Editorial Style Guide

Which is it: Bay Area or bay area? U.C. Davis or UC Davis? e-mail, E-mail or email? And what about those commas in a series—should you put one before the "and"? And does it matter?

Well, yes it does. Stylistic consistency lets the reader concentrate on the content without being distracted by variation.

This Student Affairs Marketing and Communications Editorial Style Guide complements the UC Davis Campus Style Guide and is to be applied in the following priority order:

  1. Student Affairs Marketing and Communications (SAMC) Editorial Style Guide
  2. UC Davis Campus Style Guide
  3. The Associated Press Stylebook and Briefing on Media Law
  4. The Chicago Manual of Style

In situations where a campus department or unit has a historically established style, SAMC style may give precedence to that style.

The following are commonly referenced questions related to department editorial style.



abbreviations and acronyms. Spell out program names and use acronyms only if there are repeat references. To introduce an abbreviation or acronym, run it in parentheses following the initial mention of the complete name. Do not use periods in university abbreviations and acronyms: CEIO, UC, MU, ASUCD. Otherwise, per AP, use periods in abbreviations of two letters; none with longer ones: U.S., U.N., a.m. USDA. Some acronyms and abbreviations are capitalized; others are lowercased: scuba, an acronym for “self-contained underwater breathing apparatus.” Consult the AP Stylebook and Webster’s Third New International Dictionary in specific instances. See general guidelines under AP’s “abbreviations and acronyms” entry. Consult AP first concerning use of caps and periods for individual abbreviations.

academic majors. Follow campus guidelines: Lowercase all majors except those incorporating proper nouns: Paul Pfotenhauer is majoring in textiles and clothing, Teri Bachman's major is Scandinavian, and Kathleen Holder is majoring in Chicano studies.

ampersands. Do not use an ampersand in place of the word and in text unless it is an official part of a name: Udvar-Hazy School of Business and School of Communication, Public Relations and Marketing Department, but AT&T.


class year. Reference class year with a left-curled apostrophe followed by the last two digits of the graduating year. Generally, avoid the phrase, "Class of ..." When unavoidable, capitalize the phrase. Do not disclose a student’s class year standing without his or her permission. Instead, refer to a student only as an undergraduate (or graduate student or doctoral student)

colon. Never use a colon after a sentence fragment.

comma. Do not use a serial comma in a series of more than two items unless it is necessary to clarify the meaning.


dates, days. Follow campus and AP guidelines under “dates,” “months” and “days of the week” entries. When referencing a range of years, such as an academic year, use only the last two digits of the closing year, e.g. 2016-17. When using the name of a day, set the date within commas: On Wednesday, Oct. 5, she will appear ... use cardinals, not ordinal numbers: Oct. 5 (not Oct. 5th).

definite article. The is used to refer to a specific or particular member of a group. For example, "I just saw the most popular movie of the year." There are many movies, but only one particular movie is the most popular. Therefore, use the. Saying "Let's read the book" refers to a specific book. Saying "Let's read book" means any book rather than a specific book.

department/unit names. Follow campus guidelines for formatting details that are located within the “campus departments and units” heading under the "names" entry. SAMC style guidelines under this topic are focused on requests by campus departments and units to be referenced in a specific manner. Please use this list as your location of record for these considerations:

  • Cross Cultural Center (1/10/18)
  • Freeborn Plaza (4/20/17)
  • Memorial Union (4/20/17)
  • Student Housing and Dining Services (4/20/17)

dreamers. It is never appropriate to use the term, "dreamers" in reference to students whose residency status is undocumented, whose tuition is exempted by AB540 or whose financial aid eligibility is defined by the California Dream Act.


ethnicity. No hyphen, e.g., African American, African American art.


headlines. Headlines should be in title case, regardless of any punctuation, with designers allowed discretion to use alternative formatting. Punctuation, apart from commas and question marks, should not be included in headlines.

hyphen. Not used in ethnic designations, e.g., African American, African American art.


internet. Lowercase, unless it is the first word in a sentence.


lists. Use a colon before a list when the list is preceded by a complete independent clause. Lists should always use bullets, not dashes, hyphens or asterisks, with the first word of each entry capitalized, regardless of whether it is a complete sentence or not. Full sentences should close with a period. Parallel construction should be used for all entries. For example, if one entry is a complete sentence with punctuation, then all entries should be presented as complete sentences; if one entry is a sentence fragment opening with a verb, then all entries should be a fragment opening with a verb.


majors. In contrast to campus guidelines, title case all academic major names: Kirsten Hamman is majoring in Food Science, Edana Fielden's major is Mathematical Analytics and Operations Research and John Conroy is majoring in Chicana/o Studies. Please note that undeclared and exploratory programs are not majors.


names. In general, follow "Chicago Manual of Style" guidelines unless otherwise indicated in campus guidelines.


room. Capitalize room when used with a number, e.g. Room 114, South Hall.


the. The is a definite article used to refer to a specific or particular member of a group. For example, "I just saw the most popular movie of the year" refers to the one specific movie that is the most popular. "Let's read the book" refers to a specific book, while "Let's read book" means any book rather than a specific book.

time. When referencing ante-meridiem or post-meridiem on fliers or posters, use uppercase type without periods, e.g. "AM" and "PM". In all other instances, follow campus guidelines: Per AP, always use figures, except with noon and midnight; use lowercase type and periods, but no spaces, with “a.m.” and “p.m.”: 11 a.m., 3:30 p.m., 3:30 that afternoon, noon, midnight, 10–11 a.m. (use an en dash for ranges), 10 a.m.–3 p.m., from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. See the AP Stylebook’s “times” and “time of day” entries.

titles. Follow campus guidelines: In general, capitalize formal or courtesy titles—president, chancellor, professor, senator—before names of individuals, and lowercase formal titles following names of individuals. Lowercase descriptive or occupational titles—teacher, attorney, history professor, department chair—in all cases. (Note that professor alone stands as a formal title and warrants capitalization—an exception to AP—but "history professor" is, like "math teacher," an occupation, and should be lowercased.) When lowercased adjectives are added to titles before a name, lowerase them all.

Additionally, academic titles should not recognize candidacy, e.g. master’s candidate. Only earned degrees should be included in academic titles. Please refer to the lists entry regarding consistency when presenting a listing of individuals with degrees.

toward. Not towards.


under way. Two words.

URLs. Follow campus guidelines. Additionally, these should be written in all lowercase, without “www,” “http://” or a terminal slash. Do not use the phrase, “click here” when referencing URLs. Instead, form the sentence to support inclusion of a hyperlink.