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Editorial Standards Quick Guide

The basic Georgia Southern University editorial standards are listed below. Additional questions should be directed to University Communications and Marketing at marketing@georgiasouthern.edu or 912-478-6397.

Our editorial style generally adheres to “The Associated Press (AP) Stylebook”. AP Style, used in most professional publications, is all about consistency, clarity, accuracy and brevity. There are thousands of entries in the Stylebook, which is far more than we can cover here. Use this Quick Guide when you and other campus communicators are preparing copy for print and electronic distribution.

Georgia Southern University

First References

  • Georgia Southern University
  • Georgia Southern University Armstrong Campus in Savannah
  • Georgia Southern University Liberty Campus in Hinesville
  • Georgia Southern University Statesboro Campus

Preferred Written Secondary References

  • Georgia Southern or the University
  • Armstrong Campus in Savannah or Armstrong Campus
  • Liberty Campus in Hinesville or Liberty Campus
  • Statesboro Campus

Do not abbreviate as GS or GSU. Use of GS is only acceptable as part of a quote from an external source, such as an alumnus.

Georgia Southern University Colleges

(in correct alphabetical order)

  • Allen E. Paulson College of Engineering and Computing
  • College of Arts and Humanities
  • College of Behavioral and Social Sciences
  • College of Education
  • College of Science and Mathematics
  • Honors College
  • Jack N. Averitt College of Graduate Studies
  • Jiann-Ping Hsu College of Public Health
  • Parker College of Business
  • Waters College of Health Professions

Official Boilerplate

Georgia Southern University, a public Carnegie Doctoral/R2 institution founded in 1906, offers approximately 140 different degree programs serving nearly 26,000 students through 10 colleges on three campuses in Statesboro, Savannah, Hinesville and online instruction. A leader in higher education in southeast Georgia with expert faculty, the University is focused on public impact research and engaging learning opportunities through knowledge and know-how that prepare our students to take ownership of their lives, careers and communities. Visit GeorgiaSouthern.edu.

Abbreviations and Academic Degrees

Capitalize letter abbreviations of academic degrees.

M.S., master’s degree or master’s, Master of Science or Bachelor of Arts, associate degree (AP says no possessive for associate), B.S., bachelor’s degree, doctorate, doctoral degree, Ph.D., are all acceptable.

Use an apostrophe in bachelor’s degree, a master’s, etc., but there is no possessive in Bachelor of Arts or Master of Science. Use the  Ph.D., B.S., and M.A., abbreviations after a full name and set the abbreviations off with commas in a sentence.

Per AP: Do not precede a name with a courtesy title for an academic degree and follow it with the abbreviation for the degree in the same reference.

When used after a name, an academic abbreviation is set off by commas: John Snow, Ph.D., spoke.

In most instances, there is no period in three-letter degrees but there are exceptions depending on the college’s preferred style: MBA, Ph.D., MPH, BSN. 

  • Associate of Arts/A.A
  • Associate of Science/A.S.
  • Bachelor of Arts/B.A.
  • Bachelor of Science/B.S.
  • Bachelor of Music/B.M.
  • Bachelor of Health Sciences/BHS
  • Bachelor of Science in Nursing/BSN
  • Master of Arts/M.A. 
  • Master of Science/M.S.
  • Master of Arts in Teaching/M.A.T. or MAT
  • Master of Accounting/MAcc
  • Master of Music/M.M.
  • Master of Business Administration/MBA
  • Master of Fine Arts/MFA
  • Master of Health Administration/MHA
  • Master of Public Administration/MPA
  • Master of Science in Athletic Training/MSAT
  • Master of Science in Nursing/MSN
  • Medical Doctor/ M.D.
  • Master’s in Curriculum and Instruction; Reading Education; Higher Education Administration; etc./M.Ed.
  • Doctor of Philosophy/Ph.D.
  • Doctor of Physical Therapy/DPT
  • Doctor of Psychology/Psy.D.
  • Doctor of Public Administration/DPA
  • Doctor of Musical Arts/DMA
  • Doctor of Education/Ed.D.
  • Post-Master’s Doctor of Nursing Practice/DNP

NOTE: The Jiann-Ping Hsu College of Public Health does NOT use periods in any of its degree acronyms.

  • Bachelor of Science in Public Health/BSPH
  • Master of Public Health/MPH
  • Doctor of Public Health/DrPH

Make abbreviations plural by adding s. Example: MBAs, AP Style: Ph.D.s 

Doctor: Dr. is used to refer to someone with a degree in medicine, optometry, dentistry or veterinary medicine. However, if appropriate in the context in a college publication, Dr. may be used on first reference before the names of individuals who hold other types of doctoral degrees. Do not use Dr. for official University press releases and other materials.

Academic Program

The word program should only be capitalized if it is an official part of a title. Examples: She is a scholar in the University Honors Program. The Department of History program covers the Korean War.

Ampersand (&)

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

Capitalization and Italics

AP does not italicize words in news stories largely because italics won’t transmit through all computer systems. In a change from our previous guidance, we will use AP Style for journals, magazines and newspapers. Do not italicize or use quotation marks around the names of journals, magazines and newspapers: The New York Times. Lowercase the word magazine unless it is part of the publication’s formal title: Georgia Southern Magazine, Time magazine.

Captions

Aim for consistency and quick identification. List subjects from left to right, using full name and title. End the sentence with a period and include “left to right” or “from left,” for clarity in each caption.

Composition Titles

Titles of books, albums, lectures, poems, songs, movies, television programs and plays are capitalized and placed in quotation marks. Capitalize all words in a title except articles (a, an, the); prepositions of three or fewer letters (for, of, on, up, etc.); and conjunctions of three or fewer letters (and, but, for, nor, or, so, yet, etc.) unless they start or end the title. Examples: “The Star-Spangled Banner,” “The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich,” “Gone With the Wind,” “Of Mice and Men,” “Game of Thrones,”  the “CBS Evening News,” “This Is Us.”

Lowercase names of a major, minor or program of study. Job descriptions are lowercase. Examples: the singer Bruno Mars, writer Jessmyn Ward.

Do not place quotation marks around central texts of a religion such as the Bible, the Quran, other holy books, dictionaries and other reference material.

AP does not recommend possessives of composition titles. The ‘s changes the title of the author’s work. Instead of “The Lion King’s special effects are remarkable rephrase it to, special effects in “The Lion King” are remarkable.

Dates and Times

When a month is used with a specific date, abbreviate only Jan., Feb., Aug., Sept., Oct., Nov. and Dec. Spell out when using month alone or with a year alone. Commas are not used when listing only the month and day or only the month and year. Example: January 2024, Jan. 24, 2024, January

Express time at the top of the hour without zeroes. Lowercase with periods a.m. and p.m.  Examples: 9 a.m., 10:45 a.m.

 Dates consisting of day, month and year should be set apart by commas. Example: The committee decided that Friday, Aug. 10, 2017, would be a convenient time for the event.

 Example: Sept. 10, September 2018.

Times generally come before days and dates. Example: The multicultural event is set for 5 p.m. Friday, Nov. 22, 2023, in the Williams Center. 

12 a.m. should be referred to as midnight; 12 p.m. should be referred to as noon.

Hyphens may be used with dates and should always be used when days of the week and dates are included. Example: The symposium is scheduled next Monday through Thursday, May 10-14. 

If the text is such that “from” precedes the date, then use “to” instead of the hyphen. From 9 a.m. to 10 a.m.

 Do not use “st,” “nd,” “rd,” after the number for dates. Right: Oct. 10. Wrong: Oct. 10th.

Exception: You may begin a sentence with a calendar year. 2016 was a popular election year.

Directions and Regions

In general, lowercase when indicating compass directions, north, south, northeast, northern. He drove west. The cold front is moving east. Capitalize those words when used as part of a proper name or when used to denote widely known regions: East Coast, Texas Panhandle, Western states, Midwest, California, South Side of Chicago. But it is south, central or north Georgia since those terms are not widely used.

Example: The woman with the Southern accent left the restaurant to continue driving south.

Example: The Northerner moved from the East Coast to the Midwest to study Western culture.

Disabilities

In general, do not describe an individual as handicapped or disabled. Try to be specific, if you must use a description: He has Parkinson’s disease. Refer to the AP inclusive storytelling chapter for updated entries. Use “accessible parking,” rather than disabled or handicapped parking.

Emerita, Emeritus, Emeriti

This is a title formally awarded to a retired member of the faculty. Emerita refers to a woman, emeritus to a man and emeriti to a group or a group of either sex. Properly, the title is Professor Emeritus John Smith or John Smith, professor emeritus of biology. It is not a catch-all title for “retired.” Be sure the person has been granted the title before using it.  https://jobs.georgiasouthern.edu/about/emeritus/ 

Ethnic Designations

Do not hyphenate African American or all such ethnic classifications. Use white, Black, Hispanic, Latino, Latina, etc.

BIPOC: Black, Indigenous, people of color

Per AP: Do not use the term Black, Indigenous and people of color, which some see as more inclusive by distinguishing the experiences of Black and Indigenous people, but others see as less inclusive by diminishing the experiences of everyone else. Similarly, do not use the term Black, Asian and minority ethnic. Do not use the shorthand POC, BIPOC or BAME unless necessary in a direct quotation; when used, explain it.

People of color: The term is acceptable when necessary in broad references to multiple races other than white: We will hire more people of color. Nine playwrights of color collaborated on the script.

Gender, Sex and Sexual Orientation: Consult AP for guidance.

They: Growing numbers of people, including some transgender, nonbinary, agender or gender-fluid people, use they/them/their as a gender-neutral singular personal pronoun. As much as possible, AP also uses they/them/their as a way of accurately describing and representing a person who uses those pronouns for themself. Often a sentence can be sensitively and smoothly written with no pronoun. For example: Hendricks said the new job is a thrill (instead of Hendricks said Hendricks is thrilled about the new job or Hendricks said they are thrilled about the new job).

When using they/them/their as a singular pronoun, explain if it isn’t clear in context: Morales, who uses the pronoun they, said they will retire in June.

Gender-neutral language: Consult AP style.

Mother/father, son/daughter, sister/brother, husband/wife, girlfriend/boyfriend and other relationship terms are generally acceptable. Use parent, child, sibling or spouse if you prefer.

Unless in a quotation use:

First-year students, not freshmen

Chair, unless the -man or -woman terms are specified by an organization.

Humanity, humans, people, humankind, not man or mankind

Letter carrier or mail carrier, not mailman; representative or senator, not Congressman; police officer, camera operator, business executive.

Homecoming, Convocation, and Commencement

Capitalize Homecoming, Convocation and Commencement when preceded by the Georgia Southern name or used in a Georgia Southern University official title or as part of a specific homecoming, convocation or commencement.

Georgia Southern University Homecoming, the convocation at Georgia Southern, Homecoming 2023 

Immigration

Per AP Style: Except in direct quotes essential to the story, use illegal only to refer to an action, not a person: illegal immigration, but not illegal immigrant. Acceptable variations include living in or entering a country illegally or without legal permission. Do not use the terms alien, an illegal, illegals or undocumented (except when quoting people or government documents that use these terms).

Many refer to immigrants who would benefit from either the DREAM Act or DACA as Dreamers. The term “Dreamers” is acceptable if necessary, but should be used sparingly and in quotation marks in all references. Explain the term soon after use: They are commonly referred to as “Dreamers,” based on never-passed proposals in Congress called the DREAM Act.

Numbers

Spell out numbers under 10 and use figures for the numbers 10 and over, except when a number begins a sentence – then spell it out or re-work the sentence. You may standardize to figures when the text includes several numbers. Example: The service lasted 11 hours, 9 minutes and 22 seconds.

Unless they begin a sentence, write dollar amounts in figures, then spell them out in full. Examples: The fee is $10. Ten dollars will be charged for parking. Spell out million and billion: $1.5 million

Spell out fractions less than one, using a hyphen between the words. Example: One-half, three-fourths, 2 ½ laps, 3.4 percent.

Use numbers for ages and percentages, even for numbers less than 10.  Examples: He won 2% of the vote, 51%, 51 percentage points. For a range, 12% to 15%, 12%-15% and between 12% and 15% are all acceptable. Examples: The race is for 6-year-olds. The boy is 6 years old. The 6-year-old-boy lives in the 50-year-old house with his 16-year-old sister. The girl, 6, has a brother, 11. The woman is in her 30s.

 Exception: You may begin a sentence with a calendar year. 2016 was a bad year.

Punctuation

Apostrophe

Apostrophes are not necessary between the final number and the s in making the plurals of figures: 1800s, the ’90s’. Single or multiple letters used as words form a plural by adding only an s, as long as the meaning is clear: CEOs, two Cs, CDs,

Colons

Capitalize the first word after a colon if it is the start of a sentence.

Commas

Serial Comma: In keeping with AP Style, Georgia Southern does not use the Oxford (serial) comma. The serial comma is the final comma in a list of three items or more. Oxford comma: Please bring me a pen, paper, and notebook. AP Style prefers: Please bring me a pen, paper and notebook. The no Oxford comma guidance is intended for only the REALLY simple series. She should choose blue, purple, yellow or orange. A combination of self-control, brutally honest advice and down-home wisdom.

Do use a comma in a complex list of three or more items to improve comprehension: Example: The dean tripled the size of the faculty, created a branding and review committee, and revised the social media platform to reach first-year students and their parents.

Use commas to separate a series of adjectives equal in importance. Example: Georgia Southern is a public, coeducational institution of more than 20,000 students.

When a conjunction such as and, but or for links two clauses that could stand alone as separate sentences use a comma before the conjunction in most cases. Example: We are visiting Washington, and we also plan a side trip to Williamsburg.

Use a comma in an introductory phrase. Example: First, we will count the number of students.

Use a comma to set off a nonessential phrase (a phrase that is not essential to the meaning of the sentence) from the rest of a sentence and days from a date.

Do not use a comma at the start of an indirect or partial quotation: He said the victory put him “firmly on the road to a first-ballot nomination.” 

Comma following a state name: When a city and state are given, comma is used after the state (Statesboro, Georgia, is hot today).

Names followed by Jr., Sr. or a Roman numeral do not have a comma after the last name: Martin Luther King Jr.

Semicolon

In general, use the semicolon to indicate a greater separation of thought and information than a comma can convey but less than the separation that a period implies. Use the semicolon to set off a series that includes commas. Example: The major speakers are from Bulloch County, Georgia; Buffalo, New York; and Springfield, Illinois. Note that the semicolon is used before the final and in such a series.

Dash

Used to indicate emphasis. Example: Sierra—and her furry pet—arrived last week. 

Others prefer spaces around dashes, be consistent. Example: Sierra – and her furry pet – arrived last week.

An en dash is about half the width of an em dash, approximating the width of a capital letter N. An em dash is approximately the width of a capital letter M in the typeface being used.

Ellipses

Treat an ellipsis as a three-letter word ( … ) constructed with three periods and two spaces, one on each side. Example: … As long as there was … a base. Georgia Southern is a large-scale … nationally recognized university in south Georgia. 

Exclamation Points

Never use more than one at the end of a sentence!

Hyphens

Hyphens are used as joiners, such as for compound modifiers – two or more words that express a single concept or precedes a noun: He is a full-time employee and a first-time buyer, a much-needed vacation or a University-related program, small-business owner, Jan. 1-4. 

Do not place a hyphen between the prefixes pre, semi, non, anti, etc, and nouns or adjectives, except before proper nouns or to avoid duplicated vowels or consonants.

(pre-enroll, non-nuclear (duplicated vowel or consonant).

Do not use a hyphen for adverbs that end with “ly” and adjectives they modify. Example: a badly damaged island, a fully informed voter

Use a hyphen when you have a number plus a noun of measurement.

Examples: A 1,200-square-foot home, a 3-inch bug, the 5-foot man. 25,000 square feet or a 25,000-square-foot area. The factory floor is 10,000 square feet. It’s a 10,000-square-foot area.

Numbers: When large numbers must be spelled out, use a hyphen to connect a word ending in –y to another word (twenty-five).

Non and prefixes: Do not hyphenate words beginning with non except if there is a proper noun or in awkward combinations such as, non-American, non-nuclear

Hyphenate part time and full time only when used as adjectives. Example: She works at Georgia Southern full time and has a part-time position at church.

There should be no spaces surrounding a hyphen such as Jan.1-4.

Quotation Marks

Commas and periods ALWAYS go INSIDE the quotation marks. The dash, semicolon, question mark and exclamation mark go inside the quotation marks when they apply to the quoted material. They go outside when they apply to the entire sentence. 

Example: “What is meant by rocket science?” asked the student. What is meant by “rocket science”?

Use single quotation marks in headlines. 

If several paragraphs are to be quoted, use quotation marks at the beginning of each paragraph, but only at the end of the last paragraph. No quotation marks are necessary in printing interviews when the name of the speaker is given first, or in reports of testimony when the words question and answer or Q and A are used, such as: Jones: How do you plan your curriculum? Smith: A committee does that.

Semicolon

Use the semicolon to set off a series that includes commas. Example: The major speakers are from Bulloch County, Georgia; Buffalo, New York; and Springfield, Illinois. The semicolon can link independent clauses and can replace the conjunctions and, but or for: The rain was predicted last week; it arrived today.

Seasons

Lowercase the four seasons: winter, spring, summer, fall. Capitalize season if it is an official title: Fall Semester 2022. The class will start in fall 2023. The course is only offered in the spring semester.

State Names

The names of the 50 U.S. states should be spelled out when used in the body of a story, whether standing alone or in conjunction with a city, town or military base. Most major cities can stand alone: Atlanta, New York, Oklahoma City. Savannah and Statesboro can stand alone if readers are Georgia Southern alumni. 

U.S. Post Office abbreviations are only used in mailing addresses. 

Telephone Numbers

Use area codes with hyphens for all telephone numbers. This is necessary because of the increasing use of cell phones. 000-123-4567.

Titles

Do not use courtesy titles (Mr., Miss, Ms., Mrs.). Generally use the title Dr. only when referring to a medical doctor.

Names followed by Jr., Sr. or a Roman numeral do not have a comma after the last name: Martin Luther King Jr.

President, Dean, Professor, Associate Professor, Chairman: Georgia Southern University style is to capitalize as a formal title before a name, lowercase when after the name or when they are not used with a name. 

Georgia Southern University President Kyle Marrero,  Kyle Marrero, president of Georgia Southern University, the president

Professor of Geology James Reichard

Vice Presidents for. Georgia Southern has no vice presidents of.

Board of directors/board of trustees: Capitalize the complete formal name, otherwise lowercase. Lowercase when used alone or before the proper title. 

The trustees voted. The board voted. The Georgia Southern University Board of Trustees voted for the resolution.

United States

Spell out as a noun, abbreviate as an adjective: the U.S. Department of State. Use periods in the abbreviation, U.S. within texts. In headlines, it’s US (no periods).

Word Usage

Alumna, alumnus, alumni: Alumna is singular for women, alumnae is the plural for women, alumnus is singular for men and alumni is the plural for men and mixed-gender groups. If a gender-neutral term is desired, grad is acceptable.

Data typically takes singular verbs and pronouns when writing for general audiences and in data journalism contexts: The data is sound. In scientific and academic writing, plural verbs and pronouns are preferred.

Chick-fil-A

Daylong, dayslong, hourlong, hourslong, monthlong, monthslong, weeklong, weekslong, yearlong, yearslong 

Entitled/Titled

Entitled means a right to do or have something. Do not use entitled to refer to a written work. Books, plays and movies have titles. 

Hands-on: hyphenated

Health care (two words)

Nonprofit (one word)

Toward, forward, afterward, backward, etc. do not end in an “s.” 

Underway (one word)

ZIP code: Use all-caps ZIP for Zone Improvement Plan, but always lowercase the word code.

Last updated: 9/22/2022