Guide for written work

Guide for written work

Concordia's Stylebook for Written Work was created as a standard guide for campus communicators. Its purpose is to help the university to maintain a consistent and appropriate use of language, especially when text is composed for an external audience.

The Stylebook is used and updated by the university's marketing and communication office. It is offered as a service to other staff and faculty members, and as a guide to follow when working with the marketing and communication office on ads, publications, the website and other projects.

Please note that the Stylebook is not intended for use by students or faculty writing academic papers.

Common stumbling blocks


Listed below are the common issues that surface in writing drafted for the marketing and communication office:

  • acronyms in parentheses
    Do not use an abbreviation or acronym in parentheses after the first reference of a full name. (You may subsequently begin using acronyms.)

  • academic titles
    Capitalize and spell out formal titles such as chancellor, chairman, etc., when they precede a name. Lowercase else-where. Lowercase modifiers such as department in department Chairman Jerome Wiesner.

  • ages
    Use figures. Ages expressed as adjectives before a noun or as substitutes for a noun, use hyphens. For example: A 22-year-old student. The student is 22 years old.

  • comma
    Omit the comma in a series before and or or. Example: Students were required to wear gloves, safety goggles and boots.

  • departments and colleges
    Capitalize the three colleges of Concordia. For departments, capitalize only the full and formal name, e.g., the Department of Natural Sciences; the Department of English, Communication and Theatre Arts. Lowercase science department, for example.

  • headlines
    Only the first word and proper nouns are capitalized. Use numerals for all numbers and single quotes for quotation marks. Exception: use US (no periods) in all headlines.

  • numerals
    Spell out first through ninth when they indicate sequence in time or location: she was a first-responder, he was in first place. Starting with 10th use figures. Spell out whole numbers below 10, use figures for 10 and above.

  • majors
    Do not capitalize majors, specializations or concentrations of study (exception, proper nouns: I majored in Spanish).

  • months
    Capitalize the names of months in all uses. When a month is used with a specific date, abbreviate only Jan., Feb., Aug., Sept., Oct., Nov. and Dec. Spell out when using alone or with a year alone.

  • offices
    In running text use lowercase when referring to administrative and support offices of the university.

  • states
    Names of states are abbreviated when used with a city name. When abbreviating a state, use the AP abbreviations:
    Ala., Ariz., Ark., Calif., Colo., Conn., Del., Fla., Kan., Ga., Ill., Ind., Ky., La., Md., Mass., Mich., Minn., Miss., Mo., Mont., Neb., Nev., N.H., N.J., N.M., N.Y., N.C., N.D., Okla., Ore., Pa., R.I., S.C., S.D., Tenn., Vt., Va., Wash., W.Va., Wis., Wyo.
  • time and date
    Use a.m. or p.m. Use the calendar date if you are describing an event that is longer than a week ago or farther than a week off. When writing a time, do not use the :00 when referring to the top of the hour.