Style Guide – Albright College

Style Guide

Editorial Style Guide for Albright Publications

Which is it: Reading, PA or Reading, Pa.? Bachelors degree or bachelor’s degree? Alumnus, alumni, alumna or alumnae? And what about those commas in a series-should you put one before the “and”? Why does it matter?

Stylistic consistency lets the reader concentrate on the content without being distracted by variations in spelling and punctuation from one page to the next. It’s an invaluable tool for editors, who often edit material intended for a single publication but written by several people. Having a style guide to consult keeps editors from having to reinvent a rule every time a new publication (or a new writer) comes along. Adhering to an agreed-upon style gives each campus publication a “voice” that harmonizes with those from other departments, schools and colleges.

We all have individual preferences-in dress, in food, in how we write. The reason we have style rules is to ensure consistency from page to page, article to article, publication to publication. And although freedom of expression might certainly be enhanced if we all spelled and punctuated as the spirit moved us, the goal of communication would be badly served.

The following guide serves as a quick reference for you when producing copy for a publication. Most entries are either style that refers to educational institutions or common mistakes that are often made when writing for publications.

Albright utilizes the Associated Press (AP) Stylebook, which is the standard style for most U.S. newspapers, magazines and public relations firms. Considered to be a “down style,” in that many words are not capitalized, AP Style is designed to be easy to read, concise and free of bias. It includes commonly accepted journalistic standards for usage, spelling, grammar and punctuation.

We hope that this guide will help you in your publication writing. If you have any questions regarding something not listed in this abbreviated guide, or are confused by an entry, please call the Communications Office at x7238.

Happy Writing!

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Academic degrees – Do not precede a name with a courtesy title for an academic degree and follow it with the abbreviation for the degree in the same reference. Use credentials only on first full name reference: Karen Campbell, Ph.D. Secondary references of a name should include no credentials: “Campbell said …”

Use an apostrophe in bachelor’s degree, master’s, etc.

Use such abbreviations as B.A., M.A., LL.D. and Ph.D., only when identifying individuals by degree is necessary. Use these abbreviations only after a full name, never after just a last name.

When used after a name, an academic abbreviation is set off by commas: Karen Campbell, Ph.D., spoke.

When in doubt about the proper abbreviation for a degree, follow the first listing in Webster’s New World Dictionary.

Academic departments – Uppercase proper department names.

Academic majors – Lowercase all majors except those incorporating proper nouns: textiles and design, Latin American studies.

Academic titles – Capitalize formal titles when used immediately before a name. Lowercase formal titles when used alone or in constructions that set them off from a name by commas. Use lowercase at all times for terms that are job descriptions rather than formal titles.

Addresses – Use the abbreviations Ave.Blvd. and St. only with a numbered address: 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. Spell out when used alone: Pennsylvania Avenue.

All similar words, alley, drive, road, terrace, etc. are always spelled out. Capitalize when part of a formal name without a number. Lowercase when used alone.

Always use figures for an address: 8 Penn Ave.

Spell out and capitalize First through Ninth when used as street names; use figures with two letters for 10th and above: 7 Fifth St., 1350 13th St.

Adviser – Not advisor

Alumnus, alumni, alumna, alumnae –
Alumnus – Singular male
Alumni – Plural male (or both men and women)
Alumna – Singular female
Alumnae – Plural female

a.m., p.m. – Always lowercase, with periods. Do not capitalize.

Annual – Do not describe an event as “annual” until it has been held at least two successive years. You may note that sponsors plan to hold an event annually.


Bachelor of arts, bachelor of science – Use bachelor’s degree or bachelor’s. See academic degrees for guidelines on when the abbreviations B.A. or B.S. are acceptable.

board of directors, board of trustees – Capitalize when referring to the Albright Board of Trustees. Lowercase references to the board or to trustees. Jeff Joyce is the chair of the Board of Trustees. Jeff Joyce is a trustee of the College.


campus – Lowercase: The Albright campus. (Same rule applies to The Albright community.)

campuswide – One word, not hyphenated.

chapters– Capitalize chapter when used with a numeral in reference to a section of a book or legal code. Always use Arabic figures: Chapter 1, Chapter 20.
Lowercase when standing alone.

College – Capitalize when part of a proper name: Albright College. Lowercase when used alone “the college.”

Commas – Some common uses:

In a Series: Use commas to separate elements in a series, but do not put a comma before the conjunction in a simple series: The flag is red, white and blue.

Put a comma before the concluding conjunction in a series, however, if an integral element of the series requires a conjunction: I had orange juice, toast, and ham and eggs for breakfast. Use a comma also before the concluding conjunction in a complex series of phrases: The main points to consider are whether the athletes are skillful enough to compete, whether they have the stamina to endure the training, and whether they have the proper mental attitude.

Introducing Direct Quotes: Use a comma to introduce a complete one-sentence quotation within a paragraph: Barbara Marshall said, “This style guide will help you to help us produce your publications quicker and smarter.” Use a colon to introduce quotations of more than one sentence.

Before Attribution: Use a comma instead of a period at the end of a quote that is followed by attribution: “I’m cautiously optimistic,” said Frank Falso.

Placement with quotes: Commas ALWAYS go inside quotation marks.

With Hometowns and Ages: Use a comma to set off an individual’s hometown when it is placed in apposition to a name: David Johnson, Reading, and Jessica Shue, Wernersville, were there.

If an individual’s age is used, set it off by commas: Betty Russo, 29, Temple, Pa., was present.

Course titles – Use standard type, capitalize and put in quotation marks: “Introduction to Sociology.”

Courtesy titles – Courtesy titles such as MissMr., Mrs., or Ms. should not be used with the first and last names of the person. Use last name only upon second reference unless otherwise specified.


Dashes – An em dash is approximately the width of a capital letter M. They are used to signal abrupt change; as one option to set off a series within a phrase; before attribution to an author or composer in some formats; and after datelines. AP style calls for a space on both sides of an em dash in all uses. Do not use shorter en dashes. (See hyphens for more information.)

Days of the week – Capitalize them. Do not abbreviate, except when needed in a tabular format: Sun, Mon, Tue, Wed, Thu, Fri, Sat (three letters, without periods, to facilitate tabular composition.)

Days of the month – Do not use “rd,” “th,” “st,” “nd” following the numerals: April 4, June 23not April 4th or June 23rd. (See months for more information.)

Dean – Capitalize when used as a formal title before a name: Dean Gina Crance. Lowercase in other uses: Gina Crance, dean of students; the dean.

dean’s list – Lowercase in all uses: He/she is on the dean’s list.

Directions – In general, lowercase north, south, northeast, northern, etc., when they indicate compass direction; capitalize when they designate regions. Examples:

Compass Directions: He drove west. The cold front is moving east.

Regions: A storm system that developed in the Midwest is spreading eastward. It will bring showers to the East Coast by morning and to the entire Northeast by afternoon. She has a Southern accent. He is a Northerner.

With Names of Nations: Lowercase unless they are part of a proper name or are used to designate a politically divided nation: northern France, eastern Canada, the western United StatesNorthern Ireland, South Korea.

With States and Cities: Lowercase compass points when they describe a section of a state or city: northeast Reading, southern Berks County. Capitalize when part of a proper name, North Dakota, or in denoting widely known sections: Southern California, the Lower East Side of New York. (When in doubt, lowercase.)

Dorm – This is incorrect usage. Use Residence Hall.


email – Lowercase e, with no hyphen

Emeriti – Use when referring to two or more retired professors given emeritus rank. Use emeritus, when referring to a male and emerita when referring to a female.


Foreign words – Always italicize.

Full time, full-time – See hyphens

Fundraising, fundraiser – No spaces, no hyphens.


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

Hyphens – Use hyphens as joiners, such as for compound modifiers: small-business owner. Also use hyphens (not an en dash) for ranges, such as Jan. 1-4. There should be no spaces surrounding a hyphen. (See dashes for more information.)

  • Do not hyphenate vice president
  • For clarity, Albright does hyphenate words beginning with the prefix “pre:” pre-medical, pre-theological, pre-dental, pre-professional.
  • Numbers below 100 should be hyphenated when they consist of two words: fifty-three. (Please see numerals for other rules.)
  • Hyphenate part-time when used as an adjectival compound to describe a job, assignment, etc. She has a part-time job. She works part time. (Same for full-time, full time)
  • Do not hyphenate the word multicultural.
  • Do not hyphenate African American, Asian American, etc.
  • When two descriptive words precede a noun, hyphenate them: He is a small-business owner. It is a seven-story building.
  • Do not use a hyphen to connect an adverb ending in “ly” with a participle in such phrases as highly qualified student or elegantly furnished home.


Internet – Capitalize

Italics – Only use italics for emphasis (He never saw that coming), never for titles of works.


junior, senior – Abbreviate as Jr. and Sr. only with full names of persons. Do not precede by a comma: John F. Horrigan Jr.


Kids – Use children unless you are talking about goats, or the use of kids as an informal synonym for children is appropriate in the context.


Majors – See academic majors.

Money – Always lowercase the word dollar or cents. Use figures and the $ sign in all except casual references or amounts without a figure. The book cost $6. Dad, please give me a dollar. Dollars are flowing into The Fund for Albright.

$3 (not $3.00), $5.09 or 77 cents

Months – Capitalize the names of months in all uses. When a month is used with a specific date, abbreviate only Jan., Feb., Aug., Sept., Oct., Nov. and Dec. Spell out when using alone, or with a year alone.

When a phrase lists only a month and a year, do not separate the year with commas. When a phrase refers to a month, day and year, set off the year with commas.

Examples: January 2006 was a warm month. Sept. 24 is Nicholas’ birthday. My birthday is April 4. On January 3, 1856, Union Seminary opened its doors.

Mr., Mrs. – The plural of Mr. is Messrs.; the plural of Mrs. is Mmes. These abbreviations are never spelled out. (See courtesy titles for guidelines on when to use Mr. and Mrs.)


Names – Use full name on first mention and then refer by last name only. Do not use courtesy titles with last name on further references.

Numerals – Spell out one through nine. Use numerals beginning with 10. Spell out if at the beginning of a sentence. When referring to decades, do not place an apostrophe after the number: The 60s were swinging. Not 60’s.


Online – One word


Percent – Always spell out: The teacher said 60 percent was a failing grade. Use % only when numbers appear in a table.

Percentages – Use figures: 1 percent, 2.5 percent (use decimals, not fractions), 10 percent. For amounts less than 1 percent, precede the decimal with a zero: The cost of living rose 0.6 percent. Repeat percent with each individual figure: He said 10 percent to 30 percent of the electorate may not vote.

Persons – Use chairman/chairwoman instead of chairperson; spokesman/spokeswoman instead of spokesperson. When in doubt, try to use a neutral word like leader or representative. Use chairperson or similar terms only in direct quotations or when it is the formal description for an office.

Ph.D., Ph.D.s – When used after a name, an academic abbreviation is set off by commas: John Snow, Ph.D., spoke. Do not precede a name with a courtesy title for an academic degree and follow it with the abbreviation for the degree in the same reference. Use credential only on first reference. Second reference of a name should include no credentials: Snow spoke. (See academic degrees).

President – Capitalize president only as a formal title before one or more names: President Fetrow, Presidents Fetrow and Flynn.

Lowercase in all other uses: Dr. Fetrow is our president.

Professor – Never abbreviate. Capitalize when used as a formal title before a full name. Do not continue in second reference unless part of a quotation. (See academic titles)

Pupil, student – Use pupil for children in kindergarten through eighth grade. Student or pupil is acceptable for grades nine through 12. Use student for college and beyond.


Religious titles – The first reference to a clergyman or clergywoman normally should include a capitalized title before the individual’s name.

In many cases, the Rev. is the designation that applies. (the Rev. Dr. is used if the individual has an earned doctoral degree).

Residence Hall – This is proper terminology. Do not use “Dorm.”


Seasons – Lowercase spring, summer, fall, winter and derivatives such as springtime unless part of a formal name. Albright Spring Fever, Winter Olympics.

Spouse – Use when some of the people involved may be men. For example: physicians and their spousesnotphysicians and their wives.

State – Lowercase in all “state of” constructions: the state of Maine, the states of Maine and Vermont.

Four states – Kentucky, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania and Virginia – are legally commonwealths rather than states. The distinction is necessary only in formal uses. For simple geographic reference, state of Pennsylvania is appropriate.

Do not capitalize state when used simply as an adjective to specify a level of jurisdiction. Apply the same principle to phrases such as the city of Reading.

State names – Follow these guidelines:

Standing alone: Spell out the names of the 50 U.S. states when they stand alone in textual material. Any state name may be condensed, however, to fit typographical requirements for tabular material.

Eight not abbreviated: Alaska, Hawaii, Idaho, Iowa, Maine, Ohio, Texas and Utah are never abbreviated in text.

Abbrevations: In text format, states are abbreviated differently than the U.S. postal abbreviations. They are:

Ala., Ariz., Ark., Calif., Colo., Conn., Del., Fla., Ga., Ill., Ind., Kan., Ky., La., Md., Mass., Mich., Minn., Miss., Mo., Mont., Neb., Nev., N.H., N.J., N.M., N.Y., N.C., N.D., Okla., Ore., Pa., R.I., S.C., S.D., Tenn., Vt., Va., Wash., W.Va., Wis., Wyo.


Teen, teen-ager (n.) teen-age (adj.) – Do not use teen-aged.

Theatre – Albright usage differs from standard American usage “theater.”

Time – 7 p.m. or 7:30 p.m., never 7:00 p.m. Use the words noon and midnight rather than 12 p.m., 12 a.m.

Titles – In general, confine capitalization to formal titles used directly before an individual’s name. Do not capitalize titles that follow a name: Dwayne Walker, vice president for enrollment management, will attend.

Titles of books, articles, etc – Book titles, computer and video 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 should be set off with quote marks. “The Star-Spangled Banner,” “For Whom the Bell Tolls,” “Star Wars.”

Titles of magazines, newspapers, reference works – In addition, magazines (The Albright Reporter), newspapers (the Reading Eagle), and reference work (Webster’s New World Dictionary) should be capitalized without quotation marks or italics.

Use the word “titled” when referring to the title of a book or speech, not entitled.


User friendly – Avoid. For example: The system is easy to use, not the system is user friendly.


website – Lowercase, one word.

Weights – Use figures: The baby weighed 9 pounds, 7 ounces. She had a 9-pound, 7-ounce boy.


Years – Use figures, without commas: 2006. Use an s without an apostrophe to indicate spans of decades or centuries: the 1990s, the 1900s.

Years are the lone exception to the general rule in numerals that a figure is not used to start a sentence: 1973 was a very good year.

Youth – Applies to boys and girls from age 13 until 18. Use man or woman for individuals 18 and older.