Graphic and Web Style Guide

Spelling and Usage Guide

Commonly Misused Terms

  • Use the following list as a guideline for treatment of these terms:

adviser preferred to advisor
affect: (verb) to have an influence on; effect: (noun) result
between when referring to a relationship of two things
among when referring to a relationship of three or more things
capital for the city, Capitol for the building
complement for denoting completing something
compliment for denoting praise or expression of courtesy
coursework, not course work
credit-hour (adjective), credit hour (noun)
database not data base
disabled not handicapped
doctorate is a noun, and doctoral is an adjective
grade-point average, not grade point average
international students, not foreign students
principal when referring to someone or something first in rank or authority
principle when referring to a fundamental truth
theatre when referring to the department, discipline, or a performance; theater when referring to a building; exception with proper name; e.g.: Coates Theatre
workplace, not work place
workstation, not work station

  • Avoid using a split infinitive; e.g.:

He was told to quickly process the papers. instead of
He was told to process the papers quickly.

Latin Terms/Plurals

Use the following list as a guideline for treatment of these terms:

alumnus is male singular, alumna is female singular
alumni is male plural or generic plural, alumnae is female plural.
emeritus is male singular, emerita is female singular (as in president emerita)
emeriti is male or generic plural, emeritae is female plural
syllabus is singular, syllabi is plural.
basis is singular, bases is plural
index is singular, indices is plural

Special Capitalization

In general, only capitalize proper nouns and names. There are some terms to be treated with exception. Use the following list as a guideline:

Mass not mass, and Baccalaureate Mass
Commencement not commencement
Mission (of UIW) not mission
125th Anniversary not 125th anniversary
Catholic not catholic and Catholic Church not Catholic church

Electronic Conventions

Electronic addresses should be written in all lowercase, unless the address is case sensitive; e.g.: (not necessary to include http://);


  • online not on-line
  • Internet not internet
  • homepage not home page
  • website

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