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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.

A

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

Abbreviation of AP Style Academic Degrees

When an academic abbreviation is used after a full name, commas should set it off. For example,

Charles Smith, Ph.D., will present tonight’s lecture.

You should never precede a name with a courtesy title for an academic degree and then also follow it with the abbreviation for the degree in the same reference. For example,

Wrong: Dr. Smith, Ph.D., will present tonight’s lecture.
Correct: Dr. Smith will present tonight’s lecture.
Correct: Charles Smith, Ph.D., will present tonight’s lecture.

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:

Department of

  • 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:

  • Allied Health

  • Anishnaabemowin 

  • Anthropology

  • Arabic

  • Architecture

  • Art

  • Biology

  • Business

  • Chemistry

  • Communications

  • Computer Applications

  • Computer Information Systems

  • Computer Numerical Controls

  • Criminal Justice

  • Drafting Technologies

  • Early Childhood Education

  • Earth Science

  • Economics

  • Education

  • Emergency Medical Services

  • Engineering

  • English

  • Entrepreneurship

  • French

  • Geographic Information Systems

  • Geography

  • German

  • History

  • Hospitality Management

  • Human Ecology

  • Information Technologies

  • Journalism

  • Legal Assistant

  • Marketing

  • Mathematics

  • Music

  • Nursing

  • Office Administrative Services

  • Physical Education

  • Philosophy

  • Phlebotomy

  • Photography

  • Physics

  • Political Science

  • Psychology

  • Recreation

  • Religion

  • Russian

  • Student Development

  • Sociology

  • Spanish

  • Surgical Technologist

  • Statistics

  • Theatre

  • Viticulture

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

    • Instructional Technology

    • Learning Support Services

    • Library

    • Off-Campus Programming

  • College Communication

  • Finance and Facilities

  • Business Services

  • College Store

  • Conference and Food Services

  • Human Resources

  • Information Technology

  • Physical Plant

  • Student and Community Resource Center

  • Foundation

  • Research and Assessment

  • Campus Housing

  • Enrollment Services/Registrar

  • Financial Aid

  • Student Outreach and Engagement

  • Student Affairs

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.

B

Board of Trustees – capitalize only when it refers to the North Central Board of Trustees.

C

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 the 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

D

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

E

email

ensure vs. insure: use "ensure" unless referring to a paid insurance policy

ESL: English as a second language

extracurricular

F

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.

Fundraising, fundraiser

G

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."

H

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.

I

inner city, inner-city: hyphenate when used as an adjective ex. an inner-city school

instructor: always lowercase

insure: see ensure

Internet: capitalize

IT: information technology

J

jump-start

K

L

LSS: Learning Support Services

M

MCCA:  Michigan Community College Association

N

noncredit

nonprofit

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).

O

OAS: Office Administrative Services

P

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.

post-secondary

prerequisite

pre-register

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 ...

Q

R

re-accreditation

S

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

T

textbooks

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.

U

URLs in text: do not use http://, do not break a line on a hyphen in the URL.  Do not use www.

V

vice president: no hyphen

W

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

X

Y

Z

 

This page developed and maintained by College Communications. Send comments and suggestions to Kathy Bardins at kbardins@ncmich.edu.