Do we use the Oxford comma?
And other questions you can find answers to in the university editorial style guideAmy Ventura | University Communications Apr 20, 2018
The answer is “no.” We don’t use Oxford commas, also known as serial commas, in written university communications. We also don’t use periods in academic degree abbreviations (BA, PhD, MD). But we do use italics publication names (U.S. News & World Report) and quotation marks for book titles (“The Catcher in the Rye”).
Confused? No worries. The university editorial style guide is there to help you.
In all written communications (print and online), we follow the Associated Press Stylebook (a.k.a “AP style”), with a few exceptions – which you can find in the university editorial style guide. Here are some examples from the guide:
- College of Arts & Media (with an ampersand)
- Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences (with “and”)
- When preceding a name, job titles should be capitalized. When they do not precede a name, use lowercase.
- campuswide (no hyphen)
- Use an en dash with a character space on either side to mark a break in thought or to indicate a range.
Editorial style varies among organizations and departments, depending on the entity’s mission and preferences. Many academic offices and scholarly publications follow the style of the Modern Language Association (MLA). Others use the Chicago Manual of Style. Journalism, communications and marketing professionals most often use AP style.
Worried about using AP style in an academic environment? No worries. The university editorial style guide is there to back you up.
Writing is confusing enough without having to stress over whether you have proper capitalization and the comma in the right place. When in doubt, look it up in the style guide.
And while we’re at it, here are some other writing-related resources: