ANSC Writing Style Guide

Alaska Native Studies Council Writing Style Guide        

The Alaska Native Studies Council (ANSC) Writing Style Guide (a living document) was officially adopted at the 2018 ANSC Conference in Juneau, Alaska.

The purpose of the Alaska Native Studies Council Writing Style Guide is to standardize and resolve questions of usage, punctuation, and standard publishing style when writing for Alaska Native collateral, publications, and online content. This is based on the NANA Writing Style Guide ( ) and adapted for Alaska statewide writing standard. The intention is to develop consistency in writing for Alaska Native communications with coherent use of writing style as well as spelling, punctuation, capitalization and abbreviations. This guide is meant to complement the Associated Press Writing Style Guide. The target audience for the ANSC Writing Style Guide are the general public students, educators, authors, scholars, journalists, and others writing about Alaska Natives. We recognize local communities have their own writing style and encourage writers to adopt the style from the community. This will be a living document updated as needed.

Links to other Indigenous Writing Style Guides:

Bob Joseph’s “Indigenous Peoples terminology guidelines for usage” (Canada):

Mary Morel’s “Indigenous or indigenous?” (Australia):

Chantal Braganza’s “Why we decided to capitalize Black, Aboriginal and Indigenous” (Canada):

First American Art Magazine (FAAM) “FAAM Style Guide (United States):

Native American Journalists Association’s “Reporter’s Indigenous Terminology Guide” (United States): 

Top 5 Most Frustrating Writing Mistakes (and How to Avoid Them):


Aboriginal, Aborigine Aboriginal is an adjective and used to describe ‘Aboriginal people’; ‘Aborigine’ is a noun for an Aboriginal person (male or female); always capitalize when referring to people, environment, or knowledge system (

academic degrees use an apostrophe and lowercase as follows: bachelor’s degree, master’s degree, etc. If mention of degrees is necessary to establish someone’s credentials, the preferred form is to avoid an abbreviation and use instead a phrase such as: John Jones, who has a doctorate in psychology. Use A.A., B.A., M.A., Ph.D. only when identifying many individuals by degree on first reference would make the preferred form cumbersome. Use these abbreviations only after a full name–never after just a last name: John Snow, Ph.D., spoke; see Dr.  

accept, except accept means to receive; except means to exclude

ages always use figures. Ages used as an adjective before a noun use hyphens (a 5-year-old boy); when used after a noun they are not hyphenated (the law is 8 years old); see numbers under ANSC style rules

Ahtna an Athabascan group

Alaska not abbreviated in dateline or text

Alaska Federation of Natives AFN on second reference

Alaska Highway never Alcan unless used in a direct quote

Alaska Miners Association no apostrophe in Miners

Alaska Native not native Alaskan, who is someone born in the state and may be of any racial background; always capitalize ‘Native’ when referring to people, environment, or knowledge system; it is capitalized as one would capitalize ‘Spanish’; by not capitalizing ‘Alaska Native’ or ‘Native’ further marginalizes the Indigenous people of Alaska; see Native

Alaskan of Indian, Eskimo or Aleut descent no longer used (see H.B. 4238); a person’s Alaska Native heritage from paternal or maternal bloodlines and usually recognized by the Bureau of Indian Affairs with a certain blood quantum

Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act Public Law December 18, 1971; ANCSA on second reference

Alaska Native Language Center also known as ANLC (

Alaska Pacific University APU on second reference

Alaska Permanent Fund Dividend PFD on second reference

Alaska State Legislature capitalize Legislature in all references; lowercase legislator(s), legislative, legislation; see legislative titles for more information

Alaskan (n.) never an adjective unless in a proper name; always capitalize

Aleut an Alaska Native group; see Unangan/s; language spoken is Unangam Tunuu

Alutiiq an Alaska Native group; see Sugpiaq; language spoken is Sugt’stun

Alyeska (al-lee-YES-ka) Unangam Tunuu word for “great land” from which the state of Alaska derives its name.

a.m., p.m. lowercase with periods

ANCSA see Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act; no periods

annual an event is not annual until its second year (the first year of any event should not be called annual, although you can state the event may or will become an annual event)

annual meeting lowercase

arctic, arctic fox, Arctic Slope, subarctic, Arctic Ocean note capitalization usage for each word

Arctic Circle capitalize for region around the circumpolar north

Association of Village Council Presidents AVCP or the council on second reference

at-large shareholder when an Alaska Native is enrolled in a Native corporation but is not also enrolled in a village or urban corporation

Athabascan Alaska Native groups originally from Interior Alaska; some Elders and community members prefer to be self-identified by their subgroup (e.g., Gwich’in, Deg Hit’an, etc.) and/or by Diné (deh-NAA); do not spell it Athabaskan or Athapaskan (see:


bachelor’s degree

blood quantum a colonized process that the federal government uses to determine whether a person is considered Native American

board member always lowercase, unless used directly before an individual’s name

Board of Directors capitalize when referring to Board of Directors; Board or the Board on second reference

Board of Education capitalize when referring to Board of Education; Board or the Board on second reference

Board of Fisheries (is also referred to as fish board) capitalize when referring to Board of Fisheries; Board or the Board on second reference

Board of Game (also referred to as game board) capitalize when referring to Board of Game; Board or the Board on second reference

borough capitalize only when part of a formal title: Northwest Arctic Borough

breakup (n. or adj.) time of year when snow and ice melt; when used as a verb it is break up

Bush capitalize when referring to rural Alaska

cabin fever referring to mental state that develops during long, dark Alaska winters

cache (cash) tiny cabin raised on stilts to store food

CEO is acceptable in all references for chief executive officer

Central Yup’ik an Alaska Native group; see Yupiaq or Yup’ik

chairperson capitalize as formal title before a name and lowercase when used on its own; also known as chair

chief operating officer (COO) in general, confine capitalization to formal titles used directly before an individual’s name

colonialism (n.) the policy and practice of a power in extending control over marginalized peoples or areas

corporation abbreviate corporation as ‘Corp.’ when a company or government agency uses the word at the end of its name: Gulf Corp., the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. Spell out corporation when it occurs elsewhere in a name: the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. Spell out and lowercase corporation whenever it stands alone. The form for possessives: Gulf Oil Corp.’s profits.

cross-cultural (adj.) hyphenated; combining, pertaining to, or contrasting two or more cultures or cultural groups

culture bearer not hyphenated; recognized by the community as an Indigenous person willing to share their wisdom or experience, even though they not be an Elder in age

Cup’ik (CHOO-pick) an Alaska Native group


Dall sheep capitalize Dall

Daylight light of day, one word

Deering village in NANA region; Iñupiaq name is Ipnatchiaq

Deg Hit’an an Alaska Native group; language spoken is Deg Xinag

Denaakk’e an Athabascan group and language commonly referred as Koyukon;

Dena’ina (dee-NAH-ee-nah) name of the Athabascan people of Southcentral Alaska

Denali (deh-NAL-ee) an Athabascan word for the land mass formerly listed as Mount McKinley in colonial records

Denali Commission an independent federal agency charged with improving governmental effectiveness

Denali National Park and Preserve, Denali State Park note capitalization usage

department lowercase for general business departments, but capitalize when referring to a formal government department; do not abbreviate

diversification the act or process of including representatives from more than one social, cultural, or economic group, especially members of ethnic or religious minority groups

dividends distributions of money, periodically dividend among shareholders of NANA and other regional, village, and urban ANCSA corporations. The dividend is based on corporate net income, and also from monies received from revenue sharing

Dr. use only in first reference as a formal title before the name of an individual with a formal degree

e.g. meaning “for example” (always followed by a comma)

Elder (n.) always capitalize Elder to show respect; Elders are 65 or older depending on a community, recognized by the community as an Elder, and willing to share their wisdom or experience

Elmendorf Air Force Base  located in Anchorage (Elmendorf is acceptable on second reference)

email or e-mail electronic mail

Eskimo an outdated colonial term no longer used to generalize four cultural groups (Iñupiaq, Yup’ik, St. Lawrence Island Yupik, and Cup’ik)

Eyak an Alaska Native group

Federal lowercase when used as an adjective; capitalize when used as part of a formal name of a government body

fiscal year lowercase

Fort Greely, Fort Richardson, Fort Wainwright, Fort Yukon note capitalization usage for each word

49th State nickname for Alaska (use only in direct quotes)

freezeup (n. and adj.)

freeze up (v.)

full-time hyphenated when used as a compound modifier: He works full time. She has a full-time job.


government always lowercase, never abbreviate when referring to federal, state, or U.S. government

Great Land nickname for Alaska; use only in direct quotes

Gwich’in an Athabascan group

Haida an Alaska Native group

Hän an Athabascan group

highway never abbreviated

Holikachuk an Athabascan group

honey bucket toilet used when running water is absent

hypothermia a subnormal body temperature

ice fog lowercase

ice pack lowercase

Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race (eye-DIT-uh-rod) use Iditarod on second reference

i.e. abbreviation for “that is” (always followed by a comma)

Iḷisaġvik College is the only tribal college in Alaska located in Utqiaġvik (Barrow)

indigenous lowercase when referred to as a plant

Indigenous always capitalize ‘Indigenous’ when referring to people, environment, or knowledge system; it is capitalized as one would capitalize ‘Spanish’; by not capitalizing ‘Alaska Native’, ‘Native’, or ‘Indigenous’ further marginalizes the Indigenous people of Alaska; see Native

Indigenous Peoples Day A holiday celebrating the original inhabitants of North America, observed instead of Columbus Day in Alaska, and in some other U.S. localities; it is held on the second Monday of October, coinciding with the federal Columbus Day holiday (note there is not apostrophe)

Interior Alaska, the Interior capitalize when referring to the Tanana, Yukon and Kuskokwim River valleys of Alaska

intern lowercase

internet lowercase

intranet lowercase; for reference to private, internal company networks

Inuit Circumpolar Conference ICC on second reference

Iñupiaq (in-you-PACK, ih-NOO-pee-ak) (n.) an Alaska Native group; sometimes refers to the language, or to one person; (adj.) used as an adjective such as Iñupiaq values (note the usage of the tilde ‘~’ over the ‘n’ except for those villages who self-identify as ‘Inupiaq’ without the n-tilde); language spoken is Iñupiatun

Iñupiat (in-you-PATE, ih-NOO-pee-at) refers to the people, plural – three or more (‘Iñupiak’ is dual meaning two people)

Iñupiatun sometimes refers to the language of the Iñupiat

it’s contraction for “it is”

its possessive pronoun

Juneau (JOO-no) Alaska’s capital city

kayak Iñupiatun spelling is qayaq

Kenai Peninsula (KEY-nigh) the Kenai, or the Peninsula, on  second reference; located south of Anchorage

Koyukon an Athabascan group; language spoken and people are Denaakk’e


Last Frontier nickname for Alaska (use only in direct quotes)

Last Great Race nickname for Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race (use only in direct quotes)

Legislature capitalize in all references to Alaska Legislature; lowercase legislator(s), legislative, legislation

legislative titles Use Rep., Reps., Sen. and Sens. as formal titles before one or more names. Spell out and lowercase representative and senator in other uses. Example: Rep. Reggie Joule

lifestyle (adj.) not hyphenated

long-term (adj.) hyphenate when used as a compound modifier

Lower 48 refers to the contiguous 48 states; lowercase when used as an adjective (use only in direct quotes)

master’s degree (with an apostrophe, lowercase) see academic degrees

Matanuska-Susitna Borough (mat-uh-NOO-skuh soo-SIT-nuh) Mat-Su borough is acceptable on second reference

Matanuska-Susitna Valley the Palmer and Wasilla area, can be called the Valley on second reference, see Mat-Su and Valley

Mat-Su acceptable on second reference for Matanuska-Susitna (but not with valley)

moose both singular and plural

multicultural of, relating to, or representing several different cultures or cultural elements


nalukataq (na-LOOK-ka-tuck) Iñupiaq word meaning “whale feast,” referring originally only to the blanket toss

Nanook (naa-NOOK) University of Alaska Fairbanks mascot from the Iñupiaq word nanuq for polar bear

nanuq (naa-NOOK) polar bear in Iñupiatun

Native not native Alaskan, who is someone born in the state and may be of any racial background; always capitalize ‘Native’ when referring to people, environment, or knowledge system; it is capitalized as one would capitalize ‘Spanish’; by not capitalizing ‘Alaska Native’ or ‘Native’ further marginalizes the Indigenous people of Alaska; see Alaska Native

native lowercase when referred to as a plant

Native American always capitalize when referring to people, language, environment, or knowledge system

Native regional corporations refers to the 13 regional corporations formed under ANCSA (do not capitalize regional or corporations)

non-contiguous state refers to Alaska or Hawaii

non-Native always capitalize ‘Native’; see Alaska Native

non-profit hyphenate

Non-resident hyphenate

North Slope region north of the Brooks Range in Alaska

Northwest Alaska capitalized

Northwest Arctic Borough offices located in Kotzebue


online connected to the internet

offshore, onshore both one word

Outside anywhere in the U.S. that is not Alaska; capitalize

Panhandle nickname for Southeast Alaska

Parks Highway capitalize

part-time (adj.) hyphenate

permafrost ground that stays frozen year-round

permanent fund capitalize Alaska Permanent Fund and lowercase permanent fund

PFD short for Permanent Fund Dividend

proxy lowercase

Prudhoe Bay capitalize

ptarmigan (TARR-mih-gan) (p is silent) Alaska state bird

quorum lowercase


regardless never irregardless

region(s) lowercase

regions of Alaska include: Aleutians, Arctic Coast, Arctic Slope, Gulf Coast, Interior, the Kenai, Mat-Su, North Slope, Railbelt, Panhandle, Southeast, Southcentral, Western, West Coast, Canadian Border

Resource Development Council statewide organization educating and advocating for economic and resource development issues (RDC on second reference)

RuralCAP acceptable on all references for Rural Alaska Community Action Project Inc.

rural community a remote community off the main Alaska road system and not accessible by an automobile


salmon (lowercase) five species: king salmon (chinooks), silver salmon (cohos), pink salmon (humpbacks), red salmon (sockeyes), chum salmon (dogs)

shareholder lowercase when used as a noun; capitalize only when used as part of a formal title or name

short-term (adj.) hyphenate

sno-go, snow, snowball, snowbank, snow blanket, snow-blind, snow blindness, snowblower, snow boot, snowbound, snowbridge, snow bunny, snowdrift, snowfall, snow fence, snowflake, snow goggles, snow goose, snow guard, snowhouse, snow job, snow knife, snow line, snowmachine, snowmachiner, snowmachining, snowman, snowmelt, snowmobile, snowpack, snowplane, snowplow, snowshoe, snowslide, snowstorm, snowsuit, snow tire, snow under, snow water, snow-white, Snow White note various spellings

solstice occurs twice a year, when the tilt of Earth’s axis is most inclined toward or away from the sun; in Alaska it marks the shortest day of the year in December and longest day of the year in June

Southcentral Alaska note capitalized and not hyphenated with no comma

Southeast Alaska note capitalized and not hyphenated with no comma

St. Lawrence Island Yupik (note: no apostrophe) also known as Siberian Yupik

state of Alaska lowercase state when referring to the geographical location; capitalize State when referring to the legal and political entity

Subarctic see also Arctic

subconsciously (opposed to unconsciously which means incapacitated) mental processes of which the individual is not aware 

subsidiary lowercase

subsistence an economic lifestyle characterized by living off the land. People who live a subsistence existence harvest wildlife and gather berries and vegetables. This generally low-cash way of life is practiced by many who live in the Bush. Subsistence hunters and fisherman have a constitutionally protected priority for taking Alaska fish and game higher than other users.

Sugpiaq an Alaska Native group also known as Alutiiq

Susitna (soo-SIT-nuh) a mountain in Southcentral Alaska


Tanacross an Athabascan group

Tanana an Athabascan group

temperatures use figures; do not use “above” following the numeral, e.g. “above zero”; use “below” following the number when below zero, e.g. “20 below”; do not use minus sign

termination dust first snowfall on the mountains (use only in direct quotes)

territory lowercase

Tlingit an Alaska Native group in Southeast Alaska; language spoken is Łingit.

traditional Do not pair the terms ‘traditional’ and ‘contemporary’; they are trite and create a false dichotomy. Find more precise pairings, e.g., ‘historical’ and ‘contemporary’, or use new terms that are not clichés. Minimize the use of ‘tradition’ and ‘traditional’ due their vagueness and overuse (FAAM, 2018).

T\trans-Alaska oil Pipeline never TAPS

Tsimshian an Alaska Native group in Southeast Alaska; language spoken is Sm’algya̱x

tsunami seismic sea wave often called tidal wave

tundra treeless area covered with low-lying plants

Unangan/s or Unangax̂ an Alaska Native group also known as Aleut; language spoken is Unangam Tunuu

United States use periods in the abbreviation, U.S. within texts

University of Alaska Anchorage, University of Alaska Fairbanks, University of Alaska Southeast UAA, UAF, and UAS

Upper Kuskokwim an Athabascan group

Upper Tanana an Athabascan group


Valdez (val-DEEZ) a town in Southcentral Alaska

Valley the Valley is acceptable on second reference for Matanuska-Susitna Valley in Southcentral Alaska, see Mat-Su and the Valley

village lowercase unless part of a formal title

website lowercase

well-prepared (adj.)

well prepared (adv.)

Yupiaq or Yup’ik an Alaska Native group in Southwest Alaska also known as Central Yup’ik; language spoken is Yugtun; see Yupiaq

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For questions or comments about the Alaska Native Studies Council Writing Style Guide, please contact Sean Asiqłuq Topkok:

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