• Sabbatical is a leave from normal employment responsibilities. Sabbatical leave is redundant.

Saint, St.

  • Abbreviate with place names: St. Andrews Church.
  • For personal names, follow the individual’s preference: Louise Saint-Laurent.


  • Standardized test for University admission.


  • But lowercase devil or satanic.

Saudi Arabia

  • Use Saudi as the adjective when referring to the people or culture of Saudi Arabia.


  • Supreme Council of Armed Forces. Use SCAF on second reference.

scene numbers

  • Capitalize scene when used with a figure: Scene 2; Act 2, Scene 4.

schedule of classes

  • Capitalize when referring to a specific one: the Fall 2012 Schedule of Classes.
  • Lowercase in generic use: The course was deleted from the class schedule. He needs the schedule of classes.

scholarship, fellowship

  • See award, fellowship, scholarship.


  • Capitalize when part of a proper name: School of Sciences and Engineering.
  • See names, schools.

scientific names

  • Specific names of plants and animals are set in italics. The genus name is capitalized, but the species name is lowercased: Sequoiadendron gigantem.
  • Common names of plants and animals are written lowercase, and only proper nouns and adjectives are capitalized: Rocky Mountain sheep, English ivy.
  • Do not capitalize the names of laws, theorems or principles except for proper nouns that are part of the name: theory of relativity, Kepler’s laws, Newton’s laws of motion.
  • Do not capitalize the spelled-out names of chemical elements and compounds: iron, sulfuric acid. However, symbols are capitalized: H2O.
  • Capitalize the names of asteroids, planets, satellites, stars and constellations: Big Dipper, Mars, North Star.
  • Capitalize the names of special astronomical objects, but do not capitalize generic words or descriptive terms: the Milky Way, the rings of Saturn, Andromeda galaxy, Biela’s comet.
  • Do not capitalize sun or moon.
  • The word earth is generally lowercase. Capitalize when used as the proper name of the planet: He is down to earth. Mercury is the planet closest to the sun, followed by Venus and then Earth.
  • Capitalize the names of eras and periods, but do not capitalize the words era and period: Nasserist era.
  • Do not capitalize the names of glacial and interglacial stages: fourth glacial stage.
  • Capitalize the term Ice Age, but do not capitalize age as a generic term.


  • Takes plural verbs and pronouns: The scissors are on the desk.

screen saver


  • Lowercase when referring to a season: He entered in the fall semester. It gets cold in the winter.
  • Capitalize when part of a formal, specific name: "AUCToday" Spring 2012, Summer Olympics.

second hand (n.), secondhand (adj. and adv.)

second-rate (adj.)


  • With a hyphen. Capitalize as a formal title before a name: Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. See titles.

secretary of state

  • Capitalize as a formal title before a name. See titles.


  • With a hyphen. Capitalize as a formal title before a name. See titles.


  • Capitalize when used with a figure to identify part of a law or bill: Section 3r of the Wakf Act.

Security Council

  • Use as United Nations Security Council or UN Security Council.


  • Always hyphenate: self-assured, self-government, self-defense, self-confidence.

sell out (v.), sellout (n.)


  • Do not capitalize names of academic semesters or terms: fall semester, except when followed by a year: Fall 2012 semester (no comma preceding the year).


  • Generally, no hyphen: semifinal, semiofficial.


  • Twice a year; a synonym for biannual. Do not confuse with biennial, which means every two years.


  • Capitalize when part of an official name: University Senate, U.S. Senate. Lowercase senate in other references.
  • For the senate at AUC, use University Senate, not Faculty Senate. See University Senate.


  • See classification, student.

senior thesis, senior project

  • Lowercase; no hyphen.

September 11, 9/11

  • Write either as September 11 (spell out month) or 9/11. Both are acceptable on first and subsequent references: The September 11 attacks were a shock to the United States.


  • A sequence is two or more courses that must be taken in sequence. Do not use sequence to mean an academic discipline or core courses.


serve, service

  • Both words can be used as verbs, but serve applies better to people and service to machines: The University’s aim is to serve its students better. He served as director of the center for five years. The technician will service the photocopier.

service learning (n.), service-learning (adj.)

  • The committee’s emphasis is on service learning (n.).The University is increasing its emphasis on service-learning courses (adj.).
  • See community-based learning.

set up (v.), setup (n. and adj.)

shall, will

  • Use shall to show determination: We shall fight this.
  • Either shall or will may be used in first-person sentences that do not express determination: We shall hold a meeting. We will hold a meeting.
  • For second- and third-person sentences, use will unless determination is stressed: He will not be happy.
  • See should, would.


  • Lowercase.
  • Use this spelling unless using an official title of a book or article.


  • Not sheik.


  • Use this spelling. Plural is Shiites.


  • Italicize the names of spacecraft, planes, ships and trains: Challenger space shuttle.

short-lived (adj.)

should, would

  • Use should to express an obligation: We should help the needy. Use would to express a routine action: In the spring, we would spend hours at the park.


show off (v.), showoff (n.)

showcase, showroom

shut down (v.), shutdown (n.)


shut off (v.), shut-off (n.)

shut out (v.), shutout (n.)

side by side, side-by-side

  • They drove side by side. The posters received side-by-side display.

sightseeing, sightseer

sign-up (n. and adj.), sign up (v.)


  • Not the Sinai. But: the Sinai Desert, the Sinai Peninsula.


  • Avoid using as a synonym for because. Use since for time purposes: Students have learned 10 new mathematical models since the semester started.

single-handed, single-handedly

singular/plural words

  • Always consult a dictionary. Examples include:
    • Criterion, criteria
    • Phenomenon, phenomena
    • Medium, media
    • Memorandum, memorandums
    • Forum, fora
    • Symposium, symposia

sit down (v.), sit-down (n. and adj.)

sit in (v.), sit-in (n. and adj.)

  • Sit in Congress (v.); a peaceful sit-in (n.).

sit up (v.), situp (n.)



  • Use figures: a size 8 dress, size 40 shoes.
  • Not sized: a small-size class.


  • Use the slash to indicate alternatives, not combined ideas: drop/add, pass/fail. Acceptable in phrases such as 24/7 or 9/11.
  • See Punctuation.


  • Academic departments and offices at AUC cannot adopt specific slogans.



  • An abbreviation for Short Message Service. Use text messaging instead, unless part of a quotation.

social distancing, socially distancing

  • No quote marks, no hyphen.
  • The shortened versions distancing or distanced are acceptable on second reference.
  •  Do not use social distance as a verb. Rephrase the sentence to avoid such construction.  

social media

Social Security number

  • Capitalize Social Security only. Do not capitalize number, tax or office: American students have a Social Security number. I contacted the Social Security office to solve my problem.
  • Avoid SS# and the redundant SSN#.

software titles

  • Capitalize but do not use quotation marks: PowerPoint, WordPerfect or Windows, but use quotation marks for computer games.


  • The meal fasting Muslims eat before sunrise. Italicize.


  • See classification, student.

south, southern, southeast, southwest

  • See directions and regions.

space shuttle

  • Lowercase space shuttle, but capitalize a proper name.




  • Leave one space after periods, commas, semicolons or any other punctuation.


  • Capitalize before a name only for the speaker of a legislative body.


  • Capitalize and use quotation marks. See composition titles.


  • Use figures. The car slowed to 7 mph.

speed up (v.), speedup (n. and adj.)


  • Consult The American Heritage Dictionary for spelling and word breaks. Use American English spelling.


  • When a company forms a separate company out of a division or subsidiary. One word.

spokesman, spokeswoman


  • Do not capitalize the names of sports such as soccer or volleyball, even when the sport is preceded by the name of the school: AUC volleyball team.
  • For sports in which both men and women compete, the gender of the team must always be specified on first reference: women’s basketball, men’s tennis.
  • When referring to varsity teams, do not identify gender when the university has only one gender represented in that varsity sport.
  • Do not use girls or ladies to refer to women’s teams; use women. Do not use boys to refer to men’s teams; use men.

staff, staff members

  • Staff (singular) refers to a group. Staff members (plural) refers to individuals.
  • Staff members is preferred to staff.

stand-alone (adj.)

stand in (v.), stand-in (n. and adj.)

stand out (v.), standout (n. and adj.)

startup (n. and adj.)

  • A new business venture. One word.

state names

  • Always spell out state names in running text, both when they stand alone or when used in conjunction with a city or town: He visited California in the summer. She was raised in Miami, Florida.
  • In running text, place a comma between the city and the state name. Spell out the state name: She traveled to Phoenix, Arizona, then to Nashville, Tennessee.
  • In U.S. addresses, abbreviate state names when used in conjunction with the name of a city, town, village or military base: New York, NY. Consult the AP Stylebook for proper state abbreviations.
  • Do not capitalize the word state:
    • Incorrect: State of Oregon.
    • Correct: state of Oregon.

stationary, stationery

  • To stand still is to be stationary. Writing paper is stationery.

stay at home (v.), stay-at-home (adj.)



strong-arm (v. and adj.)


student club

  • See clubs.

student employment

  • Not work study.

student-faculty ratio

  • Always express as student-faculty ratio, not faculty-student ratio (larger number stated first, then smaller number).

student level

  • See classification, student.

student teacher (n.), student-teacher (adj.)

  • Use student teacher (two words, no hyphen) as a noun; hyphenate when used as an adjective. The student teacher taught for months before qualifying for a degree in education. A positive student-teacher relationship is key for success.

Student Union

  • Capitalize Student Union.
  • Use SU on second reference.

study abroad (n.), study-abroad (adj.)

  • Use study abroad, not overseas program. Study abroad (n.) is a useful experience. She is a study-abroad (adj.) student.


  • No hyphen in sub-constructions: subdiscipline, subspecialty unless the word following sub- is a proper noun: sub-Saharan. Exception: sub-unit.


  • Lowercase: the Food and Services subcommittee.


  • Lowercase: history, biology, computer science. Capitalize when proper nouns: Middle East studies, English literature or when stating the full, formal name of the department: Department of History.


  • Consult The American Heritage Dictionary. If a word combination is not listed, use two words for the verb form. Hyphenate any noun or adjective forms.


  • Generally, no hyphen: superhighway, superpower. As with all prefixes, however, use a hyphen if the word that follows is capitalized: super-Republican.


  • Generally, no hyphen: supragovernmental, supranational.

syllabus, syllabuses

symposium, symposia

  • Symposium is singular; symposia is plural.