A-Z Guide

Click on a letter below to view the writing guide for words and phrase beginning with a specific letter or scroll down through the guide in its entirety. For a quick-reference guide to some common writing questions, go to the VSU QUICK REFERENCE GUIDE. You may also BROWSE BY TOPIC to find answers to grammar and VSU-specific style questions.



a, an
Use “a” before words that begin with consonants or before words beginning with vowels that sound like consonants: a union; a once-in-a-lifetime event.

Use “an” before words that begin with vowels or vowel sounds. When a word begins with “h,” use “a” if the “h” is pronounced: a historic event. Use “an” if the “h” is not pronounced: an hour; an honor.

The rules of prefixes apply, but generally no hyphen is needed. See a dictionary for specific entries.

achromatic, atonal, atypical

In general, avoid alphabet soup. Do not use abbreviations the reader would not quickly recognize.

BEFORE A NAME: Abbreviate the following titles before a full name outside of a direct quotation: Dr., Gov., Lt. Gov., Mr., Mrs., Rep., the Rev., Sen and certain military titles. Use the abbreviation "Dr." for "Doctor" on first reference before the name of a person who is a medical doctor or a person with a doctorate degree. To avoid confusion between the two, the person’s specialty should be stated in the first or second reference. Do not use Dr. in subsequent references; use last name only. Do not use Dr. before the name of a person who holds an honorary doctorate. Dr. Wilbern is an oncology specialist. He has worked at the hospital for five years. Dr. Paul Nole, an English professor, said the text was bland.

AFTER A NAME: Abbreviate junior or senior after a person’s name, and do not set it off with a comma unless the person has indicated his preference is to include a comma: Martin Luther King Jr. Abbreviate company, corporation, incorporated and limited after the name of a corporate entity.

Read more detailed rules about abbreviations.

In general, avoid alphabet soup. Do not use acronyms the reader would not quickly recognize. On first reference, write out most all names, but include acronyms in parenthesis immediately following the full name of the organization or event. The College of Business Administration (COBA). You may use the acronym on subsequent references, however try not to overuse acronyms throughout the text. Use Valdosta State University on first reference. VSU (no periods) and Valdosta State are acceptable for subsequent references.

No apostrophe is necessary. It’s plural, not possessive.

Academic Affairs, the Office of
The Office of Academic Affairs oversees the administration of undergraduate and graduate programs. Use "Academic Affairs" on second reference.

academic departments
Capitalize formal department names on first reference: The Valdosta State University Department of History. The Department of English. Lowercase except for words that are proper nouns or adjectives: the department of history, the history department, the department of English, the English department.

academic titles
Capitalize and spell out formal titles such as chancellor, chairman, etc. when they precede a name. Chancellor James Patterson presided over the brief meeting. Lowercase elsewhere: The chairman addressed the audience of educators. Lowercase modifiers such as "department" in department Chairman Jerome Wiesner.

Use the abbreviation "Dr." for "Doctor" on first reference before the name of a person who is a medical doctor or a person with a doctorate degree. To avoid confusion between the two, the person’s specialty should be stated in the first or second reference. Do not use Dr. in subsequent references; use last name only. Do not use Dr. before the name of a person who holds an honorary doctorate. Dr. Wilbern is an oncology specialist. He has worked at the hospital for five years. Dr. Paul Nole, an English professor, said the text was bland.

academic degrees
Capitalize the names of degrees, fellowships and the like when the formal degree name is used: She earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts. Lowercase these distinctions when used informally or on second reference: a master’s degree in English; She earned a doctorate in environmental studies; a fellowship. Please note the capitalization and punctuation used in the following examples:

  • associate degree (not associate’s)
  • bachelor’s degree
  • Bachelor of Arts
  • Bachelor of Fine Arts
  • Bachelor of Music
  • Bachelor of Science
  • master’s degree
  • Master of Arts
  • Master of Science
  • Doctorate
  • Doctor of Education
  • doctoral degree

Abbreviations: Use an abbreviation such as B.A., B.F.A., B.M., B.S., M.A., M.B.A., M.F.A., M.S., M.S.W., Ph.D. or Ed.D. only if writing out the full name of the degree is too cumbersome for the context (such as in an advertisement or list).

academic honors
Cum laude, magna cum laude, summa cum laude and with distinction receive no special treatment in running copy: She graduated magna cum laude.

academic titles
In general, capitalize a formal title when used directly before a name. Lowercase and use commas to set off a title that follows a name. Lowercase and spell out titles when not used with names: the professor; John Smith, professor of literature; Professor of American History Smith; history professor John Smith (a label rather than a title); professors Smith and Jones. the chair; chair of the Department of Finance and Economics; Professor Pattison.

Dr. may be used on first reference before the name of a person who holds a doctorate. Do not use Dr. before the name of a person who holds an honorary doctorate. Note: emeritus and emerita are honorary designations and do not simply mean retired.Avoid redundancy when writing about a professor:

WRONG: Professor of British Literature Dr. John Smith. CORRECT: Dr. John Smith, a professor of British Literature.

Access Office for Students with Disabilities
The Access Office for Students with Disabilities serves students with documented disabilities who have met the VSU admission critera. Use the "Access Office" on second reference.

accept, except
Accept means to receive; except means to exclude: Everyone accepted the invitation except for Mary.

Don’t spell out the full name of this widely known entrance examination, even on first reference. (This rule also applies to SAT, GMAT, GRE, etc.). Use figures for ACT, SAT and similar test scores. Do not add commas to SAT or other scores that reach into the thousands: His SAT score was 1200. Her GRE composite score was 2070.

Accounting and Finance, the Department of
The Department of Accounting and Finance on first reference. Lowercase "accounting and finance" when speaking of the broad field: He earned an accounting and finance degree; I turned in my paperwork at the accounting and finance department; The test is administered through the Department of Accounting and Finance.

A person is accused of, not with, a crime.

Capitalize when part of the name for pending or implemented legislation. The Taft-Hartley Act.

Use the abbreviations Ave., Blvd. and St. only with numbered addresses: 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. Spell out and capitalize addresses when part of a formal street name without a number or with just a block number: Pennsylvania Avenue, the 1200 block of Pennsylvania Avenue. Lowercase and spell out when used alone or with more than one street name: Massachusetts and Pennsylvania avenues. Exception: Abbreviations are acceptable on maps if space is limited.

All shorter words (road, alley, lane, drive, etc.) are always spelled out in running text or address listings: 601 University Drive. It’s acceptable to abbreviate these words on a map if space is limited.

Always use figures for an address number: 7 Green St.

Spell out and capitalize first through ninth when used as street names; use figures with two letters for 10th and above: 1202 Sixth St.; 100 12th St.

Abbreviate compass points used to indicate directional ends of a street or quadrants of a city in a numbered address: 222 E. 42nd St.; 600 K St. N.W. Do not abbreviate if the number is omitted: East 42nd Street; K Street Northwest.

Lowercase "the administration" and other general references. The university administration will address the campus today.

Admissions, the Office of
The Office of Undergraduate Admissions promotes VSU and its mission to prospective students. Use "Admissions" on second reference; however, when referring to the physical location, you can lowercase on second reference: I took paperwork to the admissions office.

adopt, approve, enact
Amendments, ordinances, resolutions and rules are adopted or approved. Bills are passed. Laws are enacted.

Adult and Career Education, the Department of
The Department of Adult and Career Education on first reference. Lowercase when referring to the degree without the formal department title: She earned a degree in adult and career education.

Advancement Services, the Division of
This Division of Advancement Services provides information systems support to all the divisions of University Advancement and is responsible for the database of alumni, parents and friends of VSU as well as accounting functions for the VSU Foundation. The division is housed in the Alumni Relations house. On second reference, "the division" or "Advancement Services" is acceptable.

adverse, averse
Adverse means unfavorable: He predicted adverse weather. Averse means reluctant: She is averse to change.

advisor, adviser
Most campus positions use “Advisor” as formal titles. When referring to someone who offers advice, and the term is not a part of their title, use “adviser.” If used as a formal title, follow rules of academic titles.

Advising Center (OASIS)
The OASIS Center for Advising & First Year Programs is committed to help students transition into campus life. OASIS (on second reference) offers a variety of programs such as, Freshman Year Experience, Exploratory Student Advising Center and academic advising.

adopt, approve, enact and pass
Amendments, ordinances, resolutions and rules are adopted or approved. Bills are passed. Laws are enacted.

A trademark for the synthetic or chemically extracted forms of epinephrine, a substance produced by the adrenal glands. capitalize on all references.

Advancement, University
University Advancement, housed on Georgia Avenue, is a systematic integrated method of managing relationships to increase support from the institutions key outside constituents. The primary core disciplines of educational advancement are alumni relations, communications and marketing, and development (fundraising). On second reference, "Advancement" is acceptable.

adverse, averse
Adverse means unfavorable; He predicted adverse weather. Averse means reluctant, opposed: She is averse to change.

Affect is always a verb: Your vote will affect the outcome. Effect is used most often as a noun but is sometimes a verb: We aren’t sure what that effect will be, but we hope it will effect positive change.

The preferred term is “black.” African-American is acceptable if a person describse himself or herself as such or it is within the name of an organization. (Note: The national month of observation is called Black History Month).

African-American Studies, the Department of
The Department of African-American Studies on first reference. African-American should always be capitalized, even when the program is mentioned in subsequent referinces. Consider using "the program" on second reference to aviod lengthy titles and repetition.

No hyphen after this prefix.

afterward, backward, forward, toward
No final “s” is needed.

Always use figures for ages of people, animals and inanimate objects. When the context does not require years or years old, the figure is presumed to be years: Johnny is 8.

Ages expressed as adjectives before a noun or as substitutes for a noun use hyphens: 5-year-old girl, but the girl is 5 years old. The boy, 6, has a sister, 10. The woman, 29, has a daughter who is 2 months old. The race is for 60-year-olds. The 18- to 34-year-old demographic is elusive to advertisers. The man is in his 40s.

aid, aide
Aid is assistance. Aide is a person who serves as an assistant.

Acceptable in all references for acquired immune deficiency syndrome, sometimes written as acquired immunodeficiency syndrome. AIDS is an affliction in which a virus has weakened the body’s immune system and cancer or serious infections have occurred. The scientific name for the virus is human immunodeficiency virus, or HIV.

Air Force ROTC
VSU is home to Air Force Detachment 172, a college program for entering freshmen and sophomores who commit to military time after graduation. The program, housed in Brown Hall, facilitates the Cadet Tutor Program to assist students with academics and the Arnold Air Society — a voluntary honorary service organization. Capitalize "Air Force" when referring to the U.S forces: the U.S. Air Force, the Air Force, Air Force regulations. Do not use the abbreviation USAF. Use lowercase for the forces of other nations: the Israeli air force.

Alcohol and Other Drug Education, the Office of
The Office of Alcohol and Other Drug Education is housed within the Division of Student Affairs. The office addresses the issues of substance abuse and engages students with anti-drug campaigns and responsible drinking programs.

Capitalize when part of a formal name: All-Southland Conference, All-American, but lowercase when used generally: all-conference.

all right
Never allright or alright. Hyphenate only if used colloquially as a compound modifier: He is an all-right guy.

all time, all-time
An all-time high, but the greatest runner of all time.

allude, refer
To allude to something is to speak of it without specifically mentioning it. To refer is to mention it directly.

allusion, illusion
Allusion means to indirectly reference: The allusion was to his opponent’s war record. Illusion means an unreal or false impression: The scenic director created the illusion of choppy seas.

alma mater
The name of the university’s song. Capitalize and put the title of the song in quotes, but the word “alma mater” is lowercase. The Valdosta State University Alma Mater.

a lot
Two words; not "alot." Avoid using “a lot” in anything but the most informal of writings.

alumni, alumnus, alumna, alumnae

  • alumnus – the male or nonspecific gender singular
  • alumni – the masculine or mixed-gender plural
  • alumna – the feminine singular form
  • alumnae – the feminine plural

Alumni Relations, the Office of
Within University Advancement, the Office of Alumni Relations connects alumni with university happenings and encourages them to network among themselves. The office is housed in the VSU Alumni House, 1603 N. Patterson St., Valdosta, GA 31698. "Alumni Relations" is acceptable on second reference.

Alumni Association, Valdosta State University
The formal name and preferred usage is the Valdosta State University Alumni Association. Use the full name on first reference. The alumni association is acceptable on subsequent references.

Alzheimer’s Program/ My Friend’s House
Capitalize Alzheimer’s Program and My Friend’s House. VSU Division of Social Work has been administering the Alzheimer's Program for those with an early to mid-stage diagnosis of this irreversible neurological disorder or similar dementia.

Lowercase with periods. Avoid the redundant "9 p.m. tonight" or "10 a.m. in the morning". See also times.

American Legion
Write out and capitalize the full title on first reference. Capitalize "Legion" on second reference. Members are Legionnaires, just as members of the Lion’s Club are Lions. When referring to a large group (or legion) of soldiers, “legion” is lowercase.

among, between
Use between when referring to two items; use among when referring to more than two items.

ampersand (&)
Use only if it is part of an official title; otherwise, spell out the word “and.” The ampersand can also be used for design purposes.

and, but
And or but may begin a sentence. This approach can be useful in providing a transition, but it should not be overdone. Do not put a comma before “and” at the end of a sequence in a sentence unless the sentence is a complex one and the “and” helps with clarity.

Helen’s favorite foods are cheese, turkey and pasta.

Helen loves to shop for diamonds, go biking on Sunday, and eat blueberries and cream cheese.

Annie Powe Hopper Award
Named after VSU’s first dean of women, the award marks the apex of accomplishment in one’s university career and recipients must stand high academically and exemplify the tradition of Valdosta State and those traits of character and dignity associated with the late Annie Powe Hopper. "The award" or another adjective may be used on second reference.

Do not use the term “first annual.” Instead mention that plans are to hold the event annually. Do not use annual as a synonym for yearbook.

Another is not a synonym for “additional;” it refers to an element that somehow duplicates a previously stated quantity.

CORRECT: Ten people took the test; another ten refused.

WRONG: Ten people took the test; another 20 refused.

Hyphenate with most words, save a few exceptions such as antibiotic, antiperspirant, anticlimax, antihistamine. Proper nouns used with prefixes are still capitalized: non-English.

Anticipate means to expect and prepare for something; expect does not include the notion of preparation. They have anticipated it by adding more seats to the auditorium. They expect a record crowd.

Anxious has a more negative meaning than eager. Someone is anxious if they are extremely uneasy or worrying about some contingency. Someone is eager if they are enthusiastic or have an impatient desire or interest.

anybody, any body, anyone, any one
One word for an indefinite reference; Anyone can do that. Two words when the emphasis is on singling out one element of a group; Any one of them may speak up.

Short for application.

Avoid this word. Use "about."

Preferred spelling (rather than archeology).

Arnold Air Society
A voluntary honorary service organization for members of the U.S. Air Force ROTC program at VSU.

Art, the Department of
The Department of Art is located in the Fine Arts Building. The program offers instruction in foundations, art education, ceramics, art history, graphic design, animation, interior design, jewelry making, painting, photography, printmaking and sculpture. The department operates the Fine Art Gallery, which features student and professional works. "The department" is acceptable on second reference.

Artisanal refers to foods and drinks produced in small batches, often using traditional techniques and local ingredients.

Arts and Sciences, the College of
The College of Arts and Sciences includes the following departments and programs: African American studies; biology; chemistry; Center for Applied Research; Undergraduate Research Committee; English; history; honors; mathematics and computer science; modern and classical languages; OASIS; philosophy and religious studies; physics, astronomy and geosciences; political science; sociology, anthropology and criminal justice; Student Success Center; women’s and gender studies. "The college" is acceptable on second reference.

as well as
Avoid overusing “as well as” in place of “and”; the phrase “as well as” has the sense of “too” or “also,” rather than simply “and.”

Astronomy, the Department of
Use the Department of Physics, Astronomy and Geosciences on first reference. Lowercase when referring to the degree in a non-formal reference: He earned a degree in physics. Capitalize when writing out the full degree: He earned a Bachelor of Physics.

Athletics, Department of
The VSU Athletic Department on first reference. "VSU Athletics" and "the athletic department" are acceptable on second reference. The department oversees men’s basketball, baseball, cross country, football, golf and tennis. Women’s sports, include: basketball, cross country, softball, tennis, volleyball and soccer.

Athletic is an adjective; athletics is a noun: He attended an athletic event. Athletics are exercises, sports or games engaged in by athletes: He is interested in a variety of athletics.

attorney, lawyer
In common usage the words are interchangeable. Technically an attorney is someone empowered to act for another. A lawyer is a person admitted to practice in a court system. Such an individual is occasionally called an attorney at law. Do not abbreviate either title.

Auxiliary Services, the Division of
Departments and services within Auxiliary Services, include: 1 Card Services, VSU Bookstore, Dining Services, Facilities Management, Housing and Residence Life, Parking and Transportation, Student Health Center, Tech Shop, Telecommunications, Vending Services and the VSU Welcome Center. "Auxiliary Services" "Auxiliary" are acceptable on second reference.

Capitalize only when it is part of the official name of an award. The Annie Powe Hopper Award; the mayor presented the award during the ceremony.

awhile, a while
He plans to stay awhile. He plans to stay for a while.




bachelor’s degree
A bachelor’s degree or bachelor’s is acceptable in any reference. Bachelor of Arts is capitalized when referring to the formal degree. Bachelor of Arts, a bachelor’s degree in science.

backward, forward, toward, afterward
No final “s” is needed.

bad, badly
Bad should not be used as an adverb. When used as an adjective, “I feel bad,” means that “I am in bad health.” An alternative, “I feel badly” means that your sense of touch is bad.

Bailey Science Center, Hugh C.
The 148,165-square-foot Hugh C. Bailey Science Center features a three-story atrium, 22 teaching and 19 research laboratories, two greenhouses, 11 classrooms, two auditoriums, two conference rooms, and 41 offices. On second reference, "the science center" or "Bailey Science Center" is acceptable.

ballclub, ballpark, ballplayer, ballroom

Banner Information System
Also referred to as Banner Web, this portal allows students to register and access other personal information. "Banner" is acceptable on second reference.

Not barbeque or Bar-B-Q, unless it is in the formal name of a business or event.

Barrow Hall
Barrow Hall, located on north campus, is named for David C. Barrow, chancellor of the University System of Georgia when South Georgia Normal College opened in 1913. Barrow Hall was remodeled in 1971 to house the Division of Aerospace Studies (Air Force ROTC). "The hall" may be used on subsequent references.

Bartram Award for Intellectual Exploration
Named for explorer and scientist William Bartram, this award is given each spring to a University Honors Program student who has demonstrated the skills of intellectual exploration, adventure and achievement. "The award" may be used on second reference.

Bazemore-Hyder Stadium
A stadium in Valdosta, Ga., used as the primary field for Valdosta High School, the winningest high school football program in the nation. Valdosta State University also uses Bazemore-Hyder Stadium as a home field. The stadium holds 11,249 people and was opened in 1922. The original name of the stadium was Cleveland Field. Capitalize on first reference. "The stadium" may be used on second reference.

because, since
Use “because” to note a cause-effect relationship. Avoid using “as” in place of because: He went because he was told; not as he was told. Use “since” to note a time element: He has been sick since Tuesday.

beside, besides
Beside means "at the side of." Besides means" in addition to."

better, more
“Better” refers to quality. “More” refers to quantity.

best seller


Use between when referring to two items; use among when referring to more than two items.

In general no hyphen, but consult your dictionary for specific words.

biannual, biennial
Biannual means twice a year and is a synonym for the word "semiannual." Biennial means every two years.

Means every other month. Semimonthly means twice a month. The same rule applies to biweekly.

Biology, the Department of

unusual. A fair is a bazaar.

The lowercased term "black" is preferred in all references. Use African-American if a person self-describes themself as such. See also African-American.

Blackwater Writing Project
The Blackwater Writing Project is a site of the National Writing Project (NWP), a nation-wide network of school/university programs dedicated to improving the teaching of writing in K-college classrooms. It is housed in the VSU Department of English. "The writing project" is acceptable on second reference.

blastoff (n. and adj.) blast off (v.)

Capitalize Valdosta State University’s mascot, a matchstick, in all references.

The Web portal into VSU e-mail, calendar and online group tools. Faculty, staff and students may access BlazeNet from any computer via the VSU home page, www.valdosta.edu. Capitalize on all references.

90.9 BlazeFM (WVVS-FM) is Valdosta State University’s student radio station. The station, which began in 1971, has broadcast range of 25 miles.

Formally known as BlackBoard Vista 8, BlazeVIEW is an online course management system that allows instructors and students to share course information. BlazeVIEW is accessible from any computer via the VSU home page, www.valdosta.edu.

Capitalize in all uses for teams and/or members of the VSU community: The Lady Blazers; The Blazers scored a touchdown; The Blaze threw T-shirts into the crowd as prizes.

Blazer Bucks
Blazer Bucks are tax-free "Dining Dollars" that are assigned to campus meal plans and reserved to make purchases at specific dining locations. Capitalize on all references.

Blazer Dining, Valdosta State University
Valdosta State University's Blazer Dining is operated by Sodexo Campus Services. "VSU Campus Dining Services," "dining services" and "Blazer Dining" may be used on subsequent references.

blonde, blond
Use blond as a noun for males and as an adjective for all applications: She has blond hair. Use blonde as a noun for females.

A successor to the DVD, Blu-ray is a standard used to deliver high-definition video and other digital content.

A standard for short-range wireless transmissions, such as in headsets, that enable hands-free use of cell phones.

Board of Regents, the University System of
The University System of Georgia Board of Regents is made up of an 18-member board that the governor appoints to terms of seven years. The board elects a chancellor, who serves as the chief executive officer for the chief administrative officer for the system. "BOR" and"the regents" are acceptable on second reference.

Book titles
See titles.

The "VSU Bookstore" on first reference. The "bookstore" is an acceptable second reference.

Brown Hall
Brown Hall is a two-story, co-educational residence hall that houses approximately 100 men and 100 women. This facility is designated to house freshmen only.

brunet, brunette
Use brunet as a noun for males and as the adjective for both sexes. Use brunette as the noun for females.

Capitalize the word “building” as part of the name: the Fine Arts Building. When referring to a room in a building, give the building’s name and the room number and capitalize “Room”: University Center, Room 1104.

Campus Buildings:

  • Alumni House
  • Ashley Hall
  • Band House
  • Barrow Hall
  • Baseball Fieldhouse
  • Baytree Apartments
  • Bazemore-Hyder Stadium
  • Billy Grant Field (Baseball)
  • Brown Hall
  • Carswell Hall
  • Centennial Hall
  • Center for International Programs
  • Converse Hall
  • Farber Hall
  • Fine Arts Building
  • Georgia Hall
  • Hopper Hall
  • Hugh C. Bailey Science Center
  • Langdale Hall
  • Lowndes Hall
  • Martin Hall
  • My Friend's House
  • Nevins Hall
  • Oak Street Parking Deck
  • Odum Library
  • Palms Dining Center
  • Patterson Hall
  • PE Complex
  • Physical Plant
  • Pine Hall
  • Pound Hall
  • Powell Hall
  • Rea and Lillian Steele North Campus
  • Reade Hall
  • Reames Practice Field
  • Student Health Center
  • Student Recreation Center
  • Student Recreation Sports Complex
  • Student Union
  • Sustella Parking Deck
  • Thaxton Hall
  • University Center
  • University Park
  • Valdosta Educators Credit Union
  • VSU Athletic Fieldhouse
  • VSU Retirement Walkway
  • West Hall

Unofficial location names - do not capitalize

  • softball field
  • central warehouse
  • greenhouse
  • front lawn
  • main campus
  • north campus
  • pedestrian walkway
  • tennis courts

Names of Departments that double as building names - Capitalize

  • Bursary
  • Campus Mail
  • English Language Institute
  • Equal Opportunity Programs and Multicultural Affairs
  • Moore Street Clinic
  • Office of Admissions
  • Printshop
  • Regional Center for Continuing Education
  • Special Events
  • University Bookstore

bulleted lists
The bullet takes the place of punctuation, such as commas or semicolons, between items. Don’t use punctuation at the ends of bulleted items that are not sentences. When bulleted items are sentences, capitalize the first letter of each and use appropriate end punctuation. When they consist of single words or phrases, lowercase the first word and do not add ending punctuation to the line.

Bulleted lists should be consistent. If some of the items in a list are sentences, make all of them sentences. If some items begin with verbs, begin all items with verbs. Use the same verb tense within each sentence. In longer works, some variance is acceptable.

Bursary, University
A department within Financial Services that handles student accounts. "The bursary" may be used on second reference.

business school
On first reference, use "Harley Langdale Jr. College of Business Administration." "The business school" is acceptable on subsequent references. The business school offers a wide range of undergraduate and graduate programs.

Business Services
Within the Office of Finance and Administration, Business Services handles campus mail, central warehouse services, the motor vehicle fleet, printing and copying services, procurement services and risk insurance. "Business Services" on all references.

In general, no hyphen. Bylaw and bylines.



Capitalize references to a specific body of advisers heading executive department for a president, king, governor, etc. The president said he has not made his Cabinet selections.

cactus, cactuses

Do not use this term for campus dining facilities. Use "dining hall" or name the hall specifically: Palms Dining Center.

Lowercase in all references unless part of a formal title.

Campus Activities Board
A student-led organization that provides engaging activities for Valdosta State University’s student body. May use "CAB" or "the activities board" on subsequent references.

Campus Alert System
The VSU Campus Alert System uses Blackboard Connect for administrators to quickly communicate with faculty, staff and students in the event of an urgent situation on campus. Use Campus Alert System in all references.

Campus Mail Services
This unit delivers mail and parcels throughout the day to all of campus. "Campus Mail" may be used on second reference.

Campus Recreation, the Department of
The department provides the VSU community with opportunities to engage in fitness and wellness activities. VSU offers aquatics, intramural club sports, the Center for Outdoor Recreational Experiences (CORE) and fitness and wellness programs. Many of the activities are housed in the Student Recreation Center on Sustella Avenue. "Campus Recreation" and "the department" may be used on second reference.

Campus Wellness
VSU Campus Wellness is a group of faculty and staff members who volunteer to offer wellness programming to the university community. The group sponsors at-work Weight Watcher sessions, a Walking Club, health screenings, dine and discover events and various health fairs. Use "Campus Wellness" on all references.

cancel, canceled, canceling, cancellation

cannon, canon
A cannon is a weapon. A canon is a law or rule, particularly of a church.

canvas, canvass
A canvas is a heavy cloth. A canvass is a verb denoting a survey.

capital, Capitol
Use “capital” when referring to the city where a seat of government is located: Atlanta is the capital of Georgia. “Capital” is also the correct spelling when referring to money: He raised enough capital to start his own business. Use “Capitol” when referring to a building in which a state or federal legislative body meets. The Capitol in Atlanta is a tourist destination. Capitalize it in all references.


carat, caret, karat
The weight of precious stones is expressed in carats. A caret is a writer’s and a proofreader’s marks. A portion of pure gold mixed with an alloy is expressed as karats.

Career Services, Office of
The office provides career development and awareness, experiential learning and professional employment opportunities for students and alumni. "Career Services" may be used on second reference.



car pool

Carswell Hall
The Women's and Gender Studies Program is located in Carswell Hall. Use full, capitalized name in all references.

Each year’s VSU Catalog with information about VSU and course descriptions are available through the Office of Admissions and online at www.valdosta.edu/catalog.

An acronym for a compact disc that is acceptable in all references. "CD-ROM disc" is redundant.

Centennial Hall
Centennial Hall is a coed, apartment style community on Sustella Avenue that houses 525 upper class students.

Center for Applied Research
The Valdosta State University Center for Applied Research can be referred to as CAR on subsequent references. The center’s goal is to connect faculty expertise in the College of Arts & Sciences with applied research needs within our 41-county service region.

Center for Business and Economic Research
The center supports regional economic development and promotes activities that strengthen the competitive positions of regional business. May use CBER on second reference.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Capitalize in all references.

Lowercase and spell out numbers less than 10: the first century; but the 19th century. For proper names, capitalize and/or follow the organization’s practice: Century 21 Realty; Twentieth Century Fund. Hyphenate only when the century forms a compound modifier: 18th-century architecture.

chairman, chairwoman
Capitalize as a formal title before a name: company Chairman Henry Ford. Do not capitalize as a casual, temporary position: meeting chairman Robert Jones. Do not use chairperson unless it is an organization’s formal title for an office.

Follow the same rules for chairman and chairwoman.

Capitalize and pair with numerals when referring to a section of a book or legal code: Chapter 1, Chapter 20. Lowercase when standing alone.

check in, check-in/checkout, check out
Use check in as a verb: Check in the equipment after using it. Hyphenate as a noun or an adjective: The check-in is at the conference. The check-in materials are at the front desk. Use checkout as one word when used as a noun or attributive noun: Please pay at the checkout. She works at the checkout counter. Use check out as two words when used as a verb: Please check out by noon.

Chemistry, Department of

The University Center Food Court houses an express location with limited menu options. Capitalize on all references.

city council
Capitalize when part of the proper name: Valdosta City Council. Retain capitalization if the reference is to a particular council but does not include the city name. Lowercase all other uses: The New York and Boston city councils, a city council should care for the city.


In prose, do not capitalize, even when referring to specific classes: the class of 1989, class of ’89; 50th reunion class.

classification, student
Don’t capitalize freshman, sophomore, junior, senior, graduate, postgraduate, postdoctoral, nondegree or any similar designation, unless it is part of a title, a headline or the official name of an organization.

Retain hyphen when forming nouns, adjectives and verbs that indicate occupation or status: co-author, co-chairman, etc.
. Capitalize when used before a name: Coach Karen Chisum. Lowercase in all other uses.

Do not use this term as a noun to refer to a female student. It can be used as an adjective to indicate both sexes, however, such as a coed residence hall. Note, no hyphen.

Capitalize the formal names of VSU Colleges. Lowercase when referring to the colleges generally or when not using the formal name: the college of business. When referring to more than one college, do not capitalize “colleges”: The colleges of nursing and arts and sciences collaborated on the research grant.

Valdosta State University does not hold graduation. The university holds three commencement ceremonies each year — fall, spring and summer — to confer degrees to graduates.

VSU Colleges

  • College of Arts and Sciences
  • College of the Arts
  • Harley Langdale Jr. College of Business Administration
  • James L. and Dorothy H. Dewar College of Education
  • College of Nursing



Do not abbreviate. Capitalize when part of a formal name: the House Appropriations Committee.
Do not capitalize "committee" in shortened versions of long committee names: the Special Senate Select Committee to Investigate Improper Labor-Management Practices, for example, became the rackets committee.

Communication Arts, Department of
The Department of Communication Arts offers four comprehensive undergraduate degrees in mass media, speech communication and theatre arts. The department mounts a seven-production theatre season, produces shows on VSU TV and promotes the award-winning VSU Debate Team. Do not capitalize on second reference.

Communication Disorders, Department of

Communications Unit
A unit within the Office of the President that produces press releases and university publications. The unit also coodinates with media outlets and provides editing and writing support to campus offices and departments. "The unit" is acceptable on second reference.

compact disc
CD is acceptable on second reference, but write out on first reference.

compared to, compared with
Use" compared to" when the intent is to assert, without the need for elaboration, that two or more items are similar: She compared her work for women’s rights to Susan B. Anthony’s campaign for women’s suffrage. Use compared with when juxtaposing two or more items to illustrate similarities and/or differences: He swam the race in 1 min. compared with his competitor's time of 2 min.

complement, compliment
"Complement" is a noun and a verb denoting completeness or the process of supplementing something: The ship has a complement of 200 sailors. The tie complements his suit. "Compliment" is a noun or verb that denotes praise: She made the nicest comment about my dress.

composition titles

comprise, compose, constitute
"Comprise" means to contain or to include all: The whole comprises the parts; The College of Liberal Arts comprises nine departments. "Compose" means to create or put together: The College of Liberal Arts is composed of nine departments. "Constitute" in the sense of form or make up: Fifty states constitute the United States.

Conflict Resolution Program
Part of the University System of Georgia Board of Regent’s initiative and the Consortium on Negotiation and Conflict Resolution, this program helps faculty and staff mediate differences in the presence of trained mediators.

Capitalize when referring to a formal body: The U.S. Congress or the Congress. Lowercase when used as a synonym for convention or as a second reference for organizations that use the word in their formal title: The Congress of racial Equality; the congress.

connote, denote
"Connote" means to suggest or imply something beyond the explicit meaning: To some, marriage connotes restrictions." Denote" means to be explicit about the meaning: The word demolish denotes destruction.

Continuing Education, Department of
Offers life enrichment and professional development opportunities for the community.

Contractions reflect informal speech and writing. Those listed in the dictionary are acceptable (for example: "aren't" for "are not"). Avoid excessive use of contractions, particularly in more formal communications.

convince, persuade
You may be convinced "that something" or "of something." You must be "persuaded to do" something.

Converse Hall
Converse Hall is perhaps the most important structure in the History of Valdosta State University since it was the building in which the foundation of the institution was laid. The residence hall was once the Infirmary, classrooms, administration offices, dining hall, a chapel, and a social center. Converse Hall housed everything for the college until West Hall was built in 1918. Capitalize in all references.

Cooperative Education, Office of
Has been offering VSU students degree-related work experiences since 1984. "Cooperative Education" is acceptable on second reference.

Council on Staff Affairs
The VSU Council on Staff Affairs should be used on first reference. COSA on subsequent references. The staff-led group lobbies for issues that affect staff. The Council on Staff Affairs (COSA) willl host its annual spaghetti luncheon Wednesday. COSA members will be handing out meals at Plant Operations and the University Center.

Counseling Center
The VSU Counseling Center offers confidential individual and group counseling sessions. The office also has a psychologist and psychiatrist on staff. "The center" or "Counseling" may be used on second reference.

couple of
Always use the “of.” Never use “a couple people” or something similar. Also, a phrase such as this takes a plural verb: A couple of people were at the table.

course names
Avoid including course numbers when listing classes within text. Capitalize the important words and words four letters or more when using the formal name of a course: Introduction to Creative Writing, Editing for Clear Communication. Do not capitalize if not using the course’s formal name: a biology clas; the creative writing course.

course work
Two words. Not "coursework."

criminal justice
Students may acquire a criminal justice degree through the Department of Sociology, Anthropology and Criminal Justice. Lowercase when not part of the formal title.

Curriculum, Leadership and Technology, Department of
Capitalize in formal title. This department is part of the College of Education.

cynic, skeptic
A skeptic is a doubter. A cynic is a disbeliever.



Dance, Area
VSU offers a Bachlor of Fine Arts in Dance. The program is within the Department of Communication Arts. Lowercase "dance" when not used in the formal title on first reference.

dangling modifiers
Avoid modifiers that do not refer clearly and logically to some words in the sentence. Dangling: Taking our seats, the game started (who is taking their seats). Correct: Taking our seats, we watched the opening of the game.


One of those words that are plural in form and become collective nouns. Data takes singular verbs when the group or quantity is regarded as a unit: The data is sound (one unit), The data have been carefully collected (individual items).

Always use Arabic figures, without st, nd, rd, or th. Read more ...

daughter-in-law, daughters-in-law

daylight-saving time
A federal law specifies that daylight time applies from 2 a.m. on the first Sunday of April until 2 a.m. on the last Sunday of October in areas that do not specifically exempt themselves. No “s” at the end of “saving” and do not capitalize. When linking the term with the name of a time zone, use only the word "daylight": Eastern Daylight Time, Pacific Daylight Time, etc.


days of the week
Capitalize them and do not abbreviate, except when needed in tabular material. Tabular format is the first three letters without periods: Sun, Mon, Tue, Wed, Thu, Fri, Sat. Otherwise, it is "The group will meet at 2 p.m. Wednesday, March 10."

day to day, day-to-day
Hyphenate when used as a compound modifier: They have extended to contract on a day-to-day basis.

June 6, 1944, is the day the Allies invaded Europe in World War II.

dead end (n.), dead-end (adj.)

Capitalize when used as a formal title before a name: Dean Denise Smart. Lowercase otherwise: Denise Smart, dean of the business school. See also academic titles.

dean’s list
Lowercase in all uses: He is on the dean's list; She is a dean's list student.

dean of students
The administrator in charge of overseeing various campus and student groups. Capitalize before a name but lowercase after name and when it stands on its own.

deathbed (n. and adj.)

debate team
The VSU Forensics Team (debate and individual events) travels throughout the country to compete in NPDA and AFA-NIET events. Use formal title on first reference. May use "debate team" or "forensic team" on second reference.

Use Arabic figures to indicate decades of history. Use an apostrophe to indicate numerals that are left out; show plural by adding the letter s: the 1950s, the '70s, the Roaring ’20s.

decimal units
Use a period and numerals to indicate decimal amounts. Decimalization should not exceed two places in textual material unless there are special circumstances.

Deep South
Capitalize both words when referring to the region that consists of Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, and South Carolina.

Overused as a vague intensifier. Avoid it and other similar terms.

degrees, academic

departments, academic
Capitalize names of academic departments when using the formal name: Department of Biology. Lowercase, except for words that are proper nouns or adjectives, when referring to departments in a general way: one of the best biology departments; the English department.

VSU Departments

  • Accounting and Finance
  • Adult and Career Education
  • African American Studies
  • Art
  • Biology
  • Chemistry
  • Communication Arts
  • Communication Disorders
  • Curriculum and Instructional Technology
  • Early Childhood and Special Education
  • Educational Leadership
  • English
  • History
  • Honors Program
  • Kinesiology and Physical Education
  • Mass Media
  • Management
  • Marketing and Economics
  • Mathematics and Computer Science
  • Middle Grades and Secondary Education
  • Modern and Classical Languages
  • Music
  • Philosophy
  • Physics, Astronomy, and Geosciences
  • Political Science
  • Psychology and Counseling
  • Sociology, Anthropology, and Criminal Justice
  • Special Education
  • Women's Studies

Capitalize the "Great Depression" and "Depression" when referring to the worldwide economic hard times that began in the late 1920s. Lowercase in other uses: The depression of the late 1970s.

Capitalize as a formal title before a name, but lowercase after the name or in general references.

Not dietician.

Takes the preposition "from," not "than."

differ from/ differwith
To "differ from" means to be unlike. To" differ with" means to disagree.

Use numerals and spell out inches, feet, yards, etc. to indicate depth, height, length and width. Hyphenate adjectival forms before nouns: the 17-foot-long trailer. The trailer was 17 feet long. The suspect was about 5 feet 6 inches tall; the 5-foot-6-inch man.

Dining Services
Formal title is "Valdosta State University Blazer Dining" or "VSU Campus Dining Services." Lowercase on second reference unless repeating the formal name. Sodexo Campus Services operates the dining services on campus. Use the formal names of Campus Dining facilities. Do not use the word "cafeteria."

Campus Dining facilities

  • Hopper Dining Center
  • Southern Tsunami Sushi Available at UC Food Court &Palms Retail.
  • Palms Dining Center
  • Palms Retail Quiznos, Jazzman's Cafe & Salsa Rico
  • UC Food Court Chick-fil-A, SubConnection & Sky Ranch Grill
  • Einstein Bros Bagels
  • Odum Jazzman's
  • Langdale Market
  • Sustella Market
  • The Loop Pizza Grill

Lowercase east, west, north or south when used as a directional reference: Go south for the winter. Capitalize for a region: Central Georgia, the West Coast, the Rio Grande Valley.

Capitalize before a name, but lowercase after a name or when used in general terms.

In general, do not describe a person as disabled unless it is clearly pertinent to the text. If such a description must be used, focus on what the disability is rather than naming the person "disabled." Sally has limited use of her legs; Blind since birth, Katie uses a cane to move thought the campus. Avoid the term "handicapped." Avoid constructions such as “the disabled.” “People with disabilities” is better.

Disability Services
The Office for Students with Disabilities ensures equal access to all students and visitors. May use "Access Office" or "the office" on second reference.

Use this spelling except when referring to computer-related references: laserdisc, videodisc, but hard disk. "Disk" is used to describe the thin, flat plate on which computer data can be stored.

Do not capitalize arthritis, leukemia, migraine and other diseases and disorders. When a disease is known by the name of a person identified with it, capitalize only the person’s name: Parkinson’s disease, Bright’s disease.

disciplines, academic
Do not capitalize the names of academic disciplines, majors or minor areas of study except when they are proper nouns or the first reference of the formal title: I studied American history and English at Yale; Graduate students in biology must complete three hours of research; Following are instructions for applying to the doctoral program in business.

disinterested, uninterested
"Disinterested" means impartial, which is typically the best way to convey the thought. "Uninterested" means that someone lacks interest.

Not "disassociate."

Use figures for 10 and above, spell out one through nine: He walked four miles; She drove 2,000 miles.

distance learning
Not hyphenated or capitalized unless part of a formal title: Valdosta State University Distance Learning. Content for distance learning programs is often managed via BlazeVIEW.

The administration of Valdosta State University is divided into several divisions. On first reference, capitalize the names of these divisions: Division of Student Affairs and the Division of Social Work.

Use the abbreviation Dr. on first reference as a formal title before the name of an individual who holds a doctor of dental surgery, doctor of medicine, doctor of osteopathy or doctor of podiatric medicine degree: Dr. Smith Brown. Do not use Dr. before a person’s name who holds only honorary doctorates. Do not continue to use Dr. on subsequent references or with last names only.

doctor or philosophy (Ph.D.)
Write out "doctorate" rather than using Ph.D. or other abbreviations and specify the area of expertise. Use the abbreviation Dr. before a name to denote a person with this title: Dr. Bill Smith, who earned his doctorate in religious studies, now heads the Brown University Department of Philosophy. In lists, the abbreviation "Ph.D." is acceptable (offset by commas) after a name.

doctoral programs
Doctoral programs at VSU include:

  • Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)
  • Ed.D. Adult and Career Education
  • Ed.D. Curriculum and Instruction
  • Ed.D. Leadership
  • Doctor of Public Administration (D.P.A.)
  • D.P.A. in Public Administration

Always lowercase. Use figures a $ sign in all except for casual references or amounts without a figure: The book cost $4. Dad, please give me a dollar. Dollars are flowing overseas.

Avoid this term; "residence hall" is the preferred term for on-campus university housing.

Not donut

down-, -down
See dictionary for specific entries; but in general, no hyphen: downgrade.

dyeing, dying
'Dyeing" refers to changing colors. "Dying" refers to death.



each other, one another
Two people look at each other. More than two people look at one another. Either phrase may be used when the number is indefinite. We help each other. We help one another.

Early Childhood and Special Education, Department of
Lowercase on informal references: He earned a degree in early childhood education.

The state-wide program for college courses typically taken by first and second-year students.The official title of online core curriculum appears with a lowercase ‘e.’

Education, College of
Formal title is the James L. and Dorothy H. Dewar College of Education. On subsequent references "college of education" or "the college" is permissible.

"Affect" is always a verb: Your vote will affect the outcome. "Effect" is used mostly as a noun but is sometimes a verb: We aren’t sure what that effect will be, but we hope it will effect positive change.

e.g., i.e.
The abbreviation e.g. stands for exempli gratia, which means for example. The abbreviation i.e. stands for id est, which means that is or in other words. So e.g. is used to cite an example from a longer series, while i.e. clarifies exactly what is included in the series.

either… or, neither… nor
The nouns that follow these words do not constitute a compound subject; they are alternate subjects and require a verb that agrees with the nearer subject: Neither they nor he is going. Neither he nor they are going.

ellipsis (...)
Use three periods (no spaces between them, but a space on each side) to signify that something has been left out of a direct quote or that the writer is leaping from one topic to another. A complete sentence will have its own period, followed by a space, then the ellipsis, a space and then the next sentence.

Hyphenate and use a lowercase “e" unless it is used at the beginning of a sentence or to be consistent with a capped headline style.

This word is often added to formal titles to denote that individuals who have retired retain their rank or title. Emeritus status is not automatic; it is an honor conferred, usually upon retirement. Use the descriptor after the title: Professor Emeritus John Doe; Professor Emerita Martha Peterson; Jane Doe, professor emerita. Multiples by gender: professors emeriti (for all men or mixed group); professors emeritae (for all women). Reference to all the faculty and staff who hold emeritus status is, simply, “the emeriti.”

The Employee and Organizational Development Department
The department responsible for providing orientation, training, and development of university employees. Capitalize and write out full title on first reference, but lowercase on subsequent references.

engineering studies
This program is part of the Department of Physics, Astronomy, Environmental Geosciences and Engineering Studies. When not a part of the formal departmental title appears in lowercase. The program provides students with two years of study towards a Bachelor of Science degree then transfers students to regional engineering universities.

English, Department of
Formal title on first reference is the Department of English. English is a proper noun, so capitalize on secondary references: He earned a degree in English.

English Language Institute
The formal title of the program which provides ESL students with English studies in language and culture. On subsequent references ELI is permissible.

English as a second language
Capitalize only “English.” ESL is acceptable on second and subsequent references.

ensure, insure
Ensure means to assure or guarantee. Insure means to protect against risk or loss with insurance.

Enterprise Application Services
The formal title of the program which provides information regarding Banner, the student information system, University data and applications, and the Peoplesoft finance and human resources systems. On subsequent references appears as EAS.

Environmental and Occupational Safety, Department of
This department, within the Division of Finance and Administration, promotes environmental and occupational safety, industrial hygiene and hazardous materials management. Lowercase when not used with formal title: He walked to the environmental and occupational safety office.

Use it to mean a right to do or have something. Do not use it to mean titled.

environmental geosciences
This program is offered through the Department of Astronomy, Environmental Geosciences and Engineering Studies. When not a part of the formal departmental title, appears in lowercase. The program provides students with two years of study towards a Bachelor of Science degree then transfers students to regional engineering universities.

Environmental Issues Committee
A student and faculty group dedicated to campus beautification, recycling, and energy conservation. Use full title in upper case on first reference. EIC or the committee is acceptable on subsequent references.

Equal Opportunity Programs & Multicultural Affairs, Office of
Formal title for first reference is Office of Equal Opportunity Programs & Multicultural Affairs. EOP is permissible for second reference.

Or e-book reader.

European Council
One of the four regional councils operating under the System Council for International Education of the University System of Georgia. The European Council sponsors a variety of programs for faculty and institutions. Formal title is used on first reference. The council is permissible for second reference.

Event Services Office
Assists VSU student organizations and departments with reserving facilities on campus for meetings and events. Full title in upper case is in first reference. Event Services is used in each subsequent reference.

every day, everyday
Every day is an adverb: I study every day. Everyday is an adjective: I wore my everyday shoes.

every one, everyone
Use “every one” (two words) when it means each individual item: Every one of the clues was worthless. “Everyone” is a pronoun meaning all persons: Everyone wants his life to be happy.
Note that “everyone” takes singular verbs and pronouns.



Faculty can be singular or plural. If you are uncomfortable using faculty as a plural noun, you can use faculty members.

farther, further
“Farther” refers to physical distance: We walked farther today than we did yesterday.
“Further” refers to an extension of time or degree: We need to look into this further.

Fax is short for facsimile and is not an acronym. It should not be in all caps. But use fax, not facsimile.

Capitalized only when used with the complete name of a government agency or a business: Federal Trade Commission, Federal Express. Otherwise use lowercase: federal government.

fewer, less
Use “fewer” for individual items: Fewer than 10 applicants called. Use “less” for bulk or quantity: I had less than $50 in my pocket.

FLEX account
VSU offers a campus-wide declining balance spending program to purchase goods and services from various locations on campus. This account is known as the "Flex Account". The Flex account is a separate account from your Student Account. Should be capitalized in all references.

Not “flyer,” when referring to a handbill or an aviator. “Flyer” is the proper name for some trains and buses.

Financial Aid and Scholarships
This is the official name of the university’s financial aid office. Note that office is not part of the official name, so when used with this phrase, “office” should not be capitalized.

Fine Arts Gallery
The VSU Fine Arts Gallery is committed to providing a teaching and learning environment serving a diverse student body and local audience. The Gallery fills a unique niche in the region as a venue for exhibitions showcasing student artwork as well as art from outside the region. Diverse exhibitions serve both the state and regional community by providing cultural enrichment and expanded educational opportunities to everyone.

first-come, first-served; first come, first served
The term gets hyphens when used as a modifier before a noun but no hyphens when used after a noun: There will be food served on a first-come, first-served basis. It is first come, first served.

fiscal year
A 12-month period used for bookkeeping.

Lowercase in all references. Example: Blazer football. Blazer is always capitalized when paired with football.

forego, forgo
Forego means to go before. Forgo means to abstain from.

forward, afterward, backward, toward
No final “s” is needed.

Spell out amounts less than one in stories, using hyphens between the words: two-thirds, four-fifths, etc. Use figures for precise amounts larger than one, converting to decimals whenever practical. But use a forward slash in the fraction: 1 2/3, 3 4/7, etc.

Acceptable on all references. Do not refer to them as frats or their members as boys.

free-speech zone
The area on the Quad. In this area, students may play music, set up booths and tables, and protest.

Terms denoting student classification are lowercased and never abbreviated. Use freshman when referring to one first-year student, freshmen when writing of more than one. Use freshman (singular) as a modifier: That is generally considered a freshman course. She lives in the freshman dorm with 400 other freshmen.

Freshman Interest Group
Please do not use this term. See Learning Communities.

Freshman Year Experience
VSU’s Freshman Year Experience (FYE) is a two-semester long, student development program that assists first-year students in accomplishing tasks like developing academic skills, adjusting to college life, and developing academic & career goals. The program is designed primarily for students who have not yet decided on an academic major. The Freshman Year Experience should always be capitalized.

front lawn
When referring to the front lawn on VSU, it should not be capitalized.

full time, full-time
Hyphenate only when used as a compound modifier: He works full time. She has a full-time job.

fundraiser, fundraising
Both are always one word.



GPA, grade point average
Either is acceptable, just be consistent within your document or suite of documents.

General Studies Program
An interdisciplinary program that allows a student to choose three academic Areas of Emphasis creating their own major. When used as a proper noun, must be written in upper case. In other references, lower case should be used.

Georgia Hall
It is a 489 bed suite-style hall. It replaces the former Georgia Hall which housed 200 students in a traditional, double-loaded corridor facility. Georgia houses all freshmen.

gender-neutral language
Make your writing as inclusive and gender-neutral as possible when representing Valdosta State or its programs or services. To make your language inclusive: Use the second person (you and your): You have many options when choosing your major. Or, use plural nouns and pronouns. If you choose this option, be sure to change verbs and other nouns and pronouns as needed: Students have many options when choosing their majors. Avoid the awkward “he or she” or “his or her” construction whenever possible.

glass bottom boats
Do not hyphenate.

Governor’s Honors Program
The Governor's Honors Program (GHP) is a six-week summer instructional program designed to provide intellectually gifted and artistically talented high school students challenging and enriching educational opportunities not usually available during the regular school year.

Use the capital letters A, B, C, WP, etc. with no quotation marks. Plurals of single letters are made by adding ’s: He made two A’s and two WPs.

A graduate is an alumnus or alumna. A graduate student is working toward an advanced degree beyond the bachelor’s. Someone who attended the university but did not graduate is a former student.

graduate from
Always use the “from.” Wrong: He graduated Valdosta State in 2004. Also avoid the passive He was graduated from Valdosta State in 2004.

graduate school
The VSU Graduate School is capitalized on first reference. The graduate school is permissible subsequent reference.

Grants & Contracts, Office of
This office is now referred to as the Office of Sponsored Programs & Research Administration. See entry for Sponsored Programs & Research Administration, Office of.

Don’t spell out the full name of this entrance examination, even on first reference. It is widely known. (This also applies to ACT, SAT, GMAT, etc.) Use Arabic numerals in constructions such as SAT-1. Use figures for ACT, SAT and similar test scores. Do not add commas to SAT or other scores that reach into the thousands: His SAT score was 1200. Her GRE composite score was 2070.

Great Recession
The recession that began in December 2007 and became the longest and deepest since the Great Depression of the 1930s. It occurred after losses on subprime mortgages battered the U.S. housing market.

Greek Life, Office of
Oversees fraternity and sorority organizations and assists in maintaining chapters and acting as liason between chapters, alumni, parents and the national organization. The formal title is used in first reference. In subsequent references, Greek life is permissible.

good, well
Good is an adjective that means something is as it should be or better. Well is used as an adjective. Well means suitable, proper, healthy. Well can also be used as an adverb to mean in a satisfactory manner. Good should be used as an adverb



hands off, hands-off
Hyphenate when used as a compound modifier: He kept his hands off the matter. He follows a hands-off policy.

Avoid. Cleft lip is preferred.

head up
People do not “head up” committees; they head them.

Use healthcare as a noun or adjective. The university's style differs from Merriam Webster's Collegiate Dictionary on this entry.

Use figures: The man was 5 feet 5 inches tall; the 6-feet-5-inch man. See dimensions.

Hyphenate as a noun or adjective.

his, her
Use one or the other but not both at the same time. “His” is proper to use when the sex of the subject is undefined. See gender-neutral language.

“Historic” means important, momentous or history-making. A historic meeting will take place on Tuesday. “Historical” refers to any event in the past.

This is a broad term for people from Spanish-speaking countries. Use only when the country of origin is unknown. Otherwise, be specific: Spanish, Mexican, Puerto Rican, Cuban, etc.

Generally, lowercase.

home page
Two words, lowercased.

See University Honors Program.

This is an adverb that means “with hope.” It is a mistake to use it to mean “I hope” or “it is to be hoped.”

Hopper Hall
Hopper Hall is a 513 bed suite-style residence hall and our largest traditional residence hall building on main campus. It replaces the former Hopper Hall which housed 200 students in a traditional, double-loaded corridor facility.
Hopper houses all upperclassmen and has a center-front position on main campus and houses the university’s main offices such as a state-of-the-art residential dining facility, the campus mail center, and the Dean of Students and Student Life Offices.
In addition, VSU’s college radio station, WVVS, and the student newspaper, The Spectator, has its home there as well.

Don’t include http:// in a URL when it is clear that it’s a Web (www) address. Browsers don’t require that it be entered; it’s easier for the reader to remember a URL without it; and eliminating it can make it easier to fit the URL on a single line. However, some sites are not on the Web, and “http://” is needed on those.

husband, widower
Use husband, not widower, in referring to the spouse of a woman who dies.

hyphen (-)
See dashes



No periods: Valdosta State 1Card

Acceptable on all references for “intelligence quotient.”

imply, infer
Writers or speakers imply in the words they use. A listener or reader infers something from the words.

important/ importantly
Use “important” with “more” or “most” rather than “importantly”: Most important, we have a plan for the future.

in, into
In indicates location: He was in the room. Into indicates motion: She ran into the room.
inasmuch as

Inc. or Ltd.
Abbreviate incorporated or limited when used following a business name.

ncredible, incredulous
Incredible means unbelievable: Her incredible talent impressed the judges. Incredulous means skeptical.

in regard to
Not “in regards to.” Better yet, just use “regarding.”

Information Technology, Division of
Formal title is Division of Information Technology. On subsequent references remains capitalized. Can also be abbreviated as IT.

in-state, out-of-state
Hyphenate when used as a modifier before a noun. However, use “Valdosta resident” or “nonresident” to describe these types of tuition rates at Valdosta State.

Capitalize names of institutes when using the formal name. Lowercase “institute” when not using the formal name: The institute is the best on campus.

Institutional Planning Committee
A statutory committee of the Faculty Senate which reviews policies and makes recommendations related to university operations, effectiveness, and resources. A formal title which much be capitalized on all references. Can be abbreviated as IPC.

insure, ensure
Insure means to protect against risk or loss with insurance. Ensure means to assure or guarantee.

Internal Audits, Office of
The Office of Internal Audits provides appraisals of University operations, processes, and activities to determine compliance with state and federal regulations. Formal title is Office of Internal Audits and on subsequent references appears as Internal Audits.

International Programs, Center for
The Center for International Programs provides services and activities to promote international education on campus. Formal title is The Center for International Programs and on subsequent references appears as International Programs.

international students
Not foreign students.

Always capitalize.

A touch-screen computer that is much like an iPod but is larger and can be connected to cellular data networks. Use IPad when the word starts a sentence or headline.

it’s, its
“It’s” is the contraction of it is: It’s time to go. “Its” is the possessive form of it: The university is proud of its history.

Ivy League
Brown University, Columbia University, Cornell University, Dartmouth College, Harvard University, Princeton University, the University of Pennsylvania and Yale University



Use for men and women. Do not use Jewess.

job titles
See titles.

Capitalized before a name when it is the formal title for an individual who presides in a court of law. Do not continue to use the title in second reference.

Not judgement.

Judicial Council, SGA
The judicial branch of the Student Government Association. It is made up of eleven appointed members approved by the SGA senate.

Terms denoting student classification are lowercased and never abbreviated.

Jr., Sr.
Used only with full names of persons or animals. Do not precede with a comma: Joseph P. Kennedy Jr. The notation II or 2nd may be used if it is the individual’s preference.

Capitalize before a name when it is the formal title. It is the formal title for members of the U.S. Supreme Court, SGA judicial council, and for jurists on some state courts.



Not catchup or catsup

Use children unless you are talking about goats, or the use of kids as an informal synonym for children is appropriate in the context.

A prefix denoting 1,000 units of measure

A unit of measurement for digital date storage. A kilobyte is 1,000 bytes; in computer binary terms it is 1,024 bytes.

Equals 1,000 hertz (1,000 cycles per second). Used in applications such as broadcast frequencies.

The metric term for 1,000 meters. A kilometer is equal to approximately 3,281 feet.

Kinesiology and Physical Education, Department of
Demonstrates the attributes of exemplary practitioners in the areas of pedagogy, exercise physiology and athletic training and prepares innovative professionals for service at regional and global levels. Full title in upper case is used on first reference. On subsequent reference, Kinesiology and Physical Education in upper case is permissible.

Capitalize only when used before the name of royalty: King George VI. Continue in subsequent references that use the king’s given name: King George, not George.
Lowercase king when it stands alone.
Capitalize in plural uses before names: Kings George and Edward.
Lowercase in phrases such as chess king Bobby Fischer.

Kings Bay Center
VSU offers several degree programs at the Kings Bay Naval Submarine Base. The formal title, “VSU at Kings Bay Naval Submarine Base” should be used on first reference. For each subsequent reference, Kings Bay Center is permissible.



Langdale Hall
Langdale is a 5-story residence hall on campus and houses 318 females and 160 males. This building is designated to house freshmen only. Houses the tech shop, Student Success Center, and student employment.

lay, lie
“Lay” is an action word. It takes a direct object: Please lay the book on the table. “Laid” is the form for its past tense and its past participle: She laid/had laid the book on the table. Its present participle is “laying”: She is laying the book on the table. “Lie” indicates a state of reclining along a horizontal plane. It does not take a direct object: Please lie down on the floor. Its past tense is “lay”: He lays down on the floor. Its past participle is “lain”: He had lain on the floor. Its present participle is ‘lying’: He is lying on the floor. When “lie” means to make an untrue statement, the verb forms are lie, lied, lying.

Leadership Development, Office of
Provides students and student organizations with a variety of services to assist in leadership guidance and growth. The formal title is used on first reference. On subsequent reference, Leadership Development in upper case is permissible.

Capitalize and use quotation marks for their formal titles, as described in composition titles.

lectern, podium, pulpit, rostrum
A speaker stands behind a lectern, on a podium, or rostrum, and in the pulpit.

Legal Affairs, Office of
Responsible for providing support and advice to the president, administration, faculty and staff on legal matters. The formal title is used on first reference. On subsequent reference, Legal Affairs is permissible.

Capitalize when preceded by the name of a state. Retain capitalization when the state name is dropped but the reference is specifically to that state’s legislature.

lend, loan
“Lend” is a verb: Please lend me your book. “Loan” is a noun: I got a loan from the bank.

less than, fewer than
Use “less” for bulk or quantity: My car uses less gas than yours does. Use “fewer” for individual items or people: There are fewer people here today.

log in, log on, login, logon
“Log in” and “log on” are verbs; login, logon and logoff are nouns: You must log in using your login. Log on to the Web site. People log in to, but they don’t log onto or log into.

Always hyphenate this adjective.

loose, lose
“Loose” is an adjective: My tooth is loose. “Lose” is a verb: Don’t lose your lunch money.

-ly words
Do not use a hyphen between adverbs ending in -ly and the adjectives they modify: an easily remembered name, a badly injured person.

Lowndes Hall
Located on the south end of campus near the Fine Arts Building and Odum Library, Lowndes Hall is a two-story co-ed residence hall that houses 200 males and females. This building is designated to house freshmen only. Opened in 1966, Lowndes Hall was named in appreciation for the county in which Valdosta State University is located and for the late William Jones Lowndes, nationally recognized educator and statesman.



magazine names
See capitalization and titles.

Management, Department of
Part of the Langdale College of Business. Provides management development opportunities through instruction, research, and service activities. The formal title is used on first reference. For each subsequent reference, Business Management in upper case is permissible.

Marketing and Economics, Department of
Part of the Langdale College of Business. Offers degree programs that enhance students’ abilities to succeed in professional careers and encompasses research and service to the university, region, and academic profession. Formal title is used on first reference. Marketing and Economics in upper case is permissible for each subsequent reference.

Marriage and Family Therapy Program
Program within the Department of Sociology, Anthropology, and Criminal Justice that is committed to students’ development into highly competent clinicians. The formal title is used on first reference. MTF Program is permissible on second reference is permissible. MTF is permissible for each subsequent reference.

Martin Hall
Acquired in 1985, is located on Patterson Street across from University Center. This modern facility houses the College of Nursing.

Mass Media Program
Program within the Department of Communication Arts that allows students to concentrate on one of four emphasis areas related to the media industries. The formal title is used on first reference. Mass Media in upper case is used for each subsequent reference.

Master of Library and Information Science Program
Master program at VSU’s graduate school that provides a quality and publicly supported education for generalists and specialists in the library and information science field. The formal title is used on first reference. For each subsequent reference MLIS Program is permissible.

Master of Social Work
Master program at VSU’s graduate school that provides students with education and experience in both clinical and community practice of social work. On first reference, the formal title is used. MSW Program is permissible for each subsequent reference.

master of arts, master of science
A master’s degree or a master’s is acceptable in any reference. See academic degrees.

Mathematics & Computer Science, Department of
Offers students four Bachelor’s degrees involving the field of mathematics and computer science. Formal title is used on first reference. Mathematics & CS in upper case is permissible for each subsequent reference.
May Day, Mayday
May day is May 1, often observed as a festival.
Mayday is the international distress signal.
See dimensions.

Media Center
Located in the Odum Library, Media Center offers services that provide assistance in media content development, media presentations, and provides access to a wide variety of traditional and new media equipment and software. The formal title, Odum Library Media Center, is used on first reference. Media Center in upper case is used for each subsequent reference.

Not momento.

Data about data.

mic (n.)
Informal form of microphone.

middle initials
In general, use them. They are an integral part of a person’s name.
Particular care should be taken to include middle initials in stories where they help identify a specific individual. Examples include casualty lists and stories naming the accused in a crime.
A middle initial may be dropped if a person does not use one or is publicly known without it: Mickey Mantle (not Mickey C.), the Rev. Billy Graham (not Billy F.).
See names.

middle names
Use them only with people who are publicly known that way (James Earl Jones), or to prevent confusion with people of the same name.
See middle initials; names.

Middle, Secondary, Reading, and Deaf Education, Department of
Offers undergraduate degrees in Middle Grades Education, Deaf Education, and American Sign Language Interpreting and master's and educational specialist graduate degrees in Middle Grades Education, Secondary Education, Reading Education, and Deaf & Hard of Hearing Education. Formal title is used on first reference. Middle, Secondary, Reading, and Deaf Education is permissible for each subsequent reference.

No hyphen is needed when used as a noun or an adjective.

military units
These are capitalized when referring to the forces of the United States, such as U.S. Army or Air Force. Don’t capitalize informal references such as military science. ROTC stands for Reserve Officers’ Training Corps, but the abbreviation ROTC is acceptable in all references to this program. Use Air Force ROTC (AFROTC on second reference) when referring to Texas State’s aerospace studies program and Army ROTC (AROTC on second reference) when referring to the university’s military science program.

Not miniscule

Modern and Classical Languages, Department of
Committed to excellence in teaching, community engagement, research, and creative work in modern and classical languages, literatures, and cultures. Formal title is used on first reference. Modern in Classical Languages in upper case is permissible for subsequent references.

Use $ and figures for all amounts in excess of 99 cents. Do not use a decimal and zeroes for whole-dollar amounts. Example: The book costs $14.
Spell out cents in amounts less than $1. Example: The hamburger costs 99 cents.
For amounts of more than $1 million, use the $ and numerals up to two decimal places: Example: a $4.2 million budget, a $1 million donation

Capitalize the names of months in all uses. When a month is used with a specific date, abbreviate only Jan., Feb., Aug., Sept., Oct., Nov., and Dec. Spell out when using alone, or with a year alone.
When a phrase lists only a month and a year, do not separate the years with commas. When a phrase refers to a month, day and year, set off the year with commas.
Examples: January 1972 was a cold month. Jan. 2 was the coldest day of the month. His birthday is May 8. Feb. 14, 1987, was the target date.
In tabular material, use these three-letter forms without a period: Jan, Feb, Mar, Apr, May, Jun, Jul, Aug, Sep, Oct, Nov, Dec.
See dates and years.

Moody Air Force Base
A United Stated Air Force installation located in Valdosta, Ga. Student in the Master of Public Administration online program take classes on the base. For more information, call 229-257-4163.

Mr., Mrs.
The plural of Mr. is Messrs,; the plural of Mrs. is Mmes.
These abbreviated spellings apply in all uses, including direct quotations.
See courtesy titles for guidelines on when to use Mr. and Mrs.

This is the spelling and punctuation for all uses of the courtesy title, including direct quotations.
There is no plural. If several women who prefer Ms. Must be listed in a series, repeat Ms. Before each name.
See courtesy titles for guidelines on when to use Ms.

Music, Department of
Offers students a variety of majors in musical study and present over 200 musical performances for the public each year. The formal title is used on first reference. Music Department is permissible for each subsequent reference.



Use last name only on second and subsequent references. As a general rule, spell and punctuate people’s names the way they prefer them to appear. Don’t use spaces between initials. Terms such as Jr., Sr., II, III are not set off by commas when used in a name unless the person prefers that the comma be included.

See the citizen, resident, subject, national, native entry.

National Education Association
NEA is acceptable on second reference. Headquarters is in Washington.

nationalities and races
Capitalize the proper names of nationalities, peoples, race, tribes, etc.: Arab, American, Japanese, Jewish, Nordic, Sioux, etc. Lowercase black, white, etc. Do not use “colored.” See African-American, black and Hispanic.
Use derogatory terms only in direct quotes when essential to the story and flag the contents in an editor’s note.


Native American
Acceptable for those in the U.S. Follow the person’s preference. Where possible, be precise and use the name of the tribe. In stories about American Indians, such words or terms as wampum, warpath, powwow, teepee, brave, squaw, etc. can be disparaging and offensive.

naval, navel
Use naval in copy pertaining to a navy, A navel is a bellybutton. A navel orange is a seedless orange, so named because it has a small depression, like a navel.

NCAA (The National Collegiate Athletic Association)
NCAA is acceptable on first reference. Texas State is in Division I in all sports. The Bobcats play football in the NCAA's Football Championship Subdivision, formerly known as Division I-AA. The university may move to the Football Bowl Subdivision, formerly known as Division I-A.


neither, nor
see either, or

Network Services
A division of Information Technology that provides a consistent data connection to and from all campus data sources. For each reference, Network Services is used.


Nevins Hall
Houses the offices of the Vice President for Student affairs; offices, classrooms, and laboratories of the Department of Physics, Astronomy, and Geosciences; the African American Studies Program; and computer facilities. Dedicated in 1966, this building is named in honor of the late Dr. Beatrice I. Nevins, head of the biology department for many years.

VSU holds orientation sessions for freshman and transfer students each semester. These sessions introduce students and their parents to academic and social aspects of campus life. Capitalize VSU Orientation on first reference, but lowercase on subsequent references. Orientation is coordinated through the Division of Student Affairs.

newspaper names
Capitalize "The" in a newspaper’s name if that is the way the publication prefers to be known. Do not place name in quotes.
Lowercase the before newspaper names if a story mentions several papers, some of which use the as part of the name and some of which do not.
Where location is needed but is not part of the official name, use parentheses: The Huntsville (Ala.) Times.
Consult the International Year Book published by Editor & Publisher to determine whether a two-name combination is hyphenated.



Use as the abbreviation for “number” in conjunction with a figure to indicate position or rank: No. 1 choice.

no man’s land

No hyphen.

No hyphen.

No hyphen.

nontraditional students
No hyphen. The term applies to anyone who did not go directly from high school to Texas State. Nontraditional can apply to anyone who transferred from another school, went to a community college first or took time off, for example. Avoid use of this label unless it is essential to the clarity of the communication.

It usually means no single one. When used in this sense, it always takes singular verbs and pronouns: None of the seats was in its right place.
Use a plural verb only if the sense is no two or no amount: None of the consultants agree on the same approach. None of the taxes have been paid.

Do not put a 12 in front of it.

no one


  • Generally, spell out numbers less than 10. Use the Arabic numeral for 10 and larger numbers, except at the beginning of a sentence. For 999 and larger, include commas where appropriate: 1,000 or 100,000.
  • Use “No.” as the abbreviation for “number” in conjunction with a figure to indicate position or rank: No. 1 choice.
    Ordinals: Spell out first through ninth when they indicate sequence in time or location: first base, second in line. Use numerals for 10th and above: 101st. Use 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, etc. when the sequence has been assigned in forming names. The principal examples are geographic, military and political designations such as 1st Ward, 7th Fleet and 1st Sgt.
  • Large numbers: For millions, billions, etc., use figures and the word: 1 million, 2.5 billion. When large numbers must be spelled out, use a hyphen to connect a word ending in y to another word; do not use commas between other separate words that are part of one number: twenty-one; one hundred forty-three; one thousand one hundred fifty-five.
  • Casual uses: Spell out casual expressions such as a thousand times no, thanks a million, he walked a quarter of a mile.

Nursing, College of
The College of Nursing is housed in the S. Walter Martin Hall.

Not a trademark.



The OASIS Center for Advising & First Year Programs is committed to quality education for VSU. OASIS holds a variety of programs such as, Freshman Year Experience, Exploratory Student Advising Center, and academic advising.
oasis, oases

occur, occurred, occurring, occurrence

Follow with a hyphen: odd-looking, odd-numbered.

Odum Library
Odum Library contains the general and research library collections of the University. The building was dedicated in 1972 and named in 1990 for the late Gertrude Gilmer Odum, Professor Emerita of English. In 2004 a new addition opened, doubling the size of the library and adding an Internet Café, an auditorium, additional computer labs, classrooms, and a new archives section. The library is designed to facilitate research and study with open stacks and continuously available assistance from reference librarians. The collection contains over 467,560 bound volumes and over a million volumes in microforms, as well as current issues of 2,815 magazines, journals, and newspapers. In addition to printed materials, the library has extensive collections of audio-visual, graphic, and machine-readable materials. The Odum Library is a Selective Depository of U.S. Government documents and maintains the Archives of Contemporary South Georgia History and a Southern History Collection. The Media Center in the Odum Library maintains and services a wide variety of audio-visual equipment.

off campus, on campus
Hyphenate when using as an adjective, but not as an adverb. Examples: I want to live off campus. The club will have an on-campus meeting.

off of
The of is unnecessary. He fell off the bed.

Capitalize office when it is a part of a formal name. Lowercase all other uses. Ex: the office of the attorney general.

OK, OK’d, OK’ing, OKs
Do not use “okay.”

Do not use “on” before a date or day of the week when its absence would not lead to confusion: New Student Orientation is July 16.

Not on-line.

One (1)Card
A VSU 1Card is required to access the FLEX Account. The VSU 1Card and its accounts may only be used by the cardholder whose name, photo, and ID number appear on the card.

One time, one time
He did it one time. He is a one-time winner. She is a one-time friend.

Use one word in all cases for the computer connection term.

Orient, Oriental
Do not use when referring to East Asian nations and their peoples. Asian is the acceptable term. Oriental rug is standard use.

A federally regulated food labeling term.

out of court, out-of-court
They settled out of court. He accepted an out-of-court settlement.

Always use “more than” instead of “over” when referring to quantity: Texas State has more than 28,000 students. “Over” generally refers to spatial relationships: The plane flew over the city.

A single word in adjectival and adverbial use: Overall, the Democrats succeeded. Overall policy.

Not a formal title. Always lowercase.



Names of paintings should be italicized: The Monarch of the Hill Country by Clemente Guzman; Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa.

Palms Dining Center
VSU's primary dining facility seats 1,000 diners. Featuring cafeteria-style serving, the facility is under direct supervision of a trained dietitian, and all employees are required to have periodic physical examinations.

Pan-Hellenic Council (NPHC)
The Valdosta State University chapter of the National Pan-Hellenic Council, Inc. (NPHC), chartered October 3, 2001 is composed of eight historically African-American Greek-lettered fraternities and sororities. NPHC's national body includes over one million men and women of various ages who serve as leaders in their communities, places of employment, and other aspects of American's society.

Patterson Hall
Patterson is a co-ed facility that houses approximately 300 first-year students.

Pell Grant
Capitalize in all references.

Write out the word “percent” in text. Use the symbol “%” only in charts or tables.
Use numerals for percentages, except at the beginning of a sentence: 1 percent, 2.5 percent (use decimals, not fractions), 10 percent.
For amounts less than 1 percent, precede the decimal with a zero: The cost of living rose 0.6 percent.
Repeat the word “percent” with each individual figure: He said 10 percent to 30 percent of the electorate may not vote.
Percentages take singular verbs when standing alone or when a singular word follows an “of” construction: The teacher said 60 percent was a failing grade. He said 50 percent of the membership was there.
Percentages take plural verbs when a plural word follows an “of” construction: He said 50 percent of the members were there.

Ph.D., Ph.D.s
The preferred form is to say a person holds a doctorate or doctoral degree and name the individual’s area of specialty. See academic degrees.

Physical Education Complex
Was completed in the Spring of 1982. This modern facility, one of the finest in the South, seats 5,500 people for basketball and 6,000 for graduations and concerts. The building of 100,000 square feet contains the offices of the Physical Education faculty and all Athletic offices except football. Classrooms, a Health Fitness Center, athletic training room, varsity and physical education dressing rooms for men and women, and a Human Performance Laboratory are also included.

p.m., a.m.
Lowercase with periods. Avoid the redundant 9 p.m. tonight or 10 a.m. in the morning.

Pine Hall
Located southwest of Odum Library, provides offices for the Division of Social Work and the Office of Public Safety.

Names of poems are placed in quotation marks. See capitalization and titles.

To form the possessive of singular nouns, add ’s. To form the possessive of plural or proper nouns that end in "s," add only the apostrophe:

  • Bob’s bicycle is green. (singular possessive)
  • The girls’ haircuts were alike. (plural possessive)
  • Mark Jones’ minivan broke down, so Mike Hunter's truck saved the day. (proper nouns, singular possessive)
  • The Joneses’ garage door wouldn’t open. (plural possessive)

A few irregular plural nouns take ’s to form the possessive:

  • We cleaned the children’s rooms.
  • The media’s coverage of the event was sensational.

Never put an apostrophe in these pronouns that are already possessive: its, hers, yours, ours, whose.
The genitive case (indicating a possessor or source) also requires the ’s or s’ construction:

  • You need 36 hours’ credit to graduate.
  • For the independent study, he earned one hour’s credit.
  • Dr. Roberts has 20 years’ experience in the field of robotics.
  • The company gave her three weeks’ pay in advance.

An attributive noun (a noun acting as an adjective modifying another noun) doesn’t require the ’s or s’:

  • Founders Day
  • Parents Association
  • Parents Weekend
  • Department of Veterans Affairs

Powell Hall
Named for Richard H. Powell, the first president of the institution, houses the offices of Career Services, Co-op Education, Testing, Housing, the Counseling Center, and Alcohol and Other Drug Education.

Pound Hall
It was completely renovated in 1991-1992. Pound Hall provides facilities for the College of Business Administration.

prefixes Generally, do not hyphenate when using a prefix with a word that starts with a consonant. Although there are exceptions (see specific entries in dictionary), three rules are constant: 1) Except for cooperate and coordinate, use a hyphen if the prefix ends in a vowel and the word that follows begins with the same vowel. 2) Use a hyphen if the word that follows is capitalized. 3) Use a hyphen to join doubled prefixes: sub-subparagraph.

“Presently" means in a little while or soon. "Currently" means now. In most cases you don’t need to use currently. “We are revising the plan” is better than “We are currently revising the plan.”

Capitalize before a name: President Denise Trauth. But lowercase elsewhere: Dr. Denise Trauth, president of Texas State University-San Marcos; the president of the university. See academic titles.

Do not identify juveniles (under 18) who are accused of crimes or are witnesses, or persons who say they have been sexually assaulted, even if other news media do so or police release names.

problem solving/problem-solving
Two words as a noun; hyphenated as a compound adjective: problem-solving skills.

See academic titles.

programs, academic
Try not to use program in place of major or department. Program often implies a separate administration or faculty. When describing a student’s activities, it may be best to use department, major or degree program rather than simply program.



Quality Enhancement Plan
Requirement under Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, a multi-year project designed to enhance undergraduate student learning at VSU. Formal title is used on first reference, for each subsequent reference, QEP is permissible.

quotation marks
Periods and commas always go within the quotation marks; dashes, colons, semicolons and question marks go within the quotes when they apply to the quoted matter and outside when they apply to the whole sentence.



It means seldom. “Rarely ever” is redundant, but rarely if ever is an appropriate phrase.

Use figures and hyphens: A ratio of 2-to-1, the ratio was 2-to-1, a 2-1 ratio, a 2-1 majority. As illustrated, the word "to" should be omitted when the numbers precede the word ratio.

Student Recreational Center (SRC)
The Student Recreational Center was opened in 2002. It contains an indoor swimming pool, basketball and racquetball courts, a weight-lifting area, a climbing wall, and other recreational facilities for student use.

Reade Hall
Reade Hall will serve as a residence for honors students. Originally Constructed in 1936. The renovation will include upgrades of all major systems, and new furnishings!

A falling-off of economic activity that may be a temporary phenomenon or could continue into a depression.

Registrar, Office of the
Aids students in registering for classes, keeps documentation of class schedules, transcripts, and other records. The formal title is used on first reference. For each subsequent reference Registrar’s Office in upper case is permissible.

Religious Studies
See Philosophy and Religious Studies, Department of

Not reknowned. “Renown” means well-known: He is a renowned expert in physics. There is no such word as reknowned.

residence hall
The preferred term for on-campus university housing; avoid using dormitory or dorm.

Residence Hall Association (RHA)
The supervising body of Valdosta State residence halls. RHA is acceptable on second and subsequent references.

Residence Life
Please do not use this name. The name of this department changed June 1, 2008. It is now called the Department of Housing and Residential Life. On first reference, use Department of Housing and Residential Life (DHRL), and use DHRL on subsequent references within a document.

resident assistant
Not residence assistant. RA is acceptable on second and subsequent references. See titles.

Note the accent marks over the e’s. Follow these simple steps to replace the regular e with the proper symbol: In Microsoft Word, select Insert and then Symbol. Then choose Symbols and highlight the e with the correct accent mark. Select Insert. (Or search for "symbols" or "special characters" in your wordprocessing program's help index.)

ROTC, Air Force
Air Force ROTC's goal is to recruit, educate, train and commission officer candidates through a campus program to meet the needs of the world's greatest Air Force. ROTC offers 3 and 4-year programs for entering freshmen and sophomores. Most cadets go through a 4-year program. There is currently a special opportunity for individuals within 1 year of graduation, and majoring in Chemistry, Physics, Computer Science, Mathematics or Nursing. ROTC should be capitalized in all references.

room numbers
Use the following form when referring to rooms in buildings: Building, Room Number.
Example: Nevins, Room 1032; Fine Arts building, Room 102.

Capitalize the names of specially designated rooms: Blue Room, Lincoln Room, Oval Office, Persian Room.



The Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools is the recognized regional accrediting body for Valdosta State University. Every ten years, VSU must undergo reaffirmation of its accreditation. Use full name on first reference; SACS is appropriate on second and subsequent references.

Don’t spell out the full name of this entrance examination, even on first reference. It is widely known. (This also applies to ACT, GMAT, GRE, etc.) Use Arabic numerals in constructions such as SAT-1. Use figures for ACT, SAT and similar test scores. Do not add commas to SAT or other scores that reach into the thousands: His SAT score was 1200. Her GRE composite score was 2070.

Satellite Services
Now referred to as Video Production Services, provide video and audio production services for a wide variety of needs using broadcast quality digital television facilities

Sawyer Theatre
Located in the Fine Arts building on VSU’s campus.

science seminar series
Series of lectures presented by professors in science related fields.

Lowercase fall, spring, summer and fall in all uses. For a semester, do not add “of”: fall 2006 semester, not fall of 2006 semester.

scholarships, fellowships
Capitalize only those words that are part of the full official name of a scholarship or fellowship. The word “scholarship” or “fellowship” may or may not be included in the name.

Several academic departments carry the designation of “school.” Their names should be written as follows:

•    School of Art and Design (Effective fall 2009; for materials to be distributed prior to that, refer to it as Department of Art and Design)

Lowercase “school” in other uses, such as graduate school.

Capitalize all specific references to governmental legislative bodies, regardless of whether the name of the nation is used: U.S. Senate, the Senate; the Georgia Senate, the Senate. Lowercase plural uses: the Georgia and Florida senates. Lowercase references to nongovernmental bodies except when referring to the official name of the organization: She must go before the student senate at VSU. The Student Government Association will make a ruling. The SGA Senate holds specific powers and responsibilities. The Faculty Senate will take a vote.

Terms denoting student classification are lowercased and never abbreviated.

shall, will
Use shall to express determination: We shall overcome. You and he shall stay. Either shall or will may be used in first-person constructions that do not emphasize determination: We shall hold a meeting. We will hold a meeting. For second- and – third- person constructions, use will unless determination is stressed: You will like it. She will not be pleased.

See should and would

should, would
Use should to express an obligation: We should help our community. Use would to express a customary action: In the summer we would spend hours at the beach.

sign-up, sign up
Hyphenate when used as a noun or an adjective: sign-up sheet. Do not hyphenate when used as a verb: I’ll sign up tomorrow.

since, because
Use “since” to note a time element: He has been sick since Tuesday. Use “because” to note a cause-effect relationship: He went because he was told he would get extra credit for the class.

Small Business Development Center
A public service extension of the Harley Langdale Jr. College of Business Administration that provides business and economic development assistance for Atkinson, Berrien, Brooks, Clinch, Coffee, Cook, Echols, Lanier, Lowndes, and Thomas Counties in South Central Georgia. The organization is part of the Georgia SBDC Network. Use full name on first reference; SBDC is acceptable for second and subsequent references.

smart phone
An advanced cell phone that allows for e-mail, Web browsing and downloadable applications.

Social Work, Department of
Offers a master degree program in social work. Formal title is used on first reference. For each subsequent reference, Social Work Department in upper case is permissible.

Sociology, Anthropology, and Criminal Justice, Department of
Offers bachelor degrees in sociology and anthropology and criminal justice, as well as master degrees in sociology, criminal justice, and marriage and family therapy. The formal title is used on first reference. For each subsequent reference, Sociology, Anthropology and Criminal Justice is permissible.

Terms denoting student classification are lowercased and never abbreviated. See “classifications.”

Do not refer to sorority members as girls.

South, south

See "capitalization."

South Georgia College Entry Program
A university entry program located on the campus of Valdosta State University that allows students to complete all developmental studies and college preparatory curriculum deficiencies, plus core college courses, in order to enter the university as a sophomore. All classes transfer from South Georgia College to Valdosta State University. Use full name on first reference. SGCEP is acceptable on second and subsequent references.

The Spectator
VSU’s independent student newspaper

spring break
Do not capitalize.

Special Education and Communication Disorders Building
Located on the corner of Brookwood Drive and Patterson Street, houses the academic department of the name and also the Speech and Hearing Clinic.

Sponsored Programs & Research Administration, office of
Supports the university community in the acquisition of external funding and administration of externally funded projects; in the ethical conduct of research; and in developing internal and external research collaborations to advance the mission of the university. Formal title is used on first reference. For each subsequent reference, OSPRA is permissible.

state names
Spell out the names of states when they stand alone in running text. When a state name follows that of a city, county or military base, in running text, abbreviate or spell out state names as follows: Ala., Alaska, Ariz., Ark., Calif., Colo., Conn., Del., Fla., Ga., Hawaii, Idaho, Ill., Ind., Iowa, Kan., Ky., La., Maine, Md., Mass., Mich., Minn., Miss., Mo., Mont. Neb., Nev., N.H., N.J., N.M., N.Y., N.C., N.D., Ohio, Okla., Ore., Pa., R.I., S.C., S.D., Tenn., Texas, Utah, Vt., Va., Wash., W. Va., Wis., Wyo. Use the two-letter postal abbreviations only with full addresses, including ZIP code. Place one comma between the city and the state name, and another comma after the state name, unless ending the sentence.

No hyphen.

Strategic Research & Analysis
Facilitates the collection, analysis, and interpretation of institutional data to support planning and effective decision making for the President and Vice Presidents. The formal title is used on first reference. For each subsequent reference, SRA is permissible.

Hyphenate this term.

Student Affairs, Division of
Promotes student development and leadership by providing quality programs and services that fulfill the diverse educational, recreational, social, and multicultural needs of the student population and the university community. The formal title is used on first reference. For each subsequent reference, Student Affairs in upper case is permissible.

Student Conduct Office
Oversees student disciplinary policies and procedures and develops and maintains the Student Code of Conduct. The formal title is used on first reference. For each subsequent reference, SCO is permissible.

Student Development Organization
Promotes student research, presentations, and competition, as well as intellectual growth, artistic performance and other non-athletic based activities. The formal title is used on first reference. SDO is permissible for subsequent references.

Student Employment Office
Aids on-campus student employees with employment policies and practices of VSU through the Student Employment Program. The formal title is used on first reference. For each subsequent reference, Student Employment in upper case is permissible.

Student Government Association (SGA)
Lowercase references to nongovernmental bodies except when referring to the official name of the organization: The Student Government Association will make a ruling Thursday. SGA is acceptable on second and subsequent references. Do not use abbreviation with VSU; use either VSU Student Government Association or Valdosta State SGA.

Student Health Center
On second or subsequent reference, “health center” or “the center” is acceptable.

Student Life
Student Life offers the opportunity to enhance our students’ collegiate experience with co-curricular activities that include Volunteer services, Greek life, Campus Activity Board, and Student Government Association. Students can become involved in over 175 various clubs and organizations which will aid their academic and personal development.

Student Success Center
The Student Success Center acts as a compass to help students navigate their college careers and get a bearing on success through tutoring, advising, and on-campus job opportunities.

Student Union
Built in 2010, houses the university bookstore, Nathan’s, The Loop, Starbucks, lounge areas, Union Station, a theater, meeting rooms, multi-purpose rooms, and students organization offices. Student Union is used on first references. The Union is permissible for each subsequent reference.

study-abroad, study abroad
Hyphenate when used as an adjective: a study-abroad program. Use as two words when it is a verb: She plans to study abroad.


See “seasons.”



tea party
Populist movement opposing Washington political establishment.

See collective nouns.

Tech Shop
Located on the first floor of the Student Union, provides students with techonological supplies, and offers computer repair services. VSU Tech Shop is used on first reference. For each subsequent reference, Tech Shop is permissible.

Telecommunications Department
Responsible for the distribution of the monthly phone bill to the campus as well as processing work orders sent to us by the departments for phone/data lines, jacks as well as phone sets. VSU Telecommunications Department is used on first reference. On each subsequent reference Telecommunications is permissible.

telephone numbers
Parentheses around the area code: (555) 555-5555, per AP Style. Do not use “1” before long-distance or toll-free numbers: (800) 555-5555.

television program titles
Put quotation marks around name: "Sunday Night at the Symphony." Put quotation marks around the word "show" only if it is part of the formal name: "The Coach David Dean Show." Use quotation marks also for the title of an episode.

television station
The call letters alone are frequently adequate. See also "VSU-TV."

Use figures for all except zero. Use a word, not a minus sign, to indicate temperatures below zero.

Right: The day's low was minus 10. The day's low was 10 below zero.

Wrong: The day's low was -10.

Also: 5-degree temperatures, temperatures fell 5 degrees, temperatures in the 70s (no apostrophe).

Temperatures get higher or lower, they rise and fall, but do not become warmer or cooler.

See also "Fahrenheit" and "Celsius."

Testing, Office of
Responsible for the many standardized tests given  to students for the purposes of admission and placement, to undergraduate students for proficiency, to education majors for certification, to graduate students for admission to specialized programs, and professional tests. The formal titles is used on first reference. For each subsequent reference, Testing Office is permissible.

that, which
“That” is used to introduce an essential clause (one that cannot be eliminated without changing the meaning): This is the restaurant that I told you about. Use “which” to introduce a nonessential clause: We ate at the new restaurant, which had received a good review in the newspaper. An essential clause must not be set off from the rest of the sentence by commas; a nonessential clause must.

that, who
Use “that” when referring to inanimate objects or animals. Use “who” when referring to people.

Use theatre for all references to departments, majors or locations except a movie theatre. VSU Department of Theatre and Dance; he is a senior theatre major; we will attend the theatre; come with me to the movie theater. (This deviates from AP Style.)

their, there, they're
Their is a possessive pronoun: They went to their house.

There is an adverb indicating direction: We went there for dinner. There also is used with the force of a pronoun for impersonal constructions in which the real subject follows the verb: There is no food on the table.

They're is a contraction for they are.

thumbs-up, thumbs-down

a.m. and p.m. are used lowercase with periods in both lists and sentences. Do not use: 00 for times on the hour. Examples: 5 p.m. or 5:30 a.m. To avoid confusion, use noon and midnight instead of 12 p.m. and 12 a.m. Do not use 12 noon or 12 midnight. See also a.m., p.m.

In general, capitalize a formal title used directly before a name. Lowercase and use commas to set off a title following a name. Lowercase and spell out titles when not used with names. Director Jane Doe will attend the meeting. The president has not signed the form.

See also "names and titles."

Trailblazin,’ Valdosta
Trailblazin’ is the official online community for first-year students which features articles, videos and surveys on subjects that matter to VSU students, from dating and fitness to majors and careers. Trailblazin’ is a Web site that first-year students can log into and create a profile for the purpose of meeting other students with similar interests.

toward, forward, backward, afterward
No final “s” is needed.

Training and Development Department
Now referred to as Employee and Organizational Development Department, resource unit to assist employees to achieve University goals, realize career ambitions and enhance personal job satisfaction levels.

Should always be hyphenated.

Use “Georgia resident” or “nonresident” to describe these types of tuition rates at VSU.

Acceptable as an abbreviated form of television, as a noun or adjective.



Undergraduate Research Council
Provides undergraduates with research programs which include discussion groups, field and laboratory activities, technological activities and archival research. The formal title is used on first reference. For each subsequent reference, the council is permissible.

under, less than
Use “under” only use when referring to spatial relations: The cat was under the table. Use “less than” for quantities: The meeting took less than 30 minutes.

under way
Always two words.

This is not a synonym for unusual. It means one of a kind. Something cannot be “more unique” or “most unique.”

United States, U.S.
Use United States as a noun. Use the abbreviation U.S. as an adjective: U.S. foreign policy.

The preferred guideline for Valdosta State communications such as periodicals, Web sites, brochures and other marketing materials, including advertisements, posters, direct mail pieces, etc., is to lowercase “university” when used alone and capitalize it only when used as part of a proper name: Valdosta State University, Harvard University; Valdosta State is a great university. However, in some more formal contexts, capitalizing the word “University” when it stands alone but refers specifically to Valdosta State University is acceptable: Valdosta State University was founded in 1906 or The University opened its doors in 1906.

University Assessment Committee
Serves as an executive body, reporting to the President and Vice Presidents on assessment processes occurring campus-wide; collecting data from and reviewing assessment programs of all units of the university. The formal title is used on first reference. For second reference, UAC is permissible.  

University Police Department
UPD is acceptable on second reference.

University System of Georgia
USG acceptable on second reference. Governed by the Board of Regents based in Atlanta, Ga., the system is comprised of 35 institutions, including four research universities, two regional universities, 13 state universities, eight state colleges and eight two-year colleges. See "Board of Regents."

Not upwards.



Valdosta State University
Capitalize. Abbreviate as VSU or Valdosta State only. See "abbreviations."

Valdosta Daily Times, The
Capitalize all; "The" is part of the official title.

Valdosta Educators Credit UnionCapitalize. VECU is acceptable on second reference.

Veterans Day
No apostrophe.

Use two words, do not hyphenate: vice chairman, vice regent, etc…

vice president
Do not hyphenate. Capitalize before a name: Vice President Dick Cheney. Lowercase after a name: Joanne H. Smith, vice president for Student Affairs. See "titles."

VSU 1Card
A VSU 1Card is required to access the FLEX Account. The VSU 1Card and its accounts may only be used by the cardholder whose name, photo, and ID number appear on the card.

VSU Connection
Capitalize. The official faculty/staff newsletter for VSU can be found at: www.valdosta.edu/news/connection

VSU Foundation, Inc.
Capitalize. This is the official name of the university's private financial holdings. Governed by a board of trustees, the foundation was established in 1964 to support the development of educational excellence at VSU.

The official VSU television station. Programming can be viewed on Mediacom channel 11. See also "television program titles."



waitlist (n.) wait-list (v.)

Shorthand for World Wide Web. Lowercase in all uses: web page, website, web.

A location on the World Wide Web that maintains one or more pages at a specific address.


One word as an adjective; an exception to Webster’s.


Hyphenate as part of a compound modifier: She is a well-dressed woman.

Lowercase when indicating a compass direction: The storm front is moving west.  Capitalize only when describing a region of the country: A storm developed in the Midwest and spreading eastward. The customs of the East are strange to the people of the West.

Whitehead Auditorium
One of two auditoriums located in the Fine Arts Building. The auditorium is named in honor of the late Mr. and Mrs. W. Q. Whitehead’s generosity.  

No hyphen when it means in the direction of or with regard to. Ex: clockwise, otherwise

Hyphen when used as a compound adjective in which wise is means smart. Ex: street-wise

Women’s and Gender Studies
VSU's Women’s and Gender Studies program is an interdisciplinary field of scholarship devoted to the study of women and gender as a social construction, one that intersects with class, race, age, ethnicity, nationality, sexual orientation, and sexual identity.


work force


world wide

World Wide Web (see internet)


The preferred spelling when used to say a person is "wracked with doubt" or "wracked with pain."

write in (v.) / write-in (n. and adj.)

WVVS 90.9 FM
BlazeFM is Valdosta State University’s student radio station. Funding comes from student activity fees, so the station is available to any currently enrolled VSU student. The station to provide alternative programming to Valdosta and the surrounding area, and to provide all interested VSU students with training to work in the radio industry.


X, Y, Z

Not ya’ll; it’s abbreviating you all, not ya all. Use only in a direct quote.

year-end (adj.)


Use figures, without commas: 1975. Use commas only with a month and day: Dec. 18, 1994, was a special day. Use an s without an apostrophe to indicate spans of decades: The 60s were magical.

Years are the lone exception to the general rule in numerals that a figure is not used to start a sentence: 1976 was a very good year.

See "A.D.; B.C.; centuries; historical periods and events; and months."

Use only in direct quotations and in phrases that do not refer to a specific day: Yesterday we were young. Use the day of the week in other cases

ZIP code
ZIP stands for Zoning Improvement Plan, so it is always all caps. The word “code” should always be lowercased. Do not place a comma between the state name and the ZIP code.