Editorial Style Guide

A Guide to the Buffalo State Writing Style

Just as the Buffalo State University logo helps to visually present the institution consistently to the public, the Buffalo State Editorial Style Guide is designed to help present the university’s formal written communications consistently and clearly. In short, this guide presents a set of standards to promote conformity in writing by the Buffalo State community.

This guide addresses issues of spelling, grammar, punctuation, and capitalization, but it goes beyond this, with the goal of unifying all written communication emerging from diverse campus entities. It is meant to be used by all campus offices, departments, and programs for various types of communication to both internal and external audiences: brochures and advertisements, reports and letters, videos and web pages.

This guide incorporates and cites the following sources:*

  • The Chicago Manual of Style, 17th edition. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2017.
  • Garner’s Modern English Usage, 5th edition. New York: Oxford University Press, 2022.
  • Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, 11th edition. Springfield, Massachusetts: Merriam-Webster, 2003.
  • The Associated Press Stylebook and Briefing on Media Law, 46th edition. New York: Basic Books, 2011.

Reflecting the dynamic nature of the Buffalo State campus as well as the English language itself, this guide will be updated continually. If you have a suggestion or correction, please contact the editor.

You may find it useful to supplement this guide with a specific style guide for your own department, office, or program, incorporating commonly used terms and names.

* For items not covered in this guide, we recommend consulting these sources directly. Entries that contradict Merriam-Webster's 11 supersede the dictionary.


a, an—“With the indefinite article, the choice of a or an depends on the sound of the word it precedes.” Sound, not spelling, dictates: a homage, a hotel, a historical event, a euphonious word, a union, an honor, an NFL team, an M.F.A., a one-man band. (1)

abbreviations and acronyms

academic degrees—Use capital letters with periods: A.A.S., B.A., B.S., Ed.D., J.D., M.A., M.B.A., M.F.A., M.L.S., M.S., Ph.D., etc.; lowercase when spelled out: associate’s degree, bachelor’s degree, bachelor of arts, bachelor of science, master’s degree, master of fine arts.

academic majors, minors, programs of study—generally lowercase in running text with the exception of proper nouns: Africana studies, applied mathematics, data science and analytics, English education (7–12), film studies.

ache—Compounds with ache are generally closed: headache, stomachache, toothache.

acknowledgment (not acknowledgement)

addresses, campus—The preferred style is building name and room number: Cleveland Hall 307, Caudell Hall 112, Butler Library 210.

addresses, street—Do not abbreviate in running text: 1300 Elmwood Avenue, 625 Main Street, 1313 Mockingbird Lane. It is acceptable to use abbreviations in a return address, a list, the back of a brochure, or where space is limited: 1300 Elmwood Ave.

Advanced Placement (AP)—Lowercase the words test, credit, etc.

advisor (no longer adviser)

advocateAdvocate is a transitive verb; it takes a direct object. One advocates a cause, not for a cause. If an intransitive verb is needed, try substituting an alternative, such as work for or argue for.

African American, Chinese American, French Canadian, Mexican American, and so on—no hyphen, noun or adjective form.

afterward (not afterwards)

ages—Use figures for ages of people and animals; hyphenate adjectival and noun forms: The woman, 37, had a 3-month-old baby. The 6-year-old dog, 13-year-olds, acting like a 2-year-old. Avoid aged in designating ages: children ages 6 and up, not children aged 6 and up. (See numbers, figures or words?)

aging (not ageing)

all—Adverbial phrases beginning with all are always open: going all out, painted all over. Adjectival phrases beginning with all are always hyphenated, either before or after a noun: all-out effort, all-American player, the book is all-encompassing.

Allegany County

Allegany—town in New York

Allegany State Park

Alleghany in Virginia

Allegheny in Pennsylvania

Allegheny Mountains

Allegheny River

all right (not alright)

alumnus (masculine singular), alumna (feminine singular), alumni (masculine plural), alumnae (feminine plural). Use the masculine plural (alumni) for groups composed of men and women.

a.m./p.m.—Lowercase and set with periods; use a single space between the numerals and the a.m. or p.m. 10:00 a.m., 7:15 p.m. (See time.)

ampersand (&)—Do not use in place of and, except when it is part of a company’s formal name: Proctor & Gamble, Barnes & Noble at Buffalo State Bookstore.

ante- (prefix)—Generally closed, no hyphen: antediluvian, anteroom. (See prefixes and suffixes.)

anti- (prefix)—Generally closed, no hyphen: antidepressant, antihypertensive; but use the hyphen between repeated vowels, before a proper noun, or to avoid confusion or ambiguity: anti-inflammatory, anti-intellectual, anti-American, anti-racist. (See prefixes and suffixes.)

archaeology (not archeology)

Arctic—Capitalize references to the region around the North Pole: Arctic Circle, the Arctic; lowercase as an adjective meaning frigid: arctic climate, arctic air.

artist-in-residence (n., adj.)



awards—Names of awards and prizes are capitalized, but the categories usually are not: Nobel Prize in physics, Pulitzer Prize for fiction; also Nobel Prize laureate, Emmy Award–winning director.

(1) Chicago Manual of Style, 17th edition (2017), 5.74

backward (not backwards)

benefit, benefited, benefiting

bestseller (n.), bestselling (adj.)

better, best—Compounds formed with better and best are hyphenated before a noun and open after a noun: better-prepared student; best-loved films; she is better educated; he is best known for his short stories.

bi- (prefix)—Generally closed, no hyphen: bilingual, bimonthly, bipartisan. (See prefixes and suffixes.)

Black (adj.)—Uppercase for African American.

board of directors—Generally lowercase unless part of a proper name: the Buffalo State Foundation Board of Directors, the board of directors, the board.

Board of Education (Buffalo Board of Education, the board)

Board of Regents (Regents, Regents biology)

board of trustees—Generally lowercase unless part of a proper name: SUNY Board of Trustees, Burchfield Penney Art Center Board of Trustees, board of trustees, the board.

book—Compounds with book can be open or closed. Consult Webster’s. If not in the dictionary, open: checkbook, notebook, pocketbook, textbook, coupon book, reference book, trade book.

books, parts of—Use arabic numerals with parts of books. Lowercase and spell out in running text: chapter 3, volume 11. Abbreviations may be used in parenthetical references: (chap. 3, vol. 14, pp. 77–82).

Use the following abbreviations for parenthetical references: Plurals for all except page (pp.) and note (nn.) are formed by adding s.

(vol.) volume
(pt.) part
(no.) number
(bk.) book
(chap.) chapter
(p.) page
(n.) note
(app.) appendix
(pl.) plate
(fig.) figure

books, titles of—See titles, composition.

borne—“Closed if listed as such in Webster’s. If not in Webster’s, hyphenate”: airborne, blood-borne, foodborne, mosquito-borne, waterborne. (2) (See prefixes and suffixes.)

Buffalo AKG Art Museum (formerly Albright-Knox Art Gallery)

Buffalo History Museum (formerly the Buffalo and Erie County Historical Society)

the Buffalo News —See newspapers, names of.

Buffalo Niagara (n., adj.)

by- (prefix)—Generally closed, no hyphen: bylaws, byline, byproduct. (See prefixes and suffixes.)



cancel, canceled, canceling, cancellation

capitalization—In general, capitalize the formal name of an office, department, or organization on first reference (as a proper noun) and lowercase its common-noun equivalent on subsequent reference: the Mathematics Department, the department; the Payroll Office, the office. In some cases, especially when they might otherwise be mistaken, shortened versions of formal names are also capitalized: Payroll Office, Payroll; Student Accounts Office, Student Accounts. (See also headline-style capitalization and titles composition.)

capitalization for emphasis—“Capitalizing an entire word or phrase for emphasis is rarely appropriate in formal prose.” (3)

catalog (not catalogue)

centuries—Spell out; do not capitalize: twentieth century, eighteenth century. (See century.)

century Hyphenate compound adjectives formed with century: fourteenth-century scholar, twentieth-century China, mid-eighteenth-century poet, late twentieth-century painter. (See mid.)

chair (not chairman, chairwoman, or chairperson)

Chancellor’s Award, SUNY Chancellor’s Award


Chautauqua Institution (not Institute)

check in (v.), check-in (n.): Volunteers are asked to check in by 9:00 a.m. Report to the lobby by 9:00 a.m. for check-in.

check out (v.), checkout (n.): I am going to check out that book from the library. George got in the checkout line.

clean up (v.), cleanup (n., adj.): She told him to clean up the mess. The cleanup is the worst part. She volunteered for the cleanup committee.

co- (prefix)—Often closed, no hyphen: coauthor, coeducational, cohost. Use a hyphen between repeated vowels or to avoid confusion or ambiguity: co-chair, co-conspirator, co-create, co-director, co-edition, co-opt, co-organize, co-pay, co-sponsor, co-teach, co-workers, co-wrote (but coordinate, cooperate, cooperation). (See prefixes and suffixes.)

comma (serial)—Use a comma before the word and or or in a series: He brought a sleeping bag, a flashlight, and batteries. When the elements of a series are simple and all are joined by conjunctions, no commas are required: She needs a math or a science or an engineering course.

committee—Generally lowercase unless part of a proper name: Commencement Committee, the committee.

company names—Capitalize the first letter of company names in all uses, regardless of the company’s styling: Macy’s, Adidas, Spot, Rand Corporation. Company or product names that contain internal capital letters, such as eBay or iPod, may be preserved, even at the start of a sentence; that is, they need not take an initial capital. Names that contain both initial and internal caps (sometimes called midcaps) may also be preserved: LexisNexis, HarperCollins.

compound modifiers—“When a compound modifier—two or more words that express a single concept—precedes a noun, use hyphens to link all the words in the compound except the adverb very and all adverbs that end in ly: a first-quarter touchdown, a full-time job, an easily remembered rule.” (4)

councilor (not councillor)

counter- (prefix)—Generally closed, no hyphen: counterclockwise, counterculture, countermeasures. (See prefixes and suffixes.)

course name/course prefix—Use the three-letter prefix before each course number; separate letters and numbers with a single space; repeat prefix with each reference: MUS 218 and MUS 230 (not MUS 218 and 230).

course titles—Capitalize the titles of academic courses. Do not italicize or enclose in quotation marks: Abnormal Psychology, Intermediate Photography II, Principles of Urban and Regional Planning.


court—Generic terms designating the courts used in place of full names are lowercased even when they refer to a specific court: traffic court, family court, juvenile court. The word court, when used alone, is capitalized only in reference to the U.S. Supreme Court.

courtesy titles—See honorifics.

credit hours, credits—Use figures: 3 credit hours, 6 credits.

cross- (prefix)—Compounds formed with cross can be open, hyphenated, or closed. Check the dictionary: cross product, cross section, cross-country, cross-cultural, cross-listed, cross-pollination, cross-purpose, crossbones, crosscurrent, crossroad, crosswalk. If not in Webster’s, leave noun forms open; hyphenate adjective, adverb, and verb forms. (See prefixes and suffixes.)

currency (American)—Use numerals for sums of dollars and cents. Use the $ sign for amounts of $1 or more; use the word cents for amounts less than $1. People paid $5 to attend. The committee raised $325. I gave him 50 cents. “Whole amounts expressed numerically should include zeros and a decimal point only when they appear in the same context with fractional amounts” (5): The price of gold rose from $35 an ounce to $375. Tickets sold for $10.00 and $15.50. (See numbers; millions, billions.)

curriculum (singular), curricula (plural) (See practicum and symposium.)

curriculum vitae (singular), curricula vitae (plural)

(2) Chicago Manual of Style, 17th edition (2017), 7.89
(3) Chicago Manual of Style, 17th edition (2017), 7.52
(4) The Associated Press Stylebook and Briefing on Media Law (2000), p. 331
(5) Chicago Manual of Style, 17th edition (2017), 9.20

day care (n.), day-care (adj.): She has a child in day care. He's looking into day-care options.

dean’s list

decades—Decades may be spelled out (the seventies and eighties) or expressed in numerals with apostrophes (’70s and ’80s). Be sure to use an apostrophe (’) and not a single open quotation mark (‘): ’70s and ’80s (not ‘70s and ‘80s). Also, no apostrophe between the numeral and the s. (See plural figures and letters.)

decimal fractions—Use numerals. For amounts less than one, set with an initial zero: The average number of children born in 1991 dropped from 1.3 to 0.95.

degrees, academic—See academic degrees.

departments—Always spell out; do not abbreviate. Capitalize formal names of departments. Use XYZ Department rather than Department of XYZ: English Department, not Department of English.

dialogue (not dialog)

dietitian (not dietician)

directions and regions—“In general, lowercase north, south, northeast, northern, etc., when they indicate compass direction; capitalize these words when they designate regions: The cold front is moving east. A storm system that developed in the Midwest is spreading eastward; it will bring showers to the East Coast by morning and to the entire Northeast by late in the day.” (6) Capitalize when referring to widely known areas: Southern California, Western New York, Lower East Side of New York (but upstate New York).

dissertation titles—Set in quotation marks with title caps. (See titles, composition and headline-style capitalization.)

doctoral (adj.), doctorate (n.): He earned his doctoral degree in 1965. He has a doctorate in clinical psychology. But, juris doctor, doctor of philosophy.


drop off (v.), drop-off (n., adj.): I will drop off the money. The drop-off in ticket sales was noticeable. Drop-off time is 7:00 a.m.

drop out (v.), dropout (n., adj.): I'm afraid she will drop out of school. Though he was a high school dropout, he became a multimillionaire. The high school dropout rate is rising.



earth—Generally lowercase, except in context with other properly named planets: A solar eclipse occurs when the moon passes between the earth and the sun. They are studying the earth’s atmosphere. The class is studying Mercury, Venus, and Earth.

East Side—Buffalo’s East Side; New York’s Lower East Side. (See directions and regions.)

editions—See titles, composition.

-elect—Compounds with elect, meaning newly elected, are hyphenated unless the office title is an open compound: president-elect, senator-elect, town assessor elect, vice president elect. (See vice.)

ellipsis (...)—Three dots used to indicate an omission in quoted material. Do not set off with a space on each side: “Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation…dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.”

email (but e-book, e-commerce, etc.)

em dash—The em dash (—) is used to set off parenthetical material or to signify an abrupt change in thought. The em dash can also replace the colon. Do not set off with a space on each side: She considered the dwarves—all but Grumpy—fine company. He said he needed three things—lawyers, guns, and money.

emeritus (masculine singular), emerita (feminine singular), emeriti (plural)

en dash—The en dash (–) is longer than the hyphen (-) and shorter than the em dash (—). It is generally used to connect continuing or inclusive numbers (ranges)—dates, times, or reference numbers. Do not set off with a space on each side: The report covered 1992–1998. Do not use the words from or between with the en dash: Incorrect: from 1962–1972, between 1968–1970. Correct: from 1962 to 1972, between 1968 and 1972. The en dash is also used “in place of a hyphen in a compound adjective when one of its elements consists of an open compound”: post–Civil War, New York–London flight. (7)

entitled, titled—Use entitled to mean a right to do or have something: She was entitled to a raise. Use titled for the titles of academic works, novels, films, and so on. The article was titled “Development: From Infancy to Adolescence.”


ex- (prefix)—Generally closed, no hyphen: exclude, expose, extract. Compounds with ex meaning former are not recommended in formal writing; former, without a hyphen, is preferable: former president Gerald Ford, former senator. If used, hyphenate: ex-president, ex-husband. Use an en dash if the second part is an open compound: ex–vice president. (See prefixes and suffixes.)

extra- (prefix)—Generally closed, no hyphen, but sometime open. Check Webster’s: extracurricular, extraterrestrial, extra dry. (See prefixes and suffixes.)




faculty—Faculty ranks are, progressively, lecturer, assistant professor, associate professor, professor, SUNY Distinguished Service or Distinguished Teaching Professor, SUNY Distinguished Professor.

farmers market, farmers markets.



firsthand (adj., adv.)

flyer (no longer flier) for a printed advertisement, announcement, or handbill.

foreign words and phrases—Words and phrases in a foreign language are set in italics: The sign on his door says Qui docet discit (He who teaches learns).

forward (not forwards)

fractions—Spell out common usages and use hyphens: More than two-thirds of those polled said they would vote for him. Do not hyphenate the casual use a half: It rained for three and a half days. Mixed fractions (whole numbers combined with fractions) should be expressed in numerals: The note was written on 8½-by-11-inch paper.

-free—Compounds formed with -free are hyphenated both before and after the nouns they modify: tobacco-free campus, campus is tobacco-free.

freelance (v., adj.), freelancer (n.): He wants to freelance this summer. The company hired a freelance artist. She works as a freelancer.

Friends of Night People (no the)

full—Compound adjectives with full are hyphenated before the noun and open after the noun: full-length mirror, full-blown investigation, full-scale attack. The mirror was full length. The drawing was full scale. Almost all compound nouns with full are open: full dress, full house, full moon (but fullback). Consult Webster’s.

fundraiser (n.), fundraising (n., adj.): Our committee will hold a fundraiser. Fundraising is hard work. Our committee will hold a fundraising event.

(6) The Associated Press Stylebook and Briefing on Media Law (2011), p. 85
(7) Chicago Manual of Style, 17th edition (2017), 6.80


grade point average (GPA)

grade, grader—third grade, grade 3, 10th grade, grade 10, seventh through 12th grade, grades 7–12. Hyphenate both adjectival and noun forms: fourth-grade pupil, 12th-grade student, first-grader, 10th-graders.

grades, letter—Capitalize; do not italicize or use quotation marks. Form the plural with s: He was sure he'd get straight As and was shocked when he saw three Bs and a C. Students must maintain a B average. (See plural figures and letters.)

gray (not grey)



half—Most compound adjectives with half are hyphenated: half-baked plan, half-time employee; some are closed: halfhearted attempt, halfway mark. Compound nouns with half can be open, hyphenated, or closed: half hour, half note, half sister, half-dollar, half-life, half-moon, halfback, halftone. Consult the dictionary.

hard copy

headline-style capitalization (also called title case)

  1. “Capitalize the first and last words in titles and subtitles (but see rule 7), and capitalize all other major words (nouns, pronouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs, and some conjunctions—but see rule 4).
  2. Lowercase the articles the, a, and an.
  3. Lowercase prepositions, regardless of length, except when they are used adverbially or adjectivally (up in Look Up, down in Turn Down, on in the On Button, to in Come To, etc.) or when they compose part of a Latin expression used adjectivally or adverbially (De Facto, In Vitro, etc.)
  4. Lowercase the common coordinating conjunctions and, but, for, or, and nor.
  5. Lowercase to not only as a preposition (rule 3) but also as part of an infinitive (to Run, to Hide, etc.), and lowercase as in any grammatical function.
  6. Lowercase the part of a proper name that would be lowercased in text, such as de or von.
  7. Lowercase the second part of a species name, such as fulvescens in Acipenser fulvescens, even if it is the last word in a title or subtitle.” (8)

Capitalize hyphenated compounds in titles as follows:

  1. “Always capitalize the first element.
  2. Capitalize any subsequent elements unless they are articles, prepositions, coordinating conjunctions (and, but, for, or, nor), or such modifiers as flat or sharp following musical key symbols
  3. If the first element is merely a prefix or combining form that could not stand by itself as a word (anti, pre, etc.), do not capitalize the second element unless it is a proper noun or proper adjective.
  4. Capitalize the second element in a hyphenated spelled-out number (Twenty-One or Twenty-First, etc.) or hyphenated simple fraction (Two-Thirds in Two-Thirds Majority).” (9) (See titles, composition.)

health care (n.), health-care (adj.): Health care is a major issue with the candidates. Health-care reform is on the agenda.


HIV-negative, HIV-positive

honorable—See reverend and honorable.

honorifics (Mr., Ms., Dr., etc.)—In general, honorifics are not used before names on first or subsequent references in Buffalo State publications. (See names.) Honorifics are sometimes used in special cases, for example, a list of donors or a special invitation. When a degree is indicated, it follows the name on first reference: Judith A. Smith, Ph.D.; John Q. Jones, M.A. Do not use both an honorific and a degree:

Preferable: Judith A. Jones, Ph.D.
Acceptable: Dr. Judith A. Jones
Incorrect: Dr. Judith A. Jones, Ph.D.

honors—Capitalize when referring to the formal program: Muriel A. Howard Honors Program, Muriel A. Howard Honors Colloquium; lowercase elsewhere else: honors students.

honors, academic—Academic degrees and honors following a personal name should be capitalized, whether abbreviated or spelled out: Steven Kiley, M.D.; Clyde M. Matthews, Doctor of Law.

Named professorships and fellowships are capitalized: Sherry Turkle, Abby Rockefeller Mauzé Professor of the Social Studies of Science and Technology; Lisa Pilosi, Sherman Fairchild Conservator in Charge.

SUNY Distinguished Professor titles are capitalized but the discipline is not (unless it is a proper noun): Steven D. Georgiou, SUNY Distinguished Teaching Professor of music; John Keating, SUNY Distinguished Professor of English.



ID card, ID

ill—Compounds formed with ill are hyphenated before a noun, open after a noun: ill-fitting garment, the garment was ill fitting, ill-advised decision, the decision was ill advised.

impact—A noun, not a verb.

impactful—Jargon. Avoid.

Inc., Co., etc.—Usually eliminated in running text; when included, do not set off a with a comma: Coca-Cola Bottling Co., Moog Inc.

include—Use include when what follows is only part of the total: The price includes breakfast. The zoo includes hippopotamuses and rhinoceroses.

initials—When two or more initials are used before a name, use periods and insert a space between each: H. W. Fowler, W. E. B. Du Bois. No periods or spaces are used for people commonly referred to by their initials only: FDR, JFK, LBJ, MLK.



inter- (prefix)—Generally closed, no hyphen: intercontinental, intergenerational, interrelated. (See prefixes and suffixes.)

intra- (prefix)—Generally closed, no hyphen: intracranial, intragalactic, intranet. (See prefixes and suffixes.)

italicized words—When italicized words that are singular in form are used in the plural, set the s or es in roman type: She bought two Chicago Tribunes and three Milwaukee Journals. (See titles, composition and punctuation)

italics versus quotation marks—See titles, composition.



Jr., Sr., II, IV, etc.—Do not set off with commas: Martin Luther King Jr., Loudon Wainwright III, Benjamin O. Davis Sr.

judgment (not judgement)

the Juilliard School (not Julliard)



kick off (v.), kickoff (n., adj.): The event will kick off the week. The event is a kickoff to the week’s activities. The kickoff event went smoothly.

Kleinhans Music Hall

(8) Chicago Manual of Style, 17th edition (2017), 8.159
(9) Ibid., 8.161


led—not lead—for the past tense of lead

legal cases—Italicize the names of legal cases. Abbreviate v. for versus in case names: Miranda v. Arizona, Times v. Sullivan. Retain the italics when the case name is shortened: the Miranda case. (See versus.)

letter grades—See grades, letter.

letters as letters—Italicize individual letters and combinations of letters of the alphabet: the letter q, a lowercase n. Is the plural formed with s or es? Roman type, however, is always used in two common expressions:

Mind your p’s and q’s.
dotting the i’s and crossing the t’s (10)

Notice that single lowercase letters take an apostrophe in the plural form. (See plural figures and letters and grades, letter.)

life—Compounds with life can be open, hyphenated, or closed. Consult Webster’s. If not in the dictionary, open: life preserver, life raft, life span, life-form, lifeblood, lifeboat, lifesaver, lifestyle, lifetime.

-like (suffix)—Compounds formed with the suffix -like are generally closed, but consult Webster’s. If not in the dictionary, hyphenate: childlike, catlike, mouselike, shell-like, sponge-like, Roosevelt-like. “Compounds retain the hyphen both before and after a noun.” (11) (See prefixes and suffixes.)

little, lesser, least—Compounds formed with little, lesser, and least are hyphenated before a noun, open after: little-known tale, the tale was little known, the lesser-prepared student, the student who is least prepared.



macro- (prefix)—Generally closed, no hyphen: macroeconomics, macromolecular. (See prefixes and suffixes.)

mapmaker, mapmaking (n.)

measure, units of—Always use numerals: 5 feet, 6 inches, 12 miles. Abbreviations are generally avoided in running text, but may be necessary when space is limited, such as in tables, charts, or graphs. Abbreviations are identical in the singular and plural. Abbreviate as follows:

in.  inch
ft.  foot
yd.  yard
mi.  mile
m.p.g.  miles per gallon
m.p.h.  miles per hour
sq.  square
cu.  cubic
pt.  pint
qt.  quart
gal.  gallon
mg  milligram
g  gram
kg  kilogram
oz.  ounce
lb.  pound
mm  millimeter
cm  centimeter
m  meter
km  kilometer
km/h  kilometers per hour
dB  decibel
mL  milliliter
L  liter
J  joule
kW  kilowatt
kWh  kilowatt hour
V  volts
W  watt
Hz  hertz
MHz  megahertz
°F  degrees Fahrenheit
°C  degrees Celsius (replaces centigrade)

medals and awards, military—“Specific names of medals and awards are capitalized.” (12) Bronze Star, Medal of Honor, Purple Heart

media (plural), medium (singular)

micro- (prefix)—Generally closed, no hyphen: micromanage, microwave. (See prefixes and suffixes.)

mid- (prefix)—Generally closed. Hyphenate if the second element is a proper noun: midlife, midterm, midweek, mid-Atlantic, mid-Victorian; but mid-nineteenth century, mid-nineteenth-century painter. (See century and prefixes and suffixes.)

midnight—Use midnight, not 12:00 midnight or 12:00 a.m. (See noon.)

military terms—Full “titles of armies, navies, air forces, fleets, regiments, battalions, companies, corps, and so forth are capitalized.” The words army, navy, etc. “are lowercased when standing alone, when used collectively in the plural, or when not part of an official title.” (13) United States Army, the army, the American army, United States Navy, the navy, the armed forces.

Miller Analogies Test

millions, billions—Use figures with million or billion in all but casual uses (There must have been a million people there). Retain the word million with the first figure in a range: The deal will be worth from $2 million to $4 million (not $2 to $4 million). Do not use a hyphen to join the figures and the word, even as an adjectival modifier: The president submitted a $300 million budget. Do not go beyond two decimal places: 7.55 million people (7,546,500 people). (14)

mini- (prefix)—Generally closed, no hyphen: minibike, minibus, minigrant, miniskirt. (See prefixes and suffixes.)

moneys, not monies, for the plural form of money.

months—Do not abbreviate in running text; capitalize and spell out in all uses: October 1964; January 1, 2000; Labor Day falls on the first Monday in September. Months may be abbreviated as follows when space is limited: Jan., Feb., March, April, May, June, July, Aug., Sept., Oct., Nov., Dec.

more, most—Compounds formed with more and most are usually open (most favored child) unless a hyphen is needed to distinguish meaning: more plausible excuses (more excuses that are plausible), more-plausible excuses (excuses that are more plausible).

multi- (prefix)—Generally closed, no hyphen: multidisciplinary, multifaceted, multipurpose. (See prefixes and suffixes.)

(10) Chicago Manual of Style, 17th edition (2017), 7.64
(11) Ibid., 7.89
(12) Ibid., 8.115
(13) Ibid., 8.112
(14) The Associated Press Stylebook and Briefing on Media Law (2011), p. 180

names—On first reference, use the given and surname; on subsequent reference, use the surname only: Michael Jones, professor of mathematics, and Maria Wallace, associate professor of computer science, won awards for their research. Jones and Wallace have worked together on several projects during the past five years. (See honorifics.)

Native American (n., adj.) (no hyphen)

newspapers, names of—Set the names of newspapers in italics. The article the is set in roman type and, unless it begins a sentence, is lowercased: I read it in the New York Times. They’re running an ad in the Buffalo News. (See titles, composition.)

New York City, city of New York; New York State, state of New York—In general, capitalize when referring to the governing administrative structure and lowercase when referring to the geographic area.

New York State Education Department (but U.S. Department of Education)

nicknames—Set in quotation marks after the middle name or initial and before the last name: John Q. “Joe” Public.

non- (prefix)—Generally closed, no hyphen: noncredit, nonnuclear, nonnative, nonprofit, nontraditional, nonviolent. Hyphenate with a proper noun or a compound term: non-English-speaking immigrants, non-degree-seeking students. (See prefixes and suffixes.)

noon—Use noon, not 12:00 noon or 12:00 p.m. (See midnight.)

North Buffalo—(See directions and regions.)

numbers—In general, spell out numbers zero through nine in running text; use figures for numbers 10 and up. Ordinals follow the same rule: first, ninth, 27th, 110th. Use commas with four or more figures in a sequence: 1,467; 12,567. Exceptions: page numbers, addresses, standardized test scores (e.g., SAT, GRE), and years with four or fewer digits. (See years.)

numbers: figures versus words

Use words for the following:

  • Cardinal numbers zero through nine. (Use figures for 10 and above.)
  • Ordinals first through ninth. (Use figures for 10th and above.)
  • Centuries: the twentieth century, the fifth century. (See centuries.)
  • Fractions (whole)—use hyphens: one-fifth, two-thirds. (See fractions.)
  • A number that begins a sentence; the only exception is a year:

Correct: Fifteen people died when a tour bus collided with a tractor trailer.
Incorrect: 15 people died when a tour bus collided with a tractor trailer.
Acceptable: 1946 was a great year for film.

When spelling large numbers, use a hyphen to connect a word ending in y to another word: eighty-seven, ninety-nine, one hundred seventy-two.

Use figures for the following:

  • Addresses: 1313 Mockingbird Lane, 3 Rolling Hills Court.
  • Ages of people and animals—Hyphenate adjectival and noun forms: 3-year-old boy, 10-month-old baby, 13-year-olds, 75 years old.
  • Cardinal numbers 10 and above. (Spell out numbers zero through nine.)
  • Ordinals 10th and above. (Spell out ordinals first through ninth.)
  • Credits and credit hours: 3 credit hours, 6 credits, 3-credit course.
  • Currency—See currency.
  • Decimal fractions—See decimal fractions.
  • Dimensions—Use figures and spell out inches, feet, yards, and so forth to indicate height, length, depth, and width. Hyphenate adjectival forms before nouns: He is 5 feet 10 inches tall, the 5-foot-6-inch man, the 9-by-12 rug, the storm left 5 inches of snow.
  • Numbers in a series—Use a figure with the abbreviation no. (not the # symbol): no. 6, no. 15. Capitalize as the abbreviation for number when used adjectivally with a figure to indicate position or rank: No. 1 problem, No. 3 choice. Do not use No. in the names of public schools: School 32, School 17. (See schools, public.)
  • Parts of a book, periodical, or manuscript: volume 3, chapter 6, page 12, plate 7, figures 23–29. (See books, parts of.)
  • Parts of poems or plays: canto 2, stanza 4, act 3, scene 5.
  • Percentages—Use the word percent  (not the % symbol), unless in tables or charts. Use decimals, not fractions: 4.5 percent. For amounts less than 1 percent, precede the decimal with a zero: 0.8 percent.
  • Ratios: the ratio was 2-to-1, a ratio of 2-to-1, a 2-1 ratio. (See ratios.)
  • Sizes: a size 9 dress, size 40 long.
  • With symbols: 3", 36°, 9'
  • Time: 2:00 a.m., 11:17 p.m.
  • Units of measure: 3 miles, 55 mph, 50 lb., 35 mm., 6 inches (See measure, units of.)
  • Years: 1945, 1880, 1977. (Note: Years with five or more digits use commas: 15,000–14,000 B.P.) [15] (See years.)

(15) Chicago Manual of Style, 17th edition (2017), 9.64


offices—Always spell out; do not abbreviate. Capitalize formal names of offices. Use XYZ Office rather than Office of XYZ: Marketing and Communications Office, not Office of Marketing and Communications.


over, under—Compounds beginning with over or under are generally closed: overboard, overeager, overzealous, underhanded, underreported, underway.



part time (adv.), part-time (adj.): He works part time. She has a part-time job.

percentages—Use numerals. Use decimals, not fractions. Spell out the word percent (do not use the % symbol unless space is limited, as in tables or charts): 10 percent, 47 percent, 3.5 percent. For amounts less than 1 percent, precede the decimal with a zero: 0.8 percent.

periodicals, titles—Italicize. See titles, composition and titles, articles and features.

pickup (n., adj.), pick up (v.): Call us to schedule a pickup. He drives a pickup truck. She must pick up her daughter at 3:30.

plural figures and letters—Add s to capital letters and to numbers used as nouns. Add ’s to single lowercase letters and to abbreviations with two or more internal periods:

  • She received two As and three Bs. The dorm had three RAs. The VIPs arrived early.
  • The school became coeducational in the 1960s. Among the scores were two 240s and three 238s. Nothing was left on the rack but size 2s and 16s.
  • Mind your p’s and q’s.
  • M.A.’s and Ph.D.’s (See grades, letter and letters as letters.)

p.m.—See a.m./p.m.

possessives—The general rule for forming the possessives of singular common nouns—add ’s—covers most proper nouns as well, including names ending in s, x, or z: Burns’s poems, Jones’s reputation, Marx’s theories, Dickens’s novels, Margaux’s bouquet, Descartes’s work, Xerxes’s armies.

Exceptions to the general rule that form their possessives with an apostrophe only:

  • Nouns (common or proper) that are plural in form but singular in meaning or whose singular and plural forms are the same: economics’, politics’, species’, the United States’.
  • For...sake expressions with singular common nouns that end in s: for goodness’ sake, for righteousness’ sake.

post- (prefix)—Generally closed, no hyphen: postbaccalaureate, postdoctoral, postimpressionism, postmodern, but post-traumatic, post-Vietnam. Check Webster’s. (See prefixes and suffixes.)

practicum (singular), practicums (plural). (See curriculum and symposium.)

pre- (prefix)—Generally closed, no hyphen: predoctoral, preeminent, preempt, premajor, premedical, preprofessional, preschool, preservice. Hyphenate with a compound modifier: pre-latency-period episodes. (See prefixes and suffixes.)

prefixes and suffixes—Most words with prefixes such as co-, pre-, un-, post-, and mini- and suffixes such as -borne,-like, and -wide are formed as closed compounds. Consult Webster’s. Some exceptions:

  • With proper nouns or numerals: mid-July, pre-Renaissance, post-1920.
  • As homographs: re-cover, re-create, un-ionized.
  • In compounds in which the second element consists of more than one word: pre-latency-period, non-English-speaking, non-degree-seeking. When a prefix is added to an open compound, the hyphen becomes an en dash: pre–Civil War.
  • With suspensive hyphenation: over- and underused, macro- and microeconomics.
  • With some repeated vowels: anti-inflammatory, semi-independent.
  • With misleading or awkward forms: co-chair, co-worker, non-essential, pro-life, unit-wide.

Presidents Day (no apostrophe)

preventive (n., adj.)

prime meridian

printmaking (n.)

prior to—avoid when possible; use before or until instead.

pro- (prefix)—Most compounds formed with pro that denote support for something are hyphenated. A few are closed. Consult the dictionary: pro-American, pro-choice, pro-democracy, pro-life, pronuclear. (See prefixes and suffixes.)

pronouns—See Inclusive Language section

proved, proven—Use proved as the past participle, proven as an adjective only: She has proved her case. It is a proven remedy.

punctuation, styling—Generally, punctuation marks take same style or font of type as the main or surrounding text: It took him 10 years to read War and Peace! Her favorite Hal Ashby films are Harold and Maude, Coming Home, and Being There. (See italicized words.)



quasi—Compound adjectives with quasi are usually hyphenated: quasi-public corporation; compound nouns with quasi are open: quasi contract, quasi union. Check Webster’s.

quotation marks, punctuation with—Commas and periods always go inside quotation marks. Other punctuation marks go outside the quotation marks, unless they are part of the quoted material: He asked, “Did you actually see him do it?” Have you read the article “Ten Simple Steps to Better Writing”?



ratios—“Use figures and hyphens: The ratio was 2-to-1, a ratio of 2-to-1, a 2-1 ratio. As illustrated, the word to should be omitted when the numbers precede the word ratio.” (16)

re- (prefix)—Generally closed, no hyphen: recover, reelect, reenact, reentry, reunite; but, include the hyphen if necessary to distinguish the word from its homograph: re-cover (to cover again), re-creation (another creation). (See prefixes and suffixes.)

recur, recurred, recurring (not reoccur)

references, first and subsequent—See capitalization and names.

Regents (Board of Regents, New York State Board of Regents, Regents biology, Regents English)

request for proposals (RFP)



reverend and honorable—“The abbreviations Rev. and Hon. are traditionally used before a full name when the does not precede the title. With the, such titles should be spelled out.” (17) The title is dropped on second reference: the Reverend Martin Luther King Jr., Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., King; the Honorable Nancy Pelosi, Hon. Nancy Pelosi, Pelosi.

role-play (v.)

RSVP—“The abbreviation for the French repondez s’il vous plait, it means please reply.” (18)  The phrase Please RSVP is redundant.

(16) The Associated Press Stylebook and Briefing on Media Law (2011), p. 238
(17) Chicago Manual of Style, 17th edition (2017), 10.18
(18) The Associated Press Stylebook and Briefing on Media Law (2011), p. 247

St. Catharines, Ontario

school—Compounds with school are generally closed, with a few exceptions. Check the dictionary: school board, school bus, school-age, schoolchildren, schoolroom, schoolteacher, schoolwork.

schools, public—Use figures and capitalize school. Do not include the word number, the symbol #, or the abbreviation no.: School 96, School 76.

seasons—The four seasons are lowercased: fall 1994, the spring semester. Her favorite season was winter. Seasons are capitalized, however, when used in place of the month or issue number of a periodical: Journal of Human Resources (Fall 2009).

SEFA/United Way Campaign

self—Both noun and adjective forms [are] hyphenated, except where self- is followed by a suffix or preceded by un” (19): self-conscious, self-reliant, self-restraint, self-righteous, selfish, selfless, unselfconscious. (See suffixes.)

semester—Lowercase: fall semester, spring semester.

semi- (prefix)—Generally closed: semiannual, semicircle, semifinal, semiliterate; but use the hyphen between repeated vowels: semi-independent, semi-indirect. (See prefixes and suffixes.)

series and editions—Titles of book series and editions are capitalized and set in roman type without quotation marks. The words series and edition are lowercase when they are not part of the title: Chicago History of American Civilization series, Modern Library edition, second edition.

setup (n.), set up (v.)—This looks like a setup. He set up the backdrop.

ships, trains, aircraft, spacecraft, automobiles—“Names of specific ships and other vessels are both capitalized and italicized. Note that when such abbreviations as USS (United States ship) or HMS (Her [or His] Majesty’s ship) precede a name, the word ship or other vessel type should not be used. The abbreviations themselves are not italicized.” (20): USS SC-530, HMS Frolic, Voyager 2, Sputnik II, CSS Shenandoah. “Names of makes and classes of aircraft, models of automobiles and other vehicles, names of trains or train runs, and names of space programs are capitalized but not italicized.” (21): Boeing 787 Dreamliner, Concorde, Honda Civic, Acela Express, Project Apollo.

shut—Compound nouns with shut are generally hyphenated or closed: shut-in, shutdown, shutoff, shutout. Consult Webster’s. As verbs, they remain open: He shut down his computer. She shut off the light.

sign up (v.), sign-up (n., adj.): Please sign up before the event. Sign-up is Tuesday. The sign-up sheet will be posted on the door.

singular they—See Inclusive Language section.

so-called (adj.)

Social Security, Social Security number

socio- (prefix)—Generally closed, no hyphen: socioeconomic, sociopolitical. (See prefixes and suffixes.)

South Buffalo (See directions and regions.)

speech-language (adj.)

speech-language-hearing (adj.)

study abroad (adv.), study-abroad (adj.): She will study abroad. I joined a study-abroad program.

sub- (prefix)—Most constructions with sub are closed: subbasement, subordinate, substandard. Hyphenate when used with a proper noun: sub-Saharan, sub-Arctic. (See prefixes and suffixes.)

subtitles—Use a colon, not a semicolon or a dash, between titles and subtitles: Working with Words: A Concise Handbook for Media Writers and Editors.

suffixes—Most compounds formed with suffixes are closed: nationhood, selfish, senseless. Consult the dictionary.

SUNY Board of Trustees (Board of Trustees, trustees)


SUNY Distinguished Professor—Awarded by the SUNY Board of Trustees, a rank higher than (full) professor. Always capitalized.

SUNY Distinguished Service Professor—Awarded by the SUNY Board of Trustees, a rank higher than (full) professor. Always capitalized.

SUNY Distinguished Teaching Professor—Awarded by the SUNY Board of Trustees, a rank higher than (full) professor. Always capitalized.

symposium (singular), symposiums (plural) (See curriculum and practicum.)

(19) Chicago Manual of Style, 17th edition (2017), 7.89
(20) Ibid., 8.116
(21) Ibid., 8.117

teachers college (no apostrophe)

telephone numbers—Enclose area code in parentheses for both toll and toll-free calls. Do not include the 1. Use a hyphen to punctuate, not a period or a space: (716) 878-4000, (800) 555-1212.

theater—Not theatre, unless part of the official name of an organization: Studio Arena Theatre.

Theater District—in downtown Buffalo.

time—Use numerals, with zeros for even hours: The workshop will begin at 2:00 p.m. Abbreviations for divisions of the day (a.m., p.m.) are set in lowercase with periods. Separate time and division of day with a single space. Use noon (not 12:00 noon or 12:00 p.m.) and midnight (not 12:00 midnight or 12:00 a.m.). See a.m./p.m., noon, and midnight.

time zones—Lowercase, except for proper nouns: eastern standard time, central daylight time, Greenwich mean time. Capitalize abbreviations: EST, CDT, GMT.

titles, academic—In general, capitalize academic titles “when they immediately precede a personal name and are thus used as part of the name (traditionally replacing the title holder’s first name). In formal prose and other generic text, titles are normally lowercased when following a name or used in place of a name.” (22): SUNY Chancellor John B. King Jr., John B. King Jr., Chancellor King; Buffalo State Interim President Bonita R. Durand, Interim President Durand; Professor Roy Hinkley, Professor Hinkley.

Lowercase a title when it stands alone, follows a name, or precedes a name but is used appositively, that is, as an identifier or occupational descriptor rather than as a title (especially when preceded by the or used with a modifier): John B. King Jr., SUNY chancellor; the interim president of Buffalo State, Bonita Durand; Judith A. Smith, professor of fine arts; Harold Chasen, associate professor and chair of the Psychology Department; assistant professor of music Michael Timmins. (See titles, military or civil; honorifics; and honors, academic.)

titles, articles and features—Titles of articles and features in periodicals and newspapers, chapter titles, short-story titles, essays, and individual selections in books are set in roman type and enclosed in quotation marks: “Talk of the Town” in last week’s New Yorker. The author cited “Maternal Behavior and Attitudes,” chapter 14 in Human Development. (23)

titles, composition—Use title capitalization, also called headline style or title case. (See headline-style capitalization.)

Titles of books, magazines,* newspapers,* scholarly journals,* movies, television or radio series, plays, long poetic works, exhibitions, photographs, paintings, sculptures, other works of art, operas and other long musical compositions, and musical scores: the Christian Science Monitor, the New England Journal of Medicine, Picasso’s Guernica, Mozart’s Le Nozze di Figaro.

Set in quotation marks:
Titles of dissertations, theses, journal articles, chapters of books, short stories, poems, articles and features in periodicals and newspapers, song titles, and specific radio programs or television shows within a series (single program or episode): PBS’s Masterpiece Theatre; episode 122 of Homicide: Life on the Street, “Forgive Us Our Trespasses”; National Public Radio’s Talk of the Nation, “Welfare Reform and Child Care.”

*Note: The article the in newspaper and periodical titles is set in roman type and, unless it begins a sentence, is lowercased: I read it in the New York Times. We’re running an ad in the Buffalo News. With book titles, the edition is lowercased and set in roman type: The Chicago Manual of Style, 17th edition.

titles, courtesy (Mr., Ms., Dr., etc.)—See honorifics.

titles, military or civil—In general, capitalize a military or civil title when it immediately precedes a personal name and is thus used as part of the name (24): New York Senator Kirsten E. Gillibrand, Senator Gillibrand; Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown, Mayor Brown; Prince Charles. Spell out and capitalize a military or civil title that precedes a surname alone: Chief Justice Roberts, Senator Schumer, Lieutenant Scheisskopf. Lowercase a title when used alone or in apposition to a name (especially when preceded by the or used with a modifier): John Roberts, chief justice of the United States; the mayor of Buffalo, Byron Brown. A civil or military title preceding a full name may be abbreviated, especially when space is limited: Brig. Gen. Kristin E. Goodwin, Gov. Kathy Hochul. (See titles, academic; honorifics; and honors, academic.)

toward (not towards)

trademark names—“In general, use a generic equivalent unless the trademark name is essential to the story. When a trademark name is used, capitalize it.” (25): Frisbee, Jacuzzi, Jet Ski, Ping Pong, Popsicle, Q-Tip, Rollerblade, Scotch Tape, Touch-Tone, Velcro. Dictionaries indicate registered trademark names. Eliminate TM, ®, and © in running text.

transfer, transferred, transferring, transferable

travel, traveled, traveling

tropic of Cancer, tropic of Capricorn, but the Tropics (plural)

(22) Chicago Manual of Style, 17th edition (2017), 8.19
(23) Ibid., 8.177
(24) Ibid., 8.24
(25) The Associated Press Stylebook and Briefing on Media Law (2011), p. 280


un- (prefix)—Generally closed. Hyphenate with proper nouns: unfunded, unnatural, un-American. (See prefixes and suffixes.)

under- (prefix)—Most compounds with under are closed: underreported, undersea, undersecretary, underused, underway. (See prefixes and suffixes.)

underway (adj., adv.)—Underway refueling. Preparations are underway.

United States—Spell out when used as a noun. Acceptable to abbreviate (U.S.) as an adjective: He lives in the United States. U.S. citizen. U.S. courts, U.S. dollars.

United Way Day of Caring

United Way of Buffalo and Erie County

university names—Do not capitalize the article the as part of a university’s name: He attended the University of Notre Dame. If a university has multiple campuses, follow the university’s preferred style, using the word at, a dash, or a comma to specify: the University of Wisconsin–Madison; the University of California, Berkeley; the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

upstate New York

U.S.—See United States.

U.S. Department of Education (but New York State Education Department)



versus—Spell out in running text. In short expressions, the abbreviation vs. (with period) is permitted: guns vs. butter. Abbreviate as v. (with period) in legal cases: New York Times v. Sullivan. (See legal cases.)

Veterans Day (no apostrophe)

vice—Noun forms sometimes hyphenated, sometimes open, rarely closed: vice-chancellor, vice president, viceroy. Check Merriam-Webster and hyphenate if the term is not listed. Hyphenate adjectival forms before a noun but not after: vice-presidential duties, the speech was vice presidential. (See -elect.)

videotape (n., v.)—Do you have a blank videotape? They will videotape the ceremony.



wars, battles—Full titles of wars, battles, and conflicts are generally capitalized. The words war and battle are lowercased when used alone. (26) The American Civil War, World War I, Second World War, the two world wars, Battle of the Bulge, Shay’s Rebellion. (See World War I, World War II.)

web—Lowercase in most references to the Internet: web, web page, website. Capitalize World Wide Web. (See Computer-Related Terms.)

well—Compounds formed with well are hyphenated before a noun, open after: well-known story, the news was well received.

Western (adj.)—Western customs, Western dress, Western New York, Western Europe. (See directions and regions.)

Western New York

West Side—Buffalo’s West Side, New York’s Lower West Side (See directions and regions.)

White (adj.)—Uppercase for Caucasian. But lowercase white supremacist, white supremacy.

-wide (suffix)—Generally closed except with proper nouns and words of three or more syllables: campuswide, worldwide, Buffalo-wide, university-wide. “Compounds retain the hyphen both before and after a noun.” (27) (See prefixes and suffixes.)

work—Most compound nouns with work are closed: workforce, workgroup, workhorse, workload, workplace, workroom, worksite, work camp. Consult the dictionary.

work-study (n., adj.)

World War I, World War II, the First World War, the Great War, the Second World War, World Wars I and II, the two world wars. (28)



x-ray (n., v., adj.): I think she should go for x-rays. The doctor will x-ray her arm. I saw the x-ray films.



years—Use figures, without commas, for years with four or fewer digits: 1948, 1776. Use figures, with commas, for years with five or more digits: “Radiocarbon dating indicates that the campsite was in use by about 13,500 BP.” When designating eras with BC or AD, the abbreviation AD precedes the year and BC follows it: “Britain was invaded successfully in 55 BC and AD 1066.” (29)

  • Use s (no apostrophe) to indicate spans of decades or centuries: the 1890s, the 1900s. (See plural figures and letters.)
  • Set off a year with commas when it follows a month and date: The Senate approved the recommendation at its April 13, 2007, meeting.
  • Do not use a comma to separate a month and a year: June 1988.
  • Years are the sole exception to the rule of spelling out numbers that begin sentences. (See numbers, figures versus words.)



zero, zeros

(26) Chicago Manual of Style, 17th edition (2017), 8.113–8.114
(27) Ibid., 7.89
(28) Ibid., 8.113
(29) Ibid., 9.34

Inclusive Language

“Inclusive, bias-free, and equitable communication treats all people with respect; encompasses diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI); and does not offend, exclude, or discriminate.” (1)

General guidelines for achieving bias-free writing are included below. For more-in-depth guidance, please consult the Educause Inclusive Language Guide, the American Psychological Association’s Inclusive Language Guidelines, or the Chicago Manual of Style, 17th edition (specifically 5.48,  5.251–5.260) directly.

Avoid language that tends to exclude, such as mailman, mankind, or stewardess, in favor of gender-neutral terms like mail carrier, humanity, or flight attendant.

Use “person-first” instead of “identity-first” language. Identity-first language puts the characteristic first, as in a disabled person, while person-first language puts the person first: a person with a disability. “Understand that bias comes in many dimensions: An incomplete list includes race, ethnicity, (dis)ability, age, sex, gender, weight/health, wealth/income, politics, parental/family status, religion (including those who are not religious), nation of origin, immigration status, language/accent, and education level.” (2)

Growing numbers of people use they as a gender-neutral singular personal pronoun. In stories about people who identify as neither male nor female or who ask to be referred to as they, writers should take care to respect the subject’s wishes. Do not make assumptions about a person’s gender identity based on pronouns, or vice versa. Do not assume a person’s pronouns based on a first name. In general, a person’s stated preference for a specific pronoun should be respected.

However, because they as a singular pronoun may be confusing to readers and is still not fully accepted in formal writing, establish context by explaining that the person uses a gender-neutral pronoun.

Smith, who uses the pronoun they, said they will retire in June.

Use the person’s name in place of a pronoun or otherwise reword the sentence whenever possible. Be sure the phrasing does not imply more than one person. Do not use gender-neutral pronouns such as xe or zim, which are unrecognizable as words to general audiences.

Try to honor both your readers and your story subjects. As in all writing, clarity is paramount. (3)

The following advice on “singular they” applies mainly to generic references, where the identity of a person is unknown or irrelevant to the story.

In general, pronouns should agree in number with their antecedents: The children loved the books their uncle gave them. Maria turned in all her assignments early.

In generic use, a sentence can almost always be written as both grammatically correct and free of gender bias without resorting to the singular they. Rewording is usually possible and is always preferable. (4)

For example, instead of Ask a friend if they could help, write Ask a friend for help. Or instead of A student needing a course override should contact their advisor, write Students needing a course override should contact their advisor.

The Chicago Manual of Style offers the following nine techniques that can be used or combined to achieve gender neutrality without resorting to singular they.

  1. Omit the pronoun. For instance, instead of writing The programmer should update the records when he receives approval from the head office, write The programmer should update the records when approval is received from the head office.
  2. Repeat the noun. For instance, A writer should be careful not to needlessly antagonize readers because her credibility would otherwise suffer becomes A writer should be careful not to needlessly antagonize readers because the writer’s credibility would otherwise suffer. Take care not to overuse this technique. Repeating a noun too frequently will irritate readers. If you have to repeat a noun more than twice in a sentence or repeat it too soon, rewrite the sentence.
  3. Use a plural antecedent. For example, A contestant must conduct himself with dignity at all times becomes Contestants must conduct themselves with dignity at all times.
  4. Use an article instead of a pronoun. For instance, The Miranda warning advises a person of his right to remain silent becomes The Miranda warning advises a person of the right to remain silent.
  5. Use the neutral singular pronoun one. For instance, An actor is likely to earn more in New York than he would in Buffalo becomes An actor is likely to earn more in New York than one would in Buffalo.
  6. Use the relative pronoun who. For instance, Employers presume that if an applicant can’t write well, he won’t be a good employee becomes Employers presume that an applicant who can’t write well won’t be a good employee.
  7. Use the imperative mood. For example, A lifeguard must keep a close watch over swimmers while she is monitoring the pool becomes Keep a close watch over swimmers while monitoring the pool.
  8. In moderation, use he or she or his or her. For instance, A student needing an override must contact their advisor becomes A student needing an override must contact his or her advisor. As with number 2, use this technique sparingly.
  9. Revise the sentence. For example, If a person misbehaves, their privileges will be revoked becomes If someone misbehaves, that person’s privileges will be revoked. (5)

(1) Educause Style Guide

(2) Educause Inclusive Language Guide

(3) Associated Press Stylebook online, 2022: pronouns

(4) Ibid.

(5) Chicago Manual of Style, 17th edition (2017), 5.255

Historical and Cultural Terms

Most period designations are lowercased except for proper nouns and adjectives. “Some names of periods are capitalized, either by tradition or to avoid ambiguity.” (32)

the baroque period
the classical period
the colonial period (U.S.)
the Common Era
the Dark Ages
the Enlightenment
the Gilded Age
a golden age
the Hellenistic period
the Jazz Age
the medieval era
the Middle Ages, the High Middle Ages, the early Middle Ages, the late Middle Ages
the Progressive Era
the Reformation, Counter-Reformation
the Renaissance, the High Renaissance
the Restoration
the Roaring Twenties
the Romantic period, Romanticism
the Victorian era

(32) The Chicago Manual of Style, 17th edition (2017), 8.72–8.73

“Names of prehistoric cultural periods are capitalized”: (33)

the Bronze Age
the Ice Age
the Iron Age
the Stone Age

“Similar terms for modern periods are often lowercased”: (33)

the age of reason
the age of steam
the information age
the nuclear age

(33) Ibid., 8.74

“Names of many major historical events and programs are conventionally capitalized. Others, more recent or known by their generic descriptions, are often lowercased but may be capitalized to prevent ambiguity. If in doubt, opt for lowercase.” (34)

the baby boom
the Boston Tea Party
the Civil Rights Movement (a departure from Chicago)
the Cold War (but a cold war, used generically)
the gold rush
the Great Depression, the Depression
the Industrial Revolution
the New Deal
the Reign of Terror
the War on Poverty
the war on terror

(34) Ibid., 8.75

“Nouns and adjectives designating cultural styles, movements, and schools—artistic, architectural, musical, and so forth—and their adherents are capitalized if derived from proper nouns…. Others may be lowercased, though a few (e.g., Beat, Cynic, Scholastic, New Criticism) are capitalized to distinguish them from the generic words used in everyday speech.” (35)

abstract expressionism
classicism, classical
Epicurean (but epicurean, used metaphorically)
Gothic (but gothic fiction)
Gregorian chant
neoclassicism, neoclassical
op art
pop art
Romanticism, Romantic
Sophist (but sophist, used metaphorically)
Stoicism (but stoic, used metaphorically)
theater of the absurd

(35) Ibid., 8.79

Abbreviations and Acronyms

Most abbreviations or acronyms should be spelled out on first use. Buffalo State’s style is to introduce the full term, followed by the abbreviation or acronym in parentheses, and use the abbreviation or acronym alone on subsequent reference: American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU). If there is no subsequent reference, however, the abbreviation or acronym is usually not needed.


AAAHC—Accreditation Association for Ambulatory Health Care

AAM—American Alliance of Museums

ABD—all but dissertation

ABT—all but thesis

ACCES-VR—Adult Career and Continuing Education Services-Vocational Rehabilitation (formerly VESID)

ACE—American Council on Education

ACEJMC—Accrediting Council on Education in Journalism and Mass Communications

ACEND—Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics

ACPHA—Accreditation Commission for Programs in Hospitality Administration

ADA—Americans with Disabilities Act

AFSCME—American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees

ALA—American Library Association

APA—American Psychological Association

APTS—Aid for Part-Time Study (New York State)

ASHA—American Speech-Language-Hearing Association

ATMAE—Association of Technology, Management, and Applied Engineering



B.A.—bachelor of arts

B.F.A.—bachelor of fine arts

B.Mus.—bachelor of music

BOCES—Board of Cooperative Educational Services

B.S.—bachelor of science

B.S.Ed.—bachelor of science in education



CAA—Council on Academic Accreditation in Audiology and Speech-Language Pathology

CAEP—Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation

C.A.S.—certificate of advanced study

CASE—Council for Advancement and Support of Education

CDC—Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

CHEA—Council for Higher Education Accreditation

CIDA—Council for Interior Design Accreditation

C.P.A.—certified public accountant

CSEA—Civil Service Employees Association

CSTEP—Collegiate Science and Technology Entry Program

C.S.W.—certified social worker

CSWE—Council on Social Work Education


D.D.S.—doctor of dental surgery



Ed.D.—doctor of education

EOC—Educational Opportunity Center

EOP—Educational Opportunity Program

EPIC—Every Person Influences Children

ETAC—Engineering Technology Accreditation Commission



FAFSA—Free Application for Federal Student Aid

FEPAC—Forensic Science Education Programs Accreditation Commission

FERPA—Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act

FOI—Freedom of Information

FSEOG or SEOG—Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant

FWS—Federal Work-Study Program



GAAP—generally accepted accounting principles

GPA—grade point average

GRE—Graduate Record Examination



HIPAA—Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act



IACS—International Association of Counseling Services



J.D.—juris doctor (doctor of law)



L.P.N.—licensed practical nurse

LSAT—Law School Admission Test


M.A.—master of arts

M.B.A.—master of business administration

MCAT—Medical College Admission Test

M.D.—doctor of medicine

M.F.A.—master of fine arts

MLA—Modern Language Association

M.L.S.—master of library science

M.P.S.—master of professional studies

M.S.—master of science

MSCHE—Middle States Commission on Higher Education

M.S.Ed.—master of science in education

M.S.W.—master of social work



NAACP—National Association for the Advancement of Colored People

NASAD—National Association of Schools of Art and Design

NASM—National Association of Schools of Music

NAST—National Association of Schools of Theatre

NEA—National Endowment for the Arts

NEH—National Endowment for the Humanities

NFTA—Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority

NIH—National Institutes of Health

N.P.—nurse practitioner

NSF—National Science Foundation

NYFA—New York Foundation for the Arts

NYSCB—New York State Commission for the Blind

NYSCOPBA—New York State Correctional Officers and Police Benevolent Association

NYSDEC—New York State Department of Environmental Conservation



O.T.—occupational therapist



P.A.—physician's assistant

PEF—Public Employees Federation

Ph.D.—doctor of philosophy

PLUS—Parent Loan for Undergraduate Students

P.T.—physical therapist


R.N.—registered nurse

ROTC—Reserve Officers’ Training Corps



SAT—“Use only the initials in referring to the previously designated Scholastic Aptitude Test or Scholastic Assessment Test.” (30)

SEFA—State Employees Federated Appeal

STAP—Supplemental Tuition Assistance Program

SUNY—State University of New York



TANF—Temporary Assistance for Needy Families

TAP—Tuition Assistance Program

TDD—telecommunications device for the deaf

TESOL—Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages

TOEFL—Test of English as a Foreign Language




USCIS—United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (formerly the INS—Immigration and Naturalization Services)

UUP—United University Professions





WHO—World Health Organization

WWW—World Wide Web

(30) The Associated Press Stylebook and Briefing on Media Law (2011), p. 250

Buffalo State Specific Editorial Style

In general, buildings and facilities named for individuals are referred to by surname only—for example, Ketchum Hall, not Jesse Ketchum Hall, or Bulger Communication Center, not Paul Bulger Communication Center.

Bacon Hall
Bengal Hall
Bishop Hall
Buckham Hall
Bulger Communication Center
Butler Library
Campbell Student Union
Campus House
Cassety Hall
Caudell Annex
Caudell Hall
Central Receiving
Chase Hall
Cleveland Hall
Clinton Center
Elms Hall (formerly Classroom Building)
Houston Gym
Karner Hall (formerly Building 50)
Ketchum Hall
LoRusso Alumni and Visitor Center
Moore Complex
Moot Hall
Neumann Hall
North Wing
Perry Hall
Power Plant
Rockwell Hall
Savage Theater and Communication Building
Science and Mathematics Complex
South Wing
Sports Complex (Sports Arena, Ice Arena, Houston Gymnasium, Kissinger Pool)
Student Apartment Complex
Technology Building
Tower 1
Tower 2
Tower 3
Tower 4
Twin Rise
Upton Hall
Weigel Health Center

    • Bacon Gallery (in Upton Hall; full name: Dr. Margaret Eschner Bacon Student Gallery)
    • Bonitatibus Office (in the LoRusso Alumni and Visitor Center; full name: Michael and Madonna Bonitatibus Office)
    • Brason Conservation Studio (in Rockwell Hall; full name: Todd W. and Kimberley S. Brason Painting Conservation Studio)
    • Butler Room (in Butler Library)
    • Ciminelli Recital Hall (in Rockwell Hall; full name: Louis P. Ciminelli Recital Hall)
    • Cornish Office (in the LoRusso Alumni and Visitor Center; full name: Gerald and Michelle Cornish Office)
    • Costello Hall (in the LoRusso Alumni and Visitor Center; full name: Helen Wernejowski Costello and Salvatore J. Costello Hall)
    • Czurles-Nelson Gallery (in Upton Hall)
    • Fleischmann Writing and Publication Suite (Ketchum Hall 302; full name: Ilene R. Fleischmann Writing and Publication Suite)
    • Fronczak Room (Butler Library 207)
    • Garman Art Conservation Department (full name: Patricia H. and Richard E. Garman Art Conservation Department)
    • Grande Conference Room (Cleveland Hall 418; full name: Carmine A. Grande Conference Room)
    • Johnstone Conference Room (in Rockwell Hall; full name: Bruce and Gail Johnstone Conference Room)
    • Keck Conservation Studio (in Rockwell Hall; full name: Sheldon and Caroline Keck Paintings Conservation Studio)
    • Kissinger Pool (in the Sports Arena; full name: Robert Kissinger Memorial Pool)
    • Klein Lobby (in Rockwell Hall; full name: Edward P. and Lois Rowland Klein Lobby)
    • Kontos Darkroom (in Rockwell Hall; full name: Ulysses John Kontos Analog Photography Darkroom)
    • Kushel Conservation Lab (in Rockwell Hall; full name: Dan Kushel Conservation Imaging, Technical Examination, and Documentation Lab)
    • Lamendola Welcome Lounge (in the LoRusso Alumni and Visitor Center)
    • Lamparelli Office (in the LoRusso Alumni and Visitor Center; full name: Paul and Martha Lamparelli Office)
    • Lee Patio (Campus House; full name: Richard Lee Patio)
    • Lehr Center (in Houston Gym; full name: Carolyn A. Lehr Student-Athlete Academic Center)
    • LoRusso Control Room and Recording Studio (in Rockwell Hall; full name: Jacqueline V. LoRusso Control Room and Recording Studio)
    • Maud Gordon Holmes Arboretum
    • Metcalf Room (Rockwell Hall 218)
    • Monroe Fordham Regional History Center (in Butler Library Archives)
    • Newman Lecture Hall (Bulger Communication Center 215; full name: Ethel Lockman Newman Lecture Hall)
    • Penfold Patio (part of the LoRusso Alumni and Visitor Center; full name: Karen and Richard Penfold Patio)
    • Rosen Gallery (in the Burchfield Penney Art Center; full name: Sylvia L. Rosen, ’71, Gallery for Fine Art in Craft Media)
    • Rosen Library (in the Burchfield Penney Art Center; full name: Sylvia L. Rosen, ’71, Resource Library and Collections Lab)
    • Rosen Studio (in the Burchfield Penney Art Center; full name: Sylvia L. Rosen, ’71, Senior Ceramics Studio and Library)
    • Rowland Studio (in Rockwell Hall; full name: Edna Rosner Rowland Teaching Studio)
    • Salvatore Demonstration Kitchen (in Caudell Hall; full name: Russell J. Salvatore Demonstration Kitchen)
    • Smith Pavilion (on the Great Lakes Center waterfront campus; full name: Dick Smith Teaching Pavilion)
    • Statler Room (in Caudell Hall; full name: Statler Foundation Room)
    • Steinmiller Stage (in Rockwell Hall; full name: George and Joan Steinmiller Richmond Performance Stage)
    • Tahk Lab (in Rockwell Hall; full name: F. Christopher Tahk Conservation Science Teaching Lab)
    • Tower Auditorium (in the Burchfield Penney Art Center; full name: Peter and Elizabeth C. Tower Auditorium)
    • Vallet-Sandre Studio (in Rockwell Hall; full name: Marianne Vallet-Sandre Art Preparation Studio)
    • Warren Enters Theatre (in Upton Hall; not the Warren Enters Theatre; not Enters Theatre)
    • Whittemore Room (fourth floor of the Classroom Building; full name: Katheryne T. Whittemore Room)
    • Whitworth Ferguson Planetarium (in Science and Mathematics Complex)
    • Wilson Studio (in Upton Hall; full name: Robert C. and Marilyn L. Wilson Advanced Painting Studio)
    • Zemsky Family Presentation Room (in the LoRusso Alumni and Visitor Center)

    Centers, Departments, Offices, Organizations, Programs, and Schools

    Note on capitalization: Full names of offices and departments are capitalized. In some cases, especially when they might otherwise be mistaken, shortened versions of those names are also capitalized: Payroll Office, Payroll; Student Accounts Office, Student Accounts.

    Academic program names and disciplines are lowercased, excluding proper nouns, which retain their capitalization: master’s in English; mathematics program; She’s taking math, biology, Spanish, photography, and nutrition.

    A generic term used in the plural either before or after more than one proper noun is lowercased: the Communication and Philosophy departments, the Admissions and Financial Aid offices.


    Academic Affairs Office

    Academic Commons

    Academic Success Center

    Accounts Payable and Procurement Services Office

    Admissions Office

    African and African American Studies Interdisciplinary Unit

    Alumni Engagement Office

    Alumni Association

    Anthropology Department

    Archives and Special Collections—in Butler Library

    Art and Design Department

    Arthur O. Eve Educational Opportunity Program

    Artist in Residence Program



    Banner system

    Barnes & Noble at Buffalo State Bookstore

    Bengal Club—Buffalo State’s athletics booster club

    Bengal Community of Scholars Program (or Community of Scholars)—formerly the Learning Communities program

    Bengal Kitchen

    Bengal News Online

    Bengal Quad—quadrangle formed by Bengal Hall, Bishop Hall, and Neumann Hall. (See quadrangles.)

    the Bengals—Buffalo State athletic teams (men’s and women’s)

    Biology Department

    Bouras Center for Global Engagement (full name: Maurene Callahan Bouras Center for Global Engagement)

    Buffalo State Alumni Association

    Buffalo State Athletics Hall of Fame

    Buffalo State Child Care Center (the Child Care Center, the center)

    Buffalo State Council (the council)

    Buffalo State Foundation

    Buffalo State Housing Corporation

    Buffalo State University, SUNY Buffalo State, Buffalo State

    Burchfield Penney Art Center at Buffalo State

    Business Department

    Butler Library (E. H. Butler Library)



    Campbell Student Union Retail Food Court

    Campus Dining Services

    Career and Professional Education Center

    Career, Technical, and Science Education Department

    Center for Applied Imagination—the Creativity and Change Leadership Department as it functions externally as a nationally and internationally recognized teaching and research center (See Creativity and Change Leadership Department.)

    Center for China Studies

    Center for Economic and Policy Studies

    Center for English Teaching

    Center for Excellence in Urban and Rural Education (CEURE)

    Center for Health and Social Research

    Center for Southeast Asia Environment and Sustainable Development

    Central Receiving

    Chemistry Department

    Chicola International Professional Development Schools Program

    Christmann Family Educational Leadership Program

    Collegiate Science and Technology Entry Program (CSTEP)

    Communication Department

    Community Academic Center

    Computer Information Systems Department

    Conflict Analysis and Resolution Interdisciplinary Unit

    Continuing Professional Studies

    [Dr. Katherine S.] Conway-Turner Civic and Community Engagement Office

    Corporate and Foundation Relations Office

    Creativity and Change Leadership Department—internal designation (see Center for Applied Imagination)

    Creative Studies Library—in Butler Library

    Criminal Justice Department

    Curriculum Materials Lab—in Butler Library

    Custodial Services



    Design and Print Center (formerly the Copy Center)



    Economics and Finance Department

    Elementary Education, Literacy, and Educational Leadership Department

    Elms—Buffalo State’s student yearbook

    Employee Assistance Program (EAP)

    Engineering Technology Department

    English Department

    Environmental Health and Safety Office

    Environmental Studies Interdisciplinary Unit

    Equity and Campus Diversity Office

    Events Management Office

    Exceptional Education Department



    Faculty and Staff Appeal

    Fashion and Textile Technology Department

    Finance and Management Office

    Financial Aid Office

    Financial Management Department

    Flexible Theatre



    [Patricia H. and Richard E.] Garman Art Conservation Department

    general education, general education 2023 (GE23), general education 2000 (GE2K), general education core (GEC), general education requirements

    Geosciences Department

    Global Studies Institute

    Graduate Studies Office

    Great Lakes Center



    Health, Nutrition, and Dietetics Department

    Higher Education Administration Department

    History and Social Studies Education Department

    Homecoming and Family Weekend

    Hospitality and Tourism Department

    Human Resource Management Office


    Ice Arena (Buffalo State Ice Arena)

    ice rink (Buffalo State ice rink, the ice rink)

    Inclusion and Equity Office

    Information Commons—in Butler Library

    Information Technology

    Institute for Community Health Promotion

    Institutional Advancement Office

    Institutional Effectiveness and Planning Office

    Institutional Research and Data Analytics Office

    Intellectual Foundations

    Intercollegiate Athletics

    International Education Office

    International Graduate Programs for Educators

    International Student and Scholar Services

    International Students Reading Area (in Butler Library, third floor SE quadrant)

    IT Help Desk



    January Term, J-Term







    Mail Room

    Mann Quad—quadrangle formed by Rockwell Hall, Ketchum Hall, the Savage Theater and Communication Building, and Bacon Hall. (See quadrangles.)

    Marketing and Communications Office

    Mathematics Department

    Modern and Classical Languages Department

    Muriel A. Howard Honors Program

    Music Department



    Nanoscience Center

    National Student Exchange Program

    Newman Center Catholic Campus Ministry

    Non-Traditional Students Organization



    Orientation, Transition, and Family Programs Office


    Parking Services Office

    Payroll Office

    Performing Arts Center at Rockwell Hall

    Perry Quad—quadrangle formed by Perry Hall, Cassety Hall, Campbell Student Union, and Chase Hall. (See quadrangles.)

    Philosophy Department

    Physics Department

    Political Science, Public Administration, and Planning Department

    Precollegiate Academic Success Center: Liberty Partnerships, STEP, Upward Bound

    President’s Cabinet

    President’s Office

    Procurement Card, P-Card

    Professional Development Center

    Professional Development Schools Consortium

    Professional Staff Caucus (PSC)

    Psychology Department



    quadrangles—See Bengal Quad, Mann Quad, Perry Quad, Student Union Plaza, Upton Quad.



    the Record—student newspaper

    Reference Services—in Butler Library

    Registrar’s Office

    Research and Economic Development Office—Part of the Provost's Office, one of two units that compose the campus site of the Research Foundation for the State University of New York. (See Sponsored Program Operations Office.)

    Research Foundation for the State University of New York. For editorial purposes, on first reference in running text, use Research Foundation for the State University of New York (with a lower case t). In subsequent references, use Research Foundation or RF. Do not use the following terms to refer to the Research Foundation:

    •     Research Foundation of the State University of New York
    •     SUNY Research Foundation
    •     SUNY Foundation
    •     Foundation

    For display type (when the RF name stands alone) use Research Foundation for The State University of New York (with a capital T). This format, which matches the logo, should be used for such items as publication covers, program listings, posters, banners, and advertisements.

    Residence Life Office

    Rosen Endowment for Fine Art in Craft Media



    School of Arts and Sciences

    School of Education

    School of the Professions

    Science Teaching Center

    Siena Program

    Small Business Development Center

    Social and Psychological Foundations of Education and Adult Education Department

    Social Work Department

    Sociology Department

    Special Programs Office

    Speech-Language-Hearing Clinic

    Speech-Language Pathology Department

    Sponsored Program Operations Office—Part of the Vice President for Finance and Management's Office, one of two units that compose the campus site of the Research Foundation for the State University of New York. (See Research and Economic Development Office.)

    Sports Arena

    Student Accessibility Services

    Student Accounts Office

    Student Affairs Office

    Student Apartment Complex

    Student-Athlete Advisory Committee

    Student Conduct and Community Standards Office

    Student Leadership and Engagement Office

    Student Success Office

    Student Union Plaza, the plaza—main quadrangle, formed by Campbell Student Union, Bulger Communication Center, Butler Library, and Cleveland Hall. (See quadrangles.)


    Success Track for Academic Readiness (STAR) program



    Teacher Certification Office

    Teaching and Learning Center

    Theater Department

    Travel Card, T-Card



    Undergraduate Research Office

    United Students Government (USG)

    University Police Department

    Upton Quad—quadrangle formed by Upton Hall, Cassety Hall, Perry Hall, and Science Building. (See quadrangles.)

    Urban Teaching Center



    Veteran and Military Services Office

    Visiting Scholar Services



    WBNY-FM 91.3—campus radio station

    Whispering Pines Camp—in Ellicottville, New York

    Woods-Beals Endowed Chair in Urban Education

    Women and Gender Studies Interdisciplinary Unit

    Writing Program















    a lot














































































































































    adverse, averseAdverse means unfavorable; averse means opposed.

    affect, effectAffect, almost always a verb, means to influence: The president’s tax cuts will affect only the wealthiest citizens. (The noun affect has a specialized meaning in psychology: an emotional state.) Effect, usually a noun, means a result or consequence: Interest rates have an effect on the economy. (The verb effect means to bring about, make happen, or produce).

    aid, aideAid means help; an aide is an assistant.

    assure, ensure—To assure is to guarantee or promise or convince (someone); to ensure means to make certain: After ensuring that the deposit was received, I assured him that the check would clear. (See ensure, insure, this section.)

    biannual, biennialBiannual means twice a year; biennial means every two years.

    biweekly, semiweeklyBiweekly means every other week; semiweekly means twice a week.

    carat, caret, karat—A carat is a unit of weight used with diamonds and other gems. A caret is an editing mark (^). A karat is a unit of measure for the purity of gold.

    cement, concreteCement is the powder used to make concrete; concrete is the hardened substance of which roads, sidewalks, and walls are made.

    chord, cordChord is the spelling for the musical and mathematical terms. A cord is a string, rope, or cable. Vocal cord and spinal cord are so spelled. A cord is also a measure of wood.

    cite, site—To cite means to quote or refer to; a site is a place.

    complement, complimentComplement is a noun and a verb meaning to complete or supplement something: A complement of courses. The tie complements his suit. Compliment is a noun or a verb that means praise or an expression of courtesy: She was flattered by the compliment. The drinks were complimentary (a courtesy).

    compose, comprise, constituteCompose means to make up or constitute. Comprise means to contain or to embrace. The parts compose the whole; the whole comprises the parts: Five men and seven women composed the jury. The jury comprised five men and seven women.

    continuous, continualContinuous means unbroken or nonstop; continual means over and over again.

    discreet, discreteDiscreet means prudent; discrete means separate.

    dual, duel—Dual means double or twofold. A duel is a fight between two people.

    ensure, insure—Use ensure to mean to guarantee: Steps were taken to ensure accuracy. Use insure for references to insurance: The policy insures his home and its contents. (See assure, ensure, this section.)

    flaunt, flout—To flaunt is to show off. To flout is to disregard out of contempt.

    forego, forgoForego means to go before; forgo means to abstain from.

    home in, hone inHome in, not hone in, is the correct phrase when the meaning is to move toward a certain place by following a signal or marker. To hone is to sharpen.

    its, it’sIts is the possessive form of it; it’s is the contraction for it is.

    lectern, podium—A speaker stands behind a lectern or on a podium.

    loath, loatheLoath is an adjective meaning reluctant. It is followed by to: He was loath to admit his distrust. Loathe is a verb meaning to dislike intensely: I loathe exercise.

    mantel, mantle—A mantel is the long shelf above a fireplace; a mantle is a cloak or the region between the earth’s core and crust.

    palette, palate, pallet—A palette is an artist’s board for mixing colors. It can also mean a selection or a range of colors. The roof of the mouth is spelled palate. A pallet is a low platform, a wooden tool with a flat blade and a handle, or a straw-filled mattress or a makeshift bed.

    peak, peek, piquePeak usually refers to a crest or high point. It also can mean to grow thin or sickly or to dwindle away (someone who looks pale and weak looks peaked). Pique as a noun means resentment at being slighted, and as a verb, to irritate, excite, or arouse. The common expression is “pique one’s interest.” A peek is a quick or furtive glance.

    pour, pore (v.)Pour means to flow; pore means to intently scrutinize.

    premier, premierePremier means first in importance, rank, or time. Premier is also a title for a government official. Premiere, with a final e, means an opening or debut performance.

    principal, principlePrincipal is a noun and an adjective meaning first in rank, authority, importance, or degree. Principle is a noun that means a rule, truth, or law.

    reign, reinReign means authority, rule, or prevalence. A rein is a leather strap for a horse. The proper phrases are rein in, free rein, tighten the reins, and so on.

    reluctant, reticentReluctance means an unwilling to act; reticence means an unwillingness to speak.


    ASCII—American Standard Code for Information Interchange

    BASIC—Beginners All-Purpose Symbolic Instruction Code

    CAD—computer-aided design

    CD-ROM—compact disc—read-only memory

    cell phone

    COBOL—Common Business-Oriented Language

    compact disc

    CPU—central processing unit


    data processing (n.); data-processing (adj.)


    domain name

    DOS—disk operating system

    dot-com (n., adj.)




    email (but e-book, e-commerce, etc.)

    FORTRAN—Formula Translator

    FTP—file transfer protocol


    GUI—graphical user interface

    handheld (adj.)

    hard drive


    home page

    HTML—hypertext markup language

    http—hypertext transfer protocol







    LAN—local area network

    LCD—liquid crystal display


    LexisNexis—computerized legal research system

    LISTSERV—trademarked term; use email list, electronic mailing list, or distribution list for general references

    log in (v.); log-in (n., adj.)

    log on (v.); log-on (n.)





    operating system (OS)


    PC—personal computer

    PDF—portable document format

    RAM—random-access memory

    ROM—read-only memory

    real time (n.); real-time (adj.)





    URL—uniform resource locator


    WAN—wide-area network




    web page



    Windows 95

    Windows 98

    Windows NT

    Windows Vista

    word processing (n.)

    word-processing (adj.)


    WWW—World Wide Web

    WYSIWYG—what you see is what you get