list, a comma should not separate the person’s name and graduation year. However, commas should be used before and after a graduation year in a sentence.
John Smith ’60
John Smith, ’60, went to work for NASA in October.
- Capitalize Internet (proper noun) but not intranet.
- Use website, not Web site.
- If a website address appears at the end of a sentence, it should be followed by a period.
- No hyphen or capitalization of email.
- Online is one word. On-screen is hyphenated.
- Spell out numbers one through nine and use figures for 10 and greater, except when used with “percent” or “million”
- Spell out “percent” expect in tables, where % is acceptable
- Avoid starting a sentence with a number. If a sentence cannot be rewritten, the number should be spelled out unless it is a date year.
- When referring to dollar amounts in millions, use the number and “million,” rather than the number and six zeros: $16 million, not $16,000,000
- For numbers greater than 999, use commas: $1,500
- Make sure number comparisons are parallel.
Acceptable: The grants will range from $16 million to $18 million.
Unacceptable: The grants will range from $16 to $18 million.
- Use commas before last item in a series: a, b, and c
- Use commas to set off nonessential clauses and phrases
- Use commas to set off names of states, countries, after city name: the Selma, Ala., group saw the governor
- Use commas in numbers higher than 99: 1,000,000
see Graduation Years
- Use an ellipsis to show the deletion of one or more words in condensing quotes. In general, treat it as a three-letter word. If the ellipsis occurs at the end of a sentence, place a period at the end of the last word before the ellipsis. Follow it with a regular space and an ellipsis: You are coming of age in unsettling times. ...
Em dash (—)
- Use to indicate emphasis or explanation, to define an complimentary element, or to denote a sudden break in thought
- Do not add spaces before or after em dashes
En dash ()
- Use an en dash to connect continuing or inclusive dates, times, or reference numbers
- Do not add spaces before or after en dashes
- Compounds with well, ill, better, best, little, lesser, full, are hyphenated before the noun but not after: she is a full-time employee because she works full time
- Compounds consisting of noun plus adjective or noun plus participle are also hyphenated before the noun and open after (unless the hyphen is required to prevent misreading): decision-making procedures are in place so that decision making will be a snap
- An adverb ending in ly followed by a participle or adjective is always opened: highly intelligent students
Use italics for titles of complete, independent works: newspapers, books, magazines, movies, plays, etc. Put quotation marks around titles of works that are contained within other works, such as articles, or songs:
Led Zeppelin’s “Stairway to Heaven” off the album Led Zeppelin IV won the Grammy Hall of Fame Award in 2003.
- Use italics for the full title of courses, when they appear in text (but not in a course schedule or listing.
- Use italics for titles of complete, independent works: newspapers, books, magazines, movies, plays, etc. Put quotation marks around titles of works that are contained within other works, such as articles, or songs:
- Commas, periods, and question marks should always go inside quotation marks.
He asked, “How long will it take?”
“I am not a crook,” President Richard Nixon said.
- Dashes, semicolons, question marks, and exclamation points go within quotation marks when they apply to the quoted matter only. They go outside when they apply to the whole sentence: Did you know that she said, “Vermilion is my favorite color”?
- Use one space, not two, between sentences and after colons, semicolons, commas, etc.
- Do not put spaces around en dashes or em dashes.
- Do not put spaces between initials.
- Insert one line space before and after bulleted lists, but not before or after bullets within the lists
- Use numbers in all cases and omit zeros for on-the-hour times. Use periods for a.m. and p.m. To avoid confusion, use noon and midnight instead of 12 p.m. and 12 a.m.
11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
7:30 a.m. until noon
View the list of abbreviations and references to the University.