Writing Style Standards - Part II

The Gonzaga University Writing Style Guide, Part II, reinforces general standards for writing marketing and communications materials. These standards represent guidelines for language usage often occurring in Gonzaga University publications. If not listed here, please refer to the Associated Press Style Guide and Webster’s New World College Dictionary as the source for all marketing and communications writing standards. Other guidelines are often applied for academic writing. Questions relating to this Writing Style Guide should be directed to the Public Relations Office, Ad 031, ext. 6133.

  • A

    • abbreviations/acronyms - Abbreviations should be used sparingly and only after spelling out words on first reference. Only acronyms that are commonly known should be used on first reference, i.e. NBA (in a sports story), FBI and CIA. When spelling out a formal name on first reference, do not put its acronym in parenthesis following the name. Simply use the acronym on second reference.

      academic degrees - 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. Spell out degrees in lower case, i.e. bachelor of science in chemistry. Or, use a bachelor’s degree with an apostrophe, or a master’s. Use degree abbreviations only when the need to identify many individuals by degree on first reference would make the preferred form cumbersome, i.e. Ph.D, M.A., M.B.A., with periods and no space between letters. Only use the term Dr. when referring to a person with a medical degree.

      academic titles - Capitalize and spell out formal titles such as "Professor," “Associate Professor,” "Dean," "President," and "Professor Emeritus" only when they precede a name on first reference: Professor Jane Smith, history; Dean Arnie Jones. Lowercase elsewhere. Lowercase modifiers: history Associate Professor Jane Smith, department Chairman John Smith. A title used after a name is always lowercase, i.e. Jane Smith, history professor. Do not use a title with a degree: Professor Jane Smith, Ph.D.

      addresses - In writing copy, use the abbreviations Ave., Blvd, St. only with a specific numbered address: 502 E. Boone Ave. Spell them out and capitalize them as part of a formal street name: Hamilton Street. All similar words are spelled out: road, alley, drive, terrace. Always use numerals with an address: 9 W. 22nd Ave. Always put the direction indicator between the address and the street.

      adjunct - Adjunct faculty members are temporary employees whose appointments usually have a defined time limit. Always lowercase: adjunct instructor John Thompson, or adjunct faculty member John Thompson.

      adviser, advisor - Either spelling is acceptable as long as all spellings are consistent. In all Marcom publications use adviser, with an e.

      alma mater - Lowercase.

      alumnus, alumni, alumna, alumnae - An alumnus is a man who has attended a school. An alumna (alumnae in the plural) is the corresponding reference to a woman (or women). Alumni are groups of men and women. Use “alum” only for headline purposes if space is tight.

      apostrophe - Use apostrophes to show possession or in contractions: Wendy's dog. It's time for class to begin. Do not use an apostrophe when forming plurals of dates or acronyms: 1890s, 1920s, 1990s, M.D.s, Ph.D.s. Use apostrophe when abbreviating decades: She was born in the ’50s.

  • B

    • buildings - In formal communication, use the official names of campus facilities and capitalize the names: Herak Center for Engineering, Schoenberg Center for Professional Studies, College Hall. On second use Herak Center, Schoenberg Center.

  • C

    • chairman, chairwoman, chairperson - Chair is preferred: department chair, chair of the Board of Trustees. Never use chairperson. Capitalize if used as a formal title preceding a name.

      cities - On first reference use city names with their state designations, except for major cities recognizable without their state designations, such as New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Paris, London, Tokyo. No need for state designations for Northwest cities such as Spokane, Seattle, Tacoma, Olympia, Coeur d’Alene and Boise. However, use Portland, Ore.; to differentiate it from Portland, Maine. Use AP Style abbreviated state designations in copy. Use two-letter post office state designations only when using it in an address.

      classes, courses - Uppercase when referring to a specific class, i.e. Psychology 101, or Law and Ethics in the 21st Century. Lowercase when making a general reference to courses: He studies history and political science.

      clerical titles - When referring to a Catholic priest in University publications, on first reference use the title Father (uppercase) preceding his name: Father Edward Morton. If he is a Jesuit, use the initials S.J. afterward: Father Edward Morton, S.J. On second reference, use Fr. (abbreviated) before his last name: Fr. Morton. For Catholic sisters, same rules apply: Sister Phyllis Brown, S.N.J.M., and Sr. Brown on second reference. For other non-Catholic ministers, use Rev. before their name: Rev. George Stone, and Rev. Stone on second reference.

      coach - Capitalize Coach, but not any modifiers, when preceding the person’s name: Coach Mason Bartow, assistant men’s basketball Coach Jake Brown.

      comma (in a series) - Use commas to separate elements in a series, but do not put a comma before the conjunction in a simple series: The flag is red, white and blue. He would nominate Tom, Dick or Harry. However, use a comma before the concluding conjunction in a series if an integral element in the series requires a conjunction: I had coffee, juice, and ham and eggs for brunch. Use a comma before the concluding conjunction in a complex series of phrases: The accreditation decision will be based upon whether the program is academically sound, whether it can withstand the scrutiny of the evaluators, and whether a case can be made for its public demand.

      committees, task forces - Capitalize names of specific committees and task forces: The Marketing Task Force met yesterday. Lowercase second general reference: The task force selected the guest speakers.

      composition titles - Capitalize titles and place quotation marks around them for books, computer games, movies, plays, poems, song titles, radio and TV shows, lectures, speeches and works of art. Exception: the Bible. Do not use quotation marks around the Bible. See publication titles for newspapers and magazines and special printed materials.

      courtesy titles - Do not use courtesy titles, i.e. Mr., Mrs., Ms. Only use Dr. when referring to a person with a medical degree.

  • D

    • dates - When giving a specific date, abbreviate the month that has more than 5 letters with the first three letters: Jan. 1, Oct. 7. Do not use "st," "rd," or "th" with dates. When adding the year, use a comma: Dec. 23, 2007. Spell out all months with 4 or 5 letters; March 17. Never use a comma between month and year when a specific day is not mentioned, and always spell out the month: November 1998. The same is true for seasons: fall 1991.

      departments, schools, offices - Capitalize the name of a department, school or office, and the words "department," "college," "office," and "school" when they appear as part of an official name: School of Education, Biology Department, Office of Admission. On second reference, do not capitalize "department," etc.: The department later announced its research results. Lowercase nouns in all plural uses: the schools of Engineering and Business Administration, the departments of chemistry and biology. Do not abbreviate "department."

      dormitories - See Residence Halls.

  • E

    • e-mail - Always hyphenate and lowercase. When placed at the beginning of a sentence, only the "E" should be capitalized.

      emeritus - This word is often added to formal titles to denote distinguished individuals who have retired but retain their rank or title. Place "emeritus" after the formal title: Professor Emeritus Stephen Gray, or Stephen Gray, professor emeritus of history.

  • F

    • faculty - Lowercase "faculty" unless the word is part of a specific name or title: One of the department’s faculty members was part of the Faculty Senate. Collective nouns take singular verbs: The faculty was persuaded by the argument.

      Father General - The formal title for the leader of the Society of Jesus: Father General Hans-Peter Kolvenbach, S.J. Always capitalize the title when it precedes a name.

      foreign words or phrases - Italicize foreign language words and phrases if they are likely to be unfamiliar to readers. When the surrounding text is already italicized, set the title or word in regular type (no italics).

      fundraising, fundraiser - One word in all cases.

  • G

    • GPA - Grade point average. Spell out on materials for audiences outside Gonzaga: Gonzaga grade point averages are based on a 4.0 scale. The abbreviation "GPA" is acceptable internally.

  • H

    • home page - Always two words.

      honors - Lowercase and italicize cum laude, magna cum laude and summa cum laude. Capitalize specific honors, such as the Law Medal or the DeSmet Medal.

  • I

    • Internet - Always capitalize. "Internet" is preferred over "the Net."

  • M

    • majors, programs - Do not capitalize majors, programs, specializations or concentrations of study, unless they are part of a designated degree: She received a Bachelor of Arts in history. She majored in art.

      Mass - Always capitalize Mass and other Catholic sacraments.

      money - Use figures and the $ sign for most references to specific money amount: He spent $1,550 on a new TV. In casual references, spell out: He’s worth millions; He made big bucks. Unless an exact figure is necessary, for numbers over $1 million, round off and use million spelled out use. She raised over $2 million in the last quarter. The building was purchased for $17.6 million.

  • N

    • National Collegiate Athletic Association - NCAA is so well-known that its use on first and subsequent reference is OK.

      numbers - Spell out whole numbers below 10 except when used in statistical data. Use numerals (figures) for 10 and above: They had 10 dogs. Same rule applies to ordinals: He was ranked first chair in the band. He placed 10th in the cross country race. Spell out all numbers at the beginning of sentences except for a year: 1998 was a banner year for Gonzaga. Use numerals for all forms of measurement, including ages of humans and animals: A 5-year-old took top prize. Spell out time measurement for inanimate objects below 10: The car is five years old. Use numerals when referring to credit hours: Philosophy 101 is a 3-credit class.

      When large numbers ending in "y" must be spelled out, use a hyphen to connect them to other words: twenty-one, forty-five. Do not use commas between separate words that are part of one number: one hundred forty-five. When numbers modify like elements and are grouped within a sentence or series of related sentences, use numerals for all numbers if any one of the numbers is 10 or more: The average number of graduates per semester rose from 7 to 12.

  • P

    • percent - Spell the word "percent" instead of using %, except in headlines. Always use figures with "percent": 12 percent.

      periods - Do not use periods after acronyms or broadcasting station call letters: KXLY, USA. Use periods with no spaces between for abbreviated degrees: B.S., M.B.A., Ph.D.

      Pope - Use only uppercase when used as a title before a name. Lowercase in all other references to the man. Observers lined up to see Pope Benedict XVI. The pope acknowledged the crowd.

      prefixes - In general, do not use a hyphen when using a prefix with a word starting with a consonant: multidisciplinary, coworker. Except for "cooperate" and "coordinate," use a hyphen if the prefix ends in a vowel and the word that follows begins with the same vowel: anti-intellectual. Use a hyphen to join doubled prefixes: sub-subspecialty. Add a hyphen if the word following the prefix is capitalized: anti-American. Spellings of prefixed words listed in the Webster’s New World Collegiate Dictionary are also acceptable.

      professor - Capitalize "professor" and other academic ranks only when they are part of titles preceding names. Do not capitalize disciplines or departments in such titles unless they are proper nouns: He studied with history Professor Bob Jones and English Professor Sarah Smith. Associate Professor Gladys Knight, psychology, gave a lecture.

      publication titles - Italicize titles of journals, magazines, newspapers, newsletters and gallery and museum exhibitions: Abstraction and Isolation is showing at the Jundt Art Museum , or The story ran in Gonzaga Quarterly.

  • Q

    • quotation marks - The period and comma ending a sentence always go inside the quotation marks: "I'm leaving," he said. The dash, semicolon, question mark and exclamation point go inside the quotation marks only when they apply to the quoted matter: He yelled, "Stop!" Can you believe he actually yelled "Stop"? When reporting the exact words of speakers or writers, surround their words with quotation marks: "I have no intention of staying," he said. For dialogue or conversation, place each person's words in a separate paragraph, with quotation marks at the beginning and the end of each person's speech. If a person speaks continuously for more than one paragraph, place quotation marks at the beginning of every paragraph in the speech, but do not place quotation marks at the end of paragraphs - until the final paragraph in the speech. Use single quotation marks only when quotes appear inside a quotation: "He told her, ‘I don’t need this class.’"

  • R

    • residence halls - Use residence halls, not dormitories when referring to Gonzaga’s undergraduate living spaces.

      room - Capitalize when referring to specific rooms in specific buildings: College Hall Room 346.

      ROTC - Abbreviation acceptable on all (including first) references with no periods. Stands for Reserve Officers Training Corps.

  • S

    • Scholastic Aptitude Test - SAT is acceptable when communicating in an academic environment. If an audience will have any question about the acronym’s meaning, then spell out on first reference.

      schools - Capitalize when part of a formal title: the School of Education, the School of Business Administration. Lower case on second reference: the law school.

      seasons - Lowercase fall, winter, spring and summer and all derived words such as springtime. Also lowercase semester references: fall semester. Capitalize only when part of a formal name: Winter Olympics, Fall Family Weekend.

      Society of Jesus - Use S.J. following the last name on first reference to a priest or brother of the Society of Jesus: Father Joseph Cataldo, S.J., founded Gonzaga University. However, do not insert S.J. into a quote: “Father Peter DeSmet was a man of immense vision,” said historian John Doe.

      spokesman, spokeswoman - Never spokesperson.

      states - When the names of states or territories of the United States stand alone, they should always be spelled in full. When they follow the name of a city, use standard Associated Press Style abbreviations: Wash., Ore., Calif. States with five or fewer letters are always spelled out. Use the two-letter form (AL, GA, TN) only in ZIP code addresses.

      student classifications - Lower case freshman, sophomore, junior and senior. Only capitalize when part of a formal title: Senior Prom.

  • T

    • telephone numbers - If a publication is strictly for on-campus use, omit telephone area codes and prefixes and list extensions directly: ext. 4220. If the publication will be sent off campus, include area codes in parentheses with space between area code and prefix, and a hyphen between prefix and the last four digits: (205) 934-0186.

      times - Use figures for times except for "noon" and "midnight." Use a colon to separate hours from minutes: 11:15 a.m., 3:30 p.m. Only use the hour, not the minutes when referring to the top of the hour: use 8 a.m., not 8:00 a.m. Use noon instead of 12 p.m., and midnight instead of 12 a.m.

  • U

    • undergraduate/graduate - Lowercase when referring to a student classification.

  • W

    • Web, World Wide Web - Capitalize the Web, Web site and Web page. But lowercase webcam, webcast and webmaster. When writing out World Wide Web addresses, "http://" is not required: She found admission information at www.gonzaga.edu.

  • Y

    • years - Use numerals for years: 2006. Use an s without an apostrophe to indicate a span of years, decades or centuries: the 1920s, or the 1800s. If abbreviated, use an apostrophe before the decade: ’70s.