Editorial Style

Style is a tool that helps writers and editors maintain consistency within an organization or a single publication. Communications and Marketing is charged with maintaining style guidelines to help ensure that all university publications present a consistent, positive image.

These guidelines were created for a purpose - in the interest of supporting the university as a whole and helping readers easily understand printed material. So that all divisions, departments and offices present a unified, consistent picture to their various publics through printed and electronic materials, please abide by the following guidelines as much as possible.

However, the style guidelines presented in this manual are just that - guidelines - not laws set in stone. The guidelines should be applied on a case by case basis, and the writers' and editors' judgment is part of that application. This manual also includes some rules of grammar and punctuation that are just that - rules - and they should not be arbitrarily changed.

As a general style guide, NMU publications generally follow the Associated Press (AP) style used in newspapers.

 


Abbreviations - avoiding alphabet soup

Acronyms: In general, spell out word phrases that use initials the first time, then give the acronym in parenthesis. After that, use just the acronym without periods. For example: Physical Education Instructional Facility (PEIF).

If you are still in doubt, spell the word out.

Ampersand: Don't use the ampersand (&) in body copy. It should be used only in corporate titles when that is their style.

Course titles: Use a two-letter abbreviation with no periods as in EN 111.

NMU: Capitalize. No periods. However, it is a good idea to write out Northern Michigan University the first time in an article; use NMU or Northern in subsequent references.

Two-letter and three-letter abbreviations: Other two-letter abbreviations are used with periods, as in a.m., (note lower case), R.N., U.P. For three or more letters, do not use periods as in WNMU-TV, GPA, NMU.

academic and administrative titles

see titles

academic degrees

If it is necessary to mention a person's degrees, the preferred form is to avoid abbreviation and spell the degrees out as associate degree, bachelor's degree, master's degree, and doctorate; or bachelor of arts, master of science, doctor of philosophy. Note the apostrophes in bachelor's and master's. Do not write B.A., B.S., M.A., Ed.D., or Ph.D. in publication copy.

academic year

Do not use caps when referring to the time of the academic year as in fall semester, winter semester, spring session, summer session.

commencement: The word commencement is lowercased, as is the semester (spring commencement, fall commencement)

building names

Following are the official names of university residence halls and campus buildings.

Official University Name Preferred Name (for first reference in print publications) Preferred abbreviated name (for subsequent  references in print publications)
Residence Halls    
Luther O. Gant Hall Gant Hall Gant Hall
Lynn H. Halverson Hall Halverson Hall Halverson Hall
Lucian F. Hunt Hall Hunt Hall Hunt Hall
Gunther C. Meyland Hall Meyland Hall Meyland Hall
M. Lucille Payne Hall Payne Hall Payne Hall
Grace D. Spalding Hall Spalding Hall Spalding Hall
Charles C. Spooner Hall Spooner Hall Spooner Hall
Maude L. Van Antwerp Hall Van Antwerp Hall Van Antwerp Hall
West Hall West Hall West Hall
     
NMU Campus Buildings    
Ada B. Vielmetti Health Center Vielmetti Health Center Health Center
Art & Design Studios North Art and Design North Art and Design North
Berry Events Center Berry Events Center BEC or Berry Events Center
C. B. Hedgcock C. B. Hedgcock Hedgcock
D. J. Jacobetti Complex Jacobetti Complex Jacobetti or Jacobetti Complex
Don H. Bottum University Center Bottum University Center UC or University Center
Edgar L. Harden Learning Resources Center Harden Learning Resources Center or Learning Resources Center LRC or Learning Resources
Ethel G. Carey Hall Carey Hall Carey Hall
Forest Roberts Theatre Forest Roberts Theatre Forest Roberts Theatre
Glenn T. Seaborg Science Complex Seaborg Science Complex Seaborg Science Complex
Harry D. Lee Hall/Art & Design Studios North Lee Hall or Art and Design North Lee Hall or Art and Design North
Harvey G. Ripley Heating Plant Ripley Heating Plant Ripley Heating Plant or Heating Plant
Izzo Mariucci Academic Center Izzo Mariucci Academic Center Izzo Mariucci Academic Center
John X. Jamrich Hall Jamrich Hall Jamrich or Jamrich Hall
Kaye House Kaye House Kaye House
Luther S. West Science Building West Science Building West Science
Lydia M. Olson Library Olson Library Olson Library
Mildred K. Magers Hall Magers Hall Magers Hall or Magers
Physical Education Instructional Facility Physical Education Instructional Facility PEIF
Russell Thomas Fine Arts Building Thomas Fine Arts Building Thomas Fine Arts
Sam M. Cohodas Administrative Center Cohodas Administrative Center Cohodas
Services Building/Public Safety Services Building Services Building
Superior Dome Superior Dome Superior Dome or the Dome
Walter F. Gries Hall Gries Hall Gries Hall
Wayne B. McClintock Building McClintock Building McClintock
Willard M. Whitman Hall Whitman Hall Whitman

see also room numbers and building names

collective nouns

Nouns that denote a unit take singular verbs and pronouns: class, committee, crown, family, group, herd, jury, orchestra, team. Usage examples: The committee is meeting to set its agenda. The jury reached its verdict. A herd of cattle was sold.

Faculty: Faculty is a collective noun that refers to an institution's or academic unit's entire instructional staff as a unit. Therefore, it takes a singular verb. Its plural is faculties.

When referring to an individual, use the phrase faculty member.

When referring to a group of individuals numbering less than the entire faculty, use the phrase faculty members.

computer terms

Below is a list of commonly used computer and Internet terms, acronyms and software programs. For definitions and expanded information on the terms listed here, consult a computer/Internet dictionary or style guide such as Wired Style: Principles of English Usage in the Digital Age by the editors of Wired magazine.

Adobe Photoshop
Aldus PageMaker
America Online (AOL on subsequent reference)
ASCII (pronounced As-kee)
AutoCAD
backbone
backup
BinHex
bit map (or bit-mapped)
BITNET CAD (computer-aided design)
CADD (Computer-aided design and drafting)
CD-ROM
CompuServe
computer-assisted instruction (CAI)
database
download
E-mail or e-mail (not email)
EtherNet
Eudora
ftp or FTP (file transfer protocol; capped when referring to a specific set of rules that comprise an ftp)
GIF or gif (Graphics Interchange Format)
Gopher
Graphic User Interface (GUI)
home page
HTML (HyperText Markup Language)
HTTP (HyperText Transport Protocol)
IBM
information superhighway
Internet/internet (lowercase when used informally to refer to a group of LANs connected by means of a common communications protocol)
Internet2
keyword
JPEG or jpeg (Joint Photographic Experts Group)
LAN (local area network)
Mobile device
listserv mainframe
Microsoft
MINITAB
MS-DOS
multimedia
NCSA Mosaic
Netscape
newsgroup
notebook computer
off-line, on-line (hyphenated as both adjective and adverb)
page break
PC
PNG or png
pop-up menu, pull-down menu
PostScript
PowerPoint
Prodigy
QuarkXPress
reboot, reformat
screen saver (two words)
spreadsheet
startup disk, startup screen
ThinkPad
time-sharing
Uniform Resource Locator (URL)
UNIX
UseNet
WAN (Wide Area Network)
Web site, Web page
World Wide Web; Web; WWW
WordPerfect

copyright and fair use*

copyright

Reproduction of copyrighted material without permission of the copyright owner is unacceptable. Printing Services will not reproduce your job if it is in violation of copyright law.

The following types of works are subject to copyright protection:

  • literary
  • dramatic
  • musical
  • choreographic
  • pictorial
  • graphic
  • pantomimes
  • sound recordings
  • sculptures
  • motion pictures
  • audio visual

These categories include reference works (including dictionaries), video cassettes and computer programs and databases. The following are not subject to copyright protection:

  • facts
  • ideas
  • procedures
  • processes
  • systems
  • concepts
  • principles
  • discoveries

While the above items are not covered by copyright protection, they may be protected under patent or trade secret laws. The literary or other form of expression and detailed organization of these ideas is covered by copyright.

fair use*

Fair use, under the U.S. copyright law, permits limited use of portions of a copyrighted work without the copyright owner's permission for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship or research. Section 107 of the Copyright Act established four basic factors to be considered in deciding whether a use constitutes fair use:

  1. The purpose and character of the use including whether such use is of a commercial nature or is for non-profit educational purposes;
  2. The nature of the copyrighted work;
  3. The amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole; and
  4. The effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work.

No one factor determines a person's right to use a copyrighted work without permission. There is no blanket exemption from liability for infringement by educational institutions or for educational uses. Rather, the particular use must qualify as a fair use.

While only the courts can authoritatively determine whether a particular use is fair use, the following guidelines are considered to be "a reasonable interpretation of the minimum standards of fair use" (U.S. Congress).

Books and Periodicals: In 1976, the U.S. Congress endorsed fair use guidelines for educators making multiple copies of portions of books and periodicals for use in classrooms. The guidelines also permit educators to make single copies of lengthier portions. On the other hand, the guidelines expressly prohibit some types of copying as not being fair use, such as making unauthorized coursepacks. These guidelines do not apply to computer software.

Television Programming: In 1981, a Congressional committee endorsed guidelines that permit individual educators to record broadcast television programming (but not pay-per-view) and to play the recording soon after the broadcast in the course of relevant teaching activities.

Educational Multimedia Presentations: In late 1996, a Congressional subcommittee recognized guidelines that permit educators and students to reproduce and adapt portions of books, movies, sound recordings and computer program screen displays for use in educational multimedia presentations.

Distance Learning: Guidelines for the use of copyrighted works in certain distance learning situations are under consideration.

For more information about fair use and guidelines, ask the U.S. Copyright Office to send you "Circular 21 - Reproduction of Copyrighted Works by Educators and Librarians." The Copyright Office can be reached at 202-707-9100. You can also download a .pdf of Circular 21 from the U.S Copyright Office. Multimedia and Distance Learning guidelines are reprinted in the Interim Report of the conference on Fair Use at http://www.uspto.gov.

*This material comes from Questions and Answers on Copyright for the Campus Community, Copyright 1997, Association of American Publishers, National Association of College Stores, and Software Publishers Association.

cities and states

Standing alone state names are spelled out: Michigan is a wonderful place to live.

It is not necessary to include the state with city names that would not easily be confused. Locally, this includes Marquette, Houghton, Detroit and Green Bay. For larger cities, this includes such cities as San Francisco, New York, Seattle and Las Vegas.

When used with a city, state names are abbreviated using the abbreviations in the Associated Press Stylebook, and the state is set off by commas: Susan moved to Baldwin, Md., and David came from Sheridan, Ore.

Use the postal abbreviation for addresses, except when addresses are included within body copy. In this case, the preferred form again is the AP style: Mich., Wis., Ill., Ind., Minn., etc.

Note: Washington, D.C. should be written out to distinguish it from the state. States with five or fewer letters are written out as in Ohio, Maine, Texas.

see also punctuation - comma; states

capitalization

Avoid random drive-by capitalization. When in doubt, don't. Use common sense.

University: References to Northern as the university are not capitalized, as in The university policy is ...

Departments and colleges: Capitalize names of departments and colleges. Communications and Marketing, History Department, College of Arts and Sciences. Say History Department rather than Department of History and Communications and Marketing instead of Office of Communications and Marketing.

Generic references to a department are not capitalized, such as The department's goals are ... or when the reader already knows which department is being referred to because of a previous reference, or because of the nature of the newsletter, as in the English Department Newsletter.

Programs: Do not capitalize the proper names of programs, as in teacher certification program.

Majors: Do not capitalize the names of academic majors except for languages, as in He is majoring in history with a minor in French.

Academic and professional titles: To avoid awkward capitalization of people's titles, write the name first, then the title, as in Karen Wallingford, university editor, announced that everyone can take the rest of the day off.

see also titles

Headlines: The preferred style for NMU publications is to capitalize only the first word and proper nouns in any headline. Some editors choose to capitalize all the important words in a headline. The choice is yours. Just be consistent!

courtesy titles

see titles

dates

Months: Spell out months when used alone or with a year only. It can be very busy in November; and November 1992 was the busiest month of all. But with a specific date, abbreviate these months: Jan., Feb., Aug., Sept., Oct., Nov., and Dec. It's Dec. 8, not Dec. 8th.

see also punctuation, comma

decades

Use twenties, sixties, eighties. Avoid using '60s because of possible confusion with members of the class of '60. Alternatively, you may use the 1960s without any apostrophe. Capitalize the Gay Nineties and the Roaring Twenties.

see also graduation years

disabled, handicapped

A person with disabilities is preferred over a disabled person for university publications. Handicapped is often used in government publications but should be avoided for general use.

ethnic group designations

Lower-case blacks (noun or adjective), white, red, mulatto, etc., but capitalize the proper names of nationalities, peoples, races, tribes, etc.: Arab, African, American, Asians, Native Americans, Indians, French Canadian, Jewish, Latin, Nordic, Sioux, Swede, etc.

Dual heritage: Do not hyphenate to designate dual heritage. Use African American, Japanese American, not African-American or Japanese-American.
Note: This is university style only. It goes against the Associated Press style guide.

federal/state

Lowercase. The program is awaiting state and federal funding.

Fortune 500

Capitalize.

freshman/freshmen

Avoid these words. Use first-year student(s) to avoid sexism. If it's impossible not to use one of these words, remember that freshmen is the plural, but it's freshman year, freshman students.

G.I. Bill

Capitalize and use periods in G.I. but no spaces. Capitalize first letter of Bill.

geography

America is made up of more than just the United States. It includes North, South and Central America. When you mean the United States, use United States instead of just America.

see also United States/U.S.

grade point average

Do not hyphenate. Avoid abbreviating. If you simply must, use GPA (all caps, no periods).

graduation years

In class notes and other text, abbreviate as follows:
Jill Campbell '64 and John Smith '88, '92 MA attended the Homecoming reunion.

indentations

For publications, set paragraph indentations at one-quarter inch (preset is one-half). Always use tabs to ease in reformatting.

justification

While the choice is up to you, using ragged right margins in body text makes copy easier to read. Justified columns appear stiff and make for some awkward spacing between words. If you choose justified right margins, set your hyphenation at one-quarter inch and manually divide words, especially proper nouns.

liability

To alleviate potential liability in the event students do not feel they received adequate preparation from a particular course or program, academic or other programs should not make any guarantees to potential or current students.

Example: Programs do not prepare students for careers - programs can help prepare students for careers. Students can learn basic skills; not students will learn basic skills.

musical notes, keys, terms

For musical notes and keys, use roman caps for major and roman lowercase for minor. For clarity, use the words major and minor with the letters when naming keys as in middle C; key of G major; and the D triad.

One of Mozart's best-known symphonies is in g minor.

op. and opus: lowercase

numbers

Spell out numbers from one through nine; use numerals from 10 and up, including ordinal numbers (ninth, 22nd).

Exceptions: Always spell out numbers at the beginning of a sentence. When listing children's ages, use numerals throughout.

Their children are Joy, 13, Bill, 6, and Myron, 2 1/2.

When it's not a list, use a 5-year-old, the terrible twos, she's in her 20s, and Jack's 20-year-old son.

For large round numbers, use words as 10 million. For currency, use the dollar sign: $10 million but not the cents sign; write out the word: 52 cents.

Avoid putting numbers next to numbers in a sentence - separate the numbers with words if possible.

Telephone numbers: The standard formatting for phone numbers in university publications is 906-227-1234 and 800-227-1111.

Fractions: For fractions, write out the words: one-fourth, one-half in body copy; the fraction key is difficult to read and increases the potential for error. Use the fraction key for children's ages, charts and tables.

percent

Write out the word percent in body copy: 10 percent. Use the % sign in charts and tables.

post office guidelines

Automation is changing requirements for U.S. mail. To be read by machines, envelope information should be typed in all caps, with no punctuation except for the hyphen in the zip-plus-four code, leaving two spaces between the city and state abbreviation and the state abbreviation and the zip. For times when all caps seem to put a strain on the eyes, try using all caps in a smaller type size.

JIMMY CARTER
BIOLOGY DEPARTMENT
NORTHERN MICHIGAN UNIVERSITY
1401 PRESQUE ISLE AVENUE
MARQUETTE MI 49855-5309

punctuation

comma

Inc.: When used as part of a corporate name, Inc. should not be set off with commas.

Jr., Sr., III, etc.: Jr., Sr., III, etc. do not need to be set off by commas unless the sentence structure dictates that a comma be used after.

Queen Elizabeth II and the Prince of Wales were the guests of honor.
The decision will be made by Steven Morris Jr., Maya Salinger and Deanna Park.

month, date, year: When a phrase lists only a month and a year, do not separate the year with commas. When a phrase refers to the month, day and year, set off the year with commas.

January 1996 was a cold month; and January 18 was the coldest day of the month. May 5, 1999, was the day it rained; and On Tuesday, April 16, the committee elected Jane Doe.

serial comma: Do not use a comma after the final item in a series unless it is necessary for clarification.

colon

The most frequent use of a colon is at the end of a complete sentence to introduce a list or tabulation.

Capitalize the first word after a colon only if it is a proper noun or the start of a complete sentence. If the colon introduces a sentence fragment, do not capitalize the first letter.

The class was informed of all the professor's policies: Everyone, at every class session, must contribute to the general discussion.

The study covered three areas: nuclear waste, industrial waste and cancer cases.

hyphens

The easiest way to determine whether to hyphenate or where to break a word is to look it up in the dictionary. Avoid breaking words in a publication whenever possible. Instead, move the word to the next line.

Use hyphens to avoid ambiguity or to form a single idea from two or more words.

The president addressed a group of small-business owners. (By hyphenating small-business, the reader will not likely have to do a mental double take to try and figure out if the president was addressing owners of small businesses rather than a group of pint-sized business owners.)

Hyphens in compound modifiers: When a compound modifier (two or more words that express a single concept) precedes a noun, use hyphens to link all the words in the compound except the adverb very and all the adverbs that end in ly. A first-quarter touchdown, a full-time job, a very good day, her worst bad-hair day, a well-qualified candidate.

When the compound follows the noun, it is usually not necessary to hyphenate. Well-known biologist Bill Robinson ... but Bill Robinson, well known in the Upper Peninsula ...

Retain hyphenation when a compound occurs after a noun but is preceded by a form of the verb to be.

Bill Robinson is well-known ...

When a number and unit of measurement are joined adjectivally, they should be hyphenated as in 12-inch rule; nineteenth-century painter.

see also ethnic group designations

In general, punctuation goes inside the quotation marks.

"I've had it," she said. "I'm going to kill myself!"

quality

The word quality should be qualified. To write that the college has built a quality program leaves open the question of degree of quality. For clarity, use high-quality as an adjective.

residence hall

The preferred university style is to use residence hall rather than dormitory.

room numbers and building names

Use the room number and building names, as follows:

306 Cohodas Administrative Center on first mention; 306 Cohodas on subsequent mention.

Unless otherwise noted, if a building name is used without a room number, use the word Building, Hall or the equivalent on every reference and capitalize: Jamrich Hall; Services Building.

see also building names

semi

No hyphen is used after semi unless it is connected to a word beginning with i.
semiconducting
semi-intelligent

sexual stereotyping

Avoid all sexual stereotyping as in Today's secretary is a busy woman.

Unless specifically requested by the individual in question, use chair or chairperson rather than chairman or chairwoman.

Use he or she or, the generic pronoun they.

Avoid terms such as maid service (make it housekeeping service); salesmanship (change to effective selling).

When impossible to change, use the slash method, such as foreman/forewoman (but why not supervisor).

Married Student Housing: Avoid using this term. Use university apartments instead.

spacing

Single space between sentences. The double-spacing habit is a throwback to the old days when each letter on the typewriter was the same width; now most type is wider or smaller. Double-spacing also makes for strange line lengths in justified copy.

specialized language

Avoid using jargon or specialized language in university publications. Using specialized language is only appropriate when your audience is made up experts in your field. If you simply can't avoid using specialized terms or language, include a brief explanation to accommodate the varying knowledge levels of your audience.

spelling (and other words that might give you grief)

Watch out for these pesky, easy to confuse words. When in doubt, there's no substitute for a good dictionary. Communications and Marketing recommends Merriam Webster's Collegiate Dictionary, Tenth Edition.

accept/except: Accept is a verb meaning "to receive willingly." Except is a preposition meaning "excluding." I will accept all the nominations except the last one.

advice/advise: Advice is a noun meaning "guidance." Advise is a verb meaning "to counsel" We advised him to seek advice from a college counselor.

alot/a lot/allot: There is no such word as alot; use a lot. Allot means "to distribute or to assign as a share or portion. There were a lot of people at today's seminar. I will allot each farmer ten magic beans.

all most /almost: There is no such phrase as all most. Use almost.

all ready/already: All ready, an adjective, means "completely." Already, an adverb, means "before" or "previously." I already told you that I am all ready to leave for my vacation.

all right/alright: There is no such word as alright. Use all right.

among/between: Use among for three or more items; use between with two. The tasks were divided among the ten committee members. Park your car between these two posts.

anxious/eager: Anxious means uneasy; eager means enthusiastic.

any more/anymore: Any more refers to a lack of quantity. Anymore is properly used as a statement about change in a previous condition or activity. Sally doesn't have any more candy. I guess it doesn't matter anymore.

any one/anyone: Any one refers to a member of a group. Anyone means any person at all. Anyone can purchase any one of the paintings from the show.

bad/badly: Bad is the adjective form; badly is the adverb. The bad wound healed badly.

bring/take: Bring means "to carry to a nearer place from a more distant one." Take means the opposite: "To carry to a more distant place from a nearer one." Bring that file over here. Take this package to the post office.

cite/sight/site: Cite is a verb meaning "to refer to." Site, a noun, is the ability to see or something that is seen. Site, a noun, means a location. Remember to cite your sources. He lost his sight when he was five. The vacant lot will be the site of the new parking lot.

classwork: Classwork is one word.

Colombia/Columbia: Colombia (the country); Columbia (the river); Pre-Columbian (before Columbus)

complement/compliment: Complement is something that fills up, makes whole or brings to perfection. Compliment means praise - an expression of esteem, respect, affection or admiration. The ship has a complement of 20 sailors and 5 officers. His tie complements his shirt. Supervisors should always compliment their employees on a job well done.

comprise/compose: Comprise means to include or encompass; compose means to make up or put together. The whole comprises the parts; the parts compose the whole. The seminars may comprise undergraduate and graduate students, but the seminar is composed of students.

convince/persuade : Convince has a meaning distinct from persuade and should be followed by of or that, never to.) Convince means "to demonstrate or prove." Persuade means "to advice or urge." John convinced his boss that he arrived on time by showing her his time card. The doctor persuaded Jane to start physical therapy.

course work: Course work is two words.

disc/disk: Compact disc spelled with a c. Computer disk spelled with a k.

ensure/insure: The dictionary says these two are synonyms with each other and with guarantee, assure and secure. But only insure can be used with anything pertaining to insurance. It's less confusing for readers to use ensure for non-insurance matters and insure for insurance.)

every one/everyone: Every one refers to every single person or thing. Everyone means "all the people." The raccoon ate every one of the ears of corn. Is everyone ready?

farther/further: Farther refers to additional distance. Further refers to additional time, quantity or extent. As we drove farther into the desert, I told Dennis that I did not want to discuss our lack of water any further.

fewer/less: Use less for a single quantity or mass or bulk amount. Use fewer for items that can be counted. The building has less floor space, yet it contains no fewer than 100 classrooms. Many worked in our office for less than three years. [Here, even though a number is used, the thought is of a single quantity. The sentence refers to a single period of time, not individual years.]

foreword/forward: A brief introduction in a publication (usually written by someone other than the author and used only in lengthy publications) is called a foreword, not a forward.

freelance: Do not use a hyphen.

full-time/full time: He has a full-time job. He works full time.

Fund raising/fund-raising/fund-raiser/fund raiser: Fund raising is two words when used as an activity. Fund raising is difficult.

Fund-raising with a hyphen when used as a modifier. They planned a fund-raising campaign.

Fund-raiser with a hyphen to identify the person raising funds. A fund-raiser was hired.

Fund raiser when fund modifies the word raiser. A fund raiser was held in the university center.

irregardless: There is no such word. Regardless of what many people believe, there is really no such word.

it's: This is the contraction for it is or it has. It's not uncommon for this word to be used incorrectly as the possessive.

its: This is the possessive. The group lost its president.

lay/lie: Lay is transitive verb meaning "to put or place." Its principal parts are lay, laid, laid. Lie is an intransitive verb meaning "to recline or rest in a flat position." Its principal parts are lie, lay, lain. Do you need to lie down? Where did I lay those leather gloves?

memento/momento : Momento is the Spanish word for moment; memento is the correct word for a token of remembrance.

more than/over: When referring to something that can be counted, use more rather than over. More than three thousand people attended the reunion. Andy is over six feet tall.

non-profit: hyphenate

OK/Okay: Either spelling is OK, but O.K. is not okay.

part-time/part time: She has a part-time job. She works part time.

passed/past: Passed is the past tense of the verb "to pass." Thus it means "went by" or "received a passing grade." Past means "of a former time" or "beyond in time or position." She passed her test. He passed the car driven by our past president. The accident occurred just past the new entrance ramp.

pastimes: Spelled with one s.

phonathon: Phonathon is spelled with an a, as in a marathon or a walkathon.

principal/principle: Principal is a noun meaning "the head of a school" or "a sum of money." It is also an adjective meaning "first in importance." Principle is a noun meaning "a basic truth or standard." The principal asked the school board, "Do we have the principal to rebuild the science building?" My principal reason for leaving home was that I disagreed with my stepfather's principles of discipline.

roommate: Spelled with two m's

till, until: 'Til is for poetry. Use until in body text.

tortuous/torturous: Tortuous is an adjective meaning "winding or marked by repeated twists, bends or turns." It also means "marked by devious tactics, crooked, tricky." Torturous is an adjective meaning "causing torture" and "describing something that is cruelly painful." She had to take a tortuous route through the Alps. He survived the torturous existence of the concentration camp.

title/entitle: Entitle means "to give title to"; title means "to provide a title" or "call by a title." The author entitled the book last week; the book, titled How to Write Well is available at the bookstore.

that/which: There is a difference between that and which. Use that for restrictive clauses - clauses that are essential to the meaning of a sentence. Use which for nonrestrictive clauses - clauses that, if removed, would not change the meaning of a sentence. Set off the nonrestrictive clauses with commas. (If a sentence contains two thats, and the reader might be confused, it's all right to substitute a which for one of the thats.) The book that she wanted was not in the library. The books, which are on the kitchen table, are overdue at the library.

theatre/theater: A theatre is a place you go to see a play. A theater is a place you go to see a movie. Theatre when referring to a live performance. Theater when referring to a film or cinema. Theater major is the proper reference for the NMU program.

under way: Under way is two words in virtually all uses. The only time it is one word is when used as an adjective before a noun in a nautical sense, as in an underway flotilla. Construction of the Seaborg Complex is under way.

vice president: no hyphen

vita/vitae: Vita is singular; vitae is plural. However, use curriculum vitae for the singular form, curricula vitae for the plural.

well-known: For most uses, use a hyphen.

see also punctuation, hyphens

who/whom: Who relates to whom in the same way he or she relates to him or her. Who is the subject and would match he or she; whom is the object and would match him or her.

As Theodore Bernstein wrote in The Careful Writer, an easy way to determine which to use is to turn a clause into a sentence. Alice, who had been with the university for thirty years, was eligible for retirement [She (not Her) had been with the university for thirty years.] Whom should I ask? [Should I ask her? (not Should I ask she?)]

who's/whose: Who's is a contraction of "who is." Whose is a possessive pronoun. Who's going to Homecoming? Whose cell phone is this?

worldwide: Worldwide is one word but World Wide Web

your/you're: Your is a possessive pronoun; you're is a contraction of "you are." Your dog has won first prize. You're the best teacher I've ever had.

who/that: Far too often we hear or read, He was a person that ... What is needed here is the personal pronoun. He is a person who ... She is a Michigander who ... He is an alum who ...

states

There are three ways to handle states. When referring to a state by itself, as in Everyone likes the scenery in Michigan, spell it out. When a city name accompanies the state, use the standard, Associated Press abbreviation as in, Susie was born in Wichita, Kan. (see list below). Only when giving a specific address that might be used on an envelope should you use the postal code abbreviation and ZIP without a comma: Send your ideas to Communications and Marketing, Northern Michigan University, 1401 Presque Isle Ave., Marquette, MI 49845.

AL/Ala. FL/Fla. KY/Ky. MT/Mont. OH/Ohio UT/Utah
AK/Alaska GA/Ga. LA/La. NE/Neb. OK/Okla. VT/Vt.
AZ/Ariz. HI/Hawaii ME/Maine NV/Nev. OR/Ore. VA/Va.
AR/Ark. ID/Idaho MD/Md. NH/N.H. PA/Pa. WA/Wash.
CA/Calif. ID/Idaho MA/Mass. NJ/N.J. RI/R.I. WV/W.Va.
CO/Colo. IL/Ill. MI/Mich. NM/N.M. SC/S.C. WI/Wis.
CT/Conn. IN/Ind. MN/Minn. NY/N.Y. SD/S.D. WY/Wyo.
DE/Del. IA/Iowa MS/Miss. NC/N.C. TN/Tenn.  
DC/D.C. KS/Kan. MO/Mo. ND/N.D. TX/Texas  

student loans

The names of some student loan programs have changed in the recent past. The Stafford Loan is now the Federal Stafford Loan. The Perkins Loan is now the Federal Perkins Loan.

teaching assistant/graduate assistant

teaching assistant and graduate assistant on first reference; TA and GA - caps, no periods after that.

telephone numbers

see numbers

time of day

When possible, drop p.m. or a.m. rather than repeat it. Student orientation will be from 8:30-10:30 a.m.

To avoid confusion, use noon and midnight rather than 12:00 p.m. and 12:00 a.m. I thought they wanted to meet us at midnight, but they really wanted to meet us at noon.

titles

courtesy titles: Except in very formal communications and obituaries, courtesy titles such as Mr., Mrs., Ms., and Dr. are not used.

professional and academic titles: Professional and academic titles are capitalized when they immediately precede names and are used as part of the names. Dean Jeanne DuBois said . Associate Professor Hans Ringger said .

Titles are lowercased if they follow names or are used to help describe or identify people further. Jill Johnson, professor of history, . Well-known professor of history, Jill Johnson, .

Also:
Instructor in, not instructor of
Professor emeritus, not emeritus professor
Professor of, not professor in-but, professorship in
Research associate in, not research associate of

It is redundant to refer to someone as, for example, Dr. John Doe, Ph.D. For university publications, the preferred style is to use the academic degree designation rather than the courtesy title as in John Doe, Ph.D. and Jane Doe, Ed.D.

When the title includes the specific name of an academic or administrative unit, the name of the unit is capitalized. Sara Steemer, director of the Seaborg Center, . Phillip Powers, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, .

referencing , in body text: First and last names are used when referencing a person for the first time in an article; the last name alone is used on subsequent references.

Use the Rev. before a name on the first reference.

The Honorable should only be used as part of the title when the name is in a formal list, or when addressing an envelope.

vice president: No hyphen.

type style

The following are italicized:

book titles
brochures and pamphlets
movie titles
magazine and periodical titles
newspaper names
long poems
plays
paintings, drawings, sculpture, works of art
long musical compositions
television and radio programs (continuing series)

The following should be in quotation marks:

direct quotes
song titles
short poems
essays
television and radio programs (individual episodes)
short story titles
parts of books (chapters or sections)
conference titles

university publications: Italicize the names of university publications that come out on a regular basis such as Campus, Horizons and Horizons Extra.

unique

Avoid using the term unique as a descriptor - nothing is. Opt instead for terms such as individual, uncommon, special, rare, etc.

United States/U.S.

Spell out when used as a noun; abbreviate when used as an adjective. After their move, they spent a lot of time adjusting to the United States. U.S. policy in the Europe was the topic of the discussion.

university-wide

Hyphenate university-wide, but statewide, nationwide and just about every other "-wide" is spelled solid.

other terms specific to Northern

advanced placement, not advance placement
Cashier/Ticket Office, not Cashier's Office
Registrar's Office, not Registrars' Office
President's Council (but against the rules, Presidents Club)

Bibliography

Goldstein, Norm, ed. The Associated Press Stylebook and Libel Manual. New York:          The Associated Press, 1998.

Hale, Constance, ed. Wired Style: Principles of Usage in the Digital Age. Wired          Books, 1997.

Keene, Michael L., and Katherine H. Adams. The Easy Access Handbook: A         Writer's Guide and Reference. Mountain View, CA: Mayfield Publishing, 1995.

Merriam Webster's Collegiate Dictionary, Tenth Edition. Springfield, MA: Merriam        Webster, 1996.