Editorial Style: Common Quandaries


a, an

An is used before words beginning with an unsounded consonant or a vowel. A is used before a word beginning with a sounded consonant.

an hour, an egg
a hotbed of controversy, a zoo
an MA, a PhD
a historic moment


Abbreviations fall into two categories of acronyms: those formed by using only the first letters of a phrase’s constituent words (e.g., BA for bachelor of arts) and those formed by using more than the first letter of each word (e.g., vol. for volume). As these examples illustrate, the former do not take periods and the latter usually do.

abbreviations for academic degrees

Academic degrees are rendered without punctuation.

BA, MA, MBA, JD, PhD, EdD, EdS

> See also: academic degrees

academic degrees

bachelor of arts in
bachelor’s degree in
bachelor’s degrees in
NOT bachelor’s of
master’s degree in
doctoral degree in
doctorate in
NOT doctorate of
NOT doctorate degree

Academic degrees are not used with a person’s name.

Thomas C. Arthur is the dean of the law school.
NOT Thomas C. Arthur, JD, is the dean of the law school.

Sample plural forms: PhDs, MAs, MBAs

> See also: titles of people | abbreviations for academic degrees | degree offerings (Emory Specifics)

abbreviations, clinical technical terms

Use AMA style guide, e.g., ECG for electrocardiogram (not EKG)

accents, diacritical marks

Use only on words that are still considered foreign, not on words commonly used in American English such as resume and cliche. Here’s the test: If a word appears in the main section of an American dictionary (and not in an appendix on foreign words and phrases), you can consider it assimilated. Capital letters do not take accent marks.

> See also: foreign words

accreditation statement

This statement appears in all catalogs and major recruitment pieces of the university. To meet the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools’ (SACS) standards, it must be used verbatim, as provided by Communications and Public Affairs:

Emory University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges to award associate, baccalaureate, master’s, doctorate, and professional degrees. Contact the Commission on Colleges at 1866 Southern Lane, Decatur, Georgia 30033-4097, call 404.679.4500, or visit the web at www.sacscoc.org/ for questions about the accreditation of Emory.

> See more details about accreditation at Emory University’s main website.


No e before the m.

> See also: judgment

ACT (American College Test)

The abbreviation for this college entrance exam is written without periods.

> See also: PSAT | SAT


See the online Emory University Directory for a list of university addresses. To comply with postal regulations, use the postal abbreviations for states (e.g., GA for Georgia) in address field or in running text whenever a zip code is used. In other text, including alumni class notes, state names should be abbreviated according to AP style.

Street names are also abbreviated (e.g., Ave., Blvd., and Hwy.) (CMS 15.35) Although the CMS recommends spelling out street addresses under 100 (as in Ninety-Third Street), this can be cumbersome. We recommend using numerals for all building numbers and street addresses. Do not use periods in compass-direction addresses such as NW and SE.

3100 SW 9th Ave.

> See also: state names


Please note that Emory admission offices use the singular.

Office of Admission

NOT Office of Admissions

adviser, advisor

CMS recommends the -er suffix, and “er” is also the first spelling in Webster’s. For other words with alternative spellings, use the first spelling in Webster’s.

affect, effect

affect (verb): to influence
effect (verb): to cause
effect (noun): a result

African American

Note that this is written without a hyphen, whether it is used as a noun or an adjective.

> See also: nationality | race


Spell out all ages under 10. Hyphenate ages used as nouns.

She will turn 15 next week.
It’s difficult handling a two-year-old.

> See also: numbers

a lot

Always written as two words. Because this phrase lacks precision, try not to use it.


Be sure not to confuse the usage of although with that of while, which suggests the passage of time.

Although I studied Shakespeare, I enjoy modern theater.
NOT While I studied Shakespeare, I enjoy modern theater.

> See also: while

alumnus, alumni, alumna, alumnae

Avoid using alum or alums in written materials. While in spoken Latin words ending in “i” are pronounced with a long “e” sound and words ending in “ae” are pronounced with a long “i” sound, the preferred pronunciation at Emory for both is the latter.

One man: alumnus

Two or more men: alumni (pronounced alumn-eye)

One woman: alumna

Two or more women: alumnae (pronounced alumn-eye)

For a group containing both men and women, use alumni.

a.m., p.m.

Use periods and lowercase letters to express morning or afternoon. 

10:00 a.m. (not 10:00 a.m. this morning, which is redundant)
9:00–9:30 a.m. 11:30 a.m.–1:00 p.m.

Note: Numerals should never be used to express noon or midnight. Lowercase these designations as well.

The seminar will meet from 11:00 a.m. to noon.
NOT The seminar will meet from 11 a.m. to Noon.

ampersand (&)

Avoid using ampersands in running text and even in charts or other places with limited space. The only case in which ampersands are appropriate is when the symbol is part of the official name of a company or publication:

Fitzgerald & Co.
US News & World Report
Emory College Center for Creativity & Arts

Note: Generally try to avoid using ampersands online. They can become garbled in HTML display and may cause errors.


An event cannot be described as annual until it has occurred for at least two successive years.

NOT first annual

any more, anymore

The two-word any more is used only in the negative sense and always goes with a noun.

Emory will not pursue any more building projects this year.

Written as one word, anymore is used to modify a verb and should be used only at the end of a thought.

We don’t go there anymore.
I don’t like her anymore.

any one, anyone, every one, everyone

Use the two-word expressions when you want to single out one element of a group.

Any one of those students can apply to Emory.
Every one of those clues was worthless.

Use the one-word expressions for indefinite references; note that these expressions take singular verbs.

Anyone who has graduated from high school can apply to Emory.
Everyone wants a happy life.

> See also: none

any way, anyway

Write as two words only when you mentally can insert the word one in the middle. The rest of the time, write as one word.

Any [one] way you want to write the letter is fine.
The committee opposed the plan, but it was implemented anyway.

assure, ensure, insure

Assure refers to people, and means to convince or to give confidence to. Ensure means to guarantee. Insure involves monetary coverage according to policy.

I assured the old gentleman that he could indeed insure his 23 cats and thus ensure them a decent burial.

as yet

Yet is nearly always as good, if not better.

We don’t know the verdict yet.
NOT We don’t know the verdict as yet.

athletic (adj.), athletics (noun)

The singular form is the correct adjective:

The athletic boy played tennis, soccer, and golf.

The adjective athletic sounds odd in relation to programs (seeming to suggest, for example, that they are in good physical condition). Consequently, using the noun as an adjective is acceptable in a case such as:

We are proud of our athletics programs.

The noun athletics usually takes a plural verb:

Our athletics are the envy of many universities.

attributive nouns

Attributive nouns modify other nouns, such as “state roads,” “harvest moon,” and “prison guard.” When these forms become plural/possessive, they can get tricky. For instance, should it be “boys room” or “boys' room?” What about “teachers lounge” v. “teachers' lounge?” Although varying opinions exist on this subject, the CMS eliminates the apostrophe only in proper names. When in doubt about a proper name, use the preferred spelling of the business.

a consumers’ group
taxpayers’ meeting
the women’s team
a boys’ club
BUT Diners Club
Department of Veterans Affairs


Words like audiovisual are closed and do not take hyphens.

a while, awhile

With for or any other preposition, use two words; otherwise, use one word.

We rested for a while. We rested awhile.



Although Webster’s lists this word as a noun, it is more accurately used as an adjective to describe a bachelor’s degree or a service in which one is conferred.


One word.

based on

The safest place for this much-abused phrase is after a “to be” verb:

Our decision to reprint the admission brochure was based on last year’s increase in enrollment.

Don’t let this modifier dangle at the beginning of a sentence. Here's the test: At the beginning of a sentence, if you can substitute because of or given, do so.

Because of last year’s increase in enrollment, we decided to reprint the admission brochure.
NOT Based on this year’s increase in enrollment, we decided to reprint the admission brochure.

Note: Avoid using based upon; it is unwarranted. Do not use based off of; it is slang.

> See also: dangling modifiers | due to


Don’t use as a substitute for that.

The reason I left the focus group was that I felt sick.
OR I left the focus group because I felt sick.
NOT The reason I left the focus group was because I felt sick.

Beginning a sentence with because is correct as long as you are not unintentionally creating a fragment.

Because I wanted to have a glowing complexion, I vowed to drink eight glasses of water each day.
NOT Because I said so.

Note: Owing to means because of and comes at the beginning of a sentence. Due to means caused by.

Owing to the bad weather, the game was canceled.
Due to heavy rain, the dugout was flooded.

> See also: reason . . . is that | since

Bible, biblical

The noun takes an initial cap but no italics or underline; lowercase a preceding the unless it begins a sentence.

She read a verse from the Bible.
The Bible was her only comfort.

Lowercase the adjectival form.

The biblical passage brought him to tears.


> See: nationality and race

both to and to both

Correlative constructions such as both . . . and, either . . . or, and not only . . . but also should connect parallel sentence elements:

The new building code applies both to factories and to single-family dwellings.
The new building code applies to both factories and single-family dwellings.
Faulty: The new building code applies to both factories and to single-family dwellings.


> See also: names of businesses


The words business person and business people are preferred.

> See also: chair, sexism


can, may

> See: may, can


The following rules apply to running text (i.e., promotional copy in paragraph form in brochures, newsletters, magazine articles, flyers, and advertisements). These rules adhere to a "down" style of capitalization (i.e., a predominant practice of lowercasing words), which gives the copy a clean and modern look. Capitalization in other formats featuring lists or freestanding lines of text (e.g., memorandum headings, commencement programs, and invitations) may differ, often tending toward a more extensive use of capital letters.

Capitalize these elements

Job titles that directly precede a proper name Dean Lisa A. Tedesco
President Claire E. Sterk
Assistant Professor of Spanish and Portuguese Hernán Feldman
Named academic professorships and fellowships Mary Emerson Professor of Piano William H. Ransom
Irwin T. Hyatt Jr. Professor Emeritus
BUT Fulbright scholar

Formal names of academic departments
or administrative offices

Department of Biology
Office of the Provost
Schools and divisions within Emory

Goizueta Business School
School of Law
School of Medicine
Division of Campus Life 
BUT lowercase general references to schools and divisions (when reference is ambiguous, use initial capital letters):
business school
law school
medical school
campus life division
> For specifics on second references see also: school names (Emory Specifics)

Names of specific courses Biology 101
History of Civilization
Note: no quotation marks or italics
Names of specific programs MBA Program
Emory Parent Giving Program
BUT lowercase second, truncated references to specific programs:
Students in the business program enjoy its internship component.
Political divisions of the world (e.g.,
state, county, etc.) used as part
of a proper name
DeKalb County
Nouns designating specific regions
of the United States and the world
the South, the East Coast, the Midwest, North Georgia
BUT The family is moving to western Australia.
> See also: directions and regions
Titles of awards, prizes, or scholarships, including
nouns (e.g., award) if they are part of the title,
but not articles, prepositions, or conjunctions within the title
Academy Award
Pulitzer Prize
International Music Scholarship
Woman of the Year Award
Names of religious and secular holidays Ash Wednesday
Memorial Day
Both elements in hyphenated compounds in headlines Post-Apocalyptic Ruin of Civilizations
Medium-Sized Libraries
First elements are always capitalized in headlines
or titles; subsequent elements are capped unless they
are articles, prepositions, coordinating conjunctions, or
such modifiers as flat or sharp following musical key symbols.
Out-of-Fashion Initiatives
Run-of-the-Mill Responses
Second elements attached to prefixes are not capped
unless the element is a proper noun or adjective.

Strategies for Re-establishment
BUT Sexual Politics in the Post-Kennedy Administration
BUT Pre-Raphaelite Paintings Revisited

Full names of committees
The Office of Finance Budget Committee meets on the third Monday of each month.
BUT The committee adjourned at 3:00 p.m.

State, city and town names when used as proper nouns The family recently moved here from Jefferson City.
The Detroit City Commission will vote tomorrow.
BUT Oxford College is located outside the city of Atlanta.

Don’t capitalize these elements

Academic years first-year student
> See also: first-year student
Areas of study I’m taking two history courses.
Are you interested in business and entrepreneurship?
Degrees and degree programs Emory offers more than 15 doctoral programs.
I'm studying for a bachelor's degree in psychology.
Freestanding job titles Claire E. Sterk assumed the office of president in September 2016.
The committee will include all Emory deans.
Who is chair of the Board of Trustees?
She is an adjunct professor.
Generic names of buildings on campus library
residence hall
field house
Grade levels Students in grade one have progressed well this year.
Holidays that are descriptive of an event The president's inauguration day follows New Year's Day.
> See also: titles of people | titles of works
Informal references to offices or
departments as distinguished from
their official names
the biology department
the provost’s office
Introductory "the" preceding the name
of a school or organization
the James T. Laney School of Graduate Studies
the Johns Hopkins University
the Ohio State University
the University of Chicago
Job titles that follow a proper name Claire E. Sterk, president of Emory University, has a background in public health.
Majors, minors, and areas of specialization biology major
psychology minor
hospital pharmacy technician certificate
Role-denoting epithets biology professor Gray Crouse
historian Susan M. Socolow
Seasons or school terms spring 2013
fall term
The parts of disease names that are not
proper nouns
Parkinson’s disease, Down syndrome
The words black and white to
designate race
> See also: nationality and race
Titles of forms student transaction form
financial aid form
application form
Word elements of acronyms

anterior cruciate ligament (ACL)


The word chair is preferred.

> See also: sexism


No! No! A thousand times no! Other common transgressions: a tradition of excellence, caring professors, a quality education, close proximity.


Retain the hyphen when forming nouns, adjectives and verbs that indicate occupation or status. The goal is to aid the reader. Current practice is to close up the compounds, but where there is any danger of reader misunderstanding, retain the hyphen.

co-author, co-chair, co-owner, co-pilot, co-signer, co-sponsor, co-worker

Use no hyphens in other combinations.

coed, coeducation, coequal, coexist

collective nouns

Nouns that denote a unit—such as class, committee, faculty, family, group, team, and student body—take singular verbs and pronouns:

The faculty is delighted that the team has committed itself to higher academic standards.

In those instances in which the reference is to the individuals who are part of a particular unit, then the reference is plural:

The faculty are eating their slices of key lime pie.

> See also: faculty

Some words that are plural in form become collective nouns and take singular verbs when they represent a unit:

The data he produced is worthless.

Note: If you find yourself confused, rewrite the sentence.

colloquiums, colloquia

Webster's lists colloquiums before colloquia.

commit, commitment, committed

Please exercise care with these commonly misspelled words.


> See: names of businesses

Compare with versus compare to

Compare to is used to show how one item resembles another.

The boy compared his father's head to an egg.
OR Shall I compare thee to a summer's day?

Compare with is used to show how one item differs from another.

The investigator compared the facts of the Rineman case with those of the Billings incident.

compose, comprise

Compose means "to create or assemble."

The United States is composed of 50 states.

Comprise means "to embrace or contain."

The United States comprises 50 states.
A zoo comprises mammals, reptiles, and birds (because it "embraces," or "includes," them).

Never use "comprised of"; use "composed of."

compound words

Use a hyphen to separate a compound modifier that comes before the noun it modifies.

He was wearing a blue-green shirt.

The Vega Quartet are artists in residence at Emory.

Artist-in-residence Renée Fleming appears in concert next week.

Adverbs ending in -ly do not take a hyphen.

Emory Report is a widely distributed university publication.

computer terms

database one word
double-click hyphen
email no hyphen
Ethernet capital “E”
home page home page refers to a website’s first or primary page
NOT homepage
hyphen v. dash an em dash can become garbled online; to avoid this, use hyphens or double hyphens ( -- ) with no space on either side
internet no longer capitalized
ISP Internet Service Provider
italics for visual clarity, minimize the use of italics online, especially in small font sizes
kilobytes 512K, no space before capitalized K
laptop one word
Listserv capitalize as trademark
login, logon, logoff one word as a noun; two words as a verb
megabytes 1.3M, no space before capitalized M
offline, online no hyphen
PC personal computer (plural: PCs, no apostrophe)
quotation marks try to avoid the use of "smart" or "typeset style" quotes online as they can become garbled online (resulting in an upside-down question mark)
real time (n.); real-time (adj.)
software names use manufacturer's spelling, e.g., Macintosh, Apple iTunes, Microsoft PowerPoint
URL uniform resource locator
videoconference, video conferencing
the web, website, web page, webcam, webcast, webmaster
website v. web page website refers to a collection of web pages sharing a domain name or design
web page refers to a single page within a website or to a one-page site

Congressman, Congresswoman

Avoid these. Representative or US representative is preferred.

> See also: sexism


Although the word cooperative is written without hyphenation, its abbreviated form is hyphenated to prevent confusion with the word coop.

coursework (noun)

One word.


> See: sports terms


Use this word to mean now, as opposed to the word presently, which means soon.

Currently, I am working on my master’s degree; I expect to finish it presently.

curricula, curriculums

Webster's lists curricula before curriculums.

curriculum vita (singular), curricula vitae (plural)

cutlines (captions)

Whenever possible, use full sentences for captions, followed by a period.


dangling modifiers

Careful writers avoid these. A dangling modifier is a word or phrase that modifies either a term that has been omitted from a sentence or a term to which it cannot easily be linked. The modifying phrase preceding the comma in the second example below is a dangling modifier because it seems to modify the test rather than the sentence's ostensible subject, the people who arrived late.

Having arrived late, we missed the beginning of the test.
NOT Having arrived late, the test was in progress when we started.

> See also: based on | due to | hopefully | thankfully

data (plural), datum (singular)

The singular is rarely used. To avoid the tricky question of subject-verb agreement presented by the word data, which can be used as either a singular or a plural, try using synonyms: research, research findings.

> See: collective nouns


List years using all four numerals. 2018
NOT '18
To show a span of years, list all four numerals for both years
and separate the years with an en dash.
NOT 2005–07
How to express centuries and decades

the 20th century
the 1880s
NOT the 1880's

Full names of days and months Generally spell out the days of the week and the
months of the year. Abbreviations are preferred
online and acceptable in charts, tables, or
advertising matter with limited space.
Note the punctuation of these sentences:

The events of Tuesday, September 11, 2001, were unforgettable.
The events of December 1941 were decisive.
The events of spring 2020 will determine the future of the business.
> See also: Punctuation Particulars

Although the day of the month is actually an ordinal (and
pronounced that way in speaking), the American practice
is to write it as a cardinal number.
April 18
NOT April 18th

decision maker

An open compound such as decision maker is rendered as two or more words without hyphenation. Words rendered as hyphenated or closed compounds are generally found in the dictionary.

dining room, best seller, bookstore, flowerpot, name-dropper, full-size


> See: academic degrees


For statements of comparison, use different from, not different than.

directions and regions

Lowercase terms such as north, northeast, and south when they indicate compass directions. Capitalize them when they designate regions:

This university is located just east of Atlanta's downtown.
I enjoy living in North Georgia, but I miss Southern California and the West Coast in general.

Note: Names of countries take capitals: South Korea, Northern Ireland.

> See also: capitalization


The preferred term for people with physical or intellectual disabilities.


The preferred term is residence hall.

dual-degree (adj.), dual degree (noun)

As an adjective, this phrase takes a hyphen: The versatile young woman sought a dual-degree program in Spanish and international business.
As a noun, no hyphen: The young man has a dual degree in engineering and psychology.

due to

Often misused, so watch out. Avoid beginning a sentence with this phrase; the safest place for it is after a form of the verb to be.

The cancellation was due to bad weather.
NOT Due to bad weather, the game was canceled.

When in doubt, see if you can substitute the phrase caused by. If you can, your sentence is correct.

> See also: based on


each and every

Both a cliche and a redundant phrase; avoid.

e.g., i.e.,

These abbreviations take periods and are always followed by a comma.

The former stands for the Latin exempli gratia, meaning "for example."

Emory students can choose from a wide variety of Atlanta entertainment options (e.g., museums, concerts, shopping).

Don't confuse e.g., with i.e., which stands for id est, or "that is." Whereas e.g., refers the reader to several possible examples of a given case, i.e., refers him or her to all examples of a case.

The rapper Jay-Z, i.e., Shawn Carter, was born in Brooklyn, NY, in 1969.

either/or, neither/nor

These can be used only when two items are being discussed. If more than two items are in question, these constructions shouldn't be used. Pair them properly, and do not mix them.

I read neither Hemingway's Old Man and the Sea nor For Whom the Bell Tolls.
NOT I saw neither the Empire State Building or One World Trade Center.

She will choose either the red or the blue.
NOT She will choose neither the red, the green, nor the blue.

ellipsis ( . . . )

This series of three dots indicates the absence of quoted words. It also can be used to indicate a pause in or incompleteness of thought. Note the spaces between the three dots.

A four-dot ellipsis indicates quoted material left out after the end of a complete sentence.

“I fell in love with Emma Eckstein the moment I saw her from the fourth gallery of the Carl Theater, and this was also the night I met Sigmund Freud. . . . What drew my attention so irresistibly to her?” (Joseph Skibell, A Curable Romantic)

> See also: Punctuation Particulars


Lowercase the e (except when the word appears in a headline or at the beginning of a line or sentence). Do not use a hyphen.

> See also: computer terms

email addresses

If an email address falls at the end of a sentence, include the terminal period:

Contact the director of Editorial Services at susan.carini@emory.edu.

emeritus (m., sing.), emerita (f., sing.), emeriti (plural)

Arthur M. Blank is a trustee emeritus of the Emory University Board of Trustees.
Professor Emeritus John Bugge
The president addressed the professors emeriti.

See also: alumni, alumna


Resist the urge to emphasize words, since bold, italic, underlined, and uppercase type can be jarring to readers. Do not use multiple type styles for emphasis.


> See assure.

et al.

An abbreviation for the Latin et alia, meaning "and others"; used only in note citations and bibliographies, not in regular text.
NOT et. al.


An abbreviation for the Latin et cetera, meaning "and so forth." Avoid using this abbreviation since its vagueness tends to weaken writing. Instead of tacking etc. on the end of a sentence, indicate up front that the list of examples will not be exhaustive.

NOT We will engage in activities such as hiking, fishing, swimming, etc.
BUT Our activities will include hiking, fishing, and swimming.

every day, everyday

She goes to work every day.
He is wearing everyday shoes.

every one, everyone

See any one, anyone.



Use this word only if you are referring to the singular, collective body of teachers at a school:

The students are high achievers, and the faculty is known for excellent teaching.

When you are referring to individual teachers (singly or in a group), use the more personal faculty member or faculty members.

She is the faculty member most popular with students.
Students and faculty members served on the committee.

> See also: ratio | collective nouns

farther, further

Farther denotes physical distance; further denotes an extension of time or degree.

We must not go any farther into the woods until we have further considered our strategy.


No initial cap unless the word is part of a proper name.

The federal guidelines are very clear. We sent the package via Federal Express. The US Federal Reserve will raise interest rates.


> See: less


When you're conveying information in order of importance, and you want to alert your reader to this strategy, use first, second, third.
NOT firstly, secondly, thirdly

first-class (adj.), first class (noun, adverb)

We stayed in a first-class hotel.
He pronounced the accommodations first class.

See also: important

firsthand (adj.)

One word, no hyphen.

first-year student

This phrase applies to students pursuing an initial year of study in an Emory undergraduate program and replaces the gender-specific freshman. This is the preferred designation at Emory.

forego, forgo

To forego means go before, precede.

To forgo means to abstain from.

foreign words

Foreign words appearing in the main section of an American dictionary (and not in an appendix on foreign words and phrases) are considered assimilated.

nuit blanche
tout ensemble

fait accompli
vox populi
a cappella

Although the dictionary vacillates on the question of diacritical marks for certain words, we believe a cleaner style is more fitting:

cafe, resume, cliche, facade

> See also: accents | diacritical marks

If you're quoting a foreign phrase, put it in italics and include the appropriate diacritical marks.

If you're mentioning the name of a foreign place or person, include diacritical marks but skip the italics.


In nonscientific, running copy, spell out all fractions.

Less than one-third of the class failed the exam.

Use numerals for fractions with whole numbers.

Windows to classroom doors should start at 42 1/2 inches from the floor and extend to at least 61 1/2 inches above the floor. 

When typing fractions, leave a space between the whole number and the fraction, as in 8 1⁄2.


One word, no hyphen.


Always takes an initial cap, as in a Fulbright grant.

full-time, full time (also part-time, part time)

(adj.) She has a full-time job.
(adv. phrase) She works full time.

fund-raiser (noun), fund-raising (noun), fund-raising (adj.)

Webster's hyphenates the nouns as well as the adjective.

Her success as a fund-raiser was unequaled.
Fund-raising is at a record high.
Our fund-raising success exceeds our wildest dreams.

> See also: compound words


> See: farther, further


geographical terms

> See: directions and regions | capitalization

GPA, grade point average

GPA stands for grade point average. The abbreviation does not take periods, and the words grade point average are not capped even when they precede the parenthetical abbreviation.

She has a grade point average (GPA) of 3.5.

grades (letter)

Use the capital letter alone, no quotation marks around it or italics. No apostrophe for plural forms.

He earned all Bs this semester.

Those who miss the final exam will receive an F in the course.

graduate (verb)

Use the active voice.

She graduated from Emory.
NOT She was graduated from Emory.


handicapped, disabled

Handicapped is an outdated term. If not, treat disabled as an adjective or a verb. When writing about persons with disabilities, do not use normal to refer to people without disabilities, use able-bodied or typical instead. A person with some hearing loss is hearing impaired; one totally without hearing is deaf. The challenged designations are also outdated; instead, use terms such as physical, sensory, or mental disability.

health care

The preferred usage is to leave the noun form of this word open including the adjectival form.

Our programs cater to health care professionals.
The nation needs a better system of health care.

> See also: Healthcare (Emory Specifics)

high school

Two words; no caps unless you are using the school's proper name. Don't hyphenate as a modifier.

She enjoys high school.
He attends Druid Hills High School.
They couldn't find dates for their high school prom.

high-tech (adj.), high tech (noun)


> See: nationality and race

historic, historical, history

Historic refers to a noteworthy or famous event in the past; historical can refer to any event in the past. History refers to a chronological record of events affecting a nation, an institution, or a person. Avoid past history (redundant).

Current usage dictates that "a" is used before words beginning with a sounded consonant.

A historic occasion
NOT an historic occasion

> See: a, an


Lowercase when it refers to the general event. Uppercase when used as the official proper name of the event.

At my college, homecoming was the social event of the year.
We are making preparations for Homecoming 2016.

hometown (noun or adj.)


This often-misplaced modifier means "full of hope." If your sentence reads: "Hopefully, the sun will shine tomorrow," it means that when the sun shines tomorrow, it will be full of hope. To express the idea that you are full of hope, revise your sentence to: "I hope the sun will shine tomorrow."

Hopefully can fall at the beginning of a sentence as long as it is placed next to the term it is supposed to modify: "Hopefully, the puppy sat beneath the finicky toddler's high chair."

> See also: importantly, thankfully


Attach it to the previous sentence with a semicolon, or place it later in its own sentence.

The semester seemed interminable; however, summer vacation arrived at last.
OR The semester seemed interminable. At last, however, summer vacation arrived.

hyphenated words

> See: compound words


i.e., e.g.,

These abbreviations take periods and are always followed by a comma.

The latter stands for the Latin exempli gratia, meaning "for example."

Emory students can choose from a wide variety of Atlanta entertainment options (e.g., museums, concerts, shopping).

Don't confuse e.g., with i.e., which stands for id est, or "that is." Whereas e.g., refers the reader to several possible examples of a given case, i.e., refers him or her to all examples of a case.

The rapper Jay-Z, i.e., Shawn Carter, was born in Brooklyn, NY, in 1969.

See e.g., i.e.,

impact (verb)

Avoid using this word to mean affect. If you're unsure, insert the word affect in your sentence.

How will your decision affect her?
NOT How will your decision impact her? 

imply, infer

According to Webster's, infer means "to derive as a conclusion from facts or premises," whereas imply means to express indirectly.

I infer from his silence that he does not approve.
His silence implied disapproval.


The "ly" sounds as if the subject is performing, in a self-important way, whatever action is modified by importantly. Avoid by rephrasing.

More important, we offer free tuition.
NOT More importantly, we offer free tuition.

> See also: first, firstly, hopefully

Inc., LLC

According to CMS, in straight text, the word Inc. usually can be dropped from a company name. If used, it is not set off by commas, likewise LLC.

J. C. Penney announced that its stock is splitting.

Mediaset LLC has a recent filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.


American Indian is preferred to Indian.

> See: nationality and race


Whenever you can, avoid using this word (which works fine as an adjective) as a noun. In noun form, it can sound pretentious; use person instead.

She is an accomplished person.
NOT She is an accomplished individual.

If you're talking about more than one person, use people or persons, NOT individuals.


When a person uses initials instead of a first name, the space between the initials should be the same as that between the initials and last name: H. L. Mencken. Entire names represented by initials, like JFK, don't take periods.

in spite of

Despite means the same thing and is shorter.

insure, ensure, assure

> See: assure

in terms of

A piece of padding best omitted. Rephrase:

The salary made the job unattractive.
NOT The job was unattractive in terms of salary.

international students

Avoid describing non-American students as foreign. Instead, describe them as international students.

It is . . .

Generally, a weak beginning for a sentence. Recast:

I am proud to welcome the graduating class.
NOT It is with pride that I welcome the graduating class.

The same is true of the term there is.

its, it's

Possessive pronouns (its, ours, his, hers, theirs, yours) do not take apostrophes. Its means belonging to it; it's is a contraction for it is.

> See also: apostrophe (Punctuation Particulars)



> See: academic degrees (Emory Specifics)

Jr., Sr.

Do not use a comma before Jr. or Sr.

The Martin Luther King Jr. exhibit was interesting.

> See also: comma (Punctuation Particulars)


No e before the m.

> See also: acknowledgment



> See: nationality and race

lawmaker (noun)


Should not be used for fewer. Less refers to quantity; fewer refers to number.

The college had fewer students this term.
NOT The college had less students this term.

life-size (adj.)

NOT life-sized

lifestyle (noun)

One word.

lifetime (noun)

One word.


There are two styles of lists: run-in style and outline style. Whatever style you use, it is important to be consistent in its use.

Run-in style

Enumerated lists, those that take letters or numbers, can remain in running text if they are short and not too numerous. Numbers or letters should be in parentheses, and commas should separate items. The first letters of items in run-in lists should be lowercased.

The theory is founded on (1) generally accepted principles, (2) verifiable scientific facts, and (3) anecdotal information.

Outline style

If the items to be listed are too extensive or complex to list in run-in style, the list should follow outline style by beginning each item on a separate line. Vertically listed items should be bulleted.

Avoid punctuation and uppercasing in vertical lists unless the item contains multiple sentences and/ or proper nouns. Do not use "and" before the final item.

The school's sports program includes:


Investigators drew several conclusions about the crime scene:

Police officers followed procedures to the letter.
Physical evidence was altered by natural circumstances.
The victim failed to report the crime immediately.

The required reading material includes the following:

  • For Whom the Bell Tolls, which is one of several Hemingway books to be read this year.
  • The Grapes of Wrath, which is a Steinbeck classic set during the Depression.
  • Great Expectations by Charles Dickens—the oldest book on the reading list—is the first one we will discuss.


magazine names

Italicize the title. If the word magazine is not part of the publication's official title, lowercase it and put it in roman type; consult the publication or its website for the proper spelling: Harper's Magazine, Time magazine, Newsweek, US News & World Report.

> See also: newspaper names | titles of works

makeup (noun), make up (verb), make-up (adj.)

man, mankind

To avoid sexist language, use humanity or humankind instead.

> See also: sexism

marketplace (noun)


may, can

These words have a subtle but important distinction as Theodore M. Bernstein notes in The Careful Writer: can is used to denote the "ability or power to do something, may for permission to do it."

MBA v. M.B.A.

> See: academic degrees (Emory Specifics)


The plural is memorandums.

midterm (adj., noun)


Isolated references to US currency are spelled out or expressed in numerals in accord with the general rules discussed under numbers. If the number is spelled out, so is the unit of currency, and if numerals are involved, the dollar sign ($) is used. Always write out cents.

On my 70th birthday, I was thrilled to receive one dollar from each of my aunts.
I generously gave my little sister 10 cents that had been languishing in my sock drawer.

Don't use periods and zeros after a whole dollar amount unless you're comparing it to a fractional dollar amount.

The application fee is $20.
BUT I was going to pay $16.00 for the CD, but I found it on sale for $13.95.

Sums of money that are cumbersome to express in numerals or to spell out in full may be expressed in units of millions or billions, accompanied by numerals and a dollar sign:

The University received a donation of $1 million.
a $4.5 billion endowment

> See also: numbers


Spell out the month and use numerals on dates within running copy.

January 4, 2008

In tabular materials and date-heavy materials such as classnotes, use three-letter abbreviations with a period: Jan., Feb., Mar., Apr., Jun., Jul., Aug., Sep., Oct., Nov., Dec.

> See also: dates

more than v. over

When you are describing a comparative amount, use more than:

We have more than 50 full-time faculty members.
She saved more than $1,000 for her college expenses.

In the case of ages, use over instead:

He is over 40.

movie titles

> See: titles of works


Correctly used as an intensifier (I want to eat the entire cake myself), as a reflective (I hurt myself), or sometimes as an object of a preposition (Because I was by myself, I took all the guilt upon myself, and soon I was beside myself). Helpful hint: You can use myself—or himself, herself, or yourself—only if there is a matching pronoun earlier in the sentence to which it refers. In the examples above, myself refers to I. Never use myself as a substitute for me.

Feel free to contact the president, the chancellor, or me at any time.
NOT Feel free to contact the president, the chancellor, or myself at any time.


names of businesses

Check with the business itself, Standard & Poor's Registry of Corporations, or a reference librarian to make sure you have the exact spelling.

The Coca-Cola Company, Delta Air Lines, Georgia-Pacific, BellSouth, Emory Healthcare

names of people (Jr., III)

> See: comma (Punctuation Particulars)

nationality and race

Capitalize the proper names of nationalities, peoples, races, and tribes: Jewish, French, Hispanic, Latino, Eskimo, Cherokee, African American, Asian. Capitalize Native American.

According to CMS, proper nouns designating race that are open as nouns (e.g., African American, Native American) are also open as adjectives.

Lowercase distinctions of color: black, white; but keep in mind that African American is preferred to black as a designator of race.

Current consensus on the use of Native American or American Indian is that either is preferable when referring to the collective body of indigenous Americans. However, when referring to individuals, a tribal designation is preferred.

A North Dakota American Indian tribe no longer wants fiberglass-based pipelines on its reservation after recent spills. (Nativetimes.com)

Cherokee citizen Bryan Rice has been tapped to lead the Bureau of Indian Affairs, which serves 567 tribal communities.

> See also: African American

NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic Association)

When you mention the divisions of this group, capitalize division and use a roman numeral.

NCAA Division III

newspaper names

To follow CMS practice in terms of capitalizing and italicizing, consider these examples:

She reads the Sun-Times every weekday morning, and she gets the New York Times every Sunday.
Have you read the latest issue of the Wheel?

> See also: magazine names | titles of works


Publications follows CMS rules for when to use a hyphen with non. See CMS for examples and a complete explanation.

nondiscrimination statement

Like the accreditation statement, the nondiscrimination statement must appear in all viewbooks, catalogs, applications, and most major admission pieces. And, like the accreditation statement, the nondiscrimination statement must be printed verbatim, as provided by Emory Creative Group.

Emory University does not discriminate in admissions, educational programs, or employment on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, national origin, age, disability, or veteran/Reserve/National Guard status and prohibits such discrimination by its students, faculty, and staff. Students, faculty, and staff are assured of participation in university programs and in use of facilities without such discrimination. The university also complies with all applicable federal and Georgia statutes and regulations prohibiting unlawful discrimination. All members of the student body, faculty, and staff are expected to assist in making this policy valid in fact. Inquiries and complaints should be directed to the Equal Opportunity Programs Office, Emory University, Administration Building, Atlanta, Georgia 30322-0520. Telephone: 404-727-6016 (V/TTY).


None uses a singular verb:

We kept working until 9 p.m., and none (i.e., not a single one) of us was resentful.
None of the students (i.e., not a single one) has any desire to transfer.

nonprofit (adj.)



A simple, substantial word, much preferred to more cumbersome constructions.

> See also: currently | presently | point in time


We recommend spelling out whole numbers and ordinal numbers
from one through nine and using numerals thereafter. 
The fire department says 14 people were rescued from the blaze.
For ages, use numbers for ages 10 and above.

Mary has a 14-year old daughter.
He is four years old.

Use a comma in numbers of 1,000 or more (unless you're reporting SAT scores, which take no commas). Her essay summarizes 2,000 years of Christian history.
She felt lucky to get a 1400 on the SAT.

Where numbers occurring in a sentence represent a combination—some less than 10, some more—all should be expressed as numerals, except in cases in which the number falls at the beginning of a sentence.

Although her brother was 14 and she only 8, Ramona couldn't believe his judgment was superior to hers.
Use numbers to designate position or rank. Grady Hospital is a level 1 trauma center.
The men's tennis team at Oxford College ranked No. 1 in 2009.
type 2 diabetes, stage 4 breast cancer, phase 1 clinical trial
Spell out a number at the beginning of a sentence, regardless of the
inconsistencies this may create. If your sentence then seems too
cumbersome, rearrange the sentence so that the number falls later.
Fourteen men and 12 women traveled to the swim meet.
OR There were 14 men and 12 women at the swim meet.
For references to money, no zeros should be used for sums higher
than six figures.
$1 million
NOT $1,000,000
See also: money
Spell out cents under 10. five cents, 20 cents
Do not use decimals for whole amounts of money. $50 NOT $50.00
$2.4 million to $2.8 million
When there is a sequence assigned to forming names, use numerals
and do not use superscript for ordinal numbers.
1st ward
7th fleet
Spell out first through ninth if indicating sequence or time or location. Eighth Amendment
first base
When numbers are used as a modifier or in measurements, use figures. 8-watt bulb 10 square feet size 6 dress 40 miles per hour
Ratios are always rendered as numbers.
Statistics say that 1 in 3 people like fish.
Emory style dictates that telephone numbers be rendered with
periods instead of hyphens. Phone numbers rendered on the web are the exception.
For percentages, use numerals followed by the word percent. The state tax is 5 percent.
Only 30 percent of the class passed the exam.
Exception: In scientific, clinical, and statistical writing and in tables or charts where space is tight, use the percent (%) sign.
>> See also: ranges and ratio



Note spelling; this is academic style rather than journalistic.


> See: computer terms

on-site (adj.), (adv.)

on v. upon

Upon is a stuffy, overly formal way of saying on. The exception is when upon is used to make a time reference.

We decided on a new restaurant for lunch.
BUT Credits will be transferred upon graduation.

oral, verbal

Use oral to refer to spoken words:

She gave an oral promise.

Use verbal to compare words with some other form of communication:

His tears revealed the sentiments his poor verbal skills could not express.


> See: more than v. over


part-time, full-time (adj.)

> See: full-time

passive voice

Avoid it whenever you can.

The professor gave her a passing grade.
NOT She was given a passing grade by the professor.
His friend asked him for his notes.
NOT He was asked for his notes by his friend.

past v. last

I read it during the past year.
NOT I read it during the last year.

people, person, persons

No absolute rule exists for choosing between people and persons; people is less formal. Where possible, avoid the use of persons.

Thousands of people applied for financial aid, but only five persons won full scholarships.

> See also: individual


One word. Write it out rather than use the percent (%) sign—unless you're writing copy for a table or chart, you're trying to fit copy in a tight space or you are writing for a clinical/scientific audience.

Percent takes a singular verb when it stands alone or when it is followed by an "of" construction containing a singular word.

The teacher said that 60 percent was a failing grade.

When the of construction contains a plural word, use a plural verb.

She said that 50 percent of the students were there.

> See also: numbers | percentage


Use percent when you are reporting an actual figure, as in 50 percent.

Use percentage when you are describing a collective proportion:

A high percentage of Oxford students is from Georgia.
The greater your income, the higher percentage you are likely to save.


> See: academic degrees (Emory Specifics)


Colloquially, this word is considered acceptable as a synonym for and or moreover, but use it sparingly, if at all. Don't use plus to start a sentence; substitute furthermore, in addition, moreover, or similar words.


> See a.m.

point in time

'At this point in time' is redundant. Instead, say at this point OR at this time. Better yet, simply say now.

policy maker

postdoctoral (adj.), postdoctorate (noun)

postgraduate (adj.)

postsecondary (adj.)

practicum (noun)

The plural is practicums.


> See: compound words

prelaw, premed, preprofessional

premier (adj.) premiere (noun)

Premier means first in rank, time, or importance:

Candler School of Theology is the premier seminary for United Methodists in the Southeast.

Because premier means first, there can't be more than one, and it can't be used with an indefinite article (i.e., a premier institution).

A premiere is the first showing or performance of a wor:.

The Schwartz Center premiered a composition by music professor John A. Lennon.

preposition at end of sentence

Positioning a single preposition at the end of a sentence is characteristic English idiom:

That's something this book can help you with.

Your writing will be stronger, though, if you reserve the end of a sentence for strong, emphatic words, which prepositions aren't. Rephrase when you can:

This book can help you with questions of style.


Do not use to mean now. Presently implies soon; if you want to indicate now and avoid confusion, use currently instead.

> See also: currently | now | point in time


Capitalize only when it directly precedes a proper name: President James Wagner, President Barack Obama, Presidents Carter and Clinton

> See also: capitalization | titles of people


Means "something that is more important than other considerations; something that deserves to be first." Therefore, you can't have more than one priority, any more than one person or experience can be "more unique" than another. Use priority alone, without the addition of top or first.

> see: unique


Capitalize only if it precedes a proper name. BUT lowercase if professor refers to a generic designation and is not an actual title:

Professor Erickson
She patterns her playing style after music professor Kyle Smith.

> See also: capitalization | titles of people

proved, proven

The past tense of prove is proved; Webster's suggests proved as the past participle:

The dean has proved her point.

But there are exceptions: A proven belief (adjective preceding noun)
That rumor has not been proven true. (with negative)

PSAT (Preliminary Scholastic Aptitude Test)

Also known as PSAT/NMSQT (National Merit Scholar Qualifying Test). No periods.

> See also: ACT | SAT


qualitative, quantitative

Qualitative refers to qualities (characteristics, properties, attributes):

Qualitative analysis would tell us those facets of Emory that appeal to transfer students.

Quantitative refers to quantity (amount, measure, size, volume):

Quantitative analysis would yield the proportion of Southeastern natives at Emory.

quotation, quote (nouns)

Although both are listed in Webster's to refer to verbal or written passages attributed to another person or to an estimated price, use quotation in formal writing:

We will solicit a quotation from each of Emory’s trustees.
NOT We will get a quote from each trustee.

quote (verb)

Can you quote the Declaration of Independence from memory?
May I quote you on that statement?



> See: nationality and race


Use the words to or between to represent the range between two factors:

The distance is from 12 to 15 miles.
Estimated attendance was between 15,000 and 17,000.

Use an en dash for abbreviated ranges appearing in listings and charts.

noon–3 p.m.


Use figures, without a hyphen or colon:

There is a student/faculty ratio of 12 to 1.

reason ... is that

Never say "the reason ... is because ... "

NOT The reason she applied to Emory is because the campus felt right.
BUT The reason she applied to Emory is that the campus felt right.

Better yet, cut the extra words:

She applied to Emory because the campus felt right.

> See also: because

refer, refer back

This word, derived from the Latin words meaning "carry back" or "carry again," already contains the idea of "back." The phrase refer back is redundant.

regard, regards

The singular form is correct in prepositional phrases such as in regard to and with regard to, both of which mean the same thing as the antiquated plural form phrase as regards (NOT as regards to).

You can avoid the whole question of singular v. plural, and can also sound much more modern, by simply replacing all those wordy phrases with concerning or about.

religious titles

Protestant variants Official title: the Reverend Charles Wesley, senior pastor, Glenn Memorial United Methodist Church.
In conversational address: Dr. (or Mr.) Jones.
For letters/written reference: Rev. Charles Wesley.
Casual/generic reference: the minister, the pastor.
Roman Catholic variants

Official title: the Reverend Bryan Small.
In conversational address: Father Small.
For letters/written reference: Father Small.
Casual/generic reference: the pastor.

Jewish variants For rabbi and cantor, capitalize these titles before a person's full name on first reference: Rabbi Zalman Lipskier.
On second reference, use only the last name.
Muslim variants

Official title: the Imam Plemon El-Amin.
In conversational address: Imam El-Amin.
Casual/generic reference: the imam.

residence hall

Use this term rather than dormitory.


No accent marks.

> See also: foreign words

Round Table v. roundtable

Use Round Table to describe King Arthur and his knights or when specifically used in a name. Use roundtable to describe meetings, conferences, and deliberations held in such a manner.


All uppercase, no periods.

rules and regulations

Both a cliche and a redundant phrase; avoid.


said, says

Use said with direct and partial quotes as well as paraphrases. Says is also appropriate to use with quotes.

"Emory has a beautiful campus," the visiting student said.

NOT The visiting student says Emory has a beautiful campus.

SAT (Scholastic Aptitude Test)

Use no periods in the abbreviation and no commas in the scores of this exam administered by the College Entrance Administration Board.

> See also: ACT | PSAT

Scripture, scriptures, scriptural

Names of scriptures and other highly revered works are capitalized but not italicized.


> See: dates | capitalization

self- (prefix)

Hyphenate unless preceded by un- or followed by a suffix.


> See: compound words

serial comma

This is a major difference between CMS and AP styles.

We generally favor the use of the serial comma. Scientific text should always use serial commas to avoid confusion and clarify the elements of the series.

> See also: serial comma (Punctuation Particulars)


Sexist biases are encoded in our language. To help perpetuate a vocabulary that is fair to both women and men, use ungendered language whenever you can. Examples:

firefighter, not fireman
US representative, not Congressman
chair, not chairman
businessperson, not businessman

When possible, avoid he and his as inclusive references. Don't use slash-forms: she/he and his/her.

Saying his or her and he or she is fine, but those expressions can be awkward. It would be better to alter the sentence using plurals instead of singulars.

"All students plan their own programs," rather than the equally correct, "Each student plans his or her own program."


Avoid using in place of "because." Although it is an accepted usage according to Webster's, "since" is more clearly used to indicate a time reference:

It has been seven months since we first heard the news.

The show was canceled because no one showed up.
NOT The show was canceled since no one showed up.

> See: because

Social Security number

Note uppercase and lowercase initial letters, but SSN when abbreviated.

split infinitive

> See: verbs

sports terms

See the AP Stylebook. The CMS does not contain a comprehensive listing of sports terms.

> See: NCAA

St Andrews

Note: no period after St in this sister school to Emory.

state names

Use postal state abbreviations—omitting the comma between city and state—only with full addresses, including a zip code. For all other uses, use the following abbreviations for states.

Ala., Ariz., Ark., Calif., Colo., Conn., Del., Fla., Ga., Ill., Ind., Kan., Ky., La., Md., Mass., Mich., Minn., Miss., Mo., Mont., Neb., Nev., N.H., N.J., N.M., N.Y., N.C., N.D., Okla., Ore., Pa., R.I., S.C., S.D., Tenn., Vt., Va., Wash., W.Va., Wis., Wyo.

Note: the following states are not abbreviated: Alaska, Hawaii, Idaho, Iowa, Maine, Ohio, Texas, and Utah.

> See: addresses

state-of-the-art (adj.)

Avoid overuse of this term; it's becoming a cliche.

study abroad

Do not hyphenate study abroad.

Students can visit more than 50 countries in Emory's study abroad program.


subjunctive mood

Use the subjunctive mood of a verb for contrary-to-fact conditions and for expressions of doubts, wishes, or regrets:

If I were rich, I wouldn't have to work.
I wish it were possible to take back my words.

Sentences that express a contingency or hypothesis may use either the subjunctive or the indicative mood, depending on the context. In general, use the subjunctive if there is little likelihood that the contingency might come true:

If I were to inherit millions, I wouldn't have to worry about money.
BUT If this bill passes as expected, it will provide a tax cut.


Webster's lists syllabi first as the plural form.



At Emory, professor or instructor is preferred whenever possible.

> See also: professor

telephone numbers

> See: phone numbers


> See: TV


Another dangling modifier, often used in sentences like this: "Thankfully, the rain waited until after my wedding day." If you want to convey that you, rather than the rain, were thankful, revise one of two ways:

I was thankful the rain waited until after my wedding day.
OR Thankfully, I marveled that the rain had waited until after my wedding day.

> See also: hopefully | importantly | dangling modifiers

that/who v. which/who

Restrictive clauses: That (or who, for persons) identifies which one and does not need a comma.

A corporation that works with Emory will never regret that association.
My brother who works in Toledo came home for the holidays. (In this example, the 'who' tells which brother, the one who works in Toledo.)

Nonrestrictive clauses: Which (or who, for persons) identifies information that is not essential to the sentence and is separated by a comma.

My new Cadillac, which has a sunroof and an MP3 player, is the most luxurious car I've ever driven.
My oldest brother, who works in Toledo, came home for the holidays. (In this example, the sentence's subject tells us which one because the writer can have only one oldest brother. The information about Toledo therefore is not necessary to the meaning of the sentence.)


If you're wondering whether to place this article before the name of one of Emory's centers, colleges, and schools, honor the institution's preference. Unless it's the first word in a sentence, don't capitalize the.

BUT The Carter Center

> See: school names (Emory Specifics)

theater, theatre

Use theater except for proper names of theaters that spell themselves theatre.

We enjoyed our trip to the theater.
Theater Emory has joined with the Alliance Theatre to produce two original plays next season.

the fact is . . . 

A bad beginning. If you know the fact, simply state it.

their, they're, there

Their indicates possession, they're is a contraction for they are, and there is an adverb that reveals location.

They're proud of their new car that is parked over there.

there is, there are

Whenever possible, avoid using either of these weak constructions at the beginning of a sentence.


The pronoun this, used to refer to the complete sense of a preceding sentence or phrase, can't always carry the weight and so may produce an imprecise statement. Avoid letting 'this' stand alone at the beginning of a sentence, clause, or phrase; and never let it stand alone at the beginning of a paragraph.

NOT This is an excellent value.
BUT This program provides excellent value.


Note spelling. Do not use the colloquial short form, "thru."


> See: a.m., p.m. | dates

time zones

Capitalize the full name of the time in force within a particular zone, for example, Eastern Standard Time, and Central Standard Time.

When you're citing clock time in a particular time zone, abbreviate and punctuate as follows:

noon EST
9 a.m. CST.

titles of conferences, seminars, and meetings

Capitalize all the principal words in the full titles of conferences and meetings. Do not italicize or put in quotes.

We will attend the American Lung Association's 2012 International Conference on Cancer.
James Wagner is the keynote speaker at the International Conference on Education.
BUT The tax conference ends on Thursday.

titles of people

> See also: religious titles | capitalization

Chaired professorships should be fully defined and capitalized on first reference and can be shortened as needed on second reference Alan Abramowitz, Alben W. Barkley Professor of Political Science
Barkley professor
"Professor," or a similar designation, is not capitalized before a name (or anywhere else) unless the full job title of the professor is listed. I visited professor John Smith in his office.
We met Assistant Professor of Chemistry Harry Doyle at Saba.
Harry Doyle is an assistant professor of chemistry.
Do not use courtesy titles such as Mr., Miss, Ms., or Mrs. except in special circumstances such as an award or a formal invitation, although even in this context their usage is not mandatory. Do not use them on second reference.
Reverend, or Rev., is an acceptable title before a name, because it indicates a job title.
Emory publications do not list academic degrees after a name, due to limited space and the highly educated nature of the academy, where people often have multiple degrees. > See also: academic degrees
In general, do not use Dr. before a name except in special circumstances.
Do not use designations such as MD or Esq. after a name.
Occupational titles (as opposed to formal titles) do not take caps astronaut John Glenn
biology professor Charles Saxe
Capitalize civil, military, religious, academic, and professional titles when they precede a personal name Pope John Paul II
Professor Michele Benzi
Sister Honora
Lowercase titles when they come after a name or when they are used alone

Abraham Lincoln was president of the United States.

James W. Wagner is the 19th president of Emory University.
President Jim Wagner came to Emory from Case Western Reserve University.
Michele Benzi is a full professor in the Department of Mathematics and Computer Science.

titles of works

Use italics for books, plays, newspapers, periodicals, movies, TV and radio shows, and titles of photographs and art exhibitions. Because italics can become garbled online, quotes may be considered an alterative form of presentation.

Capitalize the first and last words and all the principal words, including prepositions and conjunctions of five or more letters. Lowercase "a," "the," "and," "or," "for," "nor," prepositions of less than five letters, and the "to" in infinitives. Don't lowercase parts of speech other than those listed here—even if they're less than five letters.

Free to Be, You and Me
Butterflies Are Free
The Odyssey
Cousin, Cousine
Buffy the Vampire Slayer
All Things Considered

For stories, songs, articles, chapters, speeches, and poems, use quotation marks instead of italics and capitalize as above. Note: Long poems take the italic form.

"The Gift of the Magi"
"The Robber Bridegroom"
"Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening"
BUT Beowulf

For papers, theses, dissertations, and other unpublished works, use quotations and capitalize as above.

> See also: magazine names | newspaper names

total (noun)

The phrase a total of is often redundant.

Five students received awards.
NOT A total of five students received awards.

toward, towards

As Webster's recommends, use toward, not towards. The same holds true for other similar combinations, such as backward, inward, and upward.


Trademarks such as Kleenex, Xerox, and Coke should be capitalized. Check them in the Trade Names Directory, available in most public libraries.

Although owners of trademarks must use the special trademark symbol—® or ™—in their advertisements, the general public is under no such obligation.

Some product names—such as thermos, nylon, and jeep—were originally brand names but have come to be used commonly.

Be wary of using these trademark names unless you are referring specifically to that product. Use the noted alternative, such as:

Band-Aid adhesive bandage
Jello gelatin
Levi's jeans
Pepcid antacid
Prozac antidepressant
Q-tips cotton swabs
Scotch tape tape
Tylenol acetaminophen
Vaseline petroleum jelly

transfer, transferred, transferring


turnaround (noun, adj.), turn around (verb)

Usually brochures have a six-week turnaround.
Turn around in that driveway if you have room.


Acceptable as an adjective or in such constructions as cable TV. Generally, though, use television as the noun.


undergraduate (noun, adj.)

Avoid using the slang "undergrad."

under way

Two words.


This word means "having no like or equal." Logically, a thing cannot therefore be more unique, most unique, or very unique. Try substituting another word: novel, exceptional, remarkable, rare, inimitable, peerless, incomparable, uncommon, unusual.

United States  | US versus U.S.

CMS recommends no periods. AP style recommends periods.

Used as an adjective but not as a noun for "United States." When you need a noun, either write out "United States" or use "the nation." Avoid using the abbreviation "USA" or the word "America."

-up (suffix)

Follow Webster's; hyphenate if the word is not listed.

Sample nouns/adjectives: breakup, checkup, cleanup, closeup, follow-up, grown-up, layup, makeup, mix-up, mock-up, pileup, runners-up, setup
BUT when any of these occurs as a verb, write it as two words.


URL addresses

URL stands for uniform resource locator, the web address used to access sites on the Internet. Do not apply special styles to URLs such as bold or italic typefaces. Do not underline.

You may shorten web address listings in various ways but always test the functionality of the abbreviated version before sharing it in print, online, or email formats. You can usually eliminate the "http://" and, often but not always, drop the "www" at the beginning of the web address.

Include a period if a URL comes at the end of a sentence, but do not hyphenate if it is broken at the end of a line. When a URL must be broken over a line, CMS recommends breaking before rather than after a slash.

The web address for Emory University's Center for Women is womenscenter.emory.edu.
The web address for Emory Healthcare is emoryhealthcare.org.

> See also: computer terms



> See: oral


SPLITS. In general, avoid awkward constructions that split either the infinitive form of a verb (to leave, to help, etc.) or the compound forms (had left, have arrived, etc.).

She planned to leave immediately.
NOT She planned to immediately leave.
We had left home hurriedly.
NOT We had hurriedly left home.

Sometimes, however, such splits are necessary to avoid misreading:

She wanted to really help her friend.
Those who do well are usually rewarded.
The budget was tentatively approved.


Legal cases use v. In running copy, spell out.


An intensifier that actually drains meaning from your sentences if used too often. (When too many points are emphasized, none stands out.) Often you can find a more precise way of expressing your thoughts:

I was thrilled he asked me out.
NOT I was very happy he asked me out.
When my novel was rejected, I despaired.
NOT When my novel was rejected, I was very sad.

vice president

No hyphen. The same rule holds true for other "vice" compounds.

videoconferencing, videodisc, videogame, videotape

One word.

BUT laser disc, compact disc


Trademark name of credit card and company. All caps.


website versus web page

When referring to any web presence that contains more than one page or location, use website.

Web page should only be used to refer to a single page within a site, or a single-page site with no internal links.

> See also: computer terms

well (adv.)

Compounds formed with well plus a participle or an adjective are hyphenated before but not after a noun.

the child is well read


This word must have a definite antecedent in your sentence. Don't use which to refer to a whole idea, and NEVER use which as a conjunction.

We will hire him if he passes the drug test, but I doubt that he will.
NOT We will hire him if he passes the drug test, which I doubt. (ambiguous reference)
She wants to know whether he passed the test, but I have no idea.
NOT She wants to know whether he passed the test, which I have no idea.

> See also: that/who v. which/who


Usually refers to time. Avoid indiscriminate use of while as a substitute for andbut, and although.

Sherry toured Oxford while her friend waited in the car.
NOT While I disagree with you, your point is well taken.
BUT I disagree with you, but your point is well taken.

> See also: although | awhile

who, whom

With whom are you going to the dance? (Whom is the object of the verb "going.")

Who is that girl in the corner?

whoever, whomever

The form depends on the word's use in the sentence.

Whoever answers the phone will receive my exciting message. (Whoever is the subject of the verb answers, and the entire phrase 'whoever answers the phone' functions as the subject of the verb 'will receive.')
I will speak to whoever answers the phone. (This one is tricky. Whoever functions as the subject of the phrase answers the phone; the entire phrase 'whoever answers the phone' is the object of the preposition 'to.')
Repeat this story to whomever you see. (Here, whomever is the object of 'you see,' and 'whomever you see' is also the object of the preposition 'to.')

Hint: Try substituting anyone who or anyone whom; that might help you choose the correct form.

wide- (prefix)

Usually takes a hyphen: wide-eyed, wide-open.

Exception: widespread.

-wide (suffix)

Does not take a hyphen: worldwide, statewide, campuswide.

Exception: CMS says to hyphenate long, cumbersome words such as university-wide.

-wise (suffix)

Avoid this suffix whenever you can.

word breaks

Do not separate the elements within phrases such as

6 p.m., St. Catherine, Mrs. Worthy.

Exception: Class years can be broken away from alumni names.

words as words

Generally, put in italics: "Distinguishing between whoever and whomever always confounds me," he lamented.

workforce, workplace (nouns)

work-study (adj., noun)

Use a hyphen, not a slash.

NOT work/study



yearlong, weeklong, daylong

One word.


When creating invitations or other publications for Emory that contain dates, be sure to include the year for future historical reference. To indicate ranges of years, do not use dashes except in a citation or list and do not abbreviate.

NOT 2007–08
1990 to 2000
He took a leave of absence during the 2007–2008 academic year.