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UW-Madison Libraries Web Stylebook

The University of Wisconsin—Madison Libraries Web Stylebook provides guidance on English usage for Web sites. It is meant as a guide for authors rather than as a set of hard rules.

Some recommendations follow those of editors with the Chicago Manual of Style, Merriam Webster's Dictionary of English Usage, and the Associated Press Stylebook. Other entries are interpretations adapted for the UW—Madison Libraries.

No claims of infallibility accompany the Stylebook. It is an adaptive guidepost, like any other stylebook. Comments may be sent to Elisabeth Owens.

UW—Madison has also published a campus style guide.

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academic degrees

Preferred form: John Jones, who has a doctorate in psychology. When used after a name, set off an academic abbreviation with commas: John Jones, Ph.D., spoke. Abbreviations: B.S., M.A., M.B.A., LL.D. or Ph.D. Do not use both the courtesy title before the name and the abbreviation after it in the same reference.
Unacceptable: Dr. John Jones, M.D., spoke at the meeting.
Acceptable: Dr. John Jones spoke at the meeting. OR John Jones, M.D., spoke at the meeting.

academic departments

Capitalize university departments: the Department of Psychology, the Department of English, the History Department.

academic titles

Capitalize and spell out formal titles only when they precede a name: Professor Johnson, Chancellor Smith, Chair Thompson. But: Frank Johnson, a professor, will speak to the chancellor. Lowercase title modifiers: history Professor Robert White, department Chair Frank Thomas.

academic years

Lowercase classes: freshman, sophomore, junior, senior.


Define all acronyms on first reference: University Health Services (UHS). Do not use periods. When forming a plural, use a lower case ' s ' and do not add an apostrophe: PCs, IBMs. (Note that "s" is lower case when creating a plural form of an acronym.)


Use the abbreviations Ave., Blvd., Dr., and St. only with numbered addresses. Spell out when part of a formal street name given without a number or when included in text. Always use figures for an address number. Abbreviate compass points. East 42nd Street, 222 E. 42nd St., North Hollywood, 728 State St.


Adverbs ending in -ly that help form compound modifiers are never followed by hyphens: tightly written story. Well is always followed by a hyphen in two-word combinations modifying nouns: well-respected professor. If well follows a form of the verb "to be," drop the hyphen: the professor is well respected.


Not advisor.

affect, effect

Affect means "to influence." It is most often used as a verb: The research will affect cancer patients.
Effect is a noun that means "result." The hurricane had few effects.

alumni, alumnus, alumna

Alumnus refers to a man who has attended a school. Alumna refers to a woman. Alumni is the plural form. Alumnae refers to women graduates of a college.


Do not use an apostrophe to form plurals of numerals or multiple-letter combinations: the ‘20s, the 1980s, PCs.

use it to form plurals of a single letter: p’s and q’s, A’s and B’s.

audiocassette, audiotape, audiovisual

One word.

awhile, a while

Use a while as a noun: The dean will speak for a while. When using it as an adverb, spell it as one word: The dean will speak awhile.


bachelor of arts, bachelor of science

Bachelor’s degree or bachelor’s is acceptable.

because, since

Because expresses a cause-and-effect relationship. Since is used for reference to time: I finished the assignment because I wanted a good grade. She has been working since 3 p.m.
Since is acceptable in a casual sense when the second is introduced by the first but is not its direct cause: They went to the game, since they had been given tickets.

beside, besides

Beside means "at the side of": The wastebasket is beside the desk. Besides means "in addition to": She has other staff besides her secretary.

biannual, biennial

Biannual means twice a year. Biennial means every two years.

Board of Regents

Always capitalized, but lowercase the board: The Board of Regents met Tuesday. The board approved a new appointment.

brown bag

Two words.



Catalog, cataloged, cataloging, cataloger are preferred over catalogue, etc.


All capitals. CD-ROM disc is redundant.


Do not use chairman, chairwoman or chairperson.

citing electronic resources

The elements of bibliographic references are generally the same across media. A number of references are available for citing electronic resources. See the UW—Madison Libraries' list of Internet citation guides at:


One word.


The principle of internal consistency should be applied in its use in a series before the word and. Two general rules may be followed.

Associated Press: If the meaning is clear without the final comma, it is generally omitted. Nevertheless, use a comma before the word and in a list if confusion would result from its absence, such as: His chapbook adds to an extensive collection, including Word of Mouth, sd, Tongues, The Nabisco Warehouse, & SD, Tracks, and SD & done.

Chicago Manual of Style: Use a comma throughout the series as well as before the word and as standard practice. Nevertheless, if the last in the series is a pair of elements, then no comma would be used.

Paul put the kettle on, Don fetched the teapot, and I made tea.
The meal consisted of soup, salad, and macaroni and cheese.
John was working, Jean was resting, and Alan was running errands and furnishing food


Do not abbreviate. Capitalize when used in a formal name: Curriculum Committee.


Generally, do not use conjunctions at the beginning of a sentence: And the library has nine floors. But don’t use the construction often.

copyright, copyrighted

Treat copyright as a noun. It is a copyright story (which would be a story about copyright).

can be an adjective or a verb tense, according to Webster's. It is a copyrighted story. He copyrighted the article.

Note: Library Web pages, because they are on a university server, are covered under the Board of Regents of the University of Wisconsin System copyright. If a copyright statement is still desired, the following form is preferred:
© 2000, Board of Regents, University of Wisconsin System.

course work

Two words.



A plural noun: The data have been organized.


One word as a noun and adjective.

data processing

No hyphen.


Spell out months: January 23, 2004.

days of the week

Capitalize. Do not abbreviate, except in tables.

dean’s list

Lowercase in all uses.


For example: B.S., M.S., B.A., Ph.D., Ed.S., M.B.A., Psy.D.

domestic partner

In the absence of a legally recognized marriage, domestic partner is the preferred term rather than "life partner" or "spousal equivalent" (also see: spouse).

dropdown (n.), drop down (v.)

One word when used as a noun: Use the dropdown menu. Two words when used in verb form: I am going to drop down from the ceiling.



Capitalize when used as the proper name of the planet.

effect, affect

See affect.


Means for example. Not followed by a comma. In text for a general audience, for example is preferred.


Hyphenated, lowercase. Capitalize only at the beginning of a sentence. See electronic books.

e-journal, ejournal

A single search for ejournal produced 50,000 hits; e-journal generated more than 80,000. To hyphenate or not should be determined by the author, but the decision should be followed consistently within a document, publication or Web page. Use alternate forms (e journal, eJournal) according to their use as the proper name of a journal.

Capitalize only at the beginning of a sentence, unless the proper name is constructed otherwise.

electronic books

The use of e-books for electronic books depends on the author's preference, as with ejournal or e-journal. The term ebooks produced 259,000 hits; e-books generated about 248,000. See e-book.

EL, Electronic Library

Use UW—Madison Libraries Web site instead.


Hyphenated, lowercase. Capitalize only at the beginning of a sentence.


Not employe.

et al.

Meaning "and others." Appropriate in bibliographic citations and journal articles, but not for general readership text.



An advertising poster or handbill. Preferred over flyer.


Hyphenated as a compound adjective in front of a noun, such as full-text database, a full-time job, a well-known man. Most compound adjectives are not hyphenated when they occur after a noun. She works full time. After a form of the verb to be, however, the hyphen is also usually retained. The man is well-known. The database is full-text.

When text is used strictly as a noun, as in the full text was available online, no hyphen is used.

full time (n.), full-time (adj.)

She is a full-time student. He works full time.


General Library System

Three words, all capitalized. GLS is acceptable on second reference.



Hyphenate as a compound modifier before a noun: The workshop gives hands-on experience. The workshop is hands on.

home page

Two words, not hyphenated.


Always capitalize the acronym for Hypertext Markup Language.



Means that is. Normally followed by a comma: i.e., the deadline is Thursday. For general readership, that is preferred.


Hyphenate as a compound modifier: The library has an in-house graphics department.

inter, intra

In general, do not use a hyphen: The interlibrary loan office. The intrastate review.


Always capitalize.


Interlibrary loan. Spell out in first reference and use acronym in later references.



One word.



Hyphenate as a noun.



Lowercase libraries by itself as a generic reference: campus libraries. Capitalize University of Wisconsin—Madison Libraries and Friends of the University of Wisconsin—Madison Library.

library names

See Campus Libraries and Data Centers for a list of proper library names.


A software program used for setting up and maintaining discussion group through e-mail.

login, logon, log off (n.)

But use as two words in verb form: I log in to my computer.

long distance, long-distance

Always hyphenate in reference to telephone calls: She called long-distance. In other uses, hyphenate only when used as a compound modifier: He traveled a long distance. She ran a long-distance race.


Acronym capitalized, but libraries Web site.


make up (v.), makeup (n., adj.)

He will make up the test tomorrow. This is a makeup test for the class.

more than

See over.


One word.



Spell out numerals at the beginning of a sentence unless the number is a year. Spell out one through nine unless they are used for dimensions, measurements, age, addresses, money, dates, percentages, speeds, weights, clock time or in a table: Twenty-five students passed the exam, 14 students failed it, and seven students didn’t take it. But: The university grew by 8 percent.



One word. (No hyphen is an exception to Merriam Webster's dictionary.)


One word in all cases for the computer term.


Over generally refers to spatial relationships: The plane few over the city. Over can, at times, be used with numerals: She is over 30. I paid over $200 for this suit. But more than may be better: Their salaries went up more than $20 a week. Associated Press advises that you should let your ear be your guide.



One word.

part time (n.), part-time (adj.)

Hyphenate as a compound modifier: He is a part-time student. She works part time.


Spell out in text: Research takes 50 percent of his time. In tables, use the % sign.

phone numbers

Use parentheses around the area code: (407) 768-8000, ext. 6159. Do not use a 1 before an 800 number: (800) 432-3355.


A smaller ad-on computer program that works in conjunction with a larger application, such as a browser.

p.m., a.m.

Lowercase with periods.


Never abbreviate. Capitalize in a formal title before a name: Professor Jones and Professor Smith will teach the course. The professors will teach the course.


quotation marks

The names of works that are taken from a whole usually are enclosed in quotation marks, such as titles of book chapters, journal articles, and poems from a larger collection. Complete works, such as books, movies, operas, plays and television programs, should be set in italics with no quotation marks.



Capitalize Board of Regents and as a title, but not when it stands alone: Regent Smith and Regent Jones approved the addition. The regents will vote today.


setup (n.), set up (v.)

One word as a noun and a modifier, two words as a verb: She will set up for the meeting. The sting was a setup.


Always capitalize the acronym for Standard Generalized Markup Language.


As indicated by Merriam Webster's Dictionary of English Usage, the advantage of the term spouse over husband or wife is that it is not limited to a particular sex. This is useful in legal terms where the person referred to may be either male or female. (also see: domestic partner).

start up (v.), start-up (n.) or (adj.)

Two words as a verb. Hyphenate as a noun and a compound modifier: He will start up the program. They will pay for the start-up costs. He is working for a computer start-up.


that, which

As a conjunction, that generally introduces an essential, or restrictive, clause — a phrase that cannot be eliminated without dramatically altering the intended meaning of the sentence. An essential clause is NOT set off from the rest of the sentence by commas: . . . being filled with one of my rolls, gave the other two to a woman and her child that came down the river in the boat with us . . . (Benjamin Franklin, Autobiography, 1788).

Also see: which.


One word.

titles and credentials

Titles such as president, vice president, treasurer, dean, editor, and professor should not be capitalized after a name. If you must place a title before a name, capitalize it only if it is a formal title. Do not capitalize occupational descriptions. Job titles are always lowercase when they stand alone: Treasurer Johnson prepared a report. Johnson, the treasurer, prepared the report. The university will hire a new dean. The head librarian will support the program.


United States, U.S.

Always spell out as a noun. Can be abbreviated as an adjective: The University of Wisconsin is in the United States. The U.S. treaty will go into effect tomorrow.


Lowercase when it stands alone. Capitalize only when it is used as a part of an official name: The university will propose a new program. The University of Wisconsin—Madison is home to one of the largest research libraries in the country. When using it as part of a name, spell it in the first reference and abbreviate in later references: University of Wisconsin—Eau Claire, UW—Eau Claire.

University of Wisconsin—Madison Libraries

Use University of Wisconsin—Madison Libraries on first reference, when possible. Abbreviate to UW—Madison Libraries on successive references or when space is limited. Even when referring to the UW—Madison Libraries as a sigular entity, use it as a plural: The University of Wisconsin—Madison Libraries publish books under their Parallel Press imprint.



One word.


Web site, Web page

Two words. Always capitalize Web when referring to the World Wide Web.

webcam, webcast, webmaster

All are one word.

webliography, webography

Both terms have become popular references to bibliographies of resources on the Internet. Webliography appears to be the more popular of the two: 21,000 hits for webliography in a single search compared to 1,870 for webography.

which, that

Which is the only acceptable pronoun to introduce a nonessential, or nonrestrictive, clause that refers to an inanimate object or an animal without a name. A nonessential phrase provides additional information to aid comprehension, but the reader would not be misled if that information were not there. Set off nonessential phrases with commas. "I don't want to be a teacher," Father said quietly, which meant he was angry again . . . (John Irving, The Hotel New Hampshire, 1981).

Also see: that.

who, whom

Who refers to the subject of the sentence: Jack is the student who went to UW—Madison.

Whom is used when someone is the object of a verb or preposition: Jack is the student to whom the job was given.


Campus-wide, university-wide, but nationwide, worldwide, statewide.

work force

Two words.

World Wide Web

Three words, always capitalized. When abbreviating, WWW, do not use periods.



Always capitalize the acronym for Extensible Markup Language.



Hyphenate as a compound modifier: The year-end projections were encouraging.


ZIP code

Use all-caps ZIP for Zone Improvement Program, but always lowercase code.

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Send questions or suggestions to:
UW—Madison Libraries External Relations Office, 372K Memorial Library,
or e-mail Elisabeth Owens, phone: (608) 262-2566.

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