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University Style

In some cases, it is best for our audiences’ understanding to use exceptions to the rules of Chicago and AP styles.

The following points are items that arise most often for UT editors and focus on UT-specific usage.

Academic Degrees

Capitalize the full names of academic degrees in both display copy and running text: a Bachelor of Science degree; the Doctor of Dental Surgery degree. In running text, lowercase and use possessive, with or without the word degree, if the full name of the degree is not used: associate’s degree in anthropology; bachelor’s degree in botany; master’s in Asian studies; doctorate or doctoral degree. 

Capitalize the name of the degree field only when it is part of the degree name: Master of Science in Nursing but Master of Science in biomechanics.

Dr. The title Dr. should never precede someone’s name, whether the subject is a medical doctor or an academic professor. We recommend referring to a medical doctor by medical profession or title (physician John Doe; Jane Doe, optometrist). If necessary, a medical doctor’s practicing degree may be used, but this is discouraged: John Doe, MD. For academic professors, always use his or her professional title: Professor of Law Jane Smith; John Doe, professor of geology.

Initialization. Style degree initializations with no spaces: BA, MS, MBA, PhD. Never follow a name with an academic degree in running text. It is acceptable to list an academic professor’s highest earned degree after his or her name in display text in formal academic contexts, such as invitations and commencement programs, and on personal communications, such as business cards.

Advisor vs. Adviser

For UT publications and websites, advisor is the preferred spelling. For news releases, media advisories, and other communications sent to news media professionals, adviser is the preferred spelling.

Alumni Class Years

When referring to alumni, always include their class year (or years, for alumni with multiple degrees from UT Knoxville). The apostrophe should always curl away from the class year, and multiple class years should be separated by commas. Include the class year only for alumni who graduated from the Knoxville campus.

John Doe (’82)
Jane Smith (’90, ’92)

Big Orange. Big Ideas.

The phrase Big Orange. Big Ideas. can be used as a headline to introduce an initiative, program, or effort that embodies the spirit of the university’s tagline. The tagline should only be used in running text when paired with the words branding campaign or tagline and should be set apart with quotation marks: The “Big Orange. Big Ideas.” branding campaign was launched in 2012.

The words big ideas or big idea are a great way to reference the tagline and may be used as display copy or in running text: Last year, Department of Geography professor Jane Doe had a big idea.

Capitalization & Names

Building names. Official names of buildings are capitalized: the Alumni Memorial Building, Ayres Hall. On second reference, the common nouns and informal references should be lowercase: the office’s programs; the history department’s faculty.

Chancellor. Our chancellor’s full name is Beverly Davenport. Her full name should always be used on first reference. The title should always be capitalized when preceding the chancellor’s name: Chancellor Beverly Davenport. When following the chancellor’s name or when referring to her as simply “the chancellor,” the title is lowercase: Beverly Davenport, chancellor; the chancellor’s remarks. Add the middle initial J in conjunction with a signature: Beverly J. Davenport. It is also appropriate to include the middle initial for balance if her name is appearing on a program or invitation with others that have a middle initial.

Colleges, departments, and offices. Names of colleges, departments, offices, and programs should be capitalized: College of Arts and Sciences; Department of History. On second reference, the common nouns should be lowercase: the office’s programs. Names that include and should always use the word and and, if needed, a serial comma in running text. For display text, replace and with an ampersand and delete the serial comma.

  • Running text: The College of Communication and Information; the Department of Mechanical, Aerospace, and Biomedical Engineering
  • Display text: The College of Communication & Information; the Department of Mechanical, Aerospace & Biomedical Engineering

Distinguished Professor. Capitalize in every context.

Fields of study. Do not capitalize names of school or college subjects, fields of study, majors, minors, curricula, or options—unless they contain proper nouns—when no specific course or department is referenced: He is studying geology; she is majoring in English and philosophy.  

Governor’s Chair. Capitalize in every context.

The Hill. Our iconic center of campus should always be capitalized. Unless it begins a sentence, the should be lowercase.

The internet. Always lowercase.

The Rock. Always capitalize. Unless it begins a sentence, the should be lowercase.

Rooms. Capitalize only when designating a particular room: The class meets in Room 204; the press conference in the Ray Mears Room; the meeting in the conference room.

Semesters and terms. Always lowercase: fall 2015; spring semester 2016.

Titles of persons. Official titles that immediately precede a proper name are capitalized: Chancellor Jane Smith; Professor of English John Doe; Director of Admissions James Smith. Titles following a name should be lowercase where appropriate: Jane Smith, chancellor; John Doe, professor of English; James Smith, director of admissions. An exception to this rule is someone holding a chaired professorship. Whether the title precedes or follows the name, the full title is always capitalized: John Doe Professor of Humanities Jane Smith; Jane Smith, the John Doe Professor of Humanities. General titles (author, actor, professor when not referring to someone’s full, specific title) are not capitalized: said author Jim Smith; replacing actor Jane Doe tonight; Associate Professor of Biology John Doe versus professor John Doe. See related entries in this section for Distinguished Professor and Governor’s Chair.

Top 25. When referring to UT’s current journey to improve its ranking as a public research university, capitalize Top 25. Other common uses include a Top 25 university; our journey to the Top 25; Top 25-caliber students; other Top 25 schools. Do not use campaign in place of journey.

Volunteer, Vol. Capitalize in singular or plural form: the Volunteer spirit, our Vol family, Vols through and through.  Do not put Vol in all capitals, either as a standalone word or embedded in another word, except in approved names and compounds: VOLstarter.

Courses

Capitalize the name of a specific course or course title. For course numbers, use the full subject name instead of an abbreviated prefix: English 101. If using both the course number and title, do not punctuate between elements: Geology 101 Investigations in Earth Science.

Email

Always set off email addresses by italicizing or boldfacing.

Spell the word email with no hyphen.

NetID

One word. Use UT NetID if needed for clarity.

Numbers

Follow the alternative rule found in section 9.3 of the current edition of the Chicago Manual of Style. It generally spells out only single-digit numbers (that is, zero through nine) and uses numerals for the rest. 

As a general rule, AP style requires that the numbers one through nine be spelled out; all other numbers should be Arabic numerals (for example, 10 or 200,000). Exceptions to these general rules are common, so we highly recommend consulting the appropriate style guide.

Credit hours are always expressed as numerals. Use credit hours (as opposed to hours) when needed for clarity: He enrolled in a 1-credit-hour workshop; she needs 6 hours to graduate.

Percentages should be expressed as numerals followed by the word percent, such as 5 percent.

For display copy, always use Chicago style. However, if straying from a guideline enhances the appearance of a piece without hindering the understanding of the message, feel free to proceed accordingly. When straying from style rules for display copy, use your best judgment and always keep your intended audience in mind.

Service-Learning

Always hyphenate. Service-learning resources are available for all faculty. 

Student-Athlete

Always hyphenate. Class scheduling is an important consideration for student-athletes.

Telephone Numbers

Never use parentheses around the area code, and never use periods or other punctuation to separate parts of a telephone number. Only use hyphens for separation: 865-555-5555.

Tennessee Towns

When referring to a town or city in Tennessee, always follow the name with the state: Kingsport, Tennessee. However, when referring to Knoxville, Chattanooga, Memphis, or Nashville, the state’s name is not required.

The University of Tennessee

See: Referring to the Institution

Time

As an exception to Chicago style, express even hours without zeroes: 4 p.m. In running text, the designations a.m. and p.m. should be lowercase with periods. For display text or in informal contexts, they may appear without periods: 2 pm.

URLs

In print publications, never use http://. URLs should be as concise as possible: utk.edu/tntoday. For especially short URLs you may choose to use the prefix www: www.utk.edu. If you need to shorten complicated, overly long URLs for print publications, use UT’s tiny URL generator. Always double check any URL you use in print to be sure it works if typed in as printed.

On web pages, e-mails, and other electronic publications, contextualize the URL by linking it to a heading or to a word or phrase within the body text. One exception: If the page is intended to be printed—for example, an invitation that serves as the admission pass to an event—list the URL as you would in a print publication.

Always set off URLs by italicizing or boldfacing.

Vol Vision

When referring to the name of UT’s strategic plan, only capitalize the first letters of each word and insert a space between the two words. Unacceptable: VOLVision.

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