Skip to Content

Communications and Marketing

Editorial Style

Speaking with a consistent brand voice is important not only in messaging, but also in style. These editorial style guidelines cover university nomenclature as well as frequently used terms.

The university follows AP Style with some institution-specific modifications and refers to Merriam-Webster for additional grammar and style guidance. Review our specific editorial style guidelines below.

University nomenclature

  • First reference: Use “University of South Carolina.”
  • Second reference: Use “South Carolina," “the university” or "USC" to add variety. For in-state and alumni audiences, "Carolina" is also acceptable. When using “South Carolina,” make sure that the context clearly distinguishes the university from the state of South Carolina and its government. 
  • Abbreviation: “USC.”
  • Headlines: Use “USC," with the understanding that additional context is needed for out-of-state audiences. 
  • Lowercase the “t” when formally referring to the University of South Carolina, and omit “the” when the name stands alone.
  • References to “the university” or "university" should be lowercased. Capitalizing “University” is acceptable only in limited, highly formal communications to internal audiences.


  • Refer to all University of South Carolina institutions (Columbia, Aiken, Beaufort, Upstate, Lancaster, Salkehatchie, Sumter and Union) collectively as the University of South Carolina system.
  • Formal written references to institutions in the university system should consist of “University of South Carolina” followed by a space and then the name of the institution. Do not use a hyphen, dash or comma before the institution name. Examples: "University of South Carolina Aiken," "University of South Carolina Beaufort."
  • In a system context, abbreviations should follow this format: “USC Columbia,” “USC Aiken,” “USC Beaufort,” “USC Upstate,” “USC Lancaster,” “USC Salkehatchie,” “USC Sumter” and “USC Union.”
  • Once the identity of an institution has been established via the formal or abbreviated usages above, “Aiken,” “Beaufort” and “Upstate” can be used for subsequent references.
  • Refer to Columbia as a research university.
  • Refer to Aiken, Beaufort and Upstate as comprehensive universities.
  • Refer to Lancaster, Salkehatchie, Sumter and Union as Palmetto College campuses. Do not refer to them as two-year or branch campuses.

President Michael Amiridis and Family

Use these guidelines for references to President Michael Amiridis and family members.


  • Amiridis: One family member.
  • Examples: President Michael Amiridis, Aspasia Amiridis, Dimitri Amiridis.
  • Exception: See “Ero” below.


  • Amiridises: Two or more family members.
  • Example: “The Amiridises attended the commencement ceremony.”
  • Alternate: “The Amiridis family is coming to the event.”

Singular Possessive

  • Amiridis’: The possessive form for one individual.
  • Example: “President Amiridis’ office is in Osborne.”

Plural Possessive

  • Amiridises’: The possessive form for two or more family members.
  • Example: “The Amiridises’ home is on the Horseshoe.”

The First Lady

  • The first lady is Dr. Ero Aggelopoulou-Amiridis.
  • Preferred option as a couple: “President Michael Amiridis and First Lady Ero Aggelopoulou-Amiridis.”
  • Avoid: “President and Mrs. Amiridis” or “Dr. and Mrs. Amiridis.”
  • Also avoid “Dr. and Dr. Amiridis,” since she is Dr. Aggelopoulou-Amiridis.

Family References

  • References to the Amiridis family as a group do not require a separate reference to Aggelopoulou-Amiridis.

Academic Units

  • Use “the Darla Moore School of Business” for the first reference. “Moore School” is an acceptable second reference.
  • Use “Arnold School of Public Health” for all standard references. The full name — “The Norman J. Arnold School of Public Health” — should be used only for formal occasions (e.g., commencement) or for legal purposes. “Arnold School” is an acceptable second reference.
  • Refer to the university's medical schools as "School of Medicine Columbia" and "School of Medicine Greenville."
  • The official name of “The Graduate School” includes “The,” and it is always capitalized.

Degrees Listed with Alumni Names

When listing earned degrees with alumni names, the preferred order is year, degree type (lowercase), discipline (if listed, lowercase). Do not place a comma between the year and degree name, but do place a comma between the degree type and discipline. Use of parentheses around degree information is optional.

  • Madison Dinkum, 2003 law
  • Madison Dinkum, 1998 master's
  • Madison Dinkum, 1996 B.A., history
  • Madison Dinkum (1998 master's, history)
  • Madison Dinkum (‘03 law)

Communications Corrections

We strive to publish material that is accurate, informative and quotes our sources fairly. Any factual errors should be corrected and updated as soon as they are discovered and the new information can be verified. 

General Usage and Capitalization

* Denotes an exception to established AP style

Academic degrees: Avoid abbreviations; use “bachelor’s degree” instead of B.A. and “master’s degree” instead of M.A. “Bachelor’s” and “master’s” are also acceptable. Capitalize when referring to a specific degree; lowercase when referring to a general type of degree. Do not use “Dr.” or “doctor” for someone who holds a nonmedical doctoral degree. Examples: Bachelor of Fine Arts,” “Master of Philosophy,” “bachelor’s degree,” “master’s degree,” doctorate.” “She earned her doctorate in chemical engineering.”

  • Associate degree: No apostrophe
  • Bachelor's degree, master's degree: Use an apostrophe in bachelor’s degree and master’s degree. Do not use an apostrophe when referring to a specific degree. Examples: “I have a master’s degree.” “I have a Bachelor of Fine Arts.”
  • Abbreviation of academic degrees:
    • Use such abbreviations as B.S., M.S., LL.D., J.D., and Ph.D. only when you need to identify many individuals by degree on first reference and doing so in the above style would be cumbersome. Use these abbreviations only after full names, never after just a last name.
    • Use periods in two-letter abbreviations: B.A., M.A., M.S.
    • Do not use periods in MBA.
    • Never precede a name with a courtesy title for an academic degree and then also follow it with the abbreviation for the degree in the same reference.

Acronyms: Stick to well-known abbreviations and minimize use of acronyms. When using acronyms (first letter of each word), use full caps with no periods. Examples: ROTC, MIT

ACT: Use initials only; do not use “American College Testing.”

*Advisor: Not “adviser.” Example: “She’s going to see her advisor this afternoon.”

African American: Not hyphenated. Example: African American Studies Program.

Ages: Use figures.

Alumnus, alumna, alumni, alumnae: “Alumnus” denotes one male graduate. “Alumna” is one female graduate. “Alumni” is the plural reference to a mixed gender group of graduates or to a group of male graduates. “Alumnae” is a group of female graduates.

Ampersand (&): Do not use in place of the word “and.” The ampersand is acceptable in body copy as part of a proper name such as, Hootie & the Blowfish.

*Board of Trustees: Refer to the “Board of Trustees” on first reference and “trustees” or “the board” thereafter.

Catalog: Not “catalogue.”

College, department, center, institute, association and other names: Official names of colleges, departments, centers and associations are capitalized as proper nouns when their full name is used. However, subsequent, shortened references are not capitalized. Examples: “He is a professor at the Institute of Mind and Brain. The institute is doing fascinating work in cognitive neuroscience.” “She enrolled in USC’s Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry; she’ll be working with a top professor in the department.”

*Columbia, South Carolina: Spell out South Carolina in longform copy, such as press releases, web stories and magazine stories. In short-form communications such as lists, tabular materials, brochures and letters, identify the location of USC Columbia as Columbia, S.C. In communications pieces aimed strictly at a local audience, reference to the state can be omitted.

*Composition titles: Use italics for the titles of complete works and publications such as books, journals, movies, plays, magazines, newspapers, albums, long-form musical compositions (such as symphonies or concertos), paintings and exhibitions. Exception: Use quotes for lecture titles, chapter titles, poems, songs and the titles of journal articles. 

Compound modifiers: Use when two words collectively modify another word. Examples: “first-year experience”; “fast-paced novel.” Not used with words ended in “ly”: “nationally ranked program” (the “ly” signals that the next word is another modifier). Exception: “family-based program.”

Conferred, educational and occupational titles: For job titles and other types of formal titles, capitalize only when used before an individual’s name. Examples:  “Dean Tayloe Harding has been working closely with key music faculty to increase the school's community outreach. “William Hubbard, dean of the Joseph F. Rice School of Law, welcomed guests from throughout the city to the launch of the Palmetto LEADER bus.” Exception:  Do not capitalize "professor" before a name. 

Course titles: Course titles should be capitalized. Example: Intro to Financial Accounting.

Coursework: Not “course work.”

Cybersecurity: One word, not "cyber security." Also: cyberattack, cyberbullying, cybercafe, cyberspace. Exceptions: Cyber Monday, cyber shopping

Decades: Use figures; use an apostrophe to indicate when numbers are left out. Examples: 1983. The 1970s. The ’70s.

Doctor: “Dr.” is reserved for medical doctors, including dentists, not those who hold doctoral degrees. 

Doctorate and doctoral: “Doctorate” is a noun; “doctoral” is an adjective. Examples: “She earned her doctorate in biochemistry.” “He holds a doctoral degree in mechanical engineering.”

*Em dashes: Em dashes are used to create a strong break within the structure of a sentence. Use a space before and after the em dash. Do not use more than two em dashes in a sentence. Example:  “Although sickle cell testing after birth is routine in the United States — about 2,000 babies are diagnosed annually — it is rare in Sierra Leone.”

*Endowed chairs and named professorships: Capitalize as proper nouns. Example: “He serves as the Carolina Endowed Professor of Physics and Astronomy.”

Fields of study, major subjects, curricula, etc.: Lowercase unless a specific course is referenced. Exception: Languages. Examples:  “He is studying philosophy and English.” “Each student must meet core requirements in biological sciences and liberal arts.” “The university offers a curriculum in textiles and clothing.”

First annual: Do not use the term “first annual.” Use “inaugural” instead. An event cannot be described as annual until it has been held at least two successive years.

Freshman, freshmen: “Freshman” is an adjective or singular noun. “Freshmen” is a plural noun. Examples: “The freshman class has grown considerably since the time when I was in school.” “I’ve seen a lot of first-year students at Chick-fil-A.”

Full time, full-time: Hyphenate when used as a compound modifier. Example: She is a full-time instructor.

Fund and scholarship names: Capitalize as proper nouns. Example: “She was awarded a Boren Graduate Fellowship.” “The Family Fund supports research, programs and initiatives at the University of South Carolina.”

Fundraising (noun), fundraising (adjective), fundraiser (noun): One word in all cases.

GPA: Use to indicate grade-point average. Do not use GPR.

Health care: Two words, not “healthcare.”

Indigenous people(s): A broad umbrella term describing the original inhabitants of a place. Capitalize. 

Oxford comma: Avoid the Oxford comma in all cases except where it is absolutely necessary to establish clarity.

*Percent: Spell out in most instances: “10 percent,” not “10%. Exception: In headlines, short-form marketing copy or graphic content such as posters or social media graphics, “%” is acceptable.

Ranking style: Rankings are presented as No. 1, No. 10, etc. Example: “Our international business program is ranked No. 1 in the country.” Exception: For marketing graphics, “#1,” “#10,” etc., are acceptable.

*Says, said: In feature writing and press releases, "says" is the preferred style for quotations. Example:  “As our national reputation continues to flourish, we are able to attract diverse, stellar faculty, staff and students,” says USC Nursing Dean Jeannette Andrews. Reserve "said" for quotations that have a specific time element. Example:  "We're very proud of the relationships we are building with our partners in the private sector," the president said at the press conference. The website of the University of South Carolina is Do not use or other variations. 

South/Southern: Capitalize when referring to a region. Examples: “The restaurant’s interpretation of Southern cooking is first-rate.” “He went to high school in the South.”

*State House: Use “State House,” two words, when referring to the S.C. General Assembly or the capitol grounds.

State names: In stories or other long-form communications, state names should be spelled out.

Toward: Do not add an s. This rule also applies to “backward,” “forward,” “upward” and “downward.”

University Libraries: The uppercase term “University Libraries” denotes the administrative unit of the university, while the physical locations are referred to as “university libraries.”

Web addresses: When referring to a website, do not use "http," "https" or "www" in front of the address. The only exception is if the page in question will not load without using such prefixes.

Web headlines: Headlines for stories and announcements posted on, including all unit and subunit sites, should always make clear what the content that follows is about. Web headlines should be active (include a verb) and should generally be six to nine words or 50-70 characters. In addition: 

  • Headlines should use search-friendly terms. Ask yourself: “If I were searching for a story on this subject, what would I type into a search engine?” Use those terms in your headline.
  • Headlines should engage the reader without seeking to be overly clever. Puns and cultural references are more likely to confuse than engage your readers.
  • Exception: Stories produced in the feature template on may be presented with shorter, magazine-style headlines. Nonetheless, all promotion of those stories — including social media, story lists, news feeds and email newsletters — must adhere to headline guidance above. In most cases, this can be achieved by replacing the headline with the subhead.

Well-being: Two words, hyphenated.

Equal Opportunity Statement

  • For bulletins, catalogs, applications and formal announcements: The University of South Carolina does not discriminate in educational or employment opportunities on the basis of race, sex, gender, age, color, religion, national origin, disability, sexual orientation, genetics, veteran status, pregnancy, childbirth or related medical conditions.
  • For official university stationery: An equal opportunity institution

Challenge the conventional. Create the exceptional. No Limits.