Style Guide

This style guide is adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition (CMOS). If you have questions on style not addressed here, please refer to the CMOS.


Official Titles: Spell out instead of abbreviating titles preceding names: Governor McCall; Senator Hatfield; Representative Blumenauer

Person's initials: use no spaces between letters: H.L. Davis

Political affiliation: list a politician's political party and state (outside of Oregon) after a name: Senator Mike Crapo (R-ID). List an Oregon politician's party without the state abbreviation: Senator Gordon Smith (R)

Upper-case abbreviations: do not use periods or spaces: CIA, PhD, UN, GI

Lower-case abbreviations: use periods: a.k.a., a.m., p.m., e.g., i.e.

Academic Degrees: List as abbreviations: BA, BS, BSE, MA, MFA, etc., followed by the field of study: Henderson graduated from the University of Oregon (UO) with an MFA in painting. Do not capitalize or abbreviate the generic terms of degrees: He got his bachelor's degree from OSU; Portland State University offers master's degrees.

Institutions and Organizations: Write out the full name on first reference, followed by the accepted acronym if one is commonly used: the National Organization for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP); Eastern Oregon University (EOU). After the first reference, use the acronym or abbreviation: the NAACP, EOU

United States: Spell out as a noun: He was born in the United States. Abbreviate as an adjective: He was born in a U.S. territory. Do not put a space in U.S.


Town locations: Include county names in parentheses immediately after the first reference to a town or city in Oregon: Portland (Multnomah County)

Institutions: When mentioning an institution in Oregon - including a cemetery - name the town it is in: Blue Mountain College in Pendleton

Clarifying information: On first reference to someone from Oregon who is not the subject of an entry, include that person's place of residence or what the person is known for: Peter Skene Ogden was born in 1790 in the city of Quebec, Lower Canada, to Isaac Ogden and Sarah Hanson. Formerly a prominent jurist in the colonial port of Newark, New Jersey, Isaac Ogden married the daughter of a wealthy family.

Territories: Differentiate between Oregon as a state, the Oregon Country, and Oregon Territory. Oregon became a territory on August 1, 1848. Oregon became a state on February 14, 1859.


Academic disciplines: Do not capitalize unless they are part of a department or an official course name, or are themselves proper nouns (e.g., English, Latin): She has published widely in the history of religions. She was a math professor. Jones is chair of the UP Department of History.

Buildings and Institutions: The names of buildings and monuments are capitalized unless the generic form is used: the Grant County Library, but the library. The full names of institutions, companies, and their departments are capitalized: Legacy Good Samaritan Hospital and Medical Center; the University of Portland. The word the preceding a name, even when part of the official title, is lowercased in running text: I read it in the Oregonian. Generic terms such as school and company are lowercased when used alone.

Directions: Compass directions are not capitalized unless they are referring to specific regions: He traveled west. The West is a place of wide vistas.

Historical Periods and Events: Names of specific historic events are capitalized: the New Deal; World War II. Names of specific natural phenomena or disasters of historic dimensions are often capitalized: the Great Plague. General names of phenomena are usually lower-cased: the plague

Military terms: Military divisions are capitalized only after a country name: U.S. Army; the army; U.S. Navy; the navy; naval battles. World War I, not First World War, World War One, or WWI. World War II, not Second World War, World War Two, or WWII.

Political terms: Civil, military, religious, and professional titles are capitalized when they immediately precede a personal name: President Bush; Governor Roberts; State Librarian Scheppke. Titles are not capitalized if they stand alone: the president; the president of the United States; the governors; the state librarian. The Constitution of the United States is capitalized: the U.S. Constitution. Do not capitalize constitution for state constitutions: the Oregon constitution. Incomplete or generic forms are usually lowercased: the treaty; constitutional law. When a person is/was a member of the legislature in Oregon, make it clear whether the person is/was in the Oregon House of Representatives or the Oregon Senate. This also applies to U.S. legislators.


Use the following terms on first reference: Native American, African American, Latin American. After the first reference, you can use Indian, black, and Hispanic. Never hyphenate Native American, African American, Japanese American, Latin American.

It is our policy to use contemporary standards in referring to ethnic and Native groups, standards found in scholarly journals and U.S. historical society publications. Contemporary standards change, of course, and researchers and supervisors should remain aware of changes in usage.

Rules of thumb: If you can be specific, do so. If you are not sure of how to cite a person/group, check with OEP editors. If you are still unsure, call a representative from an institution that represents the particular group or call a professional who studies that particular field (anthropologists, cultural historians, etc.)

Citing Native Groups: When you do not know the specific name of a Native group and use "Aboriginal/s," "Native American/s," "Native people/s," "Native cultures," use a capital on the word "Native" and use a capital if using, "American/s." If possible, use the word "indigenous" and avoid "pre-contact."

If you are referencing generally, for instance, "non-Native," "non-indigenous," "non-white," use lower cases unless using the word "Native" in which case you still use the capital "N." Do not hyphenate "EuroAmerican."

If you use contemporary Native/tribe names and are familiar with that group's indigenous name, it doesn't hurt to include both: Nimiipuu (Nez Perce), Inuit (Eskimo), Tualatin Kalapuyans, Ahantchuyuk Kalapuyans (i.e., French Prairie Indians).

If you do not know the specific nationality of a person or group of people (for instance, Laotian usually refer to themselves as Lowland Laos, Hmong, and Yi Mein), be as specific as possible.

Generally, first-generation immigrants are referred to according to the nation from which they derive their origin (Mexican [immigrant], Japanese [immigrant], [people from] Chechnya, Latvian [immigrant]). When citing American-born ethnic people/groups use, for example, Latin American and Japanese American or be specific to the generation: e.g., second-generation Laotian or third-generation Indian.

Use lower case when citing "black," "white," "non-white": "The black power movement began in the 1960s and continues today." "Many white settlers took advantage of the Oregon Donation Land Claim."


Dates should be written in this order: month, day, year: January 1, 1890. Do not use 1 January 1890; "th," "st," etc. when citing dates (i.e., January 1st, 1890); or an abbreviation (i.e., Jan., Feb., Mar.).

Month and Year: When a period of time is identified by month and year only, do not use internal punctuation to separate the two: "The events of August 1945 were decisive to the outcome of the war."

Centuries and Decades: Spell out references to particular centuries in lower case: "The twentieth century..." When using a century as an adjective, use a hyphen between the numeric reference and the word "century": "The twentieth-century movies..."

Use numerals if decades are identified by their century: "In the 1880s..." "In the early 1880s..." Note: Do not use an apostrophe when citing decades (1880's) and do not abbreviate decades with an apostrophe (i.e., '80s).

If you know the exact date, use it: "In 1882..."rather than "In the early 1880s..."

Eras: When using common abbreviations for eras or systems of chronology, use either "AD" or "BC" and set the abbreviations in capitals after the numeric reference: "Native Americans have been in the region that is now Oregon since at least 7000 BC."

Inclusive or Continuous Dates: When citing inclusive numbers, do not use a dash to distinguish the series, as in "From 1890-1900, twenty new buildings were constructed along the waterfront." Instead: "Between 1890 and 1900..." or "From 1890 to 1900..."


Spell out numbers of one hundred or less in all other references. Example: "His son was twenty-four years old when he arrived." "At least ninety-nine new models were developed."

The plurals of spelled-out numbers are formed like the plurals of other nouns. Example: "Most Chinese laborers were in their twenties and thirties."

The plurals of numerals are formed by adding an "s." Example: "Jazz became popular in the 1920s and 1930s."

In numbers of one thousand or more, use a comma: 32,987; 1,000,000

Initial Numbers: If a number begins a sentence, spell it out or rephrase the sentence: "One hundred people came to the party." "Nineteen thirty-nine marked the beginning of World War II."

Percentages: Express percentages as numerals and spell out the word "percent": "At least 30 percent of all researchers have fallen asleep on the job."

Times: When discussing exact times, use numerals: At 5:23 a.m., we won the jackpot. When rounding or using hour increments, write out the number: It is about five o'clock.


When citing street names, spell out the names of numbered streets of one hundred or less. Examples: Fifth Avenue; Twenty-third Street; Southwest Thirteenth Street

Use a lower case "s" when citing more than one street with a proper name. Example: "The Portland Hotel once stood between Southwest Yamhill and Morrison streets."

If a street location is on a corner, exclude "street" entirely. Example: "Jazz de Opus is on the corner of Third and Davis."

Use lower-case when referring to more than one geographic cite by proper name. Example: "Sauvie Island is located at the confluence of the Willamette and Columbia rivers."


Commas: Use a comma between all terms of a series. Example: "Men, women, and children will be part of the audience."

Commas and periods go inside quotation marks.

Capitalize the first word of a full sentence that follows a colon.

Use a comma after all introductory phrases: After completing his BA degree, he moved to Memphis; In 1997, the Senate met nine times.

Use commas to set off a place of residence immediately following a person's name unless the place is essential to the meaning of the sentence or is considered part of the person's name: Gerald Ford, from Grand Rapids, Michigan, ascended to the White House; Clement of Alexandria; Helen of Troy

Use commas to set off the individual elements in place names: Troutdale, Oregon, is considered by some to be a suburb of Portland.

Do not use commas with Jr. or Sr.: Martin Luther King Jr.

When using Inc. and Ltd. after a company name, use commas only if they appear in the official company name.

Hyphens: Do not hyphenate double-vowel words such as reelect, reenact, and reentry. Only hyphenate to differentiate meanings, as in the case of re-creation/recreation and re-cover/recover. Hyphenate mid-1930s but not late 1930s or early 1930s.


Consistency of tense makes entries accessible and easy to understand. For the most part, the tense should be simple past: She attended college in Ashland. He played with the Kingsmen in Portland.


Italicize titles/names of the following: movies, albums, TV series, books, plays, journals, newspapers, book-length poems, long musical compositions, regularly running cartoons, ships and other vessels. Makes of vessels are capitalized but not italicized: Boeing 747, Concorde, Volkswagen Vanagon

Use quotation marks for titles of the following: songs, poems, one episode of a TV series, speeches, works of art, unpublished works.

Legal cases: The names of legal cases are italicized: Bloomfield Village Drain Dist. v. Keefe


The "Sources" section at the end of your entry should guide readers to the best sources for more in-depth information on a topic. It is not a bibliography of all the sources used for the entry and should be limited to sources readily available to the general public.

Please include full citations of works—that is, author's or editor's full name, title, place of publication, date of publication, pages numbers (if article). Newspaper articles should have author's full name, title of article, title of newspaper, date of publication, and page number. Archival collections should list title of collection, repository, institution holding the repository, city and state. Interviews should list interviewee's full name, interviewer's full name, date of interview, repository with interview, institution holding repository, city and state. Electronic sources should include title of web source, web address, and accessed date.

Oregon Encyclopedia - Oregon History and Culture

Copyright © 2008-2014 Portland State University