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Writing Style Guidelines

Below are rules for grammar, style, and tone when composing UI Health communications.
In general, writing for the patient should be done at a 5th grade reading level and in the second person: If you are experiencing pain, call the doctor immediately. We will help diagnose your problem.

You vs. Patient

In general, try to write in the second person (you), but on occasion it is appropriate to refer to the patient.
When addressing diagnoses and treatments, use you. When speaking about general services, patient is OK.


Acronyms can be acceptable on second reference. In general, no periods. Include in parentheses following first reference.
Right: The meeting was at the Outpatient Care Center (OCC). The OCC is located at 1801 W. Taylor St.

Academic degrees, medical licensures, certifications

Do not include periods when mentioning academic degrees and medical licensures, certifications, or fellowships to establish credentials: Jane Smith, MD; Jane Smith, PhD

Separate credentials with a comma, not a slash.
Wrong: Jane Smith, MD/PhD
Right: Jane Smith, MD, PhD

Avoid redundancies:
Wrong: Dr. Jane Smith, MD

In headlines and captions, follow the construct Full Name, Degrees, Certifications: Jane Smith, MD, PhD, FAAP

Doctor (Dr.)

Use Dr. in first reference as a formal title before the full name of an individual who holds a doctor of dental surgery, doctor of medicine, doctor of optometry, doctor of osteopathic medicine or doctor of podiatric medicine: Dr. Last Name acceptable on second reference: Dr. Jane Smith works at UI Health. Dr. Smith is a neurologist.
Drs. when listing multiple doctors: Drs. Smith and Brown


One word in all instances.


Capitalize a formal title only when it precedes a name: Director of Surgical Oncology Dr. Michael Warso,
Dr. Michael Warso is the director of surgical oncology


When a month is used with a specific date, abbreviate only Jan., Feb., Aug., Sept., Oct., Nov., and Dec. Spell out when using alone or with a year: It started Feb. 1. February 2016 was a warm month. August also is warm.
Do not include the superscript st, nd, rd, th on dates.
Wrong: Jan. 1st, Feb. 2nd
Right: Jan. 1, Feb. 2


Use figures except for noon and midnight. Use am and pm, lowercase, without periods, with a space after the figure. Do not include zeros for on-the-hour times.
Wrong: 10:00am
Right: 10 am
Use an en dash to show a time range in the same part of day. Use to for longer periods that span morning and evening: 9–11 am, 9 am to 3 pm.


Follow this general hierarchy for addresses:
1. Building/Department
2. Room/Suite Number and Mail Code
3. Street Address
4. City/State/ZIP

UI Health Marketing
Suite W311 (MC 615)
820 S. Wood St.
Chicago, IL 60612

Include dates and times with event information that will be designed for a poster, flier, or other promotional item. Creative Services will make judgment on how event information is displayed.

Apostrophe (’)

For events and awareness days, use the plural possessive when talking about a group of providers: Doctors’ Day, Nurses’ Week

Comma (,)

Always use a comma before the conjunction in a series: The colors are teal, green, and navy.


Bulleted lists always should begin with a capital letter and be entirely complete sentences or entirely fragments; do not mix and match. End complete sentences with appropriate punctuation.


Spell out numbers before 10 (one, two, 10, 11 first, second, 10th, 11th) unless a percentage: Just 2% responded.

Phone numbers

List with periods, not hyphens: 312.555.0000


In general, spell out state names. Only use postal code when including a mailing address.
Wrong: One in six IL doctors receives training at the UIC College of Medicine.
Right: One in six Illinois doctors receives training at the UIC College of Medicine.