Editorial Guidelines

How we say it is nearly as important as what we say. Here are some things to keep in mind so that content is consistent, compelling, and reinforces the University’s brand.

  • Overall, our voice should reflect the University’s personality: conversational, personable, welcoming, and caring. For example, this means using the first-person “we” rather than the “Department of XYZ,” and “you” rather than “the students.”
  • Avoid jargon, marketing-ese, acronyms, and clichés. Strive for authenticity.
  • Remember Your Reader. Employ the tone, style, length, word choice, etc. that will “speak” to your target audience.
  • Try to include a clear call to action. What you want the reader to do? Go to a website? Enroll in a program? Download an application?
  • Make content skimmable. When possible, keep things short and sweet. Use bulleted lists. Keep the length and presentation easy on the eyes and the brain.

HSU Editorial Style Guide

Humboldt State’s editorial style is based on The Associated Press Stylebook, with exceptions, additions, and clarifications as noted below.

Commonly Misused Names

  • HSU’s mascot is a lumberjack named Lucky Logger
  • Founders Hall, no apostrophe
  • The J is the campus cafeteria
  • The John Van Duzer Theatre
  • Theatre Arts Building
  • The Department of Theatre, Film & Dance
  • Energy, Technology & Policy program
  • Schatz Energy Research Center on first reference, Schatz Lab or SERC thereafter
  • MultiCultural Center

Note: For department or unit names that include “and” use “&”: the College of Arts, Humanities & Social Sciences


Capitalize title “Professor” when placed directly before a name, but not otherwise:


  • HSU Professor John Smith
  • He is a professor of geology.

Capitalize names of academic programs, but not academic subjects:


  • This is a short version of the closing lecture delivered by Geography Professor Stephen Cunha
  • Jen Cordero switched her major to geography after her study abroad trip to Tibet.
  • Subject as a discipline is down (Cunha specializes in geography).
  • I majored in Forestry (name of academic major).
  • Class titles are up “Forestry 101”

When referring to alumni:

  • plural = alumni (men), alumnae (women), alumni (mixed)
  • casual single = "alum"
  • formal singular = alumnus or alumna
  • Never use "alumn" or "alumns" or "alums"


  • Use advisor, not adviser
  • Don’t need “, Calif.” after Eureka or Arcata
  • Use Oxford commas in a list of three or more items. “I went to the zoo, the park, and the marsh.”

Academic Titles

  • Avoid using Doctor (or Dr.) unless referring to someone with a medical degree
  • Use “Instructor” rather than “Lecturer”.
    • Incorrect: “Lecturer Joe Kramer talked about X with his class.”
    • Correct: "Instructor Joe Kramer talked about X with his class.”
  • Professor — do not use Assistant or Associate Professor titles unless required for meaning. “Professor Klein scheduled a rain date for his botany class.” “Schwartz, who was promoted to associate professor last year…“

Student and Alumni Grad Year/Major

  • One major: John Smith (’98, Business Administration)
  • Multiple majors: Jane Smith (’98, Business Administration, Kinesiology)
  • Multiple degrees: Bob Smith (’98 Biology, ’00 MSc Wildlife), Kim Jones (‘93 Art, ‘95 MA English)


Generic degrees are down

  • master’s degree
  • bachelor’s degree
  • doctorate

Specific degrees are up (conforms to HSU Catalog style)

  • Bachelor of Arts
  • Bachelor of Science
  • Juris Doctorate
  • Medical Doctorate
  • Master of Science
  • Master of Fine Arts
  • Master of Arts
  • Master of Public Policy
  • Master of Social Work


  • B.A.
  • B.S.
  • M.A.
  • M.S.
  • Ph.D.
  • J.D.