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Style Guide: Recent Updates

Review the most recent updates to the UC San Diego Style Guide.

Updating the style guide

The UC San Diego Editorial Style Guide changes as:

  • Institutional names and branding are updated
  • Accepted usage changes over time
  • New data becomes available about how people interact with web pages, changing best practices

Most recent updates

pronouns - gender neutral


they, them, their

In most cases, a plural pronoun should agree in number with the antecedent: The children love the books their uncle gave them. They/them/their is acceptable in limited cases as a singular and/or gender-neutral pronoun, when alternative wording is overly awkward or clumsy. However, rewording usually is possible and always is preferable. Clarity is a top priority; gender-neutral use of a singular they is unfamiliar to many readers. We do not use other gender-neutral pronouns such as xe or ze.

Usage example: A singular they might be used when an anonymous source's gender must be shielded and other wording is overly awkward: The person feared for their own safety and spoke on condition of anonymity.

Arguments for using they/them as a singular sometimes arise with an indefinite pronoun (anyone, everyone, someone) or unspecified/unknown gender (a person, the victim, the winner). Examples of rewording:

  • All the class members raised their hands (instead of everyone raised their hands).
  • The foundation gave grants to anyone who lost a job this year (instead of anyone who lost their job).
  • Police said the victim would be identified after relatives are notified (instead of after their relatives are notified or after his or her relatives are notified).
  • Lottery officials said the winner could claim the prize Tuesday (instead of their or his or her prize).

In stories about people who identify as neither male nor female or ask not to be referred to as he/she/him/her: Use the person's name in place of a pronoun, or otherwise reword the sentence, whenever possible. If they/them/their use is essential, explain in the text that the person prefers a gender-neutral pronoun. Be sure that the phrasing does not imply more than one person. Examples of rewording:

  • Hendricks said the new job is a thrill (instead of Hendricks said Hendricks is thrilled about the new job or Hendricks said they are thrilled about the new job).
  • Lowry's partner is Dana Adams, an antiques dealer. They bought a house last year (instead of Lowry and Lowry's partner bought a house last year or Lowry and their partner bought a house last year).

When they is used in the singular, it takes a plural verb: Taylor said they need a new car. (Again, be sure it's clear from the context that only one person is involved.)

Do not use themself.

Links to Excel, PDF, PPT, Word, and Zip files

New guideline: the name of the application or format in parentheses at the end of the link.

  • Do this: Link text (PDF)

Previous guideline: the name of the application or format in parentheses after the link.

  • Do not do this: Link text (PDF)

UC San Diego Health

Do not use "UC San Diego Health Sciences," as this is largely outdated.

Exception: "UC San Diego Health Sciences" may still be used to describe the organizational structure of the medical center within the context of the university setting or in job titles for staff. Example: David Brenner, MD, is vice chancellor of UC San Diego Health Sciences and Dean of UC San Diego School of Medicine.

"UC San Diego Health" refers to the entirety of the academic medical enterprise at UC San Diego. Use "UC San Diego Health" when referring to any of the medical center’s patient-care programs or locations on first reference.

  • UC San Diego Medical Center at UC San Diego Health
  • Thornton Hospital at UC San Diego Health
  • Sulpizio Cardiovascular Center at UC San Diego Health
  • Shiley Eye Institute at UC San Diego Health
  • Moores Cancer Center at UC San Diego Health

On second and subsequent reference, the name of the facility alone can be used. See UC San Diego Health’s Brand Guide or Editorial Style Guide on Pulse (login required) for more details.

UC San Diego

"UC San Diego" is the preferred first reference in higher-level Web pages.

Use “University of California San Diego” for a first reference (no comma between "University" and "San Diego"). Use the abbreviated version “UC San Diego” in subsequent references and in headlines.

Do not use “UCSD.”

Write "the university" (lowercase) for both UC San Diego and UC references.