University Communications


Editorial Style Guide

Academic titles

Academic titles indicate levels of formal education achieved.

Capitalize and spell out formal academic titles such as chancellor, provost, professor, etc., only when they precede a person’s full name, i.e., Chancellor Joe Anverez; Provost Jane Gray; Professor Jill Ortz. Use lowercase elsewhere, i.e., Smith, who is chancellor of the university; McHenry, who was appointed provost; Herrera, who is a professor of history. This is a variance from AP Stylebook guidelines.

Do not precede or follow a name with an abbreviation for an academic degree as if it were a courtesy title, i.e., Smith, PhD; Dorn MFA. (Note: these academic abbreviations are variants from AP Stylebook guidelines; further clarification can be found below under “Abbreviations/Academic degrees”)

If mention of a degree is necessary to establish someone’s credentials, use a phrase instead of an abbreviation.

Do not precede a name with a degree courtesy title and then follow the name with the degree abbreviation.

Do: He recognized Dean John Azure, who has a doctorate in psychology, or: She recognized Dean Jane West, who earned a PhD in psychology.
Do: Eduardo M. Ochoa, president of the university, spoke Tuesday, or: Eduardo M. Ochoa, who earned his PhD in economics, is the president of the university.
Not: Dr. Alfred Jorgen presents many seminars.
Not: The acclaimed author is Doctor John Doe, EdD.
Do not use Dr. to refer to individuals who hold non-medical doctorate degrees or honorary doctorates. For those who hold medical degrees — such as a doctor of optometry or a doctor of podiatric medicine — do not continue the use of Dr. in subsequent references.

Use an abbreviation such as BA and PhD after a person’s name only when many individuals with their degrees spelled out on first reference would be cumbersome, such as on a list of administrators on the inside cover of a publication. Use these abbreviations only after a full name — never after just a last name.

Insert a comma and space after the person's last name and before the degree designation.

Do not use periods in abbreviations of degrees. (AP Stylebook variance)

Note: It is assumed all CSUMB professors have doctoral degrees. Their names would not customarily be followed with PhD.

Use degree abbreviations only after a full name, not a last name alone.

When referring to a bachelor’s or master’s degree, follow it with the degree or concentration (e.g., Native American history). Do not refer to a degree as simply a bachelor’s or master’s. Refer to a bachelor’s degree (or master’s degree) in Native American history.

Do: bachelor’s degree in nursing; Master of Science in biology
Not: Bachelor's in nursing; Master's in biology
Note: If choosing to use the formal “Bachelor of Science," "Bachelor of Arts," "Master of Science" or "Master of Arts," these formal degrees must be capitalized as shown.
See Abbreviations.

There is no apostrophe or "s" in associate degree. There is in bachelor’s degree and master’s degree.

Omit periods in degree abbreviations: BA, MS, PhD. (AP Stylebook variance)

Use a slash in a dual-degree abbreviation. Do not abbreviate the area of concentration: BS/MBA in sustainable hospitality management.

Capitalize only the official diploma title; this includes words that are included in the official diploma title abbreviation:

Bachelor of Arts
Bachelor of Science in nursing
Bachelor of Science in design
Use full wording on first reference. In subsequent mentions, use associate degree (not: associate’s), bachelor’s degree, master’s degree, and doctorate or doctoral degree. Note that "degree" must follow the degree level.


Note the admission requirements for a Bachelor of Arts in business. (first reference)
Note the admission requirements for a bachelor’s degree in business. (subsequent reference)
She earned a Master of Social Work with a concentration in addiction treatment.
This program culminates in a Bachelor of Science in biology.
Not: She earned a BA in psychology.
Not: His bachelor’s is in psychology.

emeritus, emeriti (pl.)

Gender neutral, it applies to male and female. Emerita is incorrect. Jane Doe is a professor emeritus of chemistry. Professor is Not capitalized unless part of a formal title and immediately preceding the person's name. (AP Stylebook variance)

It was a professor at the campus who first taught the class.
It was Maria Lane, an assistant professor at CSUMB, who first taught the class.
It was Professor Jimmy Sanchez who first taught the class.
Professor (unabbreviated) should be used rather than Dr. as the title preceding names of CSUMB faculty unless they possess medical degrees: The president thanked Professor William Smyth of the English department.

Not: The president thanked Dr. William Smyth.

Not: The president thanked Prof. William Smyth.

The names of concentrations (degree majors) are not capitalized.

Exceptions are proper nouns: English, Spanish, Native American.

The only official source for the names of majors is found in Catalogue:

Bachelor of Arts in ####
Bachelor of Science in ### with a minor in ####
Jane Doe is a #### major at CSUMB


Use in headlines

Revising previous CSUMB practice, all expressions of headlines should be in sentence case — first letter is capitalized, as are all proper nouns. All titles and web menus are treated as headlines.

Academic concentrations, programs

Program and concentration areas that follow the name of a degree are not capitalized unless they are proper nouns: Bachelor of Arts in music.

Academic degrees

Capitalize only the official diploma title; this includes words that are included in the official diploma title abbreviation:

  • Bachelor of Arts
  • Bachelor of Science in nursing
  • Bachelor of Science in marine science

Use full wording on first reference. In subsequent mentions, use associate degree (Not: associate’s), bachelor’s degreemaster’s degree, and doctorate or doctoral degree.


  • Note the admission requirements for a Bachelor of Science in communication design. (first reference)
  • Note the admission requirements for a bachelor’s degree in communication design. (subsequent reference)
  • She earned a Master of Business Administration with a concentration in accounting.
  • This program culminates in a Bachelor of Arts in global studies.
  • Not: She earned a BA in visual and public art.
  • Not: His bachelor’s is in psychology.

Centers, colleges, departments, institutes, schools, university

Use initial uppercase letters only for the full, official name as a proper noun. Do not capitalize when used in a descriptive manner.

  • the Department of Biology and Chemistry
  • the biology and chemistry department
  • the biology department
  • the institute
  • the School of World Languages and Cultures
  • the university, not: the University

Do not use ampersands or plus signs in place of “and” in text or headlines, even for official CSUMB unit names.

  • School of Humanities and Communication, not: School of Humanities & Communication


Capitalize the full names of forms such as applications. Do not capitalize when used in a descriptive manner.

  • Main Campus Housing Application
  • campus housing form, not: Campus Housing Form


The names of concentrations (degree majors) are not capitalized.

Exceptions are proper nouns: EnglishSpanish .

The only official source for the names of majors is found in Academics: majors, graduate programs, teaching credentials, and other programs list.

  • Bachelor of Arts in global studies
  • Bachelor of Science with a minor in anthropology
  • Jane Doe is a nursing major at CSUMB, not: Jane Doe is a Nursing major at CSUMB.

Centers, colleges, departments, institutes, schools, university

The full name of an academic unit should be used on first reference: College of Health Sciences and Human Services. Subsequent references may use the endorsed abbreviation CHSHS or a workaround preceded by “the”: centerinstituteofficeschoolcollege.

Ampersands are not acceptable in text. Official CSUMB unit names use the word 'and': College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences.

Ampersands are acceptable only in endorsed logos and wordmarks. See Logo.

Avoid using acronyms to refer to any university unit. Make the association to the university clear and foremost.

  • Explore the many majors available in the College of Science.
  • The College of Health Sciences and Human Services offers free seminars.
  • College of Business students must meet with an adviser this week.
  • Not: The COB convocation will be held in the Otter Student Union.

Days, months, years, seasons, time


In sentences, spell out days of the week: The first class will be on Wednesday. In a tabular format such as table entries and chart labels, use a three-letter abbreviation without a period:

  • Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat


    When a month is used with a specific day, abbreviate only Jan., Feb., Aug., Sept., Oct., Nov. and Dec.

    Spell out March, April, May, June and July even when used with a day.

    • Jan. 7 was the coldest day of the month.
    • July 13 was unseasonably cool.

    Spell out all months when used alone or with only a year, and do not offset the year with a comma:

    • January 2002 was a cold month.

    However, when a phrase contains a month, day and year, abbreviate months as listed above and set off the year with commas before and after:

    • January 2002 was a cold month.
    • Feb. 14, 1996, was the target date.

    Do not use ordinal suffixes with dates. Not: July 12th.

    In formal applications such as university invitations, spell out the day of the week and the month, even when a date is included: Tuesday, February 6, 2019.

    In a tabular format such as table entries and chart labels, use a three-letter abbreviation without period: Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec


    Years are the only exception to the rule that a numerical figure cannot begin a sentence:

    • 2019 was a busy year for CSUMB.

    Indicate decades in numeral form like any other plural: add “s” in lowercase with no apostrophe between:

    • the 1990s

    When using the less formal form of a decade with only two digits, use an apostrophe in place of the missing digits:

    • the ’90s

    Note: Microsoft Word and similar programs will interpret this punctuation as a single opening quotation mark, not an apostrophe. To override this, type a second single quotation mark after the first, then delete the first. This is not optional, as the default is incorrect: the ’90s, not: the ‘90s.

    Place commas before and after a year when month and day are also included: July 4, 1976, was the nation’s bicentennial.

    Show a range of academic years in text with an en dash between the years. Do not use spaces. Different from AP Style, include four digits for the start year, just the final two years for the end year:

    • The 2016–17 academic year begins next fall.

    Separate a range of dates with an en dash (no spaces before or after the en dash):

    • April 16–May 8
    • Monday, April 16–Tuesday, May 8

    Note: To create an en dash: Mac — Option+Minus keys; PC — Ctrl+Alt+Minus keys.

    Show a span of calendar years with from-to phrasing, not an en dash: She was an adjunct professor from 2000 to 2007. Not: from 2000–07.

    Numerical treatment of dates

    Do not use numerical treatments of dates, i.e., 8/14/16, in headlines or narrative content.

    When using a numerical treatment of a date in "terms and conditions," expiration date, "fine print" or internal-use presentations, separate the date, month and year with a forward slash, i.e., 8/14/16. Do not use hyphens, periods, pipes or any other separator.

    • Offer expires 8/17/16.
    • Not: Offer expires 08/17/2016.

    Spring, summer, winter, fall, autumn

    Do not capitalize unless the word begins a sentence or is part of a formal name.

    • spring break
    • Summer Solstice
    • fall semester
    • Winter Olympics


    Use figures except for noon and midnight.

    Noon is 12 p.m.. The brown bag seminar will begin at noon.

    Midnight is 12 a.m., and belongs to the day that is ending. They were up until midnight.

    Morning and afternoon abbreviations are lowercase with periods, not uppercase or small caps: a.m. and p.m. Include a space between the figure and abbreviation.

    Not: AM, A.M., am

    Avoid redundancies:

    • 10 a.m., Not: 10 a.m. this morning
    • 12 p.m. or noon, Not: 12 noon
    • 12 a.m. or midnight, Not: 12 midnight

    Do not use zeroes for the top of the hour: 1 p.m. Not: 1:00 p.m. (An exception may be made for formal invitation format.)

    For spans of time in text, use to between the numerals, not a hyphen or dash: The program is scheduled for 9 a.m. to noon.

    In tabular format, an en dash may be substituted. Just remember: no spaces before or after the en dash.

    Use morning or afternoon abbreviations when both are required for clarity. ( 6–7 p.m. is a one-hour span; 6 a.m.–7 p.m. is 11 hours.) The field trip is an all-day event, from 6 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.