Skip to content Skip to main navigation Report an accessibility issue

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. For both medical doctors and academics, use the title Dr. only in special contexts such as donor lists and commencement programs. 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 or periods: 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.

Alumni Class Years

When referring to alumni, always include their class year (or years, for alumni with multiple degrees from UT). The apostrophe should 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)

Depending on the context, it may be appropriate to include the degree, with or without a field:

John Doe (BS chemistry ’82)
Jane Smith (BA ’90, MFA ’92)

Capitalization and 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 Donde Plowman. Her full name should always be used on first reference. The title should always be capitalized when preceding the chancellor’s name: Chancellor Donde Plowman. When following the chancellor’s name or when referring to her as simply “the chancellor,” the title is lowercase: Donde Plowman, chancellor; the chancellor’s remarks.

Class years. Lowercase all class year terms: first-year, sophomore, junior, and senior. Use the term first-year except in specialized contexts where freshman is the norm. The term is always hyphenated.

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.

Fellows. Capitalize the formal title in every context: She was named a Faculty Fellow. Lowercase otherwise: He is a fellow of the Academy of Arts and Sciences. 

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. 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.

Scholars. Capitalize the formal title in every context: UT has had eight Rhodes Scholars.

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.

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.


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.


Always set off email addresses by italicizing or boldfacing.

Spell the word email with no hyphen.


One word. Use UT NetID if needed for clarity.


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.


Separate with an en dash. Service–learning resources are available for all faculty. 


Separate with an en dash. Class scheduling is an important consideration for student–athletes.

Telephone Numbers

Do not use parentheses around the area code or use periods or other punctuation to separate parts of a telephone number. Use only hyphens for separation: 865-555-5555.

Tennessee Towns

When referring to a town or city in Tennessee, 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


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.


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

On webpages, emails, 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.


Separate with an en dash. She qualified for a work–study position.