Voice and Tone

  • Write in a direct, conversational style.
  • Tailor your words to the intended audience.
  • Use crisp, active sentences to give more life to the written word; avoid using passive voice.
  • Don’t overuse acronyms. Spell out acronyms on first use.
  • Use short, simple words rather than large, complex ones.
  • Use the second-person voice rather than the third-person whenever possible

Usage Guidelines

University Names
  • UW-Eau Claire
  • UW-Green Bay
  • UW-La Crosse
  • UW-Madison
  • UW-Milwaukee
  • UW Oshkosh (no hyphen)
  • UW-Parkside
  • UW-Platteville
  • UW-River Falls
  • UW-Stevens Point
  • UW-Stout
  • UW-Superior
  • UW-Whitewater
  • UW-Extension
full university name Uses en-dash (–)
  • Example: University of Wisconsin–Eau Claire
  • Incorrect: University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire
  • 13 UW universities across 26 campuses (not 13 campuses)
  • Preferred language in most cases: universities (or UW universities) rather than institutions (or UW institutions)
Branch campus names
  • UW-Eau Claire – Barron County
  • UW-Green Bay, Manitowoc Campus
  • UW-Green Bay, Marinette Campus
  • UW-Green Bay, Sheboygan Campus
  • UW-Milwaukee at Washington County
  • UW-Milwaukee at Waukesha
  • UW Oshkosh, Fond du Lac Campus
  • UW Oshkosh, Fox Cities Campus
  • UW-Platteville Baraboo Sauk County
  • UW-Platteville Richland
  • UW-Stevens Point at Marshfield
  • UW-Stevens Point at Wausau (formerly UW-Marathon County)
  • UW-Whitewater at Rock County
other UW Entities
  • UW Colleges
  • UW Colleges Online
  • UW Extended Campus
  • UW Flexible Option
  • UW-Shared Services (uses hyphen)
  • UW System
  • UW System Administration

Capitalize UW System, System Administration, UW Colleges (but, in most cases, do not capitalize “system” alone, “systemwide,” “university” or “university system”)

Capitalize Board of Regents (but, in most cases, do not capitalize “the board” or “the regents”)

Capitalize schools within universities when using their proper names:

  • the School of Journalism & Mass Communication
  • the School of Nursing
  • the School of Engineering

But do not capitalize journalism (or journalism school), nursing, engineering, law, allied health, etc.

Capitalize departments within schools when using their proper names:

  • Department of Geography
  • Department of Agricultural Economics
  • Department of Biochemistry

But do not capitalize geography (or geography department), agricultural economics, biochemistry, history, linguistics, etc.

Capitalize offices within System Administration (Office of Administration, Office of University Relations, Office of Capital Planning and Budget, etc.)

  • Capitalize titles when used specifically in front of a name:
    • Acting President Katharine Lyall
    • Professor Howard Temin
    • Chancellor Karl Meyer
  • Or when followed by the full name of the institution: She is President of Radcliffe College.

But do not capitalize when these titles follow the name or stand alone within the text:

  • Katharine Lyall, acting president

Exception: In bylines to articles and in lists, capitalize titles whether or not they precede a person’s name.

  • By Edward M. Penson, Chancellor

Numbers one through nine are spelled out, while 10 and above are written as numerals.


When writing dates in text, do not use a superscript:

  • Correct: March 20, 2020
    Incorrect: March 20th, 2020
  • Correct: April 3, 2020
    Incorrect: April 3rd, 2020

When writing just the month and year, do not place a comma between them:

  • Correct: June 2020
    Incorrect: June, 2020

Use one space between sentences and after a colon within a sentence.

Common Word Usage & Spellings
  • 21st century (hyphenate if used as an adjective: 21st-century jobs)
  • campuswide
  • coursework
  • DoIT
  • Internet
  • online
  • startup
  • statewide
  • systemwide
  • underrepresented
  • UW Extended Campus
  • UW-Shared Services
  • UW System
  • web page
  • website