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Editorial Style Guide

Following a well-defined editorial style gives your writing a professional sheen and brings it in line with the university’s brand platform.

NC State Editorial Style Guidelines

NC State’s editorial style is based on The Associated Press Stylebook, with exceptions and additions as noted. To resolve questions of spelling, AP recommends using Webster’s New World College Dictionary.

For NC State’s full editorial style guide, visit the brand site here.

Free Speech

At NC State, freedom of speech and expression are essential to who we are. The open, free exchange and expression of ideas and views is critical to advancing our mission as a public university. We are an inclusive community that encourages learning, respect and and hearing differing opinions. This page contains information and resources related to how we work to create and support an environment where freedom of speech and expression thrive.

Inclusive Language

NC State strives to foster an environment that welcomes, includes and empowers every member of the Wolfpack. Follow the guidelines in the university’s Inclusive Language Guide on the brand site to help make sure your writing supports this strategic goal.

Voice and Tone

NC State speaks with a single voice — one that reflects and reinforces our brand. For guidance, visit the brand site here.

Abbreviations and Acronyms

Acronyms that appear as main entries in the dictionary can generally be used without first spelling them out (e.g., HTML, IQ, NASA). Other acronyms that are used more than once in a given piece of writing — such as a web or magazine article, a brochure, a letter, etc. — should be spelled out the first time they are used, with the acronym given in parentheses immediately afterward (a departure from AP style). Use the acronym on second and subsequent references:

The National Science Foundation (NSF) has released its final report. In it, the NSF makes several timely recommendations.

Many writers think they should use an acronym just because it exists, but that is not the case. In the example above, if the National Science Foundation is only mentioned once in the piece, the acronym should not be used:

The National Science Foundation has released its final report, which makes several timely recommendations.

Avoid overuse of acronyms. When acronyms appear too often, the resulting “alphabet soup” can impede comprehension and make the prose awkward. Also, when an acronym only means something to those within a specific organization, it should be used sparingly (if at all) when communicating with the outside world. In such instances, use a generic noun or nouns to replace the acronym:

The Grand Rapids United Elections League (GRUEL) has announced their support for a slate of candidates. GRUEL members say they hope to change the city come November.

The Grand Rapids United Elections League (GRUEL) has announced their support for a slate of candidates. League members say they hope to change the city come November.

Academic and Student Affairs Terminology

In effort to align ourselves with the standards of the National Academic Advising Association, all DASA advising programs have adopted the spelling of this word with an “o” instead of with an “e” in titling academic advisors.

This acronym stands for Academic Support Program for Student Athletes. Pronounced “ASPA” (ignore the second “S”), this unit works closely with the athletics department, but is separate from them.

Campus Health Center
This refers to the building that collectively houses three departments: the Counseling Center, Prevention Services and Campus Health Services. Do not use it as a substitute unit name for Campus Health Services. It is formerly known as the Student Health Center.

Campus Health Services
This is the department name and is not to be used interchangeably with the building name of the Campus Health Center. It was formerly known as Student Health Services.

The Crafts Center
“The” is capitalized when used singularly as a heading, and generally not capitalized when embedded in text.

This acronym stands for Division of Academic and Student Affairs and rhymes with “NASA.” Always capitalize all four letters of this acronym.

Department of Performing Arts and Technology
This is the department name and is not to be abbreviated.

Never use this four-letter word — always use residence hall.

First-Year Students
Hyphenate the phrase “first-year” when referring to students enrolled in their first year.

The Gregg Museum of Art & Design
This museum, a unit of Arts NC State, uses the ampersand in its name. On first reference, use “the Gregg Museum of Art & Design.” On subsequent references, use “the Gregg Museum” or “the Gregg.”

Health and Exercise Studies
This is the current name of the academic department formerly knowns as Physical Education.

Naval ROTC
Use “Naval” instead of “Navy” as this unit includes both Navy and Marine programs.

New Students
This umbrella term refers collectively to any incoming students, including first-year and transfer students.

This acronym stands for Office of Undergraduate Courses and Curricula. The full name of the department is Office of Undergraduate Courses, Curricula and University Academic Standards.

This acronym stands for the Office of the Vice Chancellor and Dean.

Residence Hall
Use this term rather than dormitory or dorm.

ROTC: Military Organization and Protocols

  • Military personnel serving in the ROTC units are referred to collectively as the “cadre” while students participating in ROTC programs are referred to as “cadets.”
  • Each branch of the service has its own method of abbreviating rank. For example, even thought Air Force and Army both have Lieutenants Colonels, it is abbreviated differently in writing for each branch. Here is the proper form for the commanding officers of the three ROTC units at NC State University:
    • Lt Col  – Air Force ROTC
    • LTC – Army ROTC
    • CAPT – Naval ROTC
  • Although the ranks are different, the generic title for the three officers heading each of the three ROTC units is “Commander” as in “Commanding Officer.” Thus, one refers to “the ROTC Commanders” in the collective, and “the Army (or Naval or Air Force) Commander” in the singular.
  • Marines are a part of Naval ROTC. The senior Marine in the cadre is the Executive Officer (XO) and is second in command of Naval ROTC. This is significant because the Naval ROTC Commander is responsible for the Naval ROTC programs at NC State, UNC and Duke; thus, the XO is very involved in the leadership for Naval ROTC  at NC State.
  • Other Military Abbreviations
    • V/R = Very Respectfully (used in email or memos)
    • FOUO = For Official Use Only

State Ballroom
The formal name of the ballroom composing the three smaller ballrooms (Coastal, Piedmont and Mountains). Proper use for advertisements would be State Ballroom at Talley Student Union.

This term is hyphenated.

Student Publications
Italicize names of publications as such: Agromeck, Nubian Message, Technician and Windhover.

Talley Student Union
The official name of the building. Never shorten by dropping Student (ex: Talley Union). Do not use “New Talley.”

Thomas H. Stafford Jr. Commons
The green space on the north side of Talley Student Union. This may be shortened to Stafford Commons.

Job titles are capitalized if they precede the name of a person and lowercased if they come after the name or stand alone. For example: Doneka Scott, vice chancellor and dean of the Division of Academic and Student Affairs OR Vice Chancellor and Dean Doneka Scott.

TRIO Programs
The name “TRIO Programs” comes from the Federal outreach and student services programs. The name was coined in reference to the establishment of the first three of the current eight programs. Many colleges and universities across the country may have one or more TRIO programs.

  • NC State University is home to four of these programs: Upward Bound, Educational Talent Search, McNair Scholars and Student Support Services. These are referred to collectively as the “TRIO Programs” and would continue to use this name whether there are more than or less than three programs.
  • “TRIO” should be in all upper case letters.
  • The use of the lower case “i” in “TRiO” is limited to graphics only, which emanates from a long-established logo used across the country.

Vice Chancellor and Dean
The full title for DASA’s executive officer is vice chancellor and dean. Always use the full title, never just “vice chancellor” or “dean.”

These are the call letters of our student-run radio station.