Editorial Style Guide
For some of the more common stylistic concerns you may have, see the tabs below.
This publication has been designed by the Wilson College Office of Communications to help you prepare copy for a variety of uses, including the college website, printed publications and written materials, generally. It is divided into two sections: a quick-reference guide that addresses punctuation, capitalization, names and titles, degrees and other editorial style points that come up often, and a complete style guide, which is more in depth and also provides advice about usage, etc.
The purpose of these editorial guidelines is to help ensure consistent use of style, organization and terminology in all college communications. Inconsistencies take the focus off of content and make the reader wonder if the information is correct and credible.
This is not intended as a complete guide of grammar, punctuation, capitalization or writing style. For questions related to writing style and not covered here, Wilson College uses the following approved sources, in order of preferred use:
- Associated Press Stylebook and Libel Manual (latest edition)
- Webster’s New World College Dictionary (latest edition)
- The Elements of Style, William Strunk and E.B. White (latest edition)
If you are considering submitting material for publication in the near future, we encourage you to make an appointment with the director to discuss various aspects of the intended publication. To make an appointment, or if you have questions concerning publications, call our office at 717-262-2607 between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday through Friday.
Use an apostrophe in bachelor’s degree, master’s degree, etc., but there is no possessive in Bachelor of Arts degree or Master of Science degree.
Capitalize the full name of degree – Bachelor of Arts – but not the informal bachelor’s degree.)
Capitalize abbreviations for degrees and professional designations, placing them only after proper names and separating them with periods. Ex.: John Smith, B.A., B.S., Ph.D.
Use “Dr.” when referring to a medical doctor or someone with a doctoral degree such as a Ph.D. or Ed.D., etc.
Never use Dr. and Ph.D. – it is redundant.
Do not use two titles consecutively. (Wrong: President Dr. Lorna Edmundson. Correct: Dr. Lorna Edmundson, president of Wilson College.)
Addresses, states, zip codes, etc.
Eight states are never abbreviated (unless when used with zip codes): Alaska, Hawaii, Idaho, Iowa, Maine, Ohio, Texas and Utah. State abbreviations can be found under “state names” in the AP Stylebook, which is available in the college bookstore).
*USE THE TWO-LETTER POSTAL SERVICE ABBREVIATION ONLY WITH FULL ADDRESSES THAT INCLUDE THE ZIP CODE.
Alumnae/alumni – alumna/alumnus
Alumna refers to a single female graduate. Alumnae is the plural of alumna and should be used when referring to graduates of the college who are female.
Alumnus refers to a single male graduate. Alumni is plural and refers to graduates of both sexes.
NOTE: Most of the time, use alumnae when referring to Wilson graduates. Alumnae should always be used when referring to graduates of the College for Women (which includes all of those who graduated before men were admitted into the continuing education program in the early 1980s).
Never use ordinal numbers. (Wrong: May 21st, June 23rd. Correct: May 21, June 23.)
Majors, minors, and areas of concentration
When used in text, use lower case for all, with the exception of proper nouns like French and English.
Majors: art, biology, French, environmental studies
Minors: business administration, English
Emphases: major in mass communications with an emphasis in writing
Options or areas of concentration: area of concentration in early childhood education
Never abbreviate March, April, May, June or July. When a month is used with a specific date, abbreviate only Jan., Feb., Aug., Sept., Oct., Nov. and Dec. Spell all months out when used alone or with a year alone.
Examples: January 1972 was a cold month. Jan. 2 was the coldest day of the month. His birthday is May 8. Feb. 14, 1987, was the target date.
Spaces between sentences:
Use only one space between sentences – not two.
Times, dates and places of events:
Always state the time of day first, followed by the day of the week, the date (without the year unless it is not the same year we are in currently) and then the place.
Ex.: The concert will be held at 11 a.m. Tuesday, Sept. 5, in Norland Hall.
Ex.: Graduation will be held at noon Sunday, May 20, on the campus green.
Time of day:
Use figures except for noon and midnight. Use a colon to separate hours from minutes: 11 a.m., 1 p.m., 3:30 p.m.
DO NOT use 00. Wrong: 11:00 a.m. Correct: 11 a.m.
Never say 12 noon – noon alone will suffice.
Always use a.m. and p.m. – NOT AM and PM.
All right – Wrong: Alright. Correct: All right.
Ampersands (&) should never be used in place of and unless it is part of a company’s formal name: F&M Trust, Simon & Schuster.
Colleges and programs within Wilson—Always use in uppercase and in full on first reference, e.g. Adult Degree Programs Shorthand acronyms, such ADP, can be used for subsequent references.
College buildings—Capitalize the names of campus buildings and use in full on first reference. (Ex. Penn Hall Equestrian Center, Lenfest Commons, Warfield Hall.)
Department/office names – Lowercase informal department and office names (Ex. psychology department, philosophy department, admissions office, registrar’s office) except when it includes proper nouns, e.g., English department.
Names of departments and offices should be capitalized when the full name is used. (Ex. the Office of College Advancement, the Department of Fine Arts, the Office of Admissions.)
email – Lowercase, with no hyphen
Internet – Always uppercase
Its/It’s – It’s with an apostrophe is a contraction for “it is.” Its without an apostrophe is possessive. (Ex. It’s good to see you. The dog scratched its face.)
online – Lowercase, no hyphen
Participial phrases – A participial phrase at the beginning of a sentence must refer to the grammatical subject.
(Ex. Wrong: On arriving in New York, his friends met him at the airport. Correct: On arriving in New York, he was met at the airport by friends.)
Religious titles – The first reference to an ordained clergyperson should include a capitalized title before the person’s name, usually The Rev. (Note: Capitalize The only when it begins a sentence.) On second reference, use only the last name. (Ex: The Rev. Kate Smanik Moyes on first reference and Moyes on the second.)
Telephone numbers – Use figures, as in 717-264-4141. The form for all toll-free numbers is 800-265-3751. Do not use a “1” before any long-distance or toll-free numbers.
If an extension is needed, use a comma to separate the main number from the extension: 212-621-1500, ext. 2.
The Phoenix – when referring to the name of Wilson’s athletic teams, always capitalize Phoenix.
There/Their/They’re – They’re is a contraction for “they are.” Their is possessive. There means a place, as in, “We went there.”
Toward –Use toward, not towards.
URLs – always lowercase, generally no http:// prefix, e.g., www.wilson.edu
Web– website, webpage, webcam, webcast, webmaster (deviation from AP style).