Santa Clara University

Office of Marketing and Communications

SCU Editorial Style Guide

Quick reference guide


  • alumnus = singular, male
  • alumna = singular, female
  • alumni = plural, group of men or men and women
  • alumnae = plural, group of women only

Avoid use of colloquial “alum” in text, unless in quoted material.


Indicates possessive, contraction, or missing letters/numbers. Use for plural of single letters only; do not use to pluralize numbers or acronyms.

  • He got all A’s. She bought CDs, DVDs, and books.

In class year listings, note direction of apostrophe:

  • Class of ’80


Use full name on first reference. Use abbreviated name if referring to a specific room number.

Class Years

For current students, use first-year student, sophomore, junior, or senior rather than ’07, ’08, etc. Use first-year students as the plural noun and first-year student as the singular noun and adjective:

  • a first-year student
  • two first-year students
  • the first-year class


Use the serial comma in lists of three or more:

  • We used red, blue, and green paint to spruce up the place.

In complex lists with elements containing conjunctions or commas, use semicolons:

  • We’re serving ham, eggs, and toast; macaroni and cheese; and burgers and fries.

Dates, Days, Months, Years

Full date: use abbreviated month and offset year with comma:

  • On Monday, Nov. 12, 2008, the president said…

Except in media releases, it is not necessary to use the year unless the date is in a different calendar year. Month/Year: spell out full month, no comma.

  • September 2005

Range of dates, specific:

  • Jan. 1 through March 2

Range of dates, with months: Use “through” rather than a dash in body copy; use en-dash in calendar listings.

  • January through September 2006.

Range of years, use en-dash, even in body copy:

  • 1989–1993
  • 1994–98

Month abbreviations:

  • Jan., Feb., Aug., Sept., Oct., Nov., Dec.
  • DO NOT ABBREVIATE: March, April, May, June, July
  • May 1, NOT May 1st


Academic or administrative Capitalize if using full formal title:

  • Office of Student Life
  • Department of Civil Engineering

Preferable to use informal, lowercase names in body of text:

  • engineering department
  • music department

Use “department” for academic departments only. Use “office” to refer to an administrative department. Please note certain preferred usages:

  • Alumni Office (not Office of Alumni Relations)
  • Undergraduate Admission (singular, not an office)

Consult the campus directory or OMC for other specific office/department usages.

Internet and Web entries

email, email address

  • Without hyphen; no capitalization needed unless at beginning of sentence. Do not italicize or underline email addresses in text. Microsoft Word will autoformat as a link, which is acceptable for informal communications only.


  • Capitalize the word in text.

online, offline

  • No hyphen.

website, webpage, webmaster, Web address, World Wide Web

  • Note use of lowercase one word in website, webpage, and webmaster.


  • No need to use http:// in text. Do not italicize or underline Web addresses in text. Try to avoid breaking URLs across multiple lines in text.

Keyboard shortcuts in Microsoft Word

— em-dash, to be used in text:

  • Ctrl + Alt + - (must use “-” key on keypad at right of keyboard)

– en-dash, used in tables to indicate range:

  • Ctrl + - (must use “-” key on keypad at right of keyboard)

í Accented í for “Santa Clara de Asís” — Ctrl + ’, i
é Accented é — Ctrl + ’, e
è Accented è — Ctrl + `, e (` is also the ~ key)


In text, spell out “one” through “nine” and use figures for “10” and higher.

Use figures for charts or tabular data, room numbers, dates, and all percentages.

Always use figures to express a person’s age, but not an inanimate object’s age. Spell out “first” through “ninth” in text; use figures for 10th and up, but do not superscript the ordinal.

Spell out numbers that start out a sentence or rewrite the sentence. Spell out any numbers in quoted material, except percentages.

Santa Clara University, Santa Clara, SCU, the University

Always use “Santa Clara University” on first reference. In subsequent references, use “the University” with capital letter. “SCU” or “Santa Clara” are also acceptable on second reference. In news releases, do not capitalize the U in second references to “the University” as per AP style.

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