Writing and style

University of Exeter style guide

A | B | C | D-E | F-H | I-N | O-R | S-T | U-Z


Not Feed-back

Field work

Don’t hyphenate or write as one word. Likewise with field course and field trip.


See Numbers.

First name, forename

Not Christian name.


NOT flag-ship or flag ship.


Not Focussed


Use with a lower case 't' for 'the', eg, the Forum.

Forum Library

No longer the Main Library

Full stops (.)

Don’t use full stops in acronyms or initial letters (eg, Professor A N Other). Do not add full stops to the end of sentences where the sentence ends in a web or email address. Do not use in headings or sub-headings. Only use single spaces between sentences after a full stop.

Funding terminology

In order to bring about greater consistency in the terminology used between different funding awards, the Research Faculty have approved the following guidance for naming awards:

  • Scholarship – a funding award which is usually competitive, with eligibility based on criteria other than finance eg, academic or sporting ability.
  • Bursary – a funding award for a taught programme only. Eligibility is based on financial criteria or financial criteria plus additional criteria. 
  • Progression scholarship – a funding award only available to University of Exeter undergraduates progressing directly to postgraduate study at Exeter.
  • PhD studentship – an award funded through one of the UK research councils, another external funder, or through the University, which covers the cost of fees and a research-council equivalent maintenance grant for the duration of the PhD. Students are not required to carry out any form of work in return.
  • PhD bursary – a partial funding award which may require the student to carry out work in return for the bursary payment. For example, a student may be required to undertake up to 180 hours teaching in return for the PhD bursary. A PhD bursary requiring teaching in return, is paid through Payroll in addition to Student Finance. The teaching is paid at an hourly rate through payroll; this figure is then deducted from the PhD bursary total, and the remainder is then paid by Student Finance.

If you are unsure whether you should advertise a PhD studentship or PhD bursary, please contact Student Finance on x3890.



Use initial capital when referring to a specific one: the British Government resigned last night. Use lower case for all adjectival contexts: a government minister, government expenditure.



Print: Use Sentence case rather than Title Case, unless the heading is a proper name:
Eg, Our research excellence, not Our Research Excellence
Staff facilities and activities, not Staff Facilities and Activities
Research and Knowledge Transfer (the name of the service)
The Business School (name of an academic unit of the University)



  1. Style: The style for all headings and subheadings in the new University website design scheme uses Sentence case rather than Title Case, unless the heading is a proper name:
    Eg, Our research excellence, not Our Research Excellence
    Staff facilities and activities, not Staff Facilities and Activities
    Research and Knowledge Transfer (the name of the service)
    The Business School (name of an academic unit of the University)
  2. Structure: Headings and subheadings on webpages should be marked up using the correct logical structure. The main heading for your page needs to be marked as Heading 1, with subheadings for it marked as Heading 2, subheadings of Heading 2 as Heading 3 and so on.
    In the University’s content management system, Site Manager, some content templates have a ‘Heading’ field for the main page heading and will automatically output it as Heading 1. For Headings 2-6 in the main body of your page, you need to highlight your heading text and select the appropriate heading level from the drop-down formatting menu at the top left of the toolbar. If you need to use a template without the separate Heading 1 field, then you will also need to use the formatting menu to select Heading 1 for your main heading at the top of the page.

Head start

Not headstart.


NOT health-care or health care.

Help Desk

Not Helpdesk or Help-desk.

‘Here’ used as link text on webpages

Never use ‘here’ as link text. It is particularly bad practice to use it many times on a page to link to different webpages. Link text should describe the target of the link:
Eg, ‘For information on how to get to any of our campuses, visit our Maps and directions pages’
not ‘Maps and directions for all our campuses can be found here

higher education

Not Higher Education.

Homophones (Words which sound the same but are spelt differently)

Be aware of:

  • licence (noun); license (verb) - a driving licence; a licensed driver
  • affect (to produce an effect on); effect (to bring about, to accomplish) - She affected illness/affectation; to have an effect on/effective
  • stationery (paper, pens etc); stationary (not moving)
  • your (possessive); you’re (you are)
  • our (possessive); are (being - we are)
  • their (possessive); they’re (they are)

Hyphen (-)

Use a hyphen when two or more words are used as one adjective (ie, to describe a noun):

  • broad-based training
  • rapidly-expanding business
  • a one-to-two year programme
  • up-to-date facilities
  • state-of-the-art laboratories
  • cutting-edge research
  • world-class teaching