Writing Style Guide | University of Portland

Writing Style Guide

Consistency in writing style, use of messages, design, and use of logos reinforces the University’s institutional identity and branding and helps ensure that the University’s key messages are being communicated appropriately and consistently to its key audiences. University of Portland's Writing Style Guide was developed to help writers across campus present information consistently and professionally.

Use this style guide in all of your official written communication (websites, brochures, letters, social media, etc.) to help maintain the University’s brand. 

The English language is constantly evolving, and our style guide will evolve, too. Please consult the style guide regularly to keep your writing as consistent as possible with UP's style standards.

If you have a question about a particular style rule, find a mistake, or notice an important omission, please contact mktg@up.edu.

In cases where this style guide differs from other sources, please follow this style guide. If the style guide does not address your issue, please consult Chicago Manual of Style for style questions and Merriam-Webster Dictionary for spelling and hyphenation.


Special University of Portland Styles


The following are always capitalized when referring to the University of Portland as an entity or referring to official University programs:

the University
The Bluff (note both words are capitalized)

Common Compound Words

Some compound words take a hyphen; some have a space between the words; others are combined into one word. Compound words quickly evolve in the English language; what is acceptable usage today may change in a year or two. These are the styles currently in use at UP for these common words:

health care

Academic Degrees

No periods for degree abbreviations: MBA, MS, BA, BS, etc.

Full degrees are not capitalized in text (capitalization is acceptable in lists): bachelor of science, master of business administration.

Alumni Class Years

Identify past and current students by including the last two digits of the graduation year. It is important that the apostrophe points in the correct direction: down and to the left. If a person has received more than one degree, use both years with a comma and space between them. Include the master degree if appropriate.

Julie Smith ’15 traveled to China in May 2015.

Bob Wilson '52 founded his company in 1965.

Kate Chang '93, '02 MBA returned to teach accounting classes.


Except for press releases, use the Oxford or serial comma. Place the comma before the words “and” and “or” that come before the final item in a series: I enjoy watching soccer, basketball, and volleyball.


Majors are not capitalized, unless they are a proper name: nursing, philosophy, English, environmental science.

Titles/Courtesy Titles 

Official personal titles immediately preceding a name are capitalized; those following a name or set off by commas are not. (Style preference is name followed by title in lowercase — see second example below.) Descriptive or “unofficial” titles also are not capitalized. This rule applies to both academic and administrative titles.

Associate Professor Jane Doe…
Jane Doe, associate professor of nursing,…
…nursing professor Jane Doe…
…says Dean of Admissions Jason McDonald.
Jason McDonald, dean of admissions, says…
…according to admissions dean Jason McDonald.

The courtesy title of "Dr." is used to refer to a doctor of medicine, dentistry, or veterinary science. It is not used to refer to people who hold a doctorate degree in a non-medical field.

Phone Numbers

Use periods rather than parentheses and/or dashes: 503.943.8000.


Abbreviations for the division of day (a.m. and p.m.) should be lowercase with periods and a space after the number. When writing a time that falls on the hour, do not use “:00.” Use “noon” and “midnight,” not 12 p.m. or 12 a.m.

1 a.m.
2:30 p.m.