Style Guide

UVA Today is the University’s most visible and successful communications vehicle. It is delivered to 150,000 subscribers who open our stories more than 5 million times a year.

Our goal is to provide readers clear, concise and compelling content that tells the remarkable story of the University. To achieve the consistency our stakeholders expect, UVA Today adheres to a familiar, predictable set of writing rules, known as a style guide.

UVA Today follows Associated Press Style. That guide, in the AP’s own words, is “the definitive resource for journalists and a must-have reference for writers, editors, students and professionals. It provides fundamental guidelines for spelling, language, punctuation, usage and journalistic style.” For circumstances not covered in the AP Stylebook, we rely on the Merriam-Webster dictionary. In cases where there are two accepted spellings for a word, we use the first entry.

However, because the University of Virginia is a storied place with a unique and rich history, there are times when we deviate from AP Style guidance for items specific to UVA. Those special cases are outlined in the UVA Today Style Guide.

As a communicator, you are not required to use either AP Style or our UVA Today Style when writing for external audiences, although we would argue it is a best practice that promotes consistency across University publications. When providing material to UVA Today for consideration, adherence to AP and local style is appreciated.

As with all style guides, this local guide is subject to change.

Style Entry


4th Side is a concept used to describe the importance of football players on the sidelines enthusiastically urging on teammates on the field, and it is extended to also encompass UVA fans in the stands. It takes its name from the idea that there are three sides to a football game: offense, defense and special teams. The 4th Side is the intangible benefit of loud, raucous, home-field support.


Academical Village The original buildings of the University, as designed by Thomas Jefferson, including the Rotunda, the Lawn, the Range, the pavilions and pavilion gardens and the hotels. Part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site, along with Monticello.

AccessUVA The umbrella name for the University’s need-based financial aid program for undergraduate students.

Admissions See Office of Undergraduate Admission.

Adviser, not advisor.

Alderman, Edwin A. The University’s first president and the namesake of Alderman Library.

Alderman Library The former name of UVA’s main library. Changed to the Edgar Shannon Library on March 1, 2024.

Alumni Hall The building that houses the UVA Alumni Association. Avoid using as a shorthand reference to the association, unless in direct quotes.

Ambassadors A division of the University of Virginia Police Department, the UVA Ambassador Program is a public-safety program that uses unarmed employees to provide escorts and assist students and citizens on and near Grounds, including patrols as far away as Charlottesville’s Downtown Mall. Members, who generally wear yellow shirts, are called Ambassadors. Note uppercase. They do not have law-enforcement authority.

amphitheater/amphitheatre Use the common spelling of amphitheater in the context of a general outdoor performance venue, but use the alternate spelling if it is part of a proper name, such as McIntire Amphitheatre. See also theater/theatre.

Aquatic & Fitness Center “AFC” is acceptable on second reference. Note the ampersand in the name.


Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy “Batten School” is acceptable on second reference. See School names.

Beta Bridge The railroad bridge on Rugby Road that is frequently painted with messages.

Betsy and John Casteen Arts Grounds is the official name of the arts precinct at the University. “Arts Grounds” is acceptable on second reference. The name honors UVA‘s seventh president, John Casteen, and his wife.

Biotech Institute The Paul and Diane Manning Institute of Biotechnology is the formal name and should be used on first reference. “UVA Manning Institute of Biotechnology” or simply the “Manning Institute” are acceptable on second reference.

Board of Visitors The governing body of the University, the members of which are appointed by Virginia’s governors. Avoid the abbreviation “BOV” unless in direct quotes; generically, the “board” is lower-cased.


Cancer Center The formal name for several entities is UVA Cancer Center. The name does not take “the” in front of it. It is the abstract concept for everything cancer-related at UVA, including patient care and research. The Emily Couric Clinical Cancer Center is the building off Jefferson Park Avenue where most local cancer care takes place.

Carl Smith Center, Home of David A. Harrison Field at Scott Stadium Full, formal name of the University’s football facility. Scott Stadium is acceptable on all references.

Carter G. Woodson Institute for African-American and African Studies An exception to Associated Press Style, the institute’s formal name hyphenates “African-American.”

Casteen III, John T. Preferred first reference for the president emeritus of the University.

Cavaliers The official nickname of Virginia Athletics teams. Do not shorten to “Cavs.”

Cavman The nickname for the University’s high-energy costumed mascot known for appearances at sporting and community events.

centers and institutes Use full formal names on first reference, i.e. “Miller Center of Public Affairs” or “Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service”; lower-case “center” and “institute” on second reference.

class years Refer to undergraduate students as “first-year students,” “second-year students,” “third-year students,” and so forth. Note that “first-year,” “second-year,” etc. is an adjective and not a noun; do not refer to students as “first-years” unless in a quotation.

In a sports context, it is acceptable to refer to student-athletes as “freshmen,” “sophomores,” “juniors” and “seniors.” The designation “redshirt” as an adjective before such designations indicates the student-athlete did not compete for one of his or her years due to injury or for other reasons, but retained that year of athletic eligibility; thus, a student-athlete who did not compete in his or her first year at the University would be a second-year student academically, but a “redshirt freshman” athletically.

Classes In a departure from AP Style, uppercase “Class” when referring to a specific graduating year of students, as in the “Class of 2027.” Lowercase when used generically.

coach is lowercase before a name, as in coach Tony Bennett.

the College, uppercase, is acceptable on second reference for the College and Graduate School of Arts & Sciences. “Schools” is lowercase unless used in a proper name.

College and Graduate School of Arts & Sciences Use an ampersand. In an exception to the “School names” entry, “the College” is acceptable on second reference in an undergraduate context. See School names.

Contemplative Sciences Center Under construction as of fall 2023, the center promotes “the study and application of flourishing at all levels of education.” Note the plural of “sciences.”

the Corner A commercial district located along University Avenue, roughly between Chancellor Street and Jefferson Park Avenue. It comprises numerous restaurants, bars and shops catering to faculty, staff and students.

Curry This was once part of the Education School’s name, but is outdated. See School of Education and Human Development.


Darden School of Business “Darden School” is acceptable on second reference. See School names.

Davenport Field at Disharoon Park Full, formal name of the University’s baseball facility. “Disharoon Park” is acceptable on second reference; “The Dish” is slangy and should be avoided.

Days on the Lawn A series of recruitment events held for newly admitted students and their families. Avoid the abbreviation “DOTL.”

the Dell Wooded and grassy valley located immediately north of the School of Education and Human Development and the McCormick Road first-year housing area, adjacent to the Dell Pond. The parcel is part of the Contemplative Sciences Center.

Department names When referring to a department, capitalize its full formal name: Woodrow Wilson Department of Politics, Department of Psychology. In subsequent or generic references, use lower case: politics department, psychology department.

Dining Services “UVA Dining” is acceptable on second reference.


Edgar Shannon Library The University’s main library, formerly known as Alderman Library. It is named for UVA’s fourth president, Edgar F. Shannon Jr.

Emmet-Ivy Corridor Use a hyphen when describing the University expansion project near the intersection of Emmet Road and Ivy Street that will house the building for the School of Data Science and the new Karsh Institute of Democracy, among other University properties.

Emmet/Ivy with a slash is generally how University Transportation refers to the parking garage near that intersection.


Facilities Management Or, formally, the Division of Facilities Management.

fall break Unofficial name for a period designated on the University calendar as “reading days.”

Final Exercises UVA-speak for “graduation,” a ceremony traditionally held on the Lawn in May that includes an academic procession, speeches and the mass conferral of degrees. Diplomas are awarded in separate, smaller school or departmental ceremonies.

Finals Weekend The weekend in May that includes Valedictory and Final exercises, diploma ceremonies and related events.

First-year, second-year, third-year, fourth-year are adjectives, not nouns. Correct: She is a first-year student. Incorrect: She is a first-year.

The Fralin Museum of Art at the University of Virginia Full name of the University’s art museum. It is the museum’s preference that it be referred to as “The Fralin” on second reference (note uppercase “The”).


The Good Old Song A song and chant traditionally and repeatedly performed at University athletic contests and other significant (and not-so-significant) gatherings. Not the University’s official alma mater, however, a distinction that belongs to “Virginia, Hail, All Hail”; and not the official fight song, which is “The Cavalier Song.”

Grounds UVA’s word for “campus.” Do not use “campus.”

Guide Service The University Guide Service conducts official tours of the University; however, the service is a student-run volunteer organization and is not directly under the control of the University. Individual members are referred to as guides or University guides.


Honor Committee/Honor System/Honor Code The Honor Committee is a student-run organization responsible for upholding the University's historic Honor System, created in 1842. Avoid using “Honor” on a second reference as a substitute for Honor Committee, Honor System or Honor Code, unless in a quote. Honor System and Honor Code are uppercased when referring to the specific ideals followed by University students. Until recently, a violation of the Honor Code generally meant expulsion under the single-sanction system. In 2023, the organization adopted a multi-sanction system that allows for a wider range of punishments.

Hoos An abbreviation of Wahoos, one of the University’s athletic nicknames. Does not take an apostrophe, however. If someone holds two or more degrees from the University, they are considered a “double Hoo” or a “triple Hoo.” Note lowercase on double and triple.

Housing & Residence Life Use an ampersand per organizational preference.

Human Resources “HR” is acceptable on second reference.


Information Technology Services “ITS” is acceptable on second reference.

Intramural and Recreational Sports This name is outdated, along with “IM-Rec.” See UVA Recreation.


January term “J-term” may be used on second reference and in headlines.

John Paul Jones Arena Home to UVA basketball and other major events. “JPJ” is acceptable on second reference.


Klöckner Stadium Home of the University’s soccer and lacrosse programs; note the umlaut over the “o.”


the Lawn The greensward that lies between the Rotunda and Old Cabell Hall, also encompassing the student rooms that lie immediately to the east and west. Fourth-year students are selected to “live on the Lawn” based upon their contributions to University life.

Lighting of the Lawn An annual celebration, usually held in December, that includes musical and dance performances, speeches, poetry and general merriment, culminating in the illumination of the Academical Village. Avoid the abbreviation “LOTL.”


Madison Hall A building housing some of the University’s executive offices, including the Office of the President. Avoid using as a shorthand reference to the University’s leadership, unless in direct quotes.

Madison House The volunteer center for UVA students, the clearinghouse comprises nearly two dozen community service programs as of summer 2023.

McIntire, Paul Goodloe An early 20th-century University philanthropist for whom many things at the University and in Charlottesville are named, including the McIntire School of Commerce, the McIntire Department of Music, the McIntire Department of Art and the McIntire Amphitheater.

McIntire School of Commerce “Commerce School” and “McIntire School” are acceptable on second reference. See School names.

MD Refer to a faculty member who is a medical doctor as Dr. John Doe; not John Doe, MD.

Memorial to Enslaved Laborers Do not abbreviate to MEL.

Memorial Gymnasium Arena that once housed the University’s basketball teams and is currently home to the volleyball and wrestling teams. “Mem Gym” is acceptable on second reference.

Midsummers Weekend Traditionally one of the major weekends on the unofficial student social calendar.

Midwinters Weekend Traditionally one of the major weekends on the unofficial student social calendar.

Miller Center of Public Affairs “Miller Center” is acceptable on second reference.


New Dorms The first-year housing area along Alderman Road, home to many of the University’s newest housing areas. Note that individual buildings are referred to as “houses” and not “dorms.”


Observatory Hill Dining Room Full name of dining facility located at the corner of McCormick and Alderman roads. “O-Hill” is acceptable on second reference.

Office of African-American Affairs The formal name of the organization includes a hyphen, counter to Associated Press Style.

Old Dorms The first-year housing area along McCormick Road, east of Alderman Road, characterized by hall-style living with shared bathrooms. Note that individual buildings are referred to as “houses” and not “dorms,” i.e. Humphreys House and Page House.


Pancakes for Parkinson’s An annual student-organized breakfast event, usually held in conjunction with a home football game, to raise money for Parkinson’s disease research.

Parking and Transportation “P&T” is acceptable on second reference.

pavilions Originally intended as both faculty residences and classroom space, they are individually referred to using Roman numbers: Pavilion I, Pavilion II, etc. Uppercase only when referring to a specific pavilion but lowercase in more generic uses such as “the students met in one of the pavilions.”

Pavilion XI A food court-style dining space in Newcomb Hall. Formerly home to a student bar before the legal drinking age was raised from 18 to 21.

Peer Advisor Program Administered by the Office of African-American Affairs, it spells “adviser” with an “o,” an exception to Associated Press Style.

Ph.D. is avoided in AP Style, except in a biographical listing. Correct: John Doe has a doctorate in engineering, or John Doe is a doctoral student. Incorrect: John Doe has a Ph.D. in engineering, or John Doe is a Ph.D. student. Describe a faculty member as a doctor, as in Dr. John Doe, only if the person is a medical doctor.

professor is lowercase even when used as a title preceding a name. An exception is the UVA-specific title of “University Professor,” which is uppercase before and after a name.


QVA Formerly the Serpentine Society, QVA is the University of Virginia’s Queer Alumni Network.


Ryan, Jim President of the University. Prefers “Jim” to “James E. Ryan” on first reference.

Rare Book School does not take “the” before the name.

Room is uppercased in AP Style with a numeral if referring to a specific room, as in Room 2 or Room 211.

the Rotunda The academic and architectural centerpiece of the Academical Village. Rooms in the Rotunda include the Dome Room, Lower East Oval Room, Lower West Oval Room, Upper East Oval Room, Upper West Oval Room and North Oval Room.


School of Architecture “Architecture School” is acceptable on second reference. See School names.

School of Continuing and Professional Studies Do not use the abbreviation SCPS. See School names.

School of Data Science See School names.

School of Education and Human Development “School of Education” or “Education School” are acceptable on second reference, but not “Ed School” unless in a quotation. Do not add the outdated “Curry” to the school’s name. Do not use the abbreviation SEHD. See School names.

School of Engineering and Applied Science “UVA Engineering” and “Engineering School” are acceptable on second reference. Do not use the abbreviation SEAS. See School names.

School of Law “Law School” and “UVA Law” are acceptable on second reference. See School names.

School of Medicine “Medical School” is acceptable on second reference, but not “Med School” unless in a quotation. Do not use the abbreviation SOM. See School names.

School of Nursing “Nursing School” is acceptable on second reference. See School names.

school names Capitalize the formal name of the school, i.e. School of Law, Darden School of Business, School of Data Science. Capitalize the shorthand version of some names when referring to an identifiable, individual school, i.e. Law School, Medical School, Batten School. Do not capitalize a generic reference to a school. School names should not be abbreviated in news stories, i.e., SEAS, SCPS, SEHD. See also entries for individual schools.

Serpentine walls An unusual feature of the gardens in the Academical Village. Thomas Jefferson designed undulating walls that stand firm, despite being only one brick thick. Cultural sensitivity note: Many historians argue that the walls, which stand up to eight feet high, were designed to shield the labor of enslaved persons from public view.

spring break

steam tunnels A network of underground passages used for utilities. “Steam tunneling” is a forbidden student pastime and is considered trespassing.

streaking the Lawn An officially discouraged student tradition that involves stripping naked (or nearly so) and sprinting from the Rotunda to the statue of Homer on the South Lawn, kissing Homer’s posterior, and returning to the Rotunda.

Student Financial Services The office that administers the University’s financial aid program.

Sullivan, Teresa A. Preferred first reference for the president emerita of the University.

theater/theatre Use the common spelling of “theater” when used as a common noun, as in “the students gathered in the theater.” Use the alternate spelling if it is part of a formal name: “Culbreth Theatre,” “Ruth Caplin Theatre,” “Helms Theatre” and “Virginia Theatre Festival.”


Titles before a name are generally uppercased, but lowercase after a name. President Jim Ryan or Jim Ryan, president of UVA.

Trick-or-Treating on the Lawn Annual event held for the community. Avoid the abbreviation “TOTOTL.”


Office of Undergraduate Admission The formal name of the University’s admissions office does not take a plural. It is led by the Dean of Admission. “Admissions office” is acceptable, however, on second reference.

University, uppercase, is acceptable on second reference for the University of Virginia.

University Library The organizational umbrella of the University of Virginia Library which excludes the Darden, Law, and Health Sciences libraries but includes all the libraries that report to the University Librarian and Dean of Libraries: the Edgar Shannon Library; the Charles L. Brown Science & Engineering Library; Clemons Library; the Fiske Kimball Fine Arts Library; the Mary and David Harrison Institute for American History; Ivy Stacks; the Music Library; and the Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library. University Library also includes units such as the Robertson Media Center; Scholars’ lab; and the Institute for Advanced Technology and the Humanities.

University of Virginia Bookstores Organizational umbrella that includes the main University Bookstore, as well as Cavalier Computers, TJ’s Locker (at the Aquatic and Fitness Center), Courts & Commerce (at the School of Law), and the Darden Exchange (located at the Darden School of Business).

University of Virginia Chapel

University of Virginia’s College at Wise UVA Wise is acceptable on second reference.

University of Virginia Police Department The University’s independent policing agency. In a slight departure from AP guidance, University Police on second reference is acceptable to refer to both the department and a group of University officers. Do not abbreviate to UPD.

University Recreation Formerly known as Intramural and Recreational Sports or “IM-Rec.” The organization oversees facilities including the Aquatic & Fitness Center. “UVA Rec” is acceptable on second reference.

UVA Acceptable abbreviation for University of Virginia on second and subsequent references. No periods.

UVA Cancer Center The formal name for several entities dedicated to battling cancer. The name does not take “the” in front of it.

UVA Health The preferred first reference to the University’s medical enterprise, formerly known as the UVA Health System.

UVA Health Children’s Formerly UVA Children’s.

University Transit Service Formal name of UVA’s bus system.


Valedictory Exercises A ceremony traditionally held on the lower Lawn or in John Paul Jones Arena late on the Friday afternoon of Finals Weekend. It typically includes an address from a student-selected speaker and class leaders, the awarding of various student and faculty prizes and the bestowing of the graduating class’ gift to the University.


Wahoos An unofficial nickname for UVA sport teams. Can be shortened to Hoos (without apostrophe) as well.

wahoowa Officially recognized spelling of the nonsensical expression, included in the chant at the end of “The Good Old Song,” that is often used as an interjection by Cavalier fans.

Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service Sub-entities include the Center for Economic and Policy Studies, the Center for Survey Research, the Demographics Research Group, the Sorensen Institute for Political Leadership and the Virginia Institute of Government.