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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


Follow this general hierarchy for addresses:
1. Building Name, Room/Floor/Suite Number
2. Street Address
3. City/State/ZIP

Outpatient Care Center, Suite 3F
1801 W. Taylor 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.


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. Use without a space for a range in the same part of day and with a space for periods that span morning and evening: 9–11 am, 9 am – 3 pm.


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

Hyphen (-)
En dash (–)
Em dash (—)

Use a hyphen to join together words, such as compound modifiers. The QST supports our top-level growth.

Use an en dash to show a range. The meeting is scheduled from 10–11 am. We anticipate 200–300 people.

Use an em dash to denote an abrupt change in thought in a sentence or an emphatic pause, or to set off a phrase or series that otherwise would be set off by commas.

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.

Colon (:)

A colon generally is used at the end of a sentence or phrase to introduce lists, tabulations, texts, etc. It also can be used to give emphasis. Capitalize the first word after a colon only if it is a proper noun or the start of a complete sentence.

Semicolon (;)

In general, use the semicolon to indicate a greater separation of thought and information than a comma can convey but less than the separation that a period implies.

Use semicolons to separate elements of a series when the items in the series are long or when individual segments contain material that also must be set off by commas.

The Bruno & Sallie Pasquinelli Outpatient Surgery Center has an anesthesia clinic; eight procedure rooms; 24 pre-/post-operation bays; and a direct connection to the University of Illinois Hospital’s surgery center.

A semicolon does NOT introduce anything

Wrong: Save the Date; Specialty Care Building Ribbon Cutting on Sept. 14.


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.

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.