Writing Style Guidelines

The chart below gives examples of specific references to entities. As a general rule, any organization should be referred to in all communications as its full proper name on first reference and by its acronym or common noun on second and subsequent references.


  • Upon first reference, UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center would be referred to as such. On second and subsequent references, it would be referred to as UNC Lineberger, or its common noun, the cancer center.


First Reference

Second & Subsequent

Please note

*NC Cancer Hospital (in logo) or N.C. Cancer Hospital (in text)

NOT North Carolina Cancer Hospital

the cancer hospital

the hospital

Always reference in conjunction with UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center
*NC Memorial Hospital (in logo) or N.C. Memorial Hospital (in text) the hospital Never refer to this hospital as the 'main hospital'
UNC Cancer Care UNC Cancer Care Cancer Care is always two words.
UNC Health Care UNC Health Care Health Care is always two words.  Avoid using "the system" whenever possible.
UNC Hospitals the hospitals In most instances -- particularly external communications -- simply refer to 'UNC Hospitals' when writing about a patient.
University Cancer Research Fund UCRF or "the fund"
UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center UNC Lineberger On subsequent references, refer to "the cancer center".

**Standard language for noting the relationship between UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center and the N.C. Cancer Hospital is as follows:

“The N.C. Cancer Hospital is the clinical home of UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center.”

***Standard language for defining “UNC Cancer Care” is as follows:

“UNC Cancer Care combines the research strength of UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center with patient care provided by UNC’s nationally-known faculty physicians.”

Internet terms

internet never capitalized
home page always two words
online always one word
Web always capitalized
Web site always two words
e-mail never capitalized, always hyphenated


and Never use "&" unless part of an official name or title
chair Never chairman or chairwoman
cutting-edge Avoid, substitute "leading-edge"
health care

Two words, when referring to general medical care or the health care industry.

The only exception to this rule is "Rex Healthcare" since it is a proper name

housestaff (residents) lowercase, one word
inpatient lowercase, one word
outpatient lowercase, one word
attending physicians Never use the word "attendings" to refer to attending physicians
faculty members Never use the word "faculty" to refer to faculty members

Specific references to departments

Capitalize all department names when using the full, official name and upon first reference unless they appear in a series. Upon second reference, department names should be lowercase. The word “department” should always be lowercase unless used in conjunction with the official name of the department.


  • The Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine has accepted an award.
  • Professors involved in the project represent the departments of surgery, family medicine, pediatrics, and obstetrics and gynecology.
  • John Doe is the director of the Department of Genetics. As director of the department of genetics, John…

Do not capitalize names of programs.