Style guide

Accessibility links

Style guide


Design principles and standards

Other images

University images can be sourced from the image catalogue by emailing Refrain from using personal photos and other images in USC correspondence without prior approval.

Before images can be saved to the media gallery for website use, they must be resized by emailing

  • Profile images: 237px x 317px
  • All other images: 520px wide

Logos for other universities must be sized smaller than the USC logo. A maximum width of 100px is preferred, provided the logo remains legible.


The University’s style convention is minimal capitalisation. On the web, capitals reduce reading pace by at least 25 percent and visually clutter a page.

When speaking specifically, use upper case:

  • The Department of Premier and Cabinet, the University of the Sunshine Coast.

Use upper case in official titles:

  • Director-General Education Queensland, Minister for the Environment, Director of Human Resources.

Then use lower case in subsequent general references:

  • the director, the minister, the principal.

Capitalise geographical placenames and recognised geographical regions:

  • Northern Territory, South-East Queensland.

But not names of general areas:

  • western Queensland, north Brisbane

Proper nouns should take a capital; their generic siblings should not:

  • Bachelor of Arts — but arts degree
  • Innovation Centre — but the centre

Avoid the use of underline or italics in headings. Headings should appear in sentence case:

  • Developing research networks, Not: Developing Research Networks.

In formal, corporate, reporting or procedures documents the first letter of each significant word may be capitalised:

  • Regional Projects Prize for Students.

Do not capitalise each word in a heading:

  • Courses and programs
  • Business and information technology
  • Research centre wins government grant

Unless it is a recognised name:

  • Faculty of Science, Health, Education and Engineering
  • Young Australian of the Year Award

The first heading added to a webpage should always use the Heading 1 style. Use the following hierarchy of heading styles: Heading 1, then Heading 2, then Heading 3, not Heading 1 then Heading 3. This will give structure to your content:

Heading 1

Heading 2
Heading 3
Government references

Capitalise government as a title, but use lower case elsewhere:

  • The Queensland Government is responsible for

The government proposes to Commonwealth (in reference to the government) is always capitalised:

  • Defence is a Commonwealth responsibility
  • The Commonwealth Government has the power

The adjective federal requires a capital only if part of an official title:

  • The Federal Court of Australia
  • A federal government initiative

The adjective state requires a capital only if part of an official title:

  • The State of Queensland is aiming to
  • The Smart State strategy
  • A state-based project
Naming conventions
Policy documents

Name documents and folders to best describe the content and for accessibility in a search: Children on campus, Not: Policy for children on campus or USC policy for children on campus

Note: When naming policies and procedures, refer to the Policy Template found on the Portal (Blackboard).

Ensure file names are updated where required: FAB_template, Not: FOB_template

Use an underscore (_) instead of a space when saving a document. Some search tools do not work with spaces (particularly with internet files) and an underscore is the most visually appealing character.

When naming a document with a personal name, use the family name first, then given name.


When creating web page titles use sentence case:

  • Calendars and timetables

Unless they include proper nouns:

  • Student Administration

Use templates wherever possible to ensure consistency.


When using colour in documents (eg SmartArt, shading in tables), consider usability and presentation. Use the colour set with the RGB values 0,111,83 where relevant, or the default blue/grey colour scheme.

University terminology

University name

The official name is: University of the Sunshine Coast.

  • Never use the term Sunshine Coast University.
  • The term uni can be used in advertising and promotional material but not on the website

When using the title in a sentence, add the (lower case T) to the beginning of the title:

  • More than 8,900 students are currently enrolled at the University of the Sunshine Coast.

There is no need to write University of the Sunshine Coast (USC) in the first reference of the name, however the entire name should be used at the first reference.

Then refer to the University (capital U) or USC when speaking specifically of the University of the Sunshine Coast:

  • The University’s annual traffic survey, conducted across a high-volume teaching week in March, found that USC has enough car parks to cater for demand.

Use university (lower case U) when referring to the generic tertiary institution:

  • The athlete did not care much for university life.
University address

Street address:

Office of Marketing and External Engagement
Level 1, Resources Building (Building R)
University of the Sunshine Coast
Sippy Downs Drive
Sippy Downs

Postal address:

Office of Marketing and External Engagement – ML20
University of the Sunshine Coast
Locked Bag 4

Locate your campus mail location.

University telephone numbers

Use: Tel:

Not: Ph: or Phone: as these are not commonly used throughout the world.

The spacing in telephone numbers is as follows:

  • +61 7 5430 1234
  • 1800 123 123
  • 131 008

For domestic publications use telephone numbers with the state prefix, in the following format:

  • Tel: 07 5459 4493
  • Fax: 07 5430 1231

For publications that may be sent to or used by an international audience, include the international prefix:

  • Tel: +61 7 5459 4493
  • Fax: +61 7 5430 1231
Web and email

When referring to email and web addresses in body copy, do not enclose addresses in angle brackets: Email your responses to and a staff member will respond to your query.

It is not necessary to include http:// or www at the start of a web address.

University’s general email address:

University’s web address:

Email signatures

A standard email signature has been developed for staff across the university. It is recommended that you set your signature to the following format:

Job Title

University of the Sunshine Coast
CRICOS Provider No. 01595D

Academic program names and abbreviations

For the full and correct titles of University of the Sunshine Coast programs (and their abbreviations), refer to the relevant program page on the University website.

For specific degrees, capitalise the initial letters:

  • Bachelor of Information and Communications Technology
  • but information and communications technology as a major is lower case.

Do not use the word degree after an abbreviation of a degree.


  • She will receive her BA in April' or 'she will receive her arts degree in April, or
  • he will finish his MBA in 2004


  • She will receive her BA degree in April' or 'he will finish his MBA degree in 2004

Language style

Plain English

Documents are always easier to read if you keep the language and sentence structure simple. If an idea is complex, break it into smaller sentences. Avoid several clauses in one sentence, as the reader may lose your meaning.

Active voice

Use active voice wherever possible. In active voice, the subject of the sentence performs the action:

  • The Prime Minister praised the University of the Sunshine Coast.

In passive voice, the subject has an action done to them:

  • The University of the Sunshine Coast was praised by the Prime Minister.

Look out for the word 'by' — it is usually an indicator of passive voice.

Commonly used words and acronyms

Refer to commonly used words and acronyms as a reference for accepted spelling.

  • eg = for example
  • etc = etcetera
  • ie = that is
  • v = versus
  • NB = note well

Latin abbreviations do not need to be expanded. Do not use full stops or spaces in or after the abbreviation.

  • B = Bachelor
  • GradCert = Graduate Certificate
  • GradDip = Graduate Diploma
  • M = Master
  • D = Doctor
  • PhD = Doctor of Philosophy

For a full list of program abbreviations refer to:

(Portal login required).

University Abbreviation
Adelaide Adel.
Australian Catholic Aust.Cath.
Australian Maritime College Aust.Maritime 
Australian National ANU 
Ballarat not abbreviated 
Ballarat University College (now Ballarat)  Ballarat UC 
Bond  not abbreviated 
Canberra  not abbreviated 
Central Queensland  C.Qld.
Charles Darwin (formerly Northern Territory)  C.Darwin 
Charles Sturt  C.Sturt 
Curtin University of Technology  Curtin 
Deakin  not abbreviated 
Edith Cowan  E.Cowan 
Flinders University of South Australia  Flin.
Griffith  Griff.
James Cook  not abbreviated 
La Trobe  not abbreviated 
Macquarie  Macq.
Melbourne  Melb.
Monash  not abbreviated 
Murdoch  Murd.
New England (Australia)  NE 
New South Wales  NSW
New South Wales University of Technology (now New South Wales)  NSWUT 
Newcastle (New South Wales) Newcastle(NSW) 
Northern Territory (now Charles Darwin) N.Territory 
Notre Dame Australia  Notre Dame Aust.
Queensland  Qld.
Queensland University of Technology  Qld.UT 
RMIT University (formerly Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology)  not abbreviated 
Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (formerly RMIT University)  RMIT 
South Australia  S.Aust.
Southern Cross  S.Cross 
Southern Queensland, University College of (now Southern Queensland)  UCS Qld.
Southern Queensland  S.Qld.
Sunshine Coast  not abbreviated 
Swinburne University of Technology  Swinburne UT 
Sydney  Syd.
Tasmania  Tas.
Technology, Sydney  Technol.Syd.
Victoria (Australia) (formerly Victoria Institute of Technology)  Vic.(Aust.) 
Victoria University of Technology (Australia)  Victoria UT 
Western Australia  W.Aust.
Western Sydney W.Syd.
Wollongong W'gong.

The full term should be used in the first reference, with an accepted acronym placed in brackets after this first reference. Thereafter, the acronym may be used.

Acronyms may be used at the first reference only where a reader would recognise it at first glance. Avoid the use of full stops:

  • IQ or QANTAS or TAFE.

Use ‘a’ or ‘an’ depending on whether the acronym begins with a consonant or vowel sound:

  • an ARC meeting
  • a DEEWR requirement
Dates, days, months, times

Dates as combinations of words and numerals require no punctuation and progress logically from day to month to year:

  • 12 May 2006 or Monday 12 May 2006
  • Do not use a ‘th’
  • Use a comma when listing a semester and year: Semester 1, 2006

Write the names of days and months in full:

  • Saturday, Monday–Friday, February

Use am, pm (lower case, no spaces):

  • 9am, 3pm, 8.30am (single point only, no colon)

Use noon and midnight — not 12pm and 12am, which do not exist:

  • 12noon

An en rule (–) is the linking device used when showing time spans:

  • 9am–3pm
Distances and measurements

Use 80 km rather than 80 kilometres and 30 ha rather than 30 hectares.

Please note: the space between numerals and the abbreviation.

If vs. when

'If' is a conjunction to introduce conditional clauses:

  • If the student caught the bus, he will arrive on time

'When' is a time conjunction to introduce time clauses:

  • When the students arrive, we can start the class
Less vs. fewer

'Less' means lower in quantity:

  • less money, less time.

'Fewer' means smaller in number and is used with plural nouns or verbs:

  • fewer students.
Which vs. that

Use 'that' if the clause is definitive, and 'which' when it is descriptive. 'Which' is preceded by a comma in this usage.

'That' introduces an essential clause:

  • The documents that support the program are correct.

'Which' introduces a non-essential clause. It is placed between commas and gives more information about something previously mentioned:

  • he documents support the program, which is beneficial for the University.
Present tense vs. past tense

Use present tense wherever possible. If past tense is used, use perfect tense (has been) for longer and ongoing activities, and imperfect tense (was) for activities which happened once and/or which are unfinished.

Money (currency)

In information intended for an international audience use A$ followed by the amount when writing Australian currency. No ‘A’ is necessary in information intended for a domestic audience only.

Eliminate cents (00) where possible:

  • The hamburger cost A$3.


  • $24million (note no space) or $24M (note capital M)

The guidelines for presenting numbers are different for websites than for print publications.

Spell out numbers that do not represent specific facts:

  • In recent years, we have tested thousands of internet users.


  • we have tested 1,000s of internet users.

Use 'more than' when referring to a number and quantity:

  • USC has more than 4,500 students.


  • USC has over 4,500 students.

Use a comma to separate thousands and higher:

  • 1, 10, 100, 1,000, 10,000, 100,000.

Use a full stop for decimal points.


Write numbers with digits, not letters (23, not twenty-three).

Use numerals even when the number is the first word in a sentence or bullet point.

Use numerals for big numbers up to one billon:

  • 2,000,000 is better than two million.
  • Two trillion is better than 2,000,000,000,000 (most people can't interpret that many zeros).
  • As a compromise, you can often use numerals for the significant digits and write out the magnitude as a word. For example, write 24 billion (not twenty-four billion or 24,000,000,000).

Spell out numbers one to nine. Use digits for 10 and higher.

Do not use digits at the start of a sentence (although starting a sentence with a numeric value should be avoided altogether):

  • Thirty-three students attended the event.

Do not mix words and numerals if a range or series of numbers is required:

  • Refer to the program descriptions on pages 9-23.

Write out the magnitude as a word:

  • 24 million people contracted the disease.


  • twenty-four million or 24,000,000 

Use numerals for significant digits:

  • The campaign raised $242,715 (Disclosing the exact number also increases the statement's credibility).
People and titles

In forms, use Family name and Given name / s not First name / s.

  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander — do not abbreviate and never use the term black
  • he or she, him or her — if writing about babies, or students, or other collective nouns that do not specify gender, alternate between the two
  • Mrs, Miss, Ms — find out which title your subject prefers. If the subject’s marital status is unknown, use Ms
  • partner — rather than spouse
  • person with a disability — rather than a disabled person
  • staff, staffing — instead of manning a booth
  • chair — instead of chairman or chairwoman
  • The Honourable — given to members of parliament, members of the Legislative Council and judges of the High Court. Abbreviated to Hon with no punctuation
University of the Sunshine Coast titles
  • Associate Dean
  • Associate Professor
  • Professor
  • Chancellor
  • Executive Dean
  • Pro-Vice Chancellor
  • Deputy Vice-Chancellor
  • Vice-Chancellor and President

Use initial capitals when referring to a specific person:

  • Deputy Vice Chancellor (Research and Innovation) Professor Roland De Marco is a member of the committee.

Lower case in generic instances:

  • The faculty has appointed a new executive dean.

When creating links on web pages use descriptive text to give an indication of what the page linked to contains.


  • history and growth, courses and programs, Sunshine Coast University Hospital.


  • click here, read more

Links to PDF and Word documents should use descriptive text of the file title and include brackets with the file type and size:

  • Undergraduate guide 2014 (PDF 2.9MB)

Ensure all external links, PDFs and Word documents open in a new window.

When linking to a PDF, include the following standard footnote:

* For PDF documents you must have the free Adobe Acrobat Reader, which can be downloaded from the Adobe Download page.

Keywords in metadata

Think about the words that users might use to search for your content. Use common, everyday words and avoid jargon or technical terms.



Do not use an ampersand (&) unless it is part of an organisation’s name; write 'and' instead


Only use an apostrophe if you are contracting two words, or if ownership is involved.

  • They are: they’re
  • I am: I’m
  • It is: it’s
  • The pencil owned by Sam: Sam’s pencil
  • The list issued by the Dean: the Dean’s list

The plurals of many nouns include the letter 's'; however, do not be tempted to add an apostrophe:

  • One mushroom, two mushrooms
  • One professor, two professors

Be careful with phrases that are plural and possessive.

  • If two professors had cats, they would be two professors’ cats.
  • The committee of Australian Vice-Chancellors is the Australian Vice-Chancellors’ Committee.

Names ending in an 's' require an additional 's' when ownership is involved:

  • Mr Jones’s lecture or Chris’s assignment

Do not use an apostrophe before the 's' when forming the plural of acronyms and numerals:

  • learn your ABCs; in the 1980s.
Bullet lists (dot points)

In a bulleted list, always use a full stop after each list item if the list item is a complete sentence, but no full stop if the list item is just a word or a phrase.

If text marked by a dot point is not a complete sentence, then write it in lower case with no punctuation at the end of dot points, even the last one:

Assistance is available in several forms:

  • monetary assistance
  • equipment or environmental modifications
  • advisory services

If an 'and' or 'or' are placed at the end of a line of text in bullet points, a comma must precede the 'and' or 'or'.

If the text marked by a dot point is a complete sentence, it is to begin with a capital letter. Use punctuation as for normal sentences (eg, a full stop at the end of each sentence):

The committee came to two important conclusions:

  • Officers from the department should investigate the feasibility of developing legislated guidelines for future investigations.
  • Research should be funded in the three priority areas.
Colon and semicolons

Use a colon after a complete sentence to introduce a list (see bullet lists for example).

Semicolons can be used to separate two related sentences:

  • He sent me the email; I requested he forward it to you.

There are many uses for commas including;

  • separating words and word groups in a series of three or more
  • separating two adjectives when and can be inserted between them: a fast, strong athlete
  • to help avoid confusion: she completed communications and advertising courses, and editing was her favourite
  • to interrupt sentence flow: he would, however, like you to respond by 3pm

An en rule (–) is a linking device used to show spans of figures, time and distance.

  • The meeting will be held from 11am–2pm.

An em rule (—) has three main uses:

  • to signify an abrupt change
  • to introduce an amplification or explanation
  • to set apart parenthetic elements
  • The main cause of many types of cancer is smoking—but this is not what we came here to talk about.

Ellipses are the devices used to signify omission of words in a quoted passage. The device requires a space before and after use: The committee oversees policy … and regulates safety.

Full stops

Minimise the use of full stops and other punctuation—no full stop should appear after titles such as Ms or Mr or in abbreviations such as RAAF or CSIRO.

Use only one space after the full stop, before starting a second sentence.


A hyphen (-) is used to join parts of a compound word (eg re-enter).

Do not hyphenate a word ending in ‘ly’: commonly used, not commonly-used.


A forward slash (/) is used to show alternatives:

  • yes/no
  • area/s — not area(s)

Please note: no space before or after the slash.

Quotation marks

Use single quotation marks when highlighting a term.

Use double quotation marks for quotes.


percent — one word, do not use symbol (%) unless in a table

More information

For more information contact Marketing and External Engagement


  • News Limited, Style – A guide for journalists, Nationwide News Pty Ltd
  • Snooks & Co, Style manual, John Wiley & Sons Australia Ltd
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