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 arts in English; master of arts in history.

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 capitalized only when directly preceding a person's name (without a field of expertise or other modifiers between the title and their 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. This rule applies to endowed professorships, as well.

  • 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.

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 to 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 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 only capitalized when used as part of a title. 

Course Listings
Use title case for the 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


Dashes are versatile, but their proper usage can be confusing. There are three main styles of dashes:

  • Hyphens and "dashes" (-) are used to connect words to indicate a combined meaning, indicate a word splice at the end of a line, or in number groupings.
  • En dashes are used to show a range of dates or other numbers: Dec. 6–9. As with hyphens, do not leave spaces between the character and the en dash.
  • Em dashes ( — ), the longest of the dashes, are versatile — they replace commas, colons, semicolons, ect. — but use them sparingly. Avoid double hyphens (--) in their stead, and leave a space on either side of the em dash.

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. If an event is taking place during the current year, the year can be omitted.

  • 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 the Department of 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.


  • "State" is capitalized in "New York State." Although the word "state" is not always necessary, do include it when there may be confusion between New York State and New York City.
  • Major cities such as Los Angeles, Boston, London and Chicago do not need their corresponding state or country identified.


  • 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.
  • Do not use the "%" symbo in written prose. Instead use "percent" or "percentage." The symbol with the numeric value can be used outside of prose.
  • Spell out all numerical values if used 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: of great fame or reputation; celebrity

The Art Institute of Chicago's exhibit includes paintings by artists of national renown.

Renowned is the adjective. It means having renown.

The exhibit features the renowned sculpture Thomas Jerry.



Semesters are differentiated by the season by writing the term in upper-case followed by the year:

  • Fall 2019; Summer 2020


  • One space after all punctuation.

When writing about a student, include their name and their expected year of graduation abbreviated after their name. Majors, minors and hometowns can also be included.

  • Jennie Walker '16 loves 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.




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 italics for titles long works including book titles, newspapers, journal titles, plays, albums, etc.
  • Use quotation marks for titles of short works including chapter titles, lecture titles, songs, article titles, etc.
  • Programs, events, course titles can be written in title case: Introduction to Anthropology.



  • website - one word. Not capitalized.