Sports Style Guide & Tips



  • WKU: never Western, Western Kentucky
  • Hilltoppers: never Tops, Hilltops, Toppers
  • Lady Toppers: never Lady Tops, Lady Hilltoppers
  • Conference USA on first reference C-USA on second reference
  • Diddle Arena- not E.A. Diddle Arena
  •       -games happen in Diddle Arena, not at Diddle Arena
  • Houchens-Smith Stadium- not Houchens Industries-LT Smith Stadium
  •       –games happen in Houchens-Smith Stadium, not at Houchens-Smith Stadium
  • Power 5 and Group of 5- not Power Five/Group of Five/power five/power 5/group of five/group of 5
  • Mid-major

It is not necessary to spell out common abbreviations like the following:


  • NFL
  • AFC
  • NFC
  • NBS
  • NHL
  • NCAA
  • PGA
  • NBA
  • NHL
  • NCAA
  • PGA
  • LPGA
  • USGA
  • MLB
  • AL
  • NL
  • FIFA


Never spell out Power 5 conferences

  • ACC
  • Big Ten (this is an exception to the numeral rule, not Big 10)
  • Big 12
  • Pac 12
  • SEC

Spell out all other conferences on first reference, abbreviations acceptable on second reference if applicable.


Schools do not need to be accompanied by formal titles like “University of or University”

BUT, on first reference, school should be spelled out, then abbreviations used if applicable

  • Ex: Southern California then USC
  • Louisiana State then LSU
  • Kentucky then UK
  • Southern Mississippi then Southern Miss


Conference USA style:

Spell out school names as listed below on first reference. Use abbreviations on second reference if applicable

ALSO NOTE: mascots and feminine mascots (or lack thereof)

  • Alabama-Birmingham, UAB (Blazers)
  • Florida Atlantic, FAU (Owls)
  • Florida International, FIU (Panthers)
  • Louisiana Tech, LA Tech (Bulldogs, Lady Techsters)
  • Marshall, no abbreviation (never use MU) (Thundering Herd)
  • Middle Tennessee, MTSU (Blue Raiders)
  • Charlotte, no abbreviation (no UNCC, North Carolina Charlotte, Char.) (49ers)
  • North Texas, no abbreviation (Mean Green)
  • Old Dominion, ODU (Monarchs, Lady Monarchs)
  • Rice, no abbreviation (Owls)
  • Southern Mississippi, Southern Miss (Golden Eagles, Lady Eagles)
  • Texas-El Paso, UTEP (Miners)
  • Texas-San Antonio, UTSA (Roadrunners)

Apostrophe- Use only in constructions where warranted:

  • “Hilltoppers quarterback Mike White” does not need an apostrophe
  • “Mike White, the Hilltoppers’ quarterback” does need an apostrophe



  • ERA, RBI – never spelled out
  • center field, left field, right field
  • center fielder, left fielder, right fielder
  • designated hitter
  • doubleheader
  • double play
  • first baseman, second baseman, third baseman, shortstop
  • lineup (n.)
  • line drive
  • outfielder
  • pinch hitter
  • passed ball
  • walk-off
  • sacrifice fly
  • strike zone


Backcourt/ Frontcourt- both are one word

  • alley-oop
  • backboard
  • foul line/free-throw line
  • goaltending
  • layup
  • tip off (v.)
  • tipoff (n.)
  • 3-pointer, 3-point line

Collective nouns: Nouns that denote a unit, team, class or group take a singular verb and pronoun

  • Ex:  WKU is looking for its 10th straight win.
  • The Hilltoppers will seek to win their fourth game in a row.
  • WKU is favored against Louisiana Tech
  • The Hilltoppers are favored

corps-  not core

  • Ex: Receiving corps

 Track and field/ Cross-country (always hyphenated)

  • 100-meter run
  • spell out time and seconds on first reference

                Ex: “Morris ran a time of 3 minutes and 26 seconds”

  • Scoring: 5:25.34 (five minutes, 25 seconds and 34 tenths of a second)

                Ex: “Morris ran a time of 5:34.13 in Saturday’s event.”

  • marathons: hours, minutes, seconds, tenths of seconds

                Ex: 2 hours, 10 minutes, 34.01 seconds

  • in running events, first event should be spelled out
  • “men’s 100-meter”,  phrases such as “the 100” can be used on second reference
  • in hurdle events” “the women’s 400-meter hurdles” on first reference; “400 hurdles” on second

Day to day:

  • “Smith has been listed as day to day.”
  • “Smith is being treated on a day-to-day basis.”

FBS and FCS- Football Bowl Subdivision, Football Championship Subdivision

  • abbreviations used on second reference


  • fair catch
  • end zone
  • fourth-and-1 (adj.) Ex: “On a fourth-and-1 play…”
  • touchdown (TD acceptable as well)
  • fourth down, fourth and three (n.) “On first and five, White threw…”
  • use figures for yardage: “5-yard line”, “12-yard line”, “8-yard pass play”, “ran the ball from the 34 to the 48”, “White threw it 8 yards downfield”, “fourth-and-2 play”
  • O-line, D-line acceptable

Fractions: 2/3, 1 ½

  • “JJ Watt had 2 ½ sacks”, “Cain pitched 2/3 of the sixth inning before being pulled”

Game plan not gameplan  


Height- 6-10,

  • “Davis, a 6-5, guard…”
  • “Mitchell Robinson is 7 feet tall”
  • “Robinson, a 7-footer, is…”

Intrasquad, intramural– not inner-squad, inner-mural, inner squad, innersquad

Midcourt, midfield

MVP- acceptable abbreviation


  • One through nine, 10 and up
  • one touchdown, 12 rushes
  • First through Ninth, 10th and up
  • first quarter, fourth-quarter comeback

Fractions: 2/3, 1 ½

  • Ex: “JJ Watt had 2 ½ sacks”, “Cain pitched 2/3 of the sixth inning before being pulled”
  • fourth-and-1 (adj.) Ex: “On a fourth-and-1 play…”
  • use figures for yardage: “5-yard line”, “12-yard line”, “8-yard pass play”, “ran the ball from the 34 to the 48”, “White threw it 8 yards downfield”, “fourth-and-2 play”
  • Scoring for cross-country: 5:25.34 (five minutes, 25 seconds and 34 tenths of a second)
  • Ex: “Morris ran a time of 5:34.13 in Saturday’s event.”
  • 3-pointer, 3-point line
  • Of: “White threw for 345 yards on 8-of-9 passing.”, “Edmond scored 26 points on 11-of-17 shooting”
  • For: “White finished 8 for 9 for 345 yards”, “Edmond was 3 for 4 from the free-throw line”
  • Week 1, Week 12-  this can be used in reference to certain parts of a season, specifically football season.
  • Ex: “WKU will be looking to improve upon its failures in Week 1.”

Overtime-  double overtime, triple overtime, quadruple overtime, five overtimes, six overtimes etc.


Percent- always spelled out, never use %.

  • Ex: “Davis is shooting 50 percent from the free-throw line.”

Postgame, pregame

Postseason, preseason

“per game” stats (PPG)- on first reference spell out “yards per game/points per game”. Abbreviations acceptable on second reference

  • Ex: PPG, YPG


  • Defender, not defenseman
  • forward or striker
  • offside
  • hand ball
  • free kick
  • red card, yellow card
  • sideline
  • throw-in

Sports Editor- capitalize as a formal title before a name

  • “Sports Editor Evan Heichelbech”

sports writer- two words

Writing tips:

  • Avoid using “However”
  • always attribute quotes with “source said” not “said source” or “exclaimed, shared, finalized”
  • “added” and “continued” are acceptable sometimes. In feature writing, this is a bit more flexible.
  • Ex: “We’re good at football,” Sanford said.