Writing Style

These guidelines should be followed for all Houston Public Library (HPL) publications, whether you’re writing a press release, inter-office memo, or a flyer advertising a program at your library. This guide is a living document and will be updated as needed.

Style decisions were made on HPL usage and these resources:  Associated Press Style Stylebook, Elements of Style, Webster’s New World Dictionary and Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary. The use of this style guide will reduce the number of corrections and assist the public in correctly referring to our locations. Style guide can be viewed below or downloaded here.

For the latest HPL style guide or for more information please contact Blanca Quezada at blanca.quezada@houstontx.gov



The first time you abbreviate, spell out the entire word and then abbreviate; e.g. Interlibrary Loan (ILL). 

Central Library

The way to refer to the Central Library is the Houston Public Library Central Library or Central Library (mentioning Houston Public Library somewhere else).  

Central Library

Houston Public Library Central Library

For the website, the way to refer to the Central Library is the Central Library, Jesse H. Jones Building.

Central Library, Jesse H. Jones Building

Julia Ideson Building

The way to refer to the Julia Ideson Building is the Houston Public Library Julia Ideson Building or Julia Ideson Building (mentioning Houston Public Library somewhere else).  

Julia Ideson Building

Houston Public Library Julia Ideson Building

Neighborhood Libraries

Refer to neighborhood libraries with their complete name, e.g., the Houston Public Library Ring Neighborhood Library or Ring Neighborhood Library (mentioning Houston Public Library somewhere else.) Also use complete names for Regional libraries. When the library name includes the full name of the person for whom the library is named, there should be no hyphen between the donor name and the name of the neighborhood library. When you are just using the last name for the library name, it should be hyphenated. NL is an approved abbreviation for use in social media updates.

Full Name Shortened Name
Sherman E. Stimley Blue Ridge Neighborhood Library Stimley-Blue Ridge Neighborhood Library
J.S. Bracewell Neighborhood Library Bracewell Neighborhood Library
Carnegie Neighborhood Library & Center for Learning  
Clayton Library Center for Genealogical Research Clayton Library 
Everett Collier Regional Library Collier Regional Library
Amanda E. Dixon Neighborhood Library Dixon Neighborhood Library
Fifth Ward Neighborhood Library  
Patricio Flores Neighborhood Library Flores Neighborhood Library
Eleanor K. Freed Montrose Neighborhood Library Freed-Montrose Neighborhood Library
David M. Henington Alief Regional Library Henington-Alief Regional Library
Arnold L. Hillendahl Neighborhood Library Hillendahl Neighborhood Library
Houston Metropolitan Research Center  
W.L.D. Johnson Neighborhood Library Johnson Neighborhood Library
J. Frank Jungman Neighborhood Library Jungman Neighborhood Library
Belle Sherman Kendall Neighborhood Library and Community Center Kendall Neighborhood Library
Lakewood Neighborhood Library  
Adele Briscoe Looscan Neighborhood Library Looscan Neighborhood Library
Frank O. Mancuso Neighborhood Library Mancuso Neighborhood Library
Eva Alice McCrane Kashmere Gardens Neighborhood Library McCrane-Kashmere Gardens Neighborhood Library
John P. McGovern-Stella Link Neighborhood Library McGovern-Stella Link Neighborhood Library
Lucile Y. Melcher Neighborhood Library Melcher Neighborhood Library
George B. Meyer Sr. Neighborhood Library Meyer Neighborhood Library
Nettie Moody Neighborhood Library Moody Neighborhood Library
Oak Forest Neighborhood Library  
Parent Resource Library in The Children’s Museum of Houston  
Park Place Regional Library  
Pleasantville Neighborhood Library  
Elizabeth L. Ring Neighborhood Library Ring Neighborhood Library
Judson W. Robinson Jr. Westchase Neighborhood Library Robinson-Westchase Neighborhood Library
Scenic Woods Regional Library  
Beulah Shepard-Acres Homes Neighborhood Library Shepard-Acres Homes Neighborhood Library
Lonnie E. Smith Neighborhood Library Smith Neighborhood Library
Nena E. Stanaker Neighborhood Library Stanaker Neighborhood Library
Sherman E. Stimley Blue Ridge Neighborhood Library Stimley Blue Ridge Neighborhood Library
The African American Library at the Gregory School  
Cliff Tuttle Neighborhood Library Tuttle Neighborhood Library
William A. Vinson HPL Express and Neighborhood Library Vinson Neighborhood Library
M.E. Walter Neighborhood Library Walter Neighborhood Library
Alice McKean Young Neighborhood Library Young Neighborhood Library

HPL Express Libraries

Refer to Express Libraries with the full name Houston Public Library Express Southwest or HPL Express Southwest (mentioning Houston Public Library somewhere else.) 

HPL Express Southwest

HPL Express Discovery Green

Frank Library, an HPL Express location

FULL NAME: Morris Frank Library, an HPL Express location

Frequently Used Terms

These words often appear in flyers, press releases and other library publications. Standardized use of these terms creates a more consistent look for our documents and saves editing time.

after-school: When used as an adjective, it needs to have a hyphen: Join us for an after-school program illustrating the best way to avoid strangers. However, when it is an adverb describing a time, it doesn’t have 

a hyphen: Come join us after school for help with your homework.

African American History Month: don’t hyphenate; don’t use “Heritage.” This is consistent with the Library of Congress guidelines.

African Americans: Don’t hyphenate; this is an HPL style decision contrary to the Associated Press Stylebook.  We are following Library of Congress guidelines on this, to make our style consistent with African American History Month.

AM, PM: Make sure that there is a space between the number and the AM or PM: 

6 PM, 11:30 PM. Do not use unnecessary zeros. 

Asian Pacific American Heritage Month

award-winning: When used as an adjective, it has a hyphen: This year’s Dublin committee nominated the award-winning Waiting by Ha Jin.

Babytime: Although it is two words in the dictionary, we talk about babytimes as specific events. We write it as one word.

Banned Books Week

book drop: two words

Book Sale: two words

CD, CDs: Always two capital letters.

City Council: It is a proper noun—and thus capitalized—when you’re talking about the one from Houston.

Council Member: This is two words; do not use Councilmember. Capital letters when used as a title: Council Member ??? will be reading at the Bracewell Neighborhood Library on Monday, July 19. When you are simply talking about the council in general, the term is not capitalized: I hope we can get some council members to read next year as part of the storytime series.

deputy director of library administration: It’s “of” library administration, not “for.” 

assistant director of information technology    

assistant director of communications    

assistant director of planning & facilities

deputy director of customer experience     

director: Dr. Rhea Brown Lawson is the ‘Director of Libraries’ or ‘Houston Public Library Director.’ The first (Director of Libraries) is preferred. Her title should be written as such: 

    Director of Libraries Dr. Rhea Brown Lawson

    Houston Public Library Director Dr. Rhea Brown Lawson

    or Dr. Rhea Brown Lawson, director of libraries

    Dr. Rhea Brown Lawson, Houston Public Library director

e-books: The library’s current provider of e-books, netLibrary, spells e-books like this: eBooks. However, this is a brand name. The general term is e-books. If this is used at the beginning of a sentence we capitalize the first letter, E-books. 

email: We have formally changed to the ‘email’ version without the hyphen. Also, the style for email addresses is to italicize them. E.g. "For more information send email to firstname.lastname@houstontx.gov."


fiscal year: When fiscal years are mentioned, they should have some explanatory mention that Fiscal Year 2012 stretches from July 1, 2011, to June 30, 2012. FY2012 is the proper second reference. However, when you just mention a fiscal year (without a date) it shouldn’t be capitalized: While I was pleased with the budget for Fiscal Year 2012, I don’t even want to think about the next fiscal year.

Friends of the Houston Public Library: The second reference is ‘Friends of HPL’ or ‘Friends.’

HALAN: Houston Area Library Automated Network

hands-on: When used an adjective, it is hyphenated.

Hispanic Heritage Month

Houston Public Library: Houston Public Library refers to the library system, not a specific location. So, Houston Public Library System is redundant. Don’t use Houston Public Libraries. When needed for an unfamiliar audience Houston Public Library System is acceptable. (see also: Library, library) 

Houston Public Library Foundation: HPL Foundation is an OK second reference.

HPL: You may use HPL in second and subsequent mentions in a long document, but always spell out Houston Public Library in the first mention adding the “(HPL).“

Interlibrary Loan: two words; this is NOT “Inter Library Loan.” You may use ILL in the second mention in a document, but only if you add (ILL) after the first mention. 

large print books: There is no hyphen.

Legal terms: Do not capitalize legal terms: wills, powers of attorney, attorney

        Ms. Smith will discuss wills, powers of attorney and answer questions.

Library, library: So how do you know if your “library” should be capital or lower case? If it would be acceptable to replace the word “library” with Houston Public Library, use Library. If it wouldn’t, use library. Generally, library refers to a physical building: Visit your neighborhood library to learn about the many electronic resources available. On the other hand, Library refers to the system: Come learn about the many electronic resources offered by the Library.

Mayor Sylvester Turner: You should always mention that he’s the mayor the first time you reference him.

MY Link: This is two words, with MY capitalized in both letters, and Link only capitalized in the first. It is recommended to use “MY Link Library Card” at least in the first mention in a document. 

phone numbers: They include the area code as part of the phone number, without parentheses: 832-393-1313.

résumé: There are two accents, over both e’s. (To make an e with an accent in Microsoft Word, go to Insert->Symbol. Use the drop-down menu to go to “(normal text)” and find the accented e.)

storytime: Although it is two words in the dictionary, we talk about storytimes as specific events. We write it as one word.

Frequently Used Terms 

Teen Read Week

titles: If the title comes before the name, it is capitalized. If it comes after the name, it isn’t. It’s preferable to put titles before the name, thus avoiding excessive use of commas.

    Deputy Director of Library Administration Nicole Robinson

    Nicole Robinson, deputy director of library administration,

    HPL’s deputy director of library administration is Nicole Robinson.    

URLs: Short for “Uniform Resource Locator,” the URL is the thing we’re all familiar with that starts with www or http://. It can also be called a Web address. All URLs should be always italicized. Web addresses are not words in English, so like foreign phrases, they are italicized. 

For URLs that start with www: Leave off the http:// unless it isn’t an http://. Sometimes URLs are pointing towards a secure server or pages (like the MY Link Library Card Registration). In that case, the letters preceding the www will be https://. It is very important that you do not leave off the https:// if you are referring to a secure server.




For URLs that do not start with www:

    Keep the http://

        https://catalog.houstonlibrary.org (Library's online catalog)



Holiday names often appear in flyers, press releases and other library publications. Standardized use of these terms creates a more consistent look for our documents and saves editing time.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Birthday: 
The proper name of this holiday does not have a comma after “King.” We have made the decision at HPL to include “Dr.” in the listing of the holiday.

Veterans Day: The proper name of this holiday does not have an apostrophe.

Book Names, Movie Names, Magazine Titles and Exhibit Names
These titles should be italicized for printed materials and webpage listings.  They should be italicized and placed within quotes for electronic newsletters and news releases.