Hyphenate when used as an adjective (off-campus housing), but not when used as an adverb (he lives off campus).


Set as one word, no hyphen, in all uses.


Abbreviations that contain no periods and numerals used as nouns form the plural by adding s.

  • MBAs
  • RNs
  • W–2s
  • FAFSAs
  • 1980s
Acronyms ending in the letter s, single letters, lowercase letters, and abbreviations with both lowercase and capital letters form the plural by adding ’s.
  • SOS’s
  • A’s and B’s
  • x’s and y’s
  • PhD’s

Hyphenated coinages and numbers used as nouns (either spelled out or as numerals) add s (or es) to form the plural.

  • hi–fis
  • follow–ups
  • sixes and sevens

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In general, don't hyphenate words with post or pre prefixes (postsecondary, prerequisite).

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Use of professor is preferred. Professor is an academic rank or title. A doctor (in academics) is one who has earned the highest academic degree (e.g., PhD). Not all professors have doctorates, nor are all holders of doctorates professors. See titles of people.

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(See colons, commas, dashes, ellipses, hyphens, and quotation marks)

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quotation marks

Use quotation marks to indicate a citation or direct quotation. Place commas and periods inside the closing quotation mark; colons and semicolons outside. Placement of a question mark depends on the meaning: Does it apply to the part quoted or to the whole sentence? Question marks that are part of a title go inside quotation marks.

  • The University Catalog says this about our satellite technology: "In 1983, the University installed a 10-meter Scientific Atlanta earth station on campus."
  • "I can't attend," she said.
  • Was she called "President"?
  • He asked, "Is it time to go?"
  • Read chapter 2, "Where from Here?"

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salutations for form letters

Form letters are addressed to groups. The salutation should, therefore, be plural.

  • Dear Friends:
  • Dear Members:
  • Dear Alumni and Friends:

If a form letter is addressed exclusively to women who are alumnae, use Dear Alumnae for the salutation. If it is addressed exclusively to men or to men and women who are alumni, you may use Dear Alumni or Dear Alumni/ae for the salutation.

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Use lowercase, even when referring to an issue of a publication (capitalize only if the season is part of the official title, as in The Fall Update).

  • the fall 2012 issue of Chico Statements

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See biased language.

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singular/plural words

Singular: Criterion, parenthesis, phenomenon, medium, and memorandum

Plural: Criteria, parentheses, phenomena, media, and memorandums

Collective nouns such as committee, faculty, and staff name a group. If the group functions as a unit, treat the noun as singular; if the members of the group function individually, treat the noun as plural.

  • The committee, at its last meeting . . .
  • The committee put their signatures on the document.

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See seasons.

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Hyphenate this compound word.

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student honor societies

  • Alpha Psi Omega (theatre)
  • Alpha Zeta Eta (agriculture)
  • Beta Alpha Psi (accounting)
  • Beta Gamma Sigma (business)
  • Eta Kappa Nu (electrical & computer engineering)
  • Gamma Theta Upsilon (geography)
  • Golden Key International Honour Society (academic)
  • Kappa Delta Pi (education)
  • Lambda Pi Eta (communication)
  • Omicron Theta Epsilon (biology)
  • Order of Omega (Greek)
  • Phi Alpha Theta (history)
  • Phi Eta Sigma (freshman academic)
  • Phi Kappi Phi (academic)
  • Phi Sigma Iota (foreign languages)
  • Phi Sigma Tau (philosophy)
  • Pi Sigma Alpha (political science)
  • Psi Chi (psychology)
  • Sigma Lambda Chi (construction management)
  • Sigma Tau Delta (English honor society)
  • Tau Beta Pi (engineering)
  • The Honor Society of the Educational Opportunity Program (academic)
  • Upsilon Pi Epsilon (computer science)

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telephone numbers

University convention calls for the area code to be followed by a hyphen.

  • 530-898-4139 (x4139 in on-campus publications)

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theatres/auditoriums/recital halls/museums

Use full name on first reference. For second reference, you can use the room number.

  • Harlen Adams Theatre (PAC 144)
  • Larry Wismer Theatre (PAC 135)
  • Laxson Auditorium
  • Ruth Rowland-Taylor Recital Hall (PAC 134)
  • Museum of Anthropology (LANG 301)

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Use numerals with AM and PM set in small caps. If you can't set type with small caps, use lower case a.m./p.m. Eliminate zeros if all time referred to in the statement is on the hour. Never use AM with "morning" or PM with "evening," and never use "o'clock" with either AM or PM or with numerals. Avoid the redundancy of "The game is at 8 PM tonight."

  • Office hours are 8 AM to 5 PM (or 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.)
  • (8–9 PM is acceptable in tables and lists.)
  • Registration will occur 9:30 to 11:00 AM.
  • eight o'clock; noon/midnight

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titles of people

Official personal titles immediately preceding a name are capitalized; those following a name or set off by commas are not. This rule applies to both academic and administrative titles. Distinguish between official titles and purely descriptive titles (e.g., Maintenance Supervisor Susan Smith; maintenance employee Susan Smith). For academic titles, use "Professor Jones" rather than "Dr. Jones" in most contexts. "Dr." may be used to establish credentials when necessary, for visiting speakers, for example.

  • The latest discovery by Professor Anne Fisher . . .
  • James Allen, assistant professor of anthropology, has discovered . . .
  • A professor of engineering at CSU, Chico since 2010, Mary Roth studies . . .
  • Vice Provost Juan Garcia . . .
  • Juan Garcia, vice provost since 2011, . . .; but note that campus convention is "Susan Dolan, vice president for Student Affairs"
  • Professor Emerita Joan Levy . . .
  • David Sachs, professor emeritus of art . . .

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titles of works

The following titles are set in italics:

  • titles and subtitles of published books, pamphlets, proceedings and collections, periodicals, and newspapers and sections of newspapers published separately
  • titles of collections of poetry and long poems
  • titles of plays
  • titles of motion pictures
  • titles of websites ("visit the Class Schedule online at…")
  • titles of operas, oratorios, and other long musical compositions
  • titles of paintings, drawings, statues, and other works of art

The following works are set in roman (regular/plain) type and enclosed in quotation marks:

  • titles of articles and features in periodicals and newspapers
  • titles of short stories, essays, chapter titles, and individual
    selections in books
  • titles of dissertations and theses, manuscripts in collections, and lectures and papers read at meetings
  • titles of television and radio programs (unless it's a series; then italicize the program title and put the episode title in quotation marks—The X-Files, "Trust No One")
  • titles of songs and short compositions

Exact titles of campus publications should be italicized.

  • The 2009–20011 University Catalog or The University Catalog but the catalog

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In general, don't hyphenate words with under as a prefix (understaffed).

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Unique means "without like or equal." Logically, there can be no degrees of uniqueness, as in "the most unique.…"—so, even though it is a commonly used term, in formal writing it's best to avoid this usage.

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Uppercase "the University" when referring to CSU, Chico, but lowercase when university functions as an adjective, as in "university policy." (See California State University, Chico.)

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university farm

For first reference, use the official name, "The Paul L. Byrne Agricultural Teaching and Research Center." You may wish to indicate that its common name is the"University Farm." The official abbreviation is FARM.

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Set with a hyphen when used as an adjective.

  • upper-division classes

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URLs and email addresses

Avoid using URLs and email addresses in website text. Instead make your URLs descriptive and have words be the link. For example, "More information can be found at Public Affairs and Publications." is better than "For more information, click here."

If you have to include a long URL in a print publication, we recommend tiny url to shorten it. Use parentheses to enclose a URL, or a colon to introduce it, or italics to highlight it. If an address won't fit on one line, break the address after a forward slash or before a period. Do not hyphenate.

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voice mail

Set as two words when used as a noun (my voice mail) and with a hyphen when used as an adjective (the voice-mail system).

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Lowercase web, website, web manager

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Use the simple and direct word or phrase. Consider the following substitutes:

owing to the fact that
in order to
there is no doubt that
deadline date
student body

Preferred Usage
no doubt

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Work-study is always hyphenated.

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