Editorial Style Guide

The following guidelines are intended to enhance consistency and accuracy in the written communications of Hampshire College, with particular attention to local peculiarities and frequently asked questions.

Download PDF Editorial Style Guide

For additional guidelines on the mechanics of written communication, see The Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition. For matters of usage and principles of composition, we recommend The Elements of Style by William Strunk, Jr. and E.B. White.

If you have a question about the style guide, please contact the Hampshire College Office of Communications; send an email to communications@hampshire.edu, call 413.559.5482, or fax 413.559.5720.

Academic Degrees
M.F.A., M.A., M.B.A., M.S.W., Ph.D., B.S., J.D., etc. When spelled out, degrees should be lower-cased, as in "master's degree in history" or "doctorate in philosophy."

Academic Terms
fall term, January term, spring term

Academic Titles
professor emeritus (masculine); the professor emerita (feminine); professors emeriti (masc. or masc. and fem.); professors emeritae (fem.); e.g. Professor Emerita Smith or Emma Smith, professor emerita.

Alumni, Alumnae
Hampshire uses different forms of "alumni" and "alumnae" to describe Hampshire's graduates and other former students:
alumni (adj.): Although Hampshire uses the masculine/feminine "alumni/ae" in certain formal references requiring an adjective, that construction has been shortened to "alumni" in most other contexts, i.e.; "alumni events" and "alumni relations office."
"alum" or "alums": Although "alumnus" and "alumna" may be used in reference to individuals, the shortened versions "alum" (s.) or "alums" (pl.) are more frequently used to avoid gender-linked words.

Areas of Study
lower-cased, as in "He earned a Ph.D. in animal science" or "She holds a master's degree in chemistry."

Capitalize official names of buildings (Jerome Liebling Center for Film, Photography and Video)

Class Year
Indicate entering class year of an alum or student at the end of name, with no punctuation. For example, Sam Jones 06S not Sam Jones (06S).

When "the College" is used as a stand-in for Hampshire College, College should always be capitalized. (The College will be closed on Friday.)
When college is used as a general term, it is not capitalized. (Many young people continue on to college.)

Capitalize when part of full formal name (the Women's Center). Use lower case when used informally: "The center will open…"

Lower case when used informally (finance committee, educational policy committee, the committee on reappointments and promotions).
Upper case as part of formal name (the Hampshire College Committee on Faculty Reappointments and Promotions).

Corporate Names
Capitalize only when full corporate name is used, e.g.; "The Board of Trustees of Hampshire College has announced its policy…" Lower case for informal use, as "the board of trustees met…"

"December 2007," not "December of 2007."
January 2007 was cold. January 24, 2007, was cold.
He graduated on May 20. He graduated on the 20th of May.

Do NOT use terms such as "today" or "tonight" or "tomorrow" in publicizing events. Use the exact date.

Lower case (the alumni fund, the Hampshire parents fund, etc.).
Upper case when part of formal name (The Hampshire College Annual Fund).

Geographical Terms
Capitalize only when identifying a region or political entity (the Northeast, West Coast, Eastern Europe, Middle East).
Lower case when designating a direction (traveling northeast).

Lecture Series
The term "lecture series" is capitalized when it refers to a specific series and is part of the proper name, as in: "Eqbal Ahmad Lecture Series." When referring to individual lectures in a series, titles should be capitalized and place in quotation marks, e.g. "Stephen King delivered a lecture on "Horror and the Supernatural in Modern Fiction" in Franklin Patterson Hall. King visits campus next month to speak on "From the Page to the Screen: Translating Text to the Movies."

national: Write out full names of cities and states. (Note: If you wish to abbreviate "Los Angeles," write "L.A.," as Louisiana has cornered the market on "LA.")
international: Write out full names of foreign countries. Write out names of small foreign cites and towns, followed by the country ("Sarnath, India"). But there's no need to include the country when mentioning major foreign cities (e.g., "Paris," not "Paris, France").

Use 1990s (not 1990's unless possessive or to clarify meaning).

Nineteenth century, twentieth century; do not use 19th century, 20th century.

Spell out numbers one through ten (one, two, etc.). Above ten, use number (65, 106, etc.) except when number is used at the beginning of a sentence. When a number starts a sentence, it is always written out ("Sixty-four students came to the meeting."). Significant round numbers (fifty, thousand) may be written out.

Use zeros with figures under one dollar but not stated as cents ($0.75 or 75 cents, not $.75).

Write out "percent." Do not use "%" after a number (11 percent, not 11%).

Write time: 5 p.m.; 10:30 p.m., etc.
1-5 p.m., not 1:00 to 5:00 p.m.
6:30 in the evening, not 6:30 p.m. in the evening.
Use noon and midnight, not 12 a.m. or 12 p.m.

Use comma with numbers more than one thousand ($1,000 not $1000).

Dollar sign replaces the word "dollars," as in: $12 million or 12 million dollars, but not $12 million dollars.

All alums and students: year then semester (05F, not F05)

Lower case (admissions office, business office, office of student accounts as in "Feel free to contact the admissions office...")
Upper case when part of a formal name (The Hampshire College Admissions Office is located...).

Capitalize the official names of organizations: "John Boonies is now executive director of the Maine Land Trust Association."

Special Events
Family, Alumni & Friends Weekend, commencement, convocation

Upper case when using formal name (Harold F. Johnson Scholarships, the New England Telephone Scholars).
Lower case when used informally (the Johnson scholars, the Johnson scholarship, the Noyes scholarships).

School Names
Individual schools that comprise Hampshire College should be capitalized, as in "School of Cognitive Science" or "he is the dean of Cognitive Science."

Write out full official names of universities and colleges, e.g., "University of Washington, Seattle" and "Albany Medical College," not "Albany."
PLEASE NOTE: It is "University of Massachusetts Amherst" on all references. Not "UMass Amherst," "University of Massachusetts in Amherst," "University of Massachusetts at Amherst," or "University of Massachusetts, Amherst."

In all published matter or computer-generated correspondence, place one space only between sentences.

Telephone numbers
In college publications and on the website, telephone numbers are written with dots rather than dashes: 413.559.0000.

Hampshire does not use social titles, "Lash said..." not "Mr. Lash said..."
Always address people by their last name, "Ballantine said..." not "Clay said..."

titles of jobs: When formal title precedes proper name, capitalize (Chief Advancement Officer Clay Ballantine, President Jonathan Lash). When title follows proper name, use lower case (Clay Ballantine, chief advancement officer,  Jonathan Lash, president). When title alone is used, use lower case (the director of development, the director of student affairs) with the exception of "the President," which should always be capitalized when used as a stand-in for President Lash. (The President gave a speech at commencement.)

program titles: Capitalize all words in a title except conjunctions and prepositions of less than seven letters (Peace and World Security Studies, Civil Liberties and Public Policy Program).

title of works: Generally, the titles of sizeable works are italicized, and shorter ones are put in quotes. Italicize names of books, magazines, movies, long musical compositions, albums/CDs, and titles of works of art. Plays, poems, articles, short stories, songs, essays, radio, and television shows appear in quotes. Do not underline.

Miscellaneous Usage
Avoid possessive "college's." Use "Hampshire's" or "of the College."
Avoid use of "his/her" and "he/she." Use plural form (e.g., "their, "they").
Avoid beginning a sentence with "However" (except meaning " in whatever way").
Avoid using "thus" or "therefore."
Do not use "presently" in the sense of "now," only in the sense of "soon."
Use "that" instead of "which" for non-clausal phrases (those that cannot be set off by
commas). For example: "the cups that broke," not "the cups which broke."
Avoid using terms like "feedback," "input," and "state-of-the-art," except for
appropriate technical subjects.
Avoid "full-paying."
Avoid "monies." Substitute financing, funds, money, proceeds, etc.
Avoid "in the Valley": use "Connecticut River Valley" but only in the geographical
sense; substitute "in the area" or "in the region."
Use "disabled" instead of "handicapped."
Use two-letter caps for state abbreviations, e.g., Vermont is VT,
Massachusetts is MA, etc.
Do not use "firstly," "secondly," "thirdly," etc. Use "first," "second," and "third."
Do not use "more importantly." Use "more important."
Do not use "impact" as a verb. Use it as a noun: "This effort will have a positive
impact on Hampshire's image."
Do not use "prioritize." Use priorities as a noun: "We must establish our priorities."
In general, avoid making verbs out of commonly used nouns.
Use "initiative," not "new initiative." "New" is implicit in the
meaning of "initiative."
Use "consensus," not "general consensus." "General" is implicit in the meaning of "consensus."
"Comprise" and "compose" are not interchangeable. Comprise means include.
(The whole comprises the parts; the parts compose the whole.) "Comprised of" is no
more usable than "included of."
Never have a break in "Hampshire College," should name ever fall on more
than one line of type.
Ampersand: Ampersands are only to be used when there isn't enough space to
spell out "and." The word "and" is always preferable to an ampersand.


Use serial commas after all members of a series (history, sociology, or biology; Amherst, Mount Holyoke, and Smith Colleges). Use comma after name and before and after Jr. or Sr. (John Smith, Jr., is here), but not before II or III (John Smith III is gone).

Dashes are about twice as long as hyphens and serve a different function. They actually do the opposite of what hyphens do; they set works apart and are used to create emphasis. ("This has been a challenging year for us—actually, a challenging several years," or "I believed—before moving to Boulder, CO, and meeting Anne Waldman—that I'd go into electrical engineering.") To create a dash, press the shift, option, and hyphen keys simultaneously. Don't put a space on either side of a dash. Don't use dashes when you can't think of the proper punctuation; they are not substitutes for colons.

If you shorten someone's quote, signify this by using ellipses. The result should look like the following sample, with a space between each dot: "I'm studying computer programming…with a great professor."

These are used to join words together, e.g., "world-class runner." The hyphen makes reading easier by demonstrating that "world-class" is a compound word used as an adjective describing the noun "runner." (Hampshire's exception: "Five College area.") More examples: disability-rights organization, ten-year career, 247-year-old house. Do not hyphenate adverb modifiers preceding nouns, as in "highly developed," "fully realized." When hyphenated adjectives are used as nouns, the hyphen is usually dropped. ("This is a short-term project," but "Do this in the short term.") Don't put a space on either side of a hyphen.

In general, the trend is to minimize the use of hyphens and to substitute solid or open compound words. Also keep in mind that when a hyphenated work has become commonplace through frequent use, a hyphen is no longer necessary (e.g. "filmmaker" and "nonprofit"). When in doubt on hyphenated words, check the dictionary.

Words in foreign languages should be italicized, as should genus/species names. Also book and magazine titles should be italicized, as in War and Peace and Newsweek and film titles: The War by Ken Burns.

Quotation Marks
Commas and periods should appear inside quotation marks. For example: "It was," he said, "a good place to be." Exclamation points and question marks should be placed within quotation marks when they are part of the quoted matter; otherwise they should be placed outside. (For example: The woman cried, "Those men are beating that child!" Her husband actually responded, "It's no concern of mine"!)

Colons and semicolons should be placed outside quotation marks.

Commonly Used Words and Phrases


African-American (adj.)
African American (n.)
alums (to replace alumni/ae)
alumni (adj.)

Bon Appétit


decision making (n.)
decision-making (adj.)


first-come, first-served
first-year (adj.)
Five College, Inc.
Five College consortium
Five College cooperation
Five College system
full-time (adj.)


long-range (adj.)
long-term (adj.)

Mount Holyoke College
(not Mt. Holyoke)





problem solving (n.)
problem-solving (adj.)

RSVP or r.s.v.p.
(not R.S.V.P.)

short- and long-term

three- and four-year

U.S. (adj., ie., U.S.
United States (n.)
Ultimate Frisbee

West Coast
western New England
western Massachusetts
women's studies
website (not Web site)


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Office of Communications
Hampshire College
893 West Street
Amherst, MA 01002