Writing Style Guide

The following style guide is based largely on AP Style rules and contains the approved spelling, grammar, punctuation and general writing guidelines for all written content for and about Seminole State College. Members of Seminole State's faculty and staff should refer to this guide when writing Web content and for College-related publications.

For questions on a word, phrase or grammar concept, email Kimberly Allen, communications coordinator, or call her at 407.708.2272.


Academic Degrees (abbreviated)Use periods between letters, no spaces. Letters that immediately follow a period are always capitalized.A.A.
Academic Degrees (spelled out)In general, spell out degree names on first reference and include the degree abbreviation in parenthesis after it. Lowercase the word "degree."Associate in Arts (A.A.) degree
Associate in Applied Science (A.A.S.) degree
Associate in Science (A.S.) degree
Bachelor of Applied Science (B.A.S.) degree
Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) degree
Bachelor of Science (B.S.) degree
Master of Arts (M.A.) degree
Doctor of Education (Ed.D.) degree
Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) degree
Academic TermsCapitalize the proper names of academic terms: Fall Term, Spring Term, Summer Term but: Lowercase fall semester
  1. I graduated in Spring Term 2010.
  2. Summer Term classes start in May.
  3. The fall semester starts Aug. 22.
Academic Year
  1. Use four digits when referencing a single year.
  2. When referencing a span of years beginning in one specific century and ending in another, use four digits, followed by a hyphen, followed by four digits.
  3. When referencing a span of years beginning and ending in the same century, use four digits for the beginning year followed by a hyphen, followed by the last two digits of the ending year.
  1. 2008
  2. 1977-2008
  3. 2001-08
Accept/ExceptAccept is a verb meaning "receive." Except means "other than" or "but for."I can accept all your suggestions except for the last one.
Acronyms (common usage)Use acronyms for names or word groups that are more commonly recognized in their condensed form (VA, ELS, SAT, GED, GPA, etc.)I am taking the SAT on Saturday.
Not: I am taking the Scholastic Aptitude Test on Saturday.
Add/Drop Period"Add" should always precede "drop" when referencing the Add/Drop Period each term.Add/Drop Period
Not: Drop/Add Period
Admission/AdmissionsUse "admissions" in most cases. Exception: "application for admission."admissions requirements
admissions information
admissions process
But: application for admission
AdvisorAdvisor should be spelled with an OR, not ER. This rule is an exception to AP Style.My academic advisor is Mr. Smith.
Affect/EffectAffect is a verb, meaning to produce an effect.Good written communication skills affect one's chances for a successful reaccreditation.
One effect of this manual should be to enhance your awareness of the importance of accurate English.
Among/BetweenSomething occurs between just two people; it happens among three or more.There is a strong bond between Alice and her mother.
There is a strong bond among family members.
AmpersandsIt's best not to use an ampersand (&) in place of the word "and" in text unless it is an official part of a name.College of Performing and Visual Arts
Building Names on the Sanford/Lake Mary CampusBuildings with letter names should be referred to by using "building" and the corresponding letter/name.Students can register for classes in building SC on the Sanford/Lake Mary Campus.
BulletsUse bullets before indented, unnumbered, small lists in the text. Only use terminal punctuation if the bullet items form complete sentences or more than one sentence.
  • Item
  • Item
  • Item
CampuswideShould be one word, no hyphen.Campuswide
Not: campus-wide
Capitalization (departments/programs)Capitalize department and program names. Lowercase subject areas.The Interior Design Program; a professor in the Mathematics Department; a professor of interior design; a member of the physical sciences faculty
Capitalization (titles)Titles should be capitalized when used before a person's name. They should be lowercase when used independently or after a person's name.Recruitment Specialist John Doe was very helpful yesterday.
John Doe, recruitment specialist, was very helpful yesterday.
Catalog vs. CatalogueNever add "ue" to the end of "Catalog." College Catalog is capitalized.Catalog
Not: Catalogue
Catalog YearWhen discussing the catalog, always refer to the issue for the current academic year.Seminole State College Catalog 2009-10.
Choose one:Use "Choose one:" when referring to courses that students can choose from to satisfy a program's course requirements in the College Catalog.Choose one:
  • AST1002 Introduction to Astronomy
  • GLY1000 Introduction to Geology
  • GLY1101 Fossils and the History of Life
CollegeCapitalize "College" when referring to Seminole State College.The College was established in 1965.
CollegewideShould be lowercase, one word, no hyphen.Collegewide
Not: college wide or college-wide
Commas in a Series (serial commas)There should be no comma before "and" in a series, unless the sentence or series is complex, or if adding a comma would help clarify an ambiguous statement.The dean, student and instructor arrived.
Concise LanguageUse simple, direct language whenever possible.The registrar now uses cumulative data.
Not: At this point in time, cumulative data is used by the registrar.
Corequisite/PrerequisiteSpell "corequisite" and "prerequisite" as one word with no hyphen.I am taking prerequisite courses.
Not: I am taking pre-requisite courses.
Course Prefixes and NumbersCapitalize course prefixes. There should be a space been the course prefix and the course number.ENC 1101
Not: ENC1101
CourseworkUse "coursework" as one word. There should be no space between "course" and "work."coursework
Data"Data" is plural but is generally considered a unit (a collective noun). Therefore, it should take a singular verb in most cases. Occasionally, however, "data" does refer to individual items and should take a plural verb.Your data is invalid.
The data were collected from all four campuses.
DatabaseUse "database" as one word. There should be no space between "data" and "base."Database
DepartmentsWhen referring to a specific department, the word "Department" should be capitalized. When referring to department in general, the word should be lowercase.The Computing and Telecommunications Services Department...
Throughout the different departments of the College...
Division (capitalization)When referring to a specific division, the word "Division" should be capitalized. When referring to divisions in general, the word should be lowercase.The Division of Student Affairs...
Throughout the different divisions of the College...
Division (names)Seminole State is divided into four Divisions.
  1. Division of Student Affairs (or Student Affairs)
  2. Division of Academic Affairs (or Academic Affairs)
  3. Information Technology and Resources
  4. Administrative Services
Many employees work in the Division of Student Affairs
Or: Many employees work in Student Affairs.
DocumentationWhen citing sources, enclose them in parentheses at the end of the sentence. Separate each source with a semicolon, and put the period outside the closing parenthesis. Do not use "See" or "Exhibit" to document sources....showed that the students were generally satisfied (College Factbook 2000-01; College Catalog 2000-01).
Not: ...showed that the students were generally satisfied (See College Factbook 2000-01; College Catalog 2000-01).
When used in the middle of a sentence, use a lowercase "e," followed by the word "business" or "mail" in lowercase letters. When beginning a sentence, capitalize the "e."Ebusiness is a growing field.
She checked her email.
EnsureUse ensure to mean guarantee.Follow these rules to ensure stylistic accuracy.
  1. Do not abbreviate when used by itself.
  2. Abbreviate "Fla." if it is accompanied by the name of a city.
  1. I grew up in Florida.
  2. I grew up in Sanford, Fla.
Florida, state ofFormal references should be to the "state of Florida." Other references should be to the "state." Do not capitalize the word "state."The state of Florida
The first state budgeting effort...
Forward Slash "/" (also called solidus or virgule)Do not insert spaces on either side of a forward slash.Sanford/Lake Mary Campus
Not: Sanford / Lake Mary Campus
Full Term
  1. In most instances, "full term" should be lowercase and written without a hyphen.
  2. Hyphenate "full term" if it is used as an adjective.
  1. I will be in classes this summer for the full term.
  2. Full-term courses are primarily taken over the summer.
Full-Time Equivalent
On first reference, use the full name. On further reference, use the acronym "FTE."Full-Time Equivalent
General EducationThis is uppercase when referring to General Education requirementsThe degree candidate must satisfy these General Education requirements.
Grade Point Average (GPA)In most references, use the acronym "GPA" (no periods).I have a 3.5 GPA.
HeightWhen referencing a person's height as an adjective, use whole numbers with "foot" and "inch," separated by hyphens.The 7-foot-5-inch power forward was one of the tallest players the team ever had.
Higher vs. BetterUse "higher" instead of "better, when referring to letter grades.Students must pass this course with a "C" or higher to enter the program.
Not: Students must pass this course with a "C" or better to enter the program.
Home PageTwo words, lowercase.home page
InsureUse insure for references to insurance.The policy insures his home against flood damage.
InternetAlways capitalize.Internet
Is/Are"Is" is associated with singular nouns. "Are" is associated with plural nouns.He is a baseball player.
They are part of the newspaper staff.
  1. Its: Possessive
  2. It's: The contraction for "it is"
  1. The committee reached its decision yesterday.
  2. It's going to be a close game.
Letter GradesWhen referencing a specific letter grade, capitalize the letter and put quotation marks around it.Students must pass this course with a "C" or higher.
Not: Students must pass this course with a C or higher.
Login, Logon, LogoffMake "login," "logon" and "logoff" one word when used as nouns. But make them two words when used as verbs.
  1. Please remember your login.
  2. Log off your computer before you leave.
Lower-Division, Lower-LevelHyphenate lower-division and lower-level when they precede a noun. Do not hyphenate them when used after a noun.Lower-division students
The students were in the lower division.
More Than vs. Over
  1. Use "more than" when referring to numerals.
  2. Use "over" when referring spatial relationships.
  1. I make more than $30,000 a year.
  2. The plane flew over the mountain.
Non-Words with the prefix "non" generally are not hyphenated unless the prefix is directly before a proper noun. The dictionary contains a list of words with the prefix "non" and appropriate spellings.nondegree
But: non-English speaking
Numbers, 1-10Use words to express numbers one through nine and figures to express numbers 10 and above.Approximately five weeks ago...
There are 23 majors...
Numbers with Text
  1. Ages: Always express as a numeral. Use hyphens between the age and "year-old."
  2. Money: Use figures.
  3. Percentages: Use figures and spell out percent.
  4. Ratio: Use figures and hyphens.
  5. Fractions: Spell out.
  1. A 5-year-old boy. The boy is 10 years old.
  2. 5 cents, $1.05, $2.3 million
  3. 0.6 percent, 1 percent, 50 percent
  4. A ratio of 3-to-1, a 3-1 ratio
  5. Two-thirds, one-half
Numbers (large)Put a comma in all whole numbers larger than 999.$2,000
3,456 FTE
$1.5 million
OfficesOffice names should be written as they are referred to in the College Catalog.Office of the Registrar
Office of Student Services
OnlineLowercase, no hyphen.online
Open EnrollmentCapitalize "Open Enrollment" in all instances since it is the formal name of the period of time when students can enroll in classes for the next term.I cannot take "Introduction to Basket Weaving" this term because I was at home playing video games throughout Open Enrollment.
Ordinal NumbersSpell out first through ninth; use figures for 10th and above.He made it safely to first base.
She was 10th in line.

PercentUse as one word, and always spell it out (do not use the % symbol).The survey found 12 percent of students...
Not: The survey found 12% of students...
Phone NumbersUse periods between groups of numbers instead of dashes, and do not use parentheses. When listing an extension, abbreviate ext.407.708.2000
407.708.4722 ext. 3015
Point of ViewAvoid using first person (I, we, us) and second person (you). Instead use third person (he, she, it, they, the committee, etc.) to maintain an objective tone.The committee finds the budgetary process at Seminole State to be adequate.
Pre- / Post-Words with prefix "pre" or "post" generally are not hyphenated unless they come directly before proper nouns. The dictionary contains a list of words with the prefix "pre" or "post" with appropriate spellings.postbaccalaureatepostdoctoral
But: pre-Columbian
PresidentCapitalize when referring specifically to the President of Seminole State College.President Georgia L. Lorenz...
The President...
  1. All Seminole State instructors are referred to as "professors," no matter what their tenure status is.
  2. Capitalize "professor" if it precedes a name; lowercase it in all other instances.
  1. Refer to all instructors at Seminole State as professors.
  2. Professor Smith wears thick glasses.
Program NamesCapitalize the word "program" when using an official program name. Lowercase in all other uses.
  1. The Interior Design Program
  2. Honors program (because Honors Institute is the official name of the Honors program)
Quotation Marks
  1. Periods and commas always go inside quotation marks.
  2. Dashes, semicolons, question marks and exclamation points go inside the quotation marks when they apply to the quoted matter.
  3. Dashes, semicolons, question marks and exclamation points go outside the quotation marks when they apply to the whole sentence.
  1. The accountant said her firm could "correct the situation."
  2. The professor asked, "How many of you did the assigned reading for today?"
  3. Have you read "The Firm"?
Recommend vs. RecommendedIn the College Catalog, use "recommended" to refer to the classes students can take to satisfy the requirements of a specific program.Recommended Courses (choose 3):
School ofSeminole State is divided into four schools:
  1. School of Academic Foundations
  2. School of Arts and Sciences
  3. School of Career and Professional Programs
  4. School of Engineering, Design and Construction
Adult Education is now the School of Academic Foundations.
Seasons (see also: Academic Terms)Lowercase seasons (spring, summer, winter, fall) unless they are used to form the proper name of an academic termHe starts classes in the fall.
He starts classes in Fall Term.
Seminole State College vs. Seminole StateUse "Seminole State College" on first reference. Thereafter, use "Seminole State."Seminole State College/Seminole State
Seminole State College of Florida District Board of Trustees (abbreviation)Spell out on first reference in each section. Thereafter, abbreviate it or use the acronym.Board of Trustees/BOT
Sexist LanguageUse gender-neutral terms when possible:
Chair (not Chairman or Chairperson).
Representative, senator or member of Congress (not congressman).
Humans or people (not men or mankind).
When possible, use plural forms of pronouns. Instead of he or she, use they.
Members of Congress usually campaign extensively before they are elected.
SlangAvoid using slang. Think globally: What is understood in the United States is not always understood in other countries.He browsed the Internet.
Not: He browsed the Net.
StatewideShould be one word, no hyphen.statewide
They're, their, there
  1. They're: The contraction for "they are"
  2. Their: Denotes possession of something
  3. There: Represents a location
  1. They're going to the store.
  2. Their presentation is scheduled for 3 p.m.
  3. I left my book over there.
  1. Use figures except for noon and midnight.
  2. Always lowercase "a.m." and "p.m.," and separate them with periods. Use a colon to separate hours from minutes.
  3. Do not use zeros, unless you are citing a specific time between two whole hours.
  1. Noon/midnight
  2. 8:30 p.m.
  3. 7 p.m.; 6:20 a.m.
Titles (Dean, Director, Vice President, Associate Vice President, Manager, Coordinator, etc.)
  1. Lowercase all titles if they stand alone in a sentence.
  2. Uppercase the first letter of each word of the title if it is used before a person's name in a sentence.
Note: Exceptions exist in the College Catalog.
  1. Lowercase all titles if they stand alone in a sentence.
  2. Uppercase the first letter of each word of the title if it is used before or after a person's name in a sentence.
  1. The president will speak at a conference next week.
  2. President Lorenz attends many events in an effort to procure funding for the College.
  3. Deb Richard, director of college and community relations, works in Marketing and Communications.
For the College Catalog:
  1. The automotive program manager attended the conference.
  2. Automotive Program Manager Mark Davis attended the conference.
  3. Deb Richard, Director, College and Community Relations, works in Marketing and Communications.
Upper-Division, Upper LevelHyphenate upper-division and upper-level when they precede a noun. Do not hyphenate them when used after a noun.Upper-division engineering majors
The students are in the upper level.
Veterans Affairs (VA)Use the more familiar acronym, VA, in most instances, unless it would confuse the meaning of a sentence.My great-grandfather has to get his treatments performed at the VA hospital, but he dislikes having to wait all day to be seen.
VoiceUse active voice rather than passive voice whenever possible. Passive voice is characterized by the use of a form of the verb "to be" (am, is, are, was, were, be, being and been), followed by a past participle form of a verb (a verb form typically ending in -ed or -en, such as helped or broken). To avoid the use of the passive voice, state as clearly as possible who is responsible for the action in the sentence.The committee found no discrepancies in the records.
Not: There were no discrepancies found in the records.
"W4s"Write "W4s" with quotation marks, no spaces, a capital "W" and a lowercase "s" for all plural references.Professors must submit their "W4s" no later than Friday at 4:30 p.m.
Website, Web page, the WebWrite "website" as one word, lowercase. Capitalize "Web" when referring to a Web page or the World Wide Web. The word "page" is always lowercase and a separate word.website, Web page, the Web
Not: Website, Web site, web site, webpage, Webpage, web page, the web
  1. Who's: The contraction for "who is"
  2. Whose: Possessive
  1. Who's buying lunch today?
  2. Whose turn is it to buy lunch?