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Aside from “U.S.,” avoid using periods with all-capitalized acronyms (e.g., “ASAP,” “SVA,” “UK”).

Unless an acronym is particularly complicated or inventive—e.g., “the Committee to Reelect the President (CREEP)”—a parenthetical definition is unnecessary.

addresses, place names
Use the “one through nine” rule (see Dates, Times, Numbers) when writing numbered street or avenue names. Room and floor numbers, however, are always written as numerals (e.g., “Room 1,” not “Room One”). Add “-nd,” “-rd,” “-st” or “-th” to avenue and street numbers (e.g., “Sixth Avenue,” “133/141 West 21st Street”). 

Spell out words such as “Street” and “Avenue,” if space allows.

Spell out words such as “Mount” and “Saint,” if space allows.

In running text, spell out state names (e.g., “Connecticut,” not “CT”), if space allows.

When naming multiple like streets, buildings or geographical features, use lowercase for the plural noun (e.g., “between Sixth and Seventh avenues,” “the Mississippi and Ohio rivers”).

When referring to widely known or capital cities (e.g., Buenos Aires, Detroit, Shanghai) in running text, it is not necessary to specify the state or country.

When writing an on-campus address, “Room” should be capitalized, but “floor” should not (e.g, “Room 501,” but “5th floor”). There are no hyphens between numbers and letters in room designations (e.g., “Room 601C,” not “Room 601-C”).

Capitalize “City” or “County” only when writing a city or county’s full name (e.g., “New York City,” “Kings County”).

When listing departments, speaker names, exhibition venues, etc., order the list alphabetically unless there is a reason to do otherwise.   

When alphabetizing, go by last names for people and the first element for business names. For example, gallery owner Paula Cooper would be alphabetized under “C.” Her business, Paula Cooper Gallery, would be alphabetized under “P.”

For last names beginning with lowercase particles (e.g., “de,” “van,” “von”) alphabetize according to the capitalized name that follows (e.g., “Willem de Kooning” would fall under “K”). When the two words have been joined or the particle is capitalized, alphabetize according to the particle (e.g., “De Angelo” and “DiMartino” would both fall under “D”).

SVA style is to place numbered items first in alphabetical lists.

Academic departments at SVA should be listed alphabetically by their program name, not by their degree type:

                BFA Advertising

                BFA Animation

                MFA Art Criticism and Writing

                MFA Art Practice

                BFA Cartooning

                . . . .

ampersand (&)
Unless it is part of an official title or organization name (e.g., “Dusty Film & Animation Festival,” “BFA Visual & Critical Studies Department”), avoid using “&” in running text.

Not “analogue.”

Capitalize specific award names (e.g., “Golden Globe,” “Silver Pencil,” “Stanley Cup”).

Not “catalogue.”

Hyphenate “co-” words, such as “co-author,” “co-chair” or “co-founder.”

Colons should be used sparingly in titles and headings. Colons within colons should always be avoided.

When a colon is part of a title or heading, words that would normally be lowercased in headline-style capitalization—such as “a,” “an” and “the”—are capitalized if they follow the colon (e.g., Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope).

SVA style is to not use a serial comma before the final “and” or “or” in constructions such as “this, that and the other,” except when the final or second-to-last item includes “and” or “or,” or when all the elements are long and complicated. Do, however, use a serial comma before indeterminate endings such as “and more” or “among others.”

Be careful when using or not using commas appositively. “My wife, Mary,” indicates only one wife; “my son Michael” indicates more than one son.

crowdfunding, crowdsourcing
Not “crowd-funding,” “crowd-sourcing.”

em dashes

Em dashes, without spaces preceding or following them, are used to set off a piece of text within a sentence (e.g., “The important thing—the most important thing—is your health.”)

en dashes

En dashes, preceded and followed by a space, are used when indicating numerical ranges (e.g., “$8 – 10,” “February 4 – March 8,” “1:30 – 5:00pm”).

In running text, avoid using en dashes in “from __ to __” or “between __ and __” constructions. Use “from February 4 to March 8,” not “from February 4 – March 8”; and “between $8 and $10”, not “between $8 – 10.”


Capitalize words like “Department,” “Division” or “Office” only when they are part of a unit’s name (e.g., “Office of Alumni Affairs,” “the MFA Design Department”).

When naming more than one department, division or office together, use lowercase for the plural noun (e.g., “the BFA Interior Design and MPS Fashion Photography departments,” “the Academic Affairs and Communication offices”).

Not “dialog.”

editor in chief
This title and others like it (e.g., “editor at large”) are not hyphenated.

An ellipsis (“ . . . ”) is used to indicate omitted text or a pause. Whenever possible, it should be typed as three spaced-apart periods, with a space on either end of the symbol (e.g., “I fear . . . we will have to change.”

If an ellipsis follows the end of a sentence, place it after that sentence’s period (e.g., “The fire was very hot. . . . Later, I noticed the bear”).

Do not hyphenate terms such as African American, French Canadian, Native American, etc.

exclamation points
Exclamation points should be used sparingly, if at all.

first-come, first-served

foreign language words
Use italics for words in a language other than English, unless the word or phrase is commonly used by English speakers. (If the word or phrase is in Merriam-Webster’s, consider it commonly used.)

fund-raiser, fund-raising
Not “fundraiser,” “fundraising.”

ground floor
Rather than “1st floor.”

Consult Merriam-Webster’s on questions of whether a compound term is hyphenated (e.g., “fund-raiser”) or not (e.g., “firsthand”).

When preceding a noun, modifiers involving speed, distance, quantity, and numbers (e.g., “fast-moving train,” “long-term history,” “high-frequency recording,” “19th-century building”) are usually hyphenated.

Modifiers involving “-ly” words (e.g., “neatly combed hair”) are not hyphenated.

When capitalizing hyphenated compounds or words in a headline or title:

  • always capitalize the first element (e.g., “Un-American”)
  • capitalize all elements of temporary compounds (e.g., “Time-Consuming Tasks”)
  • only capitalize the first element of an always hyphenated compound (e.g., “Fathers-in-law”)

Place nicknames or preferred names within parenthesis, not quotation marks—e.g., “Qui (Cindy) Zhang,” “Edward (Ted) Kennedy.”

plurals of numbers and letters
For plurals of numbers and uppercase letters, an apostrophe is unnecessary (e.g., “the 1980s,” “the ABCs”).

For plurals of lowercase letters, use an apostrophe (e.g., “mind your p’s and q’s”).

professional titles
When they immediately precede a person’s name, professional titles are capitalized (e.g., “President David Rhodes and Executive Vice President Anthony Rhodes”).

When they follow a person’s name, professional titles are lowercased and set off by commas (e.g., “David Rhodes, president, and Anthony Rhodes, executive vice president”).

When they are used as a descriptive tag (often accompanied with a “the”), professional titles are lowercased and followed by a comma (e.g., “the president, David Rhodes, and the executive vice president, Anthony Rhodes”).

When a professional title is used without a person’s name, it is lowercased (e.g., “the president met with the executive vice president”).

In mailing addresses, professional titles are capitalized. In lists of acknowledgments or contributors, professional titles are also usually capitalized, even if they follow a person’s name.

Not “resume.” 

Semicolons are used instead of commas in series when one or more elements contain a comma:

The train makes only three stops: Richmond, Virginia; Raleigh, North Carolina; and Jacksonville, Florida.

With the exception of SVA Theatre, use the American spelling of “theater.”

Use italics for titles of:

  • albums
  • artworks
  • ballets
  • books
  • comic books or comic strips
  • exhibition catalogs
  • films (animated or live-action, short- or long-form)
  • magazines (but do not italicize or capitalize magazine, unless it is part of the publication’s name, like The New York Times Magazine)
  • newsletters
  • newspapers
  • plays
  • posters
  • reports
  • surveys
  • television programs and series
  • video games

Use quotes for titles of:

  • articles in magazines, newspapers, etc.
  • episodes or segments of a television program or series
  • exhibitions, one-of-a-kind (see also “exhibitions, recurring” below)
  • lectures
  • music videos
  • panel discussions
  • poems
  • sections within articles, books or reports
  • short stories
  • songs

Do not italicize or use quotes for titles of:

  • advertising or promotional campaigns
  • blogs
  • board games
  • conferences and conventions
  • courses or workshops
  • exhibitions, recurring (e.g., Documenta, Whitney Biennial)
  • event series
  • fairs and festivals
  • informational/promotional publications (e.g., Division of Continuing Education Spring 2013 Bulletin, SVA Undergraduate Catalog)
  • regular columns, departments or sections in periodicals (e.g., Visual Arts Journal’s What’s in Store section)
  • software programs
  • sports events
  • trade shows
  • unpublished papers or academic studies
  • websites

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