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Editorial Style Guide - A

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a, an

Use “a” before words that begin with consonants or before words beginning with vowels that sound like consonants: a union; a once-in-a-lifetime event. Use “an” before words that begin with vowels or vowel sounds. When a word begins with “h,” use “a” if the “h” is pronounced: a historic event. Use “an” if the “h” is not pronounced: an hour; an honor.


AACSB International

The accreditation organization of the McCoy College of Business Administration. AACSB International - The Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business is the name of the organization. On first reference, correct usage is the full name of the organization, AACSB International - The Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business; on second and continuing references, it is acceptable to use AACSB International or AACSB.


abbreviations and acronyms

  • Never use the abbreviation TSU for Texas State University. Use the full name (Texas State University) on first reference and then Texas State in subsequent references within a document. Exception: TV stations televising a Bobcat athletic event may use TXST to abbreviate the name of the university on the scoreboard.
  • Dr. may be used on first reference before the name of a person who holds a doctorate, but to avoid any confusion regarding the person being a medical doctor, the person’s specialty should be stated in the first or second reference unless the context makes it clear that the person is not a medical doctor. Avoid using Dr. before the last name in subsequent references; last name only is preferred. Do not use Dr. before the name of a person who holds an honorary doctorate.
  • Do not use both Dr. and Ph.D. with a name. NOT Dr. Jane Williams, Ph.D. Use either Dr. Jane Williams or Jane Williams, Ph.D.
  • Abbreviate junior or senior after a person’s name, and do not set it off with a comma unless the person has indicated his preference is to include a comma: Martin Luther King Jr.
  • Omit periods in abbreviations or acronyms unless the result would spell an unrelated word. But use periods in two-letter abbreviations: U.S., U.N. (but not GI). Use all caps, but no periods, in longer abbreviations and acronyms when the individual letters are pronounced: ABC, FBI. Use only an initial cap and then lowercase letters for acronyms of more than six letters, unless otherwise listed in the AP Stylebook or Webster’s New World College Dictionary.
  • Do not abbreviate company or corporation when used after the business name. (This is a deviation from most style guides.) Do abbreviate incorporated (Inc.) or limited (Ltd.) when used following a business name.
    See also academic degrees and titles.


No apostrophe is necessary. It’s plural, not possessive.

academic departments

See departments, academic.

academic degrees

Lowercase names of degrees, fellowships and the like: a master’s degree; a doctorate; a fellowship; a master of business administration. Please note the capitalization and punctuation used in the following examples:

   associate degree (not associate’s)

   bachelor’s degree

   bachelor of arts

   bachelor of fine arts

   bachelor of music

   bachelor of science

   master’s degree

   master of arts

   master of science


   doctoral degree

Abbreviations: Use an abbreviation such as B.A., B.F.A., B.M., B.S., M.A., M.B.A., M.F.A., M.S., M.S.W., Ph.D. or Ed.D. only if writing out the full name of the degree is too cumbersome for the context (such as in an advertisement), on second reference after you have written out the full name of the degree, and after a full name, set off by a comma: Jane Doe, M.A. ’97, won the award.

academic honors

Cum laude, magna cum laude, summa cum laude and with distinction receive no special treatment in running copy: She graduated magna cum laude.

academic titles

The university’s style for academic titles follows that of the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th Edition.

In general, capitalize a formal title used directly before a name. Lowercase and use commas to set off a title following a name. Lowercase and spell out titles when not used with names.

Exception: In formal contexts, such as a displayed list of names and titles in an annual report, titles are usually capitalized even when following a name. Exceptions may also be called for in promotional or other contexts for reasons of courtesy or politics, as long as capitalization is handled consistently within a document or suite of documents.

Capitalize and spell out formal titles such as chancellor, dean, president, chair, professor, associate professor, assistant professor, etc., only when they directly precede names. Lowercase elsewhere. Chair is the name for the heads of Texas State departments. Use chair rather than chairman, chairwoman or chairperson. Note the capitalization and format of these examples:

the professor; John Smith, professor of literature; Professor Smith but history professor John Smith (a label rather than a title); professors Smith and Jones

the chair; Ann Jones, chair of the Department of Finance and Economics; Professor Jones

the provost; Bob Williams, provost and vice president for Academic Affairs; Dr. Williams

the president; Jane Smith, president of Texas State University; Dr. Smith or President Smith

the dean; John Jones, dean of the College of Education; Dean Jones

named professorships: Joe Williams, Texas State’s Roy F. and Joann Cole Mitte Chair in Creative Writing; James Jones, McCoy Endowed Chair in Business

the professor emeritus (masculine); the professor emerita (feminine); professors emeriti (masculine or masculine and feminine); professors emeritae (feminine); Professor Emerita Jane Jones (Note that emeritus and emerita are honorary designations and do not simply mean retired.)        

 Dr. may be used on first reference before the name of a person who holds a doctorate. Unless the context makes it clear that the person is not a medical doctor, the person’s specialty should be stated in the first or second reference. Avoid using Dr. before the last name in subsequent references; last name only is preferred. Do not use Dr. before the name of a person who holds an honorary doctorate.

Also see titles.

accept, except 

Accept means to receive; except means to exclude: Everyone accepted the invitation except for Mary.


Don’t spell out the full name of this entrance examination, even on first reference. It is widely known. (This also applies to SAT, GMAT, GRE, etc.) Use Arabic numerals in constructions such as SAT-1. Use figures for ACT, SAT and similar test scores. Do not add commas to SAT or other scores that reach into the thousands: His SAT score was 1200. Her GRE composite score was 2070.


Use the abbreviations Ave., Blvd. and St. only with numbered addresses: 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. Spell them out and capitalize when part of a formal street name without a number or with just a block number: Pennsylvania Avenue, the 1200 block of Pennsylvania Avenue. Lowercase and spell out when used alone or with more than one street name: Massachusetts and Pennsylvania avenues. Exception: Abbreviations are acceptable on maps if space is limited.

All shorter words (road, alley, lane, drive, etc.) are always spelled out in running text or address listings: 601 University Drive. It’s acceptable to abbreviate these words on a map if space is limited.

Always use figures for an address number: 7 Green St.

Spell out and capitalize first through ninth when used as street names; use figures with two letters for 10th and above: 1202 Sixth St.; 100 12th St.

Abbreviate compass points used to indicate directional ends of a street or quadrants of a city in a numbered address: 222 E. 42nd St.; 600 K St. N.W. Do not abbreviate if the number is omitted: East 42nd Street; K Street Northwest.

See the list of Texas State streets for the proper spelling of the names of streets on the Texas State campus.

Advanced Law Enforcement Rapid Response Training Center (ALERRT)

A center at Texas State that trains first-responding law enforcement officers. Write out the full name on first reference, and use ALERRT on subsequent references.


Not adviser. Used when referring to a person who offers advice in an academic setting on degree programs, course work, etc. (This is a deviation from AP style.)


Affect is always a verb: Your vote will affect the outcome. Effect is used most often as a noun but is sometimes a verb: We aren’t sure what that effect will be, but we hope it will effect positive change.


Use a hyphen when used as a noun or an adjective. The AP Stylebook prefers “black,” but African-American is acceptable if you are certain the person is indeed African-American. Be sensitive to the true ethnicity of other black people, such as Jamaican-Americans, or black people from other countries. Other terms to consider: minorities, ethnic minorities. (Note: The national month of observation is called Black History Month.)

afterward, backward, forward, toward

No final “s” is needed.


Always use figures for ages of people, animals and inanimate objects. When the context does not require years or years old, the figure is presumed to be years.

Ages expressed as adjectives before a noun or as substitutes for a noun use hyphens: 5-year-old girl, but the girl is 5 years old. The boy, 6, has a sister, 10. The woman, 29, has a daughter who is 2 months old. The race is for 60-year-olds. The 18- to 34-year-old demographic is elusive to advertisers. The man is in his 40s.


Acceptable in all references for acquired immune deficiency syndrome, sometimes written as acquired immunodeficiency syndrome.

Alcohol and Drug Resource Center

A center at Texas State dedicated to encouraging healthy lifestyle choices for students and other members of the university community.

Alkek Library

The formal name is the Albert B. Alkek Library. Alkek Library is also acceptable on first reference. The building was opened in 1990 and named in 1991 in honor of Alkek, a Houston oilman and philanthropist.


To be selected as the best (as at a sport) within an area or organization. Capitalize when part of a formal name: All-Southland Conference, All-American, but lowercase when used generally: all-conference.

all right

Never allright or alright.

“Alma Mater”

The name of the university’s song. Capitalize the first letters of each word and enclose this song title in quotation marks. If not referring to the name of the Texas State school song, lowercase the term alma mater, which refers to a school or university one has attended and is also the general term for a school or university’s song.

a lot

Not alot. (But avoid using “a lot” in anything but the most informal of writings.)

alumni, alumnus, alumna, alumnae

alumnus – the male or nonspecific gender singular

alumni – the masculine or mixed-gender plural

alumna – the feminine singular form

alumnae – the feminine plural

Alumni Association

The formal name and preferred usage is the Texas State Alumni Association. Use the full name on first reference. When referring specifically to Texas State's alumni association, Alumni Association (capped) is acceptable on subsequent references. When referring generally to an alumni association, always lowercase.

Alumni House

In 2014 this building was renamed the Center for Student Retention. The house was moved to its current location at the corner of LBJ and University drives in the 1970s and renovated.


Lowercase with periods. Avoid the redundant 9 p.m. tonight or 10 a.m. in the morning. See also times.

among, between

Use between when referring to two items; use among when referring to more than two items.

ampersand (&)

Use only if it is part of an official title; otherwise, spell out the word “and.”

and, but

And or but may begin a sentence. This approach can be useful in providing a transition, but it shouldn’t be overdone.


Do not use the term “first annual.” Instead mention that plans are to hold the event annually. Do not use annual as a synonym for yearbook.


Anxious has a more negative meaning than eager. Someone is anxious if they are extremely uneasy or worrying about some contingency. Someone is eager if they are enthusiastic or have an impatient desire or interest.


Avoid this word. Use about.

Aquarena Center 

Now The Meadows Center for Water and the Environment.


Preferred spelling (rather than archeology).

as well as

Avoid overusing “as well as” in place of “and”; the phrase “as well as” has the sense of “too” or “also,” rather than simply “and.”


Athletic is an adjective; athletics is a noun: He attended an athletic event. Athletics are exercises, sports or games engaged in by athletes.

New Austin Metropolitan Area

Capitalize all three words. San Marcos is part of the Austin Metropolitan Area.


Capitalize the word “award” only when it is part of the official name of an award.

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