Full Style Guide

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Abbreviations  |  Apostrophes  |  Capitalization  |  Commas  | Contact Information

Dashes |  Dates |  Degrees |  Hyphens |  Internet Technology |  Names and Titles | 

 |  Periods  |  Quotation Marks  |  Word Usage |  Form 

1. Abbreviations 

1.1 Complimentary titles
Abbreviate the following titles when they precede a name:

Ex. Dr., Mr., Mrs., Ms., the Rev., Fr., and all military titles.

1.2 Time reference

Always abbreviate ante meridian and post meridian as a.m. and p.m. (never use AM and PM)

1.3 Acronyms
Periods are not used with acronyms, which are uppercase. Ex. WCGA, CFW, NCAA, NEAC. (Exception: U.S.)

1.4 Ampersand
Use the ampersand (&) in corporate and proper names only when it is an official part of the title, e.g., Simon & Schuster, F&M Trust. (Note: Most of the time, it is NOT an official part of the name.)

1.5 Geographical references
Use the abbreviations Ave., Blvd. and St. only with a numbered address – otherwise, spell these three terms out. Spell out all other similar terms even with a numbered address (Ex. "road," "drive," “lane” and “terrace”) and capitalize them when part of a formal name.

Ex. Wilson College is located at 1015 Philadelphia Ave.
The campus is located along Philadelphia Avenue
I live at 2244 Oakleaf Road.

The names of streets and roads should be presented in lower case when used with two or more names.

Ex. The building is located at the corner of Philadelphia and College avenues.

Abbreviate the word "Saint" when used as part of a city’s name.

Ex. St. Louis, St. Paul, St. Petersburg

1.6 Degrees
When abbreviating degrees, use the following:

Bachelor of Arts - B.A.
Bachelor of Science - B.S.
Associate of Arts – A.A.
Associate of Science – A.S.
Master of Education – M.E.
Master of Science - M.S.
Master of Arts - M.A.
Master of Fine Arts – M.F.A.
Doctor of Philosophy - Ph.D.
Doctor of Divinity - D.D.
Doctor of Education - Ed.D.
Doctor of Humane Letters – L.H.D.

1.7 Course titles
Abbreviate the department name of a course when it is followed by the course number. (See list of abbreviations in the college catalog.)

Ex. ACCT 101

1.8 Names of states and countries
Use the two-letter abbreviation (found in the zip code directory) of a state ONLY when including it in a mailing address (including street and number). In those instances, use a comma between the city and the state abbreviation.

Ex. Wilson College
1015 Philadelphia Ave.
Chambersburg, PA  17201

When using a state where it is not part of a full address (such as in publications and advertisements), use the state abbreviations in the Associated Press Stylebook. (Note: The following states are never abbreviated except when used in a mailing address: Alaska, Hawaii, Idaho, Iowa, Maine, Ohio, Texas and Utah.)

Wilson College is located in Chambersburg, Pa.

Abbreviate United States to U.S. only when it is used as an adjective and not as a noun, OR on second reference.

Ex. Wilson College is one of the first women’s colleges in the United States.
After graduation, she entered the U.S. Naval Academy.
She is a member of the U.S. Congress.

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2. Apostrophes 

2.1 With dates
In making the plural of a date, do not use an apostrophe.

Ex. in the early 1800s

2.2 With class year
Use the apostrophe to punctuate years of college classes.

Ex. Class of ’78 (Note: It’s equally acceptable to use the full year – Class of 1978)

2.3 With degrees
Bachelor’s and master’s degrees, when used generically, should be written with an "’s." Exception: associate degree

Ex. master’s degrees, not masters’ degrees
associate degree, not associate’s degree

2.4 With possessives
The possessive case of singular nouns is formed by adding "’s"; the possessive of plural nouns by adding an apostrophe only.

Ex. the horse’s mouth, the puppies’ tails; the children’s books

With singular proper names ending in s, use only an apostrophe.

Ex. Burns’ poetry
Dickens’ novels
Jesus’ life

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3. Capitalization 

3.1  Academic positions or professional titles
Capitalize a position or title only when used before a person’s name. Lowercase titles in all other instances.

Ex. Titles preceding names:
President Lorna Edmundson
Dean Mary Hendrickson
Admissions Director Harriet Arnold
Assistant Vice President Larry Howell
Professor William Bylund

Titles following names:
Harold Freeman, director of the School of Theater
Alice Jamison, director of the Office of Admissions
Barry Dennison, president of the university
Jean Hoover, registrar of Wilson College
Jeff Zufelt, director of the Office of College Advancement

Titles without names:
For further information, contact the dean of the College of Health and Human Services.
The president of the university spoke at the Multicultural Scholars Day presentation.

The planning committee includes an assistant professor of biology, a vice president for academic affairs and the ombudsman of the university.

3.2  Use “Dr.” when referring to a medical doctor or someone with a doctoral degree such as a Ph.D. or Ed.D., etc.

Never use Dr. and Ph.D. – it is redundant.

3.3  Do not use two titles consecutively. (Wrong: President Dr. Lorna Edmundson. Correct: Dr. Lorna Edmundson, president of Wilson College, or President Lorna Edmundson.)

3.2 Title of the institution
Use "Wilson College" as the formal title of the institution. Except in news releases, capitalize College based on longstanding tradition in other references to Wilson only – not other colleges – and only when College is used as a noun, not an adjective.

Ex. Wilson College was ranked 13th among other women’s colleges. The College rated fifth in class size. This is the college style guide.

3.3 Titles of campus activities
Capitalize formal titles of campus activities.

Ex. Reunion Weekend, Fall Weekend, Sarah Wilson Week, Orr Forum, Commencement 2009.

3.4 Titles of Wilson boards and organizations
Capitalize formal titles of college organizations (even when not preceded by Wilson College)

Ex. The Board of Trustees, the Cabinet, the Alumnae Association

When referring to members of the Wilson Board of Trustees, always capitalize Trustee but do not capitalize board unless the full name is used.

Ex. John Doe stepped down after serving as a Trustee for six years.

After the meeting, the board decided to reconvene for one further item of business.

3.5 Department/office names
Lowercase informal department and office names (except when it includes proper nouns, e.g., English department).

Ex.: psychology department, philosophy department, admissions office, registrar’s office)

BUT, names of departments and offices should be capitalized when the full name is used.

Ex. the Office of College Advancement, the Department of Fine Arts, the Office of Admissions.

3.6 Titles of grants and awards
Capitalize formal titles of grants, scholarships and awards.

Ex. Buchanan Prize
James Applegate Award
Curran Scholarship
I attended the Wilson College Academic Awards dinner.

BUT, don’t capitalize informal uses

Ex. I attended the academic awards dinner.

3.7 Titles of courses
Capitalize all formal course titles, using full, unpunctuated caps for the course prefix.

Ex. ENG 151 Freshman Composition: Writing and Rhetoric
SOC 101 Introduction to Sociology

Do not capitalize informal course titles.

Ex. freshman composition
sociology class

3.8 Majors, minors, and areas of concentration
When used in text, use lower case for all, with the exception of proper nouns like French and English.

Majors: art, biology, French, environmental studies, veterinary medical technology
Minors: business administration, English
Emphases: major in mass communications with an emphasis in writing
Options or areas of concentration: area of concentration in early childhood education

3.9 Student classification
Use lower case for "freshman," "sophomore," "junior," and "senior" when referring to student classification. Upper case when used as a proper name.

Ex. All freshmen must fulfill the freshman-level composition requirement.
Managerial accounting should be taken during the junior year. The Senior Class presented a gift to the College.

3.10 Academic quarters and terms
Academic quarters and terms are lower case.

Ex. spring semester, summer I, fall 2008
Please note: the word “of” is not used (e.g., Classes will begin in fall 2008.)

3.11 Headlines
Use lower case for articles, prepositions and conjunctions in headlines, except when prepositions contain more than three letters. (Exception: with, which should be lower case)

Ex. Freshman Enrollment at 3,000
Freshman Enrollment Under 4,000
Enrollment Increases Since June

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4. Commas 

4.1 With a series
Use commas to separate elements in a series, but do not use a comma before the conjunction in a simple series.

Ex.  The flag is red, white and blue. He would nominate Tom, Dick or Harry.

4.2 With numbers
Place a comma after digits signifying thousands: 1,150 students, 1,100 SAT score; except when reference is made to addresses: 1015 Philadelphia Ave.

4.3 With quotations
Follow a statement that introduces a direct quotation of one or more paragraphs with a comma. But use a colon after "as follows."

Ex. Dorothy Parker’s epitaph reads, "Pardon my dust."
Dorothy Parker’s epitaph reads as follows: "Pardon my dust."

4.4 With dates
When writing a date, use a comma between the day, if given, and the year, but do not use a comma between the month and year when the day is not mentioned.

Ex. November 1945 was the date that he died.
Nov. 10, 1945, was the date that he died. (note that the month is abbreviated here) – see 7. “Dates” for more information)

4.5 With academic quarters and terms
The comma is omitted when citing academic quarters or terms.

Ex. spring 2006 (note that the season is not capitalized AND no “of” is used)
Use: in fall 2007 NOT in the fall of 2007

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5. Contact Information 

5.1 Addresses
Campus addresses should have the room number following the building name.

Ex. Lenfest Commons 106
Riddle Hall 201

5.2 Telephone numbers
Telephone numbers should be listed as follows (see also "Hyphens with telephone numbers):

Ex. Telephone: 717-264-4141
Telephone: 800-533-1212 (Note that you should not use a “1” before these numbers.

If extension numbers are given, use a comma to separate the main number from the extension.

Ex. 717-264-4141, ext. 1234

5.3 Electronic communication
Fax and email numbers should be listed as follows:

Ex. Facsimile: 740-593-0191 or
Fax: 740-593-0191

Ex. email: admissions@wilson.edu

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6. Dashes

When setting off part of a sentence for emphasis or when there are already commas, use an en dash (longer than a hyphen but shorter than an em dash) offset by spaces on either side.

Ex. We will fly to Paris in June – if I get a raise.
He listed the qualities – intelligence, humor, independence – that he liked in an executive.

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7. Dates

Note: Never use ordinal numbers. (Wrong: May 21st, June 23rd. Correct: May 21, June 23.)

7.1 When a month is used with a specific date, abbreviate only Jan., Feb., Aug., Sept., Oct., Nov. and Dec. Spell out when using alone or with a year alone.

7.2 When a phrase lists only a month and year, do not separate the year with commas. When a phrase refers to a month, day and year, set off the year with commas.

Ex. November 1945 was a difficult time.
Jan. 2 was the coldest day of the month.
His birthday is May 8.
Feb. 14, 1987, was the target date.
She testified that it was Friday, Dec. 3, when the accident occurred.

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8. Degrees 

Use an apostrophe in bachelor’s degree, master’s degree, etc., but there is no possessive in Bachelor of Arts degree or Master of Science degree.

If using after proper names, capitalize abbreviations for degrees and professional designations, separating them with periods. Ex.: John Smith, B.A., B.S., Ph.D.

Note: Wilson College offers the following degrees:
• Bachelor of Arts
• Bachelor of Science
• Associate of Arts
• Associate of Science
• Master of Education

(Also see 1.6 "Abbreviations, degrees," 2.3 "Apostrophes with degrees," 13.1 "Periods with abbreviations”)

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9. Hyphens 

9.1 Hyphenating compound words
Use a hyphen in compound modifiers (when two or more words combine to express a single concept) that come before the nouns they modify.

Ex. full-time student
grade-point average
upper-division course
game-winning goal
part-time faculty
out-of-state tuition
day-to-day basis
state-of-the-art building

However, if the word commonly used as a modifier is used on its own, do not hyphenate.

Ex. He lives day to day. She works part time. The building will be state of the art.

9.2 Never hyphenate adverbs, which end in ly.

Ex. His newly released book is illuminating
The president announced the appointment at a hastily called press conference.

9.3 Hyphenation with prefixes
Words beginning with "non," "anti," "sub," "co," and "pre" usually can be combined without a hyphen.

Ex. nontraditional, nondenominational, coeducational, antinuclear, substandard, premedicine, prephysical therapy, precollege

Use the nonhyphenated spelling if either spelling is acceptable.

Hyphenate words when a prefix causes confusion in reading the word that follows.

Ex. pre-enroll, not preenroll
re-enroll, not reenroll
pre-engineering, not preengineering
co-op, not coop

9.4 Hyphens with telephone numbers
Area codes and other codes for telephone numbers are to be set off from the phone number with hyphens.

Ex. 740-593-1920

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10. Internet Terminology 

10.1 Email is always lowercase with no hyphen (unless it begins a sentence).

Ex. I always check my email several times a day.
Email is a good way to communicate.

10.2 Internet is always uppercase

10.3 Online is always lowercase with no hyphen (unless it begins a sentence).

10.4 Web (Shorthand for World Wide Web)

Ex.: website, webpage, webcam, webcast, webmaster (deviation from AP style).

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11. Names and Titles 

11.1 Official titles
Use complete, accurate titles of campus buildings, people and positions. The college catalog and the campus telephone directory are good sources for correct titles.

11.2 Faculty rank
The levels of faculty rank are as follows (the rank for Wilson College faculty is listed in the campus directory):

professor of
associate professor of
assistant professor of
adjunct professor of

11.3 Use of a person’s name in publications
On first reference, refer to individuals in text by first and last name and title, if applicable. Subsequent references are by last name only.

Ex. Wilson College President Lorna Duphiney Edmundson addressed the Class of 1990. Edmundson’s speech was well received.

Ex. Correct: Send your application to the director of the Office of Admissions before the March 1 deadline. Wrong: Send your application to Jane Doe in the Office of Admissions.

***Whenever possible, use a position or title instead of a name in recruiting or promotional publications.***

11.4 Junior/Senior
Abbreviate Jr. and Sr. with full names of persons. Do not precede by a comma.

Ex. Joseph P. Kennedy Jr.

11.5 Nicknames
Set off nicknames in quotation marks.

Ex. Harold “Buzz” Shank

(Note: Do not insert commonly used nicknames, such as Kathy for Katherine or Bill for William.)

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12. Numbers 

12.1 Numerals
The common rule is to spell out numbers under 10 and use figures for the numbers 10 and over, except when a number begins a sentence, then spell it out. (Exception: Use numerals for percentages. And whenever possible, standardize to figures when the text includes several numbers. The following examples illustrate typical uses:

Ex. The class lasted 50 minutes. I had three choices. She gave a 10-minute presentation. Twelve students and eight faculty members attended the workshop in Carlisle. Overall student enrollment is up 2 percent over the past year and 4 percent over the year before. The orientation lasted 12 hours, 8 minutes, and 4 seconds.

12.2 Grade-point average
Grade-point averages are normally expressed to one decimal place.

Ex. 3.7, 2.0

12.3 Time of day
Use figures except for noon and midnight. Use a colon to separate hours from minutes. Do not use 00.

Ex. 9 a.m., 7:45 a.m., 2:30 p.m.

Never say 12 noon – noon alone will suffice.

12.4 Sums of money
When used in text, delete ".00"; in tables, use ".00."

Write dollar amounts in figures, unless they begin a sentence, then spell out in full.

Ex. There will be a $25 application fee.
Seventy-five dollars will be charged for admission.

12.5 Numbers in lists
When including numbers in textual lists, enclose the number in parentheses.

Ex. Admission is based on: (1) high school performance, (2) aptitude test scores, (3) recommendation of high school and (4) special talent, ability or achievement.

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13. Periods 

13.1 With abbreviations
Use periods when abbreviating academic degrees.
Ex. Dr. Bond received an A.B., M.A., and Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania.

And with lowercase abbreviations:
The workshop will be held from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Periods are not used with acronyms, which are uppercase.
Ex. WCGA, CFW, SAT, NCAA, GPA (Exception: U.S.)

(See also Abbreviations)

13.2 With lists
Listed information conveyed in sentence form should be punctuated with periods.

Ex. To participate in commencement:
1. You will need to apply for graduation by the March 1 deadline.
2. You will need to arrange to rent or purchase a graduation gown.

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14. Quotation Marks 

14.1 Used with other punctuation
Quotation marks should be placed outside a period and comma, but inside a colon or semicolon. They should also be set inside exclamation points and interrogation marks that are not part of the quotation.

Ex. See Richter’s comments on "journalistic expertise," in the second section of the book.

The board had only two reservations about "the proposal": the cost and the time needed to implement changes.

14.2 Quotes within quotes
Use single quotation marks for quotations printed within other quotations.

Ex. "I follow Emerson’s dictum, ‘A foolish consistency is the petty hobgoblin of small minds,’ to its logical extreme,” he said.

14.3 Block quotations
If several paragraphs are to be quoted, use quotation marks at the beginning of each paragraph, but at the end of the last paragraph only.

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15. Word Usage

Use the following words and spelling in material submitted to the Wilson College Department of Communications:

adviser, not advisor
all right, not alright
coursework, not course work
theater, not theatre (unless it is part of the theater’s official name, e.g., Capital Theatre)
Under way, not underway
upperclass, not upper-class

We employ substitutions for the following words:

enhance: replace with improve, advance, promote, strengthen, reinforce
facilitate: replace with foster, promote, expedite, or further
impact (as a verb): replace with affect, influence, modify, shape
input: replace with response, assistance, contribution
user-friendly: say “the system is easy to use” rather than “the system is user-friendly” 
utilize: replace with use, employ

15.1 That/Which (pronouns)
Use that and which in referring to inanimate objects and to animals without a name (otherwise, use who)
Use that for essential clauses, important to the meaning of a sentence, and without commas: I remember the day that we met.
Use which for nonessential clauses, where the pronoun is less necessary, and use commas: The team, which finished last a year ago, is in first place.

(Tip: If you can drop the clause and not lose the meaning of the sentence, use which; otherwise, use that. A which clause is surrounded by commas; no commas are used with that clauses.)

15.2 Participial phrases
A participial phrase at the beginning of a sentence must refer to the grammatical subject.

Wrong: On arriving in New York, his friends met him at the airport. Correct: On arriving in New York, he was met at the airport by friends.
Wrong: A soldier of proved value, they entrusted him with the defense of the city. Correct: A soldier of proved value, he was entrusted with the defense of the city.

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16. Form 

16.1 Always use active voice rather than passive voice.

Ex. Wrong: A letter explaining my point is attached. Correct: I have attached a letter explaining my point.

16.2 Avoid clichés and figures of speech.

16.3 Do not overstate or exaggerate. Use words like very sparingly.

16.4 Avoid fancy words – keep it simple.

16.5 For the most part, use said for attribution, not claimed, explained, stated, noted, affirmed, asserted, etc.

When quoting someone directly (with quotation marks), used said rather than says. Use says when paraphrasing someone saying something they say repeatedly.

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