University of Technology Sydney UTS Governance Support Unit

GSU home
About GSU
Academic Board
Indigenous committees
Official UTS publications
Privacy at UTS
Right to information
Student misconduct and appeals
Style guide
A-Z index
Courses and subjects
Dates and time
Legislation and rules
Names and titles
Numbers and measurements
Plain English
Troublesome pairs
Writing about UTS
Writing for the web
UTS Annual Report
Site map
Other GSU websites
•  Elections website
•  Legislation, Rules and Policies website
•  University Records website


don't include the accent if the word is in common use

cafe, cliche

use the accent for people's names and proper nouns

Médecins Sans Frontières


are used to indicate ownership (possession)

singular common nouns

the apostrophe is placed before the 's'

dog's bone

the university's mission

the apostrophe is placed after the 's' for singular nouns ending in 's'

atlas's cover

plural common nouns

the apostrophe is placed after the 's'

students' answers

the apostrophe is placed before the 's' for plural nouns not ending in 's'

children's books

don't use an apostrophe with possessive pronouns

yours, his, hers, theirs


see also contractions

to show the omission of a letter(s)


descriptive rather than possessive

it's increasingly common to drop the apostrophe for phrases that are descriptive rather than possessive

drivers licence
workers compensation
five years work experience

the same rule applies to some names of organisations

Nurses and Midwives Board

and place names

Kings Cross
Mrs Macquaries Chair

note that some organisations retain the apostrophe

Sydney Writers' Festival


it's is a contraction of 'it is'

It's time to update the website.

its is the possessive of 'it'

The faculty is updating its website.


no apostrophe in expression of time

in the 90s
the 1960s


there are three types of brackets: parentheses, square brackets and angle brackets


the most common form of bracket

use parentheses to enclose additional information, abbreviations, clarifications, comments and definitions

square brackets

use to insert words within quotations

Mr Jones said: 'Julia [Smith] has my full support'.

angle brackets

are sometimes used to enclose email and web addresses: this is not UTS style


use to introduce a word, phrase or clause that amplifies, summarises or contrasts with what precedes it

use lower case for the word following the colon

There were four seats: one for each student.

use to introduce a bulleted list, indented material and quotations


use to separate clauses (the sentence must still make sense if the word or phrase between a pair of commas is removed)

don't use only one comma where there should be a pair

use to break up lists of words in a sentence


shows the omission of words

use a space before and after, and three dots (with no spaces between them)

John said … and nothing else.

em and en dashes

see also em and en dashes in writing for the web

don't use a hyphen where a dash should be used

em dash

use an em dash to signify a change in a sentence, to introduce further explanation or amplification or to include a parenthetic expression

insert a space before and after the em dash

The three new buildings — Broadway, Dr Chau Chak Wing and Engineering and IT — were nominated for the award.

en dash

use an en-dash in spans of figures and in expressions of time or distance

22–25 Broadway

use an en-dash to signify an association between words that retain their separate identity

cost–benefit ratios
the Asia–Pacific region

exclamation marks

use sparingly and only ever one

full stops

use at end of sentences

don't insert a double space after a full stop


minimise the use of hyphens: don't hyphenate words such as 'cooperate', 'coordinate', 'email', 'online', 'postgraduate', 'undergraduate' and 'website'

hyphenate two words when used adjectivally

first-year student (but 'students in their first year')

full-time study (but 'to study full time')

in-depth look (but 'to look in depth')

don't hyphenate if the compound adjective contains an adverb ending in 'ly'

internationally recognised research

a highly regarded course


don't hyphenate 'email'

other words retain the hyphen



use a hyphen when 're-' is followed by 'e'


don't use a hyphen when 're' is followed by any other letter other than 'e'


the exceptions are where confusion with another word could arise


UTS usage

hyphenate the following

Deputy Vice-Chancellor
fee-paying students
full-fee-paying students
in-country study
mature-age student
non-current school leaver
non-English-speaking background


use an initial capital, a colon after and an initial capital for the first word

Note: This course has been discontinued.

quotation marks

use single quotation marks around article, chapter, essay, lecture or report titles

Students should attend the lecture 'Politics in Australia'.

use single quotation marks for quoted material (direct speech), with double quotation marks for quotes appearing within quotes

'Students should attend the lecture ''Politics in Australia'' on Tuesday', said the course coordinator.

punctuation and quotation marks

if the punctuation mark is part of the quote, keep it within the quotation marks

'Have you done your homework?', asked the teacher.

if the punctuation is not part of the quote, place it outside the final quotation mark

'It is difficult', said the lecturer, 'because class sizes are so big these days'.


use to link two related clauses that are better as one sentence than two (although the preference is to use shorter sentences, so check if it can be written as two short sentences)

use in lists within sentences that contain commas

Students may study law; business; nursing, midwifery and health; design, architecture and building; and science.

don't put at the end of list items (see lists)