General Style Guidelines
academic degrees. Mention only when necessary to establish someone’s credentials, but avoid abbreviation. Use a phrase such as “John Doe has a bachelor’s degree in education, a master’s degree in accounting and a doctorate in English. Jane Doe has a doctorate in chemistry.” Use an apostrophe and lowercase in bachelor’s and master’s. Doctorate or doctoral degree is acceptable; doctorate degree is redundant.
Use abbreviations B.A., M.A., M.B.A., Ph.D. only when the need to identify many individuals by degree on first reference would make the preferred form cumbersome. Use these abbreviations only after a full name—never after just a last name. When used after a name, an academic abbreviation is set off by commas: “Jane Doe, Ph.D., spoke at commencement.”
academic departments. Use lowercase except for words that are proper nouns or adjectives: “The department of history, the history department, the department of English, the English department” or when “department” is part of the official and formal name: “University of Missouri-Columbia Department of History.”
academic titles. Capitalize and spell out formal titles such as professor, dean, director, president, chancellor or chair only when they precede a name. Examples: Associate Professor John Doe; John Doe, associate professor; Professor and Chair Jane Doe; Jane Doe, professor and chair. Lowercase modifiers, as in history Professor John Smith. Long titles are more readable when placed after a name: “Jane Smith, dean of liberal arts and professor of English.”
acronyms. Try to avoid acronyms. Some are acceptable either because they are widely know—MOREnet, for example—or because there is no other short way to refer to the organization. When using an acronym on first reference, use the full name of the organization followed by the acronym in parentheses: “The Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) sponsored the event.” Subsequent references can use the acronym: “To be certified by DESE, a school’s achievement scores must be above average.”
ages. Always display age as a digit. Use hyphens when age is expressed as an adjective before a noun or as a substitute for a noun: “A 5-year-old boy.” Examples of when to not use hyphens: “The boy is 5 years old. The woman, 26, has a daughter 2 months old. The woman is in her 30s.
alumni. Use alumnus (alumni in the plural) when referring to a male who has attended a school. Use alumna (alumnae in the plural) for similar references to a female. Use alumni when referring to a group of both men and women.
awards and decorations. Capitalize formal names of awards: “Jane Doe received the UMKC Outstanding Alumni Award.”
board of directors, board of trustees. Always lowercase: “Active in community service, he also serves on the board of directors of the Independent School.”
building. Capitalize the proper names of buildings, including the word “building” if it is an integral part of the proper name: “The annual conference was held at the Empire State Building.”
capitalization. Capitalize titles that appear before a name; do not capitalize titles that appear after a name. Capitalize proper and official names, not general terms: “English department, history department.”
Examples: “The College of Business, the business college, the college; the Office of the Registrar, the registrar’s office, the registrar. Dr. Smith will teach Advanced Environmental Geology next semester. She will teach advanced geology.”
Capitol. Capitalize when referring to the building: “The Capitol is in Jefferson City, which is the capital city of Missouri.” Using “Capitol building” is redundant.
comma. Do not put a comma before the conjunction in a simple series: “The University of Missouri colors are gold, black, red, blue and silver.” Put a comma before the concluding conjunction in a series if an integral element of the series requires a conjunction or in a complex series of phrases.
committee names. Do not abbreviate. Capitalize when part of a formal name: “Senator Jones is a member of the House Appropriations Committee.” Do not capitalize committee in shortened versions of long committee names: “The Special Senate Committee to Investigate Higher Education Funding,” for example, becomes “the higher education funding committee.”
course work. Two words.
curators. Do not capitalize when used alone. See board of curators.
dates. Do not use “on” before a date: “The meeting was held May 18,” not “The meeting was held on May 18.” When the year follows the date in a sentence, set the year off with a comma: “The meeting was held July 01, 20XX, following the reception.”
directions and regions. In general, lowercase words when they indicate compass direction: north, south, northeast, northern, etc.,. Capitalize words when they designate regions: “mid-America, mid-Missouri, Midwest, midwestern Missouri.”
doctoral/doctorate. A person is a doctoral candidate in a program; working on a doctoral degree or doctorate. See academic degrees.
e.g., i.e. The abbreviation “e.g.” means “for example.” The abbreviation “i.e.” means “that is” or “in other words.” always follow e.g. and i.e. with a comma.
email. One word, no hyphen.
emerita, emeritus. Individuals who meet certain criteria retain their rank or title when they retire (see Collected Rules and Regulations, 320.090). Emerita refers to the rank or title of a female and emeritus refers to the rank or title of a male. Capitalize if preceding the name: “Professor Emeritus John Doe.” Lowercase after the formal title: “Jane Doe, associate professor emerita of journalism.”
ex officio. Do not hyphenate or italicize. Use as an adjective or an adverb: “He is an ex officio member of the committee.”
executive order/executive guidelines. Executive orders/guidelines can only be enacted by the president of the university. An executive order specifies a new rule or subject matter that is not already part of the collected rules. An executive guideline defines how a rule is going to be utilized or implemented. Lowercase both.
Federal, federal. Use a capital letter for governmental bodies that use the word as part of their formal name: “The Federal Trade Commission.” Lowercase when used as an adjective: “The federal government will review the policy.”
fellow, fellowship. Capitalize in combination with the name of a granting organization: “Jane Doe received a Fulbright Fellowship” and when used as a title preceding a name, “Faculty Fellow John Doe.” When used alone, use lowercase: “John Doe is a faculty fellow in academic affairs.”
fractions. Spell out amounts less than one, using hyphens between the words: one-half, two-thirds, four-fifths. When writing fractions combined with whole numbers use figures with a space between the whole number and the fraction: 2 1/3, 5 9/10, 8 13/16.
full time, full-time. Do not hyphenate unless used as an adjective: “He is a full-time faculty member. She teaches full time.”
fundraising, fundraiser. One word in all cases.
General Assembly. Missouri’s legislative body. First reference should be: Missouri General Assembly. Second references: General Assembly, assembly or legislature.
general revenue. Lowercase: “The budget includes general revenue appropriations.”
governor. 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. See titles.
Examples: “Gov. John Doe spoke at the alumni alliance event. The governor said higher education funding is a priority.
italics. Italicize names of books, newspapers, magazines, movies, television shows, record albums or CDs, paintings, works of art, photographs, ships, spacecraft, theater productions, legal cases, books of the bible, and works of music. Movements and television series episodes should be in quotes.
legislative titles. First reference, use Rep., Reps., Sen. and Sens. as formal titles before one or more names in regular text. Spell out and capitalize these titles before one or more names in a direct quotation. Spell out and lowercase representative and senator in other uses. Add U.S. or state before a title only if necessary to avoid confusion: “U.S. Sen. Jane Doe spoke with state Sen. Sally Jones.”
Rep. and U.S. Rep. are the preferred first-reference forms when a formal title is used before the name of a U.S. House member. The words congressman and congresswoman, in lowercase, may be used in subsequent references that do not use an individual’s name. Congressman and congresswoman should appear as capitalized formal titles before a name only in direct quotation.
months. When a month is used with a specific date, abbreviate only Jan., Feb., Aug., Sept., Oct., Nov. and Dec. Do not abbreviate March, April, May, June and July. Spell out when using alone or with a year alone. When a phrase lists only a month and a year, do not separate with a comma. When a phrase refers to a month, day and year, set off the year with a comma.
Examples: “Professor Doe came to the university in March 1990. Professor Doe’s anniversary date is Sept. 2. Professor Doe, who has been at the university since March 10, 1990, was appointed dean on Feb. 6, 1996.”
numerals. Use figures for the following: addresses; ages; dates; dimensions; highways; before the words millions, billions or trillions; money starting with million (write as $12 million, not $12,000,000); number (no. 1, no. 2); percentages (except at the beginning of a sentence).
Use words instead of figures for numbers less than 10, any number starting a sentence except for a year and casual numbers: “Three individuals led the two-day retreat which attracted more than a hundred participants.” Use words instead of figures for fractions less than one: one-half. Use mixed numbers for fractions greater than one: 1 1/2, 2 5/8, 3 3/4.
Use Roman numerals for a man who is the third or later in his family to bear a name, or for a king, queen, pope or world war: John D. Rockefeller III, Pope John Paul II, Queen Elizabeth II, World War I.
Do not use “over” or “under” in relation to numbers: “The initiative was supported by over 180 institutions.” Instead, use “more than,” “less than” or “fewer than.”
online. One word, not hyphenated.
organizations and institutions. Capitalize the full names of organizations and institutions: “the American Medical Association; UMSL Alumni Association.” Use lowercase for internal elements of an organization when they have names that are widely used generic terms: “the history department of the Missouri University of Science and Technology, the sports desk of The Missourian.”
percent. One word, spelled out. Takes a singular verb when standing alone or when a singular word follows an “of” construction: “Professor Doe said that 60 percent was a failing grade; the chair said that 60 percent of the faculty attended the board meeting.” Percent takes a plural verb when a plural word follows an “of” construction: “60 percent of the faculty members were on sabbatical last year; or most of the faculty members have been on sabbatical.”
Use figures for percents: 1 percent, 2.5 percent; 0.6 percent. Repeat the word percent with each individual figure: “The report indicated that 10 percent to 35 percent of the students were polled.” Do not use the symbol %.
quotation marks. Place the period and comma within the quotation marks. Use a dash, semicolon, question mark or exclamation point within the quotation marks when they apply to the quote; place them outside the quotation marks when the apply to the entire sentence.
ranges. Correct form is $12 million to $14 million. Do not use: $12 to $14 million or $12-$14 million. Rule also applies to using the word percent: 18 percent to 20 percent.
says, said. Among attributive verbs, use “says” and “said.” To avoid monotony, use such substitutes as “went on,” “continued” or “added.”
seasons. Lowercase spring, summer, fall, winter and derivatives such as springtime unless part of a formal name as in Summer Olympics and Winter Olympics.
semester. Do not capitalize. “He enrolled in the fall semester 20XX.”
state. Lowercase in all “state of ” constructions: “the state of Missouri.” Do not capitalize when used simply as an adjective to specify a level of jurisdiction: “the state Transportation Department, state funds.”
state names. Spell out the names of the 50 states when they stand alone in textual material. Any state name may be condensed to fit typographical requirements for tabular material. Use the two-letter postal service abbreviations only with full addresses, including ZiP code.
telephone numbers. Use figures with area codes in parentheses: (573) 882-0000 or 1 (800) 884-0000. For extension numbers, use: Ext. 2, Ext. 364, Ext. 4071.
that, which, who. The defining or restrictive pronoun is that. Use 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 when introducing parenthetic clauses: “The book, which was published in 1996, won a Caldecott medal.” Set these clauses off with commas.
time. Always use figures, except use “midnight” and “noon” (rather than “12 a.m.” and “12 p.m.”) to avoid confusion. Use lowercase type and periods, but no spaces, with “a.m.” and “p.m.”
titles, courtesy. In general, do not use the courtesy titles Miss, Ms., Mr., Mrs. After initial reference to a person’s professional title and first and last names, use the last name in subsequent references: “Professor John Doe attended the hearing. Doe spoke on the importance of higher education.”
underrepresented. One word.
website/webpage. One word, do not capitalize.
–wide. No hyphen, as in: systemwide, industrywide, campuswide, nationwide, statewide, worldwide.
World Wide Web. Capitalize. “The Web” can also be used on first reference. Capitalize when using an Internet address: “Find us on the Web at www.umsystem.edu.”
years. Use figures without commas: 1975. Use an “s” without an apostrophe to indicate spans of decades or centuries: the 1800s, the 1890s. Avoid “by the year 2000,” when “by 2000” is sufficient. For abbreviated forms, use: ’30s, ’45, ’50s—’60s.
Use a comma following a year to set it off: “The House Higher Education Committee heard testimony on Friday, March 28, 2010, on the higher education budget.”
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