Editorial Style Guide




Academic Degrees

(Also see "Class Notes" entry)

Use "Dr." before an individual's name only for those people who have earned a doctor of dental surgery, doctor of medicine, doctor of osteopathy, or doctor of podiatric medicine degree.

Sometimes it is not necessary to indicate whether a person has earned a doctoral degree.

If it is necessary and the person holds a doctoral degree in something other than one of the fields mentioned above, place that information after the name.

Example: Laura Hunt, who has a doctorate in psychology, will lead the discussion.

In non-story formats (lists, etc.), abbreviations are permissible. Check the following list to determine which ones do not require periods:



bachelor of arts


bachelor of science


master of arts


master of science


doctorate of philosophy


master of business administration


executive master of business administration


master of fine arts

M. Arch.

master of architecture


juris doctorate


doctor of dental surgery

Also note: It is bachelor's degree, master's degree, and doctoral degree.

Example: Wilson, who has both a master's and a doctoral degree,…


Avoid the use of acronyms when possible unless the acronyms are incredibly well known ("FBI," for example. And, for our audiences "CSUEB".)

The rare organization is so well known that using the full name is not necessary. FBI would be an example. Check the AP Style Guide for these exceptions.


Use "advisor" in all instances. This differs from AP style.

All right

It’s always all right.

Alum, Alumna, Alumnus

Alumna refers to a woman who has graduated from an institution.

Alumnae is the plural of alumna and refers to a group of female graduates.

Alumnus refers to one man who has graduated from an institution.

Alumni is the plural of alumnus. It is used both for a group of graduates who are men and for a group of graduates that includes both men and women.

Alum is permissible in casual uses, including stories that aim for a familiar or friendly tone. For any formal document, use the full Latin words. Some examples:

Alumna Jane Doe graduated with honors.

Mark McPherson is an alumnus of the Cal State East Bay College of Business and Economics.

Alumni from all over the world attended the event.


The word "alumni" should be lower case in most instances, except when referring to a proper noun, such as the Cal State East Bay Alumni Assocation.

Pioneer alumni are invited to Forever Pioneer Weekend. 

The Distinguished Alumni Award gala is this Saturday.


Use only when it is part of the formal name of a company, organization or building.

Example: The Valley Business & Technology Center

Do not use in text to replace “and.”


It is the Cal State East Bay department of athletics — with an "s."



Do not capitalize baccalaureate. It is synonymous with bachelor's degree. (It also can mean a farewell sermon for a graduating class.)


This is the proper spelling for the campus ID card.


When referring to Cal State East Bay buildings, keep your audience in mind. For most on-campus audiences, the New Union, for example, is fine in a story. (In certain lists for on-campus audiences, even New UU would be fine.)

However, if you are writing for an off-campus audience use the full name, New University Union building.


California Collegiate Athletic Association

On first reference spell out the full name. On second reference CCAA is acceptable.

California State University, East Bay

Lowercase the word university when making informal reference to the California State University, East Bay.

The university has a 50-acre campus.

Cal State East Bay is used on first reference except in formal communications such as a president’s message to the community at large or on diplomas. CSUEB as a shorter form, on second reference, is acceptable. Do not use periods or spaces between the letters.


Do not capitalize. Some examples:

The campus on Carlos Bee Blvd. is the main campus. Please note that “main” is not capitalized.

The campus located in Contra Costa County is the Concord Campus. 


One word


Capitalize the names of centers on campus.

The Cal State East Bay Oakland Center.


Use instead of “chairman.”

Example: chair of the anthropology department. 


Cal State East Bay’s four colleges are:

  • College of Science
  • College of Letters, Arts and Social Sciences
  • College of Education and Allied Studies
  • College of Business and Economics


For external audience, we follow AP Style and do not use the serial or Oxford comma in a series. For many academic publications, it’s common to use MLA or Chicago Style, which does use the serial or Oxford comma.


He brought his baseball, glove and cap to practice.

All students should wear a jacket, sweater or sweatshirt. 

Continual or continuous

“Continual” means “over and over” or “repeated steadily.”

“Continuous” means “unbroken” or “steady.”

The lack of parking was a continual annoyance to staff members.

The students walking across Carlos Bee Blvd. formed a continuous stream.

Course work

Two words.

Courtesy Titles

Refer to both men and women by first and last name on first reference and by last name thereafter.

Susan Smith

Robert Smith

Do not use titles such as Mr., Mrs., Miss unless in a direct quotation or in other special situations:



Em dashes (—) may be used for material that amplifies, explains, or digresses, but avoid using them when commas would do just as well.


When a database has been given a proper name, capitalize that name, but do not italicize it or place it inside quote marks.


Use a hyphen to show a range of dates and do not repeat 20 (2012-13, not 2012-2013).

However, to, not a dash, should be used when from introduces a range of dates (from 2012 to 2013, not from 2012-13).

If the day of the month appears, use a comma before the year (by the Oct. 15, 2018 deadline).

Do not use a comma between the month and the year without a date (by the January 2018 deadline).

Use the year with the month only if it’s not the current year.

Do not use st, nd, rd, th, even if dates are adjectives (March 1 event, not March 1st event).

Times come before days and dates (at 4 p.m. Friday; at 9 a.m. Monday, June 7).

Months are not abbreviated unless they are used with a date. If used with a date, only these months are abbreviated:

  • January: Jan.
  • February: Feb.
  • August: Aug.
  • September: Sept.
  • October: Oct.
  • November: Nov.
  • December: Dec.

Use numerals for decades. Note that you do not need an apostrophe in the plural years (1960s, 2000s).

When dropping the century when referring to decades, use an apostrophe to indicate the truncated term: (The ’60s).


Capitalize the names of departments when it comes before the name of the department.

He enrolled in the Department of Biological Sciences.

He enrolled in the biological sciences department.


Use "dietitian" when referring to the dietitians on campus. Not dietician. 


Capitalize the names of divisions on campus. The Division of Student Affairs.

Doctoral vs. Doctorate

"Doctoral" is an adjective.

Example: He is studying for a doctoral degree.

"Doctorate" is a noun.

Example: She already has earned a doctorate.



No dash between e and mail. Do not capitalize.

Emeritus, emerita

Follows professor (professor emeritus, not emeritus professor).

Use emerita for a woman. Emeritae is the plural. (This plural form is only to be used if all people so labeled are women.)

Use emeritus for a man.

Use emeriti for the plural. This is the plural for both all-male groups and for groups that include both men and women.



Do not capitalize the word federal unless at the beginning of a sentence or as part of a proper noun.

First-come, first-served

Full time, full-time

Do not hyphenate unless the phrase is (1) operating as a compound adjective and (2) preceding the noun or object.

Example: He is a full-time faculty member.

If the phrase follows the verb or operates as an adverb, do not hyphenate.

Example: She teaches full time.


Noun, verb, adjective — fundraising is one word in all instances.



Capitalize and abbreviate as Gov. or Govs. when used as a formal title before one or more names in regular text. Capitalize and spell out when used as a formal title before one or more names in direct quotations. Lowercase and spell out in all other uses. Some examples:

Gov. Gavin Newsom spoke at commencement.

“Having Governor Gavin Newsom as our speaker will be a great honor,” the graduating senior said.

The governor spoke about the importance of higher education.


Abbreviation for grade point average. Use the three letters capitalized without periods.


Headline Tool

Confused about which words should be capitalized in your headline? Here’s a handy tool: https://capitalizemytitle.com

Once on the website, be sure to click on AP Style. Then just enter your headline.

Health Care

Always two words, never one.

Historic or historical

Use historic for places, things, and events of great significance that stand out in history.

Any occurrence in the past is an historical event. (You are more likely to use historically than historical, as in “Historically, XXXXX."

Example: The historic election of 2008 marked the first time an African-American was elected president of the United States.


Lowercase, one word.

Example: The redesign of the homepage took months of work.


Do not capitalize the word honors, except when referencing Honors Convocation.

Example: She is graduating with honors. 



Do not use. Use “regardless.”

Example: Regardless of the cost, plans to construct a new building are proceeding.


Jr., Sr., III in names

Do not set off by commas.

Example: Waldo Lydecker Jr. was an avid collector of antiques.


Lecture titles

Put quotation marks around the formal title.

Less or fewer

Use “less” for things you cannot count. Use “fewer” for those things you can count. Some examples:

He has fewer years of service than Mary Lou has.

She has less common sense than a kumquat.


LGBTQ+ is our style for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning and/or queer. The plus sign is a nod to the other letters that some people and groups add to the LGBTQ.

When additional letters are part of the formal name of an organization or an event, add them, but explain what they stand for. For instance, some organization may have LGBTQIA in its title. “I” usually stands for intersex, while the “A” can stand for asexual or ally — or both.

Please note that while it is fine for people to use the word queer to identify themselves or their organizations, we don’t want other people using it to identify a person. Exercise caution. Avoid anything that could be considered a slur or an insult. 


Majors/Course of Study

Do not capitalize school or college studies, fields of study, options, curricula, major areas, or major subjects, except languages, unless a specific course is being referred to.

He is studying philosophy and English. Each student must meet core requirements in biological sciences and liberal arts. Cal State East Bay offers a curriculum in fine arts. She is planning to enroll in Introduction to Shakespeare on Stage.


When a month is used with a date, abbreviate only Jan., Feb., Aug., Sept., Oct., Nov. and Dec. Do not abbreviate March, April, May, June and July. Spell out the name of the month when using it alone or with only a year. Some examples:

Jan. 5, 2018


January 2018

More Than

"More than" is the correct wording when dealing with numbers.

Example: Enrollment grew by more than 1,000 students.

"Over" is best used to describe a spatial relationship.

Example: The water flowed over the dam.



The correct way to refer to our common campus username is NetID. Incorrect: Netid, NetId, netid, Net-ID, Net ID.

Non-degree-seeking students

This is the proper spelling and punctuation for the words describing students who are not pursuing academic degrees.


You can judge whether it requires a singular or plural verb by the article that precedes it. The  number requires a singular verb; a number requires a plural verb. Some examples:

The number of sororities on campus is increasing.

A number of professors are planning to retire this spring.



The names of offices are capitalized. The Office of Communications.


The correct spelling is online (not on-line)


"Over" is best used to describe a spatial relationship.

Example: The water flowed over the dam.

"More than" is preferred when dealing with numbers.

Example: Enrollment grew by more than 1,000 students.



The word Pioneer, in reference to our nickname, should be capitalized. 

Phone Numbers

List phone numbers using hyphens to separate all the sections.


When listing phone extensions internally, use a hyphen between the first and second numerals.

Ext. 5-0927


Capitalize this job descriptor when it appears in front of a name. Use lower case if it does not appear in front of a name.

Example: The students' projects were judged by Assistant Professor of Earth and Environmental Sciences Patty Oikawa.

Patty Oikawa, assistant professor of earth and environmental sciences, judged the students' projects.


Use only one space after a period.


Reason why

Redundant. Just use “reason.”



Lowercase the seasons winter, spring, summer, and fall unless they are part of a formal name such as the Winter Olympics. 


Do not capitalize "semester" or "term."

Example: Al Fresco takes place during fall semester.


Lowercase, one word.


Do not capitalize the word state.

Also, avoid redundancy. For instance, it is the California Legislature, not the California State Legislature.


The term student-athlete is hyphenated.



Do not capitalize "term" or "semester."

Example: She plans to finish her studies during the summer term.

That, which, who

The defining or restrictive pronoun is “that.” Use it when introducing non-parenthetic clauses: She works in the office that was remodeled. Do not set these clauses off with commas.

Use “who” when referring to a person with a name as the subject: The woman who works in the remodeled office.

The non-defining or non-restrictive pronoun is “which.” Use it when introducing parenthetic clauses: The book, which was published in 1998, has won many awards. Set these clauses off with commas.

“The” in names

Lowercase, unless the corporation, organization, or publication specifically spells it by capitalizing “The.” For example, the University of California, not The University of California. 

The at the start of titles of creative works is generally capitalized (The Canterbury Tales).

theater, theatre

Use "theatre" (the British spelling) only when the place, department, or person described uses that spelling. Cal State East Bay's "theatre" department uses that spelling, thus its professors are "theatre" professor and students majoring in that field are "theatre" majors.


Cal State East Bay theatre professor Marc Jacobs.

Cal State East Bay's theatre department.


Use a.m. and p.m. with periods and lowercase letters. In tabular matter, the periods can be omitted to save space.

In general, don't use both the day of the week and the day. The rule of thumb is to use the day of the week for events that are less than a week away. For events seven or more days away, use dates.

Example: The going-away reception is set for 2 p.m. Thursday at the New University Union. Or: The going-away reception is set for 2 p.m.. Aug. 30 at the New University Union. But not: The going-away reception is set for 2 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 30, in the New University Union.


Lowercase titles standing alone or in apposition.

The dean of the College of Business and Econonics must approve all research projects.

Contact the budget director for further information.

Suzanne Espinoza, vice president of student affairs, will speak.

Capitalize formal titles when they are used immediately before one or more names.

Example: Vice President Bill Johnson is in charge.

Titles, composition

The AP Stylebook does not italicize any titles.

Toward, not towards

Example: He moved toward the stage.



Be sure to use this identifier before the names of federal agencies when it is part of their name. This is necessary because sometimes state agencies have names that are identical to those of federal agencies. Only by including "U.S.," "Nevada," "Texas," etc. will readers be certain.

Example: He received a $500,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Energy. 



Webpage is one word, lowercase. "webpage"


Website is one word, lowercase. "website"

The university's website has a new look.

World Wide Web

Capitalize World Wide Web.

But: The shorter version, "the web," is lowercase.