Condensed Style Gude

Most Common Style Questions


Preferred Spelling

  • adviser
  • AM (small caps, more formal usage); or, a.m.
  • co: coauthor; cocurricular;  cowriter; codirector; coedit; but co-chair
  • course work
  • e-mail
  • Internet
  • non: nonacademic; noncertified; nondegree; nonfiction; nonmajor; nonprofit
  • PM (small caps, more formal usage); or p.m.
  • pre: preadmission; premed; prelaw (no hyphen with most pre words)
  • Web; the Web; World Wide Web
  • website
  • U.S.



Preferred Capitalization


  • Seasons: spring, fall, winter, summer
  • Professional titles when they follow a name: Betsy Jones, dean of students, but Dean of Students Betsy Jones
  • Offices and departments when they are not the full name: biology department, but Department of Biology
  • Majors, unless a proper noun: biology; economics; physics; French; American and English literatures
  • Shortened names: museum or art museum, but Middlebury College Museum of Art



Abbreviations-Academic Degrees

Academic degrees are abbreviated without periods, as are many other abbreviations.



Do not place a colon in the middle of a sentence, between the verb and object or between a preposition and object.

Wrong: You will need: your best attitude and a good night’s sleep.
You will need your best attitude and a good night’s sleep.
Wrong: We will be traveling to: New York, Idaho, and Rhode Island.
We will be traveling to New York, Idaho, and Rhode Island.


Degrees and Class Years


  • John Major ’90 and Lucille Johnson ’91
  • Susan Marshall Johnston ’95 and James Johnston
  • Betty Smith, MA French ’90
  • Betty Smith ’90, MS (MIIS) ’10
  • Jeremiah Long P’80, ’90, GP’07

Note: The apostrophe should face to the left.


Degrees Granted by Middlebury College



  • BA—Bachelor of Arts (also, AB—artium baccalaureus)
  • MA—Master of Arts
  • MBA—Master of Business Administration (MIIS)
  • MLitt—Master of Letters
  • MPA—Master of Public Administration (MIIS)
  • MS—Master of Science
  • DML—Doctor of Modern Languages


Honorary Degrees

  • LHD—Doctor of Humane Letters (Hon LHD)
  • DArt—Doctor of Art (Hon DArt)
  • DLitt—Doctor of Letters (Hon DLitt)


Headline Rules


The first and last word, no matter what part of speech they are.

Both elements of hyphenated words, but only first element of word hyphenated with a prefix (see full style guide for exceptions)


Articles (a, an, the)
Coordinating conjunctions (and, but, or, for, nor)
All prepositions (through, on, in, to,)
The to in infinitives.
Part of proper names that would normally be lowercased, i.e., “von” or “de”


Numbers, Decades, Time


Spell out numbers one to nine in text.
Use numerals for 10 and higher.
Thousands take a comma: 2,450 not 2450.
Large, round, even numbers used as approximations are spelled out: The history spans some four thousand years of Western civilization.


1980s, 1960s; ’60s, ’80s; eighties, sixties
The apostrophe should face to the left.

Time of Day

Use numerals with AMand PM, and words with o’clock:

5 AM; five o’clock

Use small caps, or lowercased letters with periods:

a.m.; p.m.

Always use “noon” and “midnight” instead of 12:00 a.m. or 12:00 p.m. There is no such thing as 12:00 a.m. or 12:00 p.m. because a.m. begins immediately after midnight and p.m. begins immediately after noon.

Telephone numbers
Use dots 802.443.2100



Add ’s to create the possessive, even for singular names ending in an s, x, z

Jones’s art, Xerox’s bill, Bill Buzz’s restaurant; Joneses’ house (plural)



Place one space between initials in a name. (T. H. Smith)

Exception: no spaces between the initials of C.V. Starr-Middlebury School Abroad

Do not insert spaces or periods in initials that serve as proper names, such as LBJ, JFK.

Always single space between sentences. (Using double spaces is a holdover from the days of typewriters.)




Do not use superscripts. They tend to make the spacing between lines uneven and cause problems with editing.




Web addresses should be kept on one line whenever possible. If it is necessary to break a web address, do so before a form of punctuation, (i.e., hyphen or period) or after a slash. Do not add a hyphen at the end of the line.

If an Internet or e-mail address falls at the end of a sentence, conclude with a period or other end punctuation. This will not confuse most readers.

When a link must be active, make sure that the hyperlink destination does not include the final period, which can result in a broken link.