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Editorial Style and Usage Guide

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

Have a suggestion for the style guide? Contact Rebecca Costello at rcostello@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

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Quick Tips

admission(s). At Colgate, the department is referred to in the singular case (admission office), but use “college admissions” when talking about the concept in general.

Board of Trustees. The board or a university trustee (lowercase) on second reference.

class years. To denote class year on a graduate’s name, use John Jones ’39 (no comma between name and year).
           For master’s degree recipients, use Eric Brown MA’88, Jenny Jones MAT’99 (no space between degree and and the apostrophe).
           For honorary degree recipients, use James Jones H’95 (no space between H and the apostrophe).
           For Colgate couples, place the class years adjacent to the names as in example [Joe ’01 and Amy Hargrave ’03 Leo came to the reunion.].
           Multiple class years or or parental designation: separate with commas: Bruce F. Wesson ’64, P’90,’93; Andy Rooney ’42, P’74, GP’05, H’96
            To achieve ’ before class year numerals, on a Mac, use shift/option/apostrophe; on a PC, use control/shift/apostrophe.
            With possessives, find a way to rephrase to avoid making the class year possessive [RIGHT: We found the dog belonging to John Jones ’89 running around. WRONG: We found John Smith ’89’s dog running around].

Colgate University. Use Colgate, the university, or the institution on second reference (no initial caps on generic nouns). It is preferable on second reference to refer to Colgate as “the university” rather than “the college.”

commas. Use the serial (Oxford) comma before and in a series to ensure clarity [Joe ate peas, ham, and bread. Jen went swimming with the divers, Sam, and Ed (to make clear that Sam and Ed are not the divers, but rather, joined Jen and a group of divers)]. Likewise for the final in a series separated by semicolons: the last two elements should be separated by semicolons. See the Punctuation section for more.

core. Lowercase unless using the formal title, Liberal Arts Core Curriculum [Brian took three core courses during his first year. The core program is a hallmark of a Colgate education.].

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.]

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.].

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.”].

’gate. As an abbreviation for Colgate, lowercase in body copy, but avoid this colloquialism unless your communiqué is particularly informal.

Go, ’gate! Note comma and proper apostrophe.

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 a first name is not used [We met professor Lesleigh Cushing of the religion department today. You should call Professor Yoshino of the psychology department.] For more information, see ACADEMIC AND ADMINISTRATIVE TITLES under titles (of persons).

titles (of original works and similar).
          ARTWORKS. Italicize titles of paintings, drawings, statues, and other works of art [Titian, Judith with the Head of Holofernes].

          BOOKS AND PERIODICALS. In publications, italicize titles and subtitles of books, pamphlets, magazines, newsletters, newspapers, and sections of newspapers published separately [Mel Watkins’s Stepin Fetchit: The Life and Times of Lincoln Perry, the New York Times Book Review]. If the word “magazine” is not part of the official title of the publication, it should remain lowercased and in roman type [Vogue magazine but Harper’s Magazine]. In text, lowercase “the” in a newspaper’s name even if it is part of the official title, per Chicago Manual of Style [His article appeared in the New York Times.].

            EXHIBITIONS. Capitalize and set in roman type, without quotation marks [The exhibition Burma: Faces in a Time of War will be on view in the gallery.].

            LECTURE AND PANEL DISCUSSION TITLES. Set in roman type with initial caps on all major words, within quotation marks [He delivered a lecture titled “War, Ecology, and Environmental Pacifism” in April].

            MOVIES. Italicize [Ocean’s Twelve].

            MUSICAL COMPOSITIONS. Titles of long musical compositions such as operas, oratorios, motets, and tone poems, as well as album titles, are italicized (Rossini’s The Barber of Seville, Handel’s Messiah, James Taylor’s October Road]. Titles of shorter compositions and songs are set in quotation marks [“The Star Spangled Banner”]. Works that are identified by the name of the musical form (symphony, concerto, sonata, etc.) plus a number or key or both should be set in roman type without quotation marks [The Brahms Sonata for violin and piano in A major, Op. 100]. Descriptive titles are italicized, but the identifying form is not [William Tell Overture].

            PLAYS AND POEMS. Titles of plays, long poems, and poetry collections are italicized and titles of short poems are set in roman type within quotation marks [We read Beowulf in English 200. Keats, “Ode on a Grecian Urn”].

titles (of persons). In general, capitalize formal or courtesy titles (president, professor, senator) before names of individuals, and lowercase them when they appear after names of individuals. Lowercase descriptive or occupational titles (teacher, attorney, coach) in all cases.

          ACADEMIC AND ADMINISTRATIVE TITLES. The official reference source for names and professional titles of individual faculty and staff members is the Colgate University Catalogue; however, academic or professional titles should be verified with the department because promotions or employment changes can make catalogue entries outdated.
          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; Professor Yoshino of the psychology department]. For more information, see professors.
          Capitalize titles when they precede names [President Herbst, Professor Smith, Provost and Dean of the Faculty Hicks, Football Head Coach Dick Biddle].
Lowercase titles when used as occupational identifiers or when titles follow names [Meika Loe, director of women’s studies, physics professor Jeff Bary, coach Cathy Foto].
          For named professorships, when listed after the name, capitalize proper nouns and professor but not the discipline or other identifier [Fred Chernoff, Harvey Picker Professor of international relations; Kenny Barron, 2002-2003 Christian A. Johnson Endeavor Foundation artist-in-residence].
          Note the distinction between the formal name of an endowed chair and the appropriate title for the person holding it: chair in, but professor of [She was awarded the William Henry Crawshaw Chair in literature. Margaret Maurer, William Henry Crawshaw Professor of literature.].

university. Capitalize only when used in a proper name. [The university has implemented a strategic plan. Colgate University is in Hamilton, N.Y. They visited Stanford, Yale, and Princeton universities.].