College Writing Style Guide

The purpose of a style guide is to provide editorial guidance for individuals producing college-related text, for print or the Web, particularly in instances when Empire State College has determined a style specific to the institution.

The college follows the Associated Press Stylebook as the first reference, which defaults to Webster's "New World College Dictionary."

Contents

| A | B | C | D | E | F | GH | I | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | Y |

A

a | an

Use "a" before consonant sounds:

  • a historic event
  • a one-year term (sounds as if it begins with a"w")
  • a united stand (sounds like "you").

Use "an" before vowel sounds:

  • an energy crisis
  • an honorable man (the "h" is silent)
  • an MBA degree (sounds like "em").

academic degrees

Capitalize the name of the field or degree program only when the full degree name is spelled out and the discipline is included. If abbreviating a degree, the discipline should be lowercase.

The word “degree” should not follow a degree abbreviation.

Correct

He has a B.A. in historical studies.

Do not use an apostrophe with associate degree.

Correct

She has an associate degree in cultural studies. (Do not capitalize subject area with this informal reference.)

She has an Associate of Arts in Cultural Studies. (Capitalize subject area with formal reference to degree.)

Use an apostrophe in bachelor's degree. Do not use an apostrophe with Bachelor of Art, Bachelor of Professional Studies or Bachelor of Science.

Note: Overseas, the term “baccalaureate degree” is the equivalent of a secondary-school diploma. Use the term “bachelor’s degree” whenever possible.

Correct

She has a Bachelor of Science in Human Development. (Capitalize subject area with a formal reference to the degree.)

He earned a bachelor’s degree in science, mathematics and technology. (Do not capitalize subject area with this informal reference.)

Use an apostrophe in master's degree. Do not use an apostrophe with Master of Arts, Master of Science, Master of Business Administration or Master of Arts in Teaching.

Correct

He has a Master of Arts in Liberal Studies. (Capitalize subject area with formal reference to degree.)

She earned a master’s degree in liberal studies. (Do not capitalize subject area with this informal reference.)

Doctorate and doctoral degree never take an apostrophe.

Correct

She has a Ph.D. in chemistry.

He received his doctorate in chemistry.

Also see graduate degrees and undergraduate degrees.

academic degree abbreviations always with periods

A.A.
A.S.
A.A.S.
B.A
B.S.
B.P.S.
M.A.
M.S.
M.A.L.S.

academic degree abbreviations without periods

BSN
MAT
MAAL
MBA
MSN

For the sake of consistency, use periods for all degree abbreviations when listed together (such as in the catalog).

acronyms at ESC

See Empire State College brand.

address

See mailing address.

alumni

Identify a graduate of Empire State College as either an alumnus (male) or an alumna (female).

AP style uses the plural, alumni, for all-male groups and for groups of men and women.

Empire State College uses alumni as the plural for all graduates.

Class years should appear after a graduate’s name in first references in publications. The form this should take is an apostrophe before the year.

There is not a comma between the name and the apostrophe. If there are two graduating years, there is a comma between them.

Correct

SUNY Empire State College alumni Erin Hamlin ’11 and Ashley Caldwell ’14 were guests at the White House.

Alumna Erin Hamlin ’11 was the first American in U.S. Olympic history to win a medal — she took the bronze — in luge singles competition.

John Smith ’96, ’02 will be the guest speaker at the residency.

American ethnicity

Always capitalize. Use a hyphen to designate dual heritage. When possible, refer to a person’s country of origin, rather than region. For example, Filipino-American or Italian-American.

Correct

Native American — acceptable for those in the U.S. Where possible, use the name of the tribe instead.

African-American

Asian-American

Caribbean-American

Mexican-American

and | &

Avoid using the "&" and spell out "and."

Do not use an ampersand except in proper names and brand names: AT&T Inc., Field & Stream (magazine), Ben & Jerry's Chunky Monkey.

audiovisual

(adj.) designed to aid in learning or teaching by making use of both hearing and sight

audiovisuals

(n.) audiovisual teaching materials

award

Capitalize "award" only when it is part of the official name of an award.

Correct

The inaugural Award for Excellence in Environmental Sustainability was presented to Albert A. Stirpe Jr.

"Receiving SUNY Empire State College's inaugural award is a great honor," said Stirpe.

B

baccalaureate

Overseas, the term “baccalaureate degree” is the equivalent of a secondary-school diploma. Use the term “bachelor’s degree” whenever possible.

Also see academic degrees.

book titles

See composition titles.

brand

See Empire State College brand.

bulleted list

See lists.

C

cellphone

one word (no hyphen)

centers

As part of transitioning to "one college" language, do not use centers or units when referring to one of the 35 locations across New York where the college has a presence. For example, instead of the Niagara Frontier Center, use Empire State College at Cheektowaga.

Correct

Empire State College at Latham

Empire State College at Fort Drum.

certificates

Advanced certificates are offered by the School for Graduate Studies.

Reserve the term "graduate certificate" for internal use only.

Certificate is used for certificates at the undergraduate level. Associate and bachelor's degree program plans may include a certificate.

Correct

business and environmental sustainability certificate

Certificate in Business and Environmental Sustainability

innovation and technology transfer advanced certificate

Advanced Certificate in Innovation and Technology Transfer

chairman | chairwoman

Capitalize as a formal title before a name.

Do not use chairperson, chair or co-chair unless it is an organization's formal title for an office.

Also see college titles.

Correct

Chairman John Smith

committee Chairwoman Mary Jones

check in | check-in

Use "check in" as a verb. Hyphenate when the term is used as a noun or an adjective.

Correct

When you check in at the residency information desk, you will find the necessary check-in materials for the supplementary sessions.

check out | checkout

Use check out as two words when used as a verb. Use checkout as one word when used as a noun or attributive noun.

Correct

Checkout is at 11 a.m.

Please check out early if you plan on listening to the luncheon speaker.

class

In prose, do not capitalize, even when referring to specific classes.

Correct

class of 1999

class of ’99

50th reunion class

college

Do not capitalize the word "college" without a specific name.

Also see Empire State College brand.

Correct

SUNY Empire State College's dedicated faculty and staff use innovative, alternative and flexible approaches to higher education.

The college is committed to critical reflective inquiry.

Vision 2015 is the college's strategic plan.

college brand

See Empire State College brand and acronyms.

college titles — administrative, faculty and staff

Capitalize a person’s title, if used, before the name. 

Correct

Dean Thomas Mackey

For more information, contact Master of Arts in Adult Learning Coordinator Dianne Ramdeholl.

Vice President for External Affairs Hugh Hammett

Do not capitalize titles when listed after a name.

Correct

Merodie Hancock, president

Desiree Drindak, academic development coordinator

Do not capitalize titles that do not include a name.

Correct

Susan McFadden is special events coordinator in the Office of Communications and Government Relations.

For more information, contact the appropriate dean or academic coordinator.

Professor, associate professor, assistant professor, mentor, instructor and other titles are not capitalized unless used before a name.

Correct

Dean Michael Merrill will lead the committee.

Michael Merrill, dean, will chair the committee.

She was promoted from associate professor to professor in 2002.

Also see chairman, chairwoman, commas and titles and individual references.

collegewide

one word (no hyphen)

commas

A hallmark of AP style is the omission of the comma before the conjunction in a simple series. Although that rule strays from the one taught in English composition classes, it is done intentionally to achieve brevity and clear communication.

Omitting the comma in a simple series is the preferred guideline for Empire State College communications such as periodicals, websites, brochures and other marketing materials, including advertisements, posters and direct mail pieces and for news releases, Exchange, etc.

Put a comma before the concluding conjunction in a series, however, if an integral element of the series requires a conjunction.

Use a comma before the concluding conjunction in a complex series of phrases.

Correct

business, management and economics

I had orange juice, toast, and ham and eggs for breakfast.

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.

Academic journals and other more formal documents might require the use of the serial comma. It is acceptable to do so in those instances when using AP style would be inappropriate.

Whichever style you follow, be sure to be consistent throughout your publication, document or suite of documents.

commas and periods with quotation marks

Always place commas (and periods) inside quotation marks, but always place commas outside quotation marks prior to the quote.

Correct

“I am astounded,” Maureen Winney said.

Maureen Winney said, “I am astounded.”

commas and titles

Use commas to set off an identification or title following a name.

Also see college titles.

Correct

Mary Caroline Powers, vice president for communications and government relations, convened the meeting.

committee, council and panel names

Capitalize names of specific committees, councils and panels. When not using the full name of the group, write the word in lowercase letters.

Correct

The Faculty Senate Steering Committee is seeking new members.

The steering committee is seeking new members.

Commons or the Commons

The Commons is a Web-publishing environment for the Empire State College community sponsored by the Office of Integrated Technologies.

Unless starting a sentence,  only capitalize Commons and not "the."

composition titles

Apply the guidelines listed here to book titles, computer game titles, movie titles, opera titles, play titles, poem titles, album and song titles, radio and television program titles, and the titles of lectures, speeches and works of art.

  • Capitalize the principal words, including prepositions and conjunctions of four or more letters.
  • Capitalize an article — the, a, an — or words of fewer than four letters if it is the first or last word in a title.
  • Put quotation marks around the names of all such works except the Bible and books that are primarily catalogs of reference material. In addition to catalogs, this category includes almanacs, directories, dictionaries, encyclopedias, gazetteers, handbooks and similar publications. Do not use quotation marks around such software titles as WordPerfect or Windows.

Also see magazine names and newspaper names.

copy tone and personality

The tone of Empire State College should be confident, positive and upbeat. We do not talk down to our audience — they are intelligent, motivated individuals. Nor do we need to be humble or unassuming — we are a high-quality institution, providing a truly unique service and filling a critical need for our nontraditional students.

Also see voice.

course names

See study or course names.

course work

two words (not coursework)

courtesy titles

See individual references.

credits | credit hours

Use numerals to refer to credits.

Correct

4 credits

Nondegree students are limited to no more than three graduate courses (up to 9 credit hours) of study.

D

dashes

Use an em dash ( — ) to set apart a parenthetical phrase or clauses in a sentence. Also use dashes to denote an abrupt change in thought in a sentence or an emphatic pause.

Correct

Erin Hamlin was the first American in U.S. Olympic history to win a medal — she took the bronze — in luge singles competition.

Such learning — gained from experiences outside the college and university environment — often merits academic credit, but is not always granted across institutions.

We will attend the conference in August — if the funding is approved.

Use a dash before an author's or composer's name at the end of a quotation.

Correct

"Education is a seamless web: one level of learning relates to every other." — Ernest L. Boyer Sr.

Do not use multiple hyphens(  -- ) to represent a dash. To insert dashes into text, use the symbols or custom character menu in word processing software (such as Word) or HTML WYSIWYG editor for online writing.

Put a space on both sides of a dash. This is AP style.

Also see hyphens.

dates

Numbers in dates should be cardinal.

Do not use ordinal numbers (1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, on so forth).

Correct

Submit applications by May 1.

Sept. 12 is the first day of the fall term.

Fall term ended on Dec. 23, 2011.

Also see months, numbers - cardinal and numbers - ordinal.

days and time

When listing days and times, the time is given first, then the day and date followed by the location.

Correct

A reception will take place from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m., Saturday, Jan. 19, in the lobby of 2 Union Ave., Saratoga Spring, N.Y.

See also time.

decimals

See numbers - decimals and fractions.

degrees

See academic degrees, academic degree abbreviations, graduate degrees and undergraduate degrees.

directions

See regions.

drop-down

one word (with hyphen)

dropbox

one word (no hyphen)

E

e.g. (never eg)

The abbreviation for the Latin "exempli gratia" (meaning "for example)"is always followed by a comma.

ellipse

In general, treat an ellipse ( ... ) as a three-letter word with a space before and after.

Use an ellipse to show the deletion of one or more words.

email

one word (no hyphen)

emeriti

Identify retired faculty and staff in the following manner:

Emerita: feminine singular

Emeritae: feminine plural

Emeritus: masculine singular

Emeriti: masculine plural or masculine and feminine plural.

Correct

Mentor Emeritus Thomas Dehner

Karen Pass, mentor emerita

Empire State College brand and acronyms

The "Associated Press Stylebook" cautions the avoidance of acronyms that would not quickly be recognized by a reader. There are many acronyms commonly used at Empire State College.

Do not begin a sentence with an acronym — spell out the name.

SUNY

Empire State College is part of the State University of New York system or SUNY.

Empire State College

Use SUNY Empire State College, for internal and external audiences, the first time the college is mentioned.

When referring generically to the college, use all lowercase.

Example: The college offers undergraduate degrees and certificates.

Empire State College and ESC are acceptable for subsequent copy.

Committees, Offices and Programs

The first time you mention the office, committee or program, include the name and acronym.

Example: Office of Communications and Government Relations (OCGR)

The acronym alone is sufficient for subsequent references

Schools

SUNY Empire State College School for Graduate Studies

SUNY Empire State College School for Graduate Studies or School for Graduate Studies at SUNY Empire State College are both acceptable for first mention.

For external audiences, maintain a more formal tone and use School for Graduate Studies or graduate school.

Reserve terms such as "grad studies" or "grad school" for selective internal-only use.

SUNY Empire State College School of Nursing

SUNY Empire State College School of Nursing or School of Nursing at SUNY Empire State College are both acceptable for first mention.

For external audiences, maintain a more formal tone and use School of Nursing or nursing school.

Reserve terms such as "nursing program" for times when referring to a program within the school, such as the RN to BSN program or master's program

F

FAQ (not FAQs)

Abbreviation for "frequently asked questions."

fax

Fax is preferable for facsimile or facsimile machine.

Unless the first word of the sentence, fax is not capitalized.

first-come, first-served

Hyphenate with comma as a compound modifier: first-come, first-served basis.

flier (not flyer)

Flier is the AP style preferred term for a handbill or advertising circular.

forms and informal documents

Do not capitalize the titles of forms or informal documents such as an exemption request form, a learning contract or a leave request.

fractions

See numbers - decimals and fractions.

full time | full-time

Hyphenate when used as a compound modifier.

Correct

He is a full-time student and also works full time at the library.

G

graduate degrees awarded at Empire State College

Master of Arts — M.A.

Master of Arts in Adult Learning — MAAL

Master of Arts in Liberal Studies — M.A.L.S.

Master of Arts in Teaching — MAT

Master of Business Administration — MBA

Master of Science in Nursing — MSN

graduate school

See Empire State College brand.

H

headings and hyphens

In AP headline style, only capitalize the first word in a hyphenated word.

headings on Webpages

Headings at all levels should use title case.

Headings that are true, punctuated sentences should use sentence case.

Heading levels should be nested to show the proper hierarchy of the page structure

The webpage's title is always a first-level heading <H1> and the only <H1> on the page.

Main sections in the page are second-level headings <H2>.

Subsections of the main section are third-level <H3> and then fourth-level <H4> headings.

For more information, see Writing for the Web located in the Web Standards and Practices Guide.

homepage

one word (no space)

hyphens

Use a hyphen ( - ) when not using it might cause confusion.

Correct

The provost will speak at the small-business owner luncheon. (Without the hyphen, it is not clear if "small" is modifying business, owner or luncheon.)

The treasurer hopes to be re-elected. (The hyphen separates two of the same letter that might be misread.)

I re-sent that message. (The meaning is different than it would be without the hyphen — I resent that message.)

Hyphenate compound modifiers when they precede a noun, but not when they follow a noun.

Correct

She attends college part time and has a full-time job.

Also see headings and hyphensnumbers and hyphens, American ethnicity and dashes.

I

i.e. (never ie)

The abbreviation for the Latin "id est" (meaning "that is") is always followed by a comma.

individual references

Refer to individuals by first and last name, without courtesy titles, on first reference. After the first reference, only the last name is used, irrespective of the rank of the person.

All titles are lowercase when they are not placed before the name.

Use the courtesy titles Mr., Miss, Ms. or Mrs. only in direct quotations.

Correct

President Merodie Hancock gave opening remarks at the poetry reading.

It is unusual for John Smith to give public appearances. As such, the room was packed to hear Smith read.

"It was wonderful to have the opportunity to watch Mr. Smith read in front of a live audience," said Hancock.

Also see college titles.

informal documents and forms

Do not capitalize the titles of forms or informal documents such as an exemption request form, a learning contract or a leave request.

Internet

always capitalize

Internet address — a URL

In text, try to use the name of the website rather than the Web address, in the same fashion that you would use the name of a place and not its address in the physical world. Use ".com" only if it is part of the legal name, as in Amazon.com Inc.

If the Internet address is used, do not include the protocol (http, https, mailto) and :// portion of the address.

Also see Web addresses.

L

lecture titles

See composition titles.

lists — unordered (bullets) or ordered (numbers or letters)

Unordered or bulleted lists seem to have mysterious and slippery rules. There is no consistent set of rules across style guides. The key is to be consistent with the format.

Empire State College uses the The Yahoo Style Guide as the basis for the college website and print publications.

Bulleted lists work best for related items when the sequence is not important.

If order is important, use an ordered (numbered) list.

Try to use parallel construction for items in a list. Each should start with the same part of speech.

List items start with a lowercase letter and are not punctuated until the last item (which gets a period). If items are full sentences, use periods at the end of the item.

Do not use semicolons or commas at the end of a bullet.

Correct

You may already qualify for credits if you have:

  • served in the military
  • taken workplace training
  • acquired professional licenses and certifications.

The learning can come from many sources, including:

  • courses at colleges and universities
  • work experience
  • volunteer work
  • training programs or in-service courses
  • military service
  • community activities
  • independent reading and study.

A complete application consists of the following:

  1. online application form including an active, unencumbered N.Y. state RN license number with expiration date
  2. admissions essay
  3. resume (M.S. applicants only) clearly demonstrating evidence of clinical practice as a registered nurse
  4. official transcripts from all institutions on the application and showing completion of an associate degree or diploma in nursing
  5. nonrefundable orientation fee (waived for veterans and active military).

locations

As part of transitioning to "one college" language, do not use centers or units when referring to one of the 35 locations across New York where the college has a presence. For example, instead of the Niagara Frontier Center, use Empire State College at Cheektowaga.

Correct

Empire State College at Latham

Empire State College at Fort Drum.

login | logon

(n.) process by which individual access to a computer system is controlled by identifying and authenticating the user in reference to credentials used by the user; also often used as an adjective in compound nouns, such as "login screen"

log in | log on

(v.) to establish communication and initiate interactions with a computer or network

logoff | logout

(n.) process of terminating a connection

log off | log out

(v.) to terminate a connection with a computer or network

M

magazine names

Capitalize the initial letters of the name but do not place it in quotes.

Lowercase magazine unless it is part of the publication's formal title: Harper's Magazine, Newsweek magazine, Time magazine.

mailing address

Abbreviate avenue (Ave.), boulevard (Blvd.) and street (St.). All similar words (alley, drive, road, terrace, etc.) always are spelled out.

Use the official two-letter U.S. Postal Service abbreviations only when listing mailing addresses.

Correct

Write to Admissions, Empire State College, 2 Union Ave., Saratoga Springs, NY 12866.

master's degrees

See academic degrees and graduate degrees.

months

Abbreviate certain months when used with a specific date: Jan., Feb., Aug., Sept., Oct., Nov. and Dec.

For print publications, Empire State College also abbreviates Mar. and Apr. when used with a specific date.

Spell all months out when used alone or with a year alone.

Correct

The Fall 1 term runs from Sept. 9, 2014 to Dec. 20, 2014.

February 2014 may be the coldest on record for Saratoga Springs, N.Y.

more than | over

Although both uses are acceptable to indicate greater numerical value, the college prefered use is "more than."

Correct

Salaries went up more than $20 a week.

Salaries went up over $20 a week.

N

New York

New York City (aka New York, N.Y.) is used to differentiate from New York state. State is not capitalized.

newspaper names

Capitalize "the" in a newspaper's name if that is the way the publication prefers to be known.

Do not place the name in quotes.

non or non-

The rules of prefixes apply, but in general no hyphen when forming a compound that does not have special meaning and can be understood if "not" is used before the base word.

Use a hyphen, however, before proper nouns or in awkward combinations, such as non-nuclear.

noncredit

one word (no hyphen)

nondegree

one word (no hyphen)

nonmatriculated

one word (no hyphen)

nonresident

one word (no hyphen)

nontraditional

one word (no hyphen)

# not No.

When creating forms, use the # sign not No.

Correct

ID#

numbered list

See lists.

numbers - cardinal

Spell out zero and whole numbers below 10.

Use numerals for 10 and above, unless the number starts a sentence or identifies a calendar year.

Always use numerals for percentages.

Always use numerals for credits or credit hours.

Correct

She had nine students in her 4-credit group study.

1972 was the year Empire State College was founded.

Less than an hour before the opening bell, Dow Jones Industrial Average futures rose 110 points or 1 percent.

Spell out casual expressions.

Correct

Thanks a million!

numbers - ordinal

Spell out first through ninth if used to indicate sequence in time or location. Starting with 10th, use digits.

Use 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th and so forth when the sequence is assigned in forming names.

Never use ordinal numbers with dates.

Correct

He was ninth in line.

The 10th Annual Run for Life was held early this year.

The 1st Ward supports the creation of urban gardens.

numbers - decimals and fractions

Use a decimal point (period) and numerals to represent decimal amounts. For amounts less than 1.0, use the numeral zero before the decimal point.

Correct

The ratio of a circle's circumference to its diameter is approximately 3.14.

The number of applicants rose 0.9 percent in January.

Spell out fractions less than one and use hyphens between the words.

Use numerals for precise amounts larger than one with a space between the whole number and the fraction. Whenever practical, convert to decimals.

Correct

Approximately two-thirds of the students attended the guest lecture.

The walk from our hotel to the National Museum of Dance is 1.75 miles.

numbers - ratios

Use numerals and hyphens to represent ratios. The word "to" is omitted when the numbers precede the word "ratio" or similar phrase.

Correct

The 3-1 ratio of apples to oranges made for an interesting fruit cup.

Although she had often been to the thoroughbred track, it wasn't until she read a book about horse racing that she understood what 2-1 odds really meant.

numbers and hyphens

All compound numbers between twenty-one and ninety-nine are hyphenated when spelled out.

Use to show numerical ranges, meaning “up to and including” — of dates, ages, pages, etc.

Correct

Seventy-six trombones led the big parade.

Abraham Lincoln was president during the Civil War (1861-1865).

Use a hyphen before a numeral.

Use hyphens for ages expressed as adjectives or as substitutes for a noun.

Correct

pre-1950 mentality

Many theaters are now showing 3-D movies. My 11-year-old niece did not enjoy the movie, but she is not the typical 11-year-old.

nursing program | nursing school

See Empire State College brand.

O

one-to-one

Write with hyphens when used as an adjective or adverb.

Correct

You can study through guided independent study, working one-to-one with a faculty mentor.

Also see numbers-ratios.

online

one word (no hyphen) in all cases for the computer connection term

onsite

one word (no hyphen)

(adj.) on or at the site of a particular activity or happening

ordered list

See lists.

over | more than

See more than.

P

part time | part-time

Hyphenate when used as a compound modifier.

Correct

She is a part-time student and also works part time at the library.

password

one word (no space)

percent | %

Spell out "percent" except in scientific, technical and statistical text. In tables, use the % symbol.

Always use numerals for percents and percentages unless the first word of a sentence.

Correct

More then 90 percent of the class completed the final project on time.

Seventy percent of the faculty responded favorably.

person or voice

To promote a friendly, inviting atmosphere, promotional materials (including the website) should be written in first and second person plural (as in, we and you).

If copy must appear in third person, use of third person plural is used to avoid the cumbersome he/she or his her.

Correct

Students work closely with their mentors to design a degree that meets their specific needs.

photo captions

Nearly all AP captions follow a simple formula. The first sentence of the caption should follow this structure.

  1. The first clause should describe who is in the photograph and what is going on within the photo, in the present tense, followed by the city and state where the image was made, following AP style for the city and state as appropriate.
  2. Captions must give attribution for action not seen (e.g., the scene of accident where more than 10 died, according to police).
  3. The last portion of the first sentence should be the date, including the day of the week if the photograph was made within the past two weeks, and preceded by a comma. (e.g., Tuesday, May 13, 2014).

These three elements are mandatory and no caption is complete without all of them.

Names should always be listed in order, left to right, unless it is impossible for the caption to read normally otherwise. With multiple people identified within the caption, enough representations to placement are necessary so there is no confusion as to each subject's identity. Do not use middle initials.

The second sentence of the caption is used to give context to the news event or describe why the photo is significant. A photo caption's second sentence should be carefully crafted to include information or additional relevant observations from the photographer on scene. There may be some instances when a second sentence is not needed.

Whenever possible, try to keep captions to no more than two concise sentences, while including the relevant information. Try to anticipate what information the reader will need.

Do not use periods in captions that are not full sentences.

pop-up

one word (with hyphen)

prefixes

Generally do not hyphenate when using a prefix with a word starting with a consonant.

Three rules are constant, although they yield some exceptions to first-listed spellings in Webster's New World College Dictionary:

  • Except for cooperate and coordinate, use a hyphen if the prefix ends in a vowel and the word that follows begins with the same vowel.
  • Use a hyphen if the word that follows is capitalized.
  • Use a hyphen to join doubled prefixes, such as sub-subparagraph.

Q

Q-and-A format

Write out "and" and use hyphens.

quotation marks

Use quotation marks (" ") for direct quotes and the actual words said in partial quotes.

See composition titles for guidelines on the use of quotation marks in book titles, movie titles, etc.

Put quotation marks around a word or words used in irony and for the first use of unfamiliar terms.

For Web writing, use quotation marks for words used as examples and to highlight words. For print publications, italics may be used instead.

Use single marks (' ') for quotes within quotes.

Also see commas and periods with quotation marks.

Correct

Franklin said, "A penny saved is a penny earned."

The "debate" turned into a free-for-all.

Do you remember the days before "email" and "PCs" were needed to do your job?

She said, "The dean told me, 'We'll convene the curriculum committee next month,' so I was pleased to see the announcement this week."

R

ratios

See numbers - ratios.

regions

In general, lowercase "north," "south," "northeast," and so forth, when they indicate compass direction.

Capitalize compass points when they designate regions or widely known sections.

Capitalize recognized regions of New York state, such as those identified by Empire State Development.

Correct

The Capital District abuts the North Country, Mohawk Valley and Mid-Hudson regions.

A turning point for the North was the Battle of Saratoga.

The Lower East Side of New York City was the first home to many immigrants.

S

school

The word “school” is capitalized only when it precedes an official unit name.

Correct

The college includes a School for Graduate Studies.

The college is known for its School of Nursing.

The college has two schools: graduate studies and nursing.

School for Graduate Studies

See Empire State College brand.

School of Nursing

See Empire State College brand.

sign-in 

(n.) process by which individual access to a system is controlled by identifying and authenticating the user in reference to credentials used by the user; also often used as an adjective in compound nouns such as sign-in sheet

sign in

(v.) to establish communication and initiate interactions with a computer or network

sign-off

(n.) process of terminating a connection

sign off

(v.) to terminate a connection

states

Use the state name (unabbreviated) when standing alone in text.

Correct

The college serves more than 20,000 students worldwide at more than 35 locations in New York state and online.

Abbreviate states in the body of any work when used in conjunction with the name of a city, county, town, village, or military base. Do not abbreviate states with six or fewer letters.

Correct

The All College Conference is held in Saratoga Springs, N.Y.

Fredonia is a village in Chautauqua County, N.Y.

Use the official two-letter U.S. Postal Service abbreviations only when listing mailing addresses.

Correct

Write to Admissions, Empire State College, 2 Union Ave., Saratoga Springs, NY 12866.

statewide

one word (no hyphen)

street address

Abbreviate avenue (Ave.), boulevard (Blvd.) and street (St.) in numbered addresses. All similar words (alley, drive, road, terrace, etc.) always are spelled out.

Correct

The Office of Communications and Government Relations is on Union Avenue.

The Print Shop is at 111 West Ave.

Also see mailing address.

students

Do not capitalize freshman, sophomore, junior, senior, graduate, postgraduate, postdoctoral, nondegree or any similar designation, unless it is part of a title, a headline or the official name of an organization.

study or course names

Avoid including study or course numbers in text.

Capitalize the important words when using the formal name of a study or course. Use lowercase if not using the formal name.

Correct

Introduction to Creative Writing and Editing for Clear Communication are offered alternate terms.

He plans to take a writing course this summer.

subpage

one word (no hyphen)

SUNY-wide

one word (with hyphen)

systemwide

one word (no hyphen)

T

teleconference

one word (no hyphen)

telephone numbers

Use numerals for telephone numbers in the format: area code-exchange-number. Use hyphens to separate the components.

If an extension number is included, use a comma to separate the main number from the extension. Abbreviate extension as "ext." with a period.

Do not precede toll-free numbers with a "1."

Correct

518-587-2100

800-847-3000, ext. 2420

TerminalFour or t4

time

Time should be written without a colon or double zeros unless listing a specific time after the hour.

Use lowercase and periods for the abbreviations "a.m." and "p.m."

Use "noon" and "midnight" instead of 12 p.m. and 12 a.m., respectively. Both are lowercase.

A hyphen with no spaces indicates a time frame. Depending on the context, using "to" is also acceptable.

Correct

Leaving for lunch at 11:45 a.m., instead of noon, is preferable on days with a 1 p.m. meeting.

The study group is scheduled for 9 a.m.-noon on Saturdays.

A reception will take place from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m.

time zones

Capitalize the full name of the time in force within a particular zone: Eastern Standard Time, Eastern Daylight Time, and so forth.

The abbreviations for the time zones are acceptable for zones used within the continental United States, Canada and Mexico only if linked with a clock reading. There is a space between the time and the time zone.

Eastern Standard Time = EST
Eastern Daylight Time = EDT

Correct

The online course will change to Eastern Daylight Time in early March.

The one-hour webinar begins at 11 a.m. EST, Monday, May 5, 2014.

Also see days and time.

U

undergraduate degrees awarded at Empire State College

Associate of Arts — A.A.

Associate of Science — A.S.

Bachelor of Arts — B.A.

Bachelor of Professional Studies — B.P.S.

Bachelor of Science — B.S.

Bachelor of Science in Nursing — BSN

underline

Do not use underline for emphasis or to denote headings or for composition titles.

In print publications, include the Web address, but do not include the protocol (http, https, mailto) and :// portion of the address.

In Web publications, create an active link, preferably with meaningful words rather than the Web address.

Also see composition titles.

United States — U.S.

units

As part of transitioning to "one college" language, do not use centers or units when referring to one of the 35 locations across New York where the college has a presence. For example, instead of the Niagara Frontier Center's Lockport Unit, use Empire State College at Lockport.

Correct

Empire State College at Latham

Empire State College at Fort Drum.

URL — Uniform Resource Locator, an Internet address

In text, try to use the name of the website rather than the Web address, in the same fashion that you would use the name of a place and not its address in the physical world.

Use ".com" only if it is part of the legal name, as in Amazon.com Inc.

If the Internet address is used, do not include the protocol (http, https, mailto) and :// portion of the address.

Also see Web addresses.

username

one word (no space)

V

videoconference

one word (no hyphen)

voice or person

To promote a friendly, inviting atmosphere, promotional materials (including the website) should be written in first and second person plural (as in, we and you).

If copy must appear in third person, use of third person plural is used to avoid the cumbersome he/she or his her.

Correct

Students work closely with their mentors to design a degree that meets their specific needs.

VoIP

note the mixed uppercase and lowercase

W

Web — short form of World Wide Web

always capitalize

Web addresses

Do not italicize, bold, underline, capitalize, or use all capital letters to emphasize Web addresses.

Avoid putting a period at the end of the address. If possible, recast your sentence.

It is not necessary to include http:// when writing a Web address. For writing on the Web, create links using descriptive words.

Correct

www.esc.edu

To use the service, go to the Smarthinking homepage at services.smarthinking.com and enter your user name and password.

See also our information on how to request an Empire State College transcript.

Web browser

two words (capitalize Web)

Web conference

two words (no hyphen)

Web feed

two words (capitalize Web)

Web manager

two words (capitalize Web)

Web search

two words (capitalize Web)

Web stream

Generally, AP style does not use "Web streaming" in any form, but "streaming" alone, which is understood in context.

webcam

one word (lowercase)

webcast

one word (lowercase)

webinar

one word (lowercase)

webmaster

one word (lowercase)

webpage

one word (lowercase)

website

one word (lowercase)

writing for the Web

See Writing for the Web in the Web Standards and Practices Guide.

Y

years

Use an "s" without an apostrophe to indicate spans of decades or centuries.

Years are the lone exception to the general rule that a numeral is not used to start a sentence.

Correct

SUNY Empire State College opened in the early 1970s.

He is in his 20s.

1996 was a very good year.

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