University of Pittsburgh

University of Pittsburgh
Writing Style Manual



When using percentages within body copy, the number is expressed in figures, even when it is less than 10, and the word percent is used. (Note: Percent is one word and is singular.)

  • Sam Rich said 8 percent of the population is eligible for the program.

The percent symbol (%) should be used only in charts and figures or in scientific or statistical copy. (CM15 9.19; CM14 8.18)


As area codes are now required in most phone dialing, omit parentheses and use hyphens when listing phone or fax numbers.

  • 412-624-4147
  • Not:
  • (412) 624-4147 or 412.624.4147

Use the 1 in front of toll-free numbers.

  • 1-800-123-4567 or 1-877-987-6543


Avoid the use of Pittsburghese, as in the following:

  • The clothes need washed.
  • The dog needs out.

Say/write instead:

  • The clothes need to be washed.
  • The dog needs to go out.


Follow guidelines as published in CM15 7.6–30 and CM14 6.7–30 and 6.82 except for words that end in s.

  • dos and don’ts
  • MDs, MBAs, PhDs
  • in twos and threes
  • the early 1920s; in the ’70s
  • p’s and q’s
  • straight A’s
  • Texas’ population
  • Jones’ car


See Capitalization section.


See Departments, Offices, Programs, Schools section.


See Hyphens, Compounds section, item 7.


See Endowed Chairs, Professorships section.


The word proved is always either a verb or part of a verb phrase.

  • Joe proved the problem existed.
  • Joe has proved the problem existed.

Use the word proven only as an adjective.

  • The medicine was a proven remedy.