Skip to main content

Style Guide

When working on the UHD website and materials for internal and external audiences, we have the following style guide to create the content. UHD follows AP Style. Please review the guidelines below to help ensure consistent communication styles across the UHD website.


A few universally recognized abbreviations are required in some circumstances. Some others are acceptable, depending on the context. But in general, avoid alphabet soup. Do not use abbreviations or acronyms that the reader would not quickly recognize.

As a rule, write out the University of Houston-Downtown on first reference. UHD is acceptable on second reference.

Example: Bill was accepted into the University of Houston-Downtown. UHD was his first choice of universities.

Abbreviations and most acronyms should be avoided in headlines unless they are widely used and universally familiar to broad public audiences.

  • Example: Criminal Justice Student to Attend FBI Training Camp
  • Example: IRS Representatives to Appear at Career Fair

For widely used abbreviations, writing out the entire organization or institution is not necessary:

  • Example: NAACP, NCAA, FBI, IRS

For organizations that might be less familiar to broad general audiences, write out the entire name followed by the abbreviation in parentheses. After introducing the abbreviation in parentheses, use it on second reference.

Example: Ralph was a member of the Texas Association of Chicanos in Higher Education (TACHE). It was important that he participate in TACHE activities to support his institution.

Higher education and/or UHD specific abbreviations are likely not well understood by broad public audiences and should be written out on first reference.

  • Example: Deadline to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is next week.

Back to top


Use the abbreviations Ave., Blvd. and St. only with a numbered address: 1 Main St. Spell them out and capitalize when part of a formal street name without a number: Main Street. Lowercase and spell out when used alone or with more than one street name: Main and Girard street.

Back to top

  • Alumnus is male; alumni is plural. Alumni is used for mixed-gender groups.
  • Alumna is female; alumnae is plural.
  • Alum(s) is neutral and can be used in informal contexts.

Back to top

A.M. and P.M.

Lowercase, with periods. Avoid the redundant 10 a.m. this morning.

Back to top


Use the ampersand when it is part of a company's formal name or composition title: College of Humanities & Social Science, College of Sciences & Technology, Writing & Reading Center.

The ampersand should not otherwise be used in place of and, except for some accepted abbreviations: B&B, R&B.

Back to top


Lowercase impressionism, modernism and other art styles and movements unless used in formal titles of shows or exhibits with quotation marks. Exception: Gothic, Renaissance and other historical periods are capitalized for art and architecture from those ages. Titles of paintings are enclosed in quotes: "Mona Lisa."

Back to top


In general, avoid unnecessary capitals. Use a capital letter only if you can justify it by one of the principles listed here:

  • PROPER NOUNS: Capitalize nouns that constitute the unique identification for a specific person, place, or thing: John, Mary, America, Houston.
  • PROPER NAMES: Capitalize common nouns such as party, river, street and west when they are an integral part of the full name for a person, place or thing: Democratic Party, Brazos River, Main Street, Texas.
  • POPULAR NAMES: Some places and events lack officially designated proper names but have popular names that are the effective equivalent: the Combat Zone (a section of downtown Boston), the Main Line (a group of Philadelphia suburbs), the South Side (of Chicago), the Badlands (of South Dakota), the Street (the financial community in the Wall Street area of New York).
  • DERIVATIVES: Capitalize words that are derived from a proper noun and still depend on it for their meaning: American, Christian, Christianity, English, French, Marxism, Shakespearean.
  • SENTENCES: Capitalize the first word in a statement that stands as a sentence.
  • COMPOSITIONS: Capitalize the principal words in the names of books, movies, plays, poems, operas, songs, radio and television programs, works of art, etc.
  • TITLES: At UHD, formal titles are capitalized when referring to a specific role. Lowercase when referencing a role generally.
    • Example: Bob Smith, UHD Associate Professor of History.
    • Example: There were many UHD professors in attendance.

Back to top

  • Capitalize the names of months in all uses. When a month is used with a specific date, abbreviate only Jan., Feb., Aug., Sept., Oct., Nov. and Dec. Spell out when using alone, or with a year alone.
    • Example: Jan. 3, 2021
    • Example: He arrived at the University in December.
  • When a phrase lists only a month and a year, do not separate the year with commas. When a phrase refers to a month, day and year, set off the year with commas.
  • Always use Arabic figures, without st, nd, rd or th.
    • Example: Jan. 6 – Correct
    • Example: Jan 6th - Incorrect

Back to top

  • If a mention of degrees is necessary to establish someone’s credentials, the preferred form is to avoid an abbreviation and use instead a phrase such as: Fatima Kader, who has a doctorate in psychology.
  • Use an apostrophe and lowecase bachelor’s degree, a master’s. There is no possessive in Bachelor of Arts or Master of Science. Capitalize when writing out the full degree, and use the appropriate degree title.
  • Example: He earned a Masters in Business. – Incorrect
  • Example: He earned a Master of Business Administration – Correct
  • Example: He earned a master’s degree. - Correct

Also: an associate degree (no possessive).

  • Use such abbreviations as A., M.A., LL.D. and Ph.D. only when the need to identify many individuals by degree on first reference would make the preferred form cumbersome. Use these abbreviations only after a full name — never after just a last name.
  • When used after a name, an academic abbreviation is set off by commas: John Snow, Ph.D., spoke.

Back to top


Capitalize proper names of departments and offices.

Example: The Department of History; The Office of Impact Learning

Back to top

Ellipsis ( … )

In general, treat an ellipsis as a three-letter word, constructed with three periods and two spaces, as shown here.

Use an ellipsis to indicate the deletion of one or more words in condensing quotes, texts and documents. Be especially careful to avoid deletions that would distort the meaning.

An ellipsis also may be used to indicate a thought that the speaker or writer does not complete. Substitute a dash for this purpose, however, if the context uses ellipses to indicate that words actually spoken or written have been deleted.

Back to top


Acceptable in all references for electronic mail. Also: esports. Use a hyphen with other e- terms: e-book, e-reader, e-commerce.

Back to top

Freshman, freshmen

Use freshman when referring to a single student and freshmen for two or more. The freshman class is also appropriate.

Back to top

  • Headlines are key to any story. A vivid, accurate and fair headline can entice people to dig in for more. A bland, vague or otherwise faulty headline can push readers away. Often, a headline and photo are all that many readers see of a story. Their entire knowledge of the piece may be based on those elements.
  • Headlines must stand on their own in conveying the story fairly, and they must include key context. They should tempt readers to want to read more, without misleading or overpromising.

Back to top

  • A decentralized, worldwide network of computers and other devices that can communicate with each other.
  • The web, like email, is a subset of the internet. They are not synonymous and should not be used interchangeably in stories.
  • In stories, use the name of the website or service rather than the web address — so it’s Facebook, not com.

Back to top

Junior, senior

Abbreviate as Jr. and Sr. and do not precede by a comma: Martin Luther King Jr.

Back to top


In general, use only last names on second reference. When it is necessary to distinguish between two people who use the same last name, generally use the first and last name on subsequent references.

Back to top


Nonprofitis one word, without hyphens, when used either as an adjective or a noun. Not-for-profit, which is also acceptable, however, does take hyphens.

Back to top

  • In general, spell out one through nine: The Texans finished second. She had eight months to go.

  • Use figures for 10 or above and whenever preceding a unit of measure or referring to ages of people, animals, events or things.

Back to top

Percent, percentage, percentage points
  • Use the % sign when paired with a number, with no space. Average hourly pay rose 3.1% from a year ago.

  • For amounts less than 1%, precede the decimal with a zero: The cost of living rose 0.6%.

  • Use decimals, not fractions, in percentages: Her mortgage rate is 4.5%.

Back to top


Capitalize when part of a proper name: Public School 3, Madison Elementary School, Doherty Junior High School, Crocker High School.

Back to top


Lowercase spring, summer, fall, winter and derivatives such as springtime unless part of a formal name: Winter Olympics, Summer Olympics, Summer 2021

Back to top

Telephone Numbers
  • Use figures. The form: 212-621-1500. For international numbers use 011 (from the United States), the country code, the city code and the telephone number: 011-44-20-7535-1515. Use hyphens, not periods.
  • The form for toll-free numbers: 800-111-1000.
  • If extension numbers are needed, use a comma to separate the main number from the extension: 212-621-1500, ext. 2.

Back to top

UHD President
  • Capitalize Presidentwhen referring to UHD’s leadership. Do not use Dr. next to President.
    • Example: The UHD President attended the event.
    • Example: UHD President Loren J. Blanchard attended the event.
    • Example: UHD President Dr. Loren J. Blanchard – Incorrect
    • Example: UHD President Loren J. Blanchard - Correct

Back to top

Always capitalize UHD when mentioning the website.

  • Example: Visit for more details.

Back to top

United States

Use periods in the abbreviation, U.S. within texts. In headlines, it's US (no periods).

Back to top

  • This is an exception to our normal capitalization rules. When referring specifically to the University of Houston-Downtown, capitalize University.
  • When referring to universities in general or to higher education, use lowercase.

Back to top

University of Houston-Downtown

Capitalize the University’s name and always use a hyphen. Lowercase “the” when the institution appears in the middle of a sentence.

Never write UH-Downtown, U of H Downtown, UH Downtown.

  • Example: She loved the University of Houston-Downtown.

Back to top


Short form of World Wide Web, it is a part of the internet that enables the distribution of image-rich content and information. The web is not the same as the internet, but is a subset; other applications, such as email, exist on the internet.

Back to top

ZIP code
  • Run the five digits together without a comma, and do not put a comma between the state name and the ZIP code: Houston, TX 77002.

Back to top