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Grammar Spelling and Styles


Abbreviations and AcronymsAn abbreviation is the shortened form of a written word.

In most cases, only abbreviate names on the second reference. Avoid using abbreviations that would not be easily recognizable for most readers. Try to use abbreviations sparingly. Avoid using more than one abbreviation in a sentence. For information about how to abbreviate specific items, refer to their particular entry in this guide or The Associated Press Styleguide.

Examples: tsp. is an abbreviation of teaspoon.

UK is an abbreviation of the United Kingdom.

Acronyms are words formed from the first letter of each word of a name or title. Do not confuse an acronym for an abbreviation. Acronyms are read as one would read any word, not as individual letters.

Example: UNESCO (pronounced you-Ness-co) is an acronym for the United Nations Educational, Scientific & Cultural Organization.

Academic degrees      Use at the end of a full name on the first reference only or in captions. Always use initials. When trying to establish someone’s position as an expert in a story, refer only to their specialty rather than using the initials of their degree(s). Do not use periods between letters of academic degree. MD, not M.D.; PhD, not Ph.D.

Examples: John Smith, MD, seen here, with his patients Jane Doe and her daughter.

Dr. John Smith, an obstetrician, says that advances in medicine have contributed to a decline in infant mortality rates.

Accept, exceptAccept has several different meanings but in general means one of three things: to willingly receive something, to give permission or approval to or to regard as proper or an ultimate truth.

Except refers to an exclusion or something outside of the ordinary.

Act Capitalize when using act as a piece of legislation.

Example: The Dream Act

Addresses Use abbreviations for street, avenue and boulevard when writing numbered addresses. All other street designations (lane, circle, alley, etc.) should be spelled out.

Do not spell out numbers in addresses. Only use the numeric form for the house or building number. However, street names that use ordinal numbers 1-9 should be spelled out and capitalized.

Examples: 1234 Main St.; 7654 Willow Circle; 745 Fifth Ave.

Affect, effectAffect is most commonly used as a verb, meaning to influence. There is seldom a need to use affect as a noun in daily language, unless describing an emotion.

Example: Supporting local businesses affects the local economy.

Effect can be used as either a verb or a noun. As a verb, it means to cause. In its noun form, it means a result.

Examples: Widespread protests effected the fall of the regime.

The fall of the regime was the effect of widespread protests.

Ages Numerals should always be used for living things. For inanimate objects or when used at the beginning of a sentence, spell out the number. When expressed as an adjective before a noun or as a substitute for a noun, use a combination of numerals and hyphens.

Examples: John Doe, 35, is a rising star in the organization.

John Doe is 35 years old.

Thirty-five-year-old John Doe is on the fast-track to success in the organization.

The five-year-old building is already in need of repairs.

AIDS Use the acronym in all references to acquired immune deficiency syndrome. Also known as acquired immunodeficiency syndrome.

All- Use a hyphen when using this as a prefix.

Examples: all-around; all-encompassing

Alumnus, alumni; alumna, alumnae Alumnus is the singular, masculine form of alumni. Alumna is the singular, feminine form of alumnae. Use alumni when referring to a group of men and women.

American Medical Association Only use initials AMA on the second and subsequent references.

Ampersand (&) Use only when it is part of the name of an organization or a composition.

Examples: U.S. News & World Report; House & Garden Magazine

am/pm See time. Not a.m. or AM.

Annual Describes an event that happens once every year. Events cannot be considered annual unless they have been held for at least two successive years. If reporting on an event that is the first of an event to be held annually, note that rather than labeling it as an annual event. Do not use the description “first annual.” Use inaugural.

Another Do not use as a synonym for additional. Only use when it doubles the original amount mentioned.

Examples:  Twenty people have signed up for classes; another 20 are expected to sign up soon.    

Fifteen people agreed with the decision while another 15 dissented.

Wrong: Three stores were severely damaged in the flood. Another 10 suffered only minor damages.


Ante- See the prefixes entry.

Anti- All words containing this prefix should be hyphenated, except those below. Note that all physics terms that use this prefix should not be hyphenated.

  • Antibiotic
  • Antibody
  • Anticlimax
  • Antidepressant
  • Antidote
  • Antifreeze
  • Antigen
  • Antihistamine
  • Antiknock
  • Antimatter
  • Antimony
  • Antiparticle
  • Antipasto
  • Antiperspirant
  • Antiphon
  • Antiphony
  • Antiseptic
  • Antiserum
  • Antithesis
  • Antitoxin
  • Antitrust
  • Antitussive

Anticipate/expect When one anticipates something, there is an implied element of preparation for the coming event. Expect does not imply that preparations have been made for what is to come.

Anybody, any body, any one, anyone When writing in general terms, use one word. When the emphasis is placed on a single element, use two words.

Examples: The right smoking cessation program can help anyone kick the habit.

Any one of the many programs available could help you quit smoking.


Attorney/lawyer In general, the terms are interchangeable. However, an attorney can technically be anyone who acts on behalf of another. A lawyer is someone who can practice law as an officer of the court.



Baby boomer Refers to the generation born after World War II who were in their late teens and early 20s during the 1960s and 1970s. Always lower-case and never hyphenated.

Examples: He is a baby boomer.

He is of the baby-boomer generation.

Bachelor of Arts/Science Bachelor of ___ or a bachelor’s degree can be used rather than the full title. See the academic degrees entry for further guidance.

Bi- Follows the rules under the prefixes entry.

Biannual, biennial Something that occurs biannually occurs twice each year. An event that occurs biennially occurs once every two years.

Bimonthly, biweekly Bimonthly and biweekly refer to events that occur once every two months or once every two weeks, respectively. Semimonthly and semiweekly refer to events that occur twice each month or twice each week.

Broadcast Use this for both present and past tense. Broadcasted is unacceptable.

By- See the prefixes entry for rules.


Call letters Capitalize all letters in the name of a broadcast station. Use a hyphen to separate the individual call letters from the base call letters. It is not always necessary to include the base call letters. They should be excluded on a second reference to the station.

Examples: WRNR-FM; WJZ-TV

Can’t hardly Although grammatically correct, it implies a double negative, which is never acceptable. Avoid using this phrase. The preferred form is can hardly.

Capital/capitol A capital is a city that is the seat of a government. It can also be money, property or equipment used by a company.

A capitol is a building or group of buildings where legislative bodies meet and conduct business. Capitalize capitol when referring to the building in Washington, D.C., or any of the state capitol buildings. Do not capitalize when referring to  multiple buildings or using generalized terms.

Examples: The Capitol building in Virginia was recently renovated.

There are 51 capitol buildings in the United States.

CapitalizationThe act of making the first letter of a word uppercase. Capitalize the following:

  • The first word of a sentence
  • The first word after a bullet
  • Proper nouns (official names of places, people or companies)
  • Proper names (the Democratic Party, Fleet Street, etc.)
  • Capitalize the proper names of all UCLA properties.
  • Some common names. A common name is used when there is no official name for an area or place, but has a well-known moniker.
    : The Green Zone; Ground Zero.
  • Derivatives (words that are derived from a proper noun) like American, Marxism, etc.
  • Compositions like names of publications, music, works of art, television programs, etc. Capitalization of compositions should match that of the original publication. When writing an original publication, capitalize the first words and all principal words in the title as well as conjunctions and prepositions four letters or more.
  • Titles, including but not limited to, Dr., Mrs., Mr., and Ms. Use titles only on the first reference to a person. On second and subsequent references, use only the last name. Note that medical MDs should have the abbreviation Dr. before their last name on second and subsequent references. For clarification, see the Doctor entry.
  • Abbreviations. CDC. Never use periods between the letters. Exceptions include D.C. (when referring to the nation’s capital, Washington, District of Columbia).

Caretaker Always one word.

CCUCritical Care Unit (CCU), upper case.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention The abbreviation CDC is acceptable on the second and subsequent references.

Certified Registered Nurse Practitioner The abbreviation CRNP is acceptable in all references.

City Follow rules of capitalization. When using more generalized terms, always lowercase.

Click hereMUST be avoided. Most Web users intuitively know to “click” at a hyperlink. The link should be the part of the text that describes the function. Example:  Browse Common Questions.  Use terms such as Read More, Learn more, View, For More Information, or Download.

Co- Hyphenate when creating a word that indicates status. In other combinations, do not hyphenate.

Examples: Co-pilot; co-author; Coexist; Cooperation

Note that cooperation and similar words are exceptions to the rule that prefixes should be hyphenated when the following word begins with the same vowel.

CoinsuranceNot co-insurance.

Coordination of benefitsSpell out initial reference. May be shortened to COB upon subsequent references in the same article.

Comparison of benefitsAlways spell out.

CopayNo hyphen. Not copayment, not co-pay, not co-payment. 

Complementary/Complimentary Complementary refers to the ability of a person or item to enhance or add to another. Complimentary is in reference to something that is free of charge.

Composition titles Put titles of books, chapters, magazine articles, lectures, seminars, films and TV shows in italics. Italicize titles of magazines, journals and newspapers.

Examples: Good Morning, America; New England Journal of Medicine;   

Chapter 2; The Capital-Gazette.

Comma See Punctuation.

CT scan The abbreviation is acceptable for all references. The abbreviation stands for computerized tomography. Never write CAT scan, which is the popular pronunciation.


Dates Only abbreviate the following months: Jan., Feb., Aug., Sept., Oct., Nov., Dec. Always capitalize them. Always use the cardinal number.

Example: Oct. 3, 2011 not Oct. 3rd, 2011

Days of the week Always capitalize. Never abbreviate unless they are used in a tabular calendar.

Diseases Never capitalize unless they are known by the name of the person who identified the disease or they come at the beginning of a sentence.

Examples: arthritis not Arthritis; Alzheimer’s disease

Disabled, handicapped, impaired Never mention a person’s disability unless it is crucial to the story. Of the three terms mentioned, the preferred term is disabled.

Doctor Abbreviate to Dr. when describing a medical doctor. All others with doctorate degrees should have their academic credentials follow their names on the first reference only. The abbreviation should be used only on second and subsequent references, as the abbreviation MD should follow their full name on the first reference. Never write Dr. John Smith, MD. See the entry MD for further clarification.

Doctor of Obstetrics The abbreviation DO is acceptable in all references. See the Academic Degrees and Doctor entries for further clarification.

Doctor of Dental Surgery The abbreviation DDS is acceptable in all references. See the Academic Degrees and Doctor entries for further clarification.

Doctor of Podiatric Medicine The abbreviation DPM is acceptable in all references. See the Academic Degrees and Doctor entries for further clarification.

DownloadOne word


Each other, one another Two people look at each other, more than two look at one another. When the number is undefined, either phrase can be used.

EDEmergency Department (ED)

Either…or; Neither…nor The nouns that follow these words do not constitute a compound subject; they are alternate subjects and require a verb that agrees with the closer subject.

Examples: Neither they nor he is going.

Neither he nor they are going.

Email Never hyphenate.

Everyone/every one Two words when it means each individual item. One word when used as a pronoun meaning all persons.

Extra- Follow the rules of prefixes.


Facebook A social networking site that allows users to share videos, music and links with friends. When posting to Facebook, follow all grammatical and spelling standards as explained in this guide and The Associated Press Stylebook.

First quarter/First-quarter Hyphenate when used as a compound modifier.

Examples: The company released a financial statement for the first quarter.

The company released a first-quarter financial statement.

Form titlesUse the proper name at the top of the form to name the .PDF document for online posting. Examples:  Release of Information.pdf, Coordination of Benefits.pdf, Registration and Prescription Order Form.pdf. Also, ensure the revision date appears at the bottom left of the document for easy identification. Use the Adobe Acrobat icon or label with [PDF], so the user knows they will download a document.

Full- Hyphenate when used to form compound modifiers

Examples: Full-dress; Full-page; Full-fledged; Full-scale; Full-length

Fully fundedCommercial health plans. Use only when necessary. Do not hyphenate -ly adverbs. So avoid fully-funded, fully-insured.

Full time/full-time Hyphenate when used as a compound modifier.


Governor Capitalize and abbreviate as Gov. (singular) or Govs. (plural)


HealthcareOne word


HIPAAHealth Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996.  Not HIPPA. 

HMOWidely used acronym for health maintenance organization health plan product

Holidays and holy days Always capitalize the name of the holiday or holy day.

HospitalsWrite out the full name of each UCLA hospital, except for an internal document, which a consumer will never read.

Hours of operation Spell out days of the week, followed by a colon. Use an en dash to denote a time span. Follow the time construct in the Time entry.

Example: Monday-Thursday: 10 am 4:30 pm

Hyper- Follow the rules of prefixes.


Impact While grammatically correct to use its verb form when referring to something that has had an effect on one’s life, avoid using it in this manner. It can cause confusion in the medical setting as it has a medical definition (when something is impacted, it is either blocked or there is something lodged in a bodily passage; it can also mean that two pieces of bone have been driven together or that a tooth is wedged between the jawbone and another tooth.)

Instead, use affect.

In/intoIn indicates location. Into indicates movement.

Examples: She was in the ER.

Her family walked into her room from the hall.

In networkIn-network (adjective).


InnovativeAvoid this term in all health plan content unless it can be sourced to a specific, non-UCLA Health document identifying the program, facility or project noted as innovative.

Inquire/inquiry Never enquire or enquiry.

Insurance, insurance plan, or insurance productUse health plan or health plan product, avoid insurance product except where required by law.

Inter- Follow the rules in the prefixes entry.


Intrauterine Device Abbreviate only on the second reference to IUD.

It’s/ItsIt’s is a contraction of it is or it has. Its is the possessive form of the gender-neutral pronoun.


Junior/Senior Only abbreviate at the end of a full name. It should be preceded by a comma.

Example: Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.


Languages Capitalize the proper names of languages and dialects.

-less Never use a hyphen before this suffix.


Likable Never likeable. 

-like Do not precede this suffix by a hyphen unless the letter L would be tripled.

Examples: Businesslike; Shell-like

Like Follow with a hyphen when used as a prefix meaning similar to.

Examples: Like-minded; Like-natured

Like v. as Use like as a preposition to compare noun and pronouns. It requires an object.

Example:  Jim blocks like a pro.

The conjunction as is the correct word to introduce clauses.

Example:  Jim blocks the linebacker as he should.

Login, logon, logoff Write as two words when using as verbs. As they are written in this entry, they are nouns.

Examples: The login is 12345.

Please log in to your computer.

Long term, long-term Hyphenate when using as a compound modifier.

Examples: We will win in the long term.

He has a long-term assignment.


Managed careFor health plan use, use in-network (adjective) whenever possible.

MD The acceptable abbreviation on all references for medical doctor. Do not include periods. Although the abbreviation is acceptable in all references, only use this abbreviation after the first mention of a medical doctor after their full name. For subsequent references, use the abbreviation Dr. before their last name. DO NOT use periods with degrees, as in M.D., Ph.D.

Example: John Smith, MD

Second Mention: Dr. John Smith

Medevac An acceptable abbreviation on all references to medical evacuation.

Medicaid Always capitalized, as it is a proper noun.

Medicare Always capitalized, as it is a proper noun.

Mid- Follow the rules of prefixes, except when followed by a figure. Ex: mid-40s

Military titles Capitalize a military rank when used as a formal title before an individual’s name. On the first reference, use the appropriate title before the full name of a member of the military. Subsequent references should only use the service-member’s last name.

Months See the dates entry.


National Institutes of HealthNIH on second reference.

Nationalities and races Capitalize the proper names of nationalities and races. Lowercase black and white. Never use yellow, red or mulatto to describe a person’s ethnicity unless directly quoting.

Numerals Spell out numbers one through nine or at the beginning of a sentence. Use ordinal numbers (1st, 2nd, 3rd, etc.) when the sequence has been assigned in forming names (the 4th Ward). Only use a number symbol as an abbreviation for number when establishing rank (ex. We’re #1). When writing out a headline or a chapter name, always use the numeral, even for numbers one through nine.


OB/GYN The acceptable abbreviation for obstetrician/gynecologist. The abbreviation is acceptable in all references.

Online Not on-line or on line. Use only when necessary as it is usually implied.

One Hyphenate when used in writing fractions.

Examples: one-half; one-third

Overall A single word when used as an adjective or adverb.

outpatient Not out-patient.

out of networkOut-of-network (adjective), not non-network.

Out-of-pocketOut-of-pocket (adjective).


Page numbers Never abbreviate page as pg. Follow with figures.

Example: page 13

Password Always one word, never capitalized except at the beginning of a sentence.

PCP Primary-care physician. Spell out on initial reference; PCP may be used for subsequent references.

PDF Portable Document File. The file format PDF is acceptable; however, it should primarily be used to display a document intact on the Web (such as a newsletter or form). PDF documents should primarily be housed in the download library for the appropriate constituent. When not housed in the library a note to the user about needing Adobe Reader to view the document is recommended and the note should be a link to www.adobe.com.

Percent Not per cent. Use the percent symbol % when numbers appear in a graph or chart.

Personifications Always capitalize.

Examples: Mother Nature; Old Man Winter

Pinterest A social networking site that allows you to “pin” pictures, infographics and other content

Phone numbers and extensions Always use the following format: (310) 794-1000 x1057

Physician Assistant The abbreviation PA is acceptable in all references.

PIN Personal Identification Number.  Access code that allows you to set up your username or password.

pm Not p.m. or PM.

Portal Point of entry for a website or section of a website.  A place on website where someone can go to access numerous resources relating to your “audience.”

POS Acronym often used to identify a point of service health plan product

Prefixes In general, do not hyphenate when using a prefix with a word starting with a consonant. The three following rules are consistent, but do have some exceptions:

1.      Except for cooperate and coordinate, use a hyphen if the prefix ends in a vowel and the word that follows also begins with the same vowel.

2.      Use a hyphen if the word that follows is capitalized.

3.      Use a hyphen to join doubled prefixes (sub-subcommittee).

If there are exceptions to any of the above rules, check the specific entry in this guide or The Associated Press Stylebook for clarification.

pre-authorization Not preauthorization.  Pre-Authorization (not Pre-authorization) when used at beginning of sentence or section

pre-certification Use pre-authorization

pre-existing conditions Not preexisting or preex. Always hyphenate, never shorten.

Preventive Not preventative.

Pro- Use a hyphen when coining words that denote support for something.

Examples: Pro-labor; pro-peace; pro-business; pro-war

Do not use a hyphen when pro- is used in other instances (produce, pronoun, etc.)

Punctuation Only use one space after a period at the end of a sentence. Ignore the old rule of "two spaces following a period." This rule is no longer practiced.


Referral Occurs when a participating primary care physician refers a covered member (patient) to a participating specialist.  Not the same as pre-authorization.


Seasons Lowercase unless part of a formal name or at the start of a sentence.

States Spell out the names of states when listed alone in textual material. State names may be abbreviated if they appear in groups or to fit typographical requirements for tabular material. Be consistent with whichever format is chosen throughout the publication.

The following states are never to be abbreviated: Alaska, Hawaii, Idaho, Iowa, Maine, Ohio, Texas or Utah. Below are appropriate abbreviations for the rest of the states.












W. Va
































That/which (pronouns) Use that and which in referring to inanimate objects and to animals without a name. Use that for essential clauses, important to the meaning of a sentence, and without commas: I remember the day that we met. Use which for nonessential clauses, where the pronoun is less necessary, and use commas: The team, which finished last a year ago, is in first place.

Time  Use figures except for noon and midnight. Use a colon to separate hours from minutes. Avoid redundancies, like 11 am this morning. Never use the o’clock construct. When describing a span of time that lasts for an hour or more, follow these guidelines:

1.      If the span of time falls completely within the morning or completely in the afternoon, only place the time designations on the last time noted.

Examples: 9 to 11 am

4:30 to 6:00 pm

2.      If the span of time lasts from the morning to the afternoon, place time designations on both times.

Examples: 10 am to 2 pm

11:30 pm to 1:00 am

See also Hours of Operation.

Titles In general, confine capitalization to formal titles used directly before an individual’s name. Otherwise, lowercase titles, regardless of the importance of the position.

Examples: The committee told President Obama that they disagreed with him.

The financial director of the hospital, Bob Smith, released the quarterly financial report.

Titles of compositions and broadcasts should always be capitalized and italicized. For more guidance, see the following entries: Capitalization; Composition Titles.

Trademarks Use trademark for first mention; afterward you don’t have to use it.

Example: daVinci™ Surgical System.

Twitter A micro-blogging and social networking site that limits users to posts of 140 characters or less. An individual post is called a “tweet”, not a “twitter.” When posting to Twitter, feel free to abbreviate and truncate words as necessary. Take care to maintain the original meaning of the tweet and to avoid confusing or uncommon abbreviations.


Username       One word


Washington, D.C.  May be shortened to the District or D.C. on second and subsequent references.

Web page Two words. Capital W.

Website One word with lowercase w.



Who’s/whoseWho’s is a contraction of who is. Whose is the possessive form.

Examples: Who’s there?

Whose hat is that?

Who/whomWho is the pronoun used for references to human beings and to animals with a name. It is grammatically the subject (never the object) of a sentence, clause or phrase.

Examples: The woman who rented the room left the window open.

Who is there?

Whom is used when someone is the object of a verb or preposition.

Examples: The woman to whom the room was rented left the window open.

Whom do you wish to see?


World Health Organization Use the abbreviation WHO on the second and subsequent references.


X-ray Not xray or x-ray



Years Use figures without commas: 2011. Use commas only with a month and day: Nov. 30, 2011. Use an s without an apostrophe when referencing spans of decades or centuries. 1900s, 1870s.


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