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Editorial Style and Usage Guide

This guide is the established editorial style for e-mail announcements, the Colgate Magazine, colgate.edu pages and stories, brochures, newsletters, letters, and more.

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For answers to common questions, see our Quick Tips

NOTE: All entries, in bold type, indicate lower case or capitalization as appropriate

   A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
             Punctuation - Helpful references - Proofreading tips


dance. For rules governing capitalization and type style of titles of dance works, see dance heading under titles (of original works or similar).


dash. See punctuation section.

data. Uses a plural verb [The data are complete.].

database. See computer terms.

dates, days. Use month-day-year sequence with comma before and after year [On June 29, 1995, they left for Portugal.]. No comma when only the month and year are used [June 1995]. Also, June 29, not June 29th — the ‘th’ is used in place of the month [I’ll see you on the 29th. Our meeting is scheduled for June 29.]

dean’s list. Appears on award presented to students as Dean’s Award. Capitalize and punctuate as shown.

decades. Use either words or numbers, but remain consistent [She grew up in the ’80s, whereas he grew up in the ’90s. The sixties and seventies were a time of political and social turbulence.].

decision making. As nouns, decision making and decision maker are not normally hyphenated; however, to add one in fast decision-making shows that decisions (not snap judgments) must be made soon.

degrees. See 

academic degrees or temperature.

departments, divisions, and programs (academic). Capitalize formal names of divisions, programs, and departments (most of which begin “Department of . . .”]. In body copy, informal names are lowercased, except for proper nouns [He visited the Department of Art and Art History, but took courses in the English department and the philosophy department. She called the humanities division but also contacted the Division of Social Sciences. He
participates in outdoor education activities, but he works for the Outdoor Education Program.].

Formal names at Colgate
Division of Arts and Humanities
Department of Art and Art History
Department of the Classics
Department of East Asian Languages and Literatures
Department of English
Department of German
Department of Music
Department of Philosophy
Department of Religion
Department of Romance Languages and Literatures
Department of Theater
Division of Natural Sciences and Mathematics
Department of Biology
Department of Chemistry
Department of Computer Science
Department of Geology
Department of Mathematics
 Department of Physics and Astronomy
Department of Psychology
Division of Social Sciences
Department of Economics
Department of Educational Studies
Department of Geography
Department of History
Department of Political Science (includes International Relations Program)
Department of Sociology and Anthropology
Division of University Studies
Africana and Latin American Studies Program
Asian Studies Program
Environmental Studies Program
Film and Media Studies Program
Department of Writing and Rhetoric
Jewish Studies Program
LGBTQ Studies Program
Liberal Arts Core Curriculum
Linguistics Program
Medieval and Renaissance Studies Program
Middle Eastern Studies and Islamic Civilization Program
Native American Studies Program
Peace and Conflict Studies Program
Russian and Eurasian Studies Program
Women’s Studies Program
Office of Undergraduate Studies
Division of Physical Education, Recreation, and Athletics
Department of Athletics
Department of Physical Education and Recreation
Outdoor Education Program

departments, administrative. Capitalize formal names of programs and departments (many of which begin “Office of”); lowercase informal references. [For more information, contact the Office of Admission. He stopped by the admission office. He participated in several human resources training programs.].

Formal names of Colgate administrative departments
Academic Support and Disability Services
Accounting and Control, Office of
Admission, Office of
ALANA Cultural Center
Alumni Relations, Office of
Athletic Communications, Office of
Colgate Annual Giving (annual giving on second reference)
Colgate Bookstore
Budget and Decision Support, Office of
Campus Safety Department
Center for Career Services
Center for Leadership and Student Involvement (CLSI)
Center for Learning, Teaching, and Research
Center for Women’s Studies
Chaplains, Office of the
Colgate University Press
Communications, Office of
Conference Services and Summer Programs, Office of
Corporate, Foundation, and Government Relations, Office of (grants office)
Counseling and Psychological Services, Office of
Dean of the College, Office of the
Dining Services, Colgate
Document Services
Emergency Management, Office of
Environmental Health and Safety, Office of
Equity and Diversity, Office of
Facilities Department
Finance and Administration, Division of
Financial Aid, Office of
Fraternity and Sorority Advising, Office of
Human Resources Department
Japanese Studies Center
Information Technology Services
Institutional Advancement
Institutional Planning and Research, Office of
International Student Services
Investment, Office of
LGBTQ Initiatives, Office of
Libraries, Colgate University
Mail Services
Max Shacknai Center for Outreach, Volunteerism, and Education (COVE)
Off-Campus Study, Office of
Physical Education, Recreation, and Athletics, Division of
Physical Plant
Picker Art Gallery
President, Office of the
Provost and Dean of the Faculty, Office of the
Purchasing Office
Registrar, Office of the
Residential Life, Office of
Robert A. Fox ’59 Leadership Institute (currently inactive)
Robert Ho Center for Chinese Studies
Shaw Wellness Institute
Special Collections and University Archives
Student Health Services
Treasurer, Office of the
Upstate Institute at Colgate University (Upstate Institute is usually sufficient)
Undergraduate Studies, Office of
University Relations
Writing and Speaking Center

different. Followed by from, not than [Breyer’s chocolate ice cream tastes different from Ben & Jerry’s.].

dimensions. When dimensions (including fractions) appear in body copy, follow the examples given [He used an 8 1/2 by 11–inch piece of paper. The room was 9.5 by 12 feet. It was a 9- by 12-foot room.].

disabilities. According to TASH (formerly The Association of Persons with Severe Handicaps), phrases such as the handicapped and the retarded should never be used; the phrase people with disabilities is preferable. In general, phrases such as persons with severe disabilities and children with autism are appropriate, emphasizing the person,
rather than the disability. As well, disabled is preferable to handicapped, and rather than using wheelchair bound or afflicted with ALS, say uses a wheelchair or has ALS.

disinterest(ed), uninterest(ed). Disinterest means “impartiality or freedom from bias or from chance of financial benefit”; uninterest refers to a lack of interest or implies that the feelings are not engaged. The words should not be used interchangeably. [Judges are the disinterested parties in legal cases. The group is suffering from the uninterest of its members.]

Distinction, High Distinction. Special academic designations earned through elective courses in Colgate’s Liberal Arts Core Curriculum.

distribution requirement. Lowercase.

doctor, Dr. For professors, do not use Dr. as a prefix; professor is the proper term. Identify individuals instead by title or professional area [biologist Randall Fuller; Ellen Kraly, geography professor].
          Use Dr. only in the first reference as a formal title before the name of an individual who holds a doctor of medicine or veterinary medicine degree [Dr. Jonas Salk is credited with creating the polio vaccine. Salk died in 1995.].

dollars. The dollar sign is usually preferable to the word; do not use both at the same time [The university invested $12 million, not The university invested $12 million dollars.].

dormitory, dorm. Residence hall is the preferred term.

dos and don’ts. Not do’s and don’t’s.

dot-com. See computer terms.

drink, drank, drunk. Drink is the present tense of the verb, drank is the past tense, and drunk is the past participle (or, the state of intoxication). Drank and drunk are not interchangeable. [I like to drink milk. He drank the juice. The water was drunk by the runners. She had drunk the coffee. The man was clearly drunk.]

drop/add period. Lowercase.

due to. Don’t use due to when you mean because of.