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

A

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. ).
academic departments
Lowercase the names of academic departments except those that include a proper noun. Examples:
  • history department
  • English as a second language
academic terms
Lowercase fall, winter, summer, spring.
academic titles
Capitalize and spell out formal titles such as president or chair when they precede a name. Lowercase elsewhere. Example: President Barack Obama; Obama, the president…
accessibility statements

Every class syllabus, major publication, posted information or announcement/publication for Lane events or activities  should include an accessibility statement.

accreditation
Lowercase unless part of an official report name. Examples:
  • Lane completed its three-year accreditation review.
  • Lane submitted its Year Seven Self Evaluation Report
acronyms
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.
adviser or advisor
Both uses are acceptable.
affirmative action statement
Use the full statement when there’s space. Shorter versions are acceptable when space is limited, see the Affirmative Action and Equal Employment Policy for current text and information.
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.
athletic teams
Capitalize teams, associations and recognized nicknames: Red Sox.

B

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
Never abbreviate. Capitalize the proper names of buildings, including the word building if it is an integral part of the proper name. Example: Building 18, Room 101.

C

center
capitalize the formal names of places, e.g.: Robert L. Ackerman Tutor Center; Academic Technology Center.
chair
Lowercase unless part of a formal title preceding a name. Examples:
  • The chair called the meeting to order.
  • Board Chair Tony McCown called the meeting to order.
city
Capitalize city if part of a proper name, an integral part of an official name, or a regularly used nickname: Kansas City, New York City, Windy City, City of Light, Fun City. Lowercase elsewhere: a Texas city; the city government; the city Board of Education; and all city of phrases: the city of Boston. Capitalize when part of a formal title before a name: City Manager Francis McGrath. Lowercase when not part of the formal title: city Health Commissioner Frank Smith.
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.
collegewide
One word, not hyphenated, based on similar words like statewide or nationwide.
committee names
Capitalize formal, ongoing committee and council names and use lowercase for casual references. Examples:
  • Safety Committee
  • Institutional Effectiveness Committee
  • Academic Program Review Oversight 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.
coordinator
Lowercase.
core learning outcomes
Lowercase.
council names
Capitalize formal council and committee names and use lowercase for casual references. Formal councils at Lane:
  • College Council
  • Diversity Council
  • Facilities Council
  • Finance Council
  • Learning Council
  • Student Affairs Council
  • Technology Council
course titles
Capitalize official course titles and do not enclose in quotation marks. Example: Farrah excelled in French 103.

D

dash
Put a space on both sides of a dash in all uses except the start of a paragraph and sports agate summaries. Example: Through her long reign, the queen and her family have adapted – usually skillfully – to the changing taste of the time.
data
Normally plural. A plural noun, it normally takes plural verbs and pronouns. See the collective nouns entry, however, for an example of when data may take singular verbs and pronouns.
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).
decision-making
it’s hyphenated
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.
desktop
Use one word whether referring to a computer monitor or to the top of a desk.
doctorate
Preference is to spell out; if you do abbreviate, use periods. Examples:
  • He has a doctorate in educational psychology.
  • Jim Smith, Ph.D.
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.
department and division names
Capitalize official names of divisions and departments. Lowercase the words department and division unless they are part of an official name. Most department names do not include the word department as part of the title.
distances
Always use figures: He walked 4 miles.
document names
No quotes around the name of a work that is primarily reference material, but enclose the chapter title

E

email
The standard at Lane is to use "email" (lowercase). Use a hyphen with other e- terms: e-book, e-business, e-commerce .
equal opportunity
statement The full length statement is best to use, see the Affirmative Action and Equal Employment Policy for current text and information.
event themes
enclose in quotes
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."

F

fiscal year
A 12-month period used for accounting purposes. Spell out the words fiscal year on first use; may abbreviate to FY in subsequent uses using the last year of the period. Example:

fiscal year 2017-18 and FY18

fonts
I t 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.
forms
Lowercase names of forms. Example:

curriculum approval form

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).
fundraising
one word

G

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.
governance manual
Lowercase.
governance system
Lowercase.
governmental names
FULL NAME: Capitalize the full proper names of governmental agencies, departments and offices: The U.S. Department of State, the Georgia Department of Human Resources, the Boston City Council, the Chicago Fire Department. WITHOUT JURISDICTION: Retain capitalization in referring to a specific body if the dateline or context makes the name of the nation, state, county, city, etc. unnecessary: The Department of State (in a story from Washington), the Department of Human Resources or the state Department of Human Resources (in a story from Georgia), the City Council (in a story from Boston), the Fire Department or the city Fire Department (in a story from Chicago). Lowercase further condensations of the name: the department, the council, etc. For additional guidance see assembly; city council; committee; Congress; legislature; House of Representatives; Senate; Supreme Court of the United States; and supreme courts of the states. FLIP-FLOPPED NAMES: Retain capital names for the name of a governmental body if its formal name is flopped to delete the word of: the State Department, the Human Resources Department. GENERIC EQUIVALENTS: If a generic term has become the equivalent of a proper name in popular use, treat it as a proper name: Walpole State Prison, for example, even though the proper name is the Massachusetts Correctional Institute-Walpole. For additional examples, see legislature; police department; and prison, jail. PLURALS, NONSPECIFIC REFERENCES: All words that are capitalized when part of a proper name should be lowercased when they are used in the plural or do not refer to a specific, existing body. Some examples: All states except Nebraska have a state senate. The town does not have a fire department. The bill requires city councils to provide matching funds. The president will address the lower houses of the New York and New Jersey legislatures. NON-U.S. BODIES: The same principles apply. Capitalize the names of the specific governmental agencies and departments, either with the name of the nation or without it if clear in the context: French Foreign Ministry, the Foreign Ministry. Lowercase the ministry or a similar term when standing alone.

H

head count
two words
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.

I

initiative names
Lowercase. Example: core learning outcomes.
in-service
One word, hyphenated. Can be an adjective or a noun.
Internet
Capitalize; it is a recognized proper name.
IT
Spell out on first use, then can use acronym:

information technology
IT

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.

J

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.

K

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

L

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.

M

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.

N

names, common nouns
Lowercase. Examples:
  • core learning outcomes spring
  • college summer
  • board fall
  • coordinator winter
  • department term
  • program program review process
names-committees, councils, teams
Capitalize official college committee and council and team names. This list is not complete.
  • Academic and Student Affairs Leadership Team Academic and Student Affairs
  • Academic Program Review Oversight Committee
  • Academic Requirements Review Committee
  • ADA and 504 Compliance Committee
  • Animal Support Committee
  • Assessment Fellows Program
  • Assessment Team
  • Associated Students of Lane Community College
  • Budget Office
  • Campus Community Emergency Response Team or C-CERT
  • Career Technical Coordinating Committee
  • Classified Professional Development Team
  • College Council
  • College Services
  • College Services Leadership Team
  • Cultural Competency Professional Development Committee
  • Curriculum Committee
  • Emergency Planning Team
  • Executive Team
  • Facilities Management Team
  • Fall In-service
  • Governance Subcommittee of College Council
  • Information and Academic Technology
  • Institutional Effectiveness Committee
  • Institutional Research, Assessment and Planning, or IRAP
  • Lane Board of Education (do not capitalize casual use: board of education or board)
  • Lane Budget Committee
  • Peer-to-Peer Administrative Support Network
  • School of Arts and Sciences
  • Strategic Directions Report
  • Student Affairs
  • Student Affairs Council
  • Sustainability Committee
names, event
Capitalize the names of recurring events. Examples:
  • Academy Awards
  • Fall In-Service
  • Spring Conference
noncredit
One word with no hyphen. Words beginning with the prefix non- do not need to be hyphenated in most cases.
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.
numerical series
Use a hyphen not an en or em dash

O

online
The standard version at Lane is one word without a hyphen.
organizations and institutions, names
Capitalize the full names of organizations and institutions: the American Medical Association; First Presbyterian Church; Harvard University, Harvard University Medical School; Retain capitalization if Co., Corp. or a similar word is deleted from the full proper name: General Motors. INTERNAL ELEMENTS: Use lowercase for internal elements of an organization when they have names that are widely used generic terms: the board of trustees of Columbia University, the history department of Harvard University. Capitalize internal elements of an organization when they have names that are not widely used generic terms: the General Assembly of the World Council of Churches, the House of Delegates of the American Medical Association. FLIP-FLOPPED NAMES: Retain capital letters when commonly accepted practice flops a name to delete the word of: Harvard School of Dental Medicine, Harvard Dental School. Do not, however, flop formal names that are known to the public with the word of: Massachusetts Institute of Technology, for example, not Massachusetts Technology Institute. ABBREVIATIONS AND ACRONYMS: Some organizations and institutions are widely recognized by their abbreviations: GOP, NAACP, NATO. For guidelines on when such abbreviations may be used, see Associated Press Stylebook individual listings and the entries under abbreviations and acronyms and second reference.

P

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
One word spelled out unless in tabular or chart form. It takes a singular verb when standing alone or when a singular word follows an of construction: The teacher said 60 percent was a failing grade. He said 50 percent of the membership was there. Use figures for percent and percentages: 1 percent, 2.5 percent (use decimals, not fractions), 10 percent, 4 percentage points. For a range, 12 to 15 percent, or between 12 and 15 percent. For amounts less than 1 percent, precede the decimal with a zero: The cost of living rose 0.6 percent.
Ph.D.
Preference is to spell out; if you do abbreviate, use periods. Examples:
  • He has a doctorate in educational psychology.
  • Jim Smith, Ph.D.
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
Lowercase unless part of a formal name. Examples:
  • Graphic Design program
  • Lane Honors Program
  • Assessment Fellows Program
program update portal
Lowercase. This is a compound common noun.
project and initiative names
Lowercase unless part of a formal name. Examples:
  • The Peace Makers Project is made possible through donations.
  • The bond project is half completed.
punctuation
For recommendations and helpful tips on punctuation, see the section called "Punctuation Tips."

Q

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

R

reference works
Capitalize their proper names. Do not use quotation marks around the names of books that are primarily catalogs of reference material. In addition to catalogs, this category includes almanacs, directories, dictionaries, encyclopedias, gazetteers, handbooks, school yearbooks and similar publications. EXAMPLES: Congressional Directory, Webster's New World College Dictionary, the AP Stylebook. But: "The Careful Writer" and "The Elements of Style." See the bibliography for the principal reference works used in preparing this book.
report titles
Do not use quotation marks around titles of reports; consider them primarily as reference works. Examples:
  • Year Seven Self-Evaluation Report.
  • Governance Manual or Governance System Manual - Either acceptable.
rooms
Capitalize the names of specially designated rooms: Blue Room, Lincoln Room, Oval Office, Persian Room
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.

S

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, the student should register using ExpressLane."
slash
Acceptable in descriptive phrases such as 24/7 or 9/11 , but otherwise confine its use to special situations, as with fractions or denoting the ends of a line in quoted poetry.
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.
strategic plan
A generic report title; lowercase.
subcommittee
One word, no hyphen. Lowercase when used with the name of a body’s full committee: Ways and Means subcommittee. Capitalize when a subcommittee has a proper name of its own: the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations.

T

team names
Capitalize when part of a formal and ongoing college committee. Examples: Executive Team, Assessment Team. A team of faculty, staff and administrators will discuss the issue. Formal college teams:
  • Assessment Team
  • Classified Professional Development Team
  • Emergency Planning Team
  • Facilities Management Team
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, events
Capitalize but do not enclose in quotes well known recurring events. Examples:
  • Academy Awards
  • Fall In-Service
  • Spring Conference

Otherwise, capitalize and enclose in quotes: book titles, computer game titles, movie titles, opera titles, play titles, poem titles, album and song titles, radio and television program titles, and the titles of lectures, speeches and works of art.

titles, people
In general, confine capitalization to formal titles used directly before an individual's name. Lowercase when not used with a name, or following a name. Capitalize formal titles of office when they precede a name, but not common job titles. Examples:
  • President Mary Spilde; the president
  • Tony McCown, chair of the board
  • manager Mike O’Neal
  • Executive Dean Kerry Levett
  • Kerry is the executive dean who oversees student affairs.
titles, composition
Capitalize and enclose in quotes principal words, including prepositions and conjunctions of four or more letters, of books, computer games, movies, plays, poems, song, radio and television programs, performance shows, lectures, speeches, works of art. Capitalize but do not enclose in quotation marks publications that are primarily catalogs of reference material such as the Bible, college catalog, class schedules, directories, handbooks, etc.

U

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.

V

vision statement
Lane's vision statement—Transforming lives through learning—is recommended for use on Lane publications.
voicemail
Use the term as one word.

W

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.
web page
Two words.
website
One word.
who vs. that
Who when referring to humans or named animals. What when referring to inanimate objects and animals without a name.
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.
-wide
No hyphen. Some examples: citywide, nationwide, collegewide
Windows
Capitalize when referring to a computer operating system since it is a proprietary name.
ws
Capitalize when referring to a computer operating system since it is a proprietary name.

Y

years
Use figures. When a phrase refers to a month, day and year, set off the year with a comma. Use an s without an apostrophe to indicate spans of decades. 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. Use an en dash to indicate continuing or inclusive dates. Examples:
  • February 24, 2015
  • 2015-16 (not 2015/16 nor 2015-2016)
  • 1990s (not 1990’s)
  • the roaring ‘20s

Z

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.