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Columbia College Chicago
Editorial Style Guide
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Editorial Style Guide

Editorial style for Columbia College Chicago will follow general guidelines set forth in The Associated Press Stylebook and Merriam-Webster Dictionary with some notable exceptions. For style questions not specifically addressed in this style sheet, consult one of the references above.

academic degrees - In mentioning an academic degree, it is best to establish someone's credentials by stating them rather than abbreviating them. However, if abbreviations are used, please follow the guidelines below. 

Abbreviations - Use abbreviations with no periods, as follows:

BA for bachelor of arts
BS for bachelor of science
BSE for bachelor of science in education
BFA for bachelor of fine arts
BM for bachelor of music
MFA for master of fine arts
MS for master of science
PhD for doctorate of philosophy

Designations are off-set by a comma when following a personal name.

Lowercase degrees in a body of text - Names of degrees, fellowships, and the like are lowercased when referred to generically. They should be lowercased when used in normal prose.

John Smith received a bachelor of arts degree in theater from Columbia College Chicago. John Smith received a bachelor's degree.

Apostrophe versus no apostrophe - One main use of the apostrophe is to indicate the possessive case. Use as follows:

master's degree in journalism
bachelor's degree in television 

academic departments - Use lowercase when used informally, except for words that are proper nouns or adjectives; uppercase when used formally or as needed for clarity.

Many international students are attracted to the college's Arts, Entertainment and Media Management department.
The Marketing Communications department teaches courses in public relations, media relations, and marketing.

academic titles - Confine capitalization to formal titles used directly before an individual's name. Lowercase in all other uses:

According to Vice President for Finance and Administration Bobby Jones
According to Bobby Jones, vice president for finance and administration,

On first reference to an individual with an academic title, use the academic title after the name. Do not refer to the individual as Dr. in subsequent references. Use the individual's name only.

Jane E. Doe, PhD, is giving the commencement speech this year. Doe was selected from among the tenured faculty.

Names and titles in a listing, not in a paragraph, are capitalized.

Mike Alexandroff, President; Warren Chapman, Senior Vice President; Deborah Holdstein, Dean of the School of Liberal Arts and Sciences

active verbs - Maintain an active voice without using more words than necessary.

Yes: The department will host an event.

No: The department will be hosting an event.

No: An event will be hosted by the department.

addresses - Use the abbreviations Ave., Blvd., and St. with numbered addresses. Otherwise, spell out the word.

ages - Always use figures. Do not spell out. The girl is 8 years old. The 8-year-old boy went to school.

alma mater - Lowercase when referring to the school or university one attended.

alumnus, alumni, alumna, alumnae, alum - Use alumnus (alumni in the plural) when referring to a man who has attended a school. Use alumna (alumnae in the plural) when referring to a woman. Use alumni when referring to a group of men and women. Use alum if no other usage fits. When listing an alumnus or alumnae, include his or her graduation year (see Graduation/attendance dates).

a.m., p.m. - Numerals are used when exact times are emphasized. Use lowercase and periods. (5:22 a.m., 2:53 p.m.). Do not use AM, PM or am, pm. Numbers should never be used to express noon or midnight. (In other words, do not use 12 p.m. or 12 a.m.) Do not use 12 noon or 12 midnight.

annual - Do not describe an event as the first annual event. An event cannot be annual when it is the first occurrence. Use annual once an event has reached its second year.

annual meeting - Lowercase in all uses.

beginning a sentence - Use only one space after a period.

board, board of trustees - Capitalize only when an integral part of a proper name, or referring to a specific board.

The board will meet to discuss the new building.
The Columbia College Board of Trustees will meet in the conference room.

bylines - Use the author’s name, followed by degree and graduation year, if applicable.

By John Doe (BA ’12)

Cabinet - Capitalize references to a specific body of advisers heading executive departments. The capital letter distinguishes the word from the common noun meaning cupboard.

The president's Cabinet advised him...

capitalization - In general, avoid unnecessary capitals. In more formal pieces, such as "the President's Report," exceptions are allowed.

Here are other rules on capitalization:

Proper nouns - Capitalize nouns that name a specific person, place, or thing.

Derivatives - Capitalize words that are derived from a proper noun and still depend on it for their meaning: English, French, Shakespearean, but not french fries, pasteurize, or venetian blind.

Sentences - Capitalize the first word of each sentence.

Compositions - Capitalize the principal words in the names of books, movies, plays, songs, television shows, etc. The Heat of the Night, The Hunger Games, Donnie Darko.

Movements and Styles - Nouns and adjectives designating cultural styles, movements, and schools—artistic, architectural, and musical—and their adherents are capitalized if derived from proper nouns. A few are capitalized to distinguish them from generic speech (i.e., Cynic, New Criticism, etc.).

Titles - Capitalize formal titles when used before a name. Lowercase formal titles when used alone or after a name. Lowercase all terms that are job descriptions rather than formal titles.

chair - Use chair instead of chairman, chairwoman, or chairperson, unless it is another organization's title for an office. Capitalize the word chair before a name when it designates the chair of a department or committee: Chair Allen M. Turner.

Do not capitalize as a casual or temporary position: meeting chair Wrenette Stockton.

city, state - Most cities must be accompanied by a state. When used in text, a comma should follow both the city and the state: He lives in Ashland, Kentucky, during the summer. Exceptions: Illinois may be left off of most cities or towns in the state, and about 30 major cities can stand alone and do not require a state to accompany them in text. They are: Atlanta, Baltimore, Boston, Chicago, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Dallas, Denver, Detroit, Honolulu, Houston, Indianapolis, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Miami, Milwaukee, Minneapolis, New Orleans, New York, Oklahoma City, Philadelphia, Phoenix, Pittsburgh, St. Louis, Salt Lake City, San Antonio, San Diego, San Francisco, Seattle.

Class of - Uppercase when used before the date in reference to a specific class.

The Class of 1951 will hold its 50-year reunion this fall.
The 1951 class will hold its 50-year reunion this fall.

college - Unless it is used with the word Columbia, or in conjunction with another school's name, it is lowercase.

Columbia College Chicago; Harford College.

In reference to the college specifically, use lowercase as well.

The college's policy on...

Possible exceptions are formal proposals and official documents.

college acronyms - The official or formal names of schools within the college should be capitalized. The formal name should be used in most instances on first reference.

the School of Liberal Arts and Sciences (on first reference),
Liberal Arts and Sciences (when referring to the formal academic unit)
liberal arts and sciences (generic reference)
The study of liberal arts and sciences often broadens one's appreciation of the world.

Columbia College Chicago - This name is to be used in the first reference to the institution. In subsequent references, it may be shortened to Columbia or Columbia College. Do not use CCC in external communications.

ColumbiaOnline - One word, with a capital "C" and "O."

commas in a series - Do not put a comma before the conjunction in a simple series. However, put a comma before the concluding conjunction in a series if an integral element of the series requires a conjunction: I had orange juice, toast, and ham and eggs for breakfast.

commencement - Lowercase when in text.

composition titles - Italicize the titles of large works such as books, magazines, movie titles, TV shows, games, photography series, painting titles, exhibitions, dance composition titles, complete recording works. Put quotation marks around small works such as titles of chapters, poems, magazine articles, song titles, etc. Capitalize the principal words, including prepositions and conjunctions of four or more letters. Capitalize an article—the, a, an—or words with fewer than four letters if it is the first or last word in a title. Do not give treatment to blogs or websites.

course names - Uppercase the names of courses because they are, in effect titles. Lowercase the names of subjects unless they are proper nouns or adjectives - i.e., John will take an English course next year. Otherwise, use the guidelines below:

Heather has enrolled in Principles of Design.
Brad will be taking a course in history this semester.
Jon slept through his Foundations in Journalism class.

currency – Always use numerals when expressing dollar amounts. Do not include cents if the amount is a round number.

$7; $12.34; $999,999.99

For amounts larger than thousands, spell out the denomination (i.e. $1 million; $9.8 billion).

dates - Use Arabic figures without st, nd, rd, or th in all instances. If a year is specified, include a comma before and after the year. (For example: The fall semester begins September 1, 2012, in Chicago.)

If presenting a range of dates, use a hyphen or en dash, with no spaces between the number and punctuation: I will attend the conference June 5-8.
The conference is July 18-19.

days of the week - Do not abbreviate unless used in a tabular form.

dean - Capitalize when used as a formal title before a name. Lowercase when used after a name or in other uses.

Dean Doreen Bartoni
Doreen Bartoni, dean of the School of Media Arts

magazine - Always present DEMO in all capital letters. Also italicize it because it is the name of a magazine.

departments, divisions - Capitalize when indicating a specific department or division. For specific spellings and presentations of other departments, please search the directory.

The Department of Science is hosting a reception on Friday.

Dr./doctor - Except under special circumstances, do not use this term when referring to someone with a doctorate or medical degree. Instead, list name followed by a comma and the degree: John Doe, PhD, spoke at the meeting. Jane Smith, MD, is an excellent cardiologist.

em dash - Use to denote an abrupt change in thought in a sentence or an emphatic pause. When a phrase that otherwise would be set off by commas contains a series of words that must be separated by commas, use dashes to set off the full phrase. Do not put spaces around the dash. The professors⎯Doe, Smith, and Jones⎯are collaborating on a research project.

email - Do not hyphenate.

en dash - Most often used in place of “to.” However, if “from” precedes the range, then do not use an en dash; instead, use “to.”

Join us Thursday, 1–4 p.m., to celebrate.
Join us Thursday from 1 to 4 p.m. to celebrate.

etc. - The abbreviated version of etcetera, which is rarely spelled out. A comma should follow “etc.” in the instance it does not end a sentence.

faculty - May be used with singular or plural verbs. However, use must be consistent within a single publication.No individual can be called “faculty.” He or she is a faculty member.
The faculty numbers 150.
The faculty is meeting today. The group is...
The faculty are meeting today. They...
The faculty members are gathered in the lecture hall.

freshman, freshmen - When used as an adjective, freshman means of or for first-year students and the singular is used.

freshman English course
freshman courses
courses for freshmen

graduation/attendance dates - If a student has graduated, present his or her degree and two-digit graduation year in parentheses after the first reference.

John Smith (BA ’04)

If the student attended for two semesters or more, but did not graduate, then present the year he or she would have graduated (refer to Raiser's Edge): John Smith ('04)

Optional: For a current student, present the year he or she is expected to graduate (refer to Raiser's Edge): Jane Smith ('14)

honorary degrees - All references to an honorary degree should specify that the degree was honorary. Do not use Dr. before the name of an individual whose only doctorate is honorary.

initials - Use periods and no spaces when an individual uses initials instead of a first name. For authors who always use initials, full names should not be supplied. A space is added between initials.

Internet - Uppercase. However, intranet is lowercase.

IRIS - The faculty and staff intranet. All caps in all instances.

liberal arts - Use a plural verb when referring to liberal arts. Use a singular verb when referring to the liberal arts program.

The liberal arts are essential for job placement in today's marketplace.
The liberal arts program is beneficial for all students.
login, log in - One word as a noun or adjective. Two words when used as a verb.

Here is my login information.
I will log in to my account.

majors - Lowercase.

radio major
film major
He is majoring in film and video.

months - Spell out when using alone. When used with a specific date, abbreviate only Jan., Feb., Aug., Sept., Oct., Nov. and Dec.

month and year - When used without reference to a specific date of the month, no comma is needed. When used with a date of the month, a comma should come after the date and before the year.

July 23, 2001
Graduation will be held May 28, 2005, at the UIC Pavilion. (Note the comma after the year.)

Museum of Contemporary Photography - Spell out on first reference. Use MoCP on subsequent references.

nonprofit - Do not use a hyphen.

numbers - Spell out numbers from one through nine. Use numerals for those 10 or larger. To form a plural, add "s" with no apostrophe - i.e., 60s

OASIS - The campus portal for Columbia College Chicago.

Office of Alumni Relations - Use on first reference. On second reference, you may use Alumni Relations.

offices - See academic departments.

parentheses - If the parentheses are contained within a sentence, do not use a period inside the closing parenthesis, even if it is a complete thought. If parentheses are used as a stand-alone sentence, end with a period within the closing parenthesis.

The library has an fascinating exhibit (you can find it on the third floor) if you’re interested.
The library is displaying an interesting exhibit. (It is on the third floor.)

percent - Use a numeral and spell out instead of using the symbol when in text. Use the symbol % in graphics or tables.

It is a 20 percent discount.

president - Lowercase unless it immediately precedes the name of the person who holds the position. Use only the last name after the first reference.

The president met with the board on Thursday.
The board met with President Warrick L. Carter.
Carter reported on the progress of the construction on campus.

p.m., a.m. - Lowercase with periods between each letter.

professor - Lowercase in all instances, even when before a name, except as part of the title professor emeritus. Never abbreviate.

The newspaper questioned professor John Doe, PhD, about the new research.

room numbers - Uppercase room when used with numerals.

The lab is in Room 215.

seasons - Lowercase if they simply declare the time of the year.

The freshmen will arrive for the fall semester on Sunday.

semester - Lowercase. The freshmen will arrive for the fall semester on Sunday.

Semester in LA - The abbreviation is SiLA.

ShopColumbia - One word, with capital S and C.

states - Spell out the state name when presented alone. Abbreviate when used following a city in the body of text. Use US Postal Service abbreviations when the full address is set alone.

She was born in Indiana.

The building is located at 127 Isley St. in Chapel Hill, N.C.
He is from Madison, Wis.

600 S. Michigan Ave.
Chicago, IL 60605

students – Do not refer to students as current students. Current is redundant. Students who may attend Columbia in the future are called prospective students. Former students are called alumni (if they attended two semesters or more).

suffixes – Do not use a comma between the last name and the suffix.

John Smith Jr.
David Jones III

Tally-ho to Go - Note the capitalization of "T" and "G."

telephone numbers - Use periods to separate number phrases.

If extension numbers are given, use ext. 5334

Call 870.330.5334, ext. 5334, for more information.

theatre versus theater - Use to discuss the art or function of theatre. Use theater when referring to the physical location.

Dance and theatre are offered as part of the communication and theatre arts program.

through versus to versus using a dash – Use “through” or “to” when presenting ranges. For other usages, also see en dash or dates above.

The exhibit lasts from July 1 through August 31.

time, date, place - Present in this order when stating the details of an event.

The meeting will take place at 7:30 p.m. Thursday in the conference room.

times of day - Times of day in even, half, and quarter hours are usually spelled out in text. Numerals are used (do not include zeros for even hours) when exact times are emphasized.

5:22 a.m.; 6:30 p.m.; 10 p.m.

With "o'clock," the number is always spelled out: five o'clock in the morning

titles - Reserve capitalization to formal titles used directly before an individual's name.

Assistant Director of Alumni Operations Michelle Passarelli

Lowercase and spell out titles when they are not used with an individual's name. Titles used after an individual's name are lowercase, including the name of the department, division, or college.

Michelle Passarelli, assistant director of alumni operations

Names and titles in a list, not in the body of text, are capitalized.

trustee - Lowercase in all instances.

"U.S." versus United States - The abbreviation is acceptable as a noun or adjective for United States.

U.S. dollars; China's relationship with the United States.

vice president - Do not hyphenate. Capitalize or lowercase following the same rules that apply to president.

Web - Uppercase. A proper noun referring to the World Wide Web.

Web page - Two words, with a capital “w.”

website - One word, lowercase.

years - Use an "s" without an apostrophe to indicate spans of decades or centuries: the 1900s

When presenting a year by its two-digit designation, use a single end quote: ’11 NOT ‘11