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Yale School of Medicine Writing Style Guide

The Yale School of Medicine Writing Style Guide generally follows the journalistic style manual published by The Associated Press Stylebook. It addresses issues that may be encountered by writers for the Yale Medicine clinical practice web site, whose audiences include patients and referring physicians; and those writing for Yale Medicine Magazine and Medicine@Yale newsletter.

This style guide is organized like a dictionary, for ease of use. Entries are boldfaced, and examples are set in italics.

Some guidelines include style, usage, spelling and references from external sources.

In addition to The Associated Press Stylebook, writers and editors should consult Webster’s New World College Dictionary or Merriam Webster online with questions on such matters as spelling and hyphenation. They should also be familiar with the Disability Language Style Guide published by the National Center on Disability and Journalism.


A

abbreviations

  • Avoid where possible, especially in the case of well-known abbreviations, e.g. operating room (not OR), emergency room (not ER)
  • Do not use abbreviations or acronyms the lay reader would not recognize
  • If an abbreviation is used more than once in a story, introduce it in parentheses at first use

acronyms

  • Whenever possible, avoid acronyms as a way to describe Yale organizations. On second references, it’s better to call our entities the hospital, the cancer center, etc.
  • If a writer must use an acronym, use it only after a proper name has been fully spelled out with the acronym in parentheses on first reference, e.g. Northeast Medical Group (NEMG). Do capitalize for a proper name: National Institutes of Health (NIH)
  • Always spell out Yale Medicine; do not use YM or any other acronym to describe the clinical practice. Do not capitalize the words from which an acronym is derived, e.g. intensive care unit, ICU; computed tomography, CT; magnetic resonance imaging, MRI; chief executive officer, CEO.

academic degrees

See credentials

academic departments

Capitalize the formal name: Department of Dermatology, Section of Cardiology, or Yale Medicine Dermatology, Yale Medicine Cardiology. Lowercase the informal, shortened name: dermatology department, cardiology section.

addict

Refer to someone who harmfully uses drugs or alcohol as “a person with a substance use disorder” or “a person with an alcohol addiction.” Use “recovering” or “in recovery from” to refer to someone trying to overcome active addiction or who is in long-term recovery. Avoid terms like “junkie” and “user.”

addresses

  • Abbreviate Ave., Blvd. and St. only with a numbered address (267 Grant St.). Spell out all others (Drive, Road, Terrace, Lane, etc.)
  • Capitalize when used with a number
  • Lowercase and spell out when using more than one street name (Cedar and York streets)

advanced practice registered nurse

Spell out on first use; use APRN for subsequent references. Do not use nurse practitioner or NP.

African American

Do not hyphenate when used as a noun or an adjective. Both “African American” and “Black” are acceptable for an American Black person of African American descent, but they are not necessarily interchangeable. When in doubt, check AP Style entries on “African American” and on “nationalities and race.” Use initial cap for “Black” and use “Caucasian” or “White” if both are used in the same sentence.

ages

Use AP style. Always use numerals, e.g. a 5-year-old boy; John Smith was 30; a man in his 20s; a 2-hour-old infant. Only hyphenate when the age is used as an adjective, e.g. a 5-year-old boy.

AIDS

Acceptable in all references for acquired immune deficiency syndrome. AIDS is caused by human immunodeficiency virus, or HIV. (HIV virus is redundant.)

alphabetical order

Wherever possible, use alpha order when creating lists, such as lists of departments, names of chairs, etc.

ampersand

  • Do not use as a substitute for the word “and”
  • Use when it is the official part of a name, e.g. U.S. News & World Report, and/or in select digital instances in which character counts are limited (i.e., on Twitter or other social media platforms)
  • Always use “&” instead of the word “and” when referring to Yale Medicine departments, sections and programs, i.e.: Yale Medicine Orthopaedics & Rehabilitation; Yale Medicine General Surgery, Trauma & Surgical Critical Care; Yale Medicine Speech & Swallow Program

a.m., p.m.

Lowercase, with periods.

amount, number

Use amount for a continuous substance, number for discrete objects: a large amount of evidence, a large number of studies.

anesthesia

Not anaesthesia.

appointed

Do not use with “as”: Linda Mayes, MD, was appointed (not appointed as) chair of the Yale Child Study Center.

apposition

Use commas around a word, phrase or clause used in apposition if it is not essential to the meaning of the sentence. Examples: John Doe and his wife, Mary, attended the reunion. But: John Doe and his daughter Julie attended the reunion; his wife, Mary, and Rebecca, his other daughter, weren’t able to attend. (In the second example, no commas are used in the first clause because Julie is not John’s only daughter.) Note that we make an exception to this rule in the Alumni Reunion Reports when there is no possessive (his, her, etc.) preceding wife, husband, children, etc.: John Doe and wife Mary.

army

Capitalize when referring to U.S. forces: the Army, the U.S. Army, the French army.

arteriosclerosis

This is the general term for the abnormal thickening, and loss of elasticity, of artery walls. Note that atherosclerosis is a form of arteriosclerosis. See atherosclerosis.

atherosclerosis

Note spelling (ath-, not arth-). A form of arteriosclerosis.