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Spell out the term on first reference, with the acronym following in parentheses. Example:

  • "The Center for Multicultural Advancement and Student Success (CMASS) is a student-centered learning agency within the Division of the Center for Student Development."

back up (verb), backup (noun and adjective)

Example: "You’ll need to back up to avoid the traffic backup caused by the overturned truck carrying backup equipment."


child care

Commonwealth of Massachusetts; the commonwealth

comprise; compose

To comprise is “to be made up of, to include” (the whole comprises the parts).

To compose is “to make up, to form the substance of something” (the parts compose the whole).

The phrase comprised of, though increasingly common, is poor usage. Instead, use composed ofconsisting of, or made up of.


COVID-19 is acceptable on first reference for the coronavirus disease that first appeared in late 2019. If using ‘COVID-19’ on first reference, use COVID on subsequent references or to save space in headings. Since COVID-19 is the name of the disease, not the virus, it is inaccurate to write "a virus called COVID-19.”

day care (noun); day-care (adjective)

decision maker (noun); decision making (noun); decision-making (adjective)

dorms; dormitories

Use residence hall or residence halls instead.


ensure; insure

"Ensure" means to make certain. "Insure" means to guarantee against loss (hence, an "insurance policy").

first-rate (adjective)

"This is a first-rate institution." But: "Our faculty is first rate."

first-year student
Use this term instead of the outdated word "freshman"

follow-up (adjective preceding a noun); follow up (verb)

full-time (adjective preceding a noun); full time (after a verb)


health care (noun); health-care (adjective)

in-depth (adjective) use “in depth” when not an adjective

Use “in depth” when not an adjective.

insure; ensure

Insure means to guarantee against loss (as in to issue an insurance policy). Ensure means to make certain.

Jr., Sr., II

No punctuation precedes these unless presented last name first.

John W. Jones Sr. and Anthony P. Swasey II
But: Jones, John W., Sr., and Swasey, Anthony P., II



Hyphenated and lowercased as an adjective, the term refers to the colleges and universities, among them the institutional predecessor of UMass Amherst, founded as a result of the Morrill Land Grant Act of 1862. Example:

The university must never forget its responsibilities as a land-grant institution.



sign up (verb); sign-up (adjective)

startup (noun and adjective)


theater (but check official name in case “theatre” is used)

under way (adverb); underway (adjective)

work study (noun); work-study (adjective)