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Editorial Style Guide

In an effort to make writing for external audiences less complicated, while promoting one consistent professional style for the College, we have developed the SUNY Potsdam Editorial Style Guide. Many of the entries in this guide follow the latest edition of the Associated Press Stylebook, which is the industry standard for most journalists. Other entries are specific to SUNY Potsdam and its preferred usages.

Editorial Style Guide

Quick Guide

Official Names

  • The State University of New York at Potsdam (with capital ‘T’ on the no matter where it is used in a sentence), or SUNY Potsdam on second reference, and Potsdam colloquially. We refer to the College with a capital ‘C’ when referring to SUNY Potsdam in particular. Note: Potsdam State and Potsdam College are discouraged.
  • The Crane School of Music (again, with capital ‘T’) can also be referred to as SUNY Potsdam’s Crane School of Music, and simply Craneon second reference. We refer to the School with a capital ‘S’ when referring to Crane in particular.
  • The School of Arts and Sciences, or the School on second reference.
  • The School of Education and Professional Studies, or the School on second reference.

Important Style Points

  • We capitalize proper nouns, and utilize special capitalization only in certain instances: We only capitalize the word “the” before the proper names of the College, its Schools and the Museum (The State University of New York at Potsdam). We capitalize the word “college” when referring specifically to SUNY Potsdam, on second reference (not “university”). Acronyms can be capitalized, without periods (MPR, not M.P.R.).
  • We do not use the Oxford comma, unless its use is absolutely required for clarity. Therefore, no comma is used before the final “and” or “or” in a list of three or more terms with a single conjunction. For example, The Crane School of Music offers courses in music theory, jazz studies, conducting and composition.
  • Titles are only capitalized when used before a name. They should be lowercase if used afterward. For example, it’s SUNY Potsdam President Dr. Kristin G. Esterberg, or Dr. Kristin G. Esterberg, SUNY Potsdam president.
  • The only courtesy titles and designations you should use are Dr. on first reference for someone with a Ph.D., MD, DMA or other doctorate degree, or military titles, as outlined in the guide. On second reference to all Ph.D.s (except for someone with an MD), the courtesy title is no longer used. Therefore, on second reference, it should simply be Esterberg, not Dr. Esterberg.
  • Proper titles of departments are capitalized as follows: SUNY Potsdam’s Department of Biology. On second reference, it should simply be referred to as the department. Improper titles are not capitalized (the biology department), except for any words that are themselves a proper noun (English and communication).

Punctuation

  • Quotation marks go outside a quote, followed by a comma or period and then an endquote, like this: “SUNY Potsdam has added two new majors this year,” said President Kristin G. Esterberg. “It’s very exciting.”
  • Quotation marks go around proper titles of books, plays and musical works, when written in text: The students acted in a production of Shakespeare’s “The Tempest.” Italicization and other special formatting may be used, as discipline-appropriate, for titles of works in publications such as concert programs or certain brochures.

Numbers

  • Anything with fewer than two digits should be spelled out. So it’s one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight and nine.
  • Anything 10 and above should be written in digits, unless it’s the first word of the sentence. Ex: 15; 2,167; $50 million.

Date and Time

  • To list the time of an event, it’s always in the form 7 p.m. or 9:30 a.m.
  • On social media, this may be shortened to allow for space by removing the periods: 7 am or 9:30 pm.
  • Days of the week are always written out: Planetarium shows are offered every Wednesday in Stowell Hall.
  • Dates are written with the following abbreviations for months with more than five letters, with the day listed as a numeral afterward, with no –st or –th. For example, it’s May 5, but Sept. 20. The month abbreviations are: Jan., Feb., March, April, May, June, July, Aug., Sept., Oct., Nov., Dec.

Stakeholders

  • Alumni/emeriti: Follow Latin grammar rules when referring to SUNY Potsdam graduates or retired faculty. It’s alumni for multiple men or multiple people of mixed sexes, alumnae for a group of all female graduates, alumna for an individual female graduate and alumnus for an individual male graduate. The same rules apply for emeritus, emerita, emeritae and emeriti.
  • Class years: Students and alumni may be referred to with their class year following their name on first reference, as follows: Kevin Valdez ’12 or Jennifer Rubin ’16 & ’17. Honorary alumni are referred to with the designation “Hon.,” as follows: Vicki Templeton-Cornell, Hon. ’16. Note that the apostrophe is reversed for class year designations.