When to capitalize articles (such as “the”) in publication names

When to Capitalize Articles (Such as



newspaper names — Italicize the proper name except for the, even if the is part of the formal name. If necessary to identify the state or other location, use parentheses. Example: the Birmingham News, Birmingham Post-Herald, the Wall Street Journal, the Anniston (Ala.) Star. Second references may be shortened: the Star, the News.

numerals — Spell out the following: “whole numbers from one through one hundred, round numbers, and any number beginning a sentence. For other numbers, numerals are used.” (Chicago, 380) Numerous exceptions exist — please consult the 15th edition.



office of, office — Capitalize only when office is part of the formal name of an organization, unit, subunit or agency; lowercase second references when the word stands alone. Examples: Office of Graduate Studies, president's office, the Office of the President.

online/offline — Used as one word in all cases, not as on-line/off-line.

over — Use more than when referring to a number. Example: More than 9,000 students attend JSU.



pamphlets, reports — Titles of pamphlets, corporate or institutional reports, brochures, and other freestanding publications are treated as book titles: italicize. Examples: The university's 2003-2004 Annual Report; the university's Viewbook .

paintings, titles of — Italicize.

papers, titles of unpublished — “Titles of unpublished works — theses, dissertations, manuscripts in collections, printouts of speeches, and so on — are set in roman type, capitalized as titles, and enclosed in quotation marks.” (Chicago, 374) JSU extends this to unpublished studies, internal documents, etc.

percent — Use instead of per cent. The percent symbol (%) is used in tables.

periodicals, titles of — Periodicals such as newspapers, newsletters, journals, magazines, and similar publications should be italicized. Words such as magazine and journal should be italicized only if they are included in the formal publication name.

PhD — No periods. No apostrophe is used in the plural form. Examples: There were several PhDs on the faculty. John Smith, PhD.

plays, titles of Italicize.

poems, titles of — Italicize.

possessives — Add an apostrophe and omit the possessive s on all words ending in s . Example: Dylan Thomas' poetry, Maria Callas' singing.

possessive versus attributive forms — “Although terms such as employees' cafeteria sometimes appear without an apostrophe, Chicago dispenses with the apostrophe only in proper names (often corporate names) or where there is clearly no possessive meaning.” (Chicago, 285) Examples: A consumers' group; taxpayers' associations; children's rights; the women's team, a boys' club . But note: Publishers Weekly, Diners Club, Department of Veterans Affairs, a housewares sale.

Prepositions, ending a sentence with — “The traditional caveat of yesteryear against ending sentences with prepositions is, for most writers, an unnecessary and pedantic restriction. As Winston Churchill famously said, 'That is the type of arrant pedantry up with which I shall not put.

' A sentence that ends in a preposition may sound more natural than a sentence carefully constructed to avoid a final preposition. Compare Those are the guidelines an author should adhere to with Those are the guidelines to which an author should adhere.

The ‘rule' prohibiting terminal prepositions was an ill-founded superstition.” (Chicago, 188-189)

professional designations — Do not use periods with abbreviated professional designations such as CPA. Do not capitalize such credentials when spelled out. Examples: Sue Jones, CPA. Sue Jones, a certified public accountant. There was a meeting of certified fund raisers.

professor — Capitalized when preceding a person's name; it should be written in lowercase when following a name. Used in reference only to full professors.

Examples: Professor Richard Nance; Professor Nance; Richard Nance, professor of English; Associate Professor Mia Giles; Miss Giles, associate professor of art.

Note: Professor should not be used as a synonym indicating just anyone who teaches at a university or college; professor is a specific academic rank. To determine a faculty member's academic rank at JSU, consult the undergraduate Catalogue.

professorships, named — Capitalize these titles in all instances, before or after a name and when standing alone. Example: Mark Edmundson is the Daniels Family Distinguished Teaching Professor at the University of Virginia.

publication titles, capitalization — Principal words should be capitalized. Articles, prepositions, and conjunctions should be written lowercase unless used as first or last word in the title.



quad, quadrangle Lowercase. At JSU the word describes a location; it is not used as a proper noun.

quotation marks, enclosing periods and commas — “Periods and commas precede closing quotation marks, whether double or single. This is a traditional style …. As nicely expressed in William Strunk Jr.

and E. B. White's Elements of Style, ‘Typographical usage dictates that the comma be inside the [quotation] marks, though logically it often seems not to belong there.' The same goes for the period.

” (Chicago, 242)

quotations — When quoting someone in an article, follow the Associated Press rule-of-thumb: “Never alter quotations even to correct minor grammatical errors or word usage. Casual minor tongue slips may be removed by using ellipses but even that should be done with extreme caution.

If there is a question about a quote, either don't use it or ask the speaker to clarify. … Do not routinely use abnormal spellings such as gonna in attempts to convey regional dialects or mispronunciations. Such spellings are appropriate when relevant or help to convey a desired touch in a feature.

” (Goldstein, 212)

quotes, full versus partial — “In general, avoid fragmentary quotes. If a speaker's words are clear and concise, favor the full quote. If cumbersome language can be paraphrased fairly, use an indirect construction, reserving quotation marks for sensitive or controversial passages that must be identified specifically as coming from the speaker.” (Goldstein, 212-213)

quotes, retaining context — “Remember that you can misquote someone by giving a startling remark without its modifying passage or qualifiers. The manner of delivery sometimes is part of the context. Reporting a smile or a … gesture may be as important as conveying the words themselves.” (Goldstein, 213)



reason why — “Although some object to the supposed redundancy of this phrase, it is centuries old and perfectly acceptable English. And reason that is not always an adequate substitute.” (Chicago, 227)



scare quotes —

APA Style 6th Edition Blog: Capitalization

  • by Timothy McAdoo
  • A reference to a psychological test (also called a measure, scale, survey, quiz, or instrument) follows the usual who-when-what-where format.
  • References
  • Here’s an example of a test you might have retrieved directly from a website:
Purring, A. (2012). Charisma and Tenacity Survey [Measurement instrument].      Retrieved from http://www.apa.org/tests/measures/instruments/surveys     /charisma.html

A test's name is a proper noun, so be sure to capitalize it in the reference.

In other cases, you may actually be citing the database record rather than the test. If you found a record for the test in a database, you can cite it, whether or not the record contains a link to the test itself:

Barks, H., & Howls, I. (2013). Directions of Generosity [Database record].      Retrieved from The McAdoo Database of Fictional Titles. http://dx.doi.org     /62.2366/34-28.466

Or, perhaps you’ve used a test that is not available online. Not to worry, the format varies only in the “where” element. Use the first example above as your template, but replace “Retrieved from http://…” with the location and publisher (e.g., Petland, MD: E & K Press).

Using Acronyms

Although some tests are better known by their acronyms than by their full titles, the acronym is not included in the reference.* Rather, introduce the acronym at the first use in the body of the paper, as shown in the examples below.

In-Text Citations

In the body of your paper, be careful to write the name exactly as it appears in your reference. And here again, capitalize the test name, because it is a proper noun. However, capitalize the word survey (or instrument, quiz, etc.) only if it’s part of the test’s name:

“In this study, we used Purring’s (2012) Charisma and Tenacity Survey (CATS) rather than Barks and Howls’s (2013) Directions of Generosity survey.”

The abbreviation need not be introduced if the test name is mentioned only once. However, if the test name appears frequently in the paper (i.e., generally three or more times), define it the first time, and use the abbreviation consistently thereafter. Note also that the test names are not italicized when used in the text. 

Finally, although you don’t need to include the author and date every time you mention the test by name, do include the author–date citation if you quote directly from the test or paraphrase it in any way.

See also:  Biweekly versus semiweekly

If you’ve read this far, you’ve passed my test! Give yourself an A+.


*The exception is the rare case where the acronym is the only official name of the test (i.e., an official spelled-out title no longer exists, which is an uncommon occurrence; the most famous example is the SAT, which no longer has a spelled-out name).


Below is an overview of capitalization rules. If you are unsure whether a word should be capitalized, you can consult a dictionary.

You should always capitalize proper nouns and words formed from them; do not capitalize common nouns. The following are types of words that you should usually capitalize:

  • Names for the deity, religions, religious followers, sacred books – God, Buddha, Allah, Christianity, Muslims, Bible, Torah
  • Words of family relationships used as names – Aunt Rose, Uncle Henry, Grandma Reed
  • Names of countries, states, and cities – France, England, United States of America, New York, New Orleans
  • Nationalities and their languages, races, tribes – English, African, Sudanese, Spanish, Cherokee
  • Educational institutions, degrees, particular courses –University of Maryland, Bachelor of Science, English 101
  • Government departments, organizations, political parties – Federal Bureau of Investigations, the Supreme Court, Congress, Sierra Club, Democrat
  • Historical movements, periods, events, documents – the Enlightenment, the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution
  • Specific electronic sources – the Internet, the Net, the World Wide Web
  • Trade/brand names – Kleenex

Months (January, February) and days of the week (Sunday, Monday) are also treated as proper nouns. Seasons and the numbers of the days of the months are not.

Also, names of school subjects (math, algebra, geology, psychology) are not capitalized, with the exception of the names of languages (French, English). Names of courses are capitalized (Algebra 201, Math 001).

You should capitalize titles of people when used as part of their proper name.

  Professor Smith but not “the Professor”  

District Attorney Rodriquez but not “the new District Attorney”

Capitalization – UMBC Brand and Style Guide – UMBC

Board of Regents  I  Buildings  I  Cities and Counties  I  Classes and Courses  I  Committees  I  Degrees  I  Grade Point Average  I  Historical Periods  I  Honors  I  Offices, Colleges, Departments, Etc.  I  Race  I  Regions  I  Seasons  I  State  I  Students  I  The  I  Titles  I  Titles of Works  I  University

Board of Regents

Uppercase full title; otherwise lowercase.

  • The USM Board of Regents met at UMBC…
  • The regents approved a new arts building.


Capitalize the full names of specific buildings, centers, laboratories, libraries, and offices. On second reference, if no proper name is used, lowercase building, center, laboratory, library and office.

  • The meeting will take place in the Administration Building. The building is located….

Examples of buildings with unusual capitalization:

Cities and Counties

Capitalize the full name of the city, but lowercase in other cases.

Names of counties should not be abbreviated.

Classes and Courses

Capitalize specific classes and courses; otherwise lowercase.

  • I am teaching Anatomy and Physiology this semester.
  • I am teaching an anatomy class this semester.


Capitalize names of specific committees.


Capitalize the full name of a degree, as well as its abbreviation (outside of a sentence). See more rules about degree listings.

  • Master of Fine Arts in Imaging and Digital Arts
  • M.F.A. in Imaging and Digital Arts

Lowercase should be used when the degree is referred to in a general sense.

  • master’s degree
  • She has a degree in political science.
  • The political science degree offers….

Grade Point Average

Do not capitalize except when abbreviating as GPA.

Historical Periods

Capitalize historical periods. Spell out first through ninth centuries and use numbers for 10th and above with century in lowercase.

  • the Middle Ages, the Renaissance, the first century, the 19th century


Lowercase and italicize cum laude, magna cum laude and summa cum laude.

Offices, Colleges, Departments, Etc

Capitalize the names of departments, programs, offices, colleges, and schools when referred to specifically and/or full title is used. Lowercase if no proper name is used.

  • College of Engineering
  • Office of Undergraduate Admissions
  • undergraduate admissions office
  • Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry
  • chemistry and biochemistry department
  • The department offers….
  • Public Policy Graduate Program
  • The program is….
  • The college decided…


Capitalize the names of nationalities, peoples, races, tribes, etc. Lowercase black, white when used to refer to races.


Uppercase North, South, East, West when referring to regions; lowercase when referring to compass points.

  • The university is located in the Northeast.
  • The building is north of Wilkens Avenue.


Lowercase spring, summer, fall and winter. Lowercase references to semesters.


Lowercase the word state.


Lowercase freshman, sophomore, junior and senior.

  • The freshman class was the largest in 10 years.


In titles of publications such as newspapers and magazines, “the” is capitalized, underlined or italicized only if considered part of the proper name.

  • The New York Times article on President Freeman Hrabowski…
  • UMBC initiatives have been featured frequently in the Baltimore Business Journal…


Capitalize titles that immediately precede a person’s name. Lowercase titles used in a general sense or if only a part of the title is used.

  • President Freeman Hrabowski….
  • Freeman Hrabowski, president of UMBC….
  • Associate Professor Jane Doe….
  • Jane Doe, associate professor….
  • John Doe, a professor of mathematics at UMBC….
  • John Doe, a professor at UMBC….
  • The vice president said….

Titles of Works

Capitalize the first letter of the following examples:

  • nouns
  • pronouns
  • adjectives
  • verbs
  • adverbs
  • subordinating conjunctions (if, because, as, that, etc.)

Lowercase the following examples:

  • articles (a, an, the)
  • coordinating conjunctions (and, but, or, for, nor, so, yet)
  • prepositions


Uppercase when referring to the official name of an institution.

  • University of Maryland, Baltimore County

Lowercase when referred to in a general sense.

  • university president Freeman Hrabowski

Editorial Style Guide | Regent University

(See also Titles)
When referring to the Regent University campus, use the phrase Regent University campus in Virginia Beach, Virginia, or just Regent University campus. Do not use the following: Virginia Beach Campus or main campus. Neither of these phrases are applicable as the university no longer has an official secondary campus.


For general rules of capitalization, see the Associated Press (AP) Stylebook. In this manual, also see guidelines for capitalization under specific entries, such as TITLES, BOARD OF TRUSTEES, OFFICES OF THE UNIVERSITY, PROGRAM NAMES, AND UNIVERSITY.
Capitalize all nouns and pronouns that directly refer to the Deity.

  • Examples:
  • (See also Bible, biblical and Scripture, scriptural)

God sent His Son as a sacrifice for man.
His name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, the Mighty God, the Prince of Peace.
We are regents of the King, Jesus Christ.


Always lowercase the word century as in 21st century. Spell out the years for the first through ninth centuries, and use figures thereafter.
The 21st century begins in 2001, not 2000, which is the final year of the 20th century.

What happened in the first century?


Capitalize the word First when referring to Regent University’s core values within a stand-alone phrase, headline, or tagline. However, lowercase first when it is used in a complete sentence.
Tagline: Promoting Christ-First Excellence & Integrity

Regent University honors your commitment to Christ-first excellence and integrity.


Capitalize the word Church when it refers to the body of Christians who comprise Christ’s Church and when it is part of the proper name of a church. Do not capitalize it in general references to a place of worship.
The Church is challenged by an increase in humanism.

Does she have a local church?

Christian Leadership to Change the World

(See also Mission statement)
Capitalize Regent’s mission statement as shown when the statement is standing alone. When the mission statement is used in the body copy of a sentence or article, italicize the statement.


After visiting the campus, he understood the importance of Christian Leadership to Change the World.


In a Series
In a list of items, make sure there is no comma between the last two items (i.e., books, papers and bag). However, if there is an and within any of the listed items, then make sure to include a comma between the last two items to clarify them (i.e., divinity, psychology and counseling, and education).

If there are commas within the listed items, then use semicolons to set the listed items apart.
There are two exceptions to the comma-in-a-series rule. The first is when listing programs or majors. In order to provide clarity in this instance, commas may be used to separate each listed item. The second is when writing or editing for the School of Law.

See also:  Fascinating words for colors

For this specific school, all items in a list are separated by commas (i.e., books, papers, and bag).

Example: Qualities that describe Regent include integrity, excellence and innovation.

Such leaders must cast compelling vision, mobilize and manage volunteers and staff, balance faith perspectives with bottom-line financial decisions, and solve daily interpersonal and organizational problems.

After a Last Name (Sr., Jr., III, etc.)

No commas are necessary after a person’s last name/before Jr., Sr., III, etc.

Examples: John Smith Jr., John Smith Sr., John Smith IV

Before Inc., LLC or Ltd.
No commas are necessary before Inc., LLC and Ltd.

Examples: Long Company Name Inc., a major retailer, has just …

No comma, no periods: East Coast Railway LLC (same for PLLC)

Communication & the Arts, School of

Note: There is no s at the end of Communication in the phrase School of Communication & the Arts.

Composition titles

Lewis University | Office of Marketing and Communications | Editorial Style Guide

In general, avoid unnecessary capitalization. Overall, capital letters should be used only if they can be justified by one of the principles listed here:

Academic Degrees

Capitalize official college degrees only when referring to the specific program. (See examples.) The article (a, an or the) used in the sentence can be an important indicator for capitalization.

Example: She earned a bachelor of science degree in chemistry. The Master of Arts Degree in Counseling Psychology offers two tracks.

Academic Departments

Capitalize names of academic departments or University offices when they are proper nouns. However, do not capitalize the word department when it follows the name of the program. The word department should only be capitalized when it precedes the name of the program. When used in plural form (departments), it should not be capitalized. See examples below.

Examples: The Department of Art and Design offers a number of majors. The Art and Design department offers a number of majors.

  • Example 2: The departments of Psychology and Physics are located in the science wing of the Academic Building.
  • This rule of lowercasing (as seen in Example 2) also works when referring to the word offices, or any other common noun when used in a plural form.
  • Example: lakes Erie and Ontario
  • Proper names of divisions of University offices or departments should be capitalized.

Academic, Business and Religious Titles

Capitalize all conferred and traditional educational, occupational, business and religious titles when used.

Examples: Professor James Smith, Chairperson of the Department of Chemistry James Smith, Professor of Chemistry

Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps

The words Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard should be capitalized when referring to the United States armed forces, whether or not preceded by the letters U.S.

Board of Trustees

Capitalize Lewis University Board of Trustees on first reference. On second reference, the trustees or the board may be used.

Catholic, Catholicism

Both words should be capitalized when used in a religious sense, indicating the belief and membership in the Christian church headed by the Pope.

Lowercase catholic when used in the generic sense, meaning general or all-inclusive.

Cities and Towns

Capitalize them in all uses. Capitalize official titles, including separate political entities such as East St. Louis, Ill. or West Palm Beach, Fla.

Informal descriptions for the section of a city are generally lowercase, such as the west end and northern Los Angeles. Widely recognized names for the sections of a city are capitalized, such as the South Side (Chicago) and the Lower East Side (New York). Spell out names of cities (Los Angeles, not L.A.), unless in direct quotes.


Capitalize city as part of a proper name, such as Kansas City or New York City. Lowercase in other instances, such as a Texas city, the city government, or the city of Boston.

College, university

Capitalize when part of a proper name. University is always capitalized when referring to Lewis University.

Example: The University competes in NCAA Division II athletics.

Course Names

Capitalize a specific course name, such as Ethics in Journalism.

De La Salle

  1. When using just the last name of John Baptist de La Salle, the founder of the Christian Brothers (whether used as a noun or an adjective), the initial letters of his name should be capitalized.
  2. Examples: De La Salle prayed.
  3. Lewis University is sponsored by the De La Salle Christian Brothers.

When using the full name of the founder, the “de” should be lowercase (i.e., John Baptist de La Salle).

Note: Saint should always be spelled out when used in conjunction with John Baptist de La Salle’s name.

First Word After a Colon

The first word after a colon should be capitalized only if it is a proper noun or the start of a complete sentence.

The Flyer

The name The Flyer should always be capitalized when referring to the University’s official mascot, Bedcheck Charlie.

The Flyer also should be capitalized and italicized when referring to the University’s student newspaper which bears the same name.


The word Flyers should be capitalized when referring to Lewis University’s athletic teams.


Capitalize the principal words in the complete title of official University forms as well as formal procedures.

Examples: the Application for Admission an application

Quotation marks should not be used in conjunction with the name of the form (i.e., the “Application for Admission” form). In the examples above, the grammatical article (an or the) can be an important indicator for capitalization.

Geographical Names

Entire geographical names should be capitalized, such as the Mississippi River.

Geographical Regions

  • Geographical regions of the country should be capitalized, but not points on the compass.
  • Example: Lewis University is located in the Midwest, just 35 miles southwest of downtown Chicago.
  • See Regions, Directions under Editorial Style (A–Z) for more information.

Historical/Popular Events

Capitalize widely-recognized historical or popular events such as the Boston Tea Party or the Civil War. This rule also applies to widely-recognized epochs in geology, anthropology, archeology and history, such as the Bronze Age.


Capitalize the word Lasallian. Remember Lasallian is one word and should never have a capital s.

Lewis University

Always capitalize Lewis University. On second reference, Lewis or the University may be used. If the reference is to universities in general, university is not capitalized.

Example: Students choose a university for many reasons.


  1. Capitalize the word Mission when referring to Lewis University’s Mission statement.
  2. Example 1: The Mission defines and animates the common life and character of Lewis University.
  3. Example 2: The University has a mission to help every qualified student who can benefit from a Lewis education to meet the costs of attending college.

Example l is specific to Lewis’ Mission statement. Example 2 is not, talking of a mission. Here the article (a or the) can be an important indicator for capitalization.

Nouns, Months, Days of the Week

Proper nouns, months and days of the week should be capitalized, but not the seasons (winter, spring, summer, fall).

Proper Names

The words association, building, center, club, conference, department, division, hall, office, senate, street, etc. should be capitalized when used as part of an official title. On second reference, do not capitalize these words when used alone to refer to that specific group or place.

Example: The Caterpillar Gallery is located in the Oremus Fine Arts Center. The gallery has been the exhibit site of many student art shows.

Races and Nationalities

Capitalize names of all races and nationalities, such as Caucasian, Nigerian, Irish and Japanese.


The word room when used to designate a particular room should be capitalized. When a room number is combined with a letter (whether placed before or after the number), a hyphen should not be used to separate the letter from the room number.

Example: Your class is located in Room A133.

Standard Time

Capitalize Eastern Standard Time, Pacific Standard Time, etc., but lowercase standard time when used alone.

Time Zones

See Time Zones under Editorial Style (A–Z) .

Titles of Books, Plays, Lectures, etc.

Capitalize all words, except articles, conjunctions and prepositions, in the titles of books, plays, lectures, musical composition, etc., including A and The if at the beginning of the title.

Example: “The Star-Spangled Banner”

See also:  What are mixed fractions?

Words Derived from a Proper Noun

Words that are derived from a proper noun and still depend on it for their meaning, such as Americans, Christianity and Marxism, should be capitalized.

Words that are derived from a proper noun, but no longer depend on the noun for their meaning should not be capitalized, such as french fries.

Do Not Capitalize

  • Century Do not capitalize the word century, such as the 18th century.
  • Classes of Students Do not capitalize classes of students in a college or high school, and the words freshman, sophomore, junior, senior or graduate.
  • Example: The senior class donated a special gift.
  • Common Noun Elements Common noun elements should only be capitalized when part of an official title.
  • Example: The Department of Art and Design offers a number of majors.
  • Common Noun Elements (When Plural) Do not capitalize common noun elements in all plural uses, including the words offices, schools and departments.
  • Example: The departments of Psychology and Chemistry are located in this building.
  • Other examples are the Democratic and Republican parties, lakes Erie and Ontario, Main and Elm streets.
  • Common Noun Elements (More Examples) Words such as honors, baccalaureate, master’s degree, federal, government and state should not be capitalized unless used as part of an official name or title.

“de” in John Baptist de La Salle When using the full name of the founder of the Christian Brothers, the “de” should be lowercase (i.e., John Baptist de La Salle).

When using just the founder’s last name (whether as a noun or an adjective), the initial letters of his name should be capitalized.

Examples: De La Salle prayed. Lewis University is sponsored by the De La Salle Christian Brothers.

  1. Note: Saint should always be spelled out when used in conjunction with John Baptist de La Salle’s name.
  2. Names of Fields, Curricula and Majors Names of fields of study, options, curricula, major areas, except names of languages, should not be capitalized unless referring to a specific course or department.
  3. Example: He is studying philosophy and English.
  4. Organizational Elements Do not capitalize internal elements of an organization when they have names that are widely and generically used, such as faculty and staff.

Seasons Seasons of the year: spring, summer, fall and winter and derivatives such as springtime should not be capitalized unless part of a formal name, such as the Winter Olympics. See Semester under Editorial Style (A–Z) for more information.

Time Lowercase abbreviations such as a.m. or p.m.

  • Unofficial Titles Do not capitalize unofficial titles/occupational descriptions before a person’s name, such as astronaut John Glenn, civil rights activist Mahatma Gandhi, or faculty member Joseph Andrews.
  • Lowercase all common noun elements used in conjunction with a proper noun to form an unofficial title.
  • Example: The Art and Design department offers a number of majors.
  • Common noun elements should only be capitalized when part of an official title.
  • Example: The Department of Art and Design offers a number of majors.
  • Words Derived from a Proper Name Do not capitalize words that are derived from a proper name, but no longer depend on it for their meaning, such as french fries and venetian blinds.

Editorial Style Guide

If you are sometimes bewildered about such things as whether to capitalize a person’s title, or how to format a list, or when to use hyphens, this manual can help. The Middlebury Editorial Style Guide was developed by the Communications Office to standardize the College’s print and online publications.

What is a style guide?

A style guide is a set of standards to be applied when writing and designing documents. Many organizations develop their own style guides to reflect their specific preferences and practices, to insure that publications remain stylistically consistent as well as clear.


Our primary arbiters for matters of style:

Updated July 2016

  • A (when referring to a grade, no quotation marks); grades of A or As
  • a cappella (preferred spelling)
  • abbreviations/acronyms
  • General use guidelines:
  • Use full words the first time the abbreviation or acronym is used in text, and place the abbreviation or acronym in parentheses immediately following.

Do not begin a sentence with an abbreviation. Exceptions: Mr., Ms., Mrs., Dr., and St.

Some common abbreviations:

U.S., USA, D.C., L.A.


e.g., i.e., etc.

a.k.a. (for “also known as”)

AM, PM; or a.m., p.m. (use small caps when a more formal and easier-to-read look is needed; always use a.m. and p.m. in running text)

St. for Saint, Mt. for Mount (spell out in more formal text; otherwise, just be consistent within a document whether using abbreviations or spelling out)

Periods with abbreviations:

  • Use periods with abbreviations ending in lowercase letters: Dr., Ms., etc.
  • Use periods with initials standing for a person’s name: J. R. Tolkien. Do not use periods with initials that replace the full name: JFK.
  • No periods are used with abbreviations comprised of full capitals, even if lowercase letters appear within the abbreviation: PhD, MD, CEO
  • In running text, spell out state names but in less formal writing periods can be used with traditional state abbreviations and the United States (U.S.); see states

Capitals vs. lowercase:

Initialisms used as nouns tend to be capped: HIV, UFO, FAQ

Over time, some longer initialisms become lowercased (radar). Refer to Webster’s when in doubt.

Abbreviations, plural:

Abbreviations without periods take s, no apostrophe. Apostrophes may be used if misreading is a possibility.

BA, BAs; PhD, PhDs; URL, URLs

Abbreviations with one period usually add the s before the period:

ed., eds.; yr., yrs.; Dr., Drs.

Abbreviations with more than one period use apostrophe s:

p.p.’s; the d.t.’s

  1. Abernethy Collection of American Literature—one of three discrete collections in Special Collections
  2. academic courses (capped and roman, no quotation marks) see titles
  3. academic periods (lowercase) fall semester, winter term, spring semester
  4. academic titles see titles
  5. Academy Award winner; Academy Award-winning producer
  6. accent marks

Foreign words that have been incorporated into English often retain their original accents. Check the dictionary when in doubt—use first spelling.

  • vis-à-vis; déjà vu
  • acronyms see abbreviations
  • ACT (American College Test)
  • addresses
  • Middlebury addresses should spell out the name of the building and the name of the department, or use the box number:

Joe Smith
Box 1234
Middlebury College
Middlebury, VT 05753
Jane Jones
Student Financial Services, Service Building
Middlebury College
Middlebury, VT 05753

When listing a classroom or office, the name of the building comes first, followed by the room number. If the words Room or Suite are added, add a comma. (It’s preferable to add Room or Suite if the written piece is one going to an audience unfamiliar with the campus.)

  1. Axinn Center 248; Davis Family Library 225C; Mahaney Center for the Arts, Room 221
  2. ADA Office; Americans with Disabilities Act Office
  3. adjectives, compound (add a hyphen when before a noun) see compound nouns and adjectives

This is a half-time position. That's an open-ended question.

  • Admissions Office
  • advisor, not adviser
  • African American (no hyphen even when it comes before a noun)

a.k.a (for “also known as”)

  1. All-American (hyphen)
  2. alma mater (lowercase when referring to where one graduated from; cap when referring to college song)
  3. alpine skiing
  4. alumni (alumnus—male; alumna—female; alumni—all male or both sexes; alumnae—all female; or graduate—gender neutral) see also class years and degree abbreviations
  5. Alumni College
  6. Alumni Fund
  7. Alumni Golf Tournament (held in honor of Gordon C. Perine ’49)
  8. Alumni Leadership Conference (ALC)
  9. Alumni Office
  10. alum(s) (informal for alumnus/a/i/ae)

AM (small caps, more formal usage); or, a.m. (always in running text) see abbreviations

  • Americans with Disabilities Act Office; ADA Office
  • and/& (spell out and avoid ampersand unless it is part of an official name of a firm, college, etc.) Not to be used in department names or for institutional centers at Middlebury
  • Annual Fund
  • Annual Giving; Office of Annual Giving

apostrophe (used to indicate possessive; to show that something is missing as in part of a year: “the ’60s”; or used for a contraction: “they’re” for “they are.”) Be especially careful when using the apostrophe with “it.” Use of the apostrophe indicates a letter is missing:

It's raining out. (It is raining out—the “i” is missing.)

  1. With no apostrophe, the word indicates the possessive:
  2. The house lost its roof. see also possessives
  3. In class years and decades, the apostrophe should point to the left:
  4. ’02, P’00, GP’89
  5. ’80s, ’20s
  6. There is no apostrophe in a range of dates:
  7. 1985–89

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