Editorial styleguide

If you are sometimes bewildered about such things as whether to capitalize a person’s title, or how to format a list, or when to use hyphens, this manual can help. The Middlebury Editorial Style Guide was developed by the Communications Office to standardize the College’s print and online publications.

What is a style guide?

A style guide is a set of standards to be applied when writing and designing documents. Many organizations develop their own style guides to reflect their specific preferences and practices, to insure that publications remain stylistically consistent as well as clear.


Our primary arbiters for matters of style:

Updated July 2016


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(when referring to a grade, no quotation marks); grades of A or As

a cappella

AB (artium baccalaureus) or BA (Bachelor of Arts)


U.S., USA, D.C., L.A.


e.g., i.e., etc.

a.k.a. (for “also known as”)

AM, PM; or a.m., p.m. (use small caps for a more formal and easier-to-read look)

Periods with abbreviations:

  • Use periods with abbreviations ending in lowercase letters: Dr., Ms., etc.
  • Use periods with initials standing for a person’s name: J. R. Tolkien. Do not use periods with initials that replace the full name: JFK.
  • No periods are used with abbreviations comprised of full capitals, even if lowercase letters appear within the abbreviation: PhD, MD, CEO
  • In running text, use periods with traditional state abbreviations and the United States (U.S.) (see States)

General use guidelines:

Use full words the first time the abbreviation or acronym is used in text, and place the abbreviation or acronym in parentheses immediately following.

Do not begin a sentence with an abbreviation. Exceptions: Mr., Ms., Mrs., Dr., and St.

Capitals vs. lowercase:

Initialisms used as nouns tend to be capped: HIV, UFO, FAQ

Over time, some longer initialisms become lowercased (radar). Refer to Webster’s when in doubt.

Abbreviations, plural:

Abbreviations without periods take s, no apostrophe. Apostrophes may be used if misreading is a possibility.

BA, BAs; PhD, PhDs; URL, URLs

Abbreviations with one period usually add the s before the period:

ed., eds.; yr., yrs.; Dr., Drs.

Abbreviations with more than one period use apostrophe s:

p.p.’s; the d.t.’s

Abernethy Collection of American Literature

one of four discrete collections in Special Collections

academic course

capped and roman, no quotation marks

Academy Award winner; Academy Award-winning producer

accent marks

Foreign words that have been incorporated into English often retain their original accents. Check the dictionary when in doubt—use first spelling.

vis-à-vis; déjà vu


(American College Test)


Middlebury addresses should spell out the name of the building and the name of the department, or use the box number:

Joe Smith
Box 1234
Middlebury College
Middlebury, VT 05753
Jane Jones
Dining Services, McCullough
Middlebury College
Middlebury, VT 05753

When listing a classroom or office, the name of the building comes first, followed by the room number.

Axinn Center 248; Davis Family Library 225C

ADA Office, Americans with Disabilities Act Office

Admissions Office


not adviser

African American

(no hyphen)


(for "also known as")


alma mater

lowercase when referring to where one graduated from; cap when referring to college song

alpine skiing

Alumni College

Alumni Fund

Alumni Golf Tournament

held in honor of Gordon C. Perine ’49

Alumni Leadership Conference (ALC)

Alumni Office


alumnus—male, alumna—female, alumni—all male or both sexes, alumnae—all female, or graduate—gender neutral


informal for alumnus/a/i/ae

AM (small caps)

AM (small caps); or, a.m. (always in running text)


spell out and avoid ampersand unless it is part of an official name of a firm, college, etc.

Annual Giving; Annual Fund; Office of Annual Giving


In class years and decades, the apostrophe should point to the left:

’02, P’00, GP’89

’80s, ’20s

There is no apostrophe in a range of dates:


Note: According to Chicago Manual of Style Online Q&A: “In word-processed documents, when apostrophes are preceded by a space (as opposed to those in the middle of a word, like it’s), the software thinks the writer wants an opening quotation mark and supplies one. When documents aren’t proofread carefully, these marks appear in place of apostrophes.”

Avoid using “daggers”: A dagger is a straight, pointed character that can be used as a reference mark:

Not OK: '80

OK: ’80

How to make a left-facing apostrophe: This character is located in Microsoft Word’s “insert” menu > symbol > advanced symbol > special characters. Select the “single closing quote.” PC users, creating a shortcut is helpful if you use the character often.

Mac shortcut: shift + option + right bracket key

Arabic School (Language Schools)


also college archives—one of four discrete collections in Special Collections

artist in residence

no hyphens

Asian American

no hyphen; avoid use of Oriental


Nobel Prize in physics; Nobel Prize winners

Pulitzer Prize in poetry

Watson Fellow; fellow

Fulbright Scholar; scholar; Fulbright grant

Award names that contain periodical titles: the periodical is not italicized

Middlebury Magazine Short Story Prize

Axinn Center at Starr Library

Donald E. Axinn ’51, Litt. D. ’89 Center for Literary and Cultural Studies at Starr Library


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(when referring to a grade, no quotation marks); grades of B or Bs


Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Arts degree, bachelor’s degree



(one word)


(before common era)

Betty Ashbury Jones MA ’86 School of French

(Language Schools)

bias-free content

We strive to make our publications representative of the community and the target audience. Therefore, it is important to keep in mind that words can inflame and divide or welcome and include. Avoid language that is biased toward race, age, gender, sexual orientation, religion, or disability.

Choose words that do not treat one group as the norm and another group as a subset. When possible, strive for gender-neutral terms. Use “workers” instead of “workmen,” “chairperson” or “chair” instead of “chairman” or “chairwoman,” “head of school” instead of “headmaster,” “first-year student” instead of “freshman.”

Acceptable terms for referring to physical and cultural differences seem to change fairly quickly; therefore, it is wise to stay abreast of these changes or get guidance (from professionals who work with the particular group, the ADA Office, relevant Internet sites, peer groups) when in doubt. When writing about someone with a disability, for example, it is now considered unhelpful, even inflammatory, to use language that seems to focus on struggle or that sensationalizes the person’s situation, as in words like “suffers from” or “is a victim of.” Always ask yourself whether mentioning a particular fact about a person is relevant to the mission of the project.

In choosing photos for your project, try to include a variety that demonstrates the variability among the people at Middlebury (when pertinent to the project), with younger and older individuals, people with disabilities, and various ethnic backgrounds engaged in non-stereotypical activity.


(capped for the sacred scriptures of Christians; lowercase when referring to a publication that is authoritative)



Common designations of ethnic groups by color are usually lowercased unless a particular publisher or author prefers otherwise

Board of Trustees

the board, the trustees

Board of Overseers

three total—College, Institute, Schools

Box Office

bookstore; College Bookstore; Middlebury College Bookstore

official name

Bread Loaf School of English

officially Middlebury Bread Loaf School of English

Bread Loaf Writers’ Conferences

officially Middlebury Bread Loaf Writers’ Conferences

  • Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference
  • Bread Loaf Orion Environmental Writers’ Conference
  • Bread Loaf Translators’ Conference


(not capped)

  • October recess
  • Thanksgiving break
  • holiday break
  • winter break
  • spring break


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(when referring to a grade, no quotation marks); grades of C or Cs


also cafe


no hyphen with suffix –wide unless the word is capped: collegewide, statewide, worldwide but College-wide for undergraduate, Institute-wide for Monterey


Capitalize only formal or specific names. When in doubt, use lowercase, especially with a word’s meaning is generic.

See titles for rules about professional and academic titles.

Names, associations, conferences, and official policies:

As a rule, official names are capitalized. Unofficial or shortened names are not. This applies to offices, buildings, and programs, as well as to committees and boards, symposia, conferences, course titles, forms, applications, and so on. For example, the Board of Trustees is shortened to the board. The Residential Life Committee becomes the committee. The Middlebury College Museum of Art—the museum; the Common Application for Admission—admission application; Language Schools—the schools.

Exceptions: Exceptions may sometimes be made to avoid confusion or because the shortened, generic term has become a proper name in its own right:References to Middlebury’s undergraduate school, when shortened, are capped—College; Middlebury Institute of International Studies when shortened is the Institute.

Names of departments are always capped: The Department of French; the French Department.

Names of official policies, such as Institutional Diversity and Undergraduate Honor System, should be capitalized. However, when the concept is being discussed, use the lowercase. Middlebury College is strongly committed to promoting diversity on campus. A strict honor system is enforced at the College.

In running text, lowercase a the that precedes a name, even if it is part of the official name:

The Underhill Foundation

When you visit the Underhill Foundation, please check their address.


Capitalize the letters used for grades and grade names. Do not place quotation marks around grades.

A, B, C, D, F, Pass, Incomplete; Grade of B; Grades of B or Bs



  1. The first and last word, no matter what part of speech they are.
  2. The first word after a colon, no matter what part of speech it is.


  1. Articles (a, an, the).
  2. Coordinating conjunctions (and, but, or, for, nor).
  3. All prepositions (through, on, in, to,) except when they are used adverbially (Look Up) or adjectivally (the On Button) or when part of a Latin expression used adjectivally (In Vitro).
  4. The to in infinitives.
  5. Part of proper names that would normally be lowercased, ex. van or de.
  6. The second part of a species name (Homo sapiens).

Headline examples:

What I’ve Been Thinking Of

Peter van Dyke’s Drive through the Countryside

Helping Homo sapiens to Survive

The Science of In Vitro Fertilization Form

Headlines with hyphenated words: Cap both elements. The only exception is if the subsequent element is an article (a, an, the), coordinating conjunction (and, but, or, for, nor), preposition (through, on, in, to, etc.)—or the modifiers flat, sharp, and natural.

Self-Sustaining Economics

F-sharp Concerto

Concerto in F-Sharp

Full-Time Jobs

Twenty-Fifth Street Headquarters

Headlines with a prefix: This is basically one word, not two, so the second element is not capped unless it is a proper noun or proper adjective.

Anti-intellectual Attitudes on the Increase

Non-Christian Organization Donates Books


Capitalize holidays, ceremonies, and recurring observances:

Winter Carnival; Thanksgiving; Commencement; Baccalaureate; Convocation; Midyear Celebration

Do not capitalize seasons and academic periods:

winter term; fall admission; summer break

Original Quotes:

When quoting original material, use the capitalization system of the original, even if it does not conform to Middlebury style.

As the soldier explained 100 years ago, “We have forgiven Men and Little

Children who did not know what to expect from our Party.”

Exception: When a quote is used as an integral part of a sentence, the initial cap in the original may be dropped.

He still believes that “we have forgiven Men and Little Children.”

Plurals with generic terms:

When a generic term is part of a proper noun, it is capped: Proctor Dining Hall. When two names are used in conjunction, followed by the generic term, it is still capped: Proctor and Ross Dining Halls; Hudson and East Rivers; Bread Loaf and Worth Mountains. By capping the generic term, it is unambiguous that it is part of each proper noun.

Carroll and Jane Rikert Ski Touring Center



  • Anderson Freeman Resource Center (AFC)
  • Center for Careers and Internships (CCI)
  • Center for Community Engagement (CCE)
  • Center for Comparative Study of Race and Ethnicity (CCSRE)
  • Center for Creativity, Innovation, and Social Entrepreneurship (CCISE)
  • Center for Teaching, Learning, and Research (CTLR)
  • Chellis Women’s Resource Center
  • Franklin Environmental Center at Hillcrest
  • Mahaney Center for the Arts (MCA)
  • Rohatyn Center for Global Affairs
  • Scott Center for Spiritual and Religious Life



C (centigrade);

78 degrees C (no period used within a sentence); 78°C (no spaces)



chair, chairperson

change maker

(two words)


the Château, le Château

Chinese School

(Language Schools)

Chip Kenyon ’85 Arena

Kenyon Arena


Class of 2013 (cap for specific classes)

class years and degrees

In Middlebury publications, always mention the alum’s class year in the first reference.

Present century:

Class of 2009

Suzanne Lunde, Class of 2009

Suzanne Lunde ’09

Note: The apostrophe points to the left.


Classes from previous centuries that duplicate numerals of classes in the present century should be written in full.

John Smith, Class of 1906

John Smith Jr. ’60 (referring to 1960)

John Smith III ’06 (referring to 2006)


John Smith, Class of 1855


Try to avoid using the .5 designation because it is very difficult to verify in Banner, does not necessarily mean anything to older alumni or non-Middlebury readers, and becomes cumbersome. Febs choose whether to be affiliated with the class that graduated before or after them, and this is generally reflected in Banner.

Marcia Long (graduated in February 2011) may choose either Marcia Long ’10 or Marcia Long ’11.

Exception: On those rare occasions when individuals insist on the .5 designation and supply the information themselves: Marcia Long ’10.5

Graduate schools and advanced degrees:

Betty Smith, MA French ’90
Thomas Horn, MA English ’02
Harry Jenkins, MLitt English ’77
Clint Underwood, MA Spanish ’55

Exception: If a degree is being listed in a publication solely aimed at the audience of one particular school, like Bread Loaf, only put the MA with no comma.

Thomas Horn MA’02

Institute alumni:

Betty Smith BAIS ’10
Peter Lang MAIPS ’12
Lucinda Lander MATESOL ’12
John Jones MBA ’08

Honorary degrees:

Mark Thane, Hon DArt ’10
James Caldwell, Hon DHL ’01
Suzanne Proctor, Hon DLitt ’96

Combinations of names and degrees: Rule of thumb: Place spaces and commas between each of the elements. Use maiden names for married alumnae.

Parents and grandparents:

Jennifer Jenkins P’05
Beulah Rockford P’77, ’80, GP’09

Combinations of degrees:

Sequence: undergraduate, graduate, honorary

Lucille Hentz Taft ’82, MA French ’85
Sylvester Sinclair ’10, MAIPS ’13
Clark Simpson ’47, MLitt English ’61, Hon DArt ’92

Combinations of degrees and relationships:

Sequence: undergraduate, graduate, honorary, parent, grandparent

Jennifer Lee ’85, MA Russian ’94, P’14
Frederick Favre ’51, MA Italian ’60, P’80, ’81, GP’10
Lucy Pope Lyons ’63, MA French ’65, Hon DHL ’72, P’89, GP’17

Combinations of people:

Rule of thumb: The alum is always listed first; if both people are alums, the man is listed first so woman’s maiden name can be included; otherwise the woman is listed first if neither person is an alum and the maiden name is not needed.

Susan James Johnston ’98 and Paul Johnston
Eric ’69 and Louise Ames Hollander ’71
Henry Lappman ’90 and Nicole Sweet ’91
Mary and Joseph Clark
Norma Sampson and William Larch

Note: If both people are the parents of the student, the parent designation goes after the second name, preceded by a comma. If only one person is the parent, that person is listed first regardless of whether it is the man or the woman.

Cindy and James Clough, P’10
Helen Peterson P’09 and John Henderson
Lars Olsen P’17 and Cynthia Olsen

Note: Depending on the formality of the publication, names can be shortened or spelled out and middle initials can be added for more formal pieces.

On name tags:

For the small area on name tags, it’s fine to amend these rules to fit the space. For example, Jeremiah Long P’80, ’90, GP’07 could be changed to Jeremiah Long P’80’90G’07.

On invitations/talks/programs:

Any of the designations above may be used on invitations. The class year and degree may be spelled out for more formal treatments.

co words

(close most co words) coauthor, cocurricular, coexistence, cohead


collective nouns

Collective nouns related to quantity (percentage and fractions—thirty percent, one-fourth, half) take a singular verb when preceded by the. Otherwise, the verb agrees with the number of the noun in the prepositional phrase that follows it:

After receiving their pink slips this week, the third of employees with stock options has decided to cash in company stocks.


Fortunately, four fifths of the employees have stocks to cash in. (plural noun in prepositional phrase)

Unfortunately, four fifths of last year’s harvest was lost. (singular noun in prep phrase)

“Number of” as a collective noun:

Whether it takes a singular or plural verb depends on which article precedes it: definite the or indefinite a.

The number of trees planted this year has doubled.


A number of experts have demonstrated that planting trees in the fall improves their viability.

One of:

“One of” takes a singular verb because it refers to one

One of those men fixes cars every day.

One of those who:

“One of those who” takes a plural verb because the verb refers to “those”

One of those men who fix cars will work on your new project.


(when referring to Middlebury’s undergraduate school only)

College Advancement

(See Office of Advancement)

college archives

or archives—one of four discrete collections in Special Collections

College breaks

(see breaks)


(when –wide is added to capped words, use the hyphen)


Colons introduce material that amplifies the preceding statement or elements. The element following the colon begins with a capital letter if it is more than one sentence long, a formal statement, or a quotation.

We found this to be extraordinary: young people are very enthusiastic about our study.

The study revealed an unexpected result: Sleep-deprived people are more effective at driving with their eyes closed. Well-rested people are more cheerful.

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.

Correct: You will need your best attitude and a good night’s sleep.

Wrong: We will be traveling to: New York, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island.

Correct: We will be traveling to New York, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island.

Place a colon after the salutation in a business letter or address:

Alumni and Friends:

Use to introduce a list or series but not if it comes in the middle of a sentence:

Correct: Please include the following items in your suitcase: socks, ties, and underwear.


The topics being discussed include:
  Winter term classes
  First-year seminars
  Reading assignments


Commas should be used to make text more clear and understandable, but they tend to be overused. Rule of thumb: when in doubt, leave it out!

Adjective string:

In general, if two or more adjectives preceding a noun can be joined with “and,” separate them with commas, unless the noun and adjective are considered to be a unit, e.g., “bad boy.” Use judgment. Too many commas can make writing choppy.

She made a donation to a new political organization.

It will be a frigid, expensive winter.

City, state:

After city and after state in running text:

The College is located in Middlebury, Vermont, near Lake Champlain.

Compound sentence:

To separate two sentences connected with a coordinating conjunction, and, but, or—two subjects, two verbs that could be made into two sentences.

Correct: The professor is highly talented, and he will surprise you with his ideas.

Correct: Johnson is highly talented, but Truman isn’t.

Wrong: Jones went home, and unlocked the doors. (Just one subject, no comma needed)

Note: In general no comma is used in the “not only but also” sequence unless the sentence is long and relatively complicated and needs a comma to break it up.

She not only loves peanut butter but also jelly.


Before and after the year, in full dates within sentences:

The president was born on August 9, 1950, in a New York checker cab.

Between day and year in full dates but not between a month and year: May 1, 2002

May 2015

Introductory elements:

Use comma after introductory elements that can be eliminated without changing the meaning of the main clause:

By the time you get this message, you will probably have forgotten our conversation.

If you agree with our decision, please sign and return the contract.

It is not necessary to use the comma after short introductory elements, unless needed for clarity:

Before lunch we usually work out.


Use comma to separate each item in a series, including the last item:

He brought bread, potatoes, green beans, and butterscotch.

However, do not use a comma if “and” is replaced by an ampersand:

He teaches biology, chemistry & law. (Avoid this use of ampersand if possible.)


commonly confused words, a few (more problematic words may be found in Chicago Manual of Style, pages 262–300)

|Affect (v. to influence, to change)|Effect (n. a result, a consequence)| |All ready (everyone is prepared)|Already (adv. by this time, previously)| |Allusion (n. indirect suggestion)|Illusion (n. false or misleading idea)| |Altogether (adv. completely)|All together (at the same time or place)| |Anyway (adv. in any case)|Any way (in any manner)| |Decent (adj. proper, respectable)|Descent (n. action of going down)| |Desert (n. hot, dry region)|Dessert (n. last course of the meal)| |Emigrate (v. to leave one’s country)|Immigrate (v. to move to a new country)| |Farther (adv. greater physical distance)|Further (adj. additional; to an advanced point)| |Its (pronoun, possessive)|It’s (contraction for “it is”)| |Precede (v. to go in front of someone)|Proceed (v. to move forward)| |Principle (n. natural, moral, or legal rule)|Principal (n. person of high authority)|

Commons; Ross Commons; the Commons; Commons system

Commons dean

compound nouns and adjectives

Two words used as one expression may be written as one word, as a hyphenated word, or as two separate words. Which form to use often depends upon the use or position in the sentence.

We arrived at the football field at halftime. (noun)

This ad says it is a half-time position. (adjective before noun)

He lives in the first-floor apartment. (adjective before noun)

His apartment is on the first floor. (follows noun)

To hyphenate or not to hyphenate is often a question for writers and editors. Use hyphens to increase readability. For example, the hyphen in much-needed clothing shows that the clothing is greatly needed rather than abundant and needed. Where no ambiguity could result, hyphenation is not needed.

High school student; experiential learning opportunities; winter term courses

When in doubt about whether to hyphenate, check the dictionary. Also, see the Chicago Manual of Style hyphenation guide, pages 375–384.


Conjunctions such as and, or, but, and nor may be used to begin a sentence. However, doing so should not be a substitute for clear writing.



course work

cross-country skiing; cross-country running

cum laude

(roman type, no italics)

cultural periods

Some are lowercased; some are capitalized. Refer to Chicago Manual of Style or the dictionary.

romantic period; nuclear age; classical period; Victorian era; colonial period; Roaring Twenties; Ice Age; Middle Ages; Renaissance

curriculum vitae, CV

curricula vitae, CVs (plural); informal usage: vita, vitae (pl.)


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(when referring to a grade, no quotation marks); grades of D or Ds

Dance Company of Middlebury



(used as a plural noun, i.e. “earnings,” or a singular “mass noun,” i.e. “information”)



At Middlebury, we express dates this way: month/day/year

March 16, 1998

The meeting is on March 7 (not: March 7th, 7 March).

We will see you on the 13th of July.

October 7–17, 2011; October 7–November 5, 2011

Tickets are on sale, Wednesday, June 5, at the concert hall.

Note: See hyphens and dashes for more on en-dash use: An en dash is longer than a hyphen and is used between inclusive numbers, to show a range.

In a sentence, separate the day and year with commas:

The president was born on August 9, 1950, in a New York checker cab.

No comma is used when the month and year appear without a day:

The weather pattern changed in October 1998 for the better.

David W. Ginevan Recycling Center

Recycling Center

Davis Family Library**

Davis Fellows

Kathryn Davis Fellows for Peace


(in informal writing, such as class notes, an acceptable abbreviation for Washington, D.C.)

Dean’s List

dean of the College

dean of curriculum

dean of the faculty

the dean’s office

dean of planning and assessment


Spell out centuries, using the same numeral rules (spell anything lower than 10).

fourth-century art

life in the 19th century

21st-century liberal arts education

Several options for identifying decades may be used:

1980s, 1960s; ’60s, ’80s; eighties, sixties

Note: no apostrophe between the year and s

degree abbreviations (see class years and degrees)

degrees granted by Middlebury:

Bread Loaf School of English:

MA—Master of Arts

MLitt—Master of Letters

Language Schools:

DML—Doctor of Modern Languages

MA—Master of Arts

Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey:

BAIS—Bachelor of Arts in International Studies

MACI—Master of Arts in Conference Interpretation

MAIEM—Master of Arts in International Education Management

MAIEP—Master of Arts in International Environmental Policy

MAIPD—Master of Arts in International Policy and Development

MAIPS—Master of Arts in International Policy Studies

MAITED—Master of Arts in International Trade and Economic Diplomacy

MANPTS—Master of Arts in Nonproliferation and Terrorism Studies

MAT—Master of Arts in Translation

MATESOL—Master of Arts in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages

MATFL—Master of Arts in Teaching Foreign Language

MATI—Master of Arts in Translation and Interpretation

MATLM—Master of Arts in Translation and Localization Management

MBA—Master of Business Administration

MPA—Master of Public Administration

Joint Degrees:


MBA/MAIEP—MBA/MA International Environmental Policy

MBA/MAIPS—MBA/MA International Policy Studies

MPA/MAIEM—MPA/MA International Education Management

Undergraduate College:

BA—Bachelor of Arts (also, AB—artium baccalaureus)

MS—Master of Science (no longer a degree given at Middlebury; last MS was awarded on May 26, 1996)

Honorary Degrees:

DHL—Doctor of Humane Letters (Hon DHL)

DArt—Doctor of Arts (Hon DArt)

DEd—Doctor of Education (Hon DEd)

DLaw—Doctor of Laws (Hon DLaw)

DLitt—Doctor of Letters (Hon DLitt)

DSc—Doctor of Sciences (Hon DSc)


(cap departments)

Department of Physics; Physics Department; Department of French; French Department

Digital Liberal Arts Initiative



(lowercase north, south, east, west, northern, etc., when they indicate a compass direction: They traveled west. She moved back east. Cap these words when they designate a region: They love the West Coast. She lives in Northern Virginia.)

General note: Only refer to a disability when it's truly relevant to the story. When unsure, ask the person or people directly involved.

General terminology:

Avoid describing a group only by their disabilities. Humanizing phrases acknowledge that disability is a relevant adjective.

Less appropriate the disabled, the blind, the paraplegic, the deaf, the handicapped
More appropriate disabled persons, people with disabilities, deaf people, blind citizens, persons with developmental disabilities

Avoid using "special" and "special needs" language. Disabled people's needs are not special nor are they inherently needy.

Less appropriate There are alternate formats, such as audio files, for those with special needs.
More appropriate Alternate formats, such as audio files, are available.

Avoid stigmatizing language.

Less appropriate handicapped parking
More appropriate accessible parking

Less appropriate normal people (suggesting disabled people are not normal)
More appropriate nondisabled, typical, not living with a disability (when used in text that includes both disabled and nondisabled persons)

Less appropriate afflicted with, stricken with, suffers from, victim of
More appropriate a person who is blind, a person who has PTSD (language that is more neutral and states the nature of the disability)

Less appropriate wheelchair bound, confined to a wheelchair
More appropriate wheelchair user, person who uses a wheelchair

Donald E. Axinn ’51, Litt. D. ’89 Center for Literary and Cultural Studies at Starr Library

Axinn Center at Starr Library (Note: the use of “Litt. D.” here is an exception to our style because that is how the building was named.)



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East, east

(cap when referring to geographic location; lowercase for compass direction)

Eastern Europe


(use when you mean “for example”; roman type, followed by a comma)

ellipsis points

Three points, or dots, show that something has been omitted (a word, line, etc.) from the text. The points are placed on the line and are separated equally from each other and the text before and after.

For an omission in midsentence:

He has developed many theories . . . most of them complex.

For an omission at the end or beginning of a sentence, a period precedes the ellipsis points:

We have tried to make peace. . . . The forces for change will negotiate sooner or later.

Other punctuation used in the original should be retained with three ellipsis points.

Why can’t we find this thing, . . . that he described?

Do not use ellipses at the beginning or ending of a quotation.

Note: When possible, do not use Word’s ellipsis symbol, which does not use equal spaces. Instead, make the symbol yourself.

#.#.#.# (space dot space dot space dot space)


Keep in mind that people have the tendency to “glaze over” when they open a long email. Be reader friendly: be brief, start sentences with capital letters, double space between paragraphs, and make paragraphs short. Reread what you have written to correct mistakes before sending!


email; ebook; ecommerce; eshopping (Note: Although ewords are still hyphenated in Merriam-Webster, our style is to close them up and lowercase them. Most other words that combine an initial letter with a word begin with a capital letter and use a hyphen (T-shirt, U-turn, S-curve, X-ray).


(feminine singular); emeritus (masc. singular); emeritae (fem. pl.); emeriti (masc. plural or masc/fem plural) These always follow the noun. She is professor emerita of biology. Cap before the name and as part of an endowed title: Professor Emeritus Garrett Smith; Russell Leng, James Jermain Professor Emeritus of Political Economics

environmental studies

Environmental Studies Program; Program in Environmental Studies


Abbreviations for eras are set in full caps, with no periods:

AD “Anno Domini”  (“in the year of the Lord”)
CE “of the common era” equivalent to AD
BC “before Christ”
BCE “before common era” equivalent to BC
BP “before the present”

AD precedes the year, the others follow it.

150 BC
AD 150

Commas are not used in dates with fewer than five digits.

3200 BC
10,500 BC



(usually followed by a comma)



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(when referring to a grade, no quotation marks); grades of F or Fs

faculty cohead

faculty head faculty singular and plural: faculty is, faculty are, faculty members (all okay; depends on context) Middlebury’s faculty is recognized nationally for excellence in teaching. Chemistry faculty are meeting with their students over the weekend. Twenty faculty members are working to solve the problem.

F (Fahrenheit)

45 degrees F (no period used within a sentence); 45ºF (no spaces)

Fall Family Weekend


fall semester; fall semester courses; fall 2016



(name of a student who matriculates and graduates in February)

Feb Celebration

(graduation celebration for Febs)


Watson Fellow


first-class mail

first come, first served


first-year seminar

(capitalize when title of a course)


first-year students (avoid freshman)

fiscal year 2015

(FY 2015, FY15)

Flanders Ballard Collection

one of four discrete collections in Special Collections

foreign expressions

Italicize unfamiliar expressions that have not become part of the English language or that are unfamiliar to most people. Such words often retain their original accent marks after incorporation into English. Check the dictionary and use the first spelling.

Some words no longer need to be italicized: à la carte, à la mode, ad hoc, bona fide, carte blanche, per se, a cappella, vis-à-vis, magna cum laude

Franklin Environmental Center at Hillcrest

Janet Halstead Franklin ’72 and Churchill G. Franklin ’71 Environmental Center at Hillcrest


(use first-year instead)

Fulbright Fellow


Fulbright Fellowship

Fulbright Scholar


full time (noun)

full-time (adjective, adverb)

That new position is full time.

I have a full-time job at the new restaurant.


(noun) (Note: Although this word is still hyphenated in Merriam-Webster, our style is to close it up)


(adj.); fundraising (noun)


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game changer

(two words)

gender neutral pronouns

When using gender neutral language, use they and their in place of she, he and his, hers. In special instances, other methods may be used.

German School

(Language Schools)

When possible, use go links to direct people to websites:

Off campus: go.middlebury.edu/admissions
On campus: go/admissions


A B C D F; Pass/Fail; Credit/No Credit; Honors; Incomplete (cap, no quotation marks)


(grandparent of student from Class of 1999; no space between P and apostrophe)

Great Hall

Tormondsen Great Hall


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(one word)

health care

(as a noun, two words); healthcare (as an adjective, one word)

Helen Hartness Flanders Ballad Collection

one of four discrete collections in Special Collections

high school

(no hyphen as adj. or noun)


(a historian, not an historian)


(a historic, not an historic)

home page


Homecoming 2009 (cap when referring to a specific homecoming)

Homecoming Weekend

Honor Code


(use to avoid ambiguity)

Double hyphens: Don’t use them. Instead, use the em dash (—). These are long dashes, the equivalent length of an M (—), used to set off parenthetical text or digressive elements. There should be no space on either side: This has been a long haul—to Hades and back—for everyone involved.

En dashes (–). Half the length of the em dash. Used between inclusive numbers, to show a range.

The cost is $50–$55.

My weight has ranged from 125–165 lbs in the last decade.

Sports scores do not indicate a range, and therefore use a hyphen.

To make an em-dash or an en-dash in Word on a PC or Mac:

  • place your cursor where the mark will go
  • go to “Insert” in the program menu and open up “Symbol”
  • highlight the appropriate symbol
  • click “insert”

Mac key codes:

em-dash: option/shift/hyphen en-dash: option/hyphen

PC key codes:

em-dash: shift + alt + hyphen

en-dash: “windows symbol key” + alt + hyphen

Or, create your own shortcuts by following the directions in the Symbol section.

Hyphens with prefixes and suffixes:

In general, prefixes are not followed by hyphens unless the resulting word can be confused with another word, is difficult to decipher, or precedes a number or a capitalized word.

co: coauthor; cowriter; codirector; coedit; but co-chair

fold: threefold

like: no hyphen unless word ends in l. lifelike; funnel-like

mid: midwinter; midyear; midlife; mid-Atlantic; mid-August; mid-1990s

non: nonprofit; nonstudent; nonmajor; nonproliferation

pre: preprofessional; premed; prelaw

Suspending hyphens:

Use when a series of hyphenated adjectives modifies the last noun in the series:

first- and second-level courses

two- and three-year-old children


Hyphenate measurements that serve as adjectives preceding a noun:

The bandage is a two-inch-long strip of gauze. Place this four-foot block of wood in the fire.

Connect measurements with hyphens when the numbers represent a range, and they function as an adjective preceding a noun:

We knew that the tsunami might create 80-to-90-foot tidal waves.


Hyphenate spelled-out fractions when used as modifiers, unless the numerator or denominator is already hyphenated. Whole numbers are not linked to the fraction with hyphens.

one-half empty; two-thirds majority

fifty-six hundredths; four twenty-fifths; five and three-tenths inches

Whole numbers:

Hyphenate from 21 to 99 when spelled out:

twenty-one; ninety-nine; one hundred forty-eight

Sports scores:

The game ended in a 21-21 tie. Middlebury won in double overtime, 3-2.

(See also compound nouns and adjectives)


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(use when you mean “that is”; roman type, followed by a comma)


(the grade)

in-language events**; events are in language

international students**

international studies**


(It is no longer necessary to separate with a comma: World Recycling Inc.)


(When referring to Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey)


introductory words or phrases

First (not firstly)

Second (not secondly)

Most evident (not most evidently)

More important (not more importantly)


(possessive); it’s (contraction for it is)

The tree is big; its leaves are golden this fall.

It’s imperative that you listen.

Italian School

(Language Schools)


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January term


Japanese School

(Language Schools)

John M. McCardell Jr. Bicentennial Hall

McCardell Bicentennial Hall; BiHall

Jr., Sr., III

It is no longer required to use commas before and after these elements, as they are considered part of the name.

Marshall Flint Jr. addressed the crowd.

Jason Milquevay III boarded the flight to New Zealand.



Kathryn Davis Fellows for Peace


Kathryn Wasserman Davis School of Russian

(Language Schools)

Kevin P. Mahaney ’84 Center for the Arts

Mahaney Center for the Arts; Center for the Arts (MCA)

Kirk Center

(formerly known as Kirk Alumni Center)

Language Pledge

(capped and trademarked)

Language Schools

(capped and plural in reference to the set of schools); Language School (capped and singular in reference to one person’s experience or one school)

Specific Language School Names:

Arabic School

Chinese School

Betty Ashbury Jones MA ’86 School of French

German School

School of Hebrew

Italian School

Japanese School

School of Korean

Portuguese School

Kathryn Wasserman Davis School of Russian

Spanish School

Letters written

Link to the page with templates on the Communications website.

Letters used as words or letters

Individual letters that are used as letters should be italicized. When the letter is lowercased, an apostrophe s is used to make it plural. When the uppercase letter is used, an apostrophe is not usually needed. Ex. Mind your p's and q's. Put your X on this spot. There are too many _X_s on this page.

Scholastic grades are capped and set in roman type.

I got an A in English and a B in French.

Jan had straight As.


Davis Family Library


literary studies

Program in Literary Studies


words combined with -long are closed (daylong, monthlong, weeklong, yearlong, lifelong)





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magna cum laude

(roman type, no italics)

Mahaney Center for the Arts

Kevin P. Mahaney ’84 Center for the Arts; Center for the Arts (MCA)


lowercased unless they include a word normally capped:

sociology, physics, English and American literatures, French, classics

master’s degree

Master of Arts degree; master’s degrees


words combined with -mate are closed (bandmate, classmate, hallmate, roommate)

McCardell Bicentennial Hall

John M. McCardell Jr. Bicentennial Hall; BiHall


midwinter; midterm; mid-August; mid-1990s

middle age

(noun); middle-aged (adj.); the Middle Ages


(short for Middlebury)

Midd Kid

(student or alum)


(it is permissible to hyphenate at line break)

Middlebury College Alumni Association

MCAA (no periods)

Middlebury schools and programs

  • Middlebury Bread Loaf School of English
  • Middlebury Bread Loaf Writers’ Conferences
  • Middlebury College
  • Middlebury C.V. Starr Schools Abroad
  • Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey
  • Middlebury Language Schools
  • Middlebury School of the Environment

Middlebury Magazine

(When used as a title, italicize in running text)

Middlebury Online








modern Hebrew

multi words

(most multi words are not hyphenated); multicultural, multifaceted, multimedia

Museum of Art

the museum


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name tag


Native American

(no hyphen, as adjective or noun)

need-blind admission

New Faces


Nobel laureate

Nobel Prize winner; Nobel Prize-winning author

non words

(Most non words are not hyphenated unless they include a proper noun)

nonacademic; noncertified; nondegree; nonfiction; nonmajor; nonnative; nonprofit; nonscience; non-Christian; non-Anglo

nondiscrimination statement

Middlebury College complies with applicable provisions of state and federal law which prohibit discrimination in employment, or in admission or access to its educational or extracurricular programs, activities, or facilities, on the basis of race, color, ethnicity, national origin, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, age, marital status, place of birth, service in the armed forces of the United States, or against qualified individuals with disabilities on the basis of disability.

Middlebury College hereby designates the dean of the College to coordinate its efforts to comply with and carry out its responsibilities under Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 as amended. In general, Title IX prohibits discrimination in educational programs on the basis of sex. The College hereby designates the vice president for administration and treasurer to coordinate its efforts to comply with and carry out its responsibilities under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. Section 504, where applicable, generally prohibits discrimination against qualified handicapped individuals, in educational programs and employment, on the basis of handicap.

Nordic skiing


north (cap when referring to geographic location; lowercase for compass direction)


Never start a sentence with a numeral. Spell out the number:

One hundred and thirty-five people attended the conference.

Avoid starting a phrase or sentence after an em-dash or colon with a numeral. Spell out the number or rewrite:

They made a lot of money—thirty-six people gave millions.

They made a lot of money because 36 people gave millions.

In general:

  • Spell out numbers one to nine in text. (Exception: Use 5th reunion for consistency with every other reunion year.)
  • Use numerals for 10 and higher.
  • Thousands take a comma: 2,450 not 2450.

Large, round, even numbers used as approximations can be spelled out:

The history spans some four thousand years of Western civilization.

Very large numbers (million and higher) may be expressed with a combination of numerals and spelled-out numbers.

2 million people; 10 trillion is a large number

These same rules apply to ordinals:

seventh place; 30th position; 135th award; third in line

Clusters of Numbers:

Numbers within a sentence or paragraph that cluster together and are used in the same context should maintain consistency. If one of the numbers would normally be written as a numeral, use numerals for all in that same category. It is fine to have one category written with numerals and another with numbers spelled out:

There are 14 graduates, 25 alumni, 3 first-year students, and 1 senior in the program.

Middlebury faculty published 20 books in 2010; 5 were on the bestseller list, and they will be publishing 7 books next month.

When mother came, we found seven dead pigeons outside. That didn’t deter us from enjoying our snack. She served 5 kinds of cookies, 11 new beers, and 7 types of goat cheese.


Use numerals, even in text:

We are expecting to harvest 5.4 tons of corn.


Simple fractions: Spell out in text. Hyphenate the fraction if it represents a single quantity or when used as a modifier.

five-sixths of the population

He received two-thirds majority

But: I’m dividing my estate into five fifths to distribute to my heirs.

Five-sevenths full

Whole numbers plus fractions: These can be spelled or expressed in numerals, whichever is most readable. (Do not link whole numbers to the fraction with a hyphen)

Three and three-fourths cups of flour should be enough to make pizza.

The recipe calls for 3 ¾ cups of flour.


Hyphenate measurements that serve as adjectives preceding a noun:

The bandage is a two-inch-long strip of gauze.

Place this four-foot block of wood in the fireplace.

Connect measurements with hyphens when the numbers represent a range, and they function as an adjective preceding a noun:

We knew that a tsunami might create 80-to-90-foot tidal waves.

See also hyphens


References to money may be written as numerals or spelled out. If spelled, also spell the unit of currency, except when using very large numbers.

fifty cents; six dollars; seventy-five euro

$.50; $125

$1 million; $10.3 billion


Always express percentages as a numeral-word combination, except in charts and scientific copy: 25 percent, 4 percent

Reunion Years:

Use numerals for specific reunions: 20th reunion, 10th reunion

Reunion events may be expressed this way: Reunion 2012, Reunion Weekend


45 degrees F (no period after the F within a sentence)

45°F (no spaces)


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(adj. before a noun); off campus (not a modifier)

off-campus study; study off campus

Office of Advancement

(formerly College Advancement)

  • Alumni and Parent Programs
  • Annual Giving: Alumni Fund, Annual Fund, Parents’ Fund
  • Communications and Information Services
  • Gift Planning
  • Graduate Giving
  • Leadership Gifts
  • Parent Giving
  • Principal Gifts

Office of the President

(not President’s Office)



okay (not okay to use o.k.)

Olin C. Robison Concert Hall

Robison Hall (formerly Concert Hall)


(adj. before noun); on campus (not a modifier)

on-campus housing; living on campus


(noun & adj.)





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(parent of student in Class of 2000; no space between P and apostrophe)

Parents’ Association

Parents’ Committee

Parents’ Fund


(spell out in text; use % symbol in tables and scientific copy)


PhDs (plural); doctoral degree; doctorate (not doctorate degree)



policy maker

(two words)

Posse Scholar


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

If the name is plural, add the apostrophe after the s.

the Joneses’ art

With a compound subject, put the apostrophe after the second name: Doug and Linda’s house

If the subject is not compound but two separate entities, both take an apostrophe:

students’ and faculty’s health plans

Exceptions: Nouns that are the same in both singular and plural form like politics’; species’ Some “for sake” expressions: for goodness’ sake; but for appearance’s sake.

post words

(no hyphen with most post words) postwar, postdoctoral


(small caps, more formal usage); or p.m. (always in running text)

pre words

(no hyphen with most pre words) preadmission; premed; prelaw; preschool


(premier is top quality; premiere is a first performance)

prepositions at the end of a sentence

Chicago Manual of Style, 5.176: “The traditional caveat of yesteryear against ending sentences with prepositions is, for most writers, an unnecessary and pedantic restriction. As Winston Churchill famously said, ‘That is the type of arrant pedantry up with which I shall not put.’ A sentence that ends in a preposition may sound more natural than a sentence carefully constructed to avoid a final preposition. Compare, for example, This is the case I told you about with This is the case about which I told you. The ‘rule’ prohibiting terminal prepositions was an ill-founded superstition.”

President Laurie Patton

Laurie Patton, the president of Middlebury College

problem solver

(two words)


Professor Susan Smith; Susan Smith, professor of chemistry; chemistry professor Susan Smith; Professor of Chemistry Susan Smith; John Felder, professor emeritus; James P. Kindlemeier, Briggs Professor of Greek Studies

Program in Environmental Studies

Public Safety; Department of Public Safety

Pulitzer Prize winner

Pulitzer Prize–winning author


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Q-and-A format

quotation marks with other punctuation

Commas and periods go inside quotation marks:

The name of the article is “Never Try This at Home,” and we all read it.

She said, “The article says you should ‘always have a fire extinguisher available.’”

Semicolons and colons go outside if they are not part of the quoted material:

He told her he was “testing the waters”; indeed, he jumped off the bridge.

Question marks and exclamation points go either inside or outside, depending upon whether the quoted statement is part of the question or exclamation:

“I shall overcome!” he shouted.

Did he say, “I will balance the budget”?


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rain forest

(two words)

Ralph Myhre Golf Course

real-life situation

(adj.); Nothing like that is found in real life (noun)

real-world experience

experience in the real world

Recycling Center

David W. Ginevan Recycling Center

residence hall

(preferred instead of dorm)

residence hall advisor


25th reunion; Reunion Weekend; Reunion 2011; reunion parade; 5th reunion (not fifth reunion) (Note: Do not hyphenate when used as an adjective: 50th reunion yearbook)

Robison Hall

Olin C. Robison Concert Hall (formerly Concert Hall)

risk taker

(two words)


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(Scholastic Aptitude Test)




Do not capitalize fall, winter, spring, or summer unless part of a title.


Use semicolons to separate independent clauses not joined by a conjunction:

The weather is gloomy; we are all very depressed. (This can also be expressed as two sentences.)

May be used between clauses in a long compound sentence, even when they are joined by a conjunction, especially if the clauses contain several commas.

The university has won so many awards in these fields that students are on waiting lists for applications, begging for interviews, and trying to bribe the admissions officers for special consideration; but the admissions procedures are not changing as a result of this newfound fame.

To separate clauses linked with the following adverbs: then, however, thus, hence, indeed, accordingly, besides, and therefore:

The Nobel Prize winners are most pleased; indeed, they are planning a huge celebration. The geologist discovered a new mineral; therefore, she is naming it after herself.

To separate items in a series that is long and cumbersome or that contains internal commas:

The students should take one course in math; three in languages; two chosen from political science, history, or art; and one senior capstone course.


sentence fragments

When incomplete sentences are used as captions, pull quotes, and subheads, a period is not needed. When sentence fragments are interspersed with full sentences, periods may be necessary for visual clarity and consistency. This might be the case in a vertical list. Be sure to be consistent within a document, whatever you decide to do.

Snow Bowl


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

Exception: no spaces between the initials of C.V. Starr

There are no spaces or periods with initials that serve as proper names, such as LBJ, JFK, AAA.

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

Special Collections

social houses



south (cap when referring to a geographic location; lowercase for compass direction)

Spanish School

(Language Schools)

special interest houses

(also called academic interest houses)

split infinitives

Definition: The insertion of a word or phrase between “to” and the verb.

to madly love; to deliberately lie

Not a split infinitive:

to be always prepared

to be constantly searching

Split infinitives are no longer considered to be an egregious error; in fact, sometimes the split infinitive is the only way something can be expressed. If a split infinitive can be avoided by placing the modifier elsewhere without detracting from the impact or readability of the sentence, that is preferable.


spring break; spring semester; spring semester course


staff is, staff are, staff members (all okay, depends on context),

Our staff is among the most experienced in the nation.

Middlebury staff are busy cleaning up after the largest reunion ever.

Several of our staff members are planning to submit their ideas individually.

Standing Committees

(Board of Trustees)

  • New Programs Committee
  • Prudential Committee
  • Resources Committee
  • Risk Management Committee
  • Strategy Committee
  • Trusteeship and Governance Committee


Vermont State, the state of Vermont

Spell out the full state name in running text. She lives in Wisconsin.

Two-letter postal codes may be used in some informal lists and must always be used when a zip code follows. Use for addresses on invitations.

Use the abbreviations listed below (first abbreviation listed) when a state name is preceded by the name of a city, town, village, or military base. Set off the state name in commas: He moved to Goshen, N.Y., after graduating from college. Do not abbreviate Alaska, Hawaii, Idaho, Iowa, Maine, Ohio, Texas, or Utah. Use the ZIP code abbreviation for mailing addresses.

StateAbbreviationPostal Code
New HampshireN.H.NH
New JerseyN.J.NJ
New MexicoN.M.NM
New YorkN.Y.NY
North CarolinaN.C.NC
North DakotaN.D.ND
Rhode IslandR.I.RI
South CarolinaS.C.SC
South DakotaS.D.SD
West VirginiaW. Va.WV


STEM Scholar

Student Health Portal


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

1st; 2nd; 3rd not 3<sup>rd</sup>

summa cum laude

(roman type, lowercase)

summer school

summer Language Schools


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T-shirt; tee


technology terms

Try to avoid obscure technology references and long URLs. (You can use bitly.com to shrink long Web addresses. Or you can direct readers to the right page: Visit www.williams.edu, click on “Alumni,” and then “Golf Tournament.”) For websites, do not include the tag http://. Instead: www.williams.edu; facebook.com. When available, use a "go" link. If you are printing a document with a URL or email address in it, be sure to remove the hyperlink.

Common technology terms:

  • CD (for music or file storage)
  • database
  • dot-com
  • DVD
  • download
  • email (unless it begins a sentence, then Email is acceptable)
  • home page
  • Internet (acceptable for Web and World Wide Web)
  • list server
  • motherboard
  • online
  • Web (acceptable for World Wide Web and Internet)
  • webmaster
  • website

telephone numbers

Use hyphens instead of dots or parentheses. In most cases, omit the 1 that precedes the area code.


Any phone number involving extra digits or unusual number sequences (such as overseas numbers) should provide every digit the caller needs in order to place the call. Example, a call to Darwin, Australia:

011International prefix used to dial outside of USA
61International country code used to dial to Australia
8Local area or city code used to dial to Darwin
LNThe local number
011-61-8-local number

The Orchard

the Orchard (in running text)


(for all uses except for proper names using alternate spelling)


(This is the second spelling in Webster’s and a Middlebury department/ major);

Department of Theatre; Hepburn Zoo Theatre; Wright Memorial Theatre; but Burgess Meredith Little Theater (Bread Loaf); Town Hall Theater (downtown Middlebury)


There may be times when they, their, or them is a necessary choice as a pronoun for a singular noun of nonspecific gender. This is most likely to occur after nobody, everybody, one, anyone, or nouns that may be either singular or plural, depending upon their usage—faculty or student body, for example. When possible, rewrite the sentence.

The use of he/she or him/her, although more grammatically accurate in these cases, is a distraction.

Anyone can take their medicine when it tastes like strawberry shortcake. (okay, but not great)

Anyone can take his or her medicine when it tastes like strawberry shortcake. (distracting)

Most people can take their medicine when it tastes like strawberry shortcake. (rewritten)

The faculty decided to take its resolution to the administration. (singular sense)

The faculty are very pleased with their new students this year. (plural sense, all members of the faculty)

The members of the faculty are very pleased with their new students. (rewritten)

We try to let each student take his or her exam home. (distracting)

We try to let students in this situation take their exams home. (rewritten)

See use of they/their in gender neutral language under gender.


All of the following are acceptable—consistency is key; don’t vary the format within the same document or story:

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

5 AM; five o’clock

Use small caps, or lowercased letters with periods:


a.m.; p.m.

Use numerals when the exact moment is important: The train departs at 2:08 PM.

Other uses:

9:00 PM; 9 PM

noon; midnight

Note: 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.

Showing ranges:

9:30 AM–10:30 PM, or 9:30 AM to 10:30 PM

from 9 AM to noon (do not use a dash to show range when also using “from”)

What are small caps? They are capital letters about three-quarters smaller than regular caps. Choose them from the font menu in Microsoft Word or from Word’s formatting palette.

titles of people

Academic and Professional:

Capitalize the title when it precedes the name and is part of the name:

I would like to introduce Doctor John Smith.

President Laurie Patton will be addressing the audience.

We traveled with Professor Bill Johnson.

Do not capitalize when the title follows the name (almost always a descriptor):

John Smith, professor of biology

Barack Obama, president of the United States

Trustee Emerita Suzanne Simpson; Suzanne Simpson, trustee emerita; the trustee
Professor John Jones; the professor; John Jones, professor emeritus; Professor Emeritus John Jones

Do not capitalize when the title precedes the name, but is acting as a descriptive title:

Renowned geology professor Andrea Lane will deliver the keynote address.

Happily, designer Randy Russet made the costumes.

Meet our bass player Lucinda J. Horvick ’05.

Do capitalize a title before a name if it is the official descriptor:

I’d like you to meet Vice President for Academic Affairs John Wiley.

She is taking a course with Assistant Professor of Geology Matthew Rock.

They sent the student to Dean of the College Polly Johnson.

Avoid using a long title before a name. Rewrite the sentence so the title falls after the name.

Awkward: The talk was given by Dean of Institutional Diversity and Associate Professor of English and American Literatures Stephanie Wilkerson.

Preferred: The talk was given by Stephanie Wilkerson, dean of institutional diversity and associate professor of English and American literatures.

NOTE: A named professorship is always capitalized, no matter where it falls

William Wilson, John M. Martin Professor of Physics, will be there.

John M. Martin Professor of Physics William Wilson will be there.

In vertical lists:

For the sake of appearance and consistency, it is permissible to cap all titles and departments in vertical lists, appearing in program notes, president reports, etc.

Mary Smith, Professor of Geology
Fred Dartmouth, Milton Johnson Distinguished Professor of Classical Studies
David Jones, Assistant Professor of English
Dorothy Bartlett, William Loadstone Professor of Environmental Studies

titles of things

A, An, The:

What to do with an initial, A, An, or The in a title when used in running text. Drop the initial article if it makes the text awkward.

The Town’s College is one of our most useful reference books.

His Town’s College proved to be one of our most useful reference books.

In running text, lowercase the when it precedes the name of a society, association, building, or other proper name, even when it is part of the name. This also applies to the in magazine and newspaper titles. Any initial the in the titles of periodicals (journals, magazines, and newspapers) should be subsumed by the surrounding text or dropped.

The project is funded through the Prudential Foundation.

Reading the New York Times is great way to start the day.

When the name of an entity includes a definite article, such as “The Grille” or “The Who,” it should be lowercased in running text.

We are eating lunch at the Grille and listening to the Who.

In general:

Middlebury office names that are also used as general terms, such as public affairs, admissions, alumni relations, financial services, and government offices, such as agriculture, commerce, defense, education, transportation, should be lowercased when used in titles that don’t precede the name.

He is the vice president of facilities services.

Sarah James, director of alumni relations.


Course titles combine the department code with a numerical designation and the title: JAPN 0101 First-Year Japanese. Place a space between the department code and the course number. Course titles are printed in roman type, capped, with no quotation marks. It is not necessary to include the course number in general interest texts.

Professor Smith’s course the Beginning of the Universe has had a waiting list for several years. (Note: lowercase the even though it is part of the title of the course.)

Departments and Offices:

Running text—Departments and offices are capped only when the full, correct name is used.

Go to the Office of the Dean of the College if you have questions.

Someone in the dean’s office will be able to help.

The Middlebury Museum of Art has a new installation.

There is a new installation at the art museum.

Academic departments are always capped:

The Department of Biology will move to the new science center.

All of the science departments, including the Biology Department, will move.

In vertical lists—It is permissible to cap all offices and departments for the sake of consistency and readability. See titles of people.

Creative Works:


Paintings, Photographs, Sculpture, etc.

Titles of works of art of most types are capped and italicized, including cartoons and photographs:

The FBI lists Munch’s The Scream as one of the most stolen works of art. Yosemite Valley, Winter is one of Ansel Adams’s most striking photos. People always enjoy reading The Far Side.

If the name is from antiquity and the creator is unknown, usually the title is capped in roman type:

The museum has the rare Palace Bowl on display.

Art Exhibitions

Names of large-scale exhibitions are capped, roman type. Small-scale exhibitions (at a local museum) and their exhibition catalog titles are italicized.

The Toronto World’s Fair The new exhibit at the art museum, Mixed Signals, is extraordinary.


Movies, Television, Radio, Plays

Movies, ongoing television and radio programs, and plays are capped and italicized:

We enjoyed reruns of Leave It to Beaver. The blockbuster Live Free or Die Hard was not my favorite.

Television and radio series are capped with no quotation marks:

The American Idol series broke records for viewership three years running.

Individual episodes of television and radio series are capped, with quotation marks:

“Ultimatum” was one of best episodes of The Office.



Cap generic name, no quotes: Piano Sonata no. 2

Italicize descriptive title: Dances of the Band of David

Lowercase n for no.

Lowercase opus, op.

Cap Major and Minor: Bach’s Mass in B Minor

Operas and songs

Long compositions are italicized, shorter ones set in quotes, roman type:

“The Star Spangled Banner” The Marriage of Figaro


An album is italicized. Individual tracks take caps and quotation marks. The name of the performer is set in roman type:

The CD Home for the Holidays includes music by the Middlebury Chamber Singers and a solo performance by Jason Judge, singing “Midnight in Vermont.”

Web Works


Named blogs are italicized. An initial the is treated as part of the title. Specific blog entries are capped with quotation marks.

“My Time Has Come,” a post in the blog Today’s Ruminations, outlines his plans. Peter Dominick is my favorite blogger. Have you read The Upbeat Town yet?


Treat podcasts and video blogs similarly to blogs. Regularly published features are italicized. Individual segments are capped with quotation marks.


Website titles may consist of the name of the site, may use part of the domain name, or may refer to the entity responsible for the site.

In running text, use roman type, headline-style, without quotation marks. An initial the is lowercased midsentence.

Google; Google Maps; White House.gov; Amazon

Some websites, however, are closely linked or completely similar to their print publications, and are therefore styled accordingly.

Chicago Manual of Style Online has the answers to your questions. I found the spelling in Merriam-Webster.com.

Titles of periodicals found both in print and online should be treated similarly, except for the domain name.

The website of the New York Times; the New York Times online; NYTimes.com; www.middmag.com

Pages or sections of websites are capped, headline style, and placed in quotation marks.

To find the answers, visit “Frequently Asked Questions,” at Middlebury.edu.

Written Works


Italicize book titles.

Please read The College on the Hill. Can I borrow your College on the Hill?

An initial A, An, or The may be dropped if it does not fit the syntax of a sentence.

Book series

Use roman type, headline style, without quotation marks, for the names of book series or editions. The words series and edition are lowercased when they are not part of the title:

Norton Books Field Guide series


Italicize ebook titles. Use roman type and quotation marks for sections.

Please consult the ebook Putting Your Passion to Work, especially the section “What Do You Want to Do With Your Life?”

Periodicals (newspapers, magazines, and newsletters)

Capitalize and italicize, except for a “the” in the title. This is because some periodicals use “the” as part of their title and some do not; the most consistent approach is to leave it out of the italicized title:

The story appeared in the Boston Globe.

Periodical titles included in the names of awards, buildings, organizations are not italicized:

Middlebury Magazine Short Story Prize Tribune Towers

Magazine Articles and Short Stories

Roman type, capitalize, and quotation marks:

The story “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty” was first published in the New Yorker, in 1939.

Poems and Plays

Plays and long poems are italicized and capitalized:

Paradise Lost will take you a while to read. We have tickets to A Christmas Carol.

Short poems are capped with quotation marks. Poems identified by their first lines are capped, sentence style, with quotation marks.

Frost’s “A Prayer in Spring” seems apt right now. “Shall I compare thee to a Summer’s day?” is my favorite sonnet.

Unpublished Works

Dissertations, speeches, manuscripts, student work including posters use roman type, headline style, and enclose in quotation marks:

“An Investigation into Nomenclature Anomalies in Biological Systems”

Miscellaneous Titles

College symposium: Capped with quotation marks

Lecture series: Cap only

Lecture: Capped with quotation marks

College course: Capped only

Text on Signs: Capitalized, headline style

toll-free number

Tormondsen Great Hall

Great Hall


(not towards)


trustees; John Doe, trustee


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(hyphenate in all positions)

United States

USA; U.S. (periods)


vertical lists

When possible, introduce the list with a complete grammatical sentence followed by a colon. Avoid putting a colon in the middle of a sentence, as after the word include.

In general: Try to use parallel syntax (sentences, fragments, questions) with each item, which will make the list orderly and more understandable. Chicago Manual of Style Online cautions that “parallel doesn’t mean identical. If your items are complex, it may not be practical to match them word for word with parallel parts of speech.”

styling vertical lists

Vertical lists can by styled in many ways, as unmarked lists, as numbered or bulleted lists, in paragraph style with internal punctuation, as a sentence, and with subdivided items. Be consistent throughout a document with uppercase and lowercase elements and in the use of punctuation.

unmarked list:

We hope you will bring these items to our open house: lawnmower snow blower leaf rake new plantings for along driveway

numbered list: (items may be capitalized or lowercased)

We hope you will bring these items to our open house:

  1. Lawnmower
  2. Snow blower
  3. Leaf rake
  4. New plantings for along driveway

paragraph style:

When you come to our open house, we hope you will consider these facts: (1) Since the house is big, we will need some way to manage the large amount of trash that will be generated; (2) Our building has been in disrepair for several years; (3) The previous owner absconded with our deposit; and (4) we are not happy with its overall appearance.

sentence style: (first element may be capped or lowercased)

We hope you will bring these items to our open house:

  • several leaf rakes to allow for easy removal of old compost,
  • one light wheelbarrow that is easy to push,
  • some good music to work to, and
  • a sense of play, so that you can stay all day.

We hope you will bring these items to our open house:

  • Several leaf rakes to allow for easy removal of old compost,
  • One light wheelbarrow that is easy to push,
  • Some good music to work to, and
  • A sense of play, so that you can stay all day.

subdivided list:

We hope you will bring these items to our open house:

  1. Leaf items
    • Rakes
    • Wheelbarrows
    • Leaf bags
  2. Food items
    • Beer
    • Hot dogs
    • Ice
  3. Musical items
    • Instruments
    • iPods
    • Loud speakers

Use of periods in vertical lists:

In general, follow the examples above. When a list contains a combination of sentence fragments and full sentences, try to revise so they are all similar. If that is not possible, use periods after all items for visual consistency.



vice president

(no hyphen)



video recorder


Write in the active voice, as simply as possible.

Active, not convoluted: The College educates students to become advocates for change.

Passive, convoluted: Students are educated by the College to develop an awareness of their obligation to become advocates for change.

voice mail


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Washington, DC

(in mailing addresses); Washington, D.C. (in running text)


the (proper noun, for World Wide Web)

Web addresses

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.



after line break:


In running text, drop the “http://” or “www” before a web address unless the site will not load without it.

It can be helpful to style the address in a different typeface from the accompanying text (italic type within roman copy, for example) so the reader comprehends it at a glance.

Sentence capitalization rules apply. The first letter of a sentence is always capitalized, whether it’s the e in eBay, or the i in iPod.

web page

weblog; blog






west (cap when referring to geographic location; lowercase for compass direction)


(lowercase when referring to race)


Winter Carnival

winter term

winter term courses


work-study program

World Wide Web

the Web (proper noun)


writer in residence

(no hyphens)

writing program


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Xerox (noun); xerox (verb, or use copy or photocopy instead)