Writing and style

University of Exeter style guide

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


NOT i.e.


NOT inter-disciplinary or inter disciplinary.

-ise or -ize

Use the British -ise rather than the American -ize in words such as organise, specialise and finalise. NB some rare exceptions: capsize, synthesizer


Abbreviation for Information Technology. Not I.T.

Its or It’s

  • It’s means it is or it has.
  • Its means belonging to it, as in his, hers or its.
  • Never use an apostrophe when ‘its’ is used in the possessive sense: ‘The University is conveniently located; its main campus is within 10 minutes of the town centre.’




Lemon Grove

Not Lemongrove.

Licence or license

Use ‘license’ for a verb, but ‘licence’ for a noun – eg, ‘we will license this software’, but ‘the cost of the licence is £100’.

Link text on the website

On webpages it is best practice to use a short self-explanatory phrase as a link rather than to show a URL – eg, ‘Find out more about the Marketing team’ rather than ‘see www.exeter.ac.uk/departments/communication/mark-ops/campaignmanagers/’. This helps both users and your search engine rankings, since you are using the key words users and search engine robots are looking for in your link text instead of URLs.

Make your link text clearly describe where clicking the link will take you, eg, ‘Go back to the home page’, ‘Visit our virtual tours site’ or ‘Find out more about our services for students’.

Avoid vague link text that doesn’t make sense out of context, eg, ‘Read more’, ‘Find out more’, ‘Click here’, or worst of all ‘here’. These may confuse people using screen-reading software, which can be set to just speak the link text on a page, and can also be difficult for those scanning a page for relevant onward links.

For more information about links and link text, see the creating links guide on the Web Support pages. 


If there is a hierarchy or logical order in the list then it should be followed, if not then items should be in alphabetical order.

Log in or login

Use ‘log in’ for a verb, and ‘login’ for a noun or adjective – eg, ‘to log in, enter your password’, but ‘your login name is...’ and ‘after the last successful login’.

Market Place

The new shopping facility in the Forum. Don't capitalise 'the' before it, eg, the Market Place.


Not Master’s


NOT micro organisms or microorganisms.


Write out million in full with a space before it, and abbreviate to 'm' only for headlines: £4.3 million, or in a headline ‘University wins grant of £4.3m.’

Module titles

Titles of modules should be in Title Case and separated by semi-colons when in a list. Module titles should be formatted in italics when included in body text but not in titles/headings.


Not unit.


NOT multi-disciplinary or multi disciplinary.


In student recruitment publications, where staff are listed by name, give the full first name (eg, Professor Abel Other NOT Professor A N Other).

Navigation labels

Navigation labels on the new University website design use Sentence case rather than Title Case, unless the label is a proper name:


  • Visit the University
    • Where to stay
  • How to find us
  • Our beautiful campuses
  • Campus facilities
  • Exeter and the South West

Navigation labels for sites built and managed in the content management system, Site Manager, are automatically generated from the names given to sections within the system, so you must ensure these are consistently sentence case unless they are a formal title of an academic unit, programme, module or similar.

For further advice see the guidance on naming sections in Site Manager.

Newspapers and journals

Use italics for titles and use The in the title if appropriate: The Times, The Sunday Times, The Guardian, The Independent, The Daily Telegraph, The Sunday Telegraph, The Observer, The Times Higher Education Supplement. NB exceptions: Financial Times, Daily Mirror, Daily Mail, Daily Express, Express and Echo, Western Morning News.


Always use figures for percentages, currency, and measurements.

Otherwise one to nine should be spelt out; any number from 10 upwards should be in figures. But spell out numbers that begin a sentence, regardless of any inconsistency this may create. (One hundred and ten men and 103 women will graduate this year.) With numbers of four or more digits, use commas after every three digits, eg, 1,000; 10,000,000.

For ordinal numerals use 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th and so on in headlines, bulleted lists, and when referring to the University's positioning in league tables and other rankings. In general body text when not referring to league tables or rankings use first, second, third, fourth and so on from first to ninth; from 10th upwards should be in figures. ('In the third year of the programme there is an option to study abroad.' 'The College of Humanities is 65th in the world.')