Editorial Style Guide

Last revised August 2023

The goal of the University of Alberta editorial style guide is to support communications and marketing team members and others in producing editorial content that is consistent, professional, inclusive and of the highest editorial standards.

An essential part of this goal is to ensure that we write for and about all members of the U of A community and the public in a way that reflects and respects their rich diversity. The university is committed to equity, diversity and inclusion, and university communicators have a particular responsibility to lead the way with language. 

The U of A style guide is a living document and will continue to evolve in an ongoing effort to make our practices current, respectful and inclusive. This document incorporates expertise from The Canadian Press and other editorial resources as well as U of A experts. We welcome your suggestions.

How to use this guide

This style guide is your first stop for U of A-specific style, grammar and spelling.

If you can’t find an answer in this guide, consult the additional style guides. If you still don’t have an answer, ask an editor. 

Quick tip: To search for a word or phrase in this document, press Ctrl + F (on a PC) or Command + F (on a Mac) to open a search box in the top right corner of your screen.

At a glance

  • Canadian spellings except when a proper name uses non-Canadian spelling Example: United Nations World Food Programme; Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (Note exception: U of A Honors program under Academic Titles and Terms.)
  • no serial commas except to aid clarity (also called Oxford or series commas)
  • “says” not “said”
  • em dashes, with spaces, for punctuation in editorial text (see Dashes)
  • no en dashes as punctuation, even though it’s the default in Word and Google documents (see Dashes)
  • ellipsis – spaces before and after; four periods if it ends a sentence
  • for scientific classifications, use Chicago Manual of Style (also see Scientific Names)
  • metric measurements except in rare exceptions ( consult CP)
  • single quotes in headlines
  • no periods in degrees: BA, PhD, JD and BSc (see Degrees)

Inclusive language

Based on Canadian Press and other guidelines

  • Always ask the person you’re interviewing or writing about how they want to be identified or described, including pronouns.
  • Defer to individual preferences — especially when dealing with topics of equity, diversity and inclusion — even if it goes against U of A or CP style. If necessary, explain to the reader why.
  • Only when relevant should a writer include references to age, colour, nationality, personal appearance, disability, background, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity and other descriptors. If you’re not sure, ask the individual whether they want such details included.
  • Focus on the person. Use descriptors as adjectives, not nouns, unless a person prefers otherwise.
  • Avoid “deficit” language. One person’s idea of a deficit or hardship is not another’s. Be guided by the person whose story you’re telling.
  • Avoid broad generalizations about groups of people. Also avoid generalizations that assume everyone has the same experiences in life.  Example: We all know what it’s like to …
  • Be mindful of assumptions, stereotypes and biases that can be reflected in language.

Additional U Of A Editorial Resources

In addition to the information on this page, consult the two resources below for further guidance.

Indigenous Peoples Editorial Resource

Further your knowledge related to Indigenous Peoples and topics in an editorial context.

Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Editorial Resource

Further your knowledge about topics of equity, diversity and inclusion in an editorial context.

Grammar and Spelling

Many of the guidelines below are specific to the University of Alberta, though they borrow heavily from The Canadian Press. If you don’t find the information you need in this guide, consult CP tools and technical guides or the CP search function.


  • Spell out University of Alberta in first reference and use U of A in second reference with non-breaking spaces (Insert > Advanced Symbol > Special Characters and search for "no-break space")

    * If it’s clear the material is from the University of Alberta, it’s not always necessary to spell out on first reference. Use your discretion.

  • UAlberta: avoid using in print or web page text 
  • Months 
    • Abbreviate when used with a specific date: Jan., Feb., Aug., Sept., Oct., Nov., Dec. Spell out the remaining months: March, April, May, June, July.
    • Don’t use nd, rd, st or th on numbers in dates.
    • Spell out when used without a date: January 2022.
  • Use periods in e.g., i.e., followed by a comma.
  • Metric symbols are not abbreviations and don’t have periods. They are not pluralized with an “s.” Example: km, ml. ( Note: spell out in first reference.)
  • Use periods in a.m. and p.m. Write 3 p.m., not 3:00 p.m. or 3 o’clock.

Academic credentials and honorifics

The U of A follows Canadian Press style for news, publications and other external audiences in not using honorifics, including not using Dr. for MDs or PhDs. This avoids perpetuating a hierarchical system that undervalues some types and systems of knowledge and serves to perpetuate inequities of the past. This guideline also shows a preference for accessible, person-first language, which is recommended throughout U of A editorial style guidelines.

In general, a descriptor is more accessible and informative for readers than a title or honorific.

Examples: Cardiologist John Smith is one of the world’s best. Jane Doe, professor of biological science, has made an important discovery. Jane Smith earned her PhD from MIT before taking on a teaching role at the U of A.

For internal or academic audiences or reputational content (e.g., faculty newsletters, reports to government, institutional materials, particular audiences), follow the Chicago Manual of Style: the degree set off by commas after the name.

Example: Trudy Johns, PhD, will join Trapper John, MD, for a presentation on the comedy of medicine. Considerations:

  • Consider your audience and the reasons for including academic and/or professional credentials. 
  • If you use them, include them for all individuals mentioned and all degrees. Be consistent within the project or publication. 
  • Are you including both academic and professional credentials? 
  • Caution: confirming every individual’s credentials can be time consuming and prone to error. Allow time for fact checking.

Academic terms

  • Students: use first-year, second-year, etc. Do not capitalize junior or senior. 
  • Honors program – U of A spelling is “Honors,” without a "u." Capitalize Honors, lowercase program. Do not use an apostrophe. Example: The Honors philosophy program in the Faculty of Arts is full of talented students.
  • Faculty: Capitalize only when it’s part of a proper name. The word can refer toto a unit within the university or a group of educators as a plural, collective noun, so make it clear to the reader. Example: The event involved faculty members from the Faculty of Engineering and was hosted by the faculty’s dean. 


  • Avoid acronyms unless they are widely known, per CP. ( Note: If a document is intended for an internal audience, acronyms may be appropriate.)
  • Don’t put an acronym in brackets after first reference. Use “the institute” or “the project” or a shortened version of the name in second reference and beyond. 
  • If an acronym is commonly known and you use it in a headline or lead, include the meaning as high in the story as possible. Example: STEM stands for science, technology, engineering and mathematics.
  • University of Alberta acronyms 


  • Use "grad" or "grads" rather than alumni in editorial text as a more accessible, gender-neutral term.
  • Avoid "alum"
  • Gender-specific variations
    • Alumnus: singular, male

    • Alumni: plural, male and female

    • Alumna: singular, female

    • Alumnae: plural, female

  • See Degrees for how to refer to grad year and degree in editorial text.


Avoid the ampersand (&) in proper nouns, titles or editorial copy unless it’s an official or legal name. Double check a company or department web page; it won’t always be correct on the web search page. Note: Some U of A faculties and departments use an ampersand (see Colleges and Faculties). 


In general, minimize capitalization wherever possible — especially in web and print articles — because it impedes readability. Note that U of A style differs from CP in capitalizing some names and titles, particularly in internal and official communications.

  • The University of Alberta is a proper noun but lowercase “the university.”
  • Proper names of faculties and departments should be capitalized on first reference. (Note: this is not CP style.) Subsequent mentions should use department, program, service, school, conservatory, university, division, etc. Example: Faculty of Education, the education faculty, the faculty
  • In plural use, lowercase “faculties” or “departments” and the proper-name element, per CP. Example: The departments of anthropology, sociology and philosophy
  • After a colon, use a capital letter for the first word when it’s a full sentence and lowercase if it’s a sentence fragment. (Chicago Manual of Style)
  • Degrees and majors are lowercase. Example: arts degree with a major in psychology (see Degrees)
  • Job titles 
    • Lowercase job titles in editorial and web content as much as possible.
    • Where possible, put the name before the title to avoid front-loading, especially for long titles. Examples: John Doe, dean of medicine and dentistry OR Jane Doe, dean of the Faculty of Medicine & Dentistry
    • Lowercase functional titles such as associate professor, assistant manager, editor, associate vice-president.
    • In editorial content, descriptors rather than formal titles are more informative and useful to the reader, especially on first reference. Example: hydrogen expert Jill Smith rather than Jill Smith, associate professor in the Faculty of Engineering.
    • For internal or formal communications such as reports, email sign-offs, faculty communications, etc., official U of A staff titles may be capitalized. But avoid where possible.
  • Headlines and headings
    • Use sentence case headlines in almost all instances.
    • Exceptions: some U of A publications, documents and reports for external audiences use title case headings.
    • For title case, use CP style: capitalize nouns, pronouns, adjectives, adverbs, verbs, the first and last word of the title, as well as prepositions and conjunctions of four letters or more.

Clichés, jargon and superlatives

Avoid vague, overused or meaningless terms. Rather, choose adjectives and descriptors that are specific and concrete and add to the reader’s understanding. Don’t lean on unproven, boastful claims or clichés. If a speaker uses a vague, overused or technical term, ask them to explain what they mean or paraphrase the quote. ( More on jargon from CP.)

Words to avoid:

  • engage, leverage – how will the program in question involve students, communities, researchers?
  • excellence – focus on the concrete outcomes of research 
  • incubator, accelerate – overused. Look for different nouns or verbs
  • initiative – it means personal drive; use “program” instead 
  • innovate, innovative – specify how researchers are doing work differently and look for alternative words
  • sustainable – explain how. For example, “We aim to cut greenhouse gas emissions” or “We hope to be self-funded by 2017.”
  • unique, diverse, groundbreaking – tell readers how it is different and let them draw their own conclusions
  • world class – classist. Instead be specific about rankings, size or other details


  • For news material, put commas between the elements of a series but not before the final “and,” per CP style. Example: I like peas, carrots and corn. Breakfast consisted of oatmeal, fried eggs, and bread and butter.
  • Use a comma before a clause introduced by a conjunction — and, but, or, for, nor or yet — only if the subject changes. Example: I like peas and corn, but John does not. 
  • Don’t use a comma to link two independent clauses; use a semicolon, colon or conjunction. Example: He loves cooking; he’s great at making curries. Or he loves cooking, and he’s great at making curries. Incorrect: he loves curry, he’s good at making curries.
  • Don’t use a comma before a conjunction if the subject is the same. Example: John told me he doesn’t like to eat peas and corn but does like to grow them. 

Dashes and hyphens

  • Be careful to distinguish between the two types of dashes:
    • em dashes are a long dash used in text with a space on either side (CP style). Take care not to overuse them. ( Insert > Advanced Symbol > Special Characters. S hortcut keys in Google Docs: use option+shift+dash for Macs; for PCs, it’s alt+0151.)
    • en dashes are not used as punctuation, only as a separator in headings or design. ( Note: Google Docs automatically reverts to an en dash, which is incorrect.)
  • Use hyphens for date ranges. Example: 1984-85, 1960-2002 (CP)
  • To separate start and end times, use a hyphen separated by spaces. Example: 1 - 2 p.m.

Dates and Time

  • Abbreviate the month for Jan., Feb, Sept., Oct., Nov. and Dec. when the day is included. Example: Jan. 8, 2021.
  • Put a comma after the year in a sentence. Example: Alberta joined confederation on Sept. 1, 1905, along with Saskatchewan. 
  • For month and year only, spell out the month and don’t use a comma after the date. Example: She was born in September 1905 in Edmonton.
  • For time, use periods in a.m. and p.m. Write 3 p.m., not 3:00 p.m. or 3 o’clock. To separate start and end times, use a hyphen separated by spaces. Example: 1 - 2 p.m.


  • Do not capitalize names of degrees in narrative text. Example: bachelor’s degree in psychology; bachelor of arts in journalism; master of fine arts
  • Degrees:
    • BA, bachelor of arts, bachelor’s degree
    • BCom – use “business degree” for external audiences to avoid ambiguity with BComm.
    • BSc, bachelor of science ( Note: not CP style) 
    • JD or LLB, law degree ( Note: JD and LLB are two different law degrees so the generic term is preferred in editorial text. For grads, check which degree they have.) 
    • MA, master of arts, master’s degree
    • Doctorate degrees
  • DLitt, doctor of letters or literature, a doctorate in
  • EdD, doctor of education, a doctorate in education
  • LLD, doctor of laws, a doctorate in law
  • PhD, doctor of philosophy, a doctorate in …
  • Grad details in editorial text (alumni publications): Note: the apostrophe is left-facing and curly (smart) not straight. There is a second comma after the degree. Bold face the name of the grad.
    • Example : Jane Doe, ’73 BA(Hons), 
    • Example : John Scott, ’84 BSc(MiningEng), ’87 MEd, ’93 PhD,
    • Example : Richard Brown, ’91 DSc (Honorary),  Note: the honorary degree has a space before the brackets.

Figures and fractions

  • Use figures for decimals, fractions larger than one, uncommon fractions, school grades, and scores. Examples: 0.15 of a percentage point, 1¾ days, 3½-year-old, Grade 6, a 6-3 ruling 
  • Spell out and hyphenate common fractions used alone. Example: three-quarters
  • For more, see Fractions in the CP Stylebook.


  • Items in a list should follow parallel structure whenever possible, especially in a short list. Use either complete or incomplete sentences, not both. Example: if the first item begins with a verb, subsequent items should also begin with a verb.
  • The line that introduces a list can end with a period or colon.
  • If the list is introduced by a partial sentence, make sure each point finishes the sentence. Example: Donor funding will help: improve the program, pay student tuition, bring in outside speakers, etc.
  • If the individual items in a bulleted list or vertical numbered list are complete sentences, use periods. 
  • Capitalize the first letter if the list item is a complete sentence; use lowercase if not. 
  • It isn’t necessary to format the list like a sentence using commas or semicolons after bullet points or to add “and” before the final point, especially in designed documents. It impedes readability. ( Exception: academic reports that use APA or other styles.) 

Quotation marks

  • Use a single quotation mark for quotations in a headline.
  • For a single quote mark within a double quotation, the period or comma go inside both with a thin space between them. 
  • Periods and commas always go inside closing quote marks; colons and semicolons go outside.
  • Question marks go inside the quotation marks when they apply to the quote and outside when they apply to the sentence as a whole. (CP)
  • Pull quotes versus display copy
    • A pull quote is a quotation in the true sense (i.e., it quotes a speaker) and should exactly or very closely reflect what the speaker said in the body copy. Do use quotation marks in this case.
    • Display copy echoes or sums up a phrase in the body copy, so it needn’t exactly replicate what appears in the text. Don’t use quote marks in this case.

Scientific names 

The U of A follows Chicago Manual of Style guidelines.

  • The Latin names of species of plants and animals are italicized. The genus name (or generic name) is capitalized, and the species name (or specific name) is lowercase even if it is a proper adjective. 
  • Medical organisms including bacteria, viruses and fungi follow different rules. Check guidelines here.
  • Spell out the genus on first reference; second references can be shortened to an initial. Example: Tyrannosaurus rex, T. rex ( Hint: if it ends in “us,” it is the scientific name and is italicized. Example: Tyrannosaurus but tyrannosaur)
  • Genus used alone (capitalized and italicized) is usually used in the singular, but it may be used in the plural (not italicized) if it refers to all species within that genus. 
  • Different fields have slightly different rules. Ask the researcher or search for the name online to confirm with a reputable source.


  • “That” introduces an essential clause, i.e., it is necessary to the meaning of the sentence. Do not use commas to separate clauses. Example: She closed the door that led to her office.
  • “Which” introduces a non-essential clause, i.e., it could be removed without changing the meaning of the sentence. Do set it off with commas. Example: She closed the door, which was made of steel, and left the building.

Titles of publications and events

The U of A follows Chicago Manual of Style guidelines.
  • Use italics for titles of books, magazines, newspapers, movies, TV shows, plays, operas, songs, computer games, works of art, blogs, YouTube series, albums. Note: Don’t italicize when a publication is used in the title of a building or award, i.e., Tribune Tower, Los Angeles Times Book Award
  • Use quotation marks for titles of magazine articles, lectures, speeches, essays, papers, singles episodes of TV shows, short stories, blog posts.  Example: The title of the podcast is What the Job? The name of the episode is “Creative Careers with Nisha Patel.”
  • For names of conferences, exhibits, books series or lecture series, use title case with no italics or quotation marks.

Common Words A-Z


Aboriginal – avoid unless the individual or group prefers it or it’s in a proper name. Example: the Indian Act (See Indigenous in this list)

Academic All-Canadian – student athletes recognized for maintaining a high GPA while participating in varsity sports

Aga Khan Garden, Alberta – the comma is part of the name. Note: don’t put a comma after “Alberta” when you use the name in a sentence.

aged – avoid. Better to say “a program for girls 10 to 16.”

ageism but aging

Agricultural, Life & Environmental Sciences, Faculty of (ampersand is correct)
Agricultural, Food & Nutritional Science, Department of (ampersand is correct)

Alberta Devonian Botanic Garden – now called University of Alberta Botanic Garden

alumna, alumni, alumnus – avoid. Use “grad” as gender-neutral and more easily understood

Alumni Ambassador 

Alumni Association – formal name for the governance body, of which all grads are automatically members. Avoid it when referring to people; grads (first choice), alumni community, alumni friends are preferred.

Alumni Award recipient – don’t use “winner”


Amii – the Alberta Machine Intelligence Institute 

amiskwaciy Academy – the first word is lowercase; Cree doesn’t use capital letters

authored – use “wrote” or “is the author of” instead. “Authored” is a noun, not a verb.

BA, bachelor of arts, bachelor’s degree 

bachelor of laws* – Use “law degree” except in grad year format. (*The “s” is correct.) Note: LLB and JD are different degrees.

Bear Tracks

between/among – Canadian Oxford allows “between” for more than two items

BIPOC – not U of A style; see IBPOC

Black – capitalize when referring to Black people

board of governors – lowercase unless it’s the full name, i.e., U of A Board of Governors

BSc (not CP style), bachelor of science 

calls to action – 94 Calls to Action were released by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada in its 2015 report on the Indian Residential School System; capitalize in order to distinguish from the generic term.

campuses – the U of A has more than one campus. If referring to one campus, identify it by name. Don't use “main campus”; use North Campus instead.

Canada Excellence Research Chair – title expires after a certain term so ensure it is still current. 

Canada Foundation for Innovation

Canada Research Chair – not preceded by “the”; Example: Shannon Wrigley, Canada Research Chair in Incredible Research

Canadian Institutes of Health Research

Cap ’n’ Gown Ceremony

Centennial Centre for Interdisciplinary Science

Centennial Professor of … (capitalize rest of title)

chair (not chairman)

class/course – use “course” when referring to a course in general (e.g., the Economics 101 course). Use “class” when referring to a specific session of a course.

College of Health Sciences

College of Natural and Applied Sciences

College of Social Sciences and Humanities

community service learning – no hyphen when referencing generally, i.e.,: a community service learning course. When speaking specifically of the U of A program, match the official name, i.e, Community Service-Learning.

convocation – a formal gathering, as in a graduation ceremony Note: “convocate” is incorrect; use “graduate.”

Corp. – abbreviate in company names


COVID-19 – the illness caused by the virus SARS-CoV-2


curriculum, curriculi (plural)


department – lowercase unless it’s the full name; also lowercase when referring to more than one department (See Capitalization

dependant (noun); dependent (adjective)

disabled — avoid as an adjective; not “a disabled student” but a student who “has a disability.” Ask the person or their caregiver, if possible, how they would like to be described. Avoid deficit or subjective language such as confined, suffers from, etc.

the Diwan – include the article, i.e., the Diwan, at the Aga Khan Garden, Alberta

DIY – CP style

Do Great Things – capitalize. Note: this is a marketing phrase, not something said by Henry Marshall Tory

Earth - capitalize for the planet; earth when referring to soil

earth sciences – lowercase

elder/Elder – capitalize when used as an honorific, i.e., Elder Tom Smith or as a standalone word in documents for Indigenous communities; lowercase as a descriptor, similar to professor, dean, prime minister or reverend 

ebook, e-reader

eHUB – “HUB” is in all caps because it’s located in HUB mall

emerita/us – use the female form for women unless the individual prefers a gender neutral term.

enrol – enrol and enrolment but enrolled and enrolling (CP)

faculty – lowercase except when the full name of faculty is used. To avoid confusing readers, use “faculty members” when referring to individuals. (See Capitalization)

Faculty Club – outdated; it's the University Club as of June 2019

fellow – lowercase; as in a fellow of the Royal Society of …

First Nation – use the name and spelling preferred by the community or nation when referring to a specific First Nation

Folio – U of A news site

fulfil and fulfilment but fulfilled and fulfilling (CP)


The Gateway – U of A student publication

Golden Bears – use Golden Bears and Pandas when referring to both teams at once 

health care – two words as a noun but hyphenated as an adjective Example: Health-care research underway at the U of A will benefit Albertans’ health care.

hepatitis A, B, C; hep A, B, C
non-A, non-B hepatitis or NANBH (named before hep C was discovered)

homeless – the preferred expression is “experiencing homelessness,” not “the homeless” or “people who are homeless”

honour/honourable/honorary, but U of A Honors program (see Academic titles and terms)

HUB mall – “HUB” in all caps; HUB historically stood for Housing Union Building

IBPOC – preferred U of A style rather than BIPOC, but resist using either. If unavoidable, explain it: Indigenous, Black and people of colour

II-EDI – an internal term denoting Indigenous Initiatives and Equity, Diversity and Inclusion

Indian – unacceptable except in historical references, official names or terms (e.g., the Indian Act, status Indian) or if a person prefers it.

indigenization – lowercase; to incorporate Indigenous worldviews, knowledge and perspectives into non-Indigenous educational, political and social structures

Indigenous – the preferred term for First Nations, Métis and Inuit.  Note : Don’t use possessive constructions; this is offensive to many. Example: Indigenous Peoples of Canada or Métis people in Alberta not Canada’s Indigenous Peoples, Indigenous Canadians or “our” Indigenous population.

Indigenous language revitalization – lowercase in general references. Note: full name of institute at U of A is Canadian Indigenous Languages and Literacy Development Institute

Instagram – capitalize


Inuk, Inuit – Inuk refers to one person (noun or adjective); Inuit is plural (noun or adjective)

Inuit – Inuit means “people”, so it’s redundant to say Inuit people. Ideally,identify by the place or community.


JD – “law degree” is preferred Note: LLB and JD are different. (See Degrees)

Kinesiology, Sport, and Recreation – series comma is correct

Leading with Purpose – the university’s brand promise. Note: capitalization differs based on usage. 

#LeadingWithPurpose – capitalize “W” in hashtag

leading with purpose – lowercase in stories

2SLGBTQ+ – the preferred acronym at the U of A for two-spirit, gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, queer/questioning and additional gender identities

Li Ka Shing Institute of Virology
Li Ka Shing Applied Virology Institute – the translation and commercialization hub
Li Ka-shing – the person/donor 
Li Ka Shing Canada Foundation 

LLB – “law degree” is preferred Note: LLB and JD are different. (See Degrees)

live streaming (two words)



Man-made disaster – avoid. Use human-induced disaster (CDC)

mashup – no hyphen (CP, AP) 

MA, master of arts, master’s degree 

Métis – the accent is the preferred U of A style, but not all organizations use it in their proper names; check the website or with the source

myself – use only when you’re the the subject and object of a sentence

Native – use only in proper names or if it’s the preference of an Indigenous person or community


Order of Canada – the order has three ranks: member, officer and companion. Specify which one a person is receiving or has received.



people of colour

per cent (two words)

PhD, doctorate, doctor of philosophy


postdoctoral fellow – avoid postdoc

postgraduate (CP style no hyphen)

Power Plant (a former bar on campus)

powwow (noun and verb) – dancing is a form of prayer and respect for the Creator. The many styles of dancing, regalia and adornments represent historical and cultural events and teachings. (Assembly of First Nations glossary)

practice/practise – practice is the noun; practise is the verb

ProcrastiNite – note cap “N” 


professor – lowercase in editorial copy, even when it directly precedes a name. Example: associate professor John Doe, professor Jane Doe. Note: A descriptor rather than a title is more useful to the reader. Example: a professor of quantum physics, an expert in child psychology and depression (See Job Titles

Quad (location) – capitalize and use “on the Quad” for U of A location. Note: there is also an Engineering Quad at the U of A 
The Quad – the U of A newsletter for faculty and staff

Quaecumque Vera Honour Society – don’t use QVHS in external documents

queer – umbrella term for people who are not heterosexual and/or cisgender but remains offensive to some. Use advisedly.

recipes – see ADM_Style_GrammarTips_Recipes for details on printing recipes in publications

regalia – traditional Indigenous dress; don’t use costume or outfit

reserve – avoid; use First Nation, community or the term used by the source. Don’t use reservation, which is an American term.


SARS-CoV-2 – the virus that causes COVID-19

Saville Community Sports Centre

seasons and semesters – fall, winter, spring, summer (lowercase) unless it’s a formal reference. Example: Spring 2008 Faculty of Arts Handbook; Spring 2021 issue of Contours 

sport psychologist — without an “s,” per names of university programs (U of A, Laurentian, McGill) and the Canadian Psychological Association

stakeholder/stakeholders – avoid. This word has negative, colonial connotations to many Indigenous Peoples, related to the allotment of land to settlers. Seek alternative wording that is specific to the situation. Examples: interested groups, advisers, collaborators, consultants, co-owners, contributors, community members, coalition members, advocacy groups, working partners, clients or funders (Centers for Disease Control)

startup (noun and adj.)

the Steadward Centre (lowercase “the” per CP style)

STEM – avoid acronym, which stands for science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Spell out in first reference, ideally. If you use the acronym in a headline or lead, include the meaning as high in the story as possible. 
STEAM incorporates the arts with STEM subjects. Ensure that the term you are using is accurate to the program being discussed.

student athlete (no hyphen)

Students’ Union

suicide – preferred phrase is “died by suicide” not “committed suicide” 

superachiever (one word; Collins)

syllabuses – as the plural of syllabus, not syllabi (CP)

they/them – can be used by an individual who does not identify as she/her or he/him or when referring to someone generically when gender is unknown. Use the person’s surname to help foster clarity where a singular “they” could be confusing. (CP, CMS)


ThresholdImpact Venture Mentoring Service, VMS on second reference


Top 5/Top 10/Top 100

transgender (adj.) – not transgendered. is an adjective that refers to some individuals whose gender identity differs from the sex they were assigned at birth. Trangender may sometimes be shortened to “trans” but be guided by the person you are writing about, and consider the tone and context. Transgender identity is not dependent upon physical appearance or medical procedures.

transexual (adj.) – a clinical definition for someone who identifies as a member of the sex category opposite to that assigned at birth. It is not a snyonym for the broader term “transgender”.

T.  rex – italicized, with “r” lowercase (contradicts Canadian Oxford but is scientific style)

Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada – use commission in second reference, though TRC is acceptable in headlines Note: There is also the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation that continues to carry out work (nctr.ca).

two-spirit – (not “two-spirited”) is often used to represent various gender identities and sexual orientations within Indigenous communities. It is a broad term with a number of definitions. Seek clarity from the person you’re writing about before using it, and avoid its various abbreviations in order to prevent confusion.

UAlberta – avoid in print or digital text; use U of A with non-breaking spaces 

undergrad versus undergraduate – undergrad can be a noun but not an adjective; undergraduate can be a noun or adjective 

university – lowercase

University Club – formerly the Faculty Club (changed June 2019)

unique – means one of a kind, not merely unusual; something cannot be very, really or fairly unique

University of Alberta Botanic Garden (not Alberta Botanic Garden or botanical garden)

unmarked graves – use “confirmed” rather than terms such as “discovered” in reference to residential schools in Canada; Indigenous communities have known of the graves’ existence for a long time. Note: they are not mass graves, as is sometimes erroneously reported.

URLs – italicize in print. Do use a period if they are at the end of a sentence. Examples: ualberta.ca , ualberta.ca/folio, ualberta.ca/giving




VMS – acronym for the U of A’s ThresholdImpact Venture Mentoring Service but avoid

web addresses – italicize in print. Do use a period if they are at the end of a sentence.  Examples: ualberta.ca , ualberta.ca/folio, ualberta.ca/giving

work-integrated learning


youth – “young people” is more conversational Note: “youth” is up to the age of 18; use “young adult” for over 18

Additional style guides

If you can’t find an answer in the U of A style guide, consult the guides below, starting with The Canadian Press. The documents are linked to U of A Libraries and accessible with a CCID and password. 

Useful U of A resources