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Editorial Style Guide


Our institution’s “house style” for university communications is based heavily on the Associated Press Stylebook. For additional reference, consult Merriam Webster Website or Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary. When writing for academic publications, follow the appropriate style for your discipline (e.g., American Psychological Association, Modern Language Association).

A — B

Letter A

  • a.m., p.m. Lowercase, with periods. Avoid the redundant 7 a.m. tomorrow morning.
  • abbreviations and acronyms If an acronym is clear on the second reference, avoid following an organization’s full name with the acronym in parentheses.
    • California State University, Long Beach opened in 1949. CSULB is a top public university in the West.
    • Universally recognized abbreviations are acceptable on first reference such as USA, NASA, NBC, IRS, CIA.
    • Before a name: Abbreviate these titles when used before a full name outside direct quotations: Dr., Gov., Lt. Gov., Mr., Mrs., Rep., the Rev., Sen. and certain military designations (See the AP Stylebook). Spell out all except Dr., Mr., Mrs. and Ms. when they are used before a      name in direct quotations. “President Conoley, what is your view on this subject?”
    • After a name: Abbreviate Jr. or Sr. after an individual’s name. Abbreviate Co., Corp., Inc. and Ltd. following the name of a corporate entity. In general, abbreviate academic degrees after an individual’s name. Mary Smith, Ph.D.
    • Dates or Numerals: Use the abbreviations A.D., B.C., C.E., a.m., p.m. and No. Abbreviate months when used with the day of the month. 450 B.C.; 9:30 a.m.; Room No. 6; Sept. 16, 1977. The months of March, April, May, June, July are always spelled out.
  • academic degrees Associated Press prefers that Dr. only be used for persons with medical degrees, not academic degrees. If mention of degrees is necessary to establish someone’s credentials, the preferred form is to use text: John Jones, who has a doctorate in psychology. (Note that doctoral is an adjective, doctorate a noun). Use an apostrophe in bachelor’s degree, a master’s, etc. Use such abbreviations as B.A., M.A., LL.D. and Ph.D. only after a full name, never after just a last name. An academic degree is set off by commas: Daniel Moynihan, Ph.D., spoke. Do not use both a courtesy title and the degree abbreviation: Dr. David Gold, a dentist; not Dr. David Gold, D.D.S.
    • Degrees take periods and no spaces between letters except for MBA: B.A., M.A., M.F.A., M.D., LL.D., Ph.D., D.D.S., Ed.D., Th.D.
    • academic honors Italicize Latin terms: cum laude–with honors; magna cum laude–with high honors; summa cum laude–with highest honors.
  • academic majors Lowercase unless they involve a proper noun. Roberto is majoring in religious studies. Susan is an Italian studies major.
  • academic titles Capitalize and spell out formal titles, such as Professor, Director, Chairman, etc. preceding a name. Lowercase elsewhere. President Jane Close Conoley but Jane Close Conoley, president or the president.
    • Lowercase terms that are job descriptions rather than titles: biochemist Susan Jones; visiting lecturer Alan Smith. Lowercase modifiers, such as department in department Chairman John Smith.
  • academic units Uppercase full titles for first mention. The abbreviation in parenthesis is acceptable for additional mentions:
    • College of the Arts (COTA)
    • College of Business (COB)
    • College of Professional and International Education (CPIE)
    • College of Education (CED)
    • College of Engineering (COE)
    • College of Health and Human Services (CHHS)
    • College of Liberal Arts (CLA)
    • College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics (CNSM)
    • School of Nursing
    • Graduate Center for Public Policy and Administration
    • Lowercase nonspecific references: The school enrolls 850 undergraduates. The department will be closed on Monday.
    • See also: building and facility names; campus offices and services
  • ad hoc Do not hyphenate or italicize. Used as an adjective or adverb. An ad hoc style guide committee. A committee to investigate the student’s concern was formed ad hoc.
  • addresses Abbreviate St., Ave., Blvd. only with numbered addresses. The White House is at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. Turn left on Oak Street.
  • The United States Postal Services requires two-letter state abbreviations for addresses on envelopes. The names of most states are abbreviated with periods when following a city or town (postal abbreviations in parentheses). Alaska (AK), Hawaii (HI), Idaho (ID), Iowa (IA), Maine (ME), Ohio (OH), Texas (TX) and Utah (UT) are spelled out in text.
    • Ala. (AL)
    • Ariz. (AZ)
    • Ark. (AR)
    • Calif. (CA)
    • Colo. (CO)
    • Conn. (CT)
    • Del. (DE)
    • Fla. (FL)
    • Ga. (GA)
    • Ill. (IL)
    • Ind. (IN)
    • Kan. (KS)
    • Ky. (KY)
    • La. (LA)
    • Md. (MD)
    • Mass. (MA)
    • Mich. (MI)
    • Minn. (MN)
    • Miss. (MS)
    • Mo. (MO)
    • Mont. (MT)
    • N.C. (NC)
    • Neb. (NE)
    • N.H. (NH)
    • N.J. (NJ)
    • N.M. (NM)
    • N.Y. (NY)
    • N.D. (ND)
    • Okla. (OK)
    • Ore. (OR)
    • Pa. (PA)
    • R.I. (RI)
    • S.C. (SC)
    • S.D. (SD)
    • Tenn. (TN)
    • Vt. (VT)
    • Va. (VA)
    • Wash. (WA)
    • W.Va. (WV)
    • Wis. (WI)
    • Wyo. (WY)
  • adjunct faculty member Lowercase.
  • administration, administrator Lowercase. Do not abbreviate.
  • adviser Not advisor.
  • African-American Acceptable usage when referring to Black Americans. Black also is acceptable. (See Black). However, when possible, follow the person’s preference.
  • ages Always use numerals. Ages expressed as adjectives before a noun or as substitutes for a noun use hyphens. He has a 2-year-old daughter. They have a 3-month-old son. But: He is 12 years old. The law is 8 years old. The woman is in her 50s (no apostrophe).
  • all time, all-time An all-time high, but the greatest quarterback of all time. Avoid the redundant phrase all-time record.
  • alumni In lists, alumni are generally grouped by degree year followed by name, degree and major and listed in alphabetical order by last name. Separate multiple degrees by semi-colons. Lowercase names of degrees except if a proper noun. 1971 Janice Silverberg, B.A., Spanish; 1975, M.A., education. Robert Smith, B.A., history.
    • Generally, list individuals by year of graduation, older to newer.
    • For individual names in text, add a comma between the name and degree, with no comma before or after the year: David Brown, MBA ’98 gave a leading gift.
    • Couples: If both are alumni, include the graduation year with each of their names: David ’98 and Carol (Taylor) Brown ’99.
  • All-America/All-American An individual team member may be called an All-American. However, the correct adjectival form is All-America: Taylor Crabb earned AVCA first-team All-America men’s volleyball honors.
  • all right Two words; not alright.
  • alumnus, alumni, alumna, alumnae Alumnus (plural: alumni) refers to a man who has attended a school; alumna (alumnae) for a woman. Use alumni when referring to a group of men and women. Distinguished Alumni Award is a proper title referring to both men and women of CSULB who receive the honor.
  • American Indian Preferred usage. Where possible, use the name of the tribe. He is a Navajo commissioner. Native American is acceptable; follow the person’s preference.
  • among, between Use between when referring to two and among for more than two people or items: The funds were divided among the student groups. However, between is the correct word when expressing the relationships of three or more items considered one pair at a time: Negotiations are under way between the networks and three political parties.
    • As with all prepositions, any pronouns that follow these words must be in the objective case: between him and her, between you and me, among us.
  • ampersand (&) Use only for corporations and organizations that use it: AT&T. If unsure, check the organization’s website.
  • annual An annual event is one that has been held at least two successive years. Instead of first annual, use inaugural.
  • art museum The university's art museum is the Carolyn Campagna Kleefeld Contemporary Art Museum. The only informal shortened reference is the "Kleefeld Contemporary."
  • Asian Not Asiatic or Oriental when referring to people. Asian-American refers to people of Asian ancestry living in the United States. Specific national ancestry may be preferred; follow individual preference.
  • assistant Do not abbreviate. Capitalize only when part of a formal title before a name.
  • association Do not abbreviate. Capitalize as part of a proper name: American Medical Association.
  • at large Two words, not hyphenated: councilman at large.
  • athletics director Not “athletic.” Formal: Director of Intercollegiate Athletics.
  • attorney, lawyer Interchangeable in common usage. Do not abbreviate attorney or use the suffix Esq. (Esquire).
  • avenue Abbreviate only in numbered addresses: Turn left on Ocean Avenue. He lives at 122 Ocean Ave.

Letter B

  • baccalaureate a bachelor's degree; an academic degree received upon the completion of a student's undergraduate education.
  • bachelor of arts, bachelor of science A bachelor’s degree or bachelor’s is acceptable.
    • See also: academic degrees
  • back up (v.) backup (n. and adj.) No hyphen.
  • Band-Aid Trademark; hyphenate and capitalize. Do not use as a generic term for bandage.
  • because, since Use because to denote a specific cause-effect relationship: He went because he was told. Use since in a causal sense when one event led logically to a second but was not its direct cause: They went to the game, since they had been given tickets.
  • beside, besides The preposition beside means by the side of, as in beside the road. It is also used in idioms like beside the point and beside myself with rage. Besides is used as a preposition meaning in addition to: Besides the dean, 10 others attended the meeting. Besides is also used as an adverb meaning in addition: The dean remained silent on the issue; besides, she was there only to observe.
  • bestseller But best-selling book.
  • Big West Conference The athletic league to which CSULB belongs. Where the athletic emphasis is understood, use Big West: She was named Big West Player of the Week.
  • between you and me Not between you and I.
  • biannual, biennial Biannual and semiannual mean twice a year. Biennial means every two years.
  • bias-free language Avoid reference to gender, race, age, sexual orientation, ethnic background or physical condition if it is not germane to the story.
    • Avoid elderly and senior in reference to an individual. For an appropriate group reference, “seniors” is preferred.
    • Use people or residents of the community instead of citizens of the community, as not all of the members of a community are citizens.
    • The term disabled is preferable to handicapped. The phrase people with disabilities is preferable to the disabled.
    • Do not use a disease to describe an individual. For example, do not use He is a diabetic, but rather, He has diabetes. One acceptable variation is survivor of, as in She is a survivor of cancer.
    • Gender neutrality: Avoid s/he” and his/her. Be sensitive to gender-specific terms and titles. Use police officer, firefighter, server, chair, workers (unless chairman is an official organizational title), flight attendant, supervisor, humanity. Also, for man the booth, substitute staff the booth.
    • Avoid racial and ethnic designation unless pertinent to the story.
    • Sexual orientation: Most individuals of same-sex orientation prefer gay or lesbian to homosexual.
  • Bible Capitalize, without quotation marks or italics when referring to the religious book. Also capitalize related terms, such as the Gospels, the Old Testament, the Holy Scriptures. Lowercase biblical in all usage. Lowercase bible in nonreligious use, such as that textbook is my bible.
  • billion A thousand million. Use the word billion following the main number: 13 billion, 5.3 billion. Do not hyphenate when used in a phrase such as a $3 billion fundraising campaign.
  • bimonthly Means every other month. Semimonthly means twice a month.
  • birthday Capitalize when part of a holiday. Washington’s Birthday. Lowercase otherwise.
  • birth name, former name Preferable to maiden name. A married woman who retains her birth name as her surname should always be identified as such. Put birth names of alumnae in parentheses unless she normally uses it: Carol (Taylor) Brown.
  • biweekly Means every other week. Semiweekly means twice a week.
  • Black Capitalize as either noun or adjective in a racial, ethnic or cultural sense. May also use African-American (see African American). Follow the person’s preference.
  • blind Describes a person with complete loss of sight. For others, use visually impaired.
  • board Capitalize only when an integral part of a proper name: Board of Trustees but the board, the trustees. She is a board member.
  • building and facility names Capitalize the proper names of buildings, including the word Building if it is part of the name. In outside media usage, use the complete name of the building in the first reference, for example, Hall of Science. In successive references, the acronym HSCI is acceptable. See the CSULB Campus Map for official building names.

C — D

Letter C

  • California State University Spell out on first reference, as other institutions such as Colorado State University also use the CSU acronym; CSU is acceptable on second reference. The terms systemwide, universitywide and campuswide are without hyphens. Lowercase university when used alone.
    • Refer to the central administration of the California State University as the Office of the Chancellor.
    • Spell out the name of CSU campuses on first reference. Follow the campus name preference, as several campuses have different official and branding names: San Diego State University is the official name. Fresno State is the branding name for California State University, Fresno.
  • California State University, Long Beach Please refer to the “Nomenclature” section of the university’s Brand Central website.
  • California State University, Long Beach Research Foundation The name of the nonprofit auxiliary organization that supports research, entrepreneurship, community service, sponsored programs and the acquisition of private resources. On second reference use CSULB Research Foundation or the Research Foundation.
  • California State University, Long Beach 49er Foundation The name of the nonprofit auxiliary organization that promotes philanthropy and manages donated resources to advance the university. On second reference use the CSULB 49er Foundation or the 49er Foundation.
  • campaign Capitalize this when referring to the full title of a major fundraising drive, such as the CSULB Declare Campaign; use the campaign (lowercase) in subsequent references.
  • campus Capitalize only when used as part of a formal name. Lowercase in all other uses. The singular possessive is campus's.
  • campus offices and services Capitalize if part of its official name: Student Health Services. On second reference, if abbreviations are used, the letters are uppercase with no periods.
  • capitalization In general, avoid unnecessary capitals. Capitalize proper nouns, proper names, and the principal words in titles of compositions including books, movies, songs, works of art, or when they are part of the full name for a person, place or thing: Democratic Party, Mississippi River. Lowercase when they stand alone in subsequent references: the party, the river. Capitalize the proper names of one-of-a-kind events: the Series (for the World Series), the Derby (Kentucky Derby) and words that are derived from a proper noun and still depend on it for their meaning: American, Shakespearean. Lowercase words that are derived from a proper noun but no longer depend on it for their meaning: french fries, herculean, manhattan cocktail, venetian blind.
    • Capitalize the first word in a statement that stands as a sentence, including quotations and questions. Patrick Henry said, “Give me liberty or give me death.”
    • Capitalize the principal words in the names of books, movies, plays, poems, operas, songs, radio and television programs, works of art, etc. In poetry, capital letters are used for the first words of some phrases that would not be capitalized in prose.
    • Capitalize formal titles when used immediately before a name. Lowercase formal titles when used alone or in constructions that set them off from a name by commas.
    • Use lowercase for terms that are job descriptions rather than formal titles.
    • Do not capitalize university department names or majors unless it is a formal noun or is fully spelled out: She is a history major. Nancy Quam-Wickham is History Department chair.
  • captions A caption may be a complete sentence or a tagline (name only, or name and title). Do not use a period with a tagline. Write captions in the present tense. If there are only two persons in a photo, do not use left and right: Mary Hazelton, left, and Larry Silverberg review plans for this year’s Strawberry Festival.
  • catalog, cataloged, cataloger, cataloging Not “catalogue” except when a formal title of a publication.
  • center Lowercase unless part of a title; Learning Assistance Center, the center.
  • century Lowercase unless part of a title.
  • Chicano, Chicana, Hispanic, Latino, Mexican-American All should be capitalized and are not necessarily interchangeable. Hispanic and Latino are general terms for persons descended from a Spanish-speaking nation. Follow the person’s preference. 
  • coed May be used informally to refer to coeducation; do not use as a term for female students.
  • college and university names Spell out and capitalize as part of formal name: Long Beach City College; Stanford University. Lowercase the college, the academy, etc.
    • Check the institution’s website for its preferred name, as some are best known by a marketing name rather than its formal name: Fresno State (officially California State University, Fresno). UCLA and USC are acceptable on first reference.
  • colloquium, colloquia (pl.) An academic seminar on a broad field of study.
  • colon Commonly used to introduce lists or long quotations or give emphasis. Capitalize the first word after a colon only if it is a proper noun or the start of a complete sentence. Colons go outside quotation marks unless they are part of the quotation itself. A colon also can be used in a question-and-answer format.
  • comma When used to separate words in a series, do not use in front of the conjunction. The flag is red, white and blue. Put a comma before the concluding conjunction in a series if an element of the series requires a conjunction: I had orange juice, toast, and ham and eggs for breakfast. Also use a comma before the concluding conjunction in a complex series of phrases: 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.
  • Commencement, Convocation Capitalize when referring to these CSULB events.
  • committee Do not abbreviate. Capitalize only when part of a formal name.
  • company names Generally abbreviate company and corporation. Ford Motor Co. (possessive form is Ford Motor Co.’s); but the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. Check the organization’s website for its preferred name.
  • composition titles Capitalize principal words, including prepositions and conjunctions of more than four letters except at the beginning or end of sentences. Italicize book titles but put chapter titles in quotations.
  • compound nouns Consult the Merriam-Webster Dictionary or AP Stylebook for hyphenation.
  • consensus Consensus means agreement of opinion; consensus of opinion is redundant.
  • course names Do not italicize or place course names in quotation marks. Do not use punctuation between the course number and the course name if used together: He teaches ENGL 100 Composition II.
  • coursework One word.
  • courtesy titles In general, omit Mr., Mrs., Miss or Ms. when using first and last names unless in formal correspondence.
  • co- (prefix) Words formed with co- are usually spelled without a hyphen; co-worker and others are exceptions. Also use the hyphen with co-author, co-chairman, co-editor, co-host, co-op, co-opt, co-wrote.
  • credit hours This term is redundant; use credits or units.
  • criterion, criteria Criterion is singular; criteria is plural.
  • currently At this time; now. May be redundant if it’s clear the action is under way: He is a criminal justice major.

Letter D

  • dais/podium/lectern A dais or podium is a raised platform used for public speaking. A lectern is the stand holding the speaker’s presentation materials.
  • data Usually a plural noun, as in The data have been carefully collected, though it may take a singular verb when used as a collective noun, describing a group or quantity as a unit, as in The data is sound.
  • database One word.
  • dates Usually written as time/day/date: The committee will meet at 3 p.m. Monday, May 22. Spell out days of the week. Abbreviate Jan., Feb., Aug., Sept., Oct., Nov., Dec. when used with a date, but spell out when using alone or with a year alone.
    • When listing only month and year, do not use a comma: January 2014 was a cold month. Jan. 2 was the coldest day.
    • Do not use “st,” “nd,” “rd” or “th.” Omit spaces before or after a hyphen used with days, dates and times: May-June; Nov. 4-6; 3-5 p.m. Friday-Sunday. In a sentence, use from and to instead of a hyphen and spell out years: She worked here from 1992 to 1994.
  • day care Two words. When used as a compound adjective, do not hyphenate: day care center.
  • dean Capitalize before a name, otherwise lowercase.
  • decades Pluralize with s, no apostrophe: the 1970s; the ’70s.
  • degrees Capitalize the full degree title, lowercase the shorter form. Bachelor of Arts degree, B.A., bachelor’s degree, doctorate. AP only uses the title Dr. for medical degrees, not academic degrees. If relevant to the story, use John Smith, who has a doctorate in history. She has a B.A. in history.
  • department names Use the full name and capitals on the first reference, otherwise lowercase. Paul Laris is chair of the Department of Geography. The geography department received a new grant. For proper names of academic departments, consult the CSULB website and Catalog.
  • dialogue, dialogued, dialoguing Not dialog.
  • different Takes the preposition from, not than.
  • directions and regions In general, lowercase east, western, northeast, etc., when referring to a compass direction and uppercase when referring to a region: Southern accent, the West Coast, South Pacific, Southern California.
  • director Lowercase before and after names; do not abbreviate: Learning Assistance Center director Linda Sarbo is planning the conference.
  • Dirtbag, Dirtbags Nickname of the Beach baseball team.
  • diseases and medical conditions Do not capitalize types, e.g., cancer, diabetes, etc. When a disease is known by the name of a person, capitalize only the individual’s name: Parkinson’s disease, Down syndrome (not Down’s).
  • disinterested Means impartial. Uninterested means not interested.
  • doctor In promotional materials, use Dr. in the first reference to someone who holds a health-related degree such as a physician, osteopath, veterinarian, optometrist or dentist, and physical therapists or nurse practitioners who hold DPT or DNP degrees. Omit Dr. for individuals holding academic doctorates except in faculty lists on websites or in official correspondence.
  • doctoral, doctorate Doctoral is an adjective, doctorate is a noun. He is working on his doctoral thesis; when it is complete, he will receive his doctorate.

E — I

Letter E


  • each and every Redundant
    • e.g., i.e.  Both are Latin: e.g. means for example; i.e. means that is. Both are usually followed by a comma.
  • email No hyphen
  • e-words When referring to electronic, use lowercase e and hyphen for e-business, e-commerce, etc, except at the beginning of a sentence or unless as a formal name such as eHow.
  • emeritus The masculine form is emeritus (singular), emeriti (plural); feminine: emerita, emeritae. Capitalize before a name, lowercase after. Professor Emerita Elaine Haglund will speak to the committee.
  • endowed chairs and professorships Capitalize full title: Matt Becker, Conrey Endowed Chair in Hydrogeology.
  • ensure, insure, assure Ensure is to make sure something happens. Insure means to issue an insurance policy. Assure is to express confidence.
  • entitled Deserving or having the right, not bearing the title. A book is titled, not entitled.
  • et al. A Latin abbreviation meaning and others. It is most appropriate in formal and academic styles. There is a period after al. but not after et, which is a complete word: Professors Ruiz, Randall, Swenson, et al. were present at the meeting.
  • ethnic group designations Different designations are acceptable to different groups when they are referring to themselves. Follow the individual’s preference.
    • African-American: Black (capitalized) also is acceptable.
    • American Indian/Native American: Include specific tribal designations when possible; Cherokee, Yurok, etc. The term Indian always is uppercase. Native American is a proper noun, so do not hyphenate even when using it as an adjective.
    • Asian-American: Refers to people of Asian ancestry living in the United States. When possible, be more specific about the person’s nation of origin: Japanese-American.
    • Latino/Hispanic Latino or Latina (capitalized) often is preferred for persons whose background is from a Spanish-speaking nation, but Hispanic also is acceptable. Spanish refers to Spain. Regional designations and nationalities such as Mexican, Cuban, etc., are preferred when they are more accurate.
    • Philippines, Filipino: A person from the Philippines is Filipino.
  • everybody, everyone Everybody and everyone take singular verbs. However, they or their are both acceptable second references: Everyone remembered to return their books.
  • exhibit/exhibition Use exhibit as a verb, exhibition as a noun: She exhibited paintings in the New Artists Exhibition. Names of exhibitions or exhibits and names of works of art should appear in italics: Spring at Giverny, an exhibition of Monet’s works, includes the magnificent Waterlilies.
  • ex officio Do not hyphenate or italicize.
  • ex- (prefix) Use with a hyphen to designate former.

Letter F

  • faculty, staff Each refers to groups of people and may take singular or plural verbs depending on context: The faculty is present. The faculty has appealed the resolution. The staff need a committee representative.
  • faculty rank Include faculty rank in written material: Connie Estrada Ireland, professor of criminology and criminal justice; Yuan (Judy) Lin, assistant professor of accountancy. Adjunct faculty or lecturer may be used for persons in those positions. Faculty may be collectively referred to as professors: The professors are collaborating on the grant.
  • fall, spring, summer Generally do not capitalize, and do not use in the [season] of…; instead, The new major starts in fall 2015.
  • farther, further Farther refers to physical distance: He walked farther into the woods. Further refers to an extension of time or degree: She will look further into the situation.
  • federal Use a capital letter for the architectural style and in the formal names of corporate or governmental agencies: Federal Express, Federal Trade Commission. Lowercase when used as an adjective: federal assistance, federal government.
  • fellow, fellowship Lowercase when used alone but capitalize when used with the name of a granting organization. She received an NSF Graduate Research Fellowship. She was one of four fellows chosen from California.
  • fewer, less Use fewer when referring to objects that are identifiable by number: We have fewer students this year. Fewer than 100 members voted. Use less for bulk or quantity: The new package weighed less.
  • foreign words and phrases Use familiar foreign words (bon voyage) as appropriate, but place more obscure words in italics and provide an explanation: ad astra per aspera, a Latin phrase meaning “to the stars through difficulty.”
  • foundation Capitalize when part of an official name, otherwise lowercase.
  • fractions Spell out amounts less than one, using hyphens: two-thirds, seven-sixteenths, etc. Numerals such as 16½, 15¾ are acceptable, but convert to figures with decimals when practical.
  • freelance One word.
  • freshman/freshmen (n. or adj.) Also can use first-year student(s).
  • FTE Full-time equivalent.
  • Fulbright Uppercase an official title: Fulbright Scholar Award(s), Fulbright Distinguished Fellow(s), but lowercase informal references: a Fulbright award.
  • full time/full-time Hyphenate when used as a compound modifier. He works full time. She has a full-time job.
  • fundraiser/fundraising One word in all cases.

Letter G

  • gay/lesbian Gay is the preferred term for men, lesbian for women. Use gay and lesbian only when space doesn’t permit the entire preferred term, which is lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender. On second reference, LGBT is acceptable. When addressing to correspondence to couples, ask the individuals about their salutation preferences. List names alphabetically by last name when both use Mr. or Ms. An Honorable, Rev. or Dr. title generally is listed first. lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender On second reference of the phrase, may use LGBT in all capitals.
  • genus, species In scientific or biological names, capitalize the first or generic Latin name for the class of plant or animal and lowercase the species that follows. Homo sapiens, Tyrannosaurus rex.
  • government agencies Capitalize the full proper names of governmental agencies, departments and offices: the U.S. Department of State, the California Conservation Corps, the Long Beach City Council; however, lowercase the city of….
  • graphic identity See the Digital Style Guide for using the university seal and other identifying marks as well as for templates for print and digital communications materials. For Athletics, see the Long Beach State Athletics Visual Identity Guide.
  • grade point average GPA, no periods.
  • grades Use capital letters, no quotation marks. Use apostrophes for plurals. He has a B average. She earned A’s and B’s last semester.
  • groundbreaking, groundbreaking ceremony One word, no hyphen. It was a groundbreaking discovery. The groundbreaking ceremony is Tuesday.
  • Greek alphabet Spell out and capitalize the letters of fraternities, sororities and other Greek letter societies; e.g., Eta Sigma Gamma. Scientific notation also uses lower case. The Greek alphabet is accessible from the Symbols menu in Microsoft Word.​
Upper Case Lower Case Name         
Α α Alpha
Β β Beta
Γ  γ Gamma
Δ  δ  Delta
Ε ε  Epsilon
Ζ ζ Zeta
Η η Eta
Θ θ Theta
Ι ι Iota
Κ  κ Kappa
Λ λ Lambda
Μ μ Mu
Ν  ν Nu
Ξ ξ Xi
Ο ο Omicron
Π π Pi
Ρ ρ Rho
Σ σ Sigma
Τ τ  Tau 
Υ υ  Upsilon
Φ φ Phi
Χ χ Chi
Ψ  ψ Psi
Ω ω Omega

Letter H

  • healthcare One word.
  • historical periods and events Capitalize names of widely recognized epochs: the Dark Ages, the Middle Ages, the Renaissance, the Civil War, the Atomic Age, Prohibition, the Great Depression. Capitalize only the proper name in general descriptions of a period: medieval France, the Victorian era, the fall of Rome.
  • homecoming Uppercase when referring to a specific event, lowercase when a general reference. CSULB’s Homecoming is Saturday.
  • home page Two words.
  • honors Lowercase honorary degree, honorary doctorate, honors thesis.
  • hyphen Use to form a single idea from two or more words: quick-witted, second-rate, hand-picked. A compound modifier is hyphenated when it comes before a noun but not when it follows it. She is a well-known singer. The singer is well known. Exception: Do not use a hyphen after the adverb very or adverbs ending in ly. She is a very well known singer. It is an easily remembered rule. Use a suspended hyphen when the modifying word is doing double duty: second- and third-year students.

Letter I

  • impact Do not use as a verb. Use affect(ed) or influence(d). His decision had great impact. His decision affected our lives.
  • imply, infer To imply means to suggest: The evidence strongly implied her guilt. To infer means to draw from: They inferred from the evidence that she was guilty.
  • Inc. Use without a comma before it.
  • Indigenous Capitalize this term used to refer to original inhabitants of a place.
  • in-residence Hyphenate and lowercase when used generically or following an individual’s name: John Smith, artist-in-residence, will be on campus this fall. As a formal title rather than occupational title, capitalize before a person’s name: When will Artist-in-Residence John Smith give his lecture?
  • initials Use periods and no space when an individual uses initials instead of a first name. H.L. Mencken.
  • Internet Capitalize. Not synonymous with the World Wide Web (Web). The Internet also includes other digital communications such as email.
  • italics Use italics for emphasis and for more obscure foreign words and phrases. Italicize words used as words: The word sensitivity connotes responsiveness. Italicize the names of books, long works and compositions, works of art and art exhibitions, legal cases, magazines, pamphlets, long poems, plays, movies, television series, television programs, symphonies, and operas: Dateline ran the segment “Telephone Fraud” last week. Jane Austen wrote Sense and Sensibility.
  • Isabel Patterson Child Development Center  The Isabel Patterson Child Development Center (IPCDC) provides a service to students who are also parents of young children, offering affordable on-campus child care.

L — O

Letter L


  • lady Do not use as a synonym for woman.
  • Latino See ethnic group designations
  • lecturer, lectures, lectureships Lecturer or adjunct faculty are occupational rather than formal titles and thus lowercased, even before a name. Capitalize primary words and do not put quotation marks around lecture series names but do put quotes around lecture titles: Professor Ei-ichi Negishi spoke on the “Magical Power of d-Block Transition Metals” at the 35th Nobel Laureate Lecture. See also: academic titles
  • legislative titles Abbreviate Rep., Reps., Sen. and Sens. in first reference but omit afterward. Spell out and lowercase representative and senator in other uses. Spell out other titles (assemblyman, council member, delegate) and capitalize only before a name.
  • lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender On second reference of the phrase, may use LGBT or LGBTQ in all capitals.

Letter M

  • magazine names Use italics, not quotation marks. Lowercase the word magazine unless it is part of the formal title: Beach Magazine, Newsweek magazine. Note the correct name is U.S. News & World Report. If in doubt, check the magazine’s website.
  • maiden name Preferred terms are birth name or former name. For alumni, put a woman’s birth or former name in parentheses if she does not normally use it: Carol (Taylor) Brown ’99.
  • majors Lowercase all but those involving proper names.
    • See also: academic majors
  • man Do not use as a verb. Use staff instead: We will staff the festival booth.
  • mankind Humankind or humanity is preferred.
  • master of arts, master of science A master’s degree or a master’s is acceptable.
    • See also: academic degrees
  • MasterCard The company processes payments between the banks of merchants and card- issuing banks or credit unions of the purchasers who use the "Mastercard" brand debitcredit and prepaid to make purchases.
  • Mexican-American See also: ethnic group designations
  • middle class (n. or adj.) He is a member of the middle class. She has middle-class values.
  • military titles Capitalize a military rank when used as a formal title before an individual’s name.
  • million Spell out the word million and use with numerals; do not use a sequence of zeros. The new lab is estimated to cost  $3.5 million. Do not hyphenate when used in a phrase: a $24 million grant.
  • money Omit decimal and two zeroes. The parking fee is $12. Omit zeroes for sums of more than $1 million. The budget is $6.5 million.
  • more than When referring to quantity, preferable to over unless dealing with spatial relationships. The plane flew over Los Angeles. The committee spent more than $2 million on the project.
  • Mother Nature Avoid this term; simply say nature.
  • multicultural, multiethnic Not hyphenated.
  • multipurpose Not hyphenated.
  • Muslim Not Moslem; also do not use Black Muslim.

Letter N

  • Native Americans The Tongva (pronounced: Tong-VAH) peoples are the traditional land caretakers of the Los Angeles Basin and Southern Channel Islands.
  • newspaper names Put newspaper names and sections published separately such as the New York Times Book Review in italics, and do not capitalize The. Where a location is needed but is not part of a newspaper’s name, use parentheses: the Huntsville (Ala.) Times, the (Portland) Oregonian.
  • Nobel Laureate A person or organization awarded the Nobel Prize is called a Nobel Laureate. The Nobel Prize is a set of annual international awards bestowed in several categories by Swedish and Norwegian institutions in recognition of academic, cultural, or scientific advances.
  • non In general, no hyphen when used as a prefix: nondescript, nonprofit.
  • nonprofit, not-for-profit Mean the same.
  • numbers Spell out one through nine, use numerals for 10 and above. Shorten long numbers, such as 12,000,000 to 12 million. Spell out numbers at the beginning of sentences unless it is a calendar year. Spell out casual expressions: A thousand times no!

Letter O

  • off-campus/on-campus Hyphenate when used as a modifier. The meeting was held off campus. There are new fees for on-campus housing.
  • Old Testament The Old Testament is the first part of Christian Bibles, based primarily upon the Hebrew Bible, a collection of ancient religious writings by the Israelites believed by most Christians and religious Jews to be the sacred Word of God. The second part of the Christian Bible is the New Testament.
  • Olympics Capitalize references to the official athletic contests: the Winter Olympics, Olympic Games, an Olympic-sized pool, Special Olympics. Lowercase other uses: a pie-eating olympics.
  • one-sided Not one sided or onesided. 
  • online One word; not on-line or on line. 
  • oral, verbal Oral means spoken. Verbal can mean spoken or written.
  • Orient, Oriental Capitalize when referring to the nations of Asia and nearby islands or in corporate names. Asian is the preferred term for inhabitants of these regions.
  • Oval Office The working office space of the president of the United States, located in the West Wing of the White House.
  • over Over is usually used to describe a spatial relationship: The plane flew over Los Angeles. Over can, at times, be used with numerals: She is over 30. I paid over $400 for this suit. But more than is usually better: Their salaries went up more than $90 a week.
  • overall One word; not over all.
  • owner Lowercase as an occupational title: Atlanta Braves owner Ted Turner.

P — W

Letter P


  • parentheses When a phrase placed in parentheses (this one is an example) might normally qualify as a complete sentence but is dependent on the surrounding material, do not capitalize the first word or end with a period.
  • Parkinson’s disease Parkinson's disease is a brain disorder that leads to shaking, stiffness, and difficulty with walking, balance, and coordination.  Lewy body dementia is a related condition.
  • part time/part-time She works part time. She is a part-time employee.
  • people/persons People refers to nameless masses, as in “We, the people.” When referring to more than one person whose names are (or could be) known, use persons: missing persons, persons with disabilities, American Association of Retired Persons.
  • percent One word. Always use numerals: 15 percent.
  • plants Lowercase, but capitalize proper nouns and adjectives that occur in a name: Scotch pine, Douglas fir. If a botanical name is used, capitalize the first word, lowercase others: red cedar (Juniperus virginiana).
  • please Avoid using excessive pleases in text: Simplify please call to just call.
  • postdoctoral relating to or denoting research undertaken after the completion of doctoral research.
  • presently Use it to mean in a little while or shortly, but not to mean now.
  • President Capitalize only when part of a formal title: CSULB President Jane Close Conoley. Otherwise lowercase: The president spoke to the committee.
  • principal/principle Principal is a noun or adjective referring to someone or something of rank or level. She is principal of the high school. Money is the principal problem. Barbara Finlayson-Pitts is principal investigator of the NSF-funded study.
    • Principal is also a financial term: The account principal of $10,000 is earning 2.5 percent interest.
    • Principle is a noun referring to a fundamental truth. They fought for the principle of self-determination.
  • prior to Before is preferred.
  • professor Do not abbreviate.
  • program Capitalize program only when it is part of the formal name: Interdisciplinary Studies Program. Consult the CSULB website or Catalog for correct names.
  • Public Broadcasting System An association of public television stations. PBS is acceptable on second reference.
  • Pulitzer Prize both words are uppercase. The Pulitzer Prize is an award for achievements in newspaper, magazine and online journalism, literature, and musical composition in the United States.
  • punctuation Follow the AP Stylebook, other grammar guides or dictionaries.
  • pupil Generally used for students up to 8th grade, also acceptable for grades 9 through 12. Use student for college and beyond.

Letter R

  • R.S.V.P. The abbreviation for the French repondez s’il vous plait, meaning please reply; please R.S.V.P. is redundant.
  • regarding Use instead of “in regard to.”
  • Reverend Abbreviate and use "the Rev." before a name. On second reference, use just the last name. The Rev. Susan Smith spoke at the conference. Smith said she was pleased to be a guest. Use the Rev. Dr. only if the individual has an earned doctoral degree.

Letter S

  • SAT Use acronym; formerly called the Scholastic Aptitude Test
  • seasons Lowercase unless part of a formal title: the newsletter's spring 2015 issue; the Summer Olympics.
  • semiannual Twice a year, a synonym for biannual. Sometimes confused with biennial, which means every other year.
  • senior Lowercase senior class. Abbreviate Sr. and Jr. with full names and omit comma: Joseph P. Kennedy Sr.
  • senior citizen Avoid unless part of an organizational title.
  • so-called Implies that something is popularly or mistakenly given that designation: the so-called champion. Do not enclose in quotation marks or set in italics.
  • spacing between sentences Use one space between sentences.
  • split infinitives Avoid awkward constructions that split infinitive or compound forms of verbs. She was asked to immediately leave. They had early last spring begun construction. Instead: She was asked to leave immediately. They began construction early last spring.
  • spring break both lowercase. It is a vacation period in early spring at universities and schools throughout the United States and in many other countries.
  • square feet Do not abbreviate. Hyphenate when used as an adjective. The building was 22,000 square feet. The 22,000-square-foot building is impressive.
  • state Lowercase when used as an adjective to indicate jurisdiction: state of California, state Sen. John Smith, the state Department of Transportation, state funds. Capitalize when part of a formal name: State Farm Insurance, the State Lands Commission.
  • stationary/stationery To remain in one place is stationary; writing paper is stationery.
  • stem cell both lowercase. Stem cells are cells that can differentiate into other types of cells, and can also divide in self-renewal to produce more of the same type of stem cells.
  • student-athlete lowercase. A student athlete is a participant in an intercollegiate sport sponsored by the educational institution in which he or she is enrolled. Student-athletes are full time students and athletes at the same time. Students participating in club sports or intramural competitions are not considered student-athletes.
  • syllabus The plural is syllabi.
  • synagogue Capitalize only when part of a formal name.

Letter T

  • T-shirt uppercase T and a hyphen between words. The shirt’s style is different from others due mainly to the T shape of its body and sleeves. 
  • teenager, teenage Not teenaged.
  • telephone numbers Omit the numeral 1 before area codes. AP Style uses hyphens: 562-985-1111, ext. 123.
  • television program titles Put quotation marks around the word show only if it is part of the formal name: “The Today Show.”
  • temperatures Use numerals for all except zero. Use the word minus for temperatures below zero. Today’s high will be 70. The record low was minus 10.
  • theater Correct spelling for generic references to auditoriums and the theatrical arts. Use theatre only if part of proper name: Department of Theatre Arts.
  • time of day Use figures with lowercase type and periods, no spaces: 11 a.m., 3:30 p.m., noon, midnight. Use the word to for time periods, unless in a calendar listing: She served on the board from 1997 to 1999. In calendar listings, in general, use a hyphen with no spaces for ranges: 10-11 p.m., 10 a.m.-3 p.m., from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
  • titles In general, capitalize formal or courtesy titles — president, chancellor, professor — before names of individuals, and lowercase formal titles following names of individuals: history Professor Susan Smith. Lowercase descriptive or occupational titles: teacher, attorney, nurse.
  • top-tier (adj.) We are a top-tier public university. The designation is subjective and should primarily be used in attributed statements.
  • toward Not towards.
  • trademarks Whenever possible, use generic equivalents for trademark brands: She gave him a tissue. Capitalize trademarked names: Kleenex tissues; Styrofoam plastic foam. Do not use a trademark as a verb: He photocopied the page, not, He Xeroxed it. Do not use symbols for copyright ©, trademarks (TM), service marks (SM) or patent registrations (®).
  • trustee Treat as a formal title when appropriate and capitalize before a name: CSU Trustee Lupe C. Garcia, but Lupe C. Garcia, trustee of the CSU.
  • TV Acceptable for referring to televisions.

Letter W

  • wastebasket One word. Typically, wastebaskets are receptacles for small quantities of trash (usually found in interior settings, like classrooms and offices).
  • weather See the National Weather Service, for terms and definitions.
  • Web Short for World Wide Web. The Web is part of the Internet. Do not uppercase website, webmaster, webcast.
  • well-being lowercase with hyphen. It pertains to the state of being comfortable, healthy, or happy.
  • which Use that and which in referring to inanimate objects and animals without a name. Use who, whom in reference to human beings and animals with a name.
  • who, whom Who is used when someone is the subject of a sentence, phrase or clause. The man who called is her father. Whom is used when someone is the object of a preposition or verb. Whom do you wish to see?
  • word breaks When dividing words at the ends of printed lines, generally follow pronunciation (see Webster’s Dictionary). Two consonants between vowels are usually separated if the pronunciation warrants: ad-van-tage, fin-ger, moun-tain, struc-ture. Words that have a misleading appearance when divided should be left unbroken if possible: often (not of-ten), women (not wo-men). Single-syllable words that remain monosyllabic even with the addition of “ed” should not be divided: aimed, spelled. Try to break hyphenated compounds only at the existing hyphen. Avoid breaking figures; if necessary with large figures, do so only after a comma, not after a decimal point. Abbreviations used with figures should not be separated from the figures: 345 mi., 24 kg.
  • world-renowned Not world-renown, although someone may be described as having achieved world renown.