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Editing Style

Editorial Style Consistency

Navigating the world of punctuation and grammar can be a battlefield, especially for those of us who hold the Oxford comma dear—apologies to our beloved serial comma aficionados! (More on that below.) With that said, embracing AP style is vital for universities like ours. At UW-Green Bay, projects passing through the Office of Marketing and University Communication will be polished in AP Style, adhering to the Associated Press Stylebook guidelines. This gold standard for news writing—and increasingly, web content—helps ensure our communications are uniform, easy to digest, and universally understood. 

Quick Guide

Below is a quick-reference guide for campus-specific practices for writing.


Universities have a certain knack for brewing a rich alphabet soup, teeming with acronyms that can leave the uninitiated scratching their heads in confusion. That's why it's essential to serve up clarity in our communications. For instance, our cozy in-house shorthand "NAS" might warm our academic hearts, but in external publications, it's best to spell out the full flavor with the "Natural and Applied Sciences program" on first reference. For subsequent mentions, a simple "the program" will suffice, ensuring our message is as digestible as it is informative.

Academic Degrees, Working Titles

Examples: Use a phrase such as: “Jane Doe, who holds a doctorate in psychology.” In a listing, use: “Jane Doe, Ph.D., psychology, ABC University.”

If mention of degrees is necessary to establish credentials, the preferred form in a general-interest publication is to say a person holds a doctorate and to name the area of specialty. (The general public tends to assume that the honorific "Dr." means physician.)

The correct forms are bachelor’s degree, master’s degree and doctoral degree. Or simply use “bachelor’s,” “master’s” or “doctorate” in any reference. A two-year degree is an associate degree (no apostrophe).

Working Titles

  • Do not capitalize titles appearing after names.
    Example: [First name] [Last name], the vice chancellor for business and finance
  • Do capitalize if the title precedes the name
    Example: Vice Chancellor for Business and Finance [First name] [Last name].
  • Do not capitalize titles used alone in place of names
    Example: chancellor, the dean, the director
  • Do not capitalize proper names of administrative entities

Academic Programs, Units

In a departure from AP style, UW-Green Bay will capitalize the names of some of its academic units: the interdisciplinary academic units. Example: The student majors in Humanistic Studies with a minor in history.

That’s a nod to the importance of these programs in UW-Green Bay history and organizational structure. It also reflects the fact that faculty members are technically not hired or retained by the disciplinary majors but, rather, by the larger, interdisciplinary units.

Capitalize titles such as professor and assistant chancellor when part of a title preceding the name, but lowercase elsewhere and when following a name. Use of “Prof. Smith” is an acceptable abbreviation.

Alum, Alumni, etc.

The word "alumni" is taken from Latin and follows some of its rules.

AlumSingular, informal
AlumnaSingular female
AlumnusSingular male
AlumnaePlural female
AlumniPlural male or mixed group

Boilerplate Description

About UW-Green Bay

The University of Wisconsin-Green Bay is a school of resilient problem solvers who dare to reach higher with the power of education that ignites growth and answers the biggest challenges. Serving 10,300 undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral students as well as 67,500 continuing education learners annually, UW-Green Bay offers 200 academic degrees, programs, and certificates. With four campus locations in Northeast Wisconsin, the University’s access mission welcomes all students who want to learn, from every corner of the world. Championing bold thinking since opening its doors in 1965, it is a university on the rise – Wisconsin’s fastest growing UW. For more information, visit

Building Names

References to buildings by acronym or other shorthand should be limited to intra-campus mail and some internal usage. Remember that even on campus there are new students, new employees and visitors for whom IS and WH may be confusing. On first reference in external communication, avoid acronyms. Use Mary Ann Cofrin Hall instead of MAC Hall in such instances.

Bulleted or Numerated Lists

  • Be consistent in use of end punctuation. Either use it, or don’t. 
  • Never center align bulleted or numerated lists.
  • Use numerated lists when the order is important and bulleted lists when the order is unimportant
  • Use parallel structure. Each list item should have the same grammatical form.


When listing degrees, emphases, majors and minors, capitalize when it is a proper noun, name of the program.
Example: Emphasis in Emergency Management vs. Your area of emphasis is complete!


The University of Wisconsin Board of Regents voted December 11, 2015 to approve a UW-Green Bay request for the first major restructuring of academic administration at the University in two decades. Effective Fall 2016, UW-Green Bay moved away from a two-colleges model (Liberal Arts and Sciences and Professional and Graduate Studies) previously in place to one in which academic majors, faculty, staff and resources are aligned in four distinct colleges (or schools).

The four divisions are:

Commas & Oxford Commas

Do not use commas before a conjunction in a simple series. Example: In art class, they learned that red, yellow and blue are primary colors. His brothers are Tom, Joe, Frank and Pete. UW-Green Bay does not utilize an Oxford comma (comma before and in a series) unless the comma provides clarification. Instead of using a comma in these situations, consider rewriting the sentence to provide clarification.


Given the distinctive, interdisciplinary academic structure at UW-Green Bay, the use of terms such as “academic units” or “programs” has long been favored in place of “departments.”

Format for Editorial By-lines

—Story by name, title, office. Example: —Story by Sue Bodilly, Director of Content, Office of Marketing and University Communication.

The ‘Fourth Estate,’ SUFAC, etc.

Names and acronyms that are commonly understood on campus can confuse off-campus audiences. It is best to elaborate on certain campus-specific references. For clarity, say “The Fourth Estate, our student newspaper,...” or “The Segregated University Fee Allocations Committee, known as SUFAC, ....” or “SUFAC, the student-fee allocations committee.”

Headlines & Subheads

Capitalize all “principal words” in titles, which include “prepositions and conjunctions of four or more letters.” Capitalize the articles — a, an, and the — or words of fewer than four letters if they are the first or last word in a title or subtitle.

Hyphenate Compound Modifiers Before the Noun

If it’s an adjective, it’s hyphenated, if it’s a noun, it’s not. Use hyphens to link all the words in a compound adjective: “The five-volume report called for cleaning up the area over a 10-year period.” Do not use a hyphen if the construction includes very or an adverb ending in –ly: a very big project, barely legal procedures.
Example: decision-making process vs. land use decision making

Kress Events Center

While the Kress Events Center is the formal name for the entire complex… for quick identification, on campus, the Office of Marketing and University Communication has adopted the following hierarchy for use with local audiences.

Facility Referred to
“Kress Events Center”
the entire complex
“the Events Center”
the 4,000-seat seating area
“Fitness Center”
fitness facilities (used interchangeably)
“Schreiber Foods Fitness Center”


Avoid using parentheses when possible. If parentheses are required the rules are: If the parenthetical is a complete, independent sentence, place the period inside the closing parenthesis; if not, the period goes outside.

Phoenix Room

The proper reference for the large hall on the second floor of the University Union is Phoenix Room (not Phoenix Rooms). When the dividers are in place, the resulting spaces are known as Phoenix Room A (or Phoenix A), B and C. It would be correct, in describing an event in which each of the three separate spaces are in use, to say “exhibits are set up in the Phoenix rooms.”

Phoenix Teams

References to the University teams should be capitalized and singular in printed material. “The Phoenix is on a winning streak” is correct.

Phone Numbers

000-000-0000 or 000.000.0000 is allowed. (000) 000-0000 is not.


Use a single space after a period. Commas and periods go within quotation marks. Example: “I want to go to a movie,” he said. She said, “I heard you won an award for your research.”


If a state’s name is standing alone or in conjunction with a city or town in your text, spell out the entire state’s name. This goes for all 50 states. There are eight states that are never abbreviated in datelines or text. Those states are Alaska, Hawaii, Idaho, Iowa, Maine, Ohio, Texas and Utah. See a list of 50 AP Style State Abbreviations.

Technological Terms

Email or email, without a hyphen.


If you can omit the word that without changing the meaning of the sentence, leave it out…less is more.
Example: You will learn simple steps that governments can take to safeguard their systems and prepare for a cyber-incident.

Theatre vs. Theater

The formal name is Theatre Hall. Similarly, the University Theatre is located in that building. The theatre program stages many of its productions there.

Time, Day, Date

For clarity and consistency:

time, day, date order7 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 12
zero minutes not necessary2 p.m. vs. 4:30 p.m. Do not include a colon and two zeros when referring to an even hour.
lowercase with perioda.m. and p.m.


Titles of books, movies, recordings, television shows and similar works are set off in quotation marks, with all principal words capitalized: “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows,” “Letters from Iwo Jima,” “Memory Almost Full,” “Grey’s Anatomy.” Titles of magazines, newspapers and reference works get no special treatment: Newsweek, The Boston Globe, The Associated Press Stylebook.

Underlining Text

Reserve for indicating a hyperlink.

University vs. university

Capitalize when a proper noun.

University of Wisconsin-Extension

When a co-sponsorship exists, whether a program is sponsored primarily by UW-Green Bay or by UW-Extension, both institutions should be prominently identified in program materials, advertisements and publications. Placement and type styles should be similar. The names are hyphenated.

Universities of Wisconsin

A new "Universities of Wisconsin" brand has launched in place of "University of Wisconsin System" or "UW System."  In practice, we use UW- in Universities of Wisconsin school names. Oshkosh is the outlier. Examples: UW-River Falls, UW Oshkosh.

UW Brand Style Guide

Web Addresses

http:// or www. is not needed or required if it is clearly a web address. Some sites only recognize one or both parts of the URL, so it’s a good idea to test it first. Example: is acceptable.


Use ZIP, not Zip or zip, because it’s an acronym (Zone Improvement Plan).

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