Pepperdine Editorial Style Frequently Asked Questions
Capitalize according to the usual rules of grammar and punctuation in the standard situations:
- The first word at the beginning of a sentence
- In headlines (when the style choice is initial caps)
- Lists where all similar titles are likewise capitalized
- When it is used as a social title as part of the name, typically replacing the title holder's first name (similar to Mr./Ms./Dr./Prof.)
- Address blocks and salutations on letters and envelopes
Lieutenant governor Eleni Kounalakis is the first woman elected to the office in California. [running text]
Statewide Marijuana Panel Led by Lieutenant Governor Eleni Kounalakis [headline]
California Statewide Political Officials (2020) [roster/list]
- Gavin Newsom, Governor
- Eleni Kounalakis, Lieutenant Governor
- Xavier Becerra, Attorney General
- Alex Padilla, Secretary of State
- Betty Yee, Controller
- Fiona Ma, Treasurer
- Ricardo Lara, Insurance Commissioner
- Tony Thurmond, Superintendent of Public Instruction
It is permissible to capitalize an individual’s civil or professional title in running text when that title immediately precedes the individual’s personal name and used as part of the name (the title traditionally replaces the title holder’s first name, as in the example below).
“. . . I also add that Lieutenant Governor Kounalakis, ever and always a friend to the environment . . .”
The Honorable Eleni Kounalakis [envelope and inside address]
Lieutenant Governor of California
State Capitol, Suite 114
Sacramento, CA 958114
Dear Ms. Kounalakis: [salutation]
So when do you NOT capitalize "lieutenant governor" when referring to Kounalakis?
One should otherwise lowercase "lieutenant governor" when used in running text, occurring before (restricted appositive usage) or after (apposition) Kounalakis' name, especially at first reference.
Prior to her taking office in 2019, lieutenant governor Eleni Kounalakis served as chair of the California Advisory Council for International Trade and Investment. Before entering public service, she was president of a housing development firm.
Eleni Kounalakis, lieutenant governor of California, previously served as ambassador to the Republic of Hungary and as a Virtual Fellow at the Bureau of Intelligence and Research at the US State Department.
Frequently asked follow-up to the follow-up question:
Why lowercase in these situations? Especially the former example?
These are examples of formal prose, written from an objective point of view. In good prose practice when introducing a person into the narrative, you give the subject's full name and full functional or professional title relevant to your premises in writing the story to inform the reader why they are appearing. "Eleni Kounalakis" is capitalized because it is her proper name. "Lieutenant governor" is being mentioned not as part of her name but as generic information as to what job or role she has. The term "lieutenant governor" is not a proper noun unto itself.
Once a subject's full name and role has been articulated, the writer need only use the subject's last name in subsequent reference to be clear. Reiterations of longer subsequent forms can be used for additional clarity or marketing or rhetorical emphasis, but those would be editorial choices, not style requirements.
Pepperdine University generally follows the Chicago Manual of Style, which is a minimalist, "down" style that makes sparing use of caps, punctuation, abbreviations, and other typographic elements. Writers who are accustomed to style guides that require capitalizing certain job titles (but not all) in some contexts (but not all) may have to adjust their habits in following this style convention. As such, down styling then eliminates many discretionary styling calls and generally makes for a faster read by a reader.
In a series of three or more elements, place a comma after the element preceding the conjunction.
The colors of the American flag are red, white, and blue.
The available breakfast combos are ham and eggs, pancakes and sausage, or oatmeal and fruit.
We frequently use this series-sentence construction:
The school currently offers A, B, and C, as well as D.
The part " ..., as well as D." is a rhetorical add-on to the basic series construction. When using it, set it off with a comma as presented. By using this construction, you call out element D giving it greater attention and emphasis—so save it for your best selling point. Note that the phrase “as well as” cannot substitute for “and” in a series of items.
Introductory adverbial phrases: No, unless there is risk of ambiguity.
Introductory participial phrases: Yes, always.
Adverbial phrases: Very short adverbial phrases do not need to be set off with commas, unless not doing so will lead to a misreading. The longer the phrase gets, and therefore starts to look like a dependent clause, you may need to add a comma.
In 1996 he went to Notre Dame on a full-ride scholarship, eventually graduating in 2001.
After 9/11 many predicted a widespread avoidance of comedic irony, but the reverse happened.
On the other hand, Montoya realized nothing could be further from the truth.
Before marrying, his mother had advised him of the practical qualities he should seek in a wife.
In the City of Orange, Julius decided he would roll the dice and start over.
When you systematically write clear, adverbial introductions (the first two examples above) without commas, you can then intentionally use the comma in that kind of construction to subtly signal to your reader that you are making a transition and/or breaking a pattern. Sparing use of commas in your writing, gives greater weight to the ones that DO occur. Overusing commas is the equivalent of a speaker pausing to say "uh" too many times.
Participial phrases: Regardless of length, always set off introductory participial phrases with a comma.
Encouraged by success, they doubled down.
Struggling against prejudice, Jones decided a new strategy was required.
Cosponsored by the Pepperdine Hispanic Alumni Council, the event included panel sessions with business leaders.
Still smarting from last year's loss in the semifinals, the rebounder was determined he would not repeat his error.
Spell out zero to nine in running text.
Pepperdine University comprises five schools.
The Straus Institute was ranked as the number one program of its kind in the nation for 13 of the past 15 years.
Larry buys slacks with a 30-inch waist and 34-inch inseam.
The 2015 BMW 328d has been reported to have a cruising range of 675 miles.
Spell out numbers that begin a sentence, but because these tend to be awkward constructions, try to avoid such situations and recast the sentence to move the number out of the starting position.
Avoid: Nineteen thirty-seven was marked by the founding of Pepperdine College.
Better: The year 1937 was marked by the founding of Pepperdine College.
Avoid: Two hundred and five candidates were accepted into the program.
Better: In all, 205 candidates were accepted into the program.
Spell out and hyphenate simple fractions.
Passage of the measure requires approval by a two-thirds majority.
She had completed only one-half of the required course work.
The walking distance to the summit is three and one-quarter miles.
Cut to a thickness of one and one-half inches.
But: Cut to a thickness of one and a half inches.
"Faculty" and "staff" are considered what are called "mass," "noncount," or "collective" nouns, indicating an indeterminate aggregation of of people or things. When used as the subject of the sentence, these will usually take the singular verb. However, when they are used in their collective sense, they may take either the singular or plural verb, depending on whether the writer wishes to emphasize the unity of a group or the sense of many individuals.
The faculty always votes liberal on matters of increasing access to higher education.
The faculty are diverse, representing 20 nationalities and 30 language traditions.
The employee shuttle broke down so the staff was not there for the presentation.
The staff drive to campus from all parts of Southern California.
The majority has always been male.
The majority of the committee are persons of color.
[All of these can swing plural or singular; the strength of either can be amplified with additional verbiage, but to use a plural verb is to intentionally shift from the default state of singular reference and should be understood as such.]
Short answer: Long works (books, magazine titles) go into italics, short works (articles, poems, songs) go into quotes.
Use a semicolon (;) to connect two independent clauses that you want to connect more closely than leaving them as two separate sentences.
Use a colon (:) within a sentence to introduce a series of like elements.
Use an em dash (—) (a dash the length of a capital M) to set off a dependent clause or phrase that amplifies a point made in the main sentence.
I win; you lose.
I win—third time so far.
I win it all: in brains, looks, and popularity.
He was an artist—thoroughly obsessed with how the elements would be perceived; she was more of a mechanic—concerned with how things were put together and how they worked.
Lee was fond of saying that inspiration had three essential ingredients: discomfort, dissatisfaction, and a deadline.
The wizened copyeditor warned the fundraiser that stale, cultural allusions to bygone artifacts—Man of La Mancha, Frigidaires, carbon paper—would sail right over the heads of her intended young readers.
The ancient Chinese emperors held their "Dragon Throne"; Korean monarchs are said to have had their "Phoenix Throne"; and the Japanese—they still have an emperor—continue to have a "Chrysanthemum Throne."
Of course, many other uses of these punctuation tools exist, and you will find many learned writer's resources that provide greater detail on this topic. In our basic approach to expository prose, using these marks as set forth above will save you time in deciding which tool to reach for.
Warning: In writing persuasive copy, there is a tendency to set off benefits to a reader by using a lot em-dashed phrases for emphasis. Resist that temptation. When too many are used, it actually detracts from having a clear focus on your point.
Capitalize the word "university" when you use the construction "the University" as a subsequent reference for Pepperdine University; also capitalize it when used adjectivally in reference to Pepperdine University.
Examples: (please note lowercase usages in the first three examples)
Pepperdine is a university committed to the highest standards of academic excellence.
We intend that our university be a place where you will find more than job skills.
General education options at this university include a wider range of subjects related to service.
Employees of the University enjoy generous undergrad tuition benefits for both their dependents and themselves.
Personnel who drive wordmark-branded University vehicles on public roads are required to obey all traffic regulations.
Short answer: Place ending punctuation [period, question mark, exclamation point] inside the close-quote. Note, however, that ending punctuation that does not belong with the quoted matter should be placed outside the close-quote.
Short answer: When in doubt, spell it out. Abbreviations are existentially ambiguous, so avoid them whenever you can. Do NOT abbreviate state names (CA, AZ, NY) unless they appear in a table or mailing addresses; generally if you find the abbreviation in the Merriam-Webster Collegiate Dictionary, it's OK to use).
Short answer: No, do not use periods,do cap appropriately though [PhD, EdD, LLM, MDiv, etc.].
Short answer: Lowercase prepositions less than five letters long and conjunctions; in hyphenated words, cap the second element if it would be capped standing on its own.