A-Z Index

Northwest Missouri State University Style Guide

Updated May 14, 2018


102 River

This is the river that borders Maryville to the east. The name apparently originated with French settlers, who thought the river’s Indian name sounded like “cent deux.”


“Associated Press Stylebook”

The most recent edition of the “Associated Press Stylebook” is the official reference guide for all non-academic University publications, both printed and electronic, with regard to style, spelling, punctuation and grammar. The “AP Stylebook” itself is based on the most recent edition of “Webster’s New World College Dictionary.” In cases where the “AP Stylebook” and “Webster’s New World” differ, prefer the dictionary.

a, an

Standard American pronunciation is the key to deciding which to use. “A” precedes a consonant, “an” a vowel: a historic (not an historic), an honor (h is silent).

A.D., B.C.

Prefer to B.C.E. and C.E.

a.m., p.m.

Do not capitalize.


Alliance of Black Collegians. A student organization at Northwest, the group's mission is to promote unity, trust, and dependability among any and all students.

academic degrees

Use the courtesy title for persons holding a doctorate: Dr. Ruth Stephens. Use last names only on second reference: Stephens said, not Dr. Stephens said.

For all other academic degrees avoid abbreviations and use a phrase such as, John Smith, who has a master's degree in psychology. Use an apostrophe for bachelor's, master's and associate's, but note that constructions such as bachelor of arts or master of science are not possessive. These phrases are always lowercased and should never be used as a title before a name.

Academic disciplines are always lowercase except for proper nouns like English: He has a bachelor of arts degree in French and a master of science degree in music education.

Use abbreviations such as B.S. Ed., B.A., B.S., M.A. and Ph.D. only in a list identifying many individuals. Such abbreviations come after a full name, never after a last name only. Set the abbreviation off with commas. Richard Fried, Ph.D.

In such phrases as John Smith has a specialist degree in education, do not abbreviate specialist, as in Spec. John Smith. A reference to a specialist degree is never possessive. Do not write, John Smith has a specialist’s degree.

academic departments

Uppercase the following form: the Department of Natural Sciences, the School of Business. Lowercase the informal phrase the business school, the fine and performing arts department. Use and rather than "&."

View complete list of Northwest's colleges and departments »

academic honors

Cum laude, magna cum laude and summa cum laude receive no special treatment, such as italics, in running copy: She graduated magna cum laude.


Always spell out the full name of entities commonly referred to with an acronym. Use the acronym in subsequent references. See individual listings for common University acronyms.


This is an exception to the Associated Press preference for adviser.


Not afterwards.


In general, use figures for someone’s age. Age expressed as an adjective before a noun or as a substitute for a noun requires hyphens. Examples: a 5-year-old boy, a 2-month-old baby, a man in his 50s (no apostrophe)

All-America, All-American, Academic All-America(n)

These terms are always capitalized on both sides of the hyphen. All-American is an adjective.

Judy Denslow is an Academic All-American by anyone’s standards.

Tim Bradley was an All-America halfback in his sophomore year.


Use a hyphen, as in all-around athlete.

alma mater

It is no longer necessary to italicize this and other Latin constructions commonly associated with academia.

alumni office

This function is part of the Office of University Advancement. Do not capitalize.

alumnus, alumna, alumni, alumnae

An alumnus is a man, an alumna is a woman. Alumni are a group of men or men and women. Alumnae are a group of women.

American Dream Grant 

The American Dream Grant is for first-time freshmen attending Northwest. The first of its kind in the nation, the grant is unique in that it covers the costs of tuition, room and board, primary textbooks and the use of a laptop computer. The grant provides funding for the first two years of education at Northwest and is designed for students who have financial need.


Avoid this phrase.


There is never a first annual anything. If you must, use inaugural. There is no need to hyphenate phrases such as the second annual Northwest Powwow.

apartments and suites

Though facilities used to provide students with on-campus housing are generally called residence halls, two such University complexes should be referred to in a different way. (See Forest Village Apartments and Tower Suites.)

apostrophe, possessives

To form the possessive of singular nouns, add 's. To form the possessive of plural nouns, add only the apostrophe:

  • Bob's bicycle is green. (singular possessive)
  • The girls' haircuts were alike. (plural possessive)
  • Mark Jones's minivan broke down. (singular possessive)
  • The Joneses' garage door wouldn't open. (plural possessive)

A few irregular plural nouns take 's to form the possessive: We cleaned the children's rooms. The media's coverage of the event was sensational.

The genitive case (indicating a possessor or source) also requires the 's or s' or an of construction: You need 36 hours' credit to graduate. For the independent study, he earned one hour's credit. She earned 15 hours of credit for her work at CITE.


Capitalize award only when it is part of the name of an award; otherwise, it must be lowercase, except when it appears in composition titles, tables of contents, or other places where most other words are capitalized.


baccalaureate, bachelor’s degree

See academic degrees.

Baldrige National Quality Award

Note that Baldrige is spelled with only one "d." Baldrige Award is acceptable on second reference.

ball game

Two words.

Bearcat, Bearcats, Bobby Bearcat

This mythical creature, nicknamed Bobby, serves as Northwest's mascot. All University intercollegiate athletic teams, both men's and women's, are known as Bearcats. The nickname 'Cats may also be used.

According to tradition, the word Bearcat was used in 1916 by a Drury College basketball coach who had come to know the Northwest Normals as a formidable opponent. In later years, student "research" proved that a Bearcat is an animal that is hard to capture and harder to hold. (See traditions.)

Bearcat Card

Refers to the identification card carried by Northwest students and employees.

Bearcat Commons

Bearcat Commons is an all-you-care-to-eat dining facility in the lower level of the Student Union. It consists of a Mediterranean kitchen offering pizza and pasta, produce market and deli, all-American grill, Tex Mex cuisine, bakery, Mongolian grill and exhibition stations.

Bearcat Marching Band

Spell out on first reference. BMB is acceptable on second reference. The official marching band of Northwest includes students from nearly every major field of study.

Bearcat Zone

A tailgating party at College Park before home football games.

Bell of '48, the

Avoid referring to this campus landmark on the south lawn of the Administration Building as the Bell of 1948 or The Bell of '48, etc. The contractive form is more correct, and the definite article is lowercased. A gift of the senior class of that year, the bell is rung to announce athletic victories and during memorial services for deceased members of the University community. It may also be rung to announce any event deemed important by Student Senate or administration.

biannual, biennial

Biannual means twice a year and is a synonym for semiannual. Biennial means every two years.


Prefer black to African-American unless used in a title or quote.

blond, blonde

Use blond as a noun for males and as an adjective in all applications. Use blonde as a noun for females: She has blond hair. Blonde jokes are an inappropriate form of workplace humor.

Board of Regents

Capitalized when referring to the Northwest governing board. The Board or Regents is acceptable on subsequent references.

The Northwest Board of Regents is meeting the Friday before commencement.

The regents have yet to make a decision.

Titles before a name such as Board Chair Mark Hargens and Board Member Gene Dorrel are capitalized.

The Board of Regents is responsible for sound resource management of the University and determining general, educational and financial policies.

box office, box-office

Box office is a noun. Box-office is an adjective. You can buy tickets at the box office before the show. The Encore series had excellent box-office this year.


Use Beautifying Residences Using Student Help on first reference.


campuswide, universitywide

Both are one word. Universitywide is cumbersome and best avoided.


Canceled and canceling but cancellation.


When in doubt, don’t capitalize. Capitalization does not confer prestige or importance. Here are some general rules:

Reserve initial capitals for brand names, obvious proper nouns, companies, colleges, departments and organizations. Obviously words at the beginning of sentences or used in titles and headings also require capitalization.

Don't capitalize the names of University buildings or facilities when used generically. B.D. Owens Library is capitalized. I’m going to the library to return a book is not.

Use capitalization only for official names of programs or departments, not for the names of disciplines. If you capitalize “political science” readers will mistake the phrase for the official name of your department or organization. The word “English” and other proper nouns are obvious exceptions. (See academic departments.)

Do not capitalize the common names of semesters, terms, academic sessions or periods (such as fall semester, registration, freshman orientation).

Our style demands that the word University be capitalized whenever it refers to Northwest. This is an exception not a rule, so do not refer to the Department when writing about the Department of English or the College in an article about the College of Education and Human Services.

capitol, capital

When referencing the seat of government of a state or the nation, the word Capitol is capitalized and spelled with an “o.”

The president is going to Jefferson City to speak with legislators at the Capitol.

Jefferson City is the capital city of Missouri.


Chemical Abuse Resource and Education. A program that provides educational assistance to students in the areas of drug and alcohol abuse.


Preferred over catalogue.

catchment area, Northwest’s traditional catchment area

This phrase refers to the geographic area from which Northwest historically draws most of its students.

In years past the region could accurately be said to comprise the Missouri counties listed below. But since Northwest now recruits large numbers of students from metropolitan Kansas City; the states of Iowa, Kansas and Nebraska; and St. Louis and the Ozarks, the phrase is of limited use.

Counties included in Northwest’s traditional catchment area: Atchison, Nodaway, Holt, Andrew, Buchanan, Platte, Clay, Clinton, DeKalb, Gentry, Worth, Harrison, Daviess, Caldwell, Ray, Mercer, Grundy, Livingston and Carroll.


There is no need to spell out compact disc if there is no possibility that the reader will mistake the abbreviation for certificates of deposit. CD-ROM, the acronym for compact-disc read-only memory, is more widely understood than the spelled-out form and is acceptable in all references.

Dean L. Hubbard Center for Innovation

Hubbard Center may be used on second reference.

Completed in 2009 and located at the north end of the Northwest campus, the 46,679-square-foot center is a mixed-use business incubator and academic research facility that features state-of-the-art research labs and office space. Along with programming specializing in nanotechnology, the Hubbard Center provides entrepreneurial support to students, faculty and area industries. The facility was named in honor of Northwest's ninth president, Dr. Dean L. Hubbard, in 2014.

centuries, decades

Usually lowercased: 20th century, 19th century. The phrase turn of the 20th century refers to circa 2000, not circa 1900. That’s turn of the 19th century.

Here are some other useful examples:

first century, second century, 10th century
first-century art, second-century religion, 10th-century life
11th century, 13th century, 20th century
the '20s, '60s, '80s
the 1700s, the 1980s
14th-century literature, 21st-century technology
'80s-style capitalism, '60s-influenced music

chairman, chairwoman, chair

The head of an academic department is the chair, not the chairman, chairwoman or chairperson.

Dr. Mike Stewart is the new chair of the Department of Chemistry and Physics.

Chair Mary Peters presided over the Department of Marketing and Management's annual workshop.

The department chairs gathered in the boardroom following Tuesday's Regents meeting.

Challenge University

Use Challenge University on first reference. Prefer Challenge U in all subsequent references. There is no period after the U.

Challenge U is a program of Northwest that partners with Kauffman Scholars, Inc. to offer a residential on-campus summer program for urban youths. Youth leaders supervise and mentor the middle school and high school students who participate in the program. 

Chamber of Commerce

Always capitalize, even the plural Chambers of Commerce.

Channel 8, Channel 9

Capitalize the word channel when referring to these dedicated University stations. Note that Channel 8 carries University programming, and that Channel 9 is regarded as public access.


Located in The Jones on the second floor of the Student Union. It operates a chain of limited-service chicken restaurants specializing in pressure-cooked, breaded chicken breast sandwiches, wraps, strips, nuggets and salads.


Never express as Xmas. Official University greetings --meaning cards sent and signed corporately by University offices and departments -- should avoid the word and use phrases such as happy holidays or season’s greetings. The use of the word Christmas informally or personally by University faculty and staff is always acceptable.


Center for Information and Technology in Education. The center assists and supports faculty members with their instructional technology needs.

city hall

Capitalize when referring to a specific seat of local government: Maryville City Hall. But use city hall in the general sense: The issue has come up in city halls all over north Missouri.


Capitalize as a title only when the word precedes a name and is used without qualifiers:

After arriving on campus in 1994, Coach Mel Tjeerdsma turned the Bearcat football program into a national powerhouse.

Despite falling just short of a national title, head football coach Smith called the 2005-’06 Bearcats one of his best teams ever.

collective nouns

Collective nouns such as faculty or staff can take a singular or plural verb depending on meaning. If what's meant is a group acting as one, then use the singular verb: The music faculty at Northwest has a national reputation for preparing students to teach in public schools. If what's meant is a group of individuals acting as individuals, then use the plural verb: The music faculty are working to select the music for next week’s commencement ceremony.


Even though Northwest is a university, it is permissible to refer to those attending school here as college students. Writers should also feel free to use such phrases as college years, college career, college experience and the opportunity to go to college.

College Park

This park, which is across the street to the west from Bearcat Stadium, is the traditional location of the Bearcat Zone tailgating event, which takes place before most home football games. The roofed stage on the south end of the park across the street from the Ron Houston Center for the Performing Arts is called the Raymond J. Courter College Park Pavilion.


Northwest comprises three major academic divisions: the Melvin D. and Valorie G. Booth College of Business and Professional Studies, the College of Education and Human Services and the College of Arts and Sciences. The chief administrator in charge of each college carries the title of dean.


Place colons outside quotation marks or parentheses. If a quoted passage happens to end with a colon, drop the colon.

Always capitalize after a colon when the colon introduces a formal statement or any kind of title or quotation, but lowercase in other instances.

Use a colon after constructions such as 'as follows' and 'the following' only if the list or illustrating matter immediately follows.

Incorrect: Use the following guidelines as you work to complete the scholarship application process. Note that you must be a high school senior to apply:

Correct: You must be a high school senior to apply for the Mildred Jones Scholarship. Use the following guidelines as you work to complete the application process:

The colon can be used to indicate a shift in tone or a grammatical break. Although correct, it is usually better for the sake of clear writing to use a dash (− or --), a comma with a conjunction or a semicolon. The best alternative is often to break the construction into two sentences.

Correct: Students should not delude themselves: binge drinking constitutes a serious insult to the brain that can result in death.

Correct: Students should not delude themselves. Binge drinking constitutes a serious insult to the brain that can result in death.

Correct: Students should not delude themselves − binge drinking can result in death.

Correct: Students should not delude themselves. Binge drinking constitutes a serious insult to the brain, and the results sometimes prove fatal.


As with periods, commas always go inside quotation marks but outside parentheses or brackets.

Commas have a wide range of uses but are probably misused more than any other punctuation mark. When in doubt, leave the comma out is a good guideline. Here are some rules to keep in mind:

1. Use commas to separate three or more items in a series. Do not use a comma before the conjunction (if any) that joins the last two items: American Dream Grant recipients receive tuition, room, board, books and the use of a computer.

2. If items in a series contain internal punctuation (including commas), or are very long or complex. Use semicolons to separate them: The Deans Council consists of the provost, Dr. Jamie Hooyman and Dr. Michael Steiner, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences.

Note that in such a list a semicolon is used before the conjunction joining the final two items.

3. Always use a comma before a conjunction that joins the clauses of a compound sentence: Laura ordered the new laptop stands, but they haven’t come in yet.

Beware of sentences that have a single subject but more than one verb. Such constructions do not take a comma following a conjunction: I got this laptop five years ago and never reloaded the new anti-virus software.

4. Use commas to set off a nonrestrictive clause. A clause is nonrestrictive if it can be omitted without changing the meaning of the main clause: 'Huckleberry Finn,' which is often banned by local school districts, is one of the greatest American novels ever written.

5. Use a comma to set off a dependent clause that precedes the main clause: With Parker back in the lineup, the Bearcats could win another national title this year.

6. It’s usually best not to use commas at the ends of centered lines of text in invitations, headings, titles and similar places.

7. Appositives are usually set off by commas: The dean of the business college, Dr. Tom Smith, just got back from Mexico.

Note that phrases like Peter's wife, Cathy, works at the library take commas because Peter, it is hoped, has only one wife. The construction My colleague Don White is the University photographer is not set off by commas because the writer presumably has more than one colleague.

8. If two or more adjectives modify a noun separate them with commas: Writing one's dissertation is a difficult, demanding task. But don't use a comma if the first adjective modifies the combination of the second adjective and the noun: The Gaunt House is a fine example of mid-Victorian architecture.

9. Place commas before and after the state name in city or state combinations within a sentence. Northwest is located in Maryville, a town of about 10,000 people.

10. Don't use a comma before Jr., Sr., II, III, etc. These designators are part of the person's name and should not be separated from it. Also there is no need to use a comma before the abbreviation Inc. when used as part of a company’s name.

company names

Consult the company Web site if in doubt about a company’s name. Regardless of these sources, however, do not use a comma before Inc. or Ltd.

In general, follow the spelling and capitalization used by the company: iMac, eBay, but capitalize the first letter if the name is the first word of a sentence.

Do not use all capital letters unless they are individually pronounced: IBM, BMW.

It is usually permissible to use the abbreviations Co. and Corp. if they are part of the company’s formal name. Never abbreviate these words when they stand alone.

compound words

Compounds with -like and -wide are usually closed (no hyphen). Except for words of three or more syllables, proper nouns, or other forms in which a closed compound would likely be confusing (such as words ending with -l). Examples include Hemingway-like, swanlike, collegewide, University-wide (when referring to Northwest), universitywide (when used in the general sense).

Consult the dictionary to determine whether to close or hyphenate common compounds such as lifelong (closed) or life-sized (hyphenated).


Comprise means “embraced," as in, The J.W. Jones Student Union food court comprises many dining options, including pizza, fast food and Mexican and Chinese cuisine. These options, however, do not comprise the food court. They constitute it.


Capitalize U.S. Congress and Congress when referring to the national legislative body, also capitalize in such titles and organizations as the Argentine Congress and Congress of Racial Equality. The word is lowercased when used as a synonym for convention or seminar, as in an international congress of scholars.

Coordinating Board for Higher Education

Spell out and use initial capitals on first reference. On second reference, use either Coordinating Board or CBHE.

course load

Two words.

course titles

Lowercase course titles unless they contain a proper noun. For example survey of 19th century women’s literature, English composition, organic chemistry, principles of geographic information systems, methods of teaching mathematics, history of Eastern Europe.


One word.


courtesy titles and middle initials

As a general rule, use the name only without Mr., Mrs., or Ms. The exception is Dr. As a general rule, avoid middle initials and names unless the name or initial is customary or requested by the subject. One would never refer to J.D. Salinger as "Jerome Salinger."


Give currency amounts in figures: $2, not two dollars. If the amount includes cents, write $2.49. Spell out figures when describing currency: a five-dollar bill, a twenty-dollar gold piece.

Amounts exceeding a million dollars are written $1 million, $4 billion, $1.7 million, etc.


The plural is curricula. Do not capitalize core curriculum, undergraduate curriculum, graduate curriculum, business curriculum, liberal arts curriculum and so forth.

curriculum vitae

Prefer this phrase to “résumé” when referring to a faculty or staff member’s summary of academic degrees, published work and accomplishments.


dashes and hyphens

Use a hyphen for compound adjectives and compound words: "The high-stepping Bearcat cheerleaders." Use an “en dash” (– or --) to set off phrases. There should be one letter space at either end of the dash. The Memorial Bell Tower – a campus landmark since the 1970s – is a common gathering place for students and faculty alike.


Like phenomena, strata and media, the word data is plural and so best used with a plural verb: “In this case, we believe the data are conclusive.”

database (n., adj.)


datelines, cities and states

As a rule, use state abbreviations with all towns and cities outside Missouri except for large metropolitan areas whose location is well known. Use the state designator with Kansas City in order to differentiate between Missouri and Kansas. See the “AP Stylebook” for a complete list of cities whose names stand alone.


Express dates parenthetically in running copy: The concert is scheduled for 8 p.m. Sunday, May 4, in Charles Johnson Theater. Avoid constructions such as May 4th, even though we pronounce dates as ordinals. Do not abbreviate days of the week.

days of the week

Do not abbreviate days of the week (Sun., Mon., Tue., etc) in running text.

Deans Council

Deans is plural in this case, not possessive. Do not use an apostrophe.

Dean of the Graduate School and Vice Provost

If used with a name, use after the name with a comma: Dr. Greg Haddock, dean of the graduate school and vice provost.


Use figures with no apostrophe: 1920s, the mid-1930s.

desktop (n., adj.)


dial up (v.), dialup (adj.)



Use disk except as: compact disc, digital video disc, laserdisc and floppy disc. DVD is acceptable in all references for digital video disc.


Acceptable in all references for digital video disc.



This is hyphenated, as are most constructions involving “e” as a quasi-abbreviation for electronic.

effect, affect

Effect, used as a noun, means result. Used as a verb it means to accomplish. Affect used as a verb means to influence.

Eggs and Issues

Takes initial capitals. These periodic meetings provide business and civic leaders' perspectives on current topics, information used by Northwest Leadership Team and other leaders to identify issues for collaborative resolution and initiatives for joint undertaking.

Einstein Bros. Bagels

Located in The Jones on the second floor of the Student Union. It is a chain of coffeehouses and bakeries that specialize in brewed coffee, bagels, sandwiches and croissants.  


Do not use this word, or words like senior and senior citizen to refer to an individual. If you know it, use the person’s age: an 88-year-old man; Dr. Edna Knickerbocker turned 104 last week.

If you are writing about older people generally, these terms may be used, but sparingly. Example: The new service-learning program is designed to promote concern for the elderly among young people.


Always use three periods without spaces to form an ellipsis. Within the sentence, treat as a word with a letter space before and behind. An ellipsis is most commonly used to stand for a deleted word of phrase. (See punctuation guide.)

Without an ellipses: There is no doubt that Northwest will continue its leadership role in higher education for many years to come.

With an ellipses: There is no doubt that Northwest will continue its leadership role … for many years to come.


Lowercase with no hyphen unless used at the beginning of a sentence or in a title.

email and Web addresses

Present email and Web addresses in lowercase using the following style:

For most Web addresses the http:// is superfluous. Use if other protocols (such as https://) are referenced.

Avoid breaking email and Web addresses. If the address will not fit on one line, don't add a hyphen or other punctuation. Break before existing punctuation, such as periods, hyphens, slashes, double slashes, "@" symbols and tildes.

emeritus, emerita

The words are singular and used to denote someone from academia who has retired but retained their title as a mark of respect. For example, Professor Emeritus Joe Smith, Dean Emerita Judy Dwimmer, Dr. Ed Rutledge, professor emeritus of chemistry and physics.

The plural of emeritus and emerita is emeriti: The local emeriti gathered for a fundraiser at the Alumni House.


This is the name of the University’s annual performing arts series. Only the word Encore should be capitalized: This year’s Encore series includes two plays by Shakespeare and two Broadway shows.

Enrollment Management, Office of

This is the correct name of the office and should be used on first reference. The leader of this area is the dean of enrollment management. There is no such thing as a dean of admissions at Northwest.

ensure, insure, assure

Although these words are often used interchangeably, add clarity by making the following distinctions:

Use ensure to mean guarantee: “We want to do everything we can to ensure that our students succeed in the classroom and in life.”

Use insure when referring to insurance: “The University insures its employees through a variety of options.”

Use assure to suggest the removal of doubt or worry: “The president assured the faculty and staff that no programs would be cut.”

entitled, titled

Plays, books, lectures and so forth are titled, not entitled. Use entitled to mean a right to do something.

Eugene O’Neill’s only comedy is titled "Ah, Wilderness!"

The professor was entitled to a promotion.

 et cetera, etc.

Always avoid.

exclamation point

Except in titles, this punctuation mark is best left unused.


Prefer online magazine or online periodical.


faculty ranks

Northwest's faculty ranks, from lowest to highest, are instructor, assistant professor, associate professor and professor. The phrase full professor is sometimes used to denote the highest rank, but it should never be given as a title. Avoid using the word instructor as a generic term describing any or all faculty members.

Ranks are capitalized when used as a title before the name: Assistant Professor John Smith. They are lowercase when used as a descriptive following the name: Linda Johnson, a professor of geology and geography, or Mateo Wilson, associate professor of chemistry and physics.

Because some of Northwest's departments have cumbersome names (The Department of Language, Literature and Writing, for example). It is sometimes preferable to identify a faculty member by their academic specialty (Dr. John Gallaher, associate professor of English) rather than the full department title. Before doing so, however, be sure what that person's academic specialty is. When in doubt consult with the faculty member or department chair.

faculty research grants

There are two kinds of in-house research grants available to faculty, and both are awarded through the Graduate Office. Use initial capitals for phrases like Faculty Research grant, Applied Research & Projects grant, Faculty Research budget and Applied Research & Projects budget.

Faculty Research grants fund purely academic research. Applied Research & Projects grants fund work that benefits the University or local community. Both kinds of grants are awarded through the Graduate Office by the Faculty Research Committee.

Faculty Senate

The Faculty Senate is the representative body of the faculty at Northwest. Use initial capitals. Titles before a name are capitalized: Faculty Senate President Jane Smith.

Family Day

Capitalize in all references. This event is always on a Saturday early in the fall semester. Parents and family members come to campus to visit their student and make sure he or she is adjusting to the challenges of campus life.


This abbreviation for frequently asked questions is acceptable for Web usage but not for print publications. As always, it’s better to spell it out.

farther, further

Farther refers to distance. Further denotes time or quantity. The Bearcat track team runs farther and faster than the competition, but the Faculty Senate decides that further research is necessary.


Don’t capitalize unless it’s part of a name or title: Federal Emergency Management Agency, Federal Bureau of Investigation. The federal government is funding that program.


Do not use as a noun. Prefer woman or girl. Female is acceptable as an adjective: She is one of the greatest female athletes in Northwest history.


The name of this national organization for young people preparing for careers in agriculture, agriculture education and agribusiness is no longer Future Farmers of America. Simply use FFA in all references.


This is a specialized bit of jargon used chiefly on labels in the interest of saving lives. The word for an object or material that can catch fire is inflammable.

Forest Village Apartments

Spell out on first reference. Forest Village is acceptable on second reference. The apartments contain living quarters for 182 juniors, seniors and graduate students.


Spell out amounts less than one and use hyphens: one-half, two and two-thirds, 11 and three-fourths.

Fraternity & Sorority Life and Greek-letter organizations

Always capitalize as a proper nouns. When referring to social organizations, honor societies or similar groups prefer "Greek-letter,” as in “Delta Zeta is one of the Greek-letter organizations on campus.

Spell out the names of sororities, fraternities and honor and professional societies on first reference. On second reference it is permissible to use English alphabet equivalents to Greek letters. Thus Alpha Kappa Lambda may be written “AKL.”

The Interfraternity Council (IFC on second reference) is the governing body for all men’s national Greek-letter organizations on campus. The Panhellenic Council, which has no acronym or abbreviation, governs sororities. (See fraternities, sororities.)

fraternities, sororities

Spell out the names of Greek-letter organizations such as Delta Sigma Theta. The word “Fraternity & Sorority Life” used in such phrases as “Fraternity & Sorority life,” “Fraternity & Sorority Life community” and "Fraternity & Sorority Life system” is always capitalized.

Technically, the “Fraternity & Sorority Life system” consists of “social” fraternities and sororities only, not academic honor societies or groups of students who share a common interest or major.

Sororities in the Fraternity & Sorority Life system are governed by the Panhellenic Council. The governing body for fraternities is the Interfraternity Council.

Both sororities and fraternities are subject to administrative oversight via the Office of Student Involvement. There is no such thing as Fraternity & Sorority Life Activities or the Fraternity & Sorority Life Office. (View a complete list of fraternities and sororities at Northwest.)

freshman, student classifications

Use for both men and women. The phrase first-year student is acceptable and indeed preferable in many instances.

Don't capitalize freshman, sophomore, junior, senior, graduate, postgraduate, postdoctoral or any similar designation unless it is part of a title, a headline or the official name of an organization. Avoid the acronym ABD for all-but-dissertation.

fundraiser, fundraising

One word in all cases.


A funeral is a service. The term funeral service is therefore redundant.



Do not use gay as a noun or synonym for homosexual unless it is part of a direct quote or title. Avoid using the word to describe an event, person or situation that is bright and cheerful.

gender-neutral language

Make your writing as inclusive and gender-neutral as possible when speaking or writing as a representative of Northwest or its programs and services. Here are some techniques to keep in mind:

1. Use the second person (you and your): Most college professors expect you to study at least three hours for every hour spent in class.

2. Use plural nouns and pronouns, but take care to change verbs and other nouns and pronouns as needed: College students should be prepared to study at least three hours for every hour they spend in class.

3. As a last resort, use “he or she,” “him or her,” “his or her” and so forth: Each student should make sure he or she spends at least three hours studying for every hour spent in class. Note this can easily be rendered as All students should make sure they spend at least three hours studying for every hour spent in class.

geographic terms and names

Lowercase north, south, east and west and their variations when seeking to indicate direction. Capitalize north, south, east, west and their variations when referring to specific regions. One exception is “northwest Missouri,” which, when northwest is capitalized, is too similar to the name of the University. A second exception is words like westerner and easterner: “James grew up on Oklahoma, but he talks and dresses like an easterner.”


We went north, then east, then south and finally west.

She drove southeast for nearly 100 miles.

Jane is from the South. Calvin is a northerner.

Salem is a typical South Missouri town.

Suburban West St. Louis has seen a huge growth in population over the last 15 years.

Southern hospitality, Southern accent (Capitalize only when referring to the region's culture, people or history. Phrases such as southern city and western climate are lowercase.)

Capitalize the names of physiographic provinces and divisions. For example Antarctica, Antarctic Circle, Appalachia, Gulf Coast, Great Plains, Ozark Fringe, High Plains, Hudson Valley, New England, Old Northwest, Tidewater Country, Pacific Northwest, Little Dixie, Mississippi River Valley.

giveaway, giveaways

One word, no hyphens.

grade-point average

GPA is acceptable on first reference, but don't hesitate to spell out and hyphenate for the sake of clarity.


In running text, enclose letter grades, “A,” “B,” “C” and so forth in quotes. In tables and charts, omit the quotation marks, but retain capitalization. The modifier pass/fail is not treated specially: “It was a pass/fail course, in which I earned a grade of ‘Pass.’”

graduate assistant

Usually spelled out. It is permissible to use the acronym GA on second reference in informal writing. Avoid using as a capitalized title before a name: “Judy Wiedmer, a graduate assistant in the English department,” not “English Graduate Assistant Judy Wiedmer.”

Graduate Office

Use initial capitals. The Graduate Office is the administrative arm of the Graduate School.

Graduate School

References to the University’s Graduate School are always capitalized, as is the name of its administrative headquarters, the Graduate Office.

The Graduate School is headed by the graduate dean, whose full title is dean of the graduate school and vice provost.

Greek (Greek Life)

See Fraternity & Sorority Life 

GreenTower Press

Do not put a space between green and tower but capitalize both. The GreenTower Press is a small press supported by Northwest's English department.



Hispanic American Leadership Organization. This student organization at Northwest promotes and maintains a healthy and positive environment for Hispanic students and others who want to learn more about the Hispanic culture.

he, she, they

Inclusiveness aside, it is never correct to use the plural pronoun in a singular construction when gender is unknown. For example, When an athlete goes to college without a scholarship they usually have to walk on in order to make the team.

Given the need for inclusive language, the awkward construction “he or she” is sometimes unavoidable: Visiting your student on Family Day is a great way to make sure he or she is adjusting to the challenges of college life.

One way to avoid the problem is to make the troublesome noun plural: When writers seek to use a politically correct example they often use the wrong pronoun.

health care

Hyphenate health care when it modifies a complex noun: health-care delivery system, student health-care specialist.

Help Desk

Capitalize in all references. The Help Desk is part of Client Computing, a non-academic department of the Office of Information Systems.

Hickory Stick, the

The tradition of the Hickory Stick dates to 1930 when it was introduced as a traveling trophy bestowed following the annual Bearcat-Truman State Bulldogs football game. It is believed to be the oldest such trophy in NCAA Division II competition. (See traditions.)

high school

High school is always two words.

highway designations

Use these forms: Interstate 70, U.S. 71, U.S. 36, Kansas 10, Missouri 291, Route EE. Do not use “highway” as part of the road’s name.

historic, historical

Use the indefinite article “a” with these words, not “an.” “An” is correct in British English because the initial consonant is often not pronounced.

Do not confuse these terms. An event is historic if it is important. It is historical if it happened in the past, no matter the significance.


Always capitalize when used in reference to the annual celebration or football game at Northwest. Examples: the Homecoming game, going to Homecoming, the Homecoming Variety Show, Homecoming float, Homecoming weekend.

Lowercase only when referring to this kind of celebration in general terms: “Most colleges and universities cling to their homecoming traditions.”

Also capitalize most special events happening in conjunction with Homecoming: Walkout Day, the Variety Show, M-Club Awards Banquet.

Lowercase references to the Homecoming king and queen unless used as a title before a name: Homecoming King Josh Lamberson. Also lowercase the word parade as in Homecoming parade.


One word and lowercase unless at the beginning of a sentence or used in a title.

Honors Program

Capitalize when referring to the Honors Program at Northwest. Lowercase when referring to such programs generally. Northwest does not have an Honors College.


A meaningless adverb best avoided. Originally it meant “in a hopeful manner,” but careless writers and speakers have degraded the word so that it now almost always stands for “I hope that.”

Human Resources, Office of

This is the correct name of the office and should be used on first reference. There is no such thing as the Office of Human Resources.

hyphens and dashes

A hyphen is a punctuation mark used to separate the parts of compound words, especially nouns and adjectives. A dash is a somewhat longer mark used to indicate an indeterminate verbal stop inserted into a phrase. Think of it as a colon with artistic pretensions. (See punctuation guide.)

When keyboarded, a hyphen looks like this (-), and a dash looks like this (– or --). Here are some examples of how to use each:

University of Missouri-Columbia, an ever-present reality, a never-ending struggle, post-doctoral candidate.

That’s the best pass play I’ve ever seen – ever. This year’s freshman class is one of the largest – and maybe the largest – in Northwest history. Don’t look back – someone might be gaining on you.

Notice that dashes carry a space at each end, just like a word. Ellipses (…) work the same way.


Interfraternity Council 

Spell out on first reference. IFC is acceptable on second reference. 


As a general rule do not use the middle initial of someone’s name in a University publication or media release. Make an exception when the individual expresses a strong personal preference or has achieved some measure of celebrity and is commonly referred to in a certain way: William F. Buckley, F.W. de Klerk.


Prefer “regardless.”

International Student Organization

Spell out on first reference. ISO is acceptable on second reference. This campus organization of students and faculty promotes better relationships among students of different cultural and ethnic backgrounds.


Cross-platform electronic communication has rendered the effective and elegant practice of italicizing the titles of complete artistic and scholarly works obsolete. Use quotes for all such titles.

Its, it’s

“Its” is a possessive pronoun. “It’s” is a contraction of “it is.” It’s incorrect to use these terms in any other way.


Jones, The

The Jones is a dining area located on the second floor of the Student Union that consists of four retail dining concepts: Chick-fil-A, Einstein Bros. Bagels, Zen and Provisions on Demand (P.O.D.).


There is only one “e” in judgment.


Key quality indicators (KQI)

Like core cultural values, the phrase key quality indicators – which refers to various methods of gauging the effectiveness of administrative processes – should not be capitalized unless used in a title. The unpunctuated abbreviation KQI is acceptable on second reference.

Northwest’s KQIs include:

  • Treating you with respect, fairness and honesty.
  • Making you feel important and earning your trust.
  • Performing our tasks with competence and skill.
  • Giving you confidence in the quality of what we provide.
  • Communicating clearly and courteously the services provided.
  • Making it easy for you to know what you can expect.
  • Listening actively to your requests, comments and concerns.
  • Making it easy for you to tell us what you need.
  • Being flexible and open to new ideas.
  • Accepting you and valuing your knowledge.
  • Providing what we agree to deliver in a timely manner.
  • Enabling you to depend on us to help meet your goals.
  • Maintaining a safe and orderly, healthy, well-functioning and attractive campus.
  • Providing you with a pleasant environment in which to learn and work.


These are the call letters for Northwest’s student-operated campus radio station, which broadcasts on 106.7 FM. The station began broadcasting in 1960 as KDLX. The broadcast studio is located in Wells Hall.


Laurel Review, the

Do not capitalize “the” when referring to the University’s literary magazine, which is published by the Department of Language, Literature and Writing.


When referring to the Missouri General Assembly, which is made up of the state’s House and Senate, the word is always capitalized.

liberal arts

Hyphenate when used as an adjective. Bill graduated at the end of the spring semester, and now he’s working on a liberal-arts degree at Washington University.


Always one word.


Always one word.


Here are some guidelines for the use and punctuation of vertical lists.

Vertical lists are set off from the body text in order to catch the reader’s attention. Lists are a good way to organize lengthy items that contain two or more sentences. You may use either bullets or numbers and letters to mark individual items.

In a list, the bullet, number or letter takes the place of punctuation (such as commas or semicolons) between items. Don't use any punctuation at the ends of bulleted items that are not sentences. Use a comma, period or semicolon at the end of the first part of a bulleted item if it is followed by a complete sentence. Capitalize the first word in each item whether or not it is a complete sentence. Use a line space between the top and bottom of your list and running text. Type only one space between the bullet and the first word of the bulleted item. Do not align run over lines with text indented following the bullet. Note the example below.

Homecoming traditions at Northwest include:

  • A parade featuring dozens of floats created by student organizations and local businesses
  • Walkout Day, which takes place the Friday before Homecoming Saturday. All classes are canceled to give students a chance to work on floats and complete other preparations for the weekend celebration.
  • The M-Club Hall of Fame athletics banquet
  • The Melvin D. and Valorie G. Booth College of Business and Professional Studies alumni reception
  • Tailgating and entertainment in the Bearcat Zone across the street from the stadium in College Park
  • The annual student Variety Show in the Ron Houston Center for the Performing Arts
  • A halftime extravaganza in Bearcat Stadium featuring the Bearcat Marching Band and the Homecoming king and queen and their court
  • Receptions and parties for various alumni groups, especially the 50-year class reunion

In an enumerated vertical list, each item is preceded by a number or letter followed by a period. Use enumerated lists when you want to refer back to specific items (e.g., "as in item 11 above"). Numbers (as opposed to letters) are best used when sequential order is important.

Align letters or numbers vertically along the periods that follow them (this is known as decimal alignment or decimal tab). Again, do not indent run over lines.


It looks odd, but the preferred spelling has no final “e.”

log in, log out, log on, log off

log in, log out (v.); login, logout (n., adj.); log on, log off (v.); logon, logoff (n., adj.). Examples: Log on to your computer. Go to the logoff prompt.

Long Walk, the

The phrase is capitalized when referring to the pedestrian corridor that stretches south to north from the main entrance to campus on Fourth Street to the Administration Building.






One word.


Words ending in ly when used to begin a sentence or phrase do not require a comma: Actually we’ve found that our American Dream Grant students have about the same academic success rate as their classmates.



As a general rule, if you refer to one school by its mascot you must refer to the opposing school by its mascot as well. Do not, for example, write, The Bearcats take on Truman State in Northwest’s conference opener Saturday afternoon. Say instead, The Bearcats face the Truman State Bulldogs in Northwest’s MIAA opener Saturday afternoon. (Also see Bearcat)

Here are the mascots for several schools against which the Northwest Bearcats compete:

Men’s Teams

  • Emporia State University Hornets
  • Fort Hays State University Tigers
  • Lincoln University Blue Tigers
  • Lindenwood University Lions
  • Missouri Southern State University Lions
  • Missouri Western State University Griffons
  • Northeastern State University Riverhawks
  • Pittsburgh State University Gorillas
  • Southern Baptist University Bearcats
  • Truman State University Bulldogs
  • University of Central Missouri Mules
  • University of Central Oklahoma Bronchos
  • University of Nebraska-Kearney Lopers
  • Washburn University Ichabods

Women’s Teams

  • Emporia State University Lady Hornets
  • Fort Hays State University Tigers
  • Lincoln University Blue Tigers
  • Lindenwood University Lady Lions
  • Missouri Southern State University Lady Lions
  • Missouri Western State University Lady Griffons
  • Northeastern State University Riverhawks
  • Pittsburgh State University Gorillas
  • Southern Baptist University Lady Bearcats
  • Truman State University Lady Bulldogs
  • University of Central Missouri Jennies
  • University of Missouri-St. Louis Tigerettes
  • University of Nebraska-Kearney Lopers
  • Washburn University Lady Blues


Spell as one word. Capitalize both “M” and “C.”


Capitalize and hyphenate. Also capitalize “M-Club Hall of Fame.” There is no such thing as the Bearcat Hall of Fame or the Northwest Athletics Hall of Fame. Established in 1980, the M-Club Hall of Fame honors those who displayed athletic excellence and service to the University. It is the highest honor one can receive in Northwest athletics.

media, medium

Media is plural. Medium is singular.

Medium Weight Forks

An annual publication containing student literature.

Melvin D. and Valorie G. Booth College of Business and Professional Studies

Use full name on first reference. The college is named for 1967 alumnus Melvin Booth and his wife. The Booth College is acceptable on second reference.


Often misspelled momento.


Always one word, even midterm exams.

mission, vision and values

There is no need to capitalize the phrases mission statement and vision statement when referring to these very broad summaries of University purpose and policy. Titles are an obvious exception. The text of the statements, which were implemented in the fall of 2010, appear below:


Northwest Missouri State University focuses on student success - every student, every day.


We will be THE university of choice for a comprehensive, exceptional student experience.


  • Student success
  • Scholarship and life-long learning
  • Intercultural competence
  • Collaboration
  • Respect and integrity
  • Strategic thinking
  • Excellence

Missouri Academy of Mathematics, Science and Computing

Use full name on first reference. The Missouri Academy is acceptable on second reference.

The Missouri Academy was established in 2000 and is a two-year residential, early-entrance-to-college program on the Northwest campus. The program replaces the junior and senior years of traditional high school. Academy students enroll in the same classes as Northwest students and are held to the same academic expectations while living, socializing and studying in a learning community of peers. The Missouri Academy graduated its' last class in 2018.

Missouri Quality Award

MQA is acceptable on second reference. The Missouri Quality Award is one of the strongest state-level quality award programs in the nation and is the official state recognition for excellence in quality leadership. Northwest is the first education institution in the state to receive the Missouri Quality Award four consecutive times: 1997, 2001, 2005 and 2008.

Missouri State Arboretum, the

Northwest was designated the official Missouri State Arboretum since 1993. The lowercased word arboretum standing alone is acceptable on second reference.

Mozingo Outdoor Education and Recreation Area

Use full name on first reference. MOERA is acceptable on second reference. MOERA exists on a 320-acre portion of land that is adjacent to Mozingo Lake and owned by Northwest.

Mozingo Lake Recreation Area, located east of Maryville, is owned and operated by the city. The area includes includes camping grounds, fishing sites, a beach, boat ramps and cabins.


Abbreviate the following months when used with a specific date: Jan., Feb., Aug., Sept., Oct., Nov., Dec.

Northwest's style for time, day, date references is written: The event will take place at 1 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 4., in the J.W. Jones Student Union Ballroom. Note that the month and date are always set off with commas, and that the order is time, date, place.

Spell out months when used alone or with a year: January 2012.

mouse, when referring to the computer device

The plural is “mouses.”

Mozingo Lake, Mozingo Municipal Golf Course, Mozingo Recreation Area

These are all proper nouns used to designate the lake, golf course and camping and picnicking areas embraced by a city-owned recreational complex east of Maryville. (See Mozingo Outdoor Education and Recreation Area.)


One word.


One word.


One word.


This bit of jargon is spelled as one word. Avoid if at all possible.



A nanometer is one billionth of a meter.

native American

Anyone born a citizen of the United States is a native American. American Indian is the preferred term for the descendants of indigenous people living in the United States. Where possible, be precise and use the name of the tribe: Lt. Col. Kirby Locklear, a member of the Lumbee tribe. Native American is acceptable in quotations and names of organizations.


Acceptable on first reference, this acronym stands for National Collegiate Athletics Association. Northwest’s intercollegiate sports programs are classed by the NCAA as Division II, as in a Division II basketball program.


This contraction, written ’Net and always capitalized, is an acceptable substitute in informal writing for Internet.

non-discrimination clause

The following text should appear in all University publications, whether online or in print, pertaining to admissions or employment:

Northwest Missouri State University adheres to a policy of non-discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, religion, disability or age. This policy is effective in all University-controlled programs and activities, including employment, admissions, retention, housing, financial aid and academic programs. The University is an equal opportunity employer and prohibits discrimination. Inquiries regarding compliance with non-discrimination policies may be directed to the EEO Officer, 800 University Drive, Maryville, MO 64468 (660.562.1110).


None is a blended contraction of no one and is therefore singular: None of the committee members attended the meeting Friday.

Northwest Alumni Magazine

This is the complete and proper name for the quarterly publication produced by the Office of University Advancement.

Northwest Foundation Inc.

Use Northwest Foundation on first reference. Like University, the word Foundation is capitalized when one is referring to Northwest’s non-profit advancement corporation.

Northwest Leadership Team, the

NLT is acceptable on second reference. This group was formerly known as the president's cabinet.

northwest Missouri

Lowercase northwest in the regional identifier northwest Missouri. As a general rule such designations are capitalized, but in this case the phrase is too easily confused with a reference to the University itself.

Most regions take the initial capital. Examples: East Coast, Gulf Coast, Great Plains, Pacific Northwest, the South, the Great Lakes.

Northwest Missouri State University

Never use NWMSU. Spell out and capitalize the full name on first reference. Use Northwest in subsequent references. Always capitalize the word University when it stands alone in reference to Northwest. Within internal communications Northwest is acceptable on first reference.

Northwest Missouri State University-Kansas City

Use full name on first reference. All subsequent references must be Northwest-Kansas City. This off-campus classroom and administrative facility is located on the campus of Metropolitan Community College - Maple Woods in Kansas City, Mo.

The Northwest Missourian

The full name of Northwest’s weekly student newspaper.

Northwest Powwow

Not pow-wow. Not pow wow. The University event is the Northwest Powwow.

numbers and numerals

Consult the “AP Stylebook” for a complete explanation of usages.

In general, spell out numbers one through nine. Use figures for numbers 10 and higher. Always use figures for ages, dates and percentages.



Great care must be taken in the writing of obituaries. Mistakes, typos and inaccuracies are unacceptable. At least one other person besides the writer, and preferably two other people, should read every obituary before it is published or posted.

Note that courtesy titles, Mr., Mrs., Ms., Dr., the Rev., etc., are used when referring to the deceased in an obituary. This is an exception to the University’s ordinary style.

There will be exceptions depending on who the deceased is and what the family’s wishes are. But as a general rule name only immediate family members in the list of survivors: parents and step-parents; siblings and step-siblings; children, step-children and their spouses. List the number of grandchildren and great-grandchildren but not their names: three grandchildren and one great-grandchild.

off campus, off-campus, on campus, on-campus

Standard hyphenation rules apply to these terms. Hyphenate when using as a modifier. When campus is used as a noun, drop the hyphen:

The new residence hall complex means that Northwest will have plenty of on-campus freshmen housing.

He rented an apartment off campus.

offices and departments

The University’s academic colleges are divided into departments. Administrative entities, however, are referred to as offices. Therefore, refer to the Department of Natural Sciences but the Office of University Marketing and Communication, the Office of the President, the Office of the Provost, the Office of Student Affairs, etc. The Department of University Police is an exception to the rule.

Informal references using such phrases as the president’s office or the career services office should be lowercased.

online, offline

One word.

on-screen, off-screen

Always hyphenate.


Use formal names during first reference. A complete list of student organizations at Northwest is posted here.


Pell Grant

Uppercase both words. This federal student assistance program was formerly known as the Basic Educational Opportunity Grant.

People First Language

Capitalize. The acronym (PFL) is acceptable on second reference. For information about People First Language, see the PFL chapter of this style guide.

percent, percentages

Not per-cent or %. Always spell out.

Always represent percentages as numerals:

The survey contained responses from 7 percent of the student body.

He misses fewer than 10 percent of his free throws.

periods, commas and semicolons used with quotation marks

As in AP style, periods and commas go inside quotation marks, whether or not the punctuation is part of the quote. Place semicolons outside quotation marks if their function is not related to the quote. For more rules, see Punctuation Guidelines.

Personal Development and Counseling Services 

Located in Wellness Services, this area is staffed by licensed psychologists and counselors whose mission is to create a positive, healthy campus environment and help students learn to incorporate principles of wellness into their lives. 

Phyllis and Richard Leet Center for Children and Families 

The Leet Center is acceptable on second reference. Located in Brown Hall, the Leet Center houses Northwest's early childhood care and education program for children age 3 through pre-kindergarten. The Leet Center was established in 2011 through a gift by Northwest alumni Dr. Richard "Dick" Leet and Phyllis (Combs) Leet.


Capitalize only when the word precedes an individual's name or is part of an official title. Do not capitalize when writing generally of the president or a president.

The provost said Interim President Green would make a final decision tomorrow.

The Student Senate officers met in the president's office.

The Office of the President will issue a press release as soon as the bequest becomes official.

Dr. Lance Tatum, president of Northwest Missouri State University, opened the ceremony with some remarks.


As a general rule do not capitalize academic programs such as history program, geologic information sciences program and cooperative doctoral program in educational leadership.

Some non-academic programs are so specific as to require capitalization, but the word program itself should still be lowercased: TRIO programs, Peer Education program, Campus Compact program.

Provisions on Demand (P.O.D.)

Located in The Station and on the second floor of the Student Union, in The Jones, P.O.D. offers grab-and-go items. The Station location also includes Mooyah Burgers, Fries and Shakes, café coffee service and a convenience market.


quote attributions

Whenever possible use the name first in attributions: We all should feel a strong sense of accomplishment and pride about the good work we have done as a University, Northwest President Dr. Lance Tatum said.

Sometimes, however, this construction is awkward. There is no hard and fast rule, so let your ear guide you: I am trying to make my decisions in the best interests of the athletics program, said Andy Peterson, director of athletics.



Acceptable in all references for random access memory.

religious references

Capitalize the proper names of monotheistic deities: Allah, the Father, God, Holy Spirit, Jesus and Jesus Christ, the Redeemer, etc. Lowercase pronouns referring to the deity: he, him, his, who, whose. Avoid archaic pronouns in all University writing: thee, thou, thine, thy.

Lowercase “gods” and “god” when referring to deities of polytheistic religions. Capitalize the proper names of pagan and mythological gods and goddesses: Neptune, Thor, Venus, Zeus, Apollo, etc.

Lowercase such words as god-awful, godlike, godliness and godsend.


Followers are called Muslims. Their holy book is the Quran, which according to Islamic belief was revealed by Allah (God) to the Prophet Muhammad in the seventh century in Mecca and Medina. Muslims worship in a mosque. Their holy day is Friday.

It is very important to note when referring to Islam that not all Muslims are Arabs.

The two major divisions of Islam are Sunni and Shiite. Titles for clergy vary from sect to sect, but these are the most common: Grand Mufti (the highest authority in Quranic law, a title used mostly by Sunnis), Sheik (roughly equivalent to “the Rev.” in Christianity, also a secular title of nobility), Ayatolla (a senior Shiite clergyman), Mullah (lower rank of clergy), Imam (In some sects, the prayer leader at a mosque, usually a somewhat more exalted personage among Shiites).

The adjective form of Islam is Islamic.

The flight of the Prophet Mohammed from Mecca to Medina in 622 A.D. is spelled “hegira.” It is not usually capitalized. The Muslim era dates from this journey.

Holy days

Prefer these spellings for Jewish holy days: Rosh Hashana, Yom Kippur, Hanukkah (not Chanukah).

Prefer these spellings for Hindu and Sikh holy days: Durga Puja, Diwali, Dussehra, Baisakhi.

Prefer these spellings for Islamic holy days: Muharram, Mawlid al-Nabi, Ramadan.

The Buddhist holy day is spelled Vesak.

Representative, senators

Never refer to an elected official by his or her party. The style for Missouri House members is state Rep. Mike Thomson, 4th District. The style for members of the Missouri Senate is state Sen. Brad Lager, 12th District.

Member of the U.S. Congress, whether senators or congressmen, are referred to by state: Sen. Claire McCaskill, Missouri; Rep. Vicky Hartzler, Missouri.

All Missouri legislators are members of the General Assembly, which is also referred to as the state Legislature.

residence hall

Never dormitory. As a general rule, refer to on-campus suite and apartment complexes by their proper names.

Residence Hall Association

Spell out on first reference. RHA is acceptable on second reference.


Spell with accents to mean a curriculum vitae and to distinguish it from “resume.”

Rev., the

This title, which like an academic title is used only on first reference, always takes the definite article: “The Rev. Fred Draper gave the invocation at the alumni banquet.”


The acronym ROM is acceptable in all references for read-only memory.

room numbers and names

Use figures and capitalize room when used with a figure: The press conference will take place in Room 107 Olive DeLuce Fine Arts Building.

Capitalize room when it is part of a well-known proper name, even on second reference: the Student Union Boardroom, the Student Union Ballroom, the Lakeview Room in the J.W. Jones Student Union.

If a room number includes a letter, put a hyphen between the number and the letter: 117-A Colden Hall.

ROTC, Reserve Officers' Training Corps

Spell out Reserve Officers' Training Corps on first reference. Note that “Officers’” is a plural possessive.


senior class colors

Never capitalized except in a title or at the beginning of a sentence. The phrase comes from a tradition established by the class of 1920, which adopted Northwest green and white as its official colors. Subsequent senior classes have usually done the same thing.


Lowercase and hyphenate in virtually all instances. In titles, capitalize thusly: Service-learning.


The name of the University’s main dining services provider, commonly referred to as Campus Dining, is spelled with an initial capital, not in all-caps.

standardized examinations

ACT, SAT, LSAT, GMAT, GRE, MAT, MCAT, and other entrance examination titles usually don't need to be spelled out, even on first reference. Use Arabic numerals in constructions such as SAT-1.


This dining option is located on the first floor of the B.D. Owens Library, within a gathering area known as Novel Grounds. Starbucks serves fresh brewed coffee, specialty drinks, gourmet bakery items, parfaits and sandwiches.


Use initial capitals and AP abbreviations. Mass. not MA. Calif. not CA. The exception is if you're giving a mailing address. The four-state area abbreviations are Mo., Kan., Iowa (always spelled out) and Neb. See the “AP Stylebook” for a complete list of state abbreviations. The states of Alaska, Hawaii, Idaho, Iowa, Maine, Ohio, Texas and Utah are always spelled out.

The names of all states are spelled out when they stand alone. When referencing a state and its city, punctuate thusly: Lafayette, La. Note that when this construction is used in a sentence the state’s name or abbreviation is set off with commas: I’m going to Kansas City, Mo., for a conference at the University of Missouri-Kansas City.

Stroller, the

Making its debut in 1918, The Stroller is one of the oldest traditions on campus. An anonymous column printed each week in The Northwest Missourian student newspaper, the Stroller is noted for its mildly irreverent observations regarding the foibles of campus life.

Student Affairs, Office of

This large and somewhat complexly organized office contains a number of non-academic departments and supervisor titles that are often written incorrectly. Here is a basic list:

1. Office of Student Affairs/vice president for student affairs

2. Residential Life/director of residential life

3. Auxiliary Services/director of auxiliary services

  • Campus Dining/campus dining director
  • Bearcat Shop/shop manager
  • Textbook Services/textbook services manager

4. Wellness Services/director of health services (This person is an M.D.)

  • director of wellness/assistant director of health services (This person is an R.N.)
  • Counseling (informally referred to as the counseling office, lowercase)/director of counseling services

5. Student Life/dean of students

  • Student Involvement/director of student involvement
  • International Involvement Center/director of International Involvement Center
  • Service and Engagement/director of service and engagement
  • Fraternity & Sorority Life (formerly referred to as the Greek Life)/graduate assistant

Student Ambassador

Capitalize both words when used as a title before a name. Ambassador is permissible on second reference.

student body

Unless you’re referring to students as a political or demographic unit, this phrase is usually unnecessary. A member of the student body is simply a student, and someone widely liked by the student body is simply popular among students. The Student Senate, however, can rightly be said to represent the student body.

Student Services Center

Not Student Services Desk. At this area, located on the first floor of the Administration Building, students may purchase event tickets, obtain parking passes and receive student employment payroll checks among other things.  


Talent Development Center

Always spell out on first reference. TDC is acceptable on second reference.

Teaching Cather

A scholarly journal published by the English department and dedicated to the life and work of the American novelist Willa Cather.


Always one word. Also use the combined form of the adjective: A teenage boy, not a teen-aged boy.

telephone numbers

Use area codes. The form is 660.562.1704. Internally use ext. 1704. When in doubt use the complete number. Do not use the 1- before telephone or fax numbers with the exception of toll-free numbers.


Always use figures to designate temperature. Use the following forms: 72ºF, or 15ºC.

that and who

Use “that” for objects, “who” for people.

Correct: “Dr. John Smith is the administrator who is responsible for appointing new members to the committee.”

Incorrect: “As head of the Office of Student Affairs, Dr. John Smith is the vice president that has ultimate responsibility for disciplinary action."

that, which

That introduces a phrase that cannot be taken out of a sentence without destroying its meaning: He chose Northwest because he wanted to attend a University that has a strong teacher education program.

Which, on the other hand, introduces a clause that, if removed from the sentence, changes its meaning only slightly: He chose Northwest, which has a strong teacher education program, because he wants to be a superintendent someday.

the late

Refer to deceased persons as the late if they have died within the last few years. There is no hard-and-fast rule here, so the writer must be guided by taste and common sense. One would never refer to the late Uel Lamkin or the late F. Scott Fitzgerald because both have been dead for many years.

Do not use the late when linking someone’s name to an action that person took while living: The late President J.W. Jones drove to Jefferson City to lobby for additional funds is nonsensical because Jones was still alive at the time.

theater, theatre

Use theatre when referring to the art form and academic coursework. Use theater for all other uses, except when the formal name of a facility or organization uses the re form. 

Theatre Northwest: An umbrella title used to denote all of the University’s various activities and programs related to dramatic arts.

Charles Johnson Theater: A 549-seat theater inside the Olive DeLuce Fine Arts Building.

Studio Theatre: A theater capable of holding up to 250 people and located at the Ron Houston Center for the Performing Arts.


Always use a.m. and p.m. Use noon and midnight rather than 12 a.m. and 12 p.m. Do not use :00. Examples: 8 a.m., 2:30 p.m. Abbreviate time zones: EST, EDT, CST, CDT, RMST, RMDT, PST, PDT.

time periods

Use the word “to” or a hyphen (-) to separate ranges of time and years: “The dance will take place from 9 p.m. to midnight,” “The seminar will take place 2-9 p.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 4.”

As a general rule, use a hyphen only when the event is to begin and end during a single morning or afternoon.

For events spread over more than one day use these forms: “Dr. Belcher will deliver her presentation on elementary education from 3-5 p.m. Monday, Jan. 12, and Tuesday, Jan. 13.” “Dr. Belcher will give her presentation on elementary education at 5 p.m. Monday, Jan. 12, and again at 11 a.m. Tuesday, Jan. 13.

Note that dates are always set off with commas. Do not abbreviate days of the week.

It is acceptable to use a hyphen (-) when denoting a span of years: Dr. Jane Ostrakhan taught in the Department of Family and Consumer Sciences from 1954-2004. 

time, day, date

The proper style for describing when an event will occur is “4 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 15.” Dates are parenthetical and set off with commas. Use the following abbreviations for months of the year when stating a time day and date: Jan., Feb., March, April, May, June, July, Aug., Sept., Oct., Nov., Dec.


Twisted, tangled complicated instructions or policies are tortuous. Physical adversity and long, boring meetings held late on a pleasant spring Friday are torturous.


Not towards.

Tower Suites

Use on all references. Tower Suites comprises two buildings divided into two- and four-bed units and housing up to 360 sophomores and juniors


TRIO is a federal acronym that no longer stands for anything but itself. Note the lowercased “i.” The TRIO office at Northwest – don’t uppercase office – currently administers three programs: Upward Bound, Upward Bound Math and Science and Student Support Services. All three programs provide social and educational services to lower-income high school students meant to help prepare them for college.



Underway is one word, according to Webster's Dictionary.

United States

Spell out except when used as an adjective: The U.S. Army, U.S. Secretary of State.


Capitalized when used to refer to Northwest: The University is asking the Coordinating Board for Higher Education to approve three new degree programs this year.

university buildings and facilities

See the Facilities chapter of Northwest's style guide for proper names and usage rules for all University buildings and facilities. Always use full names on first reference.

university contact information

In all campus publications, give addresses for Northwest Missouri State University departments and offices as follows:

Northwest Missouri State University
Office or department name
Office or department location, 800 University Drive
Maryville, MO, 64468-6001
Fax 660.562.XXXX
E-mail address

University Police, Department of

Refer to this entity as the Department of University Police, not Campus Police. The supervisor of this office is styled Interim University Police Chief Amanda Cullin.

upload, download

Always one word.

Upward Bound, Upward Bound Math and Science

These are two separate federally funded programs operating out of what is known as the TRIO office. Use initial capitals for the names of both programs.

Rachel Wistrom is the assistant director of Northwest’s Upward Bound program.

Northwest’s Upward Bound Math and Science camp begins in June.


The abbreviation URL is acceptable in all references to uniform resource locator, the address of a page on the Web.

user ID

Correct in all references. Note that the abbreviation takes no period.



Always abbreviate: Bearcats vs. Truman State Bulldogs.

vice president

Do not hyphenate. Capitalize as a title before a name.


Not VISA when referring to the credit card.


Always write as one word.


Walkout Day

Historically, Walkout Day is a major campus event marked by the ceremonial ringing of the Bell of ’48 and the cancellation of classes. In decades past, there was a school wide picnic and a celebration on the Maryville courthouse square. Today, Northwest continues to observe Walkout Day on the Friday prior to Homecoming. The day's activities include the Golden Years Class Reunion, the Flag Raising Ceremony at the Joyce and Harvey White International Plaza and the Variety Show.


This corporate name no longer takes a hyphen or capital M.

Web page

Web, when used to refer to the World Wide Web, is a proper noun and takes the initial capital.


A location on the World Wide Web that maintains one or more pages at a specific address, or URL.







winter break

Not Christmas break. The holidays is also acceptable.


Always hyphenate. Examples: Work-study program, work-study student.

I wouldn’t have made it through college without work-study.


Acceptable in all applications for World Wide Web. Note that the World Wide Web is a global information repository application running via the Internet and attributed to Tim Berners-Lee. The formal name and its abbreviation, the Web, should be uppercased except in closed compounds such as webmaster and webcam.







Located in The Jones on the second floor of the Student Union. Based in Austin, Texas, it offers Asian style cuisine.