Spelling And Usage Guide

Commonly Misused Terms

Use the following list as a guideline for treatment of these terms:

  • adviser preferred to advisor
  • affect: (verb) to have an influence on; effect: (noun) result
  • between when referring to a relationship of two things
  • among when referring to a relationship of three or more things
  • Board of Trustees not board of trustees (always capitalize)
  • capital for the city, Capitol for the building
  • complement for denoting completing something
  • compliment for denoting praise or expression of courtesy
  • coursework, not course work
  • credit-hour (adjective), credit hour (noun)
  • database not data base
  • disabled not handicapped
  • doctorate is a noun, and doctoral is an adjective
  • grade-point average, not grade point average
  • health care, not healthcare
  • international students, not foreign students
  • principal when referring to someone or something first in rank or authority
  • principle when referring to a fundamental truth
  • theatre when referring to the department, discipline, or a performance; theater when referring to a building; exception with proper name; e.g.: Coates Theatre
  • website
  • workplace, not work place
  • workstation, not work station

Avoid using a split infinitive; e.g.:

  • He was told to quickly process the papers. instead use He was told to process the papers quickly.

Latin Terms/Plurals

Use the following list as a guideline for treatment of these terms:

  • alumnus is male singular, alumna is female singular
  • alumni is male plural or generic plural, alumnae is female plural.
  • emeritus is male singular, emerita is female singular (as in president emerita)
  • emeriti is male or generic plural, emeritae is female plural
  • syllabus is singular, syllabi is plural.
  • basis is singular, bases is plural
  • index is singular, indices is plural

Special Capitalization

In general, only capitalize proper nouns and names. There are some terms to be treated with exception.

Use the following list as a guideline:

  • Mass not mass, and Baccalaureate Mass
  • Commencement not commencement
  • Mission (of UIW) not mission
  • 135th Anniversary not 135th anniversary
  • Catholic not catholic and Catholic Church not Catholic church

Electronic Conventions

Electronic addresses should be written in all lowercase, unless the address is case sensitive; e.g.: (not necessary to include http://);


  • online not on-line
  • internet not Internet
  • homepage not home page
  • web not Web
  • website
  • webpage not Web page
  • email not e-mail
  • livestreaming not live streaming

Photo Captions

  • Describe who is in the photograph and what is going on within the photo in the present tense.
  • Names should always be listed in order, left to right, unless it is impossible for the caption to read normally otherwise. With multiple people identified within the caption, enough representations to placement are necessary so there is no confusion as to each subject's identity. List the official title of each subject with their name.
  • Provide context to the event or describe why the photo is significant. List the date and location if applicable.