College Relations & Marketing

Editorial Style Guide

Please follow these guidelines in writing for the web and for the Washington College Magazine.

academic majors

Lowercase academic majors except proper nouns.

Example: history, political science, French studies, chemistry, English


Not “advisor.”

alma mater

Do not capitalize or use italics.

Alumni Weekend

Note the capitalization. Incorrect: “Reunion Weekend” or “May Weekend.”

alumna, alumnae, alumni, alumnus

alumna- singular, female only

alumnae- plural, women only

alumnus- singular, male only

alumni- plural, a group of men and women

alum- okay in informal usage


Use lowercase with periods rather than “o’clock.”

Example: 8 a.m., 10 p.m.

capitalization and titles

Capitalize proper nouns:

Washington College Board of Directors

Rose O’Neill Literary House

The C.V. Starr Center for the Study of the American Experience

Lowercase common nouns:

the board of directors

the department

the center

It is not necessary to capitalize titles such as president, vice president, chair, director, etc.

Example: Alexander Tuttle, president of Morgan Bank, spoke at the conference.


titles of people:

Capitalize formal titles before a name or names.

Example: President Kurt Landgraf, Chief of Staff Victor Sensenig, Associate Professor Lauren Littlefield

Lowercase formal titles after a name or names.

Example: Kurt Landgraf, president; Victor Sensenig, chief of staff; Lauren Littlefield, associate professor of psychology

use italics or underlining with:

  • books (title alone is normally sufficient; no need to reference publisher, year, etc.)
  • gallery exhibitions
  • movies and plays
  • major musical compositions
  • newspapers
  • paintings, drawings, statues and other works of art
  • periodicals (journals and magazines)
  • use quotation marks with:
  • albums
  • articles
  • dissertation titles
  • papers (papers presented at conferences)
  • radio programs (If part of a continuing series, italicize; National Public Radio’s All Things Considered).
  • songs
  • stories

TV programs (If part of a continuing series, italicize; PBS’s Sesame Street)

do not use italics, underlining or quotation marks (but use appropriate capitalization) with:

  • courses
  • events
  • lectures
  • symposia

class years

Commas are not necessary to separate a name from a class-year designation.

Example: Jeff Anderson ’56 gave a riveting presentation.

Also, note the direction of the apostrophe with class years is identical to that of the possessive apostrophe. On a Mac machine, use shift-option-close bracket. On a Windows machine, use ALT 0146.


When referring to Washington College with the article “the,” capitalize “College.”

Example: I work for the College.


in a series

Use commas to separate elements, but do not put a comma before the conjunction in a simple series.

Example: She loves apples, oranges and bananas.

Do use a comma before the concluding conjunction in a series if an integral element of the series requires a conjunction.

Example: For dinner, we had fried chicken, lemonade, watermelon, and biscuits and gravy. 

Do use a comma before the concluding conjunction in a complex series of phrases. Example: Before hiring him, you need to find out whether he has enough appropriate experience, whether he has an adequate educational background, and whether you think he will work well with the rest of the staff.

Do use a comma before the concluding conjunction if not using the comma would confuse the meaning of the sentence.


Use commas to separate cities from states.

Example: Erica Lombardo ate in a quaint restaurant in Chestertown, Maryland.

Use a comma after the combination of city and state in a sentence.

Example: Melissa and Michelle met in Hoboken, New Jersey, for a night out on the town.


Use a comma for most four-digit figures that reflect an actual count of things such as money and people.

Example: 2,678 applicants

Exceptions in this rule include ages, street addresses, broadcast frequencies, room numbers, serial numbers and calendar years.


In dates with a month, day and year, set off the year with commas.

Example: Christina and Matthew married Oct. 15, 2005, at Zion Church.


Use commas to separate ages.

Example: Markley has two brothers, Tripp, 5, and Kent, 3.

in quotation marks

Commas (as well as periods) always go inside quotation marks.


The “e” is not capitalized unless it is the first word of a sentence.

Example: My email ended up in your junk folder. Email is a wonderful way to stay in touch with friends.


Do not capitalize.


We follow standard journalistic practice of using people’s last names on subsequent mention of them in a story.

maiden name

Do not use parentheses for a maiden name.

Example: Ellen Franklin Rogers

Misspelled names (frequently)

Charley Clark (the late Charles B. Clark ’34)

Douglass Cater (note the extra “s” in Douglass)

Joseph H. McLain ’37

Roy Kirby Jr. Stadium (no article used)

Hodson Hall Commons

Elisabeth Reiss (with an “s”)


In general, spell out zero through nine (and first through ninth) and give numerals for 10 and above. Fractions, such as two-thirds, should be spelled out. If paired with a whole number, use the decimal system.

Do not use the superscript of “th” or “st” with numbers.

Correct: first, 18th century


Use apostrophe “s” after singular and some plural nouns to indicate possession.

Example: Sarah’s desk, men’s room

When either a singular or plural noun ends in “s,” use only the apostrophe unless the below circumstance occurs:

This, from Bartleby, adheres to the editor’s thinking that if you pronounce the extra s, it should be written ‘s. 

The possessive case of a singular noun is formed by adding -’s: one’s home, by day’s end, our family’s pet, the witness’s testimony, a fox’s habitat, the knife’s edge. Note that although some people use just the apostrophe after singular nouns ending in s (the witness’ testimony, Burns’ poetry), the -’s is generally preferred because it more accurately reflects the modern pronunciation of these forms. However, in a few cases where the -’s is not pronounced, it is usual to add just the apostrophe: for righteousness’ (appearance’) sake.


For Washington College Magazine articles, the president’s full name should be spelled out in the first reference.

Example: President Kurt Landgraf. Do not uppercase president on second reference if the title stands alone. “The faculty invited the president to dinner.”


Do not abbreviate “prof.” When introducing a member of the faculty, use the full academic title (including assistant, associate, adjunct, visiting, etc.) along with the person’s name. Long titles are more easily read after the name and surrounded by commas.

Example: Associate Professor of Psychology Brian Longfellow; OR Brian Longfellow, associate professor of psychology; OR psychology professor Brian Longfellow. Subsequent references may refer to “Professor Longfellow.”


Use double quotation marks outside single quotation marks for quotes within quotes.

Example: “‘I’m from Washington College.’”

state names

Spell out state names in the body of stories. Use postal abbreviations with full addresses (including zip code).


Except in the proper names of Norman James Theatre and Tawes Theatre.


Not towards.


No http:// required

web page

Two words (as is home page).


One word.