University of Montana Style Guide

Style Guide Index:



academic and other titles Capitalize a person's title when it's a formal one used immediately before the name: UM President Harley Davidson; James Bond, vice president for public relations; summer intern John Smith; Sally Jones, dean of students; journalism Dean Larry Williams. Honorary titles are exceptions: Bob Deaton was named Social Worker of the Year. Professor Paul Lauren is UM's first Regents Professor. The class is taught by UM Regents Professor Jakki Mohr.

Specify a faculty member's rank, such as assistant professor, associate professor or professor. Capitalize only proper nouns before a faculty member's title: history Associate Professor Shelby Foote, French Professor Emile Zola. Capitalize both words in titles like: Research Professor Al Einstein, Visiting Instructor John Fowles, Research Assistant Molly Keane.

Contrary to AP Style, UM Style does refer to any recipient of a doctorate as "Dr." AP reserves that term for medical doctors only, but the University of Montana uses the term for those who hold a Ph.D. as well.

academic degrees Don't abbreviate. Right: He earned a master's degree in sociology in 1969. Wrong: He earned an M.A. in 1969. See exception below.

Don't capitalize other than normally capitalized words when using the formal degree. Right: He earned a bachelor's degree in English. He earned the Bachelor of Arts (Master of Fine Arts, Doctor of Philosophy) degree. Wrong: He earned a Bachelor's Degree. Right: The student is working toward earning his Bachelor of Arts in mathematics. The student is workng toward earning her bachelor's degrees in mathematics. Exception: MBA is an accepted term. Right: She earned her MBA in 2013.

Don't follow a person's name with academic credentials. Right: geology Professor Tim MacDougal, who earned a doctorate at Yale University. Wrong: Sam Woods, Ph.D. Exception: "Class Notes" section of the Montanan magazine: Donald E. Olson '69, MBA '76; Justice John Sheehy, J.D. '43.


acronyms Spell out an organization's full name on first reference. Then, unless it's a well-known and easily recognized acronym, use expressions like "the committee" or "the group" to refer to the organization in further references. You want to avoid confusing the reader with what's called alphabet soup.

When necessary for clarity, follow an organization's full name with an abbreviation or acronym in parentheses. Right: UM's Center for Biomolecular Structure and Dynamics  (CBSD) received a large grant.

To form the plural of an acronym, just add "s," no apostrophe: ICBMs.

acting, former, interim Don't capitalize, but capitalize a formal title that may follow it before a name. He said interim Dean Julie Williams will be there. She has requested that former President John Swysgood deliver the presentation.

Adams Center Not the Adams Events Center.


Here's an example of a correct mailing address for the University:

University Relations 
Brantly Hall 
University of Montana 
Missoula, MT 59812

Use the abbreviations " St. ," "Ave." and "Blvd." only with numbered addresses: 550 Jones St. Spell out these words and capitalize them when they're part of a street name without a number: Hastings Avenue. Lowercase and spell out these words when they're used alone or with more than one street name: Higgins and Arthur avenues.

Never abbreviate "Drive," "Road," "Terrace" or similar words.

Always use figures for a street number: 8 Parkside Ave.

Capitalize and spell out "First" through "Ninth" as street names. Use figures with two letters for "10th" and above: 6 Fifth Ave., 200 31st St.

Abbreviate "North," "East," "South," "West" and any combinations of those words in a numbered address: 512 Central Ave. W. ; 235 E. Kent Ave. ; 240 S. Third St. W. Don't abbreviate with addresses lacking street numbers: Central Avenue West , East 43rd Street. Exception when referring to South and North avenues in Missoula: Sentinel High School is located at 901 South Ave. W. The trophy business is located on North Avenue in Missoula. 

adverse, averse "Adverse" means unfavorable: adverse conditions. "Averse" means opposed to something: I'm not averse to taking the scenic route.

adviser Not "advisor." UM follows the Associated Press Stylebook preferred spelling. But "advisory": He had an advisory role.

Advocates See UM Advocates entry.

affect, effect "Affect" means to influence and shouldn't be used as a noun (except as a term in psychology to describe an emotion): How will the strike affect campus? "Effect," used as a verb, means to cause: to effect change; as a noun it means "result": The effect of the strike is unknown.

African-American See black entry.

ages Always use figures. The boy is 5 years old. The 9-year-old boy lives there. The building is 4 years old.

agreement of subject and verb: some tricky cases

The diversity and talent of our students make us special.

Six months was long enough. "Months," though plural in form, is singular in meaning.

Neither Emily nor my parents think I'm normal. Neither my parents nor Emily thinks I'm normal. When two subjects are connected with "or" or "nor," the verb agrees with the subject nearest it.

Each boy and girl takes a crafts class.

Not only Japanese but also Chinese is part of the curriculum.

She's one of those people who take forever to get ready. Think of it this way: Of those people who take forever to get ready she is one.

The number of injuries was great.

A number of civilians were hurt. "A number of" means "many" here.

Politics is an obsession for him. Words like "politics," "mathematics," "physics" and "economics" are singular, as are all quantities or numbers regarded as a unit.

Alpha Phi Women's fraternity chartered at UM in 1918.

allude, refer "Allude" means to speak of something without specifically mentioning it. "Refer" means mentioning something directly.

almost, most "Almost" is an adverb meaning "very nearly but not completely." "Most" is an adjective (most fame is short-lived), noun (he deserves most of the credit) or adverb used when forming the superlative of adverbs or adjectives (most quickly, most popular). Do not use "most" when you mean "almost." Wrong: Bacteria can be present in most any food.

alumnus, alumni, alumna, alumnae Use alumnus or alumni when referring to a man or men who have attended a school. Similarly, use alumna or alumnae when referring to a woman or women. Use alumni when referring to a group of men and women.

Alumni Boardroom Located on the third floor of the University Center.

American Indian "American Indian" or "Native American" is now the accepted standard. UM program's official name is the Department of Native American Studies. "Indian" is acceptable on second reference. See native, Native entry. Also, see The Payne Family Native American Center entry.

among, between "Among" refers to more than two people or things, "between" to only two. The conversation was between Frank and Ellen. We chose among State Farm, Mutual of Omaha and Fidelity insurance companies.

amount, number Use "amount" for quantity, "number" for individual items: I was shocked at the amount of chocolate he ate. You wouldn't believe the number of people in the express lane who had more than 10 items in their grocery carts. Wrong: Please check the amount of apples in the fridge. See related fewer, less entry.

ampersand (&) UM Style discourages the use of the ampersand. Use only when part of a company's or department's formal name. The College of Humanities & Sciences offers many classes. 

annual Don't describe an event as annual until it's being held for at least the second year in a row: The third annual conference of the KAIKs will be in June. Wrong: The first annual picnic drew a crowd.

anti- Hyphenate all except these words:


antiparticle (and similar physics terms like "antiproton") 

Exceptions to Webster's include "anti-aircraft," "anti-slavery" and "anti-social."

anticipate, expect Use "anticipate" to mean expect and prepare for. "Expect" doesn't include the element of preparation: We anticipated a rise in enrollment. We expect 25 students to attend the session.

anyone, any one Examples: Anyone can attend. Any one of them could have been guilty.

apostrophe See Appendix A.

arctic, Arctic Circle, arctic fox, Arctic Ocean Examples: We felt an arctic blast. He visited the Arctic.

as, because Don't interchange "as" with "because." "As" refers to time: As I was walking down the trail.... "Because" indicates a causal relationship: The truck crashed because its brakes failed.

Associated Students of the University of Montana Spell out on first reference. If the University of Montana has already been mentioned, use Associated Students of UM on first reference. ASUM on second and subsequent references.

assure See ensure, insure, assure entry.

attribution dos and don'ts In general, name the speaker before inserting "said" or "says": "Pass the chips," the man said, not "Pass the chips," said the man. The inverted order is acceptable when the speaker is identified with a long title: "Pass the chips," said Bill Smith, vice president of Couch Potatoes International. Don't use an unnatural expression like Said the man, "Pass the chips."

autumn semester autumn semester is officially known at fall semester. Registration for fall semester begins in April. Fall semester began Aug. 25.

awards, fellowships, scholarships Capitalize formal names: Melvin and Myrtle Lord Award, Leslie M. Sheridan Scholarship, Rhodes Scholarship. Lowercase "award," "fellowship" and "scholarship" when referring to more than one of them: the Leslie M. Sheridan and Robert C. McGiffert scholarships. See fellow and scholar entries.

Lowercase generic awards such as "honorable mention" and "merit award" unless they denote a formal award as listed on a plaque or certificate.

Lowercase award rank: She took first place. Mary received a fourth-place Grand Award at the science fair.

awhile, a while Use "awhile" as an adverb: My in-laws plan to stay awhile. Use "a while" with prepositions like "for," "in" or "after": My in-laws plan to visit us for a while.