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Style Guide

For most IUP communications, the Marketing and Communications Office relies on the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition. Chicago is the industry-standard style guide for publishing for general audiences.

In a few instances, the Associated Press Stylebook and Libel Manual is used—particularly in work produced by the Media Relations and Sports Information offices. The Web Team also uses the Microsoft Manual of Style for some technology-related style issues.

Manuscripts destined for academic journals and works of a similar scholarly nature may adhere to styles represented by still different guidebooks, i.e., APA, MLA, etc. 

The Marketing and Communications Office refers to the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, Second Edition and has specialty dictionaries on hand for use with certain kinds of manuscripts and terms.

Following is an alphabetized style guide to assist website contributors:

Acronyms and Initials

Use the full name of an organization on first reference; thereafter, use the acronym or initials (if, indeed, these are used by the organization): United Nations on first reference; UN on subsequent references.

It is generally not necessary to inform the reader of the organization’s initials, as in United Nations (UN). This should be evident in succeeding sentences. If such parenthetical expressions must be used, make sure the abbreviation actually appears in succeeding sentences.

No matter how familiar acronyms might be to some people, there will surely be readers who do not know what they stand for. Therefore, it is a courtesy to readers to give the full name on first reference and the abbreviation on subsequent references. Initials and acronyms need not have periods. Acronyms of five or more letters tend to become upper and lowercase words with frequent use (Alcoa).

Alumni

Use the proper form for the individual or group in question:
Alumnus – one man
Alumna – one woman
Alumnae – more than one woman (a group constituting only women)
Alumni – more than one man or mixed group

Capitalization of Proper vs. Common Nouns

Proper nouns are capitalized; common nouns are not: Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra; the orchestra; Council of Trustees; the trustees; Stapleton Library; the library; the University Museum; the museum; Indiana University of Pennsylvania; the university. In the last case, writers of letters and unpublished manuscripts are by no means discouraged from capitalizing university as a common noun if they so desire. What often happens in such instances, though, is that each time the word university is even mentioned, it is capitalized, which detracts from the focus of the piece. (For example, IUP is the largest University in the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education and Clarion is another state-owned University are wrong, although the statements themselves are right.)

The following discussion, borrowed from the University of Colorado at Boulder Style Guide, makes the point more clearly:

The University

There has been considerable confusion about whether to capitalize university when the word refers to the University of Colorado. We recommend a foolproof solution: no capital unless you are spelling the full name of the university.

Use of a capital or a lowercase u in university when the reference is to one’s own institution is divided; some institutions—both great and small—use a capital while some do not. It has been more or less customary at CU to capitalize university when referring to the CU system or one of its campuses (in part because older editions of The Chicago Manual of Style did so). However, we strongly recommend that CU writers switch to using a lowercase u for these reasons:

Doing so eliminates any confusion about when to capitalize the word. When writers use the full name—the University of Colorado—or an abbreviation or acronym—CU-Boulder or CU—they will have no difficulty knowing which elements require caps.

  • Nonuniversity preferences (in publishing, the news media, and the nonacademic business world) are for lowercasing university, even when it refers to a specific institution.
  • CU writers communicate often and widely with external audiences. Sometimes materials originally intended for internal distribution are later distributed to external audiences.
  • In almost all cases, context will clearly indicate when university refers to the University of Colorado. In cases where there may be ambiguity, writers can easily substitute our university or CU or the Boulder campus.

The University of Colorado at Boulder is committed to diversity. To that end, the university sponsors several programs and offices that encourage diversity and provide support to university faculty, staff, and students of diverse backgrounds. Developing campuswide understanding of diversity is important at every United States university.

Chair, Chairperson, Chairman

Use chair for the trustees’ docket, unless the convention of another organization dictates otherwise. [Note, for example, that the State System uses chairman and vice chair.]

Comma in Series

Use a comma before the “and” in a series. He bought milk, eggs, and bread.

Credits and Credit Hours

See Numbers

Dashes and Hyphens

The hyphen is the “dash” character found on your keyboard. Use it for compound words (e.g. read-only file).

The en dash is longer than a hyphen but shorter than an em dash. It is available on the character dropdown menu in the Aloha web editor. Use it for indicating ranges on numbers or letters (e.g. 250–500 megabytes). Microsoft Word does this automatically; the Aloha web editor does not.

The em dash is the longest dash. It is also available on the character dropdown menu in the Aloha web editor. Use it to indicate a break in thought, (e.g., All users—except users of Auxmail—should...).

There are additional uses of hyphens and dashes. For a summary of the Chicago advice about dashes and hyphens, consult “The Trouble With Em ’n En (and Other Shady Characters),” particularly the section “The correct use of em and en.”

Dates

When the full date is given, commas are used before and after the year: The trustees met September 23, 2002, to approve the resolution.

According to Chicago, commas are not necessary when only the month is given: The trustees met in September 2002.

By extension, then, the name of the semester in which this guide was compiled is Spring 2007.

Ordinals with Dates

Avoid such uses as April 21st, 2003. Use April 21, 2003. [Note: This function can be turned off in Word.]

Dialog Box Syntax

From Microsoft Manual of Style:

These terms are most commonly used to describe user actions in dialog boxes:

  • Click: Use for commands, command buttons, option buttons, and options in a list, gallery, or palette.
  • Select and clear: Use for check boxes.
  • Type or select: Use to refer to an item (as in a combo box) that the user can either type or select in the accompanying text box. You can use enter instead if there is no possibility of confusion.

Dialog Boxes, References to

From Microsoft Manual of Style:

Use bold type in procedures that refer to dialog box titles, labels, and options. Example: On the Tools menu, click Options, and then click the View tab. Select the Bookmarks check box.

E-mail and Other “Electronic” Terms

Use a lowercase “e” and hyphenate the word: e-mail, e-commerce, e-money, e-zine.

Emeritus, etc.

Use the proper form for the individual or group in question:
Emeritus – one man
Emerita – one woman
Emeritae – more than one woman (a group constituting only women)
Emeriti – more than one man or mixed group

Fiscal Year

Because we’re trying to communicate as clearly as possible and because most readers will probably not be accountants, it’s probably best to use, if possible, a designation that parallels that of the academic year: the 2007–2008 fiscal year (eight digits).

Freshman, Freshmen

Freshman is an adjective and a noun. Freshmen is never an adjective. The freshman class donated money. Her son is a freshman at IUP. The new freshmen were shy at first.

Headings

Use Heading 2, Heading 3, etc. to mark the structure of a document. E.g., if the document has two main sections, use Heading 2 for the title of each.

Avoid the use of the sub_head style.

HTML

Use semantic HTML whenever possible. I.e., use HTML lists to format lists, heading to format headings, etc. Using semantic HTML makes our webpages easier for Google to search and helps us maintain consistency throughout the site, as these elements are automatically styled to match our templates.

Links

Link text should identify the item being linked to. Avoid using "click here."

Don't make surrounding punctuation—such as periods, commas, or quotes—part of the link.

Examples: See the Travel Expense Voucher. Or, just Travel Expense Voucher.

Names

Give first name, surname, and title on first use. Use just surname thereafter, without designations Mr., Mrs., Dr., etc

Avoid initials—either in the middle of a name or at the beginning. Exception: when two people have the same first and last names and might be confused by the reader.

For the trustees’ docket, use the name of the individual that is in the IUP Directory.  

Numbers

Spell out one through nine; use numerals for 10 and higher. (Chicago section 9.3, page 464) 

Exceptions: Use numerals for percentages and in other mathematical or scientific contexts. Spell out numbers 10 and higher when they begin a sentence.

Examples:

  • The three new parking lots at IUP will provide space for 500 more cars. 
  • Thirty-two faculty members in 12 departments were promoted to the rank of professor. 
  • The property is held on a 99-year lease.
  • About 7 percent of the property is wooded.
  • Indiana County is more than 200 years old.   

Online

One word in all cases. (Changed July 2010.)
Carl wrote an online blog.
Carl’s blog went online.
The class is online.

PASSHE

Follow the rule in Capitalization of Proper vs. Common Nouns above, using, on first reference, Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education. In subsequent references, use the System, the State System, or PASSHE. [In material that will be spoken, e.g., speeches, oral reports, etc., PASSHE can be a mouthful and may distract the listener. In such cases, the System might be preferable.]

Percentages

Percentages are always given in numerals. In running type, spell our the word percent.
Example: Only 5 percent of the students voted in the election.

Phases (Residential Revival, et al.)

Use roman numerals to designate each phase: Phase I, Phase II.

Professor

Avoid use of the word full as an adjective for professor. Each year certain faculty members are promoted to professor, not to full professor.

Quotation Marks

Use the quotation marks and apostrophes provided in the Ektron editor toolbar. They are the “curly” quotes and apostrophes, as opposed to the straight.

Semesters

Use a capital letter when referring to a specific semester or session: During the Fall semester, plans were made for the next year’s Summer sessions.

When only a season, not a semester or session, is referenced, use lowercase: In the fall, we’ll plan courses for the following summer.

Spacing

Use only one space after punctuation at the end of a sentence and after a colon.

The space between paragraphs, before headings, around list items is handled centrally. In general, allow Ektron to control this spacing and do not add extra blank lines between paragraphs. This can cause difficulties when content is printed, repurposed, or switched to a new template.

States

Abbreviate according to the following list. Avoid use of postal abbreviations (PA, CO, etc.) in running type or for anything other than addresses. Avoid using Pennsylvania after such obvious locations as Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, Harrisburg, Erie, Altoona, etc.

Alaska, Ala., Ark., American Samoa, Ariz., Calif., Colo., Conn., D.C., Del., Fla., Ga., Guam, Hawaii, Iowa, Idaho, Ill., Ind., Kans., Ky., La., Mass., Md., Maine, Mich., Minn., Mo., Miss., Mont., N.C., N.Dak., Neb., N.H., N.J., N.Mex., Nev., N.Y., Ohio, Okla., Ore., Pa., P.R. or Puerto Rico, R.I., S.C., S.Dak., Tenn., Tex., Utah, Va., V.I. or Virgin Islands, Vt., Wash., Wis. or Wisc., W.Va., Wyo.

Time

Use a colon and zeros for on-the-hour times, and lowercase the a.m./p.m. Use noon and midnight to avoid confusion. Example: 7:00 a.m.

Use the en dash when giving a range of times. This is between an em dash and a hyphen (the width of an “n”): Office hours are 9:00 a.m.–5:00 p.m.

Titles and Offices

Capitalize a title when it immediately precedes a personal name. The examples Chicago gives are President Lincoln; the president; Dean Mueller; the dean. [Note: Different rules may apply in lists, as opposed to running text.]

Avoid stacking titles before the name; choose one and use others elsewhere. For instance, avoid Fine Arts Dean Mr. Michael Hood in favor of Fine Arts Dean Michael Hood and, on second reference, Mr. Hood or Dean Hood.

University Name

The possessive form of IUP is never to be used, such as “IUP’s mission is to...”
Trademarks (to be considered a licensable brand) must be distinctive. Pluralizing, possessive forms, or other misuse of a formal brand name are considered to dilute the distinctiveness of a brand, thereby rendering it something “common,” which cannot be legally protected as a trademark. Consequently, to continue to protect the IUP brand, we need to eliminate the most common misuse—the possessive form.

Universitywide

When using words with wide, the suffix should be added with no hyphens, e.g., campuswide, worldwide, etc. Chicago (see above) uses hyphens after words of three or more syllables. However, that seems unnecessarily cumbersome, and universitywide is increasingly preferred. AP favors universitywide.

Vice President

Avoid hyphenating vice president.

Web, Website

Capitalize the “W” in the Web, but lowercase (and make one word) website whenever it is used. Also lowercase webpage (one word).

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