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Style Guidelines

  • Introduction

    Use Associated Press (AP) Style when writing for all university publicity and materials. These include, but are not limited to:

    • Business cards and letterhead
    • News releases
    • News and feature stories
    • Magazines, brochures and newsletters
    • Posters, flyers, postcards and other mailers
    • The ASU website and other digital media

    This complies with the Texas Tech University System’s official writing guidelines and differs from the academic writing styles.

    For your convenience, we created this abbreviated AP Style guide. The economy of space and ease of reading make AP Style ideal for university publications.

    When Not To Use This Style Guide

    In certain instances, however, the journalistic qualities of AP Style may not be appropriate. Correspondence may follow a different style as long as it is consistent within the document. When writing for a specific discipline or journal, it is appropriate to use that discipline’s preferred style manual.

    One Final Note

    Before submitting copy for publication, writers and editors should read copy for accuracy and check thoroughly for errors in spelling, grammar, syntax and punctuation. Remember, spell-check options will check only for correct spelling of a word; the program does not check for proper use of a word. It is expensive to correct errors in later stages of production.

  • Proper Names

    Angelo State University is a member of the Texas Tech University System, which also comprises Texas Tech University and Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center.

    Be careful to follow the Angelo State University Writing Guidelines and use the legal names of these components:

    • Texas Tech University System
    • Angelo State University
    • Texas Tech University
    • Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center
    • Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center El Paso 

    First and Subsequent References

    • Use the full legal name Angelo State University when you first refer to the university.
    • You may use the name “Angelo State” or abbreviation “ASU” in later references.
    • If you use “university” in place of the proper name, make it clear that it refers to Angelo State University and “university” should be in lower case letters.


    • Use the abbreviation ASU only if the document or web page clearly refers to Angelo State University.
    • Do not abbreviate the names of colleges.

    Campus Names

    Ram Page – ASU student newspaper, two words, not one.
    RamPort – ASU portal, one word, capitalize the “P”

  • Titles for Individuals

    Academic Degrees

    “Dr.” is an appropriate title for the holder of a doctoral degree. Degrees are not commonly used after a person’s name in text but may be used in printed and web listings, directories, bulletins or catalogs at the discretion of the editor. The person’s specialty should be stated in the first or second reference. Using the last name alone is acceptable after the first reference. For example:

    • Dr. Howard Small will lecture to the class. Small is an associate professor in the Department of English at the University of Tulsa.
    • Dr. Keith Edwards, a professor of genetics, will lecture on the Angelo State University campus tonight. Edwards will answer questions after his lecture.

    Holders of honorary degrees do not receive the title.

    Faculty in Nursing and Physical Therapy

    You may use initials after a health professional’s full name to designate the appropriate degree and/or certification, such as Ph.D., RN, M.S.N., Ed.D., etc. The person’s title should follow on the first reference. Using the last name alone is acceptable after the first reference. For example:

    • Shelly Weise, Ed.D., PT, professor of physical therapy, said the appointment reflects the excellence of the Angelo State faculty.
    • The Texas Nurses Association has named Susan Wilkinson, Ph.D., RN, professor of nursing, as its Nurse of the Year.


    Avoid certifications following a name, particularly if they are vague to the general public. “While Jim Smith, RN,” is acceptable for instance, “Jane Sims, FNC,” is not because the certification is not generally recognized outside the health care profession. However, if the certification is a pertinent part of the information, then include it by writing out the certification. For example, instead of writing Alexia Green, RN, Ph.D., FAAN, write Alexia Green, PH.D., RN, is also a fellow in the American Academy of Nursing.

    No more than two titles should be used after a name.

    Institutional Titles

    Capitalize a formal title when it precedes a name, but do not capitalize when it follows a name. For example:

    • Interim President Angie Wright
    • Angie Wright, interim president

    “Professor” may be used as a formal title when a person holds that distinction. When the title precedes a proper name, it is capitalized and never abbreviated. When “professor” follows a proper name, it is preceded by appropriate rank, i.e., “assistant” or “associate” and is not capitalized.

    Courtesy Titles

    Avoid social or courtesy titles, such as “Mr., “Mrs.,” “Miss” and “Ms.” On second reference, refer to people, men and women, by their last names only.

    In cases of sensitive development publications, if a courtesy title is used, always use the individual’s preference. Avoiding social titles can help lessen chances for sexism in writing. You may use courtesy titles for clarification in text referring to both spouses or to parents and their children.

    Group Designation

    “Faculty” and “staff” are collective nouns that may be used in the singular or in the plural. Whether the writer chooses singular or plural, antecedents should agree.

  • Abbreviations

    Avoid abbreviations in publications wherever possible. Do not abbreviate the name of a school, college, department or office.

    You may abbreviate the name of a center, institute or organization if the abbreviation or acronym follows in parentheses after the first or second reference.

    You may use abbreviations in news releases, catalogs and bulletins as long as the abbreviations are understood by the general public or listed in parenthesis after the first or second reference.

    Names of States

    In press releases and most other text, use the following style when state names follow a city name:

    Ala. Hawaii Mass. N.M. S.D.
    Alaska Idaho Mich. N.Y. Tenn.


    Ill. Minn. N.C. Texas
    Ark. Ind. Miss. N.D. Utah
    Calif. Iowa Mo. Ohio Vt.
    Colo. Kan. Mont. Okla. Va.
    Conn. Ky. Neb. Ore. Wash.
    Del. La. Nev. Pa. W.Va.
    Fla. Maine N.H. R.I. Wis.
    Ga. Md. N.J. S.C. Wyo.

    Use the two-letter Postal Service abbreviation when providing a full mailing address in text or in a press release.


    Use the abbreviations “Ave.,” “Blvd.” and “St.” only with a numbered address. Spell out when part of the formal name of the street.

    • 1620 University Ave.
    • 2602 W. Avenue N
    • University Avenue

    Always completely spell out similar street names such as “alley,” “drive,” “road,” “circle,” etc. Capitalize when part of a formal street name and lowercase when used alone or with more than one street name.

    • 2602 Dena Drive
    • Dena Drive
    • intersection of Dena and Varsity drives

    Abbreviate compass points used to indicate direction in a numbered address. Do not abbreviate if the number is omitted.

    • 222 E. 42nd St.
    • 2025 S. Johnson St.
    • East 42nd Street
    • South Johnson Street

    Use periods in the abbreviation P.O. for post office box numbers.


    Spell out the names of months in text material when they stand alone.

    Use these abbreviations when providing a date, as in Jan. 13.

    Jan. July
    Feb. Aug.
    March Sept.
    April Oct.
    May Nov.
    June Dec.


    Use “Co.,” “Cos.,” “Corp.” or “Inc.” for businesses that use “Company,” “Companies,” “Corporation” or “Incorporated” after their names.

    Spell out the word if it falls within a business name, for example, “Aluminum Company of America.”

    Time of Day

    • For times, use “a.m.” and “p.m.” with the hour.
    • Use “noon” instead of “12 p.m.”
    • Use “midnight” instead of “12 a.m.”
    • Do not use “12 noon” or “12 midnight” as these terms are redundant.
  • Capitalization


    Use lower case for professional titles unless they immediately precede a name. When a person is identified strictly by title on second or subsequent references, the title is not capitalized. For example,

    • Brian J. May, president, spoke Friday.
    • President Brian J. May awarded staff excellence awards Monday.
    • The president spoke to the Belles after the team’s win.


    Capitalize academic degrees as follows:

    • MBA, M.S., M.A., M.S.N., B.S., B.A.
    • Include the periods except for MBA.
    • Use these abbreviations only after a complete name. Do not use with only a last name.
    • In news releases, limit designations to only two degrees.

    Do not capitalize generic terms for degrees, for example: “doctoral degree” or “doctorate,” “master’s degree,” “bachelor’s degree.” If you are using the formal name of a degree, it is capitalized, for example: he earned a Master of Science degree from Angelo State University.

    Academic Subjects

    Avoid capitalizing an academic subject when it is used as a general field of study. Capitalize academic subjects when they are part of the official title of a university entity, when they are the name of a language, and when they are the official title of a course or a short title that includes the course number. For example:

    • “The College of Science and Engineering offers programs in agriculture, biology, chemistry and biochemistry, computer science, engineering, geoscience, mathematics and physics.”
    • She majored in physics and minored in Russian.
    • Department of Physics and Geosciences
    • Department of English
    • Gender Studies Program
    • He teaches Sociology 3350.

    Buildings, Rooms and Room Numbers

    Capitalize “building” if it is an integral part of the building’s name. Do not abbreviate.

    • Mayer Administration Building
    • Vincent Building

    Capitalize the names of specially designated rooms. Capitalize the word “room” when used in conjunction with a room number.

    • Nasworthy Suite
    • Tucker Room
    • Rassman Building, Room 205

    When promoting an event, the preferred order to refer to the details is time, date and place. For example:

    • The barbecue will be at noon Oct. 20 at the Super Slab.

    Other University-Related Uses

    Capitalize “institute,” “center,” “program,” “division” or “office” when it is part of the formal name, but not when used alone or informally. For example:

    • The Center for Security Studies is a sponsor.
    • The center is named for former U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison.

    It is appropriate to refer to a center, institute, program, division or office by the appropriate designation, in lower case letters, on subsequent references. For example:

    • The Management, Instruction and Research Center received a major grant today. The center will use the money for a new project.

    Avoid capitalizing such words as “freshman,” “senior” or “graduate” when the words refer to a stage of study or the classification of a student rather than to the group. For example:

    • She was a freshman, majoring in agricultural communications.

    AP style does not require capital letters when referring to a website, but references to the World Wide Web still require capitalization.

    • website
    • the web
    • webpage


    Avoid capitalizing the words “city,” “government,” “federal” or “state.” For example:

    • United States government
    • federal government
    • the state Legislature
    • Texas Legislature
    • the state of Texas, unless referring to the state government, then State is capitalized
    • the city of San Angelo, unless referring to the city government, then City is capitalized

    Capitalize the formal names of federal or state agencies. For example:

    • U.S. Department of Defense
    • Texas Department of Agriculture

    Seasons and Location

    Use lower case for seasons. For example:

    • Transfer students may begin studies in the spring, summer or fall.
    • The spring semester begins Wednesday.

    Capitalize “west” and other compass points when referring to a region: For example:

    • In architecture and lifestyle, Angelo State University reflects the American West.
    • The people of West Texas were determined to have their own university.

    Use lower case for compass points when indicating a direction. For example:

    • Many students travel west to the recreation areas of New Mexico.

    Racial and Ethnic

    Capitalize the proper names of nationalities, peoples, races and tribes. For example:

    Arab Native American
    Hispanic Caucasian
    Arabic Asian
    Jewish Cherokee
    African-American Lakota
    Latin American Chinese Eskimo

    Lower case “black,” “white” and other racial designations, whether used as adjectives or nouns.

  • Numbers

    General Use

    Spell out numbers one through nine and first through ninth. Use figures for numbers 10 and greater. Also use figures to refer to a numerical ranking, a unit of scientific measurement, a percentage or a unit of money. For example:

    • Two
    • 300
    • No. 1
    • 10
    • 5 percent
    • 10th
    • 1,040
    • 45 kg
    • $5 million
    • 7 degrees Celsius or Fahrenheit

    Treat numbers consistently within a category. For example:

    • “Angelo State awarded 352 bachelor’s degrees, 57 master’s degrees and 2 honorary degrees.”


    Always use figures for an address number.

    • 1310 Cherrywood Terrace

    Spell out and capitalize First through Ninth when used as street names. Use figures with two letters for 10th and above.

    • 1435 Fifth Ave.
    • First Street

    Telephone Numbers

    Hyphens should be used between numbers. Parentheses should not be used around area codes or for international numbers. 

    • 325-942-2248
    • 44-22-7353-2545
    • 1-800-555-1212

    If extension numbers are given, use a comma to separate the main number from the extension.

    • 325-942-2385, ext. 504.

    Starting a Sentence

    Always spell out a number at the beginning of a sentence. A better approach is to rewrite the sentence to avoid using a number at the beginning. For example:

    • INSTEAD OF: One hundred and eighty five marketing majors are included in Angelo State University’s total enrollment of 6,000.
    • TRY: Of Angelo State’s total enrollment of 6,000 students, 185 are marketing majors.

    Percentages, Fractions, Large Numbers

    Use numerals for percentages and spell out percent. For example:

    • 90 percent
    • 3 percent

    Spell out fractions in text material. Hyphenate fractions when they are used as adjectives or adverbs. For example:

    • The book is three-fourths complete.

    However, use figures to express mixed numbers. Include a space between the whole number and the fraction. For example:

    • 2 3/4
    • 5 3/8

    Use a comma in numerals of 1,000 and above except for temperatures, years, street addresses, broadcast frequencies, room numbers, serial numbers and telephone numbers.

    • 2,354
    • 3818 degrees Celsius
    • 2000 B.C.
    • 325-942-2248
  • Punctuation

    Phone Numbers

    Use hyphens, not parentheses or periods, to separate area code, prefix and the last four digits. Example: 325-942-2555

    Serial Comma

    A comma is not required before “and” or “or” in a series of three or more items unless it improves clarity. For example:

    • Required courses include English, history and economics.
    • Women’s sports now include basketball, softball, golf, track and soccer.
    • Will you take your tests on Monday, Tuesday or Thursday?
    • The departments of Physics, Biology, Chemistry and Biochemistry and Physical Therapy will have representatives at the job fair.

    Commas and Multiple Adjectives

    Use a comma to separate two or more adjectives equal in rank preceding a noun. For example:

    • The summer was a long, hot season. (equal)
    • She wore a cheap wool coat. (unequal)

    Commas in Dates

    Use commas in full dates, but not between month and year or season and year. A comma also should follow the year when used with a month and day in the middle of a sentence. For example:

    • The building was completed in July 2004.
    • He was on sabbatical during summer 2001.
    • Nov. 22, 1963
    • June 6, 1944, was D-Day.

    Commas in Names

    Associated Press style eliminates a comma after a name and before “Jr.” or “Sr.” or a name and a numeral. For example:

    • John D. Rockefeller III

    In addition, eliminate a comma before Inc. or Ltd., even if it is included in a company’s formal name. For example:

    • AT&T Inc.
    • BHP Billiton Ltd.

    Semicolons in a Series

    Use semicolons for clarity in long lists. The semicolon is used before “and” or “or” in a series.

    • The Norris-Vincent College of Business includes the Departments of Accounting, Economics and Finance; Aerospace Studies; Computer Science; and Management and Marketing.


    Hyphenate compound words used as adjectives, but not those that include an adverb ending in –ly. For example:

    • ASU’s student-athlete participation in community events has always been a priority.
    • Students need high-tech skills.

    Apostrophe for Possession

    Use the apostrophe to indicate possession. Note, however, that “its” is a possessive pronoun that lacks an apostrophe. “It’s” is a contraction of “it is.”

    Apostrophe for Plurals

    When words designate a word, do not use ’s (apostrophe s) to indicate plural. For example:

    • No ‘ifs,’ ‘ands’ or ‘buts.’

    Plurals of figures add an s not an ’s (apostrophe s). For example:

    • 1920s
    • 727s
    • low 20s

    For plurals of single letters, use ’s: For example:

    • Mind your p’s and q’s
    • Three R’s
    • Four A’s and a B

    For plurals of multiple letters, including acronyms, add s. For example:

    • ABCs
    • IOUs
    • VIPs

    Composition Titles

    Enclose composition titles in quotation marks rather than italicizing, according to Associated Press style. Composition titles are: the names of books, movies, operas, plays, poems, songs, television programs, lectures, speeches, works of art, etc.

    Use this style for news releases, although you may use italics for titles of books, plays, journals, movies, etc., as long as the style is consistently followed within other documents or publications.

    Quotation Marks

    Do not use quotation marks, bold font or italics casually and only rarely for emphasis. Commas, periods, question marks, bold font, underline or italics and exclamation points always go within quotation marks.

    Exclamation Marks

    Avoid exclamation marks for emphasis. Use them only sparingly for emotion or a strong feeling.

  • General Style

    The following words have more than one spelling. These are preferred versions:

    • acknowledgment
    • judgment
    • percent
    • counselor
    • catalog
    • email

    For publications, the names of companies and corporations that support Angelo State programs should be spelled and punctuated as they appear on their letterhead or corporate statements. For example:

    • E.I. du Pont de Nemours & Co. Inc.

    Avoid redundancies. For example:

    • INSTEAD OF: most unique.
    • USE: unique

    Avoid passive voice. For example:

    • INSTEAD OF: The increase in salaries was approved by the regents.
    • TRY: The regents approved the increase in salaries.

    Avoid beginning sentences with “There are” and “It is.”

    In formal writing, avoid first person (I, we) and second person (you).

    In less formal documents, first and second person sometimes may be used to create a more personal tone.


    The word “alumni” is plural and should be used when referring to multiple men or a group of men and women who have attended a school or university. The singular form of the word is “alumnus” when referring to a man and “alumna” when referring to a woman. If referring to a group of women, use the plural form “alumnae.”

    Locations in Texas

    When referring to a city within Texas, it is unnecessary to list the state after the city unless it is important for clarification. Cities outside the state of Texas should be followed by the state name unless the city is so well known as to be identifiable in its own right: Chicago, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Atlanta, Miami, St. Louis, Minneapolis, etc.

    • The residents of Athens, Texas, claim their town as the birthplace of the hamburger.
    • The conference will be held at the University of North Texas in Denton.
    • The Rams and Belles will be traveling to Durant, Okla., next weekend.
    • ASU students traveled to New Orleans last week to join in the relief efforts.


    Every effort should be made to include women and minorities in photographs and copy. Access for persons with disabilities is often best illustrated in photographic images.

    Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action Language

    It is recommended that letterhead and publications, where appropriate, from Angelo State University should include some form of Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action statement.

    At a minimum, letterhead should use: “Equal Opportunity Employer.”


    Re-read copy carefully to avoid racist, sexist or insensitive implications.

    “Handicapped,” “disabled” and “impaired” should be used carefully and only when clearly pertinent and appropriate for your material. Keep in mind the following meanings and choices:

    • Disabled is a term describing an individual’s ability to do something independently.
    • Impaired implies difficulties in handling certain tasks.
    • Handicapped should be avoided to describe a disability. The best way to describe disabled individuals is “persons with disabilities.”

    Gender-specific language

    Writers of Angelo State publications should avoid suggestions that programs and aspects of general university life are limited to or directed at a specific gender.

    Do not use “he” when the intent is “he or she” or “she or he.” For example:

    • INSTEAD OF: A student applying for financial aid should file his application for admission by Jan. 1.
    • TRY: Students applying for financial aid should file their applications for admission by Jan. 1.
    • INSTEAD OF: The student must have an overall grade-point-average of at least 3.0 to satisfy the requirements of his school.
    • TRY: A 3.0 grade-point-average is required to satisfy the requirements of the school.

    Though “he or she” or “he/she” may be used occasionally, careful attention to writing will avoid awkward language and the over-use of these terms.

    In some cases, the male and female references can be alternated. In other cases, no gender-specific word need be used at all.

    Proper Gender Use

    When reference to a specific gender is necessary, “men” and “women” generally are the preferred titles. For example:

    • Angelo State University men may belong to several Greek and service organizations.
    • Angelo State University women have built an enviable reputation on the basketball court.
    • Sigma Theta Tau is the international honor society for nursing. Membership is open to men and women, by invitation, based on high academic achievement.

    Sometimes “male” and “female” may be appropriate. For example:

    • Male students can be housed in any residence hall except Carr Hall.
    • Numbers of female faculty are increasing.

    “Boys” and “girls” properly refer to children.

    “Alumnus” (“alumni” in the plural) refers to a man who has attended a college or university. “Alumna” (“alumnae” in the plural) refers to a woman who has attended a school. “Alumni” is the correct Latin plural for use when referring to both men and women who have attended a school.

  • Writing for

    Be conversational when writing for the university website. Exceptions are academic descriptions or prescribed accreditation language. It is all right to use “you” and “our” to strike a friendly tone.

    Write short sentence and paragraphs. Readers engage with websites differently than with print. They quickly scan in an “F” pattern across a computer screen or down the screen of a mobile device.

    Our prospective students are likely to scan for information they need and then click on a link for further information. They may stop reading right away if we bog them down with words.


Need Help?

Does your head swim at the thought of learning another style guide? Call our office at 325-942-2248 and we’ll be glad to answer any of your style questions.

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