Editorial Standards

Maintaining editorial consistency in University communications is critical to the overall strength of the Penn State brand. We encourage communicators to consult the information included here when preparing written materials for the University.

News Standards

Editorial Standards in Marketing vs. Penn State News Materials

The University follows separate standards for marketing and news materials:

The Penn State Name

Our brand is the essence of who we are and everything we do to fulfill our mission of research, education, and service.

Consistent use of the Penn State name is key to maintaining our overall brand. As such, it’s important to remember a few simple rules about using Penn State in print and online communications:

Penn State vs. The Pennsylvania State University

Penn State is the communicative name for the University. All communications originating from Penn State should use the communicative name rather than the full name. The full name (The Pennsylvania State University) is reserved for formal documents, legal contracts, some mailing addresses, and form entries, such as the line, “Make checks payable to The Pennsylvania State University.” The full name also is used in the formal version of the statement of nondiscrimination. It may be used in some faculty listings and on formal certificates, and in any rare case where confusion might result from using the communicative name.

In text, the words Penn State are separate, and both should be capitalized. Penn State may be referred to as the University on subsequent mention, but only if you are referring to the entire institution, not just a single campus, college, or other location.

It is not acceptable to refer to the University as PSU. Furthermore, do not use Penn State University unless it’s part of a formal title (ex. The Penn State University Athletic Conference).

Penn State and the Penn State Mark

If the University visual identity mark appears on the cover of a publication, on a certificate, or on any other page that has words on it, the words Penn State or The Pennsylvania State University need not be used on the same page as part of a title, heading, or cover text. The mark serves as the identifier.

For further information regarding the visual identity mark, visit the Visual Identity Standards section of this site or contact the Office of Strategic Communications at 814-865-7517.

Penn State Boilerplate Language


Penn State is a multi-campus, land-grant, public research University that educates students from around the world, and supports individuals and communities through integrated programs of teaching, research, and service.

Our instructional mission includes undergraduate, graduate, professional, continuing, and extension education, offered through both resident instruction and distance learning. Our educational programs are enriched by the talent, knowledge, diversity, creativity, and teaching and research acumen of our faculty, students, and staff.

Our discovery-oriented, collaborative, and interdisciplinary research and scholarship promote human and economic development, global understanding, and advancement in professional practice through the expansion of knowledge and its applications in the natural and applied sciences, social and behavioral sciences, engineering, technology, arts and humanities, and myriad professions.

As Pennsylvania’s land-grant university, we provide unparalleled access to education and public service to support the citizens of the Commonwealth and beyond. We engage in collaborative activities with private sector, educational, and governmental partners worldwide to generate, integrate, apply, and disseminate knowledge that is valuable to society.

The Penn State Difference


Penn State is not a 'system' similar to the structure in place at other schools. As one University geographically distributed, with 24 campuses that include two law schools, a medical enterprise and a graduate/professional campus—there is no other institution like us in the world.

As one university, Penn State has one president, one centralized budget, one governing board, one faculty senate, one enrollment management office, operates under one accreditation, one strategic plan and one set of policies and guidelines for students, faculty and staff. Our state appropriation comes in the form of a single line item and our course content is consistent, regardless of campus.

Unlike most university systems, Penn State students can go through a change of campus process that is not an application to a different university, but simply a change in campus.

A Penn State degree is a Penn State degree.

Commonly Referred to Academic Units

The University is made up of several colleges that range from the arts to the sciences, with many subjects in between. In general, Penn State should be used ahead of the college’s name on first reference.

Uppercase “College” when used as part of the proper name of a college; lowercase when used with the unofficial name of a college. Lowercase when used alone, whether it refers to a specific college or not.

They enrolled in the College of the Liberal Arts.

Belinda was most interested in the engineering college.

The college offered a number of psychology courses.

Academic Colleges

All of Penn State’s more than 275 majors are divided among academic colleges, which are the units from which students receive their degrees. In addition to the academic colleges at the University Park campus, Penn State offers six other academic colleges across Pennsylvania that allow students to finish their degrees at a campus other than University Park.

They include:

The University College

The University College is composed of the fourteen campuses that are not associated with one of the location-specific colleges mentioned above. These are not Penn State campus names. They refer to administrative/academic entities and should be used only in that context and only as necessary to clarify the academic standing of the campus. University College is an administrative term for internal use only, and should never be used in any external communications about Penn State.

Correct: Jennifer was a first-year student at Penn State Berks.

Incorrect: Jennifer was a first-year student at Penn State Berks College.

Donor-named Colleges in Lists

List separately from other colleges when part of a list in running text.

The program is presented in cooperation with the Smeal College of Business, the Eberly College of Science, and the Colleges of Engineering and the Liberal Arts.

Penn State Campuses

When you refer to a Penn State campus in running text, do so as listed below. Use the full name on first mention and the partial name on subsequent mention. Lowercase campus, even in campus names: Shenango campus, University Park campus.

  • Penn State Abington; Abington campus
  • Penn State Altoona; Altoona campus
  • Penn State Beaver; Beaver campus
  • Penn State Berks; Berks campus
  • Penn State Brandywine; Brandywine campus
  • Penn State DuBois; DuBois campus
  • Penn State Erie, The Behrend College; Penn State Behrend (Alphabetize under “E” for “Erie” in a list such as this one and “B” for “Behrend” if it’s in a list that doesn’t require full names to be used first.)
  • Penn State Fayette, The Eberly Campus; Penn State Fayette or Fayette campus (Alphabetize under “F” for “Fayette.”)
  • Penn State Greater Allegheny; Greater Allegheny campus
  • Penn State Harrisburg; Harrisburg campus (Penn State Harrisburg, The Capital College, may be used when appropriate if clarification is called for, as noted above).
  • Penn State Hazleton; Hazleton campus
  • Penn State Lehigh Valley; Lehigh Valley campus
  • Penn State Mont Alto; Mont Alto campus
  • Penn State New Kensington; New Kensington campus
  • Penn State Schuylkill; Schuylkill campus
  • Penn State Scranton; Scranton campus
  • Penn State Shenango; Shenango campus
  • Penn State University Park; University Park campus
  • Penn State Wilkes-Barre; Wilkes-Barre campus
  • Penn State York; York campus

Commonwealth Campuses

Commonwealth Campuses, while used internally and in Penn State News stories, should not be used in external marketing communications. Use “Penn State campuses” instead.

Other Campuses

  • Penn State Great Valley School of Graduate Professional Studies (first reference); Penn State Great Valley (subsequent reference). Alphabetize under “G.”
  • Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center (first reference); The Milton S. Hershey Medical Center or Hershey Medical Center (subsequent references); the Medical Center (third or familiar references)
  • Pennsylvania College of Technology (on first reference); Penn College (on subsequent mention). Penn College is an affiliate of Penn State.

Big Ten Universities

Cap and spell out as shown. Penn State is in the Big Ten Conference. The other schools are:

  • University of Illinois
  • Indiana University
  • University of Iowa
  • University of Maryland
  • The University of Michigan
  • Michigan State University
  • University of Minnesota
  • University of Nebraska
  • Northwestern University
  • The Ohio State University
  • Purdue University
  • Rutgers University
  • University of Wisconsin

The University of Chicago, while not a member of the Big Ten athletic conference, is a member—with the Big Ten universities—of the Big Ten Academic Alliance, an academic consortium.

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Penn State Information

Below are many of the decisions that have been made about the way Penn State—its people, programs, and procedures—should be presented in text for marketing publications. The listing is presented in alphabetical order.

Many questions about University style must be resolved on a case-by-case basis. However, these general points and resources may be helpful to you. For general editorial questions as they pertain to University marketing materials, consult the Chicago Manual of Style Online.

For notes about Penn State style as it pertains to Penn State News stories, consult the University Public Relations Style Guide.

Academic and Administrative Titles

Titles are capitalized when they immediately precede names and are used as part of the names.

Dean Jeanne DuBois said …
Associate Professor Hans Ringger said …

Titles are lowercased if they follow names or are used to help describe or identify people further.

Jill Johnson, professor of history, …
Well-known professor of history Jill Johnson, …

If the person holds a named professorship or chair, such as an endowed professorship, capitalize the title whether it precedes or follows the name:

Dan Miller, Evan Pugh Professor of Mathematics …
Erwin W. Mueller Professor Jan Smith …
Gita Bashir, Distinguished Professor of Chemistry …


Instructor in, not instructor of

Professor emeritus, not emeritus professor

Professor of, not professor in—but, professorship in

Research associate in, not research associate of

When the title includes the specific name of an academic or administrative unit, the name of the unit is capitalized.

Sondra Wong, director of the Office of Style and Substance, …

Dr. Randy Jones, dean of the College of Science, …

The word president is capped whenever it is used to refer to current and former Penn State Presidents, whether it’s before or after the name. This policy is designed to make it easy for readers to quickly determine that a printed piece refers to the University President as opposed to any other president.

Penn State President Eric J. Barron and John Smith, president of Smith Financial, …

When naming Penn State faculty, staff, or students in a document, in most cases the person should be described or identified by title, such as “James Gonzalez, a graduate student in chemical engineering, …”.

“Dr.” should only be used, on first reference, preceding the name of a person with a medical degree. Do not use “Dr.” on second reference. “Dr.” may be used in a direct quote.

You may want your publication to have an informal tone and wish to use first names. This is preferred only for internal communications. If you use first names, on first reference give the person’s full name and title or position, and use the first name on second and later references. It is not acceptable to call some people by their first names and others by title and last name or by last name alone within the same publication. Nor is it acceptable to use courtesy titles with some last names but not with others within the same publication. An exception is that children, after being identified by first and last name, may be referred to by first name alone even though adults are referred to differently.


The highest-level administrator at campuses other than University Park are chancellors. The chancellors of all Penn State campuses report directly to the Vice President for Commonwealth Campuses.

Endowed Professorships; Named Professorships and Titles of Chairholders

Cap all nouns in the title, whether the title appears before or after the person’s name.

             Dan Miller, Evan Pugh Professor of Mathematics …

             Erwin W. Mueller Professor Jan Smith …

             Patrick Bashir, Distinguished Professor of Biology …

            John Stone, Holder of the Eberly Family Chair in Chemistry …

Academic Degrees

Spelled out: associate degree; baccalaureate degree, bachelor’s degree; master’s degree; doctoral degree, doctorate; bachelor of arts, master of science, doctor of philosophy

Abbreviate degrees with periods and without spaces (Chicago style says it’s okay to drop the periods, but we still use them): B.A.; M.S.; Ph.D.; M.Mus.; M.Eng.; M.B.A.; D.Ed.; J.D.; M.D., etc.


  • M.B.A./MBA: The degree is M.B.A., with periods, in all references. However, when referring to the program or to a person who has earned the degree, use MBA—no periods, no spaces. Plural: M.B.A.’s, MBAs.

Marisa Shala, B.S., M.B.A., will head the task force on improving MBA negotiating skills.

Two hundred MBAs attended the alumni workshop.

Note: that the honorary doctor and master of law degrees are abbreviated LL.D. and LL.M. (not L.L.D. or L.L.M.).

Plural of B.A., M.A., Ph.D., and other abbreviations with periods—B.A.’s; M.A.’s; Ph.D.’s, etc. That’s Chicago Manual style, designed to prevent confusion. With plurals of acronyms where no periods are used, do not use an apostrophe (e.g., CACs). Use B.A., M.A., Ph.D., and other degree abbreviations primarily in listings, such as departmental faculty rosters:

Alicia Kwanda, professor of physiology, B.A., Temple University; M.S., Syracuse University.

Spelling out degrees helps with readability.

He earned a bachelor of science degree in physics.
She earned a bachelor’s degree in chemistry.

Academic Programs, Majors, Fields of study

Do not cap names of fields of study. Cap the names of majors or minors when used as specific programs offered at Penn State. Do not cap the words major, minor, option, or program, only the program name if appropriate.

He was studying history at Penn State.
He majored in History at Penn State.

The college offers the Aerospace Engineering major.

The Nursing program has undergone changes.

When referring to specific degree programs at Penn State, cap the program name but not the degree:

Penn State offers a master of engineering degree program in Engineering Science.

The master of engineering degree in Environmental Engineering is a highly competitive degree program.

Academic Program Names; Capitalization

Program should be capped only when it is part of a formal name, particularly one whose initials are used as an abbreviated name: Minority Engineering Program (MEP), Women in Engineering Program (WEP).

Academic Year

Do not use caps when referring to the time of the academic year except Maymester, which is a short session between spring and summer: fall semester, spring semester, summer session. Use summer session when you’re referring to the time of academic year. When you’re referring to the sessions themselves (the six- and eight-week sessions), use Summer Sessions (capped), as that is the name for Penn State’s summer programs.

The word commencement is lowercased, as is the name of the semester (spring commencement, fall commencement).

Administrative Area

Do not capitalize the reference to a general administrative area of the University in which a person works.

She has worked in food service for fifteen years.


She worked in Housing and Food Services for fifteen years.


Admissions is used to refer in a collective way to the many different types of admission (e.g., first-year, transfer, readmission, provisional, nondegree, and extended). Admissions also is used when referring to the fact that thousands of students are admitted: the admissions of thousands vs. the admission of an individual. Admissions also is used as a short version of the Office of Undergraduate Admissions.

Admission is used to refer to a single type of admission (e.g., first-year admission, transfer admission). Use admission when referring to an individual’s admission. Use admission when referring to the process of being admitted.

Admissions Office

It’s the Undergraduate Admissions Office on first mention; the admissions office thereafter, except in certain predetermined pieces.

Contact the Undergraduate Admissions Office for more information.

Meet me in the admissions office this afternoon.

Contact the admissions office at any Penn State campus.

Admissions Regional Offices

Penn State’s community (student) recruitment centers in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh are named as follows: Penn State Admissions–Philadelphia and Penn State Admissions–Pittsburgh. That’s an en dash after Admissions, used as a connector between the two parts of the names.

Alumni and Graduation Years

Generally, the year should be written out in text (ex.: “Smith is a 1994 graduate in English.”) or when referencing a person’s class year (“John Smith is part of the Class of 2019”).

One area where it is acceptable to abbreviate the college/major and class year is class notes.* In this case, abbreviate as follows:

Attending the Homecoming reunion were Elise Adams ’64 and John Andrews ’88, ’90g.

Harold Jones ’74 Eng was the first Penn Stater to win the award.*

* Please note the style for this entry differs between the Editorial Standards (for promotional writing) and the University Public Relations Style Guide (for news writing).

The Arboretum at Penn State

On first reference, cap “The”; use “the Arboretum” on subsequent reference.

Lowercase “the” in reference to designated areas within the Arboretum: the March Bowl, the Pavilion, the Winter Garden, Childhood’s Gate, Children’s Garden.


Milton S. Eisenhower Auditorium; Schwab Auditorium; Palmer Lipcon Auditorium (in the Palmer Museum of Art); Esber Recital Hall (in Music Building I)

Berkey Creamery

This is a fully operational production facility and store, in the Rodney A. Erickson Food Science Building on Curtin Road, the east side of University Park campus. Use the full name (Berkey Creamery) on first mention; the Creamery on subsequent mention. As for the building, use the full name on first mention, Food Science Building on subsequent mention.

Board of Trustees

Board of Trustees—cap on first mention; the board or the trustees thereafter.


Use Penn State Bookstore on first reference to the bookstore at University Park campus; the bookstore after that. Names of campus bookstores should be capped as necessary.

Bryce Jordan Center; Jordan Center

Use full name on first reference (no The). On second reference, the Jordan Center is preferred, and on subsequent reference, simply use the center.

Bulletins (catalogs)

The Penn State Undergraduate Degree Programs Bulletin, the Undergraduate Bulletin; the Penn State Graduate Degree Programs Bulletin, the Graduate Bulletin. The full names of the bulletins are in italics, as is the partial name of each bulletin on subsequent mention.


Cap on all references.

Students should contact the Bursar’s office before registering.

Registration cannot be completed without prior approval from the Bursar.

Career Services

Formerly Career Development and Placement Services. Located in the Bank of America Career Services Center.

Change of Assignment

When a student moves from one Penn State campus to Penn State University Park, he or she is not transferring, but rather moving from one campus to another within Penn State. Use change-of-assignment to describe the student and relocate or move to in describing the action.

The meeting was scheduled for all change-of-assignment students from Schuylkill and Hazleton campuses.

After two years at the Shenango campus, Mayala moved to Penn State Behrend to complete the program.

Continuing Education

Lowercase continuing education when referring to the function; cap when referring to the unit or program.

She wanted to enroll in the course to further her continuing education efforts. The courses were part of Penn State’s Continuing Education program.

He received credits through Continuing Education at Penn State.

Continuing Education Unit

Continuing Education Units, based on a standard of 1 unit per ten hours of classroom contact, are awarded to participants in some Continuing Education courses. On subsequent reference, use CEU, no periods or spaces. Plural is CEUs, no apostrophe.

Upon completing the course, each participant receives a certificate or record of the 2.0 CEUs earned.

Cooperative Education Program

Cap all three words when full program name is used. Co-op is capped when it refers to Penn State’s Co-op program, but it is lowercased in general and descriptive references (co-op student, co-op assignment).

Copyright Issues

For information or questions on copyright issues, contact the Copyright Clearance Office in the Department of Document Services, 107 Business Services Building, 814-865-2679.

Course Names, Numbers, and Descriptions

Names of courses should be given as they are listed in the appropriate bulletin. Ordinarily, a course name and number appear together in all cases, along with the General Education suffix, if any.

CLASS 033 (GH) Roman Civilization

For course numbers, always use numerals, using zeros to create a three-digit number. The General Education suffix, if any, is part of the course number and should not be omitted; for example, BI SC 001 (GN). To prevent confusion, a course’s name should be listed along with its number; for example, BI SC 001 (GN) Structure and Function of Organisms. Check the most recent edition of the General Education Guidebook or the appropriate bulletin for General Education suffixes and correct course names. This also applies to diversity designations.

Course descriptions (as they appear in the bulletin) should be used with numbers and titles, or readers should be referred to the appropriate bulletin for descriptions.

Note: When used alone, course titles should be set in roman type and capped.

Becky looked forward to her Roman Civilization class.

Credits in, Units of

Always use numerals: 3 credits; 18 credits in history; a 3-credit course; 4 units of English; 1 unit of geometry; 2 units of a foreign language. Also, use numerals when referring to credit hours. Credit is earned in a subject, not of it; therefore, a major may require 25–29 credits in health education, but it does not require 25–29 credits “of” health education. It is the opposite for units: units “of” a subject, not units “in” a subject.

Dean’s List


Department Names

Cap when used as formal name: Department of Art History; lowercase as informal name: the art history department, the department.


Separated by a slash, not a hyphen.


Acronym for Equal Opportunity Planning Committee.


It’s Penn State Extension on first mention; extension, no cap, on subsequent mention.

Faculty: plural or singular?

Faculty, like other collective nouns, is used with the singular form of a verb when considered one unit and the plural form of a verb when considered as a group of individuals.

The faculty insists that students be allowed to speak.

The faculty include distinguished scholars in many fields.

The Farmers’ High School

Penn State was initially incorporated as the Farmers’ High School in 1855, a name given to the institution whose aim was to encourage the application of science to farming.

In 1862 the Farmers’ High School changed its name to the Agricultural College of Pennsylvania; shortly thereafter it was designated the Commonwealth’s sole land-grant institution. In 1874, it became the Pennsylvania State College. In 1953, President Milton S. Eisenhower requested and gained permission to elevate the school to university status as The Pennsylvania State University.

Federal Work-Study Program

Note that there is a hyphen in this name and that it is capped. It can be Work-Study Program in second and later references.

Lowercase work-study when used in a general sense (i.e., not referring to the specific program).


When used to refer to an academic Fellow and when following a personal name, cap on all references.*

Stephanie Smith, a Paterno Fellow, recently completed an internship.

Fellowship, when used as part of the name of a specific fellowship, is capped.

The Bunton-Waller Fellowship works to improve diversity at Penn State.

* Please note the style for this entry differs between the Editorial Standards (for promotional writing) and the University Public Relations Style Guide (for news writing).

Freshman, Freshmen

Avoid this word. It’s part of the perpetuation of language-based stereotypes. Use first-year students to avoid sexism. If it’s impossible NOT to use it, remember that freshmen is the plural, but it’s freshman year, freshman students (as an adjective).

Fundraising or Fundraiser

It is University style for all uses: noun, verb, and adjective; one word, no hyphen


Central Pennsylvania

No cap on central

Centre Region

Includes the borough of State College and the surrounding townships of College, Ferguson, Halfmoon, Harris, and Patton, with a total population of about 72,000.

Penn State University Park latitude and longitude

40°46′ N, 77°53′ W

State Names

When a state name is used in text with a town but no street address, it is spelled out. The student was born and raised in Erie, Pennsylvania.

When a state name is used as part of a mailing address, use the two-letter post office abbreviation.

Send applications to 2237 E 23rd St/Amarillo TX 79103.

Do not use the two-letter post office abbreviations in lists, tables, notes, bibliographies, or indexes. For the correct abbreviations to use in these cases, see section 10.27 of the Chicago Manual.

United States/U.S.

Spell out when used as a noun; abbreviate when used as an adjective. After their move, they spent a lot of time adjusting to the United States. U.S. policy in Europe was the topic of discussion.

University Park campus

Penn State University Park is located in the borough of State College and surrounding townships. University Park is the name of the post office substation for use in mail addressed to the University Park campus, but is not, itself, a geographic location. Therefore, the University Park campus or things or events occurring there should not be described as located in University Park, Pennsylvania, because such a place does not exist. They should be described as being on the Penn State University Park campus.

Use of comma with state names

Use a comma before and after a state name when it’s used with a town or city name in text.

We were passing through Herkimer, New York, when we discovered that the tire was going flat.

General Education

Uppercase when referring to the University’s program.

Grade-point average

Hyphenate grade-point average. Avoid abbreviating this if you can, in the interest of reducing “alphabet soup” in language. But if you can’t resist the urge, use GPA (all caps, no periods).

Graduate School

Uppercase on all mentions that refer to Penn State’s Graduate School. Lowercase when using it in a general sense or for graduate schools at other colleges and universities.


Cap when formal name of campus program (e.g., Campus Honors program; Penn State Mont Alto Honors program). Lowercase in informal use (honors program, honors student, honors courses).

Housing and Food Services Contract

Cap as shown.

HUB-Robeson Center

Opened in 1999 when the Hetzel Union Building was expanded to include the Paul Robeson Cultural Center. Use full name on all references.


The Morrill Land Grant Act set forth goals for land-grant universities.

Penn State is a land-grant university.

Mailing and Addressing

For detailed information on mail services and guidelines for incoming and outgoing mail, please visit the Mail Services section on the Multimedia & Print Center website.

National anthem

“The Star-Spangled Banner” can be cited in event programs, such as for commencement or athletic events, where the anthem will be played. The official text version to be used is from the Smithsonian National Museum of American History and National Archives:

The Star-Spangled Banner

O say can you see, by the dawn’s early light,
What so proudly we hail’d at the twilight’s last gleaming,
Whose broad stripes and bright stars through the perilous fight
O’er the ramparts we watch’d were so gallantly streaming?
And the rocket’s red glare, the bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there,
O say does that star-spangled banner yet wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave?

Nittany Lion Shrine

Cap when using full name. Lowercase shrine when using alone.


The rules for numbers vary for marketing and news materials. For guidelines on numbers as they relate to Penn State News, see the University Public Relations Style Guide. For guidelines on numbers as they relate to marketing materials, follow these guidelines:

Numbers or words?

Spell out numbers lower than 100 in nonscientific text. If a number higher than 100 is rounded off or approximated, spell it out in nonscientific copy. Otherwise, 100 and higher are numerals, in text.

For charts and graphs, use numerals. See the Chicago Manual for examples and more information.

Treat numbers in the same sentence alike: If there’s a three-figure numeral in the sentence, make all the numbers figures, as long as the figures all relate to the same items.

The students collected 114 books for the sale, 12 of which were first editions. Having four meetings made it possible for the fifteen committee members to collect 160 used books.

—Ages should be expressed in numerals. (This is University style, not Chicago Manual style.)

I have an 11-year-old daughter and a 10-year-old son.
The student was 35 when he received his doctorate.
However: Dr. Foley celebrated her fortieth birthday.

—Use either a figure or a word—not both: five rooms, not five (5) rooms. Exception: If the information may be confusing without both word and numeral to the audience it is meant to reach.

—Use the up-to-100-spelled-out/higher-than-100-numeral rule for ordinal numbers (first, second, forty-fifth, eighty-ninth, 120th, 223rd, etc.). This applies to numbered street names as well: Fifth Avenue, Twenty-Third Street.

Office Names

This tends to be tricky, so judge on the basis of keeping users/readers from being confused. Cap the formal name of the office, but lowercase when used informally.

Jason had an appointment in the Office of Student Aid.

Carmen was late leaving the student aid office.

Option, Major, Program

For specific options that are part of specific Penn State programs, capitalize the name of the option, but not the word option: Actuarial Mathematics option; Athletic Training option. This follows the same logic as University style does for program or major specific to Penn State: Music major; Biology program. Remember that a field of study is not capped (majoring in engineering) but a specific Penn State degree program is (majoring in Architectural Engineering Technology).


Generally, lowercase: orientation; orientation week; orientation programs. Formal names for orientation come and go; if using formal name, cap per the formal name.

Outreach and Online Education

Encompasses the following units: World Campus (online education), Continuing Education, Professional and Community Education, and Public Media

Penn State Global

Penn State Global has four subsections: General Administration, Planning and Partnerships, Education Abroad, International Student & Scholar Advising, and Student Engagement.

Penn State Health

On first reference, use Penn State Health. On subsequent references, “the health system” may be used if it is the only health system mentioned in a piece of copy. It should never be shortened on subsequent references and should not be abbreviated.

Penn State Press

Full name is The Pennsylvania State University Press, but the preferred usage is Penn State Press. Also known as the University Press.

Penn State Songs

Lyrics to the “Alma Mater,” Fred Lewis Pattee; “Fight on State,” Joe Sanders ’15; “The Nittany Lion,” J. A. Leyden ’14 can be found on the Penn State Blue Band site.


All caps. Acronym for the Pennsylvania Technical Assistance Program, Penn State’s statewide technical outreach network.

Recreational facilities

Recreation Building (Rec Hall on subsequent reference); Intramural Building (IM Building on subsequent reference)


Cap on all references.

Students should check with the Registrar before enrolling.

Contact the Registrar’s office for more information.

Residence Hall; Resident Assistant; Resident Instruction

Use residence hall, not dormitory.

It’s resident assistant on first mention and RA, no periods, as an abbreviation on subsequent mention. Plural of RA is RAs, no apostrophe.

Lowercase resident instruction.

Room Numbers and Building Names

Use the room number and building name, as follows:

121 Wagner Building on first mention;
121 Wagner on subsequent mention.

If a building name is used without a room number, use the word Building, Lab, or the equivalent on every reference, and cap: Schwab Auditorium; Moore Building.


Styling URLs, site names, hyperlinks, menus

In printed materials

URLs should be set in boldface in text to help them stand out visually, such as:

For more information, see www.psu.edu or call 814-865-4700.

There is a growing trend toward dropping the “www” in URL references, both because it is assumed to be part of the prefix and because most browsers automatically include it. In general, we recommend following this trend. However, there may be exceptions in cases where the URL will not work if the “www” is not inserted as part of the address. Use your best judgment and treat each case as practical considerations demand. Test URLs to be sure.

Names of websites should be capped as appropriate and set in Roman type.

See Penn State News for details of the event.
The football schedule is posted at GoPSUsports.

URLs should be in boldface/ names of hyperlinks and buttons should be italicized.

For more information, visit www.psu.edu/admissions and click Contact Us. Click Log In under the My Admissions heading.

Go to bulletins.psu.edu/undergrad and click on the Intercollege Programs button.

See www.psu.edu, click on Campuses and Colleges and then on the name of the college you want to explore.

Names of drop-down menus should be set in quote marks.

From the “Degrees and Minors” menu, select the specific program in which you are interested.

In online materials

Use live links whenever possible if you are comfortable with sending users off your website. If possible, make the link open in a new window or tab so that the user will stay on the original page and have access to the linked page. Use current best practices as a guide for displaying hyperlinks in your content.

Penn State THON™

The familiar reference, Penn State THON™ (call caps), should be used in articles or documents circulated to the public. In official documents and contracts, the formal reference Penn State IFC/Panhellenic Dance Marathon is appropriate. THON™ can be used in continuous mentions in external documents.

Trademarks include: THON™; For the Kids™; FTK®

For guidelines regarding the use of trademark symbols in text, consult Section 8.152 of The Chicago Manual of Style Online.

Penn State World Campus

On first reference: Penn State World Campus; thereafter, World Campus.


University should be capped any time it refers to Penn State. Do not cap university if the reference is a general one, even if Penn State is in the same sentence.

Penn State is an affirmative action, equal opportunity university.

When students leave for semester break, they usually return to the University three weeks later.

State College residents strive to build a pleasant university community.

University Faculty Senate

On first reference; on all subsequent references, faculty senate (lowercase).

University Health Services

University Health Services on first mention; health services thereafter.

University Libraries

It’s University Libraries on first mention; the Libraries thereafter. For a specific library, on first mention use the library name and cap Library with it: Pattee Library. Lowercase library when using the word by itself on subsequent references.


It’s University-wide, hyphenated, but it’s statewide, nationwide, and just about every other “-wide”; spelled solid. University-wide is hyphenated as an adjective before a noun, but two words as an adverb or after a noun.

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University Brand Review (UBR) Process

The Office of Strategic Communications, in collaboration with unit representatives, spearheads the associated University Brand Review (UBR) process and guidelines. The UBR process leverages toolkits and best practices designed to empower University communicators to serve as brand stewards, who are charged with upholding brand, editorial, and accessibility standards within their units. These updated guidelines replace the previous University Editor (U.Ed.) process and address branding and editorial standards in all current formats (e.g., print, web, digital, social, etc.). They also provide more clarity about the review process.

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University Statements

The University requires certain statements on various types of marketing and promotional materials. The Office of Equal Opportunity and Access provides guidelines on the following statements:

  • Nondiscrimination Statement
  • Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Statement
  • Accommodation Statement

Current statements should be accessed via the Penn State Office of Equal Opportunity and Access.

For information on statements required on University websites, see Penn State policy AD-54.

Campus Security Crime Statistics

The “Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Campus Crime Statistics Act of 1998,” commonly referred to as the “Clery Act,” requires institutions of higher education receiving federal financial aid to report specified crime statistics on college campuses and areas within the same reasonably contiguous geographic area of college campuses, and to provide other safety and crime information to members of the campus community.

Communicators may wish to include the following statement explaining the availability of campus security crime statistics on marketing materials intended for prospective students:

CAMPUS SECURITY CRIME STATISTICS: Pursuant to the Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Campus Crime Statistics Act and the Pennsylvania Act of 1988, Penn State publishes a combined Annual Security and Annual Fire Safety Report (ASR). The ASR includes crime statistics and institutional policies concerning campus security, such as those related to alcohol and drug use, crime prevention, the reporting of crimes, sexual assault, and other matters. The ASR is available for review at https://police.psu.edu/annual-security-reports.

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As a general style guide for preparing promotional communications, use the most recent edition of The Chicago Manual of Style. For guidelines specific to Penn State information, use this set of editorial standards.

For Penn State News stories, consult the University Public Relations Style Guide as well as Associated Press Stylebook.

Materials that may be helpful to you in preparing University communications include:

Penn State Resources

Other Resources

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Student walk by a rock garden