Editorial Style Guide
The following style guide contains recommendations for style, spelling and usage as they relate to issues specific to Stony Brook University and Stony Brook Medicine. Its intent is to establish a standard for clear and consistent writing across all of Stony Brook’s vehicles of communication. It is by no means comprehensive; rather it attempts to answer some of the frequently asked style questions about Stony Brook and to address some of the more common editorial errors. The guide generally follows the Associated Press Stylebook (AP) and for spelling relies on Webster’s New World College Dictionary; in some cases, however, Stony Brook’s recommended style or spelling differs from both.
• Formal use: Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Fine Arts, Master of Science, Master of Engineering, etc.
• General use: bachelor’s degree, bachelor’s in English, master’s degree, master’s in engineering
• Abbreviated Use: BA, BS, MBA, MD, MS, PhD, etc. (Note: no periods)
• A PhD may also be called a doctorate or a doctoral degree.
• postdoctoral, postdoc
•Include the following AA/EOE statement in all external publications: Stony Brook University/SUNY is an affirmative action, equal opportunity educator and employer.
• Include a phone number for a disability-related accommodation in material publicizing an event (should be a phone number designated by the department running the event).
• Include the following statement in programs, brochures, bulletins, magazines, etc.: This material is available in alternative format upon request.
Should appear as room number (use a hyphen if it starts with letter), followed by building name, followed by city and appropriate ZIP-four.
E-1313 Frank Melville Jr. Memorial Library
Stony Brook, NY 11794-3354
221 Administration Building
Stony Brook, NY 11794-1601
Use numerals when referring to the ages of people and animals, but not of inanimate objects.
The girl is 9 years old.
The school is nine years old.
The graduate student, who is 25, has a six-year-old car.
The woman is in her 20s. (Note: no apostrophe)
Place any series of nouns (names, departments, etc.) in alphbetical order unless there is a reason to list them otherwise (examples: in order of appearance, by financials, by hierarchy). When working with names of people, always alphabetize by last name. If last name is hyphenated, alphabetize using first part of the hyphenated last name.
Susan Smith Jones is placed under J, but Susan Smith-Jones is placed under S.
ALUMNA, ALUMNUS, ALUMNI
Use alumni when referring to a group no matter the gender.
The abbreviated versions (alum/alums) may be substituted for singular/plural.
Do not use; spell out and in all cases. (Exception: ampersands that appear as part of official company names and when used as second ref to the Research and Development Park — R&D Park)
Department of Physics and Astronomy (notDepartment of Physics & Astronomy)
Tiffany & Co. (not Tiffany and Co.)
Use athletics in all cases; never physical education
Use title chair rather than chairman, chairwoman or chairperson. (Exception: title of someone from outside the University)
State University of New York Chancellor Nancy L. Zimpher, the first woman to be named to the post in SUNY’s 60-year history, took office on June 1, 2009.
Note: Capitalize the word Chancellor in all cases when referring to Chancellor Zimpher. However, the word chancellor is not capitalized when used generically.
Class of 2012, Class of ’12
John Smith ’12
As a general rule, no hyphen unless they indicate occupation or status. Consult Webster’s for exceptions.
coeducation, coexist, coordinate
co-author, co-host, co-worker
Use cardinal numbers for days of the month (December 25, July 4), not ordinal (December 25th, July 4th).
The Department of English (not the English Department); the Office of the President (not the President’s Office).
Use lowercase letters, however, when referring to academic subject areas (excluding languages).
Examples: biology, music, but English (because English is a proper noun and is always capitalized)
DIMENSIONS AND MEASUREMENTS
Use numerals, but spell out inches, feet, yards, etc. Hyphenate when used as an adjective.
Examples (from AP):
He is 5 feet 6 inches tall. (Note: no comma)
the 5-foot-6-inch man
The rug is 9 feet by 12 feet.
the 9-by-12-foot rug
DIRECTIONS AND REGIONS
(From AP): In general lowercase north, south, northeast, northern, etc., when they indicate compass direction; capitalize when they designate regions.
He drove west.
The cold front is moving east.
The new faculty member grew up in the Midwest.
As a general rule, MD, DDS or other medical/dental degrees should follow the full names of doctors of medicine/dentistry on first reference. On all subsequent refs, the title Dr. should appear before their last names.
As a general rule, PhD degrees are not listed following full names on first reference. On subsequent refs, omit the title Dr. for PhDs — use last names only.
EMAIL and EMAIL ADDRESSES
The word email is one word, lowercase with no hyphen. Always set an email address in italics; avoid breaking an address at the end of a line. Campus email addresses should be written out as John.Smith@stonybrook.edu using initial caps for names.
As a general rule, treat faculty as plural.
Stony Brook faculty have discovered the cause of Lyme disease.
Spell out fiscal year (e.g., Fiscal Year 2010) on first reference; after that, it may be abbreviated using two capitals followed by a space before the full year (e.g., FY 2010). FY10 may be used to save space in charts and graphs.
FOREIGN WORDS AND PHRASES
Italicize unless they have been naturalized and appear in Webster’s without italics.
When used as an adjective, it is always singular: the freshman class.
One word as both a noun and an adjective.
The plan seeks to improve access to healthcare in medically underserved communities.
The report listed the region’s healthcare needs.
Abbreviate as Jr. and Sr. and do not precede by a comma.
President Samuel L. Stanley Jr.
LONG ISLAND RAIL ROAD
Rail Road is two words.
50 cents, $20, $2,000, $3 trillion
MILLIONS AND BILLIONS
Use numerals with millions, billions and higher in all but casual uses.
Examples (from AP):
The nation has 1 million citizens.
I need $7 billion.
I’d like to make a billion dollars.
Note: Do not use a hyphen to join numerals and the words million or billion even if it is used as an adjective.
Example (from AP):
The production had a $10 million budget.
Spell out all months when they stand alone or when they appear with a day or year.
February 20, 2010
November 1963 (Note: no comma between month and year)
When a phrase refers to a month, day, and year, set off the year with commas.
She received her bachelor’s degree on May 22, 2005, and her master’s on May 16, 2009.
As both nouns and adjectives, compound nationalities are not hyphenated.
African American, African American history; Italian American, Italian American history; but Indo-European (first word is a prefix and cannot stand alone)
As a general rule, no hyphen unless the word following the prefix begins with an “n” or if the construction is awkward. Consult Webster’s for exceptions.
Can be construed as either singular or plural, depending on the noun that follows it.
None of the food was prepared at home.
None of the students were present that day.
No hyphen. Also called a not-for-profit.
NUMBERS AND NUMERALS
Numbers one through nine are spelled out; 10 and above are numerals unless the numeral begins a sentence—then spell out.
Use commas to separate thousands and hundreds: 2,000 (not 2000); $3,500 (not $3500).
SAT scores do not have commas.
One word, no hyphen
Always spell out percent; do not use %.
In charts, graphs, tabular data
Our style is (XXX) XXX-XXXX
When required, photo credits should be listed alphabetically. Credits for photos that are given “courtesy of” should come last in alphabetical list.
Photos: John Griffin/Office of University Communications, Sam Levitan, and Juliana Thomas, and courtesy of School of Dental Medicine and Turkana Basin Institute
• Plural nouns not ending in s — add ’s: children’s television; women’s rights
• Plural nouns ending in s — add only an apostrophe: the girls’ toys; states’ rights; the VIPs’ entrance
• Nouns plural in form, singular in meaning—add only an apostrophe: mathematics’ rules; measles’ effects; United States’ wealth
• Singular nouns not ending in s — add ’s: the church’s needs; the ship’s route; the VIP’s sea; the fox’s den; Marx’s theories
• Singular nouns ending in s — add ’s inless the next word begins with an s: the hostess’s invitation, the witness’s answer; the witness’ story
• Singular proper names ending in s — use only an apostrophe: Achilles’ heel; Dickens’ novels; Williams’ plays
As a general rule, no hyphen unless the root word begins with an e. Consult Webster’s for exceptions
Prearrange, pre-establish, pre-exist
Capitalize the word President in all cases when referring specifically to Stony Brook University President Samuel L. Stanley Jr., MD.
However, the word president is lowercase when used generically.
Examples when referring to President Stanley:
Samuel L. Stanley Jr., MD, Stony Brook University’s fifth president, is a native of Seattle.
Samuel L. Stanley Jr., MD, President of Stony Brook University, is a graduate of the University of Chicago.
The President earned his medical degree from Harvard Medical School.
Example of generic usage:
The president of the company will step down at the end of the year.
PRESIDENTS OF STONY BROOK UNIVERSITY
2009-Present: Samuel L. Stanley Jr., MD
1994-2009: Shirley Strum Kenny
1980–1994: John H. Marburger III
1965–1978: John S. Toll
1961: John Lee
Italicize names of all print and/or online publications and all website names.
Kiplinger’s Personal Finance magazine
Kiplinger (online version)
Happenings (Stony Brook’s online-only faculty/staff/friends newsletter)
U.S.News & World Report (Note: no space between U.S. and News)
Do not use periods.
Do not write “Please RSVP.” (It’s redundant: RSVP stands for répondez s'il vous plaît, which means “please reply.”)
SAMUEL L. STANLEY JR., MD
Samuel L. Stanley Jr., MD, became the fifth president of Stony Brook University on July 1, 2009. (Note: no comma before Jr.)
Lowercase seasons when they stand alone (winter, spring, summer, fall), but capitalize when they refer to semesters (Spring 2011, Fall 2011, etc.)
STONY BROOK LONG ISLAND CHILDREN’S HOSPITAL
Stony Brook Long Island Children’s Hospital is the full name. It may be referred to as Stony Brook Children’s on second reference.
STONY BROOK MEDICINE
The name Stony Brook Medicine represents Stony Brook’s entire medical enterprise, which encompasses the five schools of the health sciences — Dental Medicine, Health Technology and Management, Medicine, Nursing and Social Welfare — the Hospital, and our major centers and institutes, programs, clinics and community-based healthcare settings.
STONY BROOK UNIVERSITY
Use Stony Brook University on first reference. (Exceptions: In State University of New York-related material, we are officially the State University of New York at Stony Brook; and in AA/EOE lines, we are Stony Brook University/SUNY).
On subsequent references, we may be called Stony Brook or the University (Note: University is always capped when it refers to Stony Brook). SB or SBU may also be used.
In text, spell out states when they stand alone or if they appear after a city. Postal ZIP code abbreviations (AL, AZ, CA, CO, FL, MA, NY, etc.) should be used only in addresses.
He was born in Westport, Connecticut., but grew up in Buffalo, New York.
STUDENT ACTIVITIES CENTER
SAC on second reference.
The correct spelling is T-shirt.
Spell as theater unless the word appears as Theatre in a proper name.
Stony Brook’s Department of Theatre Arts offers a program that immerses students in theater history.
When referring to three-dimensional (not 3-D).
Use am/pm (no periods). Use colon to separate hours from minutes, but not when two zeros follow the colon.
Note: When a range of time is given, use the word to — not an en dash.
6 am (not 6:00 a.m.)
1 pm to 2:30 pm
Titles are capitalized when they precede a name but are lowercase when they follow a name.
Professor John Smith; John Smith, professor of biology
Assemblyman Steven Englebright; The Honorable Steven Englebright, New York State Assembly
Always capitalize President when referring to President Samuel L. Stanley Jr., MD. Always capitalize Chancellor when referring to State University of New York Chancellor Nancy L. Zimpher
The President took office on July 1, 2009.
The Chancellor took office on June 1, 2009.
Note: No hyphen in vice president, vice provost, vice chancellor, etc.
Capitalize the principal words (including conjunctions and prepositions of four letters or more).
Italicize titles of longer works:
–magazines and newspapers
Enclose titles of shorter works in quotation marks:
–television and radio shows
–works of art
Capitalize the names of events and traditions.
Campus Life Time, Chillfest, Commencement, Convocation, Diversity Day, Earthstock, President’s Lecture Series, Provost’s Lecture Series, Roth Pond Regatta, Stars of Stony Brook Gala, Strawberry Festival, Wolfstock (Homecoming)
Use Stony Brook University in first reference in all cases.
Exception: State University of New York-related material, in which we are officially the State University of New York at Stony Brook.
In subsequent references, we may be called Stony Brook, SB, SBU or the University (note University is always capped when it refers to Stony Brook).
Advanced Energy Research and Technology Center (AERTC or Advanced Energy Center on second ref)
Brookhaven National Laboratory (BNL or Brookhaven Lab on second ref)
Center of Excellence in Wireless and Information Technology (CEWIT on second ref)
Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory (CSHL or Cold Spring Harbor Lab on second ref)
Charles B. Wang Center (often appears with the phrase Celebrating Asian and American Cultures) (Wang Center on second ref)
Dubin Family Athletic Performance Center
Frank Melville Jr. Memorial Library (Melville Library on second ref) (Note: No commas around Jr.)
Health Sciences Tower and Basic Sciences Tower (buildings formerly known as the Health Sciences Center—NOTE: DO NOT USE HEALTH SCIENCES CENTER.) For identity of a specific location, use either Health Sciences Tower or Basic Sciences Tower.
Indoor Sports Complex (houses Stony Brook University Arena and Pritchard Gymnasium)
Jacob K. Javits Lecture Center (Javits Center on second ref)
Kenneth P. LaValle Stadium (LaValle Stadium on second ref)
Long Island High Technology Incubator (LIHTI on second ref)
Long Island State Veterans Home (LISVH)
Matt and Debra Cody Center for Autism and Development Disabilities (Cody Center on second ref)
Seawolves MarketPlace (Note: intercap “P”)
Simons Center for Geometry and Physics (Simons Center on second ref)
Staller Center for the Arts (Staller Center or Staller on second ref)
Student Activities Center (SAC on second ref)
Stony Brook Long Island Children’s Hospital (Stony Brook Children’s on second ref)
Stony Brook Manhattan
Stony Brook Union
Stony Brook University Arena
Stony Brook University Hospital (Hospital or SBUH on second ref)
Stony Brook Medicine
Stuart Goldstein Student-Athlete Development Center (Goldstein Center on second ref)
University Hospital when referring to the building as a location
U.S.NEWS & WORLD REPORT
News magazine. Note: no space between U.S. and News
VEHICLE AND VESSEL NAMES
The space shuttle Columbia
The research vessel Seawolf
WEB and WEB SITES
The word Web is capitalized (from proper name World Wide Web) when it stands alone, and in the terms Web page and Web feed (both two words).
However, the following are lowercase and one word:
website, webcam, webcast and webmaster
NOTE: Always set URLs in italics (www.stonybrook.edu); avoid breaking a URL at the end of a line. When a URL appears at the end of a sentence, leave out the period if no sentence follows.
Note: As a general rule, leave out the introductory http:// in URLs unless the address does not work without it. When https:// (note the s) introduces the URL, leave it in.
Examples (from AP):
The baby weighed 9 pounds, 7 ounces.
She had a 9-pound, 7-ounce boy.
Spell it as x-ray (lowercase).
ZIP (not Zip). It is an acronym for Zoning Improvement Plan, and should always be all caps.
Campus ZIP codes must have the ZIP+4 extension.
Capitalize the first word after a colon only if it is the beginning of a complete sentence.
He promised this: The school would reopen in the fall.
The concert was free for everyone: faculty, staff and students.
Do not use serial comma. In other words, do not put a comma before the concluding conjunction in a simple series. However, if a comma will help to clarify a complex series of phrases, then by all means add it.
Examples (from AP):
In a simple series:
Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday
Faculty, staff and students
In a complex series (from AP):
The main points to consider are whether the athletes are skillful enough to compete, whether they have the stamina to endure the training, and whether they have the proper mental attitude.
Put a space around both sides of em and en dashes.
The Research and Development Park — occupying 246 acres — is adjacent to the Stony Brook campus.
(From AP) When two or more words that express a single concept—compound modifiers—precede a noun, use hyphens to link all the words in the compound except the adverb very and all adverbs ending in –ly.
A first-quarter touchdown
A full-time job
A well-known professor
A very happy family
A rarely used room
SOME COMMONLY MISUSED WORDS
Affect is usually a verb meaning to influence. Effect is usually a noun meaning result.
The drug did not affect the disease, and it had several adverse side effects.
Effect can also be a verb meaning to bring about.
Only the president can effect such a dramatic change.
Assure means to remove doubt, make certain, give confidence, reassure, promise.
Ensure means to make certainn, guarantee.
Insure should be used only for references to insurance.
Capital refers to a city.
Capitol refers to a building where lawmakers meet. Capital also refers to wealth or resources.
The residents of the state capital protested the development plans.
The capitol has undergone extensive renovations.
Complement refers to completing a set/making up a whole.
It is also used to describe a number of people making up a group.
This ship has a complement of 50.
The wine complements the meal.
Compliment has two meanings: a noun or verb that denotes praise or something that is free of charge or done as a courtesy.
The chef was flattered by the compliments on his dinner.
They received complimentary tickets to the show.
Compose means to create or put together. It may be active or passive.
She composed a song.
The United States is composed of 50 states.
Comprise means to contain or to embrace. It is used in the active voice.
As such, the construction “is comprised of” is never correct.
The United States comprises 50 states.
The zoo comprises many animals.
Constitute, in the sense of make up, may be the best word to use if neither compose nor comprise fits.
Fifty states constitute the United States.
Continual means repeated again and again.
Continuous means uninterrupted.
I was continually interrupted by the telephone.
It rained continuously for 48 hours.
Disinterested means impartial.
Uninterested means not interested.
Differ from/Differ with
One thing differs from another, although you may differ with a colleague.
Never use different than.
Emigrate from/Immigrate to
Emigrate means to leave one country or region to settle in another.
Immigrate means to enter another country and reside there.
In 1905, my grandfather emigrated from Italy.
Many Europeans immigrated to America to start new lives.
Farther refers to physical distance that can be measured.
Further means to a greater degree or more.
Boston is farther north than New York.
According to my timetable, this project should be further along.
Fewer is used for things that can be counted as individual units (i.e., books, courses, credits)
Less is used for things that cannot be counted as individual units (i.e., water, coffee, sugar)
Traditionally, time, money and distance take the adjective less.
It’s is a contraction for it is or it has.
Its is the possessive form of it.
It’s starting to rain. It’s been a long day.
The school launched its business program last fall.
It’s clear the dog misses its owner.
Lie is an intransitive verb meaning to recline or rest on a surface. Its principal parts are lie, lay, lain.
Lay is a transitive verb meaning to put or place. Its principal parts are lay, laid.
Chickens lay eggs.
I lie down when I am tired.
The phrase most important is an elliptical form of what is most important. The word importantly is an adverb and means in an important way.
Most important, her record as a fundraiser is unmatched.
He contributed importantly to his field.
Use over, under, above, below, higher and lower to describe physical relationships in space.
Use more than or less than when dealing with numerals.
Examples (from AP):
The plane flew over the city.
Their salaries went up more than $20 a week.
Principal is a noun or adjective meaning someone or something first in rank, authority, importance or degree.
Principle is a noun that means rule, law or general truth.
She was the principal partner in the firm.
The principles of physics dictate that you cannot travel faster than the speed of light.
Premier is principally an adjective meaning prime or leading. It also can be used as a noun when referring to an individual who is the first minister in a national government that has a council of ministers.
Premiere is a first performance or show.
Stony Brook is a premier research university.
The premier was in Brussels this week discussing European economic policy.
Many celebrities attended the film’s premiere.
Stationary is an adjective that means not moving. Stationery is a noun that refers to writing paper and envelopes.