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Editorial Style Guide

The Marketing Style Guide is based on Associated Press (AP) Style Guide with some exceptions specifically for Davenport University.


Academic Subjects

Do not capitalize academic subjects unless the subject is a language or is used in the formal name of a department.


  • Students must take four mathematics courses to graduate.
  • Students must take five English courses to graduate.
  • The Department of Psychology requires majors to take three courses a semester.


Academic degrees and honors should be capitalized when they follow a name, whether they are abbreviated or written in full. When academic degrees are referred to in general terms, they are not capitalized.


  • Susan Jones, Ph.D.
  • Susan Jones, Doctor of Philosophy
  • Susan Jones also holds a master’s degree in psychology. (Notice that the academic subject is not capitalized. Languages are the exception, i.e. master’s degree in English.)

Abbreviations and Acronyms

When a degree abbreviation follows a name, use periods to separate the letters. If the abbreviation is used as an acronym for the degree, do not use periods.


  • Jane Davis, M.A.
  • Jane Davis earned an MA in English

Headlines and Page Titles

The key to capitalization in headlines and page titles is consistency. This applies to web pages, advertising, direct mail and other pieces at the designer’s discretion. News communications such as DU Review and the DU Hub use Associated Press (AP) style with first word initial cap only.


  • DU students go for the gold at BPA.

Second References

The last name is used for a second and subsequent reference to people mentioned in copy.


  • Joe Smith, professor of marketing, achieved his bachelor’s degree at Michigan State University. Smith then attended Cornell, where he received his master’s and doctorate degrees in marketing.


  • Informal copy with a friendly style, such as communications to current students or alumni, can use the first name as a second reference.

Schools and Departments

Capitalize schools and departments when they are used as formal names. When used informally, do not capitalize. Formal department and school names vary from college to college.


  • The Donald W. Maine College of Business was established in 1980.
  • There are 550 students enrolled in the business school.
  • The College of Health Professions is launching a new nursing program.
  • Students interested in studying abroad should contact Professor Smith in the business department.
  • Students who wish to enroll should contact admissions.


  • Capitalize University when referring to Davenport.

When mentioning all three schools, always list them in this order: Business, Technology and Health.

Titles, Professional

Capitalize a title when it immediately precedes a name. If a title follows a name or stands alone, do not capitalize.


  • Professor Smith has been teaching math for 20 years.
  • Joe Smith, a math professor, has been teaching for 20 years.
  • Students must get permission from the professor to register for the math course.
  • Dean Smith will hire two staff members this year.
  • Joe Smith was appointed dean four years ago.
  • Personal titles such as Mr., Mrs. or Ms. are not used.


Appears with no spacing.

Nondiscriminatory Language

Minority Groups

Use lowercase for “black” and “white.” Use capitals for identification when using geographic words, such as “African American.” Appropriate references to minorities are evolving.

Non-Gender Specific Language

Avoid language with potentially discriminatory connotation.


  • Use chairperson, chair or department chair rather than chairman.
  • Use staffing, not manning.



For all text, use the month-day-year sequence. Note: Spell out the day of the week and the month of the year. Abbreviations are acceptable where necessary (charts, schedules, etc.).


  • Today is Tuesday, January 29, 2011.

Grade Point Average (GPA)

Spell out on first reference. Use numerals and capitalize all letters when abbreviating.


  • Susan’s grade point average is 3.6. For admission, students need a GPA of 3.5.


Use $25, 30 cents, $4.50, etc.


Percentages are written in numerals, followed by the word “percent.”


  • The exam is 20 percent of your final grade.


Phone numbers are separated by dashes, not periods. Delete “1” before “800.


  • 800-686-1600

Spelling Out Numbers vs. Using Numeral

Whole numbers from one through nine are spelled out. Use numerals beginning with 10 and up. If the first word of a sentence is a number, spell it out. Numerals should be used in scientific or tabular data.


Use 4 p.m. (NOT 4:00 p.m.), 5:30 a.m., noon, midnight, etc. Use an "en" dash, not a hyphen between the hours.


  • We will be there between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m.
  • Brunch is served from 10 a.m. to noon.


  • When used in a list.
  • The open house will be held on:
    • Warren Campus 1 – 4 p.m.
    • Midland Campus 2 – 5 p.m.

Online Style


In email and on the web, embed email addresses as a link.



  • Drop the “www” when using a Davenport URL, such as “”


Use email — lower case, one word.


Sometimes it’s necessary to guide readers even if hyper links will take them to a desired page. When a “bread crumb trail” is needed, use “>” with a single space on either side.


  • Go to > Communications and Marketing > Communications Resources > Templates > Letterhead 1.


Em Dash

Use the em dash to represent a break in thought or sentence structure, to add emphasis to a phrase or to separate two clauses. Note: The “em” dash is so-called because it is the width of the lower-case letter “m.” Put a space on either side of an em dash in text.


  • We use the em dash in our communications — not a hyphen.

En Dash

Use the en dash to represent a range of something — such as time or other elements. Note: The “en” dash is so-called because it is the width of the lower-case letter “n.” Put a space on either side of an en dash in text.


  • The event is scheduled to run from 4 – 6 p.m.
  • The graduates were lined up from A – M and N – Z.


Use hyphens sparingly and only when needed for clarity, such as when using a compound adjective before a noun.


  • Bob took graduate-level courses last semester.
  • Bob took courses at the graduate level last semester.

Possessive vs. Plural

Use an apostrophe for words that show possession. Do not use an apostrophe for plural words.


  • The chemistry department’s textbooks have arrived.
  • The departments in the University order textbooks in the summer.

Serial Comma

Use serial commas only when necessary for clarity.


  • Art majors can choose classes in drawing, painting and photography.
  • The most popular photography classes at our university are Nature Photography, Photojournalism, and Black and White Photography.

Text Link

When linking in text to other pages or material, use embedded links that integrate with the text. Avoid using “Click here for …” whenever possible.


  • Cluetrain Manifesto author Doc Searls gives an excellent example of markets as conversations in a recent blog post.

Tuition Grant

Never "tuition discount."