University Style Guide

University Writing Style

The Chico State University Writing Style Guide provides language usage guidelines for campus publications. It ensures that all University communications—including websites, newsletters, flyers, and magazines—reflect the unity of Chico State and meet standards of writing and grammar worthy of an institution of higher education.

EM 02-96 requires university communicators adhere to the University Writing Style Guide. Publications intended for external or broad audiences must be reviewed by the Campus Editing team. Learn more about Campus Editing.

If an item is not listed below, defer to the Chicago Manual of Style or the Merriam-Webster Collegiate Dictionary for usage or spelling, respectively.

Alphabetical Index

A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Y | Z

abbreviations and acronyms

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

Use only official university abbreviations. See building names/abbreviationscollegescourse listings/titlesdegrees and majors, and plurals.

  • The Campus Alcohol and Drug Education Center (CADEC) is located in the Student Services Center. CADEC's services are available to all campus members. 

accessibility information

Equal opportunity cannot be achieved unless individuals with disabilities are aware that accommodations are available on campus. It is recommended that accommodation statements be included when writing about an upcoming event or on websites, web apps, and social media where content has known issues (for example, a link to external, uncaptions YouTube videos). See Accommodation Statements for sample statements and more about the campus web exemption process.


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, Avenue, and other similar words.

  • The University's address is 400 West First Street, Chico, CA 95929-0560. 

For mailing labels, 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 Chemistry and Biochemistry, Physical Sciences Building 210

For on-campus readers, the short form is acceptable.

  • Financial Aid and Scholarship, SSC 250

   math department, Holt 181


Use the -or ending.

African American, Black

Both terms are acceptable but not always interchangeable. For example, Black individuals from a Caribbean nation may refer to themselves as Caribbean American. 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.

See Black.


Add the -al when used as an adjective. 

  • He is majoring in sustainable agriculture
  • She is majoring in agricultural business. 


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 Chico State is considered an alumna/us. Use of alum and alums is acceptable in informal text.

American Indian, Indian

See Native American.


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


Use AS on second reference as the abbreviation for the Associated Students at Chico State.

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.


Capitalize the adjective Black when it refers to people, culture, or race. Black is a broader term than African American as it may include people from Africa, the Caribbean, and elsewhere. When ethnicity is relevant, ask the individual or group which identifier they use.

biased language

Sexist language

The use of the they or their is acceptable as both a singular and plural pronoun. If necessary, use he or she or his and hers, but avoid he/she, him/her, and s/he. In general, clarify with your subject what pronouns you should use to refer to them in your writing rather than assume based on their appearance or gender expression.

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 cameramanRepresentatives not Congressmensupervisor not foremanchair not chairman.

Replace stereotyped titles: professor not career womanstudent not coeddoctor not lady/female doctornurse not male nurseactor not actress.

Writing about people with disabilities

In general, only refer to a disability if it is relevant to the story. When necessary, refer to disabilities with an active voice, giving the person ownership over their disability. The term disability is always preferable to the term handicap.


  • People with disabilities . . .
  • He has muscular dystrophy.
  • She uses a wheelchair and he walks with crutches.
  • He has a mental disability. 


  • Disabled people . . . 
  • He suffers from muscular dystrophy.
  • She is wheelchair-bound and he is confined to crutches. 
  • He is mentally retarded.

Blue Light Emergency Phones

Use as the official name for blue light phones on campus. Other names—blue light phones, emergency phones, blue lights, etc.—should be considered unofficial and left uncapitalized. 

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
  • ARTS     Arts and Humanities Building
  • AYRS     John C. Ayres Hall
  • BMU      Hugh M. Bell Memorial Union
  • BOWL    Bidwell Bowl Amphitheater
  • BUTE     Butte Hall
  • CCE       Center for Continuing Education
  • CLSA     Colusa Hall
  • 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
  • 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 Technology Center
  • PAC      Performing Arts Center
  • PHSC    Physical Science Building
  •             Physical Sciences Replacement Building
  • PLMS    Plumas Hall
  • PS02     Parking Structure #2 (Police Station and University Information Center)
  • WHO7   Shipping & Receiving
  • ROTH    Roth Planetarium
  • SAPP     Ella Caroline Sapp Hall (alumni)
  • SCI       Science Building
  • 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
  • STAD    Stadium and Track
  • SUTR    Sutter Residence Hall
  • THMA    Tehama Hall
  • TRNT     Trinity Hall
  • UHFS    University Housing and Food Service
  • UV       University Village
  • WHIT    Whitney Residence Hall
  • WREC    Wildcat Recreation Center
  • YOLO    Yolo Hall

California State University, Chico

Use the full formal name in first references. Chico State may be used on the second and subsequent reference, and the University may also be used interchangeably for either. Do not use CSU, Chico; CSUC, Chico State University, or other variations.

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 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. Subsequent references may be in the shorter/informal form. 

  • the Department of Mathematics and Statistics or the Mathematics and Statistics Department; the Office of Academic Personnel or Academic Personnel Office

Lowercase informal or incomplete references (e.g. the math department or personnel office).

  • the math department; personnel office; chemistry department; human resources 

(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 Academic Status Committee; the committee

The California State University System

CSU is acceptable on second and subsequent references. 

  • 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
  • Central Valley
  • Sacramento Valley
  • the South

See titles of works and titles of people.


See Hispanic, Latino, Chicano, Mexican American

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 Chico State, the "Chico Experience" is capitalized. The official name of the event sponsored by the Chico State Alumni Association is "The Chico Experience Week."


Do not hyphenate words with the prefix co-. 

  • coauthor
  • coworker
  • coexist
  • cooperate


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.


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 (a phrase that could stand alone as a sentence).

  • 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.
  • Afterward, Student Judicial Affairs will contact the student. 

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.


Capitalize the word when referring to the University's ceremony at which degrees are conferred to graduates. 

  • Spring 2015 Commencement ceremonies will span three days, rather than just two. 

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 and friendly tone, contractions are fine if used sparingly.

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)

When referring to a course by its subtitle, enclose in quotes. 

  • This semester, she will be taking "The History of Women in America."


Set as one word.

cross country

The sport's name, whether it is being used as a noun or an adjective, should be spelled out without a hyphen. 

  • cross country
  • cross country runner


An em dash (—) is used to set off a parenthetical element that is very abrupt, that denotes a sudden break in thought, or that has commas within it. Em dashes tend to emphasize the elements being set off. They can also be used as punctuation to attribute a quote. 

  • The dean—small, old, and frail—addressed the assembly before his retirement.

On a PC, use the alt code Alt+0151 or the shortcut Ctrl+Alt+(hyphen) to make an em dash. On a mac, use the shortcut Option/Alt+Shift+(hyphen) to make an em dash. 

The other specialized dash is the en dash. It is primarily used for number and date ranges, as well as denoting the minus sign in grades (see grades). It is slightly longer than a hyphen but shorter than an em dash. 

  • 2012–2013
  • chapters 12–14
  • pages 3–15

On a PC, use the alt code Alt+0150 or the shortcut Ctrl+(hyphen) to make an en dash. On a mac, use the shortcut Option/Alt+(hyphen) to make an en dash. 


Although datum is technically the proper singular form of data, common usage prefers to us data for both singular and plural forms. 


Spell out months and days of the week. If necessary for space, you can abbreviate Jan., Feb., Aug., Sept., Oct., Nov., and Dec. Use no punctuation if listing only the month and the year, but set the year off with commas if listing the day of the month as well. Do not use superscript ordinals, as in 1st, 2nd, 3rd, etc.

  • December 4, 2011, was . . .
  • Oct. 24, 2012 (abbreviated for space)
  • October 2012
  • the class of '09
  • the sixties (or the 1990s—just be consistent)

Note: When abbreviating a specific year (class of '09), the apostrophe faces away from the visible numbers, toward those that are implied. 

degrees and majors

For a complete list of Chico State's programs and majors, visit the Academic Programs page(opens in new window)

Capitalize the full degree title; lowercase the shorter form.

  • Bachelor of Arts degree (BA)
    bachelor's degree
    baccalaureate or baccalaureate degree
  • Master of Arts degree (MA)
    master's degree
  • Master of Public Administration (but master's program in public administration)
  • doctorate in education (EdD) [descriptive, not formal title]
    Doctorate of Philosophy (PhD) [formal title]

In general, do not use abbreviations for degrees after a person's name (e.g., Joel Stein, PhD), unless necessary to establish her or his credentials.

No periods in abbreviations of academic degrees.


When referring to degrees in general, lowercase the first letter of the degree and use 's. Lowercase the subject of the degree.

  • Seventy people hold master's degrees.
  • She earned a bachelor's degree in mathematics.

Note: Some degree titles do not follow this pattern (e.g., Bachelor of Fine Arts and Master of Public Administration).

The word degree should not follow a degree abbreviation.

  • He has a BA in history (not He has a BA degree in history).

When referring to degree(s) and major(s) of a specific Chico State alum or student use the following styles (note: the degree is always capitalized when in the parenthetical style):

  • Jane Doe (English, ’98)
  • Joe Wildcat (Agricultural Business, ’09; MA, Agricultural Education, ’11) Note: only the master’s degree abbreviation is present, never the bachelor’s.
  • Betty Lane (Kinesiology, '10; Credential, ’10) Note: Credential is a different type of degree so it is separated by a semicolon. 
  • Kevin Johnson (Junior, Political Science)
  • John Smith (Journalism, Political Science, ’99) (double major)
  • Sam Brown (Attended, 1987–89Note: If an alum is non-degreed then include the years they attended Chico State. Use the full four digits for the first year to differentiate that it's not a graduating class year(s).  
  • junior political science major Cole Richards . . .
  • sophomore Travis Souders, a journalism major, . . .
  • English major Sean Murphy, a senior, . . .
  • communication studies graduate student Kate Post . . .
  • AVOID: communication design student Christian Burke . . . Note: The word "student" is not used in this context because it refers to an undergraduate. The word "student" is used when referring to a graduate student, but the whole term "graduate student" must be used. 


See biased language.

double consonants

Generally, double consonants are added to a word that is gaining a suffix. 

  • transfer and transferred
  • program and programming
  • excel and excelled

However, there are some exceptions:

  • travel and traveled
  • benefit and benefited
  • cancel and canceled


Use three spaced periods to indicate an omission within a quoted phrase. To indicate an omission after a complete sentence, use four spaced periods (an actual period plus the ellipsis).

  • "Each semester, register in advance . . . and pay fees by the deadline."
  • "The college name was changed to 'Chico State College' in 1935. . . . In 1972, it became 'California State University, Chico.'"


See also URLs and email addresses.


Emerita, in the title "professor emerita," means a female retired from the faculty but permitted to retain as an honorary title the rank of the last academic appointment held.

Emeritus in the title "professor emeritus," means a male retired from the faculty but permitted to retain as an honorary title the rank of the last academic appointment held.

See titles of people.


Choose only one type style, italics or bold with lowercase, to indicate emphasis. Using various styles to indicate emphasis can be distracting (and may leave readers feeling like you're shouting at them). Always avoid using all caps. 

  • You must meet the deadline or your registration will be canceled.
  • Avoid: You must meet the deadline or YOUR REGISTRATION WILL BE CANCELED!

Wherever possible give directions in courteous, positive terms.

  • Please turn out the lights, not DON'T LEAVE LIGHTS ON!

Note: Never underline text to add emphasis, especially in online publications. Underlined text signifies a hyperlink. 


Etc. sometimes masks an imprecise or incomplete thought. Omit when possible, but if used, avoid "and etc." since et cetera means "and the rest."

ethnic groups

See African AmericanAsian AmericanHispanic, Latino, Chicano, Mexican American.

fall/fall semester

Lowercase references to seasons and academic terms. (See also capitalization and seasons.)

first-generation student

A first-generation (stylized with a hyphen) student is a college student whose parent(s) or legal guardian(s) have not completed a four-year university degree, i.e., a bachelor’s degree.

Founders Week

Note the absence of the apostrophe. This is the attributive form, not the possessive.


Spell as one word.

general education

When referring to the broader general education concept, leave uncapitalized. Chico State's specific program is called the General Education Pathway Program. Each individual pathway also has a specific name: 

  • Diversity Studies pathway
  • Health and Wellness Studies pathway
  • Great Books and Ideas pathway

For a complete list of pathway programs, visit the General Education website


When referring to a grade, use a capital letter, but no quotation marks. Use an en dash to indicate a minus sign. Use an apostrophe for plurals.

  • a B average
  • a CR/NC course
  • She earned A's and B's this semester.
  • He earned an –A in microbiology. 


Write as one word, no hyphen. 


See biased language.


Capitalize first word and all major words in headline (nouns, verbs, adjectives, etc.). Prepositions and conjunctions four letters or more are capitalized, three letters or less are uncapitalized. 

  • "Chico State Makes Civic Engagement a Strategic Priority"

  • "Seventeen Students to be Honored With Rawlins Merit Awards"

  • "North State Public Radio Has New General Manager"

Note: Infinitives ("to" + verb) should be capitalized in headlines and titles of works (ex: the Time To Be Growing fundraising campaign), as an infinitive functions as a noun. 

Hispanic, Latino, Chicano, Mexican American

When possible, use the specific and preferred identifications of individuals, such as CubanMexican American, Brazilian, etc. 

Generally, Chicano or Chicana is used to refer to an American of Mexican descent (but some persons of Central and South American heritage also consider themselves Chicanos). 

Hispanic is used to refer to the people, culture, or speech of a Spanish-speaking country. 

Latino or Latina refers to a person of Latin American heritage. Latinx is the gender-inclusive term used to describe Latin American people, culture, or heritage. 

  • Latinx Welcome Reception
  • The University will be hosting a reception for Latinx students.

Mexican American is used to refer to a native-born or naturalized American of Mexican heritage. 


Many compounds are hyphenated when they come before and modify a noun, but not after it.

  • She directs their computer-assisted reference services. But, almost all our services are computer assisted.
  • He lives in off-campus housing. But, his home is off campus.
  • She is a well-respected professor. But, Professor Thomas is well respected.

A commonly used compound such as high school is left open when used to modify a noun, especially if the compound is a familiar one.

  • high school students, not high-school students
  • grade point average, not grade-point average

More examples

  • The book was a best seller. But, she wrote a best-selling book.
  • The New York Times Best Seller List 
  • Housing for re-entry students
  • The theory of post-racial America

Use a "suspended" hyphen when a base word, a suffix, or a prefix is doing double duty.

  • second- and third-year students; self-initiated and -implemented projects

The suffix -wide is hyphenated only after a base word of three or more syllables.

  • university-wide, (but campuswide, statewide, collegewide)

Many words beginning with common prefixes are closed.

  • extracurricular, interlibrary, interdisciplinary, midyear, minicomputer, multicultural, nondegree, postdoctoral, preregistration, socioeconomic, subcommittee

For guidance on hyphenating specific words, see Webster's Instant Word Guide or Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary, 11th edition.

i.e. or 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).


Use lowercase to refer to the internet. While once considered a proper noun, its widespread use has made it a generic term.


It's is a contraction meaning "it is." Its is a possessive pronoun (hers, his, its).

  • It's a requirement that each department have its own chair.

-ize words

Use -ize words (nouns made into verbs by adding -ize) sparingly and only if they are words found in the dictionary. Consider using substitutes:

  • agendize
    to place on the agenda
  • finalize
    sign; agree to
  • prioritize
    list; rate; rank
  • utilize


See Hispanic, Latino, Chicano, Mexican American.


Many writers prefer to use fewer when referring to items that can be counted individually, and less when referring to quantity, value, degree, or amount.

  • Fewer students failed the entrance exam.
  • Chico got less rain this year.


The preferred acronym when referring to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer/questioning, and other identities is LGBTQ+.


It is most common to alphabetize the entries in a list, but other methods include organizing according to importance, size, cost, rarity, or position in space and time. If the method of order is not obvious, explain the order.

  • Students may earn certificates in the following areas:
    Exercise Physiology
    Forensic Identification
    Literary Editing and Publishing
  • Cast (in order of appearance):
    Shirley Niven
    Victor Juarez
    Rasheeda Ross

Use numbers or letters only when indicating a priority or sequence to the items. When items are numbered or lettered in a vertical list, follow each number or letter with a period. Otherwise, if the items in a vertical list need to be set off, use bullets. If one or more item in the list is a complete sentence, use a period at the end of each item. Otherwise, no punctuation is needed at the end of each item.

  1. Complete the Free Application for Federal Aid accurately and legibly.
  2. Send it to the processor as soon as possible after January 1.
  3. Respond promptly to requests for additional information.

Use parentheses to enclose numbers marking a division within running text.

  • You will qualify for admission if you (1) are a high school graduate, (2) meet test requirements, and (3) have completed the college preparatory subject requirements.

Make lists parallel by using the same sentence construction for each item.

The Campus Wellness Center provides tips to increase cultural wellness:
• Keep an open mind.
• Learn more about cultures that are unfamiliar to you.
• Remember the Golden Rule.

In running text, colons are often used to introduce a list, but should not be used to separate a verb from its object. This also applies to vertical lists. (See also colon.)

  • Required courses include the following: ENGL 001, MATH 004, CMST 011.
  • Required courses include ENGL 001, MATH 004, and CMST 011.

Alternative transportation in Chico includes
• Bicycling
• Public transit
• Walking

Alternative transportation in Chico includes the following:
• Bicycling
• Public Transit
• Walking


Use a hyphen when used as an adjective.

  • lower-division courses


See degrees and majors; also Colleges, Departments, Majors, and Committees under capitalization.

For a complete list of Chico State's programs and majors, visit the Academic Programs page

man, mankind

Use human or humankind when referring to men and women. See biased language.

Mechoopda people statement

An example of how to write a statement of acknowledgement for the Mechoopda people's can be found on the Chico State Traditions page.

For more information, contact Rachel McBride-Praetorius, director of tribal relations.

Mexican American

See Hispanic, Latino, Chicano, Mexican American.


Set as one word, no hyphen.

Native American

This term is sometimes preferred to American Indian. When possible, use the name of a specific tribe. Use Indian (not East Indian) to refer to the people of India.


In general, non takes no hyphen when used as a prefix (nonprofit, nonresident), except when the base word is a proper noun (non-Western) or begins with an n (non-native).

North State Public Radio

Abbreviate to NSPR on second and subsequent references. 

Northern California/North State

Capitalize Northern California and North State.
See capitalization.


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.


The general rule also applies to ordinals.

  • The center celebrated its fourth anniversary.
    This is the 10th year in a row that enrollment has grown.



Use numerals for all ages.

  • She was 9 years old.


Numbers applicable to the same category should be treated alike within the same sentence; do not use numerals for some and spell out others.

  • There are 9 graduate students in the Philosophy Department, 56 in the English Department, and 117 in the History Department.

However, spell out all numbers that begin a sentence, regardless of any inconsistency this may create.

  • One hundred ten men and 103 women will graduate this semester.


Use numerals with decimals and percents. Use the word percent in nontechnical text. (Use the symbol % in statistical or technical text and in tables and charts.)

  • Of the sophomores, 5 percent are undeclared majors.


Quantities consisting of both whole numbers and fractions are expressed in numerals.

  • You will need 8.5–by–11-inch paper.


Use the dollar sign and numeral for whole dollar amounts of US currency when under $1 million. For dollar amounts beyond thousands, use the dollar sign, numeral, and appropriate word.

  • The late registration fee is $9.
  • Submit the application with the $100 fee.
  • The grant was $14 million.

When writing about quantities less than a dollar, refer to normal number usage and use the term cents.  

The decimal and following zeros should be omitted if all amounts in the same statement are whole dollars. Fractional amounts over one dollar are set in numerals like other decimal fractions. Whole dollar amounts are set with zeros after the decimal point when they appear in the same context with fractional amounts.

  • Fees of $150 and $175 must be paid in advance.
  • Parking decals are $63.00 for an automobile, $15.75 for a motorcycle.

Pages of a Book 

Use numerals for references to pages of a book, tables, illustrations, and figures.

  • See Table 4 on page 7.

Round Numbers 

Approximations used in place of exact numbers may be spelled out.

  • We get thousands of change forms each semester.
  • The population is about fifteen thousand.
    (but We recorded 72,483 grades last fall.)

Round numbers over 999,999 may be expressed in numerals followed by million, billion, etc.

  • The population exceeded 50 million.

No superscript on numerals in text, unless indicating a footnote (web example)

  • 2nd (yes)
  • Footnote[1] (yes)
  • 3rd (no)


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.


See general education

photo credit

Following captions (if any), accredit the photographer, student photographer, or person(s) who provided the photo(s)/image(s):

  • (Jason Halley/University Photographer)
  • (Tyler Wright/Student Photographer)
  • (Photo courtesy of Jane Doe)
  • (Photo courtesy of John Smith/The Orion)


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


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

Professional & Continuing Education 

Formerly known as Regional & Continuing Education, and the Center for Regional and Continuing Education. 

Note: The use of the ampersand, not the word and. 


Use the pronouns indicated by the individual/subject of your story. They may use she/her/hers, he/him/his, they/them/theirs, or another set of gender-inclusive pronouns. Clarify with your subject what pronouns you should use to refer to them in your writing rather than assume based on appearance or gender expression. For additional guidance, consult the Office of Diversity and Inclusion

The use of the they or their is acceptable as both a singular and plural pronoun. (See biased language)


Use of professor is preferred. Professor is an academic rank or title. All faculty can be referred to as “Professor” as a title, regardless of whether they are lecturers, assistant professors, associate professors, or full professors. 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.


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

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?"

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.


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


See biased language.

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.


Write as one word, no hyphen. 

Sowilleno Avenue

Use to identify the street that runs east from Holt Hall toward Bidwell Mansion. It is named for Maggie Sowilleno Lafonso, a local Mechoopda woman.


See seasons.


Hyphenate this compound word.

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)

Study Abroad

Note: Study Abroad is the official name of the department. Other descriptors—program, student, staff, etc.—are left uncapitalized. 

telephone numbers

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

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

The Turner

Use The Turner (note the capitals) to refer to The Janet Turner Print Museum on second and subsequent references. 


Use the more globally recognized term theatre, not the Americanized term theater. 

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)


Use numerals with AM and PM set in small caps or lower case with periods: 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 AM.
  • eight o'clock; noon/midnight

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; with rare exception, the University does not use “Dr.” as a title except for medical professionals—including in reference to faculty with PhDs. All faculty can be referred to as “Professor” as a title, regardless of whether they are lecturers, assistant professors, associate professors, or full professors.

  • The latest discovery by Professor Anne Fisher . . .
  • James Allen, assistant professor of anthropology, has discovered . . .
  • A professor of engineering at Chico State 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 . . .

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, photography, and other works of art
  • titles of art shows and exhibitions

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

Note: Infinitives ("to" + verb) should be capitalized in headlines and titles of works (ex: the Time To Be Growing fundraising campaign), as an infinitive functions as a noun. 


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

underrepresented minorities

This term should only be used in data reporting. For all other purposes, use "underserved" or "historically underserved" when referring to student populations that have been historically excluded from opportunities in higher education. 

"Underrepresented" refers to racial and ethnic populations that are represented at disproportionately low levels in higher education. "Historically" means that this is a 10-year or longer trend at a given school. 

While the term underrepresented minority (URM) is not one preferred by the CSU, it is a California legislatively mandated reporting category for monitoring progress on closing gaps on four-year freshman and two-year transfer graduation rates. Underrepresented minorities (URMs) are African Americans, American Indians/Alaska Natives, and Latinos, who have historically comprised a minority of the U.S. population. 

underserved populations

Underserved students are defined as those who do not receive equitable resources as other students in the academic pipeline. Typically, these groups of students include low-income, racial/ethnic minorities ("people of color" or "students of color" is the preferred use, not "minorities"), and first-generation students, among others.

Races and ethnicities that are included: African American, American Indian/Alaska Native, Hispanic/Latino, and Native Hawaiian/other Pacific Islander.

"Historically underserved" students are defined as low-income students, those who are first in their families to attend college, and students of color. This term is preferred because it reflects institutional injustice rather than implying individual failure.


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.


Uppercase "the University" when referring to Chico State. For example, "The University prides itself on being a top-value school" or "The University flag will be lowered Tuesday." (See California State University, Chico.)

University Foundation, The

Use to refer to the university auxiliary that manages gifts and endowments to the campus.

Note: the capital T in The. After first reference, the Foundation is acceptable as an informal name. 

University Farm

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

Up 'til Dawn

Use to refer to the student-run and -led fundraiser for St. Jude Children's Research Hospital. 


Set with a hyphen when used as an adjective.

  • upper-division classes

URLs and email addresses

In digital text, avoid using URLs and email addresses. Instead, use descriptive words and then hyperlink. For example, "More information can be found at University Communications(opens in new window)" is better than "For more information, click here." For email, use the person’s name for the link. For example, “For more information, contact Ashley Gebb, publications editor, in University Communications.”

In print publications, if a long URL is required, we recommend using tiny url to shorten it. Use parentheses to enclose a URL, or a colon to introduce it, and 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. The “www” is not necessary as part of the URL, unless the URL begins with “,” then the “www” is necessary. Email addresses should be italicized. For example, “For more information, contact Ashley Gebb at”


Set as one word when used as a noun (my voicemail) or as an adjective (the voicemail system).


Lowercase webwebsite, web manager, web page


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


Work-study is always hyphenated.

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