Text Style Guide
(Updated August 2021)
To establish consistency and retain quality in the printed materials representing Salisbury University, the Public Relations and Publications offices follow The Associated Press Stylebook, with exceptions and elaborations spelled outlined in the following guide.
Please refer to this alphabetical guide when reviewing your text, if you have any style questions or if you do not understand edits that have been made to your publications.
All publications being distributed off campus must adhere to this style and be reviewed by the Publications Office.
See the SU Brand Writing Guide for information on how to write about the University within the context of the brand.
See the SU Inclusive and Affirming Language Guide for information on how to create and support an inclusive atmosphere through language.
This guide includes information adapted from University of Maryland Baltimore County’s Brand and Style Guide and Northwestern University’s Editorial Guidelines.
Use “a” before consonant sounds, “an” before vowel sounds. Note that use is determined according to the following word’s beginning sound, not first letter used.
Right: I am writing a historical novel.
Right: They have an $8 million budget.
Right: She has a master’s degree.
Right: He has an M.A.
Capitalize formal names of academic degrees. The area in which the degree is held remains lowercase, with the exception of proper nouns. Academic degree abbreviations always have periods between the letters; certifications and other acronyms do not (CPA, FNP, OURCA, PACE, etc.).
Formal degrees awarded by SU are as follows:
B.A. - Bachelor of Arts (in art, English, psychology, philosophy, economics, etc.)
B.A.S.W. - Bachelor of Arts in Social Work
B.F.A. - Bachelor of Fine Arts (in art)
B.S. - Bachelor of Science (in accounting, biology, mathematics, nursing, etc.)
D.N.P. - Doctor of Nursing Practice
Ed.D. - Doctor of Education
M.A. - Master of Arts (in English, psychology)
M.A.T. - Master of Arts in Teaching
M.B.A. - Master of Business Administration
M.Ed. - Master of Education (in education, public school administration)
M.S. - Master of Science (in nursing)
M.S.A.T. - Master of Science in Athletic Training
M.S.M.E. - Master of Science in Mathematics Education
M.S.W. - Master of Social Work
Right: She earned a Bachelor of Science in mathematics.
Right: He holds a Bachelor of Arts in English.
When referring to degrees in general, lowercase the first letter of the degree and use “‘s.”
Right: Seventy people hold master’s degrees.
Right: They all had doctoral degrees in engineering.
Right: He earned a bachelor’s degree in mathematics.
The word “degree” should not follow a degree abbreviation or formal title – it is redundant.
Wrong: He is working toward his Bachelor of Arts degree.
Right: She has a Bachelor of Arts.
In addition to the above SU degrees, please note that the associate degree is always singular and never possessive.
Right: She earned an associate degree from Chesapeake College.
Wrong: Her associate’s degree is in criminal justice.
The title Dr. may be used when the person holds an earned doctoral degree, either a Ph.D., Ed.D., D.V.M. or M.D. A Juris Doctorate (J.D.) is not considered a doctoral degree. Separate a long title from a name using commas.
Certification designations such as CPA and APR should be preceded by a comma and should be written in full caps with no periods.
Right: Dr. Dane Foust, vice president of student affairs, spoke on Sunday.
Right: The vice president of student affairs, Dr. Dane Foust, spoke on Sunday.
Right: Vice President of Student Affairs Dane Foust spoke on Sunday.
Wrong: Vice President of Student Affairs Dr. Dane Foust spoke on Sunday.
Capitalize Alma Mater when referring to Salisbury University; lower otherwise.
Use the word alumni when referring to a group of both genders. Use alumnus (alumni in the plural) when referring to a man who has attended a school; use alumna (alumnae in the plural) for similar references to a woman.
Capitalize Alumni Association.
All alumni of the university should be noted as such in university publications and websites. Only degrees earned at SU should be listed behind a person’s name.
List the graduate’s name followed by graduation year (Jan Jones ’90).
In the case of a graduate degree earned at SU, indicate M for a master’s degree of D for a doctoral degree, then the year of graduation (Jan Jones M’92).
In the case of multiple degrees earned from SU, list in order of earning and separate with commas (Jan Jones ’90, M’92).
When listing grad years, there are two preferred ways of writing the apostrophe before the numerals; this may depend on the type of font or word processing system you are using, or whether you’re publishing the information online. Use the guide below to maintain consistency across university publications:
Right: Jan Jones ’90
Right: Jan Jones '90
Wrong: Jan Jones ‘90
When including an address on a publication, please use the following format:
Building Name, Room Number (if appropriate)
1101 Camden Ave.
Salisbury, MD 21801
Spell out. In body text, don’t use the ampersand (&) except in company names as specified (Johnson & Johnson). The ampersand may be used in poster/brochure headlines/headers consistently if needed to conserve space.
Use between to show relationship between two objects; use among when more than two objects are involved.
Lowercase in general reference (The board of directors meet on Tuesday.). Capitalize when part of a proper noun (The SU Foundation Board of Directors meet on Tuesday.).
For the University System of Maryland Board of Regents, capitalize Board of Regents and Regent as a title before a name (The regents met on Tuesday. That is Regent John Jones.). Capitalize University System of Maryland and capitalize System in second reference.
Use the official name of campus facilities with capitals in formal communication. On second reference, if the name is partial, you may shorten the name with the appropriate designation. On second reference when you use no proper name, lowercase hall, center and building. In the case of buildings named for benefactors, be sure to include the benefactor’s name even when abbreviating.
Right: The Public Relations Office is located in Holloway Hall. The hall is the oldest building on campus.
Right: The lecture is in the Scarborough Student Leadership Center. The Scarborough Center is on the other side of Camden Avenue.
Following are the official names of some campus buildings/facilities:
- Alumni House
- Bellavance Honors Center
- Blackwell Hall
- Bosserman Center for Conflict Resolution
- Commons, not The Commons – If needing to differentiate it from the Guerrieri Academic Commons in text to avoid confusion, it can be referred to as the Commons dining hall (dining hall is not capitalized).
- Conway Hall (formerly TETC)
- Devilbiss Hall
- Dudley-Eshbach Center for International Education
- Guerrieri Academic Commons
- Guerrieri Student Union
- Gull’s Nest
- Henson Science Hall
- Holloway Hall
- Maggs Physical Activities Center – Maggs Gym is a location within Maggs Center, not the name of the facility.
- Patricia R. Guerrieri Academic Commons (shorten to Guerrieri Academic Commons)
- Perdue Hall (not Perdue School of Business – that is the unit housed in Perdue Hall)
- Philosophy House
- Rommel Center for Entrepreneurship
- Salisbury University Art Galleries
- Scarborough Student Leadership Center (shorten to Scarborough Center)
- Sea Gull Square
- Sea Gull Stadium
- SU Downtown
- SU Foundation Center
- Tennis Facility
- University Gallery, Fulton Hall (not Fulton Hall Gallery)
- University House (formerly President’s Residence)
Not campus wide. Also citywide, countywide, nationwide, statewide, systemwide, worldwide, but university-wide.
Child care, day care and health care are all two words unless part of the official name of an organization.
Catalog, Not Catalogue
Use lowercase when you refer to courses and classes in general; capitalize when it is the official name of a class.
Right: I had an industrial arts class and a math class.
Right: I took Introduction to Human Communication Studies.
Use course acronyms when the discipline they represent is evident; if not, spell out.
Right: I took ENGL 103 to fulfill my English requirement.
Right: Communication 101 is a favorite course of mine
Do not hyphenate the words “coeducational” or “cooperative” unless you abbreviate them; the word “co-ed” is not to be used in any press release.
SU follows the Associated Press style and does not use the serial – or Oxford – comma before the last item in a simple series. For complex sentences with “and”s within the series, the serial comma is used and commas are placed after each item for clarity.
Right: SU faculty, staff and students support the University’s mission.
Wrong: SU faculty, staff, and students support the University’s mission.
Right: The core values of SU are excellence, student centeredness, learning, community, civic engagement, and diversity and inclusion.
Capitalize names of specific committees and lowercase second references.
Right: The Space Committee will meet next Thursday. The committee plans to meet on Thursdays on a regular basis.
Not course work.
Courtesy Titles (Mr., Mrs., Ms., Miss)
Do not put a courtesy title before a person’s name if a degree title follows it.
Mr., Mrs., Ms. and Miss are generally not used and are not an equivalent to Dr. when listing individuals.
It may be appropriate to include the courtesy title on a name tag at an event (usually with students/families) where distinguishing between those holding academic titles and those not is helpful for guests.
When referring to the names of a couple, do not use Mr. and Mrs. John Smith; do use John and Joyce Smith, unless Mr. and Mrs. is preferred by the persons involved.
Do not use the word “on” with dates. To describe sequences or inclusive dates or times use hyphen (-) for the word “to.” The month and day are always spelled out. Always include the day of the week and include the year on posters and other documents that it would be helpful as a reference to know when it was published. Do not use suffixes after a date; it is a verbal convention, not written.
Wrong: the program ends on December 15, 1996.
Right: The program ends Tuesday, December 15, 1996.
Right: The program ends in December 1996. (no comma between month and year)
Wrong: Apply here May 7 to 9, 8 a.m. to 10 a.m.
Right: Apply here May 7-9, 8-10 a.m.
Right: Apply here May 7-9, 8 a.m.-4 p.m.
Right: Class starts Tuesday, September 7.
Wrong: Class starts Tuesday, September 7th.
Academic areas are referred to as departments.
Administrative areas are referred to as offices.
There are three exceptions to this rule: Department of Intercollegiate Athletics, which may be shortened to the Athletics Department; the Department of Horticulture, or Horticulture Department; and the Department of Information Technology, or Information Technology Department.
Capitalize the name and the words “department,” “office,” “college” and “school” only when they appear in the form of the official divisional names such as “School of Education,” “Department of Secondary Education,” “Maggs Physical Activities Center.”
Right: The English Department.
Right: The Publications Office.
Right: The University consists of four academic schools and two colleges, one of which is the Richard A. Henson School of Science and Technology.
Right: The Accounting Department is in the Perdue School of Business. The department is housed in Perdue Hall.
Right: The Registrar’s and Public Relations offices are across from one another. I need to see someone in the Public Relations Office.
Lowercase “e,” without hyphen: email.
Emeritus is an honorary rank bestowed on some retired University faculty. A faculty member who retires from the University does not automatically earn emeritus rank; it must be given by the President and Provost offices. Emeritus and emeriti are the preferred singular and plural terms of professors of any gender. The feminine term emerita may be used given the context of the publication or the preference of the subject (for example, President Emerita Janet Dudley-Eshbach).
Ensure means to guarantee; insure means to establish a contract for insurance of some type.
Entitled means one has the right to something, as in, “She is entitled to the inheritance.” Use titled to introduce the name of a publication, musical composition, etc.
SU faculty ranks include professor (not full professor), associate professor, assistant professor. Additional faculty designations include lecturer, instructor, professor of practice, etc. When a faculty member does not hold a doctorate, it is not appropriate to refer to them as “Professor” in writing as a substitute for Dr., as professor is the highest rank earned at the University.
Right: Dr. Jane Doe and Joe Jones teach that class.
Wrong: Dr. Jane Doe and Professor Joe Jones teach that class.
An event has to happen a second time to actually be an annual event, so saying “first annual” is incorrect. Instead use “inaugural” to indicate it is the first of a series that is planned on being repeated.
Right: The inaugural Student Fun Run is Saturday.
Wrong: We went to the First Annual Student Fun Run last week.
Always capitalize General Education in reference to SU’s core courses.
Right: She completed her General Education requirements last spring.
Abbreviation for grade point average; capitalize with no periods. It is acceptable to abbreviate in all references.
Lowercase and italicize cum laude, magna cum laude and summa cum laude. Do not capitalize “honors” when referring to programs in the University’s Clarke Honors College.
Lowercase, with the exception of proper nouns.
Right: I major in accounting.
Wrong: I am an Accounting major.
Right: I major in Spanish.
Use the dollar sign and numbers for amounts including and over $1 (“a dollar” is acceptable in casual discourse). Use the numeral and the word “cents” for amounts less than $1. Do not use a decimal and two zeros.
Right: 9 cents
For dollar amounts beyond thousands, use the dollar sign, number and appropriate word.
Wrong: The grant was $21,500,000.
Right: The grant was $21.5 million.
Use first and last name on first reference. Second and subsequent references generally use last names only. When the copy concerns two or more persons with the same last name, use full names on second reference.
Lowercase titles unless they precede a name, making it part of the proper noun.
If a suffix follows a name (Jr., Sr., III, etc.) do not put a comma before it.
Right: Bob Smith Jr.
Wrong: Bob Smith, Jr.
Spell out whole numbers one through nine, use figures for 10 and above. Use figures for dimensions, percentages, ages, distances, sports statistics and computer storage capacities. Always spell out grade levels and numbers used at the beginning of sentences. Ordinals (ninth, 10th) follow the same rules.
Right: nine students
Right: 17 offices
Right: His son is 9 years old.
Right: Seventeen students are enrolled in the class.
Right: He’s the ninth president of SU.
Office of Undergraduate Research and Creative Activity
“Activity” is singular in this name.
On Campus, On-Campus
Use on-campus when you describe things (adjective); use on campus when you show where you something is located (adverb).
Right: Students live in on-campus housing.
Right: I will live on campus.
Right: On- and off-campus housing are available.
In all text, write percentages with the numeral and % symbol
Right: He attended 90% of the classes.
Consider the area code part of the phone number; do not put the area code in parentheses. Use hyphens between the sections of the number.
If more than one extension is included use a shilling (/) between the numbers.
Not play offs.
Not pre-season (post-season).
Use capitals when referring to an area as a region but lowercase when referring to a geographical location.
Capitalize Eastern Shore and Lower Shore. Capitalize Shore in second reference.
Capitalize Delmarva Peninsula, but lowercase peninsula in second reference.
Right: SU is located on the Eastern Shore.
Right: The Eastern Shore is located on the Delmarva Peninsula. The peninsula is a summer haven for beachgoers.
Right: Salisbury University is located on the Lower Shore.
Always use the full name – Salisbury University – on first reference. Subsequently, you can use “SU” or “the University.” University is capitalized when it used in the place of the name Salisbury University. Salisbury University should always appear together on a line of text; avoid breaking between lines.
Two words, each capitalized for SU’s mascot; not Seagulls nor seagulls.
Seasons are not capitalized, even when they refer to an academic term (I’m living on campus next spring semester.).
Capitalize the word “state” or “federal” only when contained in the formal name of a corporate or governmental body. Lowercase when used as an adjective to distinguish something from state, county, city, town or private entities.
Right: our state universities.
Right: the federal loans.
Right: I live in the state of Maryland and I work for the State of Maryland.
State may be capitalized in reference to Maryland in official reports for the State.
Spell out state names when used alone. When used with a city, abbreviate state names, using standard postal codes and set off with commas.
Right: Maryland is a wonderful state.
Right: I hope to visit Baltimore, MD, soon.
Wrong: I hope to visit Baltimore, Maryland, soon.
Wrong: I hope to visit Baltimore, MD soon.
Do not capitalize freshman, sophomore, junior or senior except as a class designation with the word “Class.”
Right: The Senior Class sponsored the exhibit.
Right: He is a senior communication major.
Freshman is singular, freshmen is plural; however, only freshman is used as the adjective form.
Right: The freshman class met with several key sophomores.
Right: Freshman residence halls.
Right: Freshmen at Salisbury University.
When writing a time that falls on the hour, do not use :00. Simply state the hour with a.m. or p.m. (set in lowercase with no space around the periods).
Use “o’clock” only under formal circumstances such as wedding invitations.
Wrong: The concert begins at 8:00 p.m.
Right: The concert begins at 8 p.m.
For 12 a.m. and 12 p.m. use midnight and noon, respectively.
Right: The morning session will end at noon.
Use “past” when referring to time.
Wrong: In years passed.
Right: In years past.
The titles of books, magazines, newspapers, movies, musical compositions, plays, artworks and TV/radio programs should be in italics; articles and essays, short stories, chapters, songs or parts of compositions, sections of periodicals and poems should be in quotes. For classical music titles, use quotation marks around the composition’s nicknames, but not for compositions identified by sequence. No underlines are to be used in any case.
Right: Dvorak’s “New World Symphony.”
Right: Dvorak’s Symphony No. 9.
Capitalize University in all references to SU.
Right: The University consists of four schools and two colleges.
Right: He attends a university in Mississippi.
One word, no capitalization: website.