Frequent questions arise about the words listed here, but for general spelling guidance, consult Webster’s Eleventh Collegiate Dictionary.
adviser, not advisor
It’s University style and the first listing in Webster’s.
Don’t use them in University publications, except for theatre, which should be spelled as shown to conform to University style.
Capital can refer to several things, including (1) a city serving as a seat of government; (2) net worth; (3) something that is serious or important; and (4) a style of alphabet letter.
Capitol refers to a building or group of buildings in which the functions of the state legislative government are carried out. When capped, it refers to the building in Washington, D.C., where the U.S. Congress meets. Capitol Hill refers to the legislative branch of the U.S. government.
Use this spelling except for Palmer Museum of Art exhibition catalogs.
It’s Centre County; Pennsylvania Centre Stage; Centre Hall (the town); Centre Halls (residence halls); but the Center for the Performing Arts; Center for Counseling and Psychological Services; the Center for Women Students; the Hetzel Union Center for Arts and Crafts. For names of other centers, see the faculty/staff phone directory.
class of …/Class of …
Peter Ford was a member of the class of 1930.
Maria Escobar chaired the Class of 1950 Gift Campaign.
Be aware of the difference between Columbia (the school) and Colombia (the country). Also, it’s pre-Columbian art (prior to Columbus’ 1492 voyage).
company names, abbreviations with
Abbreviations such as Bros., Co., Corp., Inc., Ltd., and & are commonly used in names of firms. In straight text it is best to spell the name in its full form, butInc. or Ltd. is usually dropped:
A. G. Becker and Company
Kyle Publishing Company
In notes, bibliographies, lists, etc., the abbreviations above may be freely (if consistently) used:
Ginn & Co.
Norfolk & Western Railroad
Great Lakes Dredge & Dock Co.
Course work is two words.
Data is plural; datum is singular
University style follows Webster’s, which lists it as one word.
ensure or insure
The dictionary says these two are synonymous with each other and withguarantee, assure, and secure. But only insure can be used with anything pertaining to insurance. It’s less confusing for readers to use ensure in noninsurance matters and insure for insurance.
Spell as such.
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. It’s easy to remember if you think about what it is—a few words before the main text.
National Institutes of Health
Don’t forget the s.
Use p. to abbreviate page; pp. to abbreviate pages.
When referring to the volume number of a publication, use vol. (do not cap).
plurals of names
Make a plural out of a name by adding s or es—no apostrophe.
After trying to keep up with the Joneses, we decided to settle for running slightly behind the Smiths.
Make singular nouns possessive by adding ’s and make plural nouns possessive by adding only an apostrophe.
The pigeon’s wing appeared to be broken.
The pigeons’ refuge was a small ledge that was part of the stone work on the old bank building.
When a plural noun ending in s is more descriptive than possessive, it is permissible to omit the apostrophe. (This is University style, not Chicago Manualstyle.)
She looked forward to attending the Girls Volleyball Sports Camp. West Texas State University began as a teachers college.
possessives of singular and proper nouns that end in s
If a singular noun ends in an s, add only an apostrophe to make it possessive. Use the same rule for names. (This is counter to Chicago Manual style.)
Every space was empty in the Beaver campus’ parking lot.
Sherlock Holmes’reasoning abilities did not fail him.
proper nouns as adjectives
Generally, when a proper noun is used, it is spelled out. When a proper noun or phrase is used as an adjective, it may be abbreviated.
After their move, they spent a lot of time adjusting to the United States. (United States is noun.)
U.S. policy in Europe was the topic of discussion. (U.S. is adjective.)
USA, however, when used has no periods.
Use two acute accent marks, one on each e. This is the spelling that is listed first in Webster’s Eleventh. It also is University style.
“Saint” names and prefixes to geographic names
Place names beginning with Saint or Sainte should be spelled out in full. (In French “Saint” names, the Saint is almost always hyphenated.)
The conference is scheduled for August in Saint Louis, Missouri.
When Saint is part of a personal name, the named person’s preference should be followed.
Ruth St. Denis danced to the music of Camille Saint-Saëns.
Double-check the names of universities, hospitals, and churches with Saint in their names:
Saint John’s University is in Minnesota, but St. John’s University is in New York.
Other prefixes of most geographic names should be spelled out:
Fort Wayne; San Francisco; Port Arthur
University style says spell this one tre unless it’s part of a name that’s spelled ter.
Implementation of the new policy is under way.
U.S. News & World Report
Note the ampersand.
Vita is singular; vitae is plural. However, use curriculum vitae for the singular form, curricula vitae for the plural. See Webster’s.