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Editorial Style Guide

Chadron State College Editorial Style

The College Relations department at Chadron State College uses “The Associated Press Stylebook” as its primary reference. The following guide draws from that source, including other style guides, dictionaries and “The Elements of Style” by William Strunk Jr. and E.B. White. The guide also lists some exceptions to the noted references by listing words and phrases that are specific to Chadron State College. For style questions not addressed in this guide, consult one of the references above.

General Writing Rules

Always keep in mind: who, what, when, where, why and how.

  1. In a series of three or more terms with a single conjunction, use a comma after each term except the last.
    1. cardinal, white and gray.
  2. Do not join independent clauses with a comma.
    1. Independent clause: a group of words that contains a subject and verb expressing complete thought. A basic sentence, in other words.
      1. Dan Brown's books are entertaining; they are full of engaging ideas.
    2. It is also correct to write the above sentence as two sentences.
  3. Do not break sentences in two by using periods for commas.
    1. Good: She was an interesting talker, a woman who had traveled all over the world and lived in half a dozen countries.
    2. Bad: She was an interesting talker. A woman who had traveled all over the world and lived in half a dozen countries.
  4. Use only one space after periods, semicolons and colons. Also, all punctuation goes inside quotation marks.
  5. Use tabs or paragraph styles, not spaces, to indent text.
  6. Maintain the active voice while writing.
    1. Good: The art department will host a pancake breakfast.
    2. Bad: The art department will be hosting a pancake breakfast.
  7. Use definite, specific language.
    1. Prefer the specific to the general, the definite to the vague.
  8. Omit needless words and be concise.
    1. Good: The dog barks at the mailman because he taunts him.
    2. Bad: The reason why the dog barks at the mailman is his taunting.
  9. Possessives
    1. Plural nouns not ending in S: add ’s
      1. The alumni’s contribution.
    2. Plural nouns and singular proper names ending in S: add only an apostrophe
      1. The witness’ story didn’t match up with the defendant’s.
      2. Dickens’ version of London is upbeat.
  10. Chadron State College is an ‘it’ and the Eagles are ‘they’
    1. Chadron State College and its alumni are proud to announce a gift of $1 billion to the Chicoine Center.
    2. The Eagles stormed out of their dugout after a wayward pitch struck the sports information director in the head.
  11. Keep leads simple. Don’t exhaust the reader with many sentences over 20 words. Use only the best quotes. Don’t assume anything and study the stylebook.

Writing for 30 Second Spots

  • 30 seconds, 65 words = lots of inflection, sincere read
  • 30 seconds, 78 words = typical, straight read
  • 30 seconds, 90 words = fast read
  • 30 seconds, 100 words = hard sell, maximum speed read

Writing for 60 Second Spots

  • 60 seconds, 130 words = lots of inflection
  • 60 seconds, 155 words = typical, straight read
  • 60 seconds, 180 words = fast read
  • 60 seconds, 200 words = hard sell, maximum speed read

Note: Short numbers, symbols, etc., count as one word each. Phone numbers, such as 1-800-CHADRON, count as two words.

Abbreviations and Acronyms

Abbreviations are acceptable but do not use abbreviations a reader would not quickly recognize.

An acronym is a word formed from the first letter or letters of a series of words: laser (light amplification by stimulated emission of radiation). An abbreviation is not an acronym.

When abbreviations or acronyms need to be defined, spell out on first citation and follow with the definition in parentheses.

Eight students from Gering High School recently joined the Rural Health Opportunities Program (RHOP) at Chadron State College.

It is acceptable to refer to Chadron State College as CSC on second reference. Chadron State is also acceptable on second reference. Do not create alphabet soup while writing abbreviations and acronyms.

Academic Degrees

Capitalize academic degrees when used in a singular fashion in a body of text.

Matt Damon received a Bachelor of Arts degree from Chadron State College.

Apostrophe versus no apostrophe. A main use of the apostrophe is to indicate possession:

master’s degree in journalism
bachelor’s degree in journalism
No possessive needed: Bachelor of Arts or Master of Science.

Academic Majors

Lowercase general references

biology major

Academic Departments

Lowercase when used informally, except for proper nouns or adjectives. Capitalize when used formally.

Several students enjoy working for the college’s English and Humanities department.
Members of the College Relations department frequently speak to students in communication courses.

Academic Titles

Confine capitalization to formal titles used directly before an individual’s name. Lowercase in all other uses.

According to Vice President for Enrollment and Marketing Robert Plant, the levee breaks.
According to Robert Plant, vice president for enrollment and marketing, the levee breaks.

On first reference to an individual with an academic title, use the academic title after the name. Do not refer to the individual as Dr. in subsequent references.

Do not use other titles, such as Mr., Ms. or Director, in subsequent references.

Alumni

Use the following

alumnus: (alumni in plural form) when referring to a man
alumna: (alumnae in plural form) when referring to a woman
alumni: when referring to a group of men and women
alum: if no other usage fits it is acceptable to use. However, it is colloquial.

A.M. and P.M.

Numerals are used when the exact time is emphasized. Use lowercase and periods. Do not use AM, PM, am or pm. Numbers should never be used to express noon or midnight.

Good: 3:14 p.m.
Good: 1 p.m.
Bad: 12 noon

Board

Capitalize only when an integral part of a proper name or when referring to a specific board.

The board will meet to decide the pool’s fate.
The Nebraska State College System Board of Trustees will meet tomorrow.

Bylines

Every press release generated by College Relations, Sports Information or other entities associated with Chadron State College needs a byline. Use the author’s name, followed by the author’s title. For general press releases, CSC College Relations or CSC Sports Information can be used. Any story that includes direct quotes needs an author’s name attached to it.

Rod Stewart, CSC Sports Information Director
Maggie May, CSC Marketing Coordinator
CSC College Relations
CSC Sports Information

Capitalization

In general, avoid unnecessary capitals. In more formal pieces, such as the President’s Report, letters or presentations, exceptions are permissible. For more exceptions, see the entry under advertising and informal copy.

Proper nouns: capitalize nouns that name a specific person, place or thing.
Derivatives: capitalize words that are derived from a proper noun and still depend on it for their meaning. Example: American, Shakesperean
Titles: capitalize formal titles when used before a name. Lowercase formal titles when used alone or after a name. Lowercase all terms that are job descriptions rather than formal titles.

Do not capitalize casually.

Chadron State Foundation

Not Chadron State Foundation and not CSC Foundation.

Cities, State

Most cities must be accompanied by a state. When used in text, a comma should follow both the city and the state.

Daniel lives in Ashland, Nebraska.

Exceptions: Some major cities do not require a state after their name. They are: Atlanta, Baltimore, Boston, Chicago, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Dallas, Denver, Detroit, Honolulu, Houston, Indianapolis, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Miami, Milwaukee, Minneapolis, New Orleans, New York, Oklahoma City, Philadelphia, Phoenix, Pittsburgh, St. Louis, Salt Lake City, San Antonio, San Diego, San Francisco, Seattle.

Chadron is also an exception.

STATE NAMES: SPELL OUT: The names of the 50 U.S. states should be spelled out when used in the body of a story, whether standing alone or in conjunction with a city, town, village or military base. No state name is necessary if it is the same as the dateline. This also applies to newspapers cited in a story. For example, a story datelined Providence, R.I., would reference the Providence Journal, not the Providence (R.I.) Journal. See datelines.

EIGHT NOT ABBREVIATED: The names of eight states are never abbreviated in datelines or text: Alaska, Hawaii, Idaho, Iowa, Maine, Ohio, Texas and Utah.

IN THE BODY OF STORIES: Except for cities that stand alone in datelines, use the state name in textual material when the city or town is not in the same state as the dateline, or where necessary to avoid confusion: Springfield, Massachusetts, or Springfield, Illinois. Provide a state identification for the city if the story has no dateline, or if the city is not in the same state as the dateline. However, cities that stand alone in datelines may be used alone in stories that have no dateline if no confusion would result.

ABBREVIATIONS REQUIRED: Use the state abbreviations listed at the end of this section:

In conjunction with the name of a city, town, village or military base in most datelines. See datelines for examples and exceptions for large cities.

In lists (of four or more entries), agate, tabular material, nonpublishable editor’s notes and credit lines. In lists of three or fewer, states should be spelled out.

In short-form listings of party affiliation: D-Ala., R-Mont. See party affiliation entry for details.

Following are the state abbreviations, which also appear in the entries for each state (postal code abbreviations in parentheses):

Ala. (AL) Kan. (KS) N.H. (NH) S.D. (SD)
Ariz. (AZ) Ky. (KY) N.J. (NJ) Tenn. (TN)
Ark. (AR) La. (LA) N.M. (NM) Vt. (VT)
Calif. (CA) Md. (MD) N.Y. (NY) Va. (VA)
Colo. (CO) Mass. (MA) N.C. (NC) Wash. (WA)
Conn. (CT) Minn. (MN) N.D. (ND) W.Va. (WV)
Del. (DE) Miss. (MS) Okla. (OK) Wis. (WI)
Fla. (FL) Mo. (MO) Ore. (OR) Wyo. (WY)
Ga. (GA) Mont. (MT) Pa. (PA)  
Ill. (IL) Neb. (NE) R.I. (RI)  
Ind. (IN) Nev. (NV) S.C. (SC)  

PUNCTUATION: Place one comma between the city and the state name, and another comma after the state name, unless ending a sentence or indicating a dateline:

He was traveling from Nashville, Tennessee, to Austin, Texas, en route to his home in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
She said Cook County, Illinois, was Mayor Daley’s stronghold.

HEADLINES: Avoid using state abbreviations in headlines.

Coffee Agriculture Pavilion

Not Ag and not Agricultural.

Commas

Use a comma between adjectives if the word ‘and’ works equally well.

Chadron State has a smart, diverse student body.

Don’t use a comma between adjectives if you can’t replace it with the ‘and.’

The nasty brown buffalo.

List ages with a comma on both sides.

Jay, 15, and Craig, 18, both play lacrosse.

Use a comma to introduce a quote of one full sentence.

Chris said, “Jay was coaching in the all-star game.”

Composition Titles

Apply the following guidelines to book titles, computer game titles, movie titles, opera titles, play titles, poem titles, album and song titles, radio and television titles, and titles of lectures, speeches and works of art.

Capitalize the principal words, including prepositions and conjunctions of four or more letters.

Daniel wrote a book report on “The Notebook.”

Capitalize an article – the, a, an – or words of fewer than four letters if it is the first or last word in a title.

Put quotation marks around the names of all such works except the Bible and books that are primarily catalogs of reference material. In addition to catalogs, this category includes almanacs, directories, dictionaries, encyclopedias, handbooks and similar publications.

Magazine names are not put in quotes but the letters of the name are capitalized. Lowercase magazine unless it is part of the publication’s formal title.

Time magazine and Rolling Stone

Newspaper names are capitalized and not put in quotes.

The Omaha World-Herald

Course Names

Capitalize the names of courses because they are in effect titles. Include the course number in parentheses after the course name.

Dewayne teaches Black and White Photography (ART 319).
Craig brought his horse to the equine course this summer.

Currency

For amounts larger than thousands, spell out the denomination.

1 million
11 billion

Dates

Use Arabic figures only. Do not use st, nd, rd, or th in any instance.

Sept. 11, 2001, is a day many Americans will never forget.

Email

The word email is never capitalized unless it begins a sentence. It is not hyphenated.

Em-Dash and En-Dash and Don't Forget the Hyphen

Keep this in mind: a hyphen is short, an en-dash is long and an em-dash is longer.

An em-dash is used when a dash is desired. In other words, an abrupt shift in a sentence without spaces on either side.

Dewayne—sweat dripping from his brow—stepped onto the dance floor.

An en-dash is used between numbers or dates. A hyphen is also acceptable. Used in compound adjectives with one element consisting of two words. Used in place of ‘to.’ However, if ‘from’ precedes the range, do not use the en dash, use ‘to.’

A hyphen is used to join compound adjectives.

Join us Thursday, 1-4 p.m. to celebrate.
Join us Thursday from 1 to 4 p.m. to celebrate.
The Maine-New York area.

Do not use multiple hyphens to imitate em or en dashes.

Homecoming

Should not be capitalized when used in a generic way. However, when it is part of the college’s celebration every fall describing the name, it is acceptable to capitalize.

The alumni group gathered on the football field following homecoming.
The theme for Chadron State’s Homecoming this fall is Welcome to the Jungle.

Intellectual Property

Copyrights, trademarks and patents have different definitions, and should not be used interchangeably. Appropriate copyright, registered trademark and trademark symbols should be used instead of approximations.

Good: ©, ®, ™
Bad: (C), (R), TM

Internet

Lowercase internet and intranet.

Login, Log In

One word as a noun or adjective. Two words when used as a verb.

Here is Bruce’s login information.
Can you log in to Bruce’s account?

Numbers

Spell out numbers from one through nine. Use numerals for numbers 10 or larger. To form a plural, add ‘s’ with no apostrophe. For example, the 60s. When beginning a sentence with a number, spell it out.

Eleven soldiers spoke to the student government assembly Wednesday.

Use figures for times, measurements, sports scores and ages.

3 ounces, the Eagles won 5-4, the student was 19 years old.

OK

Use OK not okay

Percent

Use a numeral and spell out instead of using the symbol in text.

Professor

May be referred to as faculty member for consistency in a story. The preferred usage is determining the professor’s correct rank. Lowercase in all instances.

adjunct, instructor, associate professor, assistant professor, professor

Quotes

Quotes must always be attributed to the speaker. When quotes appear in a news release, include a byline. If quotes do not appear in a news release, it is acceptable to use CSC College Relations or CSC Sports Information in place of the byline.

The word said is preferred and should almost be exclusively used. Do not use words such as shouted, admitted, exclaimed, etc. in order to remain neutral.

“Istanbul was once known as Constantinople,” Johnson said.

Room Numbers

Capitalize room when used with numerals.

The professor’s office was formerly located in Room 111.

Students

Do not refer to students as current students. It is redundant.

Telephone Numbers

Use hyphens to separate digits. No parentheses should go around the area code.

Chadron State College’s switchboard can be reached at 308-432-6000.

Theatre

Use theatre unless the proper name or course name is theater.

T-Shirt

Use T-shirt not t-shirt or tee-shirt.

O'Clock

With o’clock the number is always spelled out: six o’clock in the morning.

Web

Capitalize when used as a proper noun referring to the Worldwide Web.

Webpage

One word, beginning with a capital ‘W.’

Website

One word, lowercase

Years

Use an ‘s’ without an apostrophe to indicate spans of decades or centuries.

The 1920s were decadent.

When presenting a year by its two-digit designation, use an apostrophe or single end quote.

’22 not ‘22.
The ’20s were decadent.

Headline Rules

  1. Keep headlines simple and direct.
  2. An action verb must always be in the headline and use the active voice.

General Cutline Rules for Photos Released to News Agencies

  1. Cutlines for photos used in a journalistic matter should be as concise as possible. Unlike headlines, they should contain all articles and conjunctions, just like sentences in news stories. Be straightforward and clear.
  2. The cutline writer should never make assumptions about what someone in a picture is thinking or try to interpret the person’s feelings from his or her expression. The reader should be given the facts.
  3. Reflect the image. Cutline writers should make sure that the words accurately reflect the picture.
  4. A photo featuring a group is allowable but “action” photos should always take precedence. When identifying three or more people, use this form: Four men were recently inducted into Chadron State College’s Blue Key Honor Fraternity. They are, from left to right: John Jones, Paul Jones, Quincy Jones and Popeye Jones.
  5. ALWAYS get the names of the people in the photos.
  6. Include photographer credit with every cutline: Former President Bill Clinton speaks to the Young Republicans Club at Chadron State College Thursday. (Photo by Alex Helmbrecht/CSC)
  7. When photos appear in internal publications, such as the Alumni Magazine or various admission pieces, photo credit should appear in the following way: (Photo by Alex Helmbrecht)

Informal (Advertising) Copy

Advertising copy must clearly and quickly convey information to the audience in an easily understandable manner. If in doubt, revert to more formal copy that adheres to CSC’s news writing style manual.

Audience
  • It is important to be aware of any target demographics when writing advertising copy.
  • Above all, do not talk down to the audience or try to fake their vernacular.
  • Keep the copy professional and businesslike.
Structure
  • Punctuation may be omitted, particularly when making brief statements, such as material in a list.
  • Sentences do not have to be grammatically complete, but should be complete in thought.
  • Contractions may be used.
Web References
  • Internet terminology may be shortened. For example, the CSC website may be referred to as csc.edu.
Symbols and Punctuation
  • The symbols for ampersands, percentages and similar constructs may be used in headline copy.
  • Exclamation points should not be used. Good writing shows tone and emphasis through words, not punctuation.

Mission Statements

Chadron State College Vision Statement

Chadron State College aspires to be a premiere institution of higher education in the western High Plains states, innovatively pursuing excellence in teaching, scholarship and service.

Chadron State College Mission Statement

Chadron State College will enrich the quality of life in the region by providing educational opportunities, research, service, and programs that contribute significantly to the vitality and diversity of the region.

College Relations Mission Statement

College Relations’ mission is to promote and maintain the quality and integrity of Chadron State College and all its constituents, including students, faculty, staff and alumni, through consistent communication and positive marketing in a variety of mediums, including print, graphic design, video, audio and web-based initiatives. College Relations is also charged to preserve Chadron State College’s Identity Standards, brand management and handle all communications for emergency or crisis situations.

Equal Opportunity & Title IX Statement

Chadron State College is an equal opportunity institution. CSC does not discriminate against any student, employee or applicant on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, disability, religion, or age in employment and education opportunities, including but not limited to admission decisions. The College has designated an individual to coordinate the College’s nondiscrimination efforts to comply with regulations implementing Title VI, VII, IX, and Section 504. Inquiries regarding non-discrimination policies and practices may be directed to Anne DeMersseman, Title VI, VII, IX Compliance Coordinator, Chadron State College, 1000 Main St., Chadron, NE 69337, 308-432-6224; email: titleixcoordinator@csc.edu.

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