The University of Kansas Libraries
KU Libraries Style Guide
This guide is intended primarily to provide advice for terminology and usage to those writing for KU Libraries' Web site and print publications. Our goal is to communicate clearly and effectively with our users. If you have questions or ideas for this style guide, please contact Sarah Kanning in the Office of Communications & Advancement (email@example.com).
a.m., p.m.--Lowercase, with periods.
academic degrees--Use bachelor's degree or bachelor's rather than B.A. or B.S.; master's degree or master's rather than M.A. or M.S.; doctoral degree or doctorate rather than Ph.D. or Ed.D.
Ex.: She has a bachelor's degree in English, a master's in translation and a doctorate in comparative literature.
accommodate--Commonly misspelled with one 'm.'
alumna, alumnae (female); alumnus, alumni (male)--Use alumni when referring to a group of men and women. Use of the term alum is discouraged.
Anschutz Library--Not Anschutz Science Library.
Ask a Librarian--Suggested tagline: "Get expert research help by phone, text, e-mail, IM, and in person."
bibliographer--use subject librarian (Kanning 5/29/09).
Big 12--When referring to the athletic conference or the room in the Kansas Union, do not use Big XII.
Ex.: Search using AND/OR/NOT.
boys--Use men for all male students.
BudigOne--Use tagline “digital projects lab” on first use.
committees, commissions and boards--Capitalize full formal names of committees, commissions, task forces and advisory boards. Lowercase shortened, informal or descriptive names of committees. Strive for consistency within stories. For example:
- Campus Safety Advisory Board
- The department's finance committee
definite article--Lowercase the definite article when it precedes the name of an organization except when the name is part of an address. For example:
- He plans to attend the University of Kansas.
- For more information, write to The University of Kansas, Office of University Relations, 1314 Jayhawk Blvd., Lawrence, KS 66045.
Lowercase the definite article in the names of newspapers.
- He works for the New York Times.
distinguished titles--Capitalize all words except "of" in titles of named and distinguished professors.
- Ronald T. Borchardt, the Summerfield Distinguished Professor of Pharmaceutical Chemistry
- Valentino Stella, a University Distinguished Professor of Pharmaceutical Chemistry
On second reference or if the entire proper name of the professorship is not used, do not capitalize.
- She was named a distinguished professor in 1994. He also holds a distinguished professorship in medicinal chemistry.
divisions and affiliates of the university--Capitalize the formal names of schools, academic departments and divisions of the university. Lowercase names that are flopped or shortened.
- School of Business, business school
- Department of Chemistry, chemistry department
- Office of the Chancellor, chancellor's office
- University Registrar, registrar's office
Always capitalize units that don't normally use "Office of" or "Department of" in their formal titles.
- Student Success
- Continuing Education
- University Relations
- Facilities Operations
Capitalize "College" on second reference to the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences to avoid confusion with the general term meaning college level or college related.
In plural constructions, lowercase department, school, program, office and other descriptive titles.
- I have friends in the schools of engineering and fine arts.
position titles--Capitalize titles appearing before a name and lowercase those appearing after a name.
- Joan Jones, director of the Center of Latin American Studies
- Chancellor Robert Hemenway
- William Tuttle, professor of history
catalog--Use catalog (generic) or KU Catalog (specific) as required by context. On the web: use Catalog: books and more (tooltip/popup text: "Search the library catalog for books and more").
Circulation Desk--Use Service Desk.
class reserves--Use course reserves.
colon (:)--The most frequent use of a colon is at the end of a sentence to introduce lists, tabulations, texts, etc. Capitalize the first word after a colon only if it is a proper noun or the start of a complete sentence.
comma--The following guidelines treat some of the most frequent questions about the use of commas:
In a series, use commas to separate elements in a series, but do not put a comma before the conjunction in a simple series
- The flag is red, white and blue.
Put a comma before the concluding conjunction in a series, however, if an integral element of the series requires a conjunction
- I had orange juice, toast, and ham and eggs for breakfast.
Use a comma also before the concluding conjunction in a complex series of phrases
- The main points to consider are whether the athletes are skillful enough to compete, whether they have the stamina to endure the training, and whether they have the proper mental attitude.
FLAG! - composition titles - Capitalize the principal words, including prepositions and conjunctions of four or more letters; capitalize an article or words of fewer than four letters if it is the first or last word in a title; put quotation marks around the names of such works except books that are primarily catalogs of reference material. Example: "Gone With the Wind."
course reserves - Capitalize when referring to the specific Course Reserves section of the Libraries web site. Important: "Course Reserves" refers to both electronic and on-site (i.e., physically located at the library) reserves.
database--One word, in keeping with widespread usage. Prefer articles and databases. Avoid use of "database" without indication of content.
dates --Always use Arabic numerals, without st, nd, rd, or th.
- Ex: January 3, 2009.
days of the week --Capitalize. Do not abbreviate, except when needed in a tabular format: Sun, Mon, Tue, Wed, Thu, Fri, Sat.
Document Delivery--Use Request Articles and Books as a general term on web pages. Use specific delivery method (pick up at Service Desk, deliver to department, etc.) when possible.
domain names—-The address used to locate a particular Web site or reach an e-mail system. In e-mail addresses, it is the portion to the right of the @ sign. It includes a suffix defining the type of entity such as .com, .org, .edu.
double-click --Use a hyphen.
DSpace--Use KU ScholarWorks.
e-journals--Use e-journals (lower case, like e-mail, below).
e-mail (not "email")
emerita, emeritae (female); emeritus, emeriti (male)--Use professors emeriti when referring to a group of men and women.Faculty members may retire with emeritus ranks of assistant, associate or full professor. In obituaries and other stories about deceased faculty members, drop the assistant or associate rank and use the title professor emerita or emeritus.
electronic resources--Prefer to specify type of resource. Be as specific as possible.
Find at KU--use on the Web to link to a search of KU-held materials. Use instead of "KU Link" (PROPOSED).
foreign students--Use international students.
girls--Use women for all female students.
Help Desk--Use Service Desk.
ILL--See interlibrary loan.
image gateway--Use image collections.
Instructional Services--Use Research and Instructional Services.
interlibrary loan/ILL - spell out on first reference: "You can request books and other materials from other libraries through our Interlibrary Loan (ILL) service." Note: Many patrons are not familiar with this term, so it's a good idea to define this term in general interest publications and pages (especially when students are the primary audience).
Internet--Capitalize. A decentralized, worldwide network of computers that can communicate with each other.
intranet--(lowercase) A private network inside a company or organization, only for internal use.
IT--Acronym for information technology; spell it out.
journals--"journal" refers to both print and electronic journals. For journals published and/or delivered electronically, use e-journals.
Kansas, the University of--Not Kansas University. On second reference, KU or the university. KU is acceptable on first reference for campus publications. Lowercase "the" except when the name is part of an address.
- He plans to attend the University of Kansas; for more information, write to The University of Kansas, Continuing Education, 1515 St. Andrews Drive, Lawrence, KS 66045.
KU--No periods. Acceptable on second reference. (Acceptable on first reference in campus publications.)
KU Card--the official university identification card. Do not use KU ID or KUID when referring to the physical card.
KU Libraries--The umbrella term for all campus libraries. Use the plural noun when referring to the administrative organization: The KU Libraries are having a book sale.
KU Link--use Find at KU on the web instead (PROPOSED).
KU Online ID--login used to access online services at KU. Ex.: "Use your KU Online ID to log in to Enroll and Pay."
KU ScholarWorks--a digital repository for scholarly work created by the faculty and staff of the University of Kansas.
KYOU--Use Kyou Portal.
the Learning Studio-- Study spaces in Anschutz Library that include the KU Writing Center, KU Info, tutoring and advising in one location. Learning studio partners include KU Libraries, Student Success and KU Information Technology.
Libraries--See KU Libraries.
librarywide--Use as one word.
login--a noun or adjective. Ex.: "At the login screen, check 'Public Workstation' for added security."
log in--a verb. Ex.: "To log in, click the 'Start' button."
Luna Insight--Use only to refer to the specific software package.
Luna Insight Collections--Use image collection, for brevity on the web, use collection if appropriate.
My Account--Use My Library Account.
names--In general, use last names only on second reference. When it is necessary to distinguish between two people who use the same last name, as in married couples or brothers and sisters, use the first and last name.
online journals - see e-journals, above.
open access--Use with tagline “free scholarly resources.”
professor--Never abbreviate. See titles entry for additional guidance.
proxy card--Use with tagline “research assistant card” on first use.
- research help instead of reference help or reference assistance
Reference Desk--Use Service Desk.
Request Articles and Books--use as a term to encompass interlibrary loan and local or online services. See https://apps.ku.edu/~intralib/index.php/Report for details (PROPOSED).
request materials--Use Request Articles and Books.
research--Use in place of reference when possible.
reserves--Use course reserves.
Retrieve from Shelf--Use Pull from Shelf (PROPOSED).
Scholar Works--Use KU ScholarWorks.
Service Desk--Use in preference to Reference Desk, Circulation Desk, etc.
- For research help see staff at the Service Desk.
subject liaison - Use subject librarian.
subject librarian - Use this term when referring to KU Libraries employees assigned to work with specific academic subjects and/or departments.
subject specialist - Use subject librarian.
telephone numbers—Use figures. The form: 212-621-1500.
times—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.
identification of faculty and staff--Use only short titles before names; in most cases, titles are placed after names.
- Mary Smith, heavy equipment operator II
- Brad Brown, publications editor.
- Barbara Anthony-Twarog, professor of physics and astronomy
- Ernst S. Dick, professor of Germanic languages and literatures (not professor of German).
- For faculty in the Kress Foundation Department of the History of Art, omit the foundation title: Stephen H. Goddard, professor of art history.
- For faculty in the William Allen White School of Journalism and Mass Communications, omit all but journalism: Charles W. Marsh Jr., associate professor of journalism.
- For faculty in the Department of Music and Dance, derive titles from their specialty: Maribeth Crawford, associate professor of voice. The Department of Music and Dance is the authority for these titles.
- For faculty in the Department of Speech-Language-Hearing: Sciences and Disorders, omit all but speech-language-hearing: Mabel L. Rice, professor of speech-language-hearing.
Lowercase staff titles:
Identify a faculty member by academic rank and department:
faculty with several titles--If a faculty member has several titles, use only the title or titles most relevant to the story. When in doubt, use the title the person is best known by.
promotions--Promotions of faculty and nonteaching tenured staff members become effective at the start of the fiscal year, July 1. Although promotion lists are published in the spring, the announcement is not authority to use a new title immediately.
emerita and emeritus titles--Use professor emerita (plural professors emeritae) for a retired woman faculty member who retains her academic rank. Use professor emeritus (plural professors emeriti) for a retired male faculty member. Use professors emeriti for a group made up of both sexes. Faculty members may retire with emeritus ranks of assistant, associate or full professor. In obituaries and other stories about deceased faculty members, drop the assistant or associate rank and use professor emerita or emeritus.
nonprofessorial titles of teaching faculty
Lecturers are lecturers in their subject:
Ex.: Jane Doe, lecturer in psychology.
Instructors are instructors of something:
Ex.: John Smith, instructor of dance.
in general, confine capitalization to formal titles used directly before an individual’s name.
Lowercase and spell out titles when they are not used with an individual’s name:
Ex.: The president issued a statement.
Ex.: The pope gave his blessing.
Lowercase and spell out titles in constructions that set them off from a name by commas:
Ex.: The vice president, Nelson Rockefeller, declined to run again.
Ex.: Paul V, the current pope, does not plan to retire.
Capitalize formal titles when they are used immediately before one or more names:
Ex.: Pope Paul
Ex.: President Washington
Ex.: Vice Presidents John Jones and William Smith
A formal title generally is one that denotes a scope of authority, professional activity or academic activity:
Ex.: Sen. Dianne Feinstein
Ex.: Dr. Marcus Welby
Ex.: Pvt. Gomer Pyle
Tripsaver--Use Faculty/Staff Delivery
universitywide--use as one word.
URL--Uniform Resource Locator, an Internet address. An example: http://politics.ap.org/states/mi.html
- http is the protocol, or method of transfer.
- // indicates a computer name follows.
- politics is the server.
- ap.org is the domain.
- /states is the folder.
- /mi.html indicates a file (.html is the file type).
Web--Capitalized (not "web"). Short form of World Wide Web, it is a service, or set of standards, that enables the publishing of multimedia documents on the Internet. The Web is not the same as the Internet, but is a subset; other applications, such as e-mail, exist on the Internet.
Web page--Two words, Web is capitalized.
website-- A location on the World Wide Web that maintains one or more pages at a specific address. Also, webcam, webcast and webmaster. But as a short form and in terms with separate words, the Web, Web page and Web feed.
WebRetrieve--Use Request Articles and Books (PROPOSED). For details about this and related terms, see https://apps.ku.edu/~intralib/index.php/Report .
Additional and Related Resources
University Relations Style Guide: www.styleguide.ku.edu
See also www.communicators.ku.edu/resources for more resources for communicators at KU.
AP Style Resources: Ask the Editor (www.apstylebook.com/ask_editor.php)
Why Associated Press (AP) Style?
Style guides play an important role in establishing consistency, accuracy and tone across all communications, regardless of the origin or author.
Like the KU style guide, the KU Libraries style guide is based in part on the Associated Press Stylebook and Briefing on Media Law. Typically referred to as the the AP Stylebook, it is a style and usage guide used by journalists and communications professionals across the the United States.
Because most newspapers follow AP guideline, many readers are already familiar with writing that follows this particular style. Most AP style guidelines are similar to those in other respected writing guides and commonly accepted writing rules and standards. AP consulted the Chicago Manual of Style, Fowler's Dictionary of Modern English Usage, Strunk and White's Elements of Style, and other references.
The Associated Press Stylebook and Briefing on Media Law: With Internet Guide and Glossary. Cambridge, Mass.: Perseus Books, 2007.
Jakob Nielsen's UseIt.com site has a number of great articles about writing for the web, focusing on clarity, usability, and giving your readers what they want. Start here: www.useit.com/papers/webwriting/
Before users can read your page, they have to find it. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is a set of practices that help search engines find and index your pages. Google has published a very helpful guide to SEO, available as a PDF here: www.google.com/webmasters/docs/search-engine-optimization-starter-guide.pdf
Here are some quick tips:
On the web, people scan and skim; they are unlikely to read whole sentences and paragraphs.
- Pages should be structured so they are easy to skim - use headings and sub-headings, bulleted lists, and other formatting tools to add white space and help readers locate the information they need quickly.
- Sentences and paragraphs should be short and simple.
- Important information should be front-loaded, that is, placed at the beginning of a sentence, heading, or paragraph. For instance:
- Good: February 1 is the scholarship deadline. You must turn in all forms and materials by that date.
- Not so good: Please turn in all forms and materials for the scholarship deadline, which is February 1 each year. Failure to turn in a complete application will make you ineligible for the scholarship.
For more on how readers scan web pages, see www.useit.com/alertbox/reading_pattern.html.
Your audience is both local and international, and English is not everyone's first language.
- Limit your use of idiomatic expressions that might be confusing to international readers, such as "across the board," "around the clock," "in a nutshell," and so on.
Your audience is broad, and has varied experience with libraries.
- Be extremely careful when using library-specific terms, even those you think are common. For example, to a student a "hold" may mean that they need to go pay their library fines in order to get their grades released -- or it may mean they have a book waiting for them at the desk! Define library-specific terms in their first use on a page.
- Spell out acronyms on first use, like this: The American Library Association (ALA) recommends that everyone visit a library at least once a week.