Five Common Errors
Here are five examples of common grammatical and stylistic errors found in university publications.
Titles of People
Capitalize a title if it directly precedes a person’s name.
- Professor Jack Lane
- Jack Lane, professor of English, …
- Paul Zingg, president, …
Capitalize the full degree title; lowercase the shorter form. No periods in abbreviations.
- Bachelor of Arts Degree
- bachelor’s degree
- BA, MA, PhD
- BA in history (not BA degree in history)
Departments and Majors
Capitalize the department’s and major’s full official name. Do not capitalize a person’s major.
- Department of Chemistry
- chemistry department
- economics major
Use a comma before a coordinating conjunction (and, but, so, or, nor, for, yet) joining two independent clauses (complete sentences).
- I wanted to make dinner, but I cannot cook.
- She must have been tired, for she fell asleep the moment she got in bed.
- I want to go to the store, and I want to go to her birthday party.
- its (possessive); it’s (contraction for it is)
- student’s (singular possessive); students’ (plural possessive)
4. I.e. / e.g.
These often are confused: i.e., id est, means that is; e.g., exempli gratia, means for example.
It is usually preferable to spell out the terms in text. Use abbreviations in parenthetical phrases and in tables.
- Only the department's tenured faculty—that is, full, associate, and assistant professors—are entitled to serve on the Personnel Committee.
- The University has exchange programs with universities in many European cities (e.g., Paris, London, Florence, and Stockholm).
In nontechnical text, spell out whole numbers from one through nine; use numerals for 10 or greater.
- Course requirements include reading nine novels.
- There are 10 periodicals on order.
For tips and a checklist for proofreading, see the CSU Chancellor's Office website.