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Visual & Editorial Standards | Editorial Style

Editorial Style Manual

The Department of University Publications is charged with setting University editorial style and keeping publications consistent so that they present a positive image of the University. Editorial style helps all divisions, departments, and offices present a unified, logical picture to the public through the materials they produce. The University’s style guidelines, although flexible, are to be followed as much as possible in the interest of a unified University image.

The Editorial Style Manual is to be used as a tool when preparing manuscripts, whether for publication or presentations. It is especially useful for helping to ensure that Penn State titles, campuses, etc., are used in a consistent manner across the University.

The style points raised in the Editorial Style Manual are guidelines, not rules chiseled in stone. Each guideline must be applied to each case and the judgment of the writers and editors is a part of that application. The guidelines were created for a purpose and, in the interest of supporting the University as a whole and helping readers easily understand printed material, all divisions, departments, and offices should strive to follow them. The manual, however, also includes some rules of grammar and punctuation that are just that—rules—and they should not be arbitrarily changed.

If you have questions about or suggestions for the Editorial Style Manual, please contact Beverly Molnar, senior editor/writer, 814-863-1870.


As a general style guide for preparing promotional communications, use the most recent edition of The Chicago Manual of Style. For points of style specific to the University, use this manual. The index in this manual should enable you to find entries with relative ease.

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

  • Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, current edition (spelling, hyphenation, foreign words and phrases, geographical names, biographical names, signs and symbols, brief style guide)
  • Webster’s New World Dictionary of Computer Terms
  • Penn State's faculty/staff telephone directory
  • Penn State's Undergraduate Degree Programs Bulletin and Graduate Degree Programs Bulletin (academic and general information) and Schedule of Courses (course and schedule information)
  • American Universities and Colleges from the American Council on Education (names and locations, other detailed information on American universities and colleges)
  • International Handbook of Universities
  • Standard & Poor’s Register of Corporations
  • Directory of Corporate Affiliations
  • International Directory of Corporate Affiliations
  • The Elements of Internet Style by the editors of EEI Press

NOTE: Throughout this manual, italics are used (per University style) to signify words that are the subject of the entries. The italics DO NOT mean that those words should be printed in italics in normal use. The italics are meant only to set off specific words within the context of each entry.


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