Last revised June 2021

The UNC School of Education adheres primarily to Associated Press style when writing copy for content published on its website and in printed School publications. However, we diverge from this style in a few notable ways contained within the following entries below. For style questions beyond the following entries, consult the Associated Press Style Guide or contact the School’s Advancement Office.

Most Common Style Items

Abbreviations

Abbreviate company, corporation, incorporated, and limited when used after the name of a corporate entity. Do not use a comma between the company name and an abbreviation such as “Inc.” or “Corp.” 

Junior, Senior — Abbreviate as Jr. or Sr. only when used with full names. Do not use a comma before Jr. or Sr. Use II or III if it is the individual’s preference, following the same guidelines for Jr. and Sr. 

Months should be abbreviated according to AP style when used with a day. Example: Jan. 1; Jan. 1, 2009; January 2009. 

In headlines, avoid using abbreviations or acronyms for academic programs. Exceptions can be made for long program names when the context or accompanying text provides the reader information regarding what program the text refers to. 

Abbreviations or acronyms may be used in headlines when they refer to a commonly known organization or program. Example: Jane Smith won a $14 million NSF grant. 

Academic Degrees

Use an apostrophe with bachelor’s and master’s degrees, but not in Bachelor of Science or Master of Arts.  

A listing of academic degrees offered by the UNC School of Education and their abbreviations, included in parentheses, are as follows: 

  • Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership (Ed.D.)  
  • Doctor of Philosophy in Applied Developmental Science and Special Education (Ph.D.) 
  • Doctor of Philosophy in Culture, Curriculum and Teacher Education (Ph.D.) 
  • Doctor of Philosophy in Learning Sciences and Psychological Studies (Ph.D.) 
  • Doctor of Philosophy in Policy, Leadership, and School Improvement (Ph.D.) 
  • Doctor of Philosophy in School Psychology (Ph.D.) 
  • Master of Arts in Teaching (M.A.T.) 
  • Master of Arts in Educational Innovation, Technology, and Entrepreneurship (M.A.)  
  • Master of Education for Experienced Teachers (M.Ed.) in Early Childhood Intervention and Family Support 
  • Master of Education in School Counseling (M.Ed.) 
  • Master of School Administration (M.S.A.) 
  • Bachelor of Arts in Human Development and Family Studies (B.A.Ed.) 
  • Bachelor of Arts in Human Organizational Leadership and Development (B.A.Ed.) 
  • Bachelor of Music in Music Education (B.M.) 
  • UNC Baccalaureate Education in Science and Teaching (B.A. or B.S.) 

Examples of degrees awarded at Carolina include: bachelor of arts (B.A.) (a bachelor’s) bachelor of science (B.S.) doctor of education (Ed.D.) doctor of law (J.D.) (a doctorate) doctor of medicine (M.D.) doctor of pharmacy (Pharm.D.) doctor of philosophy (Ph.D.) doctor of public health (Dr.P.H.) master of arts (M.A.) (a master’s) master of business administration (M.B.A.) master of public health (M.P.H.) master of science (M.S.)  

Example: Sandrika Freeman (’20 B.A.Ed., ’21 M.A.T.) teaches at Merrick Moore Elementary School in Durham, N.C.  

Academic Programs

For academic program names, spell out on first reference and use the following abbreviations on all subsequent references: 

Doctoral Programs 

  • Applied Developmental Science and Special Education (ADSSE) 
  • Culture, Curriculum and Teacher Education (CCTE) 
  • Educational Leadership (no abbreviation, can be shortened as Ed.D. program)  
  • Learning Sciences and Psychological Studies (LSPS) 
  • Policy, Leadership, and School Improvement (PLS) 
  • School Psychology (no abbreviation, referred to as School Psychology program) 

Master’s Programs 

  • Master of Arts in Educational Innovation, Technology, and Entrepreneurship (MEITE)  
  • Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT) 
  • Master of Education for Experienced Teachers (MEDX) 
  • Master of Education for Experienced Teachers in Early Childhood Intervention and Family Support (ECIFS)  
  • School Administration (MSA) 
  • School Counseling (no abbreviation, referred to as School Counseling program) 

Undergraduate Programs 

  • Human Development and Family Studies (HDFS) 
  • Human and Organizational Leadership Development (HOLD) 
  • Minor in Education 
  • Pre-Master of Arts in Teaching (Pre-MAT) 

Licensure Programs 

  • Birth-Kindergarten, Pre-Kindergarten (BK/PK) 
  • Pathway to Practice NC
  • School Administration 
  • UNC Baccalaureate Education in Science and Teaching (UNC-BEST) 

Additional Programs 

  • Thrive@UNC 

Examples: The Master of Arts in Teaching program welcomed 50 new students during fall 2018… Kristin Papoi, MAT program director, said it represents the largest class in the last five years. 

Jillian Slowinski, a student in the UNC Baccalaureate Education in Science and Teaching program, is majoring in biology. UNC-BEST offers students majoring in science or mathematics the opportunity to earn teaching licensure. 

Academic and Courtesy Titles

Reserve the title Dr. for people who have earned a Doctor of Medicine (M.D.) and use only on first reference. Use Ph.D., Ed.D., and additional degrees to establish a person’s credentials if needed, using them on first reference following the person’s name. Example: Diana Lys, Ed.D., is a co-principal investigator on the DREAM project working with Durham Public Schools. 

When identifying faculty members, the preferred form is to use a title or phrase. Do not precede a name with a courtesy title and follow it with the abbreviation for an academic degree.   

For academic titles preceding a name, uppercase the title. Use this only in more formal, external communications. Example: Assistant Professor Ayesha Hashim, Ph.D., is a member of the School’s education policy faculty. In social media, for academic titles preceding a name, avoid using rank titles, instead referring to the person as “faculty member.” Example: Faculty member Ayesha Hashim, Ph.D., conducts research around education policy.  

For academic titles following a name, lowercase the title unless the title is a distinguished one. Examples: Constance Lindsay, assistant professor, studies education policy. Dorothy Espelage, Ph.D., William C. Friday Distinguished Professor of Education, is a leading expert on bullying and school violence. 

Acronyms

Never abbreviate School of Education as SOE or SoE in external-facing communications. After the first complete reference — using “the UNC School of Education” — use “the School.” Note: All second references to the School of Education should include an uppercase “S.”

Never abbreviate the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill as “UNC” unless accompanied with a hyphen and “Chapel Hill.” Example: UNC-Chapel Hill

Use acronyms only after first reference, and put in parentheses after first complete reference unless acronym is of common usage (Examples: NASA, CDC, NSF): The Master of Arts in Educational Innovation, Technology, and Entrepreneurship program (MEITE) is a one-year program that provides experience and grounding in educational theory. Since 2016, MEITE has…

Note: Try to avoid excessive use of acronyms. After the first reference, it is also acceptable to use “the program.”

Capitalization

Bulleted lists — Capitalize each item in list, and when part of a sentence, end each item with a comma and the final item with a period. 

References to “department”, “office” or “division”, as in referencing “Department of English”, “Office of University Development” or “Division of University Advancement”, should be lower-case. However, capitalize complete names of departments, schools, offices and divisions, eg “Department of History” BUT “history department.” When referring to the School of Education on second reference, uppercase “School” to distinguish from other schools on campus. Note: this departs from UNC-Chapel Hill style. The same style applies to centers and institutes. When using a list of schools or units together, lower-case. Example: Established with the schools of medicine, pharmacy and public health, … 

Use capitalization when referring to the UNC School of Education and to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Upon second reference, use “the School” and “the University,” respectively, uppercasing the “S” and “U.” “UNC-Chapel Hill” and “Carolina” are acceptable on first reference. 

Unless a distinguished professor, eg “John Smith, Sally Brown Distinguished Professor of History”, titles following a person’s name should be in lower-case: John Smith, professor of history; John Smith, president of Acme Manufacturing

Titles preceding names should be capitalized: Professor Jane Smith; Chair Nancy Jones 

For stand-alone titles: 

Smith is the Sally Brown Distinguished Professor of History. 

Smith is a professor of history. 

Smith is president of Acme Manufacturing. 

In news stories and features, use upper- and lowercase, capitalizing the first word and proper nouns only. Apply this rule to names of academic disciplines. For example: Smith is a professor of history. Brown is a professor of English. 

Captions

End with period only if complete sentence. Examples: Joe Smith poses in his driveway. Joe Smith in his driveway 

Class Year

For undergraduate class years, use “Mike Priddy, a member of the Class of 1970”, “Mike Priddy, a 1970 graduate” or “Mike Priddy (B.A. ’70)”. For graduates/alumni, include degree in parentheses. Example: Mary Smith (M.F.A. ’87) For alumni earning multiple degrees, separate class years with commas. Example: Mike Priddy (B.A. ’70, M.Ed. ’75, Ed.D. ’81) 

When including single quotation mark for class year, be sure it is styled as an apostrophe or the closing single quotation mark. 

Commas

In a series, include a comma before last item, aligning with Chicago Manual of Style and APA style. Example: Apples, pears, and oranges are fruits. 

Composition Titles

Use quotation marks. Apply guidelines here to book titles, computer and video game titles, movie titles, radio and television program titles, and the titles of lectures, speeches, and works of art. For names of academic journals, italicize. 

Dashes

In copy, use em dashes (Shift + Option + hyphen on Mac, ALT + 0151 on PC). Use a space before and after the em dash when used within a sentence with copy on each side of the dash.

Gender and Pronoun Usage

Use pronouns preferred by story subject(s). Common singular pronouns include: he, she, and they. Some individuals use alternative pronouns such as “ze,” “xe,” “hir,” “per,” “ve,” “ey,” and “hen” (Swedish gender-neutral pronoun). Alternative pronouns are acceptable, but should be briefly explained to aid the reader. 

Some individuals may alternate between “he” and “she” or between “he and/or she” and “they.” In these instances, briefly explain to clarify for readers. Some individuals may use no pronouns at all and use their name in place of pronouns. 

Refer to a transgender person using language appropriate to the person’s gender, regardless of sex assigned at birth—for example, use the pronouns “he,” “him,” and “his” in reference to a transgender man who indicates use of these pronouns. 

When referring to individuals whose identified pronouns are not known or when the gender of a generic or hypothetical person is irrelevant within the context, use the singular “they.” Use the forms “they,” “them,” “theirs,” and so forth. For example: If a student wishes to take the class, they must first receive professor permission. 

In non-specific instances, avoid using phrases with pronouns such as “he or she,” “she or he,” “he/she,” and “(s) he.” Instead, use “they.”  

Numbers

Spell out whole numbers below 10, use figures for 10 and above: The department has 15 faculty and two administrative assistants. Exceptions include the following: Ages, She has a son, John, 7. She has a 7-year-old son, John. Dimensions: The photograph is 6 inches by 9 inches. The sophomore is 6 feet 5. He is a 6-foot-5 sophomore.

NOTE: applies to ordinal numbers, too (first, second … 10th, 11th)

For a percentage, use “%.”

Do not start a sentence with a figure. Correct: Seventy students enrolled for the class. Incorrect: 70 students enrolled for the class.

Figures above 100 should be delineated by a comma every three digits. 1,000; 1,000,000

Dollar amounts of a million or more: $1 million; NOT $1,000,000

Don’t use zeros in dollar amounts if no cents: $25; NOT $25.00

Rankings — When reporting a ranking, use No. 1, No. 2, etc.

For most race-related terms commonly used at the School of Education, we follow guidance established by the Associated Press Stylebook in its section “race-related coverage” and guidance established by the American Psychological Association in its “bias-free language” section. Most common usages described below. 

American Indians, Native Americans Both are acceptable terms in general references for those in the U.S. when referring to two or more people of different tribal affiliations. For individuals, use the name of the tribe; if that information is not immediately available, try to obtain it.  

Black (adj.) Use the capitalized term as an adjective in a racial, ethnic, or cultural sense: Black people, Black culture, Black teachers.  

Black(s) (n.) Do not use as a singular or plural noun. 

Black, Indigenous, and People of Color The term “Black, Indigenous, and People of Color” is an acceptable term to describe people of races other than White in the United States. Only use this term, and “BIPOC” on second and subsequent references, when referring to a group of people of different races. If only Black or Indigenous people, say Black people or Indigenous people. The term “racialized” is also acceptable. 

Dual heritages No hyphen for terms such as African American, Asian American, and Filipino American, used when relevant to refer to an American person’s heritage.  

Hispanic A person from — or whose ancestors were from — a Spanish-speaking country or culture. Latino, Latina, or Latinx are sometimes preferred. Follow the story subject’s preference. Use a more specific identification when possible, such as Cuban, Puerto Rican, or Mexican American.  

Historically excluded people or groups Use the phrase “historically excluded” when considering the use of “underrepresented.”  

Latino, Latina Latino is often the preferred noun or adjective for a person from — or whose ancestors were from — a Spanish-speaking country or from Latin America. Latina is the feminine form. Use Latino when used as an adjective to describe a group of people of all genders: Latino teachers, Latino students. If a group of women only, use Latina: Latina teachers. 

Latinx Some prefer the gender-neutral term Latinx, which should be confined to quotations, names of organizations, or descriptions of individuals or groups who request it. 

Minoritized Use the phrase “minoritized people” instead of minorities. Minoritized groups can include peoples minoritized based on ethnicity, race, social status, religious beliefs, gender, sexual orientation, or additional characteristics. 

White (adj.) Use the uppercased term as an adjective in a racial, ethnic, or cultural sense: White people, White teachers.  

White(s) (n.) Do not use as a singular or plural noun. 

References to the School and University

References to the UNC School of Education should either be the full proper name or “the School.” Avoid referring to the School as SOE or SoE in external-facing documents.

References to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill should either be the full proper name or “UNC-Chapel Hill” or “Carolina.” “UNC” is never acceptable; this reference creates confusion with the University of North Carolina or UNC system, which includes 17 campuses across North Carolina.

Regions

In general, lowercase north, south, northeast and similar words when they refer to compass direction. Capitalize when they designate regions. Examples: He drove west. The drought extended across the West. He has a Southern accent. The most polite people are Southerners. Also acceptable: the American South. 

States

Spell out the names of all 50 states when they stand alone in text. Use the abbreviations in the list below when used following the name of a city, county, town, village, or military base. 

Include the state abbreviation with cities in all instances unless the city is a recognizable city to most audiences, including North Carolina cities. Those cities include: Chapel Hill, Raleigh, Durham, Wilmington, Charlotte, Greensboro, Winston-Salem, and Asheville. 

She was born in Lawrence, Kan.; She was born in Kansas. 

Eight state names are never abbreviated. They are Alaska, Hawaii, Idaho, Iowa, Maine, Ohio, Texas, and Utah. 

Punctuation note: Put a comma between the city and state name, and another comma after the state name, unless it ends a sentence. Angela Bryant was born in Rocky Mount, N.C., and earned a bachelor’s degree in mathematics in 1973. If the abbreviated state name ends the sentence, use only one period. Elizabeth Dole was born in Salisbury, N.C. 

Alabama: Ala.  

Arizona: Ariz.  

Arkansas: Ark.  

California: Calif.  

Colorado: Colo.  

Connecticut: Conn.  

Delaware: Del.  

District of Columbia: D.C. 

Florida: Fla.  

Georgia: Ga.  

Illinois: Ill.  

Indiana: Ind.  

Kansas: Kan.  

Kentucky: Ky.  

Louisiana: La.  

Maryland: Md.  

Massachusetts: Mass.  

Michigan: Mich.  

Minnesota: Minn.  

Mississippi: Miss. 

Missouri: Mo.  

Montana: Mont.  

Nebraska: Neb.  

Nevada: Nev.  

New Hampshire: N.H.  

New Jersey: N.J.  

New Mexico: N.M.  

New York: N.Y.  

North Carolina: N.C. 

North Dakota: N.D. 

Oklahoma: Okla.  

Oregon: Ore.  

Pennsylvania: Pa.  

Rhode Island: R.I.  

South Carolina: S.C. 

South Dakota: S.D. 

Tennessee: Tenn.  

Vermont: Vt.  

Virginia: Va.  

Washington: Wash.  

West Virginia: W.Va.  

Wisconsin: Wis.  

Wyoming: Wyo. 

Technology Terms

Use “internet”, “web”, “website”, “web page”, “home page”, “email.”

Don’t include “http://” or “www” when spelling out a URL. Examples: ed.unc.edu, unc.edu,  giving.unc.edu.

Telephone Numbers

Use parentheses for area code and a hyphen after the first three digits. Example: (919) 966-1346

Time

Should be “a.m.” and “p.m.” with a space after the numeral: The event starts at 9 a.m. (NOT: 9:00 am or 9 A.M. or 9 o’clock)

Undergraduate Class Years

First-year, sophomore, junior, and senior. Avoid referring to a first-year student as a “freshman.”

Years

Use numbers without commas: Chartered in 1789 by the General Assembly, Carolina is the nation’s first state university. Use commas with a month and day: The research was published Dec. 12, 2006, in the journal Science. Use an s without an apostrophe to indicate spans of time: the 1700s, the 1780s. When referring to a decade, an apostrophe in front of the last two numerals is acceptable, such as, “The ’20s were odd.”

Miscellaneous

Fundraising, fundraising, and fundraiser are one word in all cases unless used as a modifier. Example: fund-raising campaign

Health care should be spelled as two words. Hyphenate when used as a modifier. Examples: health-care system, health-care leaders. (Note that the new name of UNC’s health-care system established in 2020 is UNC Health. Example: Dr. Wesley Burks, chief executive officer of UNC Health.)

Well-being should be hyphenated in all instances.

Questions and Help

For assistance with branding and identity, please contact Morgan Ellis at morgan_ellis@unc.edu.