This CoxHealth style guide includes everything you need to know to keep the CoxHealth brand consistent. Using our brand correctly is extremely important in enhancing community and patient recognition of who we are, so refer to this guide any time you have a question about how to use our brand to support your marketing efforts.
Voice & Writing Style
Our copy should always be a balance between relevant purpose and passion, sharing information and stories in an engaging way. It should use energetic, direct, honest, natural and trusted language that feels human to the audience. We educate our audience without patronizing or confusing them. Our voice is one of medical excellence, authority and knowledge, while remaining bright, open, compassionate and warm.
What To Do:
- Medical jargon should be avoided if possible when communicating with visitors, patients and their families. If unavoidable, it should be explained as simply as possible for understanding.
- Be concise. Sentences should be 12 words or shorter when possible.
- Be conversational. Remember you’re telling a story, not issuing a press release.
- Be mindful of educational backgrounds and reading levels, writing to your audience’s understanding. When writing for the general public, write to a 6th-9th grade reading level.
- Speak to your audience as though they’re a part of the CoxHealth family.
- Use superlatives sparingly.
- Convey CoxHealth’s core values of safety, compassion, respect and integrity.
- Use positive language, rather than negative. Avoid words like can’t and don’t, whenever possible.
- Use plain language. Buy, instead of purchase. Help, instead of assist. Ask, instead of request. Use, instead of utilize.
- Contract words where possible.
What Not To Do:
- Don’t use passive voice.
- Avoid acronyms. When needed, spell them out for the audience in the first instance of use.
- Avoid pretentious language.
- Do not disparage other health systems.
- Avoid all caps and exclamation points. The audience reads all caps and exclamation points as being yelled at.
Grammar & Mechanics
Following CoxHealth style rules in our writing keeps our marketing consistent and clear. We follow Associated Press Style (AP) guidelines, with a few exceptions made to accommodate our personal marketing and communication needs. For a complete list of AP rules, visit apstylebook.com or consult the most recent publication of the Associated Press Stylebook.
CoxHealth Style Exceptions
1906 The Employee Store: 1906 is acceptable on second reference
417: An area code is used with all phone numbers and is presented with a hyphen; no parentheses. (i.e.: 417-269-8213)
5K: Capitalize K.
abbreviations: Per AP Style, we avoid abbreviations whenever possible. However, when needed, the first instance of the entity should always be spelled out, followed with the abbreviation in parentheses [i.e.: Associated Press Style (AP)]. Abbreviations can be employed beginning at the second instance of use in the body copy.
addresses: In general, follow AP style.
- Abbreviate street (St.), avenue (Ave.) and boulevard (Blvd.) when accompanied by a house number. (i.e.: 3478 N. Glenstone Ave.)
- Always spell out other kinds of streets – Drive, Lane, Road, Alley, Terrace, etc.
- Use P.O. for P.O. Box numbers.
- When there is no house number spell out address (North Glenstone Avenue)
- Use MO when using ZIP code. (i.e.: Springfield, MO 65807)
- Use Missouri when not using ZIP code. (i.e.: Springfield, Missouri)
- Use Missouri when referring to the state in text. (i.e.: Springfield, Missouri)
- Spell out street numbers First through Ninth. Use numbers for 10th and above. Include th, st, etc.
- When a floor is included, separate from street address by a comma and capitalize the first letter of the number and the F in Floor (i.e.: 111 N. First St., First Floor).
- When a location is a satellite clinic, add after the service name, title case, and separate by a comma as appropriate (i.e.: Monett Satellite Clinic vs. Partnership with St. Louis Children’s Hospital, Satellite Clinic).
- When a suite is included, separate from street address by a comma and capitalize S in Suite.
all caps: Do not use ALL CAPS for emphasis.
Allenbrand Resource Center, Suite 120, Hulston Cancer Center
alphabetizing: Alphabetize lists unless there is a more important hierarchy of messaging; alphabetize beginning with first letter of the last name of a person or the first letter of the first word in a title, place or phrase unless it begins with an article (a, an, the), in which case begin with the first word after the article; numbers in numeric form are listed before words. The Age of Innocence, The Great Gatsby, Alice in Wonderland, A Moveable Feast, Madame Bovary, 1984, An Abundance of Katherines would be alphabetized as follows:
- An Abundance of Katherines
- The Age of Innocence
- Alice in Wonderland
- The Great Gatsby
- Madame Bovary
- A Moveable Feast
ampersand: Ampersands should be avoided, but can be used as needed for spacing and aesthetics in headings and design elements/treatments. Ampersands should never be used in body copy and avoided whenever able in names.
[word]-based: Use hyphen. (i.e.: science-based fiction)
best-practice: Hyphenate when used to modify a noun. (i.e.: best-practice list)
breastfeeding: Do not hyphenate; keep as one word.
Breast Care Clinic: The does not proceed title.
board-certified: Hyphenate; do not use before title (i.e.: board-certified OB/GYN) listed below provider’s photo/name in brochures or rack cards.
bulleted lists: Generally, bullets replace commas in long lists, not dashes (contrary to AP-style). Always capitalize the first letter of each bullet and do not include end punctuation unless the bullet is a complete sentence. Put a space between bullet and the first word of each item in the list. Introduce the list with a short phrase or sentence, followed by a colon. It is not necessary to insert the word ‘and’ before the last item. If the list includes descriptions, use a colon. Put the phrase before the colon in title case and the phrase after the colon in sentence case with a capital letter on the first word.
He took the following things with him on the trip:
- Toilet paper
There are four reasons why I like my job:
- I enjoy answering phones.
- I enjoy working on computers.
- I like talking to people.
- I love typing.
We offer four side choices:
- Applesauce: Cinnamon and sweet pureed apples
- Bagged Chips: Variety of bagged chips to choose from
- Chips and Salsa: Crunchy tortilla chips with chunky tomato salsa
- Peaches: Sweet, fleshy fruit with a large pit
Cancer Research for the Ozarks: Do not use Cancer Research of the Ozarks.
CARE Mobile: Do not use periods; stands for Children Are Really Excellent.
Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals: Refer to as CMN Hospitals on second reference.
codependency: Don’t hyphenate.
coinsurance: Don’t hyphenate.
colon: Place one space after the colon.
commas: Do not use the Oxford comma before the final item in a list. (i.e.: The nurse took the bed pan, the stethoscope and the bandage to the patient’s room.)
CoxHealth: Always use as one word with H uppercase. Lester E. Cox Medical Centers need only be used in the legal context, such as physician disclaimers, photo release forms, etc.
Cox Air Care
dashes: There are three types of dashes: hyphen, en dash and em dash.
- Hyphens are used as joiners. No spaces around hyphens.
- Use to join two or more words to create a compound word (i.e.: know-it-all), join a prefix or suffix or to join modifiers (i.e.: board-certified).
- Suspensive hyphenation is used to shorten word count when modifiers share common words (i.e.: 10- and 11-year-olds).
- Hyphens are used in phone numbers.
- Hyphens are used in ranges of dates and times, whether in copy or headings, to signify to or through. There are no spaces around hyphens when used in this manner. Hyphens in ranges should not be used in body copy whenever space allows. Use “through,” “to,” “and” and the like, as appropriate.
- En dashes are the width of a capital N. We break from AP-style and use en dashes in place of most AP-indicated em dashes (see exception below).
- When used in place of an em dash, include a space on either side of the en dash.
- En dashes are used to denote a sudden change in thought, emphatic pause or are used before and after a series within a phrase (i.e.: He had the qualities – smart, quick-witted, skilled – that we were looking for.).
- Used when attributing a quote (i.e.: “It was good.” – God)
- To create an en dash in Microsoft, either type 2013 alt+x or alt+0150. To create an en dash in Mac, option key+minus key.
- EXCEPTION: Em dashes are the width of a capital M and include a space on either side.
- Used in datelines for press releases or articles.
- To create an em dash with a Microsoft product, type 2014 alt+x or alt+0151. To create an em dash with a Mac product, type shift+option+minus key or type the hyphen twice and press space.
dates: Follow AP style for month abbreviation in all instances. Day, month, date, year, time.
days of the week: Always spell out days.
departments: ICU, PICU, NTICU, CCU and the like will appear without periods. For other abbreviations and acronyms, refer to the Associated Press Stylebook. All hospital departments are capitalized when referred to specifically as CoxHealth departments (i.e.: CoxHealth Hematology Oncology). When used without CoxHealth, in body copy, do not capitalize.
diabetes: Present as Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes.
diplomate: This describes the delegation to a medical association vs. diplomat as a delegate to a government agency.
doctor: Do not use Dr. before a name, rather give the more specific credential separated by a comma, such as MD or DO, used without periods. (i.e.: David Zolfaghari, MD)
Educational Services brochures: Use the month spelled out on the cover only. Abbreviate the month in copy inside the piece if the month has an AP-approved abbreviation.
email: Type as one word, no hyphen. Use a hyphen with other e- terms, such as e-book, e-business, e-commerce.
email addresses: All lowercase (i.e.: email@example.com)
emergency department: Do not use emergency room in connection with CoxHealth. Emergency department is the correct vernacular.
emoji: Emojis should never be used in copy.
exclamation points: Only use after statements so exciting and important that everyone believes it is exciting and important, even the reader. It may also be used after a direct quote. Never use more than one at a time. Avoid use as much as possible.
fellow: Lowercase f in all instances.
fellowship: Only capital F when part of a program name (i.e.: Very Important ABC Medical Fellowship vs. “She completed her fellowship at the hospital in Quebec.”)
fellowship-trained: Lowercase f
Ferrell-Duncan Clinic: Only include if it is the name of the building. If the service is considered part of the FD family, but is located in a different CH building, like Wheeler Heart and Vascular Center, do not include.
fitness centers: Below are the proper names of CoxHealth fitness centers:
- CoxHealth Fitness Center at The Meyer Center
- CoxHealth Fitness Center at Cox North
- CoxHealth Fitness Center in Republic
- CoxHealth Fitness Center in Willard
Not Meyer Fitness Center, Cox Fitness Center North, Cox Fitness Center Republic, Cox Fitness Center Willard.
FitLife: One word; capital L.
gynecologic: Not gynecological.
health care: Two words unless part of a formal name. (i.e.: Oxford HealthCare)
highways: U.S. Highway 1, Route 34. In first reference, spell out Highway followed by its number. In second and subsequent references, abbreviate Hwy. (Hwy. 60). Exceptions are made when space is scarce and when clarity is an issue. (Sometimes James River Expressway is a better designation for Hwy. 60.)
I-44: Interstate 44 in first reference. I-44 in second and subsequent references.
INFO line: All reference to this CoxHealth phone number should be presented as 417-269-INFO. This is one of two exceptions to the lettered number rule. The other exception is for CoxHealth at Home
Internet: Internet is always capitalized. Website is one word, lower case. Use coxhealth.com (not hyperlinked). In articles, use the name of the website instead of the address, if possible. (i.e.: Facebook) For specific web addresses in body copy, DO NOT use http:// or www. unless to help with clarity or understanding for audience.
Lester E. Cox Medical Centers: Only use in legal context, such as physician disclaimers, photo release forms, etc.
lettered numbers: Phone numbers in word form, such as 269-LADY and 269-JOBS, are outdated and no longer used systemwide. The only exceptions are 417-269-INFO and the phone number for CoxHealth at Home.
mail panel: When using the bulk mail permit, the return address must be 1423 N. Jefferson Ave. The department name may be included above the address and below the CoxHealth logo.
medical jargon: Avoid medical jargon for general publications. For more specialized material, where deemed appropriate, refer to the most recent edition of Stedman’s Medical Dictionary.
month: Follow AP style for month abbreviation in all instances.
names: In most cases, follow AP style (full name first reference, last name on subsequent references). Exceptions: When referring to minor children or in very personal stories it is ok to use first name on second reference.
numbers: Use figures for 10 and above and preceding a unit of measure or referring to ages of people, animals, events or things. Ages always use figures.
Oxford Sunshine Building: The only “building” formally designated as such, within the CoxHealth organization.
payer: Not payor.
percent: New AP guidelines indicate to use the sign: %. If there is an instance in which we break this rule and spell it out, it is not per cent.
phone numbers: Do not use parentheses around the area code. Hyphenate.
Pre-Hospital: When referring to the service at CoxHealth.
Preventive: Not preventative.
quotation marks: Period goes inside quotation mark at end of sentence.
- recipe order: Title, Start to finish: # minutes; Servings: #; Ingredients; Instructions; Nutrition facts; Recipe origin. (i.e.: Recipe from January 2007 issue of Gourmet.)
- recipe title: All caps.
- ingredients: List in order of occurrence in the recipe. Spell out all units of measurements in ingredients AND instructions. Never abbreviate.
- instructions: Present in paragraph form. Preheating oven should be first instruction. Lead every instruction with equipment and technique, rather than ingredient. Do not number.
- nutrition facts information: Should read, Nutrition information per serving:. When included, should be in the below order, number first and as written regarding plurality:
- Calories (650 calories)
- Fat (27 g fat)
- Cholesterol (265 mg cholesterol)
- Sodium (220 mg sodium)
- Carbohydrate (66 g carbohydrate)
- Fiber (4 g fiber)
- Sugar (12 g sugar)
- Protein (33 g protein)
semicolons: To help the audience with understanding, avoid overuse. Semicolons support lengthy, complicated sentences that can easily be simplified. Complex sentences like this increase reading level.
sentence length: Whenever possible, avoid sentences longer than 12 words. Anything over 12 words decreases reader retention and understanding.
sign-on: Hyphenated when used as a modifier (i.e.: sign-on bonus).
spaces: One space after final sentence punctuation.
states: Follow AP guidelines for when to spell out or abbreviate state names. However, where instructed to abbreviate, only use postal code abbreviations. Only use AP abbreviations when writing datelines on press releases.
Sty and sties
time: Time follows AP style (i.e.: 4 p.m., 1 a.m.–7 p.m., noon, midnight, 2:30–3:30 p.m.). Military time is not used.
titles: Use credentials, rather than leading with titles like Dr. or Doctor. MD, RN, BSN, RRT, CCRN and all other certifications should appear without periods. They should be separated by commas, even between names (i.e.: Jane Jones, RN, MS, LQPT, and John Jones, QRX, YNZ). Credentials and leading titles should NEVER be used together.
- When written out, as done on rack cards, title appears beneath name in title case (i.e.: Family Nurse Practitioner).
- When title appears in text, such as in an advertorial paragraph, titles should be sentence case (i.e.: Damon Thomas, family medicine physician, was present.).
- Do not include board-certified before spelled-out titles on rack cards.
- In body copy, first name, titles and credentials should occur in the introductory use. All subsequent instances of use should only be the person’s last name.
title case vs. sentence case: Headlines and subheadings will be in title case.
trauma center: Level I trauma center; capital L in all cases, regardless of placement in a sentence, lowercase trauma and center and always use roman numerals.
updated collateral: Unless it is to improve internal processes, do not indicate when a piece of printed collateral has been updated on the art with a date stamp.
urogynecologic: Not urogynecological.
walk-in vs. walk in: Hyphenate when using as a modifier to a noun. Do not hyphenate when used as a verb (i.e.: walk-in clinic vs. I will just walk in. Walk in or use Save My Spot. Walk-ins Welcome.).
CoxHealth is a name that communicates both our legacy and our drive for wellness to our community. The name should always have a capital C and a capital H and be one word - one name. It should never include Health Care.
Our name covers a campus that stretches across 26 counties, 6 hospitals and more than 80 clinics. Below are the proper names of buildings. In body copy, The is not used in building names. However, The should be used in standalone instances of the building name (addresses, for example).
- The Bill and Ann Turner Women’s and Children’s Center or The Turner Center
- The Bone and Joint Center
- Clinic at Walmart
- Cox Barton County Hospital
- Cox Medical Center Branson
- Cox Medical Center South
- Cox Monett Hospital
- Cox North Hospital
- CoxHealth Pediatric Specialty Center
- CoxHealth Surgery Center
- Dee Ann White Women’s and Children’s Hospital
- Ferrell-Duncan Clinic
- Ferrell-Duncan Clinic should only be included if it is the name of the building. If it is considered part of the Ferrell-Duncan Clinic family, but is located in a different building, like Wheeler Heart and Vascular Center, do not include. The address for the Ferrell-Duncan Clinic is 1001. E. Primrose St.
- Hulston Cancer Center
- Jared Neuroscience Center
- The Martin Center for Diagnostic and Imaging Services or The Martin Center
- Medical One Clinic
- Medical South
- Medical Tower
- The Meyer Center for Wellness and Rehabilitation or The Meyer Center
- Meyer Orthopedic and Rehabilitation Hospital
- Quick+Care Inside Hy-Vee
- Wheeler Heart and Vascular Center
- The Women’s Center
- 24/7 Urgent Care Plus Springfield: Turner Center
- 24/7 leads online, but can be removed in print materials if times are listed separately from names.
- Pediatric Urgent Care Plus Springfield: Turner Center
- Urgent Care Branson
- Urgent Care Lebanon
- Urgent Care Monett
- Urgent Care Ozark
- Urgent Care Springfield: Elfindale
- Walk-In Clinic Branson West
- Walk-In Clinic Lamar
- Walk-In Clinic Republic
- Walk-In Clinic Springfield: Chesterfield
- Walk-In Clinic Springfield: Medical Mile
- Walk-In Clinic Springfield: Orthopedic and Sports Injury
Walmart and Hy-Vee clinics should not be listed as Walk-In Clinics. Naming should be as follows:
- Clinic at Walmart Springfield: Kansas Expressway
- Quick+Care Inside Hy-Vee
- Cox Barton County Emergency Department
- Cox Medical Center Branson Emergency Department
- Cox Medical Center South Emergency and Trauma Center
- Cox North Emergency Department
- CoxHealth Monett Emergency Department
- The Atrium Cafe at CoxHealth
- The Center for Plastic Surgery
- Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals at CoxHealth
- Cox Barton County Hospital Healing Garden
- CoxHealth Branson Cancer Center
- CoxHealth Fitness Centers:
- CoxHealth Fitness Center at The Meyer Center
- CoxHealth Fitness Center at Cox North
- CoxHealth Fitness Center in Republic
- CoxHealth Fitness Center in Willard
- CoxHealth at Home
- CoxHealth Med Spa
- CoxHealth Pharmacy
- Cox Plaza Hotel
- National Avenue Skywalk
- Primrose Perk North
- Primrose Perk South
- theStore@CoxCollege (Cox College bookstore)
- The Vein Center at CoxHealth
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