Our editorial style guide, based on The Associated Press 2013 Stylebook, aims to establish standards for clear and consistent writing that will help campus communicators produce materials for a wide range of audiences, including current and future students, parents, alumni, and the public. Our guidelines are designed for use in all written materials and across multiple platforms, online and in print.

The Associated Press (AP) 2013 Stylebook was chosen as the basis for our style guide because it is widely accepted, available online, and is updated yearly. Webster’s New World College Dictionary, fourth edition, is the chief spelling reference for the AP Stylebook and for our editorial guide.

Our editorial guidelines include rules unique to Furman and a few exceptions to AP, but for most questions, we suggest you turn to the AP stylebook and Webster’s. For questions not answered in AP or the FU guide, consult the Chicago Manual of Style or one of the many references listed in the AP stylebook’s bibliography.

  • Abbreviations

      Avoid abbreviations in running text except when part of official names. If the name represented by an abbreviation may be unknown to some readers, use the full name in the initial reference. For example, use October rather than Oct. and Cultural Life Program rather than CLP.

      American College Test (ACT): ACT is acceptable on first reference. Do not use periods.

      Broadcasting stations: Abbreviate the names of broadcasting stations, but omit periods and spaces.

      Degrees: Capitalize the main words in the names of degrees when they are spelled out and capitalize abbreviations of degrees. Abbreviation of the degree name is acceptable on first reference. (Note: There are no spaces between elements.) In its most recent edition (16th), Chicago Manual of Style prefers that degrees not be abbreviated with periods. Capitalization of names of degrees should match the registrar's official degree list. Make plural abbreviations of degrees by adding "s." Capitalize names or abbreviations of academic degrees and honors following a personal name. Degrees conferred at institutions other than Furman may follow a different style. Verify degree names to preserve correct capitalization, abbreviation, and punctuation style. When they follow a person's name, qualifiers such as PhD and MD are preceded by a comma. A second comma follows the qualifier in running text.

      Grade point average (GPA): Do not hyphenate. Do not use periods in abbreviation (GPA). Use all caps.

      Laboratory: Spell out as part of an official name or in first reference. "Lab" is acceptable as a second reference.

      Reserve Officers Training Corps (ROTC): Abbreviate after the first full reference. Do not use periods.

      Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT): SAT is acceptable on first reference. Do not use periods.

      Undergraduate Evening Studies (UES): Abbreviate after the first full reference. Do not use periods.

      United States, U.S.: Use United States as the proper noun, U.S. as the adjective.

      Versus: Use "v." when abbreviating "versus."

  • Capitalization

      A general rule is that official names are capitalized; unofficial, informal, shortened, or generic names aren't. This rule applies to names of offices, buildings, schools, departments, programs, centers, institutes, etc. Phrases such as "the center," "the institute," "the college," or "the museum" are not capitalized. Capitalize official names of bulletins, forms, conventions, conferences, symposia, etc. Capitalize official course titles (except for articles, prepositions, and conjunctions), whether or not the course number is used. Names of seasons, academic periods, and one-time events are generally not capitalized. For historical or documentary accuracy, follow the capitalization of original texts.

      Academic courses: Capitalize the main words in titles of specific courses (i.e. Introduction to Research Methods), but not names used in a general sense (i.e. psychology courses). Capitalize all nouns and adjectives referring to languages, countries, and nationalities (a French course, an English course).

      Academic programs: The term "program" should not be capitalized unless used as an official part of a title.

      Academic units: Capitalize the official names of academic units. Do not capitalize the name in informal reference.

      Board of Trustees: Capitalize the words "Board" and "Trustees" when referring to Furman's Board of Trustees on first and subsequent references. When referring to other boards and trustees, use lowercase on second reference.

      Chairs and professorships: Capitalize the titles of named chairs and professorships whether used alone or after an individual's name.

      Degrees: Capitalize the main words in the names of degrees when they are spelled out and capitalize abbreviations of degrees. Abbreviation of the degree name is acceptable on first reference. (Note: There are no spaces between elements.) In its most recent edition (16th), Chicago Manual of Style prefers that degrees not be abbreviated with periods. Capitalization of names of degrees should match the registrar's official degree list. If the official degree name contains the words "of Science," the discipline is capitalized. (Refer to the Bachelor of Science in Chemistry, not the Bachelor of Science degree in Chemistry or the Bachelor's degree in Chemistry.) Similar rules apply to references made to master's and doctoral degrees. Do not capitalize academic degrees used in a general sense. Note that bachelor's and master's end in 's. In references to degrees, the word "degree" is never capitalized. Make plural abbreviations of degrees by adding "s." Capitalize names or abbreviations of academic degrees and honors following a personal name. Degrees conferred at institutions other than Furman may follow a different style. Verify degree names to preserve correct capitalization, abbreviation, and punctuation style. When they follow a person's name, qualifiers such as PhD and MD are preceded by a comma. A second comma follows the qualifier in running text.

      Department names: Capitalize the full, formal names of departments, but lowercase shortened or informal versions.

      Fraternal groups: Capitalize the names of fraternities and sororities but not the words "fraternity," "sorority," and "chapter."

      Landmarks: Capitalize the main words in the official names of campus landmarks.

      Majors and minors: Do not capitalize names of schools, college studies, fields of study, options, curricula, major areas, minors, major subjects, or programs unless a specific course is being referred to or if using names of countries, nationalities, historical periods, and languages.

      Professorships: Capitalize the titles of professorships whether used alone or after an individual's name.

      University: Capitalize the word "University" when referring to Furman University on first and subsequent references. When referring to other universities, use lowercase on second reference.

      Year in school: Do not capitalize the words "freshman," "sophomore," "junior," "senior," or "graduate" when they refer to the year in which a course is to be taken or to the classification of the student.

  • Numbers

      Spell out numbers one through nine. Use numerals for 10 or more and for fractions; spell out numbers that begin a sentence or rewrite the sentence. Spell out numbers 10 and above in special cases involving formal invitations and in sequences such as "one through ten." In running text, when referring to dollar amounts in millions, use the numeral and million, rather than zeros.

      Ages: Use numerals.

      Ordinals: Write out first through ninth. Use numerals for 10th and higher (11th, 22nd, 53rd).

      Percent: Spelling out percent is preferred, although % may be used if space is needed. Use numerals in front of percent, unless starting a sentence.

      Phone numbers: Use parentheses around the area code in running text and addresses.

      Year: Use numerals and an apostrophe when abbreviating to indicate class year.

  • Policies

      Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity statements: Furman University is committed to a policy of equal opportunity in its admission and employment programs. Use the following when applicable:
      The short statement: Furman University is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity institution.
      The long statement: Furman University is committed to providing equal access to its educational programs, activities, and facilities to all otherwise qualified students without discrimination on the basis of race, national origin, color, creed, religion, sex, age, disability, veteran status, sexual orientation, gender identity, or any other category protected by applicable state or federal law. An Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action employer, Furman also affirms its commitment to nondiscrimination in its employment policies and practices. For information about the university's compliance with the 1964 Civil Rights Act, Title IX of the Educational Amendments of 1972, and the I.R.S. Anti-Bias Regulation, contact the Director of Human Resources, 864.294.3015, 3300 Poinsett Hwy., Greenville, SC, 29613. For information about Furman's compliance with Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act, contact the Disability Services Coordinator, 864.294.2320, 3300 Poinsett Hwy., Greenville, SC, 29613.

      Nonsexist language: Avoid words and usage that reinforce sexist stereotypes. Do not use "he" as an all-inclusive pronoun. "He or she" can be used, but the following solutions are preferable:

      • Although "freshmen" is plural, use "freshman courses," "freshman year," "freshman class," etc. Other alternatives: use "incoming" students or "first-year" class.
      • Chair: Use in all cases (not chairman, chairwoman, or chairperson).
      • Change the subject to the plural and use "they," making sure there is verb/noun agreement.
      • Change the singular third-person reference (he/she) to the second person (you).
      • Use neutral words to replace personal pronouns (such as "one" or "several").
      • Repeat the noun or use a synonym.
      • Revise the sentence to eliminate the pronoun altogether.
  • Punctuation and Spelling

      Addresses: Use appropriate punctuation. Abbreviate "boulevard," "avenue," and "street" with numbered addresses. Abbreviate directions (N., S., E., W.) in street addresses. Do not use a comma in addresses listing floors. "Room" is not used in giving locations or addresses. Spell out the names of numbered streets from first through ninth. Abbreviate South Carolina (SC) in a block address; spell out in running text. States following cities in running text are parenthetical and require commas before and after.

      Ampersand: Avoid using an ampersand unless it is part of an official title.

      Apostrophes: Make abbreviations plural by adding "s." No apostrophe is needed for decades. For a singular noun ending in "s," form the possessive by adding " 's. "

      Bulleted lists: Keep punctuation for bulleted lists at a minimum. Begin each item with a lowercase letter. Omit periods after items unless one or more of the items are complete sentences. If the list completes a sentence begun in an introductory element, the final period is also omitted unless the items in the list are separated by commas or semicolons. It is not necessary to include "and" before the last item in the list.

      Comma: Use the serial comma (the final comma before "and," "or," or "nor") in a list of three or more items. If items in the series contain commas themselves, use semicolons between all items. When following a person's name, qualifiers such as PhD and MD are preceded by a comma. A second comma follows the qualifier in running text. However, qualifiers such as Jr., Sr., and III are not set off by commas. Set off the year when using dates with commas on both sides if a day of the month precedes it. Set off a parenthetical (nonrestrictive) expression with commas on both sides. Note that states following cities are parenthetical and require commas before and after. Commas appear after, not before, an expression in parentheses (like this), and they always go inside quotation marks, except when a quotation mark indicates inches.

      Courses: There is no punctuation between the course number and course title.

      Dashes:
      En dash –The principal use of the en dash is to connect numbers and, less often, words. With continuing numbers—such as dates, times, and page numbers—it signifies up to and including (or through). For the sake of parallel construction, the word to, never the en dash, should be used if the word from precedes the first element in such a pair; similarly, and, never the en dash, should be used if between precedes the first element.
      Em dash —Em dashes are used to set off an amplifying or explanatory element and in that sense can function as an alternative to parentheses (second and third examples), commas (fourth and fifth examples), or a colon (first example)—especially when an abrupt break in thought is called for.

      Dates: Spell out months and days of the week; use numerals for years. Use no punctuation if listing just the month and the year, but set the year off with commas if using the day of the month. Decades may be referred to in any of the following ways: the 1990s (no apostrophe needed), the '90s, the nineties.

      Degrees: Abbreviation of the degree name is acceptable on first reference. (Note: There are no spaces between elements.) In its most recent edition (16th), Chicago Manual of Style prefers that degrees not be abbreviated with periods. Note that bachelor's and master's end in 's. Make plural abbreviations of degrees by adding "s." Degrees conferred at institutions other than Furman may follow a different style. Verify degree names to preserve correct capitalization, abbreviation, and punctuation style. When they follow a person's name, qualifiers such as PhD and MD are preceded by a comma. A second comma follows the qualifier in running text.

      Ellipsis: Use the three-dot sequence to indicate that something has been left out of a sentence or passage. Leave a space before and after each dot. If a sentence ends (or is cut off) right before the ellipsis, leave in the punctuation that would have ended the sentence.

      Hyphens: Use as few hyphens as possible. Use hyphens in compound adjectives to prevent misreading. If compound adjectives are commonly used, a hyphen is not necessary. Use an en dash, not a hyphen, to connect continuing numbers—such as dates, times, and page numbers.

      Possessives: For singular nouns ending in s, use s's to make it possessive.

      Quotation marks: In regular text, commas and periods always go inside the end quotation mark. Colons and semicolons always go outside the end quotation mark. Exclamation marks and question marks can go inside or outside the quotation mark depending on usage; place inside if it applies to the quoted matter, outside if it applies to the whole sentence. Do not use quotes for word emphasis.

      Time: Use numerals in all cases and omit the zeros for on-the-hour times. Use periods for a.m. and p.m. To avoid confusion, use noon and midnight instead of 12 p.m. and 12 a.m.

  • Titles and Names

      Capitalize titles when they immediately precede a personal name. Titles following a personal name or used alone in place of a name are lowercase. Capitalize titles used in lists if they appear line for line as in an address. When preparing lists of faculty names with titles, spell out the titles unless the list is long and space is at a premium.

      Advisor: Use the -or ending.

      African American: No hyphen for the noun or the adjective. Both "African American" and "black" are acceptable.

      Alumnus, alumni: Alumnus is the singular, masculine form. For references to women, use alumna (singular) or alumnae (plural). Alumni is plural for a group of both men and women.

      American Indian: Native American is also acceptable.

      Asian American: No hyphen for the noun or the adjective.

      Dr.: Use of the title "Dr." (in reference to a person who has earned a doctorate) is required on second and subsequent references unless not used in a direct quote. Use PhD following the name on first reference.

      Emeritus: Emeritus is the singular, masculine form. For references to women, use emerita (singular) or emeritae (plural). Emeriti may serve as the plural for a group that is composed of men only or both men and women. Emeritus is lowercase in all forms (unless used before a name as a formal title).

      Faculty: Faculty can be plural or singular depending on whether the word is used to describe the group as a whole (singular) or to describe its members individually (plural). To avoid confusion, rewrite the sentence to avoid a plural verb or use faculty members.

      Furman University: After the first full reference to Furman University, the following references are acceptable: Furman, the University (always uppercase). Do not use FU to refer to Furman University.

      Hispanic: Capitalize Hispanic.

      International students: The phrase "international students" is preferable to "foreign students."

      James B. Duke Library: Official name of the main library on the Furman campus. Avoid using only "library" in reference to the Duke Library.

      The Paladin: Student newspaper. Always italicized.

      PhD: Use of the title "PhD" (in reference to a person who has earned a doctorate) is required on first reference unless not used in a direct quote and should set off with commas. Use Dr. preceding the name on second reference.

      President Elizabeth Davis: Capitalize the word "President" when referring to Furman President Elizabeth Davis on first and subsequent references. When referring to other presidents, use lowercase on second reference.

  • Web Terms

      Database: One word.

      drop/add: Lowercase references to the drop/add procedure.

      e-business, e-commerce: Lowercase and hyphenate these technological business references.

      e-mail: With a hyphen

      Fax: Lowercase.

      Homepage: One word when referring to an Internet web site.

      Internet: Capitalize "Internet." Also capitalize "the Net" or "the Web" when referring to the Internet. However, lowercase "web" when used with another word to form a compound noun or adjective: website, webpage, web address, etc.

      Online: One word.

      URLs: Delete "http://" and "www." in web addresses if not essential.

      Website: One word.

      World Wide Web: Three words, no hyphens, always all initial caps. Second reference, "the Web" or "the Net."

  • Other Terms

      Alma mater: Do not italicize

      Cosponsor, cocurricular, copay: One word.

      Course work: Two words.

      Curriculum/curricula: Curriculum is singular. Curricula and curriculums are plural.

      Decision making, decision-making: Two words as a noun, hyphenated as an adjective.

      Full time/full-time: Hyphenate as an adjective before the noun; otherwise use two words.

      Fundraising: One word, noun or adjective.

      Graduates with honors: Do not hyphenate. Do not use periods in abbreviation (GPA). Use all caps.

      Groundbreaking: One word as adjective or noun.

      Health care: Two words, no hyphen, both nouns and adjectives.

      Multicultural: One word.

      Noncredit: One word.

      Nondegree: One word (unless "non" modifies a hyphenated phrase).

      Nonprofit: One word.

      Nontraditional: One word.

      Off campus, on campus: Two words, but hyphenate as an adjective before a noun.

      Postdoctoral, predoctoral: One word. Postdoc is also acceptable in place of postdoctoral.

      Rankings: Do not use a hyphen when referring to a "top 10" or "top 25" program.

      Resume: Do not use accent marks

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