This page is part of our Editorial Style Guide.

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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 something become much easier.

This guide comprises the evolving documentation of our editorial style, developed and regularly updated by the Office of Communications in the School of Pharmacy. This guide is not comprehensive. Rather, it:

  • Supplements our standard references.

  • Indicates where our practice deviates from our primary references.

  • Provides basic guidance on some of the most frequently encountered style questions.


This reference includes:

  • Style topics that are specific to UCSF or to the School of Pharmacy.

  • Style topics that have caused confusion in the past.

This reference does not include:

  • Items that should be looked up in one of our standard references listed in this guide, unless our choice for SOP Style is an exception to these references.

Standard references

For style and usage

  1. The Chicago Manual of Style can probably answer any style or usage question you might have. Consult Chicago frequently, and it will become a boon companion. An online subscription is well worth the price ($35 per year). We’ll refer to it in this guide as Chicago.

    1. Online: Chicago Manual of Style Online (subscription required).

    2. Print: The Chicago Manual of Style.

  2. The UCSF Editorial Style Guide found at Editorial Expression is provided by the Brand team in the Office of Communications. We’ll refer to it in this guide as UCSF Style. UCSF Style takes precedence over Chicago.

  3. On occasion we say SOP Style to describe writing style and usage decisions for communicators in the School of Pharmacy. SOP Style is described in this guide, and it takes precedence over UCSF Style and Chicago.

For spelling and hyphenation

Use the Merriam-Webster dictionary:

Other guides, if interested

  1. For comprehensive usage guidance, we use Garner's Modern English Usage (which we’ll refer to in this guide as Garner’s).

  2. See Chicago 5.250: Good usage versus common usage (subscription required) for a lovely list of words that are commonly misused or confused.

  3. The Yahoo! Style Guide. This provides guidance specifically for people writing for the web. It is old, but it still has valuable advice.

  4. The Elements of Style by William Strunk, Jr. and E.B. White is the classic guide to writing with clarity.

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