Naming, Copy and Editorial


The UCLA identity is verbal as well as visual: what we say and how we say it creates an instant impression of UCLA. Here are some of the basics about names and naming, headlines and copy, and editorial style to help reflect the university’s unique voice and identity.

Names and Naming

Name choices begin with the institution itself: are we UCLA or the University of California Los Angeles?

We should always use the acronym UCLA. It’s short, memorable and distinctive, a trademark recognized worldwide. Sometimes there’s an advantage to complementing the campus logo with the full, formal name of the institution. Spelling out “University of California Los Angeles” reminds the reader that we’re part of the highly regarded University of California system. The full name may also be helpful for international audiences. But with few exceptions (regulations, legal contracts), “UCLA” should take precedence.

Many of the academic units of the campus also use a shortened version of their full, formal names: “UCLA College of Letters and Science” becomes “the UCLA College,” and “UCLA Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science” becomes “UCLA Samueli School of Engineering” or, in certain contexts, “UCLA Samueli.”

Used consistently, these short names communicate directly and effectively. But avoid replacing long names with acronyms. “HSSEAS” is unpronounceable and opaque. Prospective students, faculty and donors should never be forced to decode internal jargon.

Academic and administrative departments often drop category names like “department of” or “office of.” Our departmental logo system deliberately drops category designations to focus attention on the word or words that differentiate the unit from other units. (In a few cases, a category name may be needed for clarity. For instance, you can’t shorten “Office of the Chancellor” to “Chancellor.”)

The formal names of academic departments and schools can be found in the UCLA General Catalog. It’s a good idea for major websites and publications to explicitly link the formal and marketing names. For instance, the website for the Luskin School of Public Affairs uses the “About” section to recap the school’s history and recognize the generosity of donors Meyer and Renee Luskin.

Campus Units: the UCLA Name Comes First

On a list of academic and administrative departments it makes sense not to repeat “UCLA” in every listing. But when a name stands alone, it should always start with UCLA: “UCLA Art History,” not “Art History at UCLA.”

While a few official names use “at UCLA” — primarily due to gift agreements — that’s generally a construction to avoid. “At UCLA” is geographical; it refers simply to location, and weakens the institutional identity.

Academic and administrative units have the right and responsibility to use the UCLA name not as a location, but as an integral part of identity.

Website names — domain names — can be internal (within the domain) or external. For internal domain names, the UCLA identity is built in: or For external domain names, choose a domain name that incorporates the UCLA identity: is an excellent example. See UCLA Policy 411 for complete information.

Registered Organizations and Student Groups

UCLA Regulations on Activities, Registered Campus Organizations, and Use of Properties specifically state that organizations are limited to using “at UCLA” or “at University of California Los Angeles” in their names: Registered Campus Organizations may only use the name of the University or abbreviation thereof as part of their own name for the purposes of geographical designation. Example: “Undergraduate English Association at UCLA” is acceptable; UCLA Undergraduate English Association” is not acceptable.

In order do even that much, a group must be registered through Student Organizations, Leadership and Engagement (SOLE). The website provides a starting point for student groups to register.

Naming or Re-naming Facilities, Units and Programs

Naming a building, facility, academic or research unit involves a formal process, since the right to name properties rests with the president of the University of California. See the Policy on Naming Properties. No college, school or department can add a donor’s name or change its formal name without approval. “Marketing names” are shortened versions of the formal name; no additions or substitutions are allowed.

While most naming rights were delegated by the Regents to the President, some authority was given to the chancellor of each campus. UCLA Policy 112 Streets and roads, portions of buildings, small outdoor areas, minor properties and single-campus programs can be re-named in honor of individuals or donors. Proposals must be submitted to the chancellor for review by the executive committee.

Copy Tone

Headlines and copy associated with the UCLA brand should convey the energy and optimism of the brand, the limitless opportunity and pioneering spirit of UCLA.

Writing Compelling Headlines

In print and online, headlines are a critical way to engage readers. Often what bogs down a good headline is trying to cram in too much information. The best headlines are fairly simple and convey a single idea.


This headline is long, complex and forgettable:
In a city as diverse and culturally significant as Los Angeles, you’ll be exposed to a vast array of experiences that will make you more competitive in a global world.

This version is memorable and concise:
It’s a lot easier to change the world when it’s in your backyard.

Spend the extra time to make headlines as engaging as possible.

One caution: headlines that work in print may not translate online. For instance, in a magazine “Bruins Who Score” is intriguing. Because the reader sees a photo of a composer at work and a subhead that begins “UCLA’s film composing students,” there’s no confusion about the subject of the story. But in a list of search results, “Bruins Who Score” sounds like a sports story. “Film Composers: Bruins Who Score” might be a better choice for web.

Writing Body Copy and Long Form Editorial

“Body copy” refers to short paragraphs of text in ads, brochures and marketing materials. In body copy, tone is crafted through word choice, sentence structure and point of view. To achieve a conversational tone, use relatively simple words and sentences, and write in active voice.

Sometimes body copy is in the second person, directed to “you,” the reader. Sentence fragments can make the copy more dynamic. Concrete details can paint a vivid picture for the reader.

“Long form” refers to press releases, magazine stories, and other lengthier material. While long form editorial can be lively and engaging, it’s a little more formal than body copy. Avoid sentence fragments, and generally write in the third person.

Whether writing body copy or long form, keep the reader in mind. An annual report needs to be more serious and technical than a recruitment piece aimed at a high school student.

But whenever possible, make your writing UCLA-specific. If you’re interviewing alumni, ask how their careers were shaped by their UCLA experience. In writing faculty profiles, find out what attracted them to UCLA. In describing research breakthroughs, get a quote about possible impact.

The online Hemingway App can be a useful tool in analyzing your writing.

Editorial Style Guide

Geffen Hall is not another name for Geffen Academy. Luskin Conference Center’s name cannot be shortened to “Luskin Center” without risking confusion. The UCLA editorial style guide provides guidance on these and many other questions of campus style.

Based on Associated Press (AP) style, the UCLA editorial style guide is used by Strategic Communications so that UCLA press releases and publications will have consistent punctuation, abbreviations and word choice. Because of its roots in newspaper style, the UCLA guide doesn’t use the Oxford comma.

Academic units often follow different style guides. The Chicago Manual of Style is a popular choice, as are the style guides of the Modern Language Association (MLA), American Psychological Association (APA), American Chemical Society (ACS) and others. But even if you follow one of these discipline-specific choices, the UCLA editorial style guide can be useful. More than 40 percent of its entries deal with campus-specific names and local usage.


UCLA Dictionary of Style (PDF 112 KB)