Writing Style Guidelines

Writing Style Guidelines from A to Z

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

Click on a link to alphabetically indexed writing style guidelines.


abbreviations Spell out unfamiliar abbreviations on first use, and then casual or shortened references are usually preferable to abbreviations. With most abbreviations composed of capital letters, it is not necessary to use periods after the individual letters: two exceptions to this general rule are degree names (B.A., M.S., Ph.D.) and when abbreviating "United States" ( U.S. ).

acronyms Acronyms are abbreviations that form words from the first letters in a series of words. Avoid acronyms unless they are familiar or if the full name is cumbersome, spell out most acronyms on first use, and use casual or shortened references instead of acronyms when possible. Example: A valuable source of information about Lane polices can be found on our website in the College Online Policy and Procedure System (COPPS).

addresses Spell out all words unless short on space. The Lane mailing address is 4000 East 30th Avenue, Eugene, Oregon 97405.

affirmative action statement The full length statement is best to use:

Lane Community College is an Affirmative Action / Equal Opportunity / ADA Employer embracing diversity. We encourage and welcome women, minority, veteran and disabled candidates.

The shorter versions of our official statement are lowercase with no period and look like this: 

AA/EEO/Veterans/Disabilities Employer
AA/EEO/Vet/Disabilities Employer

alignment/justification Text in paragraph form should be left justified in nearly all circumstances, since this is the convention and it makes text easy to read. Fully justified text that is aligned on both the left and right sides should be avoided because it usually causes very uneven and awkward spacing between words.

a.m., p.m. Lowercase, with periods. The terms a.m. and p.m. stand for ante meridiem, meaning "before noon," and post meridiem, meaning "after noon." For more information, also see the entry for "time" in the A to Z section.

ampersand (&) Use an ampersand only in graphs or tables where space is too tight to allow for the word "and" or when the ampersand is part of an official company name.

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board Capitalize when an official name of a specific board and use all lowercase for casual references. Example: The board at Lane is the Lane Community College Board of Education.

boardroom One word. Capitalize when referring to a formal room name. Example: Meetings of the board take place monthly in the Boardroom, Building 3.

boldface Text in bold works well for headlines and section headings. Avoid using in sentence text, and do not boldface individual words in a paragraph for emphasis.

branding This term refers to the consistent use of a distinctive look and message to differentiate one organization from another (similar to how cattle brands designate a particular herd). Effective branding assists the reader in understanding the organization and the message. Lane's branding efforts consist of the content and style of our messages, our logo, fonts, and colors, and a family of design features that are used consistently.

building Use figures and capitalize the word building when used with a figure. Example: Building 18, Room 101.

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chair Capitalize as a formal title before a name. Do not capitalize in other uses.

class or course titles Capitalize official course titles and do not enclose in quotation marks. Example: Farrah excelled in French 103.

college Capitalize the word "college" when part of a proper name; use lowercase in other uses. Example: Anne-Marie Littlesong has chosen to go to college at Lane Community College.

committee, council Capitalize formal committee and council names and use lowercase for casual references. Example: Among his committee duties was chairing the Safety Committee.

contractions Contractions evoke a casual, conversational tone in writing, and, as a result, they are an advantage or disadvantage depending on context, purpose, and audience. Contractions are recommended for Lane marketing publications, but they are typically discouraged in academic discourse and journalistic publications.

cooperative education Capitalize when referring to the department at Lane. Hyphenate the abbreviated form to distinguish co-op (ed) from a coop used for chickens.

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days of the week Capitalize. Avoid abbreviating, except in tabular formats, and then use the first three letters but no period.

dates Use numbers without "st," "nd," "rd," or "th." Use day of the week, comma, then month, date, comma, and finally, year when needed, followed by a comma or other punctuation mark (most often a period). Month-year combinations don't require commas. Use an apostrophe to indicate numbers from a year that are left out (the year '99). There is not an apostrophe before an "s" (1990s). Separate dates involving spans of time with an en dash (2000-05).

degrees The various degrees are all lowercase when spelled out. Use an apostrophe in associate's degree, bachelor's degree, and master's degree. Use abbreviations only in tabular or non-sentence material or when there are credentials to cite for multiple people. When using abbreviations, use only after a full name, set off with commas, and punctuate with periods (this is one of the exceptions to the general rule against using periods in an abbreviation). Example: Leah McDonald, M.S., will talk about requirements for the associate of applied science degree.

departments, divisions Capitalize official names of divisions and departments.

desktop Use one word whether referring to a computer monitor or to the top of a desk.

domain name A domain name is an address for a website, based on a conventional system. Most American domain names are in the form of "server.organization.type," while non-US domain names use the format "server.organization.country." Lane's domain name, or URL, is www.lanecc.edu.

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email The standard at Lane is to use "email" (lowercase).

equal opportunity statement The full length statement is best to use:

Lane Community College is an Affirmative Action / Equal Opportunity / ADA Employer embracing diversity. We encourage and welcome women, minority, veteran and disabled candidates.

The shorter versions of our official statement are lowercase with no period and look like this:

AA/EEO/Veterans/Disabilities Employer
AA/EEO/Vet/Disabilities Employer

ExpressLane This is the name of Lane's online registration system, and the name should be used with a capital "E," a capital "L" and no space between the words "Express" and "Lane."

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fiscal year Do not abbreviate except in graphs and tables.

fonts It is recommended that Lane's fonts—Goudy and Univers—be generally used for printed publications. For the web we have set the default fonts in the .css style sheets so there is no need to plan what font to use. Use the heading styles preset in the edit interface for section headings. Italics can be difficult to read on computer monitors, so use italics sparingly if at all.

full time, full-time, FTE There is a hyphen when used as a compound modifier only. There is not a hyphen when a noun. FTE is an accepted acronym for full-time equivalent; spell out first reference with FTE in parenthesis. Use figures with FTE. Example: Chang has a full-time job (1.0 FTE), and Davis-Wallinsky works part time (.6 FTE).

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GED An accepted acronym for General Educational Development. There is no need to spell out on first use.

GPA An accepted acronym for grade point average. There is no need to spell out on first use.

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homepage Use as one word, since conventional usage seems to be heading that way, although it is not unorthodox for it to be two words. We have one homepage (the first page of the site) and other pages are web pages. Web pages for departments should be referred to as "department web pages on the Lane website" rather than "department websites." Lane's homepage is designed to present a pleasing entrance, allow visitors to quickly find what they are looking for, and to promote key messages and provide information about important dates and upcoming events.

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in-service One word, hyphenated. Can be an adjective or a noun.

Internet Capitalize since it is a proper name.

italics Avoid using italics on web pages as italicized text tends to be less readable on computer monitors. Italics are acceptable for selected use in paper publications.

its and it's To differentiate between the contraction and the possessive form, only use an apostrophe when "it's" is a contraction of "it is" or "it has." When using the possessive form of the word, omit the apostrophe.

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job titles Capitalize titles of office only when they precede a name; general occupational titles should be lowercase. Example: Vice President Chris Barelli is in charge, the new vice president is in a meeting, and Angela Rodriguez, vice president for instruction, is attending a conference.

justification/alignment Text in paragraph form should be left justified in nearly all circumstances, since this is the convention, and it makes text easy to read. Fully justified text that is aligned on both the left and right sides should be avoided because it causes very uneven and awkward spacing between words.

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keyword When it refers to an online search, the convention is to use this term as one word.

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Lane Community College It is preferred to use the full name of Lane initially, and then "Lane". Avoid general use of "LCC," although "LCC" may be used in tables or when using "Lane" could be unclear to readers.

legibility We communicate best when our audience can see or hear what we are saying, so consider legibility when designing for print or the web. Choose sans serif fonts for the web (such as Verdana) because they are easier to read onscreen than serif fonts (such as Times). In addition to choosing fonts for legibility, you should choose text colors and backgrounds that provide sufficient contrast for text to be clearly legible.

logo A logo is a designed name, symbol, or trademark that is used consistently to represent an organization, business, or product. Our logo is the official mark of Lane. The logo is the only logo that should be used to represent Lane's departments and programs. Departments may not use a separate logo unless they have a unique need and special approval has been given by Marketing and Public Relations. As the official symbol of Lane, the logo needs to be used in a consistent manner and should not be altered in any way.

longhouse When referring to a Native American building, use one un-capitalized word.

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money Monetary amounts should be shown as numbers rather than in word form. Spell out, in lowercase, the word "cents" for amounts less than a dollar. Use the dollar sign ($) and decimal system for larger amounts. Examples: The general ticket prices are $5 for general admission and $3.50 for students. Programs cost 75 cents.

months Capitalize and spell out. In tabular format, use the first three letters of each month without a period.

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noncredit One word with no hyphen.

numbers in fractions Use a hyphen when fractions are expressed in words and use numbers rather than words for mixed numbers. Example: In the survey, one-third of the respondents gave a score of 4 1/2 or better.

numbers in ordinals Spell out first through ninth, unless part of a formal name or title, and use numbers for 10 and up. Example: Vijay was a surprising third in the 3,000 meters while Sammy finished 12th.

numbers in ranges Use an en dash to indicate ranges. Example: They estimate that 200–300 students will attend the event.

numbers in ratios Use figures and hyphens with no spaces or figures and a semicolon. Example: Yamashita used a ratio of 2-1, whereas a 5:3 ratio was used by Donaldson.

numbers in sentences Spell out numbers at the beginning of a sentence except for years. Avoid starting a sentence with a number; when unavoidable, spell out the number. Example: Forty students enrolled last year and 60–70 are expected this year.

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online The standard version at Lane is one word without a hyphen.

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PC Avoid using "PC" because it is a loaded term, with so many different definitions. To describe the operating system on a personal computer, specify Mac or Windows. The dictionary has these definitions of PC: past commander, Peace Corps, percent, personal computer, petty cash, picocurie, piece, police constable, politically correct, post commander, post consumption, postal card, Presbyterian church, price current, prince consort, printed circuit, privy council, and professional corporation.

part time, part-time Two words when a noun. Hyphenate when used as a compound modifier. Example: Harrison goes to school part time, and Pena has a part-time job.

percent Use numbers and decimals for percentages. Spell out the word "percent" except in tabular material. Example: Twenty percent of her clients provided 80 percent of her revenue.

phone numbers Use parentheses around area codes and a hyphen between the prefix and the extension. Example: (503) 555-5555. In print, for 541 phone numbers it is not necessary to use parentheses. Example 541-463-3000. On the Lane website, all phone numbers should use parenthesis around the area code and a hyphen between the prefix and the extension. Example: (541) 555-5555.

point of view First-person (I, we, us) and second-person (you) are recommended for web pages, advertising, other marketing publications, items with the writer's byline and in quoted material. Third-person (he, she, it, one, they) is more formal and is used in most academic and journalistic contexts to create an aura of objectivity.

postsecondary One word, no hyphen.

professional technical Two words, no slash, no hyphen.

program names Capitalize formal instructional program names. Example: Selena is enrolled in the Graphic Design program.

punctuation For recommendations and helpful tips on punctuation, see the section called "Punctuation Tips."

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quarter, term, session These are lowercase unless part of the formal title of a publication.

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room numbers Use figures and capitalize the word room when used with a figure. Example: The meeting is at the Downtown Campus in Room 202.

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sentence spacing Use only one space between sentences.

sexist language Instead of using "he" to refer to an abstract person, use another noun that is not gender-specific. Example: Instead of saying, "If a student wants to add a class, he should register using ExpressLane," it would be more inclusive and accurate to say, "If a student wants to add a class, they should register using ExpressLane."

spacing after a period Use only one space after a period.

state names Spell out the names of states when used in a sentence. Separate city and state names with commas. When writing a complete address with zip code, use the two-letter Postal Service abbreviations for state names.

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technology If referring specifically to computers, use the word "computers" rather than "technology".

time Use figures, except for noon and midnight. Use a colon to separate hours from minutes. It is not necessary to include zeros in full-hour times. Use a.m. and p.m. without capitals and with periods. Use an en dash with no spaces to depict spans of time. Example: The workshop is 8:30 a.m.–5 p.m. on Tuesday and there will be a break for lunch from noon–1 p.m.

titles of books, documents, newspapers, magazines and other publications Below are examples of Associated Press style and conventional usage for the titles of books, chapters of books, documents, reference materials, newspapers, and magazines. Capitalize the principal words. Don't capitalize conjunctions of three or fewer letters. Examples:

Titles of books, newspapers and magazines: "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" (AP)
One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (conventional usage)

Titles of documents, chapters, and articles:
The article in The Register-Guard is called "Travel is Good for You." (AP and conventional usage)

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underlining Avoid the use of underlining because it is distracting and looks unprofessional.

URL Acronym for "Uniform Resource Locator" or Internet address. Lane's URL, or domain name, is www.lanecc.edu.

U.S. Abbreviation for United States. Use only as an adjective. When referred to as a noun, spell out. This is one of the exceptions to the general rule against using periods in an abbreviation. Example: Maria is teaching us about the United States in her U.S. History course.

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vision statement Lane's vision statement—Transforming lives through learning—is recommended for use on Lane publications.

voicemail Use the term as one word.

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web Short version of World Wide Web. Lane uses 'web' lowercase in all instances, other than in headlines or at the beginning of a sentence.

webpage Use as one word.

website Use as one word.

white space For printed publications and web pages, white space is essential to readability and making readers comfortable. For web pages, advertising and brochures, at least 20 percent of the layout should be white (blank) space. Rather than using web pages as file drawers to be filled to capacity, think of them as rooms where there should be some space to move around.

Windows Capitalize when referring to a computer operating system since it is a proprietary name.

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years Use figures without commas. Use an "s" without an apostrophe to indicate spans of decades or centuries. Years do not have to be spelled out when they begin a sentence like other numbers do, but are awkward, so try to rewrite the sentence so the year is not at the beginning. Use an en dash to indicate continuing or inclusive dates. Example: In 1989, the average increased to 4.5, it remained at 4.5 throughout the '90s, and from 2000–06 the rate was 5.1.

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zip code A comma is not necessary between the state name and the zip code. In the Lane address, the zip code extension number is usually optional. Example: Our address is Lane Community College, 4000 East 30th Avenue, Eugene, Oregon 97405.

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