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Style Guidelines for FML Writers

We have access to an online version of the AP stylebook

Most of the following quick tips with some local variations are from the Office of University Communication's editorial style guidelines. Some of the tips are from Jody Ross' PowerPoint or her tip sheet.

The dictionary recommended by the Associated Press Stylebook Online is Webster's New World College Dictionary (call number PE1628.W5629 2001). Also, you can check Meriam Webster Online. E-Reference / English Dictionaries / Merriam Webster Dictionary

We can also see how The New York Times Manual of Style and Usage (REF PN4783.S57 1999) deals with a word or phrase. An article from C&RL News (April 2009), "Professional writing and publishing: resources for librarians," by Laurie L. Putnam, lists many websites that may be of help to you as a writer.

Another website that may be useful is Garbl's Writing Center, http://home.wavecable.com/~garblswritingcenter/

We need input from all team members for additions to this list. Please send suggestions to Gerald Dierkes: gerald.dierkes@villanova.edu

Specifications for campus publications

This style guide provides basic guidelines for grammar, spelling and punctuation issues commonly encountered. Villanova University publications adhere to AP Style.

Style Guide Entries


Abbreviations should be spelled out in first use with abbreviation in parentheses, and then abbreviated in second use.

Example: Two seniors were awarded scholarships to New York University (NYU). While attending NYU, they plan to study biology.
Example: The Villanova women's cross-country team won its second consecutive National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) championship. Defending their NCAA title was a goal all season long.

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Abbreviations of State names

See the AP Stylebook for state abbreviations. Use the two-letter Postal Service abbreviations only with full street addresses with ZIP code.

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Academic degrees

Use bachelor's degree, master's degree but no apostrophe in Bachelor of Arts or Master of Science.

Use such abbreviations as BA, MA, PhD only after a full name, not after just a last name, and only when necessary for identification.

When used after a name, an academic abbreviation is set off by commas: Daniel Moynihan, PhD, spoke.

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.

Right: Dr. Pam Jones, a chemist.

Wrong: Dr. Pam Jones, PhD

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African American

African American does not have a hyphen, according to the Oxford African American Studies Center (database).

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African diaspora

The d in diaspora is lower case (unless the term is a part of a title)

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Alumni, identification of by college and class year

Alumni, identification of by college and class year.

On first mention, alumni will be identified by class year and college, in that order. For colleges, use the following abbreviations: COE, CON, CLAS, VSB, VLS.

Example: John Smith '87 CLAS

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Alumni with master's degrees from Villanova

Identify as follows: year followed by degree initials; do not include the area of study or the college.

Example: John Smith, PhD, '75 CLAS, '77 MS

Exception: Mary Jones, JD, '99 VLS [include the law school]

Do not use "GS" (Graduate Studies)

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Ampersands (&)

Ampersands should not be used when describing Villanova University Colleges and departments. "And" should be used instead.

Example: Barbara Wall, PhD, vice president for Mission and Ministry

Example: Faculty in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences have a new mission.

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Augustinians must always have "the Rev." before their name in first reference. Those with doctoral level degrees must always have their degrees listed after their names in first reference. Thereafter, they can be referred to as "Father" or "Brother." As per AP Style, do not abbreviate to "Fr" or "Br."

First reference: The Rev. Charles Oakley, OSA, PhD
Second reference: Father Oakley

First reference: Brother Michael Smith, OSA
Second reference: Brother Smith

Exception: Father Allan Fitzgerald, OSA Father Fitzgerald insists on the title Father, not Rev.

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Blog Titles

Use quotation marks around blog and other composition titles. Associated Press Stylebook Online, 2007-02-04

(Source: Ask the Editor, Punctuation)

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Building Names and Campus Landmarks

On first mention, the building should be referred to by its full name. Thereafter, if it has a popular acronym (see below), the acronym can be used on second reference.

  • Alumni Hall
  • Alumni House
  • Austin Hall
  • Bartley Hall
  • Burns Hall
  • Butler Annex
  • Caughlin Hall
  • Center for Engineering Education & Research (CEER)
  • Chemical Engineering Building
  • Connelly Center
  • Corr Hall
  • Davis Center for Athletics and Fitness
  • Delurey Hall
  • Donahue Hall
  • Dougherty Hall
  • *Dundale (use only its proper name, Picotte Hall at Dundale)
  • Driscoll Hall
  • Falvey Hall (the proper name for "Old Falvey," according to Father Gallagher)
  • Falvey Memorial Library
  • Farley Hall
  • Farrell Hall
  • Fedigan Hall
  • Financial Services Building
  • Galberry Hall
  • Gallen Hall
  • Garey Hall
  • Geraghty Hall
  • Good Counsel Hall
  • Health Services Building
  • Heating Plant
  • Jackson Hall
  • Jake Nevin Field House
  • John Barry Hall
  • Katharine Hall
  • Kennedy Hall
  • Klekotka Hall
  • Maintenance Building
  • McGuire Hall
  • Mendel Field
  • Mendel Science Center
  • Middleton Hall
  • Military Sciences Building
  • Moriarty Hall
  • Moulden Hall
  • O’Dwyer Hall
  • Picotte Hall at Dundale
  • Rudolph Hall
  • St. Augustine Center for the Liberal Arts (SAC)
  • St. Mary’s Hall
  • Sheehan Hall
  • Simpson Hall
  • South Campus
  • Stanford Hall
  • Stone Hall
  • Structural Engineering Teaching & Research Laboratory
  • Sullivan Hall
  • The Grotto
  • The Oreo
  • The Pavilion
  • The Quad
  • Tolentine Hall
  • Vasey Hall
  • Villanova Conference Center
  • Villanova Stadium
  • Welsh Hall
  • West Campus
  • White Hall
  • Villanova Conference Center

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College of Engineering Buildings and Engineering Centers of Research

Engineering buildings

  • Center for Engineering Education and Research (CEER)
  • Chemical Engineering Building
  • Structural Engineering Teaching and Research Laboratory
  • Tolentine Hall
  • White Hall

Engineering Centers of Research

  • Center for Advanced Communications
  • Center for Nonlinear Dynamics and Control
  • Villanova Center for the Advancement of Sustainability in Engineering

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Use lowercase except for words that are proper nouns or adjectives.

Academic Department names should always be capitalized: the History Department, the Department of English or the Department of Humanities and Augustinian Traditions.

Academic majors: use lower case for majors with the exception of languages, which are proper nouns.

Committee: capitalize when part of a formal name: The Student Life Committee.

Honors: Use lower case and italicize cum laude, magna cum laude and summa cum laude.

Academic majors: use lower case for majors with the exception of languages, which are proper nouns.

Internet but use lower case for web.

Programs: capitalize as proper nouns: Africana Studies, Continuing Studies

Title, personal: Before name, capitalize. After name, do not capitalize.

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When groups are small or the identification is intuitive, do not use left-to-right designations.

In large groups or where clarity is needed, write "(left to right)" or whatever format is syntactically correct for the context.

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The church on Villanova's main campus should always be referred to as St. Thomas of Villanova Church.

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Clergy (see Augustinians)

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Please note: when writing about coaches for the magazine, find out if they are alums and note their class year and college on first reference. See table below.

Official Program Name Head Coach
Baseball Joe Godri
Basketball, men's Jay Wright
Basketball, women's Harry Perretta
Cross-country, men's Marcus O'Sullivan, the Frank J. Kelly Endowed Track & Field Coach
Cross-country, women's Gina Procaccio
Field Hockey Joanie Milhous
Football Andy Talley
Golf James Wilkes
Lacrosse, men's Michael Corrado
Lacrosse, women's Jebb Chagan
Rowing Jack St. Clair
Soccer, men's Tom Carlin
Soccer, women's John Byford
Softball Maria DiBernardi
Swimming & Diving Rich Simpson
Tennis, Men's Brad Adams
Tennis, Women's Steve Reiniger
Track and Field, Men's Marcus O'Sullivan, the Frank J. Kelly Endowed Track & Field Coach
Track and Field, Women's Gina Procaccio
Volleyball Josh Steinbach
Water Polo Damon Newman

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First reference: always use the official name of the college.

Second reference: its popular acronym (if it has one) can be used.

Villanova University College of Liberal Arts and Sciences; second reference: CLAS
    * Note: the College's proper name is Liberal Arts and Sciences. Do not leave out "Liberal."
Villanova University College of Engineering; second reference: COE
Villanova University College of Nursing; second reference: CON
Villanova School of Business; second reference: VSB
Villanova University School of Law; second reference: VLS

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Dates, Numbers

Spell out the name of the month when using it alone with a year. When using a month and a year only, do not separate with commas. When a phrase is used with a month, date and year, set both the date and year off with commas.

January 2002
Jan. 13
Jan. 13, 1990
He was born Jan. 13, 1990, in Austin, Texas.

When referencing a span of years, use a hyphen and drop the first two numbers of the second year. If the years span a century change, use all four numbers of the second year.


To describe the sequences of dates or inclusive dates, use a hyphen (with no spaces between the hyphen and the characters) instead of the word "to" or "through."

The box office is open Monday-Friday.

Do not use suffixes with dates.

Right: Oct. 14
Wrong: Oct. 14th

Use an "s" without an apostrophe after the year to indicate spans of decades or centuries. Use an apostrophe before the year for class years or abbreviations to indicate the first two numbers of the year are omitted.

Smith University was formed in the 1840s.
Sherry will graduate with the Class of ’07.

An apostrophe after the year is needed for possessives.

The presidential election was 1980’s biggest news story.

Spell out numbers from one to nine. Use numerals for all numbers 10 and above. Spell out a numeral at the beginning of a sentence but numeral years may start a sentence:

1980 was a very good year.

Do not use superscripts: The 7th (not "7th") Annual Open Mic Poetry Reading

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Patrick G. Maggitti, PhD, The Helen and William O'Toole Dean, Villanova University School of Business

Jean Ann Linney, PhD, Dean, Villanova University College of Arts and Sciences

M. Louise Fitzpatrick, EdD, RN, FAAN, Connelly Endowed Dean and Professor of Nursing, Villanova University College of Nursing

Gary A. Gabriele, PhD, Drosdick Endowed Dean, Villanova University College of Engineering

John Y. Gotanda, JD, Dean, Villanova University School of Law


First reference: should include full title, e.g., M. Louise Fitzpatrick, EdD, RN, FAAN, Connelly Endowed Dean and Professor of Nursing at Villanova.

Second reference: Dean Fitzpatrick

Note: When "Dean" comes before the last name, it is always capitalized.

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Deans, associate or assistant

Associate and assistant dean titles should be in lower case after the individual’s name, unless it is an endowed deanship. When the title is before the individual’s name, it should be capitalized.

Example: Mary Smith, associate dean, College of Engineering

Example: Mary Smith, associate dean, Graduate Studies and Research; Mary Smith, associate dean, Enrollment Management

Example: Associate Dean Mary Smith

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Department names should always be capitalized.

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first-year student

Not freshman

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Do not space between letters, and use periods.

Example: J.D. Smith

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The Library’s proper name is Falvey Memorial Library or Falvey. Do not use Falvey Library.

“Library” as a noun is capitalized when referring to this institution.

Example: “… fourteen Senior Class Poet contestants had their poems on display in the Library during April” (Falvey’s blog).

“Library” as an adjective is not capitalized.

Example: “Dr. Lynch will discuss her novel, Women of the Passion, on Tuesday, Sept. 20, 2011, at 1:00 p.m. in the library first floor lounge” (Falvey’s blog).

Example: “Joanne Quinn, design specialist, created a display on the kiosk near the library entrance” (Falvey’s blog).

“Library” in the possessive is not capitalized.

Example:  “… we are proud to present a music video that celebrates the library’s service and commitment to the future” (Falvey’s blog).

Example: “… which includes members of the library’s Technology        Development team and Scholarly Outreach team” (Falvey’s blog).

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Library Director

Prefer University librarian to library director: sounds more academic.

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The official name of the Villanova mascot is Will D. Cat.

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As per AP Style, when a month is followed by a date, abbreviate only the following: Jan., Feb., Aug., Sept., Oct., Nov. and Dec. Do not abbreviate months used alone or used with only a year.

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Names, Suffixes

Do not use a comma before suffixes such as "Jr." and "III"

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Periods in abbreviations

Except where noted otherwise, do not use periods in abbreviations. All degrees should be capitalized.

Examples: OSA, MBA, RN

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The official name of the portal is MyNova. The official name of the faculty/staff channel (where the feature articles are found) is "the faculty/staff channel of MyNova."

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Position announcements

No position appointments below Dean or AVP will receive a stand-alone announcement in the magazine, although such information can be referenced in an article.

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Generally do not hyphenate when using a prefix with a word starting with a consonant. Except for cooperate and coordinate, use a hyphen if the prefix ends in a vowel and the word that follows begins with the same vowel: re-elect, re-enlist, re-establish. For many other words, the sense is the governing factor:

Recover (regain) re-cover (cover again)
Reform (improve) re-form (form again)

Use a hyphen if the word that follows is capitalized.

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First-time use of Father Peter’s name should read, the Rev. Peter M. Donohue, OSA, PhD, ’75 CLAS

subsequent references — Father Donohue  As per AP Style, do not abbreviate "Father"

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President’s Cabinet

Vice President for Academic Affairs
Rev. Kail C. Ellis, OSA, PhD

Vice President for Administration and Finance
Kenneth G. Valosky, MS

Vice President and General Counsel
Debra Fickler, JD

Vice President for Student Life
Rev. John P. Stack, OSA

Vice President for University Advancement
Michael J. O’Neill, MBA

Vice President for University Communication
Ann E. Diebold, MBA

Vice President for Mission and Ministry
Barbara E. Wall, PhD

Vice President for Technology and Chief Information Officer
Stephen W. Fugale

Director of Athletics
Vincent P. Nicastro, MBA

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(see Augustinians)

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For endowed professors, include the title of that endowment. In a descriptive phrase, "professor" should be in lower case. The name of their department should be capitalized. When the professor's title is before his or her name, it should be capitalized.

Example: Aaron M. Bauer, PhD, the Gerald M. Lemole, MD Endowed Chair in Integrative Biology

Example: Mary Smith, PhD, associate professor, Department of Biology

Example: Associate Professor Mary Smith, PhD, Department of Biology

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Professors without doctorates

First reference: Professor James Miller

Second reference: Professor Miller

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Professors with doctorates

Professors with doctoral degrees always must have "PhD" after their names in first reference. Thereafter, they can be referred to as "Dr."

First reference: Mary Smith, PhD,

Second reference: Dr. Smith

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Quotations marks: Use quotation marks to surround the exact words of a speaker or writer. The period and comma always go within the quotations marks. The dash, semicolon, question mark and exclamation point go within the quotation marks when they apply to the quoted matter only. They go outside when they apply to the whole sentence.

Semicolons and quotation marks: Semicolons go outside quotation marks. "Day in the Life"; "A Little Help from my Friends";

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Quotes, pull

Set off pull quotes with quotation marks; identify the speaker of the quote by name, class year, college and title (when applicable)

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Use "St.," not "Saint," when it precedes a proper name ("St. Augustine")

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Spacing between sentences

Use only a single space between words or between sentences.

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Spelling, preferred

  • email
  • E-ZBorrow
  • "Find It" icon
  • First-year student (not "freshman")
  • home page
  • mid-Atlantic
  • monthlong
  • nonprofit
  • PhD and PhD’s plural
  • printout
  • Quran
  • teenage
  • website
  • Wildcard

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Student employee of the month

not student worker of the month or student of the month (National Student Employee Appreciation Week)

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Student residence halls

Student residence halls should always be referred to as such. Never use the word "dormitory."

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Student names and surnames, undergraduate

After first reference, identify undergraduate students by first name.

Example: Mary Smith has enjoyed her four years at Villanova. Mary hopes to attend law school.

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Student surnames, graduate students and other adults

Identify graduate students and all other adults by last name only after first reference.

Exceptions: use "Dr." and "Father" with last name on subsequent references

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Do not use a comma before suffixes such as "Jr." and "III"

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Telephone numbers

ext. 96997

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Terminal degrees

List terminal degrees after a person’s name on first occurrence. If they have more than one degree, the terminal degree should come first.

Examples: PhD, MD, DO, DDS, DMD, DVM, STD, MFA, MBA

Example: John Smith, PhD, MFA

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Titles, capitalization of

When the title first appears before an individual’s name, it should be capitalized. When it first appears after an individual’s name, it is not capitalized.

Example: Under the guidance of Assistant Professor Jane Smith, PhD, the students conducted an important experiment.

Example: Jane Smith, PhD, assistant professor of Political Science, assisted the students.

student employee of the month

Example: Student Employee of the Month, Squidward Tentacles, ...

Example: Squidward Tentacles, student employee of the month, ...

Also, write student employee of the month, not student worker of the month or student of the month (National Student Employee Appreciation Week)

Prefer University librarian to library director: sounds more academic.

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Titles, formatting of

Online databases and resources are not italicized.
    American National Biography Online

Print book titles are italicized.
    The Lives of the Most Eminent English Poets

Blog titles are in quotation marks.
    "Emily Singley's blog"

Paintings are in quotation marks.
    "Mona Lisa"

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Tricky words

Alumnus: 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.

Complement, compliment:
Complement is a noun and a verb denoting completeness or the process of supplementing something.
    The ship has a complement of 200 sailors and 20 officers.
    The tie complements his suit.
Compliment is a noun or a verb that denotes praise or the expression of courtesy.
    The captain complimented the sailors on their dedication.
    She was flattered by the compliments on her outfit.

Ensure, insure: Use ensure to mean guarantee: Steps were taken to ensure accuracy. Use insure for references to insurance: The policy insures his life.

Imply, infer:
    Writers or speakers imply in the words they use.
    A listener or reader infers something from the words.

Lay, lie: The action word is lay. It takes a direct object. Laid is the form for its past tense and its past participle. Its present participle is laying. Lie indicates a state of reclining along a horizontal plane. It does not take a direct object. Its past tense is lay. Its past participle is lain. Its present participle is lying. When lie means to make an untrue statement, the verb forms are lie, lied, lying. See p. 142 of the AP Stylebook.
    I will lay the book on the table.
    He lies on the beach during the noon hours.
    I will lie down.
    He is lying on the beach.
    The prosecutor has laid the blame on him.

Presently: Use it to mean in a little while or shortly, but not to mean now.

Staff is defined as a body of persons employed in a business, etc. (editorial staff of a newspaper). (b) those in authority within an organization, esp. the teachers in a school. Staff is a collective noun which takes singular verbs and pronouns.
    The staff is meeting to set its goals and objectives.
    The staff was rewarded with a pizza party.

Toward not towards.

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When describing Villanova, "University" should always be capitalized.

Example: The University is embarking upon a Campus Master Plan.

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Always use the shortest possible URL.

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Veritas, Unitas, Caritas

The University motto should be capitalized and italicized — Veritas, Unitas, Caritas — in all references.

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It is www.villanova.edu. Do not use http:// before our web address.

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Writing hints

Decide: what kind of article you are writing? Is it providing information or is it reporting on a lecture or an event?

For an article providing information, start with the most important information first answering such questions as who, what, when, where, why and how. Use brief sentences with simple, direct words.

For articles describing an event or speech, still use short, simple sentences with active-voice words. Before covering the event, find information about the speaker and topic. At the event, note the number attending and the atmosphere. To catch the attention of the reader, the title or headline might include alliteration, rhyme, play on words or clichés. Consider starting the article with a provocative point, a quotation, a question or an anecdote. You may want to include the audience reaction.

Occasionally, the editorial staff will edit your article because:

  • Articles must conform to University-wide style guidelines.
  • Space considerations, such as the need to cut words to make room for photos or other articles, may result in the need to edit.
  • There may also be edits for clarity/readability.
  • Articles may need to fit certain word counts determined by layout of the publication.

If you want to reread your article before publication, please let us know. Thanks!

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Special Notes

  1. Do not use superscripts ("5th," not "5th")
  2. Use only a single space between words or between sentences.
  3. Don’t use a hyphen with adverbs that end in "ly"


Last Modified: 2017-05-01 12:29:31