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Content Style Guide





abbreviations and acronyms

With few exceptions, abbreviations and acronyms aren't acceptable in text. Avoid acronyms not commonly used. Spell out abbreviations or acronyms if your reader won’t recognize them the first time you mention it, such as ACRL (Association of College & Research Libraries). Then use the short version for all other references.

academic degrees

No periods with MA, MS, PhD, etc. We don’t put degrees in any of our articles. 


Avoid unless there isn’t a succinct, descriptive alternative. Try first: 

  • students, faculty, and staff
  • the university community
  • members of the community
  • people

all caps

Avoid ALL CAPS on the web. They make text harder to read and can sound like you are shouting. Use all caps sparingly in print, and only for short titles or headlines.

See also bold and italics.


Alum for singular, alumni for plural


Use an ampersand when it is part of a formal name or title. Avoid using it as a substitute for "and," unless space is very limited in a design layout or when it is being used to create quick impact as in a headline.

For formats such as print and digital, use ampersands if they are a part of the official title of workshops, events, programs, or names of information resources (books, databases, etc.).

For web page titles and headings with only two items, use an ampersand (e.g. “Visit & study”). If there are three or more items, spell out “and” (e.g. “Research, write, and publish”). Spell out “and” in body content.


See Time



Use bold for emphasis when needed, but use it sparingly. 

See also all caps and italics.


See lists.


When creating online content, you can use buttons for calls to action and to take people to the next step in a process. As much as possible, use active verbs for button labels and be explicit. Avoid general or vague terms such as "More" and "Click here." Good button label examples:

  • Request a book

  • View the calendar

  • RSVP

The buttons should be the most important, primary call to action.

See also calls to action and links and labels.


Italicize name and professional title, e.g., By Trudi Jacobson, Head, Information Literacy Department. In the library newsletter, and on the faculty publications and presentations web pages, the title goes on the second line, not separated by a comma.


calls to action

A web page’s primary call to action is usually expressed as a link or button. On something like a flyer, the call to action might be a web link or a phone number. To make it easy for the user, label the call to action starting with an active verb, such as:

  • Request a book

  • Reserve a study carrel

  • Contact your librarian 

See also links and labels.


There are a few different forms of capitalization that should be used depending on the format.

Sentence case capitalizes the first letter of the first word. Use this for web page titles and headings and web news headlines (e.g. "Requesting articles," "Behind the scenes at the library.")

Title case capitalizes the first letter of every word except articles, prepositions, and conjunctions. Use this for titles of books, movies, collections, workshops, events, and for press release headlines (e.g. "Art + Feminism Editathon")

Don't capitalize words in the middle of sentences unless it’s part of a proper name. Pay attention to people who use lower-case letters in their name and works that intentionally don't use capitalization. 

See also collegelibrary buildings, and people


see Photo Captions


Use catalog or cataloged: not the British spelling with a “u”.


check in and out

checkout; check-in (noun; adjective):

  • They’re available for a 3-hour checkout.

  • Upon check-in, you will get a receipt.

check out; check in (verb):

  • You can check out an iPhone charger. 

  • We will check in the charger and give you a receipt. 


For faculty publications and presentations in the library’s newsletter and on the website follow the Chicago Manual of Style—bibliography, not notes. 

Citing works of art

For faculty publications and presentations in the library’s newsletter and on the website follow the Chicago Manual of Style—bibliography, not notes. 

Bibliographic entry – general
Gogh, Vincent van. The Starry Night. 1889. Oil on canvas. 29 in. x 36 ¼ in.
     Museum of Modern Art, New York.

Caption – general
(*note: captions can be done as figure, fig., illustration, or ill.)

Fig. 1: Vincent Van Gogh, The Starry Night, 1889, oil on canvas, 29 in. x 36 ¼
in., Museum of Modern Art, New York.

Also, see dimensions


Avoid. Use borrowing.


Use if you are referring to a designated campus classroom. The Libraries have the following "classrooms"

  • Dewey Classroom
  • Electronic Classroom
  • Smart Classroom
  • Instruction Lab Classroom


Avoid using "click" or "click here" within link labels. Instead, use more meaningful link labels. You can use "click" if you are writing instructions, though try using "select" to see if that works instead. (Touch screens don't allow for "clicks" so the term is a bit outdated). For example: 

  1. Select the "Sign in" button
  2. Select your choice from the list

See also links.

college, department, program, school, major/minor

Use "the College of Engineering." When several colleges are mentioned, it's "the colleges of engineering, science and fine arts." The same rule applies to schools.

The word department is capitalized in formations such as "Department of History." It is not capitalized when the formation is "the history department." The exception is any department with a word that is always capitalized, such as the English department.

Program names are capitalized, as are graduate programs of study, such as the Race Track Industry Program. Not all programs use the word "program" in their official names.

Majors and minors are not capitalized unless the major/minor name is a proper noun (English, Spanish, etc.).


When using UAlbany Purple and Gold, we must use colors that have been officially sanctioned by UAlbany’s Office of Communications and Marketing. The officially sanctioned purple is RGB: 70, 22, 107; the gold is RGB: 238, 178, 17. There are some options for gold and black as well.


See Oxford commas.

contact us

If referring to a contact person, link to their staff directory page for additional information and contact options rather than only providing an email. For general contact information, direct people to the contact us web page. For example: 


Use “COVID-19” rather than “COVID," "Covid," or “coronavirus.”  


Avoid. Use instead: 

  • you

  • students

  • students, faculty, and staff

  • people

  • visitors



Usually, call them research databases to be explicit when referring to our subscription databases. This might depend on context. 

data management

Not capitalized. On first reference, you may want to use "research data management" to be more explicit.


Always spell out the days of the week. Abbreviate months only when a specific date is used, such as Nov. 28. Never abbreviate March, April, May, June or July.

When referring to a month in a specific year, but not a specific date, always spell out the month and do not separate with a comma: July 1977.

Cardinal numbers are preferred over ordinal numbers when using specific dates, it should be "June 20" – not "June 20th" – unless the month and date are not contiguous. "She will travel on the 20th of June." 


Abbreviate decades when referring to those within the past 100 years. Add "s" to make plurals: the 1960s. When shortened, an apostrophe stands in place of omitted numerals: the '60s.


See academic degrees. No periods with MA, MS, PhD, etc. We don’t put degrees in any of our articles. 


are listed in order of height, width, and (if applicable) depth.

  • Oil on canvas, 45 × 38 cm
  • Bronze, 49 × 22 × 16 in.


Use “dropdown” rather than “drop down” or “drop-down.” 



Not hyphenated.


Use “email” rather than “e-mail.” When writing an email address, use all lowercase, for example:


If referring to a person, link to their staff directory page for additional information and contact options rather than only providing an email, for example: 

  • Contact our Scholarly Communication Librarian, Emily Kilcer.


Emeritus for singular, emeriti for plural



Faculty is a collective noun and takes a singular verb. For example:

  • The library faculty is exceptional.

  • The library faculty members are experts in their fields.

Only use faculty if you are just talking about faculty; if you are talking about instructors, which includes graduate teaching assistants, use instructor.

See also instructor.


[UAlbany has specific fonts, please use default in Drupal and LibApps platform. Our CSS dictates the font used on pages.]

full text

Use “full text” rather than “full-text,” whether an adjective or noun. For example:

  • The database provides full text.
  • Ebooks are available in full text.
  • We have hundreds of full text databases.




If your content is more than a few paragraphs, break things up with headings. This allows your users to scan to find what they are looking for. If your content is on the web, mark up your headings appropriately using heading level structure (e.g. H1, H2, H3). This applies the correct visual styling and ensures your content is accessible to screen readers. Don’t try to make your own headings visually by bolding, using ALL CAPS, or using italics. 

Tips for headings:

  • Use sentence case—only capitalize the first word and proper names.

  • Don’t end headings with periods or colons; the only time to include punctuation is if it ends with a question mark

  • Make headings parallel in grammatical structure (e.g. imperative verbs, gerunds, questions).

  • Use active verbs when appropriate.

  • Don’t skip heading levels. If you have an H3, for example, you should also have H1 and H2 levels.

  • Avoid using more than three heading levels. If you need more sub-headings, consider rethinking your content structure.


H2. Borrow materials

   H3. Books & journals

   H3. Laptops & technology

H2. Renew materials

See also ampersands.


One word, not capitalized.


information commons

Information Commons area; Information Commons computers; Information Commons is a library-specific term for computers and workstations in the library per ITS 04/2021

See also library spaces.


Use to refer to those who teach.

See also faculty.

interlibrary loan

Don’t capitalize or hyphenate, and don’t abbreviate to ILL.

interlibrary loan service; interlibrary loan items; interlibrary loan books

See also paging; office delivery


Avoid. Use the web.


Use bold to bring emphasis and avoid italics unless they serve a unique purpose, such as highlighting quotations or citation formatting. Keep in mind italics are harder to read, especially in longer sections of text.

See also bold and all caps



key terms

Two words.


One word.


liaison librarian

Use subject librarian (not capitalized) or your librarian. Avoid "liaison" by itself or "library liaison." Depending on context, you can also use expert or specialist.


Avoid. See research guides


Most of the time, you can just use first person (“us” or “we”) to refer to the library or library staff and second person (“you” or “your”) to refer to the reader. The context of the library website, library newsletter, or social media makes it unnecessary to spell out “University at Albany Libraries.” For example:

  • We offer a variety of technology for students and faculty. 

  • Our staff are collaborative, supportive, and dedicated to student success.

When that context isn’t apparent and it’s important to formally refer to our organization, use:

  • First reference: University at Albany Libraries or University Libraries

  • Second reference: UAlbany Libraries or Libraries

For example:

  • The University at Albany Libraries offers a variety of technology for students and faculty. The Libraries are dedicated to student success.

Subject-noun agreement

  • The University Libraries are ....

  • The Libraries are...

  • We are…


  • The University Libraries' policy for computer use is...

  • Or better yet: Our policy for computer use is...

When using library as an adjective, it’s ok to use singular, lower-case “library,” and in many cases this is the best choice (in particular if a plural noun follows). Don’t ever capitalize “library” when it’s singular. For example:

  • library late fees

  • library hours

  • library printers

  • library staff

library buildings and locations

Spell out the locations in full, except for Weaver Library which can be shortened depending on context. Never use acronyms for locations.

Use Avoid
University Library

Main Library

Dewey Graduate Library

Downtown Library
Graduate Library

Science Library

Sci Library

Special Collections

Spec Coll 

On second reference, use singular, lower-case “the library.” For example:

  • The University Library is located on the academic podium. The library collects a broad range of materials…

library departments

Avoid using department acronyms for external-facing content. Spell out the full name on the first mention and list the acronym in parentheses if you use it later in the same piece of content. As appropriate, link to the department page. For example:

  • The Information Literacy Department can support the information literacy needs of all members of the academic community through classroom and online instruction, research assistance, and campus-wide collaboration.

library search

Simply say “search the library” or "our search tool" or “use the library search.” Don’t capitalize it and avoid mentioning more jargon terms such as Primo, Library Services Platform (LSP), OPAC, ALMA and catalog. For example:

  • Use library search to find books and articles.

  • Use advanced library search and limit to material type Books. 

  • Search the library for books and articles.

  • Use our search tool, the purple searchbox on our homepage.

library services and spaces

Use  Avoid

[service desk -- other acceptable forms? LP] 

circ desk
ref desk
help desk

Scholars’ Archive SA

Video Chat Room

chat room
Studio B56

Podcast Studio

IMC Studio

University Library, 1st floor

Info Commons
Learning Commons

bookshelves stacks
research consultation;
research consultation service
research appointment 
interlibrary loan service

inter-library loan 


office delivery

UA Delivery
[others? other tricky things? - LP]   


links and labels

Write clear, descriptive text for links and buttons so that users know where they are going. This is critical for those using screen readers. Don’t describe the mechanism behind following a link (e.g. click, click here, select) and use the minimum amount of text to be meaningful. Avoid generic labels such as: learn more, click here, find out more.

Active verbs often work well. Provide needed information so there are no surprises (e.g. if a password is required).


  • Reserve a study carrel (graduate students only).

  • Register for the workshop by March 8.

  • To give us feedback, fill out the survey.

Don’t spell out URLs unless it is for a print piece or social media. 


Use lists to help make your text easier to scan and digest. Use bullets for lists of related items, lists of examples, and lists of options. Capitalize the first letter of each item.

An example of using bullets: 

To avoid plagiarism, you must give credit whenever you:

  • Use another person's idea, opinion, or thought

  • Use any information that isn't common knowledge

  • Quote or paraphrase another person's actual spoken or written words

In bulleted lists, only use punctuation if the items are complete sentences:

Our commitments include:

  • We believe in social justice and equity.

  • We advocate for open access.

Only use numbered lists for instructions or steps in a process. Use punctuation at the end of each step, assuming they are complete imperative sentences. If your instructions include the names of links, buttons, or other navigation elements within a website, bold them. Make sure you reflect the element title exactly, including any capitalization. An example of using a numbered list: 

  1. View your checked out items.

  2. Select the Transaction Number for the item you want to renew.

  3. Select Renew Request.


Per Chicago, locator terms such as top, bottom, left, right, above, below, left to right, clockwise from left, or inset are italicized. When the locator appears in midsentence, it is placed in parenthesis and italicized

...students, Cheng-Wei Lin (far left) and Yu-En Jung (second from left) spent the semester...

If the locator term precedes the person/object it identifies, it should be followed by a comma,

Above left, Rebecca Mugridge, Dean of University Libraries.

If a list follows the locator term(s), it should be followed by a colon,

Left to right: Rebecca Mugridge, Wendy West, and Allison Hosier.


See sign in.


Logos: UAlbany logos that have been officially sanctioned by UAlbany’s Office of Communications and Marketing can be found on the staff wiki. See also: UAlbany Graphics Manual and UAlbany Media Style Guide






See also collegelibrary buildings, and people.


On first reference, say "UAlbany NetID." After first reference, shorten to "NetID."

New York State

We capitalize the state in New York State, but whenever possible, avoid by just saying New York


Spell out numbers 0-12 (zero, one, two...nine), and spell out numbers when they’re the first word in a sentence. Use numerals for 13 and beyond (13, 14...35). Use commas for numbers over three digits, but abbreviate them if there are space restraints, as in a tweet or a chart: 1k, 150k, $5M. For content that uses percentages, use the % symbol or “percentages” depending on context. Spell out fractions or use decimal points when a number can’t easily be written as a fraction.

  • Ten new employees started on Monday, and 14 start next week.

  • I ate three donuts at Starbucks.

  • Two-thirds of students don’t buy the required textbook.

  • 47.2 percent of faculty use Google Scholar as a primary search tool.

  • We hosted a group of 11th graders who are learning to code.

  • 999

  • 1,000

  • 150,000

See also lists.


open access

Not capitalized or hyphenated. 

open educational resources

Not capitalized or hyphenated. Shorten to OER only if you spell out it out in full on first mention and list the acronym in parentheses. For example:

  • Open educational resources (OER) are teaching, learning, and research resources in the public domain or released with an open license. Anyone can freely use, copy, adapt, and reshare OER.

Oxford comma

In most cases, use the Oxford comma (also known as the serial comma) when writing a series of things. This means you include a comma after the second-to-last item. For example:

  • David admires his parents, Oprah, and Justin Timberlake.

  • Happy, healthy, and hardy.



Avoid. Use instead: 

  • you

  • students

  • students, faculty, and staff

  • people

  • visitors

  • members of the community


in the library newsletter are flush left; not indented


In general, use the title listed directly underneath (not the italicized title) the staff person’s name in the Faculty and Staff Directory on the University Libraries’ website.

  • Trudi E. Jacobson, from: Head of Information Literacy Department to: Head, Information Literacy Department
  • Brian Keough, from: Head of Special Collections & Archives to: Head, Special Collections & Archives
  • Karen E. Kiorpes, from: Head of Preservation Department to: Head, Preservation Department

Avoid salutations (e.g. Mr., Ms., Dr.) and use full names. In future mentions, use only the first name. If including someone’s title, capitalize it. For example:

  • Dean Rebecca Mugridge spoke at the luncheon.

  • Digital Scholarship Center Training Specialist Ryan Clow delivered a workshop. Ryan has worked at the Libraries for two years.

See titles.

Use last names when referencing people in text, e.g., Hosier (above), not Allison (above)

photo captions

Are set in parentheses in font size 8 in the library newsletter. Locators are italicized per Chicago Manual of Style 

e.g, (second from left), (Left to right: 


pickup (noun): Locate books for pickup.

pick up (verb): Go to the hold shelf to pick up your book.

Never hyphenate pick-up.


Use “he/him/his,” “she/her/her,” or “they/them/their” pronouns that reflect the individual’s gender. If your subject’s gender is unknown or irrelevant, use “they,” “them,” and “their” as a singular pronoun. Don’t use “one” as a pronoun and don’t use “s/he” or “him or her” which implies binary gender expression. Examples:

  • Paige Turner will present on virtual reality projects in the classroom. They have been teaching at the university for five years.

  • The person in this role will collaborate with a team daily. They will deliver workshops, provide consultations, and create training materials.


Follow AP Style on punctuation. Use one space, not two, after punctuation between sentences. For example:

  • The University at Albany Libraries offer a variety of technology for students and faculty. The Libraries are dedicated to student success.




Avoid, unless discussing the reference collection. See also research.


Use to describe reference help and consultations. For example:

  • We can help you with your research.

  • Contact us for research support.

research data management

Not capitalized.

research guides

Use to describe LibGuides and web pages that guide users through research. Related options include:

  • subject guide

  • course guide

  • topic guide

  • tutorial

rooms and spaces

See library spaces.


sign in

sign in (verb): Sign in to your account.

signin (noun): Use the signin. 

sign out (verb): Sign out of your account.

signout (noun): Use the signout. 

Never hyphenate “sign-in.” Avoid “login” and “log in” unless it applies to a system that uses that term and is necessary for clarity and consistency.


When referring to library employees, use:

  • library staff member (individual)

  • library staff (collective noun)

  • library employee(s)


telephone numbers

On the web, use parentheses for the area code and a dash within the phone number: (555) 555-5555.

On print or digital content beyond the web, numbers can also be: 555.555.5555 or (555)555.5555.



On the web, keep it as simple as possible by using numerals and am or pm without a space. For example: 7am, 7:30pm.

For print or other digital content, use periods: 7 a.m., 7:30 p.m. Chicago recommends lowercase a.m. (ante meridiem) and p.m. (post meridiem) (Chicago Manual of Style). If time period occurs during the same meridiem use a.m. or p.m. only once in the second number, i.e., 8:00–10:00 a.m.

Use a hyphen between times to indicate a time period. For example: 7am-10:30pm (web), 7 a.m.-10:30 p.m. (print). Never include :00 for on-the-hour time. 

  • Correct: Wednesday, March 29, 2017, 12:35–1:30 p.m. [should be an Endash]
  • Correct: March 29, 2017, 12:35 to 1:30 p.m.
  • Incorrect: held from 12:35 – 1:30 p.m.

Specify Eastern Standard Time when writing about a local event that includes a remote option.

  • 12pm EST.

titles (for people)

Follow AP Style on job titles. When using a person's job title, only capitalize if it precedes their name. For example:

  • Director of Collection Development Jane Kessler is leading the effort.
  • Jane Kessler is the director of collection development.

See people.

titles (for web pages)

Make the title of your content meaningful to users. For content on the web, this will improve their findability and is how they will appear in search results. Keep titles succinct and use active voice when possible. Web page titles should be sentence case. Examples of good web page titles:

  • Find a subject librarian
  • Apply for a library card

See also ampersands.


UAlbany Libraries

UAlbany Libraries / University Libraries are... [Treat it like it’s a plural subject even though we are one entity].

UAlbany is the accepted abbreviation for the University at Albany

SUNY is acceptable on all references to the State University of New York.

Do not use UA, Albany, SUNY Albany

When writing for an external audience, use University at Albany on the first reference, and UAlbany or the University on subsequent references.

In communications that are intended for our internal audience (Today at UAlbany, campus emails) UAlbany is an acceptable first reference.

We capitalize University when it refers to the University at Albany. We capitalize our three campuses as locations: Uptown Campus, Downtown Campus and Health Sciences Campus.

See the UAlbany Editorial Style Guide opens as .doc,



Never underline text when writing digital content since users will interpret underlined text as a link. In print, underlined text isn't good for legibility.

If you want to emphasize something, try using bold.


When creating a new URL for a web page:

  • Keep it short and simple yet meaningful
  • Use all lower-case letters
  • Don’t use punctuation, apostrophes, or other symbols
  • Don’t use spaces
  • Don’t use underscores
  • Use a hyphen between words if you like
  • Use only one or two words, unless absolutely necessary
  • Use short and commonly known words and abbreviate if it will make sense to the user

For example: 

  • /technology
  • /accidental-plagiarism
  • /print-copy-scan



Avoid. Use instead: 

  • you

  • students

  • students, faculty, and staff

  • people

  • visitors




Use to refer to the internet. Avoid “internet” and “world wide web.” For example:

  • Researchers often search the web to find up-to-date articles.

web page

Two words, don’t capitalize.


One word, don’t capitalize.


Not hyphenated.