Aspects of the UAS style for how pages and content should be displayed, to ensure consistent look and feel, and compliance with accessibility requirements, are covered in this document which is taken from style briefings delivered during the 'UAS to Mosaic project'.
When considering how your content is written, please also consult Writing content for UAS websites.
You can search the style guide below by:
A B C D E F G H I J L M N O P Q R S T U V W
Don’t use full stops after any abbreviation, for example DPhil not D.Phil.
The first time you use an abbreviation explain it in full on each page, unless it’s well known (such as St for street).
Avoid using abbreviations in page titles, unless they are well known.
Avoid Latin abbreviations such eg, ie and etc. They can be confusing as people are not used to seeing them online. Screen reading software is often unable to pick them up correctly.
It’s better to avoid these abbreviations, and (re)write sentences using ‘such as’, ‘for example’, ‘like’, ‘that is’ or ‘meaning’.
Try and have the following sentences read out to you on naturalreaders.com:
You’ll find that depending on the English-speaking voice you choose, output is different every time: some voices pronounce eg as ‘egg’, some as ‘e g’ and some as ‘for example’. The same is true for ie and etc.
Capitalise the name but not the word 'term': Michaelmas term, Hilary term, Trinity term.
Acronyms are formed from the initial letters of words. Write them as a single string of upper-case letters, for example PVC for Pro-Vice-Chancellor.
Don’t use full stops after any acronym, for example, USA not U.S.A.
The first time you use an acronym explain it in full on each page, unless it’s well known (such as PDF).
Avoid using acronyms in page titles, unless they are well known.
Always include the post code, as this makes it easier to find an address on online maps.
Do not use Americanisms. Use the -ise/yse suffix rather than -ize/yze, for example analyse not analyze.
Only use ampersands if they are part of the official title or name: ‘Oxford Botanic Garden & Arboretum’ is correct but ‘Ashmolean Museum of Art & Archaeology’ is not.
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Use (round brackets) not [square brackets].
Do not use brackets to indicate that something could be singular or plural, for example ‘You should submit the document(s) by…’ Always use the plural to cover both possibilities.
Square brackets can only be used for correcting or commenting on direct speech: ‘I would like to thank her [Professor Black] for…’
There is no need to add square brackets around an ellipsis (only use ellipsis in direct speech).
Example: "You don’t have to be mad to work here… but it helps."
Do not use full stops or semicolons after bullet points.
Read more about how to display lists.
Always capitalise when referring to the Chancellor of Oxford University.
Read more about titles.
Capitalise only when using the full title of a college.
Example: St Hilda’s College was founded in 1893. The college is building more accommodation for students.
Do not use a comma before the last element of a list (sometimes referred to as 'Oxford comma'). Write 'training, development and leadership' not 'training, development, and leadership'.
It’s fine to use contractions like you’ll and we’ll if that is appropriate for your audience.
Avoid negative contractions like can’t and don’t – they are often misread as the opposite of what they say.
Do not use should’ve, could’ve and would’ve as they are hard to read.
Avoid contracting weekdays to Mon, Tue and so on, as screen reading software does not always pick this up correctly.
Always capitalise when referring to the executive governing body of the University of Oxford. When referring to any other council, such as a local authority, capitalise only when using the full name of the authority.
Use en-dashes, not the longer em-dashes: – not —. To type an en-dash, hold the 'Alt' key and use the numerical pad on the right of your keyboard to type '0150'.
Avoid using dashes in date ranges, age brackets or salary scales. Use ‘to’ instead, as it is easier to read (for human eyes and screen reading software).
The nursery accepts children from 2 to 5 years.
Our offices are open from 9am to 5pm.
From March to September the entrance fee is £5.
The salary for the post is £25,000 to £30,000.
Do not use a comma between the month and year: 4 June 2017.
Use ‘to’ instead of a dash or slash in date ranges.
Always explain what your date range represents, for example ‘academic year 2017 to 2018’ or ‘financial year 2016 to 2017’ or ‘calendar year 2017’.
Use email, not e-mail.
Do not capitalise any letters in email addresses.
Write out the full email address and hyperlink it.
Bad example: You can email us here.
Good example: You can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Capitalise Excel as it is a brand name: Excel sheet
Do not use exclamation marks.
Give professional and informative names to files that you are uploading to your site. Only add a date if there are two different versions of the file available online.
Read more about naming images and files.
Arrange lines of text so that the most important words appear first. This helps users scan the page for keywords.
Read more about frontloading.
Always lower case, even when referring to a specific government: UK government, Australian government.
Do not hyphenate words unless they would be confusing without the hyphen.
Do not hyphenate:
Use a space to separate each initial, for example J R R Tolkien.
Do not use italics to highlight words. Only use italics when you are using a foreign word that is not well known and explain what it means, for example when referring to legislation in other countries.
Example: German nationals can use their ID card (Personalausweis).
Avoid jargon wherever possible. Read the guidance on how to write clearly.
Use upper case for specific job titles: Head of Finance
Generic job titles are lower case: administrators, managers
Read more about titles.
Use active and specific link titles. Do not use 'click here' or similar.
Read more about links.
Use bullet points to make lists more readable.
Do not put semicolons or full stops at the end of bullet points.
If you are guiding users through a process, use numbered steps instead of bullets.
Read more about how to format lists.
It’s fine to abbreviate kilograms to kg. Do not use a space between the numeral and abbreviated measurement: 3,500kg not 3,500 kg.
Use 10km instead of 10k.
Use 7,000 instead of 7k.
Do not abbreviate million to m. Use £138 million not £138m.
Traditionally, numbers from 1 to 10 have been written out (‘one’, ‘three’). However, research suggests that numbers written as numerals (1, 3, 14) attract users’ attention and offer a point of fixation within a text.
We therefore recommend that you use numerals (including for numbers below 10), particularly when you are referring to data:
Do not use numerals when you are
You should try to avoid starting a sentence with a number. However, if this is unavoidable, you should still use numerals if you are referring to specific data:
Spell out ordinal numbers from ‘first’ to ‘third’. Use numerals for 4th, 5th and so on.
Do not use superscript: 25th anniversary not 25th anniversary.
For numbers over 999 use a comma: 2,574.
Use a 0 before a decimal point: 0.57.
Write ‘5 million’ not 5,000,000.
Use a % sign for percentages: 30%.
Use ‘to’ in time ranges, not hyphens or dashes: 9am to 5pm (not 9am-5pm).
Avoid contracting weekdays to Mon, Tue and so on, as screen reading software cannot always pick this up correctly.
Do not use other time formats, such as 8:00 to 17:30, for the same reason.
Example: We are open Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm.
Avoid using the passive voice, unless it's in headings. Write 'we carry out surveys' not 'surveys are carried out'.
Plain English rules help us write more clearly. They include:
Read the guidance on how to write clearly.
Do not treat organisations or teams as plurals: 'the team works with local authorities' not 'the team work with local authorities'
Write as a string of uppercase letters: PDF document
Check the guidance on creating accessible PDFs.
Use numerals and the % symbol: 5% not five percent.
Always capitalise when referring to a Proctor at Oxford University.
Use 'they' instead of 'he or she'.
Example: We will contact the candidate after they have submitted their proposal.
Refer to the guidance on inclusive language.
This is the correct way to capitalise and hyphenate Pro-Vice-Chancellor.
Use single quotation marks for direct speech or a quote. Use double quotation marks for direct speech or a quote within that.
Example: ‘I did not know that St Edmund Hall is often referred to as “Teddy Hall”.’
Always capitalise when referring to the Registrar at Oxford University.
Do not use semicolons. Instead, split your writing into separate sentences.
Sometimes semicolons are used to clarify complicated lists. In these cases, consider rewriting the sentence or using bullet points instead.
Bad example: The initiative is led by Mary Smith, Oxford Learning Institute; Robert Black, Finance Division; and Peter Gold, Oxford Botanic Garden and Arboretum.
Good example: The project team is led by
Capitalise Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram – any company or organisation name. Do not capitalise social media when referring to it in the abstract.
Format like this: 01865 (2)56789 or +44 1865 (2)56789 for international audiences.
see Academic terms
Use the 12-hour clock, with a full stop between the hours: The event starts at 5.30pm and ends at 7pm.
Use ‘to’ in time ranges, not hyphens or dashes: 10am to 11am (not 10-11am).
‘Midnight’ can be confusing, as it can be read as referring to the beginning or the end of a day. It’s better to use 11.59pm as a deadline.
Write time periods like this: The band played for 2 hours 30 minutes.
Always capitalise Chancellor and Vice-Chancellor when referring to Oxford University. Always remember the hyphen in Vice-Chancellor.
Capitalise statutory positions such as Registrar and Proctor.
For other titles, only use capitals when referring to the specific person holding a specific position:
Do not use capitals when referring to any holder of a role:
For more guidance, for example on members of the peerage and academic titles, read the Oxford University Style Guide.
Refer to the guidance on UAS tone of voice.
Oxford University and University of Oxford are interchangeable. You can use both in the same text or stick to one version for consistency.
Always capitalise University when referring to Oxford University.
Example: Oxford University is one of best universities in the world. The University is leading in research and teaching.
This is the correct way to capitalise and hyphenate Vice-Chancellor.
Capitalise Word as it is a brand name: Word document
Lead editors - email email@example.com
Site editors should only contact the lead editor of their site
See information on the UAS website support process