Other Style Topics

This page is part of our Editorial Style Guide.

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Abbreviations and acronyms

See Chicago 10. Ask yourself: Do people recognize it? Do people search for it?

  1. Do not use periods with abbreviations or acronyms formed by two or more words: AIDS, HIV, DNA, MD, PhD, DC (in reference to Washington, District of Columbia). Exception: For United States, use U.S. (Recommended by UCSF Style. This differs from Chicago.) Spell out United States on first reference, when used as a noun. When used as an adjective, use U.S. in all cases.
  2. For widely accepted abbreviations and acronyms, such as HIV, AIDS, and DNA, use the abbreviation and do not spell them out. Rationale: people are more familiar with the abbreviation than particulars of the full name.
  3. For abbreviations and acronyms common in the field or academia, such as NIH, FDA, QBI, ESRD: Spell it out in the first reference, with the abbreviation or acronym in parentheses. Use the abbreviation in subsequent references. Rationale: avoids wordiness; maintains clarity.
  4. Avoid ad-hoc or limited use abbreviations and acronyms. Do not use one-off, shorthand abbreviations that are not in common use (newspaper-style). Rationale: This practice is bad for SEO, is confusing, and does not add clarity.

For more about abbreviations and acronyms, see:


For news stories

When referencing a journal article in a news story, if the title is friendly to lay audiences, include the exact title in your prose, then place the link on the title text. If the title is not friendly to lay audiences, include the exact title in a section at the bottom (e.g., a section with heading called “More”), then place the link on the title text.

For accessibility reasons, links need to make sense out of context. For SEO reasons, link text should match the destination page title. For accessibility and SEO reasons, on a particular page, the same linked text should link to the same URL.

  • Avoid citations involving link text that don’t make sense out of context and that don’t match the destination page title.
  • Also avoid creating two different link texts that link to the same URL or creating two identical link texts that link to different URLs.

Example of our preferred citation format

Mahajan SS, Deu E, Leyva MJ, Ellman JA, Bogyo M, Renslo AR. A fragmenting hybrid approach for targeted delivery of multiple therapeutic agents to the malaria parasite. ChemMedChem. 2011 Mar 7;6(3):415-9. doi: 10.1002/cmdc.201100002.

However, this format is not used for news stories.

Image credits

The following guidance:

  • is based on a January 6, 2020, email thread with Art Director/Photography Manager Kathleen Hennessy.
  • applies only to photographers who are UCSF employees affiliated with the UCSF Office of Communications.

When crediting images created by photographers affiliated with the UCSF Office of Communications and who are employees of UCSF, use this format:

[photographer name]/UCSF, © [year] The Regents of the University of California

Example: Susan Merrell/UCSF, © 2018 The Regents of the University of California


  1. The photographer deserves to be included in the image credit.
  2. We include UCSF so that no matter the use or context it’s easier for people to identify with which campus the photographer is affiliated.
  3. The Regents hold the copyright, not the employee.
  4. It is customary in copyright notices for the year the image was created to appear directly after the copyright symbol.

Image credit guidance in the Brand Photography Library is not as specific as this, so we ignore its guidance for photographers who are UCSF employees.

For image credit guidance in other, more general, situations, see Add one or more image credits.

Editing quotations

Direct quotations may be edited lightly to achieve standard grammar, spelling, and punctuation. For example, you might edit for verb agreement or other common grammar errors, or eliminate repetitive instances of “uh” or “you know” from a statement.

Title and heading casing

For news and event page titles, use sentence case.

For other page titles, use title case.

For headings and subheads in the body of a page, use sentence case.

Word list

The list of words below provides writing guidance specific to the SOP Style and which is not included in—or is an exception to—guidance provided by other references. (This list is not for names of people.)


AIDS: Do not spell out.

APPE and IPPE: Use APPE or IPPE when acting as an adjective (e.g., APPE preceptor). Use APPEs or IPPEs when acting as a noun.


Clinical Pharmacology Training program: Abbreviate as CPT. (Formerly CPTP.)

COVID-19: Not Covid-19.


health care: two words; no hyphen, not healthcare, not health-care. Exception: Use the one-word form if it's used that way in a proper name, such as "Washington Healthcare System Medical Center"; or such as "UCSF Healthcare Administration and Interprofessional Leadership master's program."

HIV: Do not spell out; use all-caps abbreviation.


IPPE: see APPE and IPPE.


The Kidney Project: Precede with the capitalized article “The.” Example: The ultimate goal of The Kidney Project is to develop a surgically implantable, self-monitoring, and self-regulating bioartificial kidney. Do not abbreviate as TKP.

Do say: bioartificial kidney, implantable bioartificial kidney, tether-free.

Do not say: artificial kidney, artificial implantable kidney.


MAK: Abbreviate Mary Anne Koda-Kimble as MAK, not MAKK.

Medication Outcomes Center: Not Medications Outcome Center. May abbreviate as MOC.


Pharmacokinetics for Pharmaceutical Scientists: Abbreviate as PK Course.

PhD: Do not spell out PhD as “doctor of philosophy” since PhD is widely understood, especially by academic audiences, and since it can be confusing when the degree refers to a subject other than philosophy, e.g., doctor of philosophy in nutrition.

proof of concept: Do not abbreviate “proof of concept” as POC. When used as a noun, do not include hyphens. When used as an adjective, include hyphens. Example: proof-of-concept prototype.


Quantitative Biosciences Institute: Refer to QBI and its affiliation with the School as: “QBI is an Organized Research Unit (ORU) at UCSF that reports through the dean of the School of Pharmacy.”

Go to: Editorial Style Guide