Montana State University

Style Guide

There are several writing style guides in general use, but due to our considerable involvement with the news media, Communications Services relies most heavily on the Associated Press (AP) Style Guide. The content of this guide is far too lengthy to publish here, but below you will find several general rules that you may find useful. All of these are standard styles we use in MSU publications. Italics generally indicate an example of correct use. There is a special section at the end that covers Internet and Information Technology Terms.

In most cases acronyms have no periods: MSU, ROTC, WAMMI, etc. For less widely known abbreviations, spell out the complete name in the first reference followed by the abbreviation in parenthesis. Burns Technology Center (BTC) and the College of Arts and Architecture (A&A).

Campus names:
Montana State University *
Montana State University–Billings
Montana State University–Northern
Great Falls College Montana State University
Montana State University (for system or distant site references only)
Montana State University–Extension
Montana Agricultural Experiment Station
Montana State University–Northern in Great Falls
The Montana State University Campuses

* The flagship MSU Campus in Bozeman is known only as Montana State University (not Montana State University–Bozeman)

The correct punctuation character to separate any instance of MSU and the city is not a hyphen (-) but rather an en-dash (–).

Never use MSUB for the Bozeman campus, or similarly for other campuses. The correct abbreviated style is MSU.

Class rank:
Name of class rank should be lowercase. He is a sophomore.

Course names:
Name of course in any reference should be lowercase. She has a junior standing in mathematics.

Show plurals of decades by adding an s (not 's). 1920s, the mid-1990s
All ranges of time or dates are set with en-dashes (–), not hyphens (-). October – December, 7:30 – 8:00 p.m., 3 – 5 years of age

Deans list:
Lowercase in all uses. He is on the dean's list.

Degrees, specific:
Name of subject is lowercase,i.e., botany, economics, except English. There is no apostrophe. He or she has a Bachelor of Science in biology; also Master of Arts in English. He or she has a Bachelor of Science degree.

Degrees, generic:
Use an apostrophe. He or she had a bachelor's degree, a master's degree, a doctorate or a Ph.D.

Degrees, honorary:
All references to honorary degrees should specify that the degree was honorary.

Departments and titles:
Position title is lowercase with formal department name in title case. She is the director of the Department of Psychology.

Position titles are lowercase with informal department names in lowercase. He is the head of the chemistry department. The department offers several options. Waded Cruzado is the president of the university. She is a professor of chemistry.

Position titles are uppercase for formal titles or when they precede the name. They are lowercase elsewhere.
Waded Cruzado, president of Montana State University
The reason President Waded Cruzado made the statement was clear.
John Doe, director, Office of Student Affairs and Jane Smith, professor

Use Dr. in the first reference before the name of an individual who holds a doctor of medicine degree. Use Ph.D as a reference for individuals who hold any other doctoral degree. Dr. Jonas Salk, Steven Hawking, Ph.D.

four-year program, grade-point average, lower-division, upper-division

Don't hyphenate:
premedicine, predental, preforestry, preveterinary
Any adverbs that end in -ly: Recently appointed dean. Newly completed arena.

Non prefixes:
Use no hyphen: nonmajors, nonresidents, nondegree, nonacademic
Use hyphen: non-Greek, non-university

Informal references to the university are lowercase. The university was founded in 1893.

Internet and Information Technology Terms: (Associated Press Style)

Adobe Acrobat, Acrobat Reader -- Capitalize.

ASCII -- For American Standard Code Information Interchange. Uppercase acronym.

download -- One word. Also, upload.

CD-ROM -- For compact disk as read-only memory. Uppercase acronym, with hyphen.

cyberspace -- One word, lowercase.

database -- One word.

domain name -- Two words, lowercase.

dpi -- For dots per inch. Lowercase acronym.

DVD -- For digital video disk. Uppercase acronym.

e-mail -- Lowercase, with hyphen. Also, e-book, e-business, e-commerce, e-shopping.

end user, end-user -- Two words as noun, hyphenate as adjective.

FAQ -- For frequently asked questions. Uppercase acronym.

freeware -- One word, lowercase.

FTP -- For file transfer protocol. Uppercase acronym, lowercase spelled out.

GIF -- For graphics interchange format. Uppercase acronym, lowercase spelled out.

gigabyte -- Abbreviate GB.

home page -- Lowercase, two words.

HTML -- For hypertext markup language. Uppercase acronym, lowercase in URLs. Generally spell out in sentence.

hyperlink -- One word, lowercase. Also, hypertext.

Internet -- Always capitalize.

intranet -- No capital, one word.

IP address -- For Internet protocol address. Uppercase acronym.

IT -- For information technology. Uppercase acronym. Generally spell out in sentence.

Java -- Capitalize. Also, Javascript.

JPEG, JPG -- For joint photographics expert group. Uppercase acronym, lowercase spelled out.

kilobyte -- Abbreviate KB. No space used with number, as 400KB. Also, kilobit, abbreviate Kb, or Kbps for kilobits per second.

listserv -- One word, lowercase.

login, logon, logoff -- Lowercase, no hyphen.

Macintosh -- Capitalize. Also, Apple Macintosh, Mac.

megabyte -- Abbreviate MB.

megahertz -- Abbreviate MHz.

online -- No hyphen.

OS -- For operating system. Uppercase acronym, lowercase spelled out.

portal -- Lowercase.

PDF -- For portable document format. Uppercase acronym. Also, Adobe Acrobat PDF.

Pentium processor -- Capitalize, with Roman numeral, as Pentium III processor. Also, Intel Pentium processor.

plug-in -- Hyphenate.

RAM -- For random access memory. Uppercase acronym, lowercase spelled out.

ROM -- For read-only memory. Uppercase acronym, lowercase spelled out, with hyphen.

search engine -- Two words, lowercase.

shareware -- One word, lowercase.

URL -- For Universal Resource Locator. Uppercase acronym, capitalize when spelling out.

Usenet -- One word, capitalize.

Unix, UNIX -- Capitalize for generic use, uppercase acronym for trade name.

World Wide Web or Web -- Always capitalize.

Web site -- Two words. Also, Web page, Web browser, the Web.

webmaster -- One word, lowercase. Also, webcast

workstation -- One word.