25 Year Club (no hyphen) — A club recognizing faculty and staff who have at least 25 years of service to WMU.
- academic degrees
- basic rules
- city names
- state names
- U.S. Postal Service
- WMU offices, departments, programs
actor — Use for both men and women. You may also use actress(es) for women, but use actors (not actors and actresses) when referring to both men and women.
addresses, how to list.
advisor — Use the -or spelling in all WMU references (academic advisor, faculty advisor, residence advisor) and for all general references. When referring to the job titles of specific people outside the University, use their preferred spelling.
affect/effect — Affect, as a verb, means to influence. (His illness will affect his attendance.) Effect is infrequently used as a verb and means to cause. (We will effect a major reorganization of the office.)
Affect is very rarely used as a noun, and its correct use as a noun relates to psychological emotional states. Effect, as a noun, has a variety of meanings and uses, including consequence or result (The effect of the budget cuts will affect us all.); becoming operative (The policy goes into effect immediately); media technology (The special effects won an Academy Award.); creation of a desired result (Nearly everything Lincoln did was calculated for effect.); and the stuff in your purse, always used in the plural (Your personal effects.).
afterward is preferred in American English over afterwards. Use afterward.
- afterward, not afterwards
- anyway, not anyways
- backward, not backwards
- forward, not forwards
- toward, not towards
alumni association — Capitalized only when referring to the WMU Alumni Association. Do not capitalize association when it appears alone (see capitalization).
ampersand — Do not use ampersands (&) in text (tuition and fees), titles (provost and vice president for academic affairs) or names (College of Health and Human Services), except when it is part of a company's legal name (Procter & Gamble).
- Use 's with bachelor's and master's, but not associates degrees.
- Do not use 's with decades. Use 1980s or use '80s.
- Placement of apostrophes for possession with compound nouns depends on whether the nouns are acting collectively or separately.
- Jim's and Mary's weddings were both in Kalamazoo. (They are not married to each other.)
- Jim and Mary's weddings were both in Kalamazoo. (They have been married twice to each other.)
artwork (one word, no hyphen).
assure/ensure/insure — All mean to make secure or certain, but only assure is used in the sense of putting a person's mind at ease and only insure is used in references to financial guarantee against risk. Use ensure in all other cases. (We strive to ensure the success of each student.)
at — Except for email addresses, never use the symbol @ in text.
athletics — See sports.
athletic department — The term athletic department (not capitalized) may be used as a reference to the Division of Intercollegiate Athletics (capitalized).
bachelor’s or bachelor’s degree, but Bachelor of Arts.
biannual versus biennial — Biannual and semiannual mean twice a year; biennial means every two years.
biology department — There is no biology department at WMU. As with all units of the University, the Department of Biological Sciences should be referred to by its full name on first reference and may be referred to as “biological sciences” or “the department” on subsequent references. Use biology to refer to the discipline and major, not the department.
Board of Trustees — Capitalized only when referring to the WMU Board of Trustees. Do not capitalize board or trustees when they appear alone. See capitalization.
book titles — See composition titles.
break — use recess, not break, for periods when there are no classes (Thanksgiving recess, holiday recess)
Bronco NetID (exactly as shown) — A username for WMU computer services.
brown and gold — The school colors are brown and gold (not capitalized). Do not refer to WMU as "the brown and gold."
Brown Auditorium in Schneider Hall should always be referred to by name and not by room number.
Bronco/Broncos — Capitalized when referring to the WMU nickname or mascot. Do not use Bronco(s) as a general reference to the University, such as "Bronco course offerings" or "Bronco commencement." In an appropriate context, referring to WMU students or alumni as Broncos is acceptable, even recommended.
campus community — The campus community includes all students, faculty and staff and is a part of the much larger University community, which also includes alumni, emeriti, parents and families of students, and friends of WMU.
Campus Flagpoles is located between Kanley Chapel and the Lee Honors College.
Campus Fountain is located in Fountain Plaza next to Miller Auditorium.
campuswide (one word) — Also: worldwide, nationwide and statewide.
canceled (not cancelled) — Also: cancel, canceling, cancellation.
catalog (not catalogue), cataloged, cataloging, cataloger.
cities, how to list.
chair (not chairman, not chairwoman, not chairperson) — Except for people outside WMU, whose titles should not be changed to conform to WMU style.
Christmas break — Use holiday recess, not Christmas break, for the period from the end of fall semester to the start of spring semester.
ciphers — Do not use ciphers (double zeros) for times of day or whole dollar amounts. ("Shows start at 7 p.m. and tickets are $15," not "Shows start at 7:00 p.m. and tickets are $15.00.") See numerals.
Class of 20__ — Capitalize when referring to a WMU graduating class. (She is a member of the Class of 2014.) Do not capitalize "class" when it appears alone.
coed and coeducation (not hyphenated) — Coed may be used, even in formal writing, in references such as "coed residence halls," and "coed softball teams." Do not refer to women as coeds.
comedian — Use for both men and women.
commencement — Not capitalized except when preceded by the name of the University (WMU Commencement) or used as part of the name of a specific commencement (Spring 2011 Commencement).
CommUniverCity (exactly as shown) — Any of several WMU-sponsored community events or activities, notably CommUniverCity Night Football, typically the first home football game of the season.
- Use the full, formal name on first reference. Avoid the use of acronyms, even on second and subsequent references.
- Do not use a comma before Inc. or Ltd., even if it is included in the formal name.
- Generally, follow the spelling and capitalization preferred by the company: eBay. But capitalize the first letter if it begins a sentence.
- Do not use all-capital-letter names unless the letters are individually pronounced: BMW. Others should be uppercase and lowercase. Ikea, not IKEA; USA Today, not USA TODAY.
- Do not use symbols such as exclamation points, plus signs or asterisks that form contrived spellings that might distract or confuse a reader. Use Yahoo, not Yahoo!; Toys R Us, not Toys "R" Us; E-Trade, not E*Trade.
- Use an ampersand only if it is part of the company's formal name, but not otherwise in place of "and."
- Lowercase "the" unless it is part of the company's formal name.
composition titles — Apply the guidelines listed here to book titles, computer game titles, movie titles, opera titles, play titles, poem titles, album and song titles, radio and television program titles, and the titles of lectures, speeches and works of art.
- Capitalize the principal words, including prepositions and conjunctions of four or more letters.
- Capitalize an article — the, a, an — or words of fewer than four letters if it is the first or last word in a title.
- Put quotation marks around the names of all such works except magazines, newspapers, the Bible or books that are used primarily as reference materials (almanacs, directories, dictionaries, encyclopedias, gazetteers, handbooks, journals, textbooks and similar publications). Do not use quotation marks around such software titles as WordPerfect or Windows or website names. Most app names are capitalized without quotes. An exception to this is computer game apps such as "FarmVille," which are placed in quotes.
- Translate a foreign title into English unless a work is generally known by its foreign name.
coursework — For consistency in WMU writing, use coursework (one word).
courtesy titles — Do not use courtesy titles (Ms., Miss, Mrs., Mr.) in general writing. They may be used in personal correspondence, direct quotations and other special situations. If you use Ms., Miss or Mrs., use the title preferred by the individual to whom you are referring.
current and currently (presently and at present) are overused and are frequently unnecessary. Instead of, "We currently have 200 students in the program," write, "We have 200 students in the program."
Dalton Center Recital Hall, not Dalton Recital Hall.
- Use 1, 2, 3, 4, not 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th. Write "Reservations are due July 27," not "Reservations are due July 27th."
- For academic and fiscal years, use 2011-12, not 2011-2012. Only exception: 1999-2000.
- Do not abbreviate days of the week in text.
- Do not abbreviate months of the year when they appear by themselves or with a year (December 2010). March, April, May, June and July are never abbreviated in text, but the remaining months are when they are followed by a date (Jan. 27), and are correctly abbreviated Jan., Feb., Aug., Sept., Oct., Nov., Dec.
daylight saving time (not capitalized) — saving, not savings.
decades — Use 1960s, 1990s or use '60s, '90s (no apostrophe before the s).
dollar amounts — Do not use ciphers (double zeros) for times of day or whole dollar amounts. ("Shows start at 7 p.m. and tickets are $15." not "Shows start at 7:00 p.m. and tickets are $15.00.") See numerals.
each — May be abbreviated (ea.) in tables, but never in text. Avoid unnecessary use. Instead of "Tickets are $12 each," write "Tickets are $12."
e.g. and i.e.—The abbreviations 'e.g.' (meaning "for example") and 'i.e.' (meaning "that is") are always lowercase and always followed by a comma. Example: The University completed a number of construction projects in 2012 (e.g., the new Sangren Hall, resurfacing of Kanley Track). These constructions are awkward, however, and in most cases can be easily avoided. Example: The University completed a number of construction projects in 2012, including the new Sangren Hall and the resurfacing of Kanley Track.
Elearning (capitalized) is WMU's online learning system. The generic term e-learning is hyphenated and not captialized. See e-references.
email — Not hyphenated, not capitalized. Similar terms such as e-book and e-commerce are hyphenated. See e-references.
email addresses — Use all lowercase for email addresses and use official wmich.edu individual and office email addresses for all University communication. See e-references.
ensure/insure — See assure/ensure/insure.
entitled/titled — Books, plays, movies, songs and lectures have titles and are titled. (William Shakespeare wrote a play titled, “Othello.”) Entitled refers to guarantees, rights and entitlements. (Each coupon entitles you to one free admission.)
everyone/every one — Use two words when referring to each individual item. Use one word when used as a pronoun meaning all persons.
farther/further — Farther refers to physical distance. (She ran farther than anyone else.) Further refers to an extension of time or degree. (He wants to further his studies.)
federal (not capitalized) — When used as an adjective (federal regulations, federal assistance) to distinguish something from state, city, county, and other government entities, federal is always lowercase. Capitalize only when part of a proper name (Federal Aviation Administration, Federal Trade Commission).
fewer versus less — Less means "not as much," and fewer means "not as many." Use fewer for things you can count, and less for things you cannot. "I should eat less chocolate." "I should eat fewer chocolate chip cookies."
field house — two words, expect in the name Read Fieldhouse.
first come, first served (not first serve) — Add hyphens when used as a compound modifier, "Seating is on a first-come, first-served basis."
First-Year Experience programs (exactly as shown) — An office at WMU geared toward new, or first-year, students. "First-Year" should be hyphenated, and "programs" should not be capitalized.
flier, flyer — Flier is the preferred spelling for an aviator and for a handbill. Flyer is part of the proper names American Flyer, Pacific Flyer, Western Flyer and others.
formal names should not be used in general writing for buildings or other entities named for people. Use Waldo Library, not Dwight B. Waldo Library.
freshman, sophomore, junior, senior (not capitalized) — The term "first-year students" is preferred over freshman.
freshman class (not freshmen class).
fundraising/fundraiser — One word in all cases.
gender bias, avoid in writing.
geology department — There is no geology department at WMU. As with all units of the University, the Department of Geosciences should be referred to by its full name on first reference and may be referred to as “geosciences” or “the department” on subsequent references. Use geology to refer to the discipline and major, not the department.
GoWMU (exactly as shown) — WMU’s secure intranet portal. Do not refer to GoWMU as "the portal" or "GoWMU portal." Use GoWMU. See e-references.
- Use numerals for all numbers.
- Use single quotes for quotation marks.
- Use US, UK and UN (no periods).
- For U.S. states use traditional abbreviations, but do not use periods for those abbreviated with two capital letters: NY, NJ, NH, NM, NC, SC, ND, SD and RI. Also DC. Other states retain periods: Ind., Ill., Minn., Wis.
health care — two words in all cases.
Heinig Emeriti Lounge is located in Walwood Hall.
history — Referring to past history, previous history or prior history is redundant. All history is past, previous and prior; there is no other kind. Use "history."
holiday recess — The period between fall and spring semesters when no classes are held. The period during the holiday recess when the entire University is closed is the "holiday closure." Neither should be referred to as "Christmas break" or "winter break." See recess.
holidays — Use of apostrophes in holidays.
Aprostrophe before the s
Aprostrophe after the s
- New Year's Day
- Valentine's Day
- St. Patrick's Day
- Mother's Day
- Father's Day
- Presidents' Day
- April Fools' Day
- Veterans Day
- Teachers Day
- Secretaries Day
home page — Internet term referring to the main page in a website. Two words, no hyphen, not capitalized. See e-references.
homecoming — Not capitalized except when preceded by the name of the University (WMU Homecoming) or used as part of the name of a specific homecoming (Homecoming 2008)
imply versus infer — The writer implies; the reader infers.
in order — is unnecessary in constructions such as, "In order to save money, we reduced our spending." Simply write, "To save money, we reduced our spending."
Internet — proper noun, always capitalized. See e-references.
intranet — A communication network within an organization or group. Not capitalized. See e-references.
kickoff (noun and adjective), kick off (verb) — Never use kick-off.
Kirsch Auditorium in the Fetzer Center should always be referred to by name and not by room number.
last and next — Avoid using last or next.
less versus fewer — Less means "not as much," and fewer means "not as many." Use fewer for things you can count, and less for things you cannot. "I should eat less chocolate." "I should eat fewer chocolate chip cookies."
login, logon, logout, logoff — As a noun or adjective: one word, no hyphen, not capitalized. Example: Enter your login information. As a verb: two words, no hyphen, not capitalized. Example: Log in to GoWMU. If you use login, use logout; if you use logon, use logoff.
master’s or master’s degree, but Master of Science. See academic degrees.
me, myself or I, which is correct?
million, billion, trillion See numerals.
more than/over — More than is used with numbers. (More than 30 graduates attended.) Over refers to spatial relationships. (The flag flew over the building.)
move in (noun and verb), move-in (adjective) — Examples (all correct): Fall move in starts in August. Move-in dates are now available. The move-in schedule is online.
Ms., Miss, Mrs. — See courtesy titles.
multi — Most words beginning with multi (multicultural, multimedia, multinational, multitasking) are not hyphenated. That includes names of campus facilities, such as the Multicultural Center and Dalton Center Multimedia Room.
(the) Multicultural Center is located in the Trimpe Building.
named buildings and programs — In general writing, do not use the full, formal names of buildings or other entities that are named for people. Use Miller Auditorium, not James W. Miller Auditorium. Use Waldo Library, Sangren Hall, Bernhard Center, Haenicke Institute, Brown Auditorium, Lee Honors College.
names (companies) — See company names.
names (people) — In general writing, use an individual's full name—Dr. John M. Dunn—on first reference. On subsequent references, use only a last name—Dunn. Do not use courtesy titles (Ms., Miss, Mrs., Mr.).
names (programs, events, departments, offices and other units at WMU) — Follow the guidelines for company names.
news article headlines — See headlines.
none — When used to mean "no single one," none always takes a singular verb and pronoun. "None of the 12 students is (not are) taking the exam."
nonprofit (one word, no hyphen)
number — Do not use the symbol "#" in text. Depending on the meaning, use "pound" or "number" or the abbreviation "No." (capitalized). Use "No." only if it is followed by a numeral, especially when indicating rank or priority. "We are the No. 2 seed in the tournament." "Creating an environment for student success is our No. 1 priority."
- In general, spell out zero and whole numbers one through nine. Use figures for 10 or greater.
- Numbers beginning a sentence should always be spelled out, unless they represent a calendar year. (1983 was the worst year.) Try to avoid constructions that begin sentences with numbers.
- Always use figures (even for single numerals) for percentages (5 percent), for sports scores (The 6-0 victory...), for ages (His son, age 3, was...), for page numbers (page 6) and in headlines. Examples of other less-frequently used exceptions include, “Act II, Scene 3” and “Article IV, Section 5.”
- Generally use the words million, billion, and trillion for numbers of one million or greater, unless precise figures are critical. (Building costs were set at $24.8 million.) (He won the election by a vote of 1,892,056 to 1,852,876.)
- Do not use ciphers (double zeros) for times of day or whole dollar amounts. ("Shows start at 7 p.m. and tickets are $15." not "Shows start at 7:00 p.m. and tickets are $15.00.") See times for exceptions.
- Use commas for figures greater than 999. (The program had 1,000 students. It cost $25,000. She received $1,500.)
online — one word, no hyphen, not capitalized. See e-references.
out is unnecessary in phrases such as "print out" and "separate out." Write "print the form," not "print out the form."
palate/pallet/palette — Your palate is the roof of your mouth or your sense of taste; a pallet is a bed or type of shipping platform; and a palette is a set of colors or the board an artist uses to hold paint.
people is almost always preferred over "persons" or "individuals." (Only people registered for the workshop can win a prize.)
percent — Do not use the symbol (%) in text. (There was a 12 percent increase.) Always use numerals for percentages, even for single numerals (5 percent). See numerals.
phone and fax numbers — The format for phone and fax numbers is (269) 387-8400. Use parentheses around the area code. Use a hyphen between the exchange and number. The format for toll-free numbers is the same. Use (800) 555-1212. Do not use 1-800-555-1212.
play titles — See composition titles.
presently and at present — (current and currently) are overused and are frequently unnecessary. Instead of, "We presently have 200 students in the program," write, "We have 200 students in the program."
punctuation — rules for using the 14 standard punctuation marks in American English.
Putney Auditorium in the Fetzer Center should always be referred to by name and not by room number. It's Putney Auditorium, not Putney Lecture Hall.
Read Fieldhouse — field house is two words, except in the WMU name Read Fieldhouse.
readability, making what you write easier to read.
recess refers to a period when no classes are held, such as Thanksgiving recess. Use "closure" only when the entire University is closed, including offices and residence halls, which occurs only once a year at the end of December, the "holiday closure."
regards is correct in the phrase "as regards," but incorrect in the phrases "in regards to" and "with regards to." Use "In regard to..." or better, "Regarding..."
regional locations — Previously known as branch campuses and regional sites.
RSVP (no periods) is an abbreviation for the French, "respondez s'il vous plait," which means "please respond." "Please RSVP" is redundant. Just use RSVP.
salutations for form letters.
seal — Referring to the official seal of the University (or any organization’s seal or logo), use lowercase even in constructions such as "WMU seal."
seasons — Lowercase summer, fall, winter, spring, including "fall semester" and "summer I session." In text, "first summer session" is generally preferred over "summer I session."
semester/session are not capitalized. Correct: fall semester, spring semester, summer I session, summer II session. In text, "first summer session" is generally preferred over "summer I session."
service learning — As a compound modifier, use service-learning (hyphenated): service-learning courses, service-learning experiences, service-learning volunteer opportunities, service-learning students, service-learning events, service-learning awards. In all other cases, use service learning (no hyphen): service learning at WMU, the office promotes service learning, benefits of service learning, research on service learning, book about service learning, the concept of service learning. The office at WMU is the Office of Service Learning (no hyphen).
Shaw Theatre is located in the Gilmore Theatre Complex.
Social Security is capitalized, but words following, such as "number," "system," "card," and "benefits" are not capitalized. Never include your Social Security number in an email message. The abbreviation for Social Security number is SSN. "SSN number" is redundant. Use SSN. Plural: SSNs.
song titles — See composition titles.
southwest Michigan (do not capitalize southwest), but West Michigan.
- Do not capitalize the names of sports such as football and volleyball, even if the sport is preceded by the name of the school or the school nickname (WMU volleyball, Bronco football).
- For sports in which both men and women compete, the gender of the team must always be specified on first reference (men's basketball, women's soccer).
- When referring to varsity teams, do not identify gender when Western Michigan University has only one gender represented in that varsity sport. Do not use women's golf, men's hockey. Use golf, hockey.
- Never use girls or ladies to refer to women's teams. Use women. Never use boys to refer to men's teams. Use men.
spring recess—not spring break—is a one-week period in spring semester when no classes are held, typically the first week in March. See recess.
states (U.S.), how to list.
Stewart Tower is located between Waldo Library and the University Computing Center. Do not use clock tower or library tower.
summer I session (not capitalized) — In text, "first summer session" is generally preferred over "summer I session." See semester/session.
summer recess—not summer break—is the period from the end of summer II session to the start of fall semester. See recess.
telephone — See phone
Thanksgiving recess—not Thanksgiving break—is the period around Thanksgiving when no classes are held, typically beginning at noon the day before Thanksgiving and continuing until 8 a.m. the Monday after. See recess.
the — Not capitalized unless it begins a sentence.
theatre (not theater) for all WMU references.
time, hours, a.m., p.m., how to list.
time frame (two words)
timeline (one word)
titles, books, songs, movies, plays, magazines, newspapers and other compositions. See composition titles.
titles, when to capitalize.
25 Year Club (no hyphen) — A club recognizing faculty and staff who have at least 25 years of service to WMU.
typography, basic rules. See readability.
unique — Unique is an absolute, meaning "one of a kind." Something is either unique, or it is not. It can be less distinctive, more unusual or truly extraordinary, but it cannot be less unique, more unique, somewhat unique or very unique.
University — Capitalize only when it refers exclusively to Western Michigan University. See capitalization.
University Arena is located in Read Fieldhouse. Basketball, gymnasic and volleyball contests are held in University Arena, but offices for the athletic director, athletic marketing and media relations, and several varsity coaches are in Read Fieldhouse, not University Arena.
University community — The campus community includes all students, faculty and staff and is a part of the much larger University community, which also includes alumni, emeriti and friends of WMU.
Upjohn Rotunda is the atrium inside the entrance to Waldo Library.
URL — Universal Resource Locator, a Web address. "Web address" is preferred over URL in all University communication. See e-references.
Web — When referring to the World Wide Web, Web is a proper noun and is capitalized. See e-references.
Web addresses — Also known as URLs. "Web address" is preferred over URL in all University communication. The prefix http:// should not be included when listing a Web address in a correspondence, publication, or other printed material, and for pages at www.wmich.edu, do not include www. In print and spoken communication use wmich.edu, not http://www.wmich.edu. See e-references.
Web page — Two words. Web is always capitalized. See e-references.
webcam — One word, not capitalized. See e-references.
Webmail Plus — WMU's email and collaboration system. Use the full name in text. Approval is required for use of Webmail+ and the Webmail+ logo.
website — One word, not capitalized. See e-references.
weeklong, weekslong — One word, no hyphen when used as an adjective.
Western — Capitalize when it refers to Western Michigan University. An acceptable abbreviation after the full name of the University has been introduced. The preferred abbreviation is WMU. See abbreviations.
Western Michigan — Capitalize when it refers to Western Michigan University. An acceptable abbreviation after the full name of the University has been introduced. When using "Western Michigan," be certain that it refers clearly to either the University or the region. The preferred abbreviation is WMU. See abbreviations.
West Michigan (capitalize West), but southwest Michigan.
Wi-Fi (not Wifi or WiFi).
Williams Theatre is located in the Gilmore Theatre Complex.
WIN is an abbreviation for Western identification number. "WIN number" is redundant. Use WIN. Plural: WINs. What is your WIN? What are their WINs?
winter break — Use holiday recess, not winter break, for the period from the end of fall semester to the start of spring semester.
WMU — The preferred abbreviation after the full name of the University has been introduced. Do not use periods. See abbreviations.
years—For academic and fiscal years, use 2006-07, not 2006-2007.
York Arena Theatre is located in the Gilmore Theatre Complex.
ZIP code—ZIP (all caps) is an acronym for Zoning Improvement Plan.