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Punctuation and abbreviations

WSU Editorial Style Guide

Serial commas

Use a comma before “and” and “or” in a series.

  • Entering students will be required to take placement tests in English, mathematics, and a foreign language.
  • He prefers to eat bananas, apples, or grapes.

Commas in names

Do not use a comma before Jr., Sr., II, III, IV, etc. in names.

  • John H. Jones Jr. presented the guest lecture.

Commas in dates

Dates are punctuated month, day, year, followed by a comma.

  • “May 12, 2009, was the date set for commencement.”
  • If using only the month and year, there is no comma: “Commencement was held in May 2010.”

Commas in cities, states, or countries

When referring to a city and state within a sentence, precede and follow the state with commas.

The same rule applies for city and country.

  • The plane landed in Pullman, Washington, this morning.
  • The students were studying abroad in London, England, this fall.

Quotations and punctuation

Quotation marks are placed outside commas and periods and inside semicolons and colons.

Question marks and exclamation points are placed inside quotation marks if they are part of the quote and outside if they are not.

Items in quotation marks

  • article titles
  • direct quotes
  • parts of books
  • song titles
  • short poems
  • television and radio programs

Items in italics

  • book titles
  • periodical titles (magazines, etc.)
  • newspaper titles
  • pamphlets
  • proceedings
  • movie titles
  • works of art
  • operas and other long musical compositions


Acronyms should be all caps, with no periods and no spaces.

  • GPA
  • NASA
  • NSF
  • ID cards

Degree and major format

Formatting degrees and majors in text should be: (’year degree major).

  • “Jane Doe (’05 BA Crim. Jus.) donated to the College of Arts and Sciences.”

The degree (BA or BS) may be left off in some circumstances, but always list graduate degrees.

Only list graduation year and degree for WSU alumni.

The major is capitalized within the parentheses (different from running text).

Degree is not necessarily always known, so year and major can be left within parentheses.

If there are multiple degrees, separate with commas.

  • Jane Doe (’05 BA Crim. Jus., ’07 MBA)