House style

This house style should be used for all University communications (both web and print) aimed at external audiences.

If you have any comments or suggestions for additional information to be included, please contact the digital communications team at digitalcommunications@st-andrews.ac.uk.

You may also be interested in writing for the web training, content coordinator training and T4 training; for more information on these training sessions please contact the digital communications team at digitalcommunications@st-andrews.ac.uk.

Divergences for print

The guide is consistent for both web and print communications. However, if the advice given differs for print material, it is noted in an alert box below the entry. For more information about the print house style, please contact the publications team at publications@st-andrews.ac.uk.

Jump to any section of the house style using the alphabetical links. 

0-9 A B C D E F G H I J L M N O P Q S T U W Y


1000-level / 1000 level

1000-level (or 2000-level, etc.) is only hyphenated when adjectival.

For example:

I want to study a 1000-level module.
I want to study a module at 1000 level.

Abbreviations

No full stops or spaces between or after letters, except at end of sentence (for example: UK not U.K.).

However, when abbreviating Latin use full stops between or after (c., i.e. or e.g.).

When only a single example is given, use 'for example' rather than e.g.

Academic years

Please write out the academic year in full, with no numerical abbreviations. Please use a hyphen and not a slash to separate academic years. For example: 2015-2016, not 2015-16 or 2015/16 or 2015/2016.

See also dates and times.

Acronyms and initialisms

If you plan on using acronyms or initialisms in any copy, consider whether a first time reader from outside the University would understand it. If the acronym is commonly used by your target audience then there is no need to write out the name in full (for example, school leavers are highly likely to understand UCAS). However, if the acronym is not commonly known, write out the full name, followed by the acronym in parentheses. For example:

The Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) supports world-class research that furthers our understanding of human culture and creativity.

After this, the acronym may be used as required.

See also undergraduate and postgraduate for information on specific initialisms.

Active versus passive voice

Avoid using passive verbs as they result in a vague, over-formal tone. For example:

Two hundred students visited the University as part of the Reach Project.

Not

The University was visited by two hundred students as part of the Reach Project.

Admissions

We capitalise Admissions when we are referring to the department; we do not capitalise it when referring to it in the abstract. For example:

You will receive a reply from Admissions within four weeks.
Please check the undergraduate admissions policy.

A good way to check whether it should be uppercase ‘Admissions’ is to ask whether you can ascribe the object in the sentence to the department of Admissions. For example:

Admissions’ undergraduate admissions policy

We do not capitalise nouns that precede or follow Admissions to describe a member of staff, team or process. For example:

The Admissions team will attend the UCAS event.

Addresses

Addresses should only be used where necessary, and should use the following format:

School/Unit
University of St Andrews
Building name
Street
St Andrews
KY16 9__

For example:

School of English
University of St Andrews
Castle House
The Scores
St Andrews
KY16 9AL

Alumni

Former students of the University.

Please note the following:

  • alumna – female graduate, singular
  • alumnus – male graduate, singular
  • alumni – graduates, plural

Ampersands

Ampersands should not be used on the University website for accessibility reasons. Please replace any ampersands with 'and'.

Print

The ampersand is permitted in School and Unit names (for example: the School of Physics & Astronomy, Print & Design).

Asterisks

Asterisks should never be used on webpages or in print. Any supplemental content should immediately follow the text introducing it. If the supplemental content is too long or complicated to explain, provide a link to text on a webpage which explains the information further. For example:

Tuition fees for the 2017-2018 academic year will be available from 1 September 2016.

To find out more about fees from previous years, see the tuition fees table.

You should expect to pay fees for every year you are in attendance and be aware fees are subject to revision and may increase annually.

Not

Tuition fees for the 2017-2018 academic year* will be available 1 September 2016.

You should expect to pay fees for every year you are in attendance and be aware fees are subject to revision and may increase annually.

*Tuition fees for previous years can be located on the tuition fees table.


BA International Honours

The joint degree with the University of St Andrews and the College of William & Mary in the USA should always be referred to as the BA International Honours, other than in page titles, where it should be called the William and Mary joint degree. See also,William & Mary joint degree.

benefited

Not benefitted

Bold

Use bold (or strong) to draw attention to words or phrases that cannot be easily frontloaded. Try to keep items in bold as short as possible and refrain from writing entire sentences or paragraphs in a bold typeface.

Bullet points

In a bulleted list each bullet point which is a complete sentence, regardless of the length of the sentence, should start with a capital letter and end with a full stop. 

Bullet points which contain fragments of sentences do not require a full stop, and they should start with a lower case letter. The final bullet point should finish with a full stop. Semi-colons can be used for those bullet points which have sentence fragments, but there should be a full stop for the final bullet point.


Capital letters

Avoid unnecessary use of capital letters as it is more difficult to read and can create ambiguity. Capital letters should be used only for the start of sentences and genuine proper nouns. This includes page titles.

For example:

How to apply

not

How To Apply

In no instance should sentences or titles be written in all capital letters. For example:

HOW TO APPLY

For digital content, it is recommended that team names and job titles in sentences are normally not capitalised. Department names (for example, Admissions) are capitalised.

For example:

We are working with the digital communications team

not

We are working with the Digital Communications Team.

Print

Team names are always capitalised. For example:

Your residential experience is supported by a Wardennial Team.

Job titles

If the title comes before the name, it can be capitalised:

Principal Lauren Ipsum

For digital content, it is recommended that if the title comes after the name, lower case should be used:

Lauren Ipsum, director of Admissions

Print

Job titles are always capitalised, whether before or after the name. For example:

Lauren Ipsum, Director of Admissions

University should be capitalised when referring to the University of St Andrews. But it should not be capitalised unless referring to St Andrews or the proper title of another university, for example:

The University of St Andrews is one of 19 universities in Scotland.

Honours / Faculty / School / Department are always capitalised. For example:

He graduated with a joint Honours degree in Computer Science.

Generic degree terms should not be capitalised. For example:

the William & Mary joint degree

Use capitals when referring to degree titles e.g. Computer Science, Geography, Greek.

Reference to sub-honours should always be lower case and hyphenated.

Capitalise north, south etc. in names of areas. For example:

South America, Western Australia

But not descriptors such as:

south of England

See years for information about the capitalisation of years of academic study.

century

Names of centuries later than the tenth century are written in numerals. The 'th' after the numeral should be in superscript. Century names are hyphenated when they precede a noun.

He was born in the 12th century.

The war started in the second century.

Society in 19th-century London was vastly different to today.

Print

In print, the century name is always written out fully (not in numbers) and is hyphenated when it precedes a noun.

She lived in the nineteenth century.

She was born in a nineteenth-century house.

Compare with/to

‘Compare with’ should be used to make a comparison or to analyse the differences between two different things. For example:

The girl is tall compared with her little brother.

‘Compare to’ should be used to liken two different things.

Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?

Contact

Contact details in asides (sidebars) are displayed in the following format:

Contact

Lauren Ipsum, web editor

Email: example@st-andrews.ac.uk
Phone: +44 (0)1334 46 2748

Fax numbers are normally not displayed. Postal addresses are only displayed if necessary.

coordinate, coordinator

No hyphen.

Courses

The Courses section (i.e. the course search function) is named Courses and should be identified as such on any menu or navigational pages.

In call to action areas, use a specific call to action such as:

Search for courses

In sentences, refer to the ‘courses section’.

For example:

You can find out more about the Psychology degrees offered by the University of St Andrews in the courses section.

Print

The term ‘courses’ is avoided as staff and students tend to use it interchangeably to mean either ‘modules’ or ‘programmes’.

Currency

When talking about prices in a currency other than GBP, please use both the written out name of the currency as well as the currency symbol.

For example:

The price of this course is $26,000 (US dollars).

Dashes

In general, use en dashes (–) rather than hyphens (-). Our advice is that hyphens should be used for hyphenated words (for example, re-enact) and en dashes should be used as punctuation in sentences.

Dates and times

Dates should take the form of day, month, year. Online, please include the day name before the date. Do not abbreviate day names.

Monday 10 March 2014

For a date range, write out the full date in both instances.

Monday 10 March 2014 to Friday 14 March 2014

Not:

10 March - 14 March 2014

Nor:

10 - 14 March 2014

Times should usually be written after the date. For example;

Monday 10 March 2014, 7pm.

See also academic years and times.

Degree titles of alumni

When referring to a University of St Andrews graduate, please include the individual's name and degree listing.

If it is important to recognise the subject an alum studied, please format as follows:

Jane Doe (MA 2014 English)

If the subject studied is not relevant, please format as below:

John Doe (MA 2014)

domicile

Avoid if possible. Instead use ‘where you normally live’.


Email addresses

Should be written out in full. For example:

digitalcommunications@st-andrews.ac.uk

not obscured as a

link

as not everyone has their device set up correctly to handle sending emails in this way.

Do not give email addresses as University IDs on their own. For example, write

abc123@st-andrews.ac.uk

not

(abc123)

email

Not e-mail or e mail.

enquiry/inquiry

inquiry/inquiries or enquiry/enquiries – either can be used.

evening degree

Lowercase e and d. Consider whether ‘part-time study’ should be used instead.

Print

Evening Degree is capitalised as it is a programme of study offered by the University of St Andrews.


fieldwork

Not field work, but field course is acceptable.

focused

Not focussed

for example

Should be used if talking about a single example; e.g. can be used to refer to multiple examples.

Freshers’ Week

See Orientation week.

full-time / full time

Full-time is hyphenated when adjectival. For example:

I want to study for a full-time degree.
I want to study for a degree full time.

General degree

Capital G and lowercase d.

groundbreaking

Not ground-breaking


Hall

Hall / hall of residence should only be capitalised when referencing a specific hall. For example:

McIntosh Hall is a hall of residence in St Andrews.

Not:

Mcintosh Hall is a Hall of Residence in St Andrews.

When talking about the University halls of residences, consider whether a user will understand a reference to ‘hall’. You may wish to use the term ‘accommodation’ instead. For example:

The University is committed to providing accommodation to all first year students.

Not:

The University is committed to providing hall accommodation to all first year students.

Headings

In report titles, headings and subheadings, use sentence case. Never use all capital letters or title case (where the first letter of each word is capitalised).

The use of sentence case should follow normal grammatical rules. Capital letters are used for the first letter of the first word and for names, proper nouns and abbreviations/acronyms. See also capitals.

Headings should also omit the full stop at the end.

Where you use headings to break up text, make sure the most important word is at the start.

Honours degree

Capital H, lowercase d. Avoid using hons – always write out in full. But abbreviate it when noting a person’s degree. For example:

Joe Bloggs BA (Hons)

inquiry/enquiry

inquiry/inquiries or enquiry/enquiries - either can be used.

Italics

For accessibility reasons, avoid the excessive use of italics on the web. Use italics for non-English words that are not in regular use. Italics used in academic referencing are fine, but please use sparingly otherwise. Consider whether bold text would do the same job more effectively.

Print

Italics are used to describe module titles. For example:

You will study three modules including Inorganic and Physical Chemistry.

Also when providing the title of a book or newspaper.


Job titles

Please consider whether a job title is really necessary within web copy. Many audiences will be unaware of the structure of the organisation and confused by organisation-specific job titles.

When capitalising job titles, if the title comes before the name, it can be capitalised - President Obama, Principal John Smith. For digital content it is recommended that if the title comes after the name, lower case should be used, for example:

Jane Doe, director of Admissions

Print

Job titles are always capitalised. For example,

Jane Doe, Director of Admissions

JSA 

Should not be used. JSA stands for 'junior semester abroad' but many students who study abroad at St Andrews are not juniors. Instead, please use study abroad student, which is correct regardless of the year of study.


Links

The text of links must be meaningful and descriptive. The use of generic text such as ‘click here’ should never be used.

Do not set links to open in a new window unless it can be demonstrated that all users will always expect this behaviour.

Lists

Long lists should be presented in bulleted or numbered form. Shorter lists containing very detailed points should also be presented as such, for clarity.

Each list item which is a complete sentence, regardless of the length of the sentence, should start with a capital letter and end with a full stop. 

List items which contain fragments of sentences do not require a full stop, and they should start with a lower case letter. The final list item should finish with a full stop. Semi-colons can be used for those bullet points which have sentence fragments but there should be a full stop for the final bullet point.

For example:

You must bring the following documents:

  • passport
  • photo identification
  • transcript.

Follow these steps to make a cake:

  1. Purchase your ingredients.
  2. Follows the recipe.
  3. Share the cake with all your friends and family.

Masters

Capital M.

Masters degree

Capital M, lowercase d.

mathematics

Never math.

mediaeval

As a general rule, we use mediaeval not medieval. For example:

the department of Mediaeval History

Programmes within the School of English are spelled 'medieval'.

million

Lowercase (£12 million). When abbreviated write £12m.

modules

Reference to module levels is no longer ‘First level’ and ‘Second level’ but should be described as 1000 level, 2000 level with a hyphen if adjectival – 1000-level modules, 2000-level modules.


Numbers

Spell out as words for one to ten. Use numerals for numbers 11 and above.

If a sentence starts with a number, it should always be written out in full.

If a sentence contains a mixture of numbers above and below ten, use numerals for all.


online

Not on-line.

Orientation week

The University does not recognise 'Freshers’ Week' as an official term. The week before term starts is officially called Orientation week. You may wish to state in copy that Orientation week is equivalent to Freshers’ week at other universities. (We are aware that some student led publications and events use the term ‘Freshers’ Week’, but in official University materials, we aim to use the correct term.)

Print

Orientation Week is capitalised.

Orphans

Orphans are where one word at the end of a paragraph ends up appearing in a line on its own. Ideally we would like to avoid this happening.

Given the nature of the web, it is difficult to control the exact appearance of wording.

If it is important that an orphaned word does not appear in a heading or on a page, please contact the digital communications team: digitalcommunications@st-andrews.ac.uk.


Page titles

Use sentence case (not title case) for page titles. Page titles should not end with a full stop. For example,

How to apply
Tuition fees

All references made within webpages to other webpages should be in sentence case. For example:

The current cost of individual modules can be found on the tuition fees page, under the heading ‘Part-time’.

part-time / part time

Part-time is hyphenated when adjectival.

I want to study a part-time course.
I want to study a course part time.

Postgraduate research (PGR)

The acronym PGR should not be used on the website (other than in URLs and in formal documents like Regulations and other official policy documents). If entirely necessary, write out to postgraduate research, or preferably, refer to a specific audience group. For example:

The University has created a development programme aimed specifically at postgraduate students studying research degrees.

Postgraduate taught (PGT)

The acronym PGT should not be used on the website (other than in URLs and in formal documents like Regulations and other official policy documents). If entirely necessary, write out to postgraduate taught, or preferably, refer to a specific audience group. For example:

The University has created a development programme aimed specifically at taught postgraduate students.

phone

Preferable to telephone, and definitely preferable to tel.

Phone numbers

For phone numbers that international users are likely to call, use the following format:

+44 (0)1334 46 2150

For phone numbers that are unlikely to be called by international users, you may use the following format:

01334 46 2150

We separate the four digit extension code with a space to make it easier for internal users to identify the extension number.

postgraduate

Should not be capitalised unless at the start of a sentence or in a publication name. Should not be abbreviated to PG or pg other than in URLs and formal documents like Regulations and other official policy documents.

postdoctorate

Not post-doctorate

program

Should only ever be used when referring to a computer program. Otherwise, use programme, below.

programme

Not capitalised unless it is part of a course title.

Prospectus

Use capital P when referring to the name of the print publication. For example,

Undergraduate Prospectus

Leave as lowercase when talking about a prospectus in general (similar to the way we use University/university).


Quotation marks

When quoting direct speech always use double quotes.

When there are further quotes or figures of speech within the quoted speech, use single quotes.

Figures of speech or words quoted for explanation should be in single quotes – not italics.

The title of an article within a journal should be in single quote marks and not italicised.


School

Capitalise when referring to any academic School. 

Particularly, capitalised if writing out the name of a specific school, for example:

the School of Art History.

On a webpage, if the name of the School is first written out in full, on repeat mentions it may just be referred to as ‘the School’. Ensure that the ‘of’ in any school name is not capitalised.

Print

School is always capitalised to indicate that it is a particular grouping within the University of St Andrews and so is not confused with a secondary school. The term academic School is used in print and is written in that way.

Science without Borders

Capital S, lowercase w, capital B.

Semester 1

Rather than Semester one.

Semester 2

Rather than Semester two.

St Andrews

Ideally should be written with a non-breaking space rather than a space between St and Andrews, so that the town name always remains on the same line.

Always refer to St Andrews as a town, not a city.  

HTML code

St Andrews

Students’ Association

The University of St Andrews Students’ Association is the full title of the students’ union that all students of the University join when they matriculate. When referred to, the correct term is the Students’ Association. Please avoid the term ‘Students’ Union’; please use instead ‘Students’ Association’ or simply ‘the Union’. For example:

The Students' Association, or the Union as it is better known, is more than just a bar.

Student support

Don't use the term 'student support', as to many it means money or grants. Use 'support' when writing about the support available to students, or 'Student Services' if writing about the Service Unit. The ASC is the public face of Student Services.

study abroad student

Used instead of JSA. Study abroad student is the correct term for any student who has come to St Andrews from an overseas institution to study, regardless of their year of study.

sub-honours

Unlike the Honours degree, sub-honours is all lowercase and hyphenated.


taught programmes

As opposed to taught.

thousand

£400,000. When abbreviating show as: £400k. See also numbers.

Times

1pm (or 1.23pm) for times in a sentence.

The event starts at 1pm.
12 noon

For lists of times, use a clock format.

  • Monday: 12.00 noon
  • Tuesday: 1.23pm
  • Wednesday: 4.56pm

Use the 24-hour clock for pages primarily aimed at international users.

  • Monday: 12.00
  • Tuesday: 13.23
  • Wednesday: 16.56

See also dates and times.

Titles

  • Dr
  • Professor
  • The Rev
  • The Rt Rev

URLs

URLs should ideally be short yet still meaningful. Abbreviated words should be avoided. Separate words with a hyphen. Consider omitting the words 'the' and 'and'.

Writing out URLs

Avoid writing out URLs unless absolutely necessary. Instead, use hyperlinks with meaningful text.

However, if you must write out a URL (for example in a print publication), follow the house style and omit http:// unless the URL does not contain www.

See also links.

undergraduate

No hyphen. Do not capitalise unless at the start of a title/sentence or used in a publication title such as the Undergraduate Prospectus. 'UG' and 'ug' should not be used on the website (other than in URLs and in formal documents like Regulations and other official policy documents). Instead, write out undergraduate.

Underline

Never underline words on the web as this is often mistaken for a URL. If you need to draw attention to a word or phrase, use bold instead.

University

The University of St Andrews on second mention can be referred to simply as the University (capitalised). Avoid the phrase St Andrews University.

Use ‘university’ to refer to a university in general. To refer to other higher education institutions, follow their naming conventions; for example,

the Glasgow School of Art
the University of Edinburgh

USA

Instead of US, United States, United States of America.


web

Not Web

webpage

Not web page

website

Not web site

where you normally live

Instead of domicile.

William & Mary joint degree

The university name includes an ampersand, rather than ‘and’. No capitals on ‘joint degree’. The William & Mary joint degree should only be used in page titles. Elsewhere, use ‘BA International Honours’.

Students taking this course will graduate with a Bachelor of Arts (International Honours) in Economics, History, English or International Relations.


years (e.g. first year, second year)

Should not be capitalised as First Year, Second Year, etc.

Print

Capitalised only when used as a heading. For example,

First Year
Second Year