Writing Style Guide
A consistent writing style is essential to effective communications. This document provides guidelines for style, word use and other editorial issues particular to St. Lawrence University. These standards apply in all published materials that represent the University to an external audience, in both print and electronic media.
The guide primarily follows the latest edition of The Associated Press (AP) Stylebook and www.dictionary.com, with exceptions specific to St. Lawrence noted. Other exceptions may be desirable in rare instances, for example for clarity of meaning or specific to media outlet. In such cases, St. Lawrence’s office of University Communications is the final arbiter.
Please note that style for academic writing may differ from this guide. Much academic writing adheres to the Chicago Manual of Style, which, while similar to AP in many respects, also carries significant differences. Similarly, there are accepted variations for social media, differing with each platform.
This style guide is produced by St. Lawrence’s office of University Communications, and was last updated in August 2017. Comments, suggestions and questions may be directed to Deborah Dudley, senior writer and editor, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Entry words below are noted in boldface and represent the preferred spellings and capitalizations. Those that appear in bold brackets are categories. Titles appear in italics. Further explanation is included when necessary to explain nuances, variations, exceptions or factual information idiosyncratic to St. Lawrence University.
a/an: Follow standard usage, choosing an when its antecedent begins with a consonant mimicking a vowel sound: a historic occasion, an honorary degree.
[Abbreviations]: Commonly used abbreviations of more than two letters do not require periods and should be in upper case: GPA, HEOP, NCAA, FAFSA, FERPA. Exception: Ph.D. Avoid “NYC” for New York City, except rarely in Class Notes, or in quoted material.
[academic departments]: see capitalization. acknowledgment, not acknowledgement.
the Adirondacks: refers to both the mountain range and the region. The Adirondack Park (not Adirondack State Park) is the largest park in the U.S., excluding Alaska.
Adirondack Semester occurs in the fall semester at a rented site ~45 miles from campus at Massawepie Lake.
[administrative offices]: see capitalization admissions (plural)
adviser, not advisor.
affect/effect: One has an effect on something, but is affected by something. Affect is not synonymous with “impact” when used as a verb: The blossoms were affected by the early spring.
African-American studies: Hyphenate African-American and other compound nationalities.
afterward, not afterwards.
All-America, All-American: Individual team members may be called All‐Americans. Use All- America in other applications. She is an All-American. He is an All-America selection.
alma mater: Lowercased and not italicized except in reference to St. Lawrence’s alma mater (song), the title of which is “Alma Mater” (uppercase, in quotation marks, and note no “The.”) If you are a Laurentian, the name of your alma mater’s alma mater is “Alma Mater.”
alumnus, alumni, alumna, alumnae: Use in reference to those who have completed at least two semesters at St. Lawrence. (The Latin root “alum” means “student,” not “graduate.”) Use alumnus (alumni in the plural) when referring to a man who has attended a school. Use alumna (alumnae) when referring to a woman who has attended a school. Use alumni when referring to a group of men and women or a group whose gender allocation cannot be determined. The shortcut “alum” is to be avoided except in very casual references or in quotes.
Alumni Association, Alumni Executive Council
a.m./p.m.: 9 a.m., 4 p.m. (note the space between the numeral and the abbreviation).
and/& (ampersand): Avoid “&” except in trademarked business names: Procter & Gamble. Note art and (not &) art history department. The ampersand may be used in display text, e.g. headlines and decks.
annual fund: the formal name is the St. Lawrence Fund.
athletic: a descriptor – a person may be athletic. The goalie executed an athletic move to make the save.
athletics: director of athletics, athletics facilities. The academic department’s name is Intercollegiate Athletics and Recreation. Athletic teams are lower case: men’s lacrosse, women’s soccer, football, tennis (exception: Alpine skiing, Nordic skiing). Also note that we have a rowing team, not a crew team, and it is a riding competition, not equestrian.
Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Science: note upper case; bachelor’s degree (lower case) is acceptable in any reference.
Basic Engineering Combined Plan: This can be referred to as the 3+2 (note plus sign) Engineering Program.
Best Western University Inn
Board of Trustees: Capitalize as a formal noun when referring specifically to St. Lawrence’s Board of Trustees, otherwise lowercase: The Board of Trustees voted to approve the budget. Lowercase “board” on second reference: The board will meet in the Hannon Room. Note that “board” requires a singular verb.
[Buildings, Named Spaces and Campus Landmarks]: Generally, a shortened version of a space’s name is acceptable after first reference (Charles W. Rebert Residence Hall; Rebert Hall), and often on first reference (Brush Alumni House).
business in the liberal arts is a major: Note the word “in” and that the major is lower case.
CA: college assistant, an undergraduate who has responsibilities in campus residences. Spell out on first reference.
The Campaign for Every Laurentian is a comprehensive campaigned publicly launched in October 2018. Note capitalization of “The” as part of the title of the campaign’s title. Second reference, the Campaign, is capitalized when specifically referencing The Campaign for Every Laurentian.
campus: Lowercase in all uses.
Canaras Conference Center: The name is “Saranac” spelled backward. Canaras on second reference. Avoid Camp Canaras in formal references.
-- Majors and minors are not capitalized unless they contain the adjectival form of a proper noun: English, biology, Caribbean and Latin American studies, gender and sexuality studies. See Appendix 1.
-- When employing an individual’s title, capitalize if it precedes the name, but lower case if it follows: Vice President for University Advancement Tom Pynchon, but Tom Pynchon, vice president for University Advancement.
-- The names of academic departments and programs are capitalized if the formal name (Department of History) is used, but not if the informal name (history department) is used, unless
they contain the adjectival form of a proper noun (English, Caribbean and Latin American studies).
-- The names of administrative offices are capitalized.
-- The names of University-specific calendar events (Family Weekend, Spring Break) are capitalized, similar to legal holidays, e.g. Labor Day.
-- The formal name of the comprehensive campaign, The Campaign for Every Laurentian, is capitalized, but the campaign is lower case upon second reference.
Catalog: The St. Lawrence University Course Catalog; the catalog.
Center for International and Intercultural Studies: formally Patti McGill Peterson Center for International and Intercultural Studies; CIIS acceptable after first reference.
chair: Preferred title for the presiding officer of a department or committee. Avoid “chairperson.” Exception: Bruce Benedict and E.B. Wilson are each chairman emeritus of the Board of Trustees. The preferred form for an academic department chair is “Professor and Chair of (Department)” when title precedes name, lower case when title follows name.
Class of: Capitalize when referring to a particular class with the year: The Class of 1999 celebrated its reunion.
[Class Year designations]:
The class numerals always come last, including when a maiden name is in play: Jane Alumna Lawrence ’00.
Space and no comma between name and numerals. “M” before the numerals indicates a graduate degree: M’09. (Note no spaces.)
Lower case “n” after the numerals indicates a non-graduate: Joe Porter ’06n.
Note spacing and punctuation if an individual possesses both an undergraduate and a graduate degree: Meg Bernier ’07, M’09.
P’09 and GP’09 stand, respectively, for the parent(s) and grandparent(s) of a member of the Class of ’09. These are to be used sparingly.
A single quotation mark (‘) is not a substitute for an apostrophe (’).
For other alumni naming idiosyncrasies, go to alumni.stlawu.edu/classnotes.
Full year should be used when referring to alumni from the early 20th century to avoid confusion will 21st-century students. (Zebulon Dudley, Class of 1921, and Zachary Smith ’21)
[Commas]: University style recognizes that written communications serve a variety of audiences with diverse philosophy on the use of the comma. Therefore, use of the comma is determined by particular needs of the target audience along with the preference of each media outlet, but generally the following guidelines apply:
The use of the serial (or Oxford) comma—the comma before the conjunctions and or or in a series of items—is accepted in both print and electronic media, with the exception of press releases and media advisories in which University Communications will follow comma guidelines in accordance with AP.
Use best judgment for clarity in a complex series (one that has a conjunction within one of the items, e.g., toast, green eggs and ham, and coffee).
Commencement Weekend, Commencement when referring to St. Lawrence’s graduation
Community-Based Learning Program, CBL on second reference.
comprehensive fee: It comprises tuition, room, board, a student activities fee and class dues.
comprise/compose: The whole comprises the parts; the parts compose the whole. The Board of Trustees comprises 40 members; 40 members compose the Board of Trustees.
course titles: Full names of courses are capitalized but not set off in italics or with quotation marks: He took Professor Smith's course, The Social Psychological Study of Self. Lowercase when not referring to proper name of course: He met Professor Smith while taking his course on social development. Exception: a proper noun in the course title: Shakespeare; Russian history.
Creasy Commencement Commons, Creasy Way
CSTEP: The formal name is Collegiate Science and Technology Entry Program; the acronym is usually acceptable on first reference.
data: A plural noun, it normally takes plural verbs and pronouns. The data indicate that…
• Use figures for days of the month, omitting nd, rd, st, th.
• Abbreviate only Jan., Feb., Aug., Sept., Oct., Nov. and Dec. when used with a specific date.
• Place a comma between the month and the year and following the year when the day is mentioned: On May 20, 2012, Commencement brought together hundreds of people.
• Do not place a comma between the month and the year when the day is not mentioned: The May 2012 Commencement brought together hundreds of people.
[days of the week]: Spell out in body copy; do not abbreviate except in lists, such as marriages n Class Notes.
Dean-Eaton Hall, Dean-Eaton Formal Lounge (note hyphens; these were named for two people, Dean and Eaton, not a dean named Eaton).
Diana B. Torrey ’82 Health and Counseling Center: Second reference, Torrey Center.
early decision (also regular decision): lower case in text; upper case is acceptable in lists,
e.g., for example (note punctuation)
email: no hyphen. But use a hyphen with other “e” terms, e.g. e-commerce.
emeriti/emeritus: Emerita, in the title “professor emerita,” means a woman retired from the faculty but permitted to retain as an honorary title the rank of the last academic appointment held. Emeritus refers to a man with the same status. The plural is emeriti. Place immediately after the formal title: Professor Emerita of English Susan Ward, or Susan Ward, professor emerita of English.
em-dash: In Word, create this by hitting Ctrl+Alt+minus on the numeric keypad. There should be no spaces on either side of it. Two en-dashes is not an acceptable substitute.
Every Laurentian is only capitalized when specifically referring to The Campaign for Every Laurentian and remains lower case, every Laurentian, when referring to individuals who classify as Laurentians.
4+1 Business Programs: We have two: the 4+1 MBA Programs and the 4+1 MS Program in Finance (note the plus sign).
Facilities Master Plan / FMP. On second and subsequent references, master plan and/or plan
fall/fall semester (seasons are not capitalized except when personified in poetry)
Fides et Veritas: The St. Lawrence motto, which translates to “fidelity (or faith) and truth.” Use capitals.
field house: Two words (Newell Field House, Leithead Field House).
first-year student, First-Year College, First-Year Program, First-Year Seminar
[foreign words and phrases]:
• Unfamiliar foreign words and phrases are usually italicized.
• Words that appear in any standard English dictionary are probably familiar enough not to warrant italics: alma mater, a cappella, magna cum laude, Parmesan cheese.
freshman: avoid, using “first-year student” instead.
GA: graduate assistant (mostly in athletics). Spell out on first reference.
grade-point average/GPA: . Spell out and hyphenate on first reference and when used alone. Otherwise, GPA is acceptable when used with figures: A 3.5 GPA is required.
Greek, Greeks: May be used to refer collectively to fraternities and sororities and their members.
Greek organizations: Capitalize and use full name on first reference, abbreviate afterward (Kappa Delta Sigma-KDS; Omicron Delta Kappa-ODK). Exceptions: Beta Theta Pi-Beta; Chi Omega-Chi O; Delta Delta Delta-Tri-Delta.
Gridiron (yearbook; italicized, but see the italics entry; no “The” in formal title, but the
Gridiron, the yearbook).
Gunnison Memorial Chapel: “The chapel” is acceptable on second reference; avoid Gunnison Chapel.
HEOP: The formal name is Higher Education Opportunity Program; the acronym is acceptable on subsequent reference. The formal name of St. Lawrence’s unit, which is not necessary in almost all references, is the Arthur O. Eve Higher Education Opportunity Program.
The Hill News: The is part of the name. See italics.
• Use hyphens to avoid ambiguity or to form a single idea from two or more words.
• When a compound modifier—two or more words that express a single concept—precedes a noun, use hyphens to link all the words in the compound except the adverb very and all adverbs that end in –ly. A know-it-all attitude. An easily remembered rule.
i.e., that is (note punctuation)
• The name of the nation, not the city, is preferred (Austria Program, not Vienna Program).
• Exception: London Program (not Programme).
Internet (note capitalization)
ISEP: Acronym for the International Student Exchange Program, acceptable on second reference.
Italics: Names of publications, e.g. The Hill News, are not italicized in press releases, but are italicized in print and electronic media.
Jr.: No comma between a name and this title; Robert N. Wells Jr. The same is true for Sr., III, etc.
judgment (not judgement)
KSLU. The undergraduate radio station, as opposed to WSLU, which has headquarters on campus but is a National Public Radio affiliate (see North Country Public Radio or NCPR). Contrary to popular myth, KSLU is not the oldest college radio station in the country.
Kenya Program, not Kenya Semester Program, although KSP is acceptable in Class Notes on subsequent reference because of program legacy abbreviation, formerly referred to as the Kenya Semester Program. It is one of the oldest continuously operating academic programs in Kenya, but not the oldest.
Kip Tract / Kip Trail (not Kip Track). See Little River Nature and Recreational Area. Kirk Douglas Hall (not Douglas Hall).
Launders Library: This, along with Launders Science Library, is an acceptable second reference for the J. Harold and Ruth C. Launders Science Library and Computing Center.
Laurentian is always to be preferred over the archaic “Larry,” except in quotes, typically in Class Notes.
The Laurentian: Student literary magazine. See italics.
Little River Nature and Recreational Area: Note the “-al.” Formal name for the Kip Tract, which is acceptable in most uses.
MacAllaster House: The formal name of the President’s House (note capitalization), often used in conjunction with “54 East Main Street.” The soccer stadium and the 24-hour study area in the library also bear the MacAllaster name.
[Magazine]: St. Lawrence, but “the St. Lawrence magazine.” See italics.
[Majors and minors]: Do not capitalize unless they contain the adjectival form of a proper noun: English, biology, Caribbean and Latin American studies. See Appendix 1.
-- Combined majors: use a hyphen (environmental studies-English)
-- Double majors: use “and” (philosophy and sociology)
Master of Education, Master of Science: master’s degree is acceptable in any reference.
McNair Scholars Program: The formal name is Ronald E. McNair Postbaccalaureate Achievement Program; the abbreviated name is usually acceptable on first reference.
midnight, not 12 midnight, which is redundant. There is only one midnight.
mid-semester, mid-term, mid-year
mid-: Use with a hyphen: mid-30s for persons’ ages, mid-1930s for decades (note no apostrophe).
[military ranks]: Follow standard capitalization rules, capitalizing a rank only if it precedes a person’s name.
Moving-Up Day multi-field major multi-language major
Munn Center for Rhetoric and Communication: See Writing Centers.
[Names, first and second reference] Full name and class year, when applicable, on first reference. Last name only on second reference for all individuals including current students (Exception: first name on second reference for informal tone, when used in more casual context or platforms such as social media outlets, marketing materials and other correspondence where familiarity is appropriate.)
[Names/Titles of Persons]: full title and first and last name on first reference, title capitalized if it precedes name, lower case if it follows; last name only in subsequent references. Exceptions: Endowed professorships are capitalized, even when the title follows a name: Obiora Udechukwu, Charles A. Dana (or Dana) Professor of Art and Art History. See also below. In more casual uses, particularly on the Web, in admissions marketing materials and in social media, a student’s
first name may be used in subsequent references.
[Names of Endowed Professorships, Scholarships, Spaces, etc.]: Full name on first reference, abbreviated name in subsequent references (Charles D., Sarah A. and John D. Munsil Professor of Government; Munsil Professor). The St. Lawrence stewardship office can help with these.
Neuroscience: as a department, it is capitalized, as a major, neuroscience is lowercased.
Newell Center for Arts Technology (NCAT)
noon, not 12 noon, which is redundant. There is only one noon.
the North Country, Northern New York, Upstate New York
North Country Public Radio: NCPR on second reference. For more, see WSLU-FM.
Write out one through nine, use digits for 10 and up.
Write out one through nine for length, weight, and distances
Use commas in four-digit (and higher) numbers (1,000, etc.).
people's ages, always use digits (“their 1-year-old son…”).
percentages, always use digits and the word "percent" spelled out, not %, except in tabular materials.
times, always use digits (note: 9 a.m., without the ":00," lowercase, periods, and 9:30 a.m. when past the hour).
ODY: see below, “Owen D. Young Library.”
ODYsseus: The library’s search engine.
off-campus/on-campus: Following standard procedure, hyphenate when used as an adjective (off-campus housing), but not when used as an adverb (He lives off campus).
online: He registered online; she took advantage of online registration.
Orientation Outdoor Program
Owen D. Young Library: ODY Library is acceptable after first reference.
Permanent Collection: The artwork owned by the University, and maintained in the Richard F. Brush Art Gallery (Brush Gallery in subsequent references).
Peterson Quantitative Resource Center: Full name is the Martha E. ’62 and Gregg E. Peterson Quantitative Resource Center. Peterson Quantitative Resource Center or PQRC is acceptable in subsequent references.
Peterson-Kermani Performance Hall
• It is no longer necessary to place a “1” in front of any phone number.
• Parentheses around the area code are no longer used.
• Dashes are used: 315-229-5560
PowerPoint: The proper name of a Microsoft product.
President/president: As with any title, capitalize when used before full name (President William L. Fox announced), lowercase when used alone (the president announced). Second reference: President Fox announced.
[Program Names]: see Appendix 1 and Capitalization.
The Quad: The proper name is the Richard F. Brush’52 University Quad which consists of the area bounded by Vilas Hall, Kirk Douglas Hall, Dean-Eaton Hall, Gunnison Memorial Chapel and Richardson Hall. Brush Quad is also appropriate on second reference.
RC: residential (not resident) coordinator
[Ranges]: Correct form is “from 2000 to 2005” (or between/and), not “from 2000-2005.”
regular decision (also early decision): lower case in text; upper case is acceptable in lists, charts, etc.
reunion/Reunion/: The formal name of the occasion is Reunion Weekend. They came for Reunion, but …for their 10th reunion.
ROTC: Acceptable in first reference to Reserve Officer (note singular) Training Corps. St. Lawrence has two programs, in conjunction with Clarkson University: Army ROTC and Air Force ROTC, for which AFROTC is acceptable.
SAT: Use only the acronym when referring to the Scholastic Aptitude Test or the Scholastic Assessment Test, as it has alternately been known.
Safety and Security: The complete formal name of “the security office.”
Saint/St. Lawrence: Use “Saint” only when referring to the historic individual. When referring to the institution, always use “St.” In set type, avoid splitting “St.” and “Lawrence.”
Saints: Our athletics mascot, always plural referring to a team or the overall program.
St. Lawrence County: It is not the largest county east of the Mississippi, the Rockies, or anywhere else. It ranks 7th largest east of the Mississippi.
SLU: Avoid this abbreviation, except in special and limited cases. Its use on athletics apparel, outside of the purview of this editorial style guide, is acceptable.
social media: St. Lawrence has a number of social media accounts and they each follow the nomenclature of the individual platforms and is subject to frequent revisions.
Sophomore Journeys, formerly the Sophomore Initiative, note: Journeys is plural.
The names of the 50 U.S. states should be spelled out when used in the body of a story. (Exception: D.C. may be abbreviated.)
By directive of the U.S. Postal Service, and according to the AP, USPS abbreviations (e.g., NY) should be used only when a full and complete address is used for mailing purposes or to list a mailing address.
Do not abbreviate the names of any foreign countries or Canadian provinces and territories. For “the United States,” use U.S. or USA.
Standardized tests: Abbreviations are acceptable on first reference: SAT, ACT, GRE, MCAT. Note that St. Lawrence is test-optional (hyphenated).
Steiner Senior Residences: The formal name of the senior townhouses, which, along with townhouses, is acceptable on subsequent reference.
Strategic Map: The formal name is “The St. Lawrence Promise.” Either or both may be used in first and later references.
study abroad, study-abroad programs: also, and more formally, international study, international programs. Use hyphen only when using as a compound modifier. Avoid the term “abroad program.” “Off-campus study program” may be applied to an international or U.S. program, e.g., the Adirondack Semester.
Sustainability Semester occurs in the spring semester at a rented farm ~5 miles from campus.
Sykes Residence (not Hall)
Sykes Common Room (not Sykes Formal Lounge, Sykes Commons Room or Sykes Commons)
TAP: acronym for Tuition Assistance Program; the acronym is acceptable on subsequent reference.
[Team names]: lowercase, except Alpine and Nordic (skiing), which are derived from proper nouns. The St. Lawrence mascot is the Saints (note plural).
TEDxStLawrenceU is the name of the University’s TEDx events and video series
theater: Exception: space names that use “theatre”: The W. Lawrence and Winifred Frazee Gulick Theatre (Gulick Theatre on subsequent reference). But the Edson R. Miles Theater (the Black Box on subsequent reference).
Thelmo: The full name is the Thelomathesian Society, St. Lawrence’s student government body. The short form is acceptable in most uses.
[Time designations]: Avoid “:00” in top-of-the-hour designations. Five in the afternoon is 5 p.m.
[Titles of People]: Use the applicable professorial or administrative rank and title rather than “Dr.” Do not abbreviate Professor to “Prof.” Capitalize a person’s title if it precedes the name, but lower case if it follows: Associate Professor of English Paul Graham, but Paul Graham, associate professor of English. See also capitalization.
[Titles of Works]:
The following are italicized: titles of books, magazines, newspapers and journals.
Online newspapers, magazines, and journals are also italicized: nytimes.com, salon.com, newsweek.com.
All other titles are placed in quotation marks.
Tom Fay Field toward, not towards.
Townhouses: see Steiner Senior Residences. Tri-Delta: Note the hyphen.
underway: one word
University, when referring specifically to St. Lawrence University; university when referring to other universities or to the concept of the university.
Unitarian Universalist/ism: No hyphen. The denomination is the result of a merger in the 1960s. St. Lawrence was founded by the Universalists in 1856, but is now non-denominational.
upperclass students: This term (one word, lowercase) designates sophomores, juniors and seniors.
Vietnam: one word.
Wachtmeister Field Station
[Web addresses]: Do not underline. Do not include http:// or www, unless excluding either would cause confusion or cause the address not to work. Place a period at the end of a sentence that ends with a Web address. Note capitalization oddities regarding “Web/web” here and in the entries below.
WORD Studio: The formal name is the Writing, Oral Communication, Research and Design Studio; the acronym WORD Studio is preferred after first reference. It is part of the Munn Center for Rhetoric and Communication.
World Wide Web: Archaic; “the Web” is acceptable as first and subsequent references.
Writing Centers: These are under the jurisdiction of the Munn Center for Rhetoric and Communication; see WORD Studio above. The Munn Center also oversees writing centers in French, German and Spanish, and the Science Writing Center.
WSLU-FM, an affiliate of National Public Radio. The station’s name is North Country Public Radio (NCPR on second reference). WSLU is one of several call letters for NCPR, which broadcasts throughout the North Country, the Adirondacks and into Canada. It is not the same as KSLU, the student radio station.
years: no apostrophe in decades: the 1990s. Apostrophe in contracted years: the Blizzard of ’88, the Class of ’06, the ’90s. Exception: 9/11.
St. Lawrence University academic program names.
art and art history
performance and communication arts
business in the liberal arts
environmental studies with biology, chemistry, economics, English, geology, government, mathematics, philosophy, psychology or sociology
international economics and modern languages multi-field major
art and art history
performance and communication arts
sports studies and exercise science
Caribbean, Latin American, and Latino studies
film and representation studies
gender and sexuality studies
Native American studies
peace studies statistics