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Below is a summary of the main uses of em dashes, en dashes, and hyphens. There should be no space between the dash and the text surrounding it. For a detailed description of the proper use of dashes, see CM15 6.80–96 and 7.82–90 or CM14 5.105–21, 6.32–52, and Table 6.1. (Also see Hyphens, Compounds section.)

  1. Em dashes (1) set off parenthetical content that deserves emphasis, (2) set off appositives that contain commas, and (3) set off a list, a restatement, an amplification, or a dramatic shift in tone or thought.
    • She uses all sorts of seasonings in her cooking—cumin, tarragon, ginger, and coriander, for example.
    • The kiwi—a small, flightless bird—is the national symbol of New Zealand.
    • I just don’t see the point of this—but I digress.

    To make an em dash in MS Word on a Mac, type option+shift+hyphen. To make an em dash in MS Word on a Windows PC, type control+alt+minus sign on the keypad.

    Going to AutoCorrect in the Tools menu, clicking on “AutoFormat As You Type,” and checking the box next to “Symbol characters (--) with symbols (—)” will automatically form an em dash every time two hyphens are typed between two words.

  2. En dashes are half the length of em dashes and are used for connecting continuing or inclusive numbers, like dates or reference numbers.
    • 1968–72               pp. 38–45
    • May–June 2003     John 4:3–6:2

    En dashes are recommended instead of hyphens to link a city name to the name of a university that has more than one campus. (CM15 6.86) See Campuses section for the proper use of en dashes in references to Pitt’s regional campuses.

    To make an en dash in MS Word on a Mac, type option+hyphen. To make an en dash in MS Word on a Windows PC, type alt+0150 on the keypad.

  3. Hyphens are used to separate noninclusive numbers, such as phone numbers or social security numbers.
    • 412-555-1212

    Hyphens are also used in compound words and in word division. (See Hyphens, Compounds section; CM15 7.82–90; and CM14 6.32–52.)

    • non-English-speaking countries
    • poverty-stricken individuals
    • able-bodied soldier


(Also see Century section.)

  1. Use figures for the days of the month. Omit rd, th, st, and nd following the numerals.
    • November 3
  2. Commas are used to set off the year from the day of the month. When only the month and the year are given, the comma is omitted. Use a comma to set off a full date (month, day, year) from the text that follows. (CM15 6.46; CM14 5.68)
    • On Tuesday, December 3, 1991, at 10 a.m., the board met to discuss the issue.
    • The play was introduced to the public in July 1950.
  3. Although BC and AD are more commonly used, BCE (before the common era) and CE (common era) are permissible and appropriate in writing in certain contexts. Consider the discipline and its conventions when selecting BC/AD or BCE/CE. Be consistent. Also use capitalized initials without periods. (CM15 9.38)
  4. Use an en dash for inclusive years. (CM15 9.67; CM14 8.71) For inclusive years in the same century, use only the last two digits of the year after the en dash. For inclusive years spanning more than one century, use all four digits of the year after the en dash.
    • This fee applies to the 2007–08 academic year.
    • The years she lived in Pittsburgh were 1982–2003.
  5. Do not use apostrophes in the plurals of years.
    • the 1800s, the ’60s
  6. Avoid vague references to dates. Use specific dates instead.
    • In fall 2006
    • Not: Last Fall


Spell out the days of the week.

  • We usually meet on Tuesdays, but this week we will meet on Thursday.


DEGREES (academic)*

(Also see Student Terminology section.)

  1. Academic degrees can be abbreviated or spelled out. If abbreviations are used, do not use periods between initials. Note that degrees are received from the University and earned at the University.
    • Baker earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in journalism.
    • Smith earned a BA in journalism at Pitt in 1989.
    • Baker received his bachelor’s degree from Pitt.
    • Jones earned a Master of Fine Arts degree at Pitt.
    • Jones received an MFA from the University.
    • Jones received a master’s degree from Pitt.
    • Not:
    • He earned his bachelor’s from Pitt.
    • She earned her master’s.
  2. When referring to a doctorate, use the following:
    • Jones earned his doctoral degree at Pitt.
    • Jones earned his doctorate at Pitt.
    • Jones received his PhD in psychology in 1970.
    • Jones received a Doctor of Philosophy degree in June from Pitt.
  3. For honors references, do not capitalize or italicize cum laude, magna cum laude, and summa cum laude.
  4. In references to certificates, capitalize the official name of the certificate.
    • Amy received a Certificate in Women’s Studies from Pitt. She said this certificate helped her to qualify for a job at a women’s shelter.

      This student has earned a Certificate of Advanced Studies.

DEGREES (temperature)

Spell out the word degree(s) after a number. (See Numbers section.)


Do capitalize the entity University of Pittsburgh Health Sciences.

  1. Capitalize the names of academic departments, offices, programs, and schools when the formal name is used. Also capitalize a short form of the name when not accompanied by the word department, office, program, or school if lack of capitalization could create confusion. Use lowercase in all other instances. Refer to the Writing Style Guide for an updated list of formal names of the University’s departments, offices, programs, and schools.
    • The University of Pittsburgh Swanson School of Engineering is among the best in the country. The engineering school is located in Benedum Hall.
    • The Kenneth P. Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences awards both undergraduate and graduate degrees.
    • Many Dietrich School undergraduates go on to pursue graduate degrees.
    • The Gender, Sexuality, and Women's Studies Program at Pitt is very popular.
    • Many students apply for the program in gender, sexuality, and women's studies during their sophomore year.
    • The Department of Philosophy owns a large number of research books.
    • “Where is the philosophy department located?” asked the freshman.
    • I am applying to the Joseph M. Katz Graduate School of Business.

    (On subsequent references, use the Katz Graduate School of Business, the Katz School, or Katz. The full name must be used in the first and most prominent references. This stipulation is included in the legal contract between the University and the Katz family.)

  2. Capitalize the names of administrative departments or offices when the formal name is used. Also capitalize a short form of the name when not accompanied by the word department or office on a subsequent reference if lack of capitalization could create confusion. Refer to Writing Style Guide for an updated list of formal names of the University’s departments, offices, programs, and schools.
    • Pitt Magazine is produced by the Office of University Communications.
    • University Communications produces more than 6,000 print projects each year.

  3. Lowercase a general reference to the University’s schools of the health sciences. This is not the formal name of any specific entity.
    • The University of Pittsburgh’s schools of the health sciences have earned much praise in recent years.
    • This program is presented by University of Pittsburgh Health Sciences and the Office of International Services.

  4. University of Pittsburgh Police Department is the official name of the University’s law-enforcement agency. On subsequent references, use University police or Pitt police. Do not use campus police.


See Capitalization section.


Capitalize the principal words and place quotation marks around the names of academic papers, dissertations, essays, lectures, and theses.

(See Capitalization and Titles (Other) sections.)

  • Her dissertation was titled “Reactions in the Luteal Phase.”


Sums of dollars and cents are transcribed in numerical figures whether below 10 or not. (See Numbers section.)

  • $5 (not $5.00), $35, 54 cents, $.54


When describing numerical amounts equal to or greater than 1 million, use a numeral and the word million, billion, etc. (CM15 9.10, 9.28; CM14 8.7, 8.25)

  • There is a $5 million endowment.
  • Not:
  • There is a five-million-dollar endowment.
  • There is a $5,000,000 endowment.

*News exceptions, see Appendix 6.