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a, an - Use the article “a” before words that begin with a consonant sound, including “y,” “h” and “w” (no matter how the word is spelled) and “an” before words that begin with a vowel sound.

a department, a eulogy, a historic event, an hour, an idea, an LSAT exam room, an NCAA record, an honorable man, an honor, a hotel, an HIV test, a UFO.

abbreviations and acronyms — If possible, use a shortened form of the word rather than an abbreviation or acronym. For example, on a second reference to the College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences, refer to it as “the college” rather than “CLASS.” In general, if it is necessary to use an acronym, all of the letters should be capitalized and spelled without periods. Unless the acronym is familiar to the reader, the full name should be used in the first reference. Use periods in most two-letter abbreviations: U.S., U.M., U.K., B.A., M.A.

The article preceding the acronym depends on whether the acronym is read as a series of letters or as a coined word. If the acronym is treated as a series of letters, the article used is based on the pronunciation of the first letter.

an NCAA position (contrast: a National Collegiate Athletic Association position)

a NASA grant.

An acronym, when read as a single word and is not used as a modifier, is rarely preceded by “a,” “an” or “the.”


An article often precedes the acronym when read as a series of letters.

the FBI, an HMO, a UFO, a NATO member, an NBA coach

If an acronym has no periods, the plural is constructed by simply adding an “s.” If it ends in a period, an apostrophe and “s” are added.

Many YMCAs, IRAs, the 1990s, the three Rs

four Ph.D.’s and M.A.’s

academic colleges, schools, departments, centers and institutes — The University of Houston has 13 academic colleges, the School of Nursing and the interdisciplinary Honors College offering 279 undergraduate, graduate and professional degrees. They are as follows:

Gerald D. Hines College of Architecture and Design

College of the Arts

School of Art
Moores School of Music
School of Theatre & Dance
Blaffer Art Museum
Center for Art & Social Engagement
Cynthia Woods Mitchell Center for the Arts

C.T. Bauer College of Business

Department of Accountancy and Taxation
Department of Decision and Information Sciences
Department of Finance
Department of Management
Department of Marketing and Entrepreneurship
AIM Center for Investment Management
Decision Sciences Institute
Graduate Real Estate Program
Institute for Diversity and Cross Cultural Management
Institute for Health Care Marketing
Institute for Regional Forecasting
Gutierrez Energy Management Institute
Stephen Stagner Sales Excellence Institute
UH Small Business Development Center
Wolff Center for Entrepreneurship

College of Education

Department of Curriculum and Instruction
Department of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies
Department of Psychological, Health and Learning Sciences
All Kids Alliance
Asian American Studies Center
Consistency Management and Cooperative Discipline
Center for Research, Evaluation and Advancement of Teacher Education
HEALTH Research Institute
Houston Area Teacher Center
Institute for Educational Policy Research and Evaluation
Institute for Urban Education
National Center for Student Success
Urban-Talent Research Institute

Cullen College of Engineering

Department of Biomedical Engineering
Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering
Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering
Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering
Department of Industrial Engineering
Department of Mechanical Engineering
Department of Petroleum Engineering
Materials Science and Engineering Program
Center for Innovative Grouting Materials & Technology
Center for Integrated Bio and Nano Systems
Center for Neuro-Engineering and Cognitive Science
Composites Engineering & Applications Center
National Center for Airborne Laser Mapping
Southwest Public Safety Technology Center
Texas Center for Clean Emissions, Engines & Fuels

The Honors College

Conrad N. Hilton College of Hotel and Restaurant Management

American Hotel & Lodging Association Information Center
Hospitality Financial and Technology Professionals Research Institute

UH Law Center

Blakely Advocacy Institute
Center for Biotechnology & Law
Center for Children, Law & Policy
Center for Consumer Law
Center for U.S. and Mexican Law
Criminal Justice Institute
The Environment, Energy and Natural Resources Center
Health Law & Policy Institute
Institute for Higher Education Law and Governance
Institute for Intellectual Property & Information Law

College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences

Department of  Comparative Cultural Studies
Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders
Department of Economics
Department of English
Department of Health and Human Performance
Department of Hispanic Studies
Department of History
Department of Modern & Classical Languages
Department of Philosophy
Department of Political Science
Department of Psychology
Department of Sociology
The Jack J. Valenti School of Communication
Hobby School of Public Affairs
Hobby Center for Public Policy
Athlete Assessment Center
Center for Couples Therapy
Center for Mexican American Studies
Center for Public History
Center for Immigration Research
Language Acquisition Center
Language and Culture Center
Texas Institute for Measurement, Evaluation and Statistics
Women’s Resource Center

College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics

Department of Biology and Biochemistry
Department of Chemistry
Department of Computer Science
Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences
Department of Mathematics
Department of Physics
Allied Geophysical Laboratories
Biology of Behavior Institute
Center for Advanced Computing and Data Systems
Center for Advanced Materials
Center for Mathematical Biosciences
Center for Nuclear Receptors and Cell Signaling
Institute for Climate and Atmospheric Science
Institute for NanoEnergy
Texas Center for Superconductivity at the University of Houston
University of Houston Coastal Center

School of Nursing

The Simulation Center

College of Optometry

Cedar Springs Eye Clinic
nJoy Vision Houston
Ocular Surface Institute
The Surgery Center
Texas Eye Research Technology Center
University Eye Institute
Visual Optics Institute

College of Pharmacy

Department of Pharmacy Practice and Translational Research
Department of Pharmacological and Pharmaceutical Sciences
Center for Experimental Therapeutics and Pharmacoinformatics
Institute for Community Health
Institute for Drug Education and Research
Heart and Kidney Institute

Graduate College of Social Work

Child and Family Center for Innovative Research

College of Technology

Department of Construction Management
Department of Engineering Technology
Department of Human Development and Consumer Sciences
Department of Information and Logistics Technology
Advanced Superconductor Manufacturing Institute
Borders, Trade and Immigration Institute
Subsea Systems Institute
Texas Center for Learning Disabilities
Center for Information Security Research and Education
Center for Life Sciences Technology
Center for Logistics and Transportation Policy

academic degrees — The following is a list of academic degrees awarded at the University of Houston.

BA Bachelor of Arts
BArch Bachelor of Architecture
BBA Bachelor of Business Administration
BFA Bachelor of Fine Arts
BM Bachelor of Music
BS Bachelor of Science
BSBE Bachelor of Science in Biomedical Engineering
BSCE Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering
BSChE Bachelor of Science in Chemical Engineering
BSCPE Bachelor of Science in Computer Engineering
BSED Bachelor of Science in Environmental Design
BSEE Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering
BSID Bachelor of Science in Industrial Design
BSIA Bachelor of Science in Interior Architecture
BSIE Bachelor of Science in Industrial Engineering
BSME Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering
BSN Bachelor of Science Nursing
BSPetE Bachelor of Science Petroleum Engineering
DMA Doctor of Musical Arts
EdD Doctor of Education
JD Doctor of Laws (Juris Doctor)
LLM Master of Laws
MA Master of Arts
MArch Master of Architecture
MAT Master of Athletic Training
MBA Master of Business Administration
MCE Master of Civil Engineering
MChE Master of Chemical Engineering
MEd Master of Education
MEE Master of Electrical Engineering
MFA Master of Fine Arts
MHM Master of Hospitality Management
MIE Master of Industrial Engineering
MM Master of Music
MME Master of Mechanical Engineering
MPA Master of Public Administration
MPetE Master of Petroleum Engineering
MPP Master of Public Policy
MS Master of Science
MSAccy Master of Science in Accountancy
MSBE Master of Biomedical Engineering
MSCE Master of Science in Civil Engineering
MSChE Master of Science in Chemical Engineering
MSEE Master of Science in Electrical Engineering
MSIE Master of Science in Industrial Engineering
MSN Master of Science in Nursing
MSME Master of Science in Mechanical Engineering
MSPetE Master of Science in Petroleum Engineering
MSW Master of Social Work
OD Doctor of Optometry
PhD Doctor of Philosophy
PharmD Doctor of Pharmacy


It is a doctoral degree or doctorate but not doctorate degree. Academic degrees are not capitalized when written out.

A master’s degree in psychology
A doctorate in chemistry
A Bachelor of Arts in English

Do not add the word “degree” after an abbreviation of the degree.

Yes: She’ll receive her Ph.D. this fall.
Yes: Joe Smith, Ph.D.
Yes: He has a B.A. in English.
Yes: He has a bachelor’s degree in journalism.
Yes: She has a Bachelor of Science in chemical engineering.

No: She’ll receive her Ph.D. degree this fall.
No: He has a bachelor’s in chemistry.
No: He has a B.A. degree in English.

bachelor’s degree and master’s degree is lowercase and possessive, never Bachelors degree or Masters degree. Use an apostrophe on bachelor's degree and master's degree. Formal degree names are uppercase and there there is no possessive: Bachelor of Arts or Master of Science.

academic departments/offices — Capitalize the name of the department and the words department, college and school only when they appear as part of the official name. Lowercase when used alone.

Department of Anthropology, anthropology department, the department

Office of Marketing, marketing office, marketing, the office

The Center for Economic Development, the economic development center, the center

The College of Pharmacy, the pharmacy college, the college

academic honors — Do not italicize summa cum laude, magna cum laude and cum laude.

She graduated summa cum laude from the College of Technology.

academic titles — Capitalize an official academic or administrative title only when it precedes the name of an individual. The exception is a named professorship or chair; capitalize when it appears before and after the name of the individual. On second reference, use only the last name.

see professor

University President Renu Khator
or Renu Khator, university president

John and Rebecca Moores Professor of Art Gael Stack
or Gael Stack, John and Rebecca Moores Professor of Art
Professor of Computer Science Mike Thomas
or Mike Thomas, professor of computer science or Mike Thomas, computer science professor

professor Thomas Jones
or computer science professor Thomas Jones or Associate Professor of Computer Science Thomas Jones

In print, do not address professors who hold a doctorate as “Dr.” That title is reserved for people with medical degrees.

academic year — Do not capitalize the names of seasons and semesters

spring semester, fall semester, summer session, fall 2009, spring 2000

Also, do not capitalize freshman, sophomore, junior, senior or graduate student.

addresses — Use the abbreviations Ave., Blvd. and St. only with numbered addresses. Spell out when the address does not include a number.

Yes: The president lives at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.

No: The president lives at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

adviser — not advisor

affect, effect

affect, as a noun, is best avoided.

as a verb, means to influence

The game will affect the standings.

as a verb, means to bring about or cause to happen.

He will effect many changes in the company.

as a noun, means result.

The effect was overwhelming. He miscalculated the effect of his actions.

ages — Always use figures.

His son is 24 years old.

He bought a 2-year-old car

The property is held on a 99-year lease.

A 4-year-old girl won the contest.

The boy is 4 years old    

All America — refers to a team

All American
— refers to an individual

all right
— not alright

alumna, alumnae, alumnus, alumni

alumna — feminine singular
alumnae — feminine plural
alumnus — masculine (or nongender) singular
alumni — masculine or mixed-gender plural.

alumni designations — Identify a UH alumni whose name appears in UH publications by placing the UH year(s) of graduation inside parentheses and behind an apostrophe.

John Johnson (’99)

If the individual did his or her undergraduate work elsewhere but earned a graduate degree at UH, use an abbreviation to show the graduate degree that was earned. There should be one space after the period and before the apostrophe.

Jane Miller (M.A. ’84)

If the individual earned undergraduate and graduate degrees at UH, note the undergraduate degree first, followed by the graduate degree.

Carla Jones (’88, M.S. ’92)

a.m. and p.m. — Divisions of the day are set in lowercase with periods. Numbers are used with these abbreviations, but never with o’clock.

Yes: She had an 8 a.m. class.

No: She had an 8 o’clock class.

When using a numeral, do not follow the number with a colon (:) and two zeros to show times on the hour.

Yes: The movie starts at 7 p.m.

No: The movie starts at 7:00 p.m.

ampersand — Only use “&” when it is part of a proper name, a company’s official name or proper abbreviation. In other instances, spell out the word and.

AT&T, M&Ms, Johnson & Johnson

and — Do not use a comma before and in a series.
          She has rehearsal on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday.

annual An event must take place two years in a row before it can be called annual. Never use first annual.

association, associated or associates — Do not abbreviate.

Athletics Director — not Athletic Director

awards — Only capitalize the word award when it is part of the name of the award.

Yes: The professor won the Esther Farfel Award.
Yes: She won an Academy Award.

No: She won an Oscar Award.

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