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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

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             Punctuation - Helpful references - Proofreading tips


faculty, staff. Both words are collective nouns. They refer to groups of people, yet they take singular verbs. In addition, as collective nouns, in most cases both terms require “member” to accompany them [RIGHT: We have called upon faculty members to assist. WRONG: We have called upon faculty to assist. RIGHT: Members of the staff will meet on Tuesday. WRONG: Staff will meet on Wednesday.].
          When referring to individuals, use professor or teacher in place of faculty whenever possible. For capitalization instructions, see ACADEMIC AND ADMINISTRATIVE TITLES under 

titles (of persons). Also, use instructor in but professor of.

Family Weekend.

farther, further. Farther is a distance word; further is a time or quantity word [One travels farther but pursues a task further.].

fax. Lowercase. Can be used as a noun or a verb.

federal. Lowercase when used as an adjective to distinguish something from state, county, city, town, or private entities [federal assistance, federal court, federal government, a federal judge]. Capitalize for the architectural style and for corporate or governmental agencies that use the word as part of their formal names [a Federal-style building, Federal Trade Commission, Federal Express].

fellow, fellowship. Lowercase when used alone but capitalize when in combination with a name of a granting organization: [an NEH Fellow, a Guggenheim Fellowship; but he was a fellow at Yaddo in 1989].

fewer, less. Use fewer when referring to objects identifiable by number [We have fewer students this year.]; use less for bulk or quantity [I have less than $10.].



finalize. To be avoided, as with other ize endings. See -ize.

first annual. See annual.

first-come, first-served.


first year, first-year student, freshman. The preferred term, first-year student is hyphenated when used as a compound adjective. [We met the first-year students yesterday.]. The term first-year is not a noun; it modifies student [RIGHT: He joined the juggling club as a first-year student. WRONG: She started learning German as a first-year.]. No hyphen when referring to time frame [I took Measuring the Internet in my first year.]. Do not use freshman except in a direct quote [He took Core 151 during his first year. He said, “I took German my freshman year.”]. See also freshman, freshmen.

first-year seminar. Lowercase. Sometimes referred to as an FSEM. In direct quotes, substitute first-year if the statement incorrectly uses the word freshman in identifying an FSEM [“I took a first-year seminar that changed my mind about history,” not “I took a freshman seminar about . . .”].

fiscal year. Capitalize before a specific year, and lowercase when alone or after a specific year. [Alumni giving doubled in Fiscal Year 2012; our 2013 fiscal year goals will be significantly higher. Colgate’s fiscal year runs from July 1 through June 30.].

following. A noun meaning “a group of followers” or an adjective meaning “listed” or “shown next.” Don’t use the adjective as a noun [RIGHT: He has a large following. Please refer to the following terms. The meeting dates are as follows: June 1, July 2, September 10. WRONG: The meeting dates are the following: June 1, July 2, September

foreign student. Use international student.

foreign words and phrases. In publications, use italics on first reference for all but the most familiar, and follow, if necessary, with an English definition of the word in parentheses or the translation of the phrase within quotation marks [Tonband (tape recorder)].

fractions. For fractions and percentages, the verb agrees with the noun following the “of” [Three-quarters of the
apple was eaten. Three-quarters of the employees are at a seminar today.].


freshman, freshmen. Use first-year student or first-year students instead, unless in a direct quote [“I only played rugby my freshman year,” said Maldonado].

fundraising, fundraiser.

Fulbright. Uppercase as shown [Fulbright Scholar Award(s), Fulbright Scholar Program, Fulbright Scholar(s), Fulbright Distinguished Fellow(s)]. Lowercase the following as shown [Fulbright grant, Fulbright fellowship(s), Fulbright award(s)].