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.

Mary Anne Bobinski is the dean of the law school.
NOT Mary Anne Bobinski, LLM, 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 Marketing:

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 sacscoc.org website 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


With the exception of Candler School of Theology, 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. 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

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, in constructs 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, 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.