As a world-class institution, it is important to maintain first-rate, professional standards in our print and online publications. A university style guide is intended to provide a definitive resource for writers, offering a consistent approach to how we present ourselves to our internal and external audiences -- students, faculty, staff, alumni, volunteers, donors, government, media, community partners and others.
The university style guide is compiled and managed by Strategic Communications, University Relations. It is designed for all members of the campus community who write about the university.
The guide is based on principles and technical guides published by the Canadian Press (CP) - Canada's national news agency. Other reference materials used to develop this guide include the Oxford Canadian Dictionary, Fowler's Modern English Usage and The American Psychological Association's Publication Manual.
Please note that some references contained in the guide have been developed as special cases for the University of Calgary community. These exceptions to CP style are indicated in the guide.
Questions relating to references found in the guide, or recommendations for future additions, may be submitted to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Additional tools and technical guides not found in this edition can be found in the CP Stylebook and Caps and Spelling, available for purchase through the Univeristy of Calgary Bookstore.
Some basic rules, courtesy of George Orwell and others:
1. Never use a long word where a short one will do.
2. If it is possible to cut out a word, always cut it out.
3. Never use the passive voice where you can use the active.
4. Never use a metaphor, simile or other figure of speech which you are used to seeing in print. In other words, avoid clichés.
5. Never use a foreign phrase, a scientific word or a jargon word if you can think of an everyday English equivalent.
Short paragraphs are preferred because they help break up blocks of text. Long sentences, like long paragraphs, should be used judiciously.
Capitalize only full proper names and titles but avoid where possible. Casual reference, in lower case, is more conversational and, thus, preferred:
the University of Calgary (not U of C)
the Faculty of Arts
the arts faculty
the Department of Applied Chemistry
the applied chemistry department
the Board of Governors
the University of Calgary Bookstore
the campus book store
the Dinos, or possessive (Dinos')
not Dino or Dino's
Do not capitalize faculties, schools, departments and offices when referring to more than one:
the faculties of nursing and law
The proper names of courses are capitalized:
300-level chemistry course
Do not capitalize fields of study/program names or areas of concentration:
The general biological sciences program
You can pursue a degree in applied chemistry
I graduated with a geology degree
When referring to a student studying a particular program/field, do not capitalize the program:
A science student
An engineering student
The names of buildings on campus are capitalized:
Taylor Family Digital Library
The campus community
The large internal groups at the University of Calgary are students, faculty, staff and alumni. Whenever possible and as appropriate to the message, internal and external communications should include these groups. When grouped together, they should be ordered as presented:
Ex: Students, faculty, staff and alumni are invited to X.
Faculty and alumni were recognized at a special event.
Students and alumni volunteered at the annual United Way event.
How to refer to the president
Personal voice for general communications (e.g., UToday messages, speaking points, announcement to the campus community):
President Elizabeth Cannon (upper case for the title when it precedes the name)
Elizabeth Cannon, president, University of Calgary (lower case for the title when it follows the name)
second reference is Cannon
Signature line, formal voice (e.g., official letters)
M. Elizabeth Cannon, PhD, FCAE, FRSC
Signature line, invitations
Dr. Elizabeth Cannon
President and Vice-Chancellor
Titles that precede a proper name are capitalized:
Vice-President (Development) John Smith
also permissible is
VP (Development) John Smith
Titles following a name and set off by commas are not capitalized (this is the preferred usage):
Jane Smith, vice-president (university relations),
John Smith, dean of arts,
Set off long titles with commas; avoid front-loading:
Jane Smith, director of risk management, safety and security,
Director of Risk Management, Safety and Security Jane Smith
Do not capitalize titles standing alone:
Contact the dean of graduate studies for more information.
Do not capitalize unofficial titles preceding a name:
arbitrator John Smith, or the university’s president Elizabeth Cannon, or GM’s vice-president Joe Jones (as opposed to GM’s Vice-President of Development Joe Jones)
Capitalize the proper names of chairs and professorships:
the Nortel Chair in Intelligent Manufacturing
the industry-supported chair in intelligent manufacturing
The honorific “Dr.” is used only for medical doctors.
Titles of administrative officers are hyphenated, with areas of responsibility in parentheses afterwards. Where possible, follow this style with similar titles: Students’ Union VPs.
vice-president (finance and services)
associate vice-president (university relations)
When alumni are mentioned in stories, the style is to follow their name on first or second reference with their degree:
Naheed Nenshi, BComm’93, was elected Calgary's mayor.
It’s important to recognize that language around age, race, sex, disabilities and religion must be handled thoughtfully. Use fairness, sensitivity and good taste when identifying age, colour, creed, nationality, personal appearance, religion sex and any other heading under which a person or group may feel slighted.
The university follows Canadian Press Stylebook guidelines for inclusive language. If you have the guide, refer to pages 19-24 of the 14th edition.
Here are some examples:
1. CP uses uppercase for Aboriginal Peoples, which includes all Indian, Métis and Inuit people in Canada. First Nations is also uppercase. Other variations—indigenous people, aboriginals (except for Aboriginals of Australia), native peoples—are lowercase.
2. In all references, be guided by the preference of those concerned.
3. Use Indian with discretion. Some people object to it because it originated with the European explorers’ misconception that they had landed in India. Others, especially status Indians, prefer it to be used.
4. Use native advisedly. Aboriginal and First Nations are more specific and are preferred by many in the community.
5. Where reasonable, prefer the actual name of the community—Cree, Mohawk, Tsuu T'ina, Ojibwa—to a generality. For band names, use the spelling the band prefers, which is also the spelling used by the federal government.
Names of races
1. Capitalize the proper names of nationalities, peoples, races and tribes.
Aboriginal Peoples, Arab, Caucasian, French-Canadian, Inuit, Jew, Latin, Negro, Asian, Cree
2. Note that black and white do not name races and are lowercase.
3. The term black is acceptable in all references in Canada and the United States. In the United States, African-American is also used; in Canada African-Canadian is used by some people but not by others.
4. There is usually no need to use hyphenated descriptions such as Polish-Canadian or Jamaican-Canadian, given they may put an inappropriate emphasis on the person’s ethnic background. But these descriptions can be used if the individual prefers and it is relevant.
Shoppers (not housewives) are paying more.
When writing in general terms prefer police officer or constable to policeman, firefighter to fireman, mail carrier to mailman, flight attendant to stewardess.
Some readers find the use of he (him, his) as a word of common or indeterminate gender to be sexist. His or her and the like can be used but may prove awkward. In that case reword the sentence if possible. Instead of: Whoever is promoted will have $50 added to his or her pay, write: Whoever is promoted will get a $50 raise. As a last resort, they (them, their) is an increasingly acceptable alternative to he (him, his).
Gay is usually preferred as an alternative for homosexual men and is also commonly used for women, although lesbian is preferred by many women. Use sexual orientation, not sexual preference. Language is still evolving on what to call the individuals in a same-sex relationship or marriage. Partner, husband and wife are all acceptable options depending on preference.
In general, avoid introducing unfamiliar acronyms if they are to be used only once or twice. When in doubt, spell it out.
Do not use periods for well-known acronyms:
CBC and RCMP
A few well-known campus abbreviations don't require formal introduction:
Mac Hall, for the large performance space in MacEwan Student Centre. This is not an abbreviation for MacEwan Student Centre.
the Oval, for the Olympic Oval
Most buildings and groups, though known by many, should still be formally introduced on first reference:
General Faculties Council; subsequently, GFC
The University of Calgary Faculty Association; subsequently, TUCFA
Omit periods in abbreviations for university degrees:
Bachelor of Arts, BA
(See below for specific degrees.)
Geographical abbreviations receive periods:
U.S. is the abbreviation for the nation known as the United States
US denotes the currency
eg. The loonie climbed to 99 cents US. (Where possible, simply convert to Canadian dollars to avoid altogether.)
When using the month and date, abbreviate the month:
and not Feb. 9th
Abbreviate only Jan., Feb., Aug., Sept., Oct., Nov. and Dec.
Do not abbreviate March, April, May, June, July.
When referring only to the month or with a year alone, spell it out:
Exams were held in December
January 1997 was a watershed month (no comma)
Seasons are always lower case:
The new philosophy course will be offered in the winter of 2008
The fall semester saw an increase in fundraising
The modifiers a.m. and p.m. have periods:
Classes begin at 8 a.m.
Do not use unnecessary ciphers:
Do not use the 24-hour clock.
Spell out whole numbers below 10, and use figures for 10 and above. Spell out numbers in fractions below one and standing alone:
200 students attended the seven sessions
Avoid starting a sentence with a number; if you must, spell it out.
When writing about money, use the $ symbol. When referring to denominations smaller than a dollar, write cents:
lemonade costs five cents
Hyphens are useful for avoiding ambiguity. Use a hyphen to join two or more words serving as a single adjective modifying a noun. Do not use a hyphen with words ending in -ly. The -ly suffix is adequate notice that the next word is being modified.
Use hyphens with ex-, self-, all-, post- and -elect. Some words which begin with co- also take a hyphen, such as co-worker, or when a hyphen avoids doubling a vowel, such as co-operate or co-ordinate.
Almost all punctuation marks go inside quotation marks. If more than one paragraph of quotation from a single speaker runs in succession, use quotation marks at the beginning of each paragraph but at the end of the last paragraph only.
Omit the last comma before “and” in a list of three or more items, unless a comma is needed to prevent confusion.
Professors, students and administrators rallied against the government.
The smooth grey of the beech stem, the silky texture of the birch, and the rugged pine were skillfully depicted in a variety of brushstrokes. (Without the comma after birch, the rugged pine assumes a silky texture.) – Fowler’s
Use an em-dash without spaces before and after, such as: The biology field school—the first of its kind in Canada—offers 20 students a chance to study in Ghana each summer.
Do not italicize the titles of books, magazines, songs, etc. If, within the context of the sentence, it is unclear that you are referring to a publication, you can put quotes around the title. The titles of theses, scholarly papers, etc., should be in quotation marks.
alumnus: a male graduate
alumni: a group of male grads, or a gender neutral reference to a group of grads
alumna: a female graduate
alumnae: a group of female grads
alum: an acceptable shortform of alumni
anaesthesia (Department of Anaesthesia)
analyse not analyze – although in general, prefer -ize over -ise, as in, "TUCFA wants to further democratize GFC."
archaeology, not archeology
biological sciences (the field of study)
Biological Sciences (the building)
the Department of Biological Sciences (proper name of the administrative entity)
book store - however, the proper name of the retail outlet in the basement of the student centre is University of Calgary Bookstore (one word)
Campus Food Bank
Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI)
centred on, never centred around
Individuals possess a bachelor's degree, a master's or a doctorate
Energy Environment Experiential Learning (does not have commas)
fellowship, but Killam Fellowship
field work: (two words) an investigation or search for material, data, etc., made in the field as opposed to the classroom or lab
Murray Fraser Hall (the former Professional Faculties Building, Block B)
fundraising, fundraiser, fundraise
governors, not governers
gynaecology (Department of Gynaecology)
High Density Library
Medical Research Council of Canada (MRCC)
Mount Royal University (MRU)
Murray Fraser Hall (the former Professional Faculties Building, Block B)
Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC)
the New University Television Society (NUTV)
The Nickle Galleries
Obstetrics and Gynaecology
paediatrics (Department of Paediatrics), paediatrician
per cent (avoid the symbol %), percentage, six per cent increase (no hyphens)
program, not programme
Professional Faculties Building
Royal Society of Canada
Senate (national legislature)
the university senate, the senate
the University of Calgary Senate
Senator Heather Travers; Hal Godwin, University of Calgary senator
sizable (not sizeable)
Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC)
Southern Alberta Institute of Technology (SAIT)
Students' Union (SU)
Students' Legislative Council (SLC)
Taylor Family Digital Library (not the Taylor). Second reference TFDL is acceptable but full spelling is preferred.
TUCFA - The University of Calgary Faculty Association
town hall (two words)
U.S. - the abbreviation for the nation
US - the abbreviation denoting American dollar currency, goes after the amount as in $100 US
University of Calgary Downtown Campus
University Technologies International Inc. (UTI)
UVic, U of A - abbreviations for post-secondary institutions well known to campus readers are acceptable
web – lowercase
web page, website, webcast, webmaster, web server
World Wide Web – upper case (it is a proper name)