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Duke Health Writing Style

Duke Health follows a modified version of AP Style. Below are a few common style guidelines to consider when creating your marketing collateral.


Use a.m. and p.m. (with periods) when referencing time. Use figures, and omit 00 for on the hour times (Ex: 7 p.m., 7:30 p.m.)


  • When a month is used with a specific date, abbreviate the month. (Ex: The event will be held on Jan. 1.)
  • When it’s only the month and the year, spell out the month. (Ex: The policy will be in effect until January 2025.)


  • Use abbreviations for road names (Ex: Rd., St., Blvd.)
  • Directional abbreviations should be used (Ex: NW 12th St.)
  • Suite, room can be spelled out as such

Bulleted lists

Capitalize the first word in a bulleted list. Use a period at the end if the item forms a complete sentence. No period is necessary if the phrase is a fragment.


  • Capitalize specific titles used before a name, but do not capitalize titles when they stand alone or follow a name.
  • Do not use periods for medical degrees (Ex: PhD, PharmD, MD)
  • Do not write Dr. Joe Smith – instead, write Joe Smith, MD.


Use the shortest working URL in text. Capitalize words in most cases, for easier readability, especially shorter URLs (Ex:,,


Consider readability for the intended audience of your marketing collateral. This includes using plain language in your materials, and avoiding the use of all capital letters in all instances. Our recommended reading level is 7-8th grade.

We recommend using the serial or Oxford comma in a series when possible, to ensure easy readability. And, we recommend using initial caps or title case in headlines and subheads, except in cases where the subhead is a full sentence. In this case, sentence caps, or proper case, should be used.

If you are creating patient education materials, the Patient and Family Education Governance Council will need to review and approve the materials. Email your materials to Mary Susan Moss or Margaret Sturdivant for council consideration.