Guidelines, Not Rules

The English language gives us many choices and decisions to make when we write, which challenges many prescriptive approaches to standardizing use.

This guide will not answer all of your questions. It may not help you win an argument over which way to spell “website” or whether to hyphenate “email.” However, it will give you a foundation upon which to base your own writing decisions and help you improve the clarity and consistency of the communications coming out of your office or department.

We’ve assembled these guidelines using the Associated Press Stylebook as a primary authority because much of our writing is intended for external readers: prospective students and their parents, donors and prospective donors, government officials, business leaders, news reporters and editors, and the public. At the same time, we often deviate from Associated Press (AP)
standards because we are not journalists, and our writing frequently serves purposes AP standards do not accommodate.

If you can’t find what you’re looking for in here, consult the latest edition of the Associated Press Stylebook or American Heritage Dictionary.

DO NOT apply these guidelines to technical or academic writing. Other sources can help you with this specialized kind of writing.

DO use this style guide to help you when you’re writing anything (and everything) intended for the campus audience or for the public.

We appreciate your cooperation in following these guidelines. University-wide consistency builds the credibility of our communications, demonstrates our commitment to high-quality standards and greatly enhances our audiences’ understanding of Georgia State.

Whatever style you follow, remember consistency and clarity are the keys to more effective communication. Make sure your preferred writing standards are consistent in all of your communications.

Just as the English language has evolved over the years, this style guide will adapt to new use and trends, sometimes based on observations from people like you. If you have some writing suggestions of your own, share them with us by emailing Benjamin Hodges at bhodges1@gsu.edu.