Editorial Style Guide

The Indiana State University media relations team produces and distributes news releases focusing on experiential learning, research and community service. Because of our role in providing copy for the news media, we follow the Associated Press Stylebook. This extends to STATE magazine, “ISU Today,” “STATEments” and other internal newsletters. For style questions not addressed in this guide, consult the latest edition of the Associated Press Stylebook or contact Libby Roerig, director of communications, 812-237-3790 or libby.roerig@indstate.edu.


Abbreviations and acronyms – Do not use abbreviations and acronyms the average reader would not quickly recognize. Use traditional abbreviations for states rather than post office abbreviations. Examples: Ind. and Ill. Do not abbreviate Alaska, Hawaii, Idaho, Iowa, Maine, Ohio, Texas or Utah. Abbreviate government, military and law enforcement titles. Examples: Sen. Joe Donnelley, Rep. Brad Buchson, Gen. Jeffrey Hauser, Capt. Ian Loomis. In general, avoid abbreviating the names of university entities and buildings, such as Hulman Memorial Student Union.

Academic degrees - The preferred form is to avoid an abbreviation and use a phrase such as “John Smith, who holds a bachelor’s degree in English.” There is an apostrophe in bachelor’s degree, a master’s, etc., but not in associate degree or in Bachelor of Arts or Master of Science. Note the capitalization for the full name of degrees, including Master of Social Work. Use abbreviations only when listing several degree recipients or when use of the full name of widely recognized degrees would prove cumbersome, such as MBA or Ph.D.

Academic departments - Lowercase except for proper nouns or adjectives: the department of history, the economics department, the English department.

Academic titles - Capitalize formal titles, such as Dean Brien Smith. However, for ease of reading, place titles after a person’s name, especially when titles are exceptionally long, such as Diann McKee, senior vice president for business affairs and finance and university treasurer; or Mike Licari, provost and vice president for academic affairs.

Advisor - An exception to Associated Press style to reflect standard academic usage; not a formal title. Do not capitalize.

African-American - Acceptable for an American person of black descent. Also is acceptable is black. Note, however, that the terms are not necessarily interchangeable, such as in the case of those of Caribbean descent.

Alumni association - On first reference, refer to the organization as the “Indiana State University Alumni Association.” Subsequent mentions should be “the alumni association.”

Alumnus, alumni, alumna, alumnae Use alumnus (alumni in the plural) when referring to a man who has attended a school. Use alumna (alumnae in the plural) for similar references to a woman. Use alumni when referring to a group of men and women. Graduate(s) is also acceptable if it is known that an individual has completed a degree or degrees.


Board of Trustees/board of trustees - Capitalize "Board of Trustees" in reference to the Indiana State University Board of Trustees; thereafter, use "the board" or "the trustees" when referring to that specific group. Do not capitalize "board of trustees" in conjunction with a company name.

Dan Bradley - For most uses, the 11th president of Indiana State is referenced as President Dan Bradley, or Dan Bradley, university president. In formal or official capacities, Daniel J. Bradley may be used. President Bradley’s wife is Cheri (shuh-REE) Bradley. An example of the style for addressing them together in the same sentence is: “President Dan Bradley and first lady Cheri Bradley attended the banquet in the Sycamore Banquet Center.” Note that “first lady” is not an official title and is thus lowercased.

Building/facility names - See the campus map at Campus Map for building names. Do not attach “Sycamore” to a building or facility that does not include it in its formal name. Frequently misspelled building names or those that have recently changed:


Campus-wide - This term should be hyphenated in all uses to avoid misreading.

capitalization - In general, avoid unnecessary capitals. See AP Stylebook for guidelines. As an example: Do not capitalize “university” on second reference.

Cities and towns - Use of student hometowns is encouraged, not only to identify pertinent media outlets to receive news releases but also to emphasize that Indiana State University serves the entire state. Cities and towns are assumed to be in Indiana and thus do not require a state name, unless needed to distinguish between another community with the same name in another state, with a country of the same name or because the name might be confusing to the reader. Indicate the student for communities outside Indiana, except for major cities that would stand alone in AP datelines.

Example: Indianapolis, Terre Haute, Evansville, Fort Wayne, South Bend and French Lick stand alone, because they are unique to Indiana or because places with the same name in other states are so small as to not generally lead to confusion. However, it is “Columbus, Ind.,” “Danville, Ind.,” “Martinsville, Ind,” “Brazil, Ind.” and Peru, Ind.” “Central, Ind.,” “Elizabeth, Ind.” and “Hamlet, Ind.” Note the lowercase “p” in the Crawford County community of “Depauw, Ind.” in contrast to “DePauw University.”

Class levels - When referring to a group of juniors and/or seniors, "upperclassmen" may be used. When referring to a group of first-year students and/or sophomores, "underclassmen" may be used. Do not use "upper class students," “lower class students" or "underclass students." Also, do not use the terms “fifth-year senior” or “super senior;” Students are simply freshmen, sophomores, juniors or seniors.

College names - Capitalize the full name of a college on first reference, such as “College of Technology” or “Bayh College of Education.” Do not capitalize “college” in subsequent references. Do not capitalize the words "colleges" when referring to more than one college, e.g., "the colleges of Business and Technology."

The following are the colleges on the Indiana State campus:


Dates and days - Always use Arabic figures, without st, nd, rd or th. Capitalize the names of months in all uses. When a month is used with a specific date, abbreviate only Jan., Feb., Aug., Sept., Oct., Nov. and Dec. Spell out when using alone or with a year alone. When listing only a month and year, do not separate the year with a comma. When a phrase refers to a month, date and year, set off the year with commas.

Examples: January 2014 was a cold month. Jan. 27 was the coldest day of the month. Her birthday is June 3. Oct. 1, 2014, was the target date. She testified that it was Friday, Dec. 3 when the incident occurred.

Use the days of the week, rather than today, tonight or tomorrow. In newsletters, use the day, month and a figure where appropriate. If the item is for the day the newsletter runs, use “today” and include the full date in parentheses.

Example: Today (Friday, Oct. 17) is the last day to apply for the scholarship. Performances are scheduled for Thursday through Saturday, Oct. 16-18.

This is an exception to AP style to address concerns readers have expressed about university newsletters. News releases should follow AP style, which provides that only the day is used for events within the preceding week or scheduled to occur within the following week.

Do not use the year except when a date is required for an event more than one year in advance.

Example: Fall commencement is scheduled for Dec. 17. The contract runs through June 30, 2019.

Disabilities - The wording is "students with disabilities," which places emphasis on the person, not the disability. In certain contexts, "students with special needs" might be the best verbiage.

Doctor - Consistent with AP style, the title “Dr.” is to be used only for medical doctors, dentists, optometrists, osteopaths, podiatrists and veterinarians. In rare instances when it is necessary to note that an individual has a doctorate, do so by indicating the doctoral degree after the name.

Example: John Smith, Ph.D., or John Smith, Psy.D.

Dorm/dormitory - Do not use. The preferred terminology is "residence hall" or "residence."




Gender: adjectives/nouns - When you need to specify gender, use "female" or "male" as the adjective and "woman" or "man" when you need a noun.


Intercollegiate Athletics - Refer to this entity as "Intercollegiate Athletics," not as Athletic Department, Department of Intercollegiate Athletics or Athletics.




Listserv - This is a trademark for a software program. To avoid trademark issues, use the phrase “email distribution list” instead.


Magna Carta Room - The former court room in Federal Hall.

Majors - In running text, do not capitalize the names of majors unless the major itself is a proper noun, e.g., English, American history, etc. However, in tables or bulleted lists, it is acceptable to capitalize majors.
She is majoring in computer engineering technology.
He is an English major.

Middle initials - Avoid the use of middle initials unless there is an exception for clarification.




Phone numbers - Format phone numbers as follows:


Place names - See “cities and towns”

Professor - When referring to Indiana State University staff members, use the title or rank given to them by the university. Apply the title "professor" only before the name of a professor, associate professor or assistant professor — not before the name of an instructor, lecturer teaching assistant or staff member. Promotions and tenure are awarded to take effect at the start of each fall term. Faculty members have a history of seeking to use their new titles prematurely. Conversely, writers have a habit of sticking to “assistant professor” because that may be the title they have always known. When there is any doubt about a faculty member’s title, verify via the online campus directory or through the provost’s office.

Capitalize “Professor” when used as a title. However, listing the rank after the name in conjunction with the individual’s subject area, such as “John Doe, professor of marketing,” generally makes for easier reading, especially in the case of assistant professors and associate professors.

After referring to an individual by full name, use the spelled-out title and last name: e.g., Professor Smith, only if the person has a professional title.

For emeritus/a professors, indicate status following the name on first use.

Jane Smith, professor emerita of English

For faculty members with more than one title, include all titles on first reference if appropriate and if the sentence allows. Otherwise, list all titles in the first few sentences.

John Johnson, professor of geography and director of the Center for Urban and Environmental Change.



Serial commas - Avoid serial commas unless it is part of an official name (Department of Languages, Literatures, and Linguistics) or if needed to avoid confusion.

Spring break; fall break; winter break - Lowercase these terms in all cases. Note that, although it occurs during the week of Thanksgiving, fall break is not “Thanksgiving break” and winter break is not “Christmas break.”


Theater vs. theatre - The correct term for the Indiana State University theater department is “theater.” The department’s two performance venues are Dreiser Theater and the New Theater. University Hall Theater is not generally used for theatrical performances. Crossroads Repertory Theatre is the professional summer stock program that performs each year on the Indiana State campus.

Time element - Use figures except for noon and midnight. (There is no 12 a.m. or 12 p.m.). Use a colon to separate hours and minutes: 11 a.m., 1 p.m., 3:30 p.m., 9-11 a.m., 9 a.m. to noon, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Use the following construction when listing the time and date of events: 2 p.m. Feb. 14. Because we generally write about events that take place in Terre Haute, it is usually not necessary to include the time zone when indicating a time.

Titles - In general, confine capitalization to formal titles used directly before an individual's name. Lowercase and spell out titles in constructions that set them off from a name by commas. See AP Stylebook for more information.


Union Board - The full name, which should be used on first reference, is Hulman Memorial Student Union Board.

University - Use the entire name “Indiana State University” or other university, as appropriate, on first reference. In subsequent references, use “the university,” “Indiana State” or simply “State.” Limit the use of “ISU.”





Year in school - See "class" entry.

Years - In cases where the century doesn't change, inclusive years should be formatted as follows: 1989-91
But: 1998-2002