Style Guide

Editorial Style Guide


The Editorial Style Guide is intended to help writers and editors communicate clearly and consistently about Elizabeth City State University in print and electronic media. The guide recommends ways to present information about the university and its faculty, departments, research centers, and events.

It will help us create consistency with the use of terms, titles, building names and more as ECSU writers prepare assorted documents on behalf of the university, its departments and divisions. This guide addresses the most common questions that arise at ECSU about titles and tricky wording, but it is not a comprehensive grammar manual or dictionary. Style recommendations are intended for use in public relations and marketing communications and are not intended to influence academic writing. For spelling, word division, and helpful usage notes, refer to Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary.

Academic Degrees

The following are examples of formal names of academic degrees and their abbreviations:

  • Bachelor of Science (B.S.)
  • Bachelor of Arts (B.A.)
  • Bachelor of Social Work (B.S.W.)
  • Master of Business Administration (M.B.A.)
  • Master of Arts (M.A.)
  • Master of Science (M.S.)
  • Master of Education (M.Ed.)
  • Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)
  • Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)

The general terms for academic degrees are as follows:

  • associate's degree
  • bachelor's degree
  • baccalaureate
  • doctoral degree
  • doctorate
  • master's degree

Example: Our speaker, Jane Doe, holds a bachelor of science from Elizabeth City State University.

The plural forms are bachelor's degrees (B.A.s), master's degrees (M.A.s) and doctoral degrees (Ph.D.s).

If you are writing the abbreviation of an academic degree, please use those below and the official name of the university from which the degree holder earned the degree: B.A., B.S., M.A., Ph.D., J.D., M.Div., M.A.T., M.Ed.

Use these abbreviations only after full names, and set them off with commas: Jane Doe, Ph.D., will give a lecture.

If a document is being distributed internally, such as the program booklet for an annual event, the following courtesy titles are acceptable:

Greetings by Dr. John Doe
Welcome by Professor John Doe
The occasion by Ms. Susan Doe
Award presentations by Mrs. Susan Doe

Abbreviations and Acronyms

Avoid using abbreviations and acronyms unless they are universally recognized, such as AIDS, FBI, GPA, NASA and ROTC. See the Associated Press Stylebook for guidelines on this point.

Keep in mind, a term that is common to employees/scholars in your line of work may be uncommon to others. Messages distributed to a mass audience, should use acronyms sparingly. To avoid confusion, relay the abbreviated term after the first reference. On first reference, please use the full length title or name. On second reference, follow suit as the abbreviations appear below:

First reference: Center of Excellence in Remote Sensing Education and Research
Second reference: CERSER

First reference: Vikings Assisting New Students
Second reference: V.A.N.S


When writing to an on-campus address, use the preferred order below:
Recipient Name
Department Name
Elizabeth City State University
Campus Box (number)
1704 Weeksville Road
Elizabeth City, NC 27909

For return addresses, the preferred order is:
Elizabeth City State University
Sender Name
Department Name
Campus Box (number)
1704 Weeksville Road
Elizabeth City, NC 27909

African American

Hyphenate only when used as a modifier: He is African American. NABJ is an organization for African-American journalists.

alma mater

Do not capitalize.

alumna, alumnae, alumni, alumnus

An alumnus is a person, particularly a male, who has attended or is a graduate of a particular school, college or university; alumni is the plural form, referring to males as a group and males and females as a group. An alumna is a female alumnus; alumnae is the plural form, referring only to females as a group. 


Use the ampersand (&) only when it is part of a company's formal name. The ampersand should not otherwise be used in place of the word "and."

Right: Baltimore & Ohio Railroad, U.S. News & World Report
Right: the Department of Business and Economics
Wrong: the Department of Business & Economics

Board of Visitors

Use the full, capitalized title on first reference. Thereafter, use the board of visitors.

Building Names

Capitalize the proper names of buildings, including the word "building" if it is part of the proper name. On first reference to a campus building, use its proper name. Use informal or casual building names on second reference and beyond.

Never use the abbreviation for building: "bldg."

It is acceptable to use commonly abridged names for campus buildings and landmarks on first reference, but preference is to use a building's proper name on first reference when a name may be unfamiliar to external audiences being addressed. Abridged names are not appropriate for printed materials associated with building dedications, commencements and other formal ceremonial events.

  • Bedell Hall (cafeteria)
  • Bias Hall
  • Butler Hall
  • C. W. Griffin Hall
  • Central Utility Plant
  • Commuter Center/Bowling Alley
  • E.A. Johnson Hall
  • E.V. Wilkins Academic Computing Center
  • G.R. Little Library
  • Generator Building
  • H. L. Trigg Building
  • Housing Complex
  • Information Technology Center
  • Jimmy R. Jenkins Sr. Science Center
  • K.E. White Graduate and Continuing Education Center
  • Lane Hall
  • Lester Hall
  • Marion D. Thorpe Sr. Administration Building
  • McDonald Dixon and Bishop M. Patterson Hall
  • McLendon Hall
  • Melvyn N. and Vonda Reed Riley Wellness Center
  • Mickey L. Burnim Fine Arts Center
  • Mitchell-Lewis Hall
  • Moore Hall
  • Robert L. Vaughan Center
  • Roebuck Stadium
  • STEM Complex
  • Telecommunication Center
  • Thomas L. Caldwell Physical Education Center and Field House
  • Thomas-Jenkins Building
  • University Suites
  • University Tower
  • Viking Village
  • Walter N. and Henrietta B. Ridley Student Complex
  • Walter N. and Henrietta B. Ridley University Center
  • Wamack Hall
  • Williams Hall
  • Willie and Jacqueline Gilchrist Education and Psychology Complex

Auditoriums and Centers

  • Floyd L Robinson Auditorium
  • Mary Albritton Douglas Auditorium
  • Moore Hall Auditorium
  • Kennis and Brenda Wilkins Call Center

Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association

CIAA is acceptable on first reference.


Chair, chairperson, chairman, chairwoman. Use discretion in selecting the appropriate term.


First reference: Chancellor Karrie G. Dixon
Second reference: Chancellor Dixon

The names and terms of those who served as ECSU chancellors and presidents follow:

Peter W. Moore (president emeritus, 1928-1934)
John H. Bias (president, 1928-1939)
Harold L. Trigg (president, 1939-1945)
Sidney D. Williams (president, 1946-1958)
Walter N. Ridley (president, 1958-1968)
Marion D. Thorpe (president, 1968-1972), (chancellor, 1972-1983)
Jimmy R. Jenkins (chancellor, 1983-1995)
Mickey L. Burnim (chancellor, 1995-2006)
Willie J. Gilchrist (chancellor, 2007-2013)
Stacey Franklin Jones (chancellor, 2014-2015)
Thomas E. H. Conway (chancellor, 2015-2018)
Karrie G. Dixon (chancellor, 2018-       )


No hyphen.

Commas and Periods

Do not use a comma before the conjunction in a series.
Put periods and commas inside an end quote.
Correct: Her shirt is red, white and blue.
Correct: She replied, "Yes, that's true."

Conference Titles

The full, official name of conferences should be capitalized and spelled out on first reference.


A course may be identified by its course number (ENGL 305, for instance) or by its name (for example, American Literature I).

Courtesy Titles

Courtesy titles include Mr., Mrs., Ms. and Miss.

When referring to a female's marital status, please use the person's preference for Miss, Ms. or Mrs.

Curricula, Curriculum

Curriculum is the singular form; curricula is the plural form.


On first reference, use a department's formal name (for instance, the Department of Visual and Performing Arts). After this reference, you may use the informal name (the visual and performing arts department) or (the department.) For the proper title of a particular department, refer to our website,


Follow the AP guide entry for "dates," "months" and "days of the week." When writing the name of the day with the date, set the date in commas: Monday, Jan. 28, is the day of… Never use ordinal numbers; use only cardinals: Nov. 6, not Nov. 6th

In times of day, use only necessary digits: 8 p.m., not 8:00 p.m., or 10-11:30 a.m. Note that "a.m." and "p.m." are lowercase, and periods are used except when space is limited.

On programs, invitations, and the like, use numerals for the date and time of day: May 16, 2010, at 3 p.m. In very formal invitations, the date and time may be written in words: May Sixteenth at Three O'clock.


The title Dr. may be used in front of a person's name when that person holds an earned doctoral degree. Do not use it along with a courtesy title or along with another title such as Dean, Professor, Chancellor or The Rev. in front of a name. 
Correct: Dr. Joe Smith, dean of the School of Arts and Humanities, addressed the audience.
Incorrect: Dean Dr. Joe Smith addressed the audience.


This term is the commonly used term for electronic mail; sometimes it is written e-mail. In listing an email address, lowercase all letters and characters. 

Elizabeth City State University

This is the university's identifier. It should be printed or included as the university's logotype on the front cover of all publications and appear on all Web pages as stated in the Web standards.

When referring to the university in any printed, audio or visual communication, refer to the full name of the university on first reference.

First reference: Elizabeth City State University
Second reference: ECSU

Elizabeth City State University Departments

Use the correct names of ECSU academic departments when referring to them in print.

  • Department of Business, Accounting Sport Management
  • Department of Education
  • Department of University Studies
  • Department of English & Digital Media
  • Department of Mathematics, Computer Science & Engineering Technology
  • Department of Military Science
  • Department of Natural Sciences
  • Department of Social Sciences
  • Department of Aviation & Emergency Management
  • Department of Music & Visual Arts
  • Department of Human & Health Studies


Farther refers to physical difference. Further refers to an extension of time or degree.
Correct: He walked farther into the woods.
Correct: They decided to research the issue further before making a decision.

Graduate School

When referring to the formal institution, capitalize the name; in general references, lowercase.
Correct: Dr. Jane Smith is director of the Graduate School.
Correct: She went to graduate school.


Lowercase unless it is the first word in a sentence.

Lecturers, Lectureships

The title "lecturer" or "adjunct lecturer" should be considered an occupational title rather than a formal title and as such be lowercased even before an individual's name: Feature writing lecturer John Doe

National Collegiate Athletic Association

NCAA is acceptable on first reference.


In writing dates, use cardinal numbers, i.e., avoid "rd,""th," and "st" with dates. Write May 3, or March 12, or May 21, not May 3rd, 12th, or 21st

Decades may be written as either 1920s, '20s, or twenties, but not 1920's.

When referring to sums of money, use only those digits that are necessary: $40, not $40.00. Write $40 million, not $40 million dollars.


Capitalize office only when it is part of an official name:
Correct: Office of Financial Aid 
Correct: Stop by the financial aid office for details.


It is one word, not hyphenated when used in reference to computer communication. Otherwise, when used as an adjective, it is hyphenated and two words.


Capitalize when the term precedes a name; lowercase when it follows a name.
Correct: Professor Joe Smith teaches MTH 312.
Correct: Joe Smith, professor emeritus of music, teaches MUS 312.

Professorships And Scholarships

Capitalize named scholarships and professorships, even when they follow a person's name.
Correct: Jane Moore was named Distinguished University Research Professor.
Correct: Distinguished University Research Professor Jane Moore enjoys reading.

*When referring to an endowed professorship on first reference, the official title should be used.

The Promenade

The Promenade consists of a 500-foot brick pathway, seats and a 15-foot-tall, aluminum clock. The promenade links the Ridley Student Center to Williams Hall, nearby residence halls and the Robert L. Vaughan Center. Curved, brick walls and park benches provide seating for this pedestrian promenade while complimentary, globed light poles provide night lighting. The Promenade should be capitalized when the writer is referring to the area as a particular site on campus.

Residence Halls

Please use the term residence halls in print instead of dormitory. When the buildings are referred to in print, please use the terms as they appear below:

  • Bias Hall
  • Butler Hall
  • Mitchell-Lewis Hall
  • University Suites
  • University Tower
  • Viking Village
  • Wamack Hall


Use lowercase, even when in reference to an issue of a publication: It was featured in the fall 2010 issue of the ECSU Magazine

Southern Association of Colleges and Schools

On second reference, use SACS.


The university preferred spelling for all generic references to auditoriums. Use "re" ending only if part of the proper name: They are going to Theater. He is a theatre arts major.


When writing a document, remember the time of day precedes the change of date on the calendar. In text, write the time before date.

Correct: The Collegians Jazz Ensemble concert begins at 6 p.m. on March 20 in the Floyd L Robinson Auditorium.

Unless you have a minute to report, there is no need to print 6:00 p.m. If an event begins on the half hour, write the time as it appears in the example below.
The annual awards banquet will be held at 6:30 p.m. on September 25 in the K.E. White Graduate and Continuing Education Center.

Calendar dates:
Completely spell out the months of the year when printing them in full documents. For example, Independence Day will be observed on July 4.


Capitalize a title when it immediately precedes a person's name. Lowercase when it follows a person's name or when it is used alone in text.

Correct: Elizabeth City State University National Alumni Association President Jane Doe lives in Elizabeth City, NC. 
Correct: Jane Doe, president of the Elizabeth City State University National Alumni Association, lives in Elizabeth City, N.C.
Correct: ECSU Provost and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs Jane Doe will preside over the noon segment of the faculty/staff institute.
Correct: Jane Doe, ECSU provost and vice chancellor for Academic Affairs, presented plaques to the student award winners.

When referring to a female's marital status, please use the person's preference for Miss, Ms. or Mrs.

Military titles
Please be advised, titles vary from one branch of the military to another. The U.S. Air Force and the U.S. Army share ranks and abbreviations for commissioned officers. The Navy and the U. S. Coast Guard share ranks and abbreviations for commissioned officers. Be sure to use the correct title when publishing the corresponding name in text.

For example:
During the awards ceremony, Lt. Col. John Doe encouraged the cadets to prepare now for challenging and rewarding assignments in the U. S. Army.

Legislative titles
Use Rep., Reps., Sen. and Sen. As formal titles before one or more names in regular text. Spell out and capitalize the titles before one or more names in a direct quotation. Spell out and lowercase representative and senator afterwards. To avoid confusion between state and U.S. representatives you may use those terms before a name:

For example:
U.S. Sen. John Doe,
U.S. Rep. Judy Doe
state Rep. Jane Doe or N.C. Rep. Jane Doe

The terms congresswoman and congressman may be used in subsequent references to the person when their name does not appear.

For example:
U.S. Rep. Judy Doe congratulated the ECSU Foundation on the success of its scholarship gala. The congresswoman was one of many special guests who greeted the audience.

Titles of works (refer to "The AP Stylebook" for additional information).

Place the titles of These works in quotation marks: books, poems, stories, book chapters, essays, academic articles, dissertations, television programs, lectures, speeches, presentation titles, musical compositions, movies, plays, works of art (paintings, drawings, sculptures).

The Bible, catalogs, almanacs, directories, dictionaries, and other reference sources need not be enclosed with quotation marks.

Do not place the titles of these works inside quotation marks or in italics: magazines, newspapers, journals. 


Capitalize when used before the name of an individual, lowercase in all other cases:Trustee William Smith; but William Smith is a trustee of the university.

The University of North Carolina

Elizabeth City State University is part of the 17-campus University of North Carolina System. Capitalize "The" in The University of North Carolina System when the name stands alone (as on letterhead or when used as a heading in formal documents). Lowercase the T when using the name in context (i.e. "a constituent institution of the University of North Carolina System"). The University of North Carolina System and UNC System refer only to the 17-campus university.

Following are the official names of the 17 institutions as designated by the UNC Board of Governors; preferred terms for second reference are in parentheses:

  • Appalachian State University (ASU)
  • East Carolina University (East Carolina or ECU)
  • Elizabeth City State University (ECSU)
  • Fayetteville State University (Fayetteville State or FSU)
  • North Carolina A&T State University (NC A&T State or A&T)
  • North Carolina Central University (NCCU)
  • North Carolina State University (NC State)
  • North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics (NCSSM)
  • University of North Carolina at Asheville (UNCA)
  • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC-Chapel Hill or UNC-CH)
  • University of North Carolina at Charlotte (UNCC)
  • University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG)
  • University of North Carolina at Pembroke (UNCP)
  • University of North Carolina at Wilmington (UNCW)
  • University of North Carolina School of the Arts (School of the Arts or UNCSA)
  • Western Carolina University (Western Carolina or WCU)
  • Winston-Salem State University (Winston-Salem State or WSSU)

Capitalize university only when referring to the 17-campus University of North Carolina. Use lowercase when referring to a single campus, including ECSU.

Vice Chancellor, Vice President

Do not use hyphens. For instance, Jane Doe is the vice chancellor for business and finance.

World Wide Web (www)

Examples: web, web page, website