This style guide is designed to help us produce consistent, clear and professional printed or online communications across the University.
For grammar advice, check the Lexico website.
The University’s Equality Policy Unit has guidance on making your digital and printed information accessible.
We hope you’ll find this style guide useful. If you have suggestions for improving it, please let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org and include ‘style guide’ in the subject line.
As a general rule, we use words for numbers from one to nine, then use numerals from 10 to 999,999, eg:
- three rabbits
- 15 rabbits
- 561 rabbits
Spell out numbers at the start of a sentence, eg ‘Eighteen people were awarded an honorary doctorate today.’
However, sometimes you may want to use numerals to increase impact and scannability, eg in titles or headlines and in online information – see Years, semesters and terms.
Include a comma in numbers 1,000 and above, eg 2,300, and 1,072,578.
For sums of money, percentages and units of measurement (eg metres, kilograms, tonnes, miles per hour) always use numerals, eg £9, 7%, 3 metres, 0.3 kilograms and 6 tonnes.
You can abbreviate the measurement eg m, km, depending on where it will appear and how much space you have. The most important thing is to use abbreviations consistently in the publication or website.
Spell out million, billion and trillion in full but use the shorter form (m, bn or tn) where you have limited space, eg in a social media post or a headline, such as ‘US stock market loses $5bn overnight’.
Write number spans in full, eg 20–29 or 152–156 (not 152–56). Note: we use an en dash, not a hyphen, in number spans.
1st or first? We usually spell out ordinal numbers (first, second, third, etc) but there may be times when it is more appropriate to use 1st, 2nd, 3rd, etc. The most important thing is to be consistent throughout the publication or webpages. Use the st, rd, etc at full size, not superscript: for example, use 1st not 1st.
For rankings we use numbers not words (eg 1st, 3rd) because for reasons of space and visual impact, eg:
- Top 10 in the UK
- 7th in the UK for business
Dates and date spans
On all University printed materials and webpages use the format ‘date-month-year’, ie 14 February 2019.
Don’t use the endings -st, -rd, or -th in the date, eg 14th February 2019 and don’t use formats such as 14th Feb, February 14 2019, 14/02/2019 or 02/14/2019.
Our standard format is ‘5–7 January’, but include the month if the period of time is spread across different months, eg ‘5 January–18 February’. Alternatively you can state this as ‘from 5 January to 18 February’.
Use a closed en dash for a number span – see Dashes for more about en dashes.
20th century, or in the 1st and 2nd centuries. Use the -th, -st, etc at full size and on the line, not superscript.
Spell out fractions in text, eg ‘New research from Leeds indicates that two-thirds of all Britons are pessimistic about the state of the economy.’
Use the % symbol rather than per cent.
Write phone numbers in this format as +44 (0)113 343 8481, with the international dialling code and spacing in the 4-3-4 layout.
Write times in the format: 8am–5.30pm or 8am to 5.30pm, not 8:00a.m.–17:30p.m. See Dashes for an explanation of hyphens and en dashes.
Use numbers, not letters, for years, terms and semesters when information needs to be as short as possible and easily scannable, for example in Coursefinder:
• Semester 1 – Research perspectives
• Semester 2 – Applied theatre practices
‘In year 1 you’ll study …’
For grammar questions, check the Lexico website.
Use double quotation marks for a quotation or reported speech.
In press releases (and more formal records) the quotation marks are preceded by a colon eg Sir Peter Hendy, the chair of Network Rail, said: “The Institute represents a game-changing opportunity for the UK.” We usually don’t use a colon in a less formal record, such as a feature article.
When you have quotes within a quote, use double and then single quote marks. For example, John said “Suzy is a great colleague. She’ll often ask, ‘Can I help?’ or offer to cover the inbox.”
When quoted speech is introduced or interrupted, this is usually separated from the speech by commas, eg “We hope this research will lead to a potential new drug therapy that could be on the market within 10 years,” said Dr Smith.
When a grammatically complete sentence is quoted, put the full stop within the quotation mark, eg The doctor says she hopes the research “will lead to a potential new drug therapy that could be on the market within 10 years.”
Use double quotation marks for partial quotes. For example, critics have called the play “an absolute triumph” and “the best piece of theatre I’ve seen this year”.
Use single quotation marks to emphasise text and make it easier for the reader to understand, eg Address the reader as ‘you’ wherever possible. But don’t use quotation marks if the sense is clear without them and they give too much emphasis, eg: We’re one of few medical schools to offer ‘wet anatomy’ dissection, helping you relate your theoretical learning to ‘real life’.
Use a UK, not US, spellchecker.
In words where -ise and -ize are both possible, use -ise, eg ‘realise’, ‘visualise’.
Take care not to confuse words that sound the same but have different spellings and meanings, eg: affect/effect; led/lead; principle/principal; compliment/complement; stationary/stationery. If in doubt, check with the Lexico website.
University preferred spellings, capitalisation and hyphenation
|Use …||Not …|
|Careers Service||Careers Centre (as requested by Careers, Nov 2020)|
|Coursefinder||coursefinder, course finder or Course finder|
|BUT fieldwork||field work|
|focusing, focused (single ‘s’)||focussing, focussed|
|Freshers’ Week (capitalised and plural), your Freshers’ experience||Fresher’s Week|
|Global Café (capitalised, no ‘the)||the Global Cafe|
|lifecycle (one word)||life cycle (two words)|
|sociopolitical (one word)||socio-political|
|teamworking (one word)||team-working|
|the Refectory||The Refectory|
|Q&A||Q & A or Q and A|
Write times in the format:
- 8am to 5.30pm
Use an en dash (not hyphen) with no space – see Dashes for more about en dashes.
See Capital letters
- Don’t include the final forward slash at the end of the address.
- The University’s corporate website and some subsites use www at the front of the address – www.leeds.ac.uk and www.leeds.ac.uk/energy
- Some University websites addresses use the format: entity.leeds.ac.uk (with no preceding ‘www’), eg library.leeds.ac.uk and engineering.leeds.ac.uk/chemical. We present these addresses in print in this format.
- In print we don’t use a full stop at the end of a sentence that finishes with a URL or an email address, eg Find out more about being an international student at Leeds at www.leeds.ac.uk/internationalstudents