We’ve developed writing style and usage guidelines to promote consistency throughout communication and marketing presentation at Ball State University.

These guidelines, in alphabetical order, cover the areas where there is generally the most confusion such as initial capitalization, hyphenation, and italic. For style and spellings not covered here, you can also consult “Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary,” “The Chicago Manual of Style,” or “The Associated Press (AP) Stylebook.” 

Download the print version (PDF).

A - F

academic degrees The types of degrees that may be earned at Ball State include associate, bachelor’s, master’s, doctoral, and specialist in education.

  • When using the terms degree, major, or program, the discipline must match its listing with the Indiana Commission for Higher Education (ICHE), and it must be the major, not a track, option, or concentration within the major. However, it is acceptable to say someone is studying or is a student of a concentration. Consult the course catalog for the official listing.
    • Correct: Emma Woodhouse, who earned her bachelor’s degree in English
    • Correct: Emma Woodhouse, an English major
    • Correct: Emma Woodhouse, a creative writing student
    • Correct: Our English program includes a creative writing track
    • Incorrect: Emma Woodhouse, who earned her bachelor’s degree in creative writing
    • Incorrect: Emma Woodhouse, a creative writing major
    • Incorrect: We offer a creative writing program.
  • Terms such as bachelor’s degree and master’s degree are acceptable descriptions for bachelor of arts, bachelor of science, master of arts, etc.
  • Doctorate or doctoral degree is usually preferred over the abbreviation PhD and others.
  • The degree is always lowercase.
  • Don’t use periods with initials.
  • Use initials found in The Chicago Manual of Style. A few Ball State degrees not listed in Chicago include:
    • Earned advanced degrees: DA (doctor of arts), EdD (doctor of education, note the case), EdS (educational specialist, note the case)
    • Honorary doctorate: ArtD (doctor of arts)
  • For alumni identification, use an apostrophe and the last two digits of the graduation year. Initials for bachelor’s degrees can be omitted in most cases but should be used for advanced degrees. Use spaces to separate multiple degrees.
    • Ex.: James Dean, who has a master’s degree in biology
    • Ex.: James Dean, who earned a bachelor of science in biology
    • Ex.: James Dean, ’85 MS ’89

academic titles Capitalize academic titles before a name. Lowercase after. Lowercase professor or instructor when used before the name as a job description. The four faculty rankings at Ball State, from highest to lowest, are professor, associate professor, assistant professor, and instructor. It is important to be specific when identifying a faculty member by academic rank. When describing the nature of a faculty member’s employment, use one of two terms: tenure track or contract. See also: courtesy titles, titles, contract, and tenure.

accents, tildes, umlauts, etc. See special characters.

acronyms Use sparingly. Do not use on first reference if not immediately recognizable by the reader. Almost all organizations should be spelled out on first reference and then designated within parentheses. (Note: This is an exception to AP style.) Ex.: Student Government Association (SGA) on first reference, SGA on second.

Instead of acronyms, use the group or the organization on second reference as long as it is not confusing. Ex.: Instead of the AASA is sponsoring the event, say the group is sponsoring the event.

administration, Ball State See bsu.edu/president and select President’s Cabinet for current senior staff members, their office locations, and phone numbers.

Administration Building, Frank A. Bracken Oldest building on campus was renamed in 2010 to honor Frank A. Bracken, whose term on the Ball State Board of Trustees, 1980–2011, is the longest ever. Bracken Administration Building acceptable on second reference and in envelope addresses.

advisor, adviser Advisor is preferred for most Ball State publications. In news releases, use adviser, which follows AP style.

African-American, black See race, ethnicity.

all caps Within text, avoid using all capital letters for an organization, product, event, etc. that is not an acronym. We will acknowledge trademarks, etc., by capitalizing the initial letter only in most cases. Also avoid using all caps for emphasis. See also emphasis.

Allegre restaurant Located in the Applied Technology Building. Food is prepared by students.

alumni Plural form of word referring to male graduates or a group of men and women graduates. Other terms are alumnus (male singular), alumna (female singular), alumnae (female plural). Alum (either male or female) is acceptable in some cases. Don’t use alums.

and, ampersand (&) And is preferred. Exception: If the ampersand is part of a proper name or if space is extremely limited such as the headline in an ad or a table.

area codes Always list area codes with phone numbers. Do not use parentheses for area code. Ex: 765-285-1560 or 800-482-4BSU (4278).  

Art and Journalism Building Not Arts and Journalism Building.

Art, School of Formerly Department of Art, bsu.edu/art.

Arts and Communications Building Not Art and Communication Building.

Arts Terrace Lawn on the Quad, south of the David Owsley Museum of Art and north of Beneficence. See also: Quad.

Asian See race, ethnicity.

associate degree Note no apostrophe S.

Atrium Food court in the Art and Journalism Building.

attribution See: said, says.

audience-goer Don’t use. Someone is either a theater-goer or an audience member.

bachelor’s degree, baccalaureate Either bachelor’s degree or a baccalaureate is correct, not baccalaureate degree. Note the apostrophe S in bachelor’s degree.

Ball Bearings Student-produced print and online publication. ballbearingsonline.com

Ball brothers Do not capitalize brothers when referring to the Muncie industrialists who founded Ball State. The five Ball brothers in 1917 bought the land and buildings of a small teacher-training school and gave it to the state. In 1918, the Eastern Division, Indiana State Normal School opened. To recognize the brothers, the state legislature named it Ball Teachers College in 1922. The Ball brothers, Edmund B., Frank C., George A., Lucius L., and William C., also established what is now called Ball Corp., which began as a Muncie-based glass manufacturing company known for its home-canning jars. Ball Corp. is now based in Broomfield, Colorado, and produces metal and plastic packaging for food and beverage industries. Ball Corp. no longer makes canning jars. The Ball brothers also are the founders of IU Health Ball Memorial Hospital in Muncie. Note: The Ball Brothers Foundation is an independent, private, family philanthropic organization established in 1926. When referring to the foundation, capitalize Ball Brothers on all references.

Ball Communication Building Note there is no S in the second word.

Ball Memorial Hospital, IU Health On first reference, use IU Health Ball Memorial Hospital; on second reference and in headlines, Ball Hospital is acceptable.

Ball State University On second reference and in headlines, Ball State is acceptable. Do not use BSU or B.S.U. Ball State University is the recognized umbrella name brand of the university, its colleges, departments, centers, institutes, and facilities.

Ball State University Foundation On second reference and in headlines, Ball State Foundation is acceptable. Also on second reference, Foundation. Founded in 1951, the Foundation invests gifts from private sources to support the University. It also creates scholarships and puts money toward faculty development programs and research. Effective July 1, 2015, Advancement Services, Alumni Center Operations, Alumni Engagement, University Advancement, and University Development were brought under the Ball State University Foundation umbrella. All Foundation entities are identified as Ball State University Foundation. bsu.edu/bsufoundation.

Ball State Welcome Center Renovated in 2010, the center is in Lucina Hall.

Beneficence Statue of a winged woman located in a courtyard near the Quad. The name Beneficence is a composition title and should be written in italics. It is nicknamed “Benny.” Muncie residents donated $65,000 for the creation of the statue in the 1930s. The statue was created by Daniel Chester French. Beneficence, representing knowledge and giving back, has become the symbol of Ball State.

Benny Link Site where users can look up recognized student organizations and information about their events. bsu.edu/bennylink

black, African-American See race, ethnicity.

Black Student Association On second reference and in headlines, BSA is acceptable.

Board of Trustees Nine-member board appointed by Indiana’s governor is the ultimate policy-making authority of Ball State University. Officers are chair, vice chair, secretary, and assistant secretary. When referring to a trustee, capitalize initial letter of trustee before the name. Lowercase after. See bsu.edu/trustees for current members.

Bracken House 2200 W. Berwyn Road, named after former Ball State Trustee Alexander Bracken and his wife, Rosemary, who bequeathed the house to Ball State for the purpose of providing the University president with a home. President Emeritus John Worthen and his wife were the first to move into the house in June 1999.

Bracken Library Archives and Special Collections On second reference and in headlines, archives is acceptable. Located in Bracken Library, it is a useful resource for Ball State, Muncie, and Delaware County history. bsu.edu/library See also: University Libraries.

breaks Capitalize Fall Break, Thanksgiving Break, Winter Break, Spring Break, Summer Break. See seasons.

broadcast stations Use this format: WTHR-TV 13, Indianapolis; WBST-FM 92.1, Muncie. Exception: If call letters end in TV, then hyphen TV is unnecessary, ex. WRTV 6, Indianapolis.

buildings On first reference, use full name. A shortened version is acceptable on second reference. Do not use two-letter initials. For a complete building list and descriptions, go to bsu.edu/map.

Ex. David Letterman Communication and Media Building, Letterman Building, not LB.

bulleted lists See lists, bulleted.

Burris Laboratory School On second reference and in headlines, Burris is acceptable. Named after Benjamin Burris, university president (1924–27), the K–12 school on Ball State’s campus established in 1929 as a department of the Teachers College, but it hasn’t been part of the Muncie Community Schools system since 1974. The Ball State Board of Trustees is its ultimate authority. School mascot is the owl. About 55 teachers instruct roughly 600 students. burrislab.bsu.edu

Bursar and Loan Administration, Office of On second reference and in headlines, bursar’s office is acceptable. bsu.edu/bursar

Campus Information Center 765-285-5000. Also may be reached by dialing zero from campus phones. Call for student, faculty, facility, and departmental phone numbers and addresses.

capitalization Capitalize initial letter if in a proper name; otherwise use lowercase for a description. With a title, capitalize only before the name.
Ex.: Aquatic Biology and Fisheries Center, but the center
Ex.: President Geoffrey S. Mearns, but Geoffrey S. Mearns, president of Ball State
Ex.: Department of Journalism (formal name), but journalism department (description)
Ex.: Associate Professor of Chemistry Jon Smyth (formal title before the name), but chemistry professor Jon Smyth or Jon Smyth, a chemistry professor (description)

captions, cutlines A caption, also known as a cutline, should identify the people and events in a photograph and provide additional information the audience wouldn’t get from just looking at the art.

  • Captions are written in present tense.
  • A caption for a video is typically a one- or two-sentence introduction.
  • For photos in galleries on the web, most cutlines should be one sentence. The caption for the first photo can be a slightly longer to provide basic information about the event. Captions can have full names on first reference, shortened version on second reference.
  • When identifying more than one person in a photograph, indicate their place directionally with commas or parentheses, from the left, clockwise if applicable. If only two people are shown, use only one direction.
    Ex.: Hester Prynne, left, and Jane Eyre learn they’ve received an Emmy.
    Ex.: Winners of the competition (from left) are Elizabeth Bennet, first; Ebenezer Scrooge, second; and Silas Marner, third.
  • When one cutline serves multiple photos, a directional note should identify which information goes with which photos.
    Ex.: Top: Junior Juliet Capulet, left, and senior Romeo Montague demonstrate how to prepare a burrito. Middle: Romeo tops his creation with a dollop of sour cream. Bottom: The friends get ready to sample their cooking.

Cardinals Always capitalize the initial letter. On second reference and in headlines, Cards is acceptable. Do not refer to women’s teams as Lady Cardinals or Lady Cards.

Cardinal Cash Prepaid line of credit that can be used at various food and service locations on campus. Accounts are kept through the Office of Bursar and Loan Administration. bsu.edu/cardinalcash

Cardinal Corps Student group that helps the university administration present programs and give tours for campus guests.

center Capitalize only if part of the proper name. Lowercase on second reference.

chairman, chairwoman, chairperson, chair Preferred style is title in lowercase following name. Capitalize the initial letter before a name if part of a formal title.

Charlie Cardinal Ball State’s mascot. On second reference, Charlie is acceptable.

charter schools In 2001, the Indiana General Assembly approved legislation allowing four-year public universities, public school districts, and the mayor of Indianapolis to sponsor charter schools. Ball State is the first university in Indiana to sponsor charter schools. These public schools receive state funding, but are independent, nondiscriminating, nonsectarian entities that operate under a performance contract known as a charter. As a charter school’s sponsor, Ball State does not run the schools but reserves the right to revoke a charter if a school fails to meet performance standards. bsu.edu/teachers/charter

Chirp! Chirp! A popular cheer Ball State sports fans use at Cardinal games. 

Christmas break Avoid usage. Use Winter Break instead.

Christy Woods 17-acre wooded area between University and Riverside avenues, just east of Tillotson Avenue.

Class of … Always capitalize initial letter. Ex: John Doe was a member of the Class of 1988.

class standing In communications in which the publication date is not obvious, use expected year of graduation (i.e. ’18, ’19) rather than junior, senior, etc.

colleges Ball State’s seven colleges are:

colloquium Plural is colloquia.

commas, serial Ball State University style uses the serial comma in all vehicles (exception to AP style). 

Commencement, Ball State University Capitalize initial letter in first reference when addressing Ball State’s graduation ceremonies. Lowercase on second reference as commencement.

composition titles News releases, pitches to media, stories posted in News Center, and social media use AP style.

In all other vehicles, use italics for the following titles:

  • books, magazines, newspapers
  • blogs
  • computer games
  • movies, TV programs
  • music albums
  • plays, operas
  • works of art
  • exhibitions

The titles of following should be in quotations:

  • poems
  • songs
  • articles within journals, magazines, newspapers, etc.
  • lectures and speeches

contract Term used in relation to faculty members who sign either one- or three-year contracts to teach at the university. Refer to such faculty members as contract faculty. See also academic titles, tenure.

Core Curriculum, University On first reference, capitalize University Core Curriculum, when referring to the set of classes required of all Ball State undergrads. Lowercase initial letter on second reference or to describe required classes in a major.

course names Include the course name and capitalize similar to a book title. Do not use course prefix and number alone. Ex. MATH 165 Calculus 1, Not: MATH 165

course work Two words.

courtesy titles On second reference, use courtesy titles such as Mr., Ms. Mrs., Miss, Mx., or Dr. Honorific titles such as Governor, President, Vice President, Dean, Chair, Professor, and Trustee are also acceptable. Courtesy titles of Ball State faculty and staff are available at bsu.edu/directory. For students, use first name only on second reference.

Cow Path Walkway on the west side of campus, running north-south from the west side of LaFollette Complex to Riverside Avenue.

credit hours List credit hours by numerals. Ex.: 6 credit hours

Daily News, The Ball State Daily News is acceptable on second reference. bsudailynews.com

dash The type of dash depends on the medium.

  • In print and other marketing communications, use an em dash (also called a long dash) without spaces. Use an en dash (also called a thin dash) to separate dates, times, and numbers; an en dash often substitutes for the word to.
  • For news releases and other vehicles that employ AP style, use em dashes with spaces and use hyphens instead of en dashes.
  • In web copy outside News Center, use em dashes without spaces and hyphens instead of en dashes.

Dates With web copy, use dates (i.e. 1999) rather than number of years (i.e. 11 years). When referring to a specific month in web copy, include the year. Always write out the month (exception to AP style). Ex.: The center was established in 1999. The institute started in January 2010.

David Letterman Communication and Media Building Leading-edge building completed in 2007. Named after Ball State alumnus David Letterman. Note Communication is singular.

departments Capitalize when using the official name of the department. Lowercase on second reference. Ex.: Department of Journalism, journalism department

distinguished professor Distinguished professors are named by the provost and nominated by the dean of the faculty member’s college. Distinguished professors receive a pay raise funded by external grants or gifts. The full title, derived from the name of an endowment, is capitalized everywhere it appears. If distinguished professor is used as a description, lowercase.

Ex. Emma Bovary, the Snow White and Rose Red Distinguished Professor of Mathematics, (formal title)

Ex. A study by distinguished mathematics professor Emma Bovary (description)

Division of Enrollment Planning and Management Formerly Division of Student Affairs and Enrollment Services

Division of Student Affairs Formerly Division of Student Affairs and Enrollment Services.

Disability Services Formerly Disabled Student Development. bsu.edu/disabilityservices

disabled, impaired As a university committed to diversity, we must be sensitive to how we write about people with disabilities. If a person’s disability is relevant to the story, ask the source how he or she wishes to be described. Generally, the more sensitive terms are disabled or impaired. If the person uses a piece of equipment, such as a wheelchair, it is best to say he or she uses it rather than is confined to it. For guidance, call Disability Services, 765-285-5293.

dorm Residence hall is the preferred term.

doctoral degree The words doctorate and doctoral degree are preferred over abbreviations PhD, etc. Grammar note: doctorate is a noun and doctoral is an adjective. One can hold a doctorate or a doctoral degree; doctorate degree is incorrect.

Duck Pond A body of water located near Bethel and McKinley avenues, across McKinley from Johnson Complex.

Early Start A freshman initiative program to allow students to get a jumpstart on college the Summer before their first semester. The one- to three-week courses cover a variety of topics such as mathematics, television production, and the science of natural hazards.

east central Indiana Regional area loosely defined as containing Delaware, Grant, Blackford, Jay, Randolph, Wayne, Henry, and Madison counties.

ellipses (…) Use to indicate the deletion of words in condensing quotes, texts, and documents. Be careful not to distort the meaning of a quote by removing necessary words. Use a space before and after the ellipses.

email or email address No hyphen for email. On web pages, an email contact for an individual should link to his or her profile page. This is a spam-prevention measure.

emeritus Title of honor given to some retired administrators and faculty, approved by the Board of Trustees. Capitalize when used before a name. Other terms are emerita (singular, female) and emeriti (plural) Ex.: Ball State President Emeritus John Worthen.

emphasis If emphasis is necessary in text, use boldface or italic on only a few words. More than that nullifies the emphasis. Do not use all caps or underline.

endowed chair Faculty member whose position was created by external gifts or grants.

Equal Employment Opportunity Use the Equal Employment Opportunity statement wording in all publications. Ex.: Ball State University practices equal opportunity in education and employment and is strongly and actively committed to diversity within its community.

exams Not necessary to say examinations. Also, finals when appropriate.

faculty See academic titles.

Fall Break

Fall semester

fees, tuition
Use the familiar term tuition to refer to the cost of instruction. Fees generally refer to other charges such as housing and dining, health, and technology. Use tuition and fees or total cost to refer to the total cost.

finals week Always lowercase.

Financial Aid and Scholarships, Office of Formerly Office of Scholarships and Financial Aid. bsu.edu/finaid

floors, residence hall Always lowercase. Ex.: Wilson Hall seventh floor or seventh floor of Wilson Hall.

Spell out fraternity’s name on first reference and indicate fraternity or sorority. On second reference, drop the word fraternity.

freshman, freshmen Don’t use frosh unless in a headline.

Frog Baby
The bronze sculpture by Edith Barretto Parsons was bought by Frank Ball, one of the original five Ball brothers, in 1937. Throughout the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s, she was in the art museum, where students rubbed her nose for good luck before a test. The statue was so damaged that she was placed in storage, then in an office. In 1993, Frog Baby was installed as a fountain with other frog sculptures. Today, students are more protective of the sculpture and routinely lend Frog Baby a scarf and hat when the weather turns cold.

full ride, full-ride Hyphenated when used as an adjective. Ex.: He has a full ride. or He has a full-ride scholarship.

fundraising, fundraiser
Always one word.

GED A test used to determine high school equivalency. GED is acceptable on all references for General Educational Development. Please note: In 2014, Indiana started using TASC instead of GED to determine high school equivalency. TASC is acceptable on all references for Test Assessing Secondary Completion.

General Counsel, Office of Formerly Office of University Compliance. bsu.edu/legal 

geothermal Preferred terms include borehole (instead of well) and energy station (instead of energy center). bsu.edu/geothermal

Glick Center for Glass, Marilyn K. Glick Center acceptable on second reference. Opened in 2010, the center is home of the bachelor of fine arts (BFA) and master of fine arts (MFA) programs in glass art. It is named for one of Indiana’s most influential supporters of the arts and an avid glass art collector.

Greenhouse, Dr. Joe and Alice Rinard Orchid Dedicated in 2014. Rinard Greenhouse or greenhouse acceptable on second reference.

grade point average Do not hyphenate. On second reference and in headlines, use GPA, not G.P.A.

grades When referring to a grade someone received, simply use the letter. Ex.: He got a B on his test. When referring collectively to grades, do not use an apostrophe to make plural. Ex: She settles only for As and Bs.

graduate assistant On second reference and in headlines, GA is acceptable.

headlines, titles Headlines and titles should be active and concise. Avoid vague, generic headlines.

  • Capitalization depends on the platform:
    • Marketing communications and most sites on bsu.edu use title case (capitalizing principal words).
    • News releases, News Center stories, and pitches use sentence case (capitalizing only the first word), consistent with AP style.
  • In news releases and electronic communications, single quotes are used in headlines and subheads for quotations and to distinguish composition titles.
  • Well-known acronyms are acceptable, especially if they are better known that way (Ex. JPG, NCAA). However, avoid using acronyms a general audience would not immediately recognize.
  • Use names alone only if they are familiar to the campus community (Ex: Obama). For someone who is not widely known, include one to three words to identify them (Ex. biology professor Catherine Earnshaw, Spanish major Don Quixote).
  • Be wary of nouns, verbs, and possessives that have been split from their modifiers. 

Homecoming Capitalize on first reference when referring to Ball State’s. Lowercase on subsequent references.

Honors College Academic program at Ball State that requires its students to substitute core courses with honors courses emphasizing class discussion and essay writing instead of objective testing. Students must complete honors curriculum and a senior thesis project while maintaining a 3.33 grade point average or higher; honors courses and honors education are lowercase. bsu.edu/honors

hospital See Ball Memorial Hospital.

Housing and Residence Life, Office of Oversees all residence halls and aspects of on-campus student living.

http:// Do not use when listing website addresses.

hyperlinks On Web pages, hyperlinks should be embedded in the text. Ex: See our financial aid section for more information. Not: Go to bsu.edu/finaid for more information. Be careful not to include punctuation such as commas and periods in linked text.

identification In a typical situation, identify student sources by first and last name, class standing or expected year of graduation, and major on first reference. Ex.: John Doe, a junior majoring in business administration. Include age, hometown, and other information when pertinent.

Identify faculty sources by name and academic title or job description on first reference. If the source has more than one title, use only the one most relevant to the story.
Ex: Jane Doe, assistant professor of mathematicsHistory professor John Doe

Use last name and a courtesy title on second reference, except for students. With students, use first name only. Include the abbreviation Jr. only when using a full name. Do not use a comma to separate Jr. from name. When a story includes more than one source with the same last name, you can use full names on every reference, courtesy titles, or job titles. Ex.: Mayor Doe liked the movie. Professor Doe did not.

ID number

immersive learning Guided by a faculty mentor, interdisciplinary student teams create unique, high-impact learning experiences that result in real-world results for community partners. bsu.edu/immersive

Indiana Academy for Science, Mathematics, and Humanities On second reference and in headlines, academy is acceptable. Opened in 1990, it’s a residential high school on Ball State’s campus for gifted and talented juniors and seniors from throughout Indiana. Enrollment is about 300. Students live in Wagoner Hall. The academy and Burris Laboratory School are overseen by Ball State. bsu.edu/academy

initiative Lowercase if it is a description, capitalize if the word is part of the formal name.
Ex.: Hybrid Design Technologies initiative (Hybrid Design Technologies is the name, initiative is the description)
Ex.: sustainability initiatives (both words are descriptions)
Ex.: Global Reporting Initiative (initiative is part of the name)

Interfraternity Council On second reference and in headlines, IFCis acceptable. Governing body for Ball State’s fraternities.

internet Lowercase.


Lady Cardinals, Lady Cards Do not use these terms to refer to female athletes at Ball State. They are simply the Cardinals.

LaFollette Field Grass field located off McKinley Avenue on the west side of Worthen Arena. Students may use it for personal recreation. Campus events such as concerts, festivals, and homecoming activities also happen here.

Latino, Latina See race, ethnicity.

Learning and Development (L&D) The Office of Learning and Development (L&D, formerly Training and Development) provides learning opportunities to professional and staff employees at Ball State. bsu.edu/hrs/learndev

lightpainting One word, lowercase.

Lilly Endowment Inc. lillyendowment.org

links see hyperlinks.

list, bulleted If bulleted elements are sentence fragments, start with lowercase letters and omit periods or semicolons at the end. If lists are full sentences, start with a capital letter and end with a period.
This bulleted list has:

  • a sentence fragment
  • another sentence fragment
  • yet another sentence fragment

This bulleted list has the following:

  • This is a complete sentence.
  • This also is a complete sentence.
  • And this third item is a complete sentence.

living-learning community Students in a living-learning community (LLC) live with peers who have similar areas of study or interests such as nursing or emerging media. Lowercase if describing living-learning communities in a general sense; capitalize if referring to a specific LLC by its formal name (ex. Discover Living-Learning Community).

login, log in One word as a noun or adjective, two as a verb. This is consistent with AP style and more common, even though it is an exception to Webster’s, which hyphenates the noun and adjective.

major When using the terms degree, major, or program, the discipline must match its listing with the Indiana Commission for Higher Education (ICHE). Majors are typically lowercase (Ex.: a marketing major). See academic degrees for more information and consult the course catalog for an official list.

master’s degree Note apostrophe S

McKinley Avenue Main north-south street running through campus.

MBA No periods; master of business administration on first reference.

Mid-American Conference On second reference and in headlines, MAC is acceptable. Ball State joined in 1973. Home office is in Cleveland. mac-sports.com

Middletown Nickname for Muncie from sociologists Robert S. and Helen Merrell Lynd’s studies, the first of which was published in 1929. The Lynds chose Muncie as a typical small city representing contemporary American life and a barometer of American social trends. Note: Middletown, Indiana, is about 15 miles southeast of Muncie. MiddletownUSA.com covers news about Middletown, Ohio. For more about the Lynds’ work, visit the Center for Middletown Studies at bsu.edu/middletown.

midterm One word, no hyphen.

Midwest Intercollegiate Volleyball Association On second reference and in headlines, MIVA is acceptable. Ball State men’s volleyball team is a member of the Midwest 10 Volleyball Conference, a division of MIVA. miva-vball.org

Miller College of Business Named after businessman Wallace T. Miller Jr. Miller College and business college acceptable on second reference. Don’t use MCOB. bsu.edu/business

Minnetrista A museum center for cultural exploration, offering exhibits and programs that focus on nature, history, gardens, and art. Note that the name is only one word. minnetrista.net

Museum of Art, David Owsley Opened in 1935, the David Owsley Museum of Art is located in the Fine Arts Building. In 2011, the museum was named for longtime benefactor David Owsley, the son of Alvin and Lucy Ball Owsley and the grandson of Frank C. Ball, one of the five original Ball brothers. Owsley Museum and DOMA are acceptable on second reference. bsu.edu/artmuseum

National Panhellenic Conference An umbrella organization for 26 international women’s fraternities and sororities. On second reference, NPC is acceptable.

National Pan-Hellenic Council On second reference and in headlines, NPHC is acceptable. Governing body of Ball State’s black and Hispanic fraternities and sororities.

NCAA acceptable on all references for National College Athletic Association.

Neely Avenue Commonly misspelled Neeley.

nicknames Use a nickname in place of a person’s real name when it is the way that person prefers to be known. Ex.: Chuck Smith instead of Charles Smith.
Use quotation marks if you are inserting it into a person’s full name. Ex.: Cole “The Irish Bull” McGrath. When referring to Ball State sports teams, use Cardinals or Cards for both men and women. Do not refer to women’s sports teams as Lady Cardinals or Lady Cards.

numerals Use numerals for 10 or greater. Spell out whole numbers one through nine. Use numerals in all cases for percentages, credit hours, grade point averages, dollar amounts, age, and dimensions. Spell out numerals at beginning of a sentence. Use numeral for decimals, write out fractions less than one.
Ex: the first century, the 21st century, 200 students, 6 credit hours, 2 percent, increased by one-third, 2.5 grade point average, $3 million, 6-foot-10.
Note: This is an exception to Chicago style.

Odyssey Creative journal published by Honors College students.

offices Capitalize the initial letter when using the official name of the office. Lowercase on second reference. Ex..: Office of Admissions, admissions office

off campus, off-campus Off campus is a noun. Off-campus is an adjective. Ex.: He lives off campus. They live in an off-campus house.

on campus, on-campus On campus is a noun. On-campus is an adjective. Ex: He lives on campus. They like the atmosphere of on-campus living.

online One word always.

Online and Strategic Learning The Division of Online and Strategic Learning is a one-stop shop for teaching and learning that serves all of the Ball State campus. This unit brings together the support and services provided by the former Division of Online and Distance Education, iLearn, and Office of Educational Excellence. bsu.edu/strategiclearning

orientation Lowercase in general uses, capitalize if describing an event.

Panhellenic Council Governing body of Ball State’s sororities. See National Panhellenic Conference.

acceptable in all references for Portable Document Format. In web copy, please indicate if a hyperlink connects to a PDF in this manner (PDF).

Spell out instead of using % symbol (exception where space is extremely limited such as ad headlines and tables). Use figures instead of spelling out numbers. Ex.: 3 percent

percent, percentage point The difference between percent and percentage point can best be illustrated by example. If a tax goes up from 4 percent to 5 percent, it is a 1 percentage point increase, or one unit of 100. However, the tax itself is rising by one-fourth, one unit of four, or about 25 percent.

PhD No periods. Doctorate or doctoral degree preferred. See academic degrees.

philanthropy, philanthropic
Use philanthropy as a noun for the act of doing a good deed. Do not use philanthropic as an adjective for a specific event.

phone numbers Always include the area code and use this format: 765-555-4444 ext. 27. If the phone number includes a word, list both the word and the number and use this format: 800-482-4BSU (4278)

photo credits Use the photographer’s name/Ball State University or Ball State University alone for photos shot by university photographers. If photos are provided, use Courtesy of

Planetarium, Charles W. Brown Completed in 2014, the Charles W. Brown Planetarium is the largest in Indiana, with 148 seats and a 52-foot-diameter dome. Brown Planetarium and planetarium are acceptable on second reference. bsu.edu/planetarium

president When referring to Ball State’s president, simply say president. Lowercase when the title does not appear before the name. Ex.: President Geoffrey S. Mearns attended …, The president attended …

Princeton Review, The Use plain, not italics. This is a company, not a publication.

program When using the term program to refer to a specific academic offering, the discipline must match its listing with the Indiana Commission for Higher Education (ICHE). Typically, the major and the word program are lowercase (ex. journalism program). See academic degrees for more information and consult the course catalog for an official list.

When using program in a general sense, lowercase if it is a description and capitalize if the word is part of the formal name.

  • Ex.: Working Well program (Working Well is the name, program describes it)
  • Ex.: employee wellness program (all three words are descriptions)
  • Ex.: Adult Physical Fitness Program (program is part of the formal name)

provost Ball State University’s chief academic officer and the vice president for academic affairs. The provost acts as an advisor to the president, works with deans and faculty, coordinates and evaluates academic programs, and serves as a liaison with other academic institutions and with the Indiana Commission for Higher Education. Capitalize title before name. Lowercase after.

Provost Immersive Learning Grant Ball State internal grant, formerly called the Provost Initiative Grant, to provide startup funds for immersive learning projects. Money can be used to fund an entire project, equipment, some travel, and buyouts.

Pruis, John J Former Ball State president. Note no period after the middle initial.

publication titles, see composition titles.

Quad, the Grassy, tree-lined area on southwest side of campus. It is near the David Owsley Museum of Art, Cooper Science Complex, North and West Quadrangle buildings, and Ball Gymnasium.

Race, ethnicity At Ball State, we are committed to diversity. As part of that commitment, we must be sensitive to how we describe race and ethnicity and when it is appropriate to mention it. Do not mention a source’s race or ethnicity unless it is relevant to the story. If it is relevant, ask the source how he or she prefers to be identified. If a source’s race or ethnicity must be mentioned and it is not possible to ask the source, use the following preferred terms:

  • African-American. Exception: Use black if the source requests the term or if black is part of a proper name of an organization or event. Ex.: Black History Month, Black Student Association.
  • Asian. If possible, identify by country of origin or ancestry. Ex.: He is Chinese-American. She is Korean.
  • Native American If possible, use the person’s tribal affiliation. Ex.: He is Cherokee. Use American Indian only if part of a proper name. Ex: the American Indian Movement.
  • Latino, Latina, Latinx refers to people with ethnic and cultural backgrounds in Latin American countries. Latina is the feminine form; Latinx is gender neutral. Latino, Latina, Latinx is acceptable for people of Brazilian origin. Hispanic refers only to people with origins in Spanish-speaking countries. When possible when dealing with someone of Latin American descent, identify the person’s country of origin or ethnic background. Ex.: She is Mexican-American. He is Colombian.

radio stations Ball State is affiliated with two radio stations:

  • Indiana Public Radio – Also known as IPR, this is the local National Public Radio (NPR) affiliate. IPR is a five station network: WBST 92.1 FM, Muncie, WBSB 89.5 FM, Anderson, WBSW 90.1 FM, Marion, WBSJ 91.7 FM, Portland, and WBSH 91.1 FM, Hagerstown-New Castle. bsu.edu/ipr
  • WCRD (91.3 FM) – Student-run station. wcrd.net

ranking Follow style for numerals. Ex.: The program is ranked fourth in the nation, improving from 11th place last year. See: numerals.

registrar For all references, either registrar or registrar’s office is acceptable. Through the Office of the Registrar, students can register for classes, check grades, view their transcripts, seek other information about their scholastic status, and more. bsu.edu/registrar 

residence halls Use residence hall – not dorm. bsu.edu/housing

Residence Hall Association On second reference and in headlines, RHA is acceptable. bsu.edu/rha

resident assistant On second reference and in headlines, RA is acceptable. Plural is RAs.

room numbers List in this format: Bracken Library, room 261.

ROTC Acceptable abbreviation for Reserve Officers’ Training Corps on all references. On first reference, use whichever military branch is appropriate. Ex: Army ROTC, Naval ROTC, Air Force ROTC. bsu.edu/rotc

said, says In general, says is preferred for attribution. Says or said is a neutral word and allows the reader to focus on the quote. Other words, such as acknowledges, claims, contends, and states carry more meaning and can apply a bias to a story. Different publications have different guidelines concerning the use of said versus says. News releases generally use said.

Scheumann Stadium The stadium can seat up to 22,500. It was built in 1967 and underwent major renovations in 2007. Former Ball State football player John Scheumann and his wife, June, made a generous contribution toward the renovations, and the stadium was named in their honor. Its full name is the John B. and June M. Scheumann Stadium, but Scheumann Stadium is acceptable on all references. Its nickname, The Scheu, is acceptable in some instances. The facility includes the Paul and Pat Kozel Media Center. Other places of note are the John W. and Janice B. Fisher Football Training Complex and the Ron and Joan Venderly Football Center. 

School of Kinesiology Formerly the School of Physical Education, Sport, and Exercise Science.

Scramble Light Nickname for the intersection of McKinley and Riverside avenues. Pedestrians can press a button at each corner that stops traffic in all directions and allows those on foot to cross the street. A similar stop is at the intersection of McKinley and Neely avenues, which should not be referred to as the Scramble Light.

seasons Capitalize Spring, Summer, Winter, and Fall when making generic references to semesters. See also: breaks, semester.

semester Lowercase.

sexist writing, avoiding Here are a few techniques to avoid using unnecessary gender-specific language:

  • Use gender neutral nouns such as spokesperson, department chair, mail carrier, police officer, etc.
  • Use plurals, which use they on second reference. Ex.: Students need to hand in their applications by March 10.
  • If applicable, use second person (you). Ex.: You need to fill out your application by March 10.
  • When using the plural would result in awkward writing, the singular they is acceptable for indefinite pronouns such as everyone, someone, and nobody, and for non-gender-specific nouns referring to people such as student or employee. (Note: For entities such as businesses, organizations, and schools, use it.) Ex.: Your student needs fill out their application by March 10.
  • He or she and his or her are acceptable in more formal communications, but use sparingly.

social media Official social media accounts for Ball State University include:

special characters Diacritics such as accents, tildes, and umlauts may be used in print publications. In web content, social media, news releases, pitches, and emails, use the spelling without diacritics for common nouns and adjectives (ex. résumé for print, but resume for social media). 

spokesman, spokeswoman, spokesperson All are acceptable. Preferred style is title in lowercase following name. Capitalize before a name if part of a formal title.

Sponsored Projects Administration Created in 2015 by the merger of the Sponsored Programs Office and the Contracts and Grants Office, the Sponsored Projects Administration helps faculty and staff apply for external funds for research, administers award funds, and ensures compliance with regulations. bsu.edu/spa

sports teams Ball State is a member of the Mid-American Conference and holds Division I status for all its intercollegiate athletic teams. Men’s volleyball is the only team not in the MAC. It is part of the Midwest Intercollegiate Volleyball Association. MIVA on second reference. See also Mid-American Conference and Midwest Intercollegiate Volleyball Association. ballstatesports.com

Spring Break


Student Center On first reference L.A. Pittenger Student Center or Pittenger Student Center is acceptable. Student Center on all references is acceptable for an audience internal to Ball State. Lemuel Arthur Pittenger was Ball State president from 1927 to 1942. bsu.edu/studentcenter

Student Government Association On second reference and in headlines, SGA is acceptable. bsu.edu/sga

Student Recreation and Wellness Center, Jo Ann Gora Gora Center, Gora Student Recreation and Wellness Center, and the center are acceptable on second reference. Do not use JAGSRWC or SRWC.

Student Senate Policy-making body of Student Government Association.

summer session/semester Lowercase. See also: seasons.

syllabus Plural is syllabi.

Taftali Center for Capital Markets and Investing, A. Umit Taftali Center acceptable on second reference. Opened in 2010, the center simulates a real-world financial environment. It’s in the Whitinger Business Building.

tagline Ball State's tagline is "We Fly." Note that both words are capitalized.

Tally Short for Student Center Tally Food Court, often called the Tally. Note it is spelled without an E.

TASC Acceptable on all references for Test Assessing Secondary Completion. In 2014, Indiana started using TASC instead of GED to determine high school equivalency.

telephone numbers Do not use parentheses. Always include area code. Ex.: 765-285-1560

television station Ball State is affiliated with WIPB-TV 49, Muncie, a PBS station. wipb.org

tenure track Term used to describe faculty members who are serving a seven-year trial period prior to being nominated by their college’s dean and the University provost and then approved by the Board of Trustees to be tenured, which means they keep their job as long as they continue to meet University job performance standards. Members of the tenure-track faculty usually are expected to be active in their fields through research or publication. See contract.

Thanksgiving Break

theatre, theater Use theatre for most university vehicles except for news releases. With news releases, use AP Style, which is theater on general references unless theatre is part of a proper name.

thesis Plural form is theses.

time elements Use a.m. or p.m. Use midnight or noon rather than 12 a.m. or 12 p.m. Muncie is in Eastern time. If a time zone is required, use Eastern time or Eastern rather than EST or EDT.

titles In general, a title is lowercase after a name and capitalized before a name.
Ex.: President Geoffrey S. Mearns; Geoffrey S. Mearns, president of Ball State University
If a title is more than a few words long, try to place it after the name. Capitalize titles, but not job descriptions. Ex.: President Geoffrey S. Mearns; researcher Jack Sprat
See also: academic titles and courtesy titles.

Tobacco-Free Policy Effective Aug. 1, 2013, the policy bars the use of tobacco in all campus buildings and grounds, with the exception of personal vehicles with window rolled up and tailgating at home football games. It replaces the Smoke-Free Policy. bsu.edu/tobaccofree

tuition, fees See fees, tuition.

TTY preferred style for phone number for those who are hearing impaired.

unique Avoid misuse. If something is unique, there is nothing else like it. There are no degrees of uniqueness, so it would be wrong to say something is very unique. Use special or distinct for something that is unusual but not one of a kind.

University Capitalize University when it stands alone when referring to Ball State. Lowercase when the word is used in a general sense. Ex.: The University provides a world-class education. A university must educate its students.

University Libraries Name for the network of Ball State libraries and resource centers. There are three: Architecture Library, Bracken Library, and Science-Health Science Library. bsu.edu/library

University Media Services Formerly University Teleplex.

University Police Department On second reference, police department is acceptable. bsu.edu/police

University Senate On second reference and in headlines, senate is acceptable. Comprises faculty and staff. bsu.edu/senate

university-wide On a related note, do not hyphenate nationwide, statewide, or worldwide. See University for capitalization.

U.S. News & World Report For clarity, we will put a space between “U.S.” and “News.” Also note the ampersand.

vice president Never hyphenate. When title appears before a name, both words are capitalized. Both words are lowercase after a name. Ex.: Vice President Mike Pence and Mike Pence, vice president.

Village, the Four-block stretch of University Avenue just east of campus, from McKinley Avenue to Dicks Street. Features restaurants, bars, coffee shops, bookstores, and convenience stores.

Virginia B. Ball Center for Creative Inquiry On second reference and in headlines, Virginia Ball Center is acceptable. It is under the umbrella of the Office of Entrepreneurial Learning. bsu.edu/vbc

web addresses Omit http:// and www. (ex.: bsu.edu). If the last word in the sentence is a URL, the sentence ends in a period.

website One word, lowercase; site is also acceptable. Also, web, webpage, webcast, webinar.

Content for most bsu.edu websites employs AP style with the following exceptions:

  • Use the serial comma.
  • Lowercase degrees and don’t use periods in the initials (for more, see academic degrees).
  • Use Ball State style for bulleted lists (see lists, bulleted).
  • Use title case on headers (capitalize principal words).
  • Omit spaces around dashes.
  • Drop the hyphen in all e- words such as email, ebook, and ebusiness.
  • Drop the hyphen in the prefix co- unless it’s needed for clarity (ex. co-owner). Note: Generally, AP, The Chicago Manual of Style, and Merriam-Webster drop the hyphen for prefixes, including for pre- and post-, unless it’s needed for clarity (ex. pre-election, post-master’s certificate). The hyphen in pre- is maintained for majors (ex. pre-business, pre-medicine).

For technical reasons and clarity:

  • Avoid special characters (accents, tildes, umlauts, etc.).
  • For composition titles, use double quotes in running text and captions and single quotes in other fields.
  • If you need to emphasize information, use boldface on only a few words. Don’t underline or use all caps.

Women’s and Gender Studies Program Formerly Women’s Studies Program.

winter break Use instead of Christmas Break.


ZIP code Not Zip Code or zip code.

Other Resources

For Website Authors

Editorial style for the Ball State website uses elements of both “The Chicago Manual of Style” and “AP Stylebook,” and either guide is a good resource.

  • For editors accustomed to Chicago style, that means using quotation marks for composition titles and numerals for 10 and above.
  • For editors accustomed to AP style, that means using the serial comma, using title case for headers, lowercasing degrees and omitting periods with their initials, and no spaces around dashes.

For more, see the "website" entry in the Ball State style guide.


We use “The Chicago Manual of Style, 17th edition” for marketing communications, including:

  • book- and magazine-length publications
  • newsletters
  • brochures
  • posters
  • flyers
  • invitations
  • programs
  • advertisements

Thanks to a subscription paid for by University Libraries, “The Chicago Manual of Style” is available online to every member of the Ball State community. Off-campus users will need to log in with their Ball State credentials.

Use ‘The Chicago Manual of Style’

‘The Associated Press (AP) Stylebook’

We use AP style for:

  • news releases
  • “Ball State Magazine”
  • pitches to media
  • stories posted in the online News Center
  • social media

“The AP Stylebook” is available in print and by paid online subscription.

Visit the AP Stylebook Website


For further guidance, consult “Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, 11th edition,” for preferred spelling (use the first entry if there’s more than one).

Use the Dictionary

Directory and Campus Map

Refer to the Ball State directory for spelling of people’s names, current telephone numbers, locations, and other information. Refer to the campus map for information about buildings.

Use the Directory     Use the Campus Map