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Integral Care Style Guide

Integral Care Style Guide

This style guide is intended to help Austin Travis County Integral Care’s (Integral Care) employees ensure consistency in information created and distributed by Integral Care. The following is an overview of our guidelines. For more information, email communications@atcic.org.

About The Associated Press Stylebook

In general, Integral Care’s writing style follows The Associated Press Stylebook and Briefing on Media Law, usually called the AP Stylebook, a style and usage guide used by newspapers and in the national news industry. The book is updated annually by Associated Press editors, usually in June. Reporters, editors and others use the AP Stylebook as a guide for grammar, punctuation and principles and practices of reporting. The AP Stylebook is considered an industry standard and is also used by broadcasters, magazines and public relations firms. It includes an A-to-Z listing of guides to capitalization, abbreviation, spelling, numerals and usage.

Below are answers to a few frequently asked style questions, including a few instances where we may differ from the AP Stylebook.  For specific questions on style, punctuation and other editorial marks, please refer to the AP Stylebook. AP style provides consistent guidelines for publications in terms of grammar, spelling, punctuation and language usage. AP style also aims to avoid stereotypes and unintentionally offensive language. Click here to read “Language Matters in Mental Health,” produced by the Hogg Foundation for Mental Health.

Note: Please refer to Integral Care’s Brand Standards for instructions on using Integral Care’s logos, taglines and colors.

Use of the Name

The legal name of our agency remains Austin-Travis County Mental Health Mental Retardation Center. We do business as (DBA) Austin Travis County Integral Care. Each word is capitalized.        

Most often, Austin Travis County Integral Care is the name to use, when referencing the agency, in publications or other methods of communication while the legal name should be reserved for legal purposes (contracts, grants, etc.). If you are unsure which name to use, please contact the communications department at communications@atcic.org.

Approved Abbreviations

Approved abbreviations for Austin Travis County Integral Care include:

a.       Acronym form, ATCIC,

b.       Shortened version, Integral Care

Never use the name in any other capacity, or use punctuation (hyphens, slashes, etc.) within the name. Do not use  MHMR, the MHMR Center, Center or any other variation of our legal name. If the legal name needs to be used, use it in its entirety.


Personal, professional and other titles:
These are capitalized when used before a name (Integral Care Chief Executive Officer David Evans). Titles when used alone or after a name (David Evans, chief executive officer of Integral Care) are lowercased.

Congress (the noun) is capped; congressional (the adjective) is not; similarly: the President, presidential.

The Senate and the House of Representatives are capped.

Senator Smith is capped; the senator is not.

Similarly: Representative Jones; the representative. (Note that Representative is the correct title for a member of the House; not Congressman or Congresswoman.)

Both senators and representatives are members of Congress.

The Administration is capped; the Clinton administration is down.

Cultural descriptors:
Use caps with proper nouns, names of races, nationalities and religions, but put descriptive adjectives in lower case (white, black). Standard: Only identify race when it is essential to the story.

Names of departments:
Capitalize formal names of departments of Integral Care, but use the informal names whenever possible:
            Integral Care Accounts Billing Department (informal: billing department)
            Integral Care Child and Family Services (informal: child and family services) 

When referencing internal service areas, please use the following guidelines:

Use department when referencing any service area within the agency. Example: accounting department, MIS department, etc.

Use unit only when referencing accounting/billing matters, and include the unit number for reference. Example: Unit 139 budget for printing…

For more information on department names, see section labeled “Other Things to Remember.”

DO NOT Capitalize:

In general, when in doubt, leave it lower case; the trend is toward less capitalization.

  • board of trustees or other widely used internal elements of an organization unless used as part of the formal title (see organizations and institutions in AP Style Guide): Integral Care Board of Trustees or board of trustees
  • a.m. and p.m. Always use figures with them. Do not use spaces in the abbreviations: 9:35 a.m. 9 a.m. 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
  • seasons: summer winter fall spring
  • former, ex-, or –elect when used with titles: former President Jane Jones, President-elect Smith, ex-Sen. Bob Rogers


Spell out numbers one to nine; from 10 and up, use numerals. Use figures for 10th and above when describing order in time or location. Examples: Second base, 10th in a row.

Some ordinal numbers, such as those indicating political or geographic order, should use figures in all cases. Examples: 3rd District Court, 9th ward.


Spell out percent; the % symbol is only used in technical documents, charts, etc. Always use a comma in numbers beginning with 1,000 (not 1000).

Exceptions: always use numerals with percentages (3 percent) or in monetary numbers ($3 million).

When referring to money, use numerals. For cents or amounts of $1 million or more, spell the words cents, million, billion, trillion etc. Examples: $26.52, $100,200, $8 million, 6 cents.


For dates and years, use figures. Do not use st, nd, rd, or th with dates. Always capitalize months. Spell out the month unless it is used with a date. When used with a date, abbreviate only the following months: Jan., Feb., Aug., Sept., Oct., Nov. and Dec.

Example: January 1, 2000.

   January 2000 (no comma).

   The 1990s (no apostrophe) or the ‘90s (with an apostrophe when shortened)

Capitalize days of the week, but do not abbreviate. If an event occurs more than seven days before or after the current date, use the month and a figure.


Commas In a simple series, AP doesn't use a comma before the last item. For a series of complex terms, though, use commas after each for clarity.  Example: In art class, they learned that red, yellow and blue are primary colors. His brothers are Tom, Joe, Frank and Pete.

Quotation Marks Commas and periods go within quotation marks. Example: “I learned from my case manager,” he said. She said, “Let’s go to the community forum.”

Use quotation marks around the titles of books, songs, television shows, computer games, poems, lectures, speeches and works of art. Examples: Author Porter Shreve read from his new book, “When the White House Was Ours.” They sang “The Star-Spangled Banner” before the game.

Spacing Use a single space after a period.

Hyphens AP style says not to hyphenate email (changed from e-mail), but other e- words are hyphenated: e-commerce and e-book.

Our amended style is website (one word, lowercase w), along with other compounds: webcam, webcast, webmaster. The Web is capitalized as a short form of World Wide Web, as are Web page, Web feed.

Common Mistakes

  1. Resist using more words or "more important sounding" words than necessary. Instead of prior to, use before. Instead of assist, use help. Instead of utilize, use use. Instead of in order to, use to. Don't use disseminate for distribute. Don't use impact as a verb; use affect. Instead of stakeholders, use representatives, community members, participants, leaders.Also, don't use over when you mean more than; don't use towards for toward; don't use general public for public; don't use average citizen for citizen.More than/Over:
  2. More than is preferred with numbers, while over generally refers to spatial elements. The company has more than 25 employees; The cow jumped over the moon.
  3. Less/Fewer If you are writing about something you can count, the correct adjective is fewer—e.g., Fewer than a dozen people protested the action. If you are writing about something you can't count, the correct adjective is less—e.g., The department had less opposition the second time.
  4. Affect/Effect The verb affect means "to influence." The verb effect means "to bring about, to achieve." When used as a noun, effect means "the result."
    Example:  Integral Care’s goals are to affect the level of citizen participation and to effect change. Three months later, we could see the effect of its actions.
  5. Because, since. Use because to denote a specific cause-effect relationship: I went because I was told. Since is acceptable in casual senses when the first event in a sequence leads logically to the second, but wasn’t its direct cause. They went to the show, since they had been given tickets. A good tip is to use since for time elements. Since the product’s 2010 launch, it has sold more than 1 million copies.
  6. Months and seasons. When using a month with a specific date, abbreviate only Jan., Feb., Aug., Sept., Oct., Nov. and Dec., and spell out when using alone or with just a year. Hint: The months never abbreviated fall chronologically and are five letters or fewer – March, April, May, June and July. The seasons – winter, spring, summer and fall – are never capitalized.
  7. Toward/Towards. Toward never ends in an s, same for forward, backward, upward, downward, etc.
  8. United States, U.S. An easy way to remember the difference: United States as a noun; U.S. as an adjective. The United States is a country; I travel with my U.S. documents.
  9. Street addresses. Street, avenue and boulevard are only abbreviated when with numbered addresses. Road and other related causeways such as court, drive, lane, way, etc. aren’t abbreviated. 6222 N. Lamar Blvd., 1430 Collier St., 26 Media Ave., 210 Thompson Road.
  10. Composition titles. Magazine and newspaper titles aren’t italicized; just capitalized. For composition titles such as books, video games, films, TV shows, works of art, speeches, etc., use quotation marks. She read The New York Times before she watched “Inception” and “Friends.” My favorite book is “The Kite Runner.”

Remember: Do not underline or italicize any of the above.

Other Things to Remember

At Integral Care, we refer to individuals served as “consumers.” When appropriate, “client” may be used for legal purposes.
    Departments should be referenced as:

  • Psychiatric Crisis and Jail Diversion Department or Services
  • Child and Family Department or Services
  • Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Department or Services
  • Adult Behavioral Health Systems Department or Services

For accounting/billing purposes only, refer to these areas as units and provide the unit number.

Behavioral Health versus Mental Health
“Behavioral health” includes substance abuse diagnoses; ‘mental health’ does not. Please use these terms as most appropriate based on these guidelines

When referencing our Crisis Hotline, use 472-HELP (4357)

When describing a program, service or other acronym, spell out the acronym first, and then put the acronym in parentheses to reference again in the article. Example: Veterans returning from war often suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Treatment for PTSD is available at Integral Care.

Exception: If the phrase is only going to be used once, there is no need to put its acronym. Example: Veterans returning from war often suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder, depression and other mental health issues. Integral care offers a variety of services to support these needs.

Always check with the Communications Department before distributing any information/materials regarding Integral Care by emailing communications@atcic.org. For assistance with publications, please submit an Administrative Service Request.

Joint Comission