Preferred spellings and usage

  • adviser not advisor.
  • alumni (plural); alumnus (singular/masculine) alumna (singular/feminine) alumnae (plural/feminine)

All alumni agree. He is a distinguished alumnus. Famed UT Martin alumna Pat Summitt

  • apostrophes As a contraction: It's = Contraction for "It is."  
    • To show singular possession: What happened to the girl's shoes? 
    • What happened to the woman's shoes? 
    • To show plural possession: What happened to all of the girls' shoes? 
    • What happened to all of the women's shoes?
  • awhile Spell as one word when not preceded by for … stay awhile -- or stay for a while.
  • and Use the word not "&" unless the symbol is an element of a proper name.
  • backward not backwards
  • benefit, benefited, benefiting not benefitted, benefitting.
  • capital city of the governmental seat: Nashville is the state capital; financial term: the new business will require a lot of capital
  • capitol a specific building, the state capitol is in Nashville.
  • chair holder Two words.
  • chair of excellence Lowercase shortened and incomplete forms: chair of excellence in the humanities, humanities chair, SunTrust Bank chair. Capitalize when the complete name is used: the Burkett Miller Chair of Excellence in Management and Technology.
  • Chancellor's Roundtable, then, the roundtable. . .
  • Coach, head coach Capitalize coach only when it precedes a name. Lowercase when used with a qualifying term.
    • He remembered Coach A.C. "Scrappy" Moore.
    • Moore retired as UTC football coach in 1967.
  • curriculum (singular); curricula (plural)
  • ensure, insure Use ensure to mean guarantee; insure for references to insurance.
  • farther, further Use farther for distance; further for time, quantity or degree.
    • They traveled farther than anyone in history.
    • The initiative will be funded no further.
  • 50 Plus, 50 Plus Club Use figure and word, not 50+ or Fifty Plus.
  • Freshman (singular); Freshmen (plural) 
    • It was attended by the entire freshman class.
    • How many freshmen are in the class?
  • forward not forwards
  • Founders' Day, but Founders Hall
  • fund raising, fund-raising, fund-raiser                                                                                         Use fund raising and fund-raiser as nouns. Fund-raising is the adjective form.
  • health care two words
  • Homecoming Capitalize UTC Homecoming. Lowercase homecoming in general use.
  • ID Caps, no periods.
  • kickoff, noun, one word; kick off, verb, two words.
  • Maclellan Lowercase the L that follows C: Maclellan Gymnasium
  • media (plural); medium (singular)
  • More and Over Over and under indicate place. Use greater/more than and fewer/less than to indicate amount or degree. Use more than or fewer than to reference a numeric value.
    • Fewer than 4 percent of new hires decline health care benefits.
    • More than 5,000 graduates became donors within five years of graduation.
    • Fewer than half of all freshmen live off campus.
  • Noncredit one word, not non-credit.
  • president-elect Use hyphen.
  • principal a school official or the most important in rank.
    • Davy Crockett was the first Signal Mountain Elementary School principal.
    • That was the principal reason for the change…
  • principal finance term.  How much of the principal has been repaid on the loan? Who is listed as a principal on the company’s charter?
  • principle a rule of action or conduct, a fundamental tenet.
    • Self-rule is a basic principle of democracy.
    • She is a woman of principle.
  • publicly publically is not a word
  • regardless irregardless is not a word
  • state of Lowercase "state of" constructions, state of Tennessee.
  • tenants renters
  • tenets beliefs, principles
  • telethon, one word; hyphenate phone-a-thon, bike-a-thon, walk-a-thon
  • total, totaled, totaling not totalled, totalling.
  • toward not towards
  • UT Board of Trustees; UT Trustees; the UT Board
  • UT system Reference differentiation (above) between “UT System Administration” and “UT system”
  • UTC Campus Advisory Board; Campus Advisory Board; the Board


Following are on the editors' list of words not to be used in University publications. To avoid needlessly formal or jargon words, if you wouldn’t use a word in conversation, don’t use it in writing.

  • “A number of times…” If there is a number, use it. Don’t write “a number of…”
  • Additionally Memo jargon. Just write and or also, the way people talk.
  • And/or Bureaucratic jargon, choose one word or the other.
  • Contact If a phone number is provided, write “call.” If an address is provided, use “write.” Don’t use contact when you mean call, write, email or visit. Use call, write, email or visit.
  • Strive to list all and only what is necessary, and don’t use “etc.” which reads like an unfinished thought.
  • Hopefully Not accepted by usage authorities when used to mean it is to be hoped or let us hope. Take responsibility: I hoped, we hope.
  • Loan Loan is a noun. The verb is lend, lent.
  • Offputting, ongoing Let's offput these words and ongo to others.
  • Publically Neither a word nor a correct spelling of “publicly
  • “Some 10,000 students” News media jargon/puffery. Is it some or, is it 10,000? Just say which it is.
  • Utilize Bureaucratic/jargon word for use, use use.

Higher Ed jargon, with common language alternatives:

Facilitate: means to make possible, to help bring about

Use instead: "She helped the two sides get together." "He made the program happen."             

Matriculate: to enroll in college Instead: "She wants to enroll at a college."    

Synergy/Synergies: integrated alignment Instead: "The programs are integrated"