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UTHSC Editorial Guidelines

UTHSC writers must be advocates both for our targeted readers and for our institution. Adopting a uniform style gives consistency and unity of voice to our publications. Uniform style also allows copy to be shared among publications without the need for extensive editing.

This section aims to help UTHSC writers produce documents for a general audience. In this section, we target those points we get the most questions about. When writing, make sure to have a trustworthy grammar reference handy for more detailed guidance.

Editorial Notes

Editing is more manageable if you keep in mind that your key function is to be the reader’s advocate.

The chief goal of any communication is to inform, whether in print or in digital form, and the writer’s job is to eliminate barriers to the reader’s quick grasp of the information. If you have to read a sentence more than once to figure out what it means, the sentence probably needs editing. Aim for tightly constructed sentences with modifiers closely attached to the words or phrases that they modify—without extraneous words—and you’ll help your readers get the message you mean to send.

Avoiding Wordiness, Jargon and Bureaucratese

Avoid using these words and constructions:

And/or: Bureaucratic jargon; choose one word or the other.

On a [daily, weekly, monthly, etc.] basis: Bureaucratic inflation; the daily, weekly, monthly, etc. alone.

He walked by daily.

Utilize: Bureaucratic form of use; use use.

They use a variety of vendors.

Prefer the simplest synonym unless a more complex one adds needed precision.

A list of wordy constructions and substitutions follows:

afford an opportunity – let, allow, give a chance
are desirous of – desire, wish, want
are in receipt of – have
at an early date – soon
at a later time – later
at the present time – now
at this point in time – now
at this point – now
beneficial aspects – benefits
by means of – by
comes into conflict – conflicts
despite the fact that – despite
during the course of – during
effect an improvement – effect
for the purpose of – to
for the reason that – because
give consideration to – consider
have a need for – need
in addition to – besides
in agreement with – agree
in a timely manner – soon, time
in close proximity to – near
in large measure – largely, mainly, chiefly
in order to – to, for
in regard to – regarding
in the absence of – without
in the course of – during
in the event that – if
in the very near future – soon, immediately
in view of the fact that – because, since
make a determination that – determine
make an adjustment in – adjust
make provision for – provide
make the assumption that – assume
not in a position to – cannot
over a five-year period – over five years
take action – act, do
take appropriate measures – act accordingly
take into consideration – consider
the extent to which – how much
to a large extent – largely, mostly
until such time as – until
with the exception of – except (for)
with the knowledge that – knowing, aware
without further delay – now, immediately

Gender and Language

Avoid unnecessarily gender-specific words and terms, as in using masculine terms for the general case or “he or she” when the case is unknown. Do not avoid them, however, at the expense of correct grammar. Careful writing can eliminate most such language problems, especially he-or-she constructions.

Alternative gender-neutral words: Use words that refer to both sexes in lieu of gender-specific words and terms. The National Council of Teachers of English recommends the following alternatives:

chairman, chairwoman – chair, chairperson
common man – average person, ordinary people
fireman – fire fighter
mailman – mail carrier
man-made – synthetic, manufactured, crafted, machine-made
mankind, womankind – humanity, human beings, people
policeman, policewoman – police officer


Listing Credentials

UTHSC’s Office of Communications and Marketing lists credentials without periods after names on first reference. The credentials are listed in descending order, following an individual’s name in the following order:

  • Highest earned academic degree (e.g. PhD, DPT, DNP, DDS, MD, PharmD, etc.)
    • list a professional doctorate, then a research doctorate (e.g. MD, PhD) or (e.g. JD, PhD) or (e.g. PharmD, PhD)
    • list doctorate before a master’s degree (e.g. DDS, MS)
    • UTHSC does not list bachelor’s or associate’s degrees
  • Licensure (e.g. NHA, RN)
  • State designations or requirements (e.g. APRN)
  • National certifications (e.g. QCP, RAC-CT, RAC-CTA)
  • Awards and honors (e.g. FAAN)
Readable Text

Type attributes in copy

Don’t underline text; use italics for emphasis, but sparingly.

Use boldface sparingly.

Don’t use all caps unless YOU REALLY WANT TO SHOUT.


It is neither necessary nor desirable to indent the first paragraph in a story or the first paragraph after a subheading. For second paragraphs and thereafter, either indent the first line or add space between paragraphs, but do not do not both. 

Displayed lists

Lists must have at least two items. In other words, a bulleted list must have more than one bullet point.

Use numbers if the list items are ordered in a hierarchy. If they are equally important, use bullets.


May 26, 2022