Common Editorial Mistakes and How to Avoid Them


Communicating in a coherent and consistent manner is important to strengthening the Illinois brand. Our messaging is stronger when we utilize a consistent editorial style.

Target Audience

  • Content Creators/Writers
  • Design
  • Marketing
  • Social Media
  • Video/Photo

Brand Guidance

Common Editorial Questions

How do we refer to the UNIVERSITY?

  • University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign
  • Illinois
  • U. of I.

Do not use UIUC.

Do not capitalize “university” when it is used on its own.

How do we refer to faculty members?
Faculty members are typically referred to as professors. We do not include assistant or associate with the professor title.

Do not use “Dr.” unless the faculty member is a medical doctor or veterinarian.

How do we refer to students?
The preference is to use first-year instead of freshman.

Graduate students should be referred to as graduate students without specifying if they are master’s students or doctoral candidates. Postdoctoral employees are most likely postdoctoral researchers.

Can we use the Oxford/serial comma?
AP style does NOT use a serial comma. Our official recommendation is to follow AP style.

When should I utilize capitalization?
Heavy use of capitalizations in copy, particularly in titles, is discouraged. Please review the Illinois writing style guide and the AP stylebook if you have questions about a specific instance.

The university has many acronyms. How should I refer to them in writing?
AP style does NOT use an acronym after the name of an organization or agency. If you are writing about the National Science Foundation, spell it out in your copy on the first reference, but do NOT put (NSF) after the name. If it appears later in your copy, just refer to it as NSF.

How do I write dates and times?
AP style uses a lowercase a.m. and p.m. (with periods). It is NOT necessary to use :00 for the hours—8 a.m. – 3 p.m. is sufficient.

For dates with months, use the Arabic numeral WITHOUT –th, -rd, -st, -nd. Capitalize the first letter of the month and use the abbreviation if the month is with a date: Jan. 1; Feb. 2, 2023

A comma should go after the numeric date and between the year and the next word if in a complete sentence: Feb. 2, 1999, marks the date of the great debate.

Spell out the month and do NOT use a comma if no date is specified: February 2024 was the coldest month on record.

How many spaces go after a period?
Only ONE space is needed after a period.

How can I ensure my copy looks good?
Take time to read and re-read your copy before you post or publish it. It can be difficult to catch mistakes on your own. We recommended sharing writing with a colleague who can proofread it for you.


Anthony Hicks, Writer/Editor,

Maeve Reilly, Writer/Editor,

Katie Watson, Associate Director of Institutional Communications,