Editorial Style Guide

This style guide is intended to help maintain consistent usage across Law Center publications; for instance in the way we designate a graduation year (L'06), list a telephone number, use hyphens, etc. As a general rule, our magazines and other publications follow the Associated Press (AP) Stylebook. For spelling questions, refer to the American Heritage Dictionary. It and many other reference books can be found online at:

NOTE on Proofreading
If you are proofreading or editing a project, either for our Publications team or for your own department, using the standard proofreading marks will help make your corrections clear and understandable. For a list of standardized proofreading marks, go to:

The guidelines presented below concern legal terms, University and Law Center terminology, deviations from AP style, and words that are frequently misused or confused.

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abbreviations and acronyms
You may follow an organization's full name with an abbreviation or acronym in parentheses. Subsequent references may use only the acronym or abbreviation. The exceptions are certain organizations that are so commonly referred to by acronym that they need no explanation: FBI, CIA, ACLU, ABA , CNN (see acronyms)

academic degrees
For J.D. degrees at the Law Center, use:
    First name Last name (L'##)
For LL.M. degrees at the Law Center, use:
    First name Last name (LL.M.'##)
For joint degrees with the Law Center, use:
    First name Last name (Degree, L'##) e.g.: Joe Smith (M.S.F.S., L'05)
For undergraduate degrees and non-law graduate degrees at Georgetown University, specify as follows (not a complete list):
    Georgetown College (C'##)
    McDonough School of Business (B'##)
    School of Nursing & Health Studies (N'##)
    Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service (F'##)
    School of Medicine (M'##)
For any graduate degree other than those shown above: (G'##)
For honorary degrees: (H'##)
When referring to the acquisition of an academic degree, say "earned" and not "obtained." For example, "he earned his J.D. in 1978."

academic years
For general use of academic years, use parentheses. For example, "John Deere (L'83) was born in Richmond."

Here is a list of how some acronyms relating to the Law Center or to legal practice are listed with or without periods in our publications. Most of these should be spelled out on first reference, then referred to by acronym in subsequent references (see abbreviations). Some of these are different from AP style but have been established by use in our magazine and other publications.

ABA American Bar Association
CLE Continuing Legal Education
E.U. European Union
IIEL The Institute of International Economic Law
OGP Office of Graduate Programs
OPICS Office of Public Interest and Community Service
J.D. Juris Doctor
LAWA Leadership and Advocacy for Women in Africa
LL.M. Master of Laws
S.J. Society of Jesus
S.J.D. Doctor of Juridical Science
U.N. United Nations
U.S. United States (adjective only)

Use the abbreviations Ave., Blvd., and St. only with a numbered address. Spell them when part of a formal street name without a number. Also abbreviate north, south, east, and west when used in a numbered street address. When used in a numbered address, omit the periods in "DC" (for all other uses of D.C., see that entry under "D.C.").

When referring to the Law Center's address, always spell out "Avenue," but use "NW":
Georgetown University Law Center
600 New Jersey Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20001

affect, effect
"Affect" as a verb means to influence. "Affect" as a noun means an emotion or feeling.
"Effect" as a verb means to cause. "Effect" as a noun means result.

Not "afterwards."

Always hyphenate.

Use figures. Ages expressed as adjectives before a noun or as a substitute for a noun should be hyphenated: "a 5-year-old boy" and "She is 5 years old."

alphabetical order
Alphabetize lists if there is no hierarchical or other significance to the order.

alumnus, alumni; alumna, alumnae
Use "alumnus" when referring to a man; use "alumni" when referring to a group of men. Use "alumna" for similar references to a woman or "alumnae" for a group of women. Use "alumni" when referring to a group of men and women.

American Bar Association
Can refer to it by its ABA acronym on first reference. (See acronyms)

a.m., p.m.
Use lowercase and periods.

Apostrophes indicate possession ("Bob's book") or a contraction ("they're reading"), not plurals (never "Bob's book's"). The only exception is when creating the plural of a single letter: "Mind your p's and q's." or "Teachers know the importance of the three R's." But never "CD's" "DVD's" "ABC's" etc.

biannual, biennial
"Biannual" means twice a year and is a synonym for the word "semiannual." "Biennial" means every two years.

"Bimonthly" means every other month. "Semimonthly" means twice a month.

"Biweekly" means every other week. "Semiweekly" means twice a week.

buildings and locations on campus
Capitalize the proper names of buildings, including the word building if it is an integral part of the name. The following are proper names of buildings and locations on the Law Center's campus, to be used on first reference:

Philip A. Hart Auditorium
Bernard P. McDonough Hall
Georgetown Law Library
     Edward Bennett Williams Law Library
Bernard S. and Sarah M. Gewirz Student Center
St. Thomas More Chapel
Eric E. Hotung International Law Center Building
John Wolff Reading Room
Supreme Court Moot Courtroom
Sport and Fitness Center

Acceptable on subsequent mention: Hart Auditorium, McDonough Hall, the Law Library, E.B. Williams Law Library or Williams Library, Wolff Reading Room, Gewirz, Chapel, Hotung.

campuses [from main campus style guide]

First reference: Georgetown University Law Center
Subsequent references: Georgetown Law or the Law Center
Do not use GULC, the Law School, Georgetown Law Center, etc.
    (See Georgetown Law)

First reference: Georgetown University Hospital
Subsequent references: Georgetown Hospital, the hospital

First reference: Georgetown University School of Medicine
Subsequent references: the medical school

First reference: Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center
Subsequent references: Lombardi
Do not use "The Lombardi Center" or "LCC."

First reference: Georgetown University's McDonough School of Business
Subsequent references:
the McDonough School of Business
the McDonough School
the business school
the Robert Emmett McDonough School of Business [If using the full name, never omit the middle name, Emmett, and never abbreviate it to "E."]

First reference: Georgetown University Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service, Georgetown University School of Foreign Service
Subsequent references:
The School of Foreign Service
SFS - use on second reference only.

cannot    (one word)

capital, capitol
The city where a seat of government is located is the "capital." Do not capitalize. Do capitalize "U.S. Capitol" and "the Capitol" when referring to the building in Washington, D.C., or in a state capital: "The Texas Capitol is in the state's capital city, Austin."

Lowercase titles, positions, departments, etc., unless they are part of a title preceding a person's name. (See titles)

case names
Case names should always be italicized, including the "v.," when referring to the case by its full name or by a shortened version.
    "Professor Katyal was lead attorney in Hamdan v. Rumsfeld. The Hamdan decision was an historic milestone."

Lowercase, spell out numbers less than 10; use a hyphen if it is used as an adjective: the first century, the 20th century, 17th-century literature.

Spell out names of cities unless in direct quotes. Do not capitalize the word "city" when it is not used as a proper noun (city government, the city of Chicago, but "the City gave out several citizens' awards").

coursework    (one word)

courtesy titles
In general, do not use courtesy titles such as Miss, Mr., Mrs. or Ms. There are certain occasions (formal invitations, references to donors or patrons, or when referring to a husband and wife in text) when it is appropriate. For example, "Dr. and Mrs. John Nelson" attended the banquet, and "Mrs. Nelson" received an award.

Do not precede a name with a courtesy title for an academic degree and follow it with the abbreviation for the degree in the same reference. Not "Dr. Pam Jones, Ph.D." — instead, "Pam Jones, Ph.D." or "Dr. Pam Jones."

comma [differs from AP style]
In a series, do not use a comma after the second-to-last item: "I gave her apples, oranges and peaches." Use the parenthetic comma for names of places but not of people: "Joe Smith Jr. visited Washington, D.C., last year."

database    (one word)

Do not use a comma before the year: "February 2002," not "February, 2002."

"1990s," "mid-1990s," "'90s" or "mid-'90s." Never use an apostrophe before the "s" when referring to a decade. This same principle applies when referring to a person's age by decades. "She was in her 30s."

DeGioia, John J.
Current president of Georgetown University. Refer to him as John J. DeGioia (not "Jack"). Although he has a Ph.D., he prefers that "Ph.D." not be used after his name. Refer to him as "President DeGioia," not "Dr. DeGioia." In keeping with our style, "president" is capitalized only when it is used directly before his name:
    Correct: We met with President DeGioia in his office. DeGioia is president of Georgetown University.
    Incorrect: DeGioia is the President of Georgetown University. We met with president DeGioia.

Use standard degree abbreviations, such as J.D., Ph.D., etc., with periods. (see academic degrees)

District of Columbia
Abbreviate as "D.C." (with periods) when used in conjunction with Washington. Spell out when used alone. (see addresses)

See residence halls

electronic addresses
E-mail and Web addresses are generally all lowercase. Whenever possible, set off a URL by using a different font. When referring to World Wide Web addresses in text, it is not necessary to use the "http://" protocol before an address unless the URL does not start with www.  So:, ;
but: (because, if it were written simply as "" and someone were to append "www" to the beginning, it would not work)

Use "e-mail," not "email." When it occurs at the beginning of a sentence or otherwise needs to be capitalized, use: E-mail.

emerita (female), emeritus (male)
Often added to formal titles to denote that individuals who have retired retain their rank or title. Capitalize when used as part of a person's official title. For example, "Professor Emeritus John Jones," and "Jane Smith, dean emerita."

ensure, insure
Use "ensure" to mean guarantee. Use "insure" for references to insurance. For example, "Steps were taken to ensure accuracy," and "The policy insures his life."

Faculty is a collective noun, referring to all professors of a university, college, department, school, program, etc. "Faculty" cannot be used as a plural noun; use "faculty members." "The Law Center faculty accepted the proposal. All Law Center faculty members voted on the proposal."

farther, further
Use "farther" when referring to measurable distance; use "further" to refer to non-measurable distances. "He walked farther than I did." "She took that idea further than I did."

fax (n. or v.)
"Fax" is acceptable as shortened version of "facsimile" or "facsimile machine." The use of "fax" as a verb was at one time not accepted but now it is.

fewer vs. less
"Fewer" is used when you have a smaller number of discrete items; "less" is used when you have a smaller amount of something.
    e.g.: "I make less money than he does, therefore I have fewer dollars to spend."

Spell out numbers less than 10; use figures for numbers more than 10, and for decimals and percentages.
"There were seven people at the table, out of a possible 35 participants."
"We had a 9% increase in applications."

Never start a sentence with a numeral; always spell it out even if it is more than 10. The only exception is when the sentence starts with a year, in which case use figures. "Twenty participants this year were given awards. 1996 produced the largest number of winners, at 37."

Spell out amounts less than one, using hyphens between the words. For example, "two-thirds" and "four-fifths." Use figures for fractional amounts greater than one, converting to decimals whenever practical. For example, "1 ½" and "1.5" are both correctly formatted.

full time, full-time
Hyphenate only when used as a compound modifier. For example, "She goes to school full time," and "He is a full-time student."

fundraising, fundraiser
This differs from AP style [fund raiser, fund-raiser] but is so generally accepted that we use it thus.

Georgetown Law
Use "Georgetown University Law Center " on first reference. On second reference use "Georgetown Law," "Georgetown University Law Center" or "Law Center." Do not use other variations such as "GULC," "the Law School," "Georgetown Law Center," "Georgetown University Law," etc. Although "GULC" is often said informally in-house, do not use it in publications. (See campuses or the Introduction)

grade point average
Spell out on first reference; GPA is acceptable thereafter, without periods. For example, "Honors scholars are expected to earn a 3.25 grade point average; she has a 3.5 GPA."

her, his
Do not presume gender in sentence construction, but also try to avoid writing the awkward "his/her." When possible, revise the sentence to be plural. For example, "The students submitted their papers," instead of "Each student submitted his or her paper."

homepage    (one word, lowercase)

Hyphens should be used when two words are used together to make an adjective or a noun, but not when they make a verb. Correct: "I was able to sign up at the sign-up table."

Examples of compound words that are joined rather than hyphenated:
nongovernmental, not non-governmental; nonprofit, not non-profit

Hyphens can be confusing; it is helpful to check the AP Style Guide or the dictionary for any questions on hyphenation.

is not a transitive verb.
Wrong: "Public opinion impacts election results."
Correct: "Public opinion has an impact on election results."
- or just use "affect":
    "Public opinion affects election results."

Capitalized, not "internet." But: "intranet" not "Intranet."

it's, its
"It's" is a contraction for "it is"; "its" is the possessive form of the pronoun.

its, their
Use "its" as the possessive pronoun for inanimate objects. Use "their" as the possessive pronoun for groups of people. For example, "One of the Law Center's goals is to help its students advance their careers."

joint degrees
See academic degrees

Junior (nominal suffix)
Do not place a comma before "Jr." For example, "Roy Jones Jr."

less v. fewer
See fewer

literary titles
Italicize periodical, book, journal and movie titles, but place quotation marks around article titles and television shows. For bibliographic journal citations the journal name is not italicized, but in text it should be.
"She wrote an article entitled 'Why I Like Law School' which appeared in the Yale Law Journal."
"She wrote an article last month which was published. See: 'Why I Like Law School,' 112 Yale L.J. 2261 (2005)"
(see publications)

longtime (adj.)    (one word)

For amounts less than one dollar, spell out and lowercase the word "cents," using figures for the amount: "5 cents." For any amounts over a dollar, use figures only. Drop the decimal and zeros if there are no cents.
    For example, "$1," "$5.01," and "$10" but not "five dollars."
Use the $ sign and numerals up to two decimals place for amounts of more than $1 million.
    For example, "It is worth $4.35 million," and, "He proposed a $300 billion budget."
For exact figures, even more than $1 million, enumerate the entire amount: "It is worth exactly $4,351,242.75."

Use as plural for moratorium (not moratoria).

more than vs. over
Always use "more than" to indicate an amount greater than a particular number.
Correct: "There were more than 50 participants in the seminar."
Incorrect: "There were over 100 diners in the restaurant."

names of Georgetown University president and dean of the Law Center
President John J. DeGioia (not "Jack") (see DeGioia)

Dean of the Law Center.  Dean William Treanor on first reference; Dean Treanor or Dean William Treanor on subsequent references.

See figures/numerals

online (adj., and adv.)
not "on-line"

Use figures. Use decimals, not fractions. For amounts less than 1 percent, precede the decimal with a zero. Do not use the percent symbol in text. For example, "1 percent," and "2.5 percent," and "0.6 percent."

Never use an apostrophe to indicate a plural. Apostrophes indicate possession ("Bob's book") or a contraction ("they're reading"), not plurals (never "Bob's book's"). The only exception is when creating the plural of a single letter: "Mind your p's and q's," or "Teachers know the importance of the three R's." Otherwise just use the simple "s". This includes references to common acronyms and dates or numbers: CDs, DVDs, 1930s, "The child knew his ABCs and 123s."

possessive apostrophes
Add 's to show possession for all singular words, even those ending in 's' (i.e., Wilkins's book, DeLaurentis's book)– the exception being if the following word begins with "s", per AP style — but only add ' to show possession for plural words (i.e., professors' publications). Never use an apostrophe to show plurals. (see apostrophes)

If referring to the U.S. president or president of a company, use lower case unless it directly precedes the name.
Correct: "I voted for President Bush so I was glad that he was elected president."

pro bono
Do not italicize or hyphenate.

proofreading marks
If you are proofreading or editing a project, either for our Publications team or for your own department, using the standard proofreading marks will help make your corrections clear and understandable. For a list of standardized proofreading marks, go to:

Italicize the names of books, magazines, newspapers, etc., in regular text references. The exception is when using the name of a periodical in reference to its function as a company rather than as a publication.
"A Washington Post reporter asked..."
"The reporter's question appeared in the Washington Post..."

For bibliographic references, use bluebook style.

quotes, quotation marks
All punctuation in a quote which is a complete sentence must go inside the quotation marks:
    "I am happy," she said.
    She said, "I am happy."
At the end of a sentence or phrase ending in a period or comma, these always go inside the quotation marks.
    Even though it wasn't obvious, the woman said she was "happy."

Religious Order of the Society of Jesus
This is the religious order that founded Georgetown University. Spell out on first full reference, and use the abbreviation S.J. on second reference and with individual's titles. For example, "Fr. Robert Drinan, S.J."

residence halls
Not dormitories.

room numbers
Use figures and capitalize room when used with a figure. For example, "McDonough Hall, Room 326."

rule of law

Twice a year, a synonym for biannual. (see biannual)

Use a single space between sentences, not a double space. This looks better in print and on the Web.

state names
Spell out the names of the 50 U.S. states when they stand alone in text. Abbreviate state names, following AP guidelines, when used with the name of a city, county, town, village or military base in text. AP-style state abbreviations are listed below for reference. Note: These are different from current U.S. Postal Service abbreviations.

Ala., Alaska, Ariz., Ark., Calif., Colo., Conn., Del., Fla., Ga., Hawaii, Idaho, Ill., Ind., Iowa, Kan., Ky., La., Maine, Mass., Md., Mich., Minn., Miss., Mo., Mont., Neb., Nev., N.C., N.D., N.H., N.J., N.M., N.Y., Ohio, Okla., Ore., Pa., R.I., S.C., S.D., Tenn., Texas, Utah, Va., Vt., Wash., Wis., W.Va., Wyo.

Eight state names are never abbreviated in text: Alaska, Hawaii, Idaho, Iowa, Maine, Ohio, Texas and Utah.

student class designation
See academic years

telephone numbers
In all publications use dashes to set off the area code:
    For example: 202-662-9500.

Use figures except for noon and midnight. Use a colon to separate hours from minutes. Drop the colon and indication of minutes when there are no minutes to reference. For example, "The program will begin at 11 a.m.," "The game will begin at 7:30 a.m.," and "The dance will end at midnight."

Capitalize only when used immediately before a name, i.e., as formal title; lowercase if follows a name.

Not towards.

Not under-secretary or under secretary or Under Secretary; capitalize only if part of a formal title before a name (see titles).

United States
When used as a noun, spell out "United States" the first time, then use "U.S." thereafter. When used as an adjective, use "U.S." The same guidance should apply to United Nations / U.N.

Capitalize when part of a formal name and when used alone in reference to Georgetown University. For example, "Georgetown University Law Center has an international law program." And, "The University offers an advanced diploma in communications, culture and technology."

Not universitywide.

Not Web site or web site. And note Internet vs. intranet.

Wi-Fi, Wi-Fi network
Use Wi-Fi for both references

One word, unless as used below with "Web."

World Wide Web
Capitalize. If using "Web" for second reference, capitalize.

"Xerox" is a trademark for a brand of photocopy machine. Do not use as a noun or verb. Use a generic term such as "photocopy."

Use figures without commas. Use an "s" without an apostrophe to indicate spans of decades or centuries. For example, "in 1975" and "in the 1970s."


If you have any other questions or would like to see other entries included in the style guide, please contact the communications team.

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