abbreviations and acronyms

Abbreviations and acronyms should be in capital letters with no periods: GPA, ID cards, IS, WAMS, USA.

With the exception of well-understood acronyms and abbreviations, spell out the full name or title on first use. The AP style rule is to not put the abbreviation or acronym immediately following in parentheses. Therefore, a smart practice is to use the abbreviation or acronym shortly after the full name so the reader can make the connection. 

Example: Many students take advantage of the University Exploratory Studies Program during their first year at Oregon State. UESP offers new students the opportunity to explore before committing to a major.


academic degrees

Generic degree terms such as bachelor of arts, honors bachelor of fine artsand master of science are not capitalized at Oregon State. Capitalize, however, when the formal name of the degree is used: Master of Science in Chemical Engineering, Honors Bachelor of Arts in English.


accessibility statements

Posters, flyers, advertisements and other notices for all campus events must include an accommodations for disabilities statement at the bottom:

Accommodations for disabilities may be made by contacting 541-737-XXXX or[email protected].

When appropriate, use: Accommodations for disabilities or dietary restrictions may be made by contacting 541-737-XXXX or[email protected].

All printed materials must include the following accommodations for disabilities statement: This publication will be made available in an accessible alternative format upon request. Please contact [sponsoring department contact name], 541-737-XXXX or[email protected]


advance, advanced

When used as adjectives, advance means "ahead of time" and advanced means "beyond others." Thus, it would be advance tuition deposit, but advanced standing.



A deviation from AP style to reflect the spelling used in higher ed.


alumna, alumnae, alumni, alumnus, alumnx

Alumna is the feminine singular form. Alumnae is the feminine plural.

Alumnus is the male (or nonspecific gender) singular. Alumni is the masculine or mixed-gender plural.

Alumnx is a gender-neutral term that's gaining use in scholarly literature.

When including the graduation year and degree, the order is degree, major (if provided) and year: John Doe, B.A. 1987 or Jane Smith, M.S. Chemical Engineering '05.



It's best not to use an ampersand in place of the word and in text unless it is an official part of a name: University Information and Technology, Institutional Analytics and Reporting, but AT&T

An ampersand may be used in specific instances such as campus banners where space for text on a single line is very limited.

and, but

And or but may begin a sentence. This approach can be useful in providing a transition between closely related sentences. But it shouldn't be overdone.


bulleted lists

When making a bulleted or numbered list, be sure that capitalization, punctuation and structure are consistent. If items in a list are complete sentences, end each one with appropriate punctuation. Do not use semicolons at the end of bullet list items or the word and before the last list item.


The following should not be capitalized:
  • web, website, webapp, etc.
  • internet
  • email
  • university
  • state (i.e. state of Oregon)
  • academic terms (fall term, winter term, etc.)
  • bachelor's degree, master's degree, etc.
  • majors, minors, options and programs (i.e. engineering, international business)

The following should be capitalized:
  • World Wide Web
  • course titles (i.e. Cultures in Conflict)



Use the nonsexist terms chair or chairperson, depending on the preference of the unit. AP prefers chairman or chairwoman, but don't use those unless they are part of an official title.



The colon is used to indicate something is following that will complete or amplify the previous material. It isn't necessary to capitalize the word immediately following a colon unless it begins a complete sentence of its own or is a proper noun. Don't use unnecessary colons in sentences.

Correct: Visit the website at
Incorrect: Visit the website at:

Use a colon when the sentence isn't complete without it.
Be sure to visit the Oregon State website:



Do not use a serial or Oxford comma in a series of more than two items unless it is necessary to clarify the meaning. If more than one series is used in a sentence, separate the series by semicolons if necessary to clarify the sentence.

Correct: Oregon State is one of only two land, sea, sun and space grant universities in the nation.
Incorrect: Oregon State is one of only two land, sea, sun, and space grant universities in the nation.

Set off the name of a state with commas when it follows the city name in a sentence: Corvallis, Oregon, is the home of Oregon State University.

Dates are punctuated with commas setting off the year in a complete date: June 17, 2001, marked Oregon State's first outdoor graduation ceremony. There is no comma if only the month and year are used: Oregon State's first outdoor graduation ceremony was in June 2001. Don't use ordinals such as 1st, 4th, or 23rd in dates.

Jr., Sr., II, III, etc., in names are not set off by commas: Martin Luther King Jr., Thurston Howell III.


compose, comprise

These words are often misused. Comprise means "include" or "encompass." The whole comprises the parts, but the parts are composed of the whole.

The College of Liberal Arts comprises 14 departments.
The College of Liberal Arts is composed of 14 departments.



The en dash (named because it is the width of the letter "n") is wider than a hyphen and is used between ranges of numbers or dates and between adjectival phrases containing two-word concepts: 2001–2004, pages 206–220, Portland–San Francisco flight. There are no spaces before or after the en dash. In text, however, use the missing words instead of a dash: He was at Oregon State from 1993 to 1998. (Not: He was at Oregon State from 1993–1998.) If the en dash is unavailable, it is acceptable to use a hyphen in its place.

The em dash (named because it is the width of the letter "m") is used to indicate a break in thought or a strong parenthetical phrase: Two professors — what a contrast in styles — share the teaching duties. There are spaces before and after the em dash. An em dash is indicated by two hyphens in typed material.


email writing

Avoid creating emails that appear malicious or unofficial by following these guidelines.

  • When including links in an email, leave them as plain text URLs or use the official OSU URL shortener:
  • If your email is asking a user to engage in a process, include a brief step-by-step guide.
  • Make sure you write your email with plain, professional language and a human tone. 
  • Does your email come from a no-reply? See if you can alter those settings to make it come from a real person.
  • Use a standard Information Services email signature. (Found below)
  • Good phishing attempts will use branding in their emails, but that doesn't mean we shouldn't. If you are using orange anywhere in your email, make sure to use official Beaver Orange, Hex: #d73f09 RGB: rgb(215,63,9)


farther, further

Use farther to describe a physical distance. C Zone parking lots are farther from the center of campus. Use further to describe a figurative distance. Taking on an international internship pushed her further beyond her comfort zone.



Use the capital letters, A, B, C, etc., with no quotation marks. Plurals are made by adding s, except in the case of A, which has an apostrophe to avoid confusion with the word as: A's, Bs, Cs, etc.



Not grey. But: greyhound.


inclusive language practices

Avoid all sexual or racial stereotyping and language. Many words now have neutral alternatives: firefighter, police officer, chair, or chairperson. Use these rather than assuming a particular gender. Don't create words such as s/he, and use the plural they to avoid putting two words together with slashes: he/she. When writing about a specific person, ask what pronouns they use for themselves (e.g., she/her/hers, he/him/his, they/them/theirs).

LGBT is acceptable on first reference for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender. In quotations and the formal names of organizations and events, LGBTQ is also acceptable. Q can stand for questioning, queer or both.

Disabilities are handled according to the preference of the person or group. In writing about disabilities, stress the person, not the disability: persons with disabilities rather than the disabled. If you have questions, check with Disability Access Services, 541-737-4098. The ADA National Network also offers Guidelines for Writing About People With Disabilities.

Ethnic designations generally follow the preference of the person or group. Ask the person or group you're writing about how they want to be identified. Keep in mind that many people consider themselves multiracial. The Office of Institutional Diversity, 541-737-1063, Diversity and Cultural Engagement, 541-737-9030, or the Office of Equal Opportunity and Access, 541-737-3556, can help with questions. As a general rule, identify ethnic groups by recognized ethnic designations. African American,Asian American, Pacific Islander, Latina/Latino/Latinx, Hispanic and Native Americanare acceptable identifiers.

When referring to ethnicity, the generic terms black and white aren't capitalized. However, if you capitalize one to conform to a particular group's preference, capitalize both.


more than, over

More than is preferred with numbers, while over generally refers to spatial elements.

The company has more than 25 employees; The cow jumped over the moon.



Words with the prefix non are generally not hyphenated unless the prefix is directly before a proper noun: nondegree, nonresident, noncredit, non-English speaking. The dictionary contains a long list of words with the non prefix and their appropriate spellings.



Spell out numbers of nine or less within text. Use numerals for higher numbers. Exceptions are made for ages, monetary units, percentages, credits and grade-point averages, which are always numerals unless they start a sentence: 8%, 3 credits, 3.50 GPA, 3-year-old daughter, 7 cents. It's acceptable to mix uses in a sentence: Oregon State has 17 intercollegiate athletics programs, 10 women's and seven men's. It is permissible to spell out numbers from one to 99 in formal or scientific writing.

Use the % symbol when paired with a numeral, with no space, in most cases: 18%. For amounts less than 1%, precede the decimal with a zero: Tuition rose 0.6%.

Plurals of numerals are made by adding the letter s: 100s, 1990s. There is no apostrophe in the plurals. Contractions of years take an apostrophe: Class of '92.

Numbers containing four digits or more (except years) take commas between each series of three numbers:4,000; 12,197; 12,297,865. For rounded numbers of more than six digits, it is appropriate to use a figure and a word: $14 million, $237 billion.

Use dollar signs and numerals for monetary references. It's not necessary to add .00 after whole dollar amounts, but it is permissible in a sentence that also contains fractional dollar amounts. If you are just discussing cents, use the word: 5 cents; 47 cents.

Telephone numbers are written with a hyphen between groupings: 541-737-1000; 800-291-4192. A "1" should not precede the area codes. Do not use parentheses to set off area codes.

Spell out numbers at the start of a sentence unless they represent a year. 1776 is the year the Declaration of Independence was signed is permissible, but it would be better to rewrite the sentence to avoid starting with the year: The Declaration of Independence was signed in 1776.

Dates are indicated by cardinal, not ordinal numbers: April 1, not April 1st; July 4, not July 4th.

A series of years can be indicated by using the entire year in both cases or only the last two numbers in the second year: 2009-2010 or 2009-10. When the years cross a century mark, the entire year must be used:1999-2002, not 1999-02.


off campus, on campus

Hyphenate when using as an adjective, not as an adverb.

Off-campus housing is plentiful during the summer.
It's difficult to find housing off campus during the fall term.


Oregon State University – Cascades, OSU-Cascades

Use OSU-Cascades as the shortened version for the campus in Bend. Note that there are spaces around an en dash in Oregon State University – Cascades, but no spaces in OSU-Cascades. Do not refer to the Bend campus as Cascades or OSU-Cascades Campus.


Oregon State University, Oregon State, OSU

Use Oregon State University on first reference. Use Oregon State as the shortened version for the name of the university. Avoid using OSU to prevent confusion with other institutions that share our initials.

Exceptions are where OSU is part of a formal name (e.g.,The Campaign for OSU, OSU-Cascades, OSU Extension Service, OSU Foundation, OSU Alumni Association).

pre and post

These prefixes generally don't take hyphens unless they come directly before proper nouns. The dictionary contains a list of words with appropriate spelling. Use preregister, premedicine, preveterinary, postbaccalaureate, postdoctoral, pre-Columbian.


punctuation and quotation marks

Commas and periods always fall inside the quotation marks.

Example: The sign said, "Walk." Then it said, "Don't Walk," then, "Walk," all within thirty seconds.


range of time, day or date

The preferred form in body copy is to spell out to, and/or through when referring to a range of time or days of the week. For a range of dates and in tabular material, use an en dash.

The seminar is scheduled for April 1-3.
Office hours are Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
World War II lasted from 1939 to 1945.


state names

The names of the 50 U.S. states should be spelled out when used in the body of a story, whether standing alone or in conjunction with a city, town, village or military base (e.g., Vancouver, Washington). This is a recent change to AP style. Always use the two-letter postal service abbreviation (e.g., OR, WA, CA) and zip code in a complete address. Do not include the state name in the body of a story for cities that stand alone in datelines (e.g., San Francisco, but Redding, California).



Not towards. Same for forward, upwardand downward.



University Information and Technology should be abbreviated as UIT, not UI&T.



It isn't necessary to include http:// or www. in a URL when it is clear that it's a web address. Some sites do, however, require one or both elements of the URL, so test it first. When listing web addresses, try to get the URL to fit on a single line. If it is necessary to break the URL, try to break it before a slash or period. Don't allow the URL to break itself by adding a hyphen because that could change the address. Use appropriate punctuation after a URL. If it finishes a sentence, place a period after it.



University-wide is hyphenated. Most words with wide as a suffix are closed, though, unless they are long and cumbersome. If in doubt, check the dictionary.



One word.