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SEES CommunicationsWriting Style Guide

Our Name

"Student Engagement & Enrollment Services" is the preferred use of our name. An ampersand is always used in place of "and" and it is acceptable to use SEES after the first formal reference.

Use "Old Dominion University" on first reference and in a prominent place in the publication. "Old Dominion" or "the University" is acceptable in subsequent references. Limited use of "ODU" is permitted.

Our Mission

As a student-centered educational partner, Student Engagement & Enrollment Services impacts the learning environment through an innovative signature experience that seamlessly connects recruitment, engagement, active learning, inclusion and student success.


Student Engagement & Enrollment Services (SEES) will be the pre-eminent model for engaging every student to achieve success.

SEES Pillars

Enrollment: Manage dynamic recruitment and retention practices that facilitate student success.

Engagement: Offer multidimensional engagement opportunities aimed to cultivate a sense of belonging, positive social-emotional wellbeing, and leadership skills.

Inclusion: Lead through evidenced-based, educative, and transformative diversity, equity, and inclusion programming and initiatives that support a vibrant and inclusive campus community.

Learning: Design intentional student opportunities to promote learning through leadership, wellbeing, and experiential learning.

Student Success: Provide a learning experience that promotes progression though graduation and prepares students for success in their personal, civic, and professional lives.

Diversity & Inclusion Statement

The Division of Student Engagement & Enrollment Services values the uniqueness of our Monarch community. The word "engagement" reflects our commitment to embrace the differences in our cultural backgrounds, perceptions, beliefs, traditions, world views, socio-economic status, cognitive and physical abilities.

We will strive to serve as the pre-eminent model for engaging every student to achieve their own success. Our core values are fueled by our responsibility and actions toward community development and engagement, cultural competence and understanding, physical and mental wellness and inclusion for every member of ODU. We will embrace our greatest strength - the diverse composition of our student body and workforce.

SEES Writing Style Guide



Academic Calendar/Terms

Lowercase names of terms in text.

  • The 2022 fall term runs from August through December.

Academic Degrees

Faculty are identified by their names and academic rankings on the first reference. Use their surnames on subsequent references. Use the guide below when it's necessary to specify their degrees.

Bachelor's Degrees

Lowercase, including the major area of study.

  • She has a bachelor's degree in modeling and simulation. (preferred)
  • Bachelor of Science/Bachelor of Arts. May use capitalized BA or BS or B.A. or B.S., as long as it is consistent throughout the text.

Master's degree

Lowercase, including the major area of study.

  • He earned a master's degree in physics. (preferred)
  • Master of Science in chemistry or Master of Arts in history. May use MS and MA, or M.S. and M.A., as long as they are used consistently in the text.

Doctoral degrees

Lowercase, including the major area of study.

  • Berhanu Mengistu, a professor of public service in the Strome College of Business, received his doctorate from the University of Delaware. (preferred)
  • In a list: Holly Gaff, Ph.D., and Karen Sanzo, Ed.D.
  • Following Associated Press style, the title "Dr." is used only for medical doctors, dentists or veterinarians.
  • However, after introducing the faculty member, as a courtesy, they may be acknowledged as "Dr." once on second reference. This is an exception to Associated Press style.
  • Doctorate is the noun; doctoral is an adjective
  • Professor Sylvain Marsillac holds a doctorate in materials science and engineering;
    he earned a doctoral degree from the University of Nantes in France.

Associate degrees

Lowercase, not possessive.

  • She earned an associate degree before transferring to ODU to complete an undergraduate
    degree in history.

If listing a person's degree, use their highest degree or professional designation. Limit the list to three
credentials; any more hampers readability.

  • Karen A. Karlowicz, Ed.D., RN

The type of degree is sufficient without adding the word "degree."

  • She earned her Ph.D. in English this fall.
  • He was the first to earn a Bachelor of Science in cybersecurity.

Degree programs are not capitalized within text unless the program is a proper noun.

  • Samantha Salvia, Old Dominion's first Rhodes Scholar, is a 1996 graduate in civil and
    environmental engineering.
  • Old Dominion offers bachelor's degrees in African American and Asian studies.

Academic Titles[NM1]

When the title precedes the name of the person, it is uppercase.

  • President Brian O. Hemphill, Ph.D., was unanimously chosen in 2021 by the Board of Visitors.
  • His family includes First Lady Marisela Rosas Hemphill, Ph.D., and their two children.
  • Professor Michelle Kelly was elected Fellow of the Association for Psychological Science.

Lowercase titles that follow a name. Eminent Scholar is capitalized regardless of where it is placed in a

  • Brian Hemphill is Old Dominion University's ninth president.
  • Shaomin Li is an Eminent Scholar and professor of management.

Acronyms & Abbreviations

Use acronyms and abbreviations after the formal name has been mentioned. If a program is named only once in text, do not add its acronym in parentheses.

  • Student Engagement and Enrollment Services (SEES)
  • Center for Coastal Physical Oceanography (CCPO)
  • Information Technology Services (ITS)
  • Engineering Systems Building (ESB)
  • Graduate Program in International Studies (GPIS)


When referring to those who advise at Old Dominion University, advisor is preferred.

Use "adviser" for external audience.

Alumnus, Alumni

An alumnus is a person who has attended or graduated from a particular school, college, or university; the plural is alumni. The term alum is also used in casual writing to describe such a person. The term alumnae (the feminine plural of alumnus) is used in the names of some women's groups, such as the Alumnae Council of Old Dominion University.


An ampersand (&) may be used in graphic marks and acronyms as well as in official names of companies, organizations, and publications. Never use an ampersand instead of the word and in text.

  • Student Engagement & Enrollment Services
  • Jane Smith majored in international studies in the School of Arts and Letters.



ODU's capitalization style calls for less, rather than more, when it comes to the use of uppercase. When possible, rearrange elements to use lowercase. This increases readability for your audience.

Departments & Offices

Lowercase unless it is part of an official name.

  • The political science department, the art department, admissions office
  • Old Dominion University Department of Physics; Career Development Services


Capitalize "University" when referring to Old Dominion University, specifically, but not when referring to universities in general.

  • Old Dominion University is Virginia's entrepreneurial-minded public research institution
    located in Norfolk, Va. The University is situated on 335 acres . . .
  • The University today petitioned the General Assembly for additional state funding.
  • If you want a university that embraces a multicultural student body and faculty, Old
    Dominion University is the place for you.

Semester terms

Fall semester, Spring semester, and summer semester may be capitalized when referring to a specific semester. General references to semesters should be lowercased. Seasons of the year are not capitalized.

City of Norfolk

Capitalize the c in city when it is a part of an official name of a municipality, committee, or event. Lowercase the word when making general references.

  • This city is a great place to live.
  • The City of Norfolk has many restaurant options.

Classes, Courses

Uppercase when referring to specific courses: CHEM 117, Foundations of Chemistry.

Creative Work

Books, films and song titles are capitalized appropriately and surrounded by quotation marks. Magazine and newspaper names are italicized. Also, always be sure to use the correct full name of newspapers.

  • Tim Seibles' latest book is titled, "Fast Animal"
  • Old Dominion University has been mentioned in The Virginian-Pilot


SEES follows AP Style when it comes to the appropriation of commas. ODU SEES does not use the serial comma and instead follows the following examples:

  • We ate apples, oranges and bananas.
  • A combination of discipline, brutally honest advice and down-home humor


Virginia is one of four U.S. commonwealths, but limit "commonwealth" to formal statements.
Otherwise, use "state."

  • The Commonwealth of Virginia filed suit in October 2016, seeking civil penalties...
  • Old Dominion has a reputation as one of the most military-friendly universities in the state.


Generally combined as one word, no hyphen.

  • Cyberspace, cyberattack, cybersecurity majors at ODU, cyberbullying, cybercafe
    • Exceptions: Cyber Monday, cyber systems security, cyber specialist



When there is a specific date, the months August through February are abbreviated, while the months March through July are not. If there is no specific date for that month, the month is not abbreviated.

  • Fall break this past semester ran from Oct. 12-15
  • Campus life blossoms best during the month of September
  • Spring break this year is from March 10-15


Use of Arabic figures to indicate decades of history: the 1920s, the '80s.


Email (no hyphen)

There is no hyphen in email.


In text, it would be lowercase: e-magazine.


First-Generation College Student

A hyphen is used to avoid ambiguity and to form a single idea from two words. Only use first gen when the context is informal, and the audience is familiar with the term.


Inclusive Language

Old Dominion University avoids words that contain discriminatory connotations. Use these suggested

"best man for the job" - best candidate,"chairman" - chair, chairperson, departmental chair, "craftsman" - artisan, "foreigner"- international student, "foreman"- supervisor, "manned the booth" - staffed the booth, "man-made" - synthetic "Policeman" - police officer.

To avoid a "student he/she" construction, you may directly address the student ("you") or use plural

  • Ex: Students must speak with their faculty advisor to drop a course after the deadline.


The Student Engagement & Enrollment Services supports the use of inclusive language, avoiding words that contain discriminatory connotations. Replace the following terms with these suggested alternatives:

"Chairman" - Chairperson, chair, departmental chair

"Policeman" - Police officer

"Best man for the job" - best candidate

"Manned the booth" - staffed the booth

"Man-made" - synthetic

"Foreigner" - International student

"Foreman" - supervisor

"Craftsman" - artisan, designer

To avoid a "student he/she" construction, you may directly address the student ("you") or use plural

  • Ex: Students must speak with their faculty advisor to drop a course after the deadline.


Latina/o - Latinx

The term "Latinx" has emerged in academia as a popular way to refer to those whose ancestors came
from a Spanish-speaking land or culture or a Latin American country.

  • Latino is appropriate for all-male groups; Latinos is plural. Latina designates a group of females;
    Latinas, if plural.
  • Hispanic designates a person from - or whose ancestors were from - a Spanish-speaking land
    or culture. It is also generally acceptable for those in the U.S. Be specific when possible, such as
    Cuban, Puerto Rican, Brazilian or Mexican American.


"Street", "Boulevard" and "Avenue" are always abbreviated if accompanied by a numbered address. They are spelled out in all other cases. "Road" and "Route" are always spelled out.

  • The ODU campus runs parallel to Hampton Boulevard
  • The physical address of ODU is 5115 Hampton Blvd.



Leo Online

Norfolk Division of the College of William and Mary - ODU's founding name

The Norfolk Division of William and Mary; the Norfolk Division

Preview - ODU's name for orientation

Ted Constant Convocation Center, on first reference, then the Constant Center or Convocation Center. Students also call it "The Ted."


National anthem (lowercase)

  • The song is "The Star-Spangled Banner."


Spell out whole numbers below 10; use figures for 10 and above. Use the same rule for ordinals.

  • Old Dominion is one university in the state.
  • Old Dominion University has been its own institution for more than 50 years.



The symbol is permitted in text as well as statistical and tabular data.

  • ODU awards $200 million in financial aid each year; 67% of its undergraduates receive financial assistance.


Pre-K, grades K-12, preschool students



In June 2020, the Associated Press and many other media organizations reset their style to capitalize
Black and Indigenous in a racial, ethnic or cultural sense, conveying a shared sense of history, identity
and community among people.
A few guidelines:

  • Black is generally used as an adjective: Black literature, Black culture, Black studies
  • White remains lowercase.
  • African American is an alternative for a Black person in the U.S. from Africa or in the African
    diaspora. It is not always interchangeable. Many cultures that have settled in the United States
    proudly identify their dual heritage, such as Somali Americans or Caribbean Americans. Be
  • Native Americans or American Indians are acceptable general references in the U.S. when
    referring to two or more Indigenous tribes. When possible, refer to them as citizens from their
    specific tribal affiliation.
  • In Alaska, the Indigenous groups are collectively known as Alaska Natives.


SEES Units

Admissions - ADM

Center for Major Exploration & Mane Connect Success Coaching - CME

Dean of Students

Health Promotion

Customer Relations

Student Financial Aid

University Registrar - REG

Office of Leadership & Learning

SEES Assessment and Planning

Institutional Research

Career Development Services - CDS

Counseling Services

Educational Accessibility

Intercultural Relations - IR

Military Connection Center - MCC

Student Health Services

Women & Gender Equity Center - WGEC

Housing & Residence Life - HRL

Recreation & Wellness - Rec Well

Leadership & Learning

SEES Communications - SEES Comm

Student Conduct & Academic Integrity

Student Engagement &Traditions - SET

Student Outreach & Support

Singular They

To take a gender-neutral position and avoid the irritating "s/he" construction, the Associated Press in
2017 allowed the use of a "singular they" as a singular pronoun in limited cases. AP still prefers
rewording whenever possible. Another option is to directly address the student ("you") or use plural

  • If an applicant writes poorly, they likely will not be hired for the job.
  • Students must speak with their faculty advisors to drop courses after the deadline.
  • You must inform the professor that you dropped the class.


Spell out state names. Use the U.S. Postal Service two-letter abbreviations in complete mailing
addresses, seen on department brochures, for example.



If the clause can be omitted without leaving the noun it modifies incomplete or without materially altering the sense of what is being said—or if it could be enclosed in parentheses—use which; otherwise, use that.

In other words, that is better used to introduce a limiting or defining clause, which to introduce a non-defining or parenthetical clause. The word which should be preceded by a comma and refers to the word directly before it.

  • The Ohio River, which flows to the Mississippi, forms in Pittsburgh.
  • The river that forms in Pittsburgh is the Ohio.
  • Generally speaking, which refers to things, who to persons, and that to either persons or things.
  • The man who went to the store was my uncle.
  • My old car, which I dearly loved, was relegated to the junk heap.
  • The book that you sent arrived yesterday.


The crew that worked here left last week.


Use numerals for the hours of the day. Use lowercase letters for and periods between a.m. and p.m. Also use noon and midnight, not 12 p.m. or 12 a.m. Do not use :00 for time that falls on the hour (except to accommodate specific design considerations on invitations, posters, course catalogs, or similar materials).

  • 4 p.m. or 4:30 p.m. (not 4 PM, 4 P.M., 4:00 p.m., or 4 pm)
  • 10 in the evening (not 10:00 in the evening or 10 p.m. in the evening)
  • from 9 a.m. to noon (not from 9 a.m. to 12 noon)

Use numerals for the time of day when it is followed by the contraction o'clock:

  • My appointment is at 8 o'clock.

Use numerals for precise times.

  • Her bus will arrive at 3:05 this afternoon.
  • I'll be there at 11:15 in the morning.

No comma is necessary between a time and a day or date.

  • Her paper is due by 5 p.m. July 12.


A person's title is always capitalized if used before his or her name. If the title is mentioned after it is lowercase.

  • John R. Broderick is the president of Old Dominion University
  • Old Dominion University President John R. Broderick


Books that are not reference books are set off with quotation marks. Magazines, newspapers, journals
and reference books have no italics or quotation marks. Radio and TV shows are put inside quotation

  • "A Mathematical Nature Walk" by John Adam, a math professor and photographer
  • Time magazine, The New York Times
  • "Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me" On NPR
  • "Car Talk" on NPR
  • MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers


The University's trademarks include:

"Old Dominion University"

"Old Dominion"



"Old Dominion Monarchs"

The University Corporate logo with crown

The athletics crown logo

The athletics Lion logo

The athletics Lion shield logo

Big Blue logo

The University Seal

All other names, including "Monarchs", symbols, initials, colors, images, graphic designs or other indicia that refer to the University are protected by United State federal and state law. The trademarks are updated continually. A current listing of registered trademarks is available from the Director of Trademark Licensing and Enforcement.


United States

Spell out United States when used as a noun; use U.S. (with periods) when used as an adjective or in tables and graphs.

  • People of many different ethnic origins live in the United States.
  • The U.S. Congress is in session now.


All offices that fall under the SEES area of support are preferably known as "units".

  • The Office of Financial Aid is one unit we support.



Voicemail is one word.

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Presidential Inauguration

ODU commemorated the inauguration of President Brian O. Hemphill, Ph.D., during Homecoming Weekend 2022. Relive the historic weekend.

Fall Open House

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Commencement 2022

Visit the Commencement Office for information on event times, caps & gowns, tickets and more!