The Rules for Text


Sources: The Associated Press Stylebook and The Chicago Manual of Style. Also consulted: style guides of United Press International, Modern Language Association, and the Presbyterian Church USA, Merriam Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, Webster’s Third International Dictionary. In the majority of cases, the sources are in agreement on specific issues of style. When there has been disagreement, preference has generally been given to the AP guide, as it monitors changes in the use of the language more quickly than Chicago. In a few instances, most notably the proper treatment of titles of works (book, film, article, etc.), Chicago has provided a more useful interpretation. Finally, Lafayette tradition has guided style in some cases. Please refer to The Associated Press Stylebook for answers to style questions that are not addressed in this manual.

This guide considers stylistic questions unique to the academic setting, as well as those that seem to be particular quandaries for Lafayette webpages and publications. Consequently, considerable space has been devoted to capitalization, the correct use of commas and hyphens, constructions using prefixes, and the correct use of the relative pronouns that and which. While each of these concerns may seem insignificant, when presenting an image that accurately represents the quality of Lafayette College, its faculty, and staff, a consistent style and coherent message matter.

The guide is divided into four sections. The first deals with matters specific to Lafayette, as well as general grammar questions. The second considers punctuation, including proper typography for titles of books, music, films, etc. The third addresses more general usage questions, including race and gender, common spelling and word choice problems, and a list of proper designations for college buildings

Grammar and Specific Lafayette Usage

A1. Academic Degrees

a1.1. When referring to degrees awarded by Lafayette, use A.B. rather than B.A. for Bachelor of Arts degree and B.S. for Bachelor of Science.  Plural forms: A.B.’s, B.S.’s. Note that periods are omitted when three or more consecutive capital letters exist in the degree title—a master’s degree in business administration would be abbreviated MBA. When degrees are written out, do so in the following manner:

bachelor’s degree

bachelor’s in anthropology

master’s degree

master’s in engineering

doctorate in physical education

a.1.2. Do not follow names with degree abbreviations, e.g., Phil Keaggy, Ph.D. Instead, state the degree and field within the sentence.

     Phil Keaggy, who holds a Ph.D. in music.

A2. Capitalization

a2.1. Academic departments and programs. Changed in July 2012: Capitalize when the name of the discipline or program is used with department or program, regardless of format. Do not capitalize department or program when used alone.

Department of Mathematics

History Department

Asian studies

the department

Majors and minors are not capitalized in text, except in the case of proper nouns. The m in major is not capitalized.

psychology major

history minor

French major

Jewish studies minor

a2.2. Course titles. Capitalize according to general capitalization rules.

Integrated Circuit Processing

Calculus II

Italian Renaissance Art

Also always capitalized:

First-Year Seminar

Values and Science/Technology Seminar

Technology Clinic

The title of a First-Year Seminar or Values and Science/Technology Seminar is enclosed in quotation marks.

In the First-Year Seminar “Mathematics and Society,” Heather Jones is studying the important role that knowledge of numbers plays in society.

a2.3. Academic professional titles. Capitalize when used directly before a name; elsewhere, do not capitalize. (See also Titles.)

Professor Elmer Frothingslosh

Elmer Frothingslosh, professor of deconstructive fashion design

Dean of Student Affairs Arnold Becker

Arnold Becker, dean of student affairs

Exception: When a professorship has an endowed title, it is always capitalized.

Bernard Fried, Gideon R. Jr. and Alice Kreider Professor of Biology

a2.4. Offices, committees, and boards. Changed in July 2012: When office or committee is the first term used in the name, it is capitalized when used in full. Office or committee used outside that context is not capitalized.

the Committee on Student Life

The committee’s decision is final.

the Office of Development and College Relations

Boards are not capitalized, with the exception of Lafayette College’s Board of Trustees.

The Board of Trustees suggested renovations commence on Skillman Library.

Adam West joined the board of trustees of Paramount Pictures.

The company is looking for a new board of governors.

a2.5. The College. When referring to Lafayette College, capitalize College when used apart from Lafayette but not when it refers to college in general.

Students at the College love the Farinon Center.

Banks is having a great college experience at Lafayette.

a2.6. Honorific titles. When used in text without a specific name, all honorifics should be lowercase.(See also Titles.)

The general disagreed violently with the senator, and only the chaplain and Sam Smith, professor emeritus of biology, could prevent them from coming to blows.

a2.7. Scholars. The following titles should have both words capitalized: EXCEL Scholar, Marquis Scholar, McKelvy House Scholar, Trustee Scholarship recipient.

a2.8. Dean’s list. The term dean’s list is lowercase.

Annie made the dean’s list first semester.

a2.9. Class. Capitalize the word class when used with a class year, but use lowercase in general class references.

Annie is a member of the Class of ’14.

Jamie is a member of our class.

Use lowercase for class designations: first-year, sophomore, junior, senior, or graduate.

Ken, a senior this year, plans to attend graduate school.

The sophomore class built a winning parade float.

a2.10. Reunion. Capitalize the word reunion when used alone in reference to Reunion Weekend; general uses use lowercase.

The College has many fun activities planned for Reunion.

The Class of ’60 celebrated their 50th reunion.

a2.11. Special Events and Groups. Capitalize All-College Dinner and 50-Plus-Club; Commons

a2.12. Headlines. Capitalize the first and last words, all nouns, pronouns, adjectives, adverbs, and subordinating conjunctions (if, because, as, that, etc.). Lowercase articles (a, an, the), coordinating conjunctions (and, but, for, or), and prepositions, regardless of length. The to in infinitives is also lowercase.

A3. Possessives

a3.1. Names.Those names ending in -s require only an apostrophe to denote possession. Names ending in -xor -zrequire -’s.

Jesse Helms’ amendment

Taylor Swift’s video

Richard Rodriguez’s essay

a3.2. Plural nouns. For those not ending in-s, add -’s.

women’s rights

alumni’s donations

For plural nouns ending in -s, addonly an apostrophe.

Romanians’ struggle

squirrels’ nest

a3.3. Singular common nouns. For those ending in -s, add -’s.

actress’s role

boss’s tyranny

Exception: When the noun following begins with an s-, add only an apostrophe.

actress’ spark

boss’ signature

a3.4. Acronyms. Add -’s for possessive form.

The RA’s job is to be a leader.

a3.5. Possessive inanimate objects. Avoid constructions that involve making an inanimate object possessive, especially when the object of possession is abstract.

the failure of the business [not The business’s failure]

the rules of chemistry [not chemistry’s rules]

Exception: References to specific nations or corporations can usually take possessive form, because they are considered animate in both legal and literary contexts.

Australia’s beaches

IBM’s headquarters

Exception: Familiar phrases in which the object of possession is concrete and uniquely applicable to the possessor are acceptable.

car’s transmission

department’s budget

Exception: Anthropomorphic uses of life, death, or forces of nature may use possessive forms.

life’s mortal coil

death’s door

the storm’s fury

a3.6. Joint possession. If the object or objects belong to the union of possessors, show possession only for the possessor listed last.

Donald and Ivana’s marriage crumbled.

However, if the object or objects possessed belong to each individual possessor, show possession for all possessors.

Donald’s and Ivana’s claims in The Enquirer were refuted.

a3.7. Its as a possessive takes no apostrophe; it’s as a contraction takes an apostrophe.

The college polledits alumni.

It’s a cruel, cruel summer.

A4. Numbers and Numerals

a4.1. Numbers from zero to nine should be spelled out in any text. Numbers from 10 on up should appear as numerals. The same applies to the ordinal use of those numbers.



a4.2. However, numbers referring to the same category in the same sentence should either be all numerals or all spelled out.

In the past nine years, a 50-story building was constructed between a 3-story house and a 4-story office complex.

a4.3. Numerals are acceptable when used from 0 to 9 or 1st to 9th for the following: political or military designations, ratios, clothing sizes, speeds, and appropriate page, chapter, or scene designations.

1st Ward

3rd Regiment

outnumbered 3–1

Ordinal designation should not be superscripted.

88th [not 88th]

a4.4. Numbers greater than 10 used at the beginning of a sentence should be spelled out.(Avoid these constructions when possible.)

Ninety-six angels danced on the head of a pin.

a4.5. Ages. Use numerals to indicate ages (as per AP style).

The boy is 4 years old.

The 4-year-old boy is playing ball.

Sam Jones, 42, played football when he was in high school.

Avoid constructions in which an age follows a class year in a sentence.

Susan Kelly ‘84, 36, of Homewood, Fla., is now a physician.

a4.6. Telephone numbers. Use hyphens following the area code and the city prefix (changed to AP style in June 2018).


Include the “1” in toll-free numbers.


Use the full word LAFAYETTE for the College’s toll-free number


a4.7. Metric/Standard Measure conversions:

1 km=0.621 mi

1 mi=1.609 km

1 mi=1,760 yards (or 5,280 feet)

1 m=39.370 inches

1 yard=0.914 m

To convert F (Fahrenheit) to C (Celsius): subtract 32, multiply by 5, and divide by 9.

50° F=10° C

90° F=32.2° C

A5. Plurals

a.5.1. Names ending in -ch, –es, -s, -x, and -z take -es as plural.

the Jameses

the Asterixes

a5.2. Single letters require an apostrophe to form their plurals.

Annie got three A’s on her report card.

a5.3. Multiple letters add only an -s to form plurals.

Annie got three INCs on her report card.

The RAs are planning six programs this year.

a5.4. All numerals add only an -s to form plurals.

the 1980s

Boeing 757s

temperatures in the low 40s

A6. Prefixes

a6.1. With the exceptions outlined below, words formed with the addition of a prefix (anti-, bi-, co-, inter-, intra-, multi-, post-, pre-, sub-, ultra-, un-, under-, etc.) do not take a hyphen and are written as one word. Words commonly mispunctuated include biweekly, coauthor, cocurricular, interdepartmental, intracampus, multicultural, preregistration, postgraduate, postmodern, and semiannual. When in doubt, refer to Merriam Webster’s 10th Edition.

a6.2. Separate with a hyphen if the word to which the prefix is appended is capitalized.




a6.3. Separate with a hyphen if necessary to avoid repetition of letters. (See also Hyphens.)



a6.4. The prefix co- takes a hyphen when the word that follows begins with an o.



a6.5. The prefix pro- takes a hyphen when used to denote a position.



A7. Relative Pronouns (who, whom, that, which)

a7.1. Use who and whom in reference to people or animals with names.

the man who set the fire

Waldo, who was adorable

a7.2. Use that and which to refer to inanimate objects or animals without names.

a poker chip, which was a major clue

the mynah bird that bit her

That is acceptable, though not preferred, to refer to an unidentified person. Never, however, use to refer to an identified person.

the doctor that operated on him

A8. Restrictive/Nonrestrictive Clauses

a8.1. Restrictive clause – A clause essential to the meaning of the sentence. It cannot be eliminated without changing the author’s primary message.

The man who set the fire got away.

The highlighted clause is essential; it specifies which man from among a group of all possible men got away. Restrictive clauses are not set off with commas.

a8.2. Nonrestrictive clause – A clause not essential to the basic meaning of the sentence. Its elimination does not change the author’s primary message.

Waldo, who was adorable, met a rather violent end for a mynah bird.

The highlighted clausetells us more about Waldo but is not essential to the point of the sentence: his demise. Nonrestrictive clauses are set off with commas.

a8.3. That. The relative pronoun that should be used only with restrictive clauses and is never set off with commas.

The sawmill that burned down last night belonged to the Martells.

The highlighted clause is restrictive; it specifies the sawmill being discussed.

a8.4. Which. The relative pronoun which should be used only with nonrestrictive clauses and must always be set off with commas.

The sawmill, which was more than 100 years old, burned down last night.

The highlighted clause is nonrestrictive; it merely adds information to the main thought of the sentence.

a8.5. Note the importance of the proper use of commas and pronouns to the meaning of the sentence.

The sawmill that was more than 100 years old burned down last night.

The sentence above tells readers that from among a group of sawmills, the one more than 100 years old burned down last night.

The sawmill, which was more than 100 years old, burned down last night.

The sentence above tells readers the one sawmill known to them burned down last night. That the sawmill was more than 100 years old is not essential to the primary message of the sentence.

a8.6. Exception: Which may be used as a relative pronoun introducing an essential clause in sentences using that as a conjunction to begin another clause—a construction that should be used sparingly.

Truman said that the sawmill which burned down last night was more than 100 years old.

a8.7 Appositives. Apply the rules of appositives (see the “essential phrases” entry in AP Stylebook) to family relationships.

Barry McGuire and his wife, Holly, are traveling abroad.

Barry McGuire and wife Holly are traveling abroad.

Barry McGuire and his son, Billy, are rock stars.[If he has one son]

Barry McGuire and his son Billy are rock stars.[If he has multiple sonsor it is unknown whether he has more than one son]

A9. Subject/Verb Agreement

a9.1. Ensure the subject agrees with the verb in number (singular or plural) and in person (first, second, third). The most common mistake arises with groups/organizations.

The Office of Gateway Career Center sends its [nottheir] counselors to workshops.

When the name of the group/organization is plural, treat it as a plural subject.

The Washington Redskins have [not has] the best players.

a9.2. Problems arise when it is not easy to determine whether the subject is singular or plural.

Six employees are enough to handle the project. [Read as six employees, not as just six.]

Two-thirds of the parts that we will need to complete the installation are sitting in the truck. [The object of the preposition that follows a subject that is a fraction, such as two-thirds, determines the verb. So it is parts are.]

All of the original records were lost, but none of the backup files were affected. [All takes the plural verb were because it refers to an amount. Most grammarians reject the view that none always means “not one.” They say it usually means “not any.” Therefore, use were.]

A10. Times and dates

a10.1. Place the most immediate element first when providing times and dates. Note that a.m. and p.m. are always lowercase.

Laura Palmer left her home at about 9:30 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 23, 1989.

a10.2. Do not use zeroes when referring to an even hour.

3 a.m.

6 p.m.

a10.3. Do not use a day of the week when describing a past event.

Jim read from the minutes of the prior meeting, held Monday, June 10.

a10.4. Abbreviate all months of more than five letters when used with a specific date. Accepted abbreviations: Jan., Feb., Aug., Sept., Oct., Nov., Dec.

John was born Oct. 9.

Summer begins June 21.

Aaron recalled the events of Dec. 7, 1941, during his presentation.

Do not abbreviate months used alone or with a year only.

Steve anticipates a cold January.

Bev believes the world will end December 2012.

a10.5. When writing a date consisting of month, day, and year, place a comma after the day and the year. Do not use a comma to separate month and year only.

Some people believe Dec. 21, 2012, will be the final day.

Will there be a January 2013?

a10.6. Omit the word on when writing the date of an event.

Sam Smith died Nov. 17. [NotSam Smith died on Nov. 17.]

Joe Jones and Carol Smith were married Dec. 2, 2001.

a10.7. Do not use ordinals in dates.

Sept. 11 [not Sept. 11th]

a10.8. Shorten a range of years to eliminate the initial repeated digits.


Exception: If three or more digits will change, the entire number for both years should be written out.

1999–2003 [not 1999–03]

a10.9. Date and time ranges may be signified with either from . . . to or an en dash (–, shorter than an em dash but longer than a hyphen), but do not mix the two forms.

The museum is open from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.

The museum is open 9 a.m.–5:30 p.m.

[Not The museum is open from 9 a.m.–5:30 p.m.]

Bob served in the Army from 1941 to 1945.

Bob served in the Army 1941-45.

[Not Bob served in the Army from 1941-45.]

a10.10. Alumni/ae names used with the year of graduation, follow this style:

Arthur Rothkopf ’55

Do not add a comma between the last name and the last two digits of the graduation year.

When using word processing software that includes “smart” quotation mark styling, the symbol that should precede a contracted class year is an apostrophe (or single closing quote), the tail of which points away from the digits.

’98 [not ‘98]

A11. Titles (academic and others)

a11.1. Avoid constructions that blur the distinction between a title and job description. Precede a job description with the person’s name. (See also Capitalization.)

Sven Krypton, assistant professor of dianetics [not Assistant Professor of Dianetics Sven Krypton]

Thomas Hepplewhite, chair of the forestry department [not Department Chair Thomas Hepplewhite]

a11.2. Use of an abbreviated title is acceptable only when space is limited, such as a headline or department brochure. In such cases, make the abbreviation consistent throughout that particular publication.

James Smith, assistant professor of English [Preferred]

Prof. James Smith [Acceptable, as per the rule]

a11.3. For professors in the anthropology and sociology department, generally use professor of anthropology and sociology, but if the professor requests to use professor of sociology or professor of anthropology, then follow the request. Note that professors in the department of foreign languages and literatures take their titles from the name of that department, not from their language of expertise.

a11.4. In formal communications such as degree citations or faculty awards, it is acceptable to use the honorific Professor with a person who may not have achieved that rank, after the person’s rank is established.

Theodore Baxter, assistant professor of journalism, today receives the Bryant Gumbel Humanitarianism Award. In his youth, Professor Baxter worked at a 5,000-watt radio station in Fresno.

a11.5. The honorific Dr. should be used only on first reference to a medical doctor. Do not use in any reference to an academic who has earned a doctorate.

Exception: In a direct quote, the honorific may be used.

a11.6. Use the honorific the Rev. on first reference to Protestant or Catholic clergy; use surname only in other reference. Use Rabbi on first reference to Jewish clergy, surname thereafter.

The Rev. James E. Bakker counseled Jessica Hahn, just one of Bakker’s dozen.

Henry W. Jones Jr., professor of archaeology, and Rabbi Michael Steinberg will head the panel. This is Steinberg’s third appearance at the seminar.

a11.7. Names of political officeholders should be prefaced on first reference by their titles.

President Barack Obama

Senator Robert Casey

Governor Chris Christie

U.S. Rep. Barney Frank [as differentiated from Minnesota Representative Don Ostrom]

Use surname in other references, although use of title is permitted in direct quotations. (See also Capitalization, Gender.)

a11.8. Military titles should always precede the name, with branch of service following. Titles are usually abbreviated but do not take the all-uppercase usage of the armed services themselves.

Sgt. Vincent Carter, U.S.M.C.

Capt. Alan Shepard, U.S.N.

a11.9. Do not capitalize the title coach and its variants.

The Dallas Cowboys announced the firing of head coach Wade Phillips.

A12. Split Infinitives

The age-old rule against splitting infinitives has been abandoned. Oxford dictionaries say the prohibition on split infinitives can lead to “awkward, stilted sentences.” Some language purists say it is still best to avoid splitting. For example, it is much better to write to jump quickly than to quickly jump. Avoid splitting infinitives—unless doing so creates an awkward construction.

A13. Names

a13.1. The first time a student, faculty, staff, or alumnus/a name is referenced, both the name and class year are put in bold. If the name is mentioned again in the same webpage, standalone document, or class column, use roman text.

Roseanne Rosanneadanna ’76 and her daughter, Anna, enjoyed Reunion Weekend. It was Rosanneadanna’s first time back to College Hill since graduation.

Exception: For class columns, if the class year of alumni/ae falls within the same class year as the column in which they are mentioned, names are bold on first use but no class year should be added. If alumni/ae are from a class other than the class year for the column, the class year of the alumni/ae should be added on first reference. In the case of the Class of 1959 column, if Glenn Smythe graduated in 1959, on first reference he would be Glenn Smythe, with no class year added. If Smythe graduated in 1961, not 1959, his mention in the Class of 1959 column would be as Glenn Smythe ’61.

a13.2. If the relationship of a spouse or parent of an alumnus/a or student is not indicated in the text, do so in conjunction with the name, but not in both ways .

Roger Clow P’14

a13.3. Include the maiden name of married alumnae on first reference. Do not enclose the maiden name in parentheses.

Merilee Wegohalong Jones

a13.4. For alumni who are married to each other, include the class year for both, with the year following an alumna’s maiden name, not the shared last name.

Mickey ’77 and Minnie Vole ’78 Mouse

a13.5 Do not boldface nicknames on first reference or thereafter, but use roman text set off with quotation marks. Nicknames follow the middle name or middle initials, if provided.

Wendell W. “Weedwhacker” Weems ’61

a13.6 Do not boldface titles in a name boldfaced on first reference.

Dr. Wendell W. Weems ’61

President Daniel H. Weiss

A14. Acronymns

Aside from exceptions given in the AP Stylebook, do not use acronyms in place of a name on first reference. Do not use an acronym after the full name of a group/organization if the acronym receives no further mentions in the document. An acronym should follow in parentheses after a group/organization name, not vice versa.

Dr. Walters presented a $5,000 check to Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. [Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia receives one mention only.]

Dr. Walters presented a $5,000 check to Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP). The gift was one of many CHOP received that evening.

A15. The Internet

a15.1. Omit http:// from the beginning of a link to a website or domain. [not]

a15.2 For printed publications only: Do not use text styling on links to websites. Hyperlinks automatically styled and formatted by word processing software should be reverted to roman text and the hyperlink removed.

a15.3. When submitting directions for navigating a website, named links are set off in quotation marks.

Choose “Alumni,” then “Volunteer.”


B1. Colons

b1.1. Use colons at the end of a complete sentence to introduce and connect new information, such as lists, tabulations, and texts. Capitalize what follows the colon only when the word begins another complete sentence.

The plan was simple: The bartender would head up to Canada, while the truck driver would go to Butte.

The recipe called for the following ingredients: eggs, butter, cream, salt, tarragon, and saffron.

Sam set four goals for the year: lose weight, learn a new language, repair the ’62 Jaguar E-Type sitting in his garage, and propose to Jill.

B2. Commas

b2.1. When to use commas:

b2.1a. To separate elements of compound sentences with separate subjects

I feel as if I know her, but sometimes my arms bend back.

b2.1b. To set off a state from a city or a hometown in apposition to a name

Laura Palmer of Twin Peaks, Wash., was found in the river.

Laura Palmer, Twin Peaks, was found in the river.

Agent Cooper flew in from Washington, D.C., with new evidence.

b2.1c. To set off an individual’s age

Laura Palmer, 17, was found in the river.

b2.1d. To set off a nonessential (nonrestrictive) title, honorific, word, phrase, or clause set in apposition to a noun (see also Relative Pronouns)

William Hayward, M.D., had delivered or buried nearly everyone in Twin Peaks.

Dale Cooper, an FBI agent, arrived in Twin Peaks today.

Juicy Fruit, the gum you used to like, will come back in style.

The victim, Laura Palmer, was loved by many. [But The victim Laura Palmer was loved by many, without commas (restrictive), implies victims other than Laura Palmer exist and may also imply that these other victims were not as beloved. The inclusion or exclusion of the commas changes the meaning of the sentence.]

b2.1e. With all numerals greater than 999

Laura left $10,000 in her safety deposit box.

b2.1f. To separate the date from the year and the year from the conclusion of a sentence

The murder of Laura Palmer occurred the night of Feb. 23, 1989, in Twin Peaks.

b2.1g. To separate complementary or antithetical phrases or clauses that refer to a single term one another and from the following word

The boat was heading away from, rather than toward, One-Eyed Jacks.

b2.1h. To set off antithetical phrases or clauses beginning with not

James, not Bobby, was in love with Laura.

b2.2. Commas used in series:

b2.2a. In a series of three or more items, use the serial comma (also known as Harvard comma) to separate each item and to precede the final conjunction.

The suspects included Bobby, Leo, and Dr. Jacoby.

Agent Cooper ordered hotcakes, ham, juice, and coffee for breakfast.

b2.2b. Use commas before the conjunction in a series of lengthy phrases. (A good rule to follow: If individual elements of the series contain prepositional phrases, use commas.)

Agent Cooper could not figure out the rope marks on Laura’s arms, her habitual use of cocaine, or her relationship with Dr. Jacoby.

b2.3. When not to use commas:

b2.3a. Never before a conjunction in a simple sentence or in a compound sentence with an absent second subject

Twin Peaks was reeling from Laura’s murder and the attack on Ronette.

Laura Palmer was homecoming queen and helped Johnny Horne with his autism. [Absent second subject: she]

b2.3b. Never in constructions using not only . . . but also

Agent Cooper’s dream included not only a dwarf who spoke backwards but also a woman who looked just like Laura Palmer.

b2.3c. Never between a month and year

Laura Palmer was murdered in February 1989.

b2.3d. Never between a last name and Jr., II, or III

Harry V. Keefe Jr.

Loudon Wainwright III

B3. Dashes

b3.1. Use em dashes (—, or two hyphens) to set off a phrase in which individual elements are separated by commas.

The major suspects—Leo, Jacoby, Renault, Bobby—were hauled in for a lineup.

b3.2. Use em dashes to mark a sudden shift of thought or an inordinately long pause.

She thought she had it all figured out—but she was 100 percent wrong.

b3.2. Use an en dash (–, shorter than an em dash and longer than a hyphen) to show a range of numerals or to link proper nouns.

Grades 9–12 will receive report cards today.

The seminar runs April 1–3.

Troopers patrolled the U.S.–Mexico border.

Steve transferred from the University of California–Berkeley.

The coffeeshop will be open Monday–Saturday. [Not open from Monday–Saturday]

B4. Hyphens (see also Prefixes)

b4.1. Compound words when used as modifiers require, with a few exceptions, hyphens.

fund-raising effort

decision-making process

Kentucky-bred horses

three-credit-hour class

John works a part-time job. [But John works part time.]

Compounds used as nouns, with the exceptions noted below, do not take a hyphen.

When fund raising is successful, decision making need not occur.

Exception: If a compound is used alone after any form of the verb is, it retains the hyphen.

Her primary interest in the field is fund-raising.

b4.2. Do not use a hyphen in a compound modifier beginning with the word very or any adverb ending in -ly.

very green complexion

poorly planned wedding

b4.3. Always use a hyphen (in any situation) in compounds beginning with all-, self-, half-, high- and low-, and ending with -odd.

all-encompassing wisdom

knocked on 20-odd doors

Exception: In compounds beginning with good-, well-, ill-, better-, best-, lesser-, least-, etc., use a hyphen except when preceded by another modifier.

very well known dude

b4.4. Other common hyphenations when used as a modifier:


two-thirds majority


10-foot pole

6-year-old girl


cross-country runner


long-lived group


much-beloved entertainer


ever-loving husband


still-active volcano

Cross-cultural—but multicultural, withno hyphen.

b4.5. Use hyphens to avoid double vowels or triple consonants.







b4.6. Do not hyphenate:

chemical compounds

sodium nitrate

foreign language phrases (unless hyphenated in the original language)

pro bono

Sturm und Drang


geographical terms ending in wide

statewide elections

compounds formed from unhyphenated proper names

Latin American

Scandinavian Lutheran


a mini reunion

b4.7. The following terms are always hyphenated:










grant-in-aid (grants-in-aid)




second-rate, third-rate, etc.










b4.8. A word that was hyphenated when it was first introduced in the language has evolved and is no longer hyphenated: email. (See also Computer Terms.)

b4.9. When referring to someone who has won a prize or award, use a hyphen when the fact is used as a modifier.

Nobel Prize-winning physicist Arno Penzias

Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist Jules Feiffer.

Do not use a hyphen when used as an appositive noun.

Nobel Prize winner Arlo Penzias

Jules Feiffer, Pulitzer Prize winner

Note the position of the hyphen and use of uppercase in this type of phrase:

Pulitzer Prize-winning [notPulitzer-Prize winning or Pulitzer-prizewinning]

b4.10. Do not use a hyphen with dollar amounts before a noun, even if it is an adjective.

$300 million budget

B5. Quotation marks

b5.1. Always use quotation marks with any direct quotation, whether it is a full sentence or a fragment used as part of another sentence.

b5.2. Use quotation marks with words used in an ironic sense.

the “quality“ of the May vintage Boone’s Farm

or with unfamiliar words.

the concept of “semiotics”

In the latter case, use only on first reference. But for words used as words or special terms in a discussion, use italics on first use and roman thereafter.

b5.3. Do not use quotation marks with text excerpts of more than three lines or in a question-and-answer format.

b5.4. Alternate between double quotation marks and single quotation marks when using quotations within quotations.

“Blanche told me, ‘I really like “The Varsouviana Waltz,”‘ and I had to agree,” Stella said.

b5.5. Periods and commas always go inside quotation marks. Colons, semicolons, dashes, question marks and exclamation points go outside unless a part of the direct quotation.

“Are you sure?” he asked. “Yes, but-” she responded.

But note:

Have you heard Lady Gaga’s “Paparazzi”? It’s almost as good as Madonna’s “Like a Prayer”!

B6. Semicolons

b6.1. Use semicolons to join independent clauses when a coordinating conjunction is not present.

Laura is my cousin; she’s filled with secrets.

b6.2. Use semicolons to separate elements of a series when individual segments of the series require commas.

The area was noteworthy for its pines, cedars, and Douglas firs; several species of birds, including ravens, owls, and mynahs; and a roaring waterfall.

B7. Titles (books, films, music, etc.)

b7.1. Titles of the following should be italicized:

Books (The Scarlet Letter, Das Kapital)

Plays (Henry V, The Threepenny Opera)

Films (Gone With the Wind, Wings of Desire)

Periodicals (Scandinavian Studies, Film Comment, The Express-Times)

Collections of poetry (Leaves of Grass, Diving Into the Wreck)

Operas and oratorios (Don Giovanni, Messiah)

Paintings (Starry Night, I Saw the Figure 5 in Gold)

Dance Pieces (Alvin Ailey’s Revelations, Martha Graham’s Primitive Mysteries)

Exhibits (John Kim’s exhibit Machine Dreams)

Statues, drawings, and other works of art (The Thinker, The Gates of Hell)

Television and radio shows (PBS’s Sesame Street, The Howard Stern Show)

Ships, Boats

b7.2. Titles of the following should be in quotation marks:

Short stories (“Big Two-Hearted River,” “Victory Over Japan”)

Essays/addresses (“When We Dead Awaken,” “The American Scholar”)

Periodical articles (“Ford to City: Drop Dead”)

Individual poems (“Song of Myself,” “The Red Wheelbarrow”)

Songs/short musical compositions (“Don’t Give Up,” “Clair de Lune”)

Episodes of television and radio shows (“Death on the Hill,” an episode of Hill Street Blues)

b7.3. Musical compositions with a title made up of a form and a key are not italicized; rather, the form and key are capitalized without quotation marks.

Symphony no. 3 in C Major

Sonata in E-flat Minor

Williams Center for the Arts season brochure uses No., rather than no., in symphony titles.

In musical texts, minor keys are all lowercase, major keys are uppercase, and the words major and minor are omitted.

Sonata in E-flat

b7.4. Descriptive titles for well-known musical compositions are italicized if the works are long

Dvorak’s New World Symphony

Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition

and placed in quotation marks if the works are short.

Bach’s Prelude and Fugue in E-flat (“St. Anne”)

“Jesu Joy of Man’s Desiring”

In a publication in which many titles of musical compositions are mentioned, all may be italicized regardless of length, but do so consistently throughout.

B8. Apostrophes

b8.1. Pards–no apostrophe needed before the “P”

General Usage

C1. Racial Designations

c1.1. No general usage guide allows for capitalization of skin color when used in reference to race, except in the name of an organization. Use African American (no hyphen) when possible and appropriate.

c1.2. Use Asian, not Oriental.

c1.3. Use Native American, not American Indian.

c1.4. Latino and Hispanic American both refer to a person of Latin American descent living in the United States, particularly of Cuban, Mexican, or Puerto Rican origin. Latino is preferred for use as a collective noun or adjective form. Use regional designations and nationalities, such as Latin American, Peruvian, Bolivian, Mexican, Cuban, Puerto Rican, and Columbian, when they are more accurate and specific than a general designation might be. Consult persons you are writing about concerning their preference for a specific designation.

C2. Gay/Lesbian

Always use lowercase for gay or lesbian, unless used in the name of an organization.

C3. Sexist Use of Language

c3.1 The use of the pronoun he in reference to a nonspecific class of people is not acceptable. The easiest way to correct this is to use a plural construction.

Doctors do the best they can to heal others. [Not A doctor does the best he can to heal others.]

When that is impossible, either use one, or he or she and his or her (or vice versa). Do not use he/she or s/he. Only use he (or she) if referring to a specific person.

Dr. Marcus Welby will do all he can to save the patient and brew a fine cup of decaf coffee.

c3.2 Use first-year student rather than freshman whenever possible. Exceptions may be made when referring to classes before 1970, when Lafayette became a coeducational institution. Do not use the dated and demeaning frosh.

C4. Individuals’ First or Last Names in Text

c4.1. In general, use a person’s full name on first reference, last name thereafter. However, when two people with the same last name are mentioned in the same article (for instance, husband and wife or two brothers), use first names on second references. When writing about children (through age 12) use first name on second reference. If the person is middle-school or high-school age, then the use of first or last name on second reference needs to be determined by the context of the article.

c4.2. -Be consistent with a person’s name, particularly a professor. If the person does not have a preference, use the informal form.

Art Kney [instead of Arthur Kney]

Exception: Use Donald L. Miller for the Lafayette history professor to distinguish him from the well-known Blue Like Jazz author, Donald Miller. (Although the Lafayette professor sometimes refers to himself as Don Miller, do not use this because web searches for “Don Miller” will more likely return results for the Blue Like Jazz Donald Miller.)

C5. Abbreviations

c5.1. Addresses (street and road, etc.). Follow AP Style. Use Ave., Blvd., and St. only with a numbered address; spell out and capitalize when part of a formal street name.

1600 Pennsylvania Ave.

Lowercase and spell out when used alone or with more than one street name.

Dan’s house is on Pennsylvania Avenue.

Massachusetts and Pennsylvania avenues

Always spell out similar words (alley, drive, road, terrace, etc.). Always use numerals for a street number. Spell out and capitalize First through Ninth when used as street names; use ordinal numbers for 10th and above. Do not superscript ordinals.

7 Fifth Ave.

100 21st St.

c5.2 States. Spell out state names unless they are used with a city. In that case, use traditional abbreviations (see chart below). Postal abbreviations (two letters, all caps) are used only with complete addresses.

Alabama – Ala. Connecticut – Conn. Illinois – Ill.
Alaska Delaware – Del. Indiana – Ind.
Arizona – Ariz. Florida – Fla. Iowa
Arkansas – Ark. Georgia – Ga. Kansas – Kan.
California – Calif. Hawaii Kentucky – Ky.
Colorado – Colo. Idaho Louisiana – La.
Maine New Jersey – N.J. South Dakota – S.D.
Maryland – Md. New Mexico – N.M. Tennessee – Tenn.
Massachusetts – Mass. New York – N.Y. Texas
Michigan – Mich. North Carolina – N.C. Utah
Minnesota – Minn. North Dakota – N.D. Vermont – Vt.
Mississippi – Miss. Ohio Virginia – Va.
Missouri – Mo. Oklahoma – Okla. Washington – Wash.
Montana – Mont. Oregon – Ore. West Virginia – W.Va.
Nebraska – Neb. Pennsylvania – Pa. Wisconsin – Wis.
Nevada – Nev. Rhode Island – R.I. Wyoming – Wyo.
New Hampshire – N.H. South Carolina – S.C.

Apart from addresses, it is not necessary to add a state abbreviation behind a large, well-known city. The rule of thumb is to consider a city sufficiently large if it contains a major league (NFL, MLB, NBA, or NHL) sports team. Smaller cities and towns that border the College may also omit the state abbreviation.

Nancy moved to Denver. [Colo. assumed]

Nancy moved to Denver, N.C.

Nancy moved back to Easton temporarily while she looks for a home in Phillipsburg.

c5.3. Countries. With the exception of the United States of America, do not abbreviate the names of countries.

U.S. [but USA, no periods]

C6. Computing terms

c6.1. email – No hyphen

c6.2. home page – Two words

c6.3. Internet – Capital I

c6.4. logon, log on – Though not in Webster’s, logon is used as a noun or modifier; log on is a verb.

c6.5. online – Italicize online publications as you would print publications. But use roman for online services.

c6.6. website – This has evolved from Web site to web site to website. AP made the switch to website in 2010. Consistent with this, though departing from AP, use webpage (not Web page).

C7. Endowed Professorships and Chairs

(can be shortened in text)

Eugene H. Clapp II ’36 Chair in the Humanities

Charles A. Dana Professorships

Walter E. Hanson/Peat Marwick Mitchell Professorship of Business & Finance

James Renwick Hogg ’05 Chair of Mental & Moral Philosophy

Fred Morgan Kirby Chair of Civil Rights

Gideon R., Jr. & Alice L. Kreider Professorship of Biology

John D. & Frances H. Larkin Professorship of Chemistry

John Henry MacCracken Professorship of History

Helen H.P. Manson Chair in Bible

Francis A. March Professorship

John Markle Chair in Mining Engineering

Marshall R. Metzgar Professorship

David M. ’70 and Linda Roth Professorship

William E. Simon Chair of Political Economy

Frank Lee ’28 & Edna M. Smith Chair

William C. ’67 and Pamela H. Rappolt Professorship in Neuroscience

Authur J. ’55 and Barbara S. Rothkopf Professor of Art History

Edwin Oliver Williams Professor of Languages

These are the official names of the chairs. The title changes slightly depending on which professor has been given the designation.

Ed Kerns, Eugene H. Clapp II ’36 Professor of Art.

See the current catalog, provost website, or verify with the provost’s office.

C8. College Buildings

The following are the full names of campus buildings and special rooms. Always use the full name unless otherwise noted.[DE7]

Acopian Engineering Center

Allan P. Kirby Sports Center (may use Kirby Sports Center)

Alumni Center (see Robert E. ’32 and Hazel E. Pfenning Alumni Center under Pfenning)

Arts Houses

Bailey Health Center (first reference); health center acceptable thereafter

Bergethon Room (in Marquis Hall)

Bourger Plaza (outside Pfenning Alumni Center)

Bourger Varsity Football House

Buck Racquetball and Squash Courts

Cherry Room (110 Pfenning Alumni Center)

College Store

Colton Chapel

Conway House

Dana Hall of Engineering (first reference); Dana Hall acceptable thereafter (as of 2002 transformed into Acopian Engineering Center)

David A. Portlock Black Cultural Center (may use Portlock Black Cultural Center or Black Cultural Center)

Easton Hall

Evans Room (109 Pfenning)

Farber Hall

Farinon College Center (may use Farinon Center)

Feather House

Fisher Hall East

Fisher Hall West

P T Farinon House (space between P and T, but no periods)

Fisher Field at Fisher Stadium (use Fisher Stadium)

Fretz House

Gagnon Lecture Hall (Hugel 100)

Gates Hall

Hamilton House

Hillel House

Hilton Rahn ’51 Field at Class of ’78 Stadium (use Kamine Stadium)

Hogg Hall

Hugel Science Center

Jaqua Auditorium (Hugel 103)

Jesser Hall (west wing of South College)

Johnson Room (108 Pfenning Alumni Center)

Max Kade Center for German Studies (in Pardee Hall)

Mike Bourger ’44 Field at Oaks Stadium (use Oaks Stadium on second reference)

Kamine Gym (inside of Allan P. Kirby Sports Center)

Kamine Hall

Kamine Pavilion

Kamine Stadium

Keefe Hall

Keefe Common Room (informally: Keefe Commons)

Kirby Hall of Civil Rights (always use full name)

Kirby House (always use full name)

Kirby Sports Center arena (formerly referred to as Kirby Field House, which has been incorporated into new Allan P. Kirby Sports Center)

Kunkel Hall

Landis Atrium (in Farinon College Center)

Limburg Theater (in Farinon College Center)

Markle Hall

Marlo Room (2nd floor of Farinon College Center)

Marquis Hall

McKeen Hall

McKelvy House

Metzgar Fields Athletic Complex

Mike Bourger ’44 Field at Oaks Stadium

Morel Field House

Morris R. Williams Center for the Arts (may use Williams Center for the Arts; use Williams Center on second reference)

Oechsle Hall

Olin Hall of Science (incorporated into Hugel Science Center, do not refer to Olin Hall unless using historically)

Ord Memorial Steam Plant (first reference; steam plant acceptable thereafter)

Pardee Auditorium

Pardee Hall

Pesky Family Chapel and Multipurpose Room (2002 addition to Hillel House; may use Pesky Family Chapel)

Plant Operations

Richard A. and Rissa W. Grossman Gallery (in Williams Visual Arts Building;.may use Grossman Gallery; exhibit space outside the Grossman Gallery is informally referred to as “hallway gallery”)

Robert E. ’32 and Hazel E. Pfenning Alumni Center (may use Pfenning Alumni Center)

President’s House

Printmaking Studio/Experimental Printmaking Institute

P T Farinon House (space between P and T, but no periods)

Quad (the central open area; technically a quadrangle, but everyone calls it “the Quad”)

Ramer Hall

Rappolt Field

Reeder House

Reeves House

Rubin Hall

Ruef Hall

Ruef Natatorium

Scott Hall

Simon Wing (of Skillman Library)

Skillman Library (first reference; Skillman or “the library” acceptable thereafter)

Société d’Honneur Plaza

Soles Hall

South College-Jesser Hall (may use Jesser Hall)

Leopard Parking Deck

Leopard Tennis Courts

The Spot

Underground Gallery (Dean of Students office, 1 Markle Hall)

Van Wickle Hall

Watson Hall (always use full name)

Watson Courts (always use full name)

William E. Simon Center for Economics and Business Administration (may use Simon Center)

Williams Center for the Arts (formally Morris R. Williams Center for the Arts, but may use Williams Center for the Arts; use Williams Center on second reference)

Williams Visual Arts Building (always use full name to ensure distinction from Williams Center for the Arts)

Wilson Room (102 Pfenning Alumni Center)

C9. Correct Spelling/Usage: Compound Nouns with Differing Verb Forms

backup (noun & modifier); back up (verb)

blastoff, liftoff (noun); blast off, lift off (verb)

break-in (noun); break in (verb)

breakup (noun); break up (verb)

cleanup (noun & modifier); clean up (verb)

crackup (noun & modifier); crack up (verb)

crossover (noun & modifier); cross over (verb)

cutoff (noun & modifier); cut off (verb)

dropout (noun & modifier); drop out (verb)

flare-up (noun); flare up (verb)

follow-up (noun & modifier); follow up (verb)

frameup (noun); frame up (verb)

mix-up (noun); mix up (verb)

mop-up (noun & modifier); mop-up (verb)

pileup (noun); pile up (verb)

pullback, pullout (noun & modifier); pull back, pull out (verb)

push-up (noun & modifier); push up (verb)

ripoff (noun & modifier); rip off (verb)

roundup (noun); round up (verb)

send-off (noun & modifier); send off (verb)

set-up (noun & modifier); set up (verb)

shake-up (noun & modifier); shake up (verb)

shutdown, shutoff (noun & modifier); shut down, shut off (verb)

shutout (noun & modifier); shut out (verb)

sit-in (noun); sit in (verb)

smashup (noun & modifier); smash up (verb)

speedup (noun); speed up (verb)

stand-in (noun & modifier); stand in (verb)

standout (noun & modifier); stand out (verb)

standoff (noun); stand off (verb)

takeout (noun & modifier); take out (verb)

takeover (noun & modifier); take over (verb)

takeup (noun & modifier); take up (verb)

tie-in (noun); tie in (verb)

tie-up (noun); tie up (verb)

trade-in (noun & modifier); trade in (verb)

tradeoff (noun); trade off (verb)

tuneup (noun); tune up (verb)

walkout (noun & modifier); walk out (verb)

C10. Commonly Confused Words

c10.1. a, an

Use a before words beginning with consonant sounds, including those spelled with an initial, pronounced h and those spelled with vowels that are sounded as consonant.

a historian

a one-o’clock class

a university

Use an before words that begin with vowel sounds, including those spelled with an initial, silent h.

an apple

an L

an honor

When an abbreviation or acronym follows an article, its use depends on how the abbreviation is to be read.

She was once an HEW undersecretary.[HEW is to be read as three letters, not as a word or as Health, Education, and Welfare.]

Many Americans opposed a SALT treaty. [SALT is to be read as one word, salt, not as separate letters.]

Other examples:

a Ph.D.

a B.A. degree

a master’s degree

an MBA

c10.2. affect, effect

Affect is most often used as a verb, meaning “to produce an effect upon”; effect is most often used as a noun, meaning “the result of an action.”

The magician worked to perfect his vanishing tiger effect, knowing it would profoundly affect potential audiences.

c10.3. anytime, any time

Think of anytime as a contraction of “at any time.” If the three-word version makes sense in a sentence, use anytime. If it doesn’t, use any time.

Start the project anytime.

I won’t be able to give you any time this week.

c10.4. avert, avoid, evade

Avert means “to turn away from” and usually implies either urgency or a physical act (as in averting one’s eyes). Avoid means “to keep away from” and is usually the verb to use. Evade means “to dodge” and again implies a physical act.

Disaster at a nuclear power plant could be averted only by getting the graphite rods to work just before meltdown.

Disaster at a nuclear power plant could be evaded only by running to your car and driving away as fast as possible.

You could avoid a nuclear power plant disaster with the graphite rods, but you could also avoid it simply by following safety rules. [You wouldn’t avoid disaster by driving away, although you would avoid injury.]

c10.5. cite, sight, site

Cite is a verb, meaning “to quote.” Sight is a noun referring to the power of seeing. Site is a noun referring to a specific location. One could use the sense of sight to read a Walt Whitman poem and then cite a particular line from the poem at the site where Whitman wrote it.

c10.6. compose, comprise

Compose means “to create or put together”

Barry Manilow composes beautiful songs.

or “to make up.”

The Patriot League is composed of seven colleges.

Comprise means “to include or contain.”

The Patriot League comprises seven colleges

Use comprise only in active voice with an object. Note that the passive voice use of compose and the active voice use of comprise are equivalents.

c10.7. discreet, discrete

Discreet means “prudent or discerning.” Discrete means “separate and distinct.” One might be discreet about publicizing details about one’s private life, or one might choose discrete elements of that life to fill The Enquirer.

c10.8. disk, disc

Use disk to refer to a computer disk or hard disk, disc for a compact disc (CD).

c10.9. fewer, less

Use fewer when referring to individual items; use less when referring to physical quantity or volume.

Cookie Monster left fewer than a dozen Oreos in the bag, and it took him less than five minutes to eat the rest.

c10.10. like, such as

When giving an example of something, use such as to indicate that the example is a representative of the thing mentioned, and use like to compare the example to the thing mentioned.

Steve has recordings of many great saxophonists such as Ben Webster, Coleman Hawkins, and Lee Konitz.

Steve wants to be a great jazz saxophonist like Ben Webster, Coleman Hawkins, and Lee Konitz.

Most writers prefer to keep such and as together.

Steve admires saxophonists such as… [rather than Steve admires such saxophonists as…]

c10.11. media (sing.), media (plural)

Media is a collective singular when used to mean “the industry of mass communication” (once the press only, but now includes radio and television as well).

The media has been invited to the space shuttle launch.

Media is plural when referring to artistic techniques or means of expression.

Various media are on display at the Williams Center oil and watercolor exhibition.

c10.12. more than, over

Use more than with numbers; use over in spatial relationships.

The fighter jet was traveling more than 1200 mph as it passed over Exeter.

Exception: Over is acceptable when used in reference to age.

It was hard to believe he was over 29 years old.

c10.13. premier, premiere

Premier as a noun means “ruler or prime minister.” As an adjective, it means “first in position or rank.” Premiere as a noun means “first performance or exhibition,” as an adjective “outstanding or chief,” and as a verb “to have first performance.”

Lafayette is a premier liberal arts college.

The choir will premiere a commissioned piece tonight.


d1.1 Capitalization – see a2.12.

d1.2 Subhead style. These should be concise, typically one line, without articles unless they are needed for clarity.