Writing


Style Guidelines

The Texas A&M University at Galveston style guide follows The Texas A&M University System style guide thereby, using the Associated Press Stylebook and Libel Manual, also available online, as its primary source for questions of written style. While there are numerous such publications, the AP stylebook is so extensively used by the media and other popular publications that it provides the most common reference and should be considered the default. Where the AP stylebook does not address a topic, we prefer The Chicago Manual of Style (15th ed. or later), which is generally used in major publishing as well as in literary and scholarly works. Most dictionaries will suffice to address particular word usage, but the A&M System recommends Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary (11th ed. or later).

As do many publications and institutions, The Texas A&M University System has unique and preferred usages that augment or are considered exceptions to AP style. The following A&M System Style Guide provides these variances, which should be followed by system members in order to provide consistency and accuracy in system publications, websites, correspondence, and other written works. Following the A&M System Style Guide are selected style points from the AP stylebook that are extracted here for your convenience because of their frequent use in academia.

If you have any other questions about system style, please feel free to contact the Office of Marketing and Communications at Texas A&M Galveston or the Texas A&M University System.

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Texas A&M University at Galveston Preferred Usages & Style Exceptions

When referencing Texas A&M Galveston, use “Texas A&M University at Galveston” on first reference and “Texas A&M Galveston” on second reference. Do not put a space between the letters and the ampersand (i.e., A & M).

Do not use TAMUG in external publications.

Incorrect: TAMUG
Correct: Texas A&M University at Galveston or Texas A&M Galveston
Exception: TAMUG may be used internally on campus and is allowed in digital applications such as website URL’s and social media for hashtags (i.e. #TAMUG) and account names (i.e. @TAMUG).

To prevent confusion in publications for external audiences, always use “Texas A&M Galveston” on second reference, not just “university” alone.

In publications for internal audiences, the word “university” can be used alone on second reference. Lowercase “university” unless beginning a sentence.

Correct:
Texas A&M Galveston employees involved in the project were elated.
They were proud that so many employees of the university could pull together on a single project.

Incorrect:
TAMUG employees involved in the project were elated.
They were proud that so many employees of the University could pull together on a single project.

Website Address

The website address for Texas A&M Galveston should always be listed as “tamug.edu” or “www.tamug.edu.”

Tagline About Texas A&M University at Galveston

Following is a “tagline” that can be used in whole or in part and added to the end of news releases or other documents:

Texas A&M University at Galveston is a special-purpose campus of Texas A&M University offering undergraduate and graduate programs under the name and authority of Texas A&M University. With a distinct identity in marine themes, Texas A&M Galveston is intimately connected to the land grant mission of Texas A&M University and, as such, its academic programs and research initiatives are linked to finding basic and applied solutions in maritime affairs, science and technology, and ocean studies. The institution is under the management and control of the Board of Regents of The Texas A&M University System. For more information, visit www.tamug.edu.

Referencing University Executive Officers

Uppercase a title when it comes before a name, but lowercase a title when it comes after a name.

  • Chancellor John Sharp
  • John Sharp, chancellor of the A&M System

Uppercase names of offices.

  • Office of the Chancellor
  • Office of the Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs

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Selected AP Styles Commonly Used In Academic Writing

Abbreviations

In general, do not use abbreviations or acronyms that the reader would not quickly recognize. Never abbreviate university, department or association.

Incorrect: TAMUG

Abbreviations of degrees, expressions of time and names of countries take periods with no space between the elements.

  • M.F.A., a.m., U.S.A.

To prevent awkward line breaks, do not put a space between initials used as a first name.

  • B.J. Crain

Most abbreviations are spelled without periods: CFO, CIA. Add an “s” but no apostrophe to plural forms of abbreviations:

  • The committee was made up of CEOs and CFOs.

The first mention of organizations, firms, agencies, groups, etc., should be spelled out.

The Texas A&M Engineering Experiment Station is the engineering research agency of the State of Texas. TEES was established in 1914.

Academic degrees (also see doctoral, doctorate)

Readers may not be familiar with academic degrees. It usually is better to use a phrase instead of an abbreviation.

  • John Jones, who has a doctorate in psychology, said the study was flawed.

Use an apostrophe: bachelor’s degree, master’s degree, and so on.

Uppercase: Bachelor of Arts, Master of Arts, Doctor of Philosophy, and so on.

Use abbreviations such as B.A., B.S., M.A., M.S. and Ph.D. (with no spaces between letters) only when needed to identify many individuals by degree on first reference or if usage would make the preferred form cumbersome. Spell out all others. Use these only after the person’s full name, and set the abbreviation off by commas.

  • John Wimberly, Ph.D., is president of the National Skydiving Association.

Academic colleges/departments

Capitalize if referring to a specific department or other academic unit by its full proper name. Otherwise, use lower case.

  • Mays Business School
  • College of Science and Technology
  • history department
  • Department of Wildlife and Fisheries Sciences
  • She is a professor in the college.

Academic titles

Lowercase and spell out titles when not used with an individual’s name.

  • The dean provided a list of students.
  • The graduate assistant taught a class.
  • The chancellor will speak today at noon.

Capitalize and spell out when a title precedes a name.

  • Chancellor John Sharp met with Dean Jill Burk yesterday.

Very long titles are more readable when placed after a name.

  • Terry Dickson, vice president for business and administration, nominated the work-study student for a national award.

Adjunct

Adjunct refers to a temporary faculty appointment; lowercase.

Adviser

Use the spelling that ends in –er (not advisor) unless the other spelling is part of an official title.

Ages

Always use figures.

  • The 19-year-old student took graduate-level courses.
  • The student, who switched his major 11 times, is 24 years old.
  • The dean is in his 50s. (No apostrophe)

Alumnus, alumna, alumni, alumnae

Alumnus (alumni in the plural) refers to a man who has graduated from a school. Alumna (alumnae in the plural, but rarely used) refers to a woman who has graduated from a school. Alumni refers to a group of men and women.

  • Although she was an alumna of Texas Southern University, she gave $1 million to Prairie View A&M University.
  • She joined a dating service for alumni of certain universities.

Baccalaureate

In most cases, the less formal bachelor’s degree is preferred.

Capitalization

Capitalize official names; do not capitalize unofficial, informal, shortened or generic names. Do not capitalize in phrases such as the center, the institute or the recently renovated museum. Do not capitalize seasons or semesters (Spring Break is an exception). Do not capitalize the word university or system when it is not in the name.

  • The College of Engineering, but the engineering school
  • Texas Task Force 1, but the task force
  • Capitalize names of celebrations, such as Founders Day. Do not capitalize seasons, semesters or academic periods. (The exception is Spring Break.)
  • Dr. Ballard will teach the Philosophy and History of Adult Education class next semester. He will teach advanced geology.
  • She enrolled in fall 2005 but decided to postpone graduate school after she won the lottery.
  • Texas A&M University is known for high academics. The university has made that a goal.

Capital/capitol

Capital refers to the city; capitol refers to the building where the seat of government is housed. Capitalize when referring to the building. Capitol building is redundant.

  • The Capitol is in Austin, which is the capital city of Texas.

Chairman

Use chairman or chair in references to positions on the Board of Regents, even for female members.

  • Wendy Gramm was chairman of the Committee on Academic and Student Affairs.
  • She also was chair of an ad hoc committee.

Class year

When referring to an alumnus in text, include the last two digits of his or her class year after the name with an apostrophe. When referring to an alumnus with multiple degrees, list the degrees in the order in which they were received. When referring to a couple who are both alumni of the same university, include the last two digits of the class year with an apostrophe after each person’s name.

  • Mays Business School is the namesake of Lowry Mays ’57.
  • “The campus has changed since I was a student,” said John O’Reilly ’44, ’46 (MBA).
  • Marvin ’70 and Marlene Finkelstein Smith ’70

Commas

Do not use a comma before the and or other conjunctions in a series. Elsewhere, use commas only when the potential for confusion exists without them, such as complex sentences, or before the concluding conjunction of a series if one of the elements in the series contains a conjunction.

  • Wrong: She served on the committee to review scholarships, grants, and financial aid.
  • Correct: Texas A&M seeks students who have the skills to excel in a competitive academic environment, who bring a fresh perspective to their area of study and who show a passion for ideas seen only in leaders.
  • Correct: The lecture began with a discourse on the professor’s breakfast, which consisted of orange juice, a decaf latte, and ham and eggs.

Committee names

Capitalize the names of committees.

  • The Academic Affairs Committee will meet tomorrow.

Course work

Two words.

Credit hours

Use numerals to refer to credit hours.

  • 3 credit hours

Date

When referring to month and year, add a comma after the year unless it ends the sentence. However, do not add a comma following the month unless a date is used. Similarly, when referring to both a city and state, add a comma after the state.

  • Your memo of July 28, 2005, summarized the issue perfectly.
  • She graduated in May 2002.
  • After three years, she started to consider Stephenville, Texas, home.

Dean’s list

Lowercase.

Doctor

Use Dr. on first reference as a formal title before the name of an individual who holds a doctorate in a medical field of study.

  • Dr. Katherine Banks

If appropriate in the text, Dr. also may be used on first reference before the names of individuals who hold other types of doctoral degrees. Since most readers identify Dr. only with physicians, make sure that the individual’s specialty is mentioned in the first or second reference. Do not use Dr. on subsequent references, but rather, use the individual’s last name. Also, do not use Dr. before the names of people who hold only honorary degrees.

Doctoral, doctorate (also see academic degrees)

Use doctoral as an adjective and doctorate as a noun.

  • She received her doctoral degree last Saturday.
  • She received her doctorate in English.

em dash

Put a space on both sides of the dash in all uses except the start of a paragraph.

  • Integrity — a Texas A&M core value — is central to the character of the university.

Emeritus/emerita/emeritae/emeriti

Honorary title bestowed on select retired faculty members. Use emeritus when referring to men, and emerita for women. Emeritae is the plural feminine form; emeriti is plural for a group of men, or a group of men and women.

Faculty

When used as a collective noun, faculty is singular.

  • The faculty at Texas A&M International University is known for preparing students for graduate school.

Fiscal year

Do not capitalize when spelled out. When abbreviated, capitalize and put a space between FY and the year.

  • She planned to give all of her lottery winnings to the university in fiscal year 2006.
  • The university’s FY 2012 budget will reflect her generous donation.

Half staff/half mast

Flags are lowered to half staff, not half mast.

Titles

Capitalize a person’s title when it precedes the name. Do not capitalize when it follows a name or stands by itself.

  • President Ray M. Keck III
  • Governor John Doe Jr. attended the game with his father, John Doe Sr.
  • John Sharp, chancellor of The Texas A&M University System, spoke at graduation.
  • The president of the faculty senate was late, but the chairman of the Board of Regents was on time.

wide

Do not hyphenate systemwide when referring to the A&M System. Similarly, do not hyphenate statewide or nationwide. Hyphenate if the word preceding –wide is capitalized.

  • His achievements once were known only systemwide; today they are known Texas-wide.

work-study

Lowercase and hyphenate.

Years

In most cases, use the full four digits. Occasionally, the use of only the last two digits is preferred. Do not use an apostrophe to indicate spans of decades or centuries (e.g., 1980s, the 1900s).

  • Enrollment for fall 2011 rose sharply.
  • He graduated in the 1980s.
  • The Legislature is working on appropriations for the 2005-2006 biennium.
  • We have plenty of travel money for FY 2006.
  • The banner read, “The Class of ’72 welcomes you to Corpus Christi.”

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For more information about A&M branding as a whole please visit the Texas A&M University's Division of Marketing & Communications or the Texas A&M University System's Office of Marketing and Communications pages.


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