Florida Poly follows the writing guidelines in the Associated Press Stylebook for all digital and print materials, including websites. Our goal is to present a consistent and high standard of writing that appropriately reflects Florida Poly’s standard of excellence.
Good editorial style also requires a good dictionary for spelling and usage issues not covered in the AP Stylebook. The AP-recommended dictionary is Webster's New World College Dictionary. In most cases, the first spelling choice listed in the dictionary should be used.
This reference is not intended to be a duplication of the Associated Press Style Guide, but a supplement for style, consistency, spelling, and terms often encountered around the University.
Abbreviations and acronyms: A few universally recognized abbreviations and acronyms are sometimes required and others are allowable depending on context. But in general, avoid alphabet soup. Avoid abbreviations the average reader would not immediately recognize. Some examples:
academic degrees: Use bachelor’s degree, master’s degree, doctoral degree or doctorate in place of degree abbreviations. Also acceptable: Bachelor of Arts and Master of Science, etc. Use abbreviations only when needed to distinguish the specific type of degree or when the use of full terms would be cumbersome. To abbreviate, use periods between letters, such as B.A.
(Bachelor of Arts), M.A. (Master of Arts), M.S. (Master of Science). For degrees with three or more capital letters, such as MBA, omit periods. Do not precede and follow a name with a courtesy title for an academic degree. Using both Dr. and Ph.D. is redundant.
Correct: Sam Jones, Ph.D. Incorrect: Dr. Sam Jones, Ph.D.
academic departments: Capitalize as part of an official name as in Department of Computer Science and Department of Mechanical Engineering, but lowercase when referring to them generically as in the computer science department and mechanical engineering department.
academic titles: Capitalize and spell out formal titles such as president, provost, vice president, chancellor, dean, and chairman when they precede a name: President Avent, Provost Parker.
Lowercase elsewhere. Never abbreviate professor.
accreditation: Florida Poly is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) to award degrees at the associate, baccalaureate, master’s, specialist, and doctoral levels. SACSCOC reaffirmation of accreditation is on a 10-year schedule. There is no reason to qualify accreditation: fully-accredited
administration: Lowercase and spelled out unless part of a proper name. Do not use admin.
alma mater: Lowercase.
alumnus, alumni, alumna, alumnae: Use alumnus (alumni in the plural) when referring to a man who has attended a school or in non-gender specific instances. Use alumna (alumnae in the plural) for references to a woman. Use alumni when referring to groups of men and women. Do not use alum.
a.m., p.m.: Lowercase and use periods. Don’t be redundant (not 8 a.m. this morning).
American College Test: ACT on second reference, though ACT is acceptable for charts, tables and for all references in documents intended for internal or academic audiences.
ampersand: Do not use the ampersand as an abbreviation for “and.” Only use it when it is a part of an official name of department, product, or proper noun.
board of trustees: Lowercase unless referring to a specific board of trustees, such as the Florida Polytechnic University Board of Trustees. Never use BOT. Members are trustees, lowercased.
NOTE: Capitalize trustee when used with a name in ceremonial or internal documents:
The Board of Governors hereby recognizes Trustee Smith for her dedication.
Applied Research Center on first reference. ARC on second reference.
Florida Poly South.
Innovation, Science, and Technology Building on first reference. IST Building on second reference
Residence Hall I and Residence Hall II.
Student Development Center on first reference. SDC on second reference.
Student Wellness Center on first reference. SWC on second reference.
campuswide: One word. Also citywide, countywide, statewide, nationwide, systemwide, and worldwide. NOTE: university-wide requires a hyphen.
captions: Use present tense and describe what is in the image. There is no length requirement, but brevity and simplicity are important. If multiple people are present, identify them from left to right: Florida Polytechnic University sophomore John Doe (left) laughs with freshmen Jane Doe and Maria Ramirez during orientation. If one person is obviously the primary subject performing an action, identify them first: John Doe pitches his entrepreneurial idea to Jane Doe and Maria Ramirez.
classes, courses: Lowercase when referring to courses and classes: I took a cybersecurity class. Uppercase if referring to the specific name of a class or if the class uses a proper noun or numeral: I took Cybersecurity 200 and Spanish 300.
classroom: One word.
class standing: Use lowercase for first-year students (or freshmen), sophomores, juniors, or seniors when referring to individuals. Capitalize names of organized entities. (Examples: Class of 1970; the Senior Class).
commencement: Preferred term for the graduation ceremony.
committees, task forces, commissions: Capitalize names of specific committees and task forces:
Commission on Florida Higher Education Access and Degree Attainment. Lowercase second references: the commission selected the guest speakers.
course titles: Capitalize specific classes: Evolution of Artificial Intelligence. Lowercase as a general reference: artificial intelligence class.
credit hours: For the purposes of the catalog, credit hours should be written with Arabic numerals (2, 3, 28). The use of "semester hours" is not permitted. "Credit hours" and "total credit hours" are the style.
doctor: Use Dr. in first reference as a formal title before the name of an individual who holds a doctorate or a medical degree: Dr. Jonas Salk.
doctoral, doctorate: Doctoral is an adjective; doctorate is a noun. He earned his doctoral degree. He earned his doctorate.
drop/add: A period of time at the beginning of a semester when students may drop or add classes without penalty. Use backslash (/) with no spaces.
email: One word. No hyphen.
faculty: The word “faculty” pertains to a group of people, not one person. One person should be referred to as a faculty member.
FAFSA: The Free Application for Federal Student Aid must be completed by any student seeking to obtain a Pell Grant, student loans, or other financial aid through a university. Spell out on first reference.
Florida Polytechnic University: Use Florida Polytechnic University on first reference. Florida Poly or University can be used on second reference. University, when referring to Florida Poly, is always capitalized. Do not refer to Florida Poly by any other name, including Poly or FPU.
GPA: Acceptable abbreviation in all references for grade point average.
grades: Place single quotation marks around grade letters: She earned an ‘A’ in history. She earned all ‘A’s.
instructor: A non-tenured faculty rank. Lowercase in all uses.
majors, programs: Do not capitalize majors, programs, specializations or concentrations when they are not part of a designated degree: She majored in economics. She received a Bachelor of Arts in History. See academic degrees.
on campus, on-campus: ‘On-campus’ hyphenated is a modifier: Students live in on-campus housing. ‘On campus’ describes location: She has a job on campus.
Ph.D., Ph.D.’s: The preferred form is to say a person holds a doctorate and name the individual’s area of specialty. See academic degrees.
Phoenix: Always capitalized.
president, president’s office: Capitalize if used as before a name or as an official title of a university’s President’s Office: Florida Poly President Randy Avent. Lowercase if after a name or in general uses: The students vowed to visit every university president’s office in the state of Florida.
professor: Lowercase before a name. Do not abbreviate.
programs: See majors.
registrar: Capitalize if with an official organization name: Office of the University Registrar. Use the registrar’s office on second reference or in non-specific use.
researcher: Do not capitalize in title preceding a name.
residence halls: Preferred term for dormitories.
room numbers: Use figures and capitalize room when used with a figure: Room 2, Room 211.
seasons: Lowercase fall, winter, spring, summer and all related words, such as springtime. Capitalize only when part of a formal name (Winter Olympics) or referring to a semester: He started classes at Florida Poly last fall during the Fall 2018 semester.
serial comma: Do use a comma before ‘and’ and ‘or’ in lists of three or more items: Dr. Smith purchased a microscope, lab coat, clipboard, and computer. It is important to differentiate between the board’s regulations, the university’s rules and policies, and the statutory requirements.
staff: The word “staff” pertains to a group of people, not one person. One person should be referred to as a staff member.
State University System of Florida: Use system on second reference, lowercased. Do not use SUS except in charts and tables.
STEM: OK to use for first reference, but spell out science, technology, engineering, and math soon after.
student classifications: Do not capitalize freshman, sophomore, junior, or senior. Do capitalize a class designation: He is a senior computer science major. The Senior Class sponsored the lecture. Plural of freshman is freshmen.
student government association: Lowercase when referring to student governments in general.
Capitalize first reference when referring to a specific university’s: Florida Poly Student Government Association members attended the conference. SGA on second reference.
transfer: Lowercase to classify students.
undergraduate: Lowercase to identify a student who has not earned a degree.
United Faculty of Florida: Higher education union. UFF on second reference.
university: Lowercase unless part of a specific title. Capitalize if referring to Florida Polytechnic University.
University Press of Florida: Book publisher for the state universities.
website: webcam, webcast and webmaster. Short form for World Wide Web and in terms with separate words, the web, webpage, and web feed. Do not use www.: floridapoly.edu.
For questions or to share comments, contact Erica Johnson.