Office of the President

Authorizes Release:

Chief of Staff for the President

Responsible Area:

University Communications

Review Cycle:

Annually or as required

Last Review:

January 2022

Related Policies and Additional References:

About the University Style Guide

This guide is provided as a reference to be used when writing for the various publications of St. Mary’s University, including website content, advertising, posters, emails and more. If you have a question about something not addressed in this document, contact University Communications for assistance at 210-436-3327. Note that the University generally follows Associated Press (AP) style in its official communications, with exceptions noted here.

The Basics of St. Mary’s University Style

3 O’clock Prayer: When referring to the Marianist afternoon prayers, use the numeral 3 and capitalize the O and the P (not the c).

Adviser: Not advisor.

Alma Mater: Only capitalize when referring to the school song. When used as a reference to the college or university attended, it is not capitalized.

Alumni, alumnus, alumnae. EXAMPLES:

  • Alumni: Plural referring to two or more graduates who are male or both male and female.
  • Alumnus: Singular, male graduate.
  • Alumna: Singular, female graduate.
  • Alumnae: Plural, female graduates.

Ampersand: The ampersand should be used only when it is part of a company’s formal name. It should not be used in place of and. EXCEPTIONS: Alumni Athletics & Convocation Center and Barnes & Noble Bookstore at St. Mary’s University.

Annual: Events are not described as annual until they have been held at least two successive years. Do not use the term “first annual.” Instead, note that sponsors plan to hold an event annually, or use first or inaugural before the event name. Note: the word annual is not capitalized in the name of an event unless it is used in a headline. EXAMPLES:

  • This is the first 5K for the Neighborhood.
  • Please come to the 81st annual Law Commencement.

Bandana: Bandana with one n, rather than bandanna.

Buildings and Campus Locations: On first reference, capitalize and spell out the names of buildings or locations on campus that are named after a person as a result of a gift. Others do not need to have the complete formal name on first reference unless needed for clarity. EXAMPLES:

  • First reference: Albert B. Alkek Building; Second: Alkek Building
  • First reference: Alumni Athletics & Convocation Center; Second: AA&CC
  • First reference: Sarita Kenedy East Law Library; Second: Law Library
  • All references: Founders Hall, Lourdes Hall, Raba Building, Reinbolt Hall, St. Louis Hall, Blume Library, Treadaway Hall, Frederick Hall

Other tricky buildings or locations:

  • The amphitheater (located near the Quad) should be referred to as the Quad Amphitheater.
  • The Park at St. Mary’s, or the Park.
  • The Pub at St. Mary’s or the Pub.
  • Barnes & Noble Bookstore at St. Mary’s University
  • The Village at St. Mary’s (includes all residence halls south of Rattler Drive).

Class of: A designation for a person who attended St. Mary’s but did not receive a degree. John Smith (CL ’01) did not graduate. It can also refer to a current student’s cohort. Sue is a part of the Class of 2019.

Comma: No Oxford commas, unless needed for clarity.

Commencement: Do not use annual in the name of the event, or exercises. The 85th annual Commencement will be held on Saturday.

Company and law firm names: Use Co., Corp., Cos., Ltd. or Inc. when a business uses these words at the end of its proper name. Do not use a comma before these abbreviations. Spell out corporation or any of these other names when they occur elsewhere in the name. Always use the official name of a company, including its preferred punctuation, even in the case of law firms using PC, P.C., LLC or similar.

Course work. Two words.

Credit hour: Always use credit hour rather than hour. When a mention of credit hours is part of a sentence, follow the numeral rules (spell out 1-9, 10 and up are numerals). When used as part of a course listing or list, use numerals for all. Do not hyphenate unless it is a compound modifier, such as the 9-credit-hour program. EXAMPLES: I need nine credit hours to graduate. 9 credit hours.

Cutlines: Use parentheses for directions within cutlines, such as Jane Doe (from left), John Doe and Sally Doe. EXCEPTION: A list of names would start with From left: Jane Doe, John Doe and Sally Doe.

Dash: Use a long dash — an em dash — with spaces on each side of the em dash.

Days of the week: Spell out.

Degrees: Terminal or doctorate-level degrees are included on first reference. The degree is used after a name and set off with periods and commas. This applies to degrees such as Ph.D., J.D., D.B.A., D.Min., Ed.D., S.T.D. and similar. All other degrees (bachelor’s or master’s degrees) are only noted if the degrees were earned at St. Mary’s University.

  • When speaking generally, use bachelor’s degree, master’s degree or doctorate (note use of apostrophes on the first two). No use of the possessive for Master of Arts, Bachelor of Science and similar.
  • Do not use the abbreviation Dr. for Ph.D. Note that Dr. is reserved for medical degrees. Degrees at the bachelor or master level, such as B.A. or M.S., should not follow a name, unless referring to a St. Mary’s graduate in a publication or press release. In that case, follow this format: FirstName LastName (B.A. ’82, M.S. ’90). If the alumnus also has a doctorate-level degree from another university, follow this format: FirstName LastName, Ph.D., (B.A. ’75, M.A. ’82). When referencing a graduate who has combined degrees from St. Mary’s, use this format: FirstName LastName (M.A./J.D. ’05). The higher degree (either a master’s or J.D.) should come last when all degrees are from St. Mary’s.
  • When using academic degrees in text, capitalize the formal name of the degree, but not a general name. Use MBA without periods, unless it denotes an alumnus’ degree and class year after their name.
  • Master of Jurisprudence should be abbreviated as M.Jur. (note that there is no space.) Master of Laws is abbreviated as LL.M. (periods before and after the M only).

Departments at St. Mary’s: Use “Department of _____” on first reference, then “_____ Department” on second reference. When referring to a program, lowercase “program” e.g. Biology program. Biology or Music or whatever can be used alone for informal purposes, such as under a logo on a T-shirt.

Doggy: Use doggy with a y rather than using an ie.

Emeritus, Emeriti, Emerita. An emeritus is a retired professor, administrator, such as dean or president, or member of the Board of Trustees who has been formally given the designation for outstanding service to the University. EXAMPLES:

  • Emeritus: Singular, male.
  • Emerita. Singular, female.
  • Emeriti. Plural, male or female.

Exclamation point: Should be avoided.

Founders Day: The annual event celebrating the history of St. Mary’s University; there should be no apostrophe.

GPA: The abbreviation GPA for grade point average is acceptable in all references. Note that there are no periods between the letters.

Health care: Two words.

Hyphenated words: The word after the hyphen is capitalized only when it is in a header written in up-case or if it is part of a proper noun. EXAMPLES: The Pre-Law Program allows students to prepare for law school. It’s a good idea to enter a pre-law program to better prepare for law school. Also, hyphenate straight and consecutive as compound modifiers. For example, fifth-straight victory, third-consecutive year.

Invitation and Event Listings: The correct sequence is day, date, year, time, place. Note that within text, such as news releases, the year is not generally necessary.


Very Important Meeting
Tuesday, Aug. 5, 2017
3 to 4:30 p.m.
University Center, Conference Room A

Mass: Always capitalize when referring to a church service.

Months: When the month is used with a specific date, abbreviate only Jan., Feb., Aug., Sept., Oct., Nov. and Dec. Spell out the rest. If both a month and date are being used in an invitation or program that would be considered formal, spell out the month. When the month is used alone, or with a year only, spell it out.

Remote Learning Options: The three options for remote learning are Online (OL), Virtual (V) and In-Person/Virtual (IPV). The name of the teaching delivery method should be capitalized when referring to that. For example, My class is using the Online (OL) format. But this way for a general mention of “online”: I’m going to be watching the class online. Also, note that the In-Person/Virtual (IPV) has a hyphen, caps and a forward slash.

Schools of St. Mary’s University: The formal names of schools should be used and capitalized on first reference. If the school or college is used after first reference, it should be capitalized.

  • Greehey School of Business: Greehey School, business school, the School. GSB should be avoided.
  • School of Science, Engineering and Technology: the School. SET should be avoided.
  • College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences: the College. CAHSS should be avoided.
  • School of Law: law school; St. Mary’s Law (more informal, only after the first reference)
  • Graduate studies (not a school, so not capitalized). Do not use Graduate School.

Semesters: Capitalize the seasons when referring to a specific semester with a year. For example, Fall 2017, Spring 2017 or Summer 2017. Otherwise, they are generally not capitalized.

St. Mary’s University: For St. Mary’s University, use the complete name on first reference. On second reference, it’s acceptable to use either St. Mary’s or the University. StMU is also acceptable, primarily for non-academic uses and athletics. Note that University is always capitalized when it refers to St. Mary’s University. When using St. Mary’s, avoid using it in a way that makes it seem possessive. Instead of: The event will be held on St. Mary’s campus. CORRECT: The event will be held on the St. Mary’s campus.

StMU: Note the t is lowercase and there is no period. Generally, not used on first reference or when referring to academic programs.

States: Spell out the names of the 50 U.S. states when used in the body of a story or when the state is standing alone. Do not use a state name for cities in Texas unless the state is required for clarification, such as Paris, Texas.

Suffix use: The use of junior or senior after a name should be abbreviated as Jr. and Sr. only with the full names of persons. Do not precede by a comma. The notations II or III follow the same rule.

Telephone numbers: Use 210-436-3327. Do not use parentheses around the area code, and do not use periods instead of hyphens.

The Pub at St. Mary’s: The “T” in The Pub should always be capitalized.

The Village at St. Mary’s. The “T” in The Village should always be capitalized. The Village refers to all residence halls to the south of Rattler Drive.

Theater: Use this spelling except in some proper names (Schubert Theatre). Note that the St. Mary’s theater program is StMU Theatre.

Time of day: Use figures except for noon and midnight. For whole hours, do not add the :00. If including an end time, use to between the times, rather than a hyphen or dash.

Titles of compositions: The following rules and examples apply to book titles, movie titles, play titles, poem titles, song titles, television programs and the titles of lectures, articles, 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. Generally, use italics instead of quotation marks. When listing a complete reference to a journal article, follow the professor’s preferred style. Newspapers should not be italicized, with the exception of The Rattler. It is italicized.

Titles: Religious, Military, Academic and Job Titles

  • Academic Titles: Titles such as dean, professor, chairman, etc. are capitalized even if they come after a name. EXAMPLES:
    • Dean Rowena Ortiz-Walters, Ph.D., oversees the Greehey School of Business.
    • Rowena Ortiz-Walters, Ph.D., Dean of the Greehey School of Business, is responsible for the whole school.
  • Brothers: Always spell out Brother before a name. On first reference, use with the entire name; on second, use only the last name. Do not use the abbreviations Br. or Bro. in any reference to a Brother.
  • Job Titles: Capitalize formal titles when they are used immediately before one or more names. Do not capitalize titles if they follow the name (Academic titles are an exception. See entry above.). Lowercase and use commas when the title appears within a sentence. For vice president-level titles within St. Mary’s University, use for rather than of. Capitalize academic titles when they refer to a specific person even if they come after the name. Lowercase titles when they are used without a name.
  • Judges: Generally, include “the Hon.” before the name on first reference. The is only capitalized if it starts the sentence or if the name and title stand alone.
  • Marianist Religious Titles: S.M. stands for Society of Mary (Marianists), which is used at the end of the name for all Marianist priests and brothers. F.M.I. stands for Daughters of Mary Immaculate and should be used after the names of Marianist sisters.
  • Military: Follow AP style. For retired, use this format: Gen. John Smith, U.S. Army, Ret.
  • Priests: Use the before Rev. or Reverend for a name on first reference. The abbreviation Rev. should always be used, except in liturgical programs such as those used for Baccalaureate Mass, Marianist Heritage Mass, Mass of the Holy Spirit or Red Mass. On second reference, use only the last name. Do not use the abbreviation Fr. in any reference to a priest.
  • Sisters: Always spell out Sister before a name in all references. On first reference, use with the entire name. On second reference, use only the last name. The abbreviations Sr. or Sis. should not be used in any reference to a sister.

Years: Use an s without an apostrophe to indicate spans of decades or centuries: the 1890s, the 1800s. The use of ’90s (Note: the apostrophe is needed to indicate omitted numbers) is acceptable if the century is understood. Academic years are noted as 2017-2018. Generally, when listing a date with the day and month, the year is not needed if it is the current year.

Sports-specific Style

All-American or All-America: Use All-American when referring specifically to an individual and use All-America when referring to the team.

esports: St. Mary’s Athletics added an esports team in Fall 2020. Use a lowercase e when referring to the general industry known as esports. Use a capital E when referring to the St. Mary’s University Esports program.

Lady Rattlers: Avoid using “Lady” as a general rule. Only acceptable when differentiating between a sport that features a men’s and women’s team (example: the Lady Rattlers of women’s tennis).

Rattler Madness: Official name of St. Mary’s midnight madness equivalent to launching the start of basketball season. Always capitalize.

Student-athlete: Hyphenated when referring to a student who plays on a St. Mary’s University athletics team.

Team Names: When referring to St. Mary’s University athletics teams, capitalize the team name, even in cases where St. Mary’s, StMU or Rattler is implied. In the following example, “Women’s Tennis” is capitalized because Rong is a sensation on this team and at this level, but not among “women’s tennis” in general. EXAMPLES:

  • Women’s Tennis sensation Mariana Rong leaves an immeasurable footprint after wrapping up her St. Mary’s career this spring.
  • The best women’s tennis player ever to step on this campus, Rong led St. Mary’s to the NCAA national championship quarterfinals for the team’s best-ever finish.
  • Rattler Baseball nearly joined the softball team at the World Series.
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