Policies and Guidelines

Editorial Style Guide

Please refer to this style guide when writing to ensure that the campus uses a consistent style for messaging. Contained within: information on frequently misused terms, mechanics and UW terminology. When in doubt, please refer to the Associated Press Stylebook for additional information.

Frequently Used and Misused Words and Terms


academic quarter - capitalize when referring to a specific academic quarter. Example: The professor plans to retire after Fall Quarter 2006. (Also see seasons entry, below.)
affect -a verb meaning to influence. Do not confuse with effect. Example: Lack of funding affects quality.
a.m. and p.m. - lower case with periods and no spacing between letters and periods.
assure - means to convince or give confidence to. See ensure, insure.




century - lower case unless part of a proper noun. Example: We are in the 21st century.
child care
course work




effect - As a noun, effect means result. Example: Funding has an effect on quality. As a verb, effect means to bring about, accomplish. Example: It's time to effect some changes. Do not confuse with affect.

ensure - to make certain; guarantee; to make safe. See assure, insure.



follow-up (adj., n.)
follow up (v.)
full-time (adj.) Example: He took a full-time job.
full time (adv., n.) Examples: He works full time. Full time is a good option for him.
fund-raising (adj.)


Husky, Huskies - never Huskie.


insure - what you do for your car, home, life, etc. See assure, ensure.


kickoff (n., adj.)
kick off (v.)


long-range (adj.) Example: We have a long-range plan.
long range (n.) Example: Our plans cover a long range.




newly renovated (usually no hyphen with -ly words)


on-campus (adj.) Example: Freshman convocation is an on-campus event.
on campus (adv.) Example: Freshman convocation takes place on campus.


part-time (adj.) Example: He took a part-time job.
part time (adv., n.) Examples: He works part time. Part time is a good option for him.
percent - one word.
principal (adj.) - first in rank, authority, importance, degree; chief.
principle (n.) - a fundamental truth; a rule of conduct; an essential element.




seasons - lower case when not referring to an academic quarter. Capitalize when referring to an academic quarter. Example: The building will be constructed in spring of 2005. Enrollment begins for Fall 2005.
short-range (adj.) Example: We have a short-range plan.
short range (n.) Example: Our plans cover a short range.


titles - capitalize job titles only when they precede the person's name. Examples: Connie Kravas, vice president for Development Alumni Relations, Vice President Connie Kravas. Not: Connie Kravas, Vice President.


unique - avoid using it as a synonym for rare or extraordinary. Avoid using qualifiers such as "very, somewhat, or completely."
University-wide - preferred over "campus-wide."


world-renowned school (adj.)


year-end gifts



When referring to the Tacoma or Bothell campuses, use University of Washington Tacoma (no commas, no hyphen), UW Tacoma, University of Washington Bothell (no commas, no hyphen) or UW Bothell. Do not use the term "branch campus" when talking about UW Tacoma and UW Bothell. Tacoma campus and Bothell campus are acceptable; however, campus is not part of the official name and, therefore, is never capitalized. Do not use a hyphen, dash or comma to separate University of Washington and Tacoma or Bothell. Do not use UWT or UWB.

  • ampersand use - always spell out "and" unless the ampersand (&) is part of a formal name.
  • U.S. - no space between letters. Spell out "United States" on first reference unless using as an adjective. Example: U.S. Supreme Court
  • UW - no periods or space between letters.

Academic Degrees

Capitalize abbreviations for degrees and professional designations, placing them only after proper names and separating them with periods, but no spaces, e.g., John Smith, B.A., B.S., Ph.D. Lowercase when degrees are spelled out, e.g., bachelor of arts degree, master of arts degree, master's degree.


The forms of this Latin term sometimes cause confusion. Many people use alum and alums rather than try to figure out the proper Latin forms. In formal writing, use the proper form.

Use alumna when referring to one female graduate, alumnus for one male graduate. Use alumni when referring to multiple male graduates or both male and female graduates. Use alumnae when referring to multiple female graduates.

Indicate an alumnus's (or student's) class year with an apostrophe and the last two digits of the year in parentheses. If the alumnus's major is known, place it after the year. Example: Jane Smith ('06) or Jane Smith ('06, Business).


Capitalize the formal names of schools, colleges, units, or programs. Example: Business Program, College of Engineering, School of Law. When not used as a proper noun, use lower case. Example: the law school.

Lower case state following Washington. Use state of Washington or Washington state when necessary to distinguish the state from the District of Columbia. (Washington State is the name of a university in the state of Washington.)


Use a comma after the year if placing a date within a sentence. Example: They met on Dec.15, 2000, to discuss the plan.

Do not use a comma after the month if only listing the month and the year. Example: December 2000.

Grammatical Red Flags

comprise / composed of - Comprise means include. Example: The University comprises several schools and colleges. Compose means to create or put together. Example: The University is composed of many schools and colleges.

dangling modifiers - Avoid dangling or misplaced adverbs or adjectives. Example: Walking across the lawn, mud covered my shoes. (In this construction, mud is walking across the lawn.) Correct: Walking across the lawn, I got mud on my shoes. ("I" was doing the walking.)

its and it's - The possessive "its" never takes an apostrophe. "It's" means "it is."

passive voice - Avoid using the passive voice whenever possible. The passive voice lacks energy. Example: The gift was given by Mr. Jones (passive) vs. Mr. Jones gave the gift (active).

split infinitives - Split infinitives involve inserting an adverb between to and the infinitive it governs. Example: to politely inquire (split infinitive) vs. to inquire politely. Avoid splitting infinitives whenever possible. If your ear tells you a construction sounds awkward when you follow the rule, break it.

Plurals and Possessives

proper nouns - Names ending in "s" are made plural by the addition of "es." To make such a name possessive, add apostrophe "s." Example: The Jameses are not at home. The James's home is next door.

  • Form the possessive of proper names that end with s, x, and z like this:
  • Burns' poems
  • Marx's theories
  • Savitz's holdings

singular noun ending in "s" or "z" - Form the possessive of a singular noun that ends in a sibilant by adding apostrophe "s" to the word. Example: alumnus's.

years - When referring to more than one year - a decade, for instance - do not use an apostrophe. Example: The 1920s roared. Not: The 1960's made go-go a word.


commas - Many editors and style experts disagree over the use of a serial comma preceding a conjunction (and, but, and or) in a series. The style for UW Bothell is the Associated Press Style: red, white and blue.

hyphen - Refer to the dictionary for hyphenated, single, or compound words. Hyphenate a series as follows: Example: She wrote 10- and 20-page papers. Do not place a hyphen after an adverb ending in "ly." Example: previously held, recently nominated, partially funded.

semicolon - A semicolon is punctuation that separates two independent clauses in a single sentence. Example: The Campaign is successful so far; we're doing everything we can to ensure its success. When using a semicolon with "however," the semicolon precedes "however." Example: This course already is full; however, there is a waiting list."

Salutations in Correspondence

The salutation in a letter to a couple who do not share a last name is "Dear Mr. Jones and Ms. Smith." The salutation in a letter to a couple who each have the title doctor is "Dear Drs. Smith and Jones." For salutations in letters to people in elective office, see the Titles section, below, and look under elective office.

Tech Terms


  • database
  • e-mail - use hyphen in printed materials. Do not capitalize the "e" unless it begins a sentence.
  • online
  • Internet - capitalize
  • intranet - lower case
  • URL - Uniform Resource Locator. In effect, the "address" of a Web site. Always use lower case when writing out a URL. Eliminate the prefix "http://."
  • Web page - two words, with "Web" capitalized.
  • website


These guidelines can be helpful if you're creating or editing a mailing list:

  • Elective office
  • Governor: The Honorable / Dear Gov. Smith
  • Judge: The Honorable / Dear Judge Smith
  • Justice: The Honorable / Dear Justice Smith (Note that the title of Justice is applied to jurists on the state supreme courts of Wash., Calif., Del., Ill., Minn., Miss., Mont., ND, Ohio)
  • Mayor: The Honorable / Dear Mayor Smith
  • State legislator: The Honorable / Dear Mr./Mrs./Ms. Smith
  • State senator: The Honorable / Dear Sen. Smith
  • U.S. representative: The Honorable / Dear Mr./Mrs./Ms. Smith
  • U.S. senator: The Honorable / Dear Sen. Smith
  • Address former officeholders as "The Honorable" and use "Dear Mr./Mrs./Ms." as the salutation.
  • Professional, religious, and military titles
  • Medical doctor: Do not use both Dr. and M.D. Example: Dr. Hugh Smith / David Smith, M.D. Salutation in correspondence should be "Dear Dr. Smith."
  • Catholic priest: Always include "the" preceding Reverend. Example: The Reverend Smith or The Reverend Father Smith / Dear Father Smith.
  • Protestant minister: Always include "the" preceding Reverend. Example: The Reverend Hugh Smith / Dear Mr. Smith. For a minister with doctor's degree: The Reverend Doctor Hugh Smith / Dear Dr. Smith.
  • Rabbi: In correspondence, the form of address is Rabbi in both mailing address and salutation. Example: Rabbi Arthur Schwarz / Dear Rabbi Schwarz. For a rabbi with doctor's degree: Dear Rabbi (or Dear Dr.) Schwarz.
  • Personal titles
  • Do not precede Jr., Sr., and III by a comma.
  • Ms., Mr., Mrs. are used according to an individual's preference, if known. Otherwise, default to formal address.
  • Note: Some donors have specified they do NOT want to be addressed by Mr., Mrs., or Ms.

Did You Know?

The University of Washington Bothell is the largest of the five branch campuses in the state.