Frequently Searched Information About the Writing and Editorial Style Guide
The University of Maine System website follows the Associated Press Online Stylebook (External Site). Because the University of Maine System is an institution of higher learning and an institution that prioritizes accessible web content, consistency and accuracy are important. Please review your web content for errors in style, spelling and grammar.
Common mistakes, questions and concerns are listed below.
- Spell out all university school names instead of writing the school name as an acronym, e.g. “University of Maine at Fort Kent” instead of “UMFK”
Exception: When the full school name will not fit in a table name; in this case, include a key at the beginning of the page defining the abbreviated school names
- The noun “university” is not capitalized when it stands alone
Abbreviations and acronyms
- Do not use abbreviations or acronyms that the reader would not quickly recognize (e.g. you may use “USA” for “United States of America” or “Dr.” for “Doctor”, but avoid using “UMS” for “University of Maine System”)
- If abbreviations must be used, they should be defined the first time they are used on every single webpage in which they appear (e.g. “University of Maine System (UMS)”). If a web page has a lot of text (more than 300 words) then define the abbreviations multiple times throughout
- Represent ages with numerals (e.g. “She is 32,” or “She just turned 5”)
- Avoid conjunctions whenever possible, with the exception of “don’t” (e.g. please avoid “you’re”, “you’ve”, “how’ve”, etc.) Exception: Conjunctions may be utilized when quoting someone.
Note: Possessive nouns are not conjunctions
- Do not use numbers with st, nd, rd or th. (e.g. “October 31”, not “October 31st”)
- Capitalize the names of months in all uses
- Abbreviate only the following months when a month is used with a specific date: Jan., Feb., Aug., Sept., Oct., Nov. and Dec. (e.g. Jan. 21)
- Always put the date before the month (e.g. “Veteran’s Day is on November 11” not “Veteran’s Day is on 11 November”)
- When using months alone or in conjunction with a year spell out the name of all of the months (e.g. January 2020)
- Use the year as often as possible to avoid confusion for the reader
- It is acceptable to place an apostrophe in front of the two numerals representing a graduation year (e.g. ‘19)
- When a formal title precedes a proper name, capitalize: Professor of Physics Jane Smith
- When a title follows a proper name, do not capitalize: Jane Smith, professor of physics
- Below 10: Spell out (e.g. “one, two, three, four”)
- 10 and greater: Use numerals (e.g. “10, 11, 12, 13”)
- Use area code on all listings
- Phone numbers are labeled with hyphens, not periods or with parentheses (e.g. 207-123-4567, not 207.123.4567 nor (207) 123-4567)
- Use numerals and the $ sign
- Do not use the decimal for even dollar amounts
Punctuation and spacing
Punctuation may be different from other writing styles you may have learned throughout your education and career. AP Style and web writing have different rules from other styles such as APA and Chicago.
- No Oxford comma is used in a series (e.g. “Students, faculty and staff” not “students, faculty, and staff)
- A single space is used between sentences (e.g. “Going to college is a big decision. Identify your support system.” not “Going to college is a big decision. Identify your support system.”)
- Put a space on both sides of a dash in all uses except sports agate summaries
- Do not put a space on both sides of a hyphen, hyphens are used to connect words, phrases and numbers
- The following are correct: “website,” “webpage,” “email,” “subsite” and “internet” (with a lowercase i)
- Use all lowercase letters for email addresses: email@example.com
- Wireless internet is written as “Wi-Fi”
- Use figures except for noon and midnight
- Avoid unnecessary ciphers. Use 3 p.m., not 3:00 p.m.
- Use a colon to separate hours from minutes
- Morning and afternoon are represented with lower case letters with periods to designate a.m. and p.m.
- When writing time frames, follow this format: 9 a.m.-2 p.m.; 12:30 p.m-1:30 p.m. (when both times are within the same 12-hour period)
- Avoid redundant information such as “9 a.m. this morning”