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California Western Editorial Style Guide

The California Western School of Law Editorial Style Guide outlines writing practices specific to the law school for official publications, in concert with guidelines dictated by the Associated Press (AP) Stylebook.

For style questions not specifically addressed in this guide, California Western defers to AP style.

To submit comments or request changes to this style guide, please contact Marketing and Communications via email.


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academic degrees

The preferred style is to avoid abbreviation and to spell out degrees whenever possible. Example: John Jones, who has a Juris Doctor, remarked on the bill's impending doom. Use an apostrophe in bachelor's degree, a master's, etc. but there is no possessive in Bachelor of Arts or Master of Science.

Use abbreviations without periods—such as AB, BA, MA, MS, MBA, JD, LLB, LLM, DPhil, and PhD—when the preferred form is cumbersome. Use the word degree after the abbreviation. Example: Louise has a JD degree from California Western School of Law. On occasion it may also be appropriate to use formal names of degrees. Example: Jason Clark received his Master of Comparative Law in 2002.

  • "JD" is the abbreviation for Juris Doctor. "Juris Doctorate" is incorrect.
  • "LLM" is the abbreviation for Master of Laws. Also used for California Western's Maestría en Litigación Oral.
  • "MCL" is the abbreviation for Master of Comparative Law.

academic departments

Use lowercase except for words that are proper nouns or adjectives: the department of history, the history department, the department of English, the English department, or when department is part of the official and formal name: University of Kentucky Department of Economics.

academic titles

Unless it is an endowed or named professorship, capitalize only when the title directly precedes the name of the person or in headlines, otherwise lowercase. Examples: (1) Corwin Davidson is a professor of law and economics at the University of Valhalla. (2) Professor of Law and Economics Corwin Davidson teaches and writes at the University of Valhalla. (3) Corwin Davidson, the Patrick D. Riedling Professor of Law at the University of Valhalla, teaches and writes in the areas of law and economics.

alignment of text

Headline and body text (except for numbered columns for accounting purposes) should be aligned left, especially in email and on websites. Center-aligned text for headers in HTML emails are acceptable, but body area headlines must be aligned left. Reason: Readability; HTML emails render differently in various email programs. Center-aligned text is more difficult to predict.

alumnus/alumna

California Western prefers the use of “alumnus” for a singular male and “alumna” for a singular female. “Alumni” is used for plural, no matter the sex. In special circumstances, such as a social media post, the informal word “alum” may be used sparingly.

a.m. and p.m.

Use periods after both lowercase initials with a space between the number and the designation. 9 a.m. and 9:30 a.m. are correct. 9:00 a.m. is incorrect. Also incorrect: 9am or 9 am. Write 8 to 10 a.m. rather than 8-10 a.m.

ampersand (&)

Used only in official titles of centers and institutes, journals, schools, buildings, student organizations, or symposia/workshops. Do not use in course titles or everyday language.

BARBRI

All caps, no slash or hyphen.

Bluebook

A uniform system of citation used by all scholarly journals that was compiled by the editors of the Columbia Law Review, Harvard Law Review, the University of Pennsylvania Law Review, and The Yale Law Journal. California Western School of Law uses Bluebook guidelines in its published journals. CWSL does not use Bluebook guidelines for publications that have a general audience, such as Res Ipsa or our website. See citation for more information on public documents.

buildings

  • Classroom Building (350 building)
  • Administration Building (225 building)
  • California Western Law Library

California Western School of Law

“California Western School of Law” is always used on first mention, thereafter California Western or CWSL. Use of the colloquial term “Cal Western” is avoided in formal writing unless it is part of a direct quote.

case names

Italicize.

  • Roe v. Wade
  • Marbury v. Madison
  • Bush v. Gore

citation

To avoid confusion to members of the public not familiar with legal abbreviations, CWSL uses a variation of Bluebook standards when citing published works in a news article or list within a brochure. For journal articles, the title of the article is placed in quotes, followed by the word in and then the volume number, the name of the publication is spelled out and italicized—rather than abbreviated and placed in small caps—followed by the starting page number. Co-authors are noted in parentheses first, and then the year of publication is placed in a separate set of parentheses. Example: Professor Alexander's article "'Moore or Less' Causation and Responsibility" was published in 6 Criminal Law & Philosophy 81 (with Ferzan) (2012). Bluebook standards are followed for scholarly journals published by CWSL.

class year

Put the last two digits of CWSL graduation dates after names of all alumni, on first reference only. The apostrophe before the date faces the left, with no space between the last name and the date. This rule does NOT apply to nametags at events, or the donor wall in the Classroom Building.

  • James A. Smith ’03
  • Maria C. Lopida ’99
  • Jans Schlieburgh ’14

commas

In complete sentences, always use an Oxford (or serial) comma to clarify confusion or to set off the final item in a series. Example: I met with professors who specialize in criminal, corporate, and civil law.

course titles

When written within a sentence, course titles are always lowercase. Only use uppercase when courses are listed separately, in a headline, or in a bulleted list.

court names

Capitalize the full proper names of courts at all levels. Retain capitalization if “U.S.” or a state name is dropped: the U.S. Supreme Court, the Supreme Court, the state Superior Court, the Superior Court, Superior Court. For courts identified by a numeral: Second District Court, Eighth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

dates

When including dates in paragraph copy on websites or in print materials, write out the full date. Do not use the day ordinal. Example: We awoke to a quiet sky on September 12, 2001. Use the three- or four-letter abbreviation for months in headlines: Jan., Feb., Mar., Apr., May, June, July, Aug., Sept., Oct., Nov., Dec. Do not include the year in the date unless the date is not in the current year (with two exceptions: in a publication that covers a time period of more than one year, or in the formal title of an event).

department titles (at California Western School of Law)

  • Academic Achievement
  • Admissions
  • California Western Law Library
  • Career and Professional Development Office (CPDO)
  • Financial Aid
  • Institutional Advancement
    • Alumni Engagement
    • Development
    • Marketing and Communications
  • Office of the Dean
  • Student and Diversity Services

e.g. and i.e.

I.e. and e.g. are both abbreviations for Latin terms, but cannot be used interchangeably. I.e. stands for id est and means roughly "that is." E.g. stands for exempli gratia, which means “for example.” Use i.e. for further clarification, but e.g. when listing one or more examples.

email

One word, no hyphen.

full-time vs. full time

Requires a hyphen when acting as a compound modifier: Examples: Jennifer is a full-time student at CWSL. Raymond attends California Western full time.

Honorable

An honorific used by others to address an active or retired judge, justice, or elected official. A judge, justice, or elected official does not use the term to describe him/herself, therefore it is not used in a signature block. Use the abbreviation of Hon. only in headlines, photo captions, addressed envelopes, guest lists, or seating placards. Within a written article, used only for the first mention of the name; the full name is stated after the honorific. Example: Dean Schaumann introduced the keynote speaker, the Honorable John Roberts, chief justice of the United States Supreme Court. Use Judge or Justice with only the last name thereafter. Example: Justice Roberts addressed the audience of students, faculty, staff, and administrators. When addressing two judges, use the honorific twice and order the judges by rank. Example: Brandon clerked for the Honorable Anthony Kennedy, United States Supreme Court, and the Honorable M. Margaret McKeown, United States Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit. In written stories, use Judge or Justice rather than the Honorable.

initials

Use full name with middle initials for Dean Schaumann, faculty, and all alumni. Examples: Dean Niels B. Schaumann, Professor Jessica K. Fink, Brett F. Alumni ’12.

JD

Abbreviation for Juris Doctor. Do not use periods; use the word degree after the abbreviation. Example: She received her JD degree in 2010.

judge

Capitalize before a name when it is the formal title for an individual who presides in a court of law. Do not continue to use the title in second reference. Do not use court as part of the title unless confusion would result without it:

  • No court in the title: U.S. District Judge John Bates, District Judge John Bates, federal Judge John Bates, Judge John Bates, U.S. Circuit Judge Priscilla Owen, appellate Judge Priscilla Owen.
  • Court needed in the title: Juvenile Court Judge John Jones, Criminal Court Judge John Jones, Superior Court Judge Robert Harrison, state Supreme Court Judge William Cushing.

When the formal title chief judge is relevant, put the court name after the judge's name: Chief Judge Royce Lamberth of the U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C.; Chief Judge Karen J. Williams of the Fourth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. Do not pile up long court names before the name of a judge. Make it Judge John Smith of Allegheny County Common Pleas Court. Not: Allegheny County Common Pleas Court Judge John Smith. Lowercase judge as an occupational designation in phrases such as contest judge Simon Cowell.

judge advocate

The plural: judge advocates. Also: judge advocate general, judge advocates general. Capitalize as a formal title before a name. Avoid the informal abbreviation JAG. See titles.

judicial branch

Always lowercase. The federal court system is composed of the Supreme Court of the United States, the U.S. Court of Appeals, U.S. District Courts, and the U.S. Customs Court. There are also four district judges for U.S. territories. U.S. bankruptcy and magistrate judges are fixed-term judges serving in U.S. District Courts. Magistrate judges are generalist judges who preside in cases referred from U.S. district judges. Bankruptcy judges are specialized judges whose authority is restricted to bankruptcy issues. The U.S. Tax Court and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces are not part of the judicial branch as such.

justice

Capitalize before a name when it is the formal title. It is the formal title for members of the U.S. Supreme Court and for jurists on some state courts. In such cases, do not use judge in first or subsequent references.

Latin legal terms

Italicize all.

  • amicus
  • habeas corpus
  • quid pro quo
  • supra

legislative titles

Use Rep., Reps., Sen. and Sens. as formal titles before one or more names. Spell out and lowercase representative and senator in other uses. Spell out other legislative titles in all uses. Capitalize formal titles such as assemblyman, assemblywoman, city councilor, delegate, etc., when they are used before a name. Lowercase in other uses. Add U.S. or state before a title only if necessary to avoid confusion: U.S. Rep. Don Young of Alaska now has a Republican primary opponent, state Rep. Gabrielle LeDoux of Kodiak. See AP Stylebook for more information.

LLB

Abbreviation for Bachelor of Laws. Do not use periods; use the word degree after the abbreviation.

LLM

Abbreviation for Master of Laws. Do not use periods; use the word degree after the abbreviation. Concentrations do not qualify in the abbreviations. Use the full concentration name after the abbreviation. Example: She received her LLM degree in taxation in 2010. (“taxation” is not capitalized).

midnight

Lowercase, and without a “12” preceding it. It is part of the day that is ending, not the one that is beginning.

noon

Lowercase, and without a “12” preceding it.

numbers

Write out numbers one through nine; use Arabic numerals for 10 and above.

Of Counsel

Yes, it's a real title. An “of counsel” is an attorney who has a relationship with a law firm or organization, but is not technically an associate or partner. Other names include "counsel," "special counsel," and "senior counsel."

ordinals

Write out ordinals first through ninth; use Arabic ordinals for 10th and above (including Circuit Courts; see court names).

Oxford comma

See commas.

part-time vs. part time

Requires a hyphen when acting as a compound modifier: Examples: Jennifer is a part-time student at CWSL. Raymond attends California Western part time.

phone numbers

Use parentheses around the area code, space, exchange, hyphen, and number. Example: (619) 515-1545. We do this in email and on the web in order for smartphones to automatically build a callable link.

p.m. and a.m.

Use periods after both lowercase initials with a space between the number and the designation. 9 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. are correct. 9:00 p.m. is incorrect. Also incorrect: 9pm or 9 pm. Write 8 to 10 p.m. rather than 8-10 p.m.

Periods after both initials with a space between the number and the designation. 9 a.m. and 9:30 a.m. are correct. 9:00 a.m. is incorrect. Also incorrect: 9am or 9 am.

professional titles

Capitalize only when the title directly precedes the name of the person or in headlines, otherwise lowercase. Examples: (1) Blade Jetsam is the president at the law firm of Leedham & Jetsam. (2) President Blade Jetsam leads the intellectual property law division.

radio program titles

Use quotes around radio program titles. She listened to "All Things Considered" on KPBS during her lunch hour.

Supreme Court of the United States

Capitalize U.S. Supreme Court and also the Supreme Court when the context makes the U.S. designation unnecessary. The chief justice is properly the chief justice of the United States, not of the Supreme Court: Chief Justice John Roberts. The proper title for the eight other members of the court is associate justice. When used as a formal title before a name, it should be shortened to justice: Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

state abbreviations

States are no longer abbreviated in journalistic writing. Write out the full name of the state; do not use postal codes for states.

television program titles

Use quotes around television program titles. He watched "Through the Wormhole" on the National Geographic Channel last night.

text alignment

Headline and body text (except for numbered columns for accounting purposes) should be aligned left, especially in email and on websites. Center-aligned text for headers in HTML emails are acceptable, but body area headlines starting with must be aligned left. Reason: Readability; HTML emails render differently in various email programs. Center-aligned text is more difficult to predict.

time

Always use noon and midnight. 7 p.m. is correct. 7:00 PM and 7:30 AM are incorrect. Also incorrect: 7pm or 7 pm.

titles

In general, confine capitalization to formal titles used directly before an individual's name. Lowercase and spell out titles when they are not used with an individual's name: The president issued a statement. The pope gave his blessing. Lowercase and spell out titles in constructions that set them off from a name by commas: The vice president, Nelson Rockefeller, declined to run again. Pope Benedict XVI, the current pope, does not plan to retire. See AP Stylebook for more information.

underlines

Underlines are no longer used to denote book titles and should not be used in headers or for emphasis in written material that will appear on the internet or in an email. Reason: Underlines denote hyperlinked text, and readers will believe a link is broken if there is no redirect when clicking on the underlined text. For book titles, use italics. For emphasis, use bold or italicized text.

U.S.

The abbreviation is acceptable as a noun or adjective for United States. In headlines, it's US (no periods).

web

Short form of World Wide Web, it is a service, or set of standards, that enables the publishing of multimedia documents on the internet. The web is not the same as the Internet, but is a subset; other applications, such as email, exist on the internet. Also, website, webcam, webcast, webmaster, webpage. But web address, web browser.

website

A location on the World Wide Web that maintains one or more pages at a specific address. As a short form and in terms with separate words, the web, web address and web browser.

ZIP code

Use all-caps ZIP for Zoning Improvement Plan, but always lowercase the word code.