Writer's Style Guide
This guide supersedes other style guides. For items not listed here, please refer first to the Associated Press Stylebook and then to the to the Webster's New World Collegiate Dictionary.
Abbreviations and acronyms: Do not use an abbreviation or acronym on first reference. Do not put the acronym in parentheses after the name. If the reader would not recognize the acronym on second reference without the parentheses, do not use it. Instead, use the full name or a reference to it. (Ex. First reference: Student and Community Resource Center. Second reference: the student center.) North Central Michigan College should never be referred to as NCMC. The entire name of the college should be spelled out. The use of the words North Central is also appropriate after the full name of the college has been spelled out first.
academic degrees: Academic degrees are capitalized only when the full name of the degree is used, such as Bachelor of Arts or Master of Social Work. General references, such as bachelor’s, master’s or doctoral degree, are not capitalized. Use an apostrophe (possessive) with bachelor’s degree and master’s degree, but not in Bachelor of Arts or Master of Science. Do not use an apostrophe with associate degree or doctoral degree. Do not capitalize the major specialty.
Use capital letters and periods to refer to degrees. Ph.D. in interdisciplinary health sciences, M.S. in computer science, B.A. in English. The types of degrees offered at North Central are:
- A.A. or associate of arts
- A.S. or associate of science
- A.A.S. or associate of applied science
- A.G.S. or associate of general studies
academic departments: Capitalize the name of the department and the word 'department' only when using the official name. (Ex. the Department of Allied Health, or the allied health department.)
The academic departments at North Central are:
- Liberal Arts
- Nursing, Allied Health and Science
- Business, Manufacturing and Technology
academic disciplines: Except for languages, such as English, French and Spanish, the names of academic disciplines, majors, minors, programs and courses of study are not proper nouns and should not be capitalized.
Disciplines at North Central are:
Computer Information Systems
Computer Numerical Controls
Early Childhood Education
Emergency Medical Services
Geographic Information Systems
Office Administrative Services
administrative departments/offices: Capitalize the name of the department and the word 'department' or 'office' only when using the official name. Ex. the Department of College Communications, or College Communications department.
The administrative departments at North Central are:
Academic Affairs and Student Success
Corporate and Community Education
Learning Support Services
Finance and Facilities
Conference and Food Services
Student and Community Resource Center
Research and Assessment
Student Outreach and Engagement
Alumnus, alumna, alumni, alumnae: Use alumnus (or alumni in the plural) when referring to a man who has attended a school. Use alumna (or alumnae in the plural) for a woman. Use alumni when referring to a group of men and women.
Board of Trustees – capitalize only when it refers to the North Central Board of Trustees.
campuses: Capitalize when using the formal name of the campus: University Center at Gaylord, Straits Area Education Center, Petoskey campus. If using the formal name in a communication to an audience that may not be familiar with it, be sure to state the location. (Ex. Main campus in Petoskey)
campuswide: one word
CCE: Corporate and Community Education, the college's noncredit arm. Spell out on first reference and use CCE on second reference.
CDL: commercial driver's license
CENA: certified nursing assistants
chairman, chairwoman: use chair in all cases, also co-chair
classes, courses: lowercase when referring to courses in general, such as a science course, but capitalize when referring to a specific course, such as Computer Basics or COMI 1000
classroom: one word
CLEP: College Level Examination Program
CNA: certified nursing assistant
CNC: Computer numerical controls
College – lowercase unless referring to North Central Michigan College solely.
commas: see punctuation
course work: two words, not hyphenated
database: one word
dates: Spell out days of the week. Spell out months without days, such as October 2011. Abbreviate months with days, such as Aug. 12, 2011, except for March, April, May, June and July. Do not use a comma between a month and a year when the day is not mentioned. Use a comma after the year, such as September 11, 2014, was a great day.
dean's list: lowercase in all uses
degrees: see academic degrees
ensure vs. insure: use "ensure" unless referring to a paid insurance policy
ESL: English as a second language
FAFSA: Free Application for Federal Student Aid
FERPA: Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act
full time, full-time, part time, part-time: Hyphenate when used as a compound modifier. She works full time. She is a full-time employee.
GED: Stands for general educational development; GED is acceptable on first reference but it is an adjective and must be followed by "degree" or "diploma."
health care: two words
HLC: Higher Learning Commission
home page: two words, no caps; see Web page
hyphens: Use a hyphen to avoid confusion, such as recover or re-cover. Use suspensive hyphenation, such as both full- and part-time students.
inner city, inner-city: hyphenate when used as an adjective ex. an inner-city school
instructor: always lowercase
insure: see ensure
IT: information technology
LSS: Learning Support Services
MCCA: Michigan Community College Association
Numbers: Spell out numbers one through nine, use numerals for numbers above nine. Do not use 'th' or 'st' for dates. (Ex. May 10, not May 10th). Use 's' without apostrophe when referring to decades. (Ex. the 1960s). Use apostrophe when referring to graduating class (Class of '09; Jane Smith '84).
OAS: Office Administrative Services
Phone numbers: Use area code for anything that may be circulated out of state. 401-825-1000. Use dashes and do not put area code in parentheses.
punctuation: use serial commas only to prevent confusion, ex. The departments of nursing, English, and engineering and technology ... or The departments of nursing, English and fine arts ...
semester: use caps when using the term as a title, ex. Fall 2004 semester, or register for Fall 2004; do not capitalize when referring to the fall semester without a year
SNA: Student Nurses Association
SVA: Student Veterans Association
time and date references: List events in order of time, date, place; for example: The forum will be held at 7 p.m. on Thursday, March 18, in the student center gymnasium at North Central in Petoskey. Use the word "to" instead of a hyphen when describing times; for example: The clinic will be held from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. on Monday, Jan. 15. Not necessary to use :00 after the hour. a.m. and p.m. are always lower case – 7 p.m. – 8 p.m.
Titles: In text, it is preferable for the title to follow the name and, therefore, the title would not be capitalized. This is especially true of titles consisting of more than one word. For example, it is acceptable to use either President David Roland Finley or David Roland Finley, president. However, David Hartnett, director of finance and facilities, should be used in text rather than Vice President of Finance and Facilities David Hartnett.
Titles are not capitalized when used in conjunction with the name of an office, department or program. Do not capitalize the title in Pete Olson, vice president of Academic Affairs and Student Success.
Used in a list – When used in a directory listing or other similar situations, the title is capitalized whether it precedes the name, follows the name, or appears in tabular form.
Used in an address – When used as part of an address, the title is capitalized. Example: For more information, contact Sara Glasgow, Associate Dean of Liberal Arts, North Central Michigan College, 1515 Howard Street, Petoskey, MI 49770.
URLs in text: do not use http://, do not break a line on a hyphen in the URL. Do not use www.
vice president: no hyphen
Web: Capitalize in all cases when referring to the World Wide Web, (ex. website, or the Web)
Web site, Web page, home page: all are two words, Web is capitalized. A website is made up of a number of Web pages. The home page is the first page of a website.
workforce, work force: one word when modifying a noun (such as workforce training), two words when referring to the labor force
This page developed and maintained by College Communications. Send comments and suggestions to Kathy Bardins at email@example.com.