abbreviations and acronyms

In general, avoid alphabet soup. Do not use acronyms or abbreviations that the reader would not recognize quickly.

Acronyms for job titles and names of organizations, centers, buildings, forms, tests and assorted other objects are generally spelled without periods.


Acronyms are pluralized without apostrophes, unless the last letter of the acronym is an “s,” in which case an apostrophe is needed. (This is one of the rare cases where a plural requires an apostrophe.)

GREs, IDs, LANs, W-2s, SOS’s, RAs


  • Abbreviate titles when used before a name: Dr., Gov., Sen.

  • For academic degree guidance, see academic degrees.

  • With dates or numerals: Use B.C., A.D., a.m., p.m.

  • Abbreviate the following months: Jan., Feb., Aug., Sept., Oct., Nov., Dec.

  • Addresses: Abbreviate avenue, boulevard and street in numbered addresses. He lives on Walnut Street. He lives at 89 Walnut St.


academic degrees

Capitalization in names of degrees conferred at UNI should match the official degree list. Note that in degree names containing the words “of science,” the discipline is part of the official degree name and is therefore capitalized.

Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Science in Physics

In many cases where science isn’t part of the degree name, the discipline isn’t part of the official degree name and is therefore not capitalized.

Bachelor of Arts in psychology, Doctor of Philosophy in mass communications

Note also the following types of degree names:

Bachelor of Arts in English (English is a proper noun and is therefore capitalized.)

Associate of General Studies, Bachelor of Fine Arts, Master of Public Policy

When referring to degrees in a general way, don’t capitalize them. Note that while bachelor’s and master’s end in “’s,” the other generic words for degrees do not.

An associate degree, a bachelor’s degree, a master’s degree, a doctoral degree or a doctorate.

In references to the degrees, the word degree is never capitalized.

Caryn earned her Master of Music degree last spring.

In an exception to AP Style, do not use periods when abbreviating degrees except in formal writing. 

Bachelor of Arts (BA), a bachelor’s degree; Master of Arts (MA), a master’s degree; Master of Business Administration (MBA), an MBA, Doctor of Philosophy (PhD), a doctorate degree or PhD. 

Pluralized abbreviations:

PhDs, JDs; There were four candidates with PhDs applying for the position.

Degrees conferred at institutions other than UNI may not conform to UNI style. Verify these degree names in order to preserve the correct capitalization, abbreviation and punctuation style.


academic departments

Department names used in an official way are uppercase (e.g. Department of Biology) as are all formal names of centers, etc. General references such as “the biology department” are lowercase.


academic terms and class standing

Use lowercase for semesters (fall, spring, summer), academic terms and class standing. The 2015 fall semester, spring term freshmen, sophomores, juniors and seniors.

(first-year students is the preferred alternative for freshmen)


Admissions Welcome Center

AWC is acceptable for second reference or in internal campus communications.



Only abbreviate avenue, boulevard and street in numbered addresses. He lives on Walnut Street. He lives at 89 Walnut St.

Always use figures for an address number: 89 Walnut St.

Spell out and capitalize “First” through “Ninth;” use figures for “10th” and above.

Abbreviate direction except when the number is omitted. 245 W. Main St; West Main St.



Not adviser, when referring to academic advisors.


affect, effect 

When used as a verb, affect means to influence. Avoid affect as a noun, except when it's appropriate (e.g., "affect" from a behavioral/psychology perspective).

When used as a verb, effect means to cause. As a noun, effect means result.


alum, alumni

To avoid gendered language and maintain a more casual tone, use “alum” when referring to a single UNI graduate. Use “alumni” when referring to multiple graduates.


Alumni House


among, between

In general, “between” introduces two items and “among” introduces more than two items.


amount, number

Use “amount” for things that cannot be counted individually: the amount of courage to be a non-traditional student. Use “number” for things that can be counted individually: The number of students at UNI.


a.m., p.m.



Use the ampersand (&) only when it’s an official part of the name or title — its formal approved name: Professional & Scientific, Continuing & Distance Education, AT&T Corp., Simon & Schuster, Proctor & Gamble Co. Ampersands are never used in running text unless they are part of an official name.



Don’t use the term “first annual.”



Acceptable on first reference.



Acronym for the Arctic, Remote and Cold Territories Interdisciplinary Center. ARCTICenter or “the center” acceptable on second reference.


artificial intelligence

AI is acceptable on second reference.

Back to Top







Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Science

A “bachelor’s degree” or “bachelor’s” or B.A. and B.S. can be used in any reference.


Bartlett Hall


Begeman Hall


Bender Hall


Biology Research Complex



Acronym for Black, Indigenous and people of color.



Capitalize when referring to race: John Doe is a Black student at UNI.


Board of Regents, State of Iowa

Iowa Board of Regents is acceptable on first reference.


Business and Community Services

BCS is acceptable for second reference or in internal campus communications.

Back to Top





Campbell Hall



Avoid unnecessary capitalization. A general rule is that official names are capitalized; unofficial, informal, shortened or generic names aren’t. This rule applies to names of offices, buildings, schools, departments, programs, institutes, centers and so on. Therefore, phrases such as the center, the institute or the new museum aren’t capitalized. 

  • The Office of the Registrar, the registrar’s office, this office, the registrar

  • The College of Business Administration, the business college, the college

  • The University of Northern Iowa Department of Physics, the physics department, the department

  • The University Museums, the museum

A person’s title is only capitalized if it precedes their name: President Mark A. Nook. Mark A. Nook, UNI president.




Center for Energy and Environmental Education

CEEE is acceptable for second reference or in internal campus communications.


Center for Multicultural Education

CME is acceptable for second reference or in internal campus communications.


Center for Social and Behavioral Research

CSBR is acceptable for second reference or in internal campus communications.


Child Development Center

“The center” is acceptable on second reference, as the CDC is commonly understood as an acronym for the Centers for Disease Control.


cliches, jargon

Avoid whenever possible. Focus on original and specific phrasing. In cases of jargon, try to replace with simple explanations in plain language.


collective nouns

Nouns that denote a unit take a singular verb and pronoun: class, crowd, family, faculty, staff etc.

Team names and musical group names take a plural verb and pronoun.

The class is in session.

The Panthers are on a three-game winning streak.



See punctuation.



AP Style punctuation guidelines state:

"As with all punctuation, clarity is the biggest rule. If a comma does not help make clear what is being said, it should not be there. If omitting a comma could lead to confusion or misinterpretation, then use the comma.
For detailed guidance, consult the punctuation section in the back of Webster's New World College Dictionary.

IN A SERIES: Use commas to separate elements in a series, but do not put a comma before the conjunction in most simple series: The flag is red, white and blue. He would nominate Tom, Dick, Harry or Jeannette. She goes to school, plays league soccer and takes private dance lessons.

Include a final comma in a simple series if omitting it could make the meaning unclear. The governor convened his most trusted advisers, economist Olivia Schneider and polling expert Carlton Torres. (If Schneider and Torres are his most trusted advisers, don’t use the final comma.) The governor convened his most trusted advisers, economist Olivia Schneider, and polling expert Carlton Torres. (If the governor is convening unidentified advisers plus Schneider and Torres, the final comma is needed.)
Put a comma before the concluding conjunction in a series if an integral element of the series requires a conjunction: I had orange juice, toast, and ham and eggs for breakfast.

Use a comma also before the concluding conjunction in a complex series of phrases: The main points to consider are whether the athletes are skillful enough to compete, whether they have the stamina to endure the training, and whether they have the proper mental attitude."


Communications Arts Center

CAC is acceptable for second reference or in internal campus communications.


composition titles

These guidelines apply to the titles of books, movies, plays, poems, albums, songs, operas, radio and television programs, lectures, speeches, and works of art:

  • Capitalize all words in the title except articles (a, an, the), prepositions of three or fewer letters (for, of, on, up, etc.), and conjunctions of three or fewer letters (and, but, for, or, so, etc.).

  • Exceptions are for the Bible, the Quran and other holy books and books that are primarily of reference.



Capitalize when referring to the legislative body.


Curris Business Building

CBB is acceptable for second reference or in internal campus communications.


COVID-19, coronavirus


course numbers

Each course has a course number and course title, which is always capitalized (even if the course is referred to without the number). There is no punctuation between the course number and course title. Numerals are generally only used in the course catalog.

870:142 Igneous Petrology

450:121 Mental Deviance and Mental Health Institutions

Professor Henry is teaching Physics I this spring.

I can’t wait to take Stratigraphy and Sedimentation this fall.

Back to Top





DACA, Dreamer


Dancer Hall



Although a plural word, “data” takes on singular verbs and pronouns in writing. Data is becoming increasingly important in the modern world. The exception is for academic or scientific writing where plural forms are preferred. 



Do not use. Instead, say the individual cannot hear or speak.



Capitalize when used as a title before a name. Dean John Jones. Lowercase in all other uses.


dean’s list

Lowercase in all uses.


directions and regions

Lowercase north, south, northeast, northern, etc., when they indicate direction; capitalize when they refer to regions. He drove west. The storm is forming on the West Coast.


disabled, handicapped

Both of these words should be avoided. If these descriptions must be used, try to be specific about the type of disabilities or symptoms.



Acronym for do it yourself.



Use Dr. in first reference as a formal title before the name of an individual who holds a doctorate in medical fields, including dentists and veterinarians.

Do not use before the names of individuals who hold other types of doctoral degrees.



The preferred usage is “dorms” and not “residence halls.”

Options for on-campus living include dorms and apartments. 


dropout (n.), drop out (v.)

Back to Top






Capitalize when referring to the planet, lowercase for other uses.





Note that emeritus is the singular, masculine form; for references to women, use emerita (singular) or emeritae (plural). Emeriti may serve as the plural for a group that is composed of men only or of men and women together. All references follow the noun.

professor emerita of music, professor emeriti, faculty emeriti


em dash, en dash, hyphen

Dashes separate; hyphens join. The distinction usually holds true for em vs en dashes, too.

A space is used on either side of any dash, except at the start of a paragraph or in sports agate summaries.

The two dashes most commonly used by typesetters are the em dash and the en dash. The em dash is what is usually meant by the word dash — a long mark that can be created by using the dash character (Option Shift Hyphen). In manuscripts, dashes are often represented with a double hyphen (--); these must be replaced.

The en dash is simply a specialized, slightly elongated hyphen that looks like this – (Option Hyphen). En dashes serve primarily to connect numbers (1–10).

A hyphen is the shortest version of a dash, made by pressing the hyphen key (next to =). Hyphens connect linked words and phrases and they break words at the ends of lines.

Em dashes are frequently used to set off parenthetical phrases, especially long or complex ones where something stronger than a comma is called for. If the parenthetical phrase comes at the end of a sentence, only one dash is needed to set it off — like this. If it’s inserted into the middle of the sentence — like this — you need dashes on both sides.

The building — one of our oldest — will be reroofed.


equity statement

Refer to policy 13.03 Equal Opportunity & Non-Discrimination Statement for the most -up-to-date language.


essential clauses, nonessential clauses

An essential clause cannot be eliminated without changing the meaning of the sentence. It is not offset from the sentence by commas.

A nonessential clause can be eliminated without altering the basic meaning of the sentence. Nonessential clauses are offset by commas in a sentence.

Back to Top







fellow, fellowship

Lowercase except when used with proper names:

He received a UNI fellowship.

Jeff earned a GE Fund Faculty for the Future Fellowship.

Clifford was a Fulbright Scholar.


first-year students

Preferable to freshmen.



Spell out amounts less than 1 and use hyphens between words: one-third, three-fourths.

Use figures for precise amounts, using a forward-slash mark between the numbers: 1/8, 5/16. Convert to decimals when practical.



The preferred term is first-year student.

Back to Top





Gallagher Bluedorn Performing Arts Center

GBPAC is acceptable for second reference or in internal campus communications.



Abbreviation for General Education Development. Use as an adjective, not a noun. Those passing the test earn a GED diploma not a GED.



Not synonymous with sex. Gender refers to a person’s social identity while sex refers to biological characteristics. Avoid references to both, either or opposite sexes or genders as a way to encompass all people.

In general, use language that the subject of the story is comfortable with, rather than conforming to a certain style. Language around gender is evolving, and you may need to make decisions, based on your audience, that are not covered in this style guide.



Acceptable in copy, but should be explained. Use lowercase in a file name.


Gilchrist Hall


governmental bodies

Capitalize the full proper name of governmental agencies, departments and offices: the U.S. Department of State, the Waterloo City Council, the Black Hawk County Board of Supervisors.

Do not capitalize when referring to multiple government bodies or when the name does not refer to a specific, existing body.



Acceptable in all references.

Don’t hyphenate grade point average or put periods in its abbreviation, GPA. GPAs refer to numbers, not grades. Always extend to one decimal point. On external references, qualify by saying on a 4.0 scale. On internal publications, it‘s not necessary to make reference to the scale: A GPA of 3.0, not a GPA of B.


grade, grades, grader

Capitalize the letters used for grades, as well as official grade names where applicable. Don’t put quotation marks around grades.

A, B, C, D, F, W, I, P, FX, S/F, P/F, R, Incomplete, Pass, Deferred, a grade of B

When referring to a grade, use a capital letter.

A B average for the course, a P/F course, a grade of I (Incomplete)

Pluralize single letter grades with apostrophes.

She got mostly B’s and C’s all year.

No hyphen needed when describing a student through their year in school: a fourth grade student. Hyphenate to avoid confusion. He was the sixth fourth-grade student to win the prize.

Back to Top





Hagemann Hall



In stories, write the hashtag as it would appear on social networks.


health care




his, her

Do not presume gender when constructing a sentence. If needed, reword the sentence to avoid gender. If essential, use the pronoun they as a singular with a plural verb.



Names of holidays and other recurring celebrations and events are usually capitalized. Names of seasons and academic periods aren’t.

Thanksgiving, Commencement, Diversity Week, winter 2010-11, summer session II, spring semester, orientation, registration, spring break

For historical or documentary accuracy, follow the capitalization style of original texts.

“As I am a schoolteacher during the other three seasons, I am happy that I may continue my own education during the Summer Seasons,” wrote a student in 1919.




Honors Cottage




home schooling (n.), home-schooler (n.). home-school (v.), home-schooled (v.)



Use a comma to set off an individual’s hometown (both the city and, when needed, the state).


honorary degrees

Specify the degree was honorary.


hot spot



Preferred over mankind.

Back to Top





ice age






Independence Day

Capitalize. Fourth of July or July Fourth are also acceptable.


Industrial Technology Center

ITC is acceptable for second reference or in internal campus communications.


Innovative Teaching and Technology Center

ITTC is acceptable for second reference or in internal campus communications.


international students

The phrase international student is preferable to foreign students.



Lowercase except at the start of a sentence.



Acceptable on first reference for information technology.

Back to Top






job classifications

Capitalize the full versions of Merit, Professional and Scientific (P&S), and Supervisory Confidential Merit Personnel (SCMP). The acronym is acceptable on the first or second

reference when used for internal publications.


John Pappajohn Entrepreneurial Center

JPEC is acceptable for second reference or in internal campus communications.

Back to Top





Kamerick Art Building

KAB is acceptable for second reference or in internal campus communications.



Use Quran unless used in a group name or title.



The word is singular.

Back to Top





Lang Hall


Latham Hall


Lawther Hall



A lectern is a small stand with a sloping table that a lecturer can use to hold notes. A podium is a small platform for a performer or lecturer to stand on.



Capitalize for formal names of talks being held on campus. Lowercase when not used as a proper name.

UNI welcomes award-winning writer for the Hearst Lecture Series.

The professor gave a lecture on copyright law.


lie, lay

Lay is a verb that commonly means “to put or set (something) down.” Lie is a verb that commonly means “to be in or to assume a horizontal position” or “to make an untrue statement.” Lay takes a direct object, and lie does not. 

Present Tense:

Lay: Unfold the blanket and lay it on the floor.

Lie: You’d better lie down.

Past Tense:

Lay: She laid the blanket on the floor.

Lie: I felt sick, so I lay down.

Past Participle:

Lay: She had laid the blanket down before she left.

Lie: I had lain there for some time before getting up.

Present participle:

Lay: I was laying the blanket on the floor.

Lie: You’ve been lying down all day.


lists, bulleted lists

Use periods at the end of the section whether it’s a full sentence or a phrase. Periods are not required if it’s a word or number listing.


Livestream, livestreaming, livestreamed

Always one word.

Back to Top





machine learning


makeup (n and adj), make up (v)


Man, mankind

See Humankind


Marshall Center School


Master of Arts, Master of Science, Master of Business Administration, Master of Arts in Education

Formal Use                                             General Use               Informal Use       Informal Abbreviated Use

Master of Arts                                        master’s degree          master’s               MA

Master of Science                                 master’s degree          master’s               MS

Master of Business Administration      master’s degree          master’s               MBA


Maucker Union

Use Maucker Union on first reference. Thereafter “the union” is acceptable. Only capitalize union when it is used with the full name.

The students had lunch in Maucker Union.

The gathering will happen in the union.


McLeod Center


McCollum Science Hall

MSH is acceptable for second reference or in internal campus communications.


mecca, Mecca

Lowercase “mecca” when used as a metaphor. Capitalized, Mecca refers to a city in western Saudi Arabia. 



Generally takes a plural verb, unless referring to the media as a single group. The media plays an important role in recruiting students.



Can be a noun and a verb.


metal casting

Two words.


Metal Casting Center

MCC is acceptable for second reference or in internal campus communications.


mic (n), mic’d (v)



No hyphen is used except when mid- precedes a capitalized word for a figure.

Midterms are scheduled for next week.

He traveled on a mid-Atlantic flight.

The temperature hovered in the mid-60s.


military titles

Capitalize a military rank when used as a formal title before an individual’s name. Refer to the AP Stylebook for a full list of military title abbreviations to use before an individual’s name. Spell out and lowercase a title when it is substituted for a name.

Gen. James Smith is a UNI alum. The general is a UNI alum.



Can be used for miles per hour on first reference.


mosquito, mosquitoes

Back to Top





name changes/names 

In general, use the names people prefer, even if it differs from the UNI directory.


Native American


niqab, hijab, burqa, chador

The niqab is the veil worn by the most conservative Muslim women in which only the eyes show. A hijab is a headscarf worn by some Muslim women. A burqa is the all-covering dress worn by some Muslim women. A chador is a cloak worn by some Muslim women that covers the hair, neck and shoulders but not the face. 



Use the abbreviation for number when used to indicate rank.


Noehren Hall





In general, spell out numbers one through nine. Use numerals for 10 and above and whenever preceding a unit of measure or referring to ages of people, animals, events or things.

Back to Top





official names

Capitalize official names of bulletins, forms, conventions, conferences, symposia and the like.

Summer Schedule of Courses, a Financial Aid Transcript, the Republican National Convention



Capitalize when it’s part of an official name: Office of the Registrar

Lowercase in all other uses: the registrar’s office



Don’t use the word “on” before a date or day of the week, except at the beginning of a sentence.

Correct: The meeting will be held Monday, August 17.

Incorrect: The meeting will be held on Monday, August 17.

Exception: On August 17, the committee met to discuss protocols. 


oxford comma

See comma.

Back to Top






Capitalize when referring to UNI’s athletic teams or to students, alums or other UNI groups.

We’re proud of our Panther graduates. The Panthers pummeled the Cyclones in last night’s football game.


parking lot designations

Capitalize the lot letter, but not the word “lot” when referring to a specific parking lot in running text.

I always park in the B lot. Parking is available in Gilchrist A lot.


part time

Hyphenate as an adjective before the noun; otherwise, leave as two words.

Lisa is a part-time student. Lisa attends classes part time.



We follow AP style in using the percent symbol.

Use the % when used with a numeral: In the department of biology, 40% of students complete undergraduate research.

Use decimals rather than fractions with percentages: Only 4.25% of students surveyed said they would recommend it to a friend.

For numbers less than 1%, precede it with a 0: The campus population grew by 0.8% last year.


phone numbers

Use figures and separate by hyphens. Never use periods in place of hyphens: 319-555-3333

For on-campus numbers in internal publications, use the last five digits of the number, with a hyphen between the first number and the last four digits.



Avoid misusing the apostrophe to form plurals. The only nouns that commonly take an apostrophe “s” in the plural are abbreviations with more than one period or single letters.

MBA’s, R.N.’s; x’s and y’s; A’s and B’s

Otherwise, acronyms, hyphenated coinages and numbers used as nouns (either spelled out or as numerals) generally add s (or es) alone to form the plural.

An exception is acronyms ending in the letter s.

AIs, W-2s, 747s, FAFSAs, 1980s, follow-ups, at sixes and sevens; but: SOS’s

Apostrophes are never used to form the plural of any proper noun.

The Johnsons will attend.

As with any plural noun, though, plural proper nouns do add a single apostrophe (no s) to indicate possession.

The reception will be at the Johnsons’ home.



Names of official policies such as the Anti-Discrimination and Harassment Policy or Equal Opportunity Policy should be capitalized. If the concept, rather than the official name, is being discussed, lowercase is appropriate.



See The Associated Press Stylebook for the complete listing.

For plural nouns not ending in s, add ’s.

The alumni’s contributions made a big impact.

For plural nouns ending in s, add only an apostrophe.

The girls’ contributions made a big impact.

For nouns plural in form and singular in meaning, add only an apostrophe.

Mathematics’ rules are hard to understand.



Follow Webster's New World College Dictionary. Hyphenate if not listed there.

Some words without a hyphen:

  • postsecondary education

  • postdoctorate

  • postgame



One word, not separated by a hyphen. 



The rules in prefixes apply. The general rule is that a hyphen is used if the prefix ends in a vowel and the word that follows begins with the same vowel.

Pre-established, pre-election, pre-eminent, pre-employment, pre-emptive.

Otherwise, follow Webster’s New World College Dictionary.

Pregame, pretest, preheat, precondition, prearranged. 


premiere, premier

Premiere is a noun or verb indicating the first performance of something: The movie will premiere this Sunday.

Premier is an adjective meaning first in rank: UNI is a premier school for teacher education. 



Capitalize only if immediately preceding a person’s name.

President John Doe; John Doe is president of the University of Northern Iowa.


principal, principle

Principal is a noun and adjective meaning someone or something first in rank, authority or importance: He was the principal player in the game. Experience is the principal goal.

Principle is a noun that means a fundamental value or motivating force: Her principles of kindness and generosity shine through in her everyday actions.


prior to

It’s preferred to avoid use of “prior to” and instead use the word “before,” unless there is a notion of a requirement involved.

The fee must be paid prior to the student receiving their parking pass.



Do not capitalize professor. Upon second reference, use the person’s last name without using their title.

The latest report published by professor John Doe explains the risks associated with too much screen time. According to Doe, effects range from migraines to sleep disruptions.

John Doe, professor of physics, received an award for his new book. Doe will accept the award at tonight’s ceremony.


Professor Emeritus

Emeritus is an honorary rank bestowed on some retired university faculty. Not every retired faculty member has emeritus status, so do not use the terms interchangeably.

Always use the term "Professor Emeritus" NOT "Emeritus Professor."

It’s appropriate to capitalize Professor Emeritus as a conferred title before a name, but don’t continue on second reference.

Emeritus and emeriti are the preferred singular and plural terms of professors of any gender. The feminine term emerita may be used given the context of the publication or the preference of the subject.

John Doe, Professor Emeritus, will be joining us for lunch.

Professors Emeriti Jane Doe and John Doe are highly involved in the UNI community. 

Professor Emerita Jane Doe is the guest speaker for today’s event.



For the full listing, refer to the “Punctuation” chapter in the The Associated Press Stylebook.

Back to Top






Use Q&A within the body of the story. 

The Multicultural Theatrical Society will hold a Q&A session for new members tomorrow. 



The preferred spelling. Use the spelling Koran only if preferred by a specific organization or in a specific title or name.

Back to Top





Redeker Center


Regents institutions, Iowa’s

The University of Northern Iowa is one of five Iowa Regents institutions.


The University of Northern Iowa is one of Iowa’s five Regents institutions.

UNI is one of five institutions governed by the Iowa Board of Regents. 



Lowercase in informal usage, but uppercase as part of the official name.

registrar’s office, the registrar, Office of the Registrar


religious references

For a complete listing, see the The Associated Press Stylebook


residence halls

The preferred usage is “dorms” and not “residence halls.”

Options for on-campus living include dorms and apartments. 


Rider Hall


room names and numbers

Refer to rooms on campus in this format:

115 Seerley Hall; University Room, Maucker Union; or University Room, MAU



President Nook will hold a roundtable discussion with campus leaders to discuss new safety measures.


Russell Hall

Back to Top





Sabin Hall



Use SAT on all references to the Scholastic Aptitude Test.


Schindler Education Center

SEC is acceptable on second reference or in internal communications.


Seerley Hall


Shull Hall



Do not use (sic) to show that quoted material or person’s words include a misspelling, incorrect grammar or peculiar usage.

Instead, paraphrase if possible. If the quoted material is essential, simply use it as spoken or written. 

Do not use substandard spellings such as “gonna” or “wanna” in attempts to convey regional dialects or informal pronunciations, except to convey an emphasis by the speaker.


Social distancing, social-distance

“Physical distancing” is the preferred term.



One word, used to describe a new business venture.

Jamal Harris, a business student, is working on a proposal for his new startup. 


Strayer-Wood Theatre


Student Health Center

SHC is acceptable for second reference or in internal campus communications.



One word, no hyphen. Lowercase when using with the name of the full committee.

The UNI Brand Messaging subcommittee has compiled a robust style guide.


State names 

Spell out, don’t abbreviate in story.


Student athlete vs student-athlete

A student athlete is a participant in an organized competitive sport sponsored by UNI. A student-athlete is a full-time student and athlete at the same time.


syllabus, syllabi

Syllabi is the preferred plural term for syllabus. 

Back to Top





teachers college

(SEE ALSO: Iowa State Teachers College/when and how to use old UNI names - borrow from UNI section of style guide)

  • Iowa State Normal School, 1876–1909

  • Iowa State Teachers College, 1909–1961

  • State College of Iowa, 1961–1967

  • University of Northern Iowa, 1967–present

When mentioning one of UNI’s former names, make note that it was called that at the time, and has since changed.

Dolores graduated from Iowa State Teachers College (now the University of Northern Iowa) in 1948, and received a teaching certificate. 


that, which

Use “that” for essential clauses, important to the meaning of a sentence, and without commas: John fondly remembered the day that he first came to UNI.

Use “which” for nonessential clauses, where the clause is less necessary, and use commas: The team, which was off to a rocky start, is now in first place.



Use the -re spelling of theatre in reference to Strayer-Wood Theatre, Bertha Martin Theatre or the Theatre Department.

Strayer-Wood Theatre, theatre department 

Don’t use theatre in running text, unless referring directly to the Strayer-Wood Theatre or Bertha Martin Theatre.

She’s taking theater classes. I’m going over to the Strayer-Wood Theatre for rehearsals.



Refers to the Department of Theatre’s production work. Distinct from the Department of Theatre, which is pedagogical/teaching in nature. Refer to it as “TheatreUNI” in headlines and “Theatre UNI” in the body of copy.


Third World

Avoid use of this term. “Developing nations” is the preferred term. 


3D, 3D printer, 3D-printed 



Use numerals in all cases. Omit the zeros from on-the-hour times. Use periods for a.m. and p.m. An exception may be made in more decorative layouts. Use of o’clock is generally discouraged. Don’t use numerals with noon and midnight. Noon and midnight aren’t capitalized unless at the beginning of a sentence.

9 a.m., 11:15 p.m., noon, midnight, 3-4:30 p.m. or 3 to 4:30 p.m., 9 a.m.-6:30 p.m.

Note that “from” is only used in time expressions when the word “to” is included.

From 9 a.m. to noon

Not: from 9 a.m.-noon


titles of people

Titles preceding a name are capitalized; those following a name or set off by commas aren’t. Don’t use the honorific title Dr. in reference to an academic who has earned a doctorate, unless used in a direct quote. Professor is appropriate but isn’t capitalized.

Capitalize Professor Emeritus as a conferred title before a name, but don’t continue on second reference. Dr. may be used in reference to a medical doctor.

The latest discovery by professor John Doe…

John Doe, professor of physics, has discovered…

Professor Emerita Susan Johnson...

This rule applies not only to academic titles, but also to administrative titles.

President John Doe, president since 1995,…

Doe, who has been president of UNI since 1995,…

An exception to this rule is a “named” title.

John Doe is the Martin Chair Professor of Piano at UNI.

Do not capitalize a qualifying word that precedes a capitalized title. Today, staff members honored former Faculty Senate Chair David Smith. Treat references to the Board of Regents, State of Iowa in the same way as other personal titles discussed above.

Our office recently received a visit from Regent Bob Smith.


today, tonight

It is preferred to use the day of the week, not “today” or “tonight,” in stories.

Only use “today” or “tonight” in direct quotations, and in phrases that do not refer to a specific day: Customs today are different from those of a century ago.

In other types of writing, today, “this morning,” “this afternoon” and “tonight” are acceptable if using the day of the week would be awkward.

For example, an internal email Wednesday to university staff would say: President Nook will host a panel discussion tomorrow, where he will announce new safety measures on campus.

An external announcement would say: President Mark Nook will host a panel discussion Wednesday, where he will announce new safety measures on the UNI campus. 


Towers Center


Transfer Student Center 

TSC is acceptable for second reference or in internal campus communications.


tryout vs try out

Tryout is a noun and try out is a verb.

Tryouts for the fall play will be held Monday. 

Mary plans to try out for the lead role.

Back to Top







US vs U.S. 

When using an abbreviation for United States in story text include periods (U.S.). In headlines, use US.


UNI, university (“the university” etc.)

Generally use University of Northern Iowa on first reference and UNI or university after. When starting a sentence use “The University of Northern Iowa” unless referring to aspects of UNI such as “University of Northern Iowa students.” 







Don’t use. The preferred terms are senior, junior, third-year student, etc. 

Back to Top





Veterans Affairs

No apostrophe. This Cabinet level department is referred to as the VA on second reference. 


Veterans Day

No apostrophe. The Nov. 11 holiday is the anniversary of the armistice ending World War I. 


vice president

Use the same capitalization rules as president.

Back to Top





waitlist, waitlisted (n., v.) 


walk-on (n.)



Only capitalize as part of a specific name (the Civil War, etc)



See The Associated Press Stylebook. Wind chill factor has no hyphen. 



Short for the World Wide Web, it’s a subset of the internet. 


web browser

Software for viewing websites




West Gym


who’s, whose

Who’s is a contraction of who is. Whose is the possessive term. 


who, whom

Who is the pronoun for human beings and animals with names. Avoid using whom, which is correct when someone is the object of a verb or preposition, unless absolutely necessary. 


woman, women

Singular and plural. Use female as an adjective (She is the first female president…) where needed and be careful to use gender-neutral language. 



Use a hyphen. Only capitalize when referring to specific programs like Federal Work-Study.


Wright Hall

Back to Top





Do not include the year when referring to a month and date in the current year: Please submit your application by July 12. If the reference is to a future or past year include the year and set off with commas: Nov. 8, 2018, was an incredible day. 

Centuries or decades should be referred to without an apostrophe, such as the 1970s or the 1600s.

Years are an exception to the rule of not starting a sentence with a figure: 2020 was a challenging year.  

When referring to alumni by graduation year, the preferred reference is ‘19, offset by commas. Use this format on first reference with any alumni in a story, unless it’s previously mentioned in the story.

Jane Doe, ‘17, successfully climbed Mt. Everest.

Back to Top