An editorial style guide for email announcements, the Colgate Magazine, pages and stories, brochures, newsletters, letters, and more.

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For a more information, see our Editorial Style Guide.

Editorial Style Guide

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

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 ’89 (no comma between name and year).

Keyboard command: To achieve an outward-facing apostrophe before class year numerals, on a Mac, use shift/option/apostrophe; on a PC, use control/shift/apostrophe.

If someone graduated from a class year for which the first two numbers need to be specified in order to eliminate confusion about the century (1919 vs. 2019), use the full year and add “Class of” beforehand. (RIGHT: John Smith, Class of 1919; Sam Jones ’19 [for the Class of 2019]). 

For Colgate couples, place the class years adjacent to the names (Sam ’01 and Amy [Smith] ’03 Jones came to the reunion.).

For Colgate couples who are parents: Put their class years after their first names and their parental designations after their last name: Bob ’80 and Sylvia ’81 Smith P’11,’20.

For grandparents: Add GP and the student(s) class year(s) (Bob Smith GP’17, Bob Smith GP’17,’19).

For honorary degree recipients, use James Jones H’95 (no space between H and the apostrophe). 

For master’s degree recipients, use Eric Brown MA’88, Jenny Jones MAT’99 (no space between degree and the apostrophe).

For parental designation, add a P with the student(s) class year(s). Separate multiple student class years with commas (Bruce F. Wesson ’64, P’90,’93; Michael J. Herling ’79, P’08,’09,’12). If a person has a Colgate degree, an honorary degree, and is a parent, keep the person’s degrees together and then list parental designation (Daniel C. Benton ’80, H’10, P’10).

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 or the University on second reference. 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” as well as “or” 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 a semicolon (Carmella, Meadow, and AJ Soprano; Oscar, Lucille, and Buster Bluth; and Michael, Kay, and Don Corleone met at the restaurant.). See also the punctuation section.

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.) Abbreviate months only when specific dates follow (On Jan. 4, 2019, Max and Molly left for Colgate.).

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 Sam Smith; Rob Jones, 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 (or “first-year,” colloquially) is hyphenated. No hyphen when referring to time frame (I took calculus in my first year.).

’gate. As an abbreviation for Colgate, lowercase in body copy; ensure that the apostrophe is facing away from the word. 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 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)

titles (of original works and similar).

ARTWORKS. Italicize titles of paintings, drawings, statues, and other works of art (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’ 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 lowercase 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 (His article appeared in the New York Times.). Online publications are simply capitalized and in Roman type (e.g., Huffington Post). 

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”).

PODCASTS. Italicize titles of shows (Serial) and put quotation marks around episodes (“The Alibi”).

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 Game of Thrones. “The Rains of Castamere” is a classic episode.).

UNIVERSITY PUBLICATIONS. As with books and periodicals, italicize the formal names of larger university publications like the Colgate University Student Handbook, but online publications like the Colgate University Catalog are not italicized. Also, informal references to publications (e.g. the student handbook) are not italicized. 

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 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. Look up names and professional titles of individual faculty and staff members at; however, academic or professional titles should be verified with the department.

Use the full formal title. (Associate Professor of Psychology John Smith 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 John Smith].)

Capitalize titles when they precede names (President Lincoln, Professor Smith, Provost and Dean of the Faculty Jones, Football Head Coach John Smith.

Lowercase titles when used as occupational identifiers or when titles follow names (Jane Jones, associate professor of sociology and women’s studies; physics professor John Smith; coach Susan Smith.

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; Joe Smith, 2019-2020 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 lowercase, even before a name.

University. Capitalize “University” when referring to Colgate, except when used as an adjective (university-level). Examples: The University welcomed 2,400 students as part of the incoming class. The policy will be implemented universitywide.