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Style guide

A page within University Marketing & Communications

The UW-La Crosse University Marketing & Communications office has prepared this style guide as a reference for common UW-La Crosse specific style questions. By using this guide, along with the AP Stylebook and the Merriam-Webster New World Dictionary as second and third references, the university can promote consistency and accuracy in writing. The UW-La Crosse Style Guide supersedes the AP Stylebook on questions of style pertinent to UWL. If no entry is found in the UWL Style Guide, the AP Stylebook should be considered the reference choice.

Quick guide

University name

  • University of Wisconsin-La Crosse
  • UW-La Crosse (used regionally)
  • UWL (used locally).

No spaces around the hyphens, no hyphen in UWL.
(Pro tip: if you can’t remember, look at the site header and footer.)

When the word “university” is written as a regular noun in a sentence, it is not capitalized.

Headers and titles

Use sentence case for headers except when including proper nouns.


  • Learn how to apply (not Learn How to Apply)
  • About Murphy Library (OK, Murphy Library is a proper noun)

(Pro tip: if you can’t remember, look at the UComm website.)


Include hyperlinks on meaningful text within the context of the sentence.

Avoid adding “click here” or more information can be found “here.” Avoid including the URL characters in text.
      Example: The university’s public communications Style Guide is based primarily on AP Stylebook standards. 
(Pro tip: if you can’t remember, check how Wikipedia does it.)


State in order of time, day, date.
      Example: The group will meet at 5 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 6, in the Student Union.


a.m. and p.m. (not AM, am, A.M.)
Do not include :00 when on the hour.
      Examples: 11 a.m., 1 p.m., 3:30 p.m.
(Pro tip: if you can’t remember, look at the homepage events.)

Single space after period 

In following the standard of *all* major style guides, we use one space after a period and all other full-stop punctuation.

      Example: Learning a new skill is fun. Typing a period followed by one space worth learning!

Full Guide

Our name

no spaces around the hyphens, no hyphen in UWL:

University of Wisconsin-La Crosse (used nationally, and on first reference)
UW-La Crosse (used regionally)
UWL (no hyphen)

academic degrees and titles

Readers are commonly unfamiliar with academic degrees. Avoid abbreviations and use instead a phrase such as: John Jones, who has a doctorate in psychology; not John Jones, Ph.D.

Write out names of degrees, such as: She holds a master of science degree in teaching; not: She holds an MST.

Use an apostrophe in bachelor's degree, master's degree, etc.

Use B.A., B.S., M.A., M.S. and Ph.D. only when needed to identify many individuals by degree on first reference or if usage would make the preferred form cumbersome. Spell out all others. Use these only after a full name, never just a last name, and set the abbreviation off by commas.

In writing, avoid referring to someone who holds a doctoral degree as Dr. The public associates the title Dr. with a physician.

abbreviations, acronyms

In general, avoid alphabet soup. In the first reference, spell it out. It's OK to include the abbreviation or acronym in parentheses following the spelled-out form. Do not use abbreviations or acronyms that readers would not quickly recognize. Never abbreviate the words: university, department or association.

Examples: Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (WIAC); Department of Exercise & Sport Science (ESS).

academic departments

Use upper case. 

Two-word examples - Chemistry Department, English Department.

Multiple-word examples - Department of Theatre & Dance, Department of Mathematics & Statistics

An abbreviation is acceptable for a department on second reference only: ESS for the Department of Exercise & Sport Science.

academic staff

academic titles

Lowercase and spell out titles when not used with an individual's name: The dean provided a list of students. The professor taught a class. The chancellor will speak today at noon.

Capitalize and spell out when they precede a name: Chancellor James Beeby, Dean John Doe, History Chair Jane Doe.


Use the abbreviations Ave., Blvd. and St. only with a numbered address: 1725 State St., 105 West Ave. Spell out and capitalize when part of a formal street name without a number: State Street, La Crosse Street . Lowercase and spell out when used alone or with more than one street name: Vine and 16th streets.

Format for punctuation: Office of the Chancellor, UW-La Crosse, 1725 State St., La Crosse, WI 54601 USA.

Postal state abbreviations: (Use only with addresses) - AL, AK, AZ, AR, CA, CO, CT, DE, FL, GA, HI, ID, IL, IN, IA, KS, KY, LA, ME, MD, MA, MI, MN, MS, MO, MT, NE, NV, NH, NJ, NM, NY, NC, ND, OH, OK, OR, PA, RI, SC, SD, TN, TX, UT, VT, VA, WA, WV, WI, WY.

adviser, advisor

Both are acceptable.


Always use figures: a 20-year-old student, but the student is 20 years old. The student, 19, has a brother. The student is in his 20s (no apostrophe).

All-America, All-American

Use All-America when referring to a team, All-American when referring to a player or individual.

alumnus, alumni, alumna, alumnae

Use alumnus (alumni in the plural) when referring to a man who has attended a school. Use alumna (alumnae in the plural) for similar references to a woman. Use alumni when referring to a group of men and women.

When referring to UW-La Crosse alumni, on first or second reference, follow the person's name with year graduated: John Doe, '85.

ampersand (&)

Spell out the word "and" unless the ampersand is part of a proper name: Cleary Alumni & Friends Center, Barnes & Noble, etc.


An event cannot be described as annual until it has been held in at least two successive years. Do not use the term first annual. Instead, use inaugural or note that sponsors plan to hold an event annually.

boldface type

Print: do not use boldface type.
Web: Use boldface text to create emphasis or highlight key ideas. Do not use underlined text as this implies the text is hyperlinked.


The complete and correct name is University Bookstore.

building names 

Use the following names when referring to buildings on campus:

buildings - academic and administrative:
Archaeology Center Lab
Centennial Hall
Child Care Center
Cleary Alumni & Friends Center
Cowley Hall
Graff Main Hall
Heating Plant
Health Science Center
Lowe Center for the Arts
Mitchell Hall
Morris Hall
Murphy Library
North Campus Field Equipment Building
Police Services
Prairie Springs Science Center
Recreational Eagle Center (REC ok on second reference, but never REC Center, which would be redundant.)
Student Union ("The 'U'" ok on second reference.)
Whitney Center
Wimberly Hall
Wing Technology Center
Wittich Hall

buildings - residence halls:
Angell Hall Laux Hall
Coate Hall Reuter Hall
Drake Hall Sanford Hall
Eagle Hall Wentz Hall
Hutchison Hall White Hall

buildings - other:
Annett Recital Hall
Centennial Hall - Affeldt Auditorium (Room 1309)
Centennial Hall - Cameron Hall of Nations
Centennial Hall - Skogen Auditorium (Room 1400)
Centennial Hall - Sutherland Memorial Courtyard
Cleary Alumni & Friends Center - Allen Conference Room
Cleary Alumni & Friends Center - Ginn Gallery
Cleary Alumni & Friends Center - Stzrelczyk Great Hall
Copeland Park (baseball)
Frederick Theatre in Morris Hall
Hoeschler Tower
Mitchell Hall Gymnasium (basketball, volleyball, gymnastics, wrestling)
Mitchell Hall Fieldhouse (track and field)
Mitchell Hall Rich Pein Pool (swimming, diving)
North Campus Field (softball)
Roger Harring Stadium at Veterans Memorial Field Sports Complex (football)
Roger Harring Stadium Track at Veterans Memorial Field Sports Complex (track & field)
Soccer Field at Veterans Memorial Field Sports Complex (soccer)
Toland Theatre
University Art Gallery
Veterans Memorial Stadium Hall of Honor

Campus Master Plan

The University of Wisconsin-La Crosse Master Plan is a guide for both short-term and long-term physical growth and development opportunities within the campus. With a 20-year time horizon, the plan establishes a framework within which campus administrators can prepare for future needs of the physical campus setting in order to meet the goals of the Universities of Wisconsin, UWL and the needs of its colleges, departments and the entire student population.


One word.

cancel, canceled, canceling, cancellation


Use sentence case (meaning the use of capitalization on only the first word and proper nouns). Academic writing has a tendency to over-capitalize. Check these stylebook entries and others: academic titles, college, university names, committees, majors, organizations.


Not chairman, chairwoman, chairperson. Capitalize before a name.

class rankings

In common text, use: Jane Doe, a freshman from Onalaska. In sports, use: Jane Doe (Fr., La Crescent, Minn.) Other abbreviations for the sports format: So., Jr., Sr. for classes and Ill., Wis., etc., for states - see state names entry. Note: freshman/freshmen is used for males and females.


Capitalize only when used before the name: John Doe is the men's basketball coach; UWL men's basketball Coach John Doe.

collective pronouns

The Eagles are a group of players. Use collective pronouns, such as they and their: The Eagles won their fourth consecutive game last night. A team is a singular unit: The team ended its season last night. Also, a class referring to a group of people is singular. Faculty is singular.

college, university names

Capitalize colleges and schools within the university: The program is sponsored by the College of Science and Health. The student is in the School of Arts and Communication.

On first reference use: University of Wisconsin-La Crosse, thereafter UW-La Crosse (regionally) or UWL (locally). For other campuses in the Universities of Wisconsin use for example, UW-River Falls. When possible, keep on one line.

Always lowercase when referring to UW-La Crosse as an entity and generically: The university (meaning UW-La Crosse) has many accredited programs. She has a university education. Lowercase college, school, etc., when not used in the formal context: The college held an information fair to promote its programs.

Other UWs - Do not use University of Wisconsin when referring to UW-Madison. For the University of Wisconsin-Extension use UW-Extension (include the hyphen). 

For colleges and universities outside the UW System, spell out complete name of college and follow with state if not Wisconsin: Wartburg College, Iowa; Gustavus Adolphus College, Minn. Second references: Wartburg, Gustavus Adolphus. References for spellings are in the back of the recommended Webster's New World Dictionary, Fourth College Edition.

colon, semicolon

Use the AP Stylebook punctuation chapter. Use a colon at the end of a sentence to introduce lists. Capitalize the first word after a colon only if it is a proper noun or the start of a complete sentence.

Use a colon to introduce a longer quotation within a paragraph and to end all paragraphs that introduce a paragraph of quoted material.

A semicolon is used to indicate a greater separation of thought and information than a comma can convey, but less than the separation that a period implies.

Use a semicolon to separate lists: The following students were in the play: John Doe, Mondovi, Wis.; Jane Doe, Winona, Minn.; and Mary Smith, Waverly, Iowa.

comma usage

Do not set off Jr., Sr., Inc. and Ltd. with commas: Sammy Davis Jr. will perform. The UW-La Crosse Foundation Inc. will award the scholarship.

Place inside quotation marks at all times: "UW-La Crosse is highly ranked in USNews," said Chancellor Morgan.

Do not use a comma after a question mark or exclamation point as in the following example: "How many national championships does UWL hold?" asked the reporter.

Do not put the comma before the conjunction in a simple series: The flag is red, white and blue. But, use the serial comma if a part of the series includes a comma or if an integral element of the series requires a conjunction: Breakfast will include cereal; ham and eggs; and toast.


Capitalize full name of committee as a proper noun: Budget Committee, University Services Committee , but lowercase second references: The committee met yesterday. Also: Faculty Senate, Academic Staff Council, Student Association.

compact disc

Use CD.

company, companies

Use Co. or Cos. when a business uses either word at the end of its proper name: Trane Co., American Broadcasting Cos. But: Aluminum Company of America. If company or companies appears alone in second reference, spell the word out in lowercase.

Theatrical: Spell out company in the name of theatrical organizations: The La Crosse Dance Company.

course titles

Lowercase all course titles that do not include proper nouns: She took a course in history; freshman English is required. Capitalize when the course title is used with a numeral: History 101 begins at 7:45 a.m.

courtesy titles

Do not use Mr., Mrs., Miss, Ms. except to avoid confusion, such as when both a husband and wife are quoted in a story. Often it is better to repeat first and last names when quoting people with the same last name whether male or female.


Use a dash to show an abrupt change, a series within a series, attribution before an author's name at the end of the quotation, in datelines, and to introduce sections of lists. Put a space on both sides of a dash in all uses except the start of a paragraph and sports agate summaries. I will fly home for the holidays - if I get a raise.

Em Dash (—): Denotes a pause in thought, a parenthetical statement, or — more casually — an afterthought.

En Dash (–): Denotes a range, especially of numbers, such as $100–150.


Always use Arabic figures, without st, nd, rd or th. See months for examples.

daylight-saving time

Not savings. Note the hyphen. Lowercase in all uses.

days of the week

Print: Capitalize them; do not abbreviate, except when needed in a tabular format: Sun, Mon, Tue, Wed, Thu, Fri, Sat.
Web: Su, M, Tu, W, Th, F, Sa

department names

Capitalize department names a proper nouns: Department of Communication Studies, Biology Department, etc.

disabled, handicapped, impaired

In general, avoid. Do not describe an individual with a disability or handicapped unless it is clearly pertinent to a story. See the AP Stylebook disabled, handicapped, impaired entry.


Abbreviate in NCAA Div. III and similar uses.


Always use residence hall rather than dorm or dormitory.


The nickname for UW-La Crosse men's and women's athletic teams. Do not refer to the team without attaching an "s" to the word. Eagle (no "s") may be used to refer to an individual. Be careful in use of possessives and plurals. Examples: The Eagles' home field. Eagles Coach Barb Gibson. Eagles defense.

Do not use the term "lady Eagles." They are the women's team, the women, or better yet, the Eagles.

ellipsis ( ... )

Use the ellipsis to show missing words. In general, treat the ellipsis like a three-letter word with a space on both sides. For more details, see the AP Stylebook.


Not Email, E-mail or e-mail.

emeritus, emeriti

The word emeritus is added to formal titles to denote individuals who have retired and retain their rank or title. When used, place the word emeritus after the formal title: Vice Chancellor Emeritus W. Carl Wimberly, Professor Emeritus John Cleveland. Emeriti is the plural. For female, emerita.


Not employe.


You are entitled to title your book or paper, but you aren't entitled to entitle it. Use entitle to mean a right to do or have something. Do not use it to mean titled. He was entitled to a promotion. Her book was titled "The History of La Crosse."

essential and non-essential clauses

An essential clause cannot be eliminated without changing the meaning of a sentence. It must not be set off from the rest of the sentence by commas.

A non-essential clause can be eliminated without altering the basic meaning of the sentence. It must be set off by commas. When an essential or non-essential clause refers to a human being or animal with a name, it should be introduced by the words "who" or "whom." "That" is the preferred pronoun to introduce clauses that refer to an inanimate object or an animal without a name. "Which" is the only acceptable pronoun to introduce a non-essential clause that refers to an inanimate object or an animal without a name.

event happenings

State in order of time, day, date: The group will meet at 5 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 6, in the Ward Room, Cartwright Center. Remember, "Nov. 6" is another way of saying "Wednesday" and should be set off by commas. Do not include the word "on" before the day.



Capitalize Homecoming, Family & Friends Weekend, Oktoberfest, Riverfest.


The University of Wisconsin-La Crosse Foundation Inc. grants scholarship aid to students, awards grants to faculty and provides monetary awards to staff and projects. It raises money through gifts, which may be referred to as donations.

game time

Always two words.

grade-point average

Note hyphen and no capital letters. Use GPA on second reference.

Grandad Bluff

Not Granddad Bluff or Grandad's Bluff


Not grey. Gray is one of UWL's school colors. Maroon is the other. But, usually phrased "maroon and gray."


See disabled entry.

headlines, headers and labels

Use sentence case (meaning the use of capitalization on only the first word and proper nouns). Keep to fewer than 65 characters when possible.

Examples of headlines:

  • Activate your account
  • About the library
  • Academic resources
  • Welcome to the college
  • Murphy Library
  • Tony Award winner takes Emmy

his, her

Do not presume maleness in constructing a sentence, but use the pronoun his when an indefinite antecedent may be male or female: A reporter attempts to protect his sources. (Not his or her sources, but note the use of the word reporter rather than newsman.) Frequently, however, the best choice is a slight revision: Reporters attempt to protect their sources.

Hoeschler Tower

Not Hoeschler Clock Tower.


One word.


In general news releases note hometown as part of the sentence: Jane Doe of Onalaska was awarded a $1,000 scholarship. Wisconsin is not used unless the city name is correlative to one in Minnesota or Iowa: Osseo, Wis.; Osseo, Minn.; Altoona, Wis.; Altoona, Iowa. Exception: Madison; Madison, Minn. Do not use Minnesota following Minneapolis.

In sports: Use state abbreviation after each city, including La Crosse, Wis.


Use a hyphen whenever ambiguity would result if it were omitted. When a compound modifier - two or more words that express a single concept - proceeds a noun, use hyphens to link all the words in the compound except the adverb very and all adverbs that end in ly. Examples: A full-time job; a well-known professor; a very good game; an easily remembered rule. See the AP Stylebook hyphen entry.

No hyphen in UWL.


Abbreviate and capitalize as Inc. when used as part of a corporate name. It usually is not needed, but when it is used, do not set off with commas: UWL Foundation Inc., J.C. Penney Co. Inc. announced ...

instructional academic staff


Note the capitalization.

La Crosse

Note the space between La and Crosse and keep on one typed line. When referring to the sport, however, lacrosse.

letterwinner, letterwinners

Not letterman or letterwoman/lettermen or letterwomen.


Use bulleted or numbered lists. If one or more elements are a complete sentence, capitalize the first word of every listed element and use ending punctuation after each element. Do not use ending punctuation after sentence fragments.


A student can major in a program; or, they can, for example, be an English major. Do not capitalize the title of a program unless it is a proper noun.


One of UWL's school colors. #830019. Gray is the other, usually phrased "maroon and gray." See gray entry.


See nationalities and races entry.


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.

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.

Examples: January 2008 was a cold month. Jan. 21 was the coldest day of the year. His birthday is May 6. Feb. 14, 2000, was the target date.


There is no excuse for misspelling a name. A complete interview includes asking those interviewed how to spell their names. Ask if they have a preference for a shortened or full-length reference to their names. For instance, don't assume a woman named Deborah Jo is a Deborah, Debbie, Debby or Deb; or a Stephen is Steven or Steve. Verify spellings of last names; for instance, is it Gundersen or Gunderson? In general, ask people to spell their names even if they appear to be common spellings.

nationalities and races

Capitalize Asian, Native American, Hispanic, Pacific Islander, Alaskan Native, Eskimo or Intuit. Capitalize Black. American Indian is the AP preferred term for Native American. Use person's preference, especially if you plan to use the term African-American. See the AP Stylebook nationalities and races entry.


Use as the abbreviation for number in conjunction with a figure to indicate position or rank: No. 1 choice, UWL is ranked No. 2 in the Midwest by USNews & World Report.


See AP Stylebook entry. Briefly, follow these examples: No. 1 team; 20th century; 1st Ward; first in line; first base; 5-year-old boy; the 1990s; 12 credits; eight credits. Spell out numbers one through nine; use numerals beginning with 10.


The use of profane language in print should be avoided, but sometimes an offensive word is part of an important quote. You may use "damn" or "god" if it adds significantly to the story. Do not use racial or ethnic slurs. Avoid offensive words rather than replace letters of offensive works with hyphens. See AP Stylebook obscenities entry.

one space versus two spaces after punctuation

One space after all punctuation is the preferred spacing for all copy, printed or digital. All copy submitted to University Communications should have only one space after all punctuation (after periods, semi-colons, colons, etc.).


Capitalize office when it is used as part of a formal title: University Marketing & Communications Office, Chancellor's Office.

Note: All campus offices should be referred to by their specific area followed by the word office. For example, not, the Office of University Marketing & Communications; rather University Marketing & Communications Office.

Lowercase all other uses, including phrases such as: the office which promotes the university.

OK OK'd, OK'ing OKs

Do not use okay.


One word; no capitalization.


Use complete title of an organization according to the list published by Student Activities and Centers. Second references may be made to "the organization," "the club," "the council," "the board," etc.


One word. Spell out in all instances, except tabular form when % is appropriate.

phone numbers

Format for an on-campus extension: 8888 (or 785.8888). Format for off-campus numbers: 608.555.5555. Always use the area code. Use periods not dashes.


Put quotes around the title. Use "theater," not "theatre," except in proper names that use that spelling: She will be in the theater production. The play is in Toland Theatre. The musical is performed by University Theatre.

political parties, office holders

Capitalize Democrat and Republican. If an elected official holds national office, note state: Rep. Ron Kind, D-Wis. If the person holds state office, list city of resident, i.e., Sen. Jennifer Shilling-La Crosse.

Port O'Call

Not Port O' Call Lounge. Use Port O'Call, Cartwright Center-Gunning Addition.


See AP Stylebook entry.


Spell out, do not abbreviate with lbs. except in tabular form.


One word.


One word.


Quotes should be used to convey unique information; do not overuse quotes. Take every opportunity to reduce ordinary quotes to para-phrases. "Said" or "says" are perfectly fine attributive verbs.

When using quote marks, use straight quotes only to convey measurements as in inches or feet. Use curly quotes for attribution. For example: The 5' 4" brunette said, "That's a fantastic idea."

Roger Harring Stadium

The formal name of the stadium located at Veterans Memorial Field Sports Complex.


Generally, do not use the term when referring to a room number in a building. Instead use: The meeting is in 222 Cartwright Center. However, use the term and capitalize it when used with a name: Ward Room.

state names

Spell out the names of states when they stand alone. Eight states are never abbreviated: Alaska, Hawaii, Idaho, Iowa, Maine, Ohio, Texas and Utah. When used in conjunction with the name of a city, town or village, use this list of state abbreviations:

Ala. Ind. Mont. Pa.
Ariz.  Kan.  Neb.  R.I.
Ark.  Ky.  Nev.  S.C.
Calif.  La.  N.H.  S.D.
Colo.  Md.  N.J.  Tenn.
Conn.  Mass.  N.M.  Vt.
Del.  Mich.  N.Y  Va.
Fla.  Minn.  N.C.  Wash.
Ga.  Miss.  N.D.  W.Va.
Ill.  Mo.  Okla.  Wis.
Ore.  Wyo.   

Exception: For addresses, use postal state abbreviations - see address entry.


that, which, who, whom

Use who and whom in referring to people and to animals with a name: John Doe is the man who helped. Use that and which in referring to inanimate objects and to animals without a name. See essential, non-essential clauses entry in AP Stylebook .


Use figures except for noon and midnight. Use a colon to separate hours from minutes: 11 a.m., 1 p.m., 3:30 p.m.

Avoid such redundancies as: 10 a.m. tomorrow morning, 10 p.m. Monday night, 12 noon Wednesday.


The official name of the class schedule produced by the Records & Registration Office each semester, published online.


Not towards.

travel, traveled, traveling, traveler


See college, university names entry.

University Police

Not protective services.


Not Valhalla Hall when referring to the room in Valhalla, Cartwright Center-Gunning Addition.


The name of the student volunteer organization that gives campus tours to prospective students. The group is based in the Admissions Office.

Veterans Memorial Field Sports Complex

The formal name of the new athletic multiplex that includes the concourse and grandstand, running track, football and intramural fields, lighting and Veterans Hall of Honor.


Note the capitalization. Short form of World Wide Web.


One word.