Forward to the Writing Style Guide
These guidelines are based on the Associated Press Stylebook, which is the standard stylebook used by journalists worldwide, with additional support from Webster’s New World College Dictionary and the classic Elements of Style.
In addition to referring to this guide, you might want to keep a copy of the AP Stylebook and Webster’s New World College Dictionary.
Text that is written for external audiences — such as news releases or articles for departmental newsletters — should closely follow Associated Press (AP) style. This includes punctuation protocols that sometimes run counter to what we learned in school. (For example, the serial comma — or “Oxford” comma — is rarely used in AP style. In academic writing, however, the serial comma is commonly used.) Because Missouri S&T creates materials for a wide range of audiences, some of the rules in this style guide may be bent or broken if the occasion warrants.
If you want people to pay attention to your writing, keep it informal and conversational. “Write the way you talk” is a good guideline to follow.
It’s also important to keep the appearance of written communications informal rather than stuffy and formal. For example, the general rule of down-styling — using lowercase except when the uppercase is clearly called for — is the preferred style for most marketing and promotional writing. For academic papers or more formal writing, however, copy writers should follow more appropriate reference works, such as the Modern Language Association or American Psychological Association styles.
In general, academic titles and departmental names are usually written according to the down-styling convention.
Academics love to capitalize titles, departments, degree programs and more. But when writing for external audiences, keep the capitalization to a minimum. In general, capitalize proper nouns and lowercase everything else.
So, instead of writing:
Dr. Samantha Jones, a Professor of Chemistry, received an Honorary Degree at Saturday’s Commencement Ceremonies.
Dr. Samantha Jones, a professor of chemistry, received an honorary degree at Saturday’s commencement ceremonies.
Text for formal and ceremonial events — such as event programs, invitations, program notes and the like — often requires greater use of capitalization and less abbreviation.
Advertisements and promotional materials may also require more frequent use of capitalization. A guideline to follow is to consider the audience and the occasion. The more formal the occasion, the more likely you are to require a more formal style of writing.
General tips that serve as a basis for our writing style guide
Capitalization, formatting and abbreviation guidelines for academic programs and titles
Capitalization and abbreviations campus buildings and landmarks
Guidelines, terminology and abbreviations for the Kummer Institute Foundation
Common misspellings, incorrect abbreviations, and proper use of terms
When and how to write the formal university name and other forms
Writing language involving age, race, sex, disabilities and religion
Tips for writing effective and engaging headlines for publications and websites