Use the following wording guidelines to maintain consistency and clarity in communications, following best practices.
Academic Degrees and NamesUse abbreviations such as Ph.D. or Ed.D. only after a full name, never after just a last name. Abbreviate 'Jr.' and 'Sr.' in names with a period after and no comma before.
Do not include non-doctoral degrees like B.A. or M.A. or use 'Dr.' for an academic degree.Titles should follow the name, set off with commas:
On second reference to a person with any degree, use last name only. Capitalize titles when preceding names, but not when listed as a position:
Use an apostrophe in bachelor’s degree and master’s degree, but not in master of science, etc.Do not capitalize areas of study, except languages: B.A. in philosophy, B.A.s in English and Spanish
Acronyms Avoid using unfamiliar acronyms, jargon, or insider terminology.Clarify acronyms in parentheses on first reference; do not use acronyms unless there are multiple references.
Capitalize acronyms, and only use periods in academic degrees (user ID not userid; PDF not Pdf or P.D.F.). Pluralize acronyms with an 's' and no apostrophe (DVDs, ATMs, ATVs). Do not follow acronyms with words that are part of the acronym (PIN not PIN number).
Alumni, Alumnus, Alumna, Alumnae Use 'alumni' to refer to graduates from a specific institution ('alumnus' for a male and 'alumna' for a female). For plurals, use 'alumni' unless all are females, in which case 'alumnae' is preferred.
Use an abbreviated phrasing for graduation years (John Doe ’87 or John Doe, Ph.D., ’87 G’94 not John Doe 1987).Use prospective year of graduation for current students (John Doe ’16).
Apostrophes Use apostrophes for:
Do not use apostrophes for plurals (the 1800s, CDs, RAs, bananas).
CapitalizationCapitalize terms when referring to the College or its facilities specifically, but not in general reference:
Capitalize and italicize Justice Matters and Education of the Heart as official titles for the core curriculum and mission of Cabrini College.
Capitalize names of specific offices (the Financial Aid Office, the Admissions Office).Capitalize acronyms and brand names (AIDS, PDF, HTML, FBI, FedEx, Xerox, Scrabble, Frisbee). Capitalize terms with an initial letter and hyphen (T-shirt, X-ray, U-turn).
Capitalize names of languages, nationalities, and ethnicities (English, American, Arab, Latino, Navajo). Capitalize religions, specific deities, ceremonies, and sacred books (God, Allah, Judaism, Mass, the Koran).
Capitalize holidays and special events (Christmas, Cabrini Day, Easter, Alumni Weekend, Yom Kippur, Diwali). Capitalize days, months, time periods, and events (Tuesday, April, the Renaissance, the Great Depression).
Capitalize specific courses, but not general coursework (Math 113, British Literature, an accounting class). Capitalize specific locations, but not general directions (the Middle East, south of the border).
Do not capitalize seasons (fall semester) or the words internet, email, or website. Only capitalize the word 'the' to begin a sentence or if part of an official name of a publication.
Cities and StatesFor all U.S. cities, list the city and state abbreviation (Kansas City, Mo. and Kansas City, Kan.). Spell out Alaska, Hawai`i, Idaho, Iowa, Maine, Ohio, Texas, and Utah.
Do not include the state for Atlanta, Baltimore, Boston, Chicago, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Dallas, Denver, Detroit, Honolulu, Houston, Indianapolis, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Miami, Milwaukee, Minneapolis, New Orleans, New York, Oklahoma City, Philadelphia, Phoenix, Pittsburgh, St. Louis, Salt Lake City, San Antonio, San Diego, San Francisco, Seattle, or Washington.
Class YearsCapitalize "Class of..." but not words like sophomore and junior.To refer to students, use:
Use a G for graduate students, an HON for honorary degrees, and a P for parents of Cabrini students:
CommasFor a list of three or more items, include a comma before 'and' or 'or' to avoid confusion with an appositive:
Use a comma to introduce direct quotations (He said, “It can’t happen!”). Use a comma in numbers more than one thousand ($1,000 not $1000). Use a comma after 'etc.' except when ending the sentence.
Do not surround 'Jr.', 'Sr.', or 'III' in names with commas.Do not use a comma between a season or month and a year (January 2013 started the spring 2013 semester).
HyphensHyphenate phrases acting as adjectives (study-abroad program, first-year students, state-of-the-art TV).Do not hyphenate 'very' or words ending in 'ly' (brightly colored shirt, very late dinner).
Use suspensive hyphens (a 12- to 15-year project, on- and off-campus students). Use a hyphen with the prefix 'self-' or 'co-' (self-sustaining, co-sponsor).
Do not hyphenate ethnicity terms (Native Americans, African American students, Irish American organizations). Do not hyphenate the words email, fundraising, nonprofit, website, homepage, database, or online.
Inclusive, Person-First LanguageAvoid descriptions of ethnicity, age, ability, sexual orientation, marital status, gender, etc., when not relevant. Avoid outdated terms (sexual preference, colored, crippled, retarded, handicapped, hermaphrodite). When possible, use terms preferred by the person or group of people concerned.
Use gender-neutral terms (chair or police officer not chairwoman or policeman). Avoid gender-specific pronouns in uncertain situations:
Use language that focuses on the person first (people with schizophrenia not schizophrenics). Avoid generalizing terms for groups (people who are disabled not the disabled).
Avoid using the term 'normal' to refer to people without disabilities.Avoid negative, exaggerated terms:
Avoid using visual layout descriptions in references:
Numbers Spell out 'one' through 'nine', and use numerals for '10' or more. Spell out 'first' through 'ninth', and use numerals for '10th' or more. Use numerals without endings like 'th' or 'rd' in times and dates.
Spell out numbers if beginning the sentence (Eleven days later, she had returned).Spell out generalized numbers (a million, thousands, a hundred times).
Use numerals for ages, dollar amounts, and centuries (She is 49, 5-year-old twins, $30, 16th Century art). Use numerals and denominations for very large numbers (2.75 million).
Phone Numbers List the full phone number with hyphens and no parentheses:
PluralsPluralize acronyms with an 's' and no apostrophe (PDFs, SATs, ABCs, CEOs). Pluralize individual letters or numbers with an apostrophe and 's' (C’s on my report card).
Pluralize the noun in complex phrases (brothers-in-law, trustees emerita, attorneys general, passers-by). Do not pluralize terms that are already plural (deer, halibut, corn, series, sheep, species, scissors, hors d’oeuvres).
Use plural verbs with plural nouns, including irregular plurals (curricula were available, syllabi are offered).
Special Characters and StylesDo not use the @ symbol in place of 'at' except in email addresses. Do not use the & symbol in place of 'and' in sentences. Do not use the ~ symbol in place of a hyphen or / symbol in place of 'and' or 'or'.
Spell out 'degrees,' 'percent,' 'cents,' 'feet,' and 'inches,' instead of using °, %, ¢, ', or " symbols. Do not use superscripted text for 'th', 'nd', 'st', or 'rd' after a number.
For dollar amounts greater than 99 cents, use a dollar sign and numeral: $10 For round-number dollar amounts, do not include zeros: $7 not $7.00
Use special letter characters (é in café, ñ in quinceañera, ` in Hawai`i, or ä in Häagen-Dazs). Use only one space between sentences and only one exclamation point.
Use asterisks*, daggers†, and double-daggers‡ only for footnotes, appearing after the word and any punctuation, annotated at the bottom of the page, not for emphasis or formatting.
Do not use "http://" or specific page locations like "index.html" in websites, unless necessary. Do not use a colon before websites or emails or wrap them with special characters:
Italicize the names of publications (The Philadelphia Inquirer, The Washington Post). For online text, do not underline for emphasis; reserve underlines for hyperlinks.
Times and Dates Format dates as month/date/year (Oct. 15, 2015, not 15 Oct. 2015). Use 'a.m.' or 'p.m.' in lowercase with periods and a space before.
Do not include ':00' in times or repeat a.m. or p.m. for a time range:
For time spans, use either 'from' and 'to' or a dash, but not both:
Do not use 'o’clock' except in quoted material or special contexts, such as formal invitations.Do not include 'th', 'nd', 'st', or 'rd' after a date (Oct. 15 not Oct. 15th).
When used with a date, abbreviate all months except March, April, May, June, and July.Do not abbreviate months if not followed by a date (the month of August not the month of Aug.)
Spell out the full month with no comma when written alone or with a year alone.Set off dates and years with commas:
D-Day happened on Tuesday, June 6, 1944, at Normandy.
accept / exceptUse 'accept' with an 'a' as a verb meaning 'to take.' Use 'except' with an 'e' as a preposition meaning 'other than.'
advice / advise / informUse 'advice' as a noun and 'advise' as a verb. Unless actually offering advice, use 'inform.'
a lot / allotSpell 'a lot' as two words; 'alot' is not a word. Use 'allot' as a verb meaning 'to distribute.'
a part / apartSpell 'a part' as two words to mean 'a piece of something.' Spell 'apart' as one word to mean 'separated.'
anxious / eagerUse 'anxious' to imply anxiety and a negative feeling. Use 'eager' for a positive feeling.
beside / besidesUse 'beside' to mean 'next to' and 'besides' to mean except or also.
between / among Use 'between' for two things and 'among' for three or more.
breath / breatheUse 'breath' as a noun and 'breathe' with an 'e' as a verb.
complement / complimentUse 'complement' and 'complementary' with an 'e' for things that match or go together well.Use 'compliment' and 'complimentary' with an 'i' for praise or flattering comments.Use 'complimentary' with an 'i' for things that are free of charge.
conscience / consciousUse 'concsience' and 'conscientious' to mean 'a sense of right and wrong.'Use 'conscious' and 'consciousness' to mean 'aware or deliberate.'
dessert / desertUse 'dessert' with a double 's' for an after-dinner meal or delicious food. Use 'desert' with one 's' for a dry location or as a verb meaning 'to abandon' (as in an empty desert).The phrase 'just deserts' (that which is justly deserved) has one 's.'
different from / different thanUse 'different from' instead of 'different than.' Use 'than' only for comparatives like 'bigger than' or 'stronger than.'
effect / affect Use 'effect' with an 'e' as a noun and 'affect' with an 'a' as a verb, with the following exceptions:
e.g. / i.e.Use 'e.g.,' before a list of examples and 'i.e.,' before a clarification or restatement. Italicize 'e.g.,' and 'i.e.,' and follow with a comma.
ensure / insureUse 'insure' with an 'i' only in relation to insurance.
farther / further Use 'farther' for physical distance and 'further' for time, amount, or intensity.
good / wellUse 'good' as an adjective and 'well' as an adverb (a good dog that hunts well).In usage meaning 'healthy' or 'fine,' both 'to feel well' and 'to feel good' are acceptable.
hers / hisDo not put an apostrophe in the words 'hers' or 'his' (This jackets is hers, but the hat is his).
historic / historicalUse 'historic' to imply importance and 'historical' for things related to history or time.
if / whetherUse 'whether' when talking about options or choices (I can't decide whether I want pizza or tacos). Use 'if' when talking about possibility (If I'm thirsty, I'll drink some water).
in / duringUse 'in' for physical proximity and 'during' for time (during the 80s).
it’s / itsUse 'it’s' with an apostrophe to mean 'it is' (It’s a terrible shame about your car). Use 'its' without an apostrophe as a possessive (Its hood is dented).
lay / lieUse 'lay' when a noun follows (Chickens lay eggs) and 'lie' in the expression 'to lie down.'In the past tense, 'lay' becomes 'laid' (also spelled 'layed') and 'lie down' becomes 'lay down' or 'had lain down.'
less / fewerUse 'fewer' for items that can be counted individually (fewer coins, less money).
many / muchUse 'many' for items that can be counted individually (many storms, much damage).
may / mightUse 'may' for permission and 'might' for possibility.
media / mediumsUse 'media' as the plural of 'medium' and with a plural verb, except in the expression 'the media.' Use 'mediums' to mean medium-sized objects or psychic fortune-tellers.
more / higher / above / overReplace 'higher,' 'above,' 'over,' and other physical descriptions with 'more' for amounts.
of / haveUse 'have' and not 'of' in phrases like 'must have' or 'should have' (You could have been great not 'could of').
on / aboutUse 'on' for physical proximity and 'about' to mean 'concerning' or 'related to.'
once / whenReplace 'once' with 'when' if not meaning 'one time' (when you arrive not 'once you arrive').
principle / principalUse 'principle' with an 'le' as a noun to mean 'a law or standard.'Use 'principal' with an 'al' as an adjective to mean 'important' or as a noun (principal of my school).
since / becauseUse 'since' to mean a timeframe and 'because' to mean cause and effect.
then / thanUse 'than' for comparatives only (more than, better than, I’d rather do this than that).
there / they’re / theirUse 'they’re' with an apostrophe to mean 'they are.' Use 'their' as a possessive (their house).
there’s / theirsUse 'there’s' with an apostrophe to mean 'there is.' Use 'theirs' as a plural possessive (it is theirs).
thru / throughUse 'through' instead of 'thru' in formal writing.
which / that / who
who’s / whoseUse 'who’s' with an apostrophe to mean 'who is' (Who’s the boss?).Use 'whose' without an apostrophe as a possessive (Whose child is this? Whose line is it?).
you’re / yourUse 'you’re' to mean 'you are' and 'your' as a possessive (You’re wearing your new hat).
yours / oursDo not use an apostrophe in 'yours' or 'ours' as possessives (They’re all yours; these are ours).
For all other general guidance in grammar and spelling, refer to Associated Press (AP) style. For more information and the AP Stylebook, visit www.apstylebook.com.