Style Guide

About Plymouth State University Style

To help achieve consistency in its Web and print communications, PSU follows The Chicago Manual of Style*. The Plymouth State University Style Guide is intended to be a quick reference for common style questions as well as for style guidelines that are specific to Plymouth State University. Written communication is dynamic and continually evolving; therefore, this guide is subject to periodic updating.

If you have any questions about this guide, or about The Chicago Manual of Style guidelines, please contact MCCS for more information.

*For news releases, PSU follows Associated Press (AP) style.

PSU Usage


Choose “a” or “an” based on the sound of the following word or acronym. Use “a” before consonant sounds (e.g., a one-time event, a historical novel); use “an” before vowel sounds (e.g., an hour before we leave, an NCATE-accredited institution). In American English, use “a” before a pronounced “h” (e.g., a hotel; a historic occasion) and “an” before a silent “h” (e.g., an honor).


  • Organization names: use the full name, followed by abbreviation in parentheses on first reference. Use the abbreviation on second and subsequent references. For more, see Chicago Manual of Style, 16th edition,3.
  • Note: some organizations or facilities are known primarily by the initials (e.g., IBM, 3M, HUB, D&M). If the meaning will be clear to the reader, it is not necessary to spell out the full name on first use. Abbreviated suffixes (e.g., Co., Corp., Ltd., Inc.) may be used on first reference in running text or for clarity but usually are not necessary.
  • Do not use periods in abbreviations. (Exceptions: m., p.m., Dr., Mr., Ms., Mrs., Jr., Sr.)
  • Prefixes of geographic names: do not abbreviate (e.g., Fort Wayne, Saint Cloud, Mount Washington)
  • See also: Plymouth State University and PSU.
  • See also: United States

academic departments, centers, and programs
At PSU, most full formal department names begin “Department of” and are capitalized. In running text, programs, fields, and informal department names are lowercased, except for proper nouns. Example: Department of Art, art department, art history program, the social science and English departments.

academic titles
Use “professor” for faculty members who are professors, associate professors, and assistant professors. Capitalize when used before the name in running text (e.g., Professor of English Robin DeRosa). Lowercase when used after the name in running text (e.g., Heather Doherty, professor of biology). See also teaching lecturer.

a cappella
A cappella means without instrumental accompaniment. This Italian term should appear in italics. Do not capitalize except at the beginning of a sentence. (e.g., Vocal Order and Mixed Emotions are PSU’s a cappella singing groups.)

accent marks
Follow the first listing in Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary (11th edition): cliché, protégé(e), résumé.

Do not use periods for acronyms. On first reference, spell out the full name if it will be unfamiliar to the intended audience and follow with the acronym in parentheses.

Active Living, Learning, and Wellness (ALLWell) Center
Not Center for Active Living, Learning, and Wellness. Use full name on first mention, and ALLWell Center or ALLWell for subsequent mentions.


  • In running text, use commas to set off the individual elements in addresses or place names (think of where the line breaks would be if the address were in block format).
  • No comma is used between the street name and an abbreviation such as NW or between the state and the zip/postal code.
  • The correct order for PSU addresses is: department name, mail stop code (e.g., MSC 24), Plymouth State University, 17 High Street, Plymouth, NH 03264-1595. The mail stop code must follow the department name, not the University’s street address.
  • Do not use Plymouth State University, Plymouth, NH 03264-1595 without the street address for mailing or return addresses. The US Postal Service requires that we always use the 17 High Street address.

NOTE: For optimal automatic character recognition, the US Postal Service’s official recommendation is to use all upper case block letters with appropriate formats and abbreviations, and leave out all punctuation except for the hyphen in the ZIP+4 code. The recommendation applies only to the envelope, mailing label, or exterior of the item to be mailed, i.e., the area that the USPS machines read.

adjunct faculty member (term no longer used—see “teaching lecturer”)
Now referred to as teaching lecturers, if they teach undergraduate courses. If they teach graduate courses, they should be referred to as “faculty member” or “member of the faculty.”

administrative departments
Formal names of departments should be capitalized. Informal references to departments and programs should be lowercased. (e.g., For more information, contact Undergraduate Admissions. She stopped by admissions.)

The formal name is Undergraduate Admissions.

Not adviser.

affect, effect
Affect is a verb meaning “to influence” or “to make an impact upon” (e.g., The Internet affects people’s attention spans.) or a noun describing a person’s emotional demeanor (e.g., He had a flattened affect.). Effect is a noun meaning the result that follows a cause (e.g., The Internet’s effects can also be positive.); as a verb, it means to bring about or execute some action or result (e.g., As president, he will effect change.).

Use numerals (only whole numbers—no fractions or decimals): His daughter is 3 years old.
When following a name, separate by a comma, e.g., John’s children are Ben, 3; Phil, 5; and Betsy, 8.
Ages expressed as adjectives before a noun or as substitutes for nouns use hyphens, e.g., John’s oldest child is an 8-year-old (noun). He also has a 3-year-old son (adjective).

alma mater
Latin for “fostering mother,” this term means both the educational institution from which one has graduated, and the official song of an educational institution. Lowercase, no italics.

alumna, alumnae, alumni, alumnus
The graduates of an academic institution.
Alumna = individual female graduate

Alumnus = individual male graduate

Alumnae = a group of two or more female graduates

Alumni = a group of two or more male, or mixed male and female graduates

Note: PSU does not use the informal “alum” in its communications.

alumni association
Plymouth State University Alumni Association on first reference; PSUAA or PSU Alumni Association on subsequent references.

a.m., p.m.
See times.

Use “among” when three or more objects or parties are involved; use “between” when there are just two.

Avoid using in running text. Acceptable as a design element and in proper names: Crate & Barrel, Draper & Maynard Building.

An event can’t be described as “annual” until it takes place for two consecutive years. For the first year, use “first.”


  • Apostrophes are used to indicate possessive nouns and class years.
  • An apostrophe looks like the number nine (’), not like the number six (‘) which is an opening single quotation mark.
  • For possessives, use an apostrophe before the “s” in singular nouns that do not end in “s.” Use it after the “s” in plural nouns or in singular nouns (including proper nouns) ending in “s.”
  • Apostrophes are not used with attributive nouns (e.g., contributors notes, teachers union, Graduates Day, Department of Veterans Affairs).
  • Use an apostrophe (not an opening single quotation mark or a “straight quote”) before the class year after the name of an alumna or alumnus: Janet Smith ’98 (not ‘79 or ’79).
  • area codes: see telephone numbers
  • To make an apostrophe in MS Word for Windows, hold down the CTRL key and hit the quote key twice. On a Mac, press Shift/Option and hit the quote key. See also: prime, double prime, and quotation marks.

As is a conjunction linking two clauses (don’t do as I do). Like is a preposition introducing a comparison (he dances like a chicken). Don’t substitute “as” for “because.”

See ensure.

All PSU athletic teams are known as Panthers. Sports played by both sexes are identified as “men’s” or “women’s” (e.g., men’s basketball team, women’s basketball team). Terms like “Lady Panthers” are not used. For the department, use Department of Athletics on first reference and “Athletics” on subsequent references. “Athletic” is an adjective that describes someone with the characteristics of an athlete. “Athletics” is a noun referring to sports and sports programs of all kinds.

attributive noun
An attributive noun does not take an apostrophe (e.g., contributors notes, teachers union, Seniors Day, Department of Veterans Affairs).

Capitalize full, proper names; otherwise, use lowercase.

Use “Belknap Residence Hall” on first reference, Belknap on subsequent references. 

bias-free content
Plymouth State University aspires to bias-free content in all its publications. Examples include “first-year” instead of “freshman,” and “chair” instead of “chairman” or “chairperson.” Pay attention to your word choice in order to avoid unintentional bias. See also: gender-neutral language and ethnic and racial designations.

Use “between” when two objects or parties are involved; use “among” for three or more.

Use “Blair Residence Hall” on first reference, Blair on subsequent references.

Board of Trustees
Capitalize when used as a proper noun—the University System of New Hampshire Board of Trustees. When used as a generic term, lowercase.

Boyd Science Center
Use “Boyd Science Center” on first reference, Boyd on subsequent references or with room numbers (e.g., Boyd 001).

Use to add explanations or corrections to quoted material or to indicate that part of the quote has been contracted. Brackets can also be used as parentheses within existing parentheses. Use the Latin word sic in brackets and italics to indicate an error in quoted material that is being reproduced exactly (e.g., “between [sic] three friends.”

building names
Capitalize the proper name of buildings, including the word “building” if it is an integral part of the proper name. The following is a list of all the buildings on the Plymouth State University campus. More information on these buildings is found in their separate entries in the PSU Style Guide.

Formal Name Informal Name or Abbreviation
Active Living, Learning, and Wellness North ALLWell North
Belknap Residence Hall Belknap
Blair Residence Hall Blair
Boyd Science Center Boyd
Centre Lodge Centre Lodge
Center for Young Children and Families CYCF
Draper & Maynard Building D&M, D&M Building
Enterprise Center at Plymouth ECP
Ellen Reed House Ellen Reed
Grafton Residence Hall Grafton
Harold E. Hyde Hall Hyde
Hartman Union Building HUB, the HUB
Health Services Building Health Services
Herbert H. Lamson Library and Learning Commons Lamson Library and Learning Commons
Highland Hall Highland
Holmes House Holmes House
Hogan House Hogan House
Ice Arena and Eugene and Joan Savage Welcome Center Ice Arena and Welcome Center
Kelly House Kelly House, Human Resources
Langdon Woods Residential Complex Langdon Woods
Mary Lyon Residence Hall Mary Lyon (Note: no final “s”)
Mary Taylor House Mary Taylor
Memorial Hall Memorial
Plymouth State University Counseling Center Counseling Center or PSU Counseling Center
Museum of the White Mountains the museum, MWM
Non-Traditional Student Apartments Non-Traditional Student Apartments
Pemigewasset Residence Hall Pemi Hall
Physical Education Center PE Center (not “Field House”)
Physical Plant Building Physical Plant
President’s House President’s House
Prospect Dining Hall Prospect
Robert Frost House Frost House
Rounds Hall Rounds
Russell House Russell House
Samuel Read Hall Building Hall, Hall Building
Silver Center for the Arts Silver Center, Silver
Geneva Smith Residence Hall Smith
Guy E. Speare Administration Building Speare
BFA Art Studio 25 Highland Avenue*

*For maps and directions, use “Nursing Laboratory (14 Merrill Street)” and “BFA Art Studio (25 Highland Avenue)” for proper wayfinding/emergency response purposes.

bullet points
See lists.

campus names
This is a list of important locations on campus that are not separate buildings:

Formal Name Informal Name, Location
Alumni Green Alumni Green, grassy area in front of the HUB
Charles L. Currier Memorial Field Currier Field, football field at the PE Center
Commons Café Lamson Café, in Lamson Library and Learning Commons
D&M Park D&M Park, softball field at the PE Center
Field House Field House, at the PE Center
Frost Commons Frost Commons, in Frost House
Hanaway Rink Hanaway Rink, in Ice Arena and Savage Welcome Center
Heritage Commons Heritage, in Samuel Read Hall Building
John C. Foley Gymnasium Foley Gym
Judd Gregg Meteorology Institute meteorology, in Boyd Science Center
The Learning Commons at Lamson Library Learning Commons, in Lamson Library
Nick Vailas Performance Center strength and conditioning room, at the PE Center
Panther Baseball Field Panther Field, baseball field at the PE Center
Paul E. Arold Field Arold Field, at the PE Center
Pawsway Pawsway, in the HUB
Prospect Dining Hall Prospect, on High Street
PSU Natatorium Swimming pool or pool, at the PE Center
Todd Trevorrow Tower Room Tower Room, in Lamson Library
Union Grille The Grille, HUB snack bar
The Woods Café The café, in Langdon Woods

Not campus wide or campus-wide.


  • In running text: Avoid the unnecessary use of capitalization; when in doubt, lowercase. Capital letters indicate proper names. In some instances, designers may employ all capital letters or initial caps for typographical reasons at their discretion.
  • In titles and headlines: Capitalize all words except articles, conjunctions, and prepositions unless they are the first or last word (e.g., The Rain in Spain Stays Mainly on the Plain).
  • The: According to The Chicago Manual of Style, the word “the” in the titles of periodicals (journals, magazines, and newspapers) should appear lowercased (unless it appears at the beginning of a sentence) and set in Roman. Example: I love reading the New Yorker. The New Yorker’s cartoons are hilarious.

Note that books (for example, The Chicago Manual of Style) are not subject to this rule.

  • Departments and offices: capitalize the proper name of a department or office (e.g., Department of Biological Sciences, Office of the Registrar) but lowercase when referring to a field of study or when using an informal reference (e.g., biology department, registrar’s office)
  • Titles: Capitalize formal academic titles when used before the name; lowercase after the name. (e.g., Professor of Business Michael Buffett, but Michael Buffett, professor of business).
  • For particular words or phrases not found in the PSU Style Guide, refer to The Chicago Manual of Style (16th edition) or Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary (11th edition)

Not catalogue.

Center for Active Living and Healthy Communities
Use full name on first mention; on subsequent mentions, use “CALHC”—not “the CALHC” and not “the Center.”

Center for Business and Community Partnerships
Use full name on first mention; on subsequent mentions, use “CBCP”—not “the CBCP” and not “the Center.”

Center for Young Children and Families
Use “Center for Young Children and Families” on first reference, CYCF on subsequent references. Do not use “Development Center,” “Family Center,” or “Child Care Center.”

Center for the Environment
Use full name on first mention; on subsequent mentions, use “CFE”—not “the CFE” and not “the Center.”

Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning
Use full name on first mention; on subsequent mentions, use “CETL.”

Centre Lodge
There is no abbreviation for Centre Lodge.

Particular centuries are spelled out and lowercased. Ex., the twenty-first century, the eighth and ninth centuries.

The head of an academic department or committee. Do not capitalize. Used as both a verb and a noun, chair is widely regarded as the best gender-neutral choice. 

city, state
In running text, use a comma after the city name and abbreviate the state name (according to the guidelines under states in the PSU Style Guide), followed by another comma unless at the end of a sentence or in a dateline.

The university is located in Plymouth, NH, just off I-93.

Send your application form to Plymouth State University, 17 High St., Plymouth, NH 03264-1595

class of
Do not capitalize.

class year
The class year appears after the names of alumni on first reference in running text and always in lists. Use an apostrophe before the two-digit year. Do not use parentheses. Using anticipated class years for current students is also acceptable. For graduate alumni, use the degree abbreviation (G for master’s degrees, CAGS, EdD, etc.) after the two-digit year.

Fred Smith ’99; Jessica Dow ’03, ’04MBA.

For possessives, rephrase to avoid making a class year possessive. See also apostrophe.

Cluster, Clusters
When referring to Integrated Clusters, “Cluster” and “Clusters” are capitalized if used independently.

clock tower
Refers to the clock and tower on Rounds Hall. Do not capitalize.

college, university

  • The term “college” is no longer used for Plymouth State except when referring to the historical period when the institution was known by that name. See also: Plymouth State University.
  • Refer to other institutions by their full name (the University of New Hampshire, Keene State College, Franklin Pierce College, and Argosy University of Sarasota) on first reference and by an abbreviation or shortened version of the name on subsequent references; (UNH; Keene State, KSC; Franklin Pierce, Argosy).

Plymouth State University is home to the College of Arts and Sciences (CAS), the College of Business Administration (CoBA), and the College of Education, Health, and Human Services (CEHHS). Lowercase the “c” in “college” or “colleges” when referring to any or all of these colleges in general.

Use a colon to introduce or direct attention to what comes after it. Lowercase the first word after a colon when it occurs within a sentence.

  • PSU has four graduate terms: fall, winter, spring, and summer.

A colon can also be used instead of a period to introduce related sentences. Uppercase the first word of a complete sentence following a colon.

  • The president was faced with a choice: Should he eat lunch now? Or should he wait until his meeting with the prime minister was finished?

A colon is normally used after terms like “as follows,” “the following,” and similar expressions.

  • The steps are as follows: first, stand on one foot; second, hop up and down; third, pat your head while rubbing your stomach.

A colon is not used after “namely,” “including,” or similar expressions, or before a series introduced by a verb or a preposition.

  • There are three steps, namely, hopping on one foot, patting the head, and rubbing the stomach.
  • The requirements for this degree include core courses, component courses, and a capstone experience.

Do not use a colon in place of a semicolon. See also: semicolon and Chicago 6.54–6.58.

The Chicago Manual of Style recommends the serial comma (the comma before the conjunction in a list of three or more items). Likewise, in a series separated by semicolons, the list item before the conjunction should have a semicolon. Use commas between the city and state in running text but NOT in an address (see also city, state). Don’t use a comma before a suffix in a person’s name, such as “Jr.” or “Sr.” After a word or phrase contained in quotation marks, place the comma before the closing quotation mark, even if it is not part of the quoted material. See also: period.

Use “Commencement” when referring to the specific event. The proper name of an event should be capitalized. Use “graduation” or “graduate” to refer generally to the point where one receives a degree—do not capitalize “graduation.” (He graduated in 1993. We attended Commencement 1993.) See also: graduate.

compound words
PSU follows the spellings given in Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary (11th edition) and the principles outlined in The Chicago Manual of Style (16th edition).

comprise, compose
The whole comprises the parts; it is not comprised of the parts—it is composed of the parts.

  • The Cabinet comprises the president and all vice presidents.
  • The Cabinet is composed of the president and all vice presidents.
  • not The Cabinet is comprised of the president and all vice presidents.

course titles
For courses offered at PSU, use initial caps as for a book title: first and last words have initial caps; otherwise, articles, conjunctions, and prepositions do not. Do not enclose in quotation marks. Lowercase when referring generally to a course or type of course. (e.g., I signed up for Mathematics and the Humanities. I need to take an environmental science course.)

courtesy titles
University publications do not use the courtesy titles Mr., Ms., Mrs., or Miss. For both men and women, use first and last names on first reference, and last name on subsequent references. In cases where two or more people have the same last name, use both first and last names.

credits (academic)
The term “credit hours” is redundant; use “credits.”

cum laude
Means “with distinction;” italicize, lowercase.

em dash: — An em dash is the longer dash. It indicates a break in thought stronger than the break a comma offers. Use the longer dash, with no spaces before or after, in running text whenever a dash is called for.

Mac: To type an em dash, hold down the shift and option keys and press the minus key, to the right of the 0 key.
PC: Hold down control and alt, and press the minus sign on the number keypad.

En dash: – The en dash is longer than a hyphen; it is most commonly used between inclusive numbers (e.g., pp. 5–10, 1990–1995, 5–9 p.m.). Do not use spaces before or after the end dash. Do not use an en dash in place of a colon, comma, or em dash.

Mac: To type an en dash, hold down the option key and press the minus key, to the right of the 0 key.
PC: Hold down control and the minus sign on the number keypad.

Spell out the name of the month in full and use the numeral only, never ordinal abbreviations (e.g., January 1 not January 1st). Use the year only when necessary for clarity (January 1, 2007). In running text, the day of the week precedes the month (e.g., Monday, January 1). See also: lists, numbers.

Dean’s List
Capitalize and punctuate for a singular possessive.

These can be rendered as words (e.g., the seventies, the eighties, the nineties) or in numbers (the 1970s, the 1980s, the 1990s). Do not abbreviate with an apostrophe (e.g., not the ’70s, the ’80s, and the ’90s) except for class years. Decades refer to plural years; they are not possessive and therefore do not take an apostrophe before the final “s.”

Degrees should be capitalized when using the full, formal degree name (Master of Science, Bachelor of Fine Arts) but lowercased when used generally (e.g., He holds a master’s degree in electrical engineering.) Note that “Bachelor of” and “Master of” are not possessive. “Bachelor’s degree” and “master’s degree” are possessive (not plural).

Degrees should be abbreviated without periods (see Chicago 10.20). When following an individual’s name in running text, the degree is set off by commas before and after.

department names
See “academic departments, centers, and programs.”

The word “different” takes the preposition “from” not “than.” (e.g., You are different from me.)

Use “people with disabilities” rather than “disabled” or “handicapped” to emphasize the person over the disability. For events, the phrase “persons requiring additional assistance” covers everyone who might need an accommodation.

dormitory, dorm
PSU uses the term “residence hall.” This is capitalized as part of the proper name of an individual residence hall (see also: building names) and lowercased when used as a general reference. Dormitory or dorm may be used when discussing residence facilities at other institutions or in a very general sense.

Draper & Maynard Building
Use “Draper & Maynard Building” on first reference; D&M on subsequent references in running text. This is an exception to the usual rule on ampersands (see also: ampersand).

Capitalize only when referring to the proper name of the planet; lowercase in all other instances.

  • We live on Earth.
  • He dropped the body in the hole and covered it with earth.

A living-learning laboratory for students interested in learning about and sharing knowledge regarding sustainability efforts; located at the corner of High Street and Main Street, across from University Police.

See “affect, effect”

Means “for example” and is followed by a comma; often confused with i.e., which means “that is.”

Ellen Reed House
Home of the PSU English department faculty.

Three dots mark an ellipsis (or elision), the omission of a word or more from a quoted passage. Ellipsis points (or dots) appear on the line, like periods, rather than above it like multiplication dots. Spaces are used before and after the ellipsis (like a word); spaces are not used between the dots. Avoid using ellipses as a way of avoiding proper punctuation (especially common in electronic communication).

Not email, E-mail, or Email.

emerita, emeritae, emeriti, emeritus
An honorific bestowed on meritorious professors upon their retirement, and does not automatically apply to all retired faculty members. “Emeritus” is used for singular masculine and gender-neutral references. “Emeriti” is the masculine or gender-neutral plural. “Emerita” is the feminine singular, and “emeritae” is the feminine plural. The term can also be used to indicate former trustees or retired members of other important groups.

The word is always associated with the title, not the name, of a person. Example: Professor Emerita of Spanish Violet Smith.

ensure, insure, assure
“Ensure” means to guarantee. “Insure” means to establish a contract for insurance. “Assure” means to inform with the intent of removing doubt.

entitled vs. titled
These two words are commonly confused. When introducing the title of a work, use “titled.”

Example: His debut novel is a thriller titled A Walk in the Dark.

“Entitle” means to give a title to something, but it does not refer to the title itself. Example: “The author entitled her book after a common quote from her former teacher. Her book is titled, Did You Really Write This?’’

et al.
Abbreviation of et alia, meaning “and others.” Et al. is always followed by a period.

ethnic and racial designations
Avoid ethnic and racial designations unless they are truly germane to the topic. Do not hyphenate ethnic origin identifiers such as Italian American, Polish American, Japanese American. Use the preferred ethnic designations African American, Asian, Latino (or Latina) instead of other identifiers. Native American is preferable to American Indian. Lowercase “black” and “white” when used as ethnic or racial identifiers. When in doubt and if possible, in certain circumstances you might ask the individual or group being referenced for their preference. 

Eugene and Joan Savage Welcome Center
When referring just to the welcome center, use its full name as listed above on first mention, and “Savage Welcome Center” on subsequent mentions.

everybody, everyone
These pronouns take singular verbs; “they” or “their” are acceptable second references (“Would everyone please turn in their papers?”) to avoid the awkward “his or her.” However, it is preferable to rephrase (“Please turn in your papers.”).

Capitalize the proper names of recurring PSU events such as Homecoming and Family Celebration, Alumni Reunion Weekend, Commencement, and Convocation. Lowercase such terms as finals week or add/drop period.

exclamation point
These should be used sparingly in order to be effective. Never use multiple exclamation points. Exclamation points are placed inside the quotation marks only when they are part of the quotation itself; in all other instances, they go outside the quotation marks.

exhibit, exhibition
“Exhibit” is used as a verb or noun indicating an object on display or presented in evidence. An “exhibition” is a public showing, as of art or athletic skill.

  • The Gutenberg Bible is the best exhibit in the library.
  • The exhibition “Exhibitionists in Our Midst” is scheduled for January in the gallery.

ex officio
Means “by virtue or because of an office.” Do not hyphenate or italicize. Lowercase in running text.

Refers to the group of teaching professionals in an educational institution. Takes singular verbs:

The faculty accepts the resolution.

As a collective noun, “faculty” should be accompanied by “member” when referring to individuals:

She is a faculty member at PSU.
She is on faculty at PSU.

She is faculty at PSU.

Hyphenate before a name and when part of a formal title. Do not capitalize.

fall, fall semester
See seasons.

Lowercase (fax, not Fax, FAX, or facsimile) except at the beginning of a sentence or a stand-alone line:

  • Fax: (603) 555-5555

first semester, first-semester
Hyphenate only when used as an adjective. 

First-Year Experience
Capitalize when referring to the PSU program by name. Lowercase in all other instances. “First-year” is hyphenated here because it is a compound modifier.

first-year student(s)
A gender-neutral term used at PSU instead of “freshman” or “freshmen.”

foreign words and phrases
Italicize foreign words and phrases for all but the most familiar, and if necessary, follow with the English translation in parentheses.

forms and documents
Capitalize the proper names of university or government forms and documents; lowercase informal references.

For fractions and percentages, the verb agrees with the noun following “of” (e.g., Three-quarters of the apple was eaten. Two-thirds of the members are at a seminar today.)

freshman, freshmen
See first-year student(s).

full time, full-time
Hyphenate only when used as an adjective.

One word (not “fund raising”). The same applies to “fundraiser.”

gender-neutral language
Avoid gender-specific terms and titles when gender-neutral options are available. For instance: police officer, chair, supervisor, humanity, firefighter. Avoid superfluous adjectives (e.g., nurse, not male nurse). Use the same standards for men and women when deciding to mention personal data such as marital status or family situation, hair color, or clothing. Treat sports teams equally, alternating which gender is listed first. 

General Education
Capitalize when referring to the General Education program. Lowercase in other instances.

government agencies
Capitalize full proper names of agencies, departments, and offices (except for articles, prepositions, and conjunctions). Lowercase when making a general reference (e.g., NH Department of Motor Vehicles, the state motor vehicle department). See also: New Hampshire, NH and United States, US, USA.

See grades, grade point average.

grades, grade point average
Lowercase in running text. Abbreviate “grade point average” as GPA (no periods). Use GPA figures to at least one decimal place: 3.0, 2.75. No punctuation with letter grades (e.g., She received three As and one B.).

Use with “from” (e.g., He graduated from PSU.)

See Commencement.

graphic elements
Some PSU divisions, such as the Silver Center, have their own graphic elements in addition to the Plymouth State University logo. These graphic elements are to be used in a manner in keeping with the guidelines set out for use of the logo and according to best design practices as defined in PSU’s Visual Identity Guide. Graphic elements are never used as part of running text.

Grafton Residence Hall
Use “Grafton Residence Hall” on first reference, and “Grafton” subsequently.

See Samuel Read Hall Building.

Hanaway Rink at the PSU Ice Arena
When referring to the rink only, use the full name as listed above on the first mention. On subsequent mentions, use “Hanaway Rink.”

Harold E. Hyde Hall
Use “Hyde Hall” on first reference, and “Hyde” on subsequent reference and with room numbers.

Hartman Union Building
Use “Hartman Union Building” on first reference, and “the HUB” subsequently. Use “HUB” with room numbers (HUB 119). For programs or staff members associated with the HUB, use “Hartman Union” without “Building.”

he, him, his
Although these masculine personal pronouns have traditionally been used as gender-neutral pronouns, today they are considered sexist and should be avoided. Rephrase the sentence or replace the pronoun with an article to avoid a sexist construction. Use “him or her,” “hers or his” judiciously. Avoid “s/he” or “he/she.”

Capitalize all words except articles, prepositions, and conjunctions. No periods are necessary. In specific instances, the MCCS designers might use all caps or other design elements for typographical reasons at their discretion.

Herbert H. Lamson Library and Learning Commons
See “library”

Holmes House
The historic house across from Mary Lyon. Use “Holmes House” in all references.


An adverb meaning “in a hopeful manner.” It must modify a verb. Never use in writing to mean “I hope” or “It is to be hoped.”

The rules, suggestions for, and common uses of hyphens are too numerous to describe here. In general, use hyphens to join compound words, with compound modifiers before a noun (except adverbs ending in “ly”), or to aid with pronunciation (re-creation vs. recreation). A hyphen means “and” (e.g., blue-green sea, work-study student) whereas a slash means “or” (e.g., and/or). See also: dashes, slashes, and Chicago 7.77.

“I” is used as the subject of a sentence; “me” is used as the object. This is true whether used alone or in connection with another person (to check whether to use “I” or “me,” simply try the sentence without the name of the other person). Don’t over-correct by using “I” in all instances.

John and I went to town.
That ball belongs to Mary and me.

Me and John went to town.
Please come with Mary and I to the meeting.

ice arena
See Plymouth State University Ice Arena and Savage Welcome Center.

No periods necessary.

Means “that is.” Often confused with e.g., which means “for example.” i.e. is usually followed by a comma.

First initials of personal names are followed by a period and a space between initials (e.g., J. D. Salinger, I. M. Pei). Buildings, offices, forms, etc. known by their initials or partly by their initials do not require periods or spaces (e.g., PE Center, D&M Building, GPA, FAFSA).

in regard to
Not “in regards to.” It’s better to use “regarding” in most instances.

Used to describe someone who teaches at PSU but is not a professor of any level. An instructor can be an adjunct instructor or a contract faculty member. Do not use as a title, but as a descriptor (ex. He is an instructor in the English department.).

See ensure.

Integrated Clusters
The name of PSU’s learning model should be capitalized.

Capitalize this proper noun.

Use italics for non-English words and phrases, to emphasize a single word in running text, or as a design feature to set off a subhead. Also, titles of exhibitions, books, periodicals, pamphlets, proceedings, collections, newspapers, and sections of newspapers published separately (e.g., New York Times Book Review). Titles of articles or chapters within another publication appear in quotation marks. Italicize the names of ships but not the preceding abbreviations (e.g., USS Coral Sea). 

its, it’s
Like other possessive pronouns (his, hers, ours, theirs), “its” has no apostrophe. Like other contractions, “it’s” (a contraction of “it is”) does take an apostrophe.

Jr., Sr., III, Esq.
Use a period after these suffixes but no comma before (e.g., Martin Luther King Jr.). Suffixes like Jr., Sr., III (or other Roman numerals) are part of an individual’s name and should be used whenever the full name is used. “Esq.” is a courtesy suffix sometimes used by attorneys; use it only when other courtesy or degree suffixes are being used. “Esq.” can always be omitted.

Karl Drerup Art Gallery
Housed in the D&M Building (see Draper & Maynard Building). Use “Karl Drerup Art Gallery” on first reference, and “Drerup Gallery” on subsequent references.

Karl Drerup Art Gallery and Exhibitions Program
Housed in the D&M Building (see Draper & Maynard Building). Includes all campus exhibitions spaces, including the Drerup Gallery, Shoebox Gallery, Silver Center lobby, the Alumni Hall in Lamson Library, and the outdoor kiosks adjacent to Centre Lodge. References to exhibitions in these spaces should always include the phrase “Karl Drerup Art Gallery and Exhibitions Program” at least once.

Kelly House
Home of the Human Resources Office at 83 Langdon Street. Use “Kelly House” to indicate the physical building only. In all other cases, use “Human Resources Office” or “Human Resources.”

Lakes Region
Capitalize to indicate the specific region in New Hampshire; lowercase any other instances.

Lamson Library and Learning Commons
Use on first mention when referring to the library; use “Lamson Library” or “the library” on subsequent references.

Langdon Woods
Use “Langdon Woods Residential Complex” on first reference, and “Langdon Woods” subsequently.

Distinguish between a lecture’s title and its topic. Phrases such as “spoke on” or “spoke about” are followed by the topic of the lecture, which is lowercased. Titles of lectures, papers presented at conferences, chapters in books, and articles in journals are set in title style (see title style).

  • He spoke on the links between eggplant, bacteria, and urban planning.
  • She presented her paper “Whither Hogswallop? An Absurdist, Reductionist Paradigm” at the conference.

Acronym for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design. LEED is a US Green Building Council program that is the nationally-accepted benchmark for evaluating sustainable sites. Spell out on first reference, then follow with (LEED). In 2007, Langdon Woods Residential Complex received gold-level certification from the US Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) program.

Lamson Library and Learning Commons on first reference; Lamson or the library on subsequent references. Use “Herbert H. Lamson Library and Learning Commons” for formal invitations or occasions. Use “the Learning Commons” if referring only to that area.

Vertical lists are best introduced by a grammatically complete sentence (i.e., a sentence that is a sentence all by itself, without the help of the list) followed by a colon. Example:

The following list presents guidelines for using bullets:

  • No periods are required at the end of entries unless the entries are complete sentences, in which case periods are necessary at the end of each entry.
  • Each entry in a list (bulleted or numbered) begins with a capital letter only when the entry forms a complete sentence.
  • Items in a list should be syntactically similar.
  • If a list completes the sentence that introduces it, consider presenting the list in running text rather than vertically. If you must display the list in bulleted form, the entries should begin with lowercase letters, with commas or semicolons to separate each entry, and the last entry should end with a period.
  • Numbered lists should be used when the sequence or the hierarchy of the items matters or when the items will be referred to by number elsewhere in the text. Otherwise use bullets. (see Chicago Manual of Style 16th edition 6.121-6.126 for examples and further clarification.)
  • In lists or tables where space is an issue, certain rules can be changed:
    • Days of the week may be abbreviated to Mon., Tues., Wed., Thurs., Fri., Sat., Sun., or M, T, W, R, F, S, U.
    • Months may be abbreviated to Jan., Feb., March, April, May, June, July, Aug., Sept., Oct., Nov., Dec. or to numerals. When abbreviating to numerals, use the formula month/day/year (not day/month/year).
  • If a list item runs onto a second line (whether bulleted or numbered) the second line should align with the beginning of the text in the first line, not with the bullet.
  • If a list is within a paragraph (not broken out into a vertical list with bullets or numbers), list items should be separated by commas, including the list item before the final conjunction (see serial comma). If any list item contains a comma as part of its own text, then all list items should be separated by semicolons (see semicolon), following the same rules.

The Plymouth State University logo should appear on all PSU publications, according to the guidelines set out in the PSU logo style and usage guide available from Marketing Communications and Creative Services. The University seal may not be used in place of the logo. Divisions within the University may not have a separate logo to use in place of the PSU logo. See also graphic elements.

Mary Lyon
Use “Mary Lyon Residence Hall” on first reference, “Mary Lyon” on subsequent references. Note that there is no final “s” on Lyon.

To enroll in a degree program at an educational institution. Use with “at” (e.g., She matriculated at PSU.)

Memorial Hall
Use “Memorial Hall” in all references, except with room numbers (e.g., Memorial 201).

Months should be capitalized and spelled out in running text. See also: lists.

Mr., Mrs., Ms., Miss
See “courtesy titles.”

Museum of the White Mountains
Use full name on first mention, “the museum” on subsequent mentions.

PSU’s portal found at

Named Professorships
“Name” Distinguished Professorship and “Named” Distinguished Professor

Ex. Stevens-Bristow Distinguished Professorship
Stevens-Bristow Distinguished Professor + department rank if desired
(2007-2010) Dan Perkins is the Stevens-Bristow Distinguished Professor

New England
Capitalize the name of this region in all uses. Includes the states of Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Rhode Island.

New Hampshire, NH:
See “states” for usage rules. Use “NH” with state government departments, offices, or agencies rather than spelling out the full name of the state (e.g., NH Department of Education).

Should be contained within quotation marks between the first and last name.

North Country
Capitalize “North Country” when used as the name of the northern region of New Hampshire. See regions.

A nondegree student is not matriculated into a degree program. Lowercase.

Following the cue from Merriam-Webster’s dictionary, “nonprofit” is one word.

non-traditional student
This term refers to a university student who is older than 21 when he or she matriculates.

Non-Traditional Student Apartments
Use “Non-Traditional Student Apartments” for all written references.


Spell out whole numbers up to (and including) nine, and use numerals for the rest. Use a comma with numerals 1,000 and higher. Exceptions: school grades, ages (e.g., He has an 8-year-old in 3rd grade at Plymouth Elementary School.)

Ordinals: Spell out from one through nine, then use numerals with the appropriate ending (e.g., 21st, 35th). Do not use superscript. The concert is on January 12.

  • Incorrect: The concert is on January 12th.

Percentages: Percentages are always given in numerals.

Fractions should be spelled out when used on their own (e.g., two-thirds of an inch) but use numerals when used with a whole number (e.g., 5 1/2).

Money: Use numerals for money but spell out the words “million,” “billion,” etc.; spell out in quotations (e.g., “That car cost me a hundred dollars,” he said.)

See also dates, telephone numbers, times.

off campus, off-campus
Hyphenate only when used as an adjective.

Online is one word in all instances.

Operating Staff, OS
“Operating staff” refers to the group of status employees so categorized by USNH employment policies. Use “operating staff” for the group; “operating staff member” for an individual; and “OS” in either case on second reference or when an abbreviation is called for (e.g., The OS meeting is on Wednesday.)

The proper name of an event should be capitalized.

other colleges and universities
See “college, university”

part time, part-time
Hyphenate only when used as an adjective.

Any status employee in a professional, administrative, or technical position as defined by USNH employment policy. Use “PAT” in all references except when it is necessary to spell out “professional, administrative, technical” for clarity (e.g., The PAT meeting will be on Friday).

Pemigewasset Residence Hall
Use “Pemigewasset Residence Hall” on first reference, “Pemi Hall” subsequently.

See numbers.

Place a period at the end of most sentences, including those ending with a URL. When using a word processing program such as Word, do not put two spaces after a period (see spaces). Most abbreviations and acronyms no longer require periods. Periods are placed inside a closing quotation mark. Periods are placed inside a closing parenthesis only if the parentheses contain a complete sentence ending at the closing parenthesis. See also: abbreviations, degrees, ellipsis, states, and Chicago.

phone numbers
See telephone numbers.

Physical Education Center, PE Center
Use “Physical Education Center” on first reference for off-campus readers or where needed for clarity. For subsequent references and all on-campus instances, use “PE Center.”

Physical Plant
Located in the Physical Plant Building on Holderness Road. This department includes building services, carpentry and utility, climate control, grounds, electrical, keys and locks, landscape and horticulture, plumbing, painting, recycling, safety and hazardous materials shuttle service, and vehicle restoration, as well as the plans, maps, and facilities archives. Informally known as “Facilities Services.” Use “Physical Plant Department” for the name of the department on first reference, “Physical Plant” on subsequent references.

The name “Plymouth” refers to the town of Plymouth, NH, and does not refer to Plymouth State University.

Plymouth State University
Use Plymouth State University on first reference and where necessary for clarity afterwards. On second and subsequent references, use PSU, or the University. In short text, Plymouth State and PSU are usually all that you need; in longer text, use Plymouth State University first and alternate the other options to give your text more variety.

Plymouth State University Ice Arena and Savage Welcome Center
Use full name on first mention when referring to both the welcome center and ice arena. On subsequent mentions, use PSU Ice Arena and Welcome Center.

See also “Eugene and Joan Savage Welcome Center”; “Hanaway Rink.”

When speaking of the president of Plymouth State University, “President” is capitalized before the name (e.g., President Janet Smith) but lowercased when following the name (e.g., Janet Smith, president of Plymouth State University) or when used with “the” (e.g., The president issued a statement today on the topic.).

President’s House
Home of the president of Plymouth State University, located at 10 School Street. Use “President’s House” when indicating the specific building; use “president’s house” when more generally indicating the home of PSU’s president.

President’s List
Capitalize and punctuate for a singular possessive.

prime, double prime
Also referred to as “straight quotes,” these marks are used to indicate feet (‘) and inches (”). In running text, use the words “feet” and “inches”; however, these abbreviations are acceptable in captions, lists, and tables. Punctuation goes outside these marks. Do not use in place of quotation marks. See also: quotation marks.

Use in running text only after “Plymouth State University” has appeared at least once. Do not use periods between the initials.

quotation marks
Quotation marks are used to indicate quoted material from a person, some publication titles (see titles), or unfamiliar terms on first reference. Quotation marks are always used in pairs. Never use quotation marks for emphasis. Periods and commas are placed inside the closing quotation mark; other punctuation is placed outside. In Word or other word processing programs, quotation marks are sometimes called “curly quotes.” “Straight quotes” are only used in publications to indicate inches. See also: prime, double prime, and apostrophe.

The state of New Hampshire has seven official regions: the Great North Woods, the White Mountains, the Lakes Region, Dartmouth-Lake Sunapee, the Monadnock region, the Merrimack Valley, and the Seacoast. These regions should be capitalized as shown here. 

Robert Frost House, Frost House
Use “Robert Frost House” on first use and “Frost House” subsequently. For on-campus communications, use only “Frost House.”

Rounds Hall
Plymouth State University’s signature building. Use “Rounds Hall” on first reference and “Rounds” subsequently or with a room number (e.g., Rounds 201).

Russell House
Use “Russell House” when indicating the physical building.

said, says
Past tense (said) is used when citing a literal quotation made at a specific place and time. Use present tense (says) when paraphrasing a line of thought that an individual continually expresses or could express at any time. See also: attribution.

Saint, St.
Abbreviate as “St.” in the names of saints and places. For an individual’s name, use that person’s preferred usage.

  • St. John the Baptist
  • St. Petersburg
  • Susan Saint James

Samuel Read Hall Building
Use “Samuel Read Hall Building” on first reference, and “Hall” or “Hall Building” subsequently.

Savage Welcome Center
See Eugene and Joan Savage Welcome Center.

The University seal is used only for official documents, such as diplomas, as described in the Visual Identity Guide. It is not to be used as a logo, in place of a logo, or as a decorative element. Exceptions to this rule can only be made at the discretion of the Marketing Communications and Creative Services Team.

Do not capitalize seasons unless they are part of a proper noun or are denoting an issue of a magazine or journal (e.g., The fall semester starts in September. The annual Winter Carnival is held in February. The Fall 2016 issue of Plymouth Magazine is available online.)

semesters, terms
Lowercase all references to semesters or terms except Winterim: fall, spring, summer, Winterim, winter (graduate only).

Use a semicolon between two independent clauses not joined by a conjunction:

  • Max liked things to be organized; he had many filing cabinets.

Use a semicolon to separate items in a list when those items contain internal punctuation:

  • Max divided his belongings into three categories, namely, things made of paper; things concerning wax, honey, or apiarian equipment; and things made of metal.

See also: Chicago, 6.54–6.58.

serial comma
In a series of three or more elements, use commas to separate the elements. Use a comma before the conjunction prior to the last element in a series (Music, Theatre, and Dance). See also: comma and semicolon.

Means “so,” “thus,” or “in this manner.” Italicize and place in brackets to indicate that an incorrect or unusual spelling, phrase, punctuation, and/or other preceding quoted material is a verbatim reproduction of the quoted original and is not a transcription error (e.g., “Dust the board with flower [sic] and roll out the crust,” wrote the baker in the recipe.).

Silver Center for the Arts
Use “Silver Center for the Arts” on first reference and “Silver Center” on all subsequent references.

A slash means “or” and a hyphen means “and.” It is rarely necessary to use a slash; it’s better to rewrite for greater clarity. When using a slash, do not put spaces before or after the slash. All word processing and page layout programs already provide a sufficient amount of space.

Small Business Institute, SBI
Use Small Business Institute® on first reference, and Small Business Institute (without the trademark symbol) or SBI on subsequent references.

Smith Residence Hall
Use “Smith Residence Hall” on first reference, and “Smith” subsequently.

Only one space is needed after the punctuation mark in running text.

Speare Administration Building
Use “Guy E. Speare Administration Building” on first reference; use “Speare” on subsequent references and with room numbers (Speare 201).

spring, spring semester
See seasons.

Lowercase classes (first year, sophomore, junior, senior). Use “first year” instead of “freshman.” Hyphenate “first year” when used as an adjective.

summer, summer session
See seasons.

teaching lecturer
Term used when referring to undergraduate adjunct staff vs. graduate adjunct staff.  With the latter, use “faculty member” or “member of the faculty”.

telephone numbers
In telephone numbers, use parentheses around the area code and a hyphen after the exchange, i.e. (603) 555-5555. Do not use periods, dots, underscores, or blank spaces in telephone numbers.

text effects
Bold, italics, small caps, or all capital letters should be used sparingly and only when necessary. Use bold only to draw extra attention to something in a publication. Use italics to emphasize a word, to indicate a foreign language or a title. Avoid decorating your text with lots of fonts, quotation marks, or other flourishes. Text effects do not translate from word processing programs to page layout programs. See also: bold, italics, underline, titles.

that, which
“That” is defining or restrictive; “which” is nondefining or nonrestrictive. (“The cup that is broken is in the sink” means that of all the cups available, the broken one is in the sink. “The cup, which is broken, is in the sink” means that this particular cup is in the sink, and by the way, it’s broken.)

Lowercase when used with organizations and with the names of newspapers or journals. For book titles, italicize the entire title and capitalize an initial The.

PSU has customarily used the “re” spelling for references to both the physical space and the academic subject. Although many people don’t consider this to be “proper” American usage, it is customary in the theatre discipline, and is accepted by Merriam-Webster.

Always use a.m. and p.m. (lowercase, with periods) with a space after the preceding number. Use only single digits for hours without specified minutes:

9 a.m., 11 p.m.

But include a colon and numbers for minutes:

9:15 a.m., 11:35 p.m.

Use noon and midnight; there is no such thing as 12 a.m. or 12 p.m.

Preferred to “entitled” when referring to the title of books or other works.

titles of people
Capitalize formal or courtesy titles before an individual’s name, and lowercase them when they appear after the name

  • Professor Jeff Smith, or Jeff Smith, professor of music

Lowercase descriptive or occupational titles in all cases (e.g., teacher, attorney, actor).

title style
First and last words are capitalized; otherwise, articles, conjunctions, and prepositions are lowercased. In running text, titles of primary works (e.g., books, journals) are italicized and works within primary works (e.g., articles, chapters) are placed in quotation marks. 

Not “towards.”

Lower case when used to reference programs. Example: Learn more about our undergraduate academic programs.

Not used in publications. Use italics instead. See also: hyperlink.

Made by pressing the shift key and the hyphen key on a computer keyboard. Sometimes found in e-mail addresses or before and after a word or phrase in an e-mail message to indicate where to italicize. See also: hyperlink.

Means “without equal.” Uniqueness is an absolute; something cannot be “more unique” or “very unique.” It’s either unique or it isn’t.

United States, US
Use “United States” on first reference, US on subsequent reference or preceding federal government departments, offices or agencies. Contrary to previous editions, the 16th edition of The Chicago Manual of Style accepts US without periods.

See “Plymouth State University” and “college, university.” Capitalize when using “the University” alone to refer to Plymouth State University.

University System of New Hampshire
Do not use the phrase “of the University System of New Hampshire” following “Plymouth State University” on publications or titles. Since the word “University” as part of Plymouth State’s title, it is redundant to add the phrase. Use full name as listed above on first reference, and “USNH” on subsequent references.

In text, use only as much of the URL as is necessary to find the site ( not A URL is case-sensitive and should always be lowercase. If the URL is very long, it’s sometimes better to use the shortest version that will work and then direct the reader where to click within the site.

“Utilize” means to “make use of” or to use something for a purpose other than the one for which it was designed. “Utilize” does not mean “use,” nor does it convey any additional importance or added value by being a longer word. There is rarely a reason to use the word “utilize.” Use “use.”

Ut prosim (That I may serve)
Ut prosim (That I may serve) is Plymouth State University’s motto and is pronounced u̇t ˈprō-sim. Following The Chicago Manual of Style’s recommendation, Latin words are italicized; the English translation is set in Roman and placed in parentheses. In running text, the “p” is lowercased, as is the “m” and the “s” in the English translation.

vita, vitae
See curriculum vita.

Capitalize only in World Wide Web, lowercase when using the word generically. For example:

Did Al Gore really take credit for developing the World Wide Web? “Never believe anything you see or read on the web,” Gore said.

web addresses
See URL.

web page
Two words, lowercase “w.”

One word, lowercase “w.”

welcome center
See Plymouth State University Ice Arena and Savage Welcome Center.

See seasons.

The undergraduate term held during the month of January. Winterim is the only term that is capitalized. 

Takes a hyphen: work-study, not work study or workstudy.

World Wide Web
Capitalize this proper noun.


  • Academic years: Use all four digits of each year, separated by an en dash (see dashes) with no spaces (2014–2018)
  • Fiscal years: The PSU fiscal year runs from July 1 to June 30. Use the second year (fiscal year 2017, FY17)
  • Class years: Use the final two digits of the year, preceded by an apostrophe and a single space (Carol Pelletier ’07). See also: apostrophe, class year, dates, decades.

zip codes
Zip codes must be used with all US mailing addresses. Plymouth State University’s zip code is 03264-1595. It is preferable to use the last four numbers of the zip code but mail will be delivered without it.