Writing Style Guides

Consistency of style and usage makes reading easier. These style guides are designed to increase the effectiveness of University of Utah publications by encouraging stylistic consistency and sensible usage campus wide.

This guide does NOT attempt to make a ruling on topics where correct and incorrect usages are well established: lie vs. lay; its vs. it’s; affect vs. effect; colons vs. semicolons. An excellent reference on these matters is Webster’s New World Dictionary, especially to determine if a word is one word, two words, hyphenated, or capitalized. Strunk and White’s The Elements of Style is a classic resource for English usage.


At the university, The Chicago Manual of Style serves as our go-to reference for institutional marketing.

  • Posters, brochures, websites, etc.
  • Use the online University Marketing Style Guide and The Chicago Manual of Style in tandem.
  • Check University Marketing Style Guide first, then Chicago.


At the university, the AP Stylebook serves as our default reference for public relations and communications.

  • Press releases, social media, @TheU, etc.
  • Use the online University Communications Style Guide and the AP Stylebook in tandem.
  • Check University Communications Style Guide first, then AP Stylebook.

These institutional style guides serve as addendums to the aforementioned guides, and are works in progress. Entries will be added, deleted, and changed in accordance with the evolving campus environment. If no entry is found for your style question, then defer to Chicago or AP.

Publication professionals occasionally permit the wishes and needs of a client to supersede established standards. When that is necessary, the objective becomes consistency of usage within the publication.


Serial commas

  • Marketing: First, second, and/or third.
  • Communications: First, second and/or third.


  • Names
  • Proper nouns
  • Don’t capitalize words just because you think they are important.


  • Lowercase when the title is a description or comes after the name.
    • Claudio Larsen, professor of anthropology
  • Initial capital letter only when a formal title (not simply a job description) precedes a name.
    • Associate Professor Jacob Smith in anthropology
  • Name of department or office is capitalized when applicable.
    • Ruth Watkins, senior vice president of Academic Affairs.


Have a question?

Euripides said to question everything. Just don't go overboard when you call us at 801-581-6773.