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Editorial Style Guide

The University Marketing Council monitors all Old Dominion University publications and advertisements to ensure they project a consistent editorial and graphic identity that upholds a dignified image of the university.

These editorial guidelines will assist authors and editors on campus, and anyone who prepares communications for and about the university. A style guide simplifies the guesswork when preparing copy for publication, and a consistent style projects a more professional image of Old Dominion University.

This style guide gives specific information about Old Dominion University's preferences for copy, treatment of titles and degrees, campus descriptions and buildings. It contains exceptions to the Associated Press Stylebook, as well as other academic style formats, such as MLA and APA guides and the Chicago Manual of Style. When conflicts arise, the ODU style manual takes priority.

The Associated Press Stylebook is the backbone reference used by Old Dominion University for communications to an external audience. If the AP Stylebook doesn't address a topic, the preferred first source is Webster's New World College Dictionary.

Our Name

"Old Dominion University" should be called by its formal name upon first reference and have a prominent place in the publication. "Old Dominion" or "the University" is acceptable in subsequent references. Restrained use of "ODU" is permissible.


  • The College of Arts and Letters (Arts and Letters)
  • The College of Business and Public Administration (College of Business)
  • Darden College of Education (College of Education or Darden College)
  • Frank Batten College of Engineering and Technology (Batten College or College of Engineering)
  • The College of Health Sciences
  • The College of Sciences

Our Mission

Old Dominion's mission has several important goals that can be included in text: With its main campus residing in metropolitan Hampton Roads, the university is "a dynamic public research institution that serves its students and enriches the Commonwealth of Virginia, the nation and the world through rigorous academic programs, strategic partnerships and active civic engagement."

Enrollment/Degree Programs

These are always changing. From the ODU home page, click "About ODU" then "University Facts & Figures" for the latest official numbers.

University Description

(from Old Dominion's vision statement):
"Old Dominion University will be recognized nationally and internationally as a forward-focused metropolitan university with a collaborative and innovative approach to education and research that spurs economic growth, focuses on student success, engages civic and community partners, and uses its connections with the military and maritime industries and its exceptional strengths and leadership in related areas to provide practical solutions to complex, real-world problems."

Or in condensed form, expressed by University President John R. Broderick:
"That the university be recognized as one of the nation's pre-eminent metropolitan research universities by contributing to all aspects of life in Hampton Roads."

University Location

Old Dominion University's main campus is located in Norfolk, Va., in the metropolitan Hampton Roads region of coastal Virginia. Depending on the audience, you may want to add the university operates regional higher education centers in Virginia Beach, Tri-Cities and on the Peninsula and reaches students at all points of the globe through the Teletechnet distance learning network.

Other Campus Descriptors

"Old Dominion's campus is situated on more than 251 acres bounded on two sides by the Elizabeth and Lafayette rivers. The northern section of the campus is the oldest portion, consisting of shaded brick walkways and stately buildings, while the southern end of the campus features newer academic buildings which line an eight-acre lawn."

In addition, depending on your audience, please note that to the west, Whitehurst residence hall sits along the Elizabeth River waterfront, adjacent to the university sailing center, with a front-row seat to spectacular sunsets and a passing parade of maritime activity. Bring your binoculars!

University Village Reference

On the east side of campus is University Village, a 75-acre expansion area with classroom buildings, student apartments, the Ted Constant Convocation Center, theaters, an art museum, a research park, the University bookstore, shops and restaurants, parking and a hotel.

A Quick Look at Style



Capitalize "University" in many cases when referring to Old Dominion University, but not when referring to universities in general. When the university acts like a person, and in formal uses (commencement), capitalize "the University." When "university" is used as a place or as an adjective, it takes the lowercase treatment.


  1. Old Dominion University is a dynamic public research institution located in Norfolk, Va. The university is situated on 251 acres . . .
  2. The University today petitioned the General Assembly to recognize its need for additional state funding.
  3. If you want to attend a university that has a profoundly multicultural student body and faculty, Old Dominion University is the place for you.


The preferred style is lowercase, following the name of the person, set off by commas. For example, "John R. Broderick, Old Dominion University's eighth president" or "President John R. Broderick" when preceding the name of the person.


Preferred style is to describe the faculty member's rank and discipline after the name: "John B. Ford, professor of marketing, and Qiu Jin, associate professor of history." Use uppercase "Professor" (or Associate Professor, or Assistant Professor) when it comes before the name of a faculty member.

Academic Degrees/Departments

Bachelor's degree: Should not be capitalized as in "bachelor of science (B.S.)/bachelor of arts (B.A.)." May use capitalized "BA" or "BS" with or without periods as long as they are consistently referred to this way throughout the text.

Master's degree: Should not be capitalized as in "master of science (M.S.) in chemistry or master of arts (M.A.) in history." May use "MS" or "MA" with or without periods as long as they are consistently referred to in this way throughout the document.

Doctoral degree: At Old Dominion, faculty who hold a doctoral degree are generally identified by their academic ranking on the first reference (see Professor above). Another choice includes "John Jones, Ph.D.," to avoid confusion with the title "Dr." which, in print, most often refers to a medical doctor, dentist or veterinarian. Do not capitalize "doctorate in psychology."

Several programs award educational specialist or graduate certificates in specialized areas of study.

If necessary to list a person's degree, list only the highest degree earned and any relevant professional designation. Do not add the word "degree" after an abbreviation of the degree.

  • She earned her Ph.D. in English this fall.
  • Karen Karlowicz, EdD, RN

Degree programs: Degree programs should not be capitalized when used within text unless the program is a proper noun.


  • Samantha Salvia, Old Dominion's first Rhodes Scholar, is a 1996 graduate in civil and environmental engineering.
  • Old Dominion offers bachelor's degrees in African American and Asian studies.

Abbreviations & Acronyms

Use abbreviations and acronyms only after the formal name has been mentioned. If a program is named only once in text, do not put its acronym in parentheses after the program.


  • Virginia Modeling, Analysis & Simulation Center (VMASC)
  • Center for Coastal Physical Oceanography (CCPO)
  • Computing and Communications Services (OCCS)
  • Mills Godwin Life Sciences Building (MGB)
  • Batten Arts and Letters Building (BAL)


  • Advisor/adviser: "Advisor" may be used for internal/academic references to describe an academic counselor. "Adviser" is used for distribution to an external audience (exception to AP Stylebook).
  • Accessibility Services - A simple word change expresses our intent to assist the disabled in getting an education.
  • Classes, courses - Uppercase when referring to specific programs: CHEM 117, Foundations of Chemistry
  • Email (no hyphen)
  • Names
    • Leo Online
    • Norfolk Division of the College of William and Mary - ODU's founding name in
      • The Norfolk Division of William and Mary; the Norfolk Division
    • Preview - ODU's name for orientation
    • Ted Constant Convocation Center, on first reference. Then the Constant Center or Convocation Center. Students also call it "The Ted."
    • Teletechnet

Nondiscriminatory Language

Old Dominion University supports the use of inclusive language, avoiding words that contain discriminatory connotations. Replace the following terms with these suggested alternatives:

chairman chair, chairperson, departmental chair
best man for the job best candidate
manned the booth staffed the booth
man-made synthetic
foreigner international student
foreman supervisor
craftsman artisan, designer

To avoid a "student he/she" construction, you may directly address the student ("you") or use plural

  • Ex: Students must speak with their faculty advisor to drop a course after the deadline.


Spell out whole numbers below 10; use figures for 10 and above. Use the same rule for ordinals.

  • Ex: There are five starters on a basketball team; 11 per side for football teams.
  • First Amendment; 26th Amendment gave 18-year-olds the right to vote in federal elections

Serial Comma

In keeping with the AP Stylebook, ODU does not use the serial comma.

  • Ex: Trumpets, trombones and tubas
  • A combination of discipline, brutally honest advice and down-home humor


Spell out when state names stand alone.

Use AP abbreviations when city and state are used; use U.S. Postal Service two-letter abbreviations for mailing addresses and ZIP code.

  • Washington, D.C.

Ex: state abbreviations (postal codes are in parentheses)

  • Ala. (AL)
  • Ariz. (AZ)
  • Ark. (AR)
  • Calif. (CA)
  • Colo. (CO)
  • Conn. (CT)
  • Del. (DE)
  • Fla. (FL)
  • Ga. (GA)
  • Ill. (IL)
  • Ind. (IN)
  • Kan. (KS)
  • Ky. (KY)
  • La. (LA)
  • Md. (MD)
  • Mass. (MA)
  • Mich. (MI)
  • Minn. (MN)
  • Miss. (MS)
  • Mo. (MO)
  • Mont. (MT)
  • Neb. (NE)
  • Nev. (NV)
  • N.H. (NH)
  • N.J. (NJ)
  • N.M. (NM)
  • N.Y. (NY)
  • N.C. (NC)
  • N.D. (ND)
  • Okla. (OK)
  • Ore. (OR)
  • Pa. (PA)
  • R.I. (RI)
  • S.C. (SC)
  • S.D. (SD)
  • Tenn. (TN)
  • Vt. (VT)
  • Va. (VA)
  • Wash. (WA)
  • W.Va. (WV)
  • Wis. (WI)
  • Wyo. (WY)

These states are not abbreviated in text:

  • Alaska (AK)
  • Hawaii (HI)
  • Idaho (ID)
  • Iowa (IA)
  • Maine (ME)
  • Ohio (OH)
  • Texas (TX)
  • Utah (UT)

Theater, Theatre

"Theater" is preferred; however, ODU uses "theatre" in several cases:

  • Department of Communication and Theatre Arts
  • Old Dominion University Theatre


Midnight, not 12 a.m. (reduces confusion)

Noon, not 12 p.m. (ditto)

9 a.m. to 4 p.m.; 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.


Books that are not reference books are set off with quotation marks

Magazines, newspapers, journals and reference books--no italics or quotation marks

Radio and TV shows are put inside quotation marks


  • "A Mathematical Nature Walk" by John Adam
  • Time magazine, The New York Times
  • "Car Talk" on NPR
  • MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers

Under way

Two words in nearly all uses. May be one word when used in a nautical sense.


  • Phase II construction on University Village is under way.
  • Sailors can begin classes while underway through the Ships @ Sea program.

United States

U.S. (with periods) when used as a noun or adjective


One word, lowercase: website, webcam, webcast

But Web page, two words, uppercase "W"