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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.

Have a suggestion for the style guide? Contact Rebecca Downing at rdowning@colgate.edu

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


paintings and sculpture. See ARTWORKS under titles (of original works or similar).

panel discussions. See LECTURE AND PANEL DISCUSSION TITLES under titles (of original works or similar).

parentheses. See punctuation section.

Parents’ Weekend. Referred to as Family Weekend at Colgate.

Parents’ and Grandparents’ Fund.

Passion for the Climb. Launched in March 2007 and concluded in 2012, this $480 million comprehensive fundraising campaign’s full title is Passion for the Climb: The Campaign for Colgate. No quotation marks.

passive voice. Whenever possible, use the active voice rather than the passive [PREFERRED: The faculty rejected the committee’s proposals. LESS FAVORABLE: The proposals made by the committee were rejected by the faculty.].

per. Means “by the means or agency of” or “with respect to every member of” a specified group. This Latinism can often be substituted with more everyday equivalents such as according to, in accordance with, or at [Per the SGA’s request, the dance troupe submitted a more detailed budget. He registered his car in accordance with campus safety

percent, percentage. Note that the two terms are not interchangeable and that percentages are presented in numerals. Not per cent. [One percent is a very small percentage. Twelve percent of the members were present. A small percentage of the membership was present. Only 5 percent of the members were present. We believe that 99 percent of our students will graduate. We hope to reach a participation percentage of 55 (not 55 percent participation
total).]. See also 


periods of history. See historical periods.

persuade. See convince, persuade.

phone numbers. Use hyphens, not periods or parentheses [315-228-7000]. In text, do not include the numeral 1 before area codes. Indicate cellphone listings on business cards, stationery etc. with a C [C: 315-777-7777]

photo credits. See credits (photo).

physical handicaps. See disabilities.

Physical Plant. This department is referred to colloquially at Colgate as buildings and grounds, or B&G.

Picker Art Gallery.

Picker Interdisciplinary Science Institute. Named for Harvey Picker ’36.

plants and animals. See Chicago Manual of Style 8.136–8.138 or the dictionary.

plays and poems. See 

titles (of original works or similar).

please. Avoid using in formal publications [For more information, contact, not For more information, please contact].

p.m. Not PM or pm. For more about time style, see time.

politics. Usually treated as singular [Politics is a controversial subject.]. When used to mean “principles” or “activities,” it may be treated as plural [Her politics were offensive to them.].

possessives. See plurals and possessives under apostrophe in the punctuation section.

presently. See currently, presently.

president. Capitalize only as a formal title before one or more names [President Barack Obama, Presidents Clinton and Bush]. Lowercase in all other uses [Sports Illustrated writer Austin Murphy ’83 rode mountain bikes with the U.S. president at his Crawford, Texas, ranch in 2005.].

Presidents’ Club.

preventive. Preferable to preventative.

prime and double prime. These are the symbols that stand for “feet” and “inches.” Unlike apostrophes and quotation marks, they are not curved. In Microsoft Word, they are formed by turning off “smart quotes,” or by selecting the character in the Symbol table under Insert . . . In text the word feet or inches should be used, but these abbreviations are acceptable in captions or in list or table form [Girl in Garden, Alan B Smyth, 3'x4'; Jim Jaeckel, 5'6"]. Periods go outside the marks.

principle, principal. Principle means “a comprehensive and fundamental law, doctrine, or assumption,” and is almost always used as a noun; principal has two meanings: “the most important, consequential, or influential” (usually used as an adjective), and “a person who has controlling authority or is in a leading position” (noun), [She cited two central principles in the author’s argument. The principal ingredient in bread is flour. Mrs. Smith is the
school principal.].

prior to. Use before in most instances.

professor. Use the full formal title [Associate Professor of Psychology Jun Yoshino] on first reference when the subject of the text focuses on the person’s position; however, most often, using an occupational reference is preferable [psychology professor Jun Yoshino]. Capitalize when used as a courtesy title [We met Professor Lesleigh Cushing of the religion department today.]. For more information, see ACADEMIC AND ADMINISTRATIVE TITLES under 

titles (of persons).

publications. See titles (of original works or similar) for guidelines on text formatting for publication names.

punctuation. See Punctuation section.