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Editorial Style and Usage Guide

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Whatever type of content you are creating, an editorial style guide helps you communicate more effectively and be consistent in grammar, punctuation and word use. For MU Extension content, refer first to the following list for guidance. If it is not listed here, refer to the MU Editorial Style Guide for second reference. For all other questions, refer to the Associated Press Stylebook, which also contains Webster’s New World College Dictionary.

4-H clubs and project clubs

Use the following format to concisely and consistently list your county's 4-H clubs and project clubs along with their meeting times, meeting places, leaders and contact information. Remember to use "time, date, place" (TDP) to consistently order information about events.

Trinity 4-H Club meets at 7 p.m. on the fourth Monday of every month at the extension center in Columbia. Club leaders: Donna Johnson, 573-999-9999, or Jane Doe, 573-999-1234 or [email protected]

Youth or youths?

The noun "youths" is the plural (Webster's New World, fourth edition) when referring to more than one young person. Specifically, if the number of young people is countable, you must use "youths" to be gramatically correct.

Example:

  • There were 32 youths at the club's awards and recognition dinner. (It is a countable number, so you must use "youths.")

The noun youth refers to either one young person, or the state or quality of being young, or young people collectively.

Examples:

  • 4-H encourages youth to be valued, contributing members of their communities. ("Youth" is correct because there is not a countable number of young people.)
  • Missouri 4-H Youth Programs ("Youth" is used as an adjective, modifying "programs.")
  • 4-H clubs displayed a variety of youth projects at the county fair. ("Youth" is used as an adjective, modifying "projects.")

Suggestion: If the words "youth" and "youths" are used multiple times in a sentence or paragraph, substitute "young people" occasionally to break it up.

Tagged as: 4-H, Counties and regions, Identity guidelines

4-H name and emblem

The National 4-H Headquarters has published federally mandated policies regarding the use of the 4-H emblem and logo. See the policies on the web at: https://nifa.usda.gov/4-h-name-and-emblem.

Source: National 4-H Headquarters

Tagged as: 4-H, Identity guidelines

Academic degrees

MU Extension follows the University of Missouri's editorial style for academic degrees — superseding Associated Press style. In most cases, we do not list a person's academic degree. However, if mention of degrees is necessary to establish someone’s credentials, follow these guidelines.

  • Use an apostrophe in bachelor’s, master’s.
  • Use such abbreviations as BA, MA and PhD without periods. Please refer to the campus style guide for a list of degree abbreviations.
  • When used after a name, an academic abbreviation is set off by commas: Bill Doe, PhD, spoke at the workshop.
  • Do not precede a name with a courtesy title for an academic degree and follow the name with the abbreviation for the degree in the same reference, as in Dr. Bill Doe, PhD.
  • The courtesy title Dr. should be used when referring to a medical doctor or dentist, e.g., Dr. Bill Doe is now seeing patients on a half-time basis.
  • It is appropriate to use the functional titles, rather than Dr., for faculty, e.g.,
    • Vice Chancellor Stewart
    • Professor Jane Doe
    • Community Engagement Specialist Bill Doe
    • Regional Livestock Specialist Jane Doe

Source: University of Missouri Editorial Style Guide

Tagged as: degrees

Alt text for web images

Alt text, the alternative text used by screen readers and text readers to describe an image on a web page, is required for accessibility and useful for search engine optimization of your page. When writing alt text, imagine how you might briefly describe the image to someone over the phone. Keep alt text short and meaningful — a good rule of thumb is to keep length to fewer than 50 characters (around 10 words) and no more than 140 characters (around 25 words). Mention in the alt text that the image is a photograph or drawing if it helps convey the meaning. If the image is also a link to another page, mention that in the alt text.

Examples:

  • Useful alt text: MU Extension logo
    Less useful alt text: logo
  • Useful alt text for a pie chart image: Pie chart of greenhouse gas emissions by economic sector: industry 29%, transportation 28%, commercial 17%, residential 17% and agriculture 9%.
    Less useful alt text for the same pie chart image: Greenhouse gas emissions by economic sector.

Background images and color

Do not add background images or background colors to pages or content areas.

Bt, Bacillus thuringiensis

Abbreviation is Bt with no punctuation.

Tagged as: Spelling

Chile

Use chile (plural, chiles) for peppers that are pungent pods in the genus Capsicum.
Lowercase names of varieties except for Anaheim chile, Colorado chile, Hungarian yellow wax chile and Tabasco pepper chile. Capitalize thee variety when it is named after a location or region (if it is a proper noun).

Click here

If at all possible, don't use the words "click here" in your links. People recognize link color conventions, so there's no need to tell them to click. Also, people using screen readers can hear a list of links on the page, but the context of the links is lost. To keep the context, make the link text tell the user where the link will take them.

Examples:

  • Correct link text: More information about style
    Incorrect link text: Click here for more information about style.
  • Correct link text: For more information, visit the MU Extension style guide.
    Incorrect link text: For MU Extension's style, click here.

Tagged as: Frequently needed

Clip art, animation and audio clips

Unless they add useful information to a web page, avoid the use of clip art, animation and audio clips.

Contact information

If you need to add contact information at the bottom of a web page, use the following format. Note that the name is linked to the person's contact page, the email address is a mailto: link, and the phone number is a tel: link.

Example:

Contact
Laura Lindsay
Natural Resource Engineer
417-859-2044

See also: email addresses on the web

County and regional office identification

One of our strategic goals is to strengthen the awareness of MU Extension as the division of the university that carries out the university’s land-grant mission — bringing practical, research-based information to Missourians. Another goal is to create awareness that all of our varied functions make up "One MU Extension."

With that in mind, always refer to the university when you are referring to your office, and remember that MU Extension is primary and location is secondary. Your office is "University of Missouri Extension in" a location.

Use for sponsorship, as the name when listing your physical address, and for reference in fliers, brochures, presentations and newsletters:

First reference: University of Missouri Extension in < Name of county, city or region >

Second reference or first when space is limited or for physical addresses: MU Extension in < Name of county, city or region >

Examples:

  • A seminar, sponsored by University of Missouri Extension in Howell County, will explain the latest state tax laws.
  • Please mail your check to: MU Extension in New Madrid County, 420 Mott Street, New Madrid, MO 63869.

Use to name a location:

County offices

First reference: University of Missouri Extension Center in < Name of county or city >

First reference when space is limited: MU Extension Center in < Name of county or city >

Second reference: extension center

Examples:

  • The seminar will take place at the University of Missouri Extension Center in Howell County. Please use the parking lot in front of the extension center.
  • Spell out county unless it is abbreviated to save space in a table.

Regional offices

First reference: University of Missouri Extension <Name of region> Regional Office

Second reference or first when space is limited or for physical addresses: MU Extension <Name of region> Regional Office

Example: MU Extension East Central Regional Office

Social media:

University of Missouri Extension — < Name of county, city or region >

To learn how to make an em dash, see the em dash entry in the style guide.

Multiple center names in tables or vertical lists:

Introductory text with list of county names below: University of Missouri Extension in

Example:

University of Missouri Extension in
Adair County
Benton County
Clark County

Plural:

Lowercase centers and counties when listing more than one.

Examples:

  • You can attend the program at University of Missouri Extension centers in Howard, Boone and Callaway counties.
  • University of Missouri Extension in Howard, Boone and Callaway counties sponsors the program.

See also: em dash (—), University of Missouri Extension

Tagged as: Counties and regions, Frequently needed, Identity guidelines

County council identification

In legal documents: University of Missouri Extension Council of <Name> County

Other instances: <Name of county, city or region> University of Missouri Extension Council or <Name of county, city or region> Extension Council

Lowercase extension council(s) when not referring to a specific council entity and on second reference.

Examples:

  • If you would like to serve on your county extension council, contact your local University of Missouri Extension center.
  • The Jasper County Extension Council meets once a month.

See also: county and regional office identification, University of Missouri Extension

Tagged as: Counties and regions, Frequently needed, Identity guidelines

Default fonts, colors and headings

Default font sizes and color combinations have been usability tested and are used throughout the MU Extension and Extension Way sites. Using the set hierarchy of headings and not adding "noise" to the page with different colors and fonts creates a recognizable pattern for users who are navigating the site.

The following headings are available:

Heading 2

Heading 3

Heading 4

Heading 5
Heading 6

Em dash (—)

Dashes can be used sparingly to set off material in the middle of a sentence or for emphasis when either a pause longer than a comma is needed or there is a sharp turn of thought. They can also be used to set off information in a list. In these cases, use an em dash with spaces on either side.

To insert the dash in a web page using the WebTool content management system, either use Insert special character in the toolbar of the WYSIWYG editor or insert "&mdash;" in the code (don't include the quotation marks).

To insert an em dash in Microsoft Word, use one of the following methods on a Windows computer (on a Mac, press [Opt]+[Shift]+-):

  • Press [Ctrl]+[Alt]+Num- (Num- means you must use the minus sign (-) on the numeric keypad).

  • Hold down the [Alt] key and type 0151 on the numeric keypad.

  • Choose Symbol from the Insert menu, click the Special Characters tab, highlight the em dash, and click Insert.

Do not use a single hyphen (-) or double hyphens (--) to indicate an em dash.

Examples:

  • The club's leaders — Jackie, Tom and Darlene — were all present at the meeting.
  • Don't delay your registration — this course fills up quickly.

Email addresses on the web

Whenever possible, use a link to the person's MU people page instead of a direct link to their email. This helps avoid spam email.

If you must use a direct email link, spell out the email address and put the mailto: link on the email address rather than on the person's name. This enables people to contact someone by email even if they've printed the page, accessed the page from a public or shared computer, or don't have email that automatically opens when they click a mailto: link.

Example:

For more information, contact DeeAnna Adkins at [email protected] or 573-882-8199.

See also: contact information

File format and linking to documents

If there is a reason a document should be downloadable, such as ease of printing, PDF documents are preferred over Microsoft Word or Excel documents because they are more accessible to the public.

If you are linking to a document other than a web page, give the file type (e.g., PDF, XLS, DOC, DOCX, PPT) at the end of the link in parentheses. Make sure the file type is part of the link, which will make it accessible and conform to Section 508 Accessibility Standards.

Examples:

  • If you are linking only to a document:
    2009 Buchanan County annual report (PDF)
    2009 Buchanan County annual report (DOC)
  • If you are linking to more than one type of document, put the link to the first file on the text (in the example directly below, the link to the first file would be on the text "2009 Buchanan County annual report (PDF)") and the file type and the link to the second file on the second file type (in the link directly below, the link to the second file would be on the text "DOC"). Separate the links with a pipe character, which is located above the backslash on most keyboards:
    2009 Buchanan County annual report (PDF) | DOC
  • If the information is available on a web page and also in another format(s), put the link to the web page on the text, then link the file types to the downloadable documents (separate the links with a pipe character, which is located above the backslash on most keyboards):
    2009 Buchanan County annual report | PDF
    2009 Buchanan County annual report | PDF | PPT
  • If the PDF form is both fillable and printable (usually the fillable version can also be the printable version), the style is the same as the normal PDF style:
    Camp registration form (PDF)
  • That said, if you know your audience and think they won't realize that the form is fillable without indicating that it is, use the following style (and follow the other rules using the pipe if there's a Word version, etc.):
    Camp registration form (fillable PDF)

Tagged as: Counties and regions, Frequently needed

Guide, guidesheet or guide sheet?

Always say guide or publication if referring to a guide generically. We no longer use the term guidesheet.

Tagged as: Identity guidelines

Headings

Only capitalize the first word in all heading levels, including links that serve as headings, unless the word is a proper noun or the specific name of a branded program.

Tagged as: Frequently needed

Horse fly, house fly

Horse fly and house fly as two words. This practice distinguishes between true flies, such as horse flies, and some other insects such as butterflies.

Exception to Webster's.

Source: Robert Hall, former MU entomologist

Tagged as: Spelling

I - None Available

J - None Available

K - None Available

Land-grant

From Webster's New World, fourth edition: adj., designating any of a number of colleges and universities originally given federal aid, especially by land grants, on condition that they offer instruction in agriculture and the mechanical arts. They are now supported by the individual states with supplementary federal funds.

Tagged as: Identity guidelines, Spelling

Links and page headings

If you link to another web page or document, make sure the link text matches the text when you get to the page or open the document. For example, don't make a link that says "Accounting procedures" go to a page with the heading "Financial procedures."

Links and referrals to external websites

Delivering content from the University of Missouri is our foremost goal, but to serve clients and give them thorough answers to their questions, it is sometimes necessary to refer them to other sources. This practice should be secondary and employed judiciously. MU Extension faculty members represent the interests of the university and are responsible for the quality of information disseminated.

When referring clients to non-MU websites through a link on an MU Extension website, a URL printed in a handout or newsletter, or verbally over the phone, quality is paramount over quantity.

Guidelines and practices:

Linking to external sources is recommended only as a supplement to our own material and is prioritized by:

  1. other land-grant universities;

  2. valid government sources (e.g., www.myplate.gov or www.consumer.gov);

  3. research-based nonprofit institutions (e.g., American Heart Association); and

  4. other sources only if they are carefully screened and deemed to be research-based, unbiased information in a context that does not promote a specific product, point of view, religion, political agenda, etc.

Before referring clients to an external URL, always review the site carefully and only give out the URL if it contains information you would be willing to endorse.

If you cannot provide information from MU sources, other land-grant sources or reviewed government sources, refer the client to a search engine to do their own research.

MU Extension logo

Use the University of Missouri Extension logo to identify printed and electronic resources (e.g., publications, newsletters, brochures, web pages). The logo must remain in the approved formats and proportions. For comprehensive guidelines on how to use the MU Extension logo, refer to the MU Extension Graphic Identity Guide (PDF).

Print-quality logos are high-resolution images that may be sized in publishing software. For PowerPoint presentations, use print-quality logos. In publications, the logo may be printed in either black (one color) or black plus PMS 124 gold.

Substitutions for PMS 124:
For desktop printing (Publisher or Word), use the following. For Word and Publisher, the color for fonts and boxes can be set by choosing More Colors > Custom.

RGB: Red-241 Green-184 Blue-45

CMYK: Cyan-0 Magenta-31 Yellow-98 Black-0
When sending a Publisher file to a professional printer, use CMYK.

Web HEX: F1B82D

Note: The RGB, CMYK and HEX equivalents to PMS 124 were changed to match new MU campus guidelines.

View University of Missouri Extension logos

Tagged as: Identity guidelines

Nondiscrimination statement

Brochures, publications and reports:
MU Extension's equal employment opportunity (EEO) nondiscrimination statement should be used on all print and web-based materials produced by MU Extension. Whenever possible, use the full statement. Check the following web page to be sure you have the most recent full nondiscrimination statement: https://extension2.missouri.edu/equal-opportunity-ada-institution/

When space is limited, it is acceptable to use:

an equal opportunity/access/affirmative action/pro-disabled and veteran employer

Often a good design is to place the MU Extension logo at the end of the brochure followed by “an equal opportunity/ADA institution.”

Letterhead and newsletters:
All University of Missouri Extension letterhead and newsletters must include the following cooperating statement:

University of Missouri, Lincoln University, U.S. Department of Agriculture and Local Extension Councils Cooperating

Note: University Print & Mail Services is the only authorized printer of MU Extension letterhead and business cards. You can order online:
http://ps.missouri.edu/onlineProducts/stationery/stationeryMUExtension/

Newsletters should also include the following nondiscrimination statement:

an equal opportunity/access/affirmative action/pro-disabled and veteran employer

Note: When following the cooperating statement, the nondiscrimination statement is adjusted by making "employers" plural and removing the "an."

The cooperating statement is required only on letterhead and newsletters.

Tagged as: Frequently needed, Identity guidelines

Nonpoint source pollution

No hyphens.

Example: The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency administers a national nonpoint source pollution grant program.

Tagged as: Spelling

Office hours

See "times" entry in AP Stylebook.

Photographs

In general, for both the web and print, only color-correct, crop and re-size images. Only use image-altering features such as blurring with a useful purpose, which will be extremely rarely.

Sizes

  • Normal image width for a photo in the content section of a page: 380 pixels

  • Normal image width for a photo in banner at the top of a program or county: 1219 pixels

Postemergence, preemergence

No hyphen in either term.

Tagged as: Spelling

Preharvest, postharvest

No hyphens.

Tagged as: Spelling

Preregistration

The term registration is more appropriate for most small courses or meetings with only one registration period. Only use preregistration if you have an early registration period and a regular registration period.

Q - None Available

R - None Available

S - None Available

Tables in web pages

Use tables only to format tabular data, not to format text or graphics.

University of Missouri Extension

Organizational identity:

University of Missouri Extension is the formal name for the systemwide function that represents the extension mission of the University of Missouri.

Example: A University of Missouri Extension seminar will explain the latest state tax laws.

MU Extension is the preferred second reference for programs based on the Columbia campus and at county extension centers and may be used as a first reference when space is limited.

Example: A complete list of seminar sites is available on the MU Extension website at extension.missouri.edu.

UMKC Extension, Missouri S&T Extension and UM-St. Louis Extension are the preferred second references for programs based on these campuses.

Capitalize the word "extension" when it is used as part of a formal name, such as "University of Missouri Extension Association." Lowercase in all other instances, such as "the extension program." See the following paragraph for correct usage.

Jane Doe, extension associate and entomologist, offers answers about plant pests for homeowners, farmers, gardeners and businesses across Missouri. MU Extension specialists in county offices frequently send her samples from residents in their region. Doe and other entomologists from extension programs across the nation share sample data at the Insects of Northern States Extension Collaboration Team (INSECT) meetings.

Do not form acronyms by using "E" for Extension, such as MUE or UME, in external or internal communications. The preferred way to show our web address is extension.missouri.edu.

Other campuses:

University of Missouri Extension programs located at UMKC, Missouri S&T and UM-St. Louis are encouraged to use their campus logos and associated guidelines with the nomenclature "University of Missouri Extension." The relationship with University of Missouri Extension should be stated clearly where appropriate in publications, websites, etc. The use of a University of Missouri Extension logo is optional.

One of our strategic goals is to strengthen the awareness of MU Extension as the division of the university that carries out the university’s land-grant mission — bringing practical, research-based information to Missourians. Another goal is to create awareness that all of our varied functions make up "One MU Extension."

With that in mind, always refer to the university when you are referring to your office, and remember that MU Extension is primary and location is secondary. Your office is "University of Missouri Extension in" a location.

Use for sponsorship, as the name when listing your physical address, and for reference in fliers, brochures, presentations and newsletters:

First reference: University of Missouri Extension in < Name of county, city or region >

Second reference or first when space is limited or for physical addresses: MU Extension in < Name of county, city or region >

Examples:

  • A seminar, sponsored by University of Missouri Extension in Howell County, will explain the latest state tax laws.
  • Please mail your check to: MU Extension in New Madrid County, 420 Mott Street, New Madrid, MO 63869.

Use to name a location:

County offices

First reference: University of Missouri Extension Center in < Name of county or city >

First reference when space is limited: MU Extension Center in < Name of county or city >

Second reference: extension center

Examples:

  • The seminar will take place at the University of Missouri Extension Center in Howell County. Please use the parking lot in front of the extension center.
  • Spell out county unless it is abbreviated to save space in a table.

Regional offices

First reference: University of Missouri Extension <Name of region> Regional Office

Second reference or first when space is limited or for physical addresses: MU Extension <Name of region> Regional Office

Example: MU Extension East Central Regional Office

Social media:

University of Missouri Extension — < Name of county, city or region >

To learn how to make an em dash, see the em dash entry in the style guide.

Multiple center names in tables or vertical lists:

Introductory text with list of county names below: University of Missouri Extension in

Example:

University of Missouri Extension in
Adair County
Benton County
Clark County

Plural:

Lowercase centers and counties when listing more than one.

Examples:

  • You can attend the program at University of Missouri Extension centers in Howard, Boone and Callaway counties.
  • University of Missouri Extension in Howard, Boone and Callaway counties sponsors the program.

See also: county council identification

Tagged as: Counties and regions, Frequently needed, Identity guidelines

URL (uniform resource locater)

For print-based resources, use the shortest working version of the URL. Do not routinely add www. While many URLs work when you add www to the beginning of a URL, some will not. Note that there are sites where www is required in the URL. Always test prior to editing out the www. Our main URL, extension.missouri.edu, does not require the www.

In print and electronic publishing, use the protocol (e.g., http://, https://, ftp://). Don't assume http:// is the correct protocol without checking.

Exception: For marketing materials that list extension.missouri.edu as a stand-alone entity (not used in a sentence), it is acceptable to drop the protocol, or http://.

Don't underline links in printed publications because underscores used in the URL will be unreadable. Don't underline links in web pages because our style is already set to underline links on hover.

Vice chancellor for extension and engagement

First reference: Do not capitalize the title if used after the name. Capitalize the title if used before the name.

Examples:

  • Marshall Stewart, University of Missouri vice chancellor for extension and engagement, and chief engagement officer for the UM System, will speak at the meeting.
  • Vice Chancellor for Extension and Engagement Marshall Stewart will speak at the meeting.

Second reference: Stewart

Tagged as: Identity guidelines, titles

Water quality

Don't hyphenate water quality when it serves as a compound modifier. Even though it is two words, we treat it as a single entity. For example, we would not hyphenate "water quality problem."

Tagged as: Spelling

Weights

Use figures: The baby weighed 7 pounds, 15 ounces. She had a 7-pound, 15-ounce girl.

Source: AP Stylebook

X - None Available

Youth or youths?

The noun "youths" is the plural (Webster's New World, fourth edition) when referring to more than one young person. Specifically, if the number of young people is countable, you must use "youths" to be gramatically correct.

Example:

  • There were 32 youths at the club's awards and recognition dinner. (It is a countable number, so you must use "youths.")

The noun youth refers to either one young person, or the state or quality of being young, or young people collectively.

Examples:

  • 4-H encourages youth to be valued, contributing members of their communities. ("Youth" is correct because there is not a countable number of young people.)
  • Missouri 4-H Youth Programs ("Youth" is used as an adjective, modifying "programs.")
  • 4-H clubs displayed a variety of youth projects at the county fair. ("Youth" is used as an adjective, modifying "projects.")

Suggestion: If the words "youth" and "youths" are used multiple times in a sentence or paragraph, substitute "young people" occasionally to break it up.

Z - None Available