Editorial Style Guide

The writing style for university publications is journalistic, although somewhat more formal in regard to abbreviations, capitalization, and titles. The writing should be simple (as opposed to complex), friendly, and accessible to readers. Use of acronyms (unless very clear as a second reference) and educational jargon should be avoided.

Editorial Style Guide  |  Facts & Figures 

If particular questions of style are not answered in this style sheet, The Associated Press Stylebook should be consulted. 


Referring to all things Dominican 

Our name in text:

Use the full name of the university, Dominican University of California, on first reference. After the first reference, it can be shortened to Dominican.

Special Note: When repetition is an issue or when referring to the university as a whole:

Do not capitalize the word university. Example: She attends Dominican University of California. She is a psychology major at the university.

Do not break our name into two lines so that “Dominican” and “University of California” are separated in publication headlines, signage and advertisements.

Never use “Dominican University” in any reference.

Our name abbreviated: 

Dominican University of California may be abbreviated “DU of C.”

Do not abbreviate our name “DU” or “DUC.”

Our name in broadcast:

For paid advertising on television or radio, our name shall be announced “Dominican University in San Rafael, California.”

Our name graphically:

Please consult the Dominican style guide for complete information on our seal, logo and companion logos.

Non-sexist language:

Use non-sexist language. Example: Chair (not chairman); First-year students (preferable to freshmen)

Academic Degrees:

If mention of degrees is necessary to establish someone’s credentials, the preferred form is to avoid an abbreviation and use a phrase instead. Example: John Jones, who has a doctorate in psychology.

Use abbreviations as BA, MA, MBA, PhD, only when the need to identify many individuals by degree on first reference would make the preferred form cumbersome.

Use these abbreviations only after a full name—never after just a last name.

  • When used after a name, an academic abbreviation is set off by commas. Example: John Snow, PhD, spoke at the conference. 
  • Contrary to AP Style, at Dominican, we do not use periods in the abbreviations for academic degrees: BA, MA, MBA, PhD 
  • PhD is always capital P, lowercase h, capital D

Use an apostrophe in bachelor’s degree, a master’s degree, etc.

Do not use an apostrophe in Bachelor of Arts or Master of Science.


Academic Departments

Do not capitalize academic departments unless it contains a proper noun or if department is part of the official or formal name. Examples: the department of history; the history department; the English department; Dominican University of California Department of Education. 

Academic Titles:

Do capitalize and spell out formal titles such as president, provost, etc., if they precede a name

Do not capitalize formal titles elsewhere in a sentence.

Examples: President Mary B. Marcy; Kathy Park, vice president for advancement; Vice President John Kennedy; Leslie Ross, faculty member; Professor Leslie Ross; Leslie Ross, professor of art history; Shelley Hunter, senior graphic designer; Nicola Pitchford, dean; Dean Nicola Pitchford. 

Professional Titles 

Do not use professional titles on the first reference of a person. It may only be used on the second reference. Example: John Smith, faculty member, attended the meeting. Dr. Smith represented the Faculty Assembly.

Referring to the president: 

Acceptable first reference: President Mary B. Marcy

Acceptable second reference: President Marcy

Not acceptable: Dr. Marcy

Alumnus, alumni, alumna, alumnae: 

Do use the following terminology when referring to alumni:                              

Male graduate/s: alumnus/alumni

Female graduate/s: alumna/alumnae

Gender unknown: alumnus

Group of male/female graduates: alumni

Do not use the word ‘alum’.

Other Common Words and Sayings:

Do capitalize Mass. Example: I went to Mass this morning.

Do capitalize and use periods to separate O.P. (Order of Preachers) when used after the name of a Dominican sister. Example: Sister M. Samuel Conlan, O.P.

Dominican Programs: 

Do hyphenate Service-learning. Example: Service-learning is an academic program at Dominican.

Do not hyphenate Engaged learning. Example: Engaged Learning is another academic program at Dominican.



In a series:

Do not use a comma before the conjunction to separate elements in a simple series. Example: They served coffee, pie and scones.

Do use a comma before the concluding conjunction in a complex series of phrases. Example: The main points to consider are whether the athletes are skillful enough to compete, whether they have the stamina to endure the training, and whether they have the proper mental attitude.

With adjectives:

Do use a comma when the word “and” could be substituted without changing the meaning. Example: He acted in a thoughtful, precise manner.

Do not use a comma when “and” would not work. Example: She wore a cheap fur coat. 

Introductory phrases:

Do use a comma to separate an introductory phrase from the main clause. Example: When he had tired of the pace of New York, he moved to Dubuque.


Do Not use a comma if only the month and year are given. Example: December 1998.

States and Nations:

Do use a comma before and after the name of the state or nation if used along with the name of the city. Example: He went from Dublin, Ireland, to Selma, Alabama, in order to find her. 

Large figures:

Do use a comma in figures over 999. Example: 125,943

Personal Titles in Name:

Do not use a comma between a person’s name and Jr. Example: John Smith Jr. 




Do use an apostrophe to show possession only if there is true possession. Example: one woman’s hat

Do not use an apostrophe if the word is used primarily in a descriptive sense. Example: a writers guide, veterans affairs.

Memory aid:

Do not use an apostrophe if for or by rather than of would fit more appropriately. Example: a guide for writers. 

Quasi possessives:

Do use an apostrophe to show quasi possessives. Example: last year’s edition, two weeks’ pay.

Possessives of words ending in s:

Do use the apostrophe alone, without an extra s. Example: Mr. Jones’ house; one corps’ location; the witness’ story.


Do use an apostrophe when determining a type of degree. Example: master’s degree, bachelor’s degree, etc.

Do not use an apostrophe with associate degree. There is no possessive.


Do not use apostrophes in terms like years and shortened idioms. Example: 1940s and Ps and Qs

Special Marks

Exclamation marks:

Do not use exclamation marks unless absolutely necessary. Use them almost never.



Parentheses and Punctuation:

Periods should be placed outside a closing parenthesis if the material inside is not a sentence. Example: (such as this fragment).

Periods should be placed inside a closing parenthesis if the material inside is a complete sentence. Example: (An independent parenthetical sentence such as this one takes a period before the closing parenthesis.)

Parentheses around maiden names:

Do not use parentheses around maiden names or class years. Example: Mary Brown Smith ’93.


Hyphenated modifiers:

Do hyphenate when a multi-word modifier is used as an adjective. Example: highly-regarded institution, four-year degree, round-the-clock surveillance, hard-to-swallow stor, fifty-year-old scotch

Special Note: On full-time vs. full time

Hyphenate only as an adjective. Example: full-time student BUT she attends full time


Keying apostrophes and quotation marks:

If possible, apostrophes and quotation marks should be typed using special keystrokes so that they convert correctly. (On Macs, use the “option” and “shift” keys in conjunction with the bracket keys.) 

Spacing after periods:  

Use only one space after periods at the end of a sentence. 


Use italics for titles of books, newspapers, magazines, and films.

Use quotation marks around titles of articles and short works.

Underlining, all caps

Do not underline or use all capitals (except in acronyms), in general.

Special note: On Web pages, do not underline text unless it is a hyperlink.


Do Italicize foreign words only if they do not appear in most modern English dictionaries. Example: Italicize “bonjour” but not “alma mater.”

Do Italicize titles of books, newspapers, magazines, and films.


Do not use two hyphens as a dash. Instead, use an em-dash

(on Macs, option+shift+hyphen).


Do not use symbols such as % and &. Spell out percent, and. 



Job titles

Do capitalize and spell out formal titles such as president, provost, etc., if they precede a name.

Do not capitalize formal titles elsewhere in a sentence.

Examples: President Mary B. Marcy; Kathy Park, vice president for advancement; Vice President John Kennedy; Leslie Ross, faculty member; Professor Leslie Ross; Leslie Ross, professor of art history; Shelley Hunter, senior graphic designer; Nicola Pitchford, dean; Dean Nicola Pitchford.

Departments, majors:

Do not capitalize specific names of departments, fields of study or majors with the exception of proper nouns.

Examples: biology department; financial aid department; psychology course; He is a psychology major.

Examples: English course; He received a bachelor of arts in English (English is a proper noun.)

Headlines and photo captions: 

Do capitalize the main words in a headline

Do not capitalize prepositions or conjunctions.

Do use complete sentences with end punctuation.


Do capitalize county when it is an integral part of a proper noun. Example: Marin County

Do not capitalize county when used in plural combinations. Example: Marin and Sonoma counties


Do not capitalize the seasons. Example: She takes classes in the fall, spring and summer.


Do not capitalize fall or spring semesters. Example: She attends classes during the fall semester and spring semester.

Courtesy/Professional Titles

Courtesy titles:

On first reference, use full name without courtesy title (John Smith). On second reference, use last name only (Smith).

Special Note: In feature articles, depending on the formality of the writing, first name may be used on second reference.

Use courtesy titles only when necessary to avoid confusion (such as with married couples or brothers and sisters). Example: Mr. and Mrs. Smith.


Junior, senior:

Do abbreviate as Jr. and Sr. only with full names.

Do not use a comma.

Example: John Smith Jr.


Professional titles:

Do use professional titles on second reference only.

Example: John Smith, faculty member, attended the meeting. Dr. Smith represented the Faculty Assembly.


When using numbers in a sentence, spell out the words zero through nine, and first through ninth. Use figures for 10 and up. There are a few exceptions below:

Telephone numbers:

Use figures. Do not use parentheses. Example: 415-555-1234. <


Use figures for age. Examples: The building is 8 years old. Her daughter is 2 months old.


Use figures except for noon and midnight. Use a colon to separate hours from minutes. Example: 11 a.m., 3:30 p.m. 

Millions, billions:


Use figures with million or billion in all except casual references. Examples:  The nation has 1 million citizens. The work will cost $1 million.

Do not use a hyphen to join the figures and the word million or billion. 


Use figures for acts in a play. Example: Act 1, Scene 2.

Special Note: spell out ordinals. Example: the first act, the second act.

Sentence Start:

Spell out numbers at the beginning of a sentence. Example: Fifty people attended the event.

Special Note: There is one exception ― a numeral that identifies a calendar year. Example: 2004 was a great year. 


Address Abbreviations:

Do use the abbreviations Ave., Blvd., and St. only with a numbered address.

Do not use abbreviations but when part of a formal street name without a number.

Do use lowercase and spell out when used alone or with more than one street name. Examples: 50 Acacia Ave., Acacia Avenue, Acacia and Grand avenues. Alley, drive, road, terrace are always spelled out.


Technology/Web Spelling


Other E-Terms

Do use a hyphen with other e- terms. Example: e-book, e-business, e-commerce.


Do not capitalize homepage. It should be all lowercase.


Do capitalize Internet. It should be treated as a proper noun. Example: The World Wide Web, like email, is a subset of the Internet.


Do not capitalize online when used in cases for the computer connection term.

Do not hyphenated.


Do capitalize Web. It is the short form of World Wide Web. Example: The Web, Web page, Web feed.

website, webcam, webcast, webmaster

Do not capitalize or separate the above words. All should be one word and lowercase.

Web and Email Addresses  

Do not capitalize any letters in websites or email addresses. Example:  www.dominican.edu or marketing@dominican.edu.

Do not include ‘http://’ if you are a beginning a web address with ‘www’. (This is contrary to AP Style, but an accepted treatment at Dominican.) 


Proofreaders Marks