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Style Guide

This style guide applies to all law school publications, excluding Texas A&M Law Review and other legal writing. The style guide also applies to the website.

The purpose of this style guide is to ensure consistency across law school publications. Style rules should always be followed with the ultimate goals of clarity, readability and consistency.

This style guide follows The Associated Press Stylebook (2010 ed.) except where noted. If an issue is not addressed in the style guide below, follow the AP Stylebook or contact marketing and communications.


At the law school:

academic sessions – Use “semester” with fall and spring (e.g., the fall 2010 semester). Use “session” with summer and winter (e.g., the summer 2009 session). The phrase should be lowercase. (E.g., the class was offered during the fall 2009 semester.)

alumni – Use a closing apostrophe (’) with graduation years, and no J.D. (e.g., John Smith ’95).

alumni association – On first reference, use the full name “Texas A&M University School of Law Alumni Association.” On second reference, use “alumni association” (lowercase).
  • Law review alumni association: See entry for Texas A&M Law Review.
  • Board of directors: On first reference, use “Texas A&M University School of Law Alumni Association Board of Directors.” On second reference, use “board of directors” (lowercase) or “board of directors for the alumni association” (lowercase).
departments, offices and organizations – All offices and departments are lowercase in textual material (e.g., law clinic, office of career services, marketing department), unless preceded by the law school name (e.g., Texas A&M University School of Law Office of Career Services).
  • Organizations such as board of trustees and dean’s advisory council are also lowercase unless preceded by the law school or university name. (E.g., the board of trustees attended the ribbon-cutting ceremony. The Texas A&M University School of Law Dean’s Advisory Council attended the ribbon-cutting ceremony.)
region – “North Texas” is preferred over “Metroplex.” Do not use a forward slash in the acronym “DFW” unless referring to the airport.

Texas A&M Law Review – On first reference, “Texas A&M Law Review” is italicized when referring to both the organization and the journal.
  • Organization: On second reference, the organization is “law review” (lowercase, not italicized).
  • Journal: Using the full journal title is preferable; otherwise, on second reference the journal is “Law Review” (uppercase, italicized).
  • Alumni association: On first reference, use “Texas A&M Law Review Alumni Association.” On second reference, use “law review alumni association.”
Texas A&M University School of Law – “Texas A&M University School of Law” is the preferred usage. “Texas A&M University School of Law” is also correct and can be used, especially in formal circumstances.
  • On second reference, use “law school” (lowercase).
  • Acceptable abbreviations:
    “Texas A&M” (preferred)
    “Texas A&M School of Law” is acceptable for clarity and readability. Do not use if doing so could cause confusion with the other Texas A&M universities.
websites – The law school website should be referred to as www.law.tamu.edu.


    Generally:

    abbreviations and acronyms – Do not follow an organization’s full name with an abbreviation or acronym in parentheses or set off by dashes. On second reference, use the acronym. (E.g., the American Bar Association is a national organization. Lawyers belong to the ABA.)
    • Generally, omit periods in acronyms unless the result would spell an unrelated word. But use periods in most two-letter abbreviations. (E.g., U.S., U.N., U.K., B.A., B.C. AP, a trademark, is an exception. Also, no periods in GI and EU.)
    academic degrees – Abbreviations are preferable (e.g., J.D., LL.M., Ph.D., M.A., B.A.). If necessary, spell out degrees using lowercase (e.g., bachelor of arts, juris doctor, master of laws). (Note: This is a departure from the AP Stylebook.)
    • juris doctor should be italicized if spelled out (see Latin phrases). (Note: This is a departure from the AP Stylebook.)
    • Use an apostrophe in bachelor’s degree, a master’s, etc., but there is no possessive in bachelor of arts or master of science.
    • Also: An associate degree (no possessive).
    • When used after a name, an academic abbreviation is set off by commas. (E.g., John Smith, Ph.D., spoke at the conference.)
    • Do not precede a name with a courtesy title for an academic degree and follow it with the abbreviation for the degree in the same reference.
    academic honors – Italicize and lowercase (e.g., magna cum laude).

    accent marks
    – Use accent and diacritical marks as necessary (e.g., Antonín Dvoƙák, façade). (Note: This is a departure from the AP Stylebook.)
    • “Resumé” is preferred over “resume” or “résumé.”
    bar – “Texas State Bar” and “State Bar of Texas” are uppercase, but “bar exam” is lowercase.

    commas – Use commas to separate elements in a series, but do not put a comma before the conjunction in a simple series. (E.g., the flag is red, white and blue. He would nominate Tom, Dick or Harry.)
    • Put a comma before the concluding conjunction in a series, however, if an integral element of the series requires a conjunction. (E.g., I had orange juice, toast, and ham and eggs for breakfast.)
    • Use a comma also before the concluding conjunction in a complex series of phrases. (E.g., the main points to consider are whether the athletes are skillful enough to compete, whether they have the stamina to endure the training, and whether they have the proper mental attitude.)
    • Use a comma before “Jr.” and do not follow with a comma. (E.g., James Fannin, Jr. was a Texas revolutionary.) (Note: This is a departure from the AP Stylebook.)
    • Do not use a comma with company abbreviations such as Inc. or LLP unless company use of the comma can be confirmed. (Note: This is a departure from the AP Stylebook.)
    court names – Capitalize the full proper names of courts at all levels.
    • Retain capitalization if “U.S.” or a state name is dropped (e.g., the U.S. Supreme Court, the Supreme Court, the state Superior Court, the Superior Court, Superior Court).
    • For courts identified by a numeral, use Arabic numeral and superscript (e.g., 2nd District Court, 8th Circuit Court of Appeals).
    dates – Always use Arabic figures, without “st,” “nd,” “rd” or “th.”
    • When a month is used with a specific date, abbreviate only Jan., Feb., Aug., Sept., Oct., Nov. and Dec. Spell out when using alone, or with a year alone.
    • When a phrase lists only a month and a year, do not separate the year with commas. When a phrase refers to a month, day and year, set off the year with commas.
    • (E.g., January 1972 was a cold month. Jan. 2 was the coldest day of the month. His birthday is May 8. Feb. 14, 1987, was the target date. She testified that it was Friday, Dec. 3, when the accident occurred.)
    law firms – Use the following conventions:
    • LLP, PLLC: No periods; set off with a comma. (E.g., Haynes and Boone, LLP, has a location in Dallas.)
    • P.C.: Use periods; set off with a comma. (E.g., The Carroll Law Firm, P.C., is located in Fort Worth.)
    • The phrase and title “of counsel” is lowercase.
    Latin phrases – Italicize all Latin phrases (e.g., juris doctor, pro bono, habeas corpus, per se). (Note: This is a departure from the AP Stylebook.)

    numerals – Generally, spell out whole numbers below 10 and use figures for 10 and above.
    • Always use figures for ages, whether for people or things. (E.g., the law is 8 years old.)
    • Use dashes, not parentheses, in phone numbers (e.g., 817-212-4000).
    • Do not use an apostrophe when referring to decades (e.g., the 1980s).
    • Use superscript where appropriate (e.g., 20th anniversary).
    • Generally, use figures when referring to dimensions, monetary units, room numbers, etc.
    punctuation – Use one space between sentences.
    state abbreviations – Spell out the names of the 50 U.S. states when they stand alone in textual material. Any state name may be condensed, however, to fit typographical requirements for tabular material.
    • Place one comma between the city and the state name, and another comma after the state name, unless ending a sentence or indicating a dateline. (E.g., he was traveling from Nashville, Tenn., to Austin, Texas, along the way to his home in Albuquerque, N.M. She said Cook County, Ill., was Mayor Daley’s stronghold.)
    • Use abbreviations in conjunction with the name of a city, town, village or military base in text. The names of eight states are never abbreviated: Alaska, Hawaii, Idaho, Iowa, Maine, Ohio, Texas and Utah. AP Stylebook abbreviations differ from postal code abbreviations.
    Ala.
    Alaska
    Ariz.
    Ark.
    Calif.
    Colo.
    Conn.
    Del.
    Fla.
    Ga.
    Hawaii
    Idaho
    Ill.
    Ind.
    Iowa
    Kan.
    Ky.
    La.
    Maine
    Md.
    Mass.
    Mich.
    Minn.
    Miss.
    Mo.
    Mont.
    Neb.
    Nev.
    N.H.
    N.J.
    N.M.
    N.Y.
    N.C.
    N.D.
    Ohio
    Okla.
    Ore.
    Pa.
    R.I.
    S.C.
    S.D.
    Tenn.
    Texas
    Utah
    Vt.
    Va.
    Wash.
    W.Va.
    Wis.
    Wyo.
    Also: Washington, D.C.
    technology – Use “website,” “webpage,” “email” and “internet.”
    • Facebook: Try to avoid using as a verb. Uppercase if necessary.
    • Hyphenate other “e-” words such as e-commerce and e-book.
    • Twitter: The verb is “to tweet,” lowercase. Individual messages are called “tweets.”
    • Webcam, webcast, webfeed, webmaster, webpage and website are all one word, lowercase. (Note: This is a departure from the AP Stylebook.)
    time – Use figures except for “noon” and “midnight.”
    • Use a colon to separate hours from minutes. Use periods in “a.m.” and “p.m.” Insert a space between the figure and a.m. or p.m. (e.g., 11 a.m., 1 p.m., 3:30 p.m., 9-11 a.m., 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.).
    titles (of people) – In general, confine capitalization to formal titles used directly before an individual’s name.
    • “Professor” and other titles are acceptable but not required on first reference; refer to both men and women by the last name only in subsequent references.
    • “Chair” and “co-chair” are acceptable and preferred over “chairman,” “chairwoman” or “chairperson.” (Note: This is a departure from the AP Stylebook.)
    • The Honorable: Lowercase “t” and abbreviate honorable (e.g., the Hon. Paul Green).
    • Legislative: On first reference, use “Rep.,” “Reps.,” “Sen.” and “Sens.” as formal titles before one or more names. On second reference, do not use legislative titles before a name on second reference unless they are part of a direct quotation. Spell out and lowercase “representative” and “senator” in other uses. Spell out other legislative titles in all uses. “Rep.” and “U.S. Rep.” are the preferred first-reference forms when a formal title is used before the name of a U.S. House member. The words “congressman” or “congresswoman,” in lowercase, may be used in subsequent references that do not use an individual’s name, just as senator is used in references to members of the Senate.
    • Professor and similar titles: Uppercase if used before a name; otherwise, lowercase (e.g., Professor John Smith; Adjunct Professor John Smith; John Smith, professor of law; John Smith, adjunct professor of law).
    titles (of things) – Use the following conventions:
    • Academic courses: Uppercase all official course titles.
    • Books, journals, magazines and newspapers: Italicize.
    • Papers: In quotes, not italicized.
    • Symposia: Italicize.
    • (Note: All italicizations are a departure from the AP Stylebook.)