UB Style Guide

Writers and editors should adhere to our house style for all written communications. Our house style, a customized version of AP style, can be found here. Please note: This website can only be accessed while on campus. We are currently working toward an off-site solution.  

Most entries in the Custom Stylebook are unique to UB, but some entries are departures from AP style. In the latter case, the Custom Stylebook takes precedence. 

For issues not addressed in either stylebook, consult Webster’s New World College Dictionary, Fifth Edition. If you don’t have access to the print edition, you may use Webster’s online version

In the rare instances when adhering to our house style is impossible (due, for example, to technical restraints), writers and editors should consistently apply any style adaptations across all content.

Download Top 20 Style Tips

Print this tip sheet, compiled from the most frequently asked questions by UB communicators, for quick reference. DOWNLOAD

Top 20 Style Tips

academic degrees

Lowercase both the degree and the subject of the degree. She earned a bachelor’s degree in pharmacy. However, when the subject of the degree is a proper noun, it should be uppercase: He earned a bachelor’s degree in English.

When abbreviating degrees, do not use punctuation: BS, EdM, MBA, PhD.

addresses

When giving a numbered address, use the abbreviations Ave., Blvd. and St., and spell out all other similar words such as Drive and Circle. When only a street name is given, spell out all words: The hospital is at 1315 Jefferson Ave., at the corner of Jefferson Avenue and East Utica Street. North, East, South and West should be abbreviated as N., E., S. and W. only when a numbered address is given: UB’s family medicine department has offices at 132 W. Main St. in Cuba, N.Y. For address numbers, use figures: The UB Anderson Gallery is at 1 Martha Jackson Place. Spell out First through Ninth when used as street names, but use figures for 10th Street, 11th Avenue and above.

Do not spell out state names in body copy; use the state abbreviation list (NOT the postal code abbreviations) in the Custom Stylebook entry “state names.”

capitalization

Avoid unnecessary capitalization. Common nouns such as university and president should be capitalized only when used as part of a full name for a person, place or thing: The University at Buffalo is a research institution. The university is among the nation’s top research institutions.

cellphone

Not cell phone. Similarly, smartphone.

composition and publication titles

Use roman type and double quotation marks for the titles of books, films, musical compositions, paintings, dissertations, video games, etc. See AP Stylebook for exceptions. Render titles as they appear in the original composition, even if they deviate from our headline style.

The names of newspapers, magazines and periodicals should be cited in copy as they appear on their own banners. The article appeared in The New York Times. But: The article appeared in the Los Angeles Times.

courtesy titles

In general, do not use courtesy titles (e.g., Dr.) except in direct quotes.

days, weeks, months

Always use Arabic figures, without st, nd, rd or th. For example: June 1, not June 1st.

Do not abbreviate days of the week, except when needed in a tabular format.

When a month is included as part of a specific date, use Jan., Feb., March, April, May, June, July, Aug., Sept., Oct., Nov., Dec. María Garcia’s birthday is Sept. 12, 1985. Do not abbreviate the names of any months when only a month and year are given: The research project began in January 2000 and ended in November 2003.

email

Do not hyphenate. However, a hyphen should be used with e-book, e-business and e-commerce.

em dashes

No spaces around em dashes in body copy.

health care

Two words, no hyphen, all uses. OK to use healthcare, however, if this is part of an organization’s formal title; for example, VA Western New York Healthcare System.

internet

Lowercase. He surfed the internet.

names

Use first and last name on first reference and last name only on second reference.

numbers

When referring to common objects, spell out one through nine and use figures for 10 and above: James Nowak has two computers, 10 notebooks and 11 pens on his desk. However, use figures when referring to percentages, dimensions and children’s ages. (See AP Stylebook for additional exceptions.)

Numbers at the start of a sentence should always be spelled out: Sixty-four students signed up for the class.

school and department titles

Uppercase the formal name of UB’s schools, colleges and departments: She attends the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences. Lowercase when used informally: She attends the engineering school. However, when a proper noun is used, it should be capitalized in all uses: The English department has productive scholars.

serial commas

Do not put a comma before the conjunction in a simple series: UB’s researchers are hardworking, innovative and creative. Use a comma before the conjunction in a complex series: In considering Aisha Kumar for the job of research assistant, they wondered if Kumar had enough research experience to complete required duties, if she was able to work for more than one semester, and if she was enthusiastic about the project itself.

telephone numbers

Use figures with hyphens, without parentheses: 716-555-2000.

times

With the exception of noon and midnight, use figures and lowercase a.m. and p.m. The class began at noon and ended at 1 p.m. Haruto Sato skipped the class because he worked from 11 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.

titles

Only formal titles that precede a name are capitalized, and prepositions should be lowercase in all instances: Vice President of Student Affairs Jane Olatunji wears glasses. But: Jane Olatunji, vice president of student affairs, wears glasses.

UB Distinguished Professor, SUNY Distinguished Professor, SUNY Distinguished Teaching Professor and SUNY Distinguished Service Professor are always capitalized, as are endowed professorships, such as the Albert and Elizabeth Rekate Professor of Medicine.

Commonly used titles that are abbreviated when they precede a name include Gov., Lt. Gov., Rep. and Sen. Gov. Emma Tremblay will be the keynote speaker.

For more information on titles, see the AP Stylebook entry on titles and the Custom Stylebook entry on SUNY Distinguished Professor.

URLs

Don’t include https://www unless it is essential for calling up the website. Usually the simple web address will suffice, for example, buffalo.edu.

website

One word, not capitalized. Also webcam, webcast, webmaster, webpage, webfeed, the web. 

Resources

AP Stylebook, customized for UB: apstylebook.com/buffalo

Backup dictionary: For spelling, style and usage questions not specifically addressed in its stylebook, AP refers users to Webster’s New World College Dictionary, Fifth Edition. If you don’t have access to the print edition, you may use Webster’s online version: merriam-webster.com.