Editorial Style Guide

Please note that this guide is currently under revision.

Geneseo's Editorial Style Guide is designed to enhance consistency and accuracy on the College's website and in other written material. The guide adapts the Associated Press style and provides tips on common grammatical errors and Geneseo-specific terms.



Academic Degrees
Use "Ph.D.", "Ed.D.", or "J.D." as post-nominal initials for academic doctorates rather than "Dr.", which we reserve for medical degree holders.  

  • Geneseo offers M.S.Ed and M.S.Acct. graduate-level degrees. 
  • "Master's degree" and "bachelor's degree" is written in the possessive.
  • "Bachelor of XXX" or "master of XXX" is not possessive and does not include "degree."
  • Only language majors are capitalized, i.e., Bachelor of English; Master of history.

Academic Department Names
Capitalize department names when using the full title on the first mention. Subsequent mentions can be abbreviated and written in all lower case except for the name of a language, for example:

  • Department of Geological Sciences/geology department/geology
  • Department of English/English department/English

Academic Titles
Provide an individual's primary academic title on the first mention of their name, secondary titles, such as "director," or "advisor," can be provided on subsequent mentions if relevant to the piece. Lecturers and adjunct faculty members should be identified with their official titles. Titles are only capitalized when standing alone (without the field of expertise) and proceeding a person's name.

  • Associate Professor James Aimers joined Geneseo's anthropology department in 2008.
  • Associate professor of anthropology, James Aimers, joined Geneseo's faculty in 2008.
  • Rachel Hall, a professor of English, is on sabbatical this fall.
  • Lecturer Irene Belyakov-Goodman is also the College's ESOL program coordinator.

Distinguished Teaching Professors and Distinguished Service Professors is an honorific title that is capitalized regardless if it comes before or after the name.

  • Distinguished Teaching Professor of History Bill Cook has an office in Sturges Hall.
  • Bill Cook, Distinguished Teaching Professor of History, has an office in Sturges Hall.

Affect or Effect?

"Effect" is typically used as a noun, and means "the result of the action," as in: "The effect of the drug was overwhelming."
"Affect" is a verb, meaning "to cause," or have influence, as in "The new CEO will affect the way we do business."

Use numbers to denote the age of an individual.

Alma mater
Alma mater is written in lower case except at the beginning of a sentence.


  • Alum/alums: single and plural gender neutral
  • Alumnus: one male
  • Alumna: one female
  • Alumnae: More than one female 
  • Alumni: more than one male, or group of people of where gender has not been specified.

Geneseo graduate designations
Geneseo graduates are designated by appending a 2-digit year designation after the first mention of their full name. There should be no comma separating the name and year but do include an apostrophe to indicate the year has been truncated.

  • Keith Walters '11

Recipients of master's degrees are noted with the appropriate degree abbreviations (M.S.Ed. or M.S.Acct.)

  • Caroline Highgate '19 M.S.Acct.

If a graduate has earned a bachelor's and a graduate degree from Geneseo, include both years and graduate degree abbreviation.

  • Tyler Jones '00/'02 M.S.Ed

For alumni couples or family members who share the same last name, be sure include the class year for each person. 

  • Dan '86 and Nancy '86 Loughran

When identifying a decade, do not include an apostrophe.

  • Thomas Gage graduated in the 1960s.


Board of Directors
"Board of directors" is capitalized only when it is used with the official name, i.e., the Geneseo Foundation Board of Directors, otherwise it is not capitalized.


The College
State University of New York College at Geneseo and SUNY Geneseo are acceptable formal and informal versions of the College's full name and should be used on the first mention of the College. "Geneseo" may be used internally or on subsequent mentions, using care to not introduce confusion between the College and the village.

  • Capitalize "college" consistently as a shorthand stand-alone to identify SUNY Geneseo for both internal and external use, but do not capitalize when referring to colleges, generally.

Serial (Oxford) commas should be used, at least, to avoid introducing errors.

  • I became interested in history because of my parents, Professor Oberg and Andrew Jackson.
  • I became interested in history because of my parents, Professor Oberg, and Andrew Jackson. 

"Commencement" is not a proper noun; it is only capitalized when used as part of a title. 

Course Listings
Capitalize full names of courses. Use quotation marks only to identify figures of speech or a title.

  • Introduction to Sociology
  • A Revisionist's Study of "Othello" 
  • "Denile" and Cleopatra's Reign


Abbreviate names of the month when a date is included, but spell the month out if there is no day referenced. Note that when the names of months have five letters or less, they are always spelled out.

  • The play premieres on Thursday, Jan. 17. 
  • The play premiered in January.
  • Commencement is on May 16.

Department Names
The official name of any department is always capitalized, variations are not.

  • Department of Geological Sciences/geology department
  • Office of the Provost/provost's office
  • Department of English/English department


Not all retired faculty are emeriti; it's an honorary title. Check with Human Resources for a specific retired faculty member's designation. Always use the construction, "professor emeritus" rather than "emeritus professor." The title should come after the name and in lowercase.

  • Emerita is female
  • Emeritus is male 
  • Emeriti is the plural
  • There is no gender neutral variation


The Fund for Geneseo
Refer to the fund by its full name on the first mention, subsequent references of "the fund," should be in lowercase.

The Geneseo Foundation
Refer to the foundation by the full name on the first mention, with subsequent references to "the foundation," made in lowercase.

The Parents Fund
The Parents Fund is not possessive. Use full name of on the first mention, then "the fund" on subsequent mentions, being sure not to introduce confusion if making references to more than one fund in a single piece or article.


Geneseo Opportunities in Leadership Development
GOLD is an acronym. It is written in all capital letters with no periods. "GOLD" can be used on the first mention on internal communications; external communications should include the name of the program in full on the first mention with "(GOLD)" at the end of the name.

GREAT Day is an acronym. It is written in all capital letters with no periods. "GREAT Day" can be used on internal communications; external communications should include the full name of the event followed by the acronym: "Geneseo Recognizing Excellence, Achievement & Talent Day (GREAT Day)."



Job Titles
As with academic titles, position titles such as "president" and "chair" are not capitalized if they follow an individual's name

  • Declan Macmanus, executive editor of Almost Blue, will give the keynote at commencement.


Liberal Arts
"Liberal arts" and "liberal arts education" do not contain hyphens, and are not capitalized.

Livingston County CARES
Is written as shown above.


  • City of Tampa - when referring to a city as an organization

She lives in the city of Tampa, the City of Tampa voted 'No."


  • Major cities such as Los Angeles, Boston, London and Chicago that are well known to all do not need a state attached

Kim Wagner is a lawyer with Kline, Kline LLP in Chicago.

Joe Schmit is a lawyer with Duskin Associates in Saratoga Springs, N.Y.


  • upstate New York

Not capitalized. Same with southern California, western states, western Kentucky, etc.


  • States use Associated Press abbreviations, no zip code abbreviations when used in copy.

Alabama Ala.

Arizona Ariz.

Arkansas Ark.

California Calif.

Colorado Colo.

Connecticut Conn.

Delaware Del.

Florida Fla.

Georgia Ga.

Illinois Ill.

Indiana Ind.

Kansas Kan.

Kentucky Ky.

Louisiana La.

Maryland Md.

Massachusetts Mass.

Michigan Minn.

Mississippi Miss.

Missouri Mo.

Montana Mont.

Nebraska Neb.

New Hampshire N.H.

New Jersey N.J.

New Mexico N.M.

New York N.Y.

North Carolina N.C.

North Dakota N.D.

Oklahoma Okla.

Oregon Ore.

Pennsylvania Pa.

Rhode Island R.I.

South Carolina S.C.

South Dakota S.D.

Tennessee Tenn.

Vermont Vt.

Virginia Va.

Washington Wash.

West Virginia W.Va.

Wisconsin Wis.

Wyoming Wyo.


  • Never abbreviate these states in releases or documents.

Alaska Hawaii

Idaho Iowa

Maine Ohio

Texas Utah


  • Use postal abbreviations for states only when writing full addresses.
  • Never abbreviate a state when not used in conjunction with a municipality

He's in Suhweeny, La.

He's from Louisiana






  • NCAA -Acceptable for all references

Most common writing errors with numbers:

  • Numbers under 10 are written out in most cases (ages, dates, and addresses are some exceptions), 10 and greater are written in numeric form.
  • Percentages, when written in prose, do not use the "%" symbol. The symbol with the numeric value can be used outside of prose.
  • Spell out all numerical values if at the beginning of a sentence.



When noting parents of current students or alumni, use "P" as a signifier before their child(ren)'s graduation year. Use commas to separate graduation years for multiple children

  • Gina Alonzo P'19
  • Tina Yang P'12, P'16


  • Parents Weekend (no apostrophe)



  • Italicize proper names of magazines and newspapers.



Renown is the noun. It means great fame or reputation; celebrity

The Art Institute of Chicago's exhibit "To Inspire and Instruct" highlights more than 22 representative portable murals and easel paintings by artists of both local and national renown.

Renowned is the adjective. It means having renown.

The college is inviting residents to tour the Anderson Exhibit, the renowned creation of architect Hoichi Kuro.




  • lower-case spring or fall followed by year

fall 2013

spring 2013



  • One space after a period.
  • Always one space after punctuation, of any kind.



  • Include name and expected year of graduation

Jennie Walker '16 loves her classes but doesn't know what to study in graduate school.



  • Capitalize Summer Reunion as a specific and named event, followed by the year where applicable. Do not put in quotes.




  • 24/7

Meaning, 24 hours a day, seven days a week


  • Times of the day

a.m. and p.m. are always lower case, with periods.

Examples of how to write out times:

8 a.m.

8 to 9 a.m.

8 a.m. to 2 p.m.

noon to 4 p.m.

4 p.m. to 6 a.m.


  • Use quotes for titles of books, songs, TV shows, Broadway shows and other compositions.
  • Put titles of lectures from special guest speakers in quotes
  • Do not use quotes for names of events, workshops, or courses and other programs, such as Summer Reunion, End Bullying Workshop, Introduction to Anthropology

He just read "Of Mice and Men" by John Steinbeck.


  • Titles are capitalized if written before the name, not capitalized after

Dean of Leadership and Services Tom Matthews

Tom Matthews, dean of leadership and services

  • Emeriti:

    Used in reference to retired faculty. Note: Not all retired faculty are emeriti, it's a distinction. If you don't know, check with Human Resources for the last official title

    Female is emerita

    Male is emeritus

    Plural is emeriti.

    Title usage: Professor Emeritus of English John Smith if the title is before the name.

    John Smith, professor emeritus of English, if the title is after the name.




  • website - one word. Not capitalized.
  • Blog names are written out with the .com immediately after, no space

You can learn about cooking at every day.



ZIP codes

When writing a street address, use state ZIP abbreviation code in full adreess

Example: Send a gift to xxxxx, Geneseo, NY, 14454