Style Guide

Sweet Briar College generally complies with the writing standards and usage in The Associated Press Stylebook, some exceptions are set forth here.

These exceptions reflect Sweet Briar’s traditions, character and status as an academic institution. In nearly all other instances, AP style is used. For items not found here or in the AP Stylebook, writers should refer to Webster’s New World College Dictionary. Where alternative spellings or usages appear in Webster’s, use the first entry listed.

This guide also includes references specific to Sweet Briar, such as named places and organizations. Please note that entries may be added or updated as needed. It will not answer every usage question and should not be considered an exhaustive set of rules that must be rigidly adhered to. However, it will provide you with a basis for making many common usage decisions while writing for your department that are intended to result in improved clarity and consistency for readers.

Entries appear in alphabetical order. Entry words are in boldface and are shown in the accepted form. An explanation and examples may follow. Examples of correct usage are italicized. For more information about the guide or if you have comments, questions or suggestions, please contact the Office of Communications at or 434-381-6326.

References and Resources

The Associated Press Stylebook, Basic Books, Cambridge, MA. This publication is updated in print annually and online continuously. For an online subscription, click here. Webster’s New World College Dictionary, Fourth Edition, IDG Books Worldwide, Inc., 2001.

A to Z Listing


A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y.  Z



abbreviations and acronyms Avoid using initials such as SBC, even after the first full reference, and use only if they are readily recognizable to readers or are clear from the context. Do not use initials or acronyms in parentheses after the first full reference. Preferred: The Intercollegiate Horse Shows Association championship was held at Sweet Briar in March. The association welcomes riders of all skill levels. Sweet Briar’s IHSA team is a perennial contender for the regional championship. The rule of thumb is to avoid “alphabet soup,” but initial abbreviations and acronyms can be used sparingly to avoid awkward construction and repetition while retaining clarity.

academic degrees Use one of the following: Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Science, B.A., B.S., bachelor’s degree, Master of Arts, Master of Science, M.A., M.S., master’s degree, Master of Arts in Teaching, M.A.T., Master of Education, M.Ed., Ph.D., doctorate, J.D. or law degree. Spell out, shorten or abbreviate as appropriate for readability, clarity and flow.

academic titles See also titles. Lower case unless used directly in front of a name or referring to a named chair, such as Linda Fink, Dorys McConnell Duberg Professor of Ecology. Avoid using Dr. unless the individual is a medical doctor or veterinarian and it is relevant to the story.

addresses See also state abbreviations. Abbreviate St., Ave. and Blvd. if the street number is included: He lives at 10 Downing St.; he lives on Downing Street; she lives at the corner of Elijah and Woodland roads. Addresses used outside of normal text, such as headers and footers, do not need to conform to AP style.

Admissions, Office of Use plural form. She works in the Office of Admissions. She worked in the admissions office for 22 years.

admissions counselor

advisor Not adviser

age See also numbers. Use whole numbers and hyphenate if used as adjective: She turns 3 on Tuesday. The 26-year-old rider plans to compete in the 2010 World Equestrian Games.

All-Conference Team Upper case when referring to a specific team by name. She was named to the 2008 ODAC All-Conference Team in swimming. But: She was named an all-conference player twice. Apply the same rule to All-Academic or all-academic.

Alumnae Alliance Not Alumnae Association. The Alumnae Alliance replaces the former Alumnae Association. Membership includes all those who attended Sweet Briar College regardless of whether they completed a four-year degree.

Alumnae Alliance Council Replaces the former Alumnae Board. Lower case council when used alone. The 15-member Alumnae Alliance Council has seven working groups, each focusing on an area where alumnae can contribute expertise to support the College. But, Each council member co-chairs one of the seven working groups.

Alumnae Board Lower case board in all other constructions. E.g.: The board of the Alumnae Association presents the Distinguished Alumna Award during Homecoming. But Sandra Taylor is president of the Alumnae Board.

alumnae names On first reference use the full name. Designate class year with a backward apostrophe, as in Elizabeth Perkins Prothro ’39. Use current last name in all subsequent references. Do not use courtesy titles.

annual Do not refer to an event as annual until it is being held for the third consecutive year. Use lower case unless it is part of a proper name.

Anne Gary Pannell Center Pannell Gallery is acceptable on first reference. See also Sweet Briar College Art Collection and Galleries.

Art Collection and Galleries See Sweet Briar College Art Collection and Galleries.

atrium Not Prothro Atrium  


Babcock Fine Arts Center

board of directors Capitalize only when referring to the Sweet Briar Board of Directors as a proper name. Lower case in all other instances. Georgene Vairo is the chairwoman of the Sweet Briar College Board of Directors. But: Chair of the board Georgene Vairo spoke at commencement.

bell tower


Boathouse Road

Book Shop Not Bookshop


Campus Events Organization CEO is acceptable on second reference.

campuswide Not campus-wide

capitalization See specific entries in the A to Z listing.


Class of 1948 Movie Theater 1948 Theater is also acceptable.

Class of Capitalize class when using with the year: She is a member of the Class of 2014.

class years use ’11 or junior, senior, etc. but not both. Shortcut for PC users: Hold the CTRL key and press the apostrophe key twice for backward apostrophe. Shortcut for Apple users: Press the shift + option + ] keys simultaneously.

coach Lower case as a job description, not a formal title. Capitalize only when substituted for a name as a term of address.

College, the Capitalize when used as a shortened reference to Sweet Briar College. Lower case in all other uses except as part of a formal name.

commas in a series Do not place a comma before the conjunction in a simple series, but do use it if an integral element of the series requires a conjunction. For example, the colors of the flag are red, white and blue. But, the art exhibit includes works that are inspired by poems or narratives, illustrate specific tales, or incorporate words and letters. A comma may also be used before the conjunction if the series is composed of complex phrases or if it is necessary for clarity.

composition titles See entry in the AP Stylebook, but in general use standard capitalization conventions and place quotation marks around titles of books, articles, songs, movies, plays, television shows, etc. However, do not use quotes for titles of professional journals, newspapers or other periodicals, reference books or materials such as dictionaries, almanacs and encyclopedias.

conference center See Elston Inn and Conference Center

course titles Use title case without quotation marks. The art exhibition is inspired by The Visual Experience, a course Barton-Laing Professor of Art History Chris Witcombe is teaching this fall. The course number may be included: The trip marked one of the highlights of Honors 270 — Strangely Familiar: The Uncanny in Literature and Film, a class based on Freud’s definition of the “uncanny” as “the class of frightening which leads back to what is known of the old and long familiar.”



Daisy’s Café

dates See also times, month, years. In normal text, use the month and day expressed in Arabic numerals without the st, nd, rd or th. Abbreviate Jan., Feb., Aug., Sept., Oct., Nov. and Dec. unless using alone or with the year only: Classes start on Jan. 19 and end on May 15. But, she graduated in December 2008. Some exceptions to abbreviation guidelines may be made for display type, such as in calendars or advertising flyers.

datelines For news releases, see the datelines entry in the AP Stylebook. Sweet Briar does not use datelines in its online news stories, however, the city and state or country where the story takes place should be clear in the text.

department names In general, use lower case unless a proper name such as the English and creative writing department. Capitalize when using the formal name in headers and footers, but it should be avoided in news stories and other publications. If using capitalization, use the formal construction, as in Office of Student Life. However, the student life office is preferable in most contexts. Please note that the College recently moved to divisions and programs.  


ellipsis Separate with a space before and after, using a period or question mark if either the full or condensed version constitutes a complete sentence.

Elston Inn See Elston Inn and Conference Center

email Not e-mail


entitled Use it to mean a right to do or have something. Do not use it to mean titled: He was entitled to his share of the royalties from the co-written short story, which was titled “The Way South.”

equestrian terms Lower case generic competitive classes and events such as open over fences, novice in the flat, and walk, trot, canter. Also: high-point rider; reserve high-point rider  


FAC See also Fitness and Athletics Center. Spell out Fitness and Athletics Center on first reference. FAC or center is acceptable on second reference.

faculty senate

Families’ Weekend

field hockey field See Thayer Field

field house Two words. Upper case only when expressed as the full proper name, Upchurch Field House. Refers to the multipurpose athletic courts and indoor track area.

first-year Not freshman or freshmen. Acceptable as an adjective or noun.

Fitness and Athletics Center See also Upchurch Field House. Lower case center on second reference. FAC is acceptable on second reference. Refers to the 53,000-square-foot sports, recreation and social center completed in 2009, which encompasses the Upchurch Field House, Athletics Hall of Fame, Houston Bistro, movie theater and faculty offices. 

Elston Inn and Conference Center, The Use this form when referring to both facilities, which are adjacent but distinct entities. Singly, it is the Elston Inn or the Conference Center. Do not use Elston Conference Center. First references may be shortened to the Elston Inn or the Conference Center for internal audiences or to avoid awkward constructions if the context is clear: Sweet Briar College hosted its annual MARCUS forum at the Conference Center on Saturday, Oct. 11. On second reference, the Conference Center or the inn is acceptable. Not Wailes or The Wailes Conference Center.

Founders’ Day Not Founder’s Day

freshman See first-year students entry  


Grammer Hall Not Grammar Hall

GPA Acceptable in all references for grade-point average.

Guion Science Center  


Homecoming or Homecoming Weekend Sweet Briar no longer hosts a homecoming weekend. See also Families’ Weekend.

Honors Program But honors class

Houston Bistro Not Houston’s Bistro  


IHSA See Intercollegiate Horse Shows Association.

Indie The name of Sweet Briar’s mascot, a vixen.

Intercollegiate Horse Shows Association Spell out on first reference. IHSA is acceptable in all subsequent references and in headlines. Sweet Briar competes in Zone 4, Region 4.  






last names versus first names In most instances, including news stories, press releases, the magazine and most web content, use the full name on first reference and the last name without courtesy titles thereafter. In stories where two or more subjects share a last name, use first and last names together if necessary for clarity. Dance professors Mark and Ella Magruder performed a duet in the memorial gala in New York. Ella Magruder also danced a solo. An exception is made for social media, which is treated with less formality than other venues. On Facebook, if a second reference is required, use the first name. The Book Shop will kick off sales of a new photographic history of Sweet Briar by Lynn Rainville and former SBC librarian Lisa Johnston with an event on Monday, Dec. 7. Lynn will be on hand to sign copies and discuss the project.

long dash Use the m-dash character with a space before and after. Smith graduated a year early to pursue a dream she’s had for as long as she can remember — to be a pastry chef.

Lower Lake The lake with the Boathouse. The smaller lake on Boathouse Road is the Upper Lake.  


mascot. Sweet Briar College’s mascot is a vixen named Indie, in memory of Indiana Fletcher Williams.

Mills Chapel. The chapel is acceptable on second reference.

months See also dates. Abbreviate Jan., Feb., Aug., Sept., Oct., Nov. and Dec. unless using alone or with the year only, as in December 2009. Spell out March, April, May, June and July.  


names See also alumnae names, titles. On first reference, use a person’s full name and title if their position is relevant to the story.* Use last name only in all subsequent references. If it is necessary to refer to two people with the same surname, use your judgment to decide when it is appropriate to use both the first and last names to avoid confusion. *Note: Except in the Sweet Briar Magazine, where the style is to use first names.

numbers See also ages, rankings. Spell out one through nine and first through ninth. Use figures for 10 or above: There are three first-years and 11 sophomores participating in this year’s Cardboard Boat Regatta. Or, Sweet Briar is hosting its 22nd annual Cultural Arts Day for Amherst County fifth-grade students. Spell out numbers at the beginning of a sentence, except for years: Twenty-three students were waiting in line when the H1N1 vaccine clinic opened. But: 2009 was a difficult year for the U.S. economy. Spell out within quotes, except years: “About seventy-five students attended the career fair in 2008,” he said. Spell out in casual expressions: She’ll never make it in a hundred years. Use figures for ages, chapter numbers, course numbers, dimensions, distances, formulas, page numbers, rankings, room numbers, sizes, speeds, suite numbers, years and temperatures except for zero degrees.  




percentages Recent AP changes do not spell out “percent.” Use % in text and in tables, charts, etc.

permanent collection Refers to the College’s collection of more than 3,700 original works of art, artifacts and archival documents.

pool See Prothro Natatorium

Prothro Hall Refers to the building composed of Prothro Dining Room and the student life, business, financial aid and registrar’s offices. Does not include the atrium, Book Shop, dining services offices or the post office. Do not use Prothro Commons.

Prothro Natatorium The proper name of the space where the pool is located. Lower case pool in all uses.  


quad Not upper quad  


rankings Use No. with figures in rankings, not #: Sweet Briar is ranked No. 3 in “Most Accessible Professors.”

Region 2 See Intercollegiate Horse Shows Association

Reunion or Reunion Weekend Upper case when referring to a Sweet Briar class reunion. Mollie Nelson ’64 plans to attend Reunion in 2014 or Mollie Nelson plans to attend her 50th Reunion. But, Mollie Nelson ’64 attended her high school reunion. Lower case mini reunion in all instances. Ordinal numbers are preferred: fifth reunion, 10th reunion (see also numbers).

residence halls Not dorms

riding terms See equestrian terms

Robertson Recreation Lounge Located in the Fitness and Athletics Center, named in honor of the Class of 1976 by Lisa Nelson Robertson ’76.

Rowe Periodical Gallery Suffices on first reference for the Anne Wilson Rowe ’57 and Josiah P. Rowe III Periodical Gallery located in the new section of Cochran Library. Do not use Rowe Sunroom.  


SBC Do not use on first reference. The College is preferred in most cases on subsequent references but SBC may be used to avoid awkward construction and repetition.


StARs student activities representatives

state abbreviations Except when giving a full street address, the AP Stylebook uses state abbreviations in stories instead of the U.S. Postal Service ZIP code abbreviations, such as Va., N.C., Tenn., Ariz., Calif. Eight states are spelled out: Alaska, Hawaii, Idaho, Iowa, Maine, Ohio, Texas and Utah. Follow with a comma within a sentence: The student is from Richmond, Va., where she attended an all-women’s high school.

Step Singing A student tradition held in the spring and fall. The classes gather together, and each class sings a teasing or admiring song for each of the other classes and one bragging song of themselves.

Student Commons Courtyard Not Lower Quad

Student Government Association SGA is acceptable on second reference. See also titles.

Studio Arts Barn

superscript Do not use superscript: 19th century not 19 th century; 12th annual.

Sweet Briar College Spell out on first reference. SBC is acceptable on second reference, but the College is preferred: Sweet Briar College is an all-women’s institution in Virginia. The College is situated on 2,840 acres near Amherst, Va.

Sweet Briar College Art Collection and Galleries Composed of the Anne Gary Pannell Center or Pannell Gallery and two satellites, Benedict Gallery and Babcock Gallery. The full name may be shortened to art galleries when used as a modifier or on its own: “The work is intended to provoke viewers to analyze consciously what they are seeing,” says art galleries director Annie Labatt.

Sweet Briar Outdoor Program Spell out in most references. May be shortened to the Outdoor Program once the full name is established. Do not use SWEBOP.

Sweet Briar Theatre See also theater  


team Do not capitalize sport names or team when referring to Vixen sports teams: The Vixen soccer team won today. The Vixens beat Randolph College in softball by a score of 22-1 …

telephone numbers and extensions Generally include the area code: 434-381-6100. The extension may be sufficient for internal publications using the form Ext. 6100.

Thayer Field The field hockey field on Boathouse Road, named in honor of Mildred “Bee” Newman Thayer ’61 and her husband, Bradley. The field was dedicated in 2009.

theater Use this spelling unless the proper name is Theatre, as in Sweet Briar Theatre. Some exceptions may be made for admissions publications, but never in news content.

time See also dates, months, years. Use the following formats: 1 a.m., 1:30 a.m., 2 p.m., 2:30 p.m. and so on. Use midnight and noon, not 12 a.m. and 12 p.m. When expressing a time, date and place as in a story about an event, use the following order and format: The concert will be held at 7 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 19, in Murchison Lane Auditorium. Or, the Gager Concert will be held at noon Tuesday, Nov. 10, in Memorial Chapel.

titles See also academic titles, composition titles, course titles, names. Always lower case unless used directly in front of a name in a formal sense or when substituted for a name as a term of address, as in President Meredith Woo or President Woo. Titles appearing after the name or preceding the name to describe a person’s position should be lower cased. Therefore, titles such as director, professor and coach are normally lower cased, especially in news content:  Mary Pope Hutson ’83, vice president for alumnae and development, reported that … or chemistry professor Abe Yousef said …But: Professor Yousef said

On first reference, the full title may be given to explain a person’s identity, and the last name used thereafter. Do not use courtesy titles such Mrs., Ms. or Mr.

SGA office titles should be lower cased: Jacquelyne Bullett ’15 played on the soccer team and served as ICC secretary and senior class vice president.

Turning Point Sweet Briar’s designation for non-traditional-age students. Upper case, no hyphen when used as a adjective.  


Upchurch Field House See also field house and Fitness and Athletics Center.

upperclasswomen Preferred to upper class students

Upper Dance Studio UVa Not UVA. Use on second reference for the University of Virginia.  


vice president See also titles. Do not hyphenate.  



website Not web site

Wood Multipurpose Room


WSET-TV ABC 13 or WSET ABC 13 May be shortened to WSET on second reference.

WSLS 10 NBC or WSLS 10 May be shortened to WSLS on second reference.  




years Use figures and do not separate the month and year unless giving the day: She graduated in December 2008. But, she graduated on May 15, 2009, with a degree in chemistry. To indicate a span of years or decades, use an s without the apostrophe, as in 1800s.  


Zone 4 See Intercollegiate Horse Shows Association.