Writing Standards

In order to establish a cohesive image of the Salt Lake City School District and to provide readers with consistent, clear communications, the Communications Department has prepared this style guide as a guidebook of editorial style.

For our purposes, style is defined as rules regarding the mechanics of written communication, such as capitalization, spelling, and punctuation of words, not as rules of literary composition or forms of expression, such as manner and tone.

The Salt Lake City School District Style Guide is based on reference works that will be uniformly applied to all district and school publications. The style references contained herein are primarily based on the Associated Press Stylebook and Libel Manual and Webster's New World Dictionary, considered standard guides for most written forms of mass communication.

We invite you to adopt this manual for all written communications, particularly those directed to external audiences. These guidelines also apply to Websites.

If you have questions, please contact the Communications Department at 801.578.8352.

Writing Standards Key

This manual is organized like a dictionary. Following is a key to the entries.

Writing Standards Key

Jump To:

A : B : C : D : E : F : G : H : I : J : K : L : M : N : O : P : Q : R : S : T : U : V : W : X : Y : Z


a cappella

abbreviation Do not use abbreviations or acronyms the reader would not quickly recognize. Always spell out official names and titles on first reference. Delete all periods unless necessary for clarity. Special cases: some abbreviations are acceptable in catalogs or technical writing.

acronym Avoid using an acronym on first reference, unless its meaning is readily recognized. Preferred form is to write a name in full on first reference, directly followed by the acronym in parentheses. An acronym then can be used in subsequent references - American College Test (ACT). Use periods in two-letter abbreviations, but, generally, omit them in longer abbreviations and acronyms.

academic degrees Academic degrees include Ph.D., Ed.D., etc. For public educators, use degrees following their names rather than using Dr. (John Smith, Ed.D.; not Dr. John Smith). Use an apostrophe in bachelor's degree and master's degree, but not in associate or doctorate degrees.

addresses Follow the guidelines established by the U.S. Postal Service for mailing addresses. When listing an address in a publication, use the state abbreviations in this guide with the city names. See states. Use abbreviations Ave., Blvd. and St. only with a numbered address. Spell out and capitalize First through Ninth when used as street names; use figures with two letters for 10th and above. Abbreviate compass points with a single, capital letter to indicate directional ends of a street in a numbered address, but spell out directions in a street name (95 E. Wasatch Blvd., 9361 S. 300 East).

Advanced Placement AP (no periods) is acceptable on second reference.

adviser Not advisor.

affect, effect Affect, as a verb, means to influence. Affect, as a noun, is best avoided. Effect, as a verb, means to cause. Effect, as a noun, means result.

African-American Acceptable for an American black person of African descent. Black is also acceptable

afterschool One word when referring to the programs run by Community Education. Two words when referring to a time (The dance took place after school).

ages Always use numerals (The 68-year-old teacher has taught for seven years; Tom Smith, 8, was named Student of the Month).

aid, aide Aid is assistance. An aide is a person who serves as an assistant.

alma mater

alumnus, alumni, alumna, alumnae Use alumnus (alumni in the plural) when referring to a man who has attended a school. Use alumna (alumnae in the plural) for similar references to a woman. Use alumni when referring to a group of men and women.

a.m., p.m. Lowercase with periods.

American College Test ACT is acceptable on second reference.

ampersand (&) Use as part of an organization's formal name (Procter & Gamble Co.). The ampersand should not be used in place of and.

annual An event cannot be described as annual until it has been held in at least two successive years.

area code Always use with telephone numbers. Use the form 801.567.8100.

Asian Acceptable for people of Asian descent

assistant Do not abbreviate. Capitalize only when used in a formal title before a name. See titles.

assistant principal Not vice principal in the Salt Lake City School District.

athletic department Not athletics department.

associate degree Not associate's degree.

associate superintendent Do not abbreviate. Capitalize only when used as a formal title before a name. See titles.

association Do not abbreviate. Capitalize as part of a proper name.

association names See acronyms

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bachelor's degree Not baccalaureate or bachelor degree. Capitalize Bachelor of Arts or Bachelor of Science when referring to a
specific degree.

board of education Capitalize only when part of a proper name. See Salt Lake City Board of Education.

buildings Capitalize official building names (District Office, Auxiliary Services Building, etc.).

busing, buses Not busses.

Brigham Young University BYU is acceptable on all references.

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capital, capitol Capital describes money, equipment or property used in a business, or the city where a seat of government is located. Capitol refers to a building and is capitalized in reference to a specific capitol building.

capitalization In general, avoid unnecessary capital letters. See departments and titles.

Career and Technical Education (formerly Applied Technology Education) CTE is acceptable on second reference.

career ladder days Discontinued. Use teacher quality days.


cell phone Two words.

chairman, chairwoman The term chair should not be used. Only use chairperson or chair if it is the organization's formal title for
an office.

child care Two words.

cities When naming cities in publications being sent within Utah, it is not necessary to follow the city name with Utah (an exception to
the Associated Press Stylebook).

Class of (year) Capitalize when referring to a specific graduating class (Class of 1973 reunion).

classwork, course work

co-author (n.) or co-authored (v.) Hyphenate.

coed, coeducation No hyphen.

colleges/universities Spell out on first reference and use acronym on second reference.

commas Do not use a comma at the start of an indirect or partial quotation (She said "the school strives for academic excellence.").
Use a comma to complete a quotation ("The school strives for academic excellence," she said.). Also use a comma to introduce a complete one-sentence quote (She said, "The school strives for academic excellence."). See punctuation.

compact disc CD is acceptable on second reference.

composition titles See titles.

co-worker Hyphenate.

council, counsel Council refers to a deliberative body and those who are members of it. To counsel is to advise. A counselor is one
who advises.

course numbers Use figures and capitalize the subject when used with a numeral (History 3).

courtesy titles See titles.

Criterion-Referenced Test See Utah Core Criterion-Referenced Test.

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database One word.

data A plural noun. Singular is datum.

dates Capitalize the names of months in all uses. When a month is used with a specific date, abbreviate only Jan., Feb., Aug., Sept.,
Oct., Nov.
and Dec. (Dec. 18, Oct. 2). Spell out when using a month alone or with a year. Do not separate the month and the year with a
comma (January 2003). When a date refers to a month, day and year, separate with a comma (Jan. 1, 2003). Capitalize and spell out

days of the week.

daylight-saving time Not savings. Note the hyphen.

days of the week Capitalize. Do not abbreviate except in a tabular format. See dates.

degrees See academic degrees.

departments Uppercase district departments with their formal names (Human Resources Department, Communications Department,
). See a list of department names here.

disabled, handicapped, impaired In general, do not describe an individual as disabled or handicapped unless it is necessary.
Acceptable terms to describe disabilities include: disabled (general term for a physical or cognitive condition that substantially limits
one or more major daily life activity), blind (a person with complete loss of sight), visually impaired (partial loss of sight), deaf (a
person with total hearing loss), partially deaf, mute (a person who physically cannot speak), speech impaired, wheel-chair user. Avoid
the terms handicapped, deaf-mute and confined to a wheelchair.

disk; diskette Not disc for computer-related references.

district Capitalize only when part of a proper name. See Salt Lake City School District.

district mail Include the full school or department name in addresses for intradistrict mail.

districtwide One word.

doctorate Doctorate degree, not doctor's degree.

drivers education No apostrophe.

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email Always lowercase. When listing an email address, use all lowercase letters and do not use quotation marks (susan.smith@slcschools.org).

e-commerce, e-advertising Always lowercase and use a hyphen.

Ed.D. See academic degrees.

effect See affect, effect.

end-of-level Hyphenate when used as an adjective (end-of-level testing).

English as a Second Language ESL is acceptable on second reference.

entitled Books and other works are titled, not entitled. Entitled means a right to do or have something.

exclamation point (!) Avoid overuse.

executive director Capitalize only as a formal title before a name.

ext. Do not capitalize. Abbreviated form preferred to extension in a phone number. Use a comma between the number and the extension as in 801.578.8300, ext. 857.

extracurricular No hyphen.

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fax Not facsimile or Fax. The term fax should not be used as a verb (I sent a fax to Robert Jones; not I faxed Robert Jones).

flier, flyer Flier is the preferred term for an aviator or a handbill. Flyer is the proper name of some trains and buses.

foundation Capitalize only when part of a proper name. See Salt Lake Education Foundation.

formal titles See titles.

fort Spell out on all uses (Fort Union Boulevard).

full-time Hyphenate when used as an adjective (full-time student).

fundraiser (event or person), fundraising (adj.) One word in all cases.

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General Educational Development Diploma GED is acceptable on all references.

governor Capitalize and abbreviate as Gov. when used as a formal title before a name.

grade-point average GPA is acceptable in all references. Students' GPAs should never be published without their written permission,
even if the student has a 4.0 GPA.

grade, grader Avoid using grader as a noun (first-grader). Hyphenate the adjective form of grade (She is a 12th-grade student; He is in the fourth grade).

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handicapped See the listing for disabled, handicapped, impaired.

half-mast, half-staff Flags not on ships are flown at half-staff. District and school flags are only flown at half-staff when directed by
the governor.

halftime One word.

health care Two words.

Hispanic A person from, or whose ancestors are from, a Spanish-speaking land or culture. Latino and Latina are sometimes preferred.

holidays Official Salt Lake City School District school holidays include Independence Day, Pioneer Day, Labor Day, Professional
Convention (not UEA), Thanksgiving Recess, Winter Recess, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Washington and Lincoln Day, Spring
and Memorial Day.

homeroom (adj., n.) One word.

home schooling, home-schooled, home-schooler

homepage One word.

honors program Not honours programme.

Human Resources Department Not Human Resource Department or Personnel Department.

HTML, HTTP Uppercase in text, lowercase in Web addresses. See Web addresses.

hyphens Hyphens are used strictly for hyphenating words or line breaks. If a word may be used with or without a hyphen, preferred
use is to omit the hyphen.

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i.e. Abbreviation for the Latin id est or that is and is always followed by a comma.

incorporated Abbreviate and capitalize as Inc. when used as part of a corporate name. Do not set off with commas.

initials Use periods and omit spaces between initials (E.B. White, not E. B. White).

in-service Hyphenate. Should only be used as an adjective (in-service training, in-service credit) and not as a stand-alone noun.

intelligence quotient IQ is acceptable in all references.

interoffice No hyphen. Refers to distribution within a single office or location.

intradistrict No hyphen. Refers to multiple locations within the district.

Intermountain West Capitalize.

International Baccalaureate IB is acceptable on second reference.

Internet Always capitalize.

intramural No hyphen.

italic; italicize Not italics.

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junior Abbreviate as Jr. only with full names of persons and do not precede with a comma (John F. Kennedy Jr.).

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kindergarten Not capitalized.

kids Avoid in formal contexts. Use children or students.

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listserv One word.

login, logon, logoff All one word.

DISTRICT LOGO: An approved Salt Lake City School District logo should be included on formal district documents and
publications sent to the public. Current versions of the district logo can be found here.
SCHOOL LOGOS: Written school correspondence sent to the public should contain the school's logo. Current versions of school logos can be found within the schoo's website.

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make up (v.), makeup (n., adj.) No hyphen in the noun or adjective form (The teacher scheduled a makeup exam; The couple decided
to make up.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day No comma. Not Civil Rights Day.

master's degree Master's degree in education, not master's degree of education. Capitalize when referring to a specific degree (Master of Arts).

memorandum Not memo.

months See dates.

more than Preferred instead of over when estimating numbers (more than 100 students).

motto The Salt Lake City School District's official motto is Your Best Choice.

MP3 Acceptable in all references to the music compression format.

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names (first reference) Preferred use is first and last name, followed by title or position. See titles. Use of middle initials is encouraged
in formal context. Board members' names should appear in formal form.

names (second reference) In general, avoid the use of courtesy titles (Mr., Mrs., Miss, Ms.) in written correspondence. However, since
these titles are commonly used in schools, exceptions may be made for publications specifically directed to parents and/or students.

National Education Association NEA is acceptable on second reference.

Native American Acceptable for those in the U.S. Where possible, be precise. (He is a Navajo commissioner.)

No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 NCLB is acceptable on second reference.

noon Not 12 p.m. or 12 noon.

nontraditional No hyphen. Acceptable reference to schools not on a traditional school year schedule, although the preference is to
state the type of schedule (year-round, extended, split-session, etc.).

numbers Spell out numbers below 10, use figures for 10 and above. Spell out first through ninth when indicating a sequence. If you must begin a sentence with a number or year, spell it out (Twelve students received the award).

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OK, OK'd, OK'ing, OKs Do not use okay.

off campus, on campus (subject); off-campus, on-campus (adj.) Hyphenate the adjective form (The recruiter conducted oncampus
interviews; The interview was conducted off campus

online One word.

over Preferred use with a number is more than (more than 100 students; not over 100 students).

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Pacific Islander Do not hyphenate

paraprofessional One word, not paraeducator.

parent teacher association Capitalize when part of a proper name. PTA is acceptable on all references.

parent teacher student association Capitalize when part of a proper name. PTSA is acceptable on second reference.

parent-teacher conferences Hyphenate.

PDA Acceptable on all references to a handheld personal digital assistant.

PDF Acceptable on all references to the Adobe Acrobat® portable document format.

percent Spell out unless used in a table or a financial publication. Numbers should be used when expressing a percent.

Ph.D. see academic degrees.

physical education P.E. is acceptable in all references.

p.m., a.m. Lowercase with periods.

podcast One word.

PowerSchool Parent Portal The district no longer uses Parent Assistant.

preschool One word.

president Capitalize only as a formal title used directly before an individual's name. Lowercase all other uses (Board President Kristi Swett).

Presidents Day No apostrophe. In Utah, the official holiday is called Washington and Lincoln Day.

principal Do not confuse with principle. Capitalize only when used as a formal title before a name (Principal Jane Doe).

professor Never abbreviate. Lowercase before a name. See titles.

punctuation In general, think of punctuation as a courtesy to your readers, designed to help them understand your message. See
commas, hyphens and quotations.

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quarter fall quarter, winter quarter, etc.

quotations Open-quote marks and close-quote marks are used to surround the exact words of a quote ("I will not stay," he replied; "I do not object," he said, "to the tenor of the report."). Place quotation marks outside periods and commas.

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résumé Accents optional.

R.S.V.P. Use periods.

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Saint Abbreviate in proper names (St. George).

Salt Lake City Never write as SLC. See cities.

Salt Lake City Board of Education Spell out on first reference. On second reference, refer to it simply as the board (not
capitalized). Always use formal names for board members.

Salt Lake City School District Not Salt Lake School District. Spell out on first reference. Avoid using SLCSD as an acronym. Use
district (not capitalized) on second reference.

Salt Lake Community College SLCC is acceptable on second reference.

Salt Lake Education Foundation Spell out on first reference. Do not use an acronym except in reference to the foundation website
(www.saltlakeeducationfoundation.org). Use foundation (not capitalized) on second reference to the non-profit organization established to secure and manage funds received by the Salt Lake City School District from the private sector.

Scholastic Aptitude Test For the college entrance exam, SAT is acceptable on second reference.

school Capitalize only when part of a proper name (Highland High School). The word school should be included after the name on first reference (Escalante Elementary School). The word school can be dropped on second reference.

school years See years.

schoolwide One word.

seasons Lowercase fall, spring, summer and winter unless part of a proper name.

secretary Capitalize only when part of an official corporate title. See titles.

sports scores Game scores should be written in numerals, even if fewer than 10 (The final score was 33-6).

spring recess Not Spring Break.

states Use the following state abbreviations in conjunction with the name of a city in printed materials (postal code abbreviations are shown in parentheses):

  • Ala. (AL)
  • Alaska (AK)
  • Ariz. (AZ)
  • Ark. (AR)
  • Calif. (CA)
  • Colo. (CO)
  • Conn. (CT)
  • Del. (DE)
  • Fla. (FL)
  • Ga. (GA)
  • Hawaii (HI)
  • Idaho (ID)
  • Ill. (IL)
  • Ind. (IN)
  • Iowa (IA)
  • Kan. (KS)
  • Ky. (KY)
  • La. (LA)
  • Maine (ME)
  • Md. (MD)
  • Mass. (MA)
  • Mich. (MI)
  • Minn. (MN)
  • Miss. (MS)
  • Mo. (MO)
  • Mont. (MT)
  • Neb. (NE)
  • Nev. (NV)
  • N.H. (NH)
  • N.J. (NJ)
  • N.M. (NM)
  • N.Y. (NY)
  • N.C. (NC)
  • N.D. (ND)
  • Ohio (OH)
  • Okla. (OK)
  • Ore. (OR)
  • Pa. (PA)
  • R.I. (RI)
  • S.C. (SC)
  • S.D. (SD)
  • Tenn. (TN)
  • Texas (TX)
  • Utah (UT)
  • Vt. (VT)
  • Va. (VA)
  • Wash. (WA)
  • W.Va. (WV)
  • Wis. (WI)
  • Wyo. (WY)
  • Washington, D.C.

statewide One word.

student body (n.) student-body (adj.) No hyphen unless used as an adjective (The student body elected a new president; Student-body elections determined the new president).

Student Educational Plan SEP is acceptable on second reference.

Student Educational Occupational Plan SEOP is acceptable on second reference.

street names See addresses.

substitute teacher Avoid using substitute as a noun. Never abbreviate as subs.

superintendent Do not abbreviate. The formal position title is superintendent of schools. Capitalize only when used as a formal title before a name (Superintendent McKell Withers, Ed.D.). Always use the superintendent's full name in print.


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teen, teen-ager (n.), teen-age (adj.) Do not use teen-aged.

telephone numbers Use the form 801.567.8100. See ext.

theater Not theatre.

times Use figures except for noon and midnight. Use a colon to separate hours from minutes, but avoid ":00" to represent the top of the hour (10:45 a.m., 4 p.m.). Avoid such redundancies as 7 a.m. this morning, 7 p.m. tonight or 12 noon. See noon, a.m., p.m. Never use o'clock or figures with noon or midnight (not 12 noon).

COMPOSITION TITLES: Capitalize the principal words. Italicize or put quotation marks around the names of all works. These rules apply to book titles, movie titles, musical works, play titles, poem titles, titles of lectures and speeches, and works of art.
COURTESY TITLES: In general, avoid the use of courtesy titles (Mr., Mrs., Miss, Ms.) in written correspondence. However, since these titles are commonly used in schools, exceptions may be made for publications specifically directed to parents and/or students.
JOB TITLES: In general, confine capitalization to formal titles used directly before an individual's name (Superintendent John Smith; teacher Patrick Jones; Chris Johnson, school secretary). Lowercase titles when not used with an individual's name (The superintendent issued a statement; the board president approved the measure).

trimester No hyphen.

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University of Utah U of U is acceptable on second reference.

United States The abbreviation U.S. is acceptable in all uses.

URL Acceptable in all references to Uniform Resource Locator. Preferred terms in most correspondence are website or Internet address.

Utah Never abbreviate except in an address followed by a ZIP code for mailing purposes.

Utah Core Criterion-Referenced Test CRT is acceptable on second reference.

Utah Education Association UEA is acceptable on second reference.

Utah High School Activities Association Not Athletics Association. UHSAA is acceptable on second reference.

Utah Performance Assessment System for Schools U-PASS (always with a hyphen) is acceptable on second reference.

Utah State Legislature Capitalize when using the formal title. Otherwise lowercase legislature.

Utah State Office of Education USOE is acceptable on second reference.

Utah Valley University UVU is acceptable on second reference.

Utahn Not Utahan.

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Valentine's Day Use an apostrophe.

Veterans Day No apostrophe.

vice principal The correct title is assistant principal. There are no vice principals in the Salt Lake City School District.

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Wasatch Front, Wasatch Mountains

Wasatch Front School Districts Alpine, Box Elder, Canyons, Davis, Granite, Jordan, Murray City, Nebo, Ogden, Provo, Salt Lake City, and Weber

Washington and Lincoln Day Utah holiday corresponds with Presidents Day nationally.

Web Short form of World Wide Web. The Web is not the same as the Internet, but is a subset; other applications such as e-mail, exist on the Internet.

Web addresses Avoid long, complicated addresses and italicize in text. The official district Web address is www.slcschools.org.

webpage, website One word. Do not capitalize.

webcast, webcam, webmaster All are one word, lowercase.

-wide No hyphen (worldwide, nationwide, districtwide)

winter recess Not Christmas break.

World Wide Web Preferred use is the Internet.

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Xerox A trademark, never a verb. Use a generic term, such as photocopy.

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year-round Hyphenate when used as an adjective.

years Use an s without an apostrophe to indicate spans of decades or centuries (the 1980s, the 1800s). Avoid using an apostrophe when omitting the first two numbers of the year ('98). School years should be written as 1998-99, omitting the century in the second year.

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ZIP code Use all caps for ZIP but lowercase code.

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