Writing Style Manual

The University’s Writing Style: An Important Part of Its Identity

The University of Pittsburgh reaches out to many audiences through its publications and its websites. 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 the same institution. The use of a clear, consistent writing style for all print materials and websites produced by and for the University of Pittsburgh reinforces this fact and, just like a conscientiously applied graphic style or identity, 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 a member of the prestigious Association of American Universities (AAU), a consortium of top North American research institutions. When the process of creating this style manual was initiated, many AAU members were using The Chicago Manual of Style, considered a highly authoritative reference in publishing and academia, as the basis for their own writing styles. In June 2003, the University of Pittsburgh adopted style guidelines based on, but not identical to, those in The Chicago Manual of Style, 14th Edition, as part of its institutional identity program. In 2007, following the release of 15th edition of The Chicago Manual of Style, these guidelines were updated.

In the past several years, however, there has increasingly been a blurring of the lines between journalism and marketing communications, both in the world at large and at Pitt. In an effort to better reflect how language is actually being used within the University community and among our higher education peers, this third edition of the University of Pittsburgh Writing Style Manual has been revised to more closely align with the recommendations outlined in the Associated Press Stylebook. Because this reference does not address all style questions that may be raised in an academic environment, we continue to recommend that users refer to The Chicago Manual of Style, 17th Edition, for matters of style and usage not addressed in the Associated Press Stylebook or in this style manual.

This style manual is a comprehensive road map to the style guidelines adopted by the University of Pittsburgh. Within these guidelines are exceptions to and clarifications of style conventions listed in the Associated Press Stylebook and The Chicago Manual of Style that are common to written communications at Pitt. It has been prepared for the use of all who write University promotional materials (brochures, magazines, newsletters, flyers, posters, etc.) and for websites that will carry the University’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. For general matters of spelling, the recommended dictionary is the Merriam-Webster online dictionary. If two or more accepted 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 Office of University Communications.