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.


teachers college (no apostrophe): Do not uppercase unless it is the formal name of a college of education, such as Teachers College in New York City, which is affiliated with Columbia University.

team-teach (team-taught): This verb form is hyphenated, but team teaching (noun) is not.

that/which: That defines and restricts and is used to introduce an essential (restrictive) clause; which is a clause that cannot be eliminated without changing the meaning of the sentence. It serves to identify the noun preceding it. It is not set off from the rest of the sentence with commas. (Catcher in the Rye is a book that meant a lot to me when I was a teenager.) Which is used to introduce a nonessential clause, which is a clause that can be eliminated without changing the meaning of the sentence, and must be set off by commas. The clause serves to add information rather than to define or limit what has gone before. (Catcher in the Rye, which meant a lot to me when I was 16, is still enjoyed by teenage readers.)

theater: Use this spelling unless the proper name includes Theatre. If referring to a specific program at one of the campuses, use that campus’s preference.

time (a.m., p.m.): Except for schedules or agendas, use 2 p.m. rather than 2:00 p.m. (We will meet at 1 p.m. to discuss the program.) However, if any of the times include minutes (2:15 p.m.), include minutes for all times. (The first meeting was scheduled at 3:15 p.m. and the second at 4:00 p.m.) In text, say from 2:15 to 2:45 p.m., not “from 2:15-2:45 p.m.”

Title 5 (not Title V)

total, totaled, totaling: The phrase a total of can be wordy and often redundant but is sometimes used to avoid starting a sentence with a figure. (A total of 75 students were enrolled.)

toward (not “towards,” which is the British spelling)


underway (one word)

United States/U.S.: Spell out United States when used as a noun, unless cramped for room. U.S. (periods, no space) is acceptable as an adjective or as part of an organization’s name. (We live in the United States. The U.S. flag is a grand old flag.)

unique: Unique means one of a kind. There are no degrees of uniqueness—something cannot be most unique or more unique.

university-wide: Hyphenated. See -wide suffix entry.


Veterans Affairs, Veterans Day (no apostrophe)

vice president, vice chancellor (no hyphen)

videocassette, videoconferencing, videodisc, videotape (one word, but audio and video tapes)


Washington, D.C.: Use periods and set off with commas on both sides when used in text. (He was in Washington, D.C., over the holiday.) Do not use periods when used as part of an address. (Please send to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, Washington, DC 20500.)

Web: Use the uppercase w when referring to the World Wide Web.

Web page (uppercase w, two words)

webmaster (lowercase w, one word)

website: (lowercase; one word)

well-being (hyphenated)

-wide (suffix):Hyphenate suffix when base word is three or more syllables, such as university-wide but campuswide, systemwide, statewide.

Wi-Fi: abbreviation for wireless networking

workforce (one word)

workplace (one word)

workstation (one word)

work study: Hyphenate when used as an adjective preceding a noun (our work-study program); do not hyphenate when used as a noun (We have work study available). If a proper noun, use the program’s preference (Federal Work-Study).

World Wide Web

worldwide (one word as adjective or adverb)


years: Use four digits when naming a year in text. (We had more students in 1998 than in 1997.) If the time period you are describing encompasses years that are in the same century, it is not necessary to include all four digits in the second year. (The data from 2006-07 show that we had more students than in 2000-10. The 2008-09 annual report is complete.) If the years are in different centuries, use all four digits for both years. (The report includes data from 1999-2000.)


ZIP code (not zip code, Zip Code, or Zip code)