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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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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


telephone numbers. Use hyphens, not periods or parentheses [315-228-7000]. In text, do not use the numeral 1 before area codes.

television programs. See titles (of original works or similar).

temperature. Do not use plus signs, minus signs, or the degree symbol when expressing temperatures in nontechnical copy. Use scale designations (Fahrenheit, Celsius) when necessary to avoid confusion. Follow the example that is appropriate to your context [The temperature fell to minus 15. The temperature reached 10 below zero. The temperature was 11 degrees Celsius. The temperature was 11 degrees C. It was 87 degrees Fahrenheit. It was 87 degrees F.]
          Fahrenheit, Celsius, and their abbreviations are capitalized; centigrade (used in place of Celsius) is not.

tense. In general, use tense consistently throughout a story. It is preferable to use the past tense rather than present tense for attributing quoted material [“I went into this career for love, not money,” he said (not he says.)].
          Tenses may be intermingled when appropriate to context — in effect, to distinguish terminated from continuing action.


that is (i.e.). See e.g., i.e.

that, which. That is defining or restrictive; which is nondefining or nonrestrictive. Note that a comma precedes which, but not that. [The cup that is broken is in the sink (tells which one). The cup, which is broken, is in the sink (states the condition of the only cup in question)].

the. Lowercase when used with organizations and with the name of newspapers and periodicals [Professor Jones was quoted in the New York Times.].

theater. Preferred usage. Use theatre only when it is part of a proper name.

the fact that. See circumlocution.

their, there, they’re. Their indicates a plural possessive [We asked for their preferences.]. There indicates place [Leave it over there.]. They’re is a contraction for they are [I’ll ask them if they’re hungry.].

therefore. As with other adverbs such as however, then, thus, hence, indeed, accordingly, and besides, a semicolon (not a comma) is needed when used transitionally between independent clauses [I’m feeling unwell; therefore, I will stay home today.].

they. Not to be used with a singular antecedent [RIGHT: Each of us knows he is fallible. All of them know they are fallible. WRONG: Each of us knows they are fallible.].

though. Used in spoken language; in writing, although is preferred.

’til. The abbreviation of until (Not till).

time. In body copy, use figures except for noon and midnight, but spell out whenever o’clock is used. [The meeting ended at 4:15 p.m. I woke up at three o’clock in the morning. We will resume at 10:30.].
          Use noon and midnight rather than 12 p.m. or 12 a.m.
          The abbreviations a.m. and p.m. are preferable, but if small capitals are used for typographic reasons, eliminate the periods [Her flight left at 9:32 a.m. and landed at 10 a.m. Join us at 8 PM].

titled. Not entitled when meaning “bearing the title of” [He recently published a book titled The Professor’s Son.]. See also entitled.

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.].

          COMPUTER SOFTWARE. Capitalize and set software titles in roman type [Microsoft Word, Adobe PageMaker, Banner]. Italicize titles of computer games [He played Donkey Kong until Moon Patrol caught his eye.].

          DANCE. Treat titles of ballets and other dance compositions according to the plays and poems guidelines [Tchaikovsky’s ballet Swan Lake was performed at SPAC in August. The Dance Theater program will offer six dances, including “Three Friends,” which was set to a pop tune and choreographed by Joan Greene.].

          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”].

          SHORTER PUBLISHED WORKS. Set book chapters and titles of articles, short stories, or essays in roman type within quotation marks [One of my favorites from Stephen King’s Skeleton Crew short story collection is “The Mist.”].

          TELEVISION PROGRAMS. Italicize program names and put episode titles in quotation marks [We watched The West Wing and Nova that day. Star Trek’s “The Trouble With Tribbles” is a classic.].

          UNPUBLISHED WORKS. Titles of dissertations, theses, manuscripts in collections, lectures, and papers read at seminars should be set in roman type within quotation marks.

          WEBSITES. If titled, websites should be set in roman type without quotation marks [I went to www.google.com. I checked Yahoo!, but didn’t find what I was looking for.].

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].
          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, associate professor of sociology and 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.].

          OCCUPATIONAL TITLES. Titles such as lecturer or adjunct faculty member should be treated as an occupational title rather than a formal title and thus should always be lowercased, even before a name.

Torchlight Ceremony.

toward. Preferred to towards.

trademarks. Trademarks are proper nouns and should be capitalized. They should not be used in the possessive form and are never verbs. Examples of registered trademarks include Fiberglass, Frisbee, Jeep, Kleenex, Velcro, and Xerox.

trustee. Lowercase unless in front of the name of a standing trustee [He is a trustee. I met with Trustee Bill Smith.].