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Abbreviations and acronyms

Where possible, avoid alphabet soup. Spell out abbreviations and acronyms on first reference and follow with parenthesized acronyms or abbreviations.

The following are acceptable on first reference in all uses: FIU, GPA.

Widely known abbreviations and acronyms may be used in headlines: NASA, NSF, EPA.

Abbreviations for months or days of the week are acceptable in some cases. Consult AP style for use.

Consider your audience when deciding if an acronym would be understood on its own.

Examples

Right

Services are provided on the Biscayne Bay Campus (BBC). BBC is located in North Miami.

Right

You can find activities in the bustling halls of Graham Center (GC). Visit the auditorium in GC 150.

Wrong

Dealing with stress? Visit CAPS.

Capitalization

All caps

All caps can make text harder to read. Don't use all caps, except with abbreviations and acronyms.

Consider using bold or italics to emphasize text.

Bulleted and numbered lists

Use sentence case for list items: Capitalize first letter of the first word of each list item. Do not use title case. See more in punctuation and grammar.

College and school names

Do not capitalize college or school except when using the proper FIU name.

Examples

Right

College of Arts, Sciences & Education

Wrong

The College is renowned for its research and scholarship.

Division, department and program names

In informal and formal uses, do not capitalize department, division, etc., in names:  department of Modern Languages. In informal uses, do not capitalize the department name except when capitalizing a language as part of a department name:  the biology departmentthe English department.

Examples

Right

Academy for Advanced Academics (AAA) is a dual enrollment program at FIU.

Right

FIU Dual Enrollment offers students the opportunity to take college classes tuition free.

Wrong

Taking Dual Enrollment courses at FIU can help students graduate from college faster.

Fall, Spring, Summer

Capitalize when used as names of semesters. Do not capitalize when referencing the seasons.

Headings, blurbs and lists

Any element within a heading tag (see Headings/headlines) should be written in sentence case. Capitalize only the first letter of the first word. If the word would be capitalized in a sentence (such as proper nouns and names) it can be capitalized in the heading.

Examples

Right

Become a changemaker in the world

Wrong

A Campus as Diverse as its Students

Page names

The H1 or page title should be written in title case. Capitalize principle words. Do not capitalize conjunctions, articles and prepositions unless they start a sentence.

Do not use title case for blurbs any other element that does not act as a header.

Examples

Right

Contact Us

Right

How to Apply

Wrong

Book A Room

Titles, job descriptions

Capitalize proper titles when they precede a name:  President Mark B. Rosenberg. Do not capitalize titles when they follow a name:  Mark B. Rosenberg, president. Job descriptions are not capitalized:  office manager John Doe. Exception – do not capitalize coach before a name: coach Pat Riley.

University

Do not capitalize "university" unless you are spelling out the full university name. Examples: 

Examples

Right

Over 54,000 students attend the university

Right

Over 54,000 students attend Florida International University

Headings/headlines 

Headings are a way of styling text and setting web page structure. This style is applied to text using tags baked into the code of the page. In this way, text formatted as a heading can act as a table of contents for the page. They’re numbered 1-6 and range in size from large to small.

Appropriate heading tags help screen readers and search engines understand the hierarchy and the substance of a page. Without the semantic meaning imparted by these tags, screen readers would have no way of knowing what’s most important on a page, resulting in a very frustrating experience for people using screen readers.

Since they carry semantic meaning, heading should never be used to style text, for example. Instead, they should outline the content of the page. Any styling needed should be made with CSS styles.

A few helpful hints:

  • Always reserve the h1 for the page title. A page should only have one h1 tag.
  • Don’t skip heading tag tiers. Use an h2 to create your first content headline. Then, use an h3 to create a subheading within the h2. Use an h4 to create a subheading within the h3 and so on.
  • If you need to create a new content area of equal importance to the previous h2, feel free to create a new h2.
  • With the exception of h1, you can use as many tags as needed, but be sure to consistently follow the hierarchy.

Any element within a heading tag should be written in sentence case. See Capitalization to learn more.

Punctuation and grammar

A and an

Use "a" only before words that start with a consonant sound. Use "an" before words that start with a vowel sound. Note that some words that begin with a consonant letter begin with a vowel sound and should, thus, take an "an." Examples:

Examples

Right

A planet

Right

An asteroid

Right

An M-class planet

Wrong

A FIU campaign

Ampersands

Use in page titles, navigational elements and buttons. Do not use in paragraph copy. The correct HTML character entity is  &.

Bullet lists

Capitalize first letter of each list item. When a list item consists of a complete sentence, use periods. Only use colons before the beginning of a list, not inside a list item. Instead, use a dash in list items. See  Dashes and Hyphens.

Colons

Do not use colons at the end of a heading.

Dashes and hyphens

Hyphens: Connect two or more words to form a single word or concept (as in compound modifier): “A well-known celebrity,” for example. Use in place of underscores or spaces in filenames for images, documents, etc.

Dashes: There are two distinct forms of dashes.

  • Em Dash — The longest of the dashes, it is so named because it spans the width of an uppercase “M.” Stylistically, it’s useful in many cases – like appositives, parenthetical asides, and lists (ahem) – where a comma or parenthesis might be used instead. The em dash implies a more immediate connection to its context. Also used for attribution, as in a quote. Use spaces before and after an em dash. The HTML character entity is  —.
  • En Dash — The middle sibling in the dash-hyphen family, it is so named because it spans the width of a lowercase “n.” The en dash is used to separate ranges, as in dates and numerical ranges, where the word “to” might be used. The HTML character entity is  –.

Ellipsis ( ... )

Used to denote a trailing off of speech (a "Shatner Pause" effect) or to condense a quote. While it consists of three periods, the ellipsis is a singular punctuation mark. Use a space before and after an ellipsis. Examples:

"Space ... the final frontier."
"The needs of the many outweigh ... " " ... the needs of the few."
"It was the best of times, it was the worst of times ... in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received ... in the superlative degree of comparison only.”

Spaces

Use only one space after a period when starting a new sentence.

Comma

In keeping with AP standards, we do not use the oxford comma, or a comma used in a series after the word and. Exceptions can be made if the lack of a comma makes the sentence genuinely confusing, like in long or complex sentences with other use of punctuation.

Examples

Right

The food at the picnic included sandwiches, pickles, potato chips, deviled eggs, fried chicken, and brownies.

Right

Enjoy food, freebies, games and more.

Wrong

You’ll need to apply for FAFSA every year to receive certain federal, state, and FIU financial aid.

Numbers

Numerals

Use numbers in all instances. When a sentence begins with a number, spell it out. Consider rewording the sentence.

Percent

Spell out the word in copy. The symbol is acceptable in charts and tabular information.

Phone numbers

Always use hyphens: 305-348-2000.

Addresses

Do not use periods. Use numerals and spell out in all elements of addresses:

11200 SW 8th Street
Miami, Florida 33199

Times

Cut unnecessary characters and make dates and times easier to read:

  • No periods or spaces: 11am.
  • Do not use :00 constructions. Examples of proper use: 9am9:30pm.
  • Avoid redundancies, such as 11pm at night or 11am Monday morning.
  • When expressing a range, use a dash without spaces: 9-10pm10am-12pm.
  • Used sparingly, the following phrases are acceptable when a colloquial effect is desired: o’clocknoonmidnight. Do not use these phrases in tabular information or listings.
  • Consider abbreviating days of the week or months when listing a series of dates and times. See Abbreviations and acronyms.
Examples

Right

Hours

Mon-Wed: 9am-6pm
Thur-Fri: 9am-4pm

Right

The event begins 11:30am on Aug. 23, 2019.

Wrong

Orientation dates

Monday: 8:30 a.m. - 11:00 a.m.
Tuesday: 8:30 a.m. - 11:00 a.m.
Wednesday: 8:30 a.m. - 11:00 a.m.
Thursday: 9:30 a.m. - 12:00 p.m.