The voice of Northern State University is part of our identity—it’s the way we communicate with current and potential students, as well as alumni, parents and friends of the university. 
NSU's tagline: "Unleash Your Potential - Join the Pack"



Northern's Brand Voice is woven into every message we craft and every story we share about Northern, helping us show off our diverse, welcoming campus community of engaged learners. The below guide is here to help us maintain a consistent voice in all communications.



Style and tone come together to show off our unique personality. At Northern, perhaps the best example of this personality is our tagline (pictured above).

This robust phrase was derived from months of research and creative brainstorming that identified general themes of our university:

• Caring, supportive environment with a strong community – a pack

• Diamond in the rough, undervalued institution – potential

• Momentous time for enrollments, scholarships and campus development – unleash

Besides our tagline, we also chose several key words that best describe our overall university personality:


Fostering an atmosphere of enthusiasm and congeniality across campus


Providing helpful, timely information as well as high-quality education


Supporting students and meeting their needs as individuals, inside and outside the classroom


Maintaining a respectful demeanor at all times within our community and with the public


Being a space for all people to belong and thrive – a place they can call home

Collectively, our tagline and these additional words drive the voice and image of our brand.


That doesn’t mean every message needs to incorporate those specific words or our tagline in its entirety; rather, they should be top of mind to make sure your message represents the tone and feelings they evoke.

For example, with our tagline, we sometimes take key words – “unleash” and “pack” – and infuse them into marketing materials in other ways:

Unleash your talents (School of Fine Arts materials)

Find your place in the pack (Admissions materials)

There are also several examples on the NSU website where our voice shines through. Take a look at our About Campus page and see how many of our key words you can find.


Still unsure? Below are examples of the right way – and the wrong way – to incorporate Northern’s voice:

Confident, not arrogant:

DO: Northern’s rigorous academic programs rival those at a larger institution. 

DON’T: Northern’s academic programs are stronger than any other university in the state.

Encouraging, not aggressive:

DO: At Northern, you’ll have numerous opportunities to find your place in the pack through campus clubs and organizations.

DON’T: At Northern, you’ll have no excuse not to get out of your residence hall and get involved in our campus clubs.

Approved designations for the campus are:

1. Northern State University

2. Northern

3. The university or Our university

4. NSU (in general, reserve this for formal titles, such as NSU Theatre or NSU Athletics)



Northern’s brand voice also involves highlighting what makes the university stand apart: 

The Northern Experience: Northern’s overall campus experience is personalized for each student, focused on one-on-one attention and individualized services that help them succeed as well as new, state-of-the art-campus facilities.

Career Outcomes: Northern students are well-prepared for a career and life after college, as demonstrated through alumni testimonials and career statistics.

Campus Life: Northern offers a safe, supportive and diverse campus in a welcoming community where students feel at home.

Affordability: With the cost of college a concern for families, Northern is proud to offer an affordable education that is high-quality and provides tremendous value for students.

Academic Opportunities: Northern is known for rigorous academics provided by dedicated, talented faculty scholars, including:

Honors program
Undergraduate research
Study abroad
Internships / student teaching
Student clubs and activities




Consistency in our voice is also key to keep our messages clear and professional. Northern follows Associated Press style as spelled out in the below Writing Style Guide, which addresses common grammar and punctuation issues and contains Northern-specific facts. For additional questions, please email

Academic degrees

Academic degrees should be lowercase unless the full name of the degree is used:

associate degree, bachelor’s degree, master’s degree, doctoral degree (or doctorate)

Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Science, Master of Arts, Master of Science

Correct abbreviation:

B.A., B.S., M.A., M.S., Ph.D., M.S.Ed., MBA



Abbreviate Ave., Blvd and St. when used in a specific address. Spell out when no specific address is used. Always spell out Road, Drive, Lane and any other such words. Examples:

NSU’s address is 1200 S. Jay St.

NSU is located on South Jay Street.

The student lives at 1601 Olive Drive.



Although AP Style calls for “adviser,” NSU uses “advisor” in formal job titles. Thus, the university has decided to use that spelling – “advisor” – in all cases.


And vs. &

Do not use an ampersand in place of the word “and” unless it is part of an organization’s formal name. Examples:

The NSU College of Arts and Sciences offers several programs.

Northern has again been recognized by U.S. News & World Report.


Canceled, canceling, cancellation


Composition titles

Put quotes around composition titles – books, movies, plays, songs, television programs, speeches, works of art – rather than using italics. Exceptions to this rule include magazines and newspapers, which should simply be capitalized.



Use just the date and the numeral – no “th,” “nd,” “rd.” Days of the week should always be spelled out. Months should be spelled out unless a specific date is used. Commas should set off the day, date and year. Do not use “of” between the month and year. Examples:

He graduated in December 2019 with a degree in business.

He graduated Saturday, Dec. 14, 2019, with a degree in business.

Some months should not be abbreviated, even with a date. Use the following:















The word “dollars” is not needed when using the dollar sign. Example:

The NSU Foundation received a $15 million donation.


Majors and minors

Capitalize only if a proper noun. Example:

She is majoring in English.

He is majoring in political science.



 is one word, no hyphen.



Spell out one through nine. Use numerals for ages and dimensions (height, weight), but spell out one through nine for distance. Use numerals for percentages, and spell out the word percent. Examples:

He is 30 years old and has a 2-year-old son.

She is 5 feet 6 inches tall.

She ran six miles, then biked 10 miles.

NSU experienced a 7 percent growth in enrollment.


Phone numbers

Use hyphens in phone numbers, not parentheses or periods. Example:




No periods are needed.



Spell out unless included in a listing. When necessary, abbreviate states as follows:

Alabama: Ala.

Arizona: Ariz.

Arkansas: Ark.

California: Calif.

Colorado: Colo.

Connecticut: Conn.

Delaware: Del.

Florida: Fla.

Georgia: Ga.

Illinois: Ill.

Indiana: Ind.

Kansas: Kan.

Kentucky: Ky.

Louisiana: La.

Maryland: Md.

Massachusetts: Mass.

Michigan: Mich.

Minnesota: Minn.

Mississippi: Miss.

Missouri: Mo.

Montana: Mont.

Nebraska: Neb.

Nevada: Nev.

New Hampshire: N.H.

New Jersey: N.J.

New Mexico: N.M.

New York: N.Y.

North Carolina: N.C.

North Dakota: N.D.

Oklahoma: Okla.

Oregon: Ore.

Pennsylvania: Pa.

Rhode Island: R.I.

South Carolina: S.C.

South Dakota: S.D.

Tennessee: Tenn.

Vermont: Vt.

Virginia: Va.

Washington: Wash.

West Virginia: W.Va.

Wisconsin: Wis.

Wyoming: Wyo.

Do not abbreviate Alaska, Hawaii, Idaho, Iowa, Maine, Ohio, Texas, Utah or Canadian provinces.


Theater vs. Theatre

The NSU School of Fine Arts uses “theatre” in all references.



Use periods in a.m. and p.m. and separate them from the number. When using a start and end time, separate with a hyphen or by using “to” and “from,” but don’t use a combination. Examples:

The bookstore is open 10 a.m.-4 p.m. (correct)

The bookstore is open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. (correct)

The bookstore is open from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. (incorrect)

Also, if the start and end time are both a.m. or both p.m., list it only after the second time. Example:

The bookstore is open 1-5 p.m.



Capitalize an organization or department only when using its formal name. Examples:

The NSU Marching Wolves performed during the game.

NSU’s marching band performed during the game.

The professor is part of the Northern State University Department of Theater.

The professor is part of the theater department.

Personal titles should be capitalized when they come before a name. When a title is listed after a name, it should be lowercase. Examples:

NSU Vice President John Doe spoke Friday.

John Doe, NSU vice president, spoke Friday.


Web terms

Lowercase internet, online (no hyphen), email (also no hyphen), website and webpage.



Northern State University should be spelled out on first reference. Then Northern is preferred, though NSU is acceptable.



Northern State University

1200 S. Jay St.

Aberdeen, SD 57401


Campus buildings/rooms

Administration Building or Krikac Administration Building: both are acceptable

Athletic and Recreation Fields and Pavilion

Avera Student Center

Barnett Center: acceptable on first reference, but full name is Joseph H. Barnett Physical Education and Convocation Center

Beckman Building: houses the NSU Foundation

Berggren Recital Hall: located in Johnson Fine Arts Center

Beulah Williams Library or Williams Library: both are acceptable; location of the Round Room

Caribou Coffee/Einstein Bros. Bagels – located in the NSU Student Center (Einstein Bros. Bagels includes the period in its registered trademarked symbol, even though the logo doesn’t have it: That means it should include the period in the written form.)

Dacotah Hall

Graham Hall: Home to the Missouri River Room and James River Room

Harvey C. Jewett IV Regional Science Education Center (opened fall 2019)

Harvey Jewett Conference Room: located in Spafford Hall

H.P. Gerber Building: home to the Millicent Atkins School of Education

International Sculpture Garden: located in Baumgart Plaza and home to five sculptures by renowned Vietnamese artist Tuan Nguyen

Krikac Auditorium

Lincoln Hall

Mewaldt-Jensen Building

Regional Sports Complex, including Dacotah Bank Stadium and Koehler Hall of Fame Softball Field (opening fall 2021)

South Dakota School for the Blind and Visually Impaired: New facility opened in 2020 at the site of the former Jerde Hall; SDSBVI partners with NSU through the Educational Impact Campaign

Spafford Hall

Technology Center: connected to Mewaldt-Jensen

Wolf Shoppe: formerly known as NSU Bookstore


Center for Statewide E-learning

On second reference, e-learning center is acceptable.



Capitalize Northern’s colleges: College of Arts and Sciences; College of Professional Studies (which merged the School of Business and Millicent Atkins School of Education); and School of Fine Arts.


Office of Online and Continuing Education

This department’s name changed to reflect its varied components, including distance education and professional workshops.


Residence halls

Briscoe Hall

Great Plains East (opened fall 2018)

Great Plains West (opened fall 2018)

Kramer Hall

McArthur-Welsh Hall: “McWelsh” is a shortened version that is acceptable on second reference

Steele Hall

Wolves Memorial Suites (opened fall 2017)

Former halls:

Jerde Hall (demolished in 2018 to make way for the new SDSBVI)

Lindberg Hall, formerly home to the NSU Children's Center, demolished in 2017

Seymour Hall


When referring readers to specific documents on or myNSU

  • Whenever possible, do not share specific document URLs in printed materials or emails
  • Do feel free to share URLs of existing webpages – webpage URLs are very unlikely to change without notice
  • Best practice when referring to webpages is to use vanity URLs. Request these at – Faculty/Staff—Web Systems.