UTIA Editorial Guide: General Style and Usage

In some cases, it is best for our audiences’ understanding to use exceptions to the rules of Chicago and AP styles. Those exceptions are listed here.

Academic degrees

See Referring to Faculty and staff with Terminal Degrees.

Academic degrees—initializations

See Referring to Faculty and staff with Terminal Degrees.

agricultural campus

UT Institute of Agriculture campus is preferred.

alumnus, alumni, alumna, alumnae

Alumnus (alumni in the plural) refers to a man who has attended a school. Alumna (alumnae in the plural) refers to a woman who has attended a school. Alumni also refers to a mixed group.

When referring to a graduate, include his or her degree, major, and class year(s). Separate multiple class years with commas.  

John Doe (BS Food and Agricultural Business ’82)

Jane Smith (BS Plant Sciences ’08, MS Agricultural Resource and Economics ’92)

Capitalization and names

Building names.
Official names of buildings are capitalized: Morgan Hall.

Senior Vice Chancellor and Senior Vice President.
Capitalize the title when it precedes a name: UTIA Senior Vice Chancellor and Senior Vice President Keith S. Carver Jr. When following the name, the title is lowercase: Keith S. Carver Jr., UTIA senior vice chancellor and senior vice president. In less formal circumstances, Keith Carver is acceptable. UTIA Senior Vice Chancellor and Senior Vice President Keith Carver and his wife, Hollianne, hosted the event.

Colleges, departments, and offices.
Names of colleges, departments, schools, and offices should be capitalized: Herbert College of Agriculture; Department of Animal Science. Generally, on second reference, the common nouns should be lowercase: the office’s programs, the plant sciences department. Names that include “and” should always use the word “and” in running text. For display text, an ampersand is acceptable.

Note: On January 1, 2023, the Department of Forestry, Wildlife and Fisheries will transition to the School of Natural Resources. The school is acceptable on second reference.

Fields of study. See the UT Knoxville Editorial Standards for guidance regarding fields of study.


In general, spell out months. Note that both Chicago and AP styles allow for the abbreviation of months in tables, lists, and instances where space is limited.

Directions and regions

In general, lowercase north, south, northeast, northern, etc., when they indicate compass direction; capitalize when they designate regions.

When referencing a region within a state, lowercase the compass point unless it’s a widely known section, such as the three grand divisions of Tennessee: East Tennessee, Middle Tennessee, and West Tennessee.


See Referring to Faculty and Staff with Terminal Degrees.

farmers market


Members are 4-H’ers. Take care to identify 4-H as the youth development program for University of Tennessee Extension, one of the four units of the UT Institute of Agriculture.


Institute-wide and university-wide, but statewide, campuswide, nationwide.

land grant (noun), land-grant (adjective)

Lone Oaks Farm and the Clays

The full name of the farm is preferred. On second reference, Lone Oaks is acceptable. Avoid the acronym LOF.

For the Clays, only capitalize The if placed at the beginning of a sentence: The Clays is a premier hunting and shooting sports center located in West Tennessee. The design and construction of the Clays at Lone Oaks Farm is now complete.

Note: The Hunter Education and Shooting Sports Center at the Clays at Lone Oaks Farm is distinct from the Clays. Upon second reference, the Center is acceptable.


For running copy, use the appropriate style guide. As a general rule, Chicago style recommends all numbers from one to one hundred be spelled out. As a general rule, AP style requires that the numbers one through nine be spelled out; all other numbers should be Arabic numerals (for example, 10 or 200,000). Exceptions to these general rules are common; consult the appropriate style guide.

For display copy, use Chicago style. However, if straying from a guideline enhances the appearance of a piece without hindering the understanding of the message, it may be appropriate to do so. For example, Chicago style recommends that times be written like so: 7:00 p.m. For an ad, this time may look better styled as 7 p.m. When straying from style rules for display copy, use your best judgment, keep your intended audience in mind, and consider the importance of consistency among creative pieces.


In general, capitalize only proper nouns and adjectives, as in the following examples, which conform to Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary: Dutchman’s-breeches, jack-in-the-pulpit, mayapple.

For the correct capitalization and spelling of common names of plants, consult a dictionary or the US Department of Agriculture’s Plants Database.

For guidance when working with horticultural hybrids and cultivars, consult the Chicago Manual of Style.

Many horticultural cultivars (cultivated varieties) have fanciful names that must be respected since they may be registered trademarks: the Peace rose, a Queen of the Market aster.

In some horticultural publications, such names are enclosed in single quotation marks; any following punctuation is placed after the closing quotation mark. If the English name follows the Latin name, there is no intervening punctuation.

Example: The hybrid Agastache ‘Apricot Sunrise’, best grown in zone 6, mingles with sheaves of cape fuchsia (Phygelius ‘Salmon Leap’).


Occasionally, authors include in-text citations, reference sections, or both in their Extension publications. As the current AP offers little guidance regarding these items, they remain in the preferred style of the author.

Smith Center for International Sustainable Agriculture

On second reference, Smith Center or the Center is acceptable.

Telephone numbers

Never use parentheses around the area code, and never use periods or other punctuation to separate parts of a telephone number. Only use hyphens for separation: 865-555-5555.

Tennessee RiverLine

Spell out the name of the state, and take care to capitalize the R and L in RiverLine.


Use concise URLs: utia.tennessee.edu, utextension.tennessee.edu/publications. If necessary, set off the URL using bold or italics. Do not use http:// or https://. Also, take care to remove trailing slashes: utia.tennesse.edu rather than utia.tennessee.edu/.

To shorten a long URL, use tiny.utk.edu and choose the custom option. Examples: tiny.utk.edu/GardensGala, tiny.utk.edu/give.

UT One Health Initiative

One Health and OneHealth are general, international terms used to describe the overall effort that spans the globe. Avoid these general terms when referring to UT’s initiative. Use University of Tennessee One Health Initiative or UT One Health Initiative as needed for clarity on first reference. Use UT One Health Initiative or the initiative on second reference, not OH, UTOH, UTOHI or similar acronyms.