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EDUCAUSE uses The Chicago Manual of Style (16th edition), available online by subscription, as its main source of reference for style questions. See in particular Chicago's hyphenation guide for compounds and words formed with prefixes (7.85), available as a table in PDF and on pages 375–384.

Note that information that appears in this online style guide supersedes that in the Chicago manual. Always check here first for style questions. If you don't find what you're after here, please refer to Chicago.

Whenever possible, explanations of style and use are given in this guide; many entries have just the word, term, or phrase.

EDUCAUSE uses Merriam-Webster's Unabridged Dictionary, available online by subscription, as its spelling guide.


For comprehensive guidance for online style, see Wikipedia:Manual of Style.

MIT Libraries Virtual Reference Collection is an excellent resource for information ranging from acronyms through weather.

Abbreviations (acronyms, initialisms, and contractions) and IT terms often pose a particular challenge. In addition to MIT's site, the following are useful resources:


| # | A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Y | Z |


Note numeral and hyphen.

Note slash instead of x symbol. Example: The phones are staffed 24/7.

No space, no hyphen. Not 3-D.

3G, 4G
Types of cell phone networks.

Note hyphen and use of numerals. Example: They figure their candidate has a 50-50 chance.

8x, 16x
Format for values that denote the speed of drives such as CD and DVD drives. Example: The DVD-RW drive boasts write, rewrite, and read speeds of 16x, 8x, and 16x, respectively.

Acceptable abbreviation for September 11, 2001, when space is tight.


add-on (n., adj.), add on (v.)
Note hyphen when used as a noun or adjective. Two words when used as a verb.

a priori
Two words, even if used as a modifier (no hyphen); not italicized.

a.m.; see time

AA, associate's degree, associate's degrees; see degrees

abbreviations (acronyms, initialisms, and contractions)

Chicago uses abbreviation as the umbrella term for words we encounter daily like ECAR and spam. The word acronym refers to terms based on the initial letters of their various elements and read as single words (AIDS, laser, NASA, scuba); initialism refers to terms read as a series of letters (AOL, NBA, XML); and contraction refers to abbreviations that include the first and last letters of the full word (Mr., amt.).

Spell out the first instance of an abbreviation, followed by the abbreviation in parentheses. Occasionally the order maybe reversed; give the abbreviation, with the spelled-out version following the abbreviation in parentheses.

If the work has multiple chapters, spell out the acronym on first use in each chapter. There's no need to provide an abbreviation in parentheses if it occurs in the same sentence or if it's a well-known term like IT. Some common abbreviations need not be spelled out: CIA, FBI, MIT, UCLA.

ad hoc
Two words, even if used as a modifier (no hyphen); not italicized.

an EDUCAUSE Affiliate

Advanced Networking Project with Minority-Serving Institutions

Treat analytics and its variants (e.g., learning analytics) as a mass noun like information, taking a singular verb. Example: Analytics is the discovery and communication of meaningful patterns in data. [Wikipedia definition]

annual conference; see EDUCAUSE Annual Conference

annual meeting; see ELI Annual Meeting

anytime (adv.), at any time

anytime, anywhere (expression often used to indicate 24/7 accessibility)

Association of Research Libraries

asynchronous transfer mode

audio/video (A/V)

audiovisual (AV)

awards program, EDUCAUSE Awards Program
See the EDUCAUSE awards page for proper names of awards and fellowships.


BA, bachelor's degree, bachelor's degrees; see degrees


Note: this is an exception to M-W.


Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
Note that the ampersand is never spelled out.

Congressional bills that originate in the House of Representative should be designated as H.R. 1492. Note the period after each letter and a space before the number. Bills from the Senate are designated as S.R. 1493. (The numbers are examples only.)

board of directors, board of regents, board of trustees, board
Not capitalized unless full name is used, as in EDUCAUSE Board of Directors.

bring your own device (BYOD)

build-out (n.), build out (v.)



See the rule for -wide words.


Capitol Hill
The area in Washington, D.C., surrounding the Capitol, and on which the Capitol sits. (This is not named because it's a hill in the nation's capital.)

Carnegie Mellon
Formerly included a hyphen; the name has changed officially to exclude the hyphen.



cell phone (n., adj.; never hyphenated)


check-in (n.), check in (v.)

Council of Higher Education Management Associations (see CHEMA membership page for many higher ed acronyms).

chief business officer (CBO)

chief executive officer (CEO)

chief financial officer (CFO)

chief information officer (CIO)

chief operating officer (COO)

chief security officer (CSO)

chief technical officer (CTO)


Coalition for Networked Information

co-author, co-chair, co-host, co-sponsor, co-worker
Note: This is an exception to Chicago's rule and Merriam-Webster.

Don't capitalize unless it's part of the official name, e.g., Colorado College; the college.

Use the serial comma, which means in a series of three or more words or phrases, include the comma before the and. For example: EDUCAUSE membership is open to institutions of higher education, corporations serving the higher education information technology market, and other related associations and organizations.

connected age
Names of prehistoric periods are capitalized (Stone Age, Bronze Age, etc.), but similar terms for modern periods are lowercase (the age of reason, the information age, the nuclear age, etc.); see Chicago 8.73 and 8.72.

convener instead of convenor.

cost-benefit analysis


Core Data Service, CDS, CDS survey, but core data survey

cost savings (n.), cost-savings (adj.)

Council on Library and Information Resources

credit card (n., adj.; never hyphenated)

crowdsource, crowdsourcing (n., adj.; one word)

College and University Professional Association for Human Resources

cyberattack, cyberethics, cybersecurity, cyberspace
Note and do not change government’s two-word usage of cyber security, i.e., National Cyber Security Alliance.


Treat data as a mass noun like information, taking a singular verb. Example: The data is lost. NOTE: Data, Research, and Analysis (ECAR, CDS) uses a plural verb.

data center

data set

data warehouse


decision maker

decision making (n.), decision-making (adj.)

Do not use periods: AA, BA, BS, MA, PhD, JD, MD, etc.

departments and offices
The president's office or the chemistry department, but the Department of Chemistry.



dialog is used only for computers, e.g., dialog box.

digital rights management (DRM)

digital subscriber line (DSL)
Variations include xDSL, HDSL, ADSL, RADSL.

Also, dot-org, dot-net, and dot-edu. Alternatively, you can use .com, .net, .org, or .edu, depending on the context, but be consistent. Do not use dot-org and .org in the same piece.



"e" terms
EDUCAUSE style is to retain the hyphen following the "e" when abbreviating "electronic." Examples include e-business, e-commerce, e-discovery, e-learning, e-portfolio, and e-mail, though the rule applies to any word using this construction. When it appears at the beginning of a sentence, it should be capitalized: E-mail has become a widespread form of communication. The second word in the combination term is lowercase unless the term appears in a title or ad in which each word is capitalized: E-Learning Gathers Steam. Exceptions are formal programs such as e-Framework and ePortfolio (see below).

ECAR Symposium, the symposium

EDUCAUSE Annual Conference, annual conference
The phrase annual conference is capped only if preceded by EDUCAUSE. Use either EDUCAUSE Annual Conference or EDUCAUSE 20xx; avoid 20xx EDUCAUSE Annual Conference.

EDUCAUSE Center for Analysis and Research (ECAR)
Note: The name of the program changed from the EDUCAUSE Center for Applied Research to the EDUCAUSE Center for Analysis and Research in the summer of 2013.


An initiative by the UK’s Joint Information Systems Committee (JISC) and Australia’s Department of Education, Science, and Training (DEST).

Electronic Data Interchange (EDI)

ELI Annual Meeting, annual meeting

ELI Fall Focus Session, ELI Spring Focus Session, ELI focus session, focus session

ELI Web Seminars, ELI Web Seminar, web seminar
Capped if preceded by ELI.

em dash
The em dash is used without spaces on either side. When using plain text, substitute two hyphens for an em dash. (See A List Apart for a guide to the differences between the en and em dash, as well as HTML coding for the two.)

en dash
The en dash, half the length of an em dash and longer than a hyphen, is used to connect continuing or inclusive numbers, e.g., pp. 5–7; 1910–99. It is also used in place of a hyphen in a compound adjective when one of the elements of the adjective is an open compound, e.g., information technology–enhanced learning. (See A List Apart for a guide to the differences between the en and em dash, as well as HTML coding for the two.)

end user (n.), end-user (adj.)

enterprise resource planning (ERP)

See the rule for -wide words.

ePortfolio, Iowa ePortfolio
This unique capitalization is used only for the trademarked product developed by the University of Iowa.

Preferred capitalization of the IDPF, the organization that "develops and maintains the EPUB standard format for reflowable digital books and other digital publications that are interoperable between disparate reading devices and applications." Note: capitalization for their logo is ePUB.


ex officio
Two words, even if used as a modifier (no hyphen); not italicized in text.



(government, agency, court, powers)

file sharing (n.), file-sharing (adj.)

file transfer protocol (FTP)


first-come, first-served

floorplan (n., adj.)

Avoid the synonymous term free tagging/freetagging.


Frye Institute, the Institute

fundraising (n., adj.)



This is the generic spelling. If the word begins a sentence or if it is part of a formal name, the g is capitalized, i.e., Florida GigaPOP. Also retain the unique spelling of gigaPOP in the formal name where applicable, i.e., Pacific Northwest Gigapop.



handheld (n., adj.; never hyphenated)


headline style
Capitalize first and last words in titles and subtitles and all other major words; lowercase the, a, an, and, but, for, or, nor, and to; lowercase prepositions regardless of length, except when used adjectivally or adverbially (also see prepositions in headlines); and the part of proper name that would be lowercase in text (de or von). See Chicago 8.157 for complete guidelines.

health care (n., adj.; never hyphenated)

help desk (n., adj.; never hyphenated)

higher education, higher ed (n., adj.; never hyphenated)

Hispanic-serving institutions

historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs)

home page
Be sure to use it as two words, not a single word. An exception is the Homepage department in EDUCAUSE Review.


Stands for Hypertext Markup Language.



See Chicago 7.77 and the table on pp. 375–84 for a comprehensive overview of compounds and hyphenation, e.g., a two-and-a-half-year-old project but the project is two and a half years old. Below is a list of words we do not typically hyphenate when used as compound modifiers:

business continuity
distance education
distance learning
disaster recovery
distributed learning
fair use
financial aid
health care
help desk
high school
higher education
incident reporting
incident response
intrusion detection
learning object
learning space
life sciences
local area network (doesn't apply to LAN)
risk management
wide area network (doesn't apply to WAN)


No periods, e.g., "A photo ID is required."

identity access management (IAM)

identity management (IdM or IM)

information technology (n.), IT (adj.)

in-house (adj.), in house (adv.)

insource, insourcing

institutions' names
Some institutions include The as part of the official school name, e.g., The Pennsylvania State University, The University of Memphis. MIT is acceptable for Massachusetts Institute of Technology; Rutgers University is acceptable for Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey; and Virginia Tech is acceptable for Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, and UCLA is preferred for University of California, Los Angeles. (Check an institution's web page for its style, as well as the EDUCAUSE Membership Directory.) Note: Per Chicago, we do not cap The in running text or in front matter/biographical information, unless the author specifically requests it; however, we do cap The in a speaker's byline information in a conference program.

See the rule for -wide words.

Integrated Services Digital Network (ISDN)

Internet is always capitalized, but intranet is not.

Internet Protocol (IP)

Internet service provider (ISP)


Intranet is capitalized only at the beginning of a sentence or as part of a title, etc. Internet, however, is always capitalized.

Ivy League (always capitalized)

Referring to the Ivy League as well as a small handful of other select institutions.






jump start (n.), jump-start (v.)


Capitalized, with a space between it and the numbers, e.g., 512 KB. For units with a single-letter designation, the space is eliminated, e.g., 500W.


laser disk

Learning 2.0, Life 2.0
These terms and other variations of the Web 2.0 theme should be capitalized.

life cycle (n.), life-cycle (adj.)


LISTSERV is the trademarked term, often spelled Listserv. Use mailing list instead of listserv whenever possible.

local area network (LAN)


logon (adj.), log on (v.)


MA, master's degree, master's degrees, master of science; see degrees



mass noun
A mass noun (sometimes called a noncount noun) is one that denotes something uncountable, either because it is abstract {cowardice} {evidence} or because it refers to an indeterminate aggregation of people or things {the faculty} {the bourgeoisie}; the latter type is also called a collective noun. As the subject of a sentence, a mass noun usually takes a singular verb {the litigation is varied}. But in a collective sense, it may take either a singular or a plural verb form {the ruling majority is unlikely to share power} {the majority are nonmembers}. A singular verb emphasizes the group; a plural verb emphasizes the individual members. [Chicago Manual of Style, 16th edition, 5.8]

massive open online course (MOOC)

massively multiplayer online game (MMOG)
World of Warcraft is an example of an MMOG.

megabyte (MB)

memorandum of understanding (MOU)



mid-90s, but mid to late 90s

Programming that mediates between two separate programs, or programming between a software program and hardware logic.


Millennial Generation, millennials


See massive open online course.

mouseover (n., adj.), mouse over (v.)


multiuser virtual environment (MUVE)
Also known as a virtual world. Second Life is an example of a MUVE.


National Association of College and University Business Officers

name badge

name tag

This is an exception to the -wide rule.

NERCOMP, NorthEast Regional Computing Program
Note that NorthEast is one word, with a capital E. Typically accompanied by the phrase, an EDUCAUSE Affiliate.

Avoid Net (on its own) in text; spell out Internet instead.

Net Gen, Net Generation
A term introduced by Don Tapscott in Growing Up Digital (1999); use Millennial or Millennials instead.

Next Generation Learning Challenges (NGLC)
An EDUCAUSE-led initiative; "next generation" is not hyphenated and "generation" is not abbreviated. See also the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

net neutrality
Short for network neutrality, not Internet neutrality.

net savvy
A term coined and used frequently by the ELI.

nicknames and informal names
Nicknames should be enclosed in quotations marks, not parentheses, e.g., George Herman "Babe" Ruth. For informal names, Chicago recommends parentheses rather than quotation marks, e.g., Ramon (Ray) Maryn.


With the hyphens, but should be changed to nonprofit when possible.

note-taking (always hyphenated)

Spell out whole numbers below 10, use numerals for 10 and above. Use an en dash for continuing or inclusive numbers. Note: EDUCAUSE Review follows Chicago's general rule (9.2) below:

In nontechnical contexts, Chicago advises spelling out whole numbers from zero through one hundred and certain round multiples of those numbers. Most of the rest of this chapter deals with the exceptions to this rule and special cases.


off-site (adj.), off site (adv.)

on-demand (adj.), on demand (adv.)


on-site (adj., n.)

open educational resources (OER)
Treated as a plural when spelled out. Example: OER have transformed...

Open Knowledge Initiative (OKI)

open-source (adj.), open source (n.)

OpenCourseWare (OCW)

operating system (OS)


p.m.; see time


Patriot Act, USA PATRIOT Act

No hyphen; not PCI-DSS. If spelling out, use initial caps and place in parentheses after abbreviation. Example PCI DSS (Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard).

per capita (no italics; never hyphenated)

Generally, spell out percent when used in text, don't use % (exceptions are CDS summary report and other data-intensive copy). Example: Community colleges make up almost 21 percent of the EDUCAUSE institutional membership. Always use a numeral with percent and never hyphenate as a compound modifier: 5 percent profit.

Perl (programming language)

personal computer (PC)

PhD, doctorate; see degrees

plurals of proper names
Try always to use full proper names separately, as in "the University of New Mexico and the University of Montana" rather than "the universities of New Mexico and Montana."

policy making (n.), policy-making (adj.)


problem solving (n.), problem-solving (adj.)

point-of-presence, POP; see gigaPOP

postconference, postsecondary


prepositions in headlines
Chicago 8.157: "lowercase prepositions, regardless of length, except when they are used adverbially or adjectivally (up in Look Up, down in Turn Down)..."


proof-of-concept (always hyphenated)

public key infrastructure (PKI)

Avoid publically.



recharge (as in chargeback)

re-create (note to distinguish from recreate)


request for proposal (RFP)


Note: This is an exception to M-W’s road map.

role-play (v.)

rollout (n.), roll out (v.)


Second Life (no italics)

service level agreement (SLA)

setup (n.), set up (v.), set-up (adj.)

side effect

single sign-on (SSO)

skill set

Trademarked product from SMART Technologies.

smart classroom

smartphone (n., adj.)

Social Security number
Note: CMOS lowercases social security in this context.

Always spell out the names of states and territories when standing on their own, and unless it's a list or mailing address, it's preferable to spell out state names even when followed by a city (but use Washington, D.C.). When abbreviated, it's preferable to use the long abbreviation, e.g., Calif., Colo. (see Chicago 15.29), except when used in a mailing address (CA, CO, DC).

This is an exception to the -wide rule.


See the rule for -wide words.


tablet PC (generic usage), Tablet PC (Microsoft product)

Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol, the basic communication language of the Internet.

teardown (n.), tear down (v.), tear-down (adj.)

test-drive (always hyphenated)

Use numerals to state all times except noon (and midnight). So, instead of 12:00 p.m., write 12:00 noon. Always include the minutes, even with on-the-hour times, so it's 12:00 noon, not 12 noon. Use periods with the abbreviations a.m. and p.m. (lowercase, with a space after the number but no space between the letters): 5:15 p.m.

Avoid the redundant in the morning or in the afternoon when including a.m. or p.m. with a time as well as repeating a.m. and p.m.: 8:00 to 9:30 a.m., 8:00–9:30 a.m.

Abbreviate time zones in all capital letters, without periods. Time zones are listed below; they are lowercase when spelled out. Note that daylight saving does not have an s on the end.


Pacific standard time
Pacific time


Pacific daylight time
Pacific time


mountain standard time
mountain time


mountain daylight time
mountain time


central standard time
central time


central daylight time
central time


eastern standard time
eastern time


eastern daylight time
eastern time


Greenwich mean time


coordinated universal time


Our standard is to list an event with the local time and the UTC conversion for international participants, with eastern time as the default time zone for virtual events, and provide a conversion link. Example:

1:00 p.m. ET (UTC-4); convert to your time zone [during daylight saving time]
1:00 p.m. ET (UTC-5); convert to your time zone [during standard time]

time frame

time-consuming (always hyphenated)


Conference titles should appear in quotation marks, book titles should appear in italic, and book series titles should be set in roman type without quotation marks. Persons' titles should be capped in attributions and listings such as conference programs and ads. A title is lowercase and enclosed by commas when following a name. It is initial cap when preceding a name, unless it is a descriptive title. Examples:

Greg Sorkin, vice president, said...
Vice President Greg Sorkin said...
Jane Wilson, graphic designer, said...
Graphic designer Jane Wilson said...

toll free (n.), toll-free (adj.)
Note: Per Chicago; M-W always hyphenates toll-free.


total quality management (TQM)



touchscreen (n., adj.)
Note: This is an exception to M-W’s touch screen.

tribal colleges and universities


U.K. (adj.), United Kingdom (n.)


under way (adv.), underway (adj.)
Note: Almost always used adverbially, and frequently incorrectly used as one word in that context.

United States (n.), U.S. (adj.)


Don't capitalize unless it's part of the official name, e.g., "Duke University is located in North Carolina. The university is part of the Research Triangle."

See the rule for -wide words.

Use all caps rather than Unix (you'll see it both ways).

up-to-date (adj.), up to date (adv.)

Stands for uniform resource locator. In text, URLs need not include the protocol (e.g., http://, https://, ftp://) and can begin with www., unless it's a formal context like a book. In ads and some marketing text, educause.edu is acceptable (no www. is required).

U.S. Department of Education (ED)

U.S. (adj.), United States (n.)


Spell out, except in titles, when it becomes vs.

very high-speed Backbone Network Services (vBNS)

video game (n.), video-game (adj.)

video over IP; see Internet Protocol

video stream, video streaming



virtual private network (VPN)

voice over IP (VoIP); see Internet Protocol

Note: This is an exception to M-W's voice mail.


Note: This is an exception to M-W's wait-list.

web, web page, website, but Web 2.0
Lowercase the word web. The noun form is open for web page and closed for website. The adjective form is hyphenated but lowercase: web-happy. Web 2.0 and its variants (Life 2.0, Learning 2.0, etc.) should be capitalized.

webcast, webcaster, webcasting


weblog, weblogging
Avoid if possible. Use blog and blogging instead.


Most constructions that include wide at the end are hyphenated, including campus-wide, enterprise-wide, institution-wide, system-wide, and university-wide. Exceptions to this rule are statewide, nationwide, and worldwide.

wide area network (WAN)


Wikipedia (no italics)


working group (generic), CALEA Tech Working Group (proper)



This is an exception to the -wide rule.


Stands for Extensible Markup Language.



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