Guidelines, Not Rules

The English language gives us choices and decisions to make when we write. It defies any would-be “rule-maker” to dictate a single way to do it. This guide will not answer all your questions. It may not help you win an argument over which way to spell “website” or whether to hyphenate “email.” But it will give you a foundation upon which to base your own writing decisions.

And it will help you improve the clarity and consistency of communications coming out of your office or department.

We’ve assembled these guidelines using the Associated Press Stylebook as a primary “authority” because much of our writing is intended for external readers — prospective students and their parents, donors and prospective donors, government officials, business leaders, news reporters and editors, and the public.

DO NOT apply these guidelines to technical or academic writing. Other sources can help you with this specialized kind of writing.

DO use this style guide to help you when you’re writing anything (and everything) intended for the campus audience or for the public.

We appreciate your cooperation in using these guidelines. University-wide consistency in writing style builds the credibility of our publications, demonstrates our commitment to high-quality communications and greatly enhances our audiences’ understanding of Georgia State University.

Whatever style you follow, remember that consistency and clarity are the keys to more effective communication. Make sure your preferred writing standards are consistent in all of your publications and digital communications.

Just as use of the English language has changed over the years, this style guide will adapt and evolve, sometimes based on observations from people like you. If you have some rules, suggestions or pet peeves of your own about writing standards, share them with us by emailing