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Style Guide

Degrees

Use lowercase when referencing generic degrees, majors and minors.

bachelor’s degree
master’s
doctorate

When listing a major or degree program, capitalize only the official diploma title, not the program or concentration (unless it includes a proper name).

He graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in journalism.
He earned a bachelor’s degree in English.
He received a Master of Science degree in chemistry.
He received his Doctor of Psychology degree from PR University.
John Smith is a history major at PR University.
He majored in education.
He is enrolled in PR University’s chemistry program.

Deans and Professors

Capitalize when used as a formal title before a name. Lowercase in other uses.

Dean John Smith
The dean addressed the senior class …
John Smith, dean of PR University
The dean’s office
The Office of the Dean
Professor John Smith teaches …
John Smith is an English professor …

Lowercase all use of dean’s list.

John Smith was named to the dean’s list.
He is a dean’s list student.

Semesters and Seasons

Lowercase spring, summer, winter, and fall, unless part of a formal name or a publication.

girls’ summer softball
spring dean’s list
winter formal
Summer Olympics
The Summer issue of Inside PR

Lowercase all references to semesters.

The spring 2009 semester
The fall semester

Courses

The full title of an academic course should be capitalized. Don’t use quotation marks.

He will begin teaching a new class in March, Public Relations Vs. Advertising.
He teaches ethics at PR University.
He is a public relations professor at PR University.

Offices and Departments

Capitalize office, department, division, program, etc., when they are part of official titles. Otherwise, use lowercase.

the science department
the English department
PR University’s history department
the PR University Department of History

Names

Use Jr., II, Sr., etc. only on first reference with the individual’s full name. The abbreviations are not set off with commas.

John Smith Jr.

Use middle initials in full name reference only if the person uses it regularly.

John M. Smith

On second and subsequent references to an individual, refer to the person by last name only.

Smith graduated with degree in Chemistry.

Titles

Professional titles should be capitalized when they immediately precede an individual’s name. Use lower case when they are used after a name.

Director of Public Relations John Smith
John Smith, director of Communications and Marketing …

Use abbreviated academic titles after full names only when they are important to the text. Use a comma between the person’s name and degree.

Ph.D.
B.A.
M.A.
M.S.
M.B.A.
Jane Smith, LL.D.
John Smith, Ph.D.

In general do not use the courtesy titles Mr., Mrs., Miss, or Ms. Only use Mr. if it is combined with Mrs.

John Smith
Mr. and Mrs. Smith

Book titles, television shows, movies, magazines and publications should be capitalized and in quotations.

Students are reading “A History of Public Relations.”
He was featured in the June issue of “Education Illustrated.”

School Names

Capitalize the name of a school or college when it’s used as part of a proper name.

He went to high school in Albany.
He graduated from Jones High School.
The college offers courses in …
He is a senior at Massachusetts College of Medicine.
The university prides itself …
Winchester University is a private …

Years

Do not abbreviate freshman, sophomore, junior or senior unless they are starting a sentence.

He is a junior.
John Smith is a senior majoring in biology.

Use figures without commas when referencing a specific year. Use an apostrophe when referencing a class year. Insert commas when it is used with an individual’s name.

He graduated from PR University in 1998.
A member of the class of ‘98
John, Smith, ‘98, is …

States

Spell out the names of the 50 states when they stand alone in text.

PR University is located in New York state …
He went to high school in Massachusetts.

When part of an address, use an abbreviated state name. Place one comma between the city and state. Here’s a list of abbreviations for all 50 states:

Ala. Alaska Ariz. Ark. Calif.
Colo. Conn. Del. Fla. Ga.
Hawaii Idaho Ill. Ind. Iowa
Kan. Ky. La. Maine Md.
Mass. Mich. Minn. Miss. Mo.
Mont. Neb. Nev. N.H. N.J.
N.M. N.Y. N.C. N.D. Ohio
Okla. Ore. Pa. R.I. S.C.
S.D. Tenn. Texas Utah Vt.
Va. Wash. W. Va. Wis. Wyo.

Street Addresses

Abbreviate St., Blvd., and Ave. only with numbered addresses.

10 Elm St., Albany,
16 Miller Road, Albany
He lives on Albany Street.

Spell out and capitalize first through ninth when used as a street name. Use figures with two letters for 10th and above.

13 Fourth St.
4 13th St.

Dates

Capitalize all days of the week. Do not abbreviate them. Capitalize the names of months in all uses, and abbreviate when used with a specific date. Separate days and dates with commas.

The senior class will graduate on June 15.
Students will graduate on Dec. 5.
Students will graduate on Thursday, Dec. 5.
Students will graduate in December.

Abbreviated months are:

Jan. Feb. March April
May June July Aug.
Sept. Oct. Nov. Dec.

Times

Use lowercase a.m. and p.m. Events starting on the hour do not need extra zeroes.

Graduation will be held at 2 p.m. on …
The specialized biology course will begin at 9:15 a.m.

Use noon or midnight. Do not use 12 a.m. or 12 p.m.

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