Brand guidelines are a living and breathing system that can be added, appended, changed, and evolved over time. The Office of Strategic Communications & Marketing has developed an involved and substantial set of writing guides and resources for those writing for Stan State.

Use these resources to find specific rules and word choices as it pertains to Stan State and writing for higher ed. These rules follow and supersede standard AP style.

In addition to the usual alphabetized and cross-referenced content found in all style guides, the Stanislaus State writing style guide contains several unique entries. Included is a list of Stanislaus State deans and their proper titles, as well as a list of the proper and general use names of major buildings on campus. And the writing style guide ends with a list of five free online resources to assist writers of all levels to make certain their words deliver the intended meaning to their audiences.

Stan State Stylebook

Like the venerable Associated Press Stylebook, this guide is both alphabetical and cross-referenced, with the intent to simplify and quicken a search. Related information, if cross-referenced, will appear in its entirety in both places. Please note that examples in the style guide are italicized simply to highlight usage. Do not infer that italicization is expected in practical use.

A | B | C | D | E | F | G | I | M | N | P | Q | S | T | U | W | Y


Academic degrees

Use an apostrophe in bachelor’s degree and master’s degree, but note that there is no possessive in Bachelor of Arts or Master of Science. There is also no possessive in associate degree. Use the abbreviations B.A., B.S., M.A., M.S., Ph.D. and Ed.D. only when the use of someone’s credentials is important to a story. The use of Dr. should be limited to physicians, dentists and veterinarians. As a rule of thumb, use Dr. in print when the subject is qualified to write a prescription. If it is relevant to reference that someone has a doctorate in another field, use a phrase such as Dawn Strongin, who has a doctorate in psychology...


The University’s official address is One University Circle, Turlock, California, 95382


Not adviser


A man who has graduated from a university


A woman who has graduated from a university


Men, or men and women, who have graduated from a university


Women who have graduated from a university

Note that someone who has attended but not graduated from a university is not an alumnus/alumna. With that said, there may be instances when it is strategically important to refer to someone as such. Check with the Office of Strategic Communications & Marketing if you have questions about a specific person.

Ampersand (&)

Replace the ampersand with the word and in stories. The ampersand may remain in flyers and pamphlets and can be used in social media as a space-saving device. Example: The library’s archives and special collections, not archives & special collections.

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Capitalize names of buildings and formally designated places on campus. Include building numbers in parentheses if necessary. Named locations should never be abbreviated to leave out the honorary name.

  • Dorothy and Bill Bizzini Hall. Accepted first reference: Bizzini Hall.
  • Dr. J. Burton Vasché Library. Accepted first reference: Vasché Library.
  • Ed and Bertha Fitzpatrick Arena. Accepted first reference: Fitzpatrick Arena.
  • Al Brenda Track
  • Demergasso-Bava Hall
  • Mary Stuart Rogers Educational Services Gateway Building. Accepted second reference: MSR also may be used on first reference in flyers and pamphlets.
  • John Stuart Rogers Faculty Development Center
  • Bernell and Flora Snider Music Recital Hall. Accepted first reference: Snider Recital Hall.
  • Nora and Hashem Naraghi Hall of Science. Accepted first reference: Naraghi Hall of Science.

Others: the Health Center, the Dining Hall, Warrior Grill, University Student Union, University Bookstore, Residence Life Village, Student Recreation Complex (includes Warrior Fitness Center, Warrior Stadium and Al Brenda Track); Warrior Baseball Field, Warrior Softball Field.

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Capitalize when referring to the president’s team of senior administrators: The Cabinet and the president meet on Thursdays.

California State University, Stanislaus

The full name is preferred on the first reference.

Stanislaus State This also is acceptable.

The University is also acceptable when referring to Stanislaus State. Note the capital U, which is contrary to the AP Stylebook. Capitalize University in all cases when referring to Stanislaus State but use lowercase in general references to a place of higher education: A university education is important.

See more on our University Name


Official names and proper nouns are capitalized. Common nouns and various shortened forms of official names are not capitalized. Use the full, official name at least once (preferably in the first reference) except on flyers and pamphlets.

These style guidelines for university-related terms may differ from what you have been using. For several reasons, this guide recommends a lowercase style:

  • When too many words are capitalized, they lose their importance and no longer attract attention. Stories are more easily read when they aren’t peppered with initial caps or all caps.
  • Using lowercase letters in no way diminishes the stature or credibility of an individual’s position or a department’s reputation. After all, even the titles “president of the United States” and “pope” are lowercase when they do not immediately precede the president’s or pope’s name.
  • When writing promotional or marketing materials (such as flyers, pamphlets and print ads), emphasis can be achieved more effectively by the skillful use of white space, typeface and typestyle.
  • Keeping everything except official names lowercase also simplifies decisions about when to capitalize shortened forms of official names.

Capitalize University when it's standing alone when referring to Stanislaus State: the University. (This is contrary to the AP Stylebook.)

Capitalize only the complete and official names of colleges, schools, divisions, departments, offices and official bodies (such as Board of Trustees, Academic Senate, Veterans Affairs Office, College of Business Administration, Stockton Campus).

Do Not Capitalize

  • city of Turlock, except when referring specifically to an action of the city’s governmental agency, as in My business license was issued by the City of Turlock.
  • classes: freshman, sophomore, junior, senior; note, however, the increasing use of first-year, second-year, etc.
  • college, the
  • degrees: doctorate, master’s, bachelor’s, baccalaureate, associate (note, not associate's)
  • department, the
  • form names (e.g., admission form, drop/add form)
  • orientation
  • program
  • semesters (fall, spring)
  • school
  • spring break or winter break
  • state of California

Committee, Center, Group, Program and Initiative Names

Unless a committee, center, group, program or initiative is officially recognized and formally named, avoid capitalizing. An ad hoc committee’s name, for example, should not be capitalized. However, do capitalize the official, proper names of long-standing committees and groups, as well as formally developed programs and initiatives. Examples:

  • The University Budget Advisory Committee made three recommendations.
  • The University’s vice presidential search committee met in executive session Tuesday.

Course Titles

Official course titles should be capitalized, but avoid quotation marks, italics or other formatting. Example: Students should consider taking Accounting Issues for Lawyers as well as Agency, Partnership and the LLC.

Department Names

Capitalize official department names and office names. References using shortened or unofficial names should be lowercase. Examples:

  • The Department of Theatre produces performances throughout the year.
  • Faculty members from the biological sciences, chemistry and mathematics departments are collaborating on a project.

Include the abbreviation in parenthesis following the first reference only when you cite it later in the same story. Example: The Computer Information Systems (CIS) Department. … The CIS professor will lead a discussion of cybersecurity.


Capitalize letter grades and use two numerals after the decimal point in GPAs. Example: She received an A in biology, which raised her overall GPA to 3.50.

Job and Position Titles

Capitalize job titles only when they immediately precede the individual’s name. Examples:

  • It’s common knowledge that President Obama won the Nobel Peace Prize.
  • The president, Barack Obama, attended Occidental College.
  • The president of the United States serves a four-year term of office.
  • Have you taken a course from Professor Geoffrey Mulder?
  • Geoffrey Mulder, a professor of music, does not teach in the summer.
  • The vice president for Student Affairs uses a variety of means to improve students’ lives on campus.
  • Jane Doe has been promoted to associate professor.
  • Athletic Director Terry Donovan spoke at the basketball team’s celebration.
  • Terry Donovan, the athletic director, spoke at the basketball team’s celebration.

Titles in Addresses and Display Format

When a title appears in an address or other display format (such as list of administrators in an annual report), as opposed to story text, the title may be capitalized even if it appears after the name. Examples:

  • Jean Warren, Director
  • John Smith, Associate Director

Structures and Places

Capitalize names of buildings and formally designated places on campus. Examples:

  • Educational Services Building
  • Construction will take place in Parking Lot 11 this weekend.
  • The Reflecting Pond is beautiful this time of year.


Do not capitalize freshman, sophomore, junior, senior or first-year student unless they appear at the beginning of a sentence or in a headline. Upper-division and first-year are the preferred adjectives for students instead of upper-class and freshman.


Many words and names are legally trademarked and should appear with initial capitals to acknowledge that fact. Also, owners of such trademarks have a legal right to restrict the use of those trademarked terms to their specific product. As a result, avoid using trademarked names, such as Xerox, as generic terms. Instead, use photocopier unless you intend to refer to the trademarked brand name. The AP Stylebook will tell you whether commonly used words are trademarked and will also indicate if a trademarked term should be capitalized.

The symbols ® and ™, which often appear on product packaging and advertisements, are unnecessary.

California State Student Association

Full title on first use. CSSA is acceptable in subsequent uses.


Avoid them like the plague. 


Note that this is one word, as is cyberwarrior.

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Always use Arabic figures without st, nd, rd or th.

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No hyphen.

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Farmers market

Note that no apostrophe is needed. The local farmers market is the Turlock Farmers Market.


This is someone who flies.


This is a handbill or pamphlet. (This is contrary to the AP Stylebook.)

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GIS is the abbreviation for geographic information system. You may use GIS on first reference but should use the full term somewhere high in the story. GIS may be used on flyers and pamphlets as a space-saving device, assuming that it is understandable in context.

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The word internet is lowercase in all uses, except at the start of a sentence. By association, net also is lowercase when it refers to the internet.

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Do not capitalize, except for English and those that include a language or region, such as Asian studies.


Capitalize the names of months in all uses. When the name of a month is followed by a date, abbreviate Jan., Feb., Aug., Sept., Oct., Nov. and Dec. Spell out the name of the month when used alone or when followed by the year. For instance: Aug. 30, 2016; August 2016.

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Follow the preference that people have for use of their names. The name listed in the campus directory is not always the name the person prefers. If James Smith prefers to be called Jim, render the name simply as Jim Smith, not James (Jim) Smith. In other words, the decision rests with the person being named. He might be Jim in face-to-face conversation but prefers James in print.


As part of Stanislaus State’s integrated marketing communications plan, it is important to correctly refer to the University by its formal, informal or least formal name, depending on the setting and circumstance.
See how to use/write the University's name

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When referring to an event for which there is no charge to park vehicles in campus lots, refer to the parking as complimentary or free of charge


Capitalize when preceding someone’s name: Interim President Susan E. Borrego. Lowercase when used generically or following someone’s name: The president will meet with the mayor on Saturday.


Capitalize before a person’s name. If the area of study is included, capitalize it as well. Examples:

  • Professor Mary Smith
  • The award went to longtime Biology Professor Mary Smith.

Note that there is a distinction among professor, associate professor and assistant professor – and, of course, lecturer and adjunct.

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Capitalize in reference to the public square on campus. The Quad is bursting with activity today. Let’s meet in the Quad. (Note that “the” is not capitalized unless it starts a sentence.)

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Stockton Campus

On the first reference, use the official name, California State University, Stanislaus Stockton Campus or Stanislaus State Stockton Campus for internal communications. Use Stockton Campus on subsequent references.

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Use this in all references. This is contrary to the AP Stylebook.


Use figures in all cases except when referring to noon and midnight. Include minutes when needed, however omit “:00” and use a.m. and p.m. lowercase with periods.

For time ranges, only use a.m. or p.m. once as needed. Use a dash to indicate a range within the same time of day; use “to” for a range that spans a.m. and p.m. Examples of proper use: 10 a.m., 10:30 p.m., 10-11 a.m., 4:15-5 p.m., 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Turlock Farmers Market

No apostrophe because it is descriptive rather than possessive. Use the shorter version in lieu of Turlock Certified Farmers Market except in quotes when someone uses the full title. Note that farmers market is acceptable after first use.

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Note that University is capitalized when referring to Stanislaus State: the University.

University names

When referring to universities other than Stanislaus State in the CSU or UC systems, you should use the official, preferred short form of the names in the first reference unless your intent is to be formal. Please reference the published editorial style guides for campus names for the CSU and the UC.

University Police Department

Use the full title on first use. UPD is acceptable in subsequent uses, as is police department.

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World Wide Web

Capitalized in all uses, but becoming archaic as a term


Capitalized in all uses when referring to the World Wide Web, becoming archaic


One word, lower case – website – except at the beginning of a sentence.


One word and lower case except at the beginning of a sentence.

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Year of graduation

Use two digits to indicate when someone graduated. Note the backward apostrophe.

Example: John Smith (’76, mechanical engineering)

Updated: May 22, 2024