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Style Guide

Editorial Standards

About these Editorial Standards

Note: Minor updates were made to these Standards on April 20, 2010. A comprehensive update will be forthcoming.

Which is it: Mid Hudson, Mid-Hudson, mid-Hudson or mid Hudson? Department of X or X department? e-mail, E-mail or email?

Does it matter? Well, yes, it does. Stylistic consistency lets the reader concentrate on the content without being distracted by variations in spelling and punctuation from one page to the next. And it's an invaluable tool for editors, who often edit material intended for a single publication, but written by several people.

A style guide prevents editors from having to reinvent a rule every time a new publication or a new writer comes along. And adhering to an agreed-upon style gives each campus publication a "voice" that harmonizes with those from other departments, schools and colleges.

We all have individual preferences: in dress, in food, in how we write. The reason we have style rules is to ensure consistency from page to page, article to article, publication to publication. And although freedom of expression might certainly be enhanced if we all spelled and punctuated as the spirit moved us, the goal of communication would be poorly served. Like every other style guide in existence, the New Paltz Editorial Style Guide is an agreedupon set of rules and conventions that we hope will make your job as writer or editor a little easier.

This style guide serves as a supplement to two principal, widely circulated style guides: the Associated Press Stylebook and Libel Manual (Associated Press, New York, N.Y.) and The Chicago Manual of Style (The University of Chicago Press, Chicago, Ill.). It was developed after reviewing style guides at several universities and, to a large extent, follows the design and layout of the UC Davis style guide.

In general, this style guide looks to the AP Stylebook for guidance in word usage, spelling, grammar, capitalization, and use of corporate names and trademarks, while Chicago serves as a reference for academic and professional titles, word breaks and most punctuation. The dictionary of record for Public Affairs is Webster's Collegiate Dictionary, Tenth Edition (Merriam-Webster Inc., Springfield, Mass.). It should be consulted after first checking this guide and the Associated Press Stylebook for spelling and hyphenation.

Audience composition, ease in usage and, above all, consistency were the factors that determined which style to follow. In some cases, compromises were struck involving style recommendations of two or more sources. Several New Paltz eccentricities and a few self-styled peculiarities also found their way into this guide.

Like the language itself, this style guide is in a state of flux. And although its objective is to resolve conflict and reduce confusion, this style guide almost certainly will provide fuel for further disagreement on some points and may worsen confusion on others. If so, give us a call and let's talk style.

In today's world, printed reference materials date quickly. Regular updates to this style guide will be included in this online version.