Editorial Style Guide



The Office of Communications and Marketing’s Style Guide is intended to provide a unified and approved style for use in internal and external communications. The style guide is intended to be informative and easy to use but may not cover the entire gamut of style questions. For items not referenced in this document, consult the most recent edition of the “Associated Press Stylebook.” A second recommended reference is a recent edition of “Webster’s New World College Dictionary.”

If you have editorial style questions not answered by this guide, please contact [email protected].

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academic departments

academic titles


  • Use the abbreviations Ave., Blvd. and St. only with a numbered address: 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. NW
  • Spell out and capitalize when part of a formal street name without a number: Pennsylvania Avenue
  • Lowercase when they stand alone or are used collectively following two or more proper names: Massachusetts and Pennsylvania avenues
  • Use quadrants: NE, NW, SE, SW. Commas do not need to be used before quadrants.
  • Do not use a period after letter street names: K Street, M Street.
  • Always use numerals for street addresses: 9 Morningside Circle.
  • Spell out and capitalize First through Ninth when used as street names; use ordinal figures for 10th and above: 7 Fifth Ave., 100 21st St.
  • Capitalize and spell out the word building when it is part of a proper name but not when it stands alone or is used collectively: Media and Public Affairs Building, the Rayburn Office and J. Edgar Hoover FBI buildings.
  • See addresses, campus; D.C.; directions and regions;  state abbreviations

addresses, campus 

  • Campus addresses should be ordered in this manner if listing a full address is necessary:
    • Example:
      GW Law (school name on separate line is acceptable)
      Lerner Hall, Moot Court Room 
      2000 H St. NW
      Washington, D.C. 20037


  • Lowercase: the governor’s administration, the Biden administration.

Admissions, Office of

adopt, approve, enact, pass

  • Amendments, ordinances, resolutions and rules are adopted or approved. Bills are passed. Laws are enacted.


  • Not advisor unless the proper name of an entity: Career Advisor Network. Advisory, advisory councils is acceptable.


  • Affect, as a verb, means to influence: The president’s decision will affect the election.
  • Affect, as a noun, is best avoided.
  • Effect, as a verb, means to cause: He will effect many changes in the company.
  • Effect, as a noun, means result: The effect was overwhelming. He miscalculated the effect of his actions. It was a law of little effect. Avoid using the word impact to mean effect.

African American

  • Do not hyphenate: The study included the views of African American students on campus.
  • See Black.


  • Always use figures; ages expressed as adjectives before a noun or as substitutes for a noun use hyphens: a 28-year-old man, but the man is 28 years old.

all time, all-time

  • Hyphenate when used as an adjective directly before a noun: an all-time high, but the greatest runner of all time.

alma mater

  • School, college or university that one has attended: GW is my alma mater.
  • Use alma maters for plural.

“Alma Mater, GW”

  • Apply composition title rules. Capitalize and put in quotation marks when referring to the full name: George Roth wrote the original version of the “GW Alma Mater” in 1930.
  • Lowercase general references to higher education anthems: The students at Oxford sang their alma mater.
  • See composition titles.

Alumni & Families Weekend

  • GW’s premier event for parents, alumni and students.

alumnus, alumni, alumna, alumnae

  • Use alumnus when meaning a man who has graduated, alumna for a woman. Use alumni for an entire group of graduates and a group of men; use alumnae for a group of women who have graduated.

alumni class year, class-year abbreviations

  • Use degree abbreviation with year after name of GW alumni: Abe Pollin, B.A. ’45, was the chairman of the Washington Wizards.
  • When listing more than one degree, arrange in chronological order: Elana Meyers Taylor, B.S. ‘06, M.T.A. ‘11.
  • Degrees and years are only listed for degrees earned at GW.


  • When referring to time.
  • See time.

ampersand (&)

  • Use only when it is an official part of a name or title: AT&T.
  • Do not use in place of and in running text or names of schools: Columbian College of Arts and Sciences, School of Media and Public Affairs, School of Engineering and Applied Science.

Amsterdam Hall

  • Residence hall located at 2350 H St. NW. Named for Philip S. Amsterdam.

antisemitism, antisemitic

Archives, University

  • Archives is preferred on second reference when meaning the university’s collection.

Aston, the

  • Residence hall located at 1129 New Hampshire Ave. NW.

Athletics, Department of

  • Athletics department is acceptable on subsequent references.

Atlantic 10

  • Use A-10 on second reference when referring to GW’s athletic conference.





bachelor’s degree

Bell Hall

  • Academic building that houses science labs. Located at 2029 G St. NW.

Betts Marvin Theatre, Dorothy


  • Means every other month. Semimonthly means twice a month.


  • Use the capitalized term as an adjective in a racial, ethnic or cultural sense: Black people, Black culture, Black literature, Black studies, Black colleges.
  • African American is also acceptable for those in the U.S. The terms are not necessarily interchangeable. Americans of Caribbean heritage, for example, generally refer to themselves as Caribbean American. Follow an individual’s preference if known, and be specific when possible and relevant.
    • Example: Minneapolis has a large Somali American population because of refugee resettlement. The author is Senegalese American.
  • See African American.

board of trustees

  • Capitalize only when referring to the George Washington University Board of Trustees on first reference.
  • Do not capitalize the word trustee when referring to a board member.
    • Example: They reserved seats for three trustees at the concert.

book citations

  • Book citations are optional. Use publisher and year published when citing books.
    • Example: Amitai Etzioni is the author of more than 20 books including “From Empire to Community: A New Approach International Relations” (Palgrave MacMillan, 2004) and “My Brother’s Keeper: A Memoir and a Message” (Rowman & Littlefield, 2003). 

Brady Art Gallery, Luther W.

  • University art gallery housed in the Corcoran School’s Flagg Building.

building names

Burns Law Library, Jacob

  • Burns Law Library acceptable on first reference. Located at 716 20th St. NW. Named for Jacob Burns. 






  • Lowercase when referencing proper name of Foggy Bottom campus and Mount Vernon campus.
  • Capitalize when referring to Virginia Science and Technology Campus.
  • Lowercase the word campus on second reference: They all returned to campus.
  • Lowercase when referencing more than one campus: D.C. is home to GW’s Foggy Bottom and Mount Vernon campuses.
  • See Foggy Bottom campus, Mount Vernon campus, Virginia Science and Technology Campus.

Campus Plan

  • Capitalize when referring to GW’s formal plan submitted to the D.C. government.

Campus Store, GW

  • Opened in February 2024 at 2125 I St. NW


cancel, canceled, canceling, cancellation


  • Refers to the city where a seat of government is located: Paris is the capital of France.
  • Can also be used as a financial term: He needed to raise capital to start his business.
  • Use lowercase.


  • In general, avoid unnecessary capitals, especially in second reference. Examples of common GW second references that should be lowercased include the university, the building, the board, the campus, the center, the college, the office, the department, the institute, the project, the school.
  • First references should be capitalized only in their complete proper form.
    • Example: The Elliott School of International Affairs is located at 1957 E St. The school was previously situated in Lisner Hall.
    • Example: The Department of History offers internships with the Smithsonian Institute. The department is hosting a lecture on early American history. 


  • Capitalize U.S. Capitol and the Capitol when referring to the building in Washington, D.C. Follow the same practice when referring to state capitol buildings. 

Capitol Hill

  • Use both words on first reference; the Hill is acceptable on subsequent references. 

Center for Career Services


  • Capitalize proper names: Center for Latin American Issues. Use lowercase in second reference. The center has a small staff.


  • Lowercase and spell out numbers less than 10: the first century, the 21st century, 18th-century music.


  • Preferred. Avoid chairman, chairwoman or chairperson unless those titles are the expressed preference of the person who holds the position. Capitalize when used before a name.

Charles E. Smith Center

  • Smith Center acceptable on second reference. Hosts GW’s intercollegiate athletics programs including basketball, volleyball, swimming and diving, water polo and gymnastics. Named for D.C. developer Charles E. Smith. Located at 600 22nd St. NW.

Cherry Tree

  • The George Washington University yearbook, which has been in publication since 1908. 

city names

  • American city names are followed in most cases by the name of the state, county or territory where the city is located: Arlington, Va. For state abbreviations see state abbreviations entry. Exceptions are the following cities:
    Atlanta Denver Los Angeles Philadelphia San Francisco
    Baltimore Detroit Miami Phoenix Seattle
    Boston Hollywood Milwaukee Pittsburgh Washington, D.C.
    Chicago Honolulu Minneapolis St. Louis  
    Cincinnati Houston New Orleans Salt Lake City  
    Cleveland Indianapolis New York San Antonio  
    Dallas Las Vegas Oklahoma City San Diego  

    The following international cities also stand alone:



    Kuwait City Munich San Marino

    Guatemala City

    London New Delhi Sau Paulo
    Beijing Havana Luxembourg Ottawa Singapore
    Berlin Helsinki Macao Panama City Sydney
    Brussels Hong Kong Madrid Paris Tokyo


    Mexico City Prague Toronto


    Istanbul Monaco Quebec City Vatican City
    Dublin Jerusalem Montreal Rio de Janeiro Vienna
    Geneva Johannesburg Moscow Rome Zurich

class names

class year

  • Combining class years of students with their colleges or their major is preferred: Jeff Rooney, a sophomore in the Columbian College of Arts and Sciences, will speak at the rally. Ronnie Collier, a junior in marketing, will introduce him.
  • Using first-year, second-year, etc. to designate class year also is acceptable, especially when referencing a graduate student. Charles Rogers, a first-year M.B.A. student, will introduce the speaker.
  • Use first-year student instead of freshman or freshmen.

collections and conservation resource center

  • Located on the Virginia Science and Technology Campus. The private facility is designed to store and support the Albert H. Small Washingtoniana, Textile Museum and GW fine arts collections.

collective nouns

  • Many words (including faculty, committee, board, team, class, public, group and data) can be both singular and plural. When nouns refer to a unit, they take a singular verb. When they refer to a group, they take a plural verb.
    • RIGHT: A thousand bushels is a good yield. (A unit.)
    • RIGHT: A thousand bushels were created. (Individual items.)
    • RIGHT: The data is sound. (A unit.)
    • RIGHT: The data have been carefully collected. (Individual items.)


  • Lowercase as a second reference: The Columbian College of Arts and Sciences was founded in 1821. The college houses the School of Media and Public Affairs and the Trachtenberg School of Public Policy and Public Administration.

college and university (plural)

  • Full name of colleges and universities is preferred when drafting a plural list: Michigan State University, Indiana University and the Ohio State University were on hand to represent the Big Ten. The following abridged approach is also acceptable: Michigan State, Indiana and University of Maryland were on hand to represent the Big Ten. Dropping the terms university or college also is acceptable when its clear that the list is referring to schools: Michigan, Purdue and Wisconsin did not make the trip.

College of Professional Studies

  • Use on first reference. CPS acceptable on second reference. It houses professional and degree programs and includes the Graduate School of Political Management.


  • GW’s former moniker; the university discontinued its use in 2022.

Columbian College of Arts and Sciences

  • Use on first reference. Columbian College or CCAS on second reference. The largest of the 10 degree-granting colleges, it houses arts and sciences, as well as the School of Media and Public Affairs, the Trachtenberg School of Public Policy and Public Administration and the Corcoran School of the Arts and Design. Founded in 1821 as the original college of liberal arts and sciences.


  • See comma entry in Appendix: Punctuation.


  • References to a specific GW conferring of degrees ceremony should be capitalized: More than 20,000 people attended Commencement.
  • General references to a graduation ceremony are not proper and should not be capitalized: College seniors throughout the country look forward to their commencement.

Communications and Marketing, Office of

  • Includes marketing, media relations, internal communications, editorial services, advertising, photography, video and creative services.

compose, comprise, constitute

  • Compose means to create or put together. Comprise means to be made up of. “Comprised of” is redundant. Constitute means to be the elements of and may work best when neither compose nor comprise seem to fit.

composition titles

  • Apply the guidelines listed here to book titles, movie titles, opera titles, play titles, poem titles, album and song titles, and the titles of lectures, speeches and works of art.
    • Capitalize the principal words, including prepositions and conjunctions of four or more letters.
    • 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, the Quran and other holy books that are primarily catalogs of reference material. In addition to catalogs, this category includes almanacs, dictionaries, directories, encyclopedias, handbooks and similar publications.
    • Translate foreign titles into English unless a work is generally known by its foreign name.
  • See the “AP Stylebook” for additional guidance.


  • Capitalize when referring to the U.S. Senate and U.S. House of Representatives.


Corcoran Hall

  • Academic building. Located at 725 21st St. NW, it is one of GW’s buildings listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Corcoran School of the Arts and Design

  • Use full name on first reference; Corcoran School acceptable on subsequent references. The school is a part of the Columbian College of Arts and Sciences.

Counseling and Psychological Services

  • A division within the Student Health Center that provides safe, non-judgmental and confidential counseling. Formerly called Mental Health Services.

course names

  • Do not italicize or place course names in quotes: She registered for Qualitative Media Research Methods.
  • Use a colon between the course name and course number if used together: He teaches History 6322: American Business History.


  • Capitalize when part of a proper name: Loudoun County.


  • Referring to simply the coronavirus is acceptable on first reference in stories about the pandemic that started in 2019. While the phrasing incorrectly implies there is only one coronavirus, the meaning is clear in this context.
  • Passages and stories focusing on the science of the disease require sharper distinctions. When referring specifically to the virus, the COVID-19 virus and the virus that causes COVID-19 are acceptable, as is simply the coronavirus. Because COVID-19 is the name of the disease, not the virus, it is not accurate to write a virus called COVID-19.
  • The virus itself is named SARS-CoV-2 but avoid using that name.
  • Do not write global pandemic for the COVID-19 pandemic; the adjective is unnecessary as this pandemic is widely known to be global.




Dakota, the

  • Residence hall located at 2100 F St. NW.


  • Correct sequence for dates is month-day-year using Arabic figures without superscript -st, -nd, -rd, or -th: March 14, 2023.
  • When month, day and year are used in running text, set off year with commas: Emmanuel Macron’s speech on April 25, 2018, was held in the Charles E. Smith Center.
  • Do not use commas when a date includes only a month and year: The last meeting was held in March 2022.
  • Use a hyphen dash for continuing or inclusive numbers: The 2022-23 academic year began Aug. 31. She taught in the chemistry department from 2010 to 2016.
  • See months; superscript; years.

days of the week

  • Do not abbreviate: The class meets on Monday and Thursday, NOT Mon. and Thurs.


  • Use periods: She lived in D.C. for two years.
  • D.C. used after Washington should be set off by commas in running text: Washington, D.C., was their first choice to visit.
  • The District is acceptable as a second reference.
  • Abbreviate as D.C. when used in conjunction with Washington.
  • The District and D.C. are acceptable in subsequent references.

D.C. Metropolitan Police Department

  • Metropolitan Police Department and MPD are acceptable on subsequent references.

D.C. Public Schools

  • The local public school system in Washington, D.C.; capitalize on all references.


  • Capitalize when used before a name, lowercase in all other references: Elliott School Dean Alyssa Ayres; School of Medicine and Health Sciences Dean Barbara Bass; Paul Wahlbeck, Columbian College of Arts and Sciences dean.

degrees, academic

  • Use of an abbreviated degree as a courtesy title after a name is to be avoided: Frank Parker, Ph.D., attended the meeting. Instead, official academic titles or unabbreviated degree names are preferred when relevant to the story: Frank Parker, associate professor of sociology, was a member of the panel. Dorothy Schaffer, who has a doctorate in sociology, was the author of the paper.
  • Only use an abbreviated degree and class year for degrees earned at GW: Kerry Washington, B.A. ‘98.
  • Do not capitalize doctorate, doctoral, bachelor’s, master’s.
  • Proper designations is a bachelor’s, master’s or doctoral degree; or an associate degree; not his or her associate, bachelor’s, master’s or doctoral degree.
    • RIGHT: She received a bachelor’s degree in international affairs.
    • WRONG: He received his bachelor’s degree in international affairs.
  • The plural form of a degree is the same as the singular: They received bachelor’s degrees in computer science.
  • Cum laude, magna cum laude and summa cum laude should be in lowercase, not italicized and not set off with commas: She received a Bachelor of Science degree cum laude in physics. He graduated magna cum laude with a B.S. in chemistry.
  • doctoral
    • Doctoral is an adjective, doctorate a noun: A person with a doctorate has earned a doctoral degree.
    • A doctoral degree isn’t necessarily always a Ph.D. Examples include Ed.D., Doctor of Education, Psy.D., Doctor of Psychology.
  • master’s
    • He received a master’s degree in business administration. A Master of Science. He received an M.B.A. degree.
  • bachelor’s
    • Use bachelor’s degree, not baccalaureate. A Bachelor of Arts.
  • associate
    • GW offers associate degrees through the School of Medicine and Health Sciences and the College of Professional Studies.
  • punctuation with degrees
    • Use periods with all degree abbreviations: B.A., M.F.A., Ph.D.

departments, academic

  • First references should be capitalized in their complete proper form: The Department of History offers internships with the Smithsonian Institution. The department is hosting a lecture on early American history.
  • See capitalization.

Development and Alumni Relations, Division of

  • GW’s fundraising and alumni relations division.

directions and regions

  • Capitalize regions in D.C.: Northwest Washington, Southeast Washington. Abbreviate without periods: NE, NW, SE, SW.
  • See addresses; addresses, campus.

Disability Support Services

District House

  • Residence hall located between 21st, 22nd, H and I streets.

dormitory, dorm

  • Do not use; residence hall is the preferred term.

Duquès Hall

  • Part of the 167,000-square-foot School of Business complex. Located at 2201 G St. NW and named after Ric and Dawn Duquès.





  • Meaning for example, it is always followed by a comma. This is different than i.e., the abbreviation for the Latin id est or that is (to say) and is always followed by a comma.
  • See i.e.

Elliott School of International Affairs

  • One of GW’s 10 degree-granting schools, the Elliott School was founded in 1898. Named in 1988 for the university’s 14th president, Lloyd Elliott. It is located at 1957 E St. NW.



  • Honorary title awarded to select retired faculty members: emeritus for male professors, emerita for female professors, emeriti for plural. GW professors belong to the Society of the Emeriti.

ensure, insure, assure

  • Use ensure to mean guarantee: The coach took measures to ensure a win.
  • Use insure for references to insurance: His car is insured.
  • Assure is to make safe or give confidence to: He glanced back to assure himself that no one was following.


  • A book or other publication is titled not entitled: Etzioni’s book is titled “Security First: For a Muscular, Moral Foreign Policy.

ethnic and racial designations

  • National-origin identifiers such as Chinese American, Japanese American, Italian American are acceptable. Do not hyphenate, even when used as an adjective: They opened an Italian American restaurant. Use references to race and ethnicity only when germane to a story.
  • See Black, African American.


  • Proper form is using exhibit as a verb, exhibition as a noun: He exhibited his photographs at the George Washington University Museum and The Textile Museum exhibition.




F Street House

  • Residence of the university president; built in 1849 and formerly the F Street Club. Located at 1925 F Street NW.


  • A collective noun referring to an institution’s entire teaching staff. It takes a singular verb: The faculty is present. The faculty has voted.
  • To refer to the individuals who are part of a faculty, faculty members is preferred: Ten faculty members volunteered to serve as mentors.

Faculty Senate

  • The faculty governance body of the university.


  • Capitalize for the corporate or governmental bodies that use the word as part of their formal names: Federal Express, Federal Trade Commission.
  • Lowercase when used as an adjective to distinguish something from state, county, city, town or private entities: federal assistance, federal court, the federal government, a federal judge.


  • Lowercase except when used with proper names: McNair Fellowship. He applied for a fellowship. She received a Fulbright award.

Flagg Building

  • Beaux Arts building dating from 1897, home to Corcoran School of the Arts and Design programs. Located at 500 17th Street NW.

Foggy Bottom

  • The historic neighborhood of which GW is a part.

Foggy Bottom campus

  • GW campus located in the Foggy Bottom neighborhood. Foggy Bottom campus should not be referred to as the university’s “main campus.”

foreign student

  • Use international student.


  • First-year is preferred over freshman in all cases.

FSK Hall

  • Residence hall located at 600 20th St. NW.

Fulbright Hall

  • Residence hall named after Sen. J. William Fulbright, a GW alumnus. Located at 2223 H Street NW.

full time, full-time

  • Hyphenate when used as a compound modifier: She works full time. He is a full-time professor.

Funger Hall

  • Academic building located at 2201 G St. NW.




Gelman Library, Estelle and Melvin

  • The university’s primary library located at 2130 H St. NW. Named for Estelle and Melvin Gelman.
  • See libraries.


  • GW is acceptable on all references.
  • Only use GWU when describing the Foggy Bottom-GWU Metro station and when referencing the hashtag #GWU on social media.
  • See Metro.

GW Revs

  • Can be used as shorthand for Revolutionaries in copy, print, speech and design. 

  • Must always be connected with GW (e.g., GW Revs), cannot be used on its own (e.g., Revs) in print and design.

GWorld card

GW Magazine

  • Do not italicize.

GW Police Department

  • GWPD for second reference, no longer University Police Department or UPD.

gender-neutral pronouns

  • In general, remember that people and humankind are common substitutes for man, men and mankind when multiple genders are intended.
  • For additional guidance on gender-neutral pronouns see they, them, their.

George Washington Today

  • The university’s official online news publication, started in 2009. GW Today acceptable on first reference.

George Washington University, the

  • Preferred style on first reference for the university.

George Washington University Museum and The Textile Museum, the

  • Located at 21st and G streets; opened in March 2015. The galleries showcase The Textile Museum’s textile collections and the Albert H.Small Washingtoniana Collection. Always capitalize “The” in The Textile Museum.


  • Grand Old Party. GOP is acceptable on first reference, Republican Party preferred.


  • Always lowercase, never abbreviate: the federal government, the state government, the U.S. government.


  • Acceptable on first reference for grade-point average.

Graduate School of Education and Human Development

  • Use full name on first reference. GSEHD is acceptable on subsequent reference. Do not use education school since the school provides classes and degrees for human resource specialists, museum educators, etc., with more than 20 fields of study.

Graduate School of Political Management

  • A school within the College of Professional Studies; use full name on first reference. GSPM is acceptable on subsequent reference.

Granberg, Ellen M.

  • The 19th president of GW. An innovative and dynamic leader with decades of experience at research universities and a sociology scholar, Granberg took office on July 1, 2023.

Great Hall, Abrahms

  • Located in the University Student Center. Made possible with a gift from Marc C. Abrahms in 2002.

Guthridge Hall

  • Residence hall located at 2115 F St. NW.





Hall of Government

  • Hall of Government on first reference; academic building; connected to Monroe Hall. Located at 710 21st St. NW.

Hatchet, the GW

  • The George Washington University’s student newspaper. Do not italicize. The Hatchet is acceptable on second reference.
  • See italics; newspapers.

Health and Wellness Center

health care

  • Never hyphenate, even as an adjective.

Hillel, GW

  • GW Hillel is located at 2300 H St. NW.

Himmelfarb Health Sciences Library

  • Use on first reference for the medical school library. Named for Paul Himmelfarb. Located at 2300 I St. NW.

historic, historical

  • An event that makes history is historic. Something that is based on history is historical.
  • Use “a” not “an” before historic or historical: It was a historic event.

home page

honorary degrees

  • All references to honorary degrees should specify that the degree was honorary. Michelle Obama received an honorary Doctor of Public Service from GW in 2010.

Honors Program, University

  • The University Honors Program on first reference, the honors program on second reference.

Hospital, GW

  • Acceptable on all references. The George Washington University Hospital also is acceptable.

Human Resource Management and Development


  • See hyphens entry in Appendix: Punctuation.





  • Abbreviation for the Latin id est or that is (to say) and is always followed by a comma. This is different from e.g., which means for example, and is always followed by a comma.
  • See e.g.


  • Abbreviate and capitalize as Inc. when used as part of a corporate name. Do not set off with commas: America Online Inc.


GW Information Technology

  • Manages the university’s networks, account and digital storage.



International House

  • Residence hall located at 2201 Virginia Ave.

International Monetary Fund

  • IMF is acceptable on subsequent references.

International Services Office

international student

  • Use instead of foreign student.



  • Acronym for information technology. Spelled out use is preferred.





Jack Morton Auditorium

  • Located in the Media and Public Affairs Building; named after media businessman and philanthropist Jack Morton.


  • Residence hall named after alumna Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis. Located at 2222 I St. NW.


  • Juneteenth marks the day on June 19, 1865, that Union Gen. Gordon Granger arrived in Galveston, Texas, to announce that enslaved Black people were free,after the Civil War ended and more than two years after the Emancipation Proclamation.
  • Juneteenth was made a federal holiday in 2021. It is also known as also known as Jubilee Day, Emancipation Day, Freedom Day and Black Independence Day.





Kennedy Center, the

  • Acceptable on first reference. The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts also acceptable. Identify specific stages, halls, etc., by using the following style: the Kennedy Center’s Millennium Stage.

Key Hall

  • Residence hall named after Francis Scott Key located on 600 20th St. NW. Key Hall acceptable on all references.


  • Use children unless you are talking about goats, or the use of kids as an informal synonym for children is appropriate in the context.

Knapp, Steven

  • The 16th president of the George Washington University who served from 2007 to 2017. Knapp continues to serve as GW president emeritus and university professor of English.

Kogan Plaza

  • Located in the middle of campus, between Gelman Library and Lisner Auditorium. Named after Barton Kogan.
  • See Mid-Campus Quad.




Lafayette Hall

  • Residence hall located at 2100 I St. NW.

lay, lie

  • The action word is lay. It takes a direct object. Laid is the form for its past tense and its past participle. Its present participle is laying.
  • Lie indicates a state of reclining along a direct object. Its past tense is lay. Its past participle is lain. Its present participle is lying.
  • When lie means to make an untrue statement, the verb forms are lie, lied and lying.

GW Law

  • GW Law is preferred for all references. One of the 10 degree-granting schools at the university, it was established in 1865 and is the oldest law school in D.C.

LeBlanc, Thomas

  • The 17th president of the George Washington University from 2017 to 2021.

legislative titles

  • In first reference use Rep., Reps., Sen. and Sens. as formal titles before one or more names in regular text. Put U.S. or state name before title if there may be confusion. Spell out and capitalize these titles before one or more names in a direct quotation. Spell out and lowercase representative and senator in other uses.
  • In second reference do not use legislative titles before a name unless they are part of a direct quotation.
  • The words congressman or congresswoman should be lowercase.

Lenthall Houses

  • Built in 1800, they are used to house visiting faculty. Listed on the National Register of Historic Buildings. Located at 606-610 21st St. NW.

Lerner Hall

  • Academic building in the GW Law complex. Located at 2000 H St. NW.

Lerner Health and Wellness Center

  • Use on first reference. Health and Wellness Center may be used on all subsequent references. Located at 2301 G St. NW.

letter grades

  • Do not italicize letter grades and use apostrophes with plurals: Frank received five A’s and two B’s.


  • Acceptable on all references for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning. Other variations are acceptable in quotes or names of organizations.


Lincoln Memorial

Lisner Auditorium

  • A 1,490-seat facility that hosts performing arts and other events. One of GW’s buildings listed on the National Register of Historic Buildings. Located at 730 21st St. NW.

Lisner Hall

  • Academic building located at 2023 G St. NW; part of the GW Law complex.




Madison Hall

  • Residence hall located at 736 22nd St. NW.

master’s degree

Media and Public Affairs Building

  • MPA Building is acceptable on second reference. Opened in 2001, the building houses the School of Media and Public Affairs, the Graduate School of Political Management, the Trachtenberg School of Public Policy and Public Administration and the 258-seat Jack Morton Auditorium. Located at 805 21st St. NW.

Medical Faculty Associates

  • Physician practice affiliated with GW.


  • Capitalize when referring to the mass transit system. GW is located at the Foggy Bottom-GWU Metro Station on the Blue, Orange and Silver lines.

Mid-Campus Quad

  • Collective name for open space located on the south side of H Street between 22nd and 21st streets. Quad includes Kogan Plaza between Gelman Library and Lisner Auditorium.
  • See Kogan Plaza.

Middle States Commission on Higher Education

  • Regional agency that accredits GW. Middle States is acceptable on subsequent references.

Milken Institute School of Public Health

  • School is committed to excellence in scholarship to advance the health of the populations in local, national and global communities. The school offers more than 30 undergraduate, graduate and certificate programs. Milken Institute SPH should be used on second reference.

Milken Institute School of Public Health Building

  • Academic building that houses the Milken Institute School of Public Health offices and classrooms; located at 950 New Hampshire Ave NW.

Mitchell Hall

  • Residence hall located at 514 19th St. NW.


  • Capitalize the names of months in all uses. The following month abbreviations are acceptable when used with a specific date: Jan., Feb., Aug., Sept., Oct., Nov. and Dec. Spell out when using alone or with a year alone. Do not use a comma between the month and the year: Oct. 31, 2022. She graduated in May 2020. All classes held after September 2020 must run at least two hours and 30 minutes.
  • See dates; years.


Monroe Hall

  • Academic building located at 2115 G St. Monroe Hall is connected to the Hall of Government.

Mount Vernon campus

  • GW campus located on Foxhall Road in upper Northwest Washington, D.C., formerly Mount Vernon College, a women’s college. The 26-acre campus provides academic and residential space as well a black-box theater and athletic facilities for both intercollegiate and recreational use.
  • See campus; Foggy Bottom campus; Virginia Science and Technology Campus.

Mount Vernon Campus Athletic Complex

Multicultural Student Services Center

  • MSSC acceptable on second reference.

Munson Hall

  • Residence hall located at 2212 I St. NW.




Nashman Center for Civic Engagement and Public Service, Honey W.

  • University center that aims to integrates civic engagement into the university’s educational work; promotes equity and active citizenship in a diverse democracy; focuses GW’s resources to address community needs through reciprocal partnerships beyond the campus; and enhances teaching, learning and scholarship at GW.

Native American


  • Use on first reference for Naval Reserve Officers’ Training Corps. NROTC is acceptable on second reference.


  • Acceptable on all references. Stands for the National Collegiate Athletic Association, of which GW is a member.


  • Do not italicize. Capitalize and include "The" if it is part of the publication’s name: “The Washington Post” or stated elsewhere in the article. Use quotation marks around article titles or other content within newspapers: Amitai Etzioni’s op-ed “Instant Democracy: American Fantasy” appeared in the “International Herald Tribune.”
  • See italics; quotation marks.


  • Use as the abbreviation for “number” in conjunction with a figure to indicate position or rank: No. 1 choice, No. 3 team.
  • See numbers.



  • Not 12 p.m. or 12 noon.


  • Spell out numbers one through nine (except in the case of ages and percentages, which always use numbers); use numerals for anything 10 or higher. Beginning a sentence with a number-and-letter combination is allowed (e.g., 3D movies are drawing more fans). Always use numerals in votes, court decisions, scores and with percent.




off campus/off-campus

  • The meeting will be held off campus. Hyphenated when it immediately precedes a noun: Students are searching for off-campus housing.


  • Not okay.

Old Main

  • The building formerly known as Old Main is located at 1922 F St. NW. It is now referred to only by its address.

on campus/on-campus

  • The meeting will be held on campus. Hyphenated when it immediately precedes a noun: First-year students are assigned on-campus housing.

only at GW

  • Hyphenate when used before a noun; only-at-GW experience.

Open Doors: The Centuries Initiative for Scholarships & Fellowships

  • Initiative launched during the university’s bicentennial celebration in 2021 to increase access to a GW education.




part time/part-time

  • She works part time. Hyphenated when it is used as a compound modifier: He has a part-time job.


Phillips Hall

  • One of the three buildings that make up the Academic Center. Located at 801 22nd St. NW.



Potomac House

  • Residence hall located at 2021 F St. NW.

professor titles

  • Capitalize full title before names: Professor of Law Jack Friedenthal. Lowercase the word professor before a name when it can be considered an epithet or a describing phrase: law professor Jack Friedenthal. Lowercase when used after a name: Jack Friedenthal, professor of law.
  • See titles; University Professor.

Program Board, GW

  • Provides students with a broad and diverse selection of programs and events.

Provost, Office of the

  • Supports all academic endeavors across the George Washington University’s 10 schools and colleges. The office oversees academic planning; diversity, equity and community engagement; enrollment and student success; faculty affairs; libraries and academic innovation; and research.





  • Located at 2036 G St. NW. Now houses Tonic at Quigley’s Pharmacy.

quotation marks

  • Use quotation marks for articles, essays, short poems, short stories, songs, chapters in a book, episodes of radio and television programs, lectures, speeches and conferences. Do not underline or italicize any of the above.
  • See quotation mark entry in Appendix: Punctuation; italics; composition titles.




Registrar, Office of the

  • Capitalize Office of the Registrar; registrar’s office and registrar are lowercase on subsequent references.

residence hall

  • Not dorm or dormitory.


Rome Hall

  • One of the three buildings that comprise the Academic Center. Located at 801 22nd St. NW.

room names and numbers

  • Using the word “Room” or “Suite” to designate location in a building is preferred: Phillips Hall, Suite 401; SEH, Room 201. Dropping the words “Room” and “Suite” is acceptable: Bell Hall 231, Discovery Hall 512, Gelman Library 301-C.

Ross Hall

  • Academic medical building. Located at 2300 I St. NW.




Samson Hall

  • Academic building located at 2036 H St. NW.


  • Capitalize when part of a proper name: the GW School of Business. Lowercase in second reference when proper name is not used: The school provides wireless internet access to students.

School of Business

  • Spell out on first reference; GWSB and GW Business acceptable on subsequent references. One of the 10 degree-granting schools at the university, it was established in 1899.

School of Engineering and Applied Science

  • Spell out on first reference; use GW Engineering on subsequent references. One of the 10 degree-granting schools at the university, it was established in 1884.

School of Media and Public Affairs

  • Spell out on first reference; SMPA acceptable on subsequent references. The school is a division of the Columbian College of Arts and Sciences and is led by a director. All offices are located in the Media and Public Affairs Building.

School of Medicine and Health Sciences

  • Spell out on first reference; SMHS acceptable on subsequent references. One of the 10 degree-granting schools at the university, it was established in 1825 and is the 11th oldest medical school in the country. Administrative offices are located in Ross Hall.

School of Nursing

  • GW’s newest degree-granting school created in 2010. GW Nursing is preferred on second reference, not SON.

School Without Walls

  • A four-year high school located at 2130 G St. NW. Part of the D.C. Public School system.

Science and Engineering Hall

  • Spell out on first reference; SEH acceptable on subsequent references. State-of-the-art science and engineering facility located at 800 22nd St. NW, formally opened in 2015.


  • In general, do not capitalize: fall 2023, not fall of 2023. Only capitalize if part of a formal name: GW Summer Sessions, Winter Olympics.


  • Do not capitalize: fall semester.


  • Capitalize in all references to governmental legislative bodies, whether or not the name of the nation is used: the U.S. Senate, the Senate, the state Senate. Capitalize for the full name of official GW groups: Faculty Senate, Student Association Senate.
  • Lowercase in second reference to GW groups if full name is not used and lowercase plural uses: the senate meets once a month; the Maryland and Virginia senates.

Shenkman Hall

  • Residence hall located at 616 23rd St. NW; previously was Ivory Tower, renamed in 2014 in honor of trustee emeritus Mark R. Shenkman.

Smith Center

Smith Hall of Art

  • One of the three buildings that make up the Academic Center at 801 22nd St. NW. Formal name is the Robert H. and Clarice Smith Hall of Art.

Smithsonian Institution

  • Smithsonian is acceptable on first reference. Add the name of the museum if necessary: the Smithsonian National Museum of American History.

South Hall

  • Residence hall located at 2135 F St. NW. Opened in 2009.

state abbreviations

  • The names of the 50 U.S. states should be spelled out when used alone in the body of a story. The following abbreviations should be used for states with cities other than stand-alone cities. States not listed should be spelled out in all references.
  • See city names.

Ala. Conn. Ind. Mich. Neb. N.Y. Pa. Vt. Wyo.
Ariz. Del. Kan. Minn. Nev. N.C. R.I. Va.  
Ark. Fla. Ky. Miss. N.H. N.D. S.C. Wash.  
Calif. Ga. Md. Mo. N.J. Okla. S.D. W.Va.  
Colo. Ill. Mass. Mont. N.M. Ore. Tenn. Wis.  

Staughton Hall

  • Academic building located at 707 22nd St. NW.

Stockton Hall

  • Academic building located at 720 20th St. NW. One of four buildings that comprise GW Law.

Store, the

  • A student-run food pantry managed by the Store student organization and the Center for Student Engagement. It is located in District House.

Strong Hall

  • Residence hall located at 620 21st St. NW.

Stuart Hall

  • Academic building located at 2013 G St. NW; part of GW Law complex.

Student Affairs, Division of

  • The division aims to empower the personal and academic development of GW’s diverse community of students. The division comprises Campus Living and Residential Education, the Student Health Center, Lerner Health and Wellness, Student Rights & Responsibilities and the Office of Student Life.

Student Government Association

  • The main student governing body for the university.

Student Financial Assistance, Office of

Student Health Center

  • Provides integrated medical and mental health services for students. Located on the University Student Center, Ground Floor.

Sumner M. Redstone Global Center for Prevention and Wellness

  • Established in 2014 with a $30 million gift from the Sumner M. Redstone Foundation; part of the Milken Institute School of Public Health.


  • Do not use superscript after numbers:
    • RIGHT: 1st, 2nd, 3rd
    • WRONG: 1st, 2nd, 3rd

Support Building

  • The headquarters of facilities management. Located at 2025 F St. NW.





  • Telehealth should be written as one word. Telemedicine, telehealth.

telephone numbers

  • The preferred style is to use a hyphen after the area code and before the last four digits: For more information, contact the GW Office of Communications and Marketing at 202-994-6460.
  • For GW phone numbers always use 994, not simply 4 + extension.

that, which, who, whom

  • Use who and whom in reference to people and to animals with a name: Andrew Sonn is the man who helped answer my service questions.
  • Use that and which in reference to inanimate objects and animals without a name.
  • Use that to refer to an inanimate object and introduce an essential clause: I like to take classes that meet once a week.
  • Use which to introduce a nonessential clause that refers to an inanimate object: GW’s Global Women’s Institute, which was launched in 2011, is committed to improving the lives of women and girls.

theater, theatre

  • In general, use theater. The academic department at GW is the Department of Theatre and Dance, not the Department of Theater. Conform to style used by venue: the Betts Marvin Theatre; Ford’s Theatre in Washington, D.C.; the Kennedy Center’s Eisenhower Theater; the Lockheed Martin IMAX Theater at the National Air and Space Museum.

they, them, their

  • Acceptable in cases where a singular and/or gender-neutral pronoun is preferred. Be sure it is clear from the context that only one person is involved. AP style does not advise using other gender-neutral pronouns such as xe or ze.
  • In text about people who identify as neither male nor female or ask not to be referred to as he/she/him/her: use the person’s name in place of a pronoun, or otherwise reword the sentence, whenever possible.
    • Example: Kevin decided to leave their residence hall and go for a walk because they were cold in the air conditioning.
    • Example: Mandy said they wanted to order pizza for dinner. Can you call and ask them what toppings they want?
  • See gender-neutral pronouns; for additional guidance on gender and sexuality language, see the "AP Stylebook.

Third Century Scholarship Endowment Match: Unlocking Access to Undergraduate Education

  • Initiative to dramatically accelerate investments to offer critical financial support to undergraduate students. Launched Nov. 1, 2022.

Thurston Hall

  • Residence hall located at 1900 F St. NW.


  • Use numerals with lowercase a.m. and p.m. Use periods in a.m. and p.m. Use noon and midnight instead of 12 p.m. and 12 a.m., respectively.
  • Avoid redundant phrases, such as 10 a.m. this morning or 9 p.m. tonight. Writing 4 o’clock is acceptable in some cases, but 4 p.m. is preferred.

Title IX Office

  • Office fairly and equitably responds to reports of sexual harassment, sexual assault, domestic and dating violence, and stalking. The office also provides prevention and response educational programming for the GW community. Title IX should always be capitalized and written with Roman numerals.


  • In general, capitalize titles only when they are used before a person’s name. In second reference, a title is not necessary.
  • For style preferences regarding books, movies, songs, plays, etc., see composition titles.

today, tonight

  • Use only in direct quotations. Use the day of the week to clarify timing, even if the day is today.

Tompkins Hall

  • Located at 725 23rd St. NW.


  • Use toward, not towards.

Trachtenberg School of Public Policy and Public Administration

  • Spell out on first reference; Trachtenberg School acceptable on subsequent references. The school is part of the Columbian College of Arts and Sciences and is led by a director. The school was established in January 2004. Administrative offices are located in the Media and Public Affairs Building.

Trachtenberg, Stephen Joel

  • President of GW from 1988 to 2007. Now president emeritus and university professor of public service.




Undergraduate Admissions, Office of

  • Formal name, should be used in first reference. Graduate admissions are handled individually in each school; Graduate Enrollment Management oversees graduate admissions at GW.

United States, U.S.

  • In general, abbreviate when using as an adjective, write out United States when used as a noun (note use of periods for consistency with U.S., D.C., etc.): The U.S. State Department is located two blocks from the GW campus. The government of the United States is one of the nation’s largest employers.
  • Avoid USA except in a formal name: Congress passed the USA Patriot Act in October 2001.


  • Lowercase unless using as a part of a school’s formal name.

University Professor

  • The highest professorial status at GW. University Professor is capitalized on all references.
  • See professor titles.

University Student Center

  • The student union building, located at at 800 21st St. NW., includes student spaces, Panera Bread, Betts Theatre, ballrooms, bookstore, lounges and administrative and student offices. The Student Health Center is in the ground floor of the University Student Center.




Veterans Memorial Park

  • Located on Kogan Plaza in front of the Estelle and Melvin Gelman Library. A wall in the park, funded by a gift from Mark R. Shenkman, trustee emeritus, displays the park name and insignias for the five branches of the U.S. Armed Forces.


  • Acceptable in all references for very important person(s).

Virginia Science and Technology Campus

  • Located in Ashburn, Va., the campus is home to research labs and centers and institutes advancing knowledge in a wide range of interdisciplinary areas. Academic offerings include School of Nursing degree programs, along with a number of other graduate and certificate programs. VSTC is acceptable on second reference.




Washington, D.C.

  • Washington (the city) can stand alone and be recognizable. When referring to the state, use state of Washington or Washington state to avoid confusion.


West End Citizens Association

West Hall

  • Residence hall on GW’s Mount Vernon campus. Opened in 2010. Located at 2100 Foxhall Rd. NW.


Woodhull House

  • Connected by a bridge to the George Washington University Museum and The Textile Museum. The Woodhull House was renovated in 2014 to house the Albert H. Small Washingtoniana collection.

Wrighton, Mark S.

  • The 18th president of the university. Wrighton led GW from January 2022 to June 2023.




Yard, the University

  • Located on H Street between 20th and 21st streets NW.


  • Use an “s” without an apostrophe to indicate spans of decades or centuries: the 1980s, the 1800s. Years are the lone exception to the general rule in numerals that a figure is not used to start a sentence: 2009 was a very good year.
  • See dates; months.





  • Use an apostrophe to indicate that a noun is possessive.
    • Add an ’s for the following:
      • Plural nouns not ending in s: women’s rights, the alumni’s contribution.
      • Singular nouns not ending in s: the professor’s office, the horse’s food, the student’s room.
      • For compound words apply the apostrophe or ’s to the word closest to the object possessed: the major general’s decision, the major generals’ decisions, the attorney general’s request, the attorneys general’s request, Martin Luther King Jr.’s father.
      • For joint possession and individual possession, use a possessive form only after the last word if ownership is joint: George and Mary’s car. Use a possessive form after both words if the objects are individually owned: George’s and Mary’s cars.
      • Descriptive phrases not ending in s: a children’s hospital, a people’s republic.
      • Plurals of a single letter: Mind your p’s and q’s. He learned the three R’s and brought home a report card with four A’s and two B’s. The Oakland A’s won the pennant.
    • Add only an apostrophe for the following:
      • Plural nouns ending in s: states’ rights, the horses’ food, the professors’ lounge, the students’ class gift.
      • Nouns plural in form, singular in meaning: mathematics’ rules, measles’ effects. The same rule applies for the formal name of a singular entry: General Motors’ profits, the United States’ wealth.
      • Singular proper nouns ending in s: Achilles’ heel, Hercules’ labors, Arkansas’ schools, John Adams’ legacy. However, if a composition title or trademarked name uses an ’s after a singular proper noun, the ’s should be preserved.
      • Singular nouns ending in an s sound (e.g., ce, x, z) followed by a word that begins with s: for appearance’ sake, for conscience’ sake, the justice’ seat.
      • Contractions, omitted letters and figures: it’s, don’t, ’tis the season, rock ‘n’ roll, the class of ’62, the Spirit of ’76, the ’20s.
  • See “AP Stylebook” possessives entry for additional guidance.


  • Use brackets to add clarification or correct quoted material: “I couldn’t believe that he [Jackson] would hit three home runs,” said the manager. Use the Latin word sic, which means intentionally so written, in brackets to indicate that an error in the quoted material is being reproduced exactly: “We were disappointed to find out that only five in the class is [sic] signed up for the program.”


  • The colon is a mark of emphasis and/or anticipation. Its most frequent use is at the end of a sentence to introduce a list or text: She narrowed her decision to three colleges: Dartmouth, Boston College and GW.
  • Capitalize the first word after a colon only if it is a proper noun or the start of a complete sentence: She had one major condition: The school must have a strong history department. She also wanted a college that offered her two favorite sports: volleyball and rugby.
  • Do not use a colon between a verb and its compliment or object:
    • RIGHT: Her three favorite teams are the Cardinals, Eagles and Bears.
    • WRONG: Her three favorite teams are: the Cardinals, Eagles and Bears.
    • RIGHT: There were many considerations including cost, location and curriculum.
    • WRONG: There were many considerations including: cost, location and curriculum.


  • Use a comma to separate elements in a series: He ate bread, meat and pie. Also use the comma (not the semicolon) for a simple series: They had fruit, custard, cake and ice cream, peanut butter and jelly and pudding. In a more complex series that may involve names, titles and degree notations for more than one person, use a semicolon (see semicolon entry).
  • Do not use the serial comma in a simple series: red, white and blue.
  • Use a comma after a long introductory phrase or clause: After stealing the crown jewels from the Tower of London, I went home for tea. If the introductory material is short (a rule of thumb is five words or less), do not use the comma: After the theft I went home for tea. But use the comma if the sentence would be confusing without it: The day before, I’d robbed the Bank of England.
  • Use commas to offset a person’s name, as in this case: He introduced his wife, Anne, to the mayor. Do not use a comma in this sentence: He attended the party with wife Anne.
  • Use a comma to separate independent clauses that are joined by and, but, for, or, nor, because or so: We are visiting Washington, and we also plan a side trip to Williamsburg, Va. As a rule of thumb, use a comma if the second clause can stand alone as a sentence:
    • COMMA: Mark went to the meeting, and he took notes.
    • NO COMMA: Mark went to the meeting and took notes.
  • Use a comma to set off a nonessential word or phrase but do not use if a word or phrase is essential. Correct: The company chair, John James, spoke at the meeting. (Because a company can only have one chair the name is not essential to the sentence.) The Smiths ate dinner with their daughter Julie. (In this case because the Smiths have more than one daughter, the inclusion of Julie’s name is critical if the reader is to know which daughter is meant.) Julie and her husband, Jeff, went shopping. (Again because Julie has only one husband his name should be set off by commas.)
  • Use a comma to separate elements of an address: the Virginia Science and Technology Campus is located in Ashburn, Va., in the Dulles technology corridor.
  • Use a comma between proper names and titles: Vittorio Bonori, president of Zenith, chaired the meeting.
  • Use a comma to introduce a complete sentence or quote that is a complete sentence: The president said, “I am happy to be a part of such a rich tradition.”
  • Also use a comma before quote attribution. “I am happy to be part of such a rich tradition,” the president said.
  • Do not use a comma to introduce a partial quote: The president called the event a “rich tradition.”
  • In use with quotes, commas always go inside quotation marks.


  • An em dash — a long line exactly like the one used in this sentence — is what should be used to enclose a word or word group that interrupts the main structure: We will fly to Paris in June — if I get a raise. Smith offered a plan — an unprecedented plan to raise revenues.
  • The dash also can be used within a phrase that otherwise would be set off by commas when there are series or words that must be separated by commas within the phrase: He listed the qualities — intelligence, humor, independence — that he liked in an executive.
  • The em dash is not to be confused with its shorter relative, the en dash. The en dash, which should be used in noting page numbers, dates and game scores: In the 2022-23 men’s basketball season, the team won the championship 98–85. The en dash should not be used in place of a hyphen.


  • When using, treat the ellipsis as a three-letter word with three dots and a space on each side.
  • Use the ellipsis to indicate the deletion of one or more words in condensing quotes, texts and documents. Be very careful to avoid deletions that would distort the meaning.
    • “I ... tried to do what was best.”
  • If the words that precede an ellipsis constitute a grammatically complete sentence, either in the original or in the condensation, place a period at the end of the last word before the ellipsis. Follow it with a regular space and an ellipsis: I no longer have a strong enough political base. ...

exclamation point

  • Use sparingly to express a high degree of surprise, incredulity or other strong emotion. Place the mark inside quotes when part of quoted material. Place it outside of quotes when not part of the quoted material. Do not use a comma or period after the exclamation mark.
    • RIGHT: “Never!” she shouted.


  • Use to join adjectives and avoid ambiguity. Consult “AP Styleguide” and “Webster’s New World Dictionary” for guidance on hyphenations with prefixes.
  • Additional guidelines:
    • Compound modifiers: When two or more words that express a single concept are used before a noun, use a hyphen to link them with the exceptions of the word “very” and adverbs that end in “ly”: a high-profile case, a 19,000-square-foot building, a full-time job, a poorly performed play. Most of the time these combinations are not hyphenated after a noun: She works full time.
    • Compound nouns: Many noun compounds are hyphenated: brother-in-law, well-being, 18-year-old.
    • With numbers: Hyphenate the written form of compound numbers and fractions: One-fifth of my income is spent on rent.
    • Between a prefix and proper name: mid-Atlantic.
    • Capitalization: When hyphenated words are used in headlines, both words should be capitalized: Blue-Green.
    • Suspensive hyphenation: He received a 10- to 20- year sentence in prison.


  • Use sparingly to insert necessary background or reference material. Punctuation: Place a period outside parentheses if the material inside is not a stand alone complete sentence (like this fragment). Otherwise, place periods inside parentheses.


  • Use with the following:
    • At the end of a declarative sentence: The style guide is finished.
    • At the end of a rhetorical question if the statement is more of a suggestion than a question: Why don’t we go.
    • At the end of an indirect question: He asked what time it was.
  • Use a single space after a period at the end of a sentence.

question mark

  • Use with the following:
    • At the end of a direct question: Who attended the lecture?
    • In the middle of an interpolated question: You told me — Did I hear you correctly? — that we should meet in the conference room.
    • At the end of a full sentence with multiple questions: Did he plan the event, book the guests and write the opening remarks? However, it is acceptable to use question marks with each question for emphasis: Have you finished planning the event? Booked the guests? Written the opening remarks?
  • Placement with quotation marks: A question mark can be inside or out depending on the meaning: He asked, “How much will it cost?” What is the Louvre’s most famous painting after the “Mona Lisa”?
  • A question mark supersedes the comma that normally is used when supplying attribution for a quotation: “Who won?” he asked.

quotation marks

  • Use with the following:
    • Direct quotations: Plato said, “Necessity is the mother of invention.”
    • With personal nicknames: Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson.
    • With words used in an ironical sense: The “debate” turned into a free-for-all.
    • Quotes may be used with unfamiliar terms or phrases on first reference: A defensive offsides call is known as “encroachment.” Do not put subsequent references to encroachment in quotation marks. Quotation mark placement with other punctuation:
    • Periods and commas always go within quotation marks.
    • Dashes, question marks and exclamation points go within the quotation marks when they apply to the quoted matter only. They go outside when applied to the whole sentence. This second rule helps the reader attribute the meaning and emotions of these remarks to the right source: The first sentence of Barack Obama’s fundraising letter was, “I need your vote!” I thought John McCain was very forceful when he said, “I need your vote”! The first sentence indicates Obama’s emphasis and excitement. The second sentence indicates the author’s emphasis and excitement.
    • Semicolons go outside of quotation marks.


  • Use semicolons with the following:
    • To clarify a series, especially when individual segments contain material that also must be set off by commas: The meeting was attended by several graduates: Joe Alumnus, B.A. ’88, J.D. ’92; Martha Alumna, B.A. ’77, M.A. ’79, Ph.D. ’85; and Harry Hippo, M.F.A. ’67.
    • To link independent clauses, especially when coordinating conjunctions such as “and,” “but” or “for” not present: The package was due last week; it arrived today.
  • Place semicolons outside of quotation marks.