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a.m., p.m.

  • Lowercase and always use periods.
    • 6:30 a.m., 10 p.m., noon, midnight


  • In general, abbreviations should be used only after using the full name, phrase or word as the first reference. Do not include the abbreviation in parentheses following the initial full reference. Spell it out, then use abbreviations in subsequent references if desired.
  • Never use an abbreviation that will not be easily understood by the reader.
  • Do not spell out "junior" or "senior" when they follow a name; always abbreviate and do not set them off with commas.
    • Jacob T. Bishop Jr.
  • Always abbreviate "company," "corporation," "incorporated" and "limited" when they are used after the name of a corporate entity; do not set them off with commas.
    • Upjohn Co.
    • Bishop, McCandish and Holton PC
    • McCandish and Holton LLC
  • Depending on the length of a communication, it is a good idea to occasionally repeat the full name, phrase or word as a first reference at the beginning of new sections, chapters, stories, etc.
    • James Madison University is the full proper name of the university. Abbreviated versions such as "Madison," "the university" or "JMU" may be used on second and subsequent references. These abbreviations are interchangeable and may all be used in the same communication.

academic degrees

  • Use an apostrophe in "bachelor's degree" and "master's degree." Capitalize the names of specific degrees (Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Science, etc.)
    • Brian Balmages, who earned a bachelor’s degree in music from James Madison University in 1998, received a 2016 Distinguished Alumni Award.
    • The College of Business offers a Bachelor of Business Administration degree in marketing.
    • Anna Bishop ('05) graduated with honors and received a Bachelor of Arts degree in English.
    • Sarah Hostetter ('05) graduated with honors and received a Bachelor of Science degree in technical and scientific communication.
    • Jamie Moo ('99, '01M) earned a bachelor's and a master's.


  • JMU is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges to award baccalaureate, master's and doctoral degrees.

adviser/advisor (n.)

  • Advisor is appropriate in reference to someone in an academic advising role. In all other contexts, use adviser.
    • A student’s academic advisor, a faculty research advisor
    • An adviser to the president, a financial services adviser

  • Always use numerals. Ages expressed as adjectives before a noun or as substitutes for a noun get hyphens.
    • A 5-year-old boy
    • Get that 5-year-old out of the street.
    • The girl is 5 years old.

Alger, Jonathan R.

  • Jonathan R. Alger is the name of JMU's current president.

All Together One

  • While no longer active as a university theme, "All Together One" remains relevant at JMU because it captures a unique Madison spirit that allows people to be themselves while being part of something bigger. President Linwood H. Rose first used the theme in his September 1999 inaugural address. "All Together One" is now used by the JMU chapter of the student leadership organization Omicron Delta Kappa. Use of "All Together One" must follow graphic standards regarding university logos and marks.

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 who graduated from JMU; use "alumni" when referring to a group of men who graduated from JMU; use "alumna" for similar references to a woman; use "alumnae" when referring to a similar group of women; use "alumni" when referring to a group of men and women.

African, African American, and Diaspora Studies Center

  • AAAD is acceptable in subsequent references.

ampersand (&)

  • Use only when it is part of a company's or institution's formal name.


  • Do not use a comma before the final "and" in a series, except when the word "and" occurs in one of the items in the series or when deleting the serial comma would alter the meaning of the sentence.
    • The departments of Accounting, Economics, Finance and Marketing are part of the College of Business.
    • The departments of Biology, Chemistry and Biochemistry, Geology and Environmental Science, Mathematics and Statistics, and Physics and Astronomy make up the College of Science and Mathematics.


  • An event cannot be described as annual until it has been held at least two successive years. Events can be described as annual beginning in their third year.
    • The third-annual Madison FunFest will start tomorrow.

athletics affiliations

  • James Madison Athletics is a member of the Sun Belt Conference (as of July 1, 2022) and the National Collegiate Athletic Association (Division I). 

Atlantic Union Bank Center

  • The official name of the basketball arena and community events center on the corner of University Boulevard and Carrier Drive.


Being the Change

  • Refers to JMU's tag line that expresses the university's unique character. It also refers to the profiles collected and published by JMU that feature students, faculty, staff, alumni and donors who are actively making a difference in their communities and the world. Always capitalize.


  • Capitalize as an adjective in a racial, ethnic or cultural sense: Black people, Black culture, Black literature, Black studies, Black colleges
  • The capitalized term "Black" recognizes that language has evolved, along with the common understanding that especially in the United States, the term reflects a shared identity and culture rather than a skin color alone. "African American" is also acceptable for those in the U.S. The terms are not necessarily interchangeable, however. Americans of Caribbean heritage, for example, generally refer to themselves as Caribbean American. Follow a person’s preference if known, and be specific when possible and relevant.
    (AP Style)

Board of Visitors

  • Capitalize in reference to JMU's governing body; "board" is acceptable in subsequent references.
    • The Board of Visitors will meet this week.
    • The board called a special meeting. 


  • Never abbreviate; capitalize the proper names of buildings, including the word "Building" if it is an integral part of the proper name.
    • The Music Building is on the Quad.



  • One word, no hyphen in all uses


  • In general, avoid unnecessary capitalization. Capitalize nouns that constitute the unique identification for a specific person, place or thing.
    • John, Mary, America, Harrisonburg, Warren Hall
  • Lowercase the common noun elements of names in all plural uses.
    • Duke, Warren, Zane Showker and Wilson halls
  • Capitalize common nouns such as college, department and university when they are an integral part of the full name for a person place or thing.
    • College of Business, Department of Biology, James Madison University, School of Music
  • Lowercase these common nouns when they stand alone in subsequent references.
    • the college, the department, the school, the university, the valley
  • On first reference, use the proper name for colleges, departments, schools, offices, etc.
    • The Office of Academic Affairs is located in Alumnae Hall.
    • The Department of History offers the Master of Arts degree.
  • On second reference, lowercase and use generic names.
    • The academic affairs office is located in Alumnae Hall.
    • The history department offers a master's degree.
  • In headlines, only capitalize the first word and any proper nouns. (AP Style)

Center for the Advancement of Sustainable Energy

  • Formerly the Office for the Advancement of Sustainable Energy at JMU

chairperson or chair

  • Lowercase, even when the title appears before a name. (Madison Style)
    • Faculty Senate chairperson Steve Garren said, "…
    • The committee chairperson, Steve Garren, reported …

class year

  • JMU graduates' class years are set in parentheses, with an apostrophe in place of the first two numbers of the year ('XX): (MadisonStyle)
    • Jane Seegar ('88) indicates an alumna earned an undergraduate degree.
    • Philip Bigler ('74, '76M) indicates an alumnus earned an undergraduate degree in 1974 and a master's in 1976.
    • Mark Warner ('77,'81M, '86Ed.S.) indicates an alumnus earned an undergraduate, master's and Ed.S. degree.
    • Fred Hilton ('96M) indicates an alumnus earned a master's degree.
  • JMU offers numerous doctoral programs. Designate these alumni in the following styles:
    • Jennifer Austen ('99Au.D.) for the Doctorate of Audiology
    • Jennifer Austen ('05Psy.D.) for the Doctorate in Clinical, School and Counseling Psychology
    • Jennifer Austen ('05Ph.D.) for the Doctorate in Communication Sciences and Disorders and/or the Doctorate in Assessment and Measurement
    • Desmond Tutu ('08H) indicates Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu received an Honorary Doctorate from JMU in 2008
    • Kirk Hammett ('88D.M.A.) indicates Kirk Hammett received his Doctor of Music degree.
  • JMU also recognizes the parents of one or more JMU graduates in the following styles:
    • Jeffrey Dickerson ('11P) indicates he is the parent of a 2011 JMU graduate.
    • James Whitehall ('76, '09P) indicates JMU alumnus is a member of the Class of 1976 and has a son or daughter who is a member of the Class of 2009.
    • Sandy Myerson ('80, '07P, '09P) indicates JMU alumna is a member of the Class of 1980 and has two children who graduated from JMU.
  • Always capitalize the names of JMU classes:
    • Pat Wilson is the president of the Class of 1950.
    • The Class of 1960 Endowed Academic Scholarship is awarded annually.
  • DO NOT USE in reference to current students' anticipated graduation year, as this is subject to change. But DO USE the correct class year when a student is nearing graduation (for example, in a story focusing on May commencement exercises) when it is apparent the student will graduate.

College of Business Learning Complex

  • The official name of a portion of the building assigned to the College of Business.


  • Capitalize only when used as part of formal name. (Madison Style)
    • Commonwealth of Virginia, citizens of the commonwealth

Council for Advancement and Support of Education

  • The full name of the entity commonly referred to as CASE

course names

  • Follow standard capitalization rules for titles. Do not enclose in quotation marks or use italics. Do not use catalog numbers. 
    • i.e. Human Evolution, Engineering Design I, Introduction to Public Policy

course work

  • Not coursework

courtesy titles

  • Do not use courtesy titles such as Miss, Mr., Mrs. or Ms. There are certain situations (formal invitations, lists of donors or patrons, or when referring to a husband and wife in text) when it may be unavoidable, such as:
    • Mr. and Mrs. Jonathan R. Alger cordially invite you...
  • Do not use "Dr." in reference to a faculty member who holds a Ph.D., unless he/she is also a doctor of medicine.
  • Do not follow a faculty member's name with the abbreviation for his/her degree in the same reference:
    • Pam Jones, Ph.D.


  • The words are interchangeable in reference to a project or initiative involving JMU faculty, staff or students in multiple departments or colleges across campus.



  • Capitalize only when used as a formal title before a name.
    • In the Office of Academic Affairs, JMU has deans, vice provosts and a provost/senior vice president.
    • College of Integrated Science and Engineering Dean Bob Kolvoord...


  • Only capitalize when "Department" is part of the official name.
    • The Department of Foreign Languages, Literatures and Cultures
    • The biology department


  • Use residence halls.

double major/double majoring

  • Refer to Webster's New World College Dictionary, Fifth Edition, for other words with "double" in their construction.


electronic addresses

  • Generally all lowercase; however, there are exceptions that require capitalization to work. Just like mailing addresses, you need to know and type in the exact address.
    • madisonstyle@jmu.edu
    • www.jmu.edu/COB

em dash/en dash

  • An em dash (Option+Shift+hyphen on Apple devices) can be used in place of a colon or parentheses, or to indicate an abrupt change in thought. Set off with a space on both sides.
    • We expect a big crowd — if the weather is nice.
    • We expect a big crowd — if the weather is nice — for Homecoming.
  • For consistency with Associated Press style, do not use en dashes in news body copy. Exception: en dashes (Option+Hyphen on Apple devices) may be used in ad copy to denote a duration of time.
    • May 2-June 3
    • the 2019-20 academic year, fiscal year 2019-20
  • When a date or year is preceded by the word "from," do not use a hyphen, use "to."
    • from May 2 to June 3

emerita (female), emeritus (male), emeritae (female plural), emeriti (male plural, male and female plural)

  • Often added to formal titles to denote that individuals who have retired retain their rank or title by action of the JMU Board of Visitors. Capitalize when used before the person's name as an official title; lowercase when used after the person's name.
    • Professor Emeritus John Jones
    • Jane Jones, dean emerita


  • An eponym is the person for whom something is named. Namesake refers to that which is named out of a regard for another person.
    • President James Madison is the eponym of the university.
    • James Madison University is the namesake of the fourth U.S. president, James Madison.

Equal Opportunity Employer

  • The following is JMU's official statement.
    • James Madison University does not discriminate on the basis of race, sex, color, national origin, religion, age, genetic information, sexual orientation, disability, veteran status, parental status or political affiliation (in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act) with respect to all aspects of employment or admissions, or in connection with its programs or activities. Inquiries or requests for reasonable accommodation may be directed to the activity coordinator, the appropriate university office, or the Office of Equal Opportunity, JMU, Harrisonburg, VA 22807, 540-568–6991.



  • Faculty is a collective noun referring to all professors of a university, college, department, school, program, etc.
  • Faculty does not refer to an individual professor; use "faculty member" or lowercase "professor." Nor should faculty be used as a plural noun; use "faculty members."
    • The JMU faculty accepted the proposal.
    • All JMU faculty members voted on the proposal.

Family Weekend (formerly Parents Weekend)

  • Always capitalize. 

Father of the Constitution

  • Capitalize in reference to James Madison, the fourth president of the United States, for whom this institution is named. He is widely regarded as one of the principal architects of the U.S. Constitution.


  • Do not use footnotes when you create a document for public audiences. Incorporate the attribution into the text in a conversational style.

Forbes Center for the Performing Arts

  • The preferred first-reference name of the Forbes Center 

freshman, freshmen (pl.)


game day

  • Two words rather than one. Use one word only if part of the formal title or other name. (From AP Stylebook Sports section)

General Education Program

  • Denotes JMU's core liberal arts curriculum, "The Human Community," which is required of all students regardless of their major or professional program.

Gilliam Center for Entrepreneurship

  • When context is appropriate (and space is not an issue), consider adding "named in honor of the late Leslie Flanary Gilliam ('82) by the Richard and Leslie Gilliam Foundation." (Madison Style; updated 11/6/19)



  • Always capitalize

Hotel Madison and Shenandoah Valley Conference Center 

  • The official hotel of JMU. "Hotel Madison" is acceptable in subsequent references. 




  • Use "JMU access card" on first reference, "JACard" or "access card" thereafter. (Madison Style)
    • Students should bring their JMU access cards to the door.
    • Present your JACard at the door.

James Madison

  • The eponym of James Madison University, James Madison was the fourth president of the United States and generally is regarded as the Father of the U.S. Constitution.

James Madison Center for Civic Engagement

  • Use on first reference. "Center for Civic Engagement" is acceptable in subsequent references.

James Madison University

  • In news releases and other formal communication, use the full name on first reference; on second reference, "JMU," "Madison" or "university" are all acceptable.
    • James Madison University is in Harrisonburg.
    • JMU is in Harrisonburg.
    • The university is in Harrisonburg.

JMU Nation

JMU X-Labs

  • Use on first reference. "X-Labs" is acceptable on subsequent references.





  • Acceptable in all references for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer and/or questioning. In quotations and the formal names of organizations and events, other variations such as LGBTQIA are also acceptable with the other letters explained. "I" generally stands for intersex, while "A" stands for asexual (a person who experiences little or no sexual attraction). Use of LGBTQ is best as an adjective and an umbrella term. (modified AP Style)


Madison Center for Community Development

  • Center for Community Development is acceptable in subsequent references.

Madison Experience

  • Capitalize in all uses. Refers to the essential aspects of a JMU education from the perspective of those who have lived it as a student, alumnus(a), parent, professor or staff member, as well as those who have felt it as a visitor or donor to the university. Common elements of the Madison Experience include:
    • welcoming professors who value teaching and have a commitment to student success
    • a student-centered atmosphere
    • a learning community that values hands-on learning and cross-disciplinary collaboration
    • superior academics
    • a beautiful campus
    • an abundance of friendly people
    • service to others in a true spirit of community
    • intelligent, social and active people who care about the world

Madison Family/JMU Family

  • Always capitalize.

Madison Pledge

Major Laboratory for Innovation, Collaboration, Creativity and Entrepreneurship, The


  • Capitalize majors and minors at JMU, but not the word "major" or "minor." 
    • She is a Computer Science major.
    • He is pursuing a minor in Music Industry.


Northern Virginia


on campus, on-campus

  • Hyphenate when used as a compound modifier.
    • We went to a theater workshop on campus.
    • We went to an on-campus theater workshop.


Parents Council

  • Always capitalize and do not use an apostrophe. 

pre- (prefix)

  • Follow Webster’s New World College Dictionary. Hyphenate if not listed there. A 2019 change in the AP Stylebook: In recognition of common usage and dictionary preferences, do not hyphenate double-e combinations with “pre-” and “re-” prefixes. Other examples: (Madison Style)
    • pre-dentistry
    • pre-game
    • prehistoric
    • pre-law
    • premedical
    • pre-medicine
    • pre-pharmacy
    • pre-physical therapy
    • pre-professional
    • pre-theology
    • pre-veterinary


  • Use as a courtesy title with all instructional faculty members at JMU, regardless of rank; do not abbreviate; do not capitalize before a name; do not use in second reference unless part of a quotation.

professor emeritus(a)

  • Capitalize only when used as a formal title before a person's name.
    • Professor Emeritus of Mathematics John Smith
    • Joanne Smith, professor emerita of mathematics, …


  • Growing numbers of people, including some transgender, nonbinary, agender or gender-fluid people, use they/them/their as a gender-neutral singular personal pronoun. As much as possible, use they/them/their as a way of accurately describing and representing a person who uses those pronouns for themself. They/them/their take plural verbs even when used as a singular pronoun. (AP Style)

provost/vice provost

  • Capitalize only when used as a formal title before a person's name. In academic affairs, JMU has deans, vice provosts and a provost/senior vice president. 
    • They spoke with Provost Heather Coltman.
    • Heather Coltman is provost and senior vice president.

Purple Pride


Quadrangle or Quad

  • Always capitalize.


  • With quoted material, commas and periods go inside the quotation marks:
    • "Knowledge will forever govern ignorance," James Madison said, "and a people who mean to be their own governors must arm themselves with the power which knowledge gives."
  • "quotation" is a noun; "quote" is a verb.


Reddix Center for First-Generation Students

  • Reddix Center is acceptable in subsequent references.

residence halls

  • Not dormitories

resident adviser

  • RA is acceptable in subsequent references.

room numbers

  • Use numerals and capitalize room when used with a numeral.
    • Room 312, Room 251



  • Capitalize only when using the school's formal name.
    • The School of Music presented the program.
    • The music school presented the program.
  • Because JMU has departments as well as schools and programs, when you use school in a generic sense, check to see if you also need to say department and program to be inclusive.
    • Students are accepted by the department, school or program on the basis of their academic records.


  • Capitalize when referring to a Fall, Spring or Summer semester within a specific academic year:
    • She completed her research in Spring 2017.
    • The new course will be offered to students in the spring semester.

State Council of Higher Education for Virginia

  • Spell out on first reference. SCHEV is acceptable in subsequent references.

student classification

  • The established convention at Madison is to refer to an undergraduate as a freshman, sophomore, junior or senior based on the number of credits the student has earned. However, the term "first-year" may be used in conjunction with certain programs that reflect when a student entered the university. For example, a student who comes to JMU directly from high school with 29 credit hours would be classified as a sophomore, but would attend first-year orientation.



  • Use this spelling unless "theatre" is part of the official name.
    • JMU School of Theatre and Dance
    • We went to a theater workshop.

titles of publications and other works

  • Do not underline or use quotation marks. Italicize the titles of publications and other works, including books, poems, short-story titles, television programs and film titles; CD, DVD, and song and musical composition titles; exhibition titles; and titles of sculpture and other visual and performing art.


United States (n.)

  • "U.S." is acceptable on first reference as both a noun and an adjective.


  • Do not capitalize unless it is part of a complete official name.
    • James Madison University is located in Harrisonburg.
    • The university is located in Harrisonburg.

University Recreation Center

  • UREC is acceptable on second reference.

Unleashed: The Campaign for James Madison University

  • The name of JMU’s campaign should be printed in italics (without bold; bold type is used here to indicate guide entry). In subsequent references, use Unleashed. 






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