Writing Style

We use more than visuals to communicate the essence of Wake Forest University. The text of our communications should reflect our personality as clearly as our colors and imagery.

Let your messages take on the qualities of our University, both in content and style. For example, Wake Forest is bold and accomplished. Therefore, write with an intentional and purpose-driven voice. Our devotion to service is grounded in our institutional motto, so choose language that reflects our Pro Humanitate values. Our personality is inquisitive, so our messaging should be open-minded. Finally, we are intimate and speak as one person to another. Our tone should never be pretentious, but always warm, natural and engaging.

University Style

As a rule, all marketing materials, brochures, flyers, posters, newsletters, newspapers, alumni publications, online content and other campus communications should follow The Associated Press Stylebook. All scholarly articles, Wake Forest Magazine articles and formal correspondence should follow The Chicago Manual of Style.

AP Style Reference Guide

  • In a simple series, omit the serial (or Oxford) comma unless it is needed for clarity. In general, do not insert a comma after “and” or “or” unless omitting the comma confuses the meaning.
  • AP Style does not italicize text, including for book titles. (Pro Humanitate is an exception at Wake Forest.)
  • Use a single space after a period and a colon.
  • Dashes: Use dashes without spaces for number ranges (e.g., 2020-21 academic year, 8:30-9 p.m. or pages 29-50). Use an em dash (the dash is the length of an “m”), not an en dash, to replace commas, parentheses or colons when you need a slightly different effect. An em dash should have a space on either side per AP Style. (e.g., When the Demon Deacons beat the Tar Heels — for the second time this season — Wake Forest fans rolled the Quad.)
  • For composition titles (i.e., books, movies, plays, poems, albums, songs, operas, radio and television programs, lectures, speeches and works of art):
    • Capitalize each word except articles (a, an, the) and prepositions and conjunctions of three or fewer letters unless one of these words is the first or last word in the title.
    • Put the title inside quotation marks. (Exceptions: the Bible, the Quran and other holy books as well as books that are primarily catalogs of reference materials like almanacs, directories, dictionaries, encyclopedias, gazetteers, handbooks and similar publications.)
  • Numbers: In general, spell out one through nine and use numerals for 10 and above. (Exceptions: Use numerals for ages, dates and money; use numerals in tables and charts; always spell out numbers that begin a sentence.)
  • In headings (like headlines or section headings), capitalize only the first word, proper nouns and the first word after a colon.
  • Capitalize formal titles immediately before a name unless set off by commas. Lowercase titles after the name or elsewhere in copy. A formal title is one that denotes scope of authority, professional activity or academic activity. (Examples: He noted that Pope Francis, the current pope, was born in Argentina. The United States president issued a statement. The governor, Roy Cooper, vetoed a bill. The biology professor, Brian Tague, conducted research. In 2005, Professor Brian Tague was head faculty marshal.)
  • Other titles (informal) serve primarily as occupational descriptions: astronaut Sally Ride, poet Maya Angelou, peanut farmer Jimmy Carter.
  • Use Dr. for the first reference to the name of an individual who is a doctor of medicine, dental surgery, optometry, osteopathic medicine, podiatric medicine or veterinary medicine. Do not use Dr. as a title for someone with a doctor of philosophy (Ph.D.).
  • Spell out months unless part of a specific date, then abbreviate only Jan., Feb., Aug., Sept., Oct., Nov. and Dec. Also, spell out the month in month and year references (e.g., January 2019, October 2020).
  • For times, use figures for time of day except for noon and midnight and lowercase/add periods to a.m. and p.m., so 1:20 a.m. and 5 o’clock; 1 hour, 28 minutes, 37 seconds; a winning time of 3:24:17 (3 hours, 24 minutes, 17 seconds). Spell out numbers less than 10 standing alone or in modifiers: We’ll arrive in seven minutes. An eight-hour day. A five-minute warning.
  • The names of all 50 states should be spelled out in the body of copy both standing alone or with a city. If the state is with a city, insert a comma after the state (e.g., Winston-Salem, North Carolina, is located in the Piedmont Triad region of the state.)
  • For academic degrees, capitalize Bachelor of Arts degree, Bachelor of Science, Master of Science, etc., but use lowercase and an apostrophe for bachelor’s degree (preferable to B.A. or B.S.) or master’s degree. Lowercase the major unless it’s a nationality or language. Avoid abbreviations, but if necessary, use Ph.D., J.D., B.A., B.S., M.A., M.S., but MBA.
  • Use the % symbol rather than the word, “percent.”
  • Do not hyphenate African American, Asian American or other dual heritage terms.

Wake Forest Conventions and AP Style Exceptions:

  • Italicize Pro Humanitate (otherwise, do not use italics per AP Style)
  • Capitalize the season when referring to a specific academic term with semester and year (e.g., Spring 2019, Fall 2021). Lowercase spring and fall semesters. Seasons are lowercase per AP Style.
  • Benson University Center on first reference; Benson Center acceptable in subsequent mentions)
  • Board of Trustees; chair, Board of Trustees; Lifetime Trustee; University Trustee (Trustee acceptable on second reference)
  • Apply the conventions shown below for alumni, current students and parents of current students and alumni. For alumni and current students, if degree earned is not B.S. or B.A., specify the degree with these abbreviations: BSB, Ph.D., MA, MS, MAEd, MALS, MFA, LLM, JD, MSL, SJD, MD, MDiv, MMS, MBA, MAM and MSA followed by an apostrophe with the last two digits of graduation year or expected year of graduation. For parents of alumni and current students, the type of degree earned by the child(ren) is not indicated, but if the child has earned (or will earn) multiple degrees, each degree is noted with a separate P and degree year.

Examples:
Jane Adams (’24)
Ben Adams (MBA ’91, P ’24)
Jennifer Jones (’86, MD ’90)
Elizabeth “Ma” Jones (’61, P ’86, P ’90)
James “Pa” (’59) and Elizabeth “Ma” (’61) Jones (P ’86, P ’90)
Julie Brown (P ’75, P ’78)
Jake Dobbins (’68, JD ’71, P ’95)
Correct apostrophe: ’99
Incorrect single quote: ‘99

  • Capitalize these annual campus events: Commencement, Homecoming, Move-in Day, Founders’ Day Convocation, Orientation, Pre-orientation; orientation is lowercase when used in the generic sense.
  • Use lowercase for academic departments, except proper nouns: Wake Forest Department of Classical Languages, department of classical languages or classical languages department; Wake Forest Department of English, department of English or English department
  • Advisor (spelled with -or in all cases): This deviation reflects the spelling used in higher education
  • Use first-year student (lowercase with hyphenated compound modifier); avoid using freshman and freshmen
  • Campus locations:
    • Hearn Plaza (the Quad)
    • Manchester Plaza (formerly Magnolia Plaza)
    • South Campus
    • North Campus
    • Davis Residence Hall, Kitchin Residence Hall, etc. (residence halls as a group, not dormitories); acceptable on second reference: Kitchin, Davis, Babcock, etc.
    • Wait Chapel; lowercase chapel is acceptable on second reference
    • Fresh Food Company or The Pit (acceptable on first reference)
  • Old Gold & Black (with ampersand); OGB acceptable on second reference
  • Office of Wellbeing and wellbeing in all cases (exception to hyphenated spelling in AP Style)
  • The College or Wake Forest College; capitalize College in all references to Wake Forest’s undergraduate school; lowercase college in generic references
  • Lowercase president unless immediately preceding name. (e.g., The 14th Wake Forest president issued a statement. Wake Forest President Susan R. Wente delivered the keynote address.)
  • University (always capitalize when referring to Wake Forest); lowercase university when used in the generic sense
  • Wake Downtown
  • Wake Forest Baptist Health (teaching hospital)
  • Wake Forest Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, Wake Forest Graduate School or graduate school
  • Wake Forest Reynolda Campus or Reynolda Campus
  • Wake Forest School of Business, school of business or business school
  • Wake Forest School of Divinity, school of divinity or divinity school
  • Wake Forest School of Law, school of law or law school
  • Wake Forest School of Medicine, school of medicine or medical school
  • Wake Forest University or Wake Forest (not Wake or WFU)