BGSU Style Guide

The set of standards for writing documents at Bowling Green State University.

The Bowling Green State University Office of Marketing and Brand Strategy adheres to the Associated Press Stylebook when writing about the University. Webster’s New World College Dictionary is used to resolve questions related to spelling and usage not covered in the AP Stylebook.

  • Capitalize BGSU employee titles when used before names. Do not capitalize if used after.
    • Ex. Chief Communication Officer Susie Johnson; Dr. Susie Johnson, chief communication officer
  • Capitalize an academic subject when it is used with a course number.
    • Ex. Psychology 1010, Japanese 1020
  • Capitalize and abbreviate the word Ext. when used with a BGSU phone number.
    • Ex. 1-800-372-0000, Ext. 1234
  • Capitalize the word University whenever referring to Bowling Green State University, even though the rest of the name might not precede it.
    • Ex. The University’s Bowen-Thompson Student Union opened in 2002.
  • Do not capitalize the word university in general unless it is part of the proper noun.
    • Ex. There are six colleges and universities involved with the organization.
  • Capitalize the first, last and important words in titles of books, films, art exhibits, plays, lectures and musical compositions and place in quotation marks.
  • Do not capitalize freshman, sophomore, junior, senior or graduate.
    • Ex. She led the team in rebounds during her freshman year.
  • Capitalize the names of organized classes of students and alumni that include a year.
    • Ex. Class of 2020
  • Capitalize all academic degrees when abbreviated or when referring to the official degree name. But lowercase the discipline.
    • Ex. 1: Ph.D., B.S., Bachelor of Arts
    • Ex. 2: Master of Science in chemistry
  • Do not capitalize associate degree, bachelor’s degree, master’s degree or doctoral degree when not used as the official name.
    • Ex. 1: She earned an associate degree in social work.
    • Ex. 2: She earned a Bachelor of Arts at BGSU.
    • Ex. 3: He earned a doctorate in chemistry. He earned a doctoral degree in chemistry.
  • The word program should not be capitalized unless it is part of an office title.
    • Ex. 1: The business program
    • Ex. 2: The BGSU Honors Program
  • Capitalize official titles of offices, schools, buildings and clubs.
    • Ex. Office of Marketing and Brand Strategy, Department of Recreation and Wellness, Administration Building, Environmental Club, College of Business, School of Art
  • Do not capitalize offices, buildings and clubs when it is not the proper name.
    • Ex. 1: Department of Biological Sciences
    • Ex. 2: He worked in the chemistry department.
  • Capitalize the names of official organizations, committees and councils.
    • Ex. President’s Cabinet, Faculty Senate, Undergraduate Student Government
  • No not capitalize “board,” “trustees” or “board of trustees” when used alone or in second reference. Only capitalize with BGSU before it: The BGSU Board of Trustees.
  • Do not capitalize the name of athletic teams.
    • Ex. women’s volleyball, men’s baseball
  • Capitalize the University’s athletic nickname.
    • Ex. BGSU Falcons, the Falcons
  • Capitalize names of official awards and scholarships.
    • Ex. Faculty Excellence Award, Alumni Laureate Scholarship
  • Capitalize proper nouns, months and days of the week.
  • Do not capitalize a.m. and p.m.
    • Ex. 9 a.m.
  • Do not capitalize the words government, federal, state, city, county or township.
    • Ex. The city of Bowling Green
  • Capitalize names of periods and events in history.
    • Ex. the Civil War, Renaissance art
  • Capitalize highway, county road, township road, route, state route and chapter only when followed by a number or letter.
    • Ex. State Route 25, Chapter 19
  • Capitalize geographical regions of the country. However, do not capitalize northwest preceding Ohio because it is an adjective, not a noun.
    • Ex. She moved to northwest Ohio from the South.
  • Capitalize entire geographical names.
    • Ex. Maumee River, He lived on Wooster Street.
  • Do not capitalize the seasons unless they are used as designations for an academic semester.
    • Ex. Fall Semester
  • Capitalize the names of special campus events.
    • Ex. The Hatch, the Common Read
  • Do not capitalize the words website, internet and intranet. Also, website should be one word.

When in doubt, do not abbreviate.

  • Do not abbreviate colleges or universities except on second reference.
    • Ex. Bowling Green State University – BGSU
  • Do not use % for percent. This is an exception to AP Style.
    • Ex. BGSU’s fall enrollment is 50 percent male students.
  • Do not abbreviate parts of geographic names except Saint.
    • Ex. North Canton, Fort Wayne, St. Louis
  • Abbreviate and capitalize east, west, north, south, northwest and southeast when used with street addresses.
    • Ex. 711 S. Dunbridge Road
  • Abbreviate Street, Avenue and Boulevard only in addresses that include a house number. Do not abbreviate Road, Way, Drive or Circle.
    • Ex. 485 S. Melrose Ave., Central Street
  • Do not abbreviate state names.
    • Ex. My uncle lives in Muncie, Indiana.
  • Use United States on first reference; U.S. (with periods) on second reference or as an adjective. US, with no periods, in headlines.
  • Abbreviate only January, February, August, September, October, November and December when used with figures. Do not abbreviate otherwise.
    • Ex. 1: Jan. 3, 1995, was his birthday.
    • Ex. 2: Jan. 3 was the coldest day of the month.
    • Ex. 3: The event will occur Jan. 3 – Feb. 16.
    • Ex. 4: My birthday is in January.
  • Abbreviate company, incorporated, corporation and limited in company names unless specified differently by the organization.
    • Ex. Ford Motor Co., Cooper Tire & Rubber Company

Do not abbreviate the first reference of a company, organization or firm. Spell out the organizational name. An acronym in parentheses can immediately follow the name of the organization if it is unusually long, unfamiliar to some readers or if the second reference does not appear in the same paragraph as the first. On second reference the abbreviation should be used. Abbreviations that are acceptable on first reference include NATO, NCAA and NAFTA, among others.


  • Do not use a comma between names with Roman numerals or before Jr. and Sr.
    • Ex. John Smith Sr., John Smith II
  • Use commas to set off a name of the state when used following a city.
    • Ex. 1: Columbus, Ohio, is located in Franklin County.
    • Ex. 2: He lives in Ann Arbor, Michigan, on State Street.
  • Do not use a comma before the words “and” or “or” when connecting the last two elements in a sequence of three or more unless the last element includes “and.”
    • Ex. 1: John Brinks, Mike McDonald and Sarah Smith are all professors.
    • Ex. 2: He only eats apples, oranges, and macaroni and cheese.
  • Do not use commas to set off Inc. and Ltd. in corporate names unless specified differently by the organization.
    • Ex. Apple Computer Inc.
  • Do not use a comma to separate academic terms and months from a year.
    • Ex. 1: We registered for Spring Semester 2004.
    • Ex. 2: I expect to graduate in December 2005.
  • Use a comma to preserve clarity.
    • Ex. Soon after, he left town.
  • Use a comma after digits indicating thousands except in serial numbers, street addresses and telephone numbers.
    • Ex. 1: 4,292
    • Ex. 2: 419-777-7777
    • Ex. 3: 10787 Main St.
  • Use a comma to separate the month and year only if the day also is included.
    • Ex. 1: My birthday is May 16, 1984.
    • Ex. 2: I was born in May 1984.
    • Ex. 3: March 16, 1984, is her birthday.
  • Use a comma to separate two or more adjectives from one another if each one modifies the noun alone.
    • Ex. He is an honest, friendly person.


  • Most abbreviations using all capital letters do not use periods (Exceptions: U.S., U.S.A.). Most abbreviations using lower case letters do. Refer to the dictionary.
    • Ex. NJCAA, SHAC, GPA, a.m., p.m., Ph.D.


  • Do not use an apostrophe for certain official names.
    • Ex. Presidents Day, Veterans Day
  • Use an apostrophe to show the plurals of single numbers and letters, but not multiple letters or numbers.
    • Ex. 1: He earned two A’s and a B.
    • Ex. 2: The program began in the early 1960s.
  • Use an apostrophe in groupings of degrees.
    • Ex. He earned two master’s degrees and three bachelor’s degrees.
  • Use an apostrophe to show personal possession, but not when using a personal pronoun.
    • Ex. the University’s rec center, his, theirs, ours, its (It’s means it is.)
  • Use an apostrophe to show a contraction or omission of letters or numbers.
    • Ex. Class of ’01 (note the orientation of the apostrophe)


  • Use a colon between two independent clauses when the second explains or amplifies the first.
    • Ex. Music is more than something mechanical: it is an expression of deep feeling and ethical values.


  • Use a semicolon when there is no coordinating conjunction such as when, and, but or for present. Each phrase must be a complete sentence.
    • Ex. The package was due last week; it arrived today.
  • Use semicolons to separate elements of a series when the individual segments contain material that must also be set off by commas.
    • Ex. 1: He leaves a son, John Anderson of Chicago; three daughters, Jane Smith of New York, Mary Smith of San Diego and Jean, wife of William Bragsby of Boston; and a sister, Martha, wife of Robert Warren of Warren, Ohio.
    • Ex. 2: John Smith of Oregon, forward (Clay High School); Jacob Thomas of Tecumseh, Michigan, center (Bedford High School), and Sue Adams of Toledo, guard (Bowsher High School).


  • Use parentheses to enclose information that is added to a sentence but is not considered of major importance. Always be sure that any material enclosed in parentheses can be omitted without changing the basic meaning of the sentence.
    • Ex. Jim Smith (formerly a resident of Tiffin) is a BGSU graduate.
  • Do not use parentheses to enclose the area code of a phone number.
    • Ex. 419-372-2531
  • Use parentheses where location identification is needed but is not part of the official name.
    • Ex. The Columbus (Ohio) Department of Public Education

Quotation marks

  • Always place the period or comma always within the quotation marks, or outside parentheses.
    • Ex. “Jim works in the College of Arts and Sciences,” he said. “He is a professor.”
  • When quoting consecutive paragraphs with the same speaker, repeat quotation marks at the beginning of each paragraph and close quotes only at the end of the last paragraph.
    • Ex. 1: “He attended Owens Community College before transferring to Bowling Green State University.
  • “However, he decided to travel for a year before beginning his bachelor’s degree.”
  • Use quotations around nicknames and slang expressions.
    • Ex. Ronald “Smokey” Stevens
  • Use double quotation marks for quoted material and single quotation marks for a quote within a quote.
    • Ex. “The ‘CBS Evening News’ is over,” he said.
  • Use quotation marks to enclose titles of books, movies, plays, poems, songs, works of art, and radio and television programs when the full title is used. Do not use quotation marks around the names of magazines, newspapers, the Bible or books that are catalogues of reference materials.
    • Ex. “CBS Evening News,” “Gone with the Wind,” the Bible
  • Use single quotation marks for headlines.
    • Ex. BGSU hosts ‘What the Eyes Don’t See’ author
  • Place the dash, the question mark, a period and the exclamation point within the quotation marks when they apply only to the quoted information. Place them outside when they apply to the whole sentence.
    • Ex. 1: Smith asked, “What did you say?”
    • Ex. 2: Did you see “Game of Thrones”?


  • The dash indicates a sudden change in thought. In addition, it can add emphasis to the words set off by the dash. It is typed “shift option hyphen” with a space before and after.
    • Ex. That was the end of the project — unless the company could come up with additional money.


  • Hyphenate ages.
    • Ex. 5- and 6-year-olds
  • An adjective cannot modify another adjective. Therefore, hyphenate two adjectives used together if the first one modifies the second one.
    • Ex. First-class investment, five-story building
  • Do not use a hyphen with words that end in -ly.
    • Ex. I bought a completely renovated home.
  • Do not use hyphens between numbers in an address.
    • Ex. 3249 137th St.
  • Use a hyphen in prefixes ending in vowels, and followed by the same vowel.
    • Ex. re-entry, co-op program
    • Exceptions: cooperate, coordinate
  • Use a hyphen in odds and scores.
    • Ex. 3-2, 10-1
  • Use a hyphen when connecting two times that are both in the morning or both in the afternoon. There should be no spaces surrounding the hyphen. Use the word “to” when connecting a time in the morning and a time in the afternoon. Always use noon when referring to 12 p.m. Always use midnight when referring to 12 a.m.
    • Ex. 1: Friday hours are 8-11 a.m.
    • Ex. 2: Saturday hours are 1-9 p.m.
    • Ex. 3: Sunday hours are 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
    • Ex. 4: Monday hours are noon – 6 p.m.
  • Hyphenate the prefixes all, ex and self.
    • Ex. All-American, ex-convict, self-employed
  • Do not hyphenate nonprofit.
  • Do not hyphenate longtime; it is one word when used as an adjective.
  • Use a hyphen in dates extending over two years. Also, only reference the last two years when using a hyphen in dates extending over two years. The only exception is when referencing years within two centuries.
    • Ex. 1990-94, 1999-2000
  • Use a hyphen to separate a prefix from a proper noun.
    • Ex. un-American, anti-Iraq.
  • Do not hyphenate adjectives that end in –wide
    • Ex. Citywide, universitywide, industrywide, worldwide


  • Do not use rd, st, th or nd for days of the month.
    • Ex. April 2, not April 2nd
  • Spell out cents for amounts that are less than $1.
    • Ex. 25 cents
  • Spell out numbers that are less than two digits.
    • Ex. Four, 54, six, 10
  • Certain figures are used exclusively as numbers, such as records, election returns, times, speeds, latitude and longitude, money, temperatures, highways, distances, dimensions, heights, ages, ratios, proportions, military units, political divisions, orchestra instruments, court districts, betting odds, amounts of academic credit and dates.
    • Ex. 105 MPH, $10
  • Do not begin a sentence with numerals. Use a word or spell out the figures. Headlines are the exception.
    • Ex. Thirty-four students signed up for classes.
  • Use commas in a number with more than three figures. The exceptions are telephone numbers, zip codes, serial numbers and house numbers.
    • Ex. 1: 4,060
    • Ex. 2: 4001 Buckeye St.
  • Spell out centuries below 10th. Use figures (with th) for 10th and above.
    • Ex. 20th century; ninth century
  • Do not superscript th or st with 10th, 51st, etc.
  • Avoid unnecessary numerals when possible.
    • Ex. 7 p.m. not 7:00 p.m.
  • Use figures for decades.
    • Ex. 1960s, the ’50s
  • Put room numbers before building names.
    • Ex. 317 Bowen-Thompson Student Union

Commonly misspelled words

  • Adviser
  • Backward (no s)
  • Cannot
  • Catalog
  • Counselor
  • Citywide
  • Coursework
  • Disc
  • Forward (no s)
  • Goodbye
  • Health care
  • Nationwide
  • Potato or Potatoes
  • Theater/Theatre
  • Department of Theatre and Film, but BGSU Film Theater, Thomas B. and Kathleen M. Donnell Theatre, BGSU Opera Theater
  • Tomato or Tomatoes
  • Toward (no s)
  • When referring to a student’s hometown, use Jim Smith of Toledo, not Jim Smith, Toledo.
  • Use a person’s preferred name. If unaware of the preferred name, ask. Always give first and last names of people the first time the name appears.
  • Graduates of the University should be identified.
    • Ex. Anthony Doerr, a 1999 graduate; Anthony Doerr ’99
  • Identify a BGSU employee by title and department.
    • Ex. John Smith, BGSU professor of political science
  • Identify students by name, hometown, class and major.
    • Ex. Terence Walker of Toledo, a sophomore business major
  • When stating a company name, always confirm that it is the proper name for the company.
    • Ex. Sauder Manufacturing Co.
  • An event cannot be called annual until it has been held for at least two successive years.
    • Ex. inaugural Golf Classic, second annual Golf Classic
  • Always hyphenate Bowen-Thompson Student Union.
  • Always refer to the ballroom by its full name – Lenhart Grand Ballroom
  • Do not refer to someone as professor if that person is not a full professor. Use “faculty member” instead.
  • When referring to other University presidents, avoid using “former.”
    • Ex. Dr. Mary Ellen Mazey, BGSU’s 11th president
  • Include Dr. Rodney K. Roger’s middle initial.
  • Remember that no matter how many subjects are in a sentence, or how many objects, the pronouns remain the same part of speech — subjective or objective — and do not change. Subjective pronouns do the action, objective ones are on the receiving end.
    • Ex. “He (subjective pronoun) called Fred and me (objective pronoun).”; “He called us.” “The provost talked to Dave, Julie, Andrea and me.”
      INCORRECT: “He called Fred and I.”; “He sent it to Ann and I.”
  • Or: “It’s Craig and I’s book.” There is no such word in English as I’s. It’s my (objective).
  • “It’s Craig’s and my (objective pronoun) book.”; “Tomorrow is Kathy’s and my anniversary.”
  • Reflexive pronouns refer to the person him- or herself or thing itself.
  • DO NOT say “Call myself.” Only you can call yourself. Say “Call me.”
  • DO NOT say “She gave it to Brad and myself.” Say “She gave it to Brad and me.”
  • Never use an objective pronoun in place of a subjective one:
    INCORRECT: “Her and her sister were going.” CORRECT: “She and her sister were going.”
  • INCORRECT: “Him and I will talk.” CORRECT: “He and I will talk.”
  • You can test whether you have it right by either removing the other subject:
  • (“I’s book”; “Her was going”) or adding the preposition to both: “He sent it to Fred and to I.” Or flip-flop the pronouns: “It’s I’s and Fred’s book.” Your ear will immediately pick up the error.
  • Remember to match singular subjects with singular objects, and plural subjects with plural objects:
  • “Somebody forgot to pay his bill (singular).” “Each has its drawbacks.” “They paid it themselves (plural).”
Subjective Pronouns (these do the action)

Singular                     Plural
I                                   We
You                             You
He, she                       They
It                                  They
(Who)                          (Who)                         

Objective Pronouns (these receive the action)

Singular                    Plural
Me                               Us
You                             You
Him, her                      Them
It                                  Them
(Whom)                       (Whom)


  • Locations should be referred to as:
    • Bowling Green Campus, never “main campus”
    • BGSU Firelands
    • BGSU at Levis Commons
  • Avoid sexist nouns and pronouns when possible. Use the plural “students” to avoid the he/she problem.
    • Ex.
      Wrong: A student should use his or her ID card for the Student Recreation Center.
      Right: Students should use their BG1 Card for the Student Recreation Center.
  • Use “chair” for the leader of a department of the board of trustees, not chairperson or chairman.
  • Write noon or midnight for 12 p.m. or 12 a.m.
    • Ex. 1: The festival will start at noon.
  • For alumni: Male college graduates are alumni. Women college graduates are alumnae. Singular of the masculine is alumnus. Singular of the feminine is alumna. Use alumni for the plural in general. Do not use the shortened “alums.”
  • Use singular pronouns for organizations.
    • Ex. Undergraduate Student Government met last night. It meets again today.
  • When referring to honorary groups, never use honorary as a noun, only as an adjective. These groups are appropriately called honor societies.
  • When referring to time and location of an event, the proper order is time, day, date and place.
    • Ex. The concert will be held at 8 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 17, in 317 Bowen-Thompson Student Union.
  • Do not use “or not” with whether.
    • Ex. We did not know whether class was canceled.
  • When referring to Canadian cities, use city and province. Do not refer to Canada.
    • Ex. 1: Toronto, Ontario
    • Ex. 2: Montreal, Quebec
  • Other foreign cities traditionally require the designation of country.
    • Ex. 1: Toledo, Spain
    • Ex. 2: Paris, France
  • Common usage mistakes:
  • It’s is the contraction for “it is.” Its is the possessive personal pronoun.
  • Use the singular “freshman” when it is used as an adjective.
    • Ex. He is a freshman student.
  • Use figures for all temperatures except zero. Also, use a word, not a minus sign, to indicate temperatures below zero.
    • Ex. The temperature was minus 10 degrees F.
  • Generally avoid using an ampersand.
  • Via means by way of, not by means of.
    • Ex. He came to Bowling Green via Findlay. She contacted us by email.
  • Words that are often interchanged mistakenly:
    • comprise (include)                  compose (made up of)
    • further (additionally)               farther (physical distance)
    • Compliment (to praise)           complement (to complete)
Preferred word usage also includes:

Also will be                             not       Will also be
Gymnasium                             not       Gym
Different from                         not       Different than
Adviser                                   not       Advisor
Forward and backward           not       Forwards and backwards
Its (possessive)                       not       It’s
Its meeting (group)                 not       Their meeting
10 people                                not       10 persons
Unique                                    not       Very unique
Died unexpectedly                  not       Died suddenly
Lend (verb)                             not       Loan
Canceled                                 not       Cancelled
Traveled                                  not       Travelled

Updated: 03/24/2021 10:20AM