University of Pittsburgh

University of Pittsburgh
Writing Style Manual

A

ABBREVIATIONS*

  1. In body copy, do not abbreviate streets, avenues, boulevards, or roads, or directions that are part of their names. (CM15 15.36) (Also see Addresses section.)

    The student lives on North Craig Street in Pittsburgh, Pa.

    Oakland is divided by Fifth and Forbes avenues.
  2. Spell out days of the week and months of the year.
  3. Use capitalized initials without periods for acronyms and abbreviations used as words: NATO, CUPRAP, SLIS, EPA, UPMC, NAACP, USO, NOW, RSVP. With the exception of UPMC, SAT, ACT, RSVP, and ID (such as ID badge), these and other abbreviations are always written out on first reference with the acronym following in parentheses if the acronym is used again in the same document.
  4. Spell out the names of U.S. states when they stand alone in text. Abbreviate state names when they follow the name of a city. Always use the state’s two-letter postal abbreviation without periods when giving a full address (within text and in mailers, including all envelopes). (See Appendix 4 for proper state abbreviations and for postal information. Also see Addresses section.)
    • The professor came from Madison, Wis., and often spoke of the city’s beauty.
  5. The plural form of most lowercase single-letter abbreviations is made by repeating the letter and adding a period.

    • cc. for copies
      pp. for pages
      ll. for lines
      nn. for notes
      vv. for verses
  6. Do not begin a sentence with an abbreviation.

    • Right: Page 12 contains a mistake.
    • Wrong: P. 12 contains a mistake.

ACADEMIC CALENDAR/TERMS

Lowercase names of terms in text.

  • The 2008 fall term runs from August through December.
  • I believe summer session I runs in May and June.

AD/CE

Although AD is more commonly used, CE (common era) is permissible and appropriate in writing in certain contexts. Consider the discipline and its conventions when selecting one or the other. Be consistent. Also use capitalized initials without periods. (CM15 9.38)

(Also see BC/BCE and Dates, Years sections.)

ADDRESSES*

  1. In body copy, do not abbreviate streets, avenues, boulevards, roads, cities, or states (when they do not follow a city). Do not abbreviate directions that are part of these names. (Also see Washington, D.C., section.)

    • The office is on South Craig Street in Pittsburgh, Pa.

    Lowercase the words streets, roads, avenues, etc. when discussing more than one. (CM15 8.60)

    • Oakland is divided by Fifth and Forbes avenues.
  2. When giving a full mailing address with a zip code, abbreviate the state with the proper postal abbreviation. On business reply cards and on all envelopes, postal regulations require two spaces between the state abbreviation and zip code. (See Appendix 4 for postal abbreviations.)

    • University of Pittsburgh
      Kenneth P. Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences
      Department of Psychology
      John Smith
      3117 Sennott Square
      210 South Bouquet Street
      Pittsburgh, PA  15260
  3. When referencing an address within copy, separate elements with commas.
    (CM15 6.47; CM14 5.67) University of Pittsburgh should always be the first line for all University addresses.

    • Return all materials to University of Pittsburgh, Swanson School of Engineering, Department of Bioengineering, John Smith, 749 Benedum Hall, 3700 O’Hara Street, Pittsburgh, PA  15261.

ADVISOR

When referring to those who advise at the University of Pittsburgh, advisor is preferred. Adviser is acceptable for non-Pitt usage.

AFRICAN AMERICAN

This phrase is never hyphenated unless it is hyphenated as part of an official name. Use African American and Black interchangeably.

Ethnicity and race should be mentioned only when they are pertinent and their pertinence is clear to the reader. (See Student Terminology section.)

AGE

Use a numeral when referring to age, even when it is less than 10.

  • The 3-year-old child went to nursery school each morning.
  • Children ages 3–5 attend nursery school in the building.
  • The woman is in her 30s.
    (Note: no apostrophe)

ALUMNUS, ALUMNI

An alumnus is a person who has attended or graduated from a particular school, college, or university; the plural is alumni. The term alum is also used in casual writing to describe such a person. The term alumnae (the feminine plural of alumnus) is used in the names of some women’s groups, such as the Alumnae Council of the Pitt Alumni Association.

Identify past and current students by the abbreviations of their schools and/or colleges and by their class years with an apostrophe before the last two digits of the year. If a person received more than one degree from Pitt, use both the school and/or college abbreviations and the years and put a comma between them. A G after a year indicates a graduate degree. If a school or college grants only graduate degrees (i.e., School of Medicine, School of Law), the G is redundant and should not be used. (School abbreviations may be used in donor lists. See Appendix 3.)

Mary Stuart (SOC WK ’74, ’76G) attended the reunion last year.

AMPERSAND

An ampersand (&) may be used in graphic marks and acronyms as well as in official names of companies, organizations, and publications. Never use an ampersand instead of the word and in text.

  • Mary Smith (A&S ’05)
  • Mary Smith majored in psychology in the Kenneth P. Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences.

APOSTROPHE

  1. Do not use apostrophes in the plurals of figures, years, or abbreviations.

    • the late 1700s, the late ’60s, CDs, PCs, MBAs
  2. Use apostrophes in the plurals of letters and academic grades.

    • Three r’s and two s’s were missing from the sign after the windstorm.
    • “Getting all A’s on a report card is best,” she said, “but a few B’s and C’s aren’t awful.”
  3. Possessives of abbreviations are formed the same way they would be if the nouns were spelled out.

    • the AMA’s committee
    • the two RAs’ decisions
  4. Associate’s, bachelor’s, and master’s degrees should always be written with an ’s.
    Never write masters’ degree or masters degree. (Also see Degrees section.)

    • Mary received her master’s degree from Pitt in 1967.
  5. Punctuate the year of graduation with an apostrophe.

    • Tom McGuire (SOC WK ’83)

ART

Capitalize and italicize the titles of works of art. (Note: Deciding whether to capitalize conjunctions, prepositions, and articles in titles can be difficult. See CM15 8.167, CM14 7.127, and Capitalization section.)

ARTICLES (in newspapers, magazines, etc.)

Articles in magazines or newspapers are in quotation marks and principal words are capitalized; magazine and newspaper names are italicized. (See Capitalization and Titles (Other) sections.)

  • She wrote “Raising Healthy Horses,” published in the latest issue of Equus.
  • Mary bought The New York Times at the airport.
  • She found his name in a New York Times article.
  • George Will’s “The INS in Flux” in today’s Pittsburgh Post-Gazette was interesting.

AVENUE

See Addresses section.

AWARDS, PRIZES

Capitalize names of awards and prizes but not some terms used with the names.
(CM15 8.89; CM14 7.73)

  • Dickson Prize in Medicine, Dickson Medal, the medal, medal awardee
  • Nobel Prize in Physics, Nobel Peace Prize, Nobel Prize winner, Nobel laureate
  • Legacy Laureate (always capitalized, as this is a special University designation)

*News exceptions, see Appendix 6.