House style Guide

November 3, 2015
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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 brackets. 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 can be used as required.

See also and 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.


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


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.


Former students of the University.

Please note the following:

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

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.


Not benefitted

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 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.

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