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This style guide is for library employees to use when writing digital or print content, whether it is a web page, a research guide, an evite, a PDF, an email, a slidedeck, or a social media post. It includes word usage, preferred terms, formatting guidelines, and more. See also:
For grammar help in your writing, we recommend Grammarly (a free browser add-on).
For how-to tips on creating and formatting content on our website, LibGuides, and elsewhere, see Creating & editing web content.
This style guide is licensed under the CC BY 4.0 license.
With few exceptions, abbreviations and acronyms aren't acceptable in text. Avoid acronyms not commonly used. Spell out abbreviations or acronyms if your reader won’t recognize them the first time you mention it, such as ACRL (Association of College & Research Libraries). Then use the short version for all other references.
See library acronyms (staff only).
See also library departments.
Avoid unless there isn’t a succinct, descriptive alternative. Try first:
students, faculty, and staff
the university community
members of the community
Avoid ALL CAPS on the web. They make text harder to read and can sound like you are shouting. Use all caps sparingly in print, and only for short titles or headlines.
See also bold and italics.
Use an ampersand when it is part of a formal name or title. Avoid using it as a substitute for "and," unless space is very limited in a design layout or when it is being used to create quick impact as in a headline.
For formats such as print and digital, use ampersands if they are a part of the official title of workshops, events, programs, or names of information resources (books, databases, etc.).
For web page titles and headings with only two items, use an ampersand (e.g. “Visit & study”). If there are three or more items, spell out “and” (e.g. “Research, write, and publish”). Spell out “and” in body content.
Use bold for emphasis when needed, but use it sparingly.
See also all caps and italics.
When creating online content, you can use buttons for calls to action and to take people to the next step in a process. As much as possible, use active verbs for button labels and be explicit. Avoid general or vague terms such as "More" and "Click here." Good button label examples:
Request a space
View the calendar
On web pages, avoid more than two buttons per page. The buttons should be the most important, primary call to action.
See also calls to action and links and labels.
A web page’s primary call to action is usually expressed as a link or button. On something like a flyer, the call to action might be a web link or a phone number. To make it easy for the user, label the call to action starting with an active verb, such as:
Request a book
Reserve a space
Contact your librarian
See also links and labels.
There are a few different forms of capitalization that should be used depending on the format.
Sentence case capitalizes the first letter of the first word. Use this for web page titles and headings and web news headlines (e.g. "Requesting articles," "Behind the scenes at the library.")
Title case capitalizes the first letter of every word except articles, prepositions, and conjunctions. Use this for titles of books, movies, collections, workshops, events, and for press release headlines (e.g. "Women's Hackathon.")
Don't capitalize words in the middle of sentences unless it’s part of a proper name. Pay attention to people who use lower-case letters in their name and works that intentionally don't use capitalization.
See also college, library buildings, and people.
See library spaces.
checkout; check-in (noun; adjective):
They’re available for a 4-hour checkout.
Upon check-in, you will get a receipt.
The express check-in machines are near the exit.
check out; check in (verb):
You can check out a laptop.
We will check in the laptop and give you a receipt.
Avoid. Use borrowing.
Don't use this unless you are referring to a designated campus classroom. No rooms in the library can be called "classrooms."
See also Learning Studio.
Avoid using "click" or "click here" within link labels. Instead, use more meaningful link labels. You can use "click" if you are writing instructions, though try using "select" to see if that works instead. (Touch screens don't allow for "clicks" so the term is a bit outdated). For example:
See also links.
Use "the College of Engineering." When several colleges are mentioned, it's "the colleges of engineering, science and fine arts." The same rule applies to schools.
The word department is capitalized in formations such as "Department of History." It is not capitalized when the formation is "the history department." The exception is any department with a word that is always capitalized, such as the English department.
Program names are capitalized, as are graduate programs of study, such as the Race Track Industry Program. Not all programs use the word "program" in their official names.
Majors and minors are not capitalized unless the major/minor name is a proper noun (English, Spanish, etc.).
See Oxford commas.
If referring to a contact person, link to their staff directory page for additional information and contact options rather than only providing an email. For general contact information, direct people to the contact us web page. For example:
Use “COVID-19” rather than “COVID," "Covid," or “coronavirus.”
Avoid. Use instead:
students, faculty, and staff
Usually, call them research databases to be explicit when referring to our subscription databases. This might depend on context.
Not capitalized. On first reference, you may want to use "research data management" to be more explicit.
Always spell out the days of the week. Abbreviate months only when a specific date is used, such as Nov. 28. Never abbreviate March, April, May, June or July.
When referring to a month in a specific year, but not a specific date, always spell out the month and do not separate with a comma: July 1977.
When using specific dates, it should be "June 20" – not "June 20th" – unless the month and date are not contiguous. "She will travel on the 20th of June."
Abbreviate decades when referring to those within the past 100 years. Add "s" to make plurals: the 1960s. When shortened, an apostrophe stands in place of omitted numerals: the '60s.
Use “dropdown” rather than “drop down” or “drop-down.”
Use “email” rather than “e-mail.” When writing an email address, use all lowercase, for example:
If referring to a person, link to their staff directory page for additional information and contact options rather than only providing an email, for example:
Contact our copyright librarian, Ellen Dubinsky.
Faculty is a collective noun and takes a singular verb. For example:
The library faculty is exceptional.
The library faculty members are experts in their fields.
Only use faculty if you are just talking about faculty; if you are talking about instructors, which includes graduate teaching assistants, use instructor.
See also instructor.
Use either Calibri or Times New Roman per UA Branding. Make sure your font size is large enough to be read easily.
Use “full text” rather than “full-text,” whether an adjective or noun. For example:
If your content is more than a few paragraphs, break things up with headings. This allows your users to scan to find what they are looking for. If your content is on the web, mark up your headings appropriately using heading level structure (e.g. H1, H2, H3). This applies the correct visual styling and ensures your content is accessible to screen readers. Don’t try to make your own headings visually by bolding, using ALL CAPS, or using italics.
Tips for headings:
Use sentence case—only capitalize the first word and proper names.
Don’t end headings with periods or colons; the only time to include punctuation is if it ends with a question mark
Make headings parallel in grammatical structure (e.g. imperative verbs, gerunds, questions).
Use active verbs when appropriate.
Don’t skip heading levels. If you have an H3, for example, you should also have H1 and H2 levels.
Avoid using more than three heading levels. If you need more sub-headings, consider rethinking your content structure.
H2. Borrow materials
H3. Books & journals
H3. Laptops & technology
H2. Renew materials
See also accessibility of headings and ampersands.
One word, not capitalized.
See also library spaces.
Use to refer to those who teach.
See also faculty.
Don’t capitalize or hyphenate, and don’t abbreviate to ILL.
Avoid. Use the web.
Use bold to bring emphasis and avoid italics unless they serve a unique purpose, such as highlighting quotations or citation formatting. Keep in mind italics are harder to read, especially in longer sections of text.
See also bold and all caps.
Capitalize when referring to a specific room, such as Learning Studio 112. Don't capitalize when referring to our suite rooms. Use "learning studios" instead. For example, "Our learning studios are equipped with large screens and flexible seating. Learning Studio 112 is located on the first floor." Never use "classroom" to refer to these rooms.
See also CATalyst Studios.
Use liaison librarian (not capitalized) or your librarian. Avoid "liaison" by itself or "library liaison." Depending on context, you can also use expert or specialist.
Avoid. See research guides.
Most of the time, you can just use first person (“us” or “we”) to refer to the library or library staff and second person (“you” or “your”) to refer to the reader. The context of the library website, library newsletter, or social media makes it unnecessary to spell out “University of Arizona Libraries.” For example:
We offer a variety of technology for students and faculty.
Our staff are collaborative, supportive, and dedicated to student success.
When that context isn’t apparent and it’s important to formally refer to our organization, use:
First reference: University of Arizona Libraries or University Libraries
Second reference: UA Libraries or Libraries
The University of Arizona Libraries offers a variety of technology for students and faculty. The Libraries are dedicated to student success.
The University Libraries are ....
The Libraries are...
The University Libraries' policy for computer use is...
Or better yet: Our policy for computer use is...
When using library as an adjective, it’s ok to use singular, lower-case “library,” and in many cases this is the best choice (in particular if a plural noun follows). Don’t ever capitalize “library” when it’s singular. For example:
library late fees
Spell out the locations in full, except for Weaver Library which can be shortened depending on context. Never use acronyms for locations.
|Fine Arts Library||
|Health Sciences Library||
Weaver Library (preferred)
Science Engineering Library
On second reference, use singular, lower-case “the library.” For example:
The Main Library is located in the center of campus. The library collects a broad range of materials…
Avoid using department acronyms for external-facing content. Spell out the full name on first mention and list the acronym in parentheses if you use it later in the same piece of content. As appropriate link to the department page. For example:
The Office of Digital Innovation & Stewardship (ODIS) can help you at every stage of your research.
Simply say “search the library” or “library search.” Don’t capitalize it and avoid mentioning more jargon terms such as Primo, Library Services Platform (LSP), OPAC, and catalog. For example:
Use library search to find books and articles.
Use advanced library search and limit to material type Books.
Search the library for books and articles.
CATalyst Studios at the Main Library
|Scholars’ Corner||Scholar’s Corner|
|Tubbs Tech Toolshed||Tech Tool Shed|
Terry Seligman Virtual Reality Studio
|Data Studio||Data Studios|
|Learning Studio 112||
Learning Studio 112A
|long-term study room||
Long-Term Study Room
|Main Library, 1st floor||
Avoid Library Tools Tab (LTT) and Superwidget. Depending on context, you can describe it as:
Library Tools within D2L Brightspace
Library Tools link
Write clear, descriptive text for links and buttons so that users know where they are going. This is critical for those using screen readers. Don’t describe the mechanism behind following a link (e.g. click, click here, select) and use the minimum amount of text to be meaningful. Avoid generic labels such as: learn more, click here, find out more.
Active verbs often work well. Provide needed information so there are no surprises (e.g. if a password is required).
Reserve a room (students only).
Register for the workshop by March 8.
To give us feedback, fill out the survey.
Don’t spell out URLs unless it is for a print piece or social media.
Use lists to help make your text easier to scan and digest. Use bullets for lists of related items, lists of examples, and lists of options. Capitalize the first letter of each item.
An example of using bullets:
To avoid plagiarism, you must give credit whenever you:
Use another person's idea, opinion, or thought
Use any information that isn't common knowledge
Quote or paraphrase another person's actual spoken or written words
In bulleted lists, only use punctuation if the items are complete sentences:
Our commitments include:
We believe in social justice and equity.
We advocate for open access.
Only use numbered lists for instructions or steps in a process. Use punctuation at the end of each step, assuming they are complete imperative sentences. If your instructions include the names of links, buttons, or other navigation elements within a website, bold them. Make sure you reflect the element title exactly, including any capitalization. An example of using a numbered list:
View your checked out items.
Select the Transaction Number for the item you want to renew.
Select Renew Request.
See sign in.
See also college, library buildings, and people.
On first reference, say "UA NetID." After first reference, shorten to "NetID."
Spell out numbers under ten (zero, one, two...nine), and spell out numbers when they’re the first word in a sentence. Use numerals for ten and beyond (10, 11...35). Use commas for numbers over three digits, but abbreviate them if there are space restraints, as in a tweet or a chart: 1k, 150k, $5M. For content that uses percentages, use the % symbol or “percentages” depending on context. Spell out fractions or use decimal points when a number can’t easily be written as a fraction.
Ten new employees started on Monday, and 12 start next week.
I ate three donuts at Starbucks.
Two-thirds of students don’t buy the required textbook.
47.2 percent of faculty use Google Scholar as a primary search tool.
We hosted a group of 11th graders who are learning to code.
See also lists.
Not capitalized or hyphenated.
Not capitalized or hyphenated. Shorten to OER only if you spell out it out in full on first mention and list the acronym in parentheses. For example:
Open educational resources (OER) are teaching, learning, and research resources in the public domain or released with an open license. Anyone can freely use, copy, adapt, and reshare OER.
In most cases, use the Oxford comma (also known as the serial comma) when writing a series of things. This means you include a comma after the second-to-last item. For example:
David admires his parents, Oprah, and Justin Timberlake.
For official communications such as press releases, library reports, and strategic plans, don’t use the Oxford comma. This is the style preferred in the UA style guide. For example:
The Libraries include the Main Library, Albert B. Weaver Science-Engineering Library, Fine Arts Library, Health Sciences Library and Special Collections.
Avoid. Use instead:
students, faculty, and staff
members of the community
In general, avoid salutations (e.g. Mr., Ms., Dr.) and use full names. In future mentions, use only the first name. If including someone’s title, capitalize it. For example:
Dean Shan Sutton spoke at the luncheon.
Data Management Specialist Fernando Rios delivered a workshop. Fernando has worked at the Libraries for five years.
pickup (noun): Locate books for pickup.
pick up (verb): Go to the hold shelf to pick up your book.
Never hyphenate pick-up.
Use “he/him/his,” “she/her/her,” or “they/them/their” pronouns that reflect the individual’s gender. If your subject’s gender is unknown or irrelevant, use “they,” “them,” and “their” as a singular pronoun. Don’t use “one” as a pronoun and don’t use “s/he” or “him or her” which implies binary gender expression. Examples:
Jay Smith will present on virtual reality projects in the classroom. They have been teaching at the university for five years.
The person in this role will collaborate with a team daily. They will deliver workshops, provide consultations, and create training materials.
Follow AP Style on punctuation. Use one space, not two, after punctuation between sentences. For example:
Avoid, unless discussing the reference collection. See also research.
Use to describe reference help and consultations. For example:
We can help you with your research.
Contact us for research support.
Use to describe LibGuides and web pages that guide users through research. Related options include:
See library spaces.
sign in (verb): Sign in to your account.
signin (noun): Use the signin.
sign out (verb): Sign out of your account.
signout (noun): Use the signout.
Never hyphenate “sign-in.” Avoid “login” and “log in” unless it applies to a system that uses that term and is necessary for clarity and consistency.
When referring to library employees, use:
library staff member (individual)
library staff (collective noun)
On the web, use parentheses for the area code and a dash within the phone number: (555) 555-5555.
On print or digital content beyond the web, numbers can also be: 555.555.5555 or (555)555.5555.
In marketing communications, it is "the University of Arizona" on first reference and "the university" or “Arizona/at Arizona” on second reference.
For communications intended for internal audiences, it is "the University of Arizona" on first reference and "the University" or “Arizona/at Arizona” on second reference.
“UArizona” is reserved for news communications for external audiences, social media handles, campaigns or titles.
On the web, keep it as simple as possible by using numerals and am or pm without a space. For example: 7am, 7:30pm.
For print or other digital content, use periods: 7 a.m., 7:30 p.m.
Use a hyphen between times to indicate a time period. For example: 7am-10:30pm (web), 7 a.m.-10:30 p.m. (print). Never include :00 for on-the-hour time.
Specify Mountain Standard Time when writing about a local event that includes a remote option. For example: 12pm MST.
When using a person's job title, only capitalize if it precedes their name. For example:
Make the title of your content meaningful to users. For content on the web, this will improve their findability and is how they will appear in search results. Keep titles succinct and use active voice when possible. Web page titles should be sentence case. Examples of good web page titles:
See also ampersands.
Never underline text when writing digital content since users will interpret underlined text as a link. In print, underlined text isn't good for legibility.
If you want to emphasize something, try using bold.
When creating a new URL for a web page:
Use to refer to the internet. Avoid “internet” and “world wide web.” For example:
Two words, don’t capitalize.
One word, don’t capitalize.