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Springshare Standards: Spelling, Grammar, & Usage


We are reviewing the spelling, grammar, and usage standards for APA 7.

Included here are the spelling, grammar, and usage standards used throughout all Springshare platforms, regardless of department or intended audience. Departments may add additional standards to those listed here, but they may not replace these with their own usage.

Spelling, grammar, and usage have been compiled from APA 6th Edition, the Walden University Style Guide (WSG), and common use and sense.

For grammar, not all instances and exceptions are included here, only ones reasonably expected to come up. APA usage is the standard except where listed below.  The Writing Center will happily answer usage questions.

This list may be expanded in the future. 

Browse the A-Z list or use CTRL-F to search.

University-wide Usage

And vs. &

Use and in running text. Use & (ampersand) in headings and titles (to keep headers and titles shorter).


Lowercase, with periods, no spaces between letters, but with space after the time itself.

  • 8 a.m.

  • 10:30 p.m.

Also see Time.


Use APA to cite sources. Full citations should be included for any non-Walden generated content.


Hanging indents:

All references have a hanging indent, which means the first line is flush left, and all subsequent lines are indented ½ inch on the left.

Citation without the hanging indent:

Bates, D. W. (2010). Getting in step: Electronic health records and their role in care coordinationJournal of General Internal Medicine, 25(3), 174–176.

Citation with the hanging indent:

Bates, D. W. (2010). Getting in step: Electronic health records and their role in care coordination. Journal of General Internal Medicine, 25(3), 174–176.

To create the hanging indent, select "Cited Work" from the Styles drop-down menu in the Rich Text/HTML box.

Note: When you apply the "Cited Work" style, on the edit page it looks as if all the text is indented. It isn't. Apply indents as needed to the title and verify the look on the live page.

See the 6th edition APA Manual or the Writing Center for APA guidance.

bullets & numbered lists

For academic materials, follow APA standards.  

For non-academic material, readability and website usage trumps APA.  Use the following guidelines for non-academic material:

  • Do not capitalize the first word of each bulleted/numbered item, unless the item is a complete sentence. 

  • If the bulleted/numbered item is a complete sentence, punctuate it as such. 

  • If bulleted/numbered items are incomplete sentence or are fragments (like many link lists), do not end with a period.

  • Write bullets so they are parallel—all sentences or all fragments.


For example, as a great Waldeneer you:

  • traverse the vast wasteland of the Internet

  • demystify terrible interfaces and turn garbage into gold


Math courses

  • Basic Algebra

  • Intermediate Math

  • Intermediate Algebra

  • College Math

  • College Algebra

  • Exploring Mathematics in the Everyday World


What do you do?

  • I teach students how to format papers in APA.

  • I attend residencies.

  • I make the world a better place.

(Adapted from WSG)


Numbered lists should use: 1.  2.  etc., not  1).  2).  etc. The correct style will be used if you use the automated number lists, but using auto-numbers is not required if the auto-formatting drives you crazy.

You must use a numbered list when describing a process with three or more steps.  


Define each type of doctoral final project as a dissertation or a capstone the first time you mention it. Subsequent references can use just the word dissertation.  

For example:

Are dissertations/doctoral studies/project studies peer-reviewed?

Dissertations (doctoral dissertations, doctoral project studies, and doctoral studies) are an interesting resource.  While they don't go through a peer-review process, they are closely scrutinized by the dissertation committee.  


Use the specific type of project when referring to a specific program.  

  • D.B.A. doctoral study

  • D.I.T. doctoral study

  • DNP project study

  • DSW doctoral study

  • Ed.D. doctoral study/project study

  • Ph.D. dissertation


When referring to capstones/dissertations, either generally or specifically, clarify how the term is being used.

  • dissertation templates

  • doctoral study guidebook

  • find doctoral studies in the library


The word citation always requires a modifier to clarify how the word is being used.

  • citation information 

  • in-text citation

  • reference citation


See APA for guidance on citing sources.


Use the serial comma with three or more items in a list. 

  • Find articles, books, and more.

See information about the serial comma from the Writing Center.


In a sentence, use the em-dash to join two ideas.  Use the em-dash within sentences, no spaces.  For example:

These two things—candlelight and romantic music—would set the mood for her third date with John.

That’s it! Don’t use dashes for anything else!

Do not use hyphens as dashes.


To create an em-dash, click the Insert Special Character button in the rich text editor and select the em-dash. Or copy/paste the one below.



Fun Fact: By default Word and Outlook auto-correct hyphens into dashes:

em-dash: type a letter, two hyphens, a letter, then a space—presto, an em-dash!

 Note: In Outlook, the Format Text must be set to HTML.

Beware of copy and pasting from Word; it will retain a ton of junk code. 

dates & days

Do not use ordinals (June 5th = bad). Never put a comma between month and date, or month and year. If there's a year, include comma after the date and year. Exclude year if the current year is implied. Use comma after day if included.

  • Erin had a baby June 7, 2012.

  • On June 7, 2012, Erin had a baby.

  • On June 7 Erin had a baby. 

  • The last update was May 2010.

  • The database trial ends September 15.

  • Wednesday, July 4, is a holiday.

APA says to never abbreviate months and days. For us, if exceptionally expeditious, use:

  • Jan.   Feb.   Mar.   Apr.   May   June   July   Sept.   Oct.   Nov.   Dec.

  • Mon.  Tue.  Wed.  Thu.  Fri.  Sat.  Sun.


If using abbreviations with a colon, drop the period:

  • Mon: 9 a.m.–5 p.m.

Do not use numbers as dates.  This is confusing for international students as the date and month are in different order depending on country (see Wikipedia article on date format).

  • 5/7/2013  


There are no periods in any degree abbreviations.  This reflects a change to the Walden Style Guide implemented in February of 2015. 

For example:

  • PhD

  • DBA

  • EdD

Master/master's and Bachelor/bachelor's. When informal, use lowercase and 's; when the full, formal degree name, capitalize with no 's. 

  • Sommer is working on another master's degree.

  • Soon she will have a Master of Instructional Design and Technology.

departments & offices

Capitalize formal names of departments and offices, such as Student Success Advising, Academic Skills Center, Office of Research and Doctoral Services, Writing Center.

Lowercase for generic usage. For example, Many colleges have a writing center.


See capstones/dissertations.


Lowercase, with hyphen.


Lowercase, with hyphen.


Lowercase, with hyphen.

evidence based

Not evidenced based. Also see Hyphens.


Lowercase, with hyphen.

health care

Two words, except when referring to the degree.  For example:

I work in health care.

I am enrolled in the Doctor of Healthcare Administration degree.

home page

Two words.  


Hyphenate compound terms that precede the words they modify, but do not hyphenate if those same compound terms follow the words they modify. Do not hyphenate words that end in -ly.

  • You need peer-reviewed articles.

  • Are these articles peer reviewed?

  • In-text citations are important in APA. 

  • APA requires some citations to be in the text.

  • Program-specific guidelines can be found in the ORDS.

  • Each degree has requirements that are program specific. 


For more, see APA 4.13.

See also Dashes.


Use uppercase when referring to the Internet; lower-case when referring to material on the Internet e.g., internet resources.  Reflects APA and WSG usage.


On first use, use Knowledge Area Module (KAM), and use KAM thereafter. It's OK to use KAM in a title. No apostrophes (KAMs is correct). Always capitalize the components: Breadth, Depth, Application. (WSG)


Lists must use parallel construction.  This means the items in a list must be written in either title case or sentence case.  See information from the APA blog on sentence and title case.

If the list includes links, the list will almost certainly use sentence structure, as most links need a sentence. See link standards for more information (Springshare style guide).


For example:

Sentence Structure:                                       Title Structure:

Learn about brainstorming keywords               Annotated Bibliographies Webinar

Learn how to choose a topic                             DDBA 8005 Course Guides

Learn more about peer review                          Student Success Advising Website

login vs. log in

Log in is the verb. Login is the noun and adjective. When using with "to", separate "in" and "to" e.g., log in to the library database. (WSG)

  • Log in to the library.

  • Do you have an EBSCO login?

  • Do you know your login information?


See Dates and Days.


One word (except when explaining database search strategies, e.g., search multiple ways).


One word.


In general, use numerals for 10 and above. Spell out numbers zero through nine, common fractions, and any number that starts a sentence.

  • You have two options.

  • We have about 100 databases!

  • Forty databases come from EBSCO.

  • About 40 databases come from EBSCO.

  • Thoreau searches about four fifths of our collection.

Numbers for time are numerals, such as showing the length of a video:

  • (2 min 15 sec)  


For more, see APA 4.31.

Also see Bullets and Numbered Lists.


One word.


One word, no hyphens.


Capitalize. Plural is PDFs, not PDF's.

quotation marks

Do not use quotation marks to emphasize words or action items. Use bolded font instead:

  • BAD: Click the red "Course Readings" button.

  • GOOD: Click the Course Readings button.

schools & colleges

Use the names as found on, and abbreviations thereafter, if any, as seen on that site. In general, avoid abbreviating—rephrase the sentence instead.

Richard W. Riley College of Education and Leadership (abbrev: Riley College of Education and Leadership)

College of Health Professions and College of Nursing

  • School of Health Sciences

College of Management and Technology

  • School of Management

  • School of Technology and Applied Science

College of Social and Behavioral Sciences

  • School of Counseling and Social Service

  • School of Psychology

  • School of Public Policy and Administration

School of Interdisciplinary Undergraduate Studies (formerly College of Undergraduate Studies)

For program abbreviations, see Degrees.


One word. (Reflects common use.) 


One word.


Lowercase, one word. (WSG)


Use either single or double spaces between the period of one sentence and the first word of the next; be consistent within each content piece.

subject areas

Do not capitalize subject areas (education, nursing, business, etc.) outside of headings, titles, official names, etc.

  • CINAHL is the main nursing database.

  • Find articles on psychology and counseling topics in PsycINFO. 

telephone numbers

Use hyphens instead of parentheses for area codes and add 1:

  • 1-800-930-0914


When a phone number spells out a word (1-800-WALDENU), you must include the actual number after the word.

  • Our toll-free number is 1-800-WALDENU (1-800-925-3368), option 2, then option 3.


If providing an international number, use +X to indicate the country code and use periods instead of hyphens.  For example:

  • +31.20.713.0200

To direct students to the Walden international phone numbers use: 

For international inquiries, please visit to see a list of international toll-free phone numbers



One word.


Do not use ciphers (:00) unless minutes are included. Use a.m./p.m. only once if range is entirely in morning or afternoon. Include the period after the "a", "m", and "p".  Spell out midnight and noon rather than 12 a.m. and 12 p.m. (which tend to confuse students); when using midnight/noon, use "to" to indicate a range.  Include the period after the "a" and after the "m".

  • 8 a.m. to midnight

  • 8–9 p.m.

  • 8–9:30 p.m.

  • 10 a.m.–2 p.m.

Exceptions may be made for consistency in a list, for example, using "to" for all ranges:

Mon–Thu: 8 a.m. to midnight
Fri: 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Sat–Sun: Noon to midnight

(WSG and APA)

time zones

Spell out: Eastern time, not EST. For events, include only one time zone. (WSG) 

  • The webinar starts at 11 a.m. Eastern time.



When necessary, specify which version of Turnitin is under discussion.

  • Turnitin in the classroom

  • the Writing Center's version of Turnitin



Use linked text that describes where the link goes. Do not use exposed URLs, to improve screen reader accessibility.

This includes links to guides, screenshots, videos, permalinks to articles, etc.

Learn more about creating and naming links (Springshare style guide).

user name

Two words. (WSG) 


Use uppercase when referring to the Web; lower-case when referring to material on the web e.g., web resources.  Reflects APA and WSG usage.


Lowercase, one word. (APA blog)


Lowercase, one word. (APA)

Do not use website when referring to a specific webpage.  Use Library home page, Writing Center's APA page, Student Success Advising's Contact page, etc.


Lowercase. (WSG)

voice mail

Two words. (WSG) 


Second person singular (you, your) is the preferred case.  This draws the reader in, enhancing engagement with the material. 

Avoid using the general we, our, and us, as they are too broad.  To whom does we refer?  The Writing Center?  The university?  It could mean anyone.  

When writing Quick Answers, avoid the third person whenever possible.  It is more formal than should be used in Quick Answers.