abbreviations and acronyms

  • An abbreviation is the shortened form of a word (i.e., Dr. for doctor). In contrast, an acronym is a word formed from the first letter of several words (i.e., scuba for self-contained underwater breathing apparatus). In general, omit periods in acronyms unless the result would spell an unrelated word. But use periods in two-letter abbreviations: U.S., U.N., U.K., B.A. Use all caps, but no periods in longer abbreviations and acronyms when the individual letters are pronounced: ABC, CIA, FBI. At the first occurrence of a group of words commonly used as an acronym, spell out all the words first and then enclose the accepted acronym in parentheses; just the acronym may be used in subsequent use in the same piece.
  • To form an abbreviation by replacing characters with an apostrophe (i.e., '90 for 1990), make sure that an apostrophe (the character's tail points down like a 9) is used instead of a single open quote (tail points up like a 6).
  • To make an abbreviation or acronym plural, add an "s" after the last letter or period, no apostrophe (i.e., lasers or '80s).
  • For most business situations, the shortened form for the University of Puget Sound should be Puget Sound. UPS is an acceptable acronym when writing for alumni or internal audiences.

academic degrees
Several commonly used academic degrees and their abbreviations are:

B.A., Bachelor of Arts
B.M., Bachelor of Music
B.S., Bachelor of Science
D.P.T., Doctor of Physical Therapy
M.A.T., Master of Arts in Teaching
M.Ed., Master of Education
M.S., Master of Science
M.S.O.T., Master of Science of Occupational Therapy

If necessary, to note an individual's academic credentials, use the abbreviation after the individual's last name; spell out and lowercase the degree when used in prose: Pam Smith, B.A.; Pam Smith received a bachelor's degree in history.

Note: An apostrophe is used in the terms bachelor's and master's: bachelor's degree and master's degree, but associate degree.

The term doctorate is used for the highest degree that can be obtained; doctoral is the adjective form of the noun "doctor."

To note that an individual is a Puget Sound graduate, use the following format:

  • An undergraduate degree only: Cathy Tollefson ’83 (no comma after the name)
  • A graduate degree only: Susan Smith M.A.T.'97 (no comma after the name, and no space between the degree and class year)
  • Undergraduate and graduate degree: Tom Leavitt ’71, J.D.'75 (a comma followed by a space separates no comma after the name, no space between the degrees and class years, but each degree)

Also, see Honorary degrees.

academic departments and programs at Puget Sound

accept, except
Accept means to receive. Except means to exclude.


The proper format of university addresses is as follows:

Name of individual
Department, office, or organization name
1500 N. Warner St. #xxxx (campus mailbox number)
Tacoma, WA 98416-xxxx

  • address number
    Always use figures: 9 Morningside Circle. Also, see Numbers.
  • alley, circle, drive, road, terrace
    Always spell out. Capitalize when part of a formal name without a number; lowercase when used alone or with two or more names. Diagon Alley; the alley; or Diagon and Dragon alleys.
  • avenue, boulevard, street
    Use the abbreviations Ave., Blvd., and St. only with a numbered address: 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. Spell out and capitalize when part of a formal street name without a number: Pennsylvania Avenue. Lowercase and spell out when used alone or with more than one street name: Massachusetts and Pennsylvania avenues.
  • directionals/compass points
    Abbreviate when used to indicate directional ends of a street or quadrants of a city in a numbered address: 1500 N. Warner St.; 562 S.W. Hartville Rd.; 16 Bayview Dr. N.W. Do not abbreviate if the number is omitted: North Warner Street; West 43rd Street. For more information, see the United States Postal Service Addressing Standard on directionals.
  • state names
    Use the two-letter postal abbreviation listed under state names.
  • numbered streets
    Spell out and capitalize First through Ninth; use figures with two letters for 10th and above: 7 Fifth Ave.

academic years
Both 2012–13 and 2012–2013 are correct, though the University of Puget Sound's preference is to use 2012–13. You may use either presentation, but be consistent within your publication and use an en dash, as you would show any range of years.

Not adviser.

affect, effect
Affect, as a verb, means to influence: The game will affect the standings. Affect, as a noun, should be avoided. Effect, as a verb, means to cause: He will effect many changes in the company. Effect, as a noun, means result: The effect was overwhelming.

African American, African-American
When indicating dual heritage with a compound modifier, hyphenate (African-American student, Mexican-American tradition); do not hyphenate in other cases (Sixteen percent of the freshman class is African American.) Also, see Hyphenation, dual heritage and Hyphenation, university programs.

Use a hyphen: all-around, all-out, all-clear, all-star.

all right
Never alright. Hyphenate only if used colloquially as a compound modifier: He is an all-right guy.

alma mater

alumnus, alumna, alumni, alumnae
A male individual who attended a school is an alumnus.
A female individual who attended a school is an alumna.
Several males who attended a school are alumni.
Several females who attended a school are alumnae.
Several females and males who attended a school are, collectively, alumni.

Note: An individual who attended a school, either male or female, may be referred to informally as an "alum," however, to avoid confusion, the term should be avoided in printed and external publications.

a.m., p.m.
Lowercase, with periods. Avoid the redundant 10 a.m. this morning.

An event cannot be described as annual until it has been held in at least two successive years. Do not use the term "first annual"; instead, note that sponsors plan to annually hold an event.

Hyphenate all except the following words, which have specific meanings of their own: antibiotic, antidote, antifreeze, antihistamine, antiperspirant, antiseptic, antithesis. Check for other exceptions in Webster's New World College Dictionary.


  • abbreviation
    To form an abbreviation by replacing characters with an apostrophe (e.g., '90 for 1990), make sure to use an apostrophe (the character's tail points down like a 9) instead of a single open quote (tail points up like a 6).
  • plural construction
    Do not add an 's to a word or number to make it plural:
    Incorrect: She went to college during the 1980s.
    Correct: She went to college during the 1980s.
    Also, see years.
  • plural possessive
    Add 's to plural words not ending in s; add' after the finals to plural words ending in s: the men's hat; the dogs' tails. It is often recommended to reconstruct the sentence to avoid the plural possessive construction: The women's purses are in the house.
    Note: President Thomas prefers the use of 's with his name: President Thomas's house is located on North 18th Street
  • singular possessive
    Add 's too singular words not ending in s; add' after the finals to singular words ending in s: the man's hat; the iris' color.

assistant, associate
Do not abbreviate. Capitalize only when part of a formal title before a person's name. See Title, occupational titles.

awards and decorations
Capitalize names of awards and prizes, such as Bronze Star, Medal of Honor, etc. Capitalize award if it is part of the prize's full proper name: City of Destiny Award, New Tacoma Award, etc. If in doubt as to the full proper name of the prize, capitalize the award.

Special cases:

  • Grammy Award, Tony Award, Emmy Award, Academy Award: Award should be capitalized in all cases but is not necessary: He won a Grammy Award in 2006; He won a Grammy in 2006. She nabbed the Academy Award for best director; She nabbed the Oscar for best director. Hyphenate when used as a compound modifier: the Tony Award-winning actress; the Emmy-winning actor
  • Nobel Prize: Capitalize prize in references that do not mention the category: He is a Nobel Prize winner. She is a Nobel Prize-winning scientist.
  • Lowercase prize when not linked with the word Nobel: The peace prize was awarded Monday.
  • Pulitzer Prize: Capitalize Pulitzer Prize, but lowercase the categories: Pulitzer Prize for public service, Pulitzer Prize for fiction, etc. Also: She is a Pulitzer Prize winner. He is a Pulitzer Prize-winning author.