Editorial Style Guide

The following guidelines provide a framework to maintain consistent language that represents UWinnipeg's brand.

Generally speaking, formal communications such as articles, media releases, and major institutional correspondence, follow the style guidelines outlined in the Canadian Press Stylebook, as well as its companion text, Canadian Press Caps and Spellings

You can also refer to the Canadian Oxford Dictionary (available at The University of Winnipeg Library) to confirm Canadian spelling and grammar.

If your question is not answered in the above guidelines, we encourage you to connect with us. If you have any questions, or need assistance, contact communications@uwinnipeg.ca. We are always happy to help.

1. Voice and Tone

Boilerplate

1.1. Our standard boilerplate appears at the end of news releases and other official documents, providing readers with basic details about UWinnipeg's values. When space is limited, please feel free to use the short form version. If you require more information or statistics about the University, refer to UWinnipeg Fast Facts.

Standard boilerplate: UWinnipeg is noted for academic excellence, Indigenous inclusion, environmental commitment, small class sizes, and celebrating diversity. UWinnipeg is committed to improving access to post-secondary education for all individuals, especially those taking non-traditional paths to university.

Short-form: UWinnipeg is noted for academic excellence, Indigenous inclusion, environmental commitment, small class sizes, and celebrating diversity. 

Abbreviations

1.2. Short form for The University of Winnipeg is “UWinnipeg” (not “the UWinnipeg”). It should be used in consideration of length, tone, repetition, and once the full name has been used first in more formal documents.

1.3. The abbreviation “U of W” should be avoided (although it is favoured by local media and used by many as verbal shorthand); in cases where space is so limited that “UWinnipeg” will not fit, default to “UW."

1.4. Short form for “The University of Winnipeg Collegiate” is “the Collegiate” or “UWC,” used in consideration of length, repetition, and context.

1.5. The abbreviation for Professional, Applied and Continuing Education is “PACE” and should be written without periods. The full name does not have an Oxford comma.

1.6. Strive to use the full formal name of locations and institutional entities in formal communications — particularly event invitations, agendas, and programs. For example, instead of saying the gym in Duckworth, say: David F. Anderson Gymnasium.

2. Language and Grammar

Spelling

2.1. The University uses the Canadian Oxford Dictionary as its spelling authority. An e-book of this resource can be accessed through The University of Winnipeg Library.

2.2. “Honorary” is always spelled without a “u”: honorary degree.

2.3. UWinnipeg style is normally Canadian/British spelling: -our, (not -or) for labour, honour, and other such words. When in doubt, use the Canadian/British spelling of a word. Use the Canadian/British spelling (single “l”) for the words “enrol” and “enrolment,” which still correlate with “enrolled” and “enrolling.”

2.4. Spell “counsellor” with double “l.”

2.5. It is preferred to use “and” rather than an ampersand in departmental names and most formal text. Exceptions may be made when spacing or character limit is an issue, and in less formal contexts.

2.6. Use the accented é in the word Métis, except when referring to the Manitoba Metis Federation (MMF) for consistency with the organization’s preferred spelling. (Press “Alt” and enter “0233” to insert the accented é.)

Punctuation

2.7.  If a title comes directly before the name and is used as a title, rather than as an occupation, use no comma to separate it from the person (ie: Assistant Professor John Doe). If the title/occupation follows the name, use commas around it (John Doe, assistant professor).

2.8. Use the serial (Oxford) comma as a rule, not just for clarity. Make exceptions for established organizational names that do not use it.

2.9. Follow the American style of punctuation placement with respect to quotation marks:

  • Periods and commas always inside the parentheses
  • Colons, semi-colons, and dashes always outside the parentheses
  • Question marks and exclamation marks go inside parentheses if part of a direct quote, otherwise outside

Plural and Possessive

2.10. Usually, numbers, words, and letters that are used as words are pluralized by adding only “s” — no apostrophe: (“Harry loves music from the 1960s” or “Sally has two PhDs: one in English and one in History”).

2.11. Graduates may be referred to as alumna, alumnae, alumnus, or alumni:

  • alumna = one female graduate
  • alumnae = more than one female graduate
  • alumnus = one male graduate
  • alumni = a group of male or a mixed group of male and female graduates

2.12. Even if the singular noun ends in “s,” make it possessive by adding
apostrophe “s”: (“James’s lecture begins in an hour”).

2.13. For singular and plural nouns not ending in “s,” add an apostrophe and an
“s” to form the possessive case: (father’s pipe, Women’s Auxiliary.)

2.14. Plural nouns ending in “s” or “es” take the apostrophe alone: (“The University of Winnipeg Students’ Association is hosting a party”). When an organization’s name deviates from this rule, defer to their practice as a courtesy: (“She is a member of the Criminal Justice Students Association.”).

Dashes/ Hyphenation

2.15. Place one space on either side of the em dash: (“In the last century — when Johnson was a child — large families were common”).

2.16. Use an en dash for number spans, with space on either side of the dash: (“the class has room for 18 – 20 students”).

2.17. Remember to hyphenate compound adjectives that come before a noun such as “five-year-old girl,” “full-time student,” and “easy-to-follow directions.”

2.18. Hyphenate off-campus and on-campus when used as adjectives preceding a noun. (ie: The off-campus event was open to all students.) Do not hyphenate when used as a preposition and noun. (ie: The event was held on campus). The same rule applies when referring to on- and off-campus campus events or events held on and off campus).

2.19. Hyphenate part time when this term precedes the noun; do not hyphenate when it follows. (She has a part-time job. She attends school part time.)

3. Capitalization, Buildings, and Titles

Capitalization

3.1. In general usage, academic subjects should be listed in lower case, unless the subject is also a language: “She is majoring in geography. He enjoys his mathematics course. He is an English literature major.”  

3.2. Do capitalize specific courses: “I’m taking Psychology 104.”

3.3. When a subject is described by its official name, course, or program title, it should be capitalized, but lowercase when the reference is informal or plural. For example: She teaches in the Department of Geography. He consulted the geography department. In certain contexts, when it is clear the reference is to a faculty or department, and using a shorter form allows for brevity and clarity, it is acceptable to capitalize the name of faculties, academic programs, departments, and groups/units.

3.4. The word “Faculty” should have an initial cap when referring to the academic entity (“Faculty of Science” or “Each Faculty took part in the presentation”) but lowercase when referring to academic staff (“Please invite faculty and staff to the meeting.”).

3.5. In posters, advertisements and other marketing-focused documents, capitalize each word in a headline or subheading of with the following exceptions: a, an, the, at, by, for, in, of, on, to, up, and, as, but, or, and nor.

3.6. Avoiding writing in all caps as words written in uppercase text can be difficult to read and can be perceived as yelling.

3.7 Capitalize the proper names of nationalities, peoples, races, ethnicities, and communities. (ie: Black, Caucasian, Chinese, Cree, French-Canadian, Indigenous, Inuit, Jewish, Métis et al.)

3.8. Use uppercase when referring to a specific credential, lowercase when the reference is general. Abbreviate degrees without periods:

  • Bachelor of Arts (BA), a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice
  • Bachelor of Arts Honours degree [BA(Hons)]
  • Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA)
  • Bachelor of Education (BEd)
  • Bachelor of Laws (LLB)
  • Bachelor of Science (BSc)
  • Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
  • Master of Arts (MA)
  • Master of Science (MSc), a master’s degree in computer science

3.9. Master’s degree always has an apostrophe, though the program name itself is singular: “If you complete the Master of Arts program, you will receive a master’s degree.” (exception: Master’s of Development Practice, which includes an apostrophe in the program name).

3.10. When referencing an alumnus/alumna, try to include the graduate’s degree in abbreviated form with year of graduation using the last two digits, without apostrophe: “Anita Drinck (BA 92) was recently appointed to the Board of Regents.”

Buildings

3.11. When referring to named spaces, strive to use the formal name of locations and institutional entities in communications, particularly event invitations, agendas, and programs: 

  • Annabelle and Herb Mays Education Commons
  • Ashdown Hall
  • Asper Centre for Theatre and Film
  • Axworthy Health & RecPlex
  • Buhler Centre
  • Bulman Student Centre
  • Carl Ridd Sanctuary
  • Centennial Hall
  • CN Indigenous Resource Centre
  • Dr. David F. Anderson Gymnasium
  • Eckhardt-Gramatté Hall
  • Gupta Faculty of Kinesiology and Applied Health
  • Helen Betty Osborne Building 
  • Leatherdale Hall
  • Manitoba Hall Boardroom
  • Portage Commons 
  • Power Corporation Atrium
  • Rice Centre 
  • Richardson College for the Environment and Science Complex
  • Riddell Hall 
  • Sparling Hall
  • Thomas Sill Community Multi-Purpose Room
  • Wesley Hall
  • Wii Chiiwaakanak Learning Centre

Titles and Honorifics

3.12. Formal titles directly preceding a name are capitalized: Prime Minister Justin Trudeau; UWinnipeg President Annette Trimbee; Professor Joe Smith. They are lowercase standing alone, when it follows the name, and in plural uses: the prime minister; Joe Smith, physics professor; presidents Annette Trimbee and David Barnard.

3.13. Job titles following a name may be capitalized in more formal contexts — as is the case on stationery, in event programs and listings, advertisements, or on an invitation in which the person is noted.

3.14. Always capitalize these University titles, regardless of context: President and Vice-Chancellor, Chancellor, Dean.

3.15. In articles or citations, use an honorific such as “Dr.” only in the first reference and/or heading.

3.16. Use first and last name for the first identification of a person. In formal contexts such as media releases and articles, use last name in second and subsequent references: “Margaret Atwood’s nature imagery is very evident in chapter two of her most recent novel. Atwood uses this type of imagery to stress the connection between people and the land.”

3.17. Use of the first name for subsequent references is suitable in less formal contexts, such as internal messages when there is collegial familiarity with the subject: “John Johnson has retired from the University. We are grateful to John for all of his work.” Use of first name is suitable in articles and citations when there is a desire to convey informality.

3.18. Capitalize all proper names, trade names, names of departments and agencies of national and provincial governments, names of associations, companies, clubs, religions, languages, nations, ethnicities, places, and addresses

University-specific capitalization

3.19. Use capital “T” but lowercase “o” in “The University of Winnipeg” even when it appears in the middle of a sentence.

3.20. When referring to universities in general, do not capitalize the “u”: (“there are dozens of Canadian universities”); when referring specifically to The University of Winnipeg and the context is understood, capitalize the “u”: (“this policy affects all University departments on campus”).

4. General Usage

Headlines

4.8. Write headlines for brevity but not at the expense of usefulness or
description.

4.9. Use sentence case for headings in articles and news releases, capitalizing proper nouns. Do the same for photo captions.

Attributing quotes

4.10. Ensure consistency of tense, when attributing quotes within a story and across a document.

4.11. Normally, use the past tense when attributing quotes within a story, as it is more precise: “The past tense is technically more precise in this case,” he said.

4.12. Strive for simplicity when choosing attributive adjectives, to minimize distraction. Default to “said” in most formal contexts such as announcements, media releases, and citations. Alternatives to “said” may be used to avoid excessive repetition.

Times and Dates

4.13. Times should be written in full, including the suffix in lowercase (no periods) preceded by a space, when the time appears in body text of most materials: “The event begins at 7:00 pm.” — however the suffix can be made uppercase as a stylistic choice in graphic designed materials.

4.14. Spans of time should be separated by an en dash, and written in full. A suffix should be included, but not repeated: “11:30 am – 1:45 pm” OR “9:15 – 10:45 am”

4.15. Do not use suffixes on numbers in dates: “January 1, 2017” not “January 1st, 2017.”

4.16. Spell out the entire month unless space will not permit.

4.17. A comma is not used when citing month and year only: “February 2017.”

4.18. It is preferred that the names of seasons (spring, fall, etc.) not be capitalized: “Registration for spring term has begun.” Specific University events, however, may be capitalized: “Join us for Spring Convocation.”

4.19. Use “fall” to describe the season between summer and winter in all cases (“back to school in the fall” or “the fall term”) with the exception of “autumn” in reference to convocation.

Contact Information

4.20. Phone and fax numbers should appear without brackets and with periods, not hyphens: “204.786.9381.”

4.21. Whenever possible, an email contact should be provided along with a phone number and separated by a vertical bar with space on both sides: “Contact us at communications@uwinnipeg.ca | 204.786.9381.”

4.22. The University’s website address or a shortcut URL to a UWinnipeg web page should appear on all printed documents where it is reasonable to do so. Do not use web prefixes (http:// or www) as they are not required: “uwinnipeg.ca/convocation.”

4.23. Use web shortcuts wherever possible; if it does not exist, seek to create one rather than including a long and cumbersome URL.

4.24. Use the hashtag #UWinnipeg to identify the University in social media posts.

Emphasis

4.25. Italicize titles of compositions, including books, movies, operas, plays, TV programs, and songs. If the reference occurs in a block of text that is already italicized for general emphasis, use quotation marks around the composition.

4.26. Avoid overuse of bold text for emphasis, as multiple bold references in a single block of text can be both distracting and defeat the purpose of using bold for specific emphasis in the first place.

5. Writing for Web

Links

5.1 On web pages (and in electronic documents), hide the URL by making body text clickable.

5.2. When linking to non-html content, indicate the document file type in square brackets, along with the file size: “Parking Map [PDF: 7.1 KB].”

5.3. Rather than link the words “click here,” strive to make clickable text meaningful and descriptive.

Text

5.4. Start your content with the most important information, and be direct. When people scan web pages, they tend to start in the top left hand corner and scan to the right and down. As they move down the page, they scan less and less to the right.

5.5. Write in plain language to ensure your information is readable and accessable. This doesn't mean over-simplifying or leaving out important details. Using plain language helps to increase the chances that people will find, read, and understand your information from any device.

5.6. Try to break up long blocks of text on web pages with subheadings.

5.7. Avoid using underlines for emphasis on web pages so the text will not be confused with a hyperlink.

5.8. When writing web content, do not use all caps as words written in uppercase text can be difficult to read and can be perceived as electronic yelling.

5.9. When indicating dollar figures on a webpage, indicate the appropriate currency: “The conference fee is $250 CDN.” If there are multiple figures, it may be cleaner and/or more expedient to include a blanket statement: “All prices are listed in Canadian dollars.”

6. Inclusive Language

It is important to think carefully when identifying age, colour, creed, nationality, personal appearance, religion, sex and disabilities. Do not presume identities. If unsure, ask how a person identifies, and which pronouns they use.

Indigenous people

(source: Style Guide for Reporting on Indigenous People)

6.1. Indigenous is preferred over the term Aboriginal.

6.2. Whenever possible, be specific about the group, people or community, and defer to the community or individual(s) on how they prefer to be identified. In all instances, capitalize.

6.3. Métis is a nation-specific term connected to Indigenous people in the historic Métis Homeland, which includes Saskatchewan, Alberta, Manitoba, and extends into Ontario, British Columbia, the Northwest Territories and the northern United States.

6.4. Métis should only be used in circumstances where individuals and communities use the term “Métis” themselves.

6.5. Do not use Métis to refer to mixed-descent individuals, as there are many First Nations people who have some non- First Nations ancestry, but are members of First Nations communities. Use Métis to refer to those who identify as Métis and belong to Métis communities. Métis is best understood as a communal identity, and not for describing mixed-descent individuals. 

6.6. First Nations people are the largest Indigenous group in Canada. There are 618 First Nations recognized by the Canadian government. Use First Nation or community instead of “reserve,” unless the story is specifically about the tract of land allocated to a First Nation.

6.7. Inuit means people in the Inuktitut language while Inuk means person. Do not use “Inuit people” as it is redundant. As an adjective, use Inuk when describing a person (ie. “an Inuk Doctor”) but use Inuit if describing more than one (ie. “three Inuit doctors”). Inuit can be used an adjective for everything else (e.g. “Inuit drum, Inuit community”). Many Inuit prefer to be called Inuit instead of Indigenous.

6.8. Two-Spirit is a contemporary, pan-Indigenous term specific to the Indigenous LGBT2QQIA (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, Two-Spirit, queer, questioning, intersexual, asexual) community. Not all Indigenous people that fall within the LGBT2QQIA spectrum identify as Two-Spirit, and Two-Spirit people also hold multiple identities.

6.9. Land acknowledgements are an opportunity to create awareness and understanding with respect to our commitment to reconciliation. Visit Indigenous UWinnipeg for guidance.

Nationality, race and ethnicity

6.10. People should only be identified by race, colour, or nationality when it is truly pertinent.

6.11. Capitalize the proper names of nationalities, peoples, races, ethnicities, and communities. (ie: Black, Caucasian, Chinese, Cree, French-Canadian, Indigenous, Inuit, Jewish, Métis et al.

6.12. Always check with the person for how they identify.

2SLGBTQ+

6.13. The acronym 2SLGBTQ+ represents the community of identities that includes Two-Spirit, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer. That said, if a person prefers a different acronym or identifier, use that.

6.14. A person's sexual orientation and gender identity should be not mentioned unless relevant to the content.

6.15. Use gender-neutral language: “chair”, not “chairman”, etc. It is acceptable to use “they,” “them” or “their” as singular pronouns.

6.16. Gay and lesbian are the preferred terms to describe people attracted to the same sex; homosexual is considered offensive by some.

6.17. Transgender is an umbrella term for people whose gender identity and/or gender expression differs from what is typically associated with the sex they were assigned at birth. It includes people who identify as non-binary.

6.18. Two-spirit is appropriate only for Indigenous people who identify as such.

Sexism

6.19. Treat the sexes equally and without stereotyping.

6.20. Never assume that a family of four is a man, a woman, and two children.

6.21. Never assume that a couple is a man and a woman.

6.22. Use gender-neutral language: "police officer" or "constable" instead of "policeman", "firefighter" instead of "fireman", "mail carrier" instead of "mailman", "flight attendant" instead of "stewardess", etc.

6.23. The use of they (them, their) is an acceptable alternative to he (him, his) and she (her, hers).

Disabilities

6.24. A disability or illness should only be mentioned if it is pertinent to the story.

6.25. There are some terms that might be used in the scientific community that are not acceptable in casual use, include these terms only when required for accuracy.

6.26. Be sure to emphasize abilities not limitations, e.g., "uses a wheelchair" instead of "wheelchair bound."

6.27. Don't define people by their disability and don't use a disability as a label or an adjective, e.g., "a person with parapalegia" instead of "a parapalegic." Check with the person for how they identify.

7. Editing Resources

Helpful links

7.1. Helpful links for writing and editing web content and other documents:

7.2. Following these valuable resources will help ensure clear, consistent communications: