Ohio University Editorial Style Guide

This style guide is reviewed and updated by University Communications and Marketing twice annually, or more frequently as need dictates. Ohio University now generally defaults to AP style in all communication, though some style conventions have been adapted or overruled for University use. (Up to 100 simultaneous University users may access the full AP Stylebook online via ALICE, at no cost to them.) 

While the University has at times previously maintained multiple guides and/or style conventions for News and Marketing, this document is now the sole official style guide for Ohio University, superseding all previous style guides and conventions. It is designed to create consistency and clarity across all University communication, not consternation. It is therefore understood and acceptable that needs for case-by-case exceptions may arise, particularly in less formal marketing.  

For questions, style guidance, or suggested additions/edits, please contact prestonb@ohio.edu.

Note: per traditional style guide formatting, terms and examples are shown in italics but should not be deployed as such except where explicitly noted.

Updated: December 2021

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University and Academic Terms and Best Practices

academic year 

  • Use all four numerals of the first year and only the last two of the second year, separating with a hyphen: The 2020-21 school year will be a great one. Academic years begin with the fall semester. 


  • Not adviser, unless it is part of an official job title. NOTE: This differs from and overrides AP Style, which uses adviser. 


  • Use alumnus (alumni in the plural) when referring to a man who is a graduate of a school. Use alumna (alumnae in the plural) for similar references to a woman. Use alumni when referring to a group of men and women. 
  • Use graduate or graduates for non-gendered term that may be used in place of alumnus, alumni, alumna and alumnae.  
  • Only use gendered terms if that information is needed and confirmed. 
  • For students who attended but did not graduate (except in cases of those who hold honorary degrees), use: attended Ohio University rather than is an alumnus/a

Alumni Association 

  • On first reference, use Ohio University Alumni Association or the Association
  • OUAA is acceptable on subsequent references. 

Alumni Gateway 

  • This is the arched entrance to College Green at the corner of Court and Union streets. People have sometimes historically referred to this as the College Gate, though this should not be used in external communications. This also should not be confused with the Class Gateway. 

awards, grants and scholarships 

  • Capitalize only formal/proper titles of grants, scholarships and awards: Presidential Research Scholars, Award for Academic Excellence

Baker University Center 

  • Use full Baker University Center, not Baker Center
  • Subsequent mentions may use Baker in less formal occurrences. 


  • OHIO’s mascot is the Bobcat. While some regional campuses previously had other mascots, the Bobcat is now the official mascot for every OHIO campus and student. Rufus is the name of the official Bobcat mascot. The word should be capitalized when speaking about OHIO students, and not capitalized when speaking about the animal: OHIO Bobcats are a tight-knit bunch. Bobcats help Bobcats. Did you know bobcats in Ohio do not hibernate? 

Board of Trustees 

  • The governing body of Ohio University consists of nine voting members appointed by the governor, two nonvoting student trustees, an alumni representative, two nonvoting national trustees and a nonvoting regional trustee: The Board of Trustees of Ohio University. On subsequent references use Board of Trustees, if referring to Ohio University, but lowercase if referring to another board of trustees. 


  • CARE, all caps and spelled without periods, is not an acronym (unlike at many other colleges and universities).

  • Previously known as the Student Review and Consultation Committee (SRCC), the CARE Team reviews reports of distressed or disruptive students and decides whether, and how, to respond. It is overseen by the Office of the Dean of Students.


  • In addition to the Athens campus and the five regional campuses, Ohio University offers classes at the Regional Higher Education center in Proctorville, which is a satellite of Southern Campus. Centers at Ohio University advance research, outreach and student engagement. Center is only capitalized when used with the formal name: The Center for Advanced Software Systems Integration, the center
  • List of centers and institutes: 
    • African American Research and Service Institute 
    • Astrophysical Institute 
    • Charles J. Ping Institute for the Teaching of the Humanities 
    • Center for Law, Justice & Culture 
    • Center for Intervention Research in Schools 
    • Institute of Nuclear and Particle Physics 
    • Ohio Center for Ecology and Evolutionary Studies 
    • Institute for Quantitative Biology 
    • Center for Ring Theory and Its Applications 
    • Center for Consumer Research and Analytics 
    • Center for Entrepreneurship 
    • Center for International Business Education and Development 
    • The AECOM Center for Sports Administration 
    • Robert D. Walter Center for Strategic Leadership 
    • Ralph and Luci Schey Sales Centre at Ohio University 
    • Institute for International Journalism 
    • WOUB Center for Public Media 
    • Barbara Geralds Institute for Storytelling and Social Impact 
    • OHIO Center for Clinical Practice in Education 
    • Child Development Center 
    • Institute for Democracy in Education 
    • George Hill Center for Counseling & Research 
    • Center for the Study and Development of Literacy and Language 
    • Center for Advanced Materials Processing 
    • Center for Advanced Systems and Transportation Logistics Engineering 
    • Avionics Engineering Center 
    • Institute for Corrosion & Multiphase Technology 
    • Center for Scientific Computing and Immersive Technologies 
    • Ohio Research Institute for Transportation and the Environment 
    • Center for Pipe and Underground Structures 
    • Institute for Sustainable Energy and the Environment 
    • Center for Air Quality 
    • Ohio Coal Research Center 
    • T. Richard and Eleanora K. Robe Leadership Institute 
    • Appalachian Institute to Advance Health Equity Science
    • Ohio Valley Center for Collaborative Arts 
    • Center for Public and Social Innovation 
    • Diabetes Institute 
    • Infections and Tropical and Disease Institute 
    • Ohio Musculoskeletal and Neurological Institute 
    • Institute for Applied and Professional Ethics 
    • Contemporary History Institute 
    • Edison Biotechnology Institute 
    • Institute for the Empirical Study of Language 
    • Nanoscale and Quantum Phenomena Institute 
    • Academic Achievement Center 


  • When referring to someone’s title, use the gender-neutral word chair, not chairman or chairwoman: Professor Ronal Hunt is chair of the Department of Political Science

Class Gateway 

  • This is the entranceway on the College Green on Union Street across from the Schoonover Center. Not to be confused with Alumni Gateway. 


  • Use the full name of colleges on first reference and avoid abbreviations for more formal external audiences: College of Arts and Sciences, College of Business, College of Fine Arts. Capitalize on full reference, lowercase otherwise: College of Arts and Sciences, the College of Business, the college
  • Acronyms referring to academic colleges can be used sparingly in marketing or casual communication, but never on first mention. The College of Fine Arts, however, should never be abbreviated as CoFA, but may be shortened to Fine Arts on subsequent mentions.
  • List of colleges: 
    • Center for International Studies 
    • College of Arts and Sciences 
    • College of Business 
    • College of Fine Arts 
    • College of Health Sciences and Professions 
    • Graduate College 
    • Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine 
    • Honors Tutorial College 
    • Gladys W. and David H. Patton College of Education 
    • Russ College of Engineering and Technology 
    • Scripps College of Communication 
    • University College 
    • Voinovich School of Leadership and Public Service 


  • When referring to annual graduation exercises, capitalize. Lowercase otherwise: More than 3,300 students took part in the 2016 Undergraduate Commencement exercises. For some, commencement remains hugely symbolic.  


  • If mention of degrees is necessary to establish someone’s credentials who is not an alumnus/a of OHIO, the preferred form is to avoid an abbreviation and use instead a phrase such as: John Jones, who has a doctorate in psychology. For OHIO graduates, style as name, then degree(s) and graduation year(s). John Utah (B.S., ’62; M.S., ’64). 
  • Use an apostrophe (and do not capitalize) when speaking of bachelor’s degree, a master’s, etc., but there is no possessive in the formal/specific degree title such as Bachelor of Arts or Master of Science. Also: an associate degree is not possessive. (Note: a previous University style guide recommended the style convention associate’s degree—this has since been updated and should no longer be used.) 
  • Use such abbreviations as B.A., M.A., LL.D. and Ph.D. only when the need to identify 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. When used after a name, an academic abbreviation is set off by commas: John Snow, Ph.D., spoke. 
  • Do not precede a name with a courtesy title for an academic degree and follow it with the abbreviation for the degree in the same reference. 
  • If a degree has just two letters, separate with periods. If a degree consists of three or more letters –– with exceptions for Ph.D. and LL.D. –– do not separate each letter with periods. 
  • Master of Arts, Master of Science, Master of Business Administration are abbreviated M.A., M.S. but MBA, MSPM, and others should be abbreviated as such. A master’s degree or a master’s is acceptable in any general reference not referring to a specific degree program. 
  • For further guidance, see “majors and minors.” 


  • Use lowercase except for words that are proper nouns or adjectives: the department of history, the history department, the department of English, the English department, or when department is part of the official formal name: University of Connecticut Department of Economics.

dorm or dormitory 

  • Do not use. Use residence hall instead, or on-campus housing as an alternative. 


  • This word often is added to formal titles to denote those individuals who have retired retain their rank or titles. When used, place emeritus after the formal titles, in keeping with the general practice of academic institutions: Professor Emeritus Samuel Eliot Morison, Dean Emeritus Courtney C. Brown, Publisher Emeritus Barnard L. Colby. Or: Samuel Eliot Morison, professor emeritus of history; Courtney C. Brown, dean emeritus of the faculty of business; Baynard L. Colby, publisher emeritus. 
  • Use emerita for similar references if a woman prefers it. 

Fraternity and Sorority Life 

  • Use fraternity and sorority life. Do not use greek life.  

Founders Day 

  • Founders Day commemorates the date Feb. 18, 1804, when the Ohio General Assembly approved charter plans for the creation of Ohio University. Note the lack of an apostrophe. 


  • If space allows, spell out grade-point average on first reference. 


  • Do not use greek, instead use fraternity and sorority life


  • Ohio University’s Athens Campus is divided into distinct neighborhoods or sections called greens. Capitalize the proper names of greens; lowercase when using alone: College Green, East Green, South Green, West Green, North Green, Union Green, The Ridges Green. But: The greens are lined with tall, stately oak trees. 

health care

  • Not healthcare.

Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine 

  • A college within Ohio University. It has three campuses: Athens, Dublin and Cleveland. Refer to as Ohio University Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine on first reference and Heritage College in subsequent references.  
  • To denote campus’ location: Heritage College, Athens; Heritage College, Dublin; Heritage College, Cleveland. 
  • Do not use OU-HCOM or HCOM abbreviations in formal external communication. 


  • Capitalize when referring specifically to the University’s associated fall events, game or parade: I cannot wait for Homecoming 2021. 

internet addresses

In publications, use the name of the website rather than the web address — so it’s Twitter, not Twitter.com. Use “.com” only if it’s part of the legal name, as in Amazon.com Inc.

When a publication mentions a specific website or web service, don’t include “http://” and “www.” because it is implied — so it’s ohio.edu, not “https://www.ohio.edu/.” If writing a digital publication, always use a hyperlink to connect the website.

junior class 

  • Lowercase: Rusty Williams is a junior. Alternately, you may use third-year student

majors and minors 

  • Do not capitalize unless the word is otherwise capitalized: She is a history major with a minor in English. However, capitalize the formal name of a degree: Bachelor of Science in Journalism, B.S. in Biological Sciences. 

offices and titles 

  • Note use of the word of versus for. When in doubt, check the website. Some titles may vary slightly based on promotions (such as “Senior Vice President”). 
    • Office of the President 
    • Office of the Provost 
    • Office of University Outreach and Regional Higher Education  
    • Office of the University Registrar  
    • University Equity and Civil Rights Compliance
    • Vice President for Finance and Administration 
    • Vice President for University Advancement  
    • Vice President for Research and Creative Activity 
    • Vice President for Student Affairs 
    • Vice President for Diversity and Inclusion 
    • Vice President for University Communications and Marketing 

OHIO Guarantee+ 

OHIO News 

  • Ohio University’s electronic news and information service; faculty and staff receive an email weekly containing the latest news and stories about the University. Note that OHIO News is italicized. 

Ohio University 

  • Always use Ohio University on first reference in formal communications. Referring to the University as OHIO and/or the University are acceptable on all subsequent references. Do not use OU in formal external communications and only in limited cases for informal marketing and social media use, as this may be confused with other institutions such as Oklahoma University. 

The Post 

  • The Post is Ohio University’s award-winning, student-run newspaper. In addition to daily digital content, it publishes a weekly tabloid print edition, distributed throughout campus and Athens, Ohio. 

The Ohio University Foundation 

  • The Ohio University Foundation is the repository for all private gifts through annual giving programs, capital, special campaigns and planned-on deferred gifts. The foundation is an institutionally related, nonprofit, tax-exempt, 501(c)(3) organization. It is governed by a board of trustees. 
  • Always use The Ohio University Foundation (with a capital The) on first reference. Use lowercase foundation for subsequent references. 

rank and tenure 

  • At Ohio University, academic ranks are grouped by tenure-track faculty and instructional, non-tenure track, faculty. Instructional faculty hold the rank of associate professor of instruction or professor of instruction. Tenure-track faculty hold the rank of assistant professor, associate professor or professor. Ohio University also has adjunct faculty, visiting professors, executives in residence, endowed faculty and other positions. 

regional campuses 

  • Ohio University is headquartered in Athens, Ohio, home to its residential campus. It also operates five regional campuses: Chillicothe, Eastern (St. Clairsville), Lancaster, Southern (Ironton), and Zanesville, as well as two extension campuses in Dublin and Cleveland. Campus should always be lowercase: Chillicothe campus will host a play on Friday. The campus is located on the western edge of St. Clairsville. 
  • Never use the term “branch campuses.” Do not use a hyphen between Ohio University and the name of the campus. 
  • Examples: Ohio University Chillicothe, Ohio University Lancaster, Ohio University Zanesville, Ohio University Eastern in St. Clairsville, Ohio University Southern in Ironton, Ohio University’s Chillicothe campus.  
  • Always use the full name of the campus on first reference: Ohio University Zanesville. On subsequent reference, use: Zanesville campus or OHIO Zanesville. Do not use OU Zanesville or OU-Z (except in the most casual student/alumni-based communications).

residence hall 

  • Not dorm or dormitory

The Ridges 

  • This refers to the portion of campus on the ridge above the south bank of the Hocking River. It includes buildings that were once part of the Athens State Mental Hospital. Capitalize: I attended class at The Ridges today. 

room numbers 

  • Room numbers come after the name of the hall/building. Do not use room before the number: Scott Quad 161, Baker University Center 240. 


  • On first reference, use the full name of a school, capitalized. Lowercase on subsequent reference. E.W. Scripps School of Journalism, students in the school of journalism, journalism students, School of Applied Health Sciences and Wellness. 
  • A full list of schools can be found on the OHIO website. 


  • Always lowercase: The course was first offered in fall semester 2013. Spring semester seemed to fly by. 

senior class 

  • Lowercase: the senior class, she is a senior. Note that not every senior is a graduating senior, which are those students on track to receive a degree by the end of the current academic year. 


  • Lowercase: she is a sophomore. The term is only capitalized as part of a title. Alternately, you may use the term second-year student. 


  • Capitalize and spell out formal titles such as chancellor, chair, etc., when they precede a name. Lowercase elsewhere. 
  • Lowercase modifiers such as department in department Chair Jerome Wiesner.

Title IX and notice of non-discrimination (for print) 

  • All University printed material produced by University Printing Services describing or inviting participation in OHIO programs or activities must contain the University’s Notice of Non-discrimination and Title IX Coordinator contact information.

    Further details and variations of notice


  • The neighborhood of Athens just beyond Alumni Gateway that contains bookstores, shops and dining establishments. The neighborhood primarily consisting of Court and Union streets. Uptown Athens is capitalized when referring to the specific neighborhood (and is colloquially referred to as simply Uptown) but not directionally: The students walked further uptown. The students gathered in Uptown Athens for the festival.

General Style Conventions


  • Abbreviate avenue, boulevard, and street in numbered addresses: He lives on Pennsylvania Avenue. He lives at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. 


  • Use the ampersand when it is part of a formal name or composition title: House & Garden, Procter & Gamble, Wheeling & Lake Erie Railway. The ampersand should not otherwise be used in place of and, except if it is part of an official title or for some accepted abbreviations: B&B, R&B


  • 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, the ships’ wake, states’ rights, the VIPs’ entrance.  
  • Nouns plural in form, singular in meaning 
    • Add only an apostrophe: mathematics’ rules, measles’ effects.  
  • Singular proper names ending in s 
    • Use only an apostrophe: Achilles’ heel, Agnes’ book, Ceres’ rites, Descartes’ theories
  • Pronouns 
    • Personal interrogative and relative pronouns have separate forms for the possessive. None involves an apostrophe: mine, ours, your, yours, his, hers, its, theirs, whose.   
  • Omitted figures: 
    • The class of ’62. The spirit of ’76. The ’20s


  • Black is capitalized as a racial, cultural and ethnic identifier. However, white is not capitalized because Black describes a collective experience in a way that white does not: Being a Black man who lives in a majority white city.  
  • Ask sources how they want to be named: African American, Black, Nigerian American, etc. 


  • Do not use except to show an omitted or substituted word in a news quote. Use parentheses or recast the material. 

bulleted lists

  • Per AP style: Put a space between each bullet and the first word of each item in the list, capitalize the first word and use parallel construction. Per OHIO style: Use a period (or other end punctuation) after each item in the list only if the item is a complete sentence, either on its own or together with the text preceding the list.
  • Examples:
    • There are several everyday things you can do to help your students THRIVE:
      • Lay the groundwork for open communication.
      • Demonstrate your concern for your students’ well-being.
      • Create an equitable course community.
      • Create opportunities for individualized interactions with students whenever possible.
    • What we offer:
      • Lectures, workshops and other events
      • Mentoring
      • Volunteer opportunities
      • Professional and career development
    • Are you looking for:
      • Academic assistance?
      • Guidance on choosing or changing a major?
      • Study-abroad opportunities?
      • Career coaching?


  • Retain the hyphen when forming nouns, adjectives and verbs that indicate occupation or status: co-author, co-chair, co-pilot, co-worker.  
  • As part of a formal title before a name: co-President Alexa Manola, co-Executive Director Alfredo Hudson. But Smith Electric Co-Op if that is the formal name. 
  • Use no hyphen in other combinations: coeducation, cooperate, coordinate
  • Cooperate, coordinate and related words are exceptions to the rule that a hyphen is used if a prefix ends in a vowel and the word that follows begins with the same vowel. 


  • Capitalization: Capitalize the first word after a colon only if it is a proper noun or the start of a complete sentence: He promised this: The company will make good all the losses. But: There were three considerations: expense, time and feasibility. 
  • Q&A: The colon is used for question-and-answer interviews: 
    • Q: Did you strike him? 
    • A: Indeed, I did. 
  • Introducing quotations: Use a comma to introduce a direct quotation of one sentence that remains within a paragraph. Use a colon to introduce long quotations within a paragraph and to end all paragraphs that introduce a paragraph of quoted material. 


  • In a series 
    • Use commas to separate elements in a series, but do not put a comma before the conjunction in most simple series (in other words, do not use an Oxford comma unless needed for clarity): The flag is red, white and blue. He would nominate Tom, Dick, Harry or Jeannete. Include a final comma in a simple series if omitting it could make the meaning unclear. The governor convened his most trusted advisers, economist Olivia Schneider and polling expert Carlton Torres. (If Schneider and Torres are his most trusted advisers, do not use the comma.) The governor convened his most trusted advisers, economist Olivia Schneider, and polling expert Carlton Torres. (If the governor is convening unidentified advisers plus Schneider and Torres, the final comma is needed.) 
  • With equal adjectives 
    • Use commas to separate a series of adjectives equal in rank. If the commas could be replaced by the word a without changing the sense, the adjectives are equal: a thoughtful, precise manner; a dark, dangerous street. 
  • With conjunctions 
    • When a conjunction such as and, but or for links two clauses that could stand alone as separate sentences, use a comma before the conjunction in most cases: She was glad she had looked, for a man was approaching the house.  
  • Introducing direct quotes 
    • Use a comma to introduce a complete one-sentence quotation within a paragraph: Wallace said, “She spent six months in Argentina and came back speaking English with a Spanish accent.” But use a colon to introduce quotations of more than one sentence. Do not use a comma at the start of an indirect or partial quotation: He said the victory put him “firmly on the road to a first-ballot nomination.” 
  • Before attribution 
    • Use a comma instead of a period at the end of a quote that is followed by attribution: “Write clearly and concisely,” she said. Do not use a comma, however, if the quoted statement ends with a question mark or exclamation point: “Why should I?” he asked. 
  • With hometowns and ages 
    • Use a comma to set off an individual’s hometown when it is placed in opposition to a name (whether of is used or not): Mary Richards, Minneapolis, and Maude Findlay, Tuckahoe, New York, were there. If an individual’s age is used, set it off by commas: Maude Findlay, 48, Tuckahoe, New York was present. 
  • In large figures 
    • Use a comma for most figures greater than 999. The major exceptions are street addresses (1234 Main St.), broadcast frequencies (1460 kilohertz), room numbers, serial numbers, telephone numbers, and years (1876).  
  • Always placed within quotation marks. 


  • Abrupt change 
    • Use dashes to denote an abrupt change in thought in a sentence or an emphatic pause: Through her long reign, the queen and her family have adapted — usually skillfully — to the changing taste of the time. But avoid overuse of dashes to set off phrases when commas would suffice. Add a single space before and after em dashes. 
  • 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: He listed the qualities — intelligence, humor, conservatism, independence — that he liked in an executive. 
  • Attribution 
    • Use a dash before an author’s or composer’s name at the end of a quotation: “Who steals my purse steals trash.” — Shakespeare. This may appear on the same line or the next line as the quote itself, depending on space and design considerations. 
  • With spaces 
    • Put a space on both sides of a dash in all uses except sports agate summaries. 
  • Dashes can also be referred to as an “em dash.” They are called em dashes because they are the width of a capital letter M. They are not to be confused with the “en dash,” which is a shorter dash, about the width of a capital N, which are sometimes used to indicate ranges.  Be sure you are using the proper dash in the correct circumstances. The em dash is the longest dash and looks like: —. Whereas the en dash looks like: –. Do not use en dashes to indicate time or range, instead use a hyphen. 


  • In general, treat an ellipsis as a three-letter word, constructed with three periods and two spaces, as shown here: ( ... ). 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. 
  • Here is an example of how the spacing and punctuation guidelines would be applied in condensing President Richard Nixon’s resignation announcement: 

    Good evening. … 
    In all the decisions I have made in my public life, I have always tried to do what was best for the nation. …  
    … However, it has become evident to me that I no longer have a strong enough political base in … Congress. 
    … And long as there was … a base, I felt strongly that it was necessary to see the constitutional process through its conclusion, that to do otherwise would be … a dangerously destabilizing precedent for the future. 
  • Quotations: In writing a story, do not use ellipses at the beginning or end of direct quotes. 


  • Acceptable in all references for electronic mail. Do not use e mail or e-mail. 


  • Hyphens are joiners. Use them to avoid ambiguity or to form a single idea from two or more words. The fewer hyphens the better; use them only when not using them causes confusion. 
  • Use to indicate time or range: From 9-11 a.m. tomorrow. Do not use en dash. 
  • Avoid ambiguity: Use a hyphen whenever ambiguity would result if it were omitted: The president will speak to small-business owners. Others: He re-covered the leaky roof. The story is a re-creation. The park is for recreation. 


  • Lowercase unless part of a proper title such as The Columbus High-Speed Internet Center

junior, senior 

  • Abbreviate junior or senior after an individual’s name, with no preceding comma. John Wick Jr. 


  • 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.  
  • When a phrase lists only a month and a year, do not separate the year with commas. When a phrase refers to a month, day and year, set off the year with commas. 
  • Examples: January 2016 was a cold month. Jan. 2 was the coldest day of the month. His birthday is May 8. Feb. 14, 2013, was the target date. She testified that it was Friday, Dec. 3, when the crash occurred. 

nondiscriminatory language 

  • Ohio University supports the policy of avoiding language that contains discriminatory connotations. Replace the following terms with suggested alternatives: 
    • chairman.......................chair, department chair 
    • ombudsman .................ombuds, ombudsperson 
    • best man for the job..... best candidate 
    • manmade .....................synthetic, manufactured 
    • foreman ....................... supervisor 
    • businessmen ................businessperson 
    • manpower.................... personnel, employee 
    • mankind........................humankind 
    • craftsman......................artisan 
  • To avoid the “student-he/she” dilemma, use plural references: students, they
  • Check with individuals for their pronouns. 


  • In general, spell out one through nine: The Yankees finished second. He had nine months to go. Use figures for 10 or above and whenever preceding a unit of measure or referring to ages of people, animals, events or things. Also in all tabular matter, and in statistical and sequential forms.  

Use figures for:

  • Academic course numbers: History 6, Philosophy 209 
  • Addresses: 210 Main St. Spell out numbered streets nine and under: 5 Sixth Ave.; 3012 50th St.; No. 10 Downing St. Use the abbreviations Ave. Blvd. and St. only with a numbered address: 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. Spell them out and capitalize without a number: Pennsylvania Avenue. 
  • Ages: a 6-year-old girl; an 8-year-old law; the 7-year-old house. Use hyphens for ages expressed as adjectives before a noun or as substitutes for a noun. A 5-year-old boy, but the boy is 5 years old. The boy, 5, has a sister, 10. The race is for 3-year-olds. The woman is in her 30s. 30-something, but Thirty-something to start a sentence. 
  • Centuries: Use figures for numbers 10 or higher; 21st century. Spell out for numbers nine and lower: fifth century. (Note lowercase.) For proper names, follow the organizations usage: 20th Century Fox, Twentieth Century Fund. 
  • Dates, years and decades: Feb. 8, 2007, Class of ’66, the 1950s.  
  • Decimals, percentages and fractions with numbers larger than 1: 7.2 magnitude quake, 3 ½ laps, 3.7% interest, 4 percentage points. Decimalization should not exceed two places in most text material. Exceptions: blood alcohol content, expressed in three decimals: as in 0.056, and batting averages in baseball, as in .324. For amounts less than 1, precede the decimal with a zero: The cost of living rose 0.03%. Spell out fractions less than 1, using hyphens between the words: two-thirds, four-fifths. In quotations, use figures for fractions: He was 2 ½ laps behind with four to go.
  • Dimensions, to indicate depth, height, length, and width: He is 5 feet 6 inches tall, the 5-foot-6 man (“inch” is understood), the 5-foot man, the basketball team signed a 7-footer. The car is 17 feet long, 6 feet wide and 5 feet high. The rug is 9 feet by 12 feet, the 9-by-12 rug. A 9-inch snowfall. Exception: two-by-four. Spell out the noun, which refers to any length of untrimmed lumber approximately 2 inches thick by 4 inches wide. 
  • Monetary Units: 5 cents, $5 bill, 8 euros, 4 pounds. 
  • Rank: He was my No. 1 choice. (Not the abbreviation for “Number”). Kentucky was ranked No. 3. The band had five top 40 hits. 
  • Temperatures: Use figures, except zero. It was 8 degrees below zero or minus 8. The temperature dropped from 38 to 8 in two hours. 
  • Times: Use figures for time of day except for noon and midnight: 1 p.m., 10:30 a.m., 5 o’clock, 8 hours, 30 minutes, 20 seconds, a winning time of 2:17:3 (2 hours, 17 minutes, 3 seconds). Spell out numbers less than 10 standing alone and in modifiers: I’ll be there in five minutes. He scored with two seconds left. An eight-hour day. The two-minute warning. 

Spell out:

  • At the start of a sentence: In general, spell out numbers at the start of a sentence: forty years was a long time to wait. Fifteen to 20 cars were involved in the accident. An exception is years: 1992 was a very good year. Another exception: Numeral(s) and letter(s) combinations: 401(k) plans are offered. 4K TVs are flying off the shelves. 3D movies are drawing more fans. 
  • In indefinite and casual uses: Thanks a million. He walked a quarter of a mile. One at a time; a thousand clowns; one day we will know; an eleventh-hour decision; dollar store; a hundred dollars. 


  • If a sentence must contain incidental material, then commas or two dashes are frequently more effective. Use these alternatives whenever possible. There are occasions, however, when parentheses are the only effective means of inserting necessary background or reference information.  


  • Use the percent sign (%) when paired with a number: In 2011, Ohio University accepted about 85% of first-year applicants. But: 4 percentage points


  • Generally, omit periods in acronyms unless the result would spell an unrelated word. But use periods in most in most two-letter abbreviations: U.S., U.N., U.K., B.A., B.C. but not periods in GI, ID and EU, among others.  
  • In headlines, do not use periods in abbreviations, unless required for clarity. 
  • Use all caps, but no periods in longer abbreviations when the individual letters are pronounced: ABC, CIA, FBI

quotation marks 

  • Running quotations: If a full paragraph of quoted material is followed by a paragraph that continues that quotation, do not put close-quote marks at the end of the first paragraph. Do, however, put open-quote marks at the start of the second paragraph. Continue in this fashion for any succeeding paragraphs, using close-quote marks only at the end of the quoted material. If a paragraph does not start with quotation marks but ends with a quotation that is continued in the next paragraph, do not use close-quote marks at the end of the introductory paragraph if the quoted material constitutes a full sentence. Use close-quote marks at the end of the introductory paragraph if the quoted material constitutes a full sentence. Use close-quote marks, however, if the quoted material does not constitute a full sentence. For example: 

    He said, “I am shocked and horrified by the slaying. 
    “I am so horrified, in fact, that I will ask for the death penalty.” 
    But: He said he was “shocked and horrified by the slaying.” 
    “I am so horrified, in fact, that I will ask for the death penalty,” he said. 
  • Dialogue or conversation: Each person’s words, no matter how brief, are placed in a separate paragraph, with quotation marks at the beginning and the end of each person’s speech: 

    “Will you go?” 
  • Not in Q-and-A: Quotation marks are not required in formats that identify questions and answers by Q: and A: 
  • Irony: Put quotation marks around a word or words used in an ironical sense: The “debate” turned into a free-for-all. 
  • Unfamiliar terms: A word or words being introduced to readers may be placed in quotation marks on first reference: Broadcast frequencies are measured in “kilohertz.” Do not put subsequent references to kilohertz in quotation marks. 
  • Quotes within quotes: Alternate between double quotation marks (“or”) and single marks (‘or’): 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: “She said, “He told me, I love you.’” 


  • Lowercase spring, summer, fall and winter and derivatives such as springtime unless part of a formal name. 


  • The names of certain states and the United States are abbreviated with periods in some circumstances. Use two-letter Postal Service abbreviations only with full addresses, including ZIP code.  
  • State Abbreviations: Ala. (AL), Ariz. (AZ), Ark. (AR), Calif. (CA), Colo. (CO), Conn. (CT), Del. (DE), Fla. (FL), Ga. (GA), Ill. (IL), Ind. (IN), Kan. (KS), Ky. (KY), La. (LA), Md. (MD), Mass. (MA), Mich. (MI), Minn. (MN), Miss. (MS), Mo. (MO), Mont. (MT), Neb. (NE), Nev. (NV), N.H. (NH), N.J. (NJ), N.M. (NM), N.Y. (NY), N.C. (NC), N.D. (ND), Okla. (OK), Ore. (OR), Pa. (PA), R.I. (RI), S.C. (SC), S.D. (SD), Tenn. (TN), Vt. (VT), Va. (VA), Wash. (WA), W.Va. (WV), Wis. (WI), Wyo. (WY).  
  • The names of eight states are never abbreviated in datelines or text: Alaska, Hawaii, Idaho, Iowa, Main, Ohio, Texas and Utah. Their postal cards are as follows: AK (Alaska), HI (Hawaii), ID (Idaho), IA (Iowa), ME (Maine), OH (Ohio), TX (Texas) UT (Utah). Also: District of Columbia (DC). 

telephone numbers 

  • Use figures. The form: 212.621.1500. For international numbers 011 (from the United States), the country code, the city code and the telephone number: Use periods, not hyphens. 
  • The form for toll-free numbers: 800.111.1000
  • If extension numbers are needed, use a comma to separate the main number from the extension: 212.621.1500, ext. 2

time element 

  • Use the days of the week, not today or tonight, in news stories. 
  • Use Monday, Tuesday, etc. for days of the week within seven days before or after the current day. 
  • Avoid such redundancies as last Tuesday or next Tuesday. The past, present or future tense used for the verb usually provides adequate indication of which Tuesday is meant: He said he finished the job Tuesday. She will return Tuesday. 
  • Avoid awkward placements of the time element, particularly those that suggest the day of the week is the object of a transitive verb: The police jailed Tuesday. Potential remedies include the use of the word on, rephrasing the sentence, or placing the time element in a different sentence. 


  • Use figures except for noon and midnight. Use a colon to separate hours from minutes: 11 a.m., 1 p.m., 3:30 p.m., 9-11 a.m., 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.  
  • Avoid using such redundancies as 10 a.m. this morning, 10 p.m. tonight or 10 p.m. Monday night. Use 10 a.m. or 10 p.m. Monday, etc., as required by the norms in time element. 
  • Use hyphen to indicate time range, not an en dash. 
  • The construction of 4 o’clock is acceptable, but time listings with a.m. or p.m. are preferred. 


  • Abbreviate titles when used before a full name: Dr., Gov., Lt. Gov, Mr., Mrs., Rep., the Rev., Sen. and certain military designations.
  • Courtesy titles: In general, do not use courtesy titles except in direct quotations. When it is necessary to distinguish between two people who use the same last name, as in married couples or brothers and sisters, use the first and last name. 
  • Doctor:
    • Use Dr. in first reference as a formal title before the name of an individual who holds a doctorate of dental surgery, medicine, optometry, osteopathic medicine, podiatric medicine, or veterinary medicine: Dr. Jonas Salk. 
    • The form Dr. or Drs., in a plural construction applies to all first-reference uses before a name, including direct quotations.  
    • If appropriate in the context, Dr. also may be used on first reference before the names of individuals who hold other types of doctoral degrees. However, because the public frequently identifies Dr. only with physicians, care should be taken to ensure that the individual’s specialty is stated in first or second reference. The only exception would be a story in which the context left no doubt that the person was a dentist, psychologist, chemist, historian, etc. Alternately, it may be styled as a person’s name and D.O. or M.D., such as James Preston, D.O. Do not use both Dr. And D.O or M.D. in the same title. For instance, do not say Dr. Andrea Preston, M.D. 
    • In some instances, it also is necessary to specify that an individual identified as Dr. is a physician. One frequent case is a story reporting on joint research by physicians, biologists, etc. 
    • Do not use Dr. before the names of individuals who hold only honorary doctorates. 
    • Do not continue the use of Dr. in subsequent references. 
    • When someone is both a doctor, and holds a position in the university, style as such: Dr. Johnson, president of Ohio University.