Santa Clara University

Office of Marketing and Communications

SCU Editorial Style Guide



See time.

page numbers

Use figures and capitalize

  • Please refer to Page 10 for more information on platypuses.

When letters are added, do not hyphenate:

  • Please turn to Page 10A for a detailed evacuation plan.

Capitalize as part of a formal name for a church congregation:

  • St. John's Parish

Lowercase when standing alone or used in plurals:

  • St. John's and St. Mary's parishes
  • the parish
part time, part-time

Hyphenate only when used as a compound modifier.

  • He works part time.
  • He is a part-time worker.

See full time, full-time.

pastoral letters
Lowercase EXCEPT when using as part of a formal title.

See Mac/PC.

Not to be confused with sports or decorative pennants (plural of pennant).

See numbers.

permanent collection
Ph.D., Ph.D.s

See academic degrees.

phone, fax numbers

Use hyphens, not parentheses or periods:

  • 415-555-5555
pick up, pick-up

If it's an action (verb-plus-adverb phrase) then spell it as two words:

  • Please pick up your trash.

But it it's an adjective, use the hyphenated form:

  • The passenger pick-up area is behind the building.

In general, add s or es to pluralize a noun:

  • dog, dogs
  • box, boxes

DO NOT add s or es if the plural has a form change:

  • child, children
  • goose, geese

Consult Webster's dictionary for specifics and proper usage. DO NOT use an apostrophe in plurals of nouns or acronyms:

  • CDs
  • DVDs
  • FAQs

EXCEPTION: single letters take an apostrophe for clarity.

  • A's and B's
Not a formal title; always lowercase.

Capitalize before a name:

  • Pope Benedict XVI

Otherwise use lowercase:

  • The pope visited Cuba.
populace, populous

Capitalize names of prayers:

  • Our Father
  • Lord's Prayer

But when used generically, lowercase:

  • He said a prayer.

Capitalize when used before the name:

  • President Michael E. Engh, S.J. will be hosting coffee sessions with the campus community this quarter.

Lowercase when used in second reference or when not preceding a name:

  • According to the president, this is an effective way to have one-on-one conversations with faculty, administrators and students.
Lowercase in all instances.

Never abbreviate. Capitalize when used as a formal title before a name:

  • Professor Jones taught the class.

But when not preceding a name, lowercase:

  • The professor lectured to students.

When applicable, always use a professor's chair title on first reference

  • On first reference: Professor Joe Smith, holder of the Phil and Bobbie Sanfilippo Chair, canceled class today.
  • On subsequent reference: Smith rescheduled class for tomorrow.

Be careful to apply the title "professor" only to faculty who are in fact professors. Thus, when applying a general term to a large group of faculty that may include professors, associate professors, and lecturers, use the terms "faculty" or "teachers."


Capitalize only when part of a formal name. See endowed chair/endowed professorship.


Lowercase when used alone or attached to a geographic reference:

  • the Jesuit's California province

Capitalize when part of a nongeographic religious province's formal name:

  • the Province of St. Joseph

Capitalize when used before a name:

  • Provost Lucia Gilbert

Lowercase otherwise.


apostrophe Generally indicates possessive, contraction, or missing letters/numbers.

  • the president's memo
  • don't walk
  • class of '80

       Indicates plural of single letters only:

  • A's
  • D's

      Do not use to pluralize acronyms or numbers:

  • CDs
  • temperatures in the 80s

      See class years.

colon Use a colon:

  • in Biblical citations;
  • when appropriate to introduce a bulleted list;
  • when transcribing an interview; and
  • when introducing examples.
    If using a colon in text, capitalize the first word after the colon only if it is a proper noun or the start of a new complete sentence.

    See bullets. See interviews.

commas Use commas to separate elements in a series:

  • I like apples, bananas, and oranges.

      Use a comma before the concluding conjunction in a complex series of phrases:

  • The University is steeped in tradition, has an aesthetically pleasing campus, and attracts top-notch students every year.

      In the case of a complex list in which individual items contain commas or
      conjunctions, a semicolon should be used instead.

      Place a comma after digits signifying thousands,
      except when reference is made to temperature or to
      SAT scores.

  • 1,150 students
  • 1100 degrees
  • SAT score of 1145

      Do not use a comma before or after a Jr. or Sr.

  • Robert J. Finnocchio Jr. is the chairman of the Board of Trustees for 2009.

      When writing a date, place a comma between the day and the year as well as after
      the year.

  • July 4, 2001, is a day that will go down in memory books for the class of '69.

      Also, see dates.


em dashes Use in place of hyphens or double hyphens in text. No spaces between text and em dash.

  • The landscape--a true reflection of the effect of mankind--has changed the most.

en dashes Use to express a range in charts or listings:

  • 5-7:30 p.m.
    But do not use dashes in body text:
  • The class runs from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m.

      See hyphens.

ellipsis In general, treat an ellipsis as a three-letter word, constructed with three consecutive periods. Microsoft Word will autoformat three periods into a single character. Use an ellipsis to indicate the deletion of one or more words in condensing quotes, texts, and documents. Pay special attention to ellipses in Web publications: There is no HTML character equivalent, and all ellipses characters should be replaced with three periods to avoid errors.

exclamation point Avoid overuse. Do not use a comma or period after the exclamation mark, even for quoted material:

  • "Stop!" the officer cried.

hyphens End-of-line hyphens: Must have two letters before break, three letters after.

       No more than two end-of-line hyphens in a row.
       Hyphenate re- words when there are back-to-back

  • re-elect
  • re-examine

      See dashes.

parentheses Punctuation generally goes outside the closing parenthesis (as shown in this sentence). Do not capitalize or include a period inside a parenthetical statement unless it is an entire sentence, standing alone. (This is an example.)

question marks Use at the end of a sentence that's a question. For the most part, question marks go inside quotation marks when used in quoted material:

  • She loves the play "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?"
  • "What does that mean?" he asked.
    In cases where the question mark is not part of the book or movie title, it is placed outside the quotation marks.
  • Have you ever read "The Kite Runner"?

quotation marks Use quotation marks for directly quoted speech or text; for titles of movies, plays, poems, songs, and works of art; and (sparingly) to indicate a colloquial or unusual term. The period and the comma always go within the quotation marks. The dash, semicolon, question mark, and exclamation point go within the quotation marks when they apply to the quoted matter only. They go outside when they apply to the whole sentence.

    If a title or quote is contained within quoted material, use single quotes inside the double quotations:
  • "I cannot wait to see 'Casablanca' tomorrow," he said.

series/serial comma The comma before "and" in a list of three or more items. Use of this comma is an exception to AP style.

      See commas.

space Only one space after a period in all Web content and printed materials. For additional punctuation usage guidelines, please consult the AP Stylebook.

Printer-friendly format