Branding Standards Guide

Commonly Used Words

Arranged alphabetically, these sections include spelling, usage, punctuation and capitalization notes for specific words and phrases commonly used in the CSU. An entry without an explanation is simply to indicate the correct spelling of a word or words.


data: Data can be used with a singular verb (the data is correct) or a plural verb (the data are derived from several reports) so long as it is used consistently in the document.

database (one word)

dates (see Numerals section)

days of the week: Do not abbreviate in text. (The Monday staff meeting has been postponed.)

decades: The first preference is to spell out the decade (the nineties), or use the full four numbers (the 1990s). Use the abbreviated two-digit form (the ’80s) only in informal copy and when the century is clear. Use an apostrophe to indicate numerals omitted (the ’80s). Add an s only for plurals (the 1990s). Include all four digits when using mid (the mid-1960s).When indicating a period of time that includes the last part of one decade (or century) and the first part of another, use four digits for both of the defining years (1989-1990; 1999-2000), except in tables and charts; however, 1998-99 and 2000-01 are correct.

decision making (noun)/decision-making (adj.): Examples: Now is the time for decision making. It is decision-making time.

directions: Lowercase compass directions. (He drove north to Oregon.) Well-known regions are capitalized (the South, the Far East, the West Coast). Also see Capitalization section, California Geographic Terms.

doctoral/doctorate: Doctoral is an adjective (doctoral program); doctorate is the degree received.

Dr.: Use of the title Dr. in text for a person with a PhD or EdD is optional. Please note: For consistency, if Dr. is used in a document to refer to a person with an EdD or PhD, all people in the document with PhDs must also have the title Dr. It is incorrect to use both Dr. and EdD or PhD (Dr. George A. Chung or George A. Chung, PhD is correct. Never write Dr. George A. Chung, PhD.)

Dream Act / Dreamer: See The California Dream Act


each other/one another: Each other refers to two individuals; one another refers to more than two people. (José and Ashley understand each other very well. The five team members need to meet with one another and develop a plan.) The possessive forms are each other’s (not each others’) and one another’s (not one anothers’).

EdD: The EdD is the doctoral degree in education.

Education Code: See California Education Code in B-C section.

e.g./i.e.: E.g. means for example; i.e. means that is or in other words. Use periods after each letter; set off both with commas, but do not italicize. Use e.g. when providing examples. (We are working on several projects, e.g., the annual report, the conference and the program for teachers.) Use i.e. when rephrasing a statement to make it more understandable. (The Executive Council, i.e., the chancellor, vice chancellors and other system administrators, met Tuesday morning.)

-elect: Hyphenate and lowercase (President-elect Pham was there. The president-elect looks tired.)

e-mail: Keep the hyphen. Use e-mail except at the beginning of a sentence, in a title or headline, or as part of an address, when the e should be capitalized (E-mail:

emerita, emeritus, emeriti: Emerita refers to a woman, emeritus to a man and emeriti to a mixed group or a group of either sex. The emeritus designation follows the main title, as in professor emeritus, trustees emeriti, President Emerita Anne Williams. It is not necessary to italicize. Capitalize when part of a formal title that immediately precedes or follows a name. (Robert Garcia, Trustee Emeritus, spoke at the dinner.) (See Capitalization section, Titles with Personal Names.)

ensure: See assure.

entitled/titled: Entitled means the right to something. (He was entitled to the promotion.) Titled refers to the name of a book, poem, etc. (The book is titled Of Mice and Men.)

etc.: Avoid overusing etc., as it adds no information. If you do use etc., it should be set off by a comma or a pair of commas if used mid-sentence as part of a list. (Brochures, posters, advertisements, etc., have been created.)

ethnicity and race: Current preference for the names of non-European ethnic groups is without hyphens (African American, Asian American, Mexican American). Categories are generally bureaucratically derived, such as for state or federal reports.

ex officio (two words, no hyphen, no italics, not capitalized in text). This phrase means by virtue of office or position. (The chancellor is an ex officio member of the CSU Board of Trustees.) Do capitalize (Ex Officio) when part of a listing, such as for committee members in the Board of Trustees’ Agenda.


faculty/faculty member: Faculty refers to an institution’s entire instructional staff and takes a singular verb. (The CSU faculty is having a planning meeting.) Its plural is faculties. In referring to an individual, use faculty member. For a group of individuals numbering less than the entire faculty, use faculty members. If referring to a distinct group, use the plural. (The anthropology faculty are conducting a dig.)

farther/further: Farther refers to physical distance. (How much farther to the city?) Further refers to extent or degree. (We must take further steps to ensure that this does not happen again.)

FAQ: Acronym for Frequently Asked Questions. Do not add an “s”.

fax: Acceptable short version for the noun facsimile (not FAX). It is not a verb. Use: Send me a fax, not “please fax me.” Capitalize when used as part of an address listing [FAX: (562) 555-5515].

federal: Lowercase unless part of the proper name (Federal Aviation Administration; federal grants).

fee waiver

fewer/less: Fewer refers to things that can be counted. (We invited six fewer people this year.) Less refers to quantities that are not counted individually. (I have less stamina than you.) Less also can be used for degree, quantity or extent when countable items are not being considered individually. (We have less than 10 miles to go.)

fieldwork (one word)

first-come, first-served

first-hand (adj.)/first hand (adv.): Examples: We had first-hand information. He learned first hand.

foreign terms: Italicize words that have not been incorporated into everyday English use. If the word is in a standard English dictionary, it is common enough not to need italics. When using an obscure foreign term more than once in an article, second and later appearances should not be italicized.

freshman/freshmen: Use freshman when referring to one first-year student, freshmen when referring to more than one. Use freshman as a modifier; it is not freshmen dorms any more than it is juniors dorms.

FTE/FTEF/FTES: Do not use just FTE. It is either FTEF (Full-time Equivalent Faculty) or FTES (Full-time Equivalent Students).

full-time/full time: Hyphenate when this term precedes the noun; do not hyphenate when it follows. (She has a full-time job. She attends school full time.)

fundraising/fundraiser: Use as one word, with no hyphen in all uses. (Her job involves fundraising. The fundraising committee worked hard. A fundraiser was hired. A fundraiser was held.) If part of a proper name, use the organization’s preference.

FY: Spell out fiscal year when first referenced in text. For subsequent references, use FY.