Editorial References and Resources

Getting the words right

Your web content is ready. You know what you want to say on your site. But what’s the correct way to say it?

  • Should you say who or whom?
  • Is it there or their… or they’re?
  • How will you use punctuation when abbreviating academic degrees?

Careful editing and proofreading will help you to prepare web content that effectively communicates the information you want to share. And you don’t have to memorize all the rules! When you have a question, you can always look it up.

Here are some references and resources to help you along the way.

style guide books

Not sure? Just look it up!

Mechanics and style

The mechanics of writing include grammar, spelling, capitalization, punctuation—all the details of the correct use of language. It’s what we learned in school; and then, more often than not, we forgot it.

Editorial style is a set of choices about how we use words. A style guide is a way of creating and maintaining clarity and consistency in our writing. When we use an agreed-upon set of style guidelines, decisions about "how to say it" become much easier.

Our standard references

Please refer to these references as you prepare stories and announcements for your sites.

UCSF Editorial Style Guide

The official how-to publication for UCSF communications is the UCSF Editorial Style Guide. This guide is where you’ll find answers to many basic editorial style questions, especially as they pertain to UCSF audiences. (For information and requirements on the UCSF logo system and brand strategy, please see UCSF Brand Identity.)

Other guides

It’s helpful to have a good dictionary and a comprehensive style reference handy on your department’s bookshelf—or the online equivalent of each. These guides are useful for anyone who writes—whether it’s web content or other types of communications.

The Chicago Manual of Style, 16th Edition, University of Chicago Press (the grand dame of style)
The Yahoo Style Guide, St. Martin’s Press (especially for web content)
Garner’s Modern American Usage​, Oxford University Press
Merriam Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary and Thesaurus
The Elements of Style by William Strunk, Jr. et al.
; Allyn and Bacon

Develop a word list

One of the best tools you can have at hand—in addition to standard references—is your own word list. Your group should develop a list that is specific to your department, lab, or program, to include the words, names, and specific style questions that crop up most often. These are things you wouldn’t be able to look up in a book. For example, you may have a faculty member whose name has an unusual spelling. Or perhaps your program has nomenclature that needs to be presented consistently across your site. Your word list will grow over time, becoming more useful with each addition. If the list is kept in a shared location (such as UCSF Box or Google Docs), you can easily share it with your group.

Online resources


UCSF Editorial Style Guide (UCSF Box)
The Chicago Manual of Style Online ($35/yr subscription)
The Yahoo Style Guide on Google Books, available as an e-book

Grammar and other mechanics

Purdue University Online Writing Lab (OWL)
GrammarBook.com (founded by the late Jane Straus, author of The Blue Book of Grammar and Punctuation)
Commonly Confused Words (from GrammarBook.com)

Also useful (but turn on your ad-blocking software)


How to write a brief news story

Would you like to post news on your department, lab, or program site?

Try our News Writing Tips.

Can’t find what you need?

File a ticket using our Website and Communications Support form.

Comic strip scene: 2 groups fight over the correct number of spaces after a period—2 or 1. One figure stands alone saying, 'Line break after every sentence.'

The correct answer is one. One space after a period.

Tips and resources provided by Paula Joyce, Editor and Content Manager