Consistent writing helps unify campus messages and helps our audiences better understand the University.
Carolina generally follows Associated Press style, but we do make some exceptions. They are listed below. For guidance on editorial style issues not covered below, contact Natalie Vizuete, director of content development, at 919-962-3761 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
AP Style Exceptions
Not all readers are as familiar with academic degrees so reserve the title Dr. for M.D.s and other medical degrees.
Consult AP’s entry for academic degrees for other specifics, including how to appropriately establish a person’s credentials by using a title or phrase and how to properly use apostrophes (bachelor’s and master’s). See https://www.apstylebook.com/ap_stylebook/academic-degrees.
Examples of degrees Carolina awards include: Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) (a bachelor’s); Bachelor of Science (B.S.); Doctor of Education (Ed.D.); Doctor of Law (JD) (a doctorate); Doctor of Medicine (MD); Master of Arts (M.A.) (a master’s); Master of Business Administration (MBA); and Master of Science (M.S.).
A list of Carolina degrees is available at the List of Undergraduate, Post Baccalaureate, Professional and Graduate degrees link at the bottom of this page.
Use lowercase except for words that are proper nouns or adjectives. For example, the political science department or the Department of Political Science.
Avoid “of” when possible: the English department instead of the department of English; or when department is part of the official and formal name: University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Medicine’s pediatric department.
Capitalize the full names of schools and major centers and institutes on first reference but not those of programs and curricula.
When using a list of schools or units together, lowercase. Example: Established with the schools of medicine, pharmacy and public health, …
Teaching faculty ranks include: professor, professor of the practice, associate professor, assistant professor, instructor, teaching assistant professor, teaching associate professor, teaching professor and teaching assistant. Some teaching faculty also hold clinical or adjunct faculty positions.
Do not precede a name with a long title.
Capitalize and spell out formal titles when they come before a name, such as Chancellor Kevin Guskiewicz.
A person teaches in a subject, but has knowledge of a subject: an instructor in mathematics and a professor of computer science.
Do not assume any faculty member is a full professor. Check with the department if necessary. Sometimes titles reflecting recent appointments or promotions do not immediately appear in campus directories or websites.
Lowercase academic titles after a name or when used alone. Be sure to include the full proper title. (Kevin Guskiewicz, the University’s chancellor; Barbara Rimer, dean of the Gillings School of Global Public Health)
Exceptions include the names of endowed professorships on first reference—preferably after the name of the faculty member. Capitalize all of the words in the proper title of the professorship. (Wendy Boss, William Neal Reynolds Professor of Plant Biology)
Alumnus, alumni, alumna, alumnae
Use alumna (alumnae in plural) when referring to a woman who has attended a school, college or university.
Use alumnus (alumni in plural) for similar references to a man.
Use alumni when referring to a group of men and women.
Don’t use “alum” to refer to a single graduate.
The same endings apply for emeritus, meaning a retired faculty member.
The General Alumni Association defines an alumnus as any former student of the University who completed one semester while enrolled full time.
Identify all alumni with the class year. Include graduate designations for alumni who did not earn undergraduate degrees from Carolina: Mary Brown Jones ’93, Peter Marks ’66 (JD).
Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Science
A bachelor’s degree or bachelor’s is acceptable in any reference. See academic degrees for guidelines on when the abbreviations B.A. or B.S. are acceptable.
Acceptable on first reference to the Morehead-Patterson Bell Tower. Always capitalize both words.
Board of Governors
The governing body elected by the North Carolina General Assembly that oversees the 17-campus University of North Carolina System. Use the full name on first reference; BOG may be used on subsequent references.
Board of Trustees
A 13-member governing body that oversees the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Use the full name on first reference; BOT may be used on subsequent references. The student body president serves as an ex-officio member of the Board of Trustees. Refer to bot.unc.edu/.
Board of Visitors
The Board of Visitors is a group of volunteers who assist the Board of Trustees and chancellor in a range of activities that help advance the University, including public relations, government relations and fundraising. Members primarily serve as ambassadors for the University. Always capitalize Board of Visitors.
Budding and other proper campus names
Capitalize the proper names of buildings. Capitalize building only if it’s part of the structure’s proper name. Examples: Alumni Building and Knapp Building.
The proper name of many campus buildings is hall. Examples include Carolina Hall, Brooks Hall, Carroll Hall, Rosenau Hall and Wilson Hall. Check the University website to confirm the proper name of a building or facility.
Many teaching auditoriums or lecture halls in campus buildings host public events. Capitalize the name of the building; not the auditorium (unless the auditorium has its own name, such as the FedEx Global Education Center Nelson Mandela Auditorium or the James and Susan Moeser Auditorium in Hill Hall).
Ackland Art Museum, which is in the Ackland Building.
Dean E. Smith Center; never Dean Dome. Use Smith Center on second reference.
Frank Porter Graham Student Union is the proper name. But Student Union is commonly used and is acceptable on second reference.
Friday Center: acceptable on first reference for the William and Ida Friday Continuing Education Center.
UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center. Use the full name on first reference.
Morehead Planetarium is in the Morehead Building. On first reference, use the Morehead Planetarium and Science Center.
Hanes Hall and the Hanes Art Center; two different buildings.
Old Well; not The Old Well
Pit, the area bordered by the Frank Porter Graham Student Union, Student Stores, Lenoir Hall and the Robert B. House Undergraduate Library.
Old Playmakers Theatre, PlayMakers Repertory Company
Sonja Haynes Stone Center for Black Culture and History. Stone Center on second reference.
UNC Hospitals or affiliated hospitals; see UNC Hospitals entry.
Acceptable on second reference for the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in a media relations context or on first reference in other uses for internal or constituent audiences. See University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Capitalize both words.
Carolina Next: Innovations for Public Good
Carolina’s strategic plan that will guide the University’s decision-making and investments for the next three years. Spell out entirely on first reference. Carolina Next is acceptable on second reference.
See Frank Porter Graham.
By policy, the University prefers gender-inclusive language in publications, websites, documents and policies. Therefore, University style uses chair instead of chairman.
Chairman, Chairwoman, Chairperson
See the Chair entry in this custom stylebook for the University. To comply with University policy about titles of people on campus, use use gender-neutral alternatives including: presiding officer, chair, head, leader, coordinator and moderator. Do not use chairperson. In other cases, consult the full AP Stylebook.
The leader of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Each of the UNC System’s 17 campuses has a chancellor, all of whom report to the UNC System president.
Capitalize when used before a name.
On first reference, refer to Chancellor Kevin M. Guskiewicz. Guskiewicz should be used on subsequent references. In more formal writing, such as in invitations or programs, Chancellor Guskiewicz is acceptable on second reference.
Chase Dining Hall
The Chase Dining Hall at Rams Head Plaza was rededicated in 2015. It had previously unofficially been referred to as Rams Head Dining Hall when the multipurpose Rams Head Center opened in 2005. Chase Dining Hall is acceptable in all references.
College of Arts and Sciences
Capitalize College (capitalize C) on second reference.
Capitalize in all uses associated with the University’s Commencement ceremonies held each May and December, including Winter Commencement and Spring Commencement. Graduation is acceptable as an alternative and preferred for social media. Lowercase graduation. Refer to commencement.unc.edu.
Comprehensive Annual Financial Report
Annual report is acceptable on second reference.
The official name of the statue also known as Silent Sam that stood on McCorkle Place. Specific usage will depend on context.
COVID-19 Community Standards
COVID-19 Community Standards on first reference and capitalize each word. On second reference, community standards is acceptable.
Datelines – the city from which a story is originating – require a city name or location entirely in capital letters. The Office of University Communications issues news releases with a dateline of Chapel Hill, North Carolina.
Dean E. Smith Center
Use Dean E. Smith Center on first reference; Smith Center on subsequent references. The Smith Center is popularly known as the Dean Dome but that is not appropriate for most website content or news releases
See the custom UNC-Chapel Hill entry for academic degrees.
Reserve the title Dr. for individuals who hold medical degrees.
While Ph.D.s, for example, also receive the courtesy title Dr., the general public, including the news media, generally associate Dr. with people holding medical degrees.
Do not use Dr. in later references.
Also refer to the Academic Degrees entry.
This word often is added to formal titles in higher education to denote that people who have retired or left a leadership position to return to the faculty retain their rank or title.
When used, place emeritus after the formal title, in keeping with the general practice of academic institutions: Professor Emeritus Joseph Ferrell, Dean Emeritus Richard Cole, or Chancellor Emeritus James Moeser.
Or: Dick Richardson, professor emeritus of history; Jack Evans, dean emeritus of the Kenan-Flagler Business School; or Bill McCoy, acting chancellor emeritus.
use emerita for similar references if a woman prefers it, says the AP.
At UNC-Chapel Hill, the proper names of faculty titles include professor, associate professor, assistant professor, instructor, lecturer, senior lecturer and master lecturer. Adjunct faculty also are common in many units. In 2017, the Faculty Council also voted to recognize teaching assistant professor and teaching associate professor as fixed-term faculty ranks.
Don’t assume or write that any faculty member is a “professor.” Check his or her departmental website or unit directory to confirm how to accurately refer to them.
A retired faculty member should be referred to as emeritus. Ex: Dick Richardson, professor emeritus of history. Less preferred: Professor Emeritus of history Dick Richardson.
FERPA (Family Education Rights and Privacy Act)
Commonly referred to as a federal privacy law to protect students. Don’t use FERPA on first reference.
First-Year Student, Freshman, Freshmen
The gender-neutral term “first-year student” is preferred by the University administration for freshman in all uses. If a story or content also mentions first-year transfer or graduate students, try to make the distinction as clear as possible.
Frank Porter Graham
Frank Porter Graham Student Union is the proper name of the building. The Carolina Union, part of Student Affairs, is an organization of students, professional staff and part-time student staff who provide programs, services and facilities to the campus community. The Carolina Union Activities Board also plans events sponsored by the union.
Student Union is also acceptable on subsequent references.
Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute on first reference; FPG or FPG institute on subsequent references.
Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute
Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute on first reference; FPG or FPG institute on subsequent references.
Fundraising, fundraising, fundraiser
One word in all cases: The University’s ___(fill-in-the-blank)___ campaign is a fundraising effort. Fundraising is important to the University’s future. A fundraiser is a person, not an event.
The University has adopted a policy that makes a commitment to using gender-inclusive language in University policies, documents, publications and websites. Examples include first-year student (instead of freshman) and chair (instead of chairman).
The policy on gender-inclusive language can be found at the Office of the Provost website.
Examples of gender-sensitive language are available from the UNC Writing Center website.
General Assembly, North Carolina
North Carolina’s state legislature. Use General Assembly or N.C. General Assembly on first reference. Spell out North Carolina in more formal uses.
Do not hyphenate when used as a modifier: health care system, health care leaders.
Use UNC Health to refer to the integrated health care system that includes the School of Medicine.
Identify members of the N.C. or U.S. House of Representatives with Rep. before their names and members of the N.C. or U.S. Senate should be identified as Sen.
News stories typically list party affiliations and where the official is from: U.S. Sen. Ralph Smith, R.-N.C.; N.C. Sen. Ralph White, D-Chatham. That’s not preferable in most University usages.
Websites or other campus communications channels may need to spell out the full titles of legislators on first reference.
Can be used two ways: lux, libertas or lux et libertas. Latin translates to “light and liberty.”
North Carolina State University
Refers to the other major research university in the UNC System. Officially, the campus refers to itself as NC State with no periods after the N.C. See NC State’s about page on its website for more information.
Do not capitalize “the,” as in the Old Well.
An Onyen (Only Name You’ll Ever Need) is your username at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Only the first letter of the word should be capitalized.
See the regular AP Stylebook entry, which clarifies that used as an adjective Panhellenic can refer to all Greek-letter fraternities and sororities. On campus, the UNC Panhellenic Association is the governing organization of the National Panhellenic Conference (NPC) sororities. Please also note that the National Pan-Hellenic Council is a collaborative organization of nine historically African-American Greek fraternities and sororities, of which Carolina has both.
One word, capitalized. Refers to area bounded by Mecklenburg, Gaston and Lincoln counties in the west and Wake, Durham, Orange and Alamance counties in the east.
PlayMakers Repertory Company
Note that the “M” is uppercase when referring to the company, the department of dramatic art’s professional theater.
UNC Police. In a case that involves police on other campuses or law enforcement agencies, distinguish with UNC-Chapel Hill police as needed.
Spell out principal investigator. Do not use PI as that is not a term that the general public readily associates with research.
Rams Head Center and Plaza
The Rams Head Center, a multipurpose facility, opened in 2005 beside Kenan Stadium. It includes a dining hall (rededicated as Chase Dining Hall in 2015), a recreation center, a grocery store (Rams Market at Chase Hall, or Rams Market), a coffee shop (Port City Java) and a Subway. Rams Head Plaza is the grassy roof and brick walkways atop the center’s parking garage. Also refer to the Chase Dining Hall entry.
Lowercase fall, winter, spring and summer unless part of a formal name. Examples: fall semester, Summer School, Winter Commencement, Spring Commencement
See the entry for Confederate Monument, which is the official name of the statue that stood in McCorkle Place.
Always capitalize both words.
Cases involving the Honor Code or the Campus Code are heard by the Undergraduate Honor Court and by the graduate, medical, dental and law courts. No court is formally called the Honor Court.
A plural name that takes a singular verb. Student Stores contributes money toward scholarships.
Always two words. Informally used, Heels may stand alone—for example, Go Heels! in a campus publication or on a website.
UNC Health is a not-for-profit integrated health care system owned by the state of North Carolina and based in Chapel Hill. Originally established Nov. 1, 1998, UNC Health currently comprises UNC Hospitals and its provider network, the clinical programs of the UNC School of Medicine, and sixteen hospitals and 20 hospital campuses statewide and more than 500 clinics statewide.
UNC Medical Center
UNC Medical Center, also known as UNC Hospitals, is a public academic medical center first established in 1952 under the name N.C. Memorial to provide patient care, educate health care professionals and advance medical research in partnership with the UNC School of Medicine. The medical center in Chapel Hill comprises N.C. Memorial Hospital, N.C. Children’s Hospital, N.C. Neurosciences Hospital and N.C. Women’s Hospital.
Uppercase University when used to refer specifically to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Do not capitalize common uses of university. Example: Chartered in 1789 by the General Assembly, Carolina is the nation’s first state university.
The proper name of an annual event commemorating the laying of the cornerstone of Old East. Always capitalized.
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, official names
For press releases and other formal instances, use the full name of the University on first reference: the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. UNC-Chapel Hill, Carolina or the University is preferred for second reference.
For websites, UNC-Chapel Hill or Carolina is acceptable for first reference. Capitalize the University when referring to UNC-Chapel Hill.
Do not use UNC on its own in press releases, websites and printed material because it can be confused with the UNC System.
#UNC is acceptable for social media.
Exceptions include the department of athletics and the General Alumni Association. Both use University of North Carolina on first reference.
Also consider that including UNC in front of the names of schools or units is often not necessary and redundant. Exceptions might include when UNC is considered part of the proper name of the unit or an essential part of its branding identity.
University of North Carolina System
Refers to the 17-campus University of North Carolina System, led by UNC President Peter Hans and governed by the UNC Board of Governors.
The University of North Carolina is preferred for formal uses. The University of North Carolina System is for informal uses. The UNC System is acceptable on second reference. Always capitalize System.
Visit the UNC System website for additional details.
Websites and URLs
If you are listing a website address on a printed document or in a digital space, do not use http:// or www. in front of the address. Examples of appropriate uses: unc.edu. college.unc.edu, gazette.unc.edu.
Lowercase well-being days.