back up (v.), backup (n. and adj.)


  • Not backwards. Also, see afterward, onward, toward. 


  • Capitalize in reference to the web-based, administrative software application used by higher education institutions; otherwise, lowercase.
  • Hyphenate Self-Service in Banner Self-Service.


  • Do not use periods.

because, since

  • Use because to denote a direct cause-effect relationship: He went because his father asked him to. Since is used when the first event led logically to the second but was not its direct cause: They went to the play, since they had been given the tickets.

benefit, benefited, benefiting

beside, besides

  • Beside means at the side of. Besides means in addition to.

bestseller, bestselling


  • The rules in prefixes apply, but in general, no hyphen. Some examples: bimonthly, bilateral, bilingual, bipartisan.

biannual, biennial

  • Biannual means twice a year and is a synonym for the word semiannual. Biennial means every two years. See semiannual.

biased language


  • Use multiracial.  


  • Capitalize without quotation marks.

big brother, Big Brother

  • One’s older brother is big brother (lowercased). Big Brother (capitalized) means under the watchful eye of a government.

billion, million

  • Use figures with the words million, billion: There are more than 2 million people living in the city.
  • Use figures up to two decimal places: 7.55 billion.
  • Do not mix million and billion in the same figure.
    • Incorrect: 2 billion, 700 million.
    • Correct: 2.7 billion.
  • Do not drop the word million or billion from the first figure in a range.
    • Incorrect: $2 - $6 million (unless you mean two dollars to six million dollars).
    • Correct: $2 million to $6 million.
  • No hyphen is used when million or billion are used as adjectives.
    • Incorrect: The University is launching a $300-million campaign.
    • Correct: The University is launching a $300 million campaign.


  • Means every other month. Semimonthly means twice a month.


  • Means every other week. Semiweekly means twice a week.

bizarre, bazaar

  • Bizarre is unusual. A fair is a bazaar.   



  • Capitalize in reference to the web-based, course management system designed to allow students and faculty members to use online materials and activities that complement face-to-face teaching; otherwise, lowercase. 

BlackBerry, BlackBerrys

blast off (v.), blastoff (n. and adj.)

bloc, block

  • A bloc is a coalition of groups or nations with a common goal. Block has multiple definitions, but it does not mean a political alliance.




  • Capitalize.

Board of Trustees

  • Capitalize Board of Trustees. Use board lowercase on second reference or abbreviate as BOT.
  • Do not capitalize the word trustee unless it comes before the name as a formal title.
    • Nobel laureate and AUC Trustee Ahmed Zewail delivered the lecture.
    • Ahmed Zewail, Nobel laureate and AUC trustee, delivered the lecture.
    • Ahmed Zewail is an AUC trustee.
  • When referring to a board other than that of the University, capitalize when using the complete, formal name: Marks and Spencer’s Board of Directors; otherwise, lowercase.


  • See composition titles.

box office (n.), box-office (adj.)

  • Tickets are sold at the box office. The song ranked number one on box-office charts.

brackets, parentheses

brand names, trademarks

  • Use brand names only when necessary or when it gives a sense of reality to the story: He lit his Marlboro.
  • Brand names are always capitalized.

brand new (n.), brand-new (adj.)

  • The jacket is brand new. It is a brand-new jacket. 

break in (v.), break-in (n. and adj.)

break up (v.), breakup (n. and adj.)


  • The past tense also is broadcast, not broadcasted.

bulleted series

  • Introduce the series with a colon and capitalize the first letter of bulleted items.
  • Use vertical lists to organize long items. With vertical lists, set off from the body text by centering or indenting them.
  • Do not use any punctuation at the end of bulleted items that are not sentences. When the bulleted items are complete sentences, capitalize the first letter of each item and use a period at the end.
  • Keep the list consistent: if some are sentences, make them all sentences. If some begin with verbs, make them all begin with verbs.
  • Use enumerated lists when you want to refer back to particular items (in item eight above) or when sequential order is important. In that case, align the numbers vertically and align the text one space to the right of the numbers.
  • Use run-in lists when the list is short. Separate the items with commas, or semicolons if the items have internal commas or are long: He went to the store to buy apples, oranges and juice; went to the gas station to repair, wash and fuel his car; and on his way home passed by the dental clinic.
  • When enumerating the items in a run-in list, put the numbers in parentheses, do no put periods or any punctuation after the numbers and begin the text leaving one space after each closing parenthesis: The president will address three main issues in his speech: 1) rise in tuition, 2) campus cleanliness and 3) faculty compensation.
  • See Punctuation for when to use commas and when to use semicolons.


  • Never abbreviate. Capitalize the proper names of buildings, including the word building if it is an integral part of the proper name: Dr. and Mrs. Elias Hebeka Building. Click here for a list of campus buildings.

build up (v.), buildup (n. and adj.)

business cards


  • The rules for prefixes apply, but in general, no hyphen. Some examples: byproduct, bylaw, bypass, byline, bystreet. By-election is an exception.