Writing Style Manual

NOTE: The University of Pittsburgh Writing Style Guide is currently undergoing revisions in preparation for its forthcoming third edition. This new edition will reflect changes in language and style as reflected in common style guides and current usage. The version of the University of Pittsburgh Writing Style Guide on this site dates to the publication of the second edition in 2007 and may not reflect aspects of style currently in use within the University and in the broader communications field. If you have concerns about the relevance of a particular rule or recommendation during the revision process, we recommend consulting The Chicago Manual of Style, 17th edition (published in 2017), or The Associated Press Stylebook 2018.

The University of Pittsburgh reaches out to many audiences through its publications and its Web sites. While each of the University’s schools, colleges, departments, and academic and administrative units has its own special strengths and its own stories to tell, each is part of a single University. The use of a clear, consistent writing style for all print materials and Web sites produced by and for the University of Pittsburgh reinforces this fact and—just like a conscientiously applied graphic or theme line—helps to present the University to its audiences in a consistent and professional manner, making use of the highest standards of written English language expression.

The University of Pittsburgh is one of 62 members of the prestigious Association of American Universities (AAU)—a consortium of North America’s top research institutions. Many AAU members use The Chicago Manual of Style, considered a highly authoritative reference in publishing, as the basis for their own writing styles. In June 2003, the University of Pittsburgh adopted style guidelines based on, though not identical to, those in The Chicago Manual of Style, 14th Edition, as part of its institutional identity program. This manual is in line with The Chicago Manual of Style, 15th Edition.

This University of Pittsburgh Writing Style Manual is a comprehensive road map to the style guidelines adopted by the University of Pittsburgh. This manual is a compilation of exceptions and clarifications to The Chicago Manual of Style common to written communications at Pitt. It has been prepared for the use of all who write University promotional materials—such as brochures, bulletins, newsletters, posters, articles, and flyers—and write for Web sites that will carry the University of Pittsburgh’s name.

In addition to serving as the basis for a consistent writing style, this manual also provides a handy reference guide to some common spellings, abbreviations, and punctuation. References to sections in The Chicago Manual of Style, 14th Edition and 15th Edition, are indicated in parentheses throughout this manual. Appendix 6 lists certain exceptions that are used by the Department of News Services to conform to aspects of Associated Press/United Press International and New York Times styles.

For general matters of spelling, the recommended dictionary is Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, 11th Edition. This is also the reference that The Chicago Manual of Style recommends. If two or more spellings are given, the first is the one preferred for University publications.

Any questions about University of Pittsburgh writing style or this manual should be directed to the Department of Communications Services within the Office of University Communications at wstyle@pitt.edu.