The Office of Public Affairs generally uses Associated Press style in the weekly Briefing and Sacramento State Leader, news releases, and other written material, except in arts events releases, where we use a few items from the Chicago Manual of Style. When Sacramento Bee style conflicts with AP style, we use Bee style. Styles that deviate from those are listed below, as are styles that frequently lead to questions.
Questions? Ahmed Ortiz (email@example.com) in University Communications maintains the style and updates to this guide. Please direct suggestions, questions and/or comments to him.
Academic degrees – Preferred usage is the type of degree – bachelor’s degree, master’s degree, doctoral degree – not BA, MS, etc.: “Professor Wilson has a master’s degree.” The exception is when referring to an alumnus who has an advanced degree (beyond a bachelor’s). Seealumni grad years. Sacramento State does not traditionally use “Dr.” before an individual’s name unless on special occasions or for people who have earned a medical degree.
Acronyms – Avoid using acronyms unless they are very well-known: “ASI,” “MBA,” “ROTC.” If you must use an acronym (for instance, an organization with a very long title), use the full name followed by the acronym in parentheses. Then use the acronym on secondary references.
Academic departments – Capitalize the name of an academic department only when using its full name: “The Department of Computer Science will sponsor the annual contest, but the biology department will provide prizes.” Lowercase when used as a nonspecific reference: “There will be a department meeting in the auditorium tomorrow.”
Academic honors – Lowercase “cum laude,” “magna cum laude” and “summa cum laude.”
Advisor – Not “adviser.”
Alumnus, alumni, alumna, alumnae – Use “alumnus” (plural: “alumni”) when referring to a man who has attended a school. Use “alumna” (plural: “alumnae”) for similar references to a woman. Use “alumni” when referring to a group of men and women.
Alumni Center – See See Leslie and Anita Harper Alumni Center.
Alumni grad years
- Bachelor’s degree only: Herky Hornet ’96 (Entomology)
- Master’s degree only: Herky Hornet, MS ’99 (Entomology)
- Bachelor’s and master’s, same subject: Herky Hornet ’96, MS ’99 (Entomology)
- Bachelor’s and master’s, different subjects: Herky Hornet ’96 (Entomology), MA ’99 (Art)
- Teaching credential: Herky Hornet, Credential ’10
- Bachelor’s and credential: Herky Hornet ’99 (Entomology), Credential ’10
- Double major: Herky Hornet ’99 (Entomology and Art)
- Doctorate, not in Education or Physical Therapy: Herky Hornet, Ph.D. (Public History)
No (major) after MBA, DPT, Ed.S., Ed.D., MSW, or MPPA. For captions, use grad year only: “Herky Hornet ’96, MS ’99, pictured at left, entertains the Causeway Classic crowd.”
a.m., p.m. – Lowercase, with periods after each letter. Avoid redundancies such as “10 a.m. this morning,” “12 noon,” “3 p.m. this afternoon,” “8 p.m. tonight.”
Ampersand (&)/and – Use “and” in written communications, unless an ampersand is part of the proper name, such as Johnson & Johnson. An exception is University colleges and departments that use ampersands. In those cases, use “and”: “Speech Pathology and Audiology,” not “Speech Pathology & Audiology”; “Department of Public Policy and Administration,” not “Department of Public Policy & Administration.”
Artworks and shows – Italicize the titles of individual pieces. Place names of art shows in quotation marks.
Article titles – Place within quotation marks.
Assemblymember – Use in place of “assemblyman,” “assemblywoman.” Capitalize when used as a formal title before a name: “Assemblymember Kevin McCarty”; “Kevin McCarty is the assemblymember representing District 7.”
Associated Students Inc. – The University’s student governmental body does not take a comma between “Students” and “Inc.” Use the acronym “ASI” on secondary references.
At/in – When naming the site of on-campus events, use “at” for buildings and places, and “in” for rooms within those buildings and places: “ The Distinguished Alumni Awards will be held at the Leslie and Anita Harper Alumni Center.” “She will deliver the Livingston Lecture in the University Union, Redwood Room.” “Saturday’s Homecoming game kicks off at 6:05 p.m. at Hornet Stadium.” “The Wednesday Nooner is at Serna Plaza.” Out-of-town events occur at places in cities: “The Board of Trustees meeting is at the Chancellor’s Office in Long Beach.”
Athletics facilities – See University buildings and places.
Books, journals and other written publications – See Publications.
Broad Fieldhouse – See Eli and Edythe Broad Fieldhouse
California’s capital university – Write in all uses exactly as listed here. Do not uppercase “the Capital City” in reference to Sacramento.
Center – Capitalize only when used in the proper name: “The Sacramento State Aquatic Center rents kayaks and canoes. You may also borrow life jackets from the center.”
Chair – Do not use “chairman,” “chairwoman,” or “chairperson.” Lowercase when not used before a person’s name.
College – There are eight at Sacramento State – seven academic colleges and the College of Continuing Education. Always uppercase the full name. On secondary references, if it is clear which college is being referred to, simply use “college” or “the college.”
Comma – The Oxford comma is used in communications that originate from the President’s Office: “Red, white, blue, and yellow.” Otherwise, follow Associated Press style in all other communications and don’t include a comma before the last item in a simple series: “Red, white, blue and yellow.” However, if the list is complicated, you may include the serial comma if it makes the sentence read more clearly: “The College of Arts and Letters contains the departments of art, music, design, and theatre and dance.”
Communication Studies – Not “Communications.”
Councilmember – Use in place of “councilman,” “councilwoman.” Capitalize when used as a formal title before a name: “Councilwoman Angelique Ashby.”
Co-author – Hyphenate.
CSU – California State University, which encompasses 23 campuses. Refer to the campuses collectively as “the CSU system.” Note that some campuses differ from California State University, Sacramento, in their names: “ San José State University,” “San Diego State University.” For a comprehensive and authoritative guide to the preferred and alternate short forms of individual CSU campus names, as well as a guide to proper use of campus initials, refer to the CSU’s Branding Standards Guide at calstate.edu/brand/styleguide/campus-names.shtml.
CSUS – Not used when referring to the University. In general, use “Sacramento State” or “Sac State.” See University nomenclature.
Dates and times – The preferred sequence is time, day, date, place: “4 p.m. Saturday, June 19, in Lassen Hall.” Do not use a comma between the month and year if no day is included: “July 2012.” Hyphenate inclusive times and dates: “Workshop hours are 8 a.m.-5 p.m.” Do not use “on” before a date unless excluding it would cause confusion: “Registration begins June 25, but the deadline is Saturday.” Do not use “st,” “th,” or “rd” with dates: “Christmas is Dec. 25, and school resumes Jan. 3.” The day of the week and date are used for upcoming events: “The festival begins Saturday, June 19.” For events in the past, only the date is used: “The festival began June 19.” Do not include the year unless the event is more than 12 months in the past or 12 months in the future.
Dean – Lowercase unless used before the person’s name: “Mary Jones is the new dean of the College of Arts and Letters. She replaced Dean Alice Smith.”
Degree – Follows “master’s” and “bachelor’s”: “Professor Smith holds a master’s degree in English.” “Doctorate” can stand alone. But: “doctoral degree.”
Departments/divisions – Uppercase the full formal name of a campus department or division: “The Department of Physical Therapy,” not “physical therapy department”; “Ed Mills is the vice president for the Division of Student Affairs.” For the sake of clarity, do not capitalize department and division names of other campuses: “She comes to Sacramento State from Mills College, where she was an assistant vice president in the department of human resources.”
Eli and Edythe Broad Fieldhouse – “Broad Fieldhouse” or “the Fieldhouse” on secondary references.
Email – No hyphen.
Emerita and emeritus titles – Use “professor emerita” for a retired female faculty member who retains her academic rank (plural: “professors emeritae”). Use “professor emeritus” for a retired male faculty member (plural: “professors emeriti”). Use “professors emeriti” for a group made up of both genders.
Enrollment – Always refers to the fall census figure from the current school year.
Events, festivals, etc. – Capitalize titles; no italics or quotation marks.
Exclamation points – Suitable for birthday cards only.
Fundraising – One word, no hyphen
Golden 1 Center – The downtown arena is the home of the NBA’s Sacramento Kings and the University’s two annual Commencements. “The” is not part of its formal name.
GPA – Suitable for all references to grade-point average. No hyphens, no periods.
“He or she” – This and related phrases are used instead of “they” when you need a generic for one person. Try to write around it.
Headlines – Uppercase only the first word and proper nouns in headlines. Follow AP’s style of using single quotes for quotation marks in headlines.
Herky – The colloquial for school mascot Hercules the Hornet may be used in all references.
Homecoming – Capitalize activities referring to Sacramento State’s Homecoming event. Note the capitalization when referring to the week of activities: “Homecoming Week.”
Home page – Two words.
Hyphen – Follow AP Style of using a hyphen rather than an “en” dash in ranges: “The event runs from 3-4 p.m.” “The report covers fiscal year 2016-17.”
Internet – Capitalize for the decentralized, worldwide network of computers that can communicate with one another. Do not include “http://www.” or “www.” when providing a website URL in print publications unless a web address will not work without them.
Lectures – Place their titles within quotation marks.
Library – See University buildings and places.
Magazines – See Publications.
Majors – Do not capitalize unless it’s a proper noun, such as English.
More than/over – Although the AP Stylebook now says otherwise, “more than” is the correct wording when dealing with numbers: “More than 50 people applied for the position.”“Over” is best used to describe a spatial relationship: “The water flowed over the dam.” “More than,” put simply, is used for numbers: “More than 30,000 students attend Sacramento State.”
Movies – Italicize the title.
Mr., Mrs. and related – Don’t use except in rare cases such as “in memoriam” items to show respect.
Multicultural – Follow this spelling, but note: The campus facility is the “Multi-Cultural Center.”
Music – Italicize the titles of operas and albums. Put song titles in quotes. When the title is a form and key (Symphony in G), no italics, no quotes.
Newspapers – See Publications.
Numbers – Spell out numbers less than 10 except in headlines, where numbers can be used in all cases.
Office – Capitalize when using the complete name, but lowercase when used as a nonspecific reference: “The Office of Water Programs meeting is in Modoc Hall, where the office is headquartered.”
Paintings, drawings, statues – See artworks.
Panels, workshop sessions, etc. – Place titles within quotation marks: “The Office of Human Resources will hold a “Managing Your Finances” workshop May 8.”
Percentages – Write out the word “percent” after a number: “The results show that 50 percent of the students benefited from the program.”
Ph.D. – Not usually included after a title. Instead, use “holds a doctoral degree in …” or “holds a doctorate in …”
Phone numbers – Use standard punctuation – parentheses around area code and hyphen to break the remaining seven digits – rather than periods: “(916) 278-2140.”
Plays, musical productions, operas – Italicize the title.
President of Sacramento State – Robert S. Nelsen. In writing, he is referred to as President Robert S. Nelsen, President Nelsen (on second reference) or, on formal occasions, Dr. Nelsen. Uppercase “President” when referring to the President of Sacramento State, even without a name. When referring to the President and his wife, Jody, the preferred listing is “President Robert S. and Jody Nelsen.”
Professional titles – Uppercase in front of the name: “Provost John Smith.” The preferred use is the title after the name and lower case: “Suzy Hornet, associate vice president for public affairs.” (Except: see President of Sacramento State)
Professor – The preferred use is after the name and with the field of study: “John Smith, professor of history.” But capitalize the title if used before the name. We do not use “Dr.” except for medical doctors. We also do not include Ph.D. or other alphabet soup after names.
Publications – Italicize the titles of books, magazines, newspapers and other periodicals.
Reentry – Not “re-entry.”
Residence halls – At Sacramento State, student living spaces are residence halls, not dormitories.
Sacramento State – See University nomenclature.
Sacramento State-Downtown – The formal name of the University’s School of Public Affairs, located at Fourth and S streets.
Seasons – Lowercase except when referring to a specific semester: “The new residence hall is scheduled to open in fall 2017.” But: “The new residence hall is scheduled to open in time for the Fall 2017 semester.”
Songs – Place titles within quotation marks.
Speeches – Place titles within quotation marks.
Spring break/winter break – Lowercase
Television stations – Use the following protocols for Sacramento’s local stations. Note that several use run-on call letters and numbers:
- KCRA 3
- KVIE 6
- Univision 19
- Telemundo 33
Television and radio programs – Italicize titles.
Theater – This is the preferred spelling, but it’s “Department of Theatre and Dance,” “University Theatre” and “Studio Theatre” when referring to the campus entity and facilities.
UC – University of California. In many cases, such as campus and alumni publications, “UC” is acceptable on first reference. But for broader, off-campus audiences, spell out on first reference.
UNIQUE – The acronym for “Union Network for Innovative Quality University Entertainment” is acceptable in all references.
University/university – The uppercase is acceptable in secondary references to Sacramento State: “the University.” “University” is always uppercase when referring to Sacramento State, lowercase when referring to another university.
University buildings and places: – Use the name of the building and the room of the event on most occasions. Example: The meeting will be held in the University Union Foothill Suite.
- Academic Information and Resource Center – Spell out on first reference and use the acronym “AIRC” in secondary references.
- Adams Building – This off-campus brick structure of office suites at College Town and Hornet drives formerly was owned by University Enterprises Inc. and remains the home of the Institute for Social Research. Its full name is the Aroline McKeever Adams Building.
- Admissions Office – No apostrophe.
- American River Bike Trail – This common moniker is acceptable in all references to this trail, the proper name of which is the Jedediah Smith Memorial Trail. “Bike trail” is OK on secondary references.
- Art Sculpture Lab – This facility is located behind the Sacramento State Police Department. On secondary references, “the lab” is acceptable as long as doing so creates no ambiguity.
- ASI Children’s Center – It’s acceptable to use the acronym for “Associated Students Inc.” on first reference. Use “Children’s Center” or “the center” on secondary references.
- Athletics facilities:
- Athletics Center – The building in Lot 1 that houses the athletics administrative offices.
- Eli and Edythe Broad Fieldhouse
- Event Center – The as-yet-unbuilt, as-yet-formally-named 5,000-seat facility does not take a plural “Events.”
- football practice field
- handball courts
- Hornet Field – Home of the University’s soccer teams.
- Hornet Stadium – Home of the University’s football team.
- intramural fields
- John Smith Field – Home of the University’s baseball team.
- Leslie and Anita Harper Alumni Center
- The Nest – Use the shorthand version of the Hornets Nest for the home of the University’s basketball, volleyball and gymnastics teams.
- Shea Stadium – Home of the University’s softball team.
- tennis courts
- Centers and Institutes:
- Academic Talent Search
- Archaeological Research Center, The
- Asian Pacific Islander American Research Center (APIARC)
- Capital Campus History Resources Institute
- Career Center
- Center for African Peace and Conflict Resolution
- Center for Biomedical Device Development
- Center for Business Analytics
- Center for California Studies
- Center for Collaborative Policy
- Center for College and Career Readiness
- Center for Contemporary Music
- Center for Economic Education
- Center for Entrepreneurship
- Center for Family Studies
- Center for Hellenic Studies
- Center for Information Assurance and Security
- Center for Interdisciplinary Molecular Education, Research and Advancement (CIMERA)
- Center for Mathematics and Science Education (MASE)
- Center for Pacific Asian Studies
- Center for Philosophy and the Natural Sciences
- Center for Practical and Professional Ethics
- Center for Regional Environmental Science and Technology (CREST)
- Center for Small Business
- Center for STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) Excellence
- Center for the Study of Criminology and Criminal Justice, The
- Center for Teaching and Learning
- Center for World Music
- Community Engagement Center
- EdInsights Center (formerly Institute for Higher Education Leadership and Policy)
- Gerontology-Longevity Center
- Institute for Archaeology and Cultural Studies
- Institute for Social Research
- Institute for the Study of Media and Politics
- Institute for Water, Energy, Sustainability and Technology (iWEST)
- Iranian and Middle Eastern Studies Center
- Maryjane Rees Language, Speech, and Hearing Center
- North Central Information Center
- Office of Water Programs
- Science Educational Equity Program
- Serna Center
- Sustainable Technology Outdoor Research Center (STORC)
- Testing Services Center
- Epicure Restaurant – Capitalize “Restaurant” as part of its formal name. Use “Epicure” on secondary references.
- Hornet Bookstore – Don’t capitalize “the” before the proper name unless at the beginning of a sentence. Use “the Bookstore” on secondary references.
- Hornet Crossing – The proper name of the tunnel that traverses the railroad tracks and connects the campus to Elvas Avenue/65th Street on the west.
- Leslie and Anita Harper Alumni Center – Use the full name on first reference. On secondary references, it’s “the Alumni Center.”
- Library Quad – The proper name of the grassy area in front of the University Library. Use “the quad” on secondary references unless clarity calls for using the proper name.
- Main Quad – The grassy area bordered by the River Front Center and Shasta Hall to the east, Douglass Hall to the south, Lassen and Sacramento Halls to the west, and the Transit Center to the north. Use “the quad” on secondary references unless clarity calls for using the proper name.
- Outpost – The proper name of the building that houses the eateries located just northwest of the University Library.
- Parking structures and lots – Use Roman numerals when designating structures and Arabic numerals for lots: “Parking Structure II,” “Lot 6.”
- River Front Center
- Round House
- Sacramento State Ticket Office – Sells tickets for on- and off-campus events. “Ticket Office” or “University Ticket Office” are acceptable on secondary references.
- Serna Plaza – The proper name of the area between the Hornet Bookstore and the University Union.
- South Green – The area bordered by Tahoe Hall on the north, Benicia Hall on the east, and The WELL on the southwest.
- Sustainable Technology Outdoor Research Center (STORC) – On first reference, use the full name of this research-based center on the campus’s east end across State University Drive from Riverside Hall. The acronym is acceptable on secondary references.
- Transit Center – The preferred name for the bus loop on the campus’s north end (the J Street entrance).
- University Arboretum – Use “the Arboretum” on secondary references.
- University Library – Capitalize when referring to the University Library. “Library” (uppercase) is acceptable on secondary references. Lowercase for all other libraries unless using the proper name: “The University Library is larger than most libraries in Sacramento. Only the Central Library downtown is larger.”
- University Union – Do not capitalize “the” before the proper name unless at the beginning of a sentence. Note that it isn’t “the Student Union,” “the University Student Union,” etc. Refer to it as “the Union” on secondary references. When an event is in a specific room within the Union, use the name of the building and the room of the event, separated by a comma, on most occasions: “The meeting will be held in the University Union, Foothill Suite.”
- Upper Eastside Lofts
- The WELL – Although the formal name of the campus’s fitness and recreation center is not technically an acronym, it is written in all caps with “The” capitalized. Its corporate entity is Union WELL Inc.
University nomenclature – Our formal name is California State University, Sacramento. However, the preferred style when referring to the University is “Sacramento State” or “Sac State.” Those three conventions, as well as “the University,” are the only acceptable means of referencing this institution. Do not use “CSUS,” “Sacramento State University,” “Sac State University,” “CSU Sacramento,” etc.
Uppercase – Generally, avoid uppercase. We do uppercase the names of all seven Colleges and the names of departments, when the whole department name is used: Department of History, but history department. Uppercase “President” when referring to the President of Sacramento State, even without a name. Uppercase “University” when referring to the University on second references and uppercase “College” on second reference when referring to any of the seven colleges.
Winter break/spring break – Lowercase
Years – An apostrophe is not needed for written periods of time such as “the 1950s.” However, it is needed for abbreviations: “the ’60s.” Beginning a sentence with numerals is acceptable but awkward. Try instead to rewrite the sentence.