The Institute Editorial Style Guide addresses some of the most frequently encountered style issues — most typically regarding capitalization, punctuation, and proper word usage. 

It is based primarily on the Associated Press Stylebook. However, some guidelines have been borrowed from The Chicago Manual of Style, and there are some cases where usage reflects what has been established as the Institute’s preference. This is why we refer to our in-house approach as modified AP Style. Merriam-Webster online is our preferred dictionary. 

This guide should be used as a reference for all written materials — except those such as legal documents, research reports, and invitations, which are governed by special guidelines. As with the AP Stylebook, this guide has been organized alphabetically like a dictionary, but because this digital platform supports the "Find" feature, using Ctrl+F (Windows/PC users)/Command+F (Mac users) is the most practical way to navigate this document.

Questions?
Call 404.894.0870 to speak with an Institute Communications editor.

Covid-19 Style Sheet

Updated June 24, 2020

  • To ensure a consistent voice across the Institute in all communications related to Covid-19 and our road to recovery, we ask that you follow the AP Coronavirus Topical Guide
  • There are, however, some cases where our usage reflects what has been established as the Institute’s preference. So be sure to follow Georgia Tech's Covid-19 style sheet guidance — even when contrary to AP’s recommendations.

President Cabrera Style Sheet

Updated Sept. 12, 2019

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Abbreviations, Acronyms, Initialisms

Abbreviation = any shortened word form.

Acronym = a word formed from the first letter or letters of a series of words: laser (light amplification by stimulated emission of radiation); hazmat (hazardous materials); MOOCs (massive open online courses – not massively).

Initialism = made from the first letter of a series of words BUT not pronounced as a word: FBI, PR.

Abbreviate Georgia Institute of Technology only as Georgia Techthe Institute, or TechGT, GIT, the University, and Ga. Tech should never be used in running copy. There are, however, exceptions where GT is part of the official name: GT Dining; GT Minute (the official name of one of Admission's electronic newsletters) are a couple of examples.

Minimize the use of initialisms to increase readability. When used, however, spell out the entire name on first reference followed by the letters in parentheses. The shortened form, generally without periods (R.A.T.S. Week is one exception), can be used thereafter. Exception: Grade-point average need not be used on first reference. According to AP, GPA is recognized widely enough that it is acceptable even on first reference.

  • The Georgia Tech Research Institute (GTRI) solves tough technical problems for industry in Georgia, across the nation, and around the globe.


With schools and colleges, the entire name of the school/college should always be used on first reference. Thereafter, use of the School or the College (uppercase) is acceptable, as is the most commonly accepted shortened form of the name, or use of the initialism

  • The H. Milton Stewart School of Industrial and Systems Engineering (ISyE) has achieved national and international prominence through its tradition of unparalleled excellence and leadership. ISyE’s distinction is due to the School’s world-class faculty.
  • The H. Milton Stewart School of Industrial and Systems Engineering has achieved national and international prominence through its tradition of unparalleled excellence and leadership. This distinction is due to the Stewart School’s world-class faculty.


Use periods in most two-letter abbreviations. Exceptions: AM, FM (systems of radio transmission).

  • a.m./p.m.
  • U.S.
  • D.C.
  • A.D./B.C.
  • B.S./M.S.

Use periods with initials in a name, but do not include a space between.

  • T.S. Eliot
  • G.P. "Bud" Peterson
     

Abbreviate formal titles when used before a full name.

  • Dr. James Jennings
  • Gov. Vic Bryant
  • Lt. Gov. Henry Radin
     

Note that Dr. is reserved for references only to medical doctors. Professor is a suitable alternative; however, it should be used only for full professors, not for associate or assistant professors.

 

Avoid using state abbreviations in headlines. And in running copy, the names of the 50 U.S. states should be spelled out whether standing alone or in conjunction with a city, town, village, or military base. The standard two-letter postal codes should be used in mailing addresses.

Capitalization

Capitalize the term Black when used adjectivally in a racial, ethnic, or cultural sense: Black people, Black culture, Black literature. For the time being, AP continues to recommend the lowercasing of white in equivalent contexts.

For headlines, Institute preference is a modified approach to title-style/headline-style captialization (instead of AP's sentence-style), so keep the following in mind: 

  • Capitalize the first and last words, and all other words with four or more characters.
  • Lowercase prepositions with less than four characters, except when they are used adverbially or adjectivally (up in Look Upon in The On Buttonto in Come To, etc.) or when they compose part of a Latin expression (De FactoIn Vitro, etc.).
  • Lowercase the articles thea, and an.
  • Lowercase the conjunctions andbutfororand nor.
  • Lowercase to not only as a preposition but also as part of an infinitive (to Runto Hide, etc.), and lowercase as in any grammatical function.
  • Lowercase the part of a proper name that would be lowercased in text, such as de or von.
  • For hyphenated words, capitalize any subsequent elements unless they are articles or coordinating conjunctions (and, but, for, or, nor). But if the first element is merely a prefix or combining form that could not stand independently as a word (anti, pre, co, etc.), do not capitalize the subsequent element, e.g., Co-op Applications Quadruple; the exception to this would be where the subsequent element is a proper noun or proper adjective.

Capitalize professional titles used directly before an individual's name.

  • President Ángel Cabrera
  • Dean Jerry Mander
  • Professor Dave Davis
  • Astrophysics Research Center Director John Smith
     

Lowercase and spell out professional titles when they are not used with an individual's name.

  • The president welcomed the students to the year-end celebration.
     

Lowercase professional titles that follow an individual’s name. 

  • Ángel Cabrera, president of Georgia Tech
  • Mara Jackson, director of Development
  • Jerry Mander, dean, College of Engineering
  • John Smith, director of the Astrophysics Research Center
  • Rafael L. Bras, Georgia Tech’s provost, holds the K. Harrison Brown Family Chair
     

Exception: Names of endowed chairs and professorships are always uppercased.

Lowercase and spell out professional titles in constructions that set them off with commas.

  • The provost, Rafael Bras, will accept the award on behalf of the president.

Capitalize references to unit names following a title only if the reference is, in fact, the formal name of a unit.

  • Shawn Smith, senior director of strategy, is expected to speak.
  • Gail Roark, vice president of Auxiliary Services, is expected to speak.

Capitalize a degree only when it is part of the official degree title.

  • She earned a Master of Science in Chemistry.
  • She earned a master’s degree in chemistry.

Capitalize an academic subject only when it is the name of a language, part of a unit name, or a specific course title.

  • He majored in chemical engineering with a minor in Russian.
  • Georgia Tech offers courses in architecture, Chinese, engineering, French, Japanese, business, and science.
  • He is a professor in the Department of Modern Languages and also teaches classes in the School of Electrical and Computer Engineering.
  • She teaches Business 3300 at 10 a.m.
     

Lowercase innovation ecosystem.

Capitalize Library when referring specifically to the Institute’s facility — even when Georgia Tech does not precede it. 

Capitalize Progress and Service when referring to Georgia Tech’s motto. 

Capitalize Institute when referring specifically to Georgia Tech. Do not capitalize institution.

  • For more than a century, the Institute has pursued the highest research goals.
  • Georgia Tech is an institution of higher learning.
     

Always capitalize Commencement, Convocation, and Homecoming when used in reference to Georgia Tech. For the formal name of a specific ceremony, capitalize all elements. Lowercase commencement and convocation when referring to ceremonies other than Georgia Tech’s.

  • Due to the discontinuation of Tech's Commencement during the summer semesters, this year graduating students will have the opportunity to participate in the Fall 2020 Commencement Ceremony.
  • The Spring 2020 Bachelor’s Commencement Ceremony will be split into two events.
  • Many commencement ceremonies across the U.S. are now ticketed events.
  • At yesterday's Convocation ceremony, the Georgia Tech Glee Club welcomed 2,778 students.
     

Always capitalize Employee Resource Groups.

Always​ capitalize President’s Residence when it is used in reference to Georgia Tech. Never use Residence without President’s.

Always capitalize Campanile — even if Kessler doesn’t precede it.          

Always capitalize Quality Enhancement Plan

We no longer capitalize Strategic Plan.

Words such as school or college should be capitalized only when used as part of an official title, or when they take the place of the full title. Do not treat department and office the same way; lowercase such terms on follow-ups after the capitalized full name on first reference. 

  • The College of Architecture was established in 1908. The College grants the Master of Architecture degree.
  • Georgia Tech was among her top college choices.
  • The Georgia Tech Police Department is rapidly expanding, with 20 new officers joining the department since the start of the new year.
     

Capitalize adjectives formed from proper nouns — unless common usage has obscured the connection.

  • Keynesian economics  (John Keynes)
  • Boolean algebra (George Boole)
  • pasteurize (Louis Pasteur)
  • diesel engine (Rudolf Diesel)
     

For room numbers, always capitalize Room and use figures.

  • Room 3.
     

Capitalize organized groups of students if the organizational designation is permanent. But do not capitalize student group designations that are transient.

  • Class of 1925.
  • third-year class.
     

Do not capitalize terms such as first-year student or graduate student when they refer to a stage of study or the classification of a student.

  • She is a first-year student, born and raised in Atlanta.
     

Do not capitalize graduate or undergraduate when they precede Student Government Association (SGA).

Do not capitalize the words government, federal, city, or state unless the word is part of the formal name of the governmental entity.

  • Georgia Tech is located in the beautiful city of Atlanta.
  • The City of Atlanta has reduced its budget by 5%.
  • Georgia Tech is the highest-ranked university in the entire state of Georgia.
  • The State of Georgia is responsible for issuing driver’s licenses to its citizens.
     

Always capitalize Board of Regents, Regents Professor/Professorship (note omission of the apostrophe; the usage is descriptive rather than possessive)Georgia General Assembly, Congress, the House of Representatives, the House, and the Senate.

Capitalize the formal names of federal or state agencies such as the U.S. Department of Defense. But lowercase the department when it stands alone.

Capitalize South, Southeast, North, Northwest, etc., when referring to a region of the country, but lowercase when indicating a direction.

  • Georgia Tech is the South’s largest industrial and engineering research institution.
  • The airport is south of Atlanta.
     

Lowercase seasons unless the season is part of a formal name (e.g., Georgia Smart Communities Fall Workshop) or is referring to a particular semester with the year (e.g., Fall 2019).

  • Co-op students may begin in the summer or fall semester.

Lowercase earth unless referring to the proper name of the planet.

  • The astronauts returned to Earth.
  • He is down-to-earth.
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Composition Titles

Italicize the titles of: books, computer games, movies, operas, plays, poems, albums, songs, radio and TV programs, journals, periodicals, newspapers, research papers, lectures, speeches, presentations, blogs, YouTube videos, exhibitions, and works of art. In headlines, these titles should be enclosed in single quotes. Likewise, in instances where italics are used in running text, single quotes should be used as a differentiator instead of italics.

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Computer/Internet

The following presents the preferred usage of a few of the more commonly used computer and internet terms.

  • cellphone
  • crowdfunding
  • cybersecurity 
  • database
  • eBay (capitalize at the beginning of a sentence)
  • email
  • e-reader
  • Facebook
  • firewall
  • Instagram
  • internet
  • iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch (capitalize at the beginning of a sentence)
  • LinkedIn
  • log in/log on, log off (as verbs); login/logon, logoff (as adjectives, nouns)
  • online
  • real time (noun); real-time (adjective)
  • smartphone
  • Twitter (tweets)
  • voicemail
  • VoIP
  • web, website, webpage, webfeed, webmaster, webcam, webcast (but web address and web browser)
  • workstation
  • Yahoo
  • YouTube

Do not include http:// when listing website addresses. Exception: Include it when there is an "s" (https://). Also, do not include www at the beginning of a web address. In some instances, it is acceptable — from a design perspective — to omit the period after a URL.

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Dates

Do not use a comma between a month and year or season and year; commas are used in dates when a specific day is given. When a month is used with a specific date, abbreviate only Jan., Feb., Aug., Sept., Oct., Nov.and Dec. Spell out when using alone or with a year alone. When a phrase refers to a day, month, and year, set off the year with commas.

  • July 2019 was the hottest month in recent history.
  • Friday, Dec. 13, 1987, was the date recorded in the police statement.
     

Use a hyphen for date ranges. But, if the construction is such that from precedes the date, then using to instead of the hyphen is preferable. When a hyphen is used, do not insert a space before and after. 

  • The Campus Recreation Center will be closed for renovations from July 12 to August 12.

Note: Depending on the type of document/communication, the year should be omitted if the event is taking place in the current year.

  • Parents are invited to join their students for FASET, May 2-5.
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Degrees

nclude periods with some degree abbreviations:

  • M.S., B.S., Ph.D. (When identifying faculty members in print, web, and video, do not add Ph.D. after their names.)

Do not include periods with Master of Business Administration (MBA) and abbreviations of four or more letters, e.g., OMSCS.

The term graduate students refers to both master's and Ph.D. students. The word master's should be used only when referring exclusively to master's students and NOT Ph.D. students.

When referring to Georgia Tech alumni, include the degree credentials:

  • George P. Burdell, ME 1931 (i.e., ME for Mechanical Engineering, plus the full four-digit year)
  • John Johnson, ME 1931, M.S. PHYS 1933, Ph.D. PHYS 1935 (In cases of multiple degrees, the graduate classification must precede the field of study.)

Online and Hybrid Programs

Some of Tech's master's programs are offered entirely online; others are offered as hybrids. Refer to the following for the respective abbreviations:

OFFICIAL NAME ABBREVIATION IN COPY
Master of Science in Aerospace Engineering MSAE
  • First mention: Master of Science in Aerospace Engineering (MSAE)
  • Thereafter: MSAE
Master of Science in Aerospace Engineering ⎼ Online MSAE Online
  • First mention: Master of Science in Aerospace Engineering ⎼ Online (MSAE Online)
  • Thereafter: MSAE Online
Master of Science in Analytics MS Analytics
  • First mention: Master of Science in Analytics (MS Analytics)
  • Thereafter: MS Analytics
Master of Science in Analytics ⎼ Online OMS Analytics
  • First mention: Master of Science in Analytics – Online (OMS Analytics)
  • Thereafter: OMS Analytics
  • Differentiators: Richly technical learning experience, courses designed especially for online, highly collaborative community, lower cost than on-campus programs.
Master’s in Applied Systems Engineering ⎼ Hybrid MASE Hybrid
  • First mention: Master’s in Applied Systems Engineering ⎼ Hybrid (MASE Hybrid)
  • Thereafter: MASE Hybrid
  • Differentiators: Taught in a hybrid format that blends face-to-face instruction and 24/7 online learning. As a student you will be part of a cohort and will complete each course with the same community of peers.
Master of Science in Computational Science and Engineering MSCSE
  • First mention: Master of Science in Computational Science and Engineering
  • Thereafter: MSCSE
Master of Science in Computational Science and Engineering ⎼ Online MSCSE Online
  • First mention: Master of Science in Computational Science and Engineering ⎼ Online (MSCSE Online)
  • Thereafter: MSCSE Online
Master of Science in Computer Science MSCS
  • First mention: Master of Science in Computer Science (MSCS)
  • Thereafter: MSCS
Online Master of Science in Computer Science* OMSCS
  • First mention: Online Master of Science in Computer Science (OMSCS)*
  • Thereafter: OMSCS
  • Differentiators: Richly technical learning experience, courses designed especially for online, highly collaborative community, lower cost than on-campus programs.
Master of Science in Cybersecurity MS Cybersecurity
  • First mention: Master of Science in Cybersecurity (MS Cybersecurity)
  • Thereafter: MS Cybersecurity
Master of Science in Cybersecurity ⎼ Online OMS Cybersecurity
  • First mention: Master of Science in Cybersecurity – Online (OMS Cybersecurity)
  • Thereafter: OMS Cybersecurity
  • Differentiators: Richly technical learning experience, courses designed especially for online, highly collaborative community, lower cost than on-campus programs.
Master of Science in Electrical and Computer Engineering MSECE
  • First mention: Master of Science in Electrical and Computer Engineering (MSECE)
  • Thereafter: MSECE
Master of Science in Electrical and Computer Engineering ⎼ Online MSECE Online
  • First mention: Master of Science in Electrical and Computer Engineering ⎼ Online (MSECE Online)
  • Thereafter: MSECE Online
Master of Science in Industrial Engineering MSIE
  • First mention: Master of Science in Industrial Engineering (MSIE)
  • Thereafter: MSIE
Master of Science in Industrial Engineering ⎼ Online MSIE Online
  • First mention: Master of Science in Industrial Engineering ⎼ Online (MSIE Online)
  • Thereafter: MSIE Online
Master’s in Manufacturing Leadership ⎼ Hybrid MML Hybrid
  • First mention: Master’s in Manufacturing Leadership ⎼ Hybrid (MML Hybrid)
  • Thereafter: MML Hybrid
  • Differentiators: Taught in a hybrid format that blends face-to-face instruction and 24/7 online learning. As a student you will be part of a cohort and will complete each course with the same community of peers.
Master of Science in Mechanical Engineering MSME
  • First mention: Master of Science in Mechanical Engineering (MSME)
  • Thereafter: MSME
Master of Science in Mechanical Engineering ⎼ Online MSME Online
  • First mention: Master of Science in Mechanical Engineering ⎼ Online (MSME Online)
  • Thereafter: MSME Online
Master of Science in Medical Physics MSMP
  • First mention: Master of Science in Medical Physics (MSMP)
  • Thereafter: MSMP
Master of Science in Medical Physics ⎼ Online MSMP Online
  • First mention: Master of Science in Medical Physics ⎼ Online (MSMP Online)
  • Thereafter: MSMP Online
Master’s in Occupational Safety and Health ⎼ Hybrid MOSH Hybrid
  • First mention: Master’s in Occupational Safety and Health ⎼ Hybrid (MOSH Hybrid)
  • Thereafter: MOSH Hybrid
  • Differentiators: Taught in a hybrid format that blends face-to-face instruction and 24/7 online learning. As a student you will be part of a cohort and will complete each course with the same community of peers.
Master of Science in Operations Research MSOR
  • First mention: Master of Science in Operations Research (MSOR)
  • Thereafter: MSOR
Master of Science in Operations Research ⎼ Online MSOR Online
  • First mention: Master of Science in Operations Research ⎼ Online (MSOR Online)
  • Thereafter: MSOR Online

*Please note that the Online Master of Science in Computer Science (OMSCS) is an exception to the nomenclature recommendations for online programs.

For a full, current list of all Georgia Tech programs, please refer to the Catalog.

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Georgia Tech Units

Georgia Tech campuses are denoted with a hyphen and the location.

  • Georgia Tech-Savannah offers a coastal campus for environmental engineers to study.
  • Georgia Tech-Lorraine was founded in 1990.
  • Georgia Tech-Shenzhen has been offering the M.S. in Electrical and Computer Engineering since Fall 2014.
     

The names of Georgia Tech units are uppercase (except for articles and prepositions) when the formal name of the unit is used. When the elements of a unit name are used to refer to a field of study, a professional discipline, or something other than the unit name itself, the words should be lowercase.

  • The Woodruff School of Mechanical Engineering is Georgia Tech’s oldest academic unit.
  • She has decided to study mechanical engineering.
  • The Office of Human Resources completed a salary study last summer.
  • He needed more experience in the human resources field.

Issues of Inclusion

The use of they as a gender-neutral pronoun, in addition to as a general singular pronoun, has become increasingly known and accepted. But be mindful that, while it is common practice for transgender individuals to use they (and them, their), some may prefer the use of xe/ze, etc. Remembering that clarity of communication should always be the top priority — and that reader unfamiliarity with terms such as xe/ze might lead to unclear communications — it is highly recommended that xe/ze, etc. be avoided unless specifically requested by the subject of a story. In such cases, an explanation must be provided. Likewise, to ensure clarity, if using they for someone who does not identify as either male or femalemake certain that the phrasing does not imply more than one person. When using they/them/their is unavoidable, explain in the text that the person prefers a gender-neutral pronoun. But, ultimately, the ideal scenario might involve reworking the sentence so that the person’s name is used in place of a pronoun.

Avoid sexist, racist, or other terminology that could be interpreted as offensive to an individual or group:

  • man, mankind, man-made, man-machine, foreigner

Alternative terminology:

  • man: person, people, human race, human beings, individual, humankind, humans, humanity

  • man-made: built, synthetic, artificial

  • foreigner: international or use of the specific nationality

Note: There is nothing offensive about using man when referring to a particular male, but the term can be inappropriate when used to encompass all members of society.

Though the use of woman as an adjective is becoming more common — and is even preferred by some — AP's recommendation remains the use of female as an adjective — not woman. Using female as a noun, however, is never acceptable.

Likewise, do not use expressions that could be perceived as exclusionary, e.g., brother's keeper, brothers and sisters. Instead, use terms that are inclusive, e.g., children instead of boys and girls; kindred instead of brothers and sisters. In following that recommendation, however, be careful not to create forced substitutions; for instance, never use siblinghood to replace brotherhood or sisterhood

Remember also that while African American as a descriptor is acceptable in many contexts in the U.S., this term is not necessarily interchangeable with Black. Some Caribbean Americans or Latinos, for example, may not identify as African American; therefore, consider your audience and determine whether Black would be a more appropriate word choice in order to be truly all-encompassing. 

Lists

Use periods, not semicolons, at the end of each bullet point — whether it is a full sentence or not. Lists containing bullets with just a few words do not warrant periods.

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Lower-Thirds (Video)

Subjects on film should be identified using the following formats:

Alumni

Name, Georgia Tech credentials (e.g., George Burdell, AE 1995, M.S. MTH 1999, Ph.D. PSY 2004)

Job title, company (e.g., President, Everything Burdell Inc.)

 

Current Students

Name, major, and expected year of graduation (e.g., Jim John, Bioengineering 2020)
Project/Organization (e.g., CREATE-X)

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Numbers

Numbers used to indicate order (first, second, 10th, 25th, etc.) are called ordinal numbers. Spell out first through ninth. Likewise, spell out only cardinal numbers one through nineUse figures for 10 and above and for number references in all tabular matter and in statistical forms.

Figures must also be used for:

  • Academic courses (History 6)
  • Addresses (but spell out numbered streets that are nine and under e.g., 5 Seventh Ave.)
  • Ages
  • Court decisions (The court ruled 5-4.)
  • Credit hours
  • Decimals (preferred over fractions), percentages, and fractions with numbers larger than one (3 ½  laps, but spell out fractions less than one, e.g., two-thirds)
  • Dimensions (but spell out the words kilograms, feet, inches, etc.)
  • Distances (She walked 9 miles.)
  • GPAs
  • Headlines
  • Highway designations (Interstate 5)
  • Mathematical usage (Divide by 3.)
  • Measurements 
  • Monetary units (along with the dollar sign instead of spelling out dollars)
  • Millions, billions, trillions
  • Planes, ships, and spacecraft designations (Apollo 9)
  • Political districts (3rd Congressional District)
  • Rank (She was his No. 1 choice.)
  • Speed (She could only get the speed up to 8 mph.)
  • Sports scores 
  • Temperatures (except zero; it was 8 degrees below zero or minus 8) 
  • Times (except with 12 a.m. and 12 p.m. — use midnight and noon instead)
  • Units of measure
  • Votes
  • Years (references to an academic year should follow a hyphenated format, with just two digits following the hyphen e.g., 2016-17)

Spell out numbers at the start of a sentence. Exception: Sentences that begin with a year, e.g., 1992 was a great year.

Use commas in numerals with more than three digits.

Georgia Tech style is to use periods — not hyphens — to separate the segments of telephone numbers:

  • 404.894.2000

With expressions denoting time, do not include the zeroes in top-of-the-hour references: 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Use a colon to separate hours from minutes: 3:30 p.m., 9:30-11 a.m. There should always be a space between the numbers representing the time and the a.m. or p.m

An inclusive range of years falling within the same century should be abbreviated as follows:

  • Franklin D. Roosevelt was president during 1933-45.
     

But when the range includes a transition to a second century, then all numbers must be used.

  • G. Wayne Clough was president of Georgia Tech from 1994 to 2008.
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Plurals of Proper Names

Most ending in ch, es, s, sh, ss, x, or z add esFinches, JonesesWilliamses, Bushes, HessesKnoxesSchultzes. But if a name ending in ch is pronounced with a hard k sound, its plural will require only s — not es: Kochs.

 

Most ending in y add s even if preceded by a consonant: Grays, Kennedys, two Kansas Citys

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Pronouns

Never use he to mean he or she; similarly, never use the his or her construction (e.g., Every student must make his or her own choice.) Instead, recast the sentence. In cases where a rewrite would result in a clumsy construction, the epicene they is acceptable. They can also be used when referring to those who do not identify as either male or female. (See "Issues of Inclusion" section.)

  • Instead of: A student applying for financial aid should file his application for admission by January 1.
    Try: Students applying for financial aid should file their admission applications by January 1.
  • Instead of: The student must have an overall GPA of at least 2.7 to satisfy the requirements of his school.
    Try: A student must have an overall GPA of at least 2.7 to satisfy the school’s requirements.

In formal writing, third person (he, she, it, or they) is most commonly used. Avoid using first person (I, we) and second person (you). (Fundraising, recruitment, and website materials sometimes use first and second person to create a more personal tone. In any case, avoid shifting from one grammatical person to another within the same piece of writing unless there is a clear rationale for doing so.)

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Punctuation

Apostrophe

Use the apostrophe only to indicate possession, when using contractions, and to enhance clarity with single-letter references:

  • He maintained all A's and B's his entire senior year. (Without the apostrophe, the former would become the word As.)
  • Wide lapels were popular during the 1950s.
  • Tim Tone is a Board of Regents Professor.
  • The Board of Regents’ decision supported Tech’s curriculum change.
  • They’re the best team we’ve had in years.
  • It’s difficult to see from here. (The possessive case of the pronoun it is its; DO NOT use an apostrophe, e.g., We couldn’t find its nest.)
     

For singular and plural possessive nouns ending in s, both common and proper, add an apostrophe after the s; do not add a second s, e.g., Jesus’ life NOT Jesus's life; Chris’ book; the witness' statement; the five witnesses' statements; the churches' directories; the VIPs' seats. (This is Institute preference as opposed to AP Style.)

 
Comma

To avoid confusion and maintain consistency of approach, always use a serial comma, the comma that precedes the conjunction before the final item in a list of three or more.

A comma should not precede Jr.Sr., or numerals in a surname:

  • John F. Kennedy Jr.
  • John D. Rockefeller III
     

Use a comma to separate two or more adjectives preceding a single noun, but only if the comma could be replaced by the word and without changing the sense:

  • It was a long, hot summer.
  • She had long brown hair.
     

Commas and periods should always precede closed quotation marks:

  • He said “doctor,” and she said “physician.”
     
 
Dash

The dash is longer than a hyphen. An em () dash is preferred over an en (–) dash in body copy and should be surrounded by spaces. It is used to set off an amplifying or explanatory element, allowing it to function as an alternative to parentheses or commas — when emphasis is the objective. 

  • The influence of three impressionists — Monet, Sisley, and Degas — is obvious in her work.
  • The chancellor — deprived of sleep — came down in an angry mood.
     

To type an em dash, press option, shift, and hyphen simultaneously. 

Ellipsis ( ... )

Leave one regular space — never a thin one — on both sides of an ellipsis. If what follows is a complete sentence, the first word of that complete sentence should be capitalized.

 
Hyphen

Hyphens are joiners. Use them to avoid ambiguity or to form a single idea from two or more words. Use of the hyphen is far from standardized. It can be a matter of taste, judgment, or style. If a hyphen makes the meaning clearer, use it. If it just adds clutter and distraction to the sentence, don’t use it. The following addresses examples of commonly accepted usage.

Use the hyphen for date and time ranges. Do not include a space before or after it.

Hyphenate all compound words that begin with self.

  • self-restraint, self-conscious, self-taught
     

Hyphenate compound words that begin with ex and mean former.

  • ex-president, ex-husband, ex-mayor
     

Hyphenate multiple words that function as single compound adjectives (unless their usage has become so commonly accepted as to render the hyphen unnecessary) or if omission of the hyphen would impair clarity.

  • It is a two-day program.
  • She is a non-degree-seeking student.
  • The MARTA station is only a 5-to-8-minute walk from campus.
  • The study abroad program has been in high demand.
     

Always hyphenate non-degree and well-being.

Do not hyphenate compound words with an adverb ending in -ly:

  • The newly appointed director discussed the health program with her staff.
     

Do not hyphenate vice president.

Hyphenate all references that indicate a student's classification/stage of study. 

  • The event is open to both first- and second-year students.

The suffix -wide should not be hyphenated unless the compound word is long and cumbersome.

  • The changes to the curriculum were campuswide.
  • The communitywide process to engage all Tech stakeholders in the new strategic planning process has been warmly received.
  • The pope issued an archdiocese-wide policy.

In recognition of common usage and dictionary preferences, do not hyphenate double-e combinations with pre- and re-. Examples: preeclampsia, preelection, preeminent, preempt, preestablished, preexisting, reengineer, reestablish, etc. Other non-double-e examples include: pregame, prejudge, prehistoric, pretest. Otherwise, follow dictionary guidance, hyphenating if not listed there.

While the word preprofessional is not hyphenated, references to Georgia Tech’s educational programs in pre-health, pre-law, and pre-teaching are hyphenated. Otherwise, follow dictionary guidance, hyphenating if not listed there.

Quotation Marks

Periods and commas are always placed inside closed quotation marks.

Dashes, semicolons, question marks, and exclamation points are placed inside closed quotation marks when they apply to the quoted material only. They are placed outside the closed quotation marks when they apply to the entire sentence.

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Time

Use the days of the week, not today, tonighttomorrow, or yesterday, in print copy (Daily Digest excepted), using Monday, Tuesday, etc., for days of the week within seven days before or after the current date. Avoid such redundancies as last Tuesday or next Tuesdaythe tense of the verb used usually provides adequate indication of which Tuesday is meant: He said he finished the job Tuesday. She will return Tuesday.

Use noon and midnight instead of 12 p.m. and 12 a.m. But if using the term midnight would create ambiguity about what day something is taking place, since some users’ understandings may vary, consider instead 11:59 p.m. Thursday or 12:01 a.m. Friday.

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General Reminders

Autonomous vehicles
Also can be called self-driving. The term driverless should not be used unless there is no human backup driver. 

Historic takes the article a not an.

Flyer (NOT flier) for references to the handbill.

Zone Improvement Plan
Use all-caps for the term ZIP (meaning Zone Improvement Plan), but always lowercase the word code. Never insert a comma between the state name and the ZIP code.

To align with the style applied by one of the Institute's partners, Children's Healthcare of Atlanta, healthcare should be written as one word.

Use bullet points as separators between the various elements in the copyright line on print pieces.

 

Things to Avoid

Do not double space following a punctuation mark at the end of a sentence. Use a single space. Double spacing after periods is a defunct practice from the era of typewriters.

Do not use the ampersand in place of and, unless it is part of an official name. 

  • Procter & Gamble Co.
  • School of Electrical and Computer Engineering.

Avoid beginning sentences with There is or It is.

  • Instead of: There are 35 colleges and universities in the University System of Georgia.
  • Try: The University System of Georgia includes 35 colleges and universities.
  • Instead of: It is Joe’s car that will win.
  • Try: Joe’s car will win.

Avoid the passive voice. Your writing will be clearer and livelier if you ensure the subject is performing the actions rather than having the action being done to it.

  • Instead of: The bill was approved by the House.
  • Try: The House approved the bill.

Do not use impactful/impact (as a verb), given that these terms are widely considered jargon and prone to upsetting sensibilities.

While the use of nicknames is generally discouraged, their use is acceptable in cases where an individual is known primarily by a nickname or strongly prefers the use of the nickname. The format to be used is formal first name (or initial), middle name or initial (if desired), nickname enclosed by quotation marks, and last name.

  • G.P. “Bud” Peterson
  • Georgia Tech Alumnus Francis S. “Bo” Godbold
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Common Institute Terms

Advisor: not adviser (Institute preference, as opposed to AP Style).

Alumni: the plural reference for a group of both male and female graduates.

The term alum (a double sulfate of ammonium or a univalent metal, sodium or potassium, and a trivalent metal, aluminum, iron, or chromium) should NEVER be used as a substitute for alumnus. Likewise, alums should NEVER be used for the plural form.

BuzzCard: one word with a capital C.

Coursework: one word in all cases.

Eco-Commons: uppercase and hyphenate.

Emeritus: retiree retaining the rank of the last office held. Emeritus members should be used as the plural form. When referring specifically to a female emeritus, it is appropriate to use the word emerita. Only uppercase the term professor emeritus when it precedes the individual’s name. 

First-year student: use this term instead of freshman. Not only is first-year more inclusive, but it is representative of the nomenclature the students themselves use in referring to their stage at Tech. Likewise, upperclassman/men is no longer used.

Gameday: one word in all cases.

Interdisciplinary Research Institutes (IRIs): uppercase when spelling out on first reference. 

LGBTQIA Resource Center: supports the Institute's commitment to inclusive excellence by engaging the campus community in education, advocacy, and outreach for people of all genders and sexual identities.The initialism LGBTQIA should only be used when referring specifically to this center. For all other references to lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender; or lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning and/or queer, follow AP's recommendation of LGBT or LGBTQ.

Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs): never massively. 

Master Plan: Uppercase only when referring to the plan specific to Georgia Tech (and the first reference should be Campus Master Plan).

Ramblin’ Wreck: The only exception to this spelling is those instances referring to the Ramblin’ Reck Club.

Regular Decision/Early Action: Uppercase these references to admission deadlines.

Serve-Learn-Sustain: Hyphens are now used as separators instead of bullets.