The following is a description of Florida Tech's in-house writing style for everything except technical papers and reports. This guide is set up alphabetically and contains listings that will allow you to standardize everything you write for the university. Reference materials include The Associated Press Stylebook, Webster's New Dictionary and McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific and Technical Terms.
See also class year
Use lowercase and an apostrophe in bachelor's degree and master's degree. No apostrophe in associate degree. In these constructions, the study discipline is lowercased (i.e., bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering)
Initial cap and no possessive in Bachelor of Science, Master of Science, Associate of Arts. In these constructions, the study discipline is initial cap (i.e., Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering)
Use periods with no space between for abbreviations: B.S., B.A., M.S., M.A., M.A.T., M.S.A., Ed.S., A.S., A.A., Ph.D., Psy.D., except MBA and DBA (no periods).
When used after a name, an academic abbreviation is set off by commas. (John Jones, Ph.D., spoke.)
Do not precede a name with a courtesy title for an academic degree and follow it with the abbreviation for the degree in the same reference (NOT: Dr. John Jones, Ph.D.).
It is preferred to lowercase academic departments except for words that are proper nouns or adjectives: the department of chemistry, the department of English, the chemistry department, the English department.
In Florida Tech catalogs and other publications if necessary, the department will be initial cap on first reference only.
"Department of" is used with reference to academic units. "Office of" is used with reference to administrative units. (department of computer sciences, Office of Creative Services)
Capitalize and spell out formal titles such as Professor, Chairman and Dean when they precede a name. Lowercase elsewhere. Lowercase modifiers such as history Professor Robert White or department Chairman Frank Thomas.
Lowercase: the freshmen, sophomore, junior and senior classes.
Spell as one word, not acousto optic or acousto-optic.
Define all but the most common abbreviations and acronyms on first reference. Do not use periods. Do not add an apostrophe when forming a plural (PCs, VAXes, IBMs).
Lowercase: the administration, the president's administration.
Use "effect" as a noun—it means result. (The effect was overwhelming.) "Effect" as a verb means to cause. (He will effect many changes in the university.)
alumnus, alumni, alumna, alumnae
Use alumnus (alumni in the plural) when referring to a man who has attended a school. Use alumna (alumnae in the plural) for similar reference to a woman. Use alumni when referring to a group of men and women. Alumnus—one who has attended or graduated from a college or school.
Use only when part of a formal name (U.S. News & World Report); use "and" in all other instances.
For an event to be labeled annual, it must have taken place for at least two successive years. Avoid the phrase, first annual. Use inaugural instead.
The conjunction "as" is the correct word to introduce clauses. "Like" is used correctly as a preposition to compare nouns and pronouns. (John does his job professionally, as he should. John plays guitar like a pro.)
Never abbreviate. Capitalize only when part of a formal title before a name. (Assistant Professor John Smith)
awhile, a while
When following a preposition use "a while"; otherwise spell it as one word.
bachelor of arts, bachelor of science
A bachelor's degree or bachelor's is acceptable. See capitalization.
"Because" expresses a cause-and-effect relationship. "Since" is used for reference to time. (I finished the assignment because I want a good grade. I have been doing my homework since 3 p.m.)
"Since" is acceptable in a casual sense when the first event in a sequence leads logically to the second, but is not its direct cause. (They went to the game, since they had been given tickets.)
Beside means at the side of. Besides means in addition to. (She is sitting beside the plant. He has other assignments besides his English homework.)
See among, between.
Biannual means twice a year or semiannual. Biennial means every two years.
board of directors, board of trustees
See lists (bulleted)
See photo captions.
Not catalogue (catalog, cataloged, cataloging).
Spell out and lowercase using numerals for amounts less than a dollar (5 cents, 12 cents).
Use chair. Do not use chairperson.
John Jones ’98 went to the lecture.
(Jones received a Florida Tech bachelor's degrees in 1998.)
John Jones ’98, ’01, went to the lecture.
(Jones received two Florida Tech bachelor's degrees: one in 1998, one in 2001.)
John Jones ’98, ’01 M.S., went to the lecture.
(Jones received two Florida Tech degrees: a bachelor's in 1998 and a master's in 2001.)
John Jones ’98 M.S. went to the lecture.
(Jones received a Florida Tech master's degrees in 1998.)
John Jones ’98 M.S., ’01 Ph.D., went to the lecture.
(Jones received two Florida Tech degrees: a master's in 1998 and a Ph.D. in 2001.)
John Jones ’98 M.S., Ph.D., went to the lecture.
(Jones received a Florida Tech master's in 1998 and a Ph.D. elsewhere.)
John Jones ’98, ’01 M.S., Ph.D., went to the lecture.
(Jones received two Florida Tech degrees (a bachelor's in 1998 and a master's in 2001) and a Ph.D. elsewhere.)
John Jones, Ph.D., went to the lecture.
(Jones holds a doctorate not earned at Florida Tech.)
Does not follow the rule of prefixes. Retain the hyphen when forming nouns, adjectives and verbs that indicate occupation or status (co-worker, co-founder, co-author). No hyphen in other combinations (cooperate, coexist, coed, coordination).
Lowercase when referring to the physical shoreline (Atlantic coast, east coast). Capitalize when referring to region of the United States lying along such shorelines (Atlantic Coast, East Coast). Do not capitalize when referring to smaller regions (the Virginia coast). Capitalize when standing alone only if the reference is to the West Coast. Capitalize Space Coast.
College of Aeronautics
College of Business–use Bisk College of Business in all references
College of Engineering and Sciences
College of Psychology and Liberal Arts
Commas are used to:
Set off ages and hometowns from a name. (John Doe, 41, attended the event. Jane Doe, of Melbourne, Florida, also attended.)
Set off academic credentials from a name. (Jane Doe, Ph.D., is the professor.)
communications, graphics, electronics, series, headquarters
These words are both singular and plural in construction. They do not violate the rule of plural adjectives when modifying a plural noun. The nouns that these words are modifying determine the verb tense.
compared to, compared with
Use "compared to" when the intent is to assert, without the need for elaboration, that two or more items are similar. (Her work was compared to that of Susan B. Anthony's campaign for women's suffrage.)
Use "compared with" when juxtaposing two or more items to illustrate similarities and/or differences. (His time was 2:11:10, compared with 2:14 for his closest competitor.)
Complement is a noun and verb denoting completeness or the process of supplementing something. (The department has a complement of 26 professors.)
Compliment is a noun or verb that denotes praise or the expression of courtesy. (The vice president complimented the entire teaching staff.)
Compose means to create or put together. (He composed a song.)
Comprise means to contain, to include all, or embrace. (The university is comprised of five basic units.)
It is OK to begin a sentence with a conjunction occasionally, but do not set the conjunction off with a comma. (And the ARL building contains more research laboratories.)
Lowercase reference to subject matter, unless a proper noun (mathematics, science, oceanography, English)
Capitalize the formal name of an academic course (Introduction to Engineering, Calculus 1)
No periods with most credentials (CPA, APR, CFRE, FAICP, etc.). List credentials only on first reference. See academic degrees.
dates (also see months)
days of the week
Capitalize. Do not abbreviate, except in tabular format (Sun, Mon, Tue, Wed, Thu, Fri, Sat).
Capitalize when used as a formal title (Dean John Jones). Lowercase in other uses (John Jones, dean of the college; the dean).
Lowercase in all uses. (He is on the dean's list.)
Use Arabic figures to indicate decades of history. Use an apostrophe to indicate numerals that are left out. Show plural by adding the letter "s." (The 1980s, the '90s, the Gay '90s, the 1920s, the mid-1950s.)
See academic departments.
Use figures and spell out inches, feet, yards, etc. to indicate depth, height, width, length and weight. Hyphenate adjectival forms before nouns. (He is 6 feet, 7 inches tall, the 6-foot-7-inch man. The recipe requires a 9- by 12-inch pan or a 9-by-12 pan. The rug is 9 feet by 12 feet, the 9-by-12 rug.)
directions and regions
Lowercase north, south, northeast, northern, etc. when they indicate compass directions; capitalize when these words designate regions. (He sat on the east side of the stadium. They came here from the Northeast. The storm system that developed in the Midwest is spreading eastward.)
Always use figures. (He ran 4 miles.)
In text, the preferred form for referencing an individual who holds a doctoral degree is to set off the academic credentials with commas. (John Jones, Ph.D., received a research grant.) On second reference, use only the last name. In most cases, the salutation Dr., or Drs. in the plural, is avoided. Do not use both Dr. and Ph.D. together in the same reference. (NOT: Dr. John Jones, Ph.D.)
Use residence hall instead.
drop out (v.), dropout (n.)
(He will drop out of the English class. He will become a second-semester dropout.)
due to, because of
"Due to" is an adjectival prepositional phrase, meaning it modifies a noun. It is commonly preceded by a form of the verb "to be" (be, is, are, was, were, etc.). Because it follows a "be" verb, it is considered a subject complement: It modifies the subject of the sentence. (The team's loss was due to an incorrect answer. My financial success is due to wise investment decisions.)
"Because of" is an adverbial prepositional phrase, meaning it modifies a verb. It usually answers the question, "Why?" (The team lost because of an incorrect answer. I am financially successful because of wise investment decisions.)
Generally lowercase, but capitalize when used as the proper name of the planet. The one exception being earth station, which is to remain lowercase.
See affect, effect.
Means for example (i.e., that is).
either ... or, neither ... nor
The nouns that follow these words do not constitute a compound subject; they are alternate subjects and require a verb that agrees with the nearest subject. (Either the dress is red or it is not. Neither he nor they are going.)
NOT electro optic.
Use three dots (no spaces between them, but a space on each side) to signify that something has been left out of a direct quote or that the writer is leaping from one topic to another.
Lowercase, unless as the first word of a sentence or listing, then capitalize.
em dash, en dash
emeritus, emeriti, emerita, emitae
This word often is added to formal titles to denote individuals who have retired but retain their rank or title. When used, place emeritus after the formal title, in keeping with the general practice of academic institutions. (Professor Emeritus John Johnson or John Johnson, professor emeritus of history) When referring to two or more individuals, use professors emeriti.
Use to mean a right to do or have something. Do not use to mean titled.
essential clauses, nonessential clauses
The essential clause cannot be eliminated without changing the meaning of the sentence. The essential clause must not be set off from the rest of the sentence by commas. "That" is the preferred pronoun to introduce clauses that refer to an inanimate object.
The nonessential clause, however, can be eliminated without changing the meaning of the sentence. The nonessential clause must be set off from the rest of the sentence by commas. "Which" is the only acceptable pronoun to introduce a nonessential clause that refers to an inanimate object or an animal without a name.
Literal translation is "and other things." Use "and others," "and so forth" or "and so on" in copy. Don't use any of these, however, in a series that begins with "for example." In this case, etc. is appropriate. Lists introduced with "such as" or "including" don't need etc. because it's assumed there are other items besides those listed.
every one, everyone
Two words when it means each individual item. One word when used as a pronoun meaning all persons. Everyone takes singular verbs and pronouns. (Every one on the team was a winner. Everyone wants his life to be happy.)
See accept, except.
Farther refers to physical distance. Further refers to an extension of time or degree.
Lowercase (e.g., a university fellow, a research fellow, a Snowdon fellow).
Capitalize as part of a named fellowship (e.g., Edward W. Snowdon and Lee Hill Snowdon Fellowship, but a Snowdon fellow).
"Fewer" is used with individuals or individual items; "less" with quantity or bulk. (Fewer users on the network require less cable.)
fiber optics (n.), fiber-optic (compound modifier)
Add "s" for plurals; not apostrophe followed by "s," which is possessive (1990s, 1990's lifestyle).
Flyer is the preferred term for a person flying in an aircraft, and for handbills: He used his frequent flyer miles; they put up flyers announcing the show. Use flier in the phrase take a flier, meaning to take a big risk.
Florida Institute of Technology
Spell out amounts less than one in stories, using hyphens between words (two-thirds, four-fifths, etc.).
full time (n.), full-time (compound modifier)
(She is a full-time engineering student. He also goes to class full time.)
(Fundraising is difficult. They planned a fundraising event. A fundraiser was hired. This event is a fundraiser for the radio station.)
Well, when used as an adjective, means suitable, proper, healthy. When used as an adverb, well means in a satisfactory manner or skillfully. (The boat runs well.)
Always lowercase, unless part of an agency or committee name; never abbreviate.
Not grey for color.
Two words, but the degree name is healthcare management.
Hyphenate as a compound modifier.
Hyphenate as a compound modifier. (This high-level decision will affect us all.)
Hyphenate as a compound modifier, except in the proper name High Tech Corridor.
All references to honorary degrees should specify that the degree was honorary.
Avoid starting a sentence with "however" when the meaning is nevertheless. "However" is used correctly at the beginning of a sentence when it means "in whatever way" or "to whatever extent." (However you advise him, he will do as he thinks best.)
The rules of prefixes apply, but in general, no hyphen.
In indicates location. Into indicates motion. (The cord is in the back of the machine. The cord is then plugged into the back of the machine.)
Use "include" to introduce a series when the items that follow are only part of the total. Use "comprise" when the full list of individual elements is given.
Hyphenated as a compound modifier. (We have an in-house marketing office.)
Use periods and no space.
in order to
Rarely necessary, use "to" instead.
Capitalize when part of a proper name (Institute for Cross Cultural Management). Lowercase when used alone in a subsequent reference. (The institute held a conference.)
See ensure, insure.
The rules of prefixes apply, but in general, no hyphen.
Use italics to emphasize individual words in text and to identify books, newspapers and magazines (excluding reference works and the Bible). TV shows, plays, movies, song titles, paintings, poems and other composition titles are set off in quotes; not italics. If you can't set words in italics, underline those words instead.
Abbreviate as Jr. and Sr. only with full names of persons or animals. Do not precede with a comma.
Hyphenate as a noun.
Should not be substituted for "as" (or such as) when comparing two or more nouns. (We use programs like Word and PowerPoint means you used programs that were similar to Word and PowerPoint; you didn't use Word or PowerPoint. We used programs such as Word and PowerPoint is correct if you actually used those programs.)
This type of list should be introduced by a main clause, followed by a colon. The first word of each item should be capitalized, and each item should have appropriate ending punctuation.
For example: Connecting your computer monitor is easy:
lists (in sentences)
Simple lists of items in sentence form should be separated by commas (The color choices were red, white and green) with no serial comma, e.g., before the "and." However, when the comma is necessary for clarity or to avoid confusion, then use it. (The color choices were blue and black, purple, yellow, and green and orange.)
Complex lists of items in sentence form, i.e., lists that contain multiple words with conjunctions, begin with a colon and items are separated by semicolons. (The color choices are: green with aqua undertones; blue and black; crimson edging on gold; and purple.)
long distance, long-distance
Always hyphenate in reference to telephone calls. In other uses, hyphenate only when used as a compound modifier.
Include the maiden name of married alumnae in parenthesis on first reference. For example, Jane (Doe) Smith '12
Use work-hours, and hyphenate as a noun.
Use employees, workers, work force if referring to a group of people needed to accomplish tasks. Use effort or force if referring to physical power in the abstract.
See can, may.
The following rules should apply.
No hyphen with this prefix unless a capitalized word follows (mid-American, mid-'80s, midsemester, midterm, midrange).
The rules in prefixes apply, but in general, no hyphen (miniseries, minibus).
Generally, should not be used to mean "almost" in written English to modify the adjectives all, every and any; the pronouns all, everyone, everything, everybody, anyone, anything and anybody; and the adverbs everywhere, anywhere and always. Most as an adverb means to the greatest or highest degree, to a very great degree and almost.
The rules in prefixes apply, but in general, no hyphen (multiengine, multimillion, multidisciplinary, multimedia).
neither ... nor
See either ... or.
The rules of prefixes apply, but in general no hyphen when forming a compound that does not have a special meaning and can be understood if "not" is used before the base word (nonlinear, nonabrasive). Use a hyphen, however, before proper nouns or in awkward combinations, such as non-nuclear. Follow Webster's Tenth New Collegiate Dictionary.
Use without numeral 12 before. To avoid confusion, do NOT use 12 a.m. or 12 p.m. in reference to either noon or midnight.
In general, spell out one through nine and first through ninth, use numerals for 10 and 10th and above. For more details, see the AP Stylebook.
OK, OK'd, OK'ing, OKs
Do NOT use okay.
on board, on-board
Two words as an adverb; hyphenate as a compound modifier. Use "aboard" when referring to getting on or onto a ship, plane, boat, etc. Never onboard.
Hyphenate as a compound modifier and adverb. (On-site campus activities will be taking place.)
"On" shows position or state of rest; "upon" stresses direction or movement.
organizations and institutions
Capitalize the full names of organizations and institutions (American Medical Association; The Boeing Company; Harvard University; Sigma Delta Chi).
Use lowercase for internal elements of an organization when they have names that are widely used generic terms (the board of directors of General Motors, the board of trustees of Columbia University).
If a complete sentence is contained within parentheses, the first letter in that sentence is capitalized and the punctuation is placed within the closing parenthesis. If an incomplete sentence is contained within parentheses, the first letter is lowercase and the punctuation is placed outside the closing parenthesis.
part time (n.), part-time (compound modifier)
(She works part time. She is a part-time student.)
Not an acronym. The programming language is named after a mathematician, Blaise Pascal.
One word. Always spell out in text, unless the text is technical or a list.
playback (n.), play back (v.)
(The video playback will show the error. The music will be played back.)
Always identify individuals in a photo starting from the left. Spell out left, right and center. Avoid using abbreviations (L, R, C). Only use a period if the caption is a complete sentence.
Acceptable caption formats include:
The words communications, graphics, electronics, headquarters and various others are to be considered both plural and singular in construction. Therefore, phrases such as communications systems, graphics artists and electronics firms do not violate the plural adjective rule of grammar—using plural adjectives to modify plural nouns.
Possessive nouns ending in "s" take only a final apostrophe, not an apostrophe followed by a second "s." (students' thoughts—meaning the thoughts of multiple students)
Follow Webster's Tenth New Collegiate Dictionary. Hyphenate if not listed but, (postbacculaureate, postbachelor, postcollegiate, postdate, postdoctoral, postgraduate).
One word as a compound modifier.
Principal is a noun and adjective meaning someone or something first in rank, authority, importance or degree. Principle is a noun that means a fundamental truth, law, doctrine or motivating force.
Never abbreviate. Capitalize when used as a formal title before a full name. (Professor John Jones)
Periods and commas always go within quotation marks. Semicolons, colons and unusual punctuation go outside quotation marks when they do not apply to the quote. Use single marks in headlines.
The correct form is $12 million to $14 million; not $12 to $14 million. Ranges should be specified using the preposition "to," not a dash. In technical text, ranges are specified with an en dash unless the range starts with "from," then use the preposition "to."
The rules of prefixes apply. See AP Stylebook. Note: For many words, the sense is the governing factor: recover (regain); re-cover (cover again); reform (improve); re-form (form again).
real time (n.), real-time (compound modifier)
(Testing will be done in real time. The entire campus will be used as a real-time aerial sensing test bed.)
Hyphenate as a compound modifier.
recur, recurred, recurring
NOT dorms or dormitories.
With accent marks.
Avoid using hand in such references. Right side is sufficient.
Acceptable on first reference for Reserve Officer Training Corps. No periods.
Capitalize when part of a proper name (School of Psychology). Lowercase when used alone in a subsequent reference. (The School of Psychology offers bachelor's degrees in several areas. The school also offers graduate degrees.)
Lowercased acronym for self-contained underwater breathing apparatus.
Lowercase spring, summer, fall, winter and derivatives such as springtime, unless part of a formal name.
Always hyphenate as a prefix.
The rules of prefixes apply, but in general, no hyphen (semifinal, semi-invalid).
setup (n.), set up (v.)
(She will set up for the meeting. The sting was a setup.)
Use "shall" to express determination. (We shall overcome. You and he shall stay.)
Either "shall" or "will" can be used in first-person constructions that do not emphasize determination. (We shall hold a meeting. We will hold a meeting.)
For second- and third-person construction, use "will" unless determination is stressed. (You will like it. She will not be pleased.)
Use "should" to express an obligation. Use "would" to express a customary action and to construct a conditional past tense. (We should help the needy. In the summer, we would spend hours at the beach.)
shut off (v.), shut-off (n.)
(She shut off the light. He used the shut-off switch.)
sign up (v.), sign-up (n.)
(Please sign up for the class. The sign-up table is in the lobby. Sign-up is at the Clemente Center.)
Two words, lowercase, but capitalize as a proper name. (Space Shuttle Endeavor)
start up (v.), start-up (n.)
(He started up the engine. The start-up company needed funding.)
Lowercase in all "state of" construction. (The state of Florida)
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.
Use text abbreviations in photo captions or bulleted lists (Melbourne, Fla.).
Use postal abbreviations when writing a complete address (150 W. University Blvd., Melbourne, FL 32901).
Not faculty-student ratio.
The rules of prefixes apply, but in general, no hyphen.
that, which, who, whom (pronouns)
Use "who" and "whom" when referring to people and to animals with names. (John Jones is the man who helped me.)
Use "that" and "which" in referring to inanimate objects and to animals without names. (The dog that bit you was his.)
their, there, they're
"Their" is a possessive pronoun. "There" is an adverb indicating direction. It is also used with a pronoun for impersonal constructions in which the subject follows the verb. (There is no food on the table.) "They're" is a contraction for they are. (This is their room. Put the book over there. They're here to learn about computers.)
Hyphenate as a compound modifier. 3-D is acceptable. Never three-D.
One word as a modifier.
Titles such as president, vice president, treasurer, reporter, editor, dean, professor should not be capitalized after a name. If you must place a title before a name, capitalize only if it is a formal title. Do not capitalize occupational descriptions. Job titles are always lowercase when they stand alone.
travel, traveled, traveling, traveler
Do not capitalize even if used before a name.
One word in all uses.
United States, U.S.
Always spell out as a noun. Can be abbreviated as an adjective.
Lowercase when it stands alone. Capitalize only when it is used as a part of an official name.
"Upon" stresses direction or movement, "on" shows position or state of rest.
This word, meaning use, is rarely needed. "Use" is usually sufficient.
No apostrophe. VA can be used on second reference.
One word, lowercase.
When writing a web address, do not include http:// if the URL contains www. If the URL does not include www, the http:// may be necessary to avoid confusion. Use your own best judgment, but be sure the URL can be perceived as a URL and not as plain text. In general, include http:// when the URL is within a larger copy block. If it stands alone, e.g., in a footer or short phrase, http:// may be omitted.
A forward slash (/) does not need to follow the address. Include a period if the URL falls at the end of a sentence.
See web entry.
Hyphenate as a part of a compound modifier (She is a well-dressed student).
"Which" introduces a nonessential clause and must be preceded by a comma (a nonessential clause can be eliminated without altering the basic meaning of a sentence).
"That" introduces an essential clause (cannot be eliminated without changing the meaning of a sentence; can stand alone and be a sentence) and is not preceded by a comma. (This is the best brochure that I have ever written. The new brochure is an exceptional piece, which will, no doubt, be a winner with the students.)
Hyphenate as a compound modifier. (white-water rafting)
Use the pronoun "who" for references to human beings and animals with names. Use the pronoun "that" to refer to inanimate objects.
No hyphen needed with the suffix "wide." Some examples are campuswide, nationwide, worldwide, areawide, companywide, universitywide, and so on.
In layout, a widow is defined as a single word of seven or fewer letters or the last syllable of a multisyllable word that appears at the end of a graph or column of typeset text or the beginning of a column. All widows should be corrected, if possible.
One word as an adjective.
Use figures and months without commas: August 1990. Use an "s" without an apostrophe to indicate spans of decades or centuries: the 1990s. Use an apostrophe for class years: She belonged to the Class of '72.