Editorial Guide

A writer’s reference for use of TU’s most typical terminology.

This glossary of terms includes the most common words found in TU campus communications. Follow these guidelines for consistent and correct application of language in all written university materials.

For all decisions on punctuation and grammar, Towson University follows the Associated Press (AP) Stylebook. For issues not ruled upon by AP, TU defers to Webster’s New World College Dictionary, Fifth Edition and the Chicago Manual of Style.

Glossary of Terms

Academic Terms

Use term (not semester) when referring to academic periods at TU. Use Minimester when referring to the January academic term. Use summer session when referring to the summer term.

  • The course is offered in the spring and fall terms.
  • The study abroad program will take place during Minimester.

Alumnus, Alumni, Alumna, Alumnae

Alumnus is singular for a male graduate. Alumni is plural for a combination of male and female graduates or male graduates. Alumna is singular for a female graduate; alumnae is the plural when referring to only female graduates.

And, &

Use the ampersand (&) when it is part of a formal name or composition title. The ampersand should not otherwise be used in place of “and.”


Capitalize “Black” in a racial, ethnic or cultural sense, conveying an essential and shared sense of history, identity and community among people who identify as Black, including those in the African diaspora and within Africa. The lowercase black is a color, not a person.


Don’t abbreviate. Capitalize proper names of buildings, including the word building if it is an integral part of the proper name.

  • The Help Center is located in Cook Library.
  • The President’s Office is located in the Administration Building.


Words which are not proper nouns are not to be capitalized. In cases of official department or office names, capitalizations are used.

  • The college boasts an increased enrollment.
  • The College of Health Professions boasts an increased enrollment.
  • The actuarial science department is nationally recognized.
  • The Department of Actuarial Science and Risk Management is nationally recognized.
  • The provost’s office oversees academic affairs.
  • The Office of the Provost oversees academic affairs.


Always chair (never chairman, chairwoman or chairperson).

Core Curriculum

Use Core Curriculum in first and subsequent reference (never University Core or Core Requirements).

Avoid referring to individual Core Curriculum categories by their number; instead refer to them by content area. However, when space is a concern, the Core Curriculum number is acceptable.

  • This history course satisfies the Core Curriculum Global Perspectives requirement.
  • The department offers programs that satisfy Core Curriculum categories 2, 4, 9 and 14.


Capitalize the names of months in all uses. When a month is used with a specific date, abbreviate only Jan., Feb., Aug., Sept., Oct., Nov., and Dec. Spell out when using alone, or with a year alone.

  • The conference will be held on Jan. 1.
  • The project will be complete in January 2019.
  • Let’s meet May 1.
  • We will reevaluate in October.

Do not use suffixes with dates.

  • Correct: Oct. 14
  • Incorrect: Oct. 14th

When a phrase lists only a month and a year, do not separate the year with commas. When a phrase refers to a month, day and year, set off the year with commas.
Days of the week are never abbreviated when used in conjunction with a date. If the date is used in a tabular format, an abbreviation is okay.

  • Correct: The meeting is scheduled for Friday, Oct. 19, 2019.
  • Incorrect: The party is set for Fri., Oct. 19, 2019.


Omit academic degrees from names; the academic degree should not be used as a title. If the mention of a degree is necessary to establish someone’s credentials, avoid abbreviation unless space is a concern.

  • He expects to graduate next spring with a bachelor’s degree in history.
  • Professor White, who earned a doctorate in chemistry, will be the keynote speaker.

Capitalize official designations of academic degrees when used as official designations such as Bachelor of Science.

  • Students in the major may pursue the Bachelor of Arts or Bachelor of Science.

Common-noun variations of degree names: associate degree (no apostrophe), bachelor’s degree, master’s degree, doctorate.

When abbreviation is required, academic degrees are always punctuated with periods except the Master of Business Administration, which receives no punctuation.

  • B.A., M.S., MBA, M.F.A., Ph.D.

Use associate degree when referring to a degree conferred by a community college.


Use lowercase except for words that are proper nouns and adjectives.

  • The Department of Electronic Media and Film or the electronic media and film department.
  • The Department of English or the English department.

Use lowercase letters for informal and shortened versions of all such names.

  • The College of Liberal Arts has more than 2,500 undergraduates.
  • The college has more than 2,500 undergraduates.


Email is one word with no hyphen.

En dashes, em dashes

En dashes are used to indicate a relationship (Roosevelt-Taft Agreement) and time, date and number ranges (11 a.m.-2 p.m.; 20-30 years hours per week; Feb. 12-14).

Em dashes are used to separate a clause from a sentence. Do not use it to connect two sentences:

  • Doc the Tiger—named after Donald I. Minnegan—is TU's mascot.
  • Assignments must be turned in on or by their due dates—no exceptions.

Do not put spaces around the marks. This is an area where university style diverges from AP Style.


Capitalize “Indigenous” in reference to original inhabitants of a place.


Do not capitalize majors, programs, specializations or concentrations of study when they are not part of an official department name or title. Exception: English and foreign languages.

  • She received a bachelor’s degree in history. He is pursuing a major in English.


In first reference, include first and last names. In second and subsequent reference, include the last name only.

  • Marge Mead is an assistant professor of anthropology.
  • Mead’s latest ethnography will be in bookstores this fall.


Offline is one word, no hyphen, and lowercase. This rule also applies to online.

Seasons and Terms

TU has replaced “semester” in favor of “term” in all official publications. Do not capitalize seasons or term unless part of a formal name.

  • Towson University will hold the first annual Winter Olympics this January.


Use the abbreviated title of Dr. only to identify a medical doctor; omit when referring to a non-medical degree, such as a Ph.D. Instead, identify faculty and staff members by academic rank or position. Omit all courtesy titles (e.g., Mr., Ms., Mrs.).

  • Professor Jones will teach three classes this fall.

Capitalize formal titles used directly before an individual’s name.

  • Senior Vice President for Student Affairs Vernon Hurte will host the reception.

Lowercase and spell out titles that follow a name, they should be set off by commas or appear without a name.

  • Adam Smith, associate professor of economics, will deliver the lecture.
  • She is an assistant director in the Office of Student Affairs.

There is no style standard that dictates whether a title should appear before or after an individual’s name. Editorial context and consistency should guide these choices.

The titles of specific courses should be capitalized but not italicized or set in quotation marks.

  • Students in the Theatre Studies Track will need to take at least one course in performance creation (either Playwriting or Ensemble Theatre Laboratory).

Towson University

There are three acceptable ways to refer to the university by name. They include: Towson University, TU or Towson U. Avoid using “Towson” as this is meant to denote the town.

When writing, it’s best to spell out Towson University in first reference. In subsequent references, TU or “the university” are equally acceptable forms of abbreviation.

For references to Towson University’s athletics programs, Towson Tigers and Tigers are acceptable forms.


Units (not credits, hours, credit hours, or unit hours) should be used when referring to the measure of course work at TU. Credit may only be used as a general term.

  • To be eligible for graduation, students must complete at least 120 units.
  • Students can earn course credit for completing the internship.

Credit is the appropriate term when referring to the specific measure of course work earned outside of TU.

  • She transferred to TU after completing 30 credits at community college.


Do not capitalize the word university when it stands alone.

  • The university is highly regarded.

Website, Webpage

Website is one word, with a lowercase “w.” Webpage is one word, with a lowercase “w.”

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