Dash (or em-dash) — Use a dash (—) to denote a sudden break in thought that causes an abrupt change in sentence structure. Place a space in front and behind the dash.
The student gave the speech — his stomach tied in knots — to the packed auditorium.
A dash also may be used to introduce an element added to give emphasis or explanation by expanding a phrase occurring in the main clause.
He spent several hours carefully explaining the operation — an operation he hoped would end the resistance.
Dashes may set off a defining or enumerating complementary element that is added to or inserted in a sentence.
He could forgive every insult but the last — the snub to his fiancée.
The influence of three impressionists — Monet, Sisley and Degas — can be seen in his early development as a painter.
In sentences having several elements as referents of a collective pronoun that is the subject of a main summarizing clause, the summarizing clause is preceded by a dash.
Ives, Stravinsky and Bartók — these were the composers he most admired.
dates — Do not abbreviate days of the week except in a tabular format. Always capitalize the days of the week and the months of the year. When only the month and year are used, do not separate the month and year with a comma. If the exact date is used, separate the day of the month from the year with a comma.
Always abbreviate a month when used with a specific date. Spell out when used without a date. When a month, date and year are used, set off the year with commas.
Yes: This began in May 2000.
Yes: He was born on Sept. 13, 1949.
Yes: They met on Jan. 23, 1995, and discussed the program.
No: The movie opened in Aug. 1998.
days — Capitalize them. Do not abbreviate, except when needed in a tabular format: Sun, Mon, Tue, Wed, Thu, Fri, Sat (three letters, without periods, to facilitate tabular composition).
Yes: Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday
dean — Only capitalize when dean is used as a formal title before a name.
Yes: Dean Joan Miller made the announcement.
Yes: Miller made the announcement.
Yes: Joan Miller, dean of the College of Arts, made the announcement.
Yes: The dean made the announcement.
No: The Dean made the announcement.
department, programs — Lowercase, except for proper nouns, adjectives or the official name.
Yes: All of her classes are in the Department of English.
Yes: He stopped by the English department to check on his degree plan.
If you need help determining the official name of a department, refer to the list under academic colleges and departments.
directions, regions — Lowercase directions (unless it is part of a proper name) and capitalize when they refer to regions.
Continue driving north on Highway 59.
The North won the Civil War.
The town has that Southern charm.
It’s western Texas, not West Texas.
He’s moving back to South Carolina at the end of this semester.
disciplines — The names of disciplines and areas of study are capitalized when they appear in the official names of departments and programs and when they are derived from proper nouns.
Yes: He double-majored in history and French.
Yes: He studied the history of costume and design in the School of Theatre & Dance.
No: He double-majored in History and French.
see academic colleges, schools, departments, centers and institutes
doctoral (adj.), doctorate (n.) — Doctoral is an adjective that modifies a program or course of study. Doctorate is the degree received. Do not add degree after it.
Yes: He entered the doctoral program in 2009.
Yes: He earned his doctorate in 2009.
No: She earned her doctorate degree from UH.
dormitories — Use residence halls rather than dormitories or dorms.
duration — To indicate duration or continuing or inclusive numbers such as dates, times or reference numbers, use an en-dash (a slightly longer hyphen). Put a space on either side of the dash. When using an en-dash, always use numbers.
Yes: 1776 – 1881
Yes: August – September 1998
No: The junior high serves students in grades six-eight.
Back to Top