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Grammar and Usage

University Marketing and Communications at the University of Missouri–St. Louis maintains this largely UMSL-focused guide to provide help answering questions that arise often when producing printed materials. In most instances, UMSL adheres to the latest edition of "The Associated Press Stylebook" for guidance on communications style. Questions not fully answered in the alphabetized style entries that follow can typically be solved by referring to the AP Stylebook.

Download the full Grammar and Usage Guide

Quick References from the Grammar and Usage Guide

  • When writing out the University of Missouri–St. Louis, use a single en dash, with no spaces to punctuate. An en dash can join one word to a compound, but a hyphen cannot. “St. Louis” must be joined to “University of Missouri” with an en dash.
  • UMSL is the preferred second reference for the "University of Missouri–St. Louis." When used as an adjective, "UMSL" requires the article "an." Right: She is an UMSL student. Wrong: She is a UMSL student.
  • Use an apostrophe in "bachelor's" and "master's" with the word degree, or when degree is omitted but implied. Do not use an apostrophe in "associate."
  • Acceptable first-reference abbreviations for degrees are "BA," "BFA," "BGS," "BS," "BSBA," "BSN," "BSW," "DBA," "DNP," "EdD," "JD," "MA," "MAcc," "MBA," "MEd," "MFA," "MPPA," "MS," "MSIS," "MSN," "MSW," "OD," "PhD" and "ScD."
  • Capitalize all names of UMSL colleges, schools, departments, divisions, offices, institutes and centers when using the unit's full, proper name. Examples: Department of History, College of Education and Center for Eye Care.
  • "Alum" refers to an individual who has graduated from a school. "Alumni" refers to a group of alums.
  • When the full, proper names of courses are used, capitalize the names, but do not put in quotes. If course numbers appear with course names, use Arabic numbers. Examples: Bob Jones enrolled in Introduction to Communication and Contemporary Political Ideologies. Professor Bill Smith teaches Quality Management 430 and Management Science Methods 482.
  • For informal use of course names, do not capitalize. Examples: Jean Taylor took ethics and economics this semester. Jim Jones earned A's in both of his history classes.
  • Use University of Missouri Board of Curators on first reference. Acceptable second references: curators, board and board of curators.
  • Be cognizant of academic rank when using professor, both when it is part of a formal title and in lowercase instances. Casual use is generally acceptable in more informal and necessarily brief contexts, such as Twitter and in headlines, but keep in mind that "professor" typically implies a "full professor" rather an instructor, assistant professor, lecturer or even associate professor and be specific where feasible. A faculty member is a "professor of an area." Examples: Dave Johnson is a professor of English. Professor of Accounting Walter Smith has taught the introductory course for 20 years.
  • Use St. Louis alone without additional description when identifying the city in Missouri. Do not use "Saint Louis." Do not use "St. Louis City." Only use "City of St. Louis" on first reference when clarification is necessary. Right: Bill lives in St. Louis. Steve works in north St. Louis. Wrong: Jennifer lives in St. Louis City. But when referring to St. Louis’ municipal government, use "city of St. Louis." Example: The city of St. Louis began a major clean-up project of downtown.
  • St. Louis Public Radio is a public radio station that’s a service of UMSL. On first reference, identify the station as "St. Louis Public Radio." Acceptable second references are: STLPR, radio station or station.
  • On first reference, use the title "Dr." for practitioners of the healing arts (including osteopaths, dentists and optometrists) but not holders of doctoral or honorary degrees. When possible, recognize subjects’ expertise by referencing their specific doctoral degrees. Example: Assistant Professor Shea Kerkhoff, who holds a PhD in curriculum and instruction, served as the primary investigator for the project.
  • UMSL Tritons is the official nickname of the men’s and women’s teams that are part of the Department of Athletics at UMSL. On first reference in a run of copy, "Tritons" must appear with "University of Missouri–St. Louis" or "UMSL." Example: The UMSL Tritons hosted the basketball tournament last month.
  • University of Missouri System is the full, proper name of the unified, statewide, multicampus University of Missouri System and the administration for the system. Acceptable second references: UM System, university system and system. Do not use "University of Missouri" to represent the "University of Missouri System."