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The School of Nursing follows the Associated Press (AP) writing style in its publications and faculty-produced work. We find that unity in writing and style creates continuity among the School’s various outputs, and the AP style is the ideal model from which to write clearly and communicate effectively to the readers of its varied content. Below is a brief writing guide to topics that are relevant to the nursing profession.

For spelling questions, consult Webster’s New World Dictionary. Any style guide is a work in progress. If you have any suggestions or questions, please contact Kelly Kirby at kelly_kirby@unc.edu or 919.843.8566.


ABSN: Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing. Do not separate this abbreviation with periods.

academic degrees: capitalize formal degree titles, such as Doctor of Nursing Practice. Do not use periods to separate parts of an abbreviated title, such as PhD. These abbreviated titles should follow only a full name and the title should be set off by commas.

alumni association: The School of Nursing Alumni Association. Use the full name on first reference, and the Association or nursing alumni association on subsequent references. Never abbreviate.

Biobehavioral Laboratory: Capitalize and use full name on first reference. May abbreviate to BBL on subsequent references.

BSN: Bachelor of Science in Nursing. Do not separate this abbreviation with periods.

capitalization: capitalize all proper nouns. Capitalize University when referring to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and School when referring to the School of Nursing. Capitalize titles only when they are attached to a person’s name. The dean of the School of Nursing is Nilda Peragallo Montano. Send inquiries to Dean Peragallo Montano.

Carolina: may be used in reference to the University when the full name of the University has been established already.

Carolina blue: PMS 542 is the blue to use for all print applications. For the Web, the color is #4B9CD3 (RGB 75, 156, 211).

PMS 542 Equivalencies
CMYK C 60 M 19 Y 1 K 4
RGB R 123 G 175 B 212
HSB H 212 S 46 B 82
identity.unc.edu/colors/

Carrington Hall: capitalized; do not abbreviate

DNP: Doctor of Nursing Practice. Do not separate this abbreviation with periods.

Dr.: do not use Dr. as a courtesy title. Instead, denote a person’s degree following their name, set off by commas.

email: not hyphenated

health care: two words when used as a noun. UNC Hospitals provides great health care to its patients.

health-care: hyphenated when used as an adjective. The School of Nursing trains health-care professionals.

MSN: Master of Science in Nursing. Do not separate this abbreviation with periods.

numbers: spell out numbers one through nine; use digit for subsequent numbers. Always spell out the number if it is the first word in a sentence.

percentages: only use the percent sign (%) in tables and graphs. Spell out percent after each number, even when listing a range of numbers. Eight percent to 15 percent.

PhD: Doctor of Philosophy. Do not separate this abbreviation with periods.

SON: is fine. Also UNCSON is fine. Never SoN.

Tar Heel: two words, capitalized. Should only be used in an informal setting.

time: Use figures except for noon and midnight. Use a colon to separate hours from minutes: 11 a.m.1 p.m.3:30 p.m.9-11 a.m.9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Avoid such redundancies as 10 a.m. this morning10 p.m. tonight or 10 p.m. Monday night. Use 10 a.m. or 10 p.m. Monday, etc.

titles, job: Job titles are not capitalized when they are used alone or after a person’s name. If the title is used as part of the person’s name, then the title is capitalized. (see capitalization)

UNC-Chapel Hill: “UNC” and “Carolina” are also fine, but never UNC-CH

website addresses: never (ever) begin them with http://. Use only the uncluttered address, ie: nursing.unc.edu. or www.nbc.com.