Abbreviations—Course Work

abbreviations and acronyms

Use only official university abbreviations. See building names/abbreviations, colleges, course listings/titles, degrees and majors, and plurals.

In general, and especially for off-campus audiences, avoid acronyms. Explain or spell out an acronym at first use for any audience that may not be familiar with the acronym. Periods are not necessary after the letters that form an acronym.

  • The Campus Alcohol and Drug Education Center (CADEC) is located in the Student Services Center.


In text (as opposed to mailing labels), use full official names of offices, departments, and buildings in university addresses. Spell out names of buildings and Street and Avenue. Use the following format:

Department of Construction Management
California State University, Chico
400 W. First Street
Chico, CA 95929-0560

Use the correct nine-digit zip code whenever possible. Note that just one space separates the state from the zip code.

Directing readers to campus offices
For off-campus readers—use full official name of the office and office location.

  • Financial Aid and Scholarship Office, Student Services Center 250
    Department of Religious Studies, Trinity Hall 239

For on-campus readers—the short form is acceptable

  • Financial Aid and Scholarship, SSC 250
    religious studies department, Trinity 239


Use the -or ending.

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African American, black

Both terms are acceptable. If the individual or group about which you are writing expresses a preference, use that term. Do not hyphenate African American (or other compound nationalities, even when used as an adjective: "an honored African American novelist"). Hyphenate compounds with name fragments: Afro-American, Indo-European.


Use alumnus for an individual male, alumna for an individual female; alumni for a group of males, alumnae for a group of females; use of alumni when referring to a group composed of men and women is commonly accepted. Any individual who attended CSU, Chico is considered an alumna/us. Use of alum and alums is acceptable in informal prose.

American Indian, Indian

See Native American.

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Avoid this shortcut whenever context allows. Instead of writing "You may file change of major forms on Monday and/or Tuesday," write "...on Monday or Tuesday."


Use AS as the abbreviation for the Associated Students at CSU, Chico.

The AS should be referred to in the singular, as an entity.

  • The Associated Students is committed to serving students.

Asian American

No hyphen is used for either the noun or the adjective.

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biased language

Sexist language
When the context requires gender pronouns, use plural forms of pronouns. If plural won't work, use he or she or his and hers, but avoid he/she, him/her, and s/he.

Use inclusive references such as humankind and human-made rather than mankind and man-made; use inclusive verbs such as to staff a table rather than to man a table.

Use generic nouns such as photographer not cameraman; Representatives not Congressmen; supervisor not foreman; chair not chairman.

Replace stereotyped titles: professor not career woman; student not coed; doctor not lady/female doctor; nurse not male nurse; actor not actress.

Writing about people with disabilities
The term disabled is preferable to handicapped. The phrase people with disabilities is preferable to the disabled. Write "He has muscular dystrophy" rather than"He is afflicted with..." or " a victim of . . . ." Write "She uses a wheelchair" or "walks with crutches" rather than ". . . is wheelchair-bound" or "confined to a wheelchair." Handicapped is, however, still used for references to parking and building access.

building names/abbreviations

Use these official building names and abbreviations.

  • 25MST 25 Main Street
  • 35MST 35 Main Street
  • AEWC Albert E. Warrens Reception Center
  • AGYM Arthur Acker Gymnasium
  • AJH Aymer J. Hamilton Building
  • AYRS John C. Ayres Hall
  • BMU Hugh M. Bell Memorial Union
  • BOWL Bidwell Bowl
  • BUTE Butte Hall
  • CCE Center for Continuing Education
  • CLSA Colusa Hall
  • DEEN The Deen House
  • ESKEN Esken Residence Hall
  • FARM University Farm (Agricultural Teaching and Research Center)
  • GLNN Glenn Hall
  • GRNH Greenhouse
  • HOLT Vesta Holt Hall
  • KNDL Glenn Kendall Hall
  • KONK Konkow Residence Hall
  • INFO University Information Center
  • LANG Herbert F. Langdon Engineering Center
  • LASS Lassen Residence Hall
  • LAXS C. Robert Laxson Auditorium
  • MECH Mechoopda Residence Hall
  • MLIB Meriam Library
  • MODC Modoc Hall
  • NETL Nettleton Stadium
  • OCNL John F. O'Connell Center
  • PAC Performing Arts Center
  • PHSC Physical Science Building
  • PLMS Plumas Hall
  • POOL Swimming Pool Complex
  • R Reynolds Warehouse (R Building)
  • RCVG Receiving
  • REC Recreation & Learning Center
  • ROTH Roth Building
  • S Stiles Warehouse (S Building)
  • SAPP Ella Caroline Sapp Hall (alumni)
  • SELV John I. Selvester Café-by-the-Creek (commonly called "Selvester's Café")
  • SGYM Jane W. Shurmer Gymnasium
  • SH Sierra Hall and Annex
  • SHAS Shasta Residence Hall
  • SHC Student Health Center
  • SSC Student Services Center
  • SSKU Siskiyou Hall
  • STAD Stadium and Track
  • SUTR Sutter Hall
  • TALR Alva P. Taylor Hall
  • THMA Tehama Hall
  • TRNT Trinity Hall
  • U U Building
  • UHFS University Housing and Food ServiceVIL University Village
  • WHIT Whitney Residence Hall
  • WREC Wildcat Recreation Center
  • YOLO Yolo Hall
  • YUBA Yuba Hall

California State University, Chico

Use the full formal name in first references. CSU, Chico and the University may be used on second and subsequent references. (But lowercase university when it's used as an adjective, as in university policy.) Chico State is acceptable in informal contexts, such as newsletters.

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California State University campuses

Use the official campus names on first reference.

  • California Maritime Academy
  • California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo
  • California State Polytechnic University, Pomona
  • California State University, Bakersfield
  • California State University, Channel Islands
  • California State University, Chico
  • California State University, Dominguez Hills
  • California State University, East Bay
  • California State University, Fresno
  • California State University, Fullerton
  • California State University, Long Beach
  • California State University, Los Angeles
  • California State University, Monterey Bay
  • California State University, Northridge
  • California State University, Sacramento
  • California State University, San Bernardino
  • California State University, San Marcos
  • California State University, Stanislaus
  • Humboldt State University
  • San Diego State University
  • San Francisco State University
  • San José State University
  • Sonoma State University


Capitalize proper nouns. Words derived from proper nouns or associated with them are lowercased without loss of clarity or significance (as in Department of History, the history department, and the department). See additional examples below.

Academic terms and class standing
Use lowercase for seasons, academic terms, and class standing.

  • the fall semester 2012; the spring term (not Fall Semester 2012 or Spring semester)
  • freshmen, sophomores, juniors, and seniors (first-year students is an acceptable substitute for freshmen)

See course listings/titles.

See degrees and majors.

Colleges, Departments, Majors, and Committees
Capitalize when using the official name of a specific college, department, school, office, or committee, but lowercase second references. (See colleges for a list of official names and abbreviations.)

Do not capitalize the names of disciplines, majors, or programs unless they are proper nouns, derivatives of geographical references, or part of a designated degree.

  • The College of Natural Sciences offers courses in biology, chemistry, geology, mathematics, and physics.
  • astronomy program; courses in history; economics major; English major; courses in American history; courses in Asian political systems; School of Social Work; the school
  • He has a BA in international relations and a minor in African American studies.
  • The Department of Economics; the economics department;
  • the Office of Admissions and Records; the admissions office
  • the Academic Status Committee; the committee

The California State University System

  • the Board of Trustees of the California State University; the Board of Trustees (See complete list of official CSU campus names above.)

Geographical Terms

Geographical terms commonly accepted as proper names are capitalized.

  • Northern California (but northeastern California)
  • the North State (but Northstate Public Radio)
  • Central Valley
  • Sacramento Valley

See titles of works and titles of people.

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Chicano, Hispanic, Latino, Mexican American

While dictionaries provide distinct definitions for these terms, they are often interpreted and applied differently, according to individual preference. Generally, Chicano is used to refer to an American of Mexican descent (but some persons of Central and South American heritage also consider themselves Chicanos). Chicana is the feminine form of Chicano. Hispanic is used to refer to the people, culture, or speech of Spain, Portugal, and Latin America. Latino or Latina refers to a person of Latin American heritage. Mexican American is used to refer to a native-born or naturalized American of Mexican heritage. If the individual or group about whom you are writing expresses a preference, use that term.

Chico Experience

"Chico Experience" is commonly used in two ways. As a term for the kind of experience many students have during their time at CSU, Chico, the "Chico Experience" is capitalized. The official name of the event sponsored by the Chico State Alumni Association is "The Chico Experience Week."


Use the full official name of the college on first reference.

  • College of Agriculture
  • College of Behavioral and Social Sciences
  • College of Business
  • College of Communication and Education
  • College of Engineering, Computer Science, and Construction Management
  • College of Humanities and Fine Arts
  • College of Natural Sciences

Capitalize the official college name; lowercase unofficial versions (the College of Behavioral and Social Sciences; the college). Use the abbreviation BSS (not CBSS) in an index, table, or chart but generally not in text.

College abbreviations



A colon is used most often to introduce a list, statement, quotation, or summary. It is also used to introduce a clause relating to the preceding clause. (See also lists.)

  • Jane does not study for enjoyment: it is expected of her.
  • Participants should bring the following items: pens, paper, pillows, and coffee.

The colon should not be used after an incomplete sentence.

  • Participants should bring pens, paper, pillows, and coffee.

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Use a comma to set off a nonrestrictive appositive (a noun or noun phrase that renames a noun).

  • Professor Chao's most recent book, Interpersonal Mis-Communication, has received favorable reviews.

Commas in a Series
In a series of three or more terms with a single conjunction, use a comma after each term except the last.

  • grades of A, B, and C

Coordinating Conjunctions
Use a comma before a coordinating conjunction (and, but, so, or, nor, for, yet) joining two independent clauses.

  • These examples do not include all possible violations, but they do provide a sample of behavior that will result in disciplinary action.

Introductory Clause or Phrase
Use a comma to set off an introductory clause or phrase.

  • When faculty suspect students of cheating, they may bring formal charges.

Parenthetical Elements
Use commas to set off parenthetical elements (i.e., amplifying, explanatory, or digressive elements) that retain a close logical relationship to the rest of the sentence.

  • The work is, on the whole, very satisfactory.

Note: Use parentheses to set off parenthetical elements where the logical relationship to the rest of the sentence is more remote. Parentheses tend to minimize the importance of the part set off.

  • The last sample we collected (under difficult conditions) was contaminated.

compose, comprise, constitute

Compose means to put together:

  • The committee is composed of faculty and staff.

Comprise means to contain, to include all, or embrace:

  • The committee comprises faculty and staff. (not The committee is comprised of. . . )

Constitute means to make up the elements of the whole:

  • Faculty and staff constitute the committee.


Most readers consider contractions informal, so for most university publications, it's best to avoid them. But for newsletters and other documents or publications that you want to have an informal, friendly tone, contractions, used sparingly, are fine.

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course listings/titles

In academic planning guides and program requirement documents, refer to specific courses by their official identification, using the abbreviation and course number. Capitalize, no quotation marks.

  • ENGL 130, POLS 055, BLAW 090 (not English 130, Poli Sci 55, or Bus Law 90)


Set as one word.

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