Editorial Style Guide
Florida Atlantic University’s Office of Communications and Marketing follows The Associated Press Stylebook (AP). This guide is a reference for the FAU community to ensure consistency, clarity and accuracy among print and online publications directed to external audiences. The style guide is not meant to govern academic publications or everyday internal communications (i.e. email messages, syllabi, class or department handouts, etc.). Its purpose is to help the university community present unified and consistent external messages. The most common issues related to higher education are noted below in alphabetical order.
The Associated Press Stylebook and Briefing on Media Law , usually called the AP Stylebook , is a style and usage guide used on newspapers and in journalism classes in the United States. The stylebook is updated annually by Associated Press editors, usually in June, and is available in both trade and spiral-bound editions, with the latter containing extra content specific to journalists working for the AP.
Use the complete Florida Atlantic University on first reference for external audience. FAU or University can be used on second reference. University, when referring to FAU, is always capitalized.
Before a name: Abbreviate the following titles when used before a full name outside direct quotations: Dr., Gov., Lt. Gov., Mr., Mrs., Rep., the Rev., Sen. Spell out all except Dr., Mr. and Mrs., when they are used before a name in direct quotations.
After a name: Abbreviate junior (Jr.) or senior (Sr.) after an individual’s name. Abbreviate company (Co.), corporation (Corp.), incorporated (Inc.) and limited (Ltd.) when used after the name of a corporate entity. Do not precede by a comma.
With dates or numerals: Use the abbreviation A.D., B.C., a.m., p.m., when used with the day or the month (NOTE: upper and lowercases, as well as inclusion of periods). The abbreviations are correct only with figures. In 450 B.C.; at 9:30 a.m.; in room No. 6; on Sept. 16.
Months: Capitalize the names of months in all uses. When a month is used with a specific date, abbreviate only Jan., Feb., Aug., Sept., Oct., Nov., and Dec. Spell out when using alone, or with a year alone. Jan. 5; January; January 2012.
Addresses: Abbreviate avenue (Ave.), boulevard (Blvd.) and street (St.) in numbered addresses. He lives on Pennsylvania Avenue. He lives at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. Always use numerical figures for an address number (ex. 9 Morningside Circle). Spell out and capitalize First through Ninth when used as street names.
When listing degrees – and the subject areas in which degrees have been issued – capitalize. Preference is to abbreviate the degree. The word degree should not follow a degree abbreviation.
Capitalize the title of degree. For example: Bachelor of Science; Master of Arts. But lowercase when generally referring to degree. For example: a bachelor’s degree or a bachelor’s.
The standard reference to degrees is: associate degree, bachelor’s degree, master’s degree or doctoral degree. There is no possessive in Bachelor of Arts or Master of Science. Use abbreviations only after a full name; never after only a last name. When abbreviating degrees, use the following:
Bachelor of Arts – B.A.
When used after a name, an academic abbreviation is set off by commas:
Do not precede and follow a name with a courtesy title for an academic degree. Using both Dr. and Ph.D. is redundant.
Correct: Sam Jones, Ph.D. Incorrect: Dr. Sam Jones, Ph.D.
Academic job titles are capitalized. (Example: Sameer Hinduja, Associate Professor in the School of Criminology and Criminal Justice, spoke at today’s meeting.)
Director-level titles and above (Dean, Vice President, Associate/Assistant Vice President, Provost, etc.) are capitalized in all instances, including when the term is used as a replacement for the name of the individual. (Examples: Dean Carter of the College for Design and Social Inquiry spoke at yesterday’s meeting. The Dean spoke at today’s meeting.)
Do not capitalize unofficial titles preceding a name. (Example: The exhibit featured artist Mary Smith.)
Do not capitalize titles used without the name. (Example: For information, see the registrar. A professor of history will be in attendance.)
Do not use Dr. and title preceding a name. (Examples: Assistant Vice President for Student Affairs John Smith, Ph.D. John Smith, Assistant Vice President for Student Affairs.)
Official name is capitalized. (Examples: College of Engineering and Computer Science; Office of Communications and Marketing; Office for Students with Disabilities). Lowercase in casual reference. (Example: Send the files to communications.)
FAU currently includes 10 colleges. Use full name on first reference and “college” on second reference, not capitalized:
In listing more than one college, the preference is to list them alphabetically by content area of the college (as listed above), not alphabetically by donor name.
Capitalize specific course titles only; do not use quotation marks. (Examples: History of European Political Theory; a course in psychology.)
ALUMNUS, ALUMNA, ALUMNI, ALUMNAE
Use the ampersand when it is part of a formal name: Baltimore & Ohio Railroad. The ampersand should not otherwise be used in place of and.
NOTE: The College for Design and Social Inquiry and the Dorothy F. Schmidt College of Arts and Letters use “and” in their logos; the College of Engineering and Computer Science prefers “&” in its logo. In text, use “and” for all college names.
Do not use the term “first annual.” Use “inaugural.” An event cannot be described as annual until the second year.
The Breezeway is the walkway running north/south through the middle of the Boca Raton campus.
The Carole and Barry Kaye Performing Arts Auditorium is located in the Student Union on the Boca Raton campus.
FAU Arena, also “The Burrow,” is located on the Boca Raton campus.
The FAU/HBOI Marine Science Building is located at FAU Harbor Branch.
The Student Union, previously the University Center, is located on the Boca Raton campus.
The Marleen and Harold Forkas Alumni Center is located on the Boca Raton campus.
The Reubin O’D Askew Tower is the eastern building on the Fort Lauderdale campus and the FAU/BCC Higher Education Complex is the western building.
FAU currently has six locations. Names listed in bold below are preferred in the first use. Subsequent listings offer additional acceptable uses.
FAU Boca Raton
FAU Dania Beach
FAU Fort Lauderdale
FAU Harbor Branch
NOTES: When appropriate, “Broward campuses” or “Northern campuses” grouping may be used. The Broward campuses are FAU Dania Beach, FAU Davie and FAU Fort Lauderdale. The Northern campuses are FAU Harbor Branch and FAU Jupiter.
List in alphabetical order when listing more than one campus.
Always spell out “Fort Lauderdale” and “Fort” Pierce. Always abbreviate Port “St.” Lucie.
When using the “campus” in text, lowercase “c.” (Example: I met my wife at the Jupiter campus.)
In general, avoid unnecessary capitals. Use a capital letter only if you can justify it by one of the principles listed below.
CITIES AND STATES
Cities – The following domestic cities stand alone (do not need to be accompanied by a state) in datelines and basic copy:
Boston New Orleans
Chicago New York
Cincinnati Oklahoma City
Detroit St. Louis
Honolulu Salt Lake City
Houston San Antonio
Indianapolis San Diego
Las Vegas San Francisco
Los Angeles Seattle
States – The following are the state abbreviations to be used in general copy (zip code abbreviations in parentheses):
Ala. (AL) Md. (MD) N.D. (ND)
Ariz. (AZ) Mass. (MA) Okla. (OK)
Ark. (AR) Mich. (MI) Ore. (OR)
Calif. (CA) Minn. (MN) Pa. (PA)
Colo. (CO) Miss. (MS) R.I. (RI)
Del. (DE) Mont. (MT) S.D. (SD)
Fla. (FL) Neb. (NE) Tenn. (TN)
Ga. (GA) Nev. (NV) Vt. (VT)
Ill (IL) N.H. (NH) Va. (VA)
Ind. (IN) N.J. (NJ) Wash. (WA)
Kan. (KS) N.M. (NM) W. Va. (WV)
Ky. (KY) N.Y. (NY) Wis. (WI)
La. (LA) N.C. (NC) Wyo. (WY)
Eight states are not abbreviated in copy or datelines: Alaska (AK); Hawaii (HI); Idaho (ID); Iowa (IA); Maine (ME); Ohio (OH); Texas (TX); Utah (UT)
Use lowercase for first-year students (or freshmen), sophomores, juniors or seniors when referring to individuals. Capitalize names of organized entities. (Examples: Class of 1970; the Senior Class).
In a series: Use commas to separate elements in a series, but do not put a comma before the conjunction in a simple series, unless one is critical to clarity. (Examples: The flag is red, white and blue. He would nominate Tom, Dick or Harry.)
Put a comma before the concluding conjunction in a series, however, if an integral element of the series requires a conjunction. (Example: I had orange juice, ham and eggs, and toast for breakfast.)
Use a comma before the concluding conjunction in a complex series of phrases. (Example: The main points to consider are whether the athletes are skillful enough to compete, whether they have the stamina to endure the training, and whether they have the proper mental attitude.)
With equal adjectives: Use commas to separate a series of adjectives equal in rank. If the commas could be replaced by the word “and” without changing the sense, the adjectives are equal. (Examples: A thoughtful, precise manner; a dark, dangerous street.)
Use no comma when the last adjective before a noun outranks its predecessors because it is an integral element of a noun phrase, which is the equivalent of a single noun. (Examples: a cheap fur coat (the noun phrase is fur coat); the old oaken bucket; a new, blue spring bonnet.)
With introductory clauses and phrases: A comma normally is used to separate an introductory clause or phrase from a main clause. (Example: When he grew tired of the mad pace of New York, he moved to Philadelphia.)
The comma may be omitted after short introductory phrases if no ambiguity would result. (Example: During the night he heard many noises. But use the comma if its omission would slow comprehension: On the street below, the curious gathered.)
Introducing direct quotes: Use a comma to introduce a complete, one-sentence quotation within a paragraph. (Example: Catherine said, “She spent six weeks in Italy and came back speaking English with an Italian accent.)
Do not use a comma at the start of an indirect or partial quotation. (Example : He said his victory put him “firmly on the road to a new season record.”)
With hometowns and ages: Use a comma to set off an individual’s hometown when it is placed in apposition. (Examples: Mary Richards, Minneapolis, and Rhoda Morganstern, New York, were there.)However, the use of the word “of” without a comma between the individual’s name and the city name generally is preferred. (Example:Mary Richards of Minneapolis and Rhoda Morganstern of New York were there.)
If an individual’s age is used, set it off by commas. (Example: Mary Richards, 48, Minneapolis, was present.)Again, the use of the word “of” will eliminate the need for some of the commas.
With Yes and No: Yes, I will be there.
In Large Figures: Use a comma for most figures greater than 999. The major exceptions are street addresses (1234 Main Street), broadcast frequencies (1600 kilohertz), room numbers, serial numbers, telephone numbers and years (1916).
In the United States, a committee is an “it,” not a “they.” Committee members, on the other hand, are “people on a committee” or “they.” The same applies to a board, a department or an office. Therefore, “The committee gave its recommendation.” Committee members recommend.” Capitalize the names of committees.
Use quotation marks around the names of such works as book titles, movie titles, opera titles, play titles, poem titles, son titles, television program titles and the titles of lectures, speeches and works of art. (Examples: “The Star-Spangled Banner,” the NBC-TV “Today” program, the “CBS Evening News,” “The Mary Tyler Moore Show.”)
Books and publications that are primarily catalogs of reference material should be italicized. In addition to catalogs, this category includes newspapers, magazines, journals, handbooks and similar publications. Do not use quotation marks around such software titles as Acrobat or Windows. (Examples: South Florida Sun-Sentinel; New York Times; Newsweek magazine; Associated Press; Encyclopedia Britannica).
In general, do not use the courtesy titles Miss, Mr., Mrs., or Ms., on first reference. Instead, use the first and last names of the person.
Do not use Mr. in any reference to couples unless it is combined with Mrs.: Mr. and Mrs. John Doe. If you are unaware of the marital status of a woman, use Ms. rather than Mrs. Always try to use a woman’s first name: John and Jane Doe is preferable to Mr. and Mrs. John Doe.
There are important distinctions between hyphens, en dashes and em dashes.
The hyphen (hyphen key on a PC/Mac) is used to hyphenate compound words and between non-continuing numbers, eg., phone numbers and sports scores. See more detail under HYPHENS.
The en dash (ctl + hyphen keys on a PC, opt + hyphen keys on a Mac) is used to connect numerals (or months) that indicate a range, such as dates, times or page reference numbers. (Examples: June10–14, Jan.–March, pages 234–239.)
The em dash (ctl + alt + hyphen keys on a PC, opt + shift + hyphen keys on a Mac) is used to denote a sudden break in thought that causes an abrupt change in sentence structure. (Example: The FAU Owls — including a football team that made its debut in 2001 — began competing in NCAA Division I.) The em dash can also be represented by typing two hyphens (--) with a space on either side in all uses except the start of a paragraph. However, in all formal publications and on the Web when possible, use the specific key command or character to em dash.
(NOTE: word processing and layout programs often do not convert correctly, so use the guidelines above.)
Follow these guidelines for proper grammatical use:
Abrupt Change: Use dashes to denote an abrupt change in thought in a sentence for an emphatic pause. (Examples: We will fly to Paris in June — if I get a raise. Smith offered a plan — it was unprecedented — to raise revenues.)
Series Within a Phrase: When a phrase that otherwise would be set off by commas contains a series of words that must be separated by commas, use dashes to set off the full phrase. (Example: He listed the qualities — intelligence, charm, beauty, independence — that he liked in a woman.)
Attribution: “Who steals my purse steals trash.” — Shakespeare
DATES AND TIME
Always use Arabic figures for dates, without st, nd, rd or th: Nov. 1, 1998. Always abbreviate the months of Jan., Feb., Aug. Sept., Oct., Nov. and Dec. Spell out March, April, May, June and July.(Exceptions allowed on formal invitations: February 12, 2008).
Use figures for times except for noon and midnight. Use a colon to separate hours from minutes. It isn’t necessary to indicate a time “on the hour” by typing “:00”. Avoid redundancies like 12 noon; 10 p.m. tonight.
If the current year is implied, it isn’t necessary to write it out. Use the year in text if it refers to past or future years. (Examples: Our January 2000 meeting. Our Dec. 20 party.)
Lowercase a.m. and p.m., with periods: 9:30 a.m., 1 p.m., noon.
Spaces between the hyphens with times: 9:30 a.m. - 3 p.m.
DAYS OF THE WEEK
Capitalize. Do not abbreviate, except when needed in a tabular format: Sun, Mon, Tue, Wed, Thu, Fri, Sat (three letters, without periods, in tabular composition).
The only degree to be referenced as “Dr.” is the Doctor of Medicine or M.D.
DOLLARS AND CENTS
Use numerals and the word cents (all lowercase) for amounts less than a dollar: 5 cents, 12 cents.
Use the $ sign and decimal for larger amounts: $1.25 million, $2.55
For whole dollar amounts, drop the decimals: $2, $15, $155
For dollar figures greater than 999 a comma should be used: $12,000; $500,000
Use an ellipsis to indicate the deletion of one or more words in condensing quotes, texts and documents. Be especially careful to avoid deletions that would distort the meaning. In general, treat an ellipsis as a three-letter word, constructed with three periods and two spaces as …
Punctuation guidelines: If the words that precede an ellipsis constitute a grammatically complete sentence, either in the original or in the condensation, place a period at the end of the last word before the ellipsis. Follow it with a regular space and an ellipsis: “I no longer have a strong enough political base. …” (NOTE: There should be a period and then an ellipsis.)
When the grammatical sense calls for a question mark, exclamation point, comma or colon, the sequence is word, punctuation mark, regular space, ellipsis: Will you come? …
Lowercase with no hyphen: email
ENTITLED vs. TITLED
“Entitled” means that someone has rights to something. (Example: She felt entitled to special treatment ever since she won an Oscar.) “Titled” means that something has received a title. (Example: The workshop titled Experience Freedom, Compassion and Unity through Foregiveness will begin on Saturday, Nov. 7.)
The word “faculty” pertains to a group of people, not one person. One person should be referred to as a faculty member.
GPA is acceptable in all references for grade-point average.
Hyphens are joiners. Use them to avoid ambiguity or to form a single idea from two or more words.
Avoid Ambiguity: Use a hyphen whenever ambiguity would result if it were omitted. (Examples: He recovered his health. He re-covered the leaky roof.)
Compound Modifiers: Use hyphens to link all the words in the compound except the adverb very and all adverbs that end in ly. (Examples: a full-time job; a part-time student; a better-qualified applicant; a know-it-all attitude; a very good time; an easily remembered rule. A fulltime student but the student attends full time.)
Compound Proper Nouns and Adjectives. (Examples: Italian-American; Mexican-American. No hyphen, however, for Latin American or French Canadian.)
Avoid duplicated vowels, tripled consonants. (Examples: anti-intellectual; pre-empt, shell-like; coop.)
Listings of Multiple Hyphenated Terms. (Examples: He received a 10- to 20-year prison sentence.)
With the prefix “non,” hyphenate all except the following words, which have specific meanings of their own. (Examples: nonchalance; nonsense; nonchalant; nonsensical; nondescript. Other words and proper names preceded by “non” should be hyphenated: non-traditional; non-credit; non-German.)
Do not hyphenate vice president (or any other compound title) in any reference.
Use periods and no space when an individual uses initials instead of a first name: H.L. Mencken.
The words Internet, Web and Word Wide Web should always be capitalized in every reference. Other terms include:
Abbreviate as Jr. and Sr. only with full names of persons. Do not precede by a comma: John F. Kennedy Jr.
When referring to something that can be counted, use “more than” rather than “over.” The word “over” generally refers to spatial relationships. (Examples: More than 50 attended. The plan flew over South Florida.)
People are entitled to be known however they want to be known, as along as their identities are clear. A nickname should be used in place of a person’s given name only when it is the way the individual prefers to be known: Magic Johnson
In general, spell out whole numbers below 10; use figures for 10 and above. (Examples: He has a fleet of 10 station wagons and two buses. They had 10 dogs, six cats and 97 hamsters.)
Spell out a numeral at the beginning of a sentence. If necessary, recast the sentence:
Use numerals even for numbers below 10 when indicating the following:
Use a comma after digits signifying thousands except when referring to:
Spell out “percent” in text, and always use numerals. (Example: Our retention rate is 85 percent.)
Use figures. The form: 561-297-5555. (Do NOT use periods). If extension numbers are needed, use a comma to separate the main number from the extension: 561-297-5555, ext. 22.
Capitalize letters in phone numbers: 1-800-FAU-OWLS
Plural nouns not ending in “s”: Add “’s”: the alumni’s contributions; women’s rights.
Plural nouns ending in “s”: Add only an apostrophe: the churches’ needs; the girls’ toys; the horses’ food.
Singular nouns not ending in “s”: Add “’s”: the girl’s toy; the horse’s food.
Singular common nouns ending in “s”: Add “’s” unless the next word begins with s: the hostess’s invitation; the hostess’ seat; the witness’s answer; the witness’ story.
Singular proper names ending in “s”: Use only an apostrophe: Achilles’ heel; Agnes’ book; Xerxes’ armies.
Special Expressions: The following exceptions to the general rule for words not ending in “s” apply to words that end in an “s” sound and are followed by a word that begins with “s”: for appearance sake. Use “’s” otherwise: the appearance’s cost; my conscience’s voice.
Joint Possession, Individual Possession: Use a possessive form after only the last word if ownership is joint: Fred and Sylvia’s apartment; Fred and Sylvia’s stocks.
Use a possessive form after both words if the objects are individually owned: Fred’s and Sylvia’s books.
Descriptive Phrases: Do not add an apostrophe to a word ending in “s” when it is used primarily in a descriptive sense: citizens band radio; a teachers college; a writers guide; our speakers bureau.
An ’s is required when a term involves a plural word that does not end in s: a children’s hospital; a people’s republic.
Quasi Possessives: Follow the rules above in composing the possessive form of words that occur in such phrases as: a day’s pay; two weeks’ vacation; three days’ work; your money’s worth. Frequently, a hyphenated form is clearer; two-week vacation; a three-day job.
PRESIDENT MARY JANE SAUNDERS
Always use full name on first reference. “President M.J. Saunders” is also allowed on first reference. Use “President Saunders” on subsequent references.
The period and comma always go within the quotation marks. The dash, semicolon, question mark and exclamation point go within the quotations marks when they apply to the quoted matter only. They go outside when they apply to the whole sentence.
He said, “I am shocked and horrified by the incident.”
He said he was “shocked and horrified by the incident.”
“I do not object,” he said, “to the tenor of the report.”
Quotation within Quotation: Alternate between double quotation marks (“or”) and single marks (‘or’). (Example: She said, “I quote from his letter, ‘I agree with Kipling that “the female of the species is more deadly than the male,” but the phenomenon is not an unchangeable law of nature,’ a remark he did not explain.”)
Use three marks together if two quoted elements end at the same time. (Example:She said, “He told me, “I love you.’”)
Use periods after letters. Do not use “please” before R.S.V.P. (Example: R.S.V.P. by Tuesday, Jan. 22.)
Use lowercase for seasons of the year, but uppercase when referring to a semester. (Example: I started classes at FAU last fall during the Fall 2007 semester.)
Use the semicolon (;) to separate elements of a series when the items in the series are long or when individual segments contain material that also must be set off by commas. The semicolon is used before the “and” in the series. (Example: He is survived by a son, John Smith, of Chicago; three daughters, Jane Smith, of Wichita, Kan., Mary Smith, of Denver, and Susan of Boston; and a sister, Martha, of Omaha, Neb.”
Use only one space between sentences — not two.
SPELLING AND TERMS
For spelling, consult Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, Eleventh Edition. A few common terms include:
Use that and which in referring to inanimate objects and to animals without a name.
Use that for essential clauses, important to the meaning of a sentence, and without commas. (Example: I remember the day that we met.) Use which for nonessential clauses, where the pronoun is less necessary, and use commas. (Example: The team, which finished last year a year ago, is in first place.)
TOWARD vs. TOWARDS
Correct word is “toward.” There is no “s” on the word.
Avoid awkward constructions that split forms of a verb.
Incorrect: Group tickets will also be available for the men’s basketball games at a discounted rate.
Correct: Group tickets also will be available for the men’s basketball games at a discounted rate.
FAU’s Web address is www.fau.edu. No need to use “http://” unless address does NOT start with www. Do NOT italicize or set off Web and email addresses in text.
Who is the pronoun used for references to human beings and to animals with a name. It is grammatically the subject (never the object) of a sentence, clause or phrase. (Examples: The woman who rented the room left the window open. Who is there?)
Whom is used when someone is the object of a verb or preposition. (Examples: The woman to whom the room was rented left the window open. Whom do you wish to see?)