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.
Stony Brook University/SUNY is an affirmative action, equal opportunity educator and employer (see "ADA Compliance").
ALTERNATIVE VS. ALTERNATE
Use "alternative format," not "alternate format."
- 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, associate degree (Note: not associate's degree)
- Abbreviated Use: BA, BS, MBA, MD, MS, PhD, etc. (Note: no periods)
- A PhD (see entry under "Doctor" for specific rules on usage) may also be called a doctorate or a doctoral degree.
- postdoctoral, postdoc
ACADEMIC HEALTH CENTER
- Since December 2021, “academic health center” is the preferred characterization for Stony Brook Medicine. We no longer use “academic medical center.”
- 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.
- Do not use on SCALA slides and evites.
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 alphabetical order unless there is a reason to list them otherwise (examples: in order of appearance, by financials, by hierarchy). When working with the names of people, always alphabetize by last name. If a last name is hyphenated, alphabetize using the 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.
Often we provide the graduation year for Stony Brook alumni in news and feature stories. The correct way to present this is as follows: Jane Smith '15. If alumni have more than one degree from Stony Brook, the degree years are presented as follows: Jane Smith '15, '16.
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 (not Department of Physics & Astronomy)
Tiffany & Co. (not Tiffany and Co.)
Use athletics in all cases; never physical education
ATHLETICS, STONY BROOK
Capitalize the “b” in the term Black when referring to people in a racial, ethnic or cultural context.
BROOKHAVEN NATIONAL LABORATORY
Located in Upton, New York, Brookhaven National Laboratory is a multipurpose research institution funded primarily by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science. BNL may be used on second reference.
Correct way to characterize Stony Brook's relationship with BNL:
Stony Brook University has the responsibility of co-managing nearby Brookhaven National Laboratory, joining such prestigious schools as Princeton University, Stanford University and the University of Chicago on the list of major institutions that have a role in running federal research laboratories.
In addition: Stony Brook is one of eight universities with a role in running a national laboratory. Stony Brook and BNL share more than 100 joint appointments, and numerous Stony Brook faculty, postdocs and students conduct research at BNL's world-leading centers and user facilities.
CAMPUS BUILDINGS AND ROOMS
Cap building names when part of the name, e.g., Administration Building, Room E-7382
Cap all named locations, such as Zebra Path, Roth Pond
Use the titlechair rather than chairman, chairwoman or chairperson. (Exception: title of someone from outside the university.)
State University of New York Chancellor Deborah F. Stanley was named SUNY's interim chancellor on January 15, 2022.
Note: Capitalize the word Chancellor only when the title precedes her name: For example, Chancellor Stanley. The word chancellor is never capitalized when used generically.
Class of 2012, Class of ’12
John Smith ’12
Lower case categories of classes, e.g., calculus, chemistry, physics. For proper names, capitalize. For example, The Rise and Fall of Roman Politics.
As a general rule, no hyphen unless the word indicates occupation or status. Consult Webster’s for exceptions.
coeducation, coexist, coordinate
co-author, co-host, co-worker
Italicize all publications, whether they are online or in print.
University style dictates that we do not use a serial comma, unless it is needed to clarify a complex sentence. Exception: Correspondences from President McInnis, who prefers series commas.
COMMAS (DIRECT ADDRESS)
A comma is required when using direct address.
Certain marketing materials, such as roadway banners, in which space is at a premium, or specific marketing ads in which a less formal structure is preferred.
Use cardinal numbers for days of the month (December 25, July 4), not ordinal (December 25th, July 4th).
DEGREES AND YEARS
For example, John Smith, BA '80, MA '13
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.
DISK (NOT DISC)
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 subsequent refs, the title Dr. can appear before last names. Exception: In long features or magazine stories, for example, where nearly everyone has a medical degree, we may leave out all the "Dr." titles altogether and use only last names.
Because the public frequently identifies "Dr." only with physicians, we generally don't use the title to describe someone with a doctorate, nor do we include EdD, DSW, DPT, etc., after names for a number of reasons, including the following:
- There are so many PhDs, etc., at Stony Brook, we assume readers know most faculty have one.
- We have a medical center, and "Dr." is used in their titles to differentiate them from PhDs.
- Guest speakers sometimes don't include their PhDs after their names, and if we use them for our faculty/staff but knowingly omit them for guests who have them, we are implying they don't have PhDs, which is rarely the case.
Exceptions: Sometimes guest speakers, honorees, etc., insist on using their PhDs, and we allow it as a courtesy. Other times it makes sense for us to list our faculty with them; for example, when a faculty member's name is listed with non-University faculty who have their degrees listed, or when a faculty member is a speaker at an event and including their PhD will reinforce their expertise in a specific area. If pertinent to the materials, we may list PhD after a name on first reference. On subsequent references, use last names only. In quoted matter, "Dr." can be used if the source said it.
EMAIL AND EMAIL ADDRESSES
The word email is one word, lowercase with no hyphen. Avoid breaking an address at the end of a line. Campus email addresses should be written out as firstname.lastname@example.org using all lowercase.
As a general rule, treat faculty as plural.
Stony Brook faculty have discovered the cause of Lyme disease.
FARMERS MARKET (no apostrophe)
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.
GROUPINGS (CAMPUS MEMBERS IN PREFERRED ORDER)
Students, faculty and staff (see "Students, faculty and staff" listing)
Capitalize principal words including conjunctions and prepositions of four letters or more, and at beginning or end of line (if four letters).
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.
This is the proper name and preferred characterization of the health sciences part of East Campus. “Health Sciences Center” and “Health Sciences Tower” are no longer used. It is acceptable to use “Health Sciences” without modifying a specific building, e.g., “Health Sciences Level 2” or”"Level 2 of the Health Sciences.”
Capitalize Indigenous in reference to original inhabitants of a place.
Never refer to it as Island Federal Credit Union (former name) or IFCU.
ISLAND FEDERAL ARENA
Abbreviate as Jr. and Sr. and do not precede by a comma.
Harry Connick Jr.
Frank E. Melville Jr. Library
LONG ISLAND RAIL ROAD
Rail Road in this name is two words.
Medical and Research Translation building (note the lower case "bee" in building)
Maurie McInnis became the sixth president of Stony Brook University on July 1, 2020. She prefers not to use PhD after her name on promotional materials.
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.
To build momentum and reputation for Stony Brook University and Stony Brook Medicine — a premier institution that supports our community and impacts the world — with passion, pride and a commitment to excellence. Every day (see also Vision Statement).
50 cents, $20, $2,000, $3 trillion
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)
NICOLLS ROAD (NOT NICHOLS)
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
As a general rule, spell out percent; do not use %.
In charts, graphs, tabular data
Our style is (XXX) XXX-XXXX
Freelance photographers should be listed alphabetically first.
Next, all photos taken by employees of Stony Brook University are credited as just “Stony Brook University” in photo credits.
Credits for photos that are given “courtesy of” should come last in alphabetical list.
Photos: Sam Levitan, Juliana Thomas, Stony Brook University and courtesy of 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 unless 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
The word president is lowercase when used in all instances except when the title precedes the name.
Examples when referring to President McInnis:
Stony Brook University President Maurie McInnis is a graduate of the University of Virginia.
Maurie McInnis, president of Stony Brook University, is a graduate of the University of Virginia.
The president earned her doctorate from Yale University.
Example of generic usage:
The president of the company will step down at the end of the year.
PRESIDENTS OF STONY BROOK UNIVERSITY
2020-present: Maurie McInnis
2009-2019: 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.”)
Lowercase seasons when they stand alone (winter, spring, summer, fall), but capitalize when they refer to semesters (Spring 2011, Fall 2011, etc.)
STONY BROOK CHILDREN’S HOSPITAL
Stony Brook 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 Professions, Renaissance School of Medicine, Nursing and Social Welfare — Stony Brook University Hospital, Stony Brook Children’s Hospital, the Long Island State Veterans Home, 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 theuniversity. SB or SBU may also be used.
STONY BROOK UNIVERSITY HOSPITAL
SBUH is the region’s only tertiary/quaternary care center and Level 1 trauma center.
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 SAC auditorium is named the Sidney Gelber Auditorium.
STUDENTS, FACULTY AND STAFF
The preferred order for how we collectively refer to everybody on campus. Exception: When a correspondence targets a specific group but also mentions other groups in passing; e.g., an email aimed at faculty may list the order as faculty, students and staff.
The correct spelling is T-shirt.
Spell as theater unless the word appears as Theatre in a proper name, e.g., Department of Theatre Arts and Charles B. Wang Center Theatre.
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 or appear in text without a name attached. This rule applies even to the Stony Brook's president or SUNY chancellor.
Professor John Smith; John Smith, professor of biology
Assemblyman Steven Englebright; The Honorable Steven Englebright, New York State Assembly
Judith Brown Clarke, vice president of equity and inclusion and chief diversity office (note the comma)
Vice President of Equity and Inclusion and Chief Diversity Officer Judith Brown Clarke (note the absence of a comma)
According to Stony Brook's vice president of equity and inclusion and chief diversity officer, the university will...
Note: No hyphen in vice president, vice provost, vice chancellor, etc.
Many of our faculty and administrative staff have two or more titles; in some cases, as many as four. If possible, try to keep the number of titles to no more than two. If you are not sure which titles to use, ask the source for guidance.
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 on 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 not capped when it refers to Stony Brook).
Advanced Energy Research and Technology Center (Advanced Energy Center on second ref)
Brookhaven National Laboratory (BNL 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.)
The Health Sciences (Health Sciences Tower and Basic Sciences Tower were buildings formerly known as the Health Sciences Center)
Island Federal Arena
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)
Simons Center for Geometry and Physics (Simons Center on second ref)
Sports Complex (houses Island Federal Arena and Pritchard Gymnasium
Staller Center for the Arts (Staller Center or Staller on second ref)
Student Activities Center (SAC on second ref)
Stony Brook Children’s Hospital (Stony Brook Children’s on second ref)
Stony Brook Union
Stony Brook University Hospital (University 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
Walter J. Hawrys Campus Recreation Center
U.S. NEWS & WORLD REPORT
News magazine. Note: Previously there was no space between U.S. and News, but now we use a space.
VEHICLE AND VESSEL NAMES
The space shuttle Columbia
The research vessel Seawolf
Embrace change, break through barriers and expectations in our pursuit of excellence to share the Stony Brook story with the world (also see Mission Statement).
WEB AND WEBSITE
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: Do not use www at the beginning of URLs (stonybrook.edu). 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.
Note: As a general rule, URLs and email addresses are set off in italics; 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.
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: students, faculty and staff.
Do not use serial comma (no 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 certain, 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.