The Sussex house style

Our house style helps you to be clear and consistent. Use the right terminology and formatting in your work.

Introduction

We want all our writers and editors to follow the same style conventions so Sussex retains a consistent approach in its communications.

Following our house style also avoids confusion over terminology.

Most large organisations that publish information have a style guide, including other universities, newspapers and journals.

Our house style

Our style guide covers:

Naming

Abbreviations

The first reference to a name, even if it is commonly abbreviated, should always appear in full, followed by the abbreviation in brackets. The abbreviations should not be punctuated.

For example:

  • Brighton and Sussex Medical School (BSMS).

Subsequent references to the name should then be abbreviated.

  • University of Sussex Business School.

The first reference to the University of Sussex Business School should always be written in full. It can then be shortened within the same document to ‘the Business School’ or ‘Business School’, however it should never be shortened to ‘Sussex Business School’. The name University of Sussex Business School should never be abbreviated as an acronym.

  • SPRU – Science Policy Research Unit should always be written in full when it is first mentioned in a document. Thereafter, SPRU is fine.

Full stops

Full stops should not be used in abbreviations such as Dr, Mr, UK but should be used in e.g and i.e.

Ampersand (&)

An ampersand should be used when it is part of a proper name.

  • The City of Brighton & Hove ✔
  • The City of Brighton and Hove ✗

Ampersands should never be used in body copy or headings.

University of Sussex

The University of Sussex can be shortened to Sussex. This is encouraged, especially in longer documents, to avoid repetition.

However, the University’s name should never appear as:

  • UoS ✗
  • Sussex Uni ✗
  • Sussex University ✗

Whenever you refer specifically to the University of Sussex, capitalise the U. If you are referring to university generically, the u should be in lower case.

University job titles

  • Vice-Chancellor – always hyphenated
  • Pro-Vice-Chancellor – always hyphenated

Course and module titles

  • Use I and II ✔
  • 1 and 2 ✗
  • (i) (ii) ✔
  • (a) (B) ✗
  • Masters. Always capitalise. 'Our Masters courses'
  • Abbreviations of research courses should be written as follows. MPhil – Master of Philosophy, MD – Doctor of Medicine, PhD – Doctor of Philosophy.

Numbers

Number conventions

One to nine in words; 10 and above numerals. The only exceptions to this are:

  • at the start of a sentence where we always use numbers as words: ‘One hundred and ten men and 103 women graduated.’
  • for currency and percentages, where we always use numbers: 3% rise to £7
  • for degree terms, weeks, years: week 1, term 2, year 3, module 4.

Spell out ordinal numbers, for example first, second, third. The exception to this rule is when writing out centuries:

  • 11th century, rather than eleventh century

We do not use superscript when referring to centuries:

  • 11th century ✔
  • 11th century ✗

Roman numerals

Use Arabic numerals (1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,0) unless Roman numerals (I, V, X, L) are specifically required.

  • World War II
  • King George VI.

Campus buildings (Chichester I, Pevensey II, etc) use Roman numerals.

Fractions

Use figures for fractions other than one-half, one-third or one-quarter:

  • 3.5 ✔
  • Three-and-a-half or 3½ ✗

Note that hyphens are used when spelling out fractions:

  • The professor covered about two-thirds of the chapter during the class.

Large values

For clarity, use commas when writing numbers larger than 1,000. Million and billion should be written out in full in all body copy.

Percentages

Do not spell ‘per cent’ in full. The % can be used within text and in tables, charts and diagrams. All percentages are expressed numerically.

  • Only 5% of students preferred the second tutorial ✔
  • Only five per cent of students preferred the second tutorial ✗

Dates and times

Dates should be written as day date month year. Ordinal numbers should not be used:

  • Monday 3 August 2015 ✔
  • 3rd August 2015 ✗

Don't abbreviate days of the week or names of months

Always use the 12-hour clock when showing times. Hours and minutes should be separated by a full stop:

  • 5.01pm

Don’t leave spaces when referring to a time range:

  • 5pm-7pm

Use 12 noon or 12 midnight to clarify which you mean.

Text styling

Bulleted lists

Precede bulleted lists with a colon, and start bullet points in lower case.

Do not use commas or semicolons on any of the points, and finish the final point with a full stop.

Capitals

Use sentence case for all headings. Subsequent words are always lower case with the exception of proper nouns:

  • Making the future
  • The School of Life Sciences offers courses in biology, ecology and conservation.

Capitalise course titles, department names and units:

  • International Relations
  • Department of Art History
  • School of Life Sciences

Use lower case when talking about a subject area, but capitalise when referring to a specific course title:

  • if you are interested in media and communications, you might want to study our Media Practice BA.

Use lower case for seasons, academic terms and years:

  • autumn term, year 1.

Contact details

If your audience is within the UK, write as 01273 872560. Do not use (01273) 872560.

If your audience is outside the UK, place the initial '0' in brackets after +44:

  • +44 (0)1273 872560

Email addresses should always be in lower case.

In print: Web addresses should be in bold, but do not use http, unless the address does not include www:

Online: Use descriptive names when adding links to other pages, not the full URL (web address).

  • visit the accommodation website for more information ✔
  • visit www.sussex.ac.uk/study/accommodation for more information ✗

Hyphens

Hyphens should be used in compound words to show that the component words have a combined meaning:

  • pick-me-up
  • out-of-date.

Use a hyphen when a compound adjective comes before a noun, but not when it comes after it:

  • a well-known academic
  • the academic was well known in her field.

Compound adjectives before nouns should be hyphenated, as leaving out the hyphen can make the meaning ambiguous:

  • carbon-neutral
  • custom-built.

Italics

Use italics for titles of periodicals, books, plays, newspapers, films, works of art, and genus and species names in Latin:

  • The Guardian
  • Venus de Milo
  • Streptococcus pneumoniae.

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