To maintain a consistent voice, tone and style across the university, it’s imperative to follow Associated Press style rules. Some can be hard to remember — so keep this cheat sheet of commonly misused items in your back pocket. And if you are looking for additional help, check our editorial style guide, which covers the most common AP style issues you’ll encounter in your work at Oregon State. We also recommend an online subscription to the AP Stylebook. It’s inexpensive, and if there are multiple writers in your office, you’ll get a break on a multi-license subscription.
1. “To” vs. the dash
When listing a range of dates or times, it is preferred to use the word “to” unless space is limited.
- The party will take place from 2 to 3 p.m., not 2–3 p.m.
- Don’t forget, always omit the first p.m. if both times are in the afternoon/evening. Make sure not to capitalize AM or PM and to use periods.
2. Capitalization of administrative titles
Administrative titles should only be capitalized if they are used before the person’s name.
- Professor John Brown
- Dean Mitzi Montoya
- John Brown, a professor of psychology in the College of Liberal Arts
3. Describing alumni
Be sure to use the correct word, depending on whom you are speaking about:
Alumna: feminine singular
Alumnae: feminine plural
Alumnus: male or nonspecific gender singular
Alumni: masculine or mixed-gender plural
Also, don’t use “alum.” AP considers it an informal version more often used in showbiz stories: She’s an alum of “Saturday Night Live.”
4. Off campus, on campus
Hyphenate when using as an adjective, not as an adverb.
- Off-campus housing fills up quickly in the summer. Act fast!
- She is planning to find housing off campus next term.
One word, not capitalized. Nor is “internet” capitalized, and “email” is one word. These are changes AP has made to the stylebook in recent years. So you can toss the 2002 edition of the stylebook from your college days.
To avoid confusion with resume, the accent marks are necessary.
7. Capitalizing majors and colleges
Majors should not be capitalized unless they are a proper noun:
- He majored in English, not civil engineering.
When mentioning the full title of a university unit, capitalize it. Otherwise, keep it lowercase.
- As part of her course work in economics in the College of Liberal Arts, Amy experimented with financial models.
- As part of her Bachelor of Arts in Economics, Amy experimented with financial models.
- Later today, we will attend a meeting with admissions representatives.
- Later today, we will attend a meeting at the Office of Admissions.
8. Course work
Two words, not coursework
Farther = physical distance
Further = figurative distance
- He ran farther than anyone else.
- We will further discuss the situation.
All numbers under ten are spelled out. Beginning with the number 10, use the numerical version.
Bonus tip: Oregon State University vs. OSU
As part of our editorial style, it is preferred to spell out Oregon State, rather than using OSU. Because other institutions use the same initials, this best practice can help prevent confusion.
Use Oregon State University on first reference, followed by Oregon State throughout the remainder of the piece. OSU can be used, however, in instances where it is part of a formal name (e.g., OSU-Cascades, OSU Extension Service, OSU Foundation, OSU Alumni Association).