Editorial Style Guide
Governors State University recognizes the importance of providing a clear and consistent message across all printed media, including the web. This guide is intended to assist university communicators in accomplishing that goal by providing information on commonly used grammar, spelling, and punctuation cases.
The university uses the Chicago Manual of Style as the basis for its editorial style. A copy of the manual is available for reference in the Office of Public Affairs and the University Library.
The following guidelines are not designed to be all-inclusive, however, they are meant to grow and change with the input of the university community. If you have a specific editorial question not addressed in the guide, please contact to the Office of Public Affairs directly.
Academic Degrees – Generic degree names should be spelled out whenever possible, using all lowercase letters: bachelor's degree; master's degree; doctoral degree or doctorate. Capitals should be used only when referring to a specific academic degree program: Bachelor of Science in Nursing. Periods should not be used when specific academic program names are abbreviated.
Examples: DPT, MBA
However, periods are used when abbreviating generic degree types.
Examples: B.A., M.A., Ph.D.
Academic Term – Capitalize if referring to a specific term/trimester. Use lowercase for generic references.
Examples: Fall 2000; fall trimester
Acronyms – A full name or title should always be used during the first textual instance, immediately followed by the acronym in parenthesis: Governors State University (GSU); College of Health and Human Services (CHHS). The full name and acronym may then be interchanged throughout the remainder of the text.
African American – Use this term without a hyphen separating the two words.
Alumni – Alumnus refers to a male who has attended a school; the plural is alumni. Alumna refers to a female who has attended a school; the plural is alumnae. Use alumni when referring to a mixed gender group. Alum should be avoided in official university publications due to its informality.
Campus Names – Refer to the Governors State University entry below for main campus denotations. Satellite campus names should directly follow the name of the university.
Example: The Governors State University Kankakee Education Center. When abbreviating campus names, periods should not be used.
Examples: GSU, NEC, KEC
Colleges – Full college names should always be used in the first textual instance(s) followed immediately by the full university name. The college may be referred to by its acronym (Note: see Acronyms) or simply as college throughout the remainder of the text. The full college name should always be used as part of letterhead, in instances listing full college/university contact information, and with the logo/wordmark.
Example: The College of Education at Governors State University
Date – Dates should be formatted in month-day-year order without the use of ordinals following the day.
Example: Correct – January 1, 2000
Incorrect – January 1st, 2000
Departments - Full department names should always be used during the first textual instance. The department may be referred to by its acronym (Note: see Acronyms) or simply as department throughout the remainder of the text. The full department name should always be used as part of letterhead, in instances listing full department/college/university contact information, and with the logo/wordmark.
Example: Department of Psychology
Fax Numbers – See entry for Telephone Numbers.
Geographic Terms – All proper names should be capitalized. Compass directions are not capitalized.
Examples: The Village of University Park; south suburbs;
State names should be spelled out unless used in complete addresses containing zip codes. For full addresses, abbreviate using the official USPS, two-letter designations.
Examples: University Park, IL 60484
Governors State University – The full university name should always be used during the first textual instance. The university may be referred to as Governors State or GSU (Note: see Acronyms) throughout the remainder of the text. The full university name should always be used as part of letterhead, in instances listing full university contact information, and in the logo/wordmark.
Money – When referring to an even dollar amount, no cents should be included: $25. Use the word cents for amounts less than a dollar and the dollar sign for amounts of more than a dollar: The candy bar cost $2, but I only had 50 cents. If the monetary amount is more than a million dollars, use the dollar sign and spell out million, billion, etc.: The renovation will cost $50 million.
Numbers – Numbers one through nine should be spelled out. Use numerals for 10 and higher. Exception: Numbers should always be spelled out at the beginning of a sentence.
Example: The university has four colleges, which offer a total of 52 degree programs.
On Campus/Off Campus – Use these terms without hyphens.
Percent – Always spell out the word "percent" in text. The symbol “%” should only appear in charts and graphs.
Punctuation – Correct punctuation in university documents is as follows:
- Apostrophe – Used to indicate possession. Apostrophes should never be used to form the plural of a noun.
- Comma – In a series of three or more phrases or words, separate all parts of the series with commas. Example: Chuck, Eric, and Lindsay ate in the cafeteria.
Commas should be placed inside quotation marks but outside of brackets and parentheses.
Example: "Here is tonight's homework,” said the professor.
Use a comma to separate two or more adjectives that modify a single noun.
Example: The dark-roasted, amaretto coffee was too hot to drink.
- Exclamation Point – Should be used sparingly in text unless included in the proper name or title of an event.
- Quotation Marks – Sentence ending punctuation and commas should appear within quotation marks. Example: "What time does the lecture begin?" asked Nick.
Quotations may also be used to indicate the first instance that a nickname is used.
- Semicolon – Semicolons should be used to separate lists that include commas as well as closely related clauses.
Spacing - A single space is preferred between sentences in text.
Telephone Numbers – Format telephone and fax numbers using periods, instead of hyphens or parenthesis, when used on marketing materials, brochures, and the web: 708.534.5000. Standard phone/fax number formatting using parenthesis and hyphens should only be used in formal written communications/letters: (708) 534-5000.
Time – Indicate time of day by pairing numerals with a.m. or p.m. (not AM or am). Do not use zeroes if the time is on the hour. A space should separate the numeral and the a.m./p.m. Use the terms noon and midnight in place of 12 a.m. or 12 p.m.
Examples: 3 a.m. or 3:30 a.m.
A range of time should be indicated using the word to separating the starting and ending time. If both times are in the a.m. (or p.m. respectively) only the second time should include the a.m./p.m. This rule should also be followed when indicating times on posters and flyers.
Example: The distinguished lecture runs from 3 to 5 p.m. this afternoon.
Titles – Capitalization should be used when presenting a complete title and name or when a title directly precedes a name.
Examples: President Maimon; Elaine P. Maimon, President of Governors State University.
Do not capitalize titles when used generically, alone, or in place of a name.
Examples: Elaine Maimon is president of Governors State University.
The department chair called an emergency meeting.
University – The term should be capitalized when used as part of a proper name: I received my degree from Governors State University. The term should be lowercase when used to generically used to refer to an institution of higher learning: I walked by the lake on the university campus.
Web/Internet Terms – Correct spelling/usage of common web terms is as follows: CD-ROM, e-mail; Internet; online; webpage; website; World Wide Web
When referring to a specific web address, the use of http:// is not necessary if the address includes www.
Examples: Correct – www.govst.edu
Incorrect – http://www.govst.edu