Writing Style Guide

Our style guide expands upon the Chicago Manual of Style with Westminster-specific names and rules. If you can’t find what you’re looking for, contact the Office of Marketing and Communication.

Abbreviations
  1. Use periods with abbreviations that end in a lowercase letter: p. (page), vol., e.g., i.e., etc., a.k.a., Ms., Dr., et al. (et is not an abbreviation; al. is). An exception may be made for the few academic degrees that end in a lowercase letter (e.g., DLitt, DMin)
  2. Use periods for initials standing for given names: E. B. White; do not use periods for an entire name replaced by initials: JFK.
  3. Use no periods with abbreviations that appear in full capitals, whether two letters or more and even if lowercase letters appear within the abbreviation: VP, CEO, MA, MD, PhD, UK, US, NY, IL (but see rule 4).
  4. In publications using traditional state abbreviations, use periods to abbreviate United States and its states and territories: U.S., N.Y., Ill. Note, however, that Chicago recommends using the two-letter postal codes (and therefore US) wherever abbreviations are used.
  5. Chicago Manual of Style prefers that months and dates be spelled out in written text. Where space restrictions require that the names of months or days be abbreviated, use the following:
    • Jan.
    • Feb.
    • Mar.
    • Apr.
    • May
    • June
    • July
    • Aug.
    • Sept.
    • Oct.
    • Nov.
    • Dec.

    • Sun.
    • Mon.
    • Tues.
    • Wed.
    • Thurs.
    • Fri.
    • Sat.
Academic subjects

Academic subjects are not capitalized unless they form part of a department name or an official course name or are themselves proper nouns (e.g., English, Latin).

Ex: I have to take English, Math 101, and a gender studies course.

alumnus, alumni, alumna, alumnae, alum, alums

Always use alum (singular) or alums (plural) for graduated students. These are gender-neutral terms.

Ampersand (&)

Chicago Manual of Style states:
Don’t use the symbol to substitute the word “and” except when you abbreviate company names and notes.

Abbreviations and ampersands are appropriate in notes, bibliographies, tabular matter, and the like.

ASW

Do not spell out Associated Students of Westminster.

Do not say “the ASW.” In all references use ASW.

ASW Executive

Always use full name ASW Executive UNLESS someone is directly quoted as saying “E-Cab” then use E-Cab.

ASW Organization

ASW has five branches: ASW Executive, ASW Events, ASW Clubs, ASW Senate, ASW Judicial.

  • ASW Executive represents the student body and coordinates with each individual branch. Additionally, the Executive branch oversees all advertising and financial decisions of ASW.
  • ASW Events coordinates, plans, and oversees all student events, activities and programs under the leadership of the president of events.
  • ASW Clubs president coordinates club service projects, facilitates advertising for club events, and helps students form new clubs. The clubs president is head of the clubs chairs.
  • ASW Senate is the policy making body of ASW and functions as the legislature for the student body’s concerns. Senators represent students with similar academic majors as well as school-years and work on committees to serve the needs of students.
  • ASW Judicial reviews all new club constitutions, enforces ASW guiding documents, and records office hours.
ASW President

Not “ASW Student Body President”

ASW Titles

Refer to ASW positions like this: ASW President Ben Wilkinson OR Ben Wilkinson, ASW president. UNLESS you are writing an ASW specific article, then you can write just President Ben Wilkinson or Chief Justice Chris Gibbs, no ASW attribution necessary.

Only capitalize a title if the title comes before the name. If the title comes after the name it should be lowercase.

attribution

This is the general format for how to designate who said something:

“The county clerk is going to resign,” Veronica Mars says.

Generally, the name comes before the said. The name would come after the said when there is additional information.

“The county clerk is going to resign,” said Veronica Mars, the young detective.

Use a variety of quotation styles. Note the punctuation, placement of commas, periods, quotes, etc.

Direct quote, attribution at the end of the quote
“I will answer those questions during my press conference,” the president said.
Direct quote, attribution at the beginning
The president said, “I will answer those questions during my press conference.”
Indirect quote, attribution at the beginning
The president said she would answer those questions during the press conference.
Multi-sentence quote, attribution after the first sentence

“I will answer those questions during my press conference,” the president said. “I am always happy to talk to the media.”
Quoting students
“The pizza is my favorite,” said John Doe, junior communication major.

Note: Magazine-style writing uses present-tense attribution rather than past-tense (e.g., says not said).

Avoid Quoting Inanimate Entities

Incorrect: The president’s office said…

Correct: A representative from the president’s office said…

Preferred: John Doe, a representative from the president’s office, said…

Awards and prizes

Names of awards and prizes are capitalized. Awards titles should only be placed in quotes if it is from a publication (e.g., magazine, newspaper).

Ex: the 2010 Pulitzer Prize for Commentary, a Pulitzer in journalism, an Academy Award, Distinguished Professor, “30 Under 30,” “Top 10 Ski Schools,” etc.

Bachelor of Arts, BA

Names of degrees are lowercased when spelled out and capitalized without periods when abbreviated: bachelor of arts or BA

Building Names

Proper names for buildings on campus. See section L for common locations used for campus events.

B
  • Bamberger Hall
  • Bassis Student Center
  • Behnken Field House
  • Bill and Vieve Gore School of Business (add Auditorium, Atrium, Room 110, Executive Conference Room, etc.)
  • Black Bridge
C
  • Carleson Hall
  • Richer Commons
  • Converse Circle
  • Converse Hall
D
  • Dick Science Building
  • Dolores Doré Eccles Ceramic Center
  • Dolores Doré Eccles Health, Wellness, and Athletic Center (HWAC)
  • Dumke Field
E
  • Emma Eccles Jones Conservatory at the Jewett Center for the Performing Arts (Try to avoid this usage, but it can be useful in running text to describe the linking of two buildings into one.)
F
  • Foster Hall
  • Foster Faculty Lounge
G
  • Giovale Library
H
  • Hogle Hall
J
  • Jay W. Lees Courage Theatre, Jewett Center for the Performing Arts
K
  • Kim T. Adamson Alumni House
M
  • Maintenance Building
  • Malmsten Amphitheater
  • Malouf Hall
  • Meldrum Science Center
N
  • Nunemaker Place
O
  • Olwell Hall
P
  • Payne Gymnasium
R
  • Richer Commons
S
  • Shaw Student Center
  • Special Events Room, Dolores Doré Eccles Health, Wellness, and Athletic Center
  • Stock Hall
V
  • Vieve Gore Concert Hall or Dumke Student Theatre (not the Black Box Theatre, which is actually a generic term (that should should be lowercased in CMS) for a smaller experimental theatre), Emma Eccles Jones Conservatory
W
  • Walker Hall

Capitalization

We subscribe to CMS’s spare “down” style of capitalization, so when referring to the college in running text, as in “the college campus is beautiful,” we do not capitalize the word “college.” We also use the same style when speaking of the board of trustees, president’s council, philosophy department, nursing major, etc. However, we make exceptions for certain high-profile events.

Class Standing and Majors

Do not capitalize class rank and names of majors (unless the major is a name like English or Spanish).

Titles

Only capitalize a title (any title) if it comes before the name.

President Barack Obama is going to Israel.

Barack Obama, the president of the United States, is going to Israel.

Capitalize Building Names
Capitalizing Offices & Departments

Only capitalize an office or department name if the proper and full name is used. For example, you would not capitalize “career center” because that is not the proper and full name of that office. You would, however, capitalize “Career Resource Center” because that is the proper and full name.

co-ed

Female students are not co-eds.

Course titles

Official names of courses of study are capitalized. They should not be put in quotes.

Ex: I am signing up for Archaeology 101. NOT I am signing up for “Archaeology 101.”

but

His ballroom dancing classes have failed to civilize him.

cross country, cross-country

cross country (the sport), cross-country (other contexts)

dates

Chicago Manual of Style prefers that months and dates be spelled out in written text. Where space restrictions require that the names of months or days be abbreviated, use the following:

  • Sun.
  • Mon.
  • Tues.
  • Wed.
  • Thurs.
  • Fri.
  • Sat.

(See section M for rules on months)

Degrees

Names of degrees are lowercased when referred to generically. Omit periods in abbreviations of academic degrees.

Ex: a master’s degree, a doctorate, master of business administration (MBA), PhD, JD

Disability accommodation

All material that invites the public to campus must contain a statement regarding accommodation for people with disabilities. Find this in the shared drive under Legal. Example: “For a disability accommodation, contact the Office of [Admissions, Communications, the President, etc.] at 123.456.7890 five business days prior to the event.”

en dash

En dashes are used to specify any kind of range and shouldn’t have any spaces before or after the dash. Ex: July–September, June 1–July 6, 1–2:00 PM, etc.

(Mac shortcut for desktop and laptop: Option + -)

(Windows shortcut for desktop, using the number keypad on the right-hand side: Ctrl + -)

(Windows shortcut for laptop: 2017(space)-(space)2018 for 2017–2018)

em dash

Em dashes are used to set off an amplifying or explanatory element and can function as an alternative to parentheses, commas, or a colon—especially when an abrupt break in thought is called for. Ex: The chancellor—he had been awake half the night—came down in an angry mood.

(Mac shortcut: Shift + Option + -)

(Windows shortcut: Ctrl + Alt + -)

Faculty/Staff Attribution

Make sure you know the distinction between a faculty member and a staff member. It is an important distinction.

Faculty member: a full-time or adjunct professor at Westminster College. The main and only job they do for the college is teaching.

Staff member: an employee of the college who may or may not teach, but their main job is working in a department on campus doing other work than teaching. Staff members include the employees who work in different offices on campus including the Counseling Center, the Environmental Center, and so on.

The only required attribution for faculty and staff is their title/position. You can look their titles up by typing an employee’s name into the search bar of the campus directory on Westminster’s website.

For faculty, do not write “professor of psychology” or “professor of English” instead say “psychology professor” or “English professor.” Do not use “Dr.”

Han Kim, public health professor, was a member of the maternal health issues panel (If the title is written after the name it should be lowercase).

Director of Student Involvement and Leadership Trisha Teig said ASW is moving forward (If a title is written before the name it must be capitalized).

Fall semester

When referring to a specific semester, capitalize the “F” in Fall. Capitalize “semester” when used with the season: Fall Semester.

When referring to a general time of year, not a specific semester, do not capitalize: fall semester.

This Fall Semester, we will welcome the class of 2021.

Each year during fall semester, we hold an annual back-to-school picnic.

Freshman

Westminster College no longer uses the term freshman because it is not gender neutral. Replace freshman with first-year in all instances

Foreign Languages

Use italics for words in a foreign language that readers are unlikely to be familiar with, but if they are used frequently in a document, use italics only for the first instance. For words that form a sentence or more, use quotation marks and roman, not italics.

GPA

Stands for Grade Point Average. No periods. May use GPA on first reference.

Gender

The gender of a subject should only be used if absolutely relevant to the story.

Do not use boy or girl. Our students are men and women.

If someone uses boy or girl in a quote, quote it accurately. But if there is an alternative quote that doesn’t use that language, choose that.

Grades (Letter grades)

Letters used to denote grades are usually capitalized and set in roman type. No apostrophe is required in the plural. Ex: She finished with three As, one B, and two Cs.

Griffin, Griffins

Always capitalized.

Both men’s and women’s teams are Griffins. We do not use “Lady” or any other gender-specific reference.

Headings

All words, except articles like “the” and “a”, are capitalized. Do not confuse with headlines. See below.

Headlines

Only the first word and proper nouns are capitalized. Follow story style in spelling, but use numerals for all numbers and single quotes for quotation marks.

Hyphens

Section 7.81 of the Chicago Manual of Style states:

Far and away the most common spelling questions for writers and editors concern compound terms—whether to spell as two words, hyphenate, or close up as a single word. Prefixes (and occasionally suffixes) can be troublesome also. The first place to look for answers is the dictionary…

If you cannot find what you need in the dictionary, reference the CMS hyphenation table as a resource for “examples of common compound terms not necessarily found in the dictionary and for treatment of compounds according to their grammatical function.”

Locations

Common locations on campus often used for events, performances, etc. See section B for more on building names.

  • Bill and Vieve Gore School of Business Auditorium
  • Vieve Gore Concert Hall in the Emma Eccles Jones Conservatory
  • Dumke Student Theatre in the Emma Eccles Jones Conservatory
  • Jay W. Lees Courage Theatre in the Jewett Center for the Performing Arts
  • Behnken Field House in the Dolores Doré Eccles Health, Wellness, and Athletic Center
  • Richer Commons
  • Meldrum Science Center

Majors and class ranks

Not capitalized

The only majors that need to be capitalized are departments named after a language/country like English and Spanish.

You also do not need to capitalize class rank. You can designate class rank from one of the following:

  • first-year student (NOT freshmen/freshman)
  • sophomore
  • junior
  • senior (if they are a “super” senior, still just call them a senior)

Use after a quote

“The pizza is my favorite,” said John Doe, junior communication major.
Months

Chicago Manual of Style prefers that months and dates be spelled out in written text. Where space restrictions require that the names of months or days be abbreviated, use the following:

  • Jan.
  • Feb.
  • Mar.
  • Apr.
  • May
  • June
  • July
  • Aug.
  • Sept.
  • Oct.
  • Nov.
  • Dec.

(See section D for rules on dates)

Numbers

We follow the simple rule of spelling out only single-digit numbers and using numerals for all others. However, where many numbers occur within a paragraph or a series of paragraphs, we use all digits for ease of reading.

Centuries

Numbers for particular centuries are always spelled out and lowercased.

Ex: twenty-first century

but

the 1800s (the nineteenth century)

On campus, on-campus

Hyphenate on-campus when the words are modifying another word.

For example, an on-campus event. You use the hyphen because the two words are working together to describe and modify the noun “event.”

Do not hyphenate on campus if you are just saying something happened on campus.

There was an event on campus.

Percent (%)

Chicago Manual of Style states
Except at the beginning of a sentence, percentages are usually expressed in numerals. In nontechnical contexts, the word percent is generally used; in scientific and statistical copy, the symbol % is more common.

Examples:

  • Fewer than 3 percent of the employees used public transportation.
  • With 90–95 percent of the work complete, we can relax.
  • A 75 percent likelihood of winning is worth the effort.
  • Her five-year certificate of deposit carries an interest rate of 5.9 percent.
  • Only 20% of the ants were observed to react to the stimulus.
  • The treatment resulted in a 20%–25% increase in reports of night blindness.

Note that percent, an adverb, is not interchangeable with the noun percentage ("1 percent is a very small percentage"). Note also that no space appears between the numeral and the symbol %.

Example:

Thirty-nine percent identified the “big bang” as the origin of the universe; 48 percent said they believed in human evolution.

Spell out the word percent in all instances except in the case of web content and design purposes.

(See also "Symbols")

PhD

Do not use periods: PhD.

Phone numbers

Rather than a dash, we use a period to separate sections of phone numbers and include our area code in all documents, as in 801.832.2684, etc. [For material intended for foreign distribution, we must not use our toll-free number, which will not work outside of the US.]

Presidents of Westminster College
  • John S. Earon 1895–1902 (Sheldon-Jackson College)
  • Rev. George Bailey 1902–1906
  • Rev. Robert M. Stevenson 1906–1912
  • Rev. Herbert Ware Reherd 1913–1939
  • Rev. Robert Denom Steele 1939–1952
  • Burton C. J. Wheatlake 1952–1953
  • Rev. J. Richard Palmer 1953–1956
  • Frank E. Duddy 1956–1963
  • W. Fredrick Arbogast 1963–1968
  • Manford A. Shaw 1968–1976
  • Helmut Hofmann 1976–1979
  • C. David Cornell 1979–1982
  • James E. Petersen 1982–1985
  • Charles H. Dick 1985–1995
  • Peggy A. Stock 1995–2002
  • Michael S. Bassis 2002–2011
  • Brian Levin-Stankevich 2011–2015
  • Stephen R. Morgan 2015–present

Roommate

One word.

ROTC

Stands for Reserve Officers’ Training Corps. You can use ROTC on first reference.

Residence Halls

Capitalized. Residence, not resident.

Resident Adviser

Capitalized. Resident, not residence. RA can be used on second reference.

Senate

Use “ASW Senate” upon first reference UNLESS you’re writing an ASW specific story, then just use Senate on first reference.

Senator

You must refer to senators by the school they are representing. You cannot just write “Senator Tyson O’Ryan.” You must say “Arts and Sciences Senator Tyson O’Ryan.”

Spaces

Use a single space, not two spaces, between sentences and after colons used within a sentence.

Spring semester

When referring to a specific semester, capitalize the “S” in Spring. Capitalize “semester” when used with the season: Spring Semester.

When referring to a general time of year, not a specific semester, do not capitalize: spring semester.

Spring Semester 2018.

Each year during spring semester, we celebrate MLK day.

Student Attribution

Always introduce and attribute students by their major and/or class rank. You don’t have to use both, but you must use one. Ages are not needed.

If they are not a student of Westminster College you must make that distinction.

Sugar House

Two words, both capitalized. Not “Sugarhouse” or “SugarHouse.”

Symbols
Ampersand (&)

CMS rule:

Don’t use the symbol to substitute the word “and” except when you abbreviate company names and notes.

Abbreviations and ampersands are appropriate in notes, bibliographies, tabular matter, and the like.

Percent (%)

Chicago Manual of Style states:

Except at the beginning of a sentence, percentages are usually expressed in numerals. In nontechnical contexts, the word Lpercent is generally used; in scientific and statistical copy, the symbol % is more common.

Examples:;es,

  • Fewer than 3 percent of the employees used public transportation.
  • With 90–95 percent of the work complete, we can relax.
  • A 75 percent likelihood of winning is worth the effort.
  • Her five-year certificate of deposit carries an interest rate of 5.9 percent.
  • Only 20% of the ants were observed to react to the stimulus.
  • The treatment resulted in a 20%–25% increase in reports of night blindness.

Note that percent, an adverb, is not interchangeable with the noun percentage ("1 percent is a very small percentage"). Note also that no space appears between the numeral and the symbol %.

Example:

Thirty-nine percent identified the “big bang” as the origin of the universe; 48 percent said they believed in human evolution.

Spell out the word percent in all instances except in the case of web content and design purposes.

(See also "Percent")

team

Use “their” instead of “its”

theater/theatre

We spell theatre with “re” in all instances except when we are writing about a named theatre that uses “er,” such as the Eugene O’Neill or the Apollo Theaters in New York. See “Building Names.”

Theatre Department

Westminster’s Theatre Department. In all references to Westminster’s Theatre Department, spell it “theatre.”

theatre major
Time

Numerals are used (with zeros for even hours) when exact times are emphasized. When describing time of day we follow CMS and use “noon” and “midnight,” rather than using numbers and am or pm. Use SMALL CAPS for ams and pms, and don’t use periods, as in “Our staff meeting will be held at 9:00 AM and the inauguration will be held at 7:30 PM.”

The :00 should only be used when the timeframe includes both am and pm times.

9:00 AM–3:00 PM or 9–11:00 AM

NOT

9:00 AM–11:00 AM

Always use an en dash (–) not a hyphen (-) to show a timeframe. Ex: 9–11:00 AM

NOT

9-11:00 AM

Websites

Do not use “www.” before a website name. Ex: westminstercollege.edu NOT www.westminstercollege.edu

Zip code

In any of our material, check to ensure that there are no four-digit extensions on our zip code 84105 UNLESS you are proofing a pre-printed business reply card (extension 9908) or business reply envelope (extension 9977), both of which are mailing pieces that our intended audience will mail back to us. The four-digit extension to our zip code helps the post office determine who will pay for the return postage (we will). If people try to mail something to us on their own stationery and use any four-digit extension, the piece will go straight to the dead letter office.