Writing Style Guide

The following shall be used as the official style guide for any published work completed through the SUNY Morrisville Office of Communications & Marketing. That includes: all copy found on the college’s official website; print and online press releases; social media posts; Momentum magazine; the Mustang Insider faculty/staff newsletter; all print and digital advertisements; and closed captioning for all produced videos.

All contributing writers or freelancers hired by the Office of Communications & Marketing shall adhere to these guidelines for all work provided.

This style guide closely follows and often references Associated Press (AP) style guidelines. If not listed here, refer to and follow AP style rules.


Listing Dates

When listing dates, spell out the month when listing alone or with just the year. Abbreviate the following months when using with a specific date: Jan., Feb., Aug., Sept., Oct., Nov. and Dec.

When listing only a month and a year, do not separate the year with commas. When referring to a month, day and year, set off the year with commas.

Dates should always use figures and should never be followed by st, nd, rd or th.

Ex) January is almost here. The expected launch date is January 2022. On Jan. 15, 2021, the semester will begin. The event will take place Monday, Jan. 20.

Listing Times

As noted by AP Style, when listing times, “use figures except for noon and midnight. Use a colon to separate hours from minutes: 11 a.m., 1 p.m., 3:30 p.m., 9-11 a.m., 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Also, “Avoid such redundancies as 10 a.m. this morning, 10 p.m. tonight or 10 p.m. Monday night. Use 10 a.m. or 10 p.m. Monday, etc.”


When listing numerals, spell out one through nine and use figures for 10 or above.

Ex) There were nine members of the committee present. There were 25 students at the seminar.

Some notable exceptions to this rule include: ages (She was 8 years old at the time.); dates, years and decades (Dec. 5, 2019; Class of ’09; The 1990s); time (1 p.m.); distances (The venue is 7 miles away); temperature (use figures, except zero: 8 degrees outside); speeds (7 mph); and rankings (The women’s basketball team was ranked No. 3 in the nation; Military rank: 1st Sgt. Dan Wilson).


When referencing a person in your story, list first and last name (and middle initial, depending on person’s preference) on first reference. Use only last name on all references thereafter. When it is necessary to distinguish between two people who have the same last name, first name can be used in subsequent references.

Before a name: Abbreviate titles when used before a full name (Mr., Mrs., Dr., Gov., etc.)

After a name: Abbreviate junior or senior after an individual’s name. Do not separate with a comma.

Ex) Michael Jordan Jr.; William Henry III.

College Name

The college shall be referred to as “SUNY Morrisville” on first reference. “SUNY Morrisville” or “Morrisville” is acceptable for all references thereafter.

The full formal name of the college is State University of New York College of Agriculture and Technology at Morrisville.

Do not capitalize college when using it alone.

Ex) The college is seeking volunteers.

DO NOT USE Morrisville State College (unless referring to the name formerly used), Morrisville College or Morrisville University in any format.

Academic Committees

Capitalize the proper names of all official college committees, as proper nouns.

Ex) Jackson has served on Morrisville’s Commencement Committee for five years.

Academic Courses

Capitalize all course titles, as proper nouns.

Ex) Jones participated in the News Editing course through the Journalism Department.

Academic Degrees (as stated in AP Stylebook)


On first reference, write out Associate in Arts, Associate in Occupational Studies, Associate in Science, Bachelor of Business Administration, Bachelor of Science, Bachelor of Technology and Master of Science. On second reference, abbreviate as A.A., A.O.S., A.S., B.S., B.Tech., and M.S. An exception to using periods is MBA.


Capitalize Associate in Arts, Associate in Occupational Studies, Associate in Science, Bachelor of Business Administration, Bachelor of Science, Bachelor of Technology and Master of Science. Do not capitalize associate degree or bachelor’s degree.


Use an apostrophe for bachelor’s degree, but there is no possessive for associate degree or in Associate in Arts, Associate in Occupational Studies, Associate in Science, Bachelor of Business Administration, Bachelor of Science, Bachelor of Technology and Master of Science.

Academic Departments, Offices and Schools

Capitalize all references to academic departments, offices and schools. In most cases, “Office of” and “School of” should precede official name. For departments, name should be listed first.

Ex) Office of Communications & Marketing. School of Liberal Arts. Humanities Department.

Do not capitalize informal and shortened versions of schools, colleges, departments, divisions, offices and official bodies.

The college’s academic schools should be referred to as:

  • The School of Agriculture, Business & Technology
  • The School of Liberal Arts, Sciences & Society

The divisions within those schools should be referred to as

  • Divisions within the School of Agriculture, Business & Technology:
    • Division of Agricultural & Automotive Technology
    • Division of Animal & Plant Sciences & Agricultural Business
    • Division of Computing, Design & Engineering
    • Division of Environmental & Renewable Resources
    • Division of Business & Hospitality
  • Divisions within the School of Liberal Arts, Sciences & Society:
    • Division of Health & Wellness
    • Division of Human Development & Society
    • Division of Individual Studies
    • Division of Nursing
    • Division of General Education

Academic Programs

Lowercase all program names, unless it is a proper noun.

Ex) Associate in Science degree in accounting. Bachelor of Arts degree in English.

Campus Locations

Capitalize all references to official names of areas and properties on campus.

Ex) Academic Quad. The Mustang statue. Donald G. Butcher Library. Brooks Hall.

When listing a specific area of campus, be as concise as possible, and include only necessary details.

Ex) The concert will be held at the Student Activities Center Little Theater. The guest speaker will present in Charlton Hall, Room 208. The exhibit was displayed on the first-floor lobby of Roger W. Follett Hall, located on the Norwich Campus.

Avoid redundancies: The event will take place on the second floor of Charlton Hall, Room 208. Instead, use: The event will take place in Charlton Hall, Room 208.

City and State Listings

When referencing a city, list both city and state, writing out both. Do not abbreviate state. The exception to this rule is for press releases, where “New York” should not be listed following a reference to a city within the state.

Ex) Smith, of Orlando, Florida, came to SUNY Morrisville for its exceptional programs.

(Press release) Doe was a native of Utica.

Listing of International Cities, Provinces and Countries

When referring to an international city, list city, state and country, writing out all three.

Ex) Crosby is a native of Calgary, Alberta, Canada.

Formal Titles

As AP Stylebook notes: “In general, confine capitalization to formal titles used directly before an individual's name.”

Thus, formal titles should be capitalized when they are used immediately before one or more names. Conversely, formal titles should be lowercase and spelled out when they are not used with an individual’s name.

Ex) SUNY Morrisville President David Rogers. Morrisville Assistant Professor Jessica Jones. The dean served as a guest speaker.

For formal titles following a name, lowercase and separate from the name using commas.

Ex) David Matthews, assistant director for public relations, presented at the conference.

Lowercase all references to secondary titles, such as “chair.”

Ex) Raymond serves as chair of the Automotive Department. Kelly is co-chair of the Finance Committee.

As also noted by AP Stylebook, Dr. should only be used “in first reference as a formal title before the name of an individual who holds a doctor of dental surgery, doctor of medicine, doctor of optometry, doctor of osteopathic medicine, doctor of podiatric medicine, or doctor of veterinary medicine.”

Additionally, “do not use Dr. before the names of individuals who hold other types of doctoral degrees.” Instead, it should be spelled out “when necessary or appropriate for a specific audience.”

Ex) Michelle Jackson, who has a doctorate in mathematics, will begin teaching this fall.

Ex) When used in a list: Michelle Jackson, Ph.D.


Verb Tense

Use past tense when quoting someone.

Ex) Correct: “Morrisville is the best,” she said. Do not use: "Morrisville is the best," she says.


Always refer to the person being quoted by last name, unless the story references multiple family members with the same last name.

Ex) “I love Morrisville,” Parker said.

The Jones siblings have enjoyed their time at Morrisville. “It’s been great,” Michael said. “I am so happy I attended here,” Michelle added.


When ending a sentence, use only one space before beginning the next sentence.



Use an ampersand (&) in place of the word “and” when used in program, office or department names. The primary reason is to help eliminate confusions in a series. For example, instead of:

The architectural studies and design and aquatic science and aquaculture programs are great.

We can write:

The architectural studies & design and aquatic science & aquaculture programs are great.

In this example, it is much easier to determine that the phrase is referring to two programs, rather than a possible four programs.

First Rule

The ampersand is not a replacement for the word “and,” especially not in regular text, headings or titles.

Second Rule

The ampersand is in correct usage in the following:

  • Proper nouns like program, office or department names, e.g., Office of Communications & Marketing.
  • Include spaces on either side of the ampersand when using full words, e.g., Division of Health & Wellness, but eliminate the spaces when using as an abbreviation, e.g., H&W.
  • In instances where a name has only two words joined by an ampersand, it can be shortened to two letters and an ampersand, no spaces (H&W). With three or more letters, the ampersand may be omitted (ABT in reference to School of Agriculture, Business & Technology).
  • When identifying more than one addressee: Mr. & Mrs. Rogers, or Jan & David Rogers.
  • The ampersand can be used to indicate that the “and” in a listed item is a part of the item’s name and not a separator (e.g. “Rock, pop, rhythm & blues and hip hop”).
  • When the mark is used as a design element in logos, titles or names.
  • Inside tables or parentheses when space is limited.
  • In titles of creative works such as novels, songs and albums.
  • In citations when the source has more than one author, use an ampersand to connect the last two (Smith, Greene & Jones, 2008). Some style guides (APA) recommend using the ampersand here, while others (Chicago Manual of Style and The MLA Style Manual) write out “and.”

*Adapted from Business Writers' Blog – Ideas on Business Writing – A Probizwriters' Publication; Ampersand Usage — “&” or “And”?. http://www.probizwriters.com/PBW-blog/index.php/ampersand-usage/

Em Dash, En Dash and Hyphen (as stated in AP Stylebook*)

Use em dash (—) when:

  1. there is an abrupt change in thought in a sentence or an emphatic pause.

    ​​​​​​ Ex) Action-oriented learning labs and true-to-life facilities — many of which are rare or one-of-a-kind in higher education — allow students to "get their hands dirty" and engage in ways that go beyond the traditional classroom environment.
  2. a phrase that otherwise would be set off by commas contains a series of words that must be separated by commas.

    Ex) The four courses she needed to graduate — math, science, history and art — were offered in the fall.
  3. quoting an author or composer. List name at the end of the quotation.

    Ex) “Music is a world within itself, with a language we all understand.

    With an equal opportunity, for all to sing, dance and clap their hands.” — Stevie Wonder
  4. listing a dateline.

    Ex) MORRISVILLE, N.Y. — SUNY Morrisville is the best.

Em dash can also be used in place of commas, parentheses and colons.

A space on both sides of the em dash should be used.

Use a hyphen (‐):

  1. as a joiner, such as for compound modifiers.

    Ex) Rivera was a small-business owner.
  2. for ranges.

    Ex) The event will be held July 9-12.

Avoid using en dash (–) in any format.

*Source: https://www.apstylebook.com/ap_stylebook/em-dash-en-dash-hyphen

Instructions on how to type em dash in Microsoft Word:

  1. From the menu found at the top of a Word document, go to the Insert tab and click “symbol” on the far right, followed by “more symbols” to bring up a master list of symbols. From the Subset dropdown display, select “General Punctuation” to bring up a collection of dashes. Insert em dash as needed.
  2. Each dash in that symbol menu also has its own special code. Type in the code for the em dash on your document, then type the alt key, plus the letter “x” (alt + x) to create an em dash.
  3. Using shortcut keys: Press the control key, plus the alt key, plus the hyphen key from the number keypad (Ctrl + Alt + -) to create an em dash.
  4. Using Word’s autocorrect function, type two hyphens, followed by a space, then begin typing again and type another space to automatically create an em dash.