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:

Links to downloadable files

When linking to downloadable files—or anything that doesn’t display like a normal web page:

  • Required: specify the file type so that visitors know what kind of viewer or application is required.
  • Optional: include a count so that there is a human-based perception of how much content there is. For example, for a visitor viewing on a phone, it can be very helpful to know that a PDF has 245 pages before they click.
  • Optional: include the file size so that visitors on slow connections, older computers, or devices with limited storage understand the byte-size cost of selecting the link.


  • Document Title (PDF)
  • Document Title (PDF, 5 pages)
  • Document Title (PDF, 14 MB)
  • Document Title (Microsoft Word, 6 pages, 34 KB)
  • Document Title (Microsoft PowerPoint, 17 slides, 123 KB)
  • Document Title (Microsoft Excel, 3 sheets, 92 KB)
  • Document Title (PDF, 2 pages, 484 KB)
  • Collection of images (Zip archive, 34 files, 14 MB)

When replacing these links, update any count and file size info.


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.

Avoid using a colon in a title or heading except when it introduces a subtitle.

  • Capitalize the first word after the colon if what follows the colon functions as a subtitle or is a complete sentence.
    • Subtitle
      • Do this: Update from the Dean: Our COVID-19 response
      • Not this: Update from the Dean: our COVID-19 response
      • Do this: Update from the Dean: Excellence amidst change
      • Not this: Update from the Dean: excellence amidst change
    • Complete sentence
      • Do this: HIV 2020: Where are we now?
      • Do this: Regenerative engineering, racial profiling, and healthcare disparities: A titan of life sciences speaks
  • Do not capitalize the first word after the colon if what follows the colon is a dependent phrase or introduces a list.
    • List
      • Do this: Donald Kishi: leader, mentor, friend
      • Not this: Donald Kishi: Leader, mentor, friend

Link casing

For media coverage items, always use sentence case. We often rewrite these to provide more context, and our School style for news and event page titles is sentence case.

In other cases, when linking to other sites, default to using the same casing as the page title of the destination (technically: the <title> element), but you are welcome to alter the casing if it will avoid awkwardness. Example: the only title case link in a list of sentence case links can be changed to sentence case.

Collective nouns

We follow Merriam-Webster, which permits “many faculty were present” (see definition: faculty) and “employs three full-time staff” (see definition: staff).





Faculty members

Faculty member

Student body




Staff members

Staff member

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, which can be found at Name List.)


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.


Chief Administrative Officer: Before October 2021 we used department manager for this title. Use Chief Administrative Officer instead of Department Manager. Capitalize only just before or (sometimes) just after a name.

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

COVID-19: Not Covid-19.


Department manager: See Chief Administrative Officer.


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.

HIVE: Health Innovation via Engineering. Not Innovations. Not Health Innovation via Engineering Initiative. Always lowercase v in via.


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, free-standing.


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.

post-baccalaureate: Use a hyphen. Short form: postbac (one c, no hyphen).

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:

  • Do say: “QBI is an Organized Research Unit (ORU) in the School of Pharmacy.”
  • Also fine: “QBI is an ORU in the School of Pharmacy.” (when ORU is previously defined)
  • Also fine: “QBI is in the School of Pharmacy.”
  • Do not say: “QBI is an Organized Research Unit (ORU) at UCSF that reports through the dean of the School of Pharmacy.”
  • Okay to say: “QBI has its administrative home in the School of Pharmacy.”
  • When needing a non-jargon description, use “interdisciplinary” or “research institute.”
  • In these examples, it’s okay to shorten School of Pharmacy to School.


TRANSPERS: Center for Translational and Policy Research on Precision Medicine (TRANSPERS). Formerly: Center for Translational and Policy Research on Personalized Medicine (TRANSPERS).


Name List

Go to: Editorial Style Guide