Policy Style Guide & Writing Manual


External References

External references are those references that refer to anything outside of the specific policy that is being worked on, such as other SUU policies, USHE policies, Utah or federal codes, and any other organizations.

  • Section II References
    • All external references should be listed in Section II References in each policy.
      • SUU policies are referenced as follows:
        Southern Utah University Policy X.X Title in Title Caps and Italics
      • USHE policies are referenced as follows:
        Utah State Board of Higher Education Policy RXXX Title in Title Caps and Italics
      • Utah Code statutes are referenced as follows:
        Utah Code § Title#-Chapter#-Section# (if applicable) Exact title as shown in code
      • Federal laws and statutes may be referenced either by the general name (e.g., the Americans with Disability Act of 1990) or by the specific USC (42 USC ch.126 § 12101 et seq).
      • Generally speaking, external references are referenced as follows:
        Organization Name Title of Referenced Material
    • Except for SUU and USHE policies, provide direct links to all external references when submitting a new or updated policy.
    • If material is time-sensitive or you anticipate it may change, you may include an "accessed on" date in parentheses at the end of the reference.
  • Policy Body
    • When using an external reference in the body of the policy (i.e., any section other than Section II References), use the short version of the reference, such as SUU Policy 6.46, USHE Policy R401, Utah Code § X-X-X, etc. 
      • Avoid including titles as in the policy body as much as possible, except when referencing specific named laws.
      • Do not refer to very specific sections of other references, as those can be subject to change without notice and are very difficult to keep track of. (For example, simply say SUU Policy 6.46 instead of SUU Policy 6.46 Section IV.2.C.ii.)

Internal References

Internal references are those references within a policy that refers readers to other parts of the same policy.

  • When referring to a specific section within the same policy, use the following format:
    Section IV.A.1.a.i.A.1. (Essentially, list out all of the bullet hierarchy with periods inbetween each bullet and one at the end.)
  • Always include "Section" or "Sections" before the internal reference.


  • All definitions should be listed in Section III Definitions of each policy. Definitions are not required but can be very helpful and are recommended whenever possible.
    • If using a defined term that appears across multiple policies, it is highly recommended that you reproduce the definition in the other policy(ies) or use the following phrase as the term's definition: "____ refers to ____ as defined in University Policy X.X, as amended from time to time, and incorporated by reference."
  • All definitions should be listed using the following format:
    Term: Definition.
    • Key points with this format:
      • The term is bolded and capitalized.
      • The format uses a colon between the term and the definition.
      • The beginning of the definition is capitalized.
      • There is a period at the end of the definition.
  • Any use of the definition in the text of the policy must be capitalized. (NOTE: Some judgment may need to be used. For example, if the term "Credit" is defined in Section III in a specific way or for a specific use, and the word "credit" is used differently later in the policy, the second meaning should not be capitalized.)

Forms & Links

Forms & Supplemental Materials

  • Whenever possible, additional information or steps that are more procedural should be attached to the policy as a form or other supplemental material and not included in the policy itself. This will ensure that these can be updated on an as-needed basis and would not be subject to the entire policy revision process.
    • Forms and other materials may be hosted on the policies website, another part of SUU.edu, or a Google Drive/folder. These materials or links must be supplied with the final policy version.
    • To update the materials or links, submit a contact form and policy administrators will work with you.
  • Forms and other materials are accessed either via a link or a download in Section V of each policy.


  • All links to outside entities (i.e., not an SUU policy) must be either in Section II References or Section V Relevant Forms/Links. 
  • Links to other SUU policies will be automatically added if they are referenced in the body of the policy.
  • Links to helpful resources are welcome to be added to Section V Relevant Forms/Links. However, if the link is to the office of one of the responsible parties identified in Section VI Questions/Responsible Office, it will not be added to Section V because the link will already exist in Section VI.


Policies should follow these basic formatting rules for numbers:

Use words (one, two, three) when...

  • the number is under 10.
  • the number is ordinal and under 10 (e.g., first, fourth, ninth).
  • the number starts a sentence, title, or other heading.
  • the number is part of a common phrase (e.g., Year Three Review).

Use numerals (1, 2, 3) when...

  • the number is 10 or more.
  • the number is ordinal and 10 or over (e.g., 10th, 21st).
  • the number is in a fraction or percentage (e.g., 1/3, 40%).
  • the number is a dollar amount (e.g., $25).
  • the number is an office or phone number traditionally represented in numbers.


  • include a numeral in parentheses after a written word when possible/appropriate. For example: seven (7).
  • use hyphens for compound numbers or fractions if the number appears at the beginning of a sentence, title, or other heading. For example: Twenty-four hours, One-third quorum. (Do also consider rewriting the sentence/title/heading to avoid placing a number at the beginning.)
  • use commas to in numbers of 1,000 or greater to separate groups of three.
  • consider "breaking" some of the rules above in sentences where mixing number types will aid in readability. For example: five 3-credit classes.
  • focus more on readability and user understanding that adhering to these guidelines 100%.


  • use an apostrophe when writing the plural of a number (e.g, the 2010s).

Bullet Hierarchy

Use the following hierarchy in sections as needed:

  1. First level
    1. Second level
      1. Third level
        1. Fourth level
          1. Fifth level
            1. Sixth level
              1. Seventh level
                1. Eighth level
                  1. Ninth level
                    1. Tenth level
  • The hierarchy pattern is Upper Alpha - Arabic Numeral - Lower Alpha - Lower Roman Numeral, repeated from the beginning as necessary. (Essentially, the pattern is Letter - Number - Letter - Number, although the format and capitalization will change.)
  • The only sections that will not use the above hierarchy are Sections V through VII (Relevant Links/Forms, Questions/Responsible Office, and Policy Adoption and Amendment Dates). Sections I through IV must use this hierarchy format.
  • Do not make adjustments to any of the seven (7) main Sections of the policy template in terms of reformatting or retitling sections.
  • Avoid using bullet points in the policy outside of Sections V through VII.


Pronouns & Language

  • Always use the gender-neutral pronouns of they, them, their, themselves. Do not use he/she, his/her, etc.
  • Use "people-first" language, such as "people with disabilities" or "people of color," when appropriate.


  • If a specific task or responsibility falls to a specific role, such as the Dean of Students, use that role's title in the policy and not the name of the person who currently fills that role.
  • When possible, identify an office of responsibility rather than a specific person's role, as the title of an office is less likely to change than a person's title. For example, refer to "the Registrar's Office" instead of "Scheduling Specialist" if talking about a scheduling policy.