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The Northwestern IT Style Guide

The following style guidelines have been developed to promote consistency in text presentation for communications, publications, news releases, advertisements, web content, and any other print or online material produced by Northwestern Information Technology staff members.

Our Name

There are multiple names available when referring to the Northwestern Information Technology organization. Please review the sections below for guidance on how and when to properly use the available names.

Official Full Name

The full name of our organization is “Northwestern Information Technology.” Use the full name when communicating in a formal manner is more acceptable, such as in invitations, external publications, speaking engagements, etc. This guidance applies especially in situations where it may not be immediately obvious that IT refers to information technology.

Official Informal Name

The shorthand “Northwestern IT” is encouraged in all forms of communications where it is apparent the communication is coming from Northwestern Information Technology and anywhere the official full name has already preceded it.

What to Avoid

The abbreviation “NUIT” is acceptable informally, but never preferred. Related, the abbreviation “NIT” is not approved for use within our brand. Avoid this term, as it is too generic to identify us, and too casual to represent the organization.

This guide supplements the Northwestern A to Z Style Guide, which should be referred to for all questions not addressed in the Northwestern IT-specific guide below.

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  • Acceptable if part of a formal name (Morgan Stanley & Co.).
  • Avoid in running text (Professor Smith, not Prof. Smith).


  • Acceptable on second and subsequent references if given in parentheses after a first spelled-out use (e.g., The Data Management and Analytics (DMA) team supports the University's demand for holistic and multidisciplinary data.).
  • Acceptable without first spelling out if initials are widely recognized (e.g., CEO, SAT, NCAA, HMO, NASA, FBI).
  • Do not put in parentheses after a first spelled-out use if the organization is never mentioned again.
  • See also University System Names and Departments and Units.

active voice

  • Write in the active voice (The company published the book.) more than the passive voice (The book was published by the company.).


  • Use only when it is part of a company or organization’s formal name. Northwestern IT does not have a department or unit that includes an ampersand in their full name.
  • Two departments and units do include an ampersand in their acronyms—IT S&S and M&TI.



  • As a rule, official names are capitalized (Information Security Office) and unofficial names are not (security office).
  • See also Titles (people).
comma (serial)
  • Use a comma before and or or in a series (red, white, and blue—not red, white and blue).


  • When referring to groups within the Northwestern community, use “students, faculty, and staff,” in that order.



  • Use an en dash to show a range of dates and do not repeat 20 (2012–13, not 2012–2013). However, to, not a dash, should be used when from introduces a range of dates (from 2012 to 2013, not from 2012–13).
  • If the day of the month appears, use a comma before and after the year (by the January 17, 2023, deadline). Do not use a comma between the month and the year without a date (by the January 2023 deadline).
  • Use the year with the month only if it is not the current year.
  • Do not use st, nd, rd, th, even if dates are adjectives (March 1 event, not March 1st event).
  • Months are not abbreviated.
  • Avoid displaying dates numerically in formal writing (e.g., The maintenance will occur on Tuesday, January 17, 2023; instead of The maintenance will occur on 1/15/23).


  • Do not use periods in PhD, BS, MBA, etc.
  • Do not capitalize bachelor of science, master of arts, etc. Likewise, do not capitalize the field (bachelor of arts in philosophy) unless, of course, it is a proper noun (bachelor of arts in English).
  • Use an apostrophe in bachelor’s degree and master’s degree.

departments and units

  • For articles and publications intended for University audiences, always refer to Northwestern IT first, then the individual department (e.g., Northwestern IT Teaching and Learning Technologies, not Teaching and Learning Technologies.). Northwestern IT departments and their approved acronyms or abbreviations include:
  • Administration and Finance
    • May be shortened to Admin and Finance in informal situations.
    • A&F is not an approved acronym.
  • Administrative Systems (AS)
    • May be shortened to Admin Systems in informal situations.
  • Cyberinfrastructure (CI)
    • Cyberinfrastructure is represented as one word. Do not use Cyber Infrastructure or CyberInfrastructure.
  • International Center for Advanced Internet Research (iCAIR)
    • When writing about iCAIR, use “Northwestern International Center for Advanced Internet Research (iCAIR).” Follow up with “iCAIR is a division of Northwestern Information Technology (external audiences) or Northwestern IT (internal audiences).”
  • Information Security Office (ISO)
    • The Senior Director of Technology Planning and Security leads the ISO.
  • IT Services and Support (IT S&S)
    • The ampersand is not part of the department’s formal name; however, an ampersand is appropriate when the acronym IT S&S is used.
    • The department name should not be shortened to “ITSS.”
  • IT Communications
    • Informally, IT Communications is acceptable. In formal conversations and communication, use Northwestern IT Communications.
  • IT Service Desk
    • The Technology Support Center is the IT Service Desk’s in-person location housed in the University Library.
    • IT Support Center is a legacy name for what is now the IT Service Desk. Please do not use IT Support Center.
    • In print and online, always bold the final five digits of the IT Service Desk phone number: 847-491-4357 (1-HELP).
  • Office of the Vice President for Information Technology and Chief Information Officer
    • Informally, the Vice President for Information Technology may be referred to as the VP or the CIO.
    • Avoid using VP-CIO to reference the office or the individual. VP/CIO is acceptable in less formal scenarios.

distributed IT

  • A name referring to school- or unit-based information technology organizations not housed in Northwestern IT.



  • The word ”eduroam" is a proper noun referring to the University’s wireless network connection.
  • The word is always spelled using lowercase letters. Avoid starting a sentence with eduroam.
  • Do not hyphenate email; lowercase it except at the start of a sentence.
  • Use the phrase junk email or junk mail to refer to unwanted email. Do not use “spam,” which is a registered trademark of Hormel Foods Corporation.



  • In online content, try to avoid putting linked text in the middle of a sentence or paragraph. Instead, recast the sentence to refer to the link at the end when possible.
  • In online content or email, when linking to a web page or other online resource, the link text should mirror the title of the page or resource being linked to. Avoid describing the link as “click here” or “more information” as this does not meet accessibility guidelines.


  • An en dash, not a hyphen, should be used with a range of dates (Service Downtime on July 13–15) or times (5–7 p.m.).



  • Defined by Merriam-Webster as "technical terminology," "obscure language," and "confused unintelligible language." In short, avoid using jargon and ensure the language you are using is "user-friendly" and easily understood by students, faculty, and staff.


knowledge base

  • The Northwestern IT Knowledge Base is a library of self-service solutions, how-to guides, and essential information about IT services and systems.


login vs. log in

  • Login is a noun referring to the act of logging in to a computer, database, or system.
  • Log in or log in to refers to the act of entering information to access a system or account. (e.g., Go to the login page to log in and access the system.)
  • Log-in is not an acceptable usage.


Multi-factor Authentication (MFA)

  • The letter "f" in Multi-factor Authentication is always lowercase.
  • MFA is powered by Duo and it is acceptable to reference the service as Duo Multi-factor Authentication.

See also, University System Names.


Northwestern Information Technology

  • Northwestern Information Technology is an organization with several departments; these departments are comprised of units.
  • For print materials, including posters, fliers, Daily Northwestern advertisements, etc., always include Northwestern IT branding. Choose between Northwestern Information Technology and Northwestern IT, and include the web address:
  • When referring to the Northwestern Information Technology organization in articles for
    publication outside the organization, use Northwestern Information Technology. Northwestern IT should be used in subsequent mentions.
  • When referring to the organization in articles for publication within or published by Northwestern Information Technology, use Northwestern IT.
  • Do not identify the organization as NIT.
  • When in doubt, contact Northwestern IT Communications at


  • Do not use NU for Northwestern in any but very informal publications.


  • The numbers one through nine are spelled out; 10 and above are represented in numerals.
  • Numbers beginning a sentence are always spelled out. Mid-sentence, first through ninth are spelled out; thereafter, 10th, 11th, etc. Use two letters with 22nd, 23rd, etc.
  • Use numerals with percent (7 percent), dollar sign ($3), temperature (8 degrees), scores (7-3), page (page 2), room (room 9), and chapter (chapter 6).
  • For figures greater than 999,999, use million or billion (2.3 million, 4 billion). Use a comma in a figure greater than 1,000, unless it is a date.
  • For inclusive numbers, the second number should be represented by only its final two digits if its beginning digits are the same as the first number’s (pages 343–47).
  • A dash should not be used as a substitute for “to” in a range (from 1967 to 1983, not from 1967–83).



  • Capitalize when formal name (Office of the Vice President); otherwise, lowercase (vice president's office).



  • Use only one space between two sentences.



  • The :00 is rarely used when referring to time (e.g., The maintenance begins at 5 p.m.). It is only used in formal publications or invitations.
  • Lowercase a.m. and p.m.
  • It is sometimes permissible to remove the periods in a.m. and p.m. in tables and lists if space is tight, but always use the periods in text.
  • It is Noon, not 12 p.m. or 12 noon.
  • Use “to” in place of a dash to introduce a range of time (from 5 to 7 p.m., not from 5-7 p.m.). Do not use o’clock unless it is in quoted material or formal contexts such as invitations.

titles (people)

  • Generally, uppercase preceding a name if it is a title by which the individual is called (Professor Smith, Dean Smith, Provost Smith).
  • Lowercase for functional titles (program director Jane Smith).
  • Lowercase when listed after an individuals name (e.g., Ann Smith, associate developer, recently met with the team.).
  • Plurals are lowercased (associate developers John Smith and Ann Smith).
  • Some title capitalization is at the discretion of the individual and Northwestern IT Communications—when in doubt, contact us at


university (referring to Northwestern)

  • Always capitalize University when referring to Northwestern (e.g., The University has three campuses).

university system names

  • University systems should be referenced by their service or University-branded names (NUFinancials, not PeopleSoft; CAESAR, not Student Enterprise System). Zoom and Canvas are exceptions to this guideline.
  • If the vendor of a system must be identified, use some variation of system name (e.g., “Northwestern's lecture capture service, powered by Panopto, will undergo maintenance” or “Turning Technologies, the University’s student response system vendor, is offering training.”).
  • Examples of system names at Northwestern include:
    • IT Service Manager (TeamDynamix or colloquially TDX)
    • Learning Management System (Canvas)
    • Lecture Capture Service (Panopto)
    • Collaboration, Communication, and Productivity Applications (Microsoft 365; abbreviation is M365)
    • Northwestern's High Performance Computing Cluster (Quest)
    • University Email (Outlook)


  • https:// is not needed at the start of a web address unless the address doesn’t start with www or there could be some confusion about whether it is a web address.
  • www. is not required in contexts where it is clear that it is a web address. However, be consistent in using it or not within a publication (e.g.,
  • < > is not needed around a web address.
  • If an address does not fit on one line, do not introduce hyphenation when breaking it. Instead, where possible, put the URL on its own line. Do not hyphenate northwestern in a web or an email address, as readers might think the hyphen is part of the address. An unavoidable line break should come before a punctuation mark within a URL.
  • Do not use index.html at the end of a web address in print and online references; instead, retain the trailing slash for the directory.



  • Use videoconference (or videoconferencing) as one word.


  • Use voicemail as one word unless talking about a voice mailbox.



  • Never hyphenate the word online (e.g., do not use on-line).
  • World Wide Web is not needed; web is sufficient.
  • Do not capitalize internet, intranet, web, or website.
  • Use home page and web page as two words, but website as one word. Use database as one word.
  • Italicize the titles of publications (Bits, Bytes, and Buzz, Daily Northwestern, etc.) and blogs.
  • Close up webcast, webcasting, webconferencing, webmail, and webcam, but leave a space in web camera. 


  • Use Wi-Fi, not WiFi.


Our identity lockup clearly communicates the identity of the organization while maintaining the integrity of the Northwestern wordmark. All departments are represented under the Northwestern Information Technology lockup.

  • Do not use the Northwestern logo for Northwestern IT print publications (e.g., annual reports, strategic plans, etc.) without accompanying Northwestern IT branding.
  • For guidelines regarding use of the Northwestern IT logo, see the Northwestern IT Branding web page.
  • When in doubt, contact Northwestern IT Communications at