Skip to content
The College of St. Scholastica

Spelling and Style Rules

The printed and electronic materials of The College of St. Scholastica reflect its public image and quality. Marketing and College Communications proofreaders check publications for accuracy, spelling, grammar, punctuation and consistency using the Associated Press Stylebook and Libel Manual and Webster’s New World Collegiate Dictionary as references. In cases of conflict, St. Scholastica’s Style Guide supersedes the AP Stylebook and AP supersedes Webster’s.

Following are examples of spelling and style rules used by our department, which we invite faculty, administration and staff members to use when writing and editing materials for the general public.


  • In general, avoid alphabet soup. Do not use abbreviations or acronyms on first reference if the reader would not quickly recognize them. Some widely-used acronyms, such as ROTC or HTML, are acceptable on first reference. Ask College Communications for guidance.
    • and – In general, do not abbreviate in text. Use an ampersand (&) only when it is part of a company’s formal name or when space is a concern.
    • Sister – Do not abbreviate as “Sr.”. Always capitalize Sister or Sisters when referring to the Sisters of St. Scholastica.
    • The Rev. – used in first reference to a Catholic priest; second reference use is Father. Example: The Rev. Michael Schmitz; Father Michael Schmitz.
    • Nursing Sim Lab or Nursing Simulation Lab (in second reference, Sim Lab or Simulation Lab is OK).
    • Nursing Sim Center or Nursing Simulation Center (in second reference, Sim Center or Simulation Center is OK). A Sim Center can contain multiple Sim Labs.
    • Do not abbreviate days of the week
    • Job titles – do not abbreviate (Prof., Assoc. Dir., etc.) unless space constraints force it.
    • Abbreviate long months only when a date is used: The training will be on Jan. 7. Otherwise, spell it out: Move-in Day is in September.
    • Short months that are never abbreviated are easy to remember since they are consecutive: March, April, May, June, July.
  • Acceptable abbreviations:
    • Use GPA on first reference when used with figures: a 2.5 GPA is required.
    • Do not spell out ACT or SAT

Academic Degrees

  • When degrees are used in a generic, informal sense, use an apostrophe and don’t capitalize. Examples: She has a master’s degree; I have a bachelor’s degree.
    • In text, use the more conversational “bachelor’s degree” or “bachelor’s” rather than “BA” or “BS”; use “master’s degree” or “master’s” rather than “MA” or “MS” ; “doctoral degree” or “doctorate” rather than “PhD” or “EdD”: He has a bachelor’s degree in English, a master’s in exercise physiology, and a doctorate in physical therapy.
    • For more formal usages, write out and capitalize the degree and subject: He received a Master of Business Administration. She received a Bachelor of Science in Chemistry.
    • Associate degree is neither possessive nor capitalized. Usage of AA is acceptable if there are space constraints.
  • Academic titles are only used for a master’s degree or higher; use only a person’s highest degree attained. Other credentials, certifications, etc. should not be used unless there is a compelling reason to do so. Example: Elizabeth Jennings, PhD is correct; Elizabeth Jennings, MA, MBA, PhD is incorrect. Dr. Larry Fenshue, PhD is redundant; use only PhD.
  • Doctorate is a noun; doctoral is an adjective. You may have a doctorate, or a doctoral degree, but not a doctorate degree.
  • NOTE exception to the above: Our degree program is a “Doctor of Nursing Practice,” which is consistent with standards nationwide.
  • BA or BS (without periods and no spaces between them); PhD or EdD (without periods and no spaces between them), JD and RN (without periods, no spaces); degrees with more than two letters also do not take the periods such as MBA, MSW, DPT, tDPT, etc.
    • Exception: Periods will be used when nursing faculty academic titles appear with others’ academic titles, for consistency.

Academic Subjects

  • Capitalize the name of a language or a specific course title: She majored in math with a minor in French. He teaches Humanities 101.
  • Department names: use the name of the discipline first, and then “Department.” Examples: Social Work Department, English Department.
  • Use lowercase for an academic subject when it is used as a general field of study: Examples: She is interested in biology. St. Scholastica offers programs in physical therapy and exercise physiology. Capitalize when used as a proper noun, especially in terms of a specific academic department at the College. Examples: The Chemistry Department is housed in the Science Center. She is a professor of Health Information Management.
  • Capitalize the names of the College’s schools, with the following abbreviations acceptable upon second reference:
    • The School of Arts and Sciences (SAS)
    • The School of Health Professions (SHP)
    • The Stender School of Leadership, Business and Professional Studies (SSLBPS)

Academic Style vs. News Style

The College adheres to Associated Press style guidelines. This differs from the American Psychological Association (APA) style used in academic contexts. The major differences:

  • Do not italicize or underline titles.
  • Use quotation marks around the titles of books, movies, plays and other artistic creations. Exception: the Bible and books that are primarily catalogs of reference material such as almanacs, directories, dictionaries, encyclopedias, gazetteers, handbooks and similar publications.
  • For newspapers and magazines, capitalize the names but do not use quotes or italicize.
  • Always use one space after a period.


  • Consider your audience. Whether you are writing externally, or internally, can determine whether acronyms such as PBN or OL are appropriate. In general, avoid “alphabet soup” (see abbreviations entry)
  • In first reference, use an organization’s full name with an abbreviation or acronym in parentheses. Then use only the acronym in subsequent references.

Commonly used acronyms:

  • GAC – Global Accreditation Center (Project Management)
  • GEO – acceptable for internal use only to signify Graduate, Extended and Online
  • MOOC – Massive Open Online Course
  • SAS – School of Arts and Sciences
  • SHP – School of Health Professions
    • DNP – Doctor of Nursing Practice
    • PBN – Post-Baccalaureate Nursing
    • CCNE – Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education
    • RN to BS is the correct spelling of the program
    • tDPT – Transitional Doctor of Physical Therapy
  • SSLBPS – Stender School of Leadership, Business and Professional Studies
    • MEd – Master of Education
    • GTL – Graduate Teaching Licensure
    • UGB – Undergrad Business
    • CIS – Computer Information Systems
    • Do not abbreviate Organizational Leadership


  • Always use a numeral – 5 days old, 100 years old

Alum vs. Alumna/Alumnus

  • The word’s forms can be confusing. Alum or alums is acceptable in all but the most formal contexts.
  • The proper forms are:
    • Alumna – feminine singular
    • Alumnus – masculine singular
    • Alumni – plural, both masculine and feminine
    • Alumnae – plural, feminine only
  • Use the alum’s graduation year whenever possible, with at least two digits along with an outward-facing apostrophe. No comma between the name and the year. Examples: Michael Jones ’09, Mary Smith ’74 (MBA ’01). In our formal publications, we indicate grad years only for our own alumni. As shown, undergraduate alumni are denoted with their graduation year; master’s-level and above include the degree. Otherwise, refer to guidelines on academic degrees (only use the highest master’s-level degree attained).

Board of Trustees

  • Upon first reference, use full name and capitalize.
  • Second reference capped – “Board” or “Trustees”

Boilerplate and the College’s Name

  • Use “The College of St. Scholastica” (with capital “T” in The) upon first reference for outside publications. You can use the College (capital C) or “St. Scholastica” in second reference.
  • For internal use, (website, my.CSS, etc.) it can be assumed that the reader knows whose site she or he is visiting, so references to our name often are redundant.
  • The text below is called our boilerplate and can be used in a variety of contexts. If you need guidance, contact Marketing and College Communications:

St. Scholastica is a private, independent college established in 1912 and founded in the Catholic Benedictine tradition. It is nationally recognized for quality and value. The U.S. News & World Report includes it on its Best National Universities and Top Performers on Social Mobility lists. The College is ranked on Money magazine’s “Best Colleges for your Money” list and Princeton Review’s list of Best Midwestern Colleges. A First Forward Institution, St. Scholastica, is recognized for developing new initiatives to support first-generation student success. The College’s six-year graduation rate is higher than the state, regional and national average. Learn more at

Class Years

  • For undergraduate degree – Joan Hanson ’17
  • For undergraduate and graduate degree – Kara Smith ’12 (MBA ’16)
  • Use uppercase – The Class of 2015
  • Use lowercase – members of the junior class

Common Names and Phrases

  • Alpha Chi (pronounced Alpha KI) – the green space between the ground floor entrance to Tower (Student Union) and Somers Hall
  • Benedictine Commons
  • Braegelman Program in Catholic Studies
  • Burns Wellness Commons
  • Cedar Hall
  • “donor bodies” rather than “cadavers” in references to the Anatomy Labs
  • Einstein Bros. Bagels
  • Greenview Dining Room (GDR acceptable in second reference)
  • Health Science Center – add the descriptor “at BlueStone” unless space or context makes it counterproductive
  • IT Help Desk
  • Kerst Hall
  • maurices Community Clinic (note the lower case “m” and lack of apostrophe on maurices)
  • Mitchell Auditorium
  • Mitchell Foyer
  • Our Lady Queen of Peace Chapel
  • P-Card (not pcard or P card)
  • Pine, Maple, Willow, Birch Apartments
  • POD Market (stands for Provisions on Demand – located on the ground floor of Tower next to Storm’s Den)
  • Saints Shop (no apostrophe, not a “bookstore)
  • Scanlon Hall
  • Science Center
  • Science Lawn (green space in front of the Science Center)
  • Somers Hall
  • Somers Lounge
  • St. Scholastica Monastery (not “The St. Scholastica Monastery”)
  • St. Scholastica Theatre (This refers both to the department and the building. Note the “-re” spelling. Do not use “Little Theatre” in regard to the building.)
  • St. Scholastica, not “Scholastica”
  • Storm is the name of the College’s mascot, based upon a Saint Bernard dog
  • Storm’s Den is the name of the dining area in Tower Hall
  • Storm’s Foyer (seating area outside of Storm’s Den and POD)
  • Strategic Vision 2025 is the name of our strategic plan
  • Student Union
  • Reif Gymnasium
  • Tower Hall
  • U.S. News & World Report
  • Welcome Week (week of activities to start the school year; includes “Move-In Day,” typically held the Friday before Labor Day for freshmen and new transfer students)


  • Not a preferred usage in identifying the College outside of athletics contexts. Use The College of St. Scholastica in first reference. In second reference use “St. Scholastica” or “the College.”
    • CSS is not favored because it is generic and could apply to many other organizations/institutions, such as “cascading style sheets” for web designers, eliminating our uniqueness in the marketplace and potentially causing confusion.
    • ‘St. Scholastica’ is our identity, based upon our institution’s namesake saint. This sets us apart while highlighting our Catholic Benedictine identity.

Dashes and Ellipses

  • Be sure to use a dash instead of a hyphen. With both dashes and ellipses, include a space on either side (treat it like a word).

Dates and Times

  • Generally use time-day-date sequence: 2 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 22. This can be flexible depending on format/usage.
  • March 6 (do not use letters such as 2nd or 6th)
  • For events, use the order TDL: time, date, location: 3 p.m. March 6 in Benedictine Commons
    • If the event start and end times are both in the morning or afternoon, you don’t need to include a.m. or p.m. in both references. Say: “Refreshments will be served from 1 to 2 p.m.”
    • However, if the event does go from morning to the afternoon, a.m. and p.m. are needed for clarity: “The conference will run from 11 a.m. until 2 p.m.”
    • Don’t use double zeros – Use 1 p.m. instead of 1:00 p.m.
    • Exception: For web usage, digital ads or other situations where space is a concern, a hyphen (without spaces) may be used instead of “to,” e.g. 6-7 p.m. This format also prevents confusing line breaks online.
  • Use “noon” instead of 12 p.m.; use “midnight” instead of 12 a.m.
  • If the event is happening within the current calendar year, you don’t need to include the year.
  • Spell out the month name when used without a specific date: “The training will be in January.” See “Abbreviations” for details.

Dean’s List

  • As a proper noun, this should always be capitalized.


  • Department names: use the name of the discipline first, and then “Department.” Examples: Social Work Department, English Department, Marketing and Communications Department

Email Signature

The appropriate logo and step-by-step directions can be found online.


Emeritus is singular; emeriti is plural. Larry Goodwin, president emeritus. Larry Goodwin and Bruce Stender, presidents emeriti. Capitalize if used before the name: President Emeritus Bruce Stender.

Equal Opportunity Language

Long version:

The College of St. Scholastica is an equal opportunity employer committed to creating an educational and work environment that is rich in diversity, inclusive and supportive of all students, faculty and staff. Individuals from diverse racial, ethnic, and cultural backgrounds and persons with disabilities are strongly encouraged to apply. While there is no religious requirement, we are interested in individuals who value and support the rich Catholic Benedictine heritage of The College of St. Scholastica.

Short version:

The College of St. Scholastica is an equal opportunity employer committed to creating an educational and work environment that is rich in diversity, inclusive and supportive of all students, faculty and staff.

Headlines, Subheads and Titles

  • Usually titles, headlines and subheads should be treated as regular sentences with regard to capitalization: capitalize only the first letter of the first word, and proper nouns. This is for ease of comprehension and legibility. Example: “Students in the School of Arts and Sciences receive a well-rounded educational experience” is correct. “Students in the School of Arts and Sciences Receive a Well-Rounded Educational Experience” is incorrect.
  • In marketing contexts, very short phrases that function as labels can be exceptions. Be guided by clarity and ease of comprehension. Examples: For More Information or Meet Your Counselor
  • In general, punctuation is not required at the end of a headline or subhead.


  • In general, use last name on second reference with the exception of Sisters, who have their first name used. Example: Sister Beverly Raway; second reference, Sister Beverly.

Numerals and Percentages

  • Spell out numbers at the beginning of a sentence: Two hundred fifty-two years. (Try to avoid starting a sentence with a number.) Otherwise, always use numerals rather than written-out numbers.
    • Exception one: for nine and below, spell out the number except when using children’s ages (The course lasts eight weeks. The girl is 7 years old).
    • Exception two: for the website, use numerals in all cases except as first word in a sentence (The course lasts 8 weeks. Eight weeks is a standard online course term.)
  • Use a comma in numerals of one thousand and above (e.g., 1,000, 23,321) except for dates (the year 2020).
  • In general, use numerals and the percent symbol instead of the word percent: “1%, 34%.”

Phone Numbers

  • Phone numbers should be formatted as 123-456-7890 (no parentheses for the area code).


  • Our president’s name and title are President Barbara McDonald, Ed.D. (Ed.D. is her preference)
  • Notes on usage:
    • Second reference can be President McDonald or Dr. McDonald


  • For people who use gender-neutral pronouns, the use of plural pronouns (they, their, them) can be used to signify one person. In the interest of promoting inclusion, the construction “reminded her or him of…” is best avoided in favor of “reminded them of…”. The construction “Take his or her temperature” becomes “Take their temperature.”

Residence Halls

  • not “dormitories”


  • Lowercase spring, summer, fall, winter and derivatives such as springtime.

Serial (“Oxford”) Comma

  • In a series of items, we generally do not use the last comma before the “and” (the serial comma), unless it is needed for clarity or the last item or next-to-last item contains the word “and” (to avoid confusion). Example: She met with faculty members from the School of Arts and Sciences, the School of Health Professions, and the Stender School of Leadership, Business and Professional Studies.

State Names

  • Always use postal abbreviations, such as FL instead of Fla. This is a departure from AP style.


  • The department is called St. Scholastica Theatre (note the “re” ending), and the building in which it performs plays is also called the St. Scholastica Theatre (not the Little Theatre).


  • Use uppercase when title precedes name: President Barbara McDonald. Use lowercase when name precedes title: Barbara McDonald, president of The College of St. Scholastica.
  • The same principle applies to academic and staff titles: Professor Larry McGahey. Larry McGahey, professor of Chemistry. Do not abbreviate titles (prof., assoc. dir., etc.)
  • Use the Sister prefix, unabbreviated, in all references, i.e.: Sister Kathleen Del Monte, Sister Kathleen. Use first name only in second reference: Sister Kathleen. Related: no “Sr.” abbreviation, which is the Spanish abbreviation for señor.

Web Terminology

  • “email” is one word and lowercase, but: e-newsletter and e-commerce are hyphenated.
  • The words “internet,” “intranet” and “web” are not capitalized.
  • “online” is one word and lowercase.
  • “live stream” is two words.
  • “URLs” is used to refer to website addresses.
  • “web page” is two words, lowercase, but: “website” is one word.
  • Do not use http or www as a prefix. For instance, use rather than

Web Style Best Practices

The Web Style Guide provides specific direction and guidance for content and formatting. Content on follows AP Style formatting, unless noted otherwise in this guide. Some of these items provide a helpful redundancy to the main Editorial Guide, while some of them differentiate from editorial guidelines.

Website Dates and Times

Dates: Use cardinal numbers, not ordinal, in dates — “June 6” not “June 6th.”

Times: Write out times of day as numeral, space and “a.m.” or “p.m.” — omitting “:00.” Write out “midnight” and “noon.” Separate event start and end times with a hyphen, omitting the first “a.m.” or “p.m.” if both are the same. Examples: 6 p.m.; 5:15 a.m.; the event takes place at noon on Tuesday; the dinner is 6-7:15 p.m.

Digital Ads

  • Short copy on digital ads should be treated as a headline. Ending punctuation is not required. Use % instead of writing out “percent” in digital ads.


  • Include photo captions
  • Include alternate text (aka Alt Text) for accessibility


  • Never use the phrase “click here” — instead, hyperlink words in context. Example: “watch our latest video,” instead of “to watch the latest video click here.”
  • Linking terms in context makes your content more attractive to readers scanning your site. A link that reads, “click here” offers the reader no idea what content they will be accessing. This also improves access to our web content for those who utilize adaptive technology like screen readers.
  • Contextual linking also improves your page’s SEO (Search Engine Optimization). Why? Google rates content more favorably when links relate to their destinations. That indicates a richer, more relevant user experience.


  • Complex sentences can be difficult to scan on screens. Simplify text by avoiding complex punctuation, particularly semicolons and serial commas.
  • Each sentence should be followed by one space, never two. Modern web fonts are spaced correctly.
  • Use an em dash (—) sparingly to separate and emphasize important information. Don’t use two hyphens if you can’t make an em dash.

Social Media

  • Many groups on campus use social media to connect with their audiences. All St. Scholastica accounts must follow the College’s Social Media Guidelines.
  • Want to start a new account? Please contact your area’s marketing planner or email They can guide you through the process and provide insight and resources you may not have in your department.
  • The main College accounts include YouTube, Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.
  • If you have questions about using social media, contact the College Communications Department


  • Our desired tone is helpful, interesting and conversational.
  • When reading web content, people scan for information. Get to your point immediately.
  • Keep sentences short and direct
  • Make paragraphs concise. One-sentence paragraphs work on the web.
  • A “call to action” invites more engagement
  • Avoid jargon
  • Keep in mind that every paragraph needs to be relevant
  • Organize text with bullets and subheadings so readers who scan can find the information they want. Example: Change, “Our graduates commonly find employment at hospitals, financial institutions, technology companies and schools” to:

    Our graduates find employment at:

    • hospitals
    • financial institutions
    • technology companies
    • schools
  • Show, don’t tell. Strengthen your claims by citing evidence such as research, case studies, statistics, and testimonials. Illustrate your points with success stories and specific examples. These carry more weight than generalizations.
  • To write a percentage, use the symbol. It is 100%, not 100 percent.
  • Use numerals instead of written-out numbers. They’re easier to scan and differentiate on screens.

    Exception: Use words instead of numerals at the beginning of a sentence.

  • Write vigorous, specific headlines. A secondary headline can be helpful, especially one that gives a clear indication of the benefit of reading the content.
  • In general, don’t use periods at the end of short items in bulleted lists. Lists with longer entries can take the period — use your judgment and be consistent.

Tone and Content

  • All language on the site should sound like it’s coming from The College of St. Scholastica. Adopt a professional but conversational and approachable tone that positively reflects the College. If you need assistance with copywriting, please contact your marketing planner. Example: instead of “Students in the social work program pursue four modes of intellectual inquiry” soften to, “Our social work students focus on four main areas of study.”
  • Consider your audience. Much of our site is aimed at prospective students who are not familiar with our organizational structure, acronyms or jargon. Help them feel included and guided through the site with accessible content. Keep in mind we have a wide variety of students including traditional undergraduate, non-traditional undergraduate, graduate and online. Adapt your tone to the proper audience. Example: Instead of saying “The DPT program” upon first reference, say “The Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) program.”
  • Our analytics show the majority of external users enter our site through search engines. That means the first page they see might be an interior page. Make sure content on all your pages makes sense to a user who hasn’t entered your site on your area’s top-level page.