Editorial Style Guide

ABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWYZWeb-Related Terms & Guidelines


A

a, an

Before an abbreviation, a numeral, or a symbol, the use of a or an depends on how the term is pronounced when read aloud (an MA in writing, an NBC anchor, an @ symbol, an 800 number, an HMO plan … but a CBS anchor, a URL address, a NATO member, etc.). Use a (not an) before words beginning with a pronounced h (a historical event). Words that begin with an unpronounced h are preceded with an: an honor, an heir, etc.

a lot

(not alot)

abbreviations and acronyms

  • Use standard abbreviations only (consult Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary); do not create for convenience.
  • Do not abbreviate months in body text. When abbreviated in tables and charts, use upper and lowercase, with periods as needed (Jan., Feb., Mar., Apr., May, June, July, Aug., Sept., Oct., Nov., Dec.).
  • When space limitations require abbreviation of days of the week, consistency is key (Sun., Mon., Tues., Wed., Thurs., Fri., Sat. or Su, M, Tu, W, Th, F, Sa).
  • Do not abbreviate states in body text, except in press releases. In lists and tabular material, address blocks, forms, etc., postal abbreviations for states should be used (two capital letters, no periods).
  • On first reference, spell out the full, formal title and place the acronym in parentheses after the title: Child Development Institute (CDI). Acronyms may be used in first reference if they are well-known (e.g., GPA, YMCA). Do not use an apostrophe when making acronyms plural (IDs, RAs, ABCs, etc.).
  • In general, use periods with abbreviations that appear in lowercase letters (e.g., i.e., a.k.a., etc., p.m., et al., and so on), but do not use periods with abbreviations in full caps or small caps (CEO, BCE, and so on).
  • US, USA, UK, and UN may be abbreviated on first reference if necessary, and may be used without periods, except when the abbreviation includes periods in a formal name (U.S. Court of Appeals).
  • Do not use periods in abbreviations of academic degrees (BA, MS, PhD, etc.). Set off the degree with commas when the abbreviation follows the name. (John Q. Doe, MD, was appointed chief surgeon.)
  • Use periods after initials standing for given names and abbreviations of junior and senior (J.Q. Doe Jr.), and after abbreviations for titles (Mr., Ms., Dr., Sgt., etc.).
  • Do not use spaces with an ampersand (Texas A&M, R&D, J&J, etc.).
  • BCE (before the common era) and CE (current era) are preferred to BC (before Christ) and AD (anno Domini, in the year of the Lord), and should appear in all caps, with no periods.
  • When an abbreviation that takes a period ends a sentence, no additional period follows; i.e. no double period. (The event was funded by Jones Co. Ltd.)

about, approximately

When possible, use about instead of approximately. In the sciences, however, approximately is preferred. Avoid coupling either word with another word of approximation, such as guess or estimate (i.e. approximate guess).

academic degrees

  • Capitalize formal names of academic degrees (Master of Arts in Education), but lowercase informal names (master’s degree in education). For simplicity and consistency across all materials, do not use periods or spaces between letters when abbreviating degrees (BA, MA, MBA, EdD, PhD, etc.). See the entry degrees for undergraduate and graduate degrees granted by Sarah Lawrence, or reference the appendices.
  • On first reference, identify all alumni who appear in College publications by class year and, in most cases, include graduate degree(s) from Sarah Lawrence only. Then drop the year and degree in subsequent references. If the alum prefers that we not include the class year at all, be sure to use an identifier as appropriate (alumna, graduate, etc.).
  • Do not include an alumna’s maiden name unless she commonly uses it. Exception: Sarah Lawrence magazine class notes.
  • The two-digit class year that follows the name indicates the year the student earned a BA degree from Sarah Lawrence. (The only exception is for CCE students, who may opt to use a class year that reflects an earlier time they attended SLC.) For graduate degrees, insert the degree abbreviation before (not after) the year.
  • For undergraduate degrees, no comma is needed between the name and class year (Jane Allison Doe ’07). The only punctuation is a single close quote (apostrophe), with the tail facing left (away from the numbers).
  • Graduate degree abbreviations should follow the name with no comma separating the abbreviation and the graduation year (Jane Allison Doe MFA ’10). Do not include the abbreviation CCE.
  • Undergraduate and graduate degrees should be separated with a comma after the undergrad year (Jane Allison Doe ’07, MFA ’10). Do not include the abbreviation CCE.
  • In cases where a degree is earned elsewhere and there is no Sarah Lawrence graduation year, set off the abbreviation with commas when it follows the name. (John Q. Doe, MD, was appointed chief surgeon. Jane K. Doe, PhD, will be the keynote speaker. Jennifer S. Doe, LPN, has been hired as the new director of the health clinic.)

Helpful Hint: You can type a single close quote by holding down the Ctrl (control) key and hitting the ' (apostrophe) key twice.

academic honors

Because Sarah Lawrence does not follow a traditional grading system, the College does not designate academic honors upon graduation. In other contexts, these designations are lowercased and need not be italicized in running text. They may be italicized in lists or formal materials.

  • The term “cum laude” means “with distinction.”
  • The term “magna cum laude” means “with great distinction.”
  • The term “summa cum laude” means “with greatest distinction.”

academic rank

Sarah Lawrence does not rank faculty in the traditional manner, and does not use the titles professor, associate professor, assistant professor, adjunct professor, etc. Use professor only in an informal manner, not preceding or following a name implying title or rank. Recommended alternatives include teacher, instructor, don, or faculty member.

accept, except

Accept means to receive. Except means to exclude.

accommodate

(not accomodate)

accord, accordance

Accord means agreement. Accordance means conformity.

acknowledgment

(not acknowledgement)

actor, actress

Use actor regardless of gender, unless a woman specifically prefers to use actress for consistency with the names of awards she has won that include the word actress.

addresses

  • If possible, spell out all elements of an address when used in text, except for compass point directions used to designate a specific area within a larger street. In such street addresses, use periods with single-letter abbreviations (999 E. Prospect Avenue), no periods with two-letter abbreviations (123 NW Summer Street). Do not set off with commas before or after the street name.
  • However, when a direction is the name or part of the name of a street or town itself, it should never be abbreviated (Northwest Highway, South Shore Drive, West Bend, East Orange).
  • If space is limited, use abbreviations for street (St.), avenue (Ave.), boulevard (Blvd.), terrace (Terr.), building (Bldg.), and suite (Ste.). Use Rt. for highway references, but Rte. for mail delivery routes (or RR for rural route). If possible, do not abbreviate circle, court, lane, place, road, room, or square. Rather than spell out post office box, use PO Box (no periods); do not use POB.
  • Always spell out state names in running text (except DC), but use postal codes for states (two letters, no periods) in lists and tabular material, address blocks, forms, etc., (NY not N.Y.). Separate city and state with a comma.

adequate, sufficient, enough

Adequate refers to the suitability of something in a particular circumstance (adequate explanation). Sufficient refers to an amount of material (sufficient water). Enough modifies both count (enough people) and mass (enough oil).

admission, admittance

Admission is figurative, suggesting particularly the rights and privileges granted upon entry (admission to the College). Admittance is purely physical (admittance to the campus). Note that admission is singular in the name Office of Admission.

Admitted Students Day(s)

(capitalized, no apostrophe)

adverse, averse

Adverse means strongly opposed or unfortunate and typically refers to things (not people). Averse means feeling negatively about something and refers to people.

adviser

(not advisor) Use advisory as an adjective.

affect, effect

Affect, as a verb, means to influence. (His argument did not affect her decision one way or another.) Effect, as a verb, means to cause. (She will effect numerous changes to the curriculum.) Effect, as a noun, means result. (They did not anticipate the effect of their impulsive actions.)

afflict, inflict

Events, illnesses, punishments are inflicted on living things or entities. The sufferers are afflicted with or by diseases or troubles.

African American, black

Try to determine and use the term preferred by the group or person being described. Otherwise, use African American (no hyphen) for people of African descent. But use black (lowercase) when the reference is not only to people of African descent but also to those whose more immediate roots are in the Caribbean or South America.

after having

This phrasing is redundant; use one or the other (after passing the audition; having passed the audition).

afterward, afterword

(not afterwards) Afterward means later. Afterword means epilogue.

ages of inanimate objects

Spell out through nine and use figures for 10 or above. Hyphenate adjectives:

  • The student was engaged in a two-year research project.
  • The scholarship program is now four years old.
  • The faculty member is away on a 12-month sabbatical.

ages of people and animals

Always use figures and hyphenate when used as an adjective or a noun:

  • The 5-year-old boy attended kindergarten.
  • The 7-year-old attended first grade.
  • The boy is 5 years old.
  • The girl, 7, has a brother, 5.

all (of)

Delete the of whenever possible (all the students).

all right

(not alright) Hyphenate only if used colloquially as a compound modifier. (He is an all-right guy.)

all time, all-time

Hyphenate only when used as an adjective. (This is an all-time high score. She is the greatest player of all time.) Avoid the redundant phrase all-time record.

all-American

(hyphenated, cap only American unless part of a longer formal title)

all-around

(not all-round)

allude, elude

To allude is to refer to something indirectly. To elude is to escape or avoid detection.

allusion, illusion

Allusion means an indirect reference. (The allusion was to his opponent’s voting record.) Illusion means an unreal or false impression. (The lighting director created the illusion of sunset.)

alma mater

Capitalize only in reference to Sarah Lawrence’s official songs. The College has had two alma maters, although neither has been in use since the 1940s. The first, titled “Sarah Lawrence Alma Mater,” was written in 1928 by two members of the first graduating class, Florence Laws and Grace McCreary. The second, titled “Sarah Lawrence Song,” was written in 1942 by Marjorie Lederer ’44.

already, all ready

Already refers to time. (Class has already started.) All ready refers to preparation. (Are the actors all ready?)

alter, altar

To alter is to change. An altar is a place or structure used in religious ceremonies.

alternate, alternative

Alternate implies substituting for another or taking turns with another. Alternative implies a choice between two or more things.

altogether, all together

Altogether means wholly or entirely (altogether false). All together refers to unity of time or place.

alumni, alumnae/i

Sarah Lawrence now uses alumni in all cases where gender is mixed, unknown, or irrelevant. The Office of Alumni Relations retains the use of alumnae/i in selective situations, as do the Office of Advancement and the Office of the President.

Communications to prospective and current students and parents as well as materials for media relations and the general public all use the more universally accepted plural alumni.

Otherwise:

  • Alumna is feminine singular.
  • Alumnus is masculine singular.
  • Alum is gender neutral singular. (Use sparingly.)
  • Alums is gender neutral plural. (Use sparingly.)

An alumna or alumnus is anyone who attended Sarah Lawrence as a matriculated student, whether or not he or she graduated. These terms do not apply to guest students, CCE students who never matriculated, students from other colleges who attended an SLC study abroad program, or participants in noncredit workshops, even if they took the workshop under special credit arrangements (unless they matriculate into the College).

Do not use graduate to refer to an alumna or alumnus who didn't actually graduate from Sarah Lawrence.

Alumni Association Board of Directors

Capitalize Alumni Association Board of Directors when using the full, formal name of the group, especially on first reference. Capitalize Alumni Association Board Member when the title precedes the name, but lowercase the title when it follows the member’s name. Lowercase alumni board on second and subsequent references. Lowercase alumni board member(s) or board member(s) when the full, capitalized name of the group has been already been used on first reference.

alumni names: formatting

  • On first reference, identify all alumni who appear in College publications by class year and, in most cases, include graduate degree(s) from Sarah Lawrence only. Then drop the year and degree in subsequent references. If the alum prefers that we not include the class year at all, be sure to use an identifier as appropriate (alumna, graduate, etc.).
  • Do not include an alumna’s maiden name unless she commonly uses it. Exception: Sarah Lawrence magazine class notes.
  • The two-digit class year that follows the name indicates the year the student earned a BA degree from Sarah Lawrence. (The only exception is for CCE students, who may opt to use a class year that reflects an earlier time they attended SLC.) For graduate degrees, insert the degree abbreviation before (not after) the year.
  • For undergraduate degrees, no comma is needed between the name and class year (Jane Allison Doe ’07). The only punctuation is a single close quote (apostrophe), with the tail facing left (away from the numbers).
  • Graduate degree abbreviations should follow the name with no comma separating the abbreviation and the graduation year (Jane Allison Doe MFA ’10). Do not include the abbreviation CCE.
  • Undergraduate and graduate degrees should be separated with a comma after the undergrad year (Jane Allison Doe ’07, MFA ’10). Do not include the abbreviation CCE.
  • In cases where a degree is earned elsewhere and there is no Sarah Lawrence graduation year, set off the abbreviation with commas when it follows the name. (John Q. Doe, MD, was appointed chief surgeon. Jane K. Doe, PhD, will be the keynote speaker. Jennifer S. Doe, LPN, has been hired as the new director of the health clinic.)

Helpful Hint: You can type a single close quote by holding down the Ctrl (control) key and hitting the ' (apostrophe) key twice.

a.m., p.m.

(Small caps with no periods is an acceptable alternative for formal invitations.)

ambiguous, ambivalent

Language that has more than one reasonable meaning is ambiguous. Views that express contradictory ideas or mixed feelings are ambivalent.

amend, emend

Amend means to change or add to. Emend means to correct.

amiable, amicable

Both mean friendly, but amiable refers to people and amicable to relationships.

amid, amidst

Amid is preferred.

amid, among, between

Amid is used with mass nouns, also known as collective or noncount nouns because they are not countable (amid talk of war). Among indicates undefined or collective relationships (honor among thieves), and is used with plurals of count nouns (among the children). Between indicates one-to-one relationships (between you and me), but can be used for more than two objects if multiple one-to-one relationships are understood from the context (trade between members of the European Union).

among, amongst

Among is preferred.

amount, number

Amount is used with mass nouns, also known as collective or noncount nouns because they are not countable (a decrease in the amount of pollution). Number is used with count nouns (a growing number of immigrants).

ampersand

Do not use an ampersand in place of the word and in text unless it is part of a name, and do not use spaces in abbreviations with an ampersand (AT&T, Simon & Schuster). Ampersands are acceptable in advertisements, posters, lists, and other “quick read” applications (including some headlines). Consistency is important, regardless of context. An ampersand is not followed by a comma when it appears in a series (Simons, Fitzgerald & Mathison, Certified Public Accountants).

analog, analogue

Analog, an adjective, denotes a system of recording or measuring data in an unbroken stream and is usually used in contrast with digital recording or measurement. Analogue, a noun, means a counterpart or an equivalent.

and

Popular belief to the contrary, this conjunction can be used to begin sentences, offering a simpler and less formal option to moreover, additionally, in addition, further, and furthermore.

and/or

Where possible, use one or the other (and or or) where there is no loss in meaning. Also try reworking the wording to use or … or both. (Take the medication or a warm drink, or both.)

annual

Do not use first annual. Use inaugural instead.

anti-

In general, hyphenate after anti as needed for clarity (particularly when the second element begins with i or is capitalized). But note these exceptions, and consult Webster’s as needed:

  • antibiotic
  • antibody
  • anticlimactic
  • antidote
  • antifreeze
  • antigen
  • antihistamine
  • antimatter
  • antipasto
  • antiperspirant
  • antiseptic
  • antiserum
  • antisocial
  • antithesis
  • antitoxin
  • antitrust

anxious

Avoid using anxious (worried, distressed) as a synonym for eager. You can only be anxious about something, not anxious to do something. Eager means you are stimulated and excited at the prospect of doing something.

any way, anyway

Any way (two words) means in any manner. Anyway (one word) means in any event.

anybody, any body, anyone, any one

Use one word for an indefinite reference, and treat as singular. (Anybody can do that. Anyone is capable of winning.) Use two words when the emphasis is on singling out one element of a group. (Any one of them may collapse before the competition is over.)

anywhere, any place

Anywhere refers to an indefinite location. (She could be anywhere.) Any place refers to any location. (We couldn’t find any place to sit.) Do not use anyplace (one word).

apostrophe

Note that the tail of the apostrophe points left when used to indicate omitted letters or figures (I’ve, it’s, ’tis, ne’er-do-well, rock ’n’ roll, Class of ’62, John Doe ’78, styles of the ’20s).

appraise, apprise

To appraise is to put a value on something. To apprise is to inform or notify someone.

apt, likely

Apt is used for general tendencies or habits (apt to drop the ball). Likely expresses probability.

archaeology

(note the second letter a)

area code

In most applications, use parentheses followed by a space: (914) 395-2220. For 800 and other toll free numbers, use dashes: 1-800-555-1212.

as if, like

As if is used to introduce a clause. (It looks as if it will rain.) Like takes a simple object. (It looks like rain.)

as well as

A phrase introduced by as well as, in addition to, besides, accompanied by, together with, plus, such as, or a similar expression should be set off by commas when it falls between the subject and the verb. (Our faculty members and administrators, as well as our staff, supported the decision.)

When the phrase occurs elsewhere in the sentence, commas may be omitted if the phrase is closely related to the preceding words. (The decision was acclaimed by our faculty as well as our staff.)

as yet, as of yet

Stilted and redundant. Use yet, still, so far, etc.

Asian American

(no hyphen, even as an adjective) Do not use Oriental.

assemblage, assembly

An assemblage is an informal collection of people or things. An assembly is a group of people organized for a purpose.

assent, consent

Assent connotes enthusiasm. Consent connotes allowance.

assumption, presumption

An assumption is typically a hypothesis, not drawn from evidence. A presumption implies a basis in evidence.

assure, ensure, insure

Assure means to remove doubt, to give confidence. (I can assure you that everything will go according to plan.) Ensure means guarantee. (Steps were taken to ensure accuracy.) Use insure only for references to insurance (life, health, auto, etc.).

astronomical terms

In general, the names of galaxies, constellations, stars, planets, and such are capitalized, but not italicized. The word earth is capitalized when used as a proper name, especially in context with other planets. Otherwise, it is lowercased when used informally, particularly when following the. (Most believed the earth was flat. The astronauts returned to Earth.) The word galaxy is only capitalized when referring specifically to the Milky Way. Always use lowercase for solar system. The words sun and moon are lowercased in general and nontechnical contexts and always lowercased in the plural. (Some planets have several moons.) Merely descriptive terms are not capitalized (the rings of Saturn, interstellar dust).

at the present time, at this time

Avoid these phrases. Try now, today, currently, or at present.

at the time that, at the time when

Use when instead.

ATM

The abbreviation ATM is acceptable on first reference to an automated teller machine.

author

Avoid using author as a verb.

average, mean, median

Average is the sum of a series of numbers divided by the number in the series. Mean is the middle point between the high and low numbers. Median is the point in a series at which half the numbers are above and half are below.

avoid, evade

Avoid is the more neutral term. Evade carries a suggestion of deceit or irresponsibility.

awards

Formal names of awards and prizes are capitalized, but some informal terms used with the names are lowercased. Examples include:

  • a Nobel Peace Prize; the Nobel Prize in Literature
  • a Nobel Peace Prize winner; a Nobel Prize-winning writer
  • the Pulitzer Prize for Commentary; a Pulitzer in journalism
  • an Academy Award; an Oscar
  • an Emmy Award; winner of three Emmys
  • a Guggenheim Fellowship, but a Guggenheim grant
  • National Merit scholarships

Note: When using multiple awards as modifiers in a sentence, hyphenate only the last reference. (He is an Emmy, Tony, and Golden Globe award-winning actor.)

awhile, a while

Awhile is adverbial. (Let’s rest here awhile.) A while is a noun phrase that follows for or in. (She rested for a while. She will continue in a while.)

B

Bachelor of Arts

Bachelor of Arts or BA can be used interchangeably. When describing formal degrees, use Bachelor of Arts (Bachelor of Arts in English, Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy, etc.). Informal usage of degree titles are lowercase (bachelor’s degree in English, bachelor’s degree in philosophy, etc.).

bachelor’s degree

Use an apostrophe.

backward

(not backwards)

bad, badly

Bad is an adjective. (He felt bad about the way things turned out.) Badly is an adverb. (The fallen athlete took the defeat badly.)

basis

When possible, use adverbs rather than modify (daily, not on a daily basis).

be sure to

(not be sure and)

because

Contrary to popular belief, because may be used to begin a sentence.

beginning a sentence with a conjunction

Despite widespread belief to the contrary, it is acceptable to begin a sentence with a conjunction (because, and, but, so, such as).

behalf

In behalf of means in the interest or for the benefit of. On behalf of means acting as agent or representative of.

beside, besides

Beside means next to or at the side of. Besides means in addition to.

best/most

Both best and most are superlative adjectives, so only one thing in a given category can qualify as best or most. Therefore, the phrase one of the best/most is inaccurate.

between you and me

(not you and I)

between/among

Between is used with two items or when a definite relationship is clear.

  • Between you and me, this book will never be published.
  • Negotiations have broken down between the musicians, the union, and management.

Among is used with three or more, to imply distribution, or when no explicit relationship is stated.

  • You are among friends.
  • Free theatre tickets were passed out among the students.

Bible, biblical, bible

Capitalize when referring to THE Bible, but lowercase biblical, and lowercase bible when used in a generic fashion.

bi-/semi-

Generally, bi means two (biweekly means every two weeks). Semi means half (semiweekly means twice a week). However, biannual and semiannual both mean twice a year, while biennial means once every two years (or every other year). To prevent confusion, avoid using biannual altogether. For clarity, consider writing out the full meaning of all of these words. In general, do not use a hyphen after the prefix unless the second element begins with i or is capitalized.

black/African American

Try to determine and use the term preferred by the group or person being described. Otherwise, use African American (no hyphen) for people of African descent. But use black (lowercase) when the reference is not only to people of African descent but also to those whose more immediate roots are in the Caribbean or South America.

blatant, flagrant

Blatant means obvious (a blatant lie). Flagrant means conspicuously bad or offensive (a flagrant miscarriage of justice).

bloc, block

A bloc is a coalition of people, groups, or nations with the same purpose or goal. Block is not used in reference to a political alliance.

board

Capitalize Board of Trustees when using the formal name of the group, especially on first reference. Lowercase board and trustees in subsequent references. Capitalize Trustee when the title precedes a board member’s name (Trustee John Q. Doe III), but lowercase when used after (John Q. Doe III, trustee and parent of Suzie Q. Doe ’11). Lowercase board of directors or board of advisers when referring to other organizations. Also lowercase board member, editorial board, advisory board, etc.

book titles

In College publications, book titles are italicized. In press releases, media advisories, or other media-related printed pieces, book titles should be enclosed in quotation marks.

boom, boon

Boom means to grow or develop rapidly, while boon means something beneficial that is bestowed.

born/borne

Born is an adjective (born leader) or passive-voice verb (born into poverty). Borne is the past participle of bear. (She has borne severe hardships.)

borough

(not boro)

brand names and trademarks

Brand names that are registered trademarks should be capitalized, although lowercased generic terms are preferred when available (Jacuzzi, whirlpool bath; Kleenex, facial tissue; Levi’s, jeans; Xerox, photocopy; Vaseline, petroleum jelly; and so on). Do not start sentences with company names that begin with a lowercase initial letter (eBay, iMac, etc.). It is not necessary to use the symbols ® and TM that often accompany trademark names on product packaging and promotional materials. (There is no legal requirement to use these symbols.)

breach/breech

A breach is a gap in or violation of something. To breach is to break, break open, or break through. A breech refers to the lower or back part of something.

building names

See appendix.

but

Contrary to popular belief, this conjunction may be used to begin contrasting sentences.

by means of

Use by or with if either one suffices.

C

campuswide

(one word, no hyphen)

cancel, canceled, canceling, cancellation

(note spelling)

can/may

Can denotes ability. May denotes possibility and permission.

capitalization

For detailed guidance on all forms of capitalization, consult The Chicago Manual of Style.

capitalization on second reference

Capitalize on second reference when referring to organizations, but lowercase when referring to buildings. For example:

  • Sarah Lawrence College > the College*
  • Fund for Sarah Lawrence> the Fund (or FSL)
  • Child Development Institute > the Institute
  • Marshall Field Music Building > the music building
  • Esther Raushenbush Library > the library
  • Casper Whitney Fitness Center > the fitness center

* Reserve this second-reference capitalization to Sarah Lawrence only, i.e. when “Sarah Lawrence” could be substituted for “the College.” Use lowercase on second reference to any other college or university.

caregiver, caregiving

(one word, no hyphen)

catalog

Use this spelling except when specifically referencing the Sarah Lawrence undergraduate and graduate course catalogues.

CD

(no periods, acceptable on first reference to a compact disc)

cell phone

(not mobile phone)

censor, censure

To censor is to review and cut out objectionable material, to suppress. To censure is to criticize strongly or disapprove, or to officially reprimand.

center around

Use either center on or revolve around instead.

century, centuries

As an exception to Chicago’s style, lowercase and spell out century numbers only through the ninth; otherwise use numerals (the eighth century, the 21st century, the 1800s). Hyphenate when used in a compound adjective, whether spelled out or in numerals (eighth-century artifacts, 18th-century poet…also mid-16th century, etc.).

chair, chairperson

Chair is preferred. Use chairperson only when the organization so states the designation in its bylaws. When in doubt, use chair. (e.g., John Doe is chair of the Sarah Lawrence College Board of Trustees.) Hyphenate co-chair.

chronological abbreviations

BCE and CE are preferred to BC and AD, and should appear in all caps, with no periods.

cities and towns

Always spell out the names of cities, except where the official name includes an abbreviation (St. Louis). The name of a city should be followed by the full state name in running text or the state abbreviation in press releases. A comma is used between city and state, and after state. In a press release dateline, use postal codes rather than state abbreviation.

The name of the state does not need to follow these well-known cities:

  • Atlanta
  • Baltimore
  • Boston
  • Chicago
  • Cincinnati
  • Cleveland
  • Dallas
  • Denver
  • Detroit
  • Honolulu
  • Houston
  • Indianapolis
  • Las Vegas
  • Los Angeles
  • Miami
  • Milwaukee
  • Minneapolis
  • New Orleans
  • New York City
  • Oklahoma City
  • Philadelphia
  • Phoenix
  • Pittsburgh
  • St. Louis
  • Salt Lake City
  • San Antonio
  • San Diego
  • San Francisco
  • Seattle
  • Washington, DC

city, village, township

Generally lowercase (city government), except when used in an official name (New York City, the Village of Bronxville) or regularly used nickname (the Windy City, the City of Brotherly Love), or capitalized as part of a formal title before a name (Township Manager Jane Doe).

Use lowercase in city of constructions unless the context requires the corporate name or references the governmental body rather than the place. (The injured tourist is suing the City of New York. She works for the Village of Forest Park. They violated a Village of Bronxville ordinance. Most believe our city government is highly efficient.)

It is not necessary to capitalize city when used as second reference for New York City.

citywide, statewide, nationwide

(one word, no hyphen)

class

Capitalize only when used in a more formal fashion (the Class of 2010); and lowercase otherwise (the 1950 class).

clean up, cleanup 

Use clean up as a verb. Use cleanup as a noun or adjective.

clench, clinch

Clench connotes a physical action (clench the hand into a fist). Clinch generally has figurative uses (clinch a victory).

close proximity

Redundant; use either close or in proximity.

co-

Many words using the prefix co- are spelled without a hyphen (consult Webster’s), but note these exceptions:

  • co-author
  • co-chair
  • co-curricular
  • co-edit, co-editor
  • co-host
  • co-op
  • co-opt
  • co-worker
  • co-wrote

coast

Lowercase when referring to the physical shoreline (Atlantic coast). Capitalize when referring to a major region (the West Coast).

coed

(one word, no hyphen) Sarah Lawrence has been coed since 1968. Do not use coed to refer to a female college student.

College, college

When referring to Sarah Lawrence College, College is capitalized on second and all other references. All other colleges, when referred to on second reference, should be lowercase. On first reference, use Sarah Lawrence College.

colleges and universities

Refer to the current issue of Peterson’s Guide to Four-Year Colleges or the Internet for formal names of colleges and universities. Follow the name of a college or university with the city and, when necessary, the state.

collegial, collegiate

Collegial answers to colleague. Collegiate answers to college.

collide, crash

A collision is violent contact between moving bodies. When a vehicle hits a stationary object, use crash instead of collide.

colon

  • The colon indicates that what follows will complete or amplify what came before it. Use a colon to introduce a series. (Three people were vying for the award: John Jones, Pamela Smith, and Jack White.)
  • Do not use a colon between a verb and its complement or object. (The three people are Jones, Smith, and White.)
  • A colon also may be used to link two sentences when the second clause explains or amplifies the first. (Her achievement remains etched in memory: it has not been surpassed in 50 years.)
  • When a colon is used within a sentence, the next word should start with a lowercase letter unless it is a proper noun. If the colon introduces two or more complete sentences, a speech in dialogue, or an extract, the first word following the colon is capitalized.
  • Use a colon to introduce clauses and phrases that begin with for example. (The campaign enabled the College to make important progress: for example, to create two new endowed chairs.) Also use a colon after as follows, the following, and similar expressions.
  • Place colons outside quotation marks.

commas

Sarah Lawrence does use serial commas.

  • Use commas to separate elements in a series, and put a comma before the conjunction in a simple series. For example:
    • John is taking courses in theatre, math, dance, and philosophy this semester.
    • He has spent more than 17 years at the high school as a music teacher and voice coach, and director of the marching band, jazz ensemble, and chorus.
  • If a sentence contains a complex series of words with other commas, use semicolons to separate them:
    • The search committee included John Jones, director of admission; Pamela Smith, dean of the College; and Jack White, admission counselor.
  • When a conjunction, such as and, but, or for, links two clauses that could stand alone as separate sentences, use a comma before the conjunction. However, the comma may be omitted in simple sentences where the clauses are short and closely connected.
    • She entered the classroom, and the professor greeted her warmly.
    • Dad played the guitar and Darcy sang.
  • Commas may sometimes be omitted for aesthetic reasons at the ends of lines set in large display type (heads, subheads, etc.), as long as no confusion results. Commas may also be omitted selectively in formal invitations, formal programs, advertisements, signage, and other displays.

commencement

Capitalize only when used with the year as a formal title on the program cover, invitation, etc. (Commencement 2010). Lowercase otherwise. (His entire family came from Oregon for commencement.)

committee

Do not abbreviate. Capitalize when part of a formal name (Committee on Academic Policy and Procedure), and lowercase otherwise. Do not capitalize in shortened or casual versions of a name (the search committee). The same guidelines also apply to councils, panels, task forces, and so on.

common, mutual

What is common is shared by two or more people. What is mutual is reciprocal or directly exchanged by and toward each other. (common interest, mutual admiration, not mutual friend)

company and corporation names

On first reference, use a company’s formal name and location (when necessary). Consult the Standard & Poor’s Register of Corporations for confirmation of formal name.

Do not abbreviate company, corporation, or association when it is part of a formal name, unless the organization itself does so in formal usage. Spell out and lowercase company, corporation, association, etc., when they stand alone. However, abbreviations may be used in the class notes section of the magazine to save space.

Do not use a comma before Inc. and Ltd. unless the official, formal name does so.

compared to, compared with

Use compared to when putting one thing in the same class or category without examining it closely. (The current inflation rate can be compared to a hot-air balloon with an endless supply of fuel.) Use compared with when you put things side by side to examine similarities and differences closely. (The inflation rate is 8.9 percent, compared with last year’s figure of 6.3 percent.)

complement, compliment

Complement means to complete or supplement (an illustration that complements the article). Compliment means to praise.

compose, comprise

Compose means to create or to put together, so the parts compose the whole. (The zoo is composed of many animals.) Comprises means consists of or includes, so the whole comprises the parts. In other words, the US is composed of 50 states, but the US comprises 50 states. Do not use comprised of.

computer terms: formatting

Capitalization: Basic alphabet keys as well as all named keys, menu items, and icon names are capitalized and spelled as they are on the keys or in the software. (The function key F2 has no connections with the keys F and 2. Choosing Cut from the Edit menu is an alternative to pressing Ctrl+X.) Also capitalize the proper names of computer hardware, software, networks, systems, and languages. Generic terms, such as word processing or operating system, are lowercased.

Plus Sign: The plus sign is used without a space on either side when different keys are to be pressed simultaneously. (If the screen freezes, press Ctrl+Alt+Delete.)

Font: Italics, boldface, or a different font may be used to distinguish elements needing greater prominence or distinction than capitalization. (Quotation marks should be avoided, given their specialized use in computer languages.) File names may be italicized if italics are not used for other elements. (Choose Tutorial from the Help menu, and open the file introduction. Type win after the prompt.)

confidant, confident

A confidant is a close companion. Confident means being certain or having faith.

connote, denote

To connote is to convey an additional meaning. To denote is to specify the literal meaning of something.

contemptuous, contemptible

If you are contemptuous, you are feeling contempt for someone or something. If you are contemptible, others will have that attitude toward you.

continual, continuous

Continual means intermittent or frequently repeated. Continuous means constant, uninterrupted, unbroken.

continued

Use continued on page x or the abbreviation cont. on p.x in lowercase italics at the end of interrupted text as needed. On the page where the copy picks up again, repeat the article title (or a simpler shortened version) and follow with continued from page x or cont. from p.x (enclosing in parentheses if desired). Regardless of format, be consistent throughout a given piece or series of pieces.

contractions

Contractions (don’t, isn’t, won’t, etc.) are acceptable in informal pieces, in direct mail pieces, and in direct quotations. However, they should be avoided in formal publications and policy statements.

convince, persuade

Convince means to overcome doubt and feel secure about a decision or principle. You cannot be convinced to do anything, but you can be convinced that or convinced of something. Persuade means to cause someone to do something by means of argument or reasoning, to win someone over, to make someone believe something. You can persuade someone to do something but never persuade someone of something.

copy-edit, copy editor

(note difference in hyphenation)

couldn’t care less

(not could care less)

council, counsel, consul

A council is a deliberative body, and a councilor, councilman, or councilwoman is a member of that body. To counsel is to advise, and a counselor is one who advises. A consul is an official appointed by a government to reside in a foreign city and represent his or her government’s commercial interests and give assistance to its citizens there. Consul should only be capitalized when used as part of a formal title before a name.

couple of

Avoid using couple alone as an adjective. (We watched a couple of movies. Not: We watched a couple movies.)

course load

(two words, no hyphen)

course titles

Capitalize the proper name and use quotation marks to denote a course of study. (Refer to the most current academic catalogues for course listings.) For example:

  • “Global Theatre: China, Japan, and India”
  • “Ancient Philosophy: Aristotle”
  • “Electricity and Magnetism”

Lowercase courses in generic usage. (He took courses in chemistry, history, and literature this semester.)

course work

(two words, no hyphen)

credit hours

(two words, no hyphen)

cultural periods and terms

A descriptive designation of a cultural period is usually lowercased, except for proper names (the antebellum period, the Victorian era). Prefixes are generally lowercased (post-Impressionism, neo-Classicism).

Examples of cultural periods that are capitalized include:

  • the Bronze Age
  • the Ice Age
  • the Iron Age
  • the Stone Age

Examples of common cultural terms that Sarah Lawrence capitalizes include:

  • Art Deco
  • Art Nouveau
  • Baroque
  • Classicism
  • Conceptualism
  • Cubism
  • Expressionism
  • Hudson River school
  • Impressionism
  • Modernism
  • Romanticism
  • Romantic Poetry

Examples of common cultural terms that are lowercased include:

  • capitalism
  • civil rights
  • civil rights movement
  • communism
  • the information age
  • the nuclear age
  • war on terror

currently, presently

Currently means at the present time or now in progress. Presently can mean either in a short time or at this time. For clarity, currently is preferred when meaning at this time.

cyberspace

(one word, no hyphen, lowercase)

D

data

Originally a plural of datum, this word is now commonly treated as a mass noun and coupled with a singular verb (the data is accurate). In formal writing and in the sciences, however, use data as a plural.

database

(one word, no hyphen)

dates

  • When promoting an event (ads, invitations, brochures, etc.), always include time, day, and date, with the event title and location. Spell out the names of days and months, except as required in charts or graphs. Years are expressed in numerals unless they stand alone at the beginning of a sentence, but try to avoid that construction.
  • When a phrase includes a month, day, and year, set off the year with commas (both before and after). When a date consists of only a month and a year, do not use a comma (May 2010). When using the European-style date (very limited applications), do not punctuate (14 January 1967).
  • Do not use th, st, rd, or nd after the date (June 30, not June 30th).
  • When indicating a span of days, use an en dash with no spaces, rather than a hyphen (August 12–15).
  • As an exception to Chicago style, the all-numeral style of writing dates is acceptable outside regular essay text when space is limited. The numbers should be in month-day-year sequence (5/7/08 or 5.7.08).

Note: For computer file names or spreadsheets, the all-numeral sequence recommended for ease in sorting is year-month-day (2008-05-07).

day care

(two words, no hyphen even as a modifier)

daybreak, daydream, daylight, daytime, daywork

(one word)

daylight saving time

(lowercase, not savings)

daylong, weeklong, monthlong, yearlong

(one word, no hyphen)

days of the week

When space limitations require abbreviation of days of the week, consistency is key (Sun., Mon., Tues., Wed., Thurs., Fri., Sat. or Su, M, Tu, W, Th, F, Sa).

decades

Use numerals to signify decades, unless the century is clear (sock hops in the fifties). Use an apostrophe (tail pointing left) to abbreviate (the late ’60s), but do not use an apostrophe to indicate a plural (early in the 1970s).

decimate

Decimate literally means to kill every tenth person, but has come to mean to inflict heavy casualties. Avoid using it to refer to complete destruction (the city was completely decimated) or when a percentage is specified (the disaster decimated 23 percent of the population).

decision making, decision-making

Use decision making (two words) as a noun. Use decision-making (hyphenated) as an adjective.

definite, definitive

Definite means clear, exact (a definite reply). Definitive means conclusive, final, most authoritative (a definitive policy).

degrees

Capitalize when using the full formal degree (Master of Fine Arts in Theatre).

Lowercase when used casually (master’s degree in theatre).

Do not use periods when abbreviating. Sarah Lawrence grants only the following degrees:

  • Bachelor of Arts (BA)
  • Master of Arts (MA)
    • Child Development
    • Women’s History
    • Health Advocacy
  • Master of Fine Arts (MFA)
    • Dance
    • Theatre
    • Writing
  • Master of Science (MS)
    • Human Genetics
  • Master of Science in Education (MSEd)
    • Art of Teaching
  • MA/MSW
    • Dual Degree in Child Development and Social Work with the Silver School of Social Work at New York University
  • MA/JD
    • Joint Degree in Women’s History and Law with Pace University
  • Certificate in Mediation in Health Care

Note: Do not cite academic concentrations as part of an SLC degree title, either formally or informally.

  • WRONG: She earned a Master of Fine Arts in Poetry.
  • ALTERNATIVE: She earned a Master of Fine Arts in Writing, with a focus on poetry.
  • WRONG: He holds a bachelor’s degree in theatre.
  • ALTERNATIVE: He holds a bachelor’s degree in the liberal arts, with a concentration in theatre.

Note: In its early days, Sarah Lawrence granted an AB degree. While both BA and AB stand for the same thing (Artium Baccalaureus, Bachelor of Arts), the abbreviation used at the time of graduation should be listed. When in doubt, double check Raiser’s Edge to confirm the correct abbreviation to use.

Note: It is preferable to say that someone has earned a degree, rather than received a degree.

delegate, relegate

To delegate is to authorize another to act on one’s behalf. To relegate is to assign a lesser position or to hand over for decision or execution.

denounce, renounce

To denounce is either to criticize harshly or to accuse. To renounce is either to relinquish or to reject.

departments, programs

Sarah Lawrence does not have academic departments. For lists of academic programs, disciplines, and areas of study, see appendices.

dependent

(not dependant)

deserts, desserts

The first are deserved (your just deserts), the second eaten (desserts on the menu).

desktop

(one word, no hyphen for noun or adjective)

despite, in spite of

These mean the same thing and both are acceptable, although despite is simpler and shorter.

dial up, dialup

Use dial up (two words) as a verb. Use dialup (one word) as an adjective.

diaspora

Lowercase in all general references to the scattering of national or ethnic groups. Capitalize only in reference to the epoch in which the Jews were dispersed after the Babylonian exile, or to the body of people who were dispersed then.

different from

Do not use different than.

dimensions

Use figures and spell out the unit of measure: inches, feet, etc. Hyphenate when using dimensions as an adjective (He is 5 feet 6 inches tall. He is a 5-foot-6-inch man.) Use foot and inch marks for charts and graphs (5'6").

directions, regions

Lowercase when indicating compass direction. Capitalize when indicating region. Hyphenate only when combining directions. (He drove west. The storm brought heavy snowfall to the Northeast. The wind seemed to be coming from the east-northeast.)

disburse, disperse

To disburse is to distribute money. To disperse is to distribute or break up other things, such as an unruly crowd.

disc, disk

Disk is the usual spelling, but disc is preferred in computer-related and specialized applications (compact disc, disc brakes).

discreet, discrete

Discreet means circumspect, judicious. Discrete means separate, distinct, unconnected.

discriminating, discriminatory

Discriminating means analytical, discerning, tasteful. Discriminatory means reflecting a biased treatment.

disinterested, uninterested

Disinterested means not having a financial or personal interest at stake, impartial. Uninterested means unconcerned, bored.

dived, dove

Traditionally, dived is preferred to dove in most uses.

doctoral degree

(not doctor’s degree)

don/donnee(s)

Lowercase in all uses; spelled as shown.

dot-com

(noun or adjective) Lowercase in all references.

doughnut

(not donut)

download

(one word, no hyphen)

downward

(not downwards)

dumb, mute

Mute is clearer in meaning and does not carry unintended negative connotations.

DVD

(no periods, acceptable on first reference to a digital videodisc)

E

each, either, neither

When used as subjects, these pronouns always take singular verbs. (Lisa displays all of her photos; each has sentimental value. Jeff presented two concepts; either is acceptable to me, and neither is likely to cause disagreement among the staff.)

each other, one another

Each other is used when referring to two people, animals, or objects. One another is used when referring to three or more.

economic, economical

Economic means of or relating to large-scale finances. Economical means thrifty, financially efficient.

edible, eatable

Edible means fit for human consumption (edible flowers). Eatable means at least minimally palatable (slightly burned but eatable).

effete

Avoid using this word. Traditionally, it has meant decadent, worn out, sterile. Today it is often used to mean snobbish or effeminate. Because of its ambiguity, effete is best avoided altogether.

e.g., i.e.

The abbreviation e.g. stands for the Latin words meaning for example. The abbreviation i.e. stands for the Latin words meaning that is. A comma follows e.g. and i.e.

either

Use it to mean one or the other, not both.

either/or, neither/nor

Should be paired as indicated, and should be used only to connect similar grammatical elements in parallel form. (The line is busy, so she is either on the phone or the computer. Surprisingly, he is neither tired nor hungry.)

elemental, elementary

Something elemental is an essential constituent or a power of nature. Something that is elementary is basic, introductory, or easy.

elicit, illicit

Elicit is a verb that means to draw out. Illicit is an adjective that means illegal.

ellipsis

  • As an exception to Chicago’s style, treat an ellipsis as a three-letter word, constructed with three periods and single spaces on both sides. This method is simplest to type and format. In ideal circumstances, the typesetter/designer can open the letterspacing of the three periods slightly for a more aesthetic treatment, but this must be done consistently within a given piece.
    • He presented her the award. … She began to cry.
    • Why was she so excited? … She couldn’t imagine what opportunities might lie ahead.
  • Other punctuation (comma, colon, semicolon, question mark, or exclamation point) may precede or follow the ellipsis. Placement of the other punctuation depends on whether the omitted material precedes or follows the mark in the original text.
  • After any complete sentence, be sure to use closing punctuation before the ellipsis.
  • The first word after an ellipsis is capitalized if it begins a grammatically complete sentence, even if it was lowercased in the original.
  • Keep the three periods together on the same line, but any preceding punctuation may appear at the end of the line above.
  • The omission of one or more paragraphs within a lengthy quotation is indicated by an ellipsis at the end of the paragraph preceding the omitted part. If the first part of a paragraph is omitted within a quotation, a paragraph indentation and an ellipsis appear before the first quoted word. So in some cases, this may mean that an ellipsis appears both at the end of one paragraph and at the beginning of the next.

Note: An ellipsis also may be used for dramatic effect, particularly in ads and brochures. An ellipsis can indicate that text will continue elsewhere, that a thought or comment has been interrupted, or that the conclusion of the thought is left open to interpretation. In similar contexts, an ellipsis can be used at the beginning of text to indicate that the copy following is the continuation of earlier text or the completion of an interrupted thought.

em dash

The em dash (—), with no space before and after the elongated dash, emphasizes a point with a pause, denotes an abrupt change in thought, or signifies an interruption in dialogue. No more than two dashes should be used in a single sentence, and dashes should not be overused.

  • If used at the end of quoted material to indicate an interruption, a comma should be used before the words that identify the speaker. (“I assure you—,” she began, but he cut her off abruptly.)
  • A question mark or an exclamation point may precede an em dash in a sentence, but not a comma, colon, semicolon, or period. (Suddenly the customer—was he crazy?—struck the cashier in the face. If you have more trouble—heaven forbid!—call me immediately.)
  • An em dash may also be used before a name (no space) that follows a quote or quotation.

Note: A 2-em dash is used to represent a missing word or part of a word (to disguise a name, omit an expletive, and so on). When a whole word is missing, spaces appear on both sides of the dash. (The undercover officer, John D——, couldn’t hide his outrage, calling the accused murderer “a worthless —— who should be executed without wasting time on a trial.”)

e-mail

E-mail may be used as a verb as well as a noun and an adjective. Hyphenate e-mail in all uses. Lowercase mail in all cases, and lowercase e except when used in a headline, on a form, or at the beginning of a sentence (E-mail). Do not italicize e-mail addresses in essay text. Treat e-commerce, e-marketing, e-zine, and other similar words in the same manner.

empathy, sympathy

Empathy is putting yourself in someone else’s place to understand that person’s situation. Sympathy is compassion and sorrow one feels for another.

en dash

An en dash (–) is used to connect inclusive numbers and sometimes words. In this use, it signifies up to and including or through. (1960–2010, chapters 16–8, 10:30 a.m.–2:30 p.m., the London–Paris train)

  • However, the en dash should not be used when the word to precedes the first element (from 1960 to 2010) or the word between precedes the first element (between 10:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m.).
  • An en dash may also be used by itself after a date to indicate that something is still going on, with no space following the dash. (Jane Doe, 1950–)
  • Note that a hyphen, not an en dash, is used to separate numbers that are not inclusive, such as telephone numbers, social security numbers, and ISBNs.
  • Additionally, an en dash is often used in place of a hyphen in a compound adjective for clarity (the post–World War II years, a nursing home–home care policy, his fly-by-night–devil-may-care style, etc.)
  • An en dash is also used when formatting sports scores and voting tallies.
  • Occasionally, an en dash is used to link a city name to the name of a university that has more than one campus, rather than a comma. Follow the institution’s preference.

ending a sentence with a preposition

When necessary, it is acceptable for a sentence to end in a preposition. A natural sounding construction is better than one that sounds artificial. (Regarding the rule against ending with a preposition, Winston Churchill said, “That is the type of arrant pedantry up with which I shall not put.”)

enervate, innervate

These words are antonyms. To enervate is to weaken or drain of energy. To innervate is to stimulate or provide with energy.

enormity, enormous

Enormity means monstrousness, moral outrageousness, atrociousness. Enormous means abnormally large size.

ensure, insure

Ensure means to make sure. Insure means to provide or obtain insurance.

entitled

Entitled means deserving or having the right. A book, lecture, song, etc., is titled, not entitled.

enumerable, innumerable

Enumerable means able to be counted. Innumerable means too many to count.

epidemic, endemic, pandemic

An epidemic disease (such as measles) breaks out, spreads through a limited area, and then subsides. An endemic disease is perennially present within a region or population (such as malaria). A pandemic disease is prevalent over a large area, such as a nation or continent, or even the entire world (such as bird flu).

eras

Era designations should be in capital letters with no periods. The preferred option is CE (of the common era) and BCE (before the common era). Inclusive dates should be used to avoid confusion (350–345 BCE), and the higher BCE number comes first, while the lower CE number comes first.

et al.

Et al. is a Latin abbreviation meaning and others. No period follows et (which is not an abbreviation). When it follows a single item, it requires no preceding or following comma. When it follows two or more items, a comma following is optional.

etc., and so forth, and the like

The abbreviation etc. is preceded by a comma when it is the final item in a series. It can also be followed by a comma. (Equivalent phrases are treated the same way.) If etc. falls at the end of a sentence, only one period is used.

events

Events take place, are hosted, or are sponsored. If possible, avoid using held.

everybody, everyone, every body, every one

Use one word for an indefinite reference, and treat as singular. (Everybody can join in. Everyone is welcome to participate.) Use two words when the emphasis is on singling out one element of a group. (Every body is represented in the coalition. Every one of the groups has selected a spokesperson.)

exclamation point

An exclamation point should be placed inside quotation marks, parentheses, or brackets only when it is part of the quoted or parenthetical matter. (Would you believe he actually responded, “It’s no concern of mine”!) Neither a period (aside from an abbreviation period) nor a comma ever accompanies an exclamation point. The exclamation point takes precedence. If an exclamation point and a question mark are both called for, only the more appropriate to the context should be used.

ext.

(not Ext.). Stands for extension (ext. 2220). The use of x (lowercase) is an acceptable alternative (x2220).

extra-

Most compounds formed with extra are one word (extracurricular, extramarital, extramural, extraordinary, extraterrestrial). Consult Webster’s as needed.

F

faculty

Per more progressive usage, faculty may now be either singular or plural.

faculty handbook

Capitalize only when used as part of the formal title including the year (Faculty Handbook 2008-2009); lowercase otherwise.

fall semester, spring semester

Lowercase, in keeping with Sarah Lawrence’s less formal style, unless used as part of a formal title.

Family Weekend

(capitalized; not Parents Weekend)

farther, further

Farther refers to physical distance. Further refers to an extension of time or degree.

fax

(not facsimile)

faze, phase

To faze is to disturb or disconcert. To phase is to schedule or perform a plan, task, or the like in stages.

federal

Lowercase, except when referring to the architectural style or when used in a formal name or title (Federal Bureau of Investigation, federal court, the federal government).

feel bad

(not feel badly)

fewer, less

In general, use fewer for individual people or items; use less for bulk, quantity, or amount. (As it turns out, I ended up with fewer etchings to sell than I had planned. That means I’ll make less than $500 dollars. So I’ll be ordering less handmade paper now.)

fictional, fictitious

Fictional means of, relating to, or characteristic of imagination. Fictitious means imaginary, counterfeit, false.

fieldwork

(one word, no hyphen)

first, second, third

(not firstly, secondly, thirdly, etc.)

first-come, first-served


first-year student

Do not use freshman/freshmen. Hyphenate first-year when used as an adjective.

First-Year Studies

For clarity, capitalize when used specifically to reference the Sarah Lawrence “First-Year Studies” seminar.

flare, flair

A flare is an unsteady and glaring light or a sudden outburst. A flair is an outstanding talent or originality and stylishness.

flier

Flier (not flyer) is the preferred spelling for an aviator or a handbill.

flounder, founder

To flounder is to struggle awkwardly. To founder is to sink or fall to the ground.

follow up, follow-up

Use follow up (two words) as a verb. Use follow-up (hyphenated) as a noun or adjective.

forbear, forebear

To forbear is to refrain. A forebear is an ancestor.

forego, forgo

To forego means to go before. To forgo means to abstain from, do without, or renounce.

former, latter

The former is the first of a pair; the latter is the second of the two.

forms

The names of official forms should be capitalized, and generally do not require either italics or quotation marks (Free Application for Federal Student Aid). Generic names need not be capitalized (application form).

fortuitous, fortunate

Fortuitous means by chance, whether the fortune is good or bad. Fortunate means blessed by good fortune.

forward

(not forwards)

freelance, freelancer

(one word, no hyphen)

freshman

Sarah Lawrence does not use the term freshman. Use first-year student instead. Sophomore, junior, and senior are acceptable.

front line, front-line

Use front line (two words) as a noun. Use front-line (hyphenated) as an adjective.

full time, full-time

Hyphenate only when used as a compound modifier: He works full time, but she has a full-time job.

fundraising, fundraiser

Per common practice in the field, use one word, no hyphen, for nouns and adjectives.

G

gender neutral language

See appendix for Sarah Lawrence guidelines.

geographic terms

Entities that appear on maps are always capitalized, as are adjectives and nouns derived from them. However, derivations are lowercase when used generically or metaphorically. For example:

  • an Alpine village (if located in the Alps), but alpine pastures in the Rockies
  • the Arctic Circle; Arctic waters, a mass of Arctic air, but arctic weather in New York

Note these specific geographic examples as well:

  • central Europe (general), but Central Europe when referring to the political division of WWI
  • the continent of Europe, but on the Continent (as opposed to Great Britain)
  • Continental cuisine, but continental breakfast
  • the eastern seaboard, but the East Coast (eastern US)
  • eastern, but Eastern when referring to the Orient and Asian culture
  • eastern Europe, but Eastern Europe when referring to the political division of WWI
  • the Great Plains, the northern plains, the plains, but Plains Indians
  • the Midwest, midwestern, a midwesterner
  • Northerner (capitalized) in American Civil War contexts
  • northern California, but Southern California (also considered a cultural entity)
  • in northern Africa, but North Africa and North African countries
  • North Pole and South Pole, but polar regions and the poles
  • Southerner (capitalized) in American Civil War contexts
  • the Deep South
  • in southern Africa, but South Africa
  • the Western world (considered a cultural entity)
  • the West Coast (of the US)

Popular names of places are usually capitalized, and quotation marks are not needed (the Bible Belt, the Silicon Valley, the Sunshine State, the Twin Cities).

Terms considered political rather than geographical are lowercase (the iron curtain, the third world), and generic terms for parts of urban areas are also lowercase (the business district, the inner city).

When greater is used with the name of a city to denote a whole metropolitan area, it is capitalized (Greater Chicago).

geological terms

Formal geological terms are capitalized, while informal terms are lowercased or omitted immediately following a formal name (the Paleozoic period). Eons are divided into eras, eras into periods, periods into epochs, and epochs into stages. The modifiers early, middle, and late are capitalized when part of a formal name, but lowercased when used informally (in early Middle Cambrian times).

getaway

(one word, no hyphen)

get-together

(one word, hyphenated)

gibe, jibe, jive

A gibe is a biting insult or taunt. Jibe means to fit or coincide. Jive means deceptive, glib, or nonsensical talk, or to cajole or mislead.

gild, guild

To gild is to put a thin layer of gold on something. A guild is an organization of persons with a common interest or profession.

give away, giveaway

Use give away (two words) as a verb. Use giveaway (one word, no hyphen) as a noun or adjective.

God, god

Capitalize the word God in references to the deity of all monotheistic religions, and capitalize all noun references to that deity (God the Father, Holy Spirit, Jehovah). Lowercase personal pronouns (he, him, thee, thou). Lowercase the words god and goddess in generic references and references to "false" gods. Capitalize the proper names of all religious deities, whether monotheistic or polytheistic (Allah, Mithra, Yahweh, etc.).

Gospel(s), gospel

Capitalize when referring to the first four books of the New Testament. Lowercase in all other references (gospel music, gospel singer, etc.).

gourmet, gourmand

A gourmet knows and appreciates the finer points of food and drink. A gourmand is a glutton.

GPA

GPA is acceptable on first reference for grade point average.

graduate

Do not use graduate to refer to an alumna or alumnus who didn’t actually graduate from Sarah Lawrence.

grand, great-grand

Do not hyphenate grand compounds (grandmother, grandson), but hyphenate great-grand compounds (great-grandfather, great-granddaughter).

grantmaker, grantmaking

(one word, no hyphen)

grateful, gratified

To be grateful is to be thankful or appreciative. To be gratified is to be pleased, satisfied, or indulged.

gray

(not grey, except greyhound)

grisly, grizzly

Grisly means gruesome or horrible. Grizzly means grayish.

ground zero, Ground Zero

Capitalize only in reference to the site of the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center.

H

half (of)

Delete of whenever possible.

handmade

(one word, no hyphen)

hand-picked

(hyphenated in all cases)

hands off, hands-off

Hyphenate only when used as a compound modifier (hands-off policy).

hangar, hanger

Airplane hangar; clothes hanger.

hanged, hung

Hanged is used only when referring to the killing of a human (by suspending from the neck).

Hanukkah

This spelling is preferred over Chanukah.

harebrained

(not hairbrained)

headlines

  • Headlines in press releases and media advisories need not necessarily contain Sarah Lawrence College because it is made clear through the use of SLC letterhead. Press releases and media advisories related to a specific program should contain the name of that particular program. Leads in press releases and media advisories should include Sarah Lawrence College.
  • Use present tense for headlines, quoted material, and captions unless a date or other reference in the content requires use of past tense.
  • Capitalization style for heads and subheads should be consistent within a work or series of works:
    • In sentence style, only the first word and proper names are capitalized, and no period is used at the end.
    • In headline style, always capitalize the first and last words in the headline and all other major words. Also capitalize all verbs, regardless of length. In general, lowercase prepositions of less than six letters (as, at, by, for, from, in, of, on, to, up, with, etc.) and the articles the, a, and an, as well as conjunctions and, but, for, or, nor. Capitalize these words only if they serve a key function and should be stressed, or serve as the first or last word (including the first word after a period or colon in a lengthy title). Lowercase to and as in all functions, unless they are the first or last word in the title.
    • In either style, the first word of a Latin species name is capitalized, but the rest are lowercased.
    • When a quoted sentence is included in a title, retain sentence-style capitalization inside the quotation marks, even if using the headline style otherwise.
    • Follow these same guidelines for headlines that include hyphenation. For example:
      • Sarah Lawrence Graduate Introduces Cutting-Edge Technique
      • Olympic Cycling Team on Fire: Leader Sets Record-Breaking Pace

health care

Health care is two words and is not hyphenated, even when used as an adjective, except when used otherwise in a formal name.

Help Desk

(two words, no hyphen, capitalized)

help (to)

Delete to whenever possible.

historic, historical

A historic event is an important occurrence, one that stands out in history. Any occurrence in the past is a historical event. The indefinite article a (not an) is used before these and other words beginning with a pronounced h. (Words that begin with an unpronounced h are preceded with an: an honor, an heir, etc.)

historical references

  • A descriptive designation of a historical period is usually lowercased, except for proper names (the antebellum period, but … ancient Greece, imperial Rome, the Victorian era, the High Middle Ages, but the late Middle Ages). Prefixes are generally lowercased (post-Impressionism, neo-Classicism).
  • Some otherwise generic period names are capitalized, either by tradition or to avoid ambiguity, for example:
    • the Age of Reason
    • the Common Era
    • the Dark Ages
    • the Enlightenment
    • the Gay Nineties
    • the Gilded Age
    • the Ice Age
    • the Jazz Age
    • Late Antiquity
    • the Middle Ages (but the medieval era)
    • the Progressive Era
    • the Reformation
    • the Renaissance
    • the Restoration
    • the Roaring Twenties
  • The names of many major historical events and projects are capitalized. Others, more recent or known by their generic descriptions, are usually lowercased. If in doubt, do not capitalize.
    • For example:
      • the Boston Tea Party
      • the Great Depression
      • the Industrial Revolution
      • the New Deal
      • Prohibition
      • Reconstruction
      • September 11 or 9/11
      • the War on Poverty
    • BUT:
      • the baby boom
      • the civil rights movement
      • the cold war
      • the gold rush
  • Speeches are usually lowercased, with the exception of a handful that have attained the status of titles:
    • Washington’s Farewell Address
    • the Gettysburg Address
    • the annual State of the Union address
    • Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I have a dream” speech
  • Natural phenomena or disasters of historic significance are often capitalized (the Great Plague, the Chicago Fire, Hurricane Katrina). The gender neutral pronouns it and its are preferred when making reference to a storm, regardless of name.
  • Full names of major and/or historic sporting events are also capitalized (the Kentucky Derby, the Olympic Games, the World Cup).

hold, held

Do not use when referring to events. Events take place, are hosted, or are sponsored. They are not held.

hold up, holdup

Use hold up (two words) as a verb. Use holdup (one word, no hyphen) as a noun or adjective.

holidays

Generally, the names of secular and religious holidays or specially designated days or seasons are capitalized (Black History Month, the Fourth of July, Good Friday, Holy Week, Independence Day, Lincoln’s Birthday, Mother’s Day, Passover, etc.)

holocaust, Holocaust

Capitalize only when referring specifically to the Nazi genocide of European Jews in World War II.

home in

(not hone in) Meaning to come closer and closer to a target.

home page

(two words, no hyphen)

home-care, home care

Hyphenate only when used as an adjective.

homemade

(one word, no hyphen)

hometown

(one word, no hyphen)

honorary degrees

All references to honorary degrees should specify that the degree was honorary.

hopefully

Hopefully means in a hopeful manner. Avoid using it to mean it is hoped.

hors d’oeuvres, appetizers

Note that hors d’oeuvres may be served with or without a meal, whereas appetizers are only served before and with a meal.

host

Host may be used as a verb when describing an event. (Sarah Lawrence hosted a dinner for …)

however

Webster's confirms that the use of however as the first word of a sentence is entirely acceptable.

HTML

HTML is an acronym for Hypertext Markup Language. HTML is the computer language used to create pages on the Web.

hypertext

(one word, no hyphen, lowercase)

hyphens

  • Use a hyphen to form a single idea from two or more words and to avoid ambiguity, especially when the modifier precedes the noun (a well-known person, a middle-class neighborhood, an open-ended question, the third-largest town, a cutting-edge technique). A hyphen is usually not needed following the noun: President John Q. Doe is well known. The neighborhood is middle class. The question raised in class was intentionally open ended. Of all the cities in our state, Greenville is the third largest. Our music is on the cutting edge.
  • Common and familiar phrases are typically hyphenated before or after a noun, with rare exceptions (stick-in-the-mud, jack-of-all-trades, flash in the pan).
  • Use a hyphen if the word that follows is capitalized (mid-Atlantic).
  • Do not hyphenate ethnic or national references (an African American man, a French Canadian leader, several Middle Eastern countries, etc.).
  • Use a hyphen to join doubled prefixes (sub-subparagraph).
  • Do not use a hyphen after words that end in -ly (highly educated person).
  • Compounds with most and least are usually not hyphenated (least likely selection, most efficient method).
  • Colors are not hyphenated before or after a noun, except for black-and-white when it precedes a noun (emerald green, bluish gray, coal black; a black-and-white newspaper; issues that aren’t black and white).
  • Hyphenate after a vowel whenever possible, not after a consonant (liga-ture rather than lig-ature).
  • Do not hyphenate a person’s name at a line break (i.e. Jennifer Jack-son Jones), and do not hyphenate a word within an organization’s formal name at a line break (i.e. Univer-sity or Interna-tional).
  • When a prefix ends and a root word begins with the same vowel, words tend to be written without a hyphen. (Consult Websters’ to confirm.) Examples include:
    • cooperate
    • cooperative (but co-op)
    • preelection
    • preeminent
    • reelect
    • reevaluate
  • Words with prefixes use this form for suspensive hyphenation:
    • over- and underused
    • macro- and microeconomics
    • 5- and 6-year-olds
  • Hyphens are also used to separate numbers that are not inclusive, such as telephone numbers, social security numbers, and ISBNs. And they are used in dialogue to separate letters when a word is spelled out. (“My name is Krystal; that’s k-r-y-s-t-a-l.”)
  • For guidelines on hyphenation and capitalization within titles and headlines, see titles of works and headlines entry.

Note: Consult Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary for all spelling issues.

I

ID

(no periods) Acceptable on first reference.

idyllic

Idyllic means charming or picturesque. It is not synonymous with ideal.

i.e., e.g.

The abbreviation i.e. stands for the Latin words meaning that is. The abbreviation e.g. stands for the Latin words meaning for example. A comma follows i.e. and e.g.

if, whether

If means in the event that/on the condition that, and is used to introduce clauses expressing nonexistent, hypothetical, or improbable conditions:

  • If Jamie practices hard, she may improve her performance.
  • If Jamie were to study with Alice, she might even understand the material!

Whether means if it is so that/if it happens that/in case, and is used to introduce the first of a set of possibilities:

  • She asked whether her paper was typed properly.
  • Whether her paper receives a good evaluation or not, she has given it her best effort.

illegible, unreadable

Handwriting or printing that is illegible is not clear enough to be read. Writing that is unreadable is so poorly composed as to be either incomprehensible or intolerably dull.

immigrate, emigrate

To immigrate is to enter a country to live. To emigrate is to leave one country to live in another one. (Someone who moves from Ireland to the US is an immigrant here, and an emigrant there.)

imminent, eminent

Imminent means impending. Eminent means prominent or outstanding. (Immanent is a theological term referring to the presence of God in the universe.)

impact

Avoid using this word as a verb unless in a physical context. Try affect or influence instead.

imply, infer

Writers or speakers imply. Listeners or readers infer.

in, into

In indicates location or position. Into indicates motion.

in memoriam

(note a in spelling)

in order to, in order for

Wherever possible, eliminate in order and simply use to or for.

in regard to

(not in regards to) Try a single-word substitute: about, regarding, concerning.

Inc., Ltd.

Do not use a comma before Inc., Ltd., and the like unless the comma appears in the company’s formal name.

incidence, incidents

The noun incidence is similar to rate or occurrence and means the frequency with which something occurs (such as a low incidence of plagiarism), or an instance of something happening or the manner in which it happens. (She did not anticipate an outburst in class and was shocked by its incidence). The plural noun incidents means separate, definite, single events and usually refers to those that are public and violent or have potentially serious consequences.

include, comprise

Use include to introduce a series when the items that follow are only part of the total. Use comprise when the full list is given.

incredible, incredulous

Incredible means unbelievable or astonishing. Incredulous means disbelieving, skeptical.

inculcate, indoctrinate

One inculcates values into a child, but indoctrinates the child with values.

independent clauses

  • Conjunctions between clauses: When independent clauses are joined by and, but, or, so, yet, or any other conjunction, a comma usually precedes the conjunction. (The bus never came, so we took a taxi. Everyone was shocked by the news, and one person fainted.) However, the comma may be omitted if the clauses are very short and closely connected. (Timothy played the guitar and Katy sang.)
  • Conjunctions in a series: When a sentence is composed of a series of short independent clauses with a conjunction joining the last two, commas should appear both between the clauses and before the conjunction. (John served the pasta, Kelly poured the wine, and Jan lit the candles.) If the clauses themselves contain commas, they should be separated by semicolons.

inference

Use the verb draw with inference (not make).

infrared

(one word, no hyphen)

infrastructure

(one word, no hyphen)

ingenious, ingenuous

Ingenious describes what is intelligent, clever, and original. Ingenuous describes what is candid, naive.

-in-law

brother-in-law, father-in-law, mother-in-law, sister-in-law

input

Avoid using input as a verb.

interdisciplinary

(one word, no hyphen)

interface

To avoid jargon, use the word interface only in computer-related contexts, not in reference to human interaction.

interfaith

(one word, no hyphen)

intermarriage

(one word, no hyphen)

Internet

Capitalize in all uses.

intramural

(one word, no hyphen, generally lowercase)

intranet

(lowercase) An intranet is internal (versus the Internet, which is public and external).

irregardless

Incorrect; use regardless or irrespective instead.

It is I.

Not It is me.

it’s, its

It’s means it is or it has. Its is possessive.

italics

  • Italicize the names of books, anthologies, journals, magazines, plays, operas, movies, television series, radio programs, recordings, works of art (except photographs), newspaper or magazine columns, and other freestanding works. Limited exceptions may be made in lists, ads, etc. as necessary.
  • While poems are normally enclosed in quotation marks, a very long poetic work, especially one constituting a book (such as the Illiad and the Odyssey), is italicized instead.
  • Also italicize uncommon phrases in foreign languages. However, foreign proper nouns are not italicized in an English context, nor are foreign words and phrases familiar to most readers and listed in Webster’s (such as in vitro, eros, and agape). If a foreign word is used repeatedly, it need be italicized only on its first occurrence.
  • When a word or phrase is not used functionally but is referred to as the word or term itself, it should be italicized. (What is meant by the term neurobotics?)
  • Individual letters and combinations of letters used simply as letters are usually italicized as well. (The teacher told the students to form the plural by adding s or es.) Italics are not needed, however, for common expressions. (Mind your p’s and q’s. Be sure to dot your i’s and cross your t’s.) And letters used to denote grades are capitalized, but not italicized. (The valedictorian earned an A in every class.)
  • Common scholarly words and abbreviations should not be italicized (ibid., et al., ca., etc.) However, sic is best italicized.
  • Latin species names of plants and animals are italicized, and the genus name is capitalized, while the specific epithet is lowercased. (The common grass snake, Natrix natrix, lives 10 years in captivity.) Subspecies and varieties are treated in the same manner. However, divisions higher than genus—phylum, class, order, and family—are capitalized but not italicized.
  • If italicized terms are used in the plural, the s is normally set in roman. A title already in plural form, however, is left unchanged. (Piled on his coffee table were three Chicago Tribunes, four New York Times, and two Madame Bovarys.) This same principle applies to possessives (Atlantic Monthly’s editor).
  • In press releases, names of books, operas, television series, movies, recordings, magazines, works of art, newspaper or magazine columns, uncommon phrases in foreign languages, and titles of poems, songs, articles, chapters, television episodes, dissertations, and theses are put in quotation marks.

J

jealousy, envy

Jealousy connotes feelings of resentment toward another, particularly in an intimate relationship. Envy refers to coveting another’s advantages, possessions, or abilities.

Jr., Sr., III

Do not use a comma between the last name and Jr. or Sr. unless the person has specifically requested that it be included. (John Jones Jr.) Commas are never used to set off III, IV, and such when used as part of a name. (John Jones III)

judgment

(not judgement)

K

kick off, kick-off, kickoff

Use kick off (two words) as a verb. Use kick-off (hyphenated) as an adjective. Use kickoff (one word, no hyphen) as a noun.

L

Latino, Latina

When possible, spell out Latino/Latina when writing about Latin American males and females. The shortened Latino/a is an acceptable alternative when necessary.

lay, lie

The action word is lay (lay, laid, laying) and takes a direct object. Lie indicates a state of reclining along a horizontal plane and does not take a direct object (lie, lay, lain, lying).

  • He is going to lie on the beach this afternoon.
  • He lay on the beach all day yesterday.
  • I will lay my beach towel next to his.

lay off, layoff

Use lay off (two words) as a verb. Use layoff (one word, no hyphen) as a noun or adjective.

leach, leech

To leach is to percolate or to separate out solids in solution by percolation. A leech is a bloodsucker (both literal and figurative).

lend, loan

Lend means letting someone use something with the understanding that it will be returned. Loan, as a verb, is standard only when money is the subject of the transaction. If in doubt, avoid using loan as a verb.

less than, under, fewer

Less than refers to quantity or amount. Under means physically underneath. Fewer is used for countable things (plural nouns).

lets, let’s

Lets means allows. Let’s is the contraction of let us.

liberal arts

Treat liberal arts as plural when used as a noun. (The liberal arts are the heart of …) As an adjective, it will most often modify a singular noun, so the verb will be singular. (A liberal arts education is …)

life-and-death

This phrase is preferred to life-or-death.

lifelong

(one word, no hyphen)

life-size

(hyphenated in all cases)

lifetime

(one word, no hyphen)

likable

(not likeable)

like, as

Use like to compare nouns and pronouns. (Sarah sings like a bird.) Use as to introduce clauses. (Sarah sings as a way to express her feelings.)

line breaks

  • Do not hyphenate a person’s name at a line break (i.e. Jennifer Jack-son Jones), and try to keep names on the same line whenever possible. If a name must be broken at a line ending, break after any initials (i.e. John Q. / Doe or J.Q. / Doe).
  • Do not separate an abbreviated courtesy title (Dr., Ms., etc.) from a person’s name at a line break.
  • Do not hyphenate a word within an organization’s formal name at a line break (i.e. Univer-sity or Interna-tional).
  • Do not split time or date at a line break (i.e. 11 / p.m. or July / 16).
  • Hyphenate after a vowel wherever possible, not after a consonant (liga-ture rather than lig-ature).

lists

Formatting:

  • In running text, short, simple lists are usually better run in the context of the sentence, especially if the introduction and the items form a complete sentence. However, a list should be set vertically if it is lengthy, needs to be prominent, contains items of several levels, or consists of complete sentences (or several). Vertical lists are also helpful when preparing ads, brochures, and other materials where quick and easy readability is important.
  • When preparing lists, either in vertical style or run-in style (within a sentence), start by creating parallel grammatical structure for all the elements of the list. Also use consistent formatting throughout a given article, publication, or series of related pieces.

Run-In Lists:

  • As an exception to Chicago’s style, lowercase letters or numerals that indicate divisions in a list within a sentence are followed by a closing parenthesis only—not enclosed in full parentheses.
  • No punctuation precedes the list if the last word of the introductory material is a verb or a preposition. If the introductory material is an independent clause, however, a colon should precede the list.
  • The items in the list are separated by commas unless any of the items require internal commas, in which case the list items should be separated by semicolons.

Vertical Lists:

  • When a vertical list is introduced by a complete grammatical sentence, the introductory sentence is followed by a colon (or in some cases a period). Items in the list do not require closing punctuation unless they consist of complete sentences.
  • When a vertical list completes the introductory sentence, it is recommended that a colon still precede the list. Where the items are simple, commas may be used at the end of each, with a period at the end of the last item. Where one or more of the items contains internal punctuation, semicolons may be used at the end of each item, with a period at the end of the last item. A conjunction (and, or, etc.) may be used after the comma or semicolon at the end of the second-to-last item, but is not required.
  • When items in the list are numbered, a period follows the initial numeral or letter, and the numerals and letters are aligned by the period. If the items in the list are complete sentences, the text following the period begins with a capital letter. If the items in the list are not complete sentences, or the items in the list complete the introductory sentence, then the text following the period begins with a lowercase letter.
  • When items run to two or more lines in a list with extra line spacing between the items, the lines should all align with the first word following the enumerating number or letter. In a list with no additional line spacing between the items, further indentation of the second and subsequent lines is recommended.

Note: Bullets may be used for any lists that are not sequential in nature, but must be used consistently regardless of style.

literally

This word should not be used in figurative senses, such as: “They were literally glued to their seats.”

livable

(not liveable)

loathe, loath

To loathe something is to detest it or to regard it with disgust. Someone who is loath is reluctant. (She seems loath to admit mistakes.)

location

  • For all references to our mailing address, use a numeral for the street address (1 Mead Way). One Mead Way is the name of SLC’s online alumni community. Use Bronxville as our location only in a complete mailing address with zip code.
  • When possible, refer to our location as being in Westchester County, just north of New York City.
  • When being more specific, the following description of our location is preferred: The College is located in Yonkers, New York, near the village of Bronxville, just north of New York City. Be sure to use village (lower case) when referring to Bronxville, not town, city, or borough.
  • When referring to our proximity to New York City, it is acceptable to say that we are just 30 minutes from Midtown Manhattan.

log in, log on, log off

(verb)

login, logon, logoff

(noun or adjective)

long distance, long-distance

Always use a hyphen when referring to telephone calls. (She phoned long-distance.) Otherwise, hyphenate only when used as a compound modifier. (He traveled a long distance. She made a long-distance trip.)

long term, long-term

Hyphenate when used as a compound modifier. (She signed a long-term contract with the agency.)

long time, longtime

Use long time (two words) as a noun. Use longtime (one word, no hyphen) as an adjective.

lose, loose

To lose something is to be deprived of it. To loose something is to release it from fastenings or restraints.

luxuriant, luxurious

Something luxuriant (such as hair) is lush and grows abundantly. Something luxurious (such as a resort) is lavish and extravagant.

M

make up, makeup

Use make up (two words) as a verb. Use makeup (one word, no hyphen) as a noun or adjective.

manageable

(not managable)

Manhattan

Capitalize Midtown Manhattan, Lower Manhattan, Lower East Side, Upper East Side, Upper West Side.

mantle, mantel

A mantle is a long, loose garment like a cloak. A mantel is a wood or stone structure around a fireplace.

master’s degree

Use an apostrophe.

MasterCard

(one word, no space or hyphen, cap M and cap C)

masterful, masterly

Masterful describes a person who is dominating and imperious. Masterly describes a person who has mastered a craft, trade, or profession and often means authoritative.

may be, maybe

The word maybe is an adverb meaning possibly.

may, might

May expresses what is possible, is factual, or could be factual. Might suggests something that is uncertain, hypothetical, or contrary to fact.

measurements

  • When abbreviations for units of measure are used in scientific copy, they are usually set without periods. Otherwise, periods are customary. The abbreviations are identical in the singular and the plural.
  • If an abbreviation or a symbol is used for a unit of measure, the quantity is always expressed by a numeral. For two or more quantities, the abbreviation or symbol is repeated if it is closed up to the number, but not repeated if it is separated (35%-50% but 2 x 5 ft.).
  • When using inch or foot marks (2' 5") rather than abbreviations, use actual typesetting marks rather than single and double quotation marks if possible. If these marks or other symbols such as # are used instead of abbreviations, be consistent.

medical terms

The names of diseases, syndromes, procedures, anatomical parts, and similar terms are generally lowercased, except for proper names forming part of the term. They are not italicized or enclosed in quotation marks. Acronyms are capitalized. The possessive forms (Alzheimer’s, Down’s, Hodgkin’s) may be used in general contexts. A few examples include:

  • Alzheimer disease
  • computed tomography (CT scan)
  • acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS)
  • Names of infectious organisms are italicized with an initial cap, but the names of conditions related to these organisms are neither italicized nor capitalized. (The larvae of Trichinella spiralis are responsible for the disease trichinosis.)
  • Generic names of drugs are lowercased and preferred to brand names, which must be capitalized.

mega-

Do not hyphenate unless the second element begins with the letter a or is capitalized (megabyte, megahertz, megamall, megaton, megavitamin, megawatt).

memento, mementos

(note spellings)

metro

Lowercase except when referring specifically to the New York City region (the Metro area) and the regional reference is clear from the context.

MetroCard

(one word, no hyphen, cap M and cap C)

Metro-North Railroad

Use Metro-North on subsequent references.

mid-

Do not use a hyphen unless a capitalized word or figure follows (midcareer, midcentury, midsemester, mid-Atlantic, mid-August, mid-30s).

military terms

  • Titles of military units are capitalized, including unofficial but well-known names such as Green Berets. Words such as army and navy are lowercased when standing alone, used collectively in the plural, or not part of an official title.
  • Names of most major wars and revolutions are capitalized, but the generic terms are lowercased when used alone. In names of significant battles, campaigns, and theatres of war, generic terms are capitalized only when part of an accepted formal name (Battle of the Bulge, Vicksburg campaign, battle of Bunker Hill, the western front in World War I).
  • Specific names of military medals and awards are capitalized (Medal of Honor, Purple Heart, Silver Star).
  • For more detailed guidance on military terms and titles, consult The Chicago Manual of Style.

millions, billions

Use figures in all except casual uses ($7 million, a billion dollars, 2 million people). Do not go beyond two decimals ($7.25 million, 2.75 billion people), and do not hyphenate ($300 million budget).

mini-

In general, no hyphen (minibus, minivan, minimarket, miniseries). Consult Webster’s to confirm.

mistreatment, maltreatment

Mistreatment is the more general term. Maltreatment denotes a harsh form of mistreatment, involving abuse by rough or cruel handling.

money

If a number expressing an amount of money is spelled out, so is the word dollar(s); if numerals are used, they are accompanied by the symbol $ instead (five dollars per trip, $50 per lesson). For even dollar amounts, do not add .00 ($30 not $30.00). Use numerals with million/billion ($2.25 million). Use commas above 999 ($1,234). For casual references, spell out the amount. (It would be worth a million dollars to see her smile again.) In a financial context, thousands are sometimes represented by K. (The house is priced at $350K.) When multiple references to money are made within a sentence or section of text, strive for consistency.

months

Do not abbreviate months in body text or when followed directly by a year (October 2010). When abbreviated in tables and charts, use upper and lowercase, with periods as needed (Jan., Feb., Mar., Apr., May, June, July, Aug. Sept., Oct., Nov., Dec.).

moot

Because the word moot has different meanings that may cause confusion, avoid using it in any context other than that of law.

more important

Do not use more importantly.

more than, over

More than expresses quantity. (More than 500 people attended the event.) Over expresses spatial relationships. (The plane flew over the Mississippi River.) In traditional usage, over is not used with quantities, but this is gradually changing.

multi-

In general, no hyphen (multicultural, multimillion) unless a word beginning with i or a capital letter follows (multi-institutional). Consult Webster’s to confirm.

multidisciplinary

(one word, no hyphen)

multimedia

(one word, no hyphen)

multiracial

(one word, no hyphen)

music making, music-making

Use music making (two words) as a noun. Use music-making (hyphenated) as an adjective.

MySLC

In a change from previous practice, do not italicize MySLC.

N

names

  • Use a period and a single space after initials standing for given names, and use a period after abbreviations of junior and senior (J. Q. Doe Jr.). Also use a period and single space after abbreviations for titles (Mr., Ms., Dr., Sgt., etc.). Do not use periods or spaces when an entire name is abbreviated (FDR, JFK, MLK, etc.).
  • Do not hyphenate a person’s name at a line break (i.e. Jennifer Jack-son Jones), and try to keep names on the same line whenever possible. If a name must be broken at a line ending, break after any initials (i.e. John Q. / Doe or J.Q. / Doe).
  • Do not separate an abbreviated title (Dr., Ms., etc.) or abbreviated junior or senior (Jr., Sr., III, etc.) from a person’s name at a line break.
  • Capitalize a nickname used as part of or instead of a person’s name (Stonewall Jackson, Catherine the Great, Babe Ruth, Ivan the Terrible). When used in addition to a name, a nickname is enclosed in quotation marks and placed either within or after the name, for example:
    • George Herman “Babe” Ruth
    • Ivan IV, “the Terrible”
  • In references to works of drama or fiction, character titles are normally capitalized:
    • John Barrymore performed brilliantly as Chief Executioner.
    • Alice’s encounters with the Red Queen and the Mad Hatter …
  • Kinship names are lowercase unless they immediately precede a personal name or are used alone, in place of a personal name, for example:
    • I’d like to introduce you to my father and mother.
    • What do you think of the Brontë sisters?
    • I’d like you to write a note to Aunt Ruth.
    • Please, Grandma, let’s get going.
    • She adores her aunt, Catherine.
    • No, my son, I’m afraid not. (lowercase after pronoun)
  • Kinship terms used in a religious context are treated similarly:
    • We asked Mother Superior to speak first.
    • She invited Brother Thomas, one of the brothers from the Franciscan monastery.
    • We learned that the Holy Father would lead the annual service.

nauseous, nauseated

Something nauseous (such as a nauseous odor) brings on nausea. To feel sick is to be nauseated.

neo-

Do not hyphenate unless a word beginning with the letter o or a capital letter follows (neo-Classical)

No.

Use as the abbreviation for number in conjunction with a figure to indicate position or rank (No. 1 player, No. 3 choice). Do not use in addresses.

non-

In general, do not use a hyphen after this prefix unless it is followed by a capitalized word (non-Russian). Refer to Webster’s for confirmation.

noncredit

(one word, no hyphen)

nondiscrimination

(one word, no hyphen)

none

Use a singular verb when none means no one or not one. (None of the reporters was admitted to the courtroom.) Use a plural verb when none means no two, no amount, or no number. (None of the confessions were published.)

nonfiction

(one word, no hyphen)

nonprofit

Do not hyphenate unless it is hyphenated as part of a formal title.

not only

This phrase should be followed with but also. (She is not only intelligent, but also creative.)

notable, noticeable, noteworthy

Notable means readily noticed and applies to both physical things and to qualities. Noticeable means detectable with the physical senses. Noteworthy means remarkable.

not-for-profit

Use nonprofit unless not-for-profit is the preferred wording of the organization referenced.

notwithstanding

(one word) Less formal alternatives include despite, although, and in spite of.

numbers

  • Making an exception to Chicago’s style, spell out only whole numbers zero through nine in text (not through 100) and numbers at the start of a sentence. This guideline holds even if it creates inconsistency. (She has eight apples and 12 pears.) Round numbers used in casual reference may also be spelled out. (He must have asked her a hundred times!) The same general rule applies to ordinals (second, 125th), but when using multiple ordinals, particularly in a list, consistency often mandates using all numerals.
  • Use numerals for numbers 10 and above, and use numerals with million, billion, trillion, etc. (2.5 million acres). If an abbreviation is used, the quantity is always expressed in numerals (55 mph). Use commas for numbers above 999 (1,234), except for page numbers, years of four digits, and numbers in addresses.
  • As exceptions to this style, always use numerals with editions (3rd edition), percentages (2 percent), heights (6-foot-2-inches tall), sizes (size 8 dress), and other units of measure (a charge of 5 volts).
  • Spell out simple fractions and hyphenate two-word spellings and compound modifiers containing simple fractions (a two-thirds majority, a two-thirds-majority vote; a half hour, a half-hour session; a quarter mile, a quarter-mile run; the third floor, a third-floor apartment; etc.). When a fraction is not a single quantity, it is spelled out but not hyphenated. (We cut the cake into four quarters, and John ended up eating three quarters.) Use numerals for other fractional references (8.5 billion people). Whole numbers with fractions should be expressed in numerals, and hyphenated if all the numerals are the same size (6-7/8 yards of fabric).
  • Percentages are always given in numerals, and percent is spelled out in regular text. A hyphen is not used, even in an adjective (5 percent of the population, 12 percent increase). In scientific and statistical copy or in charts and tables, the symbol % is used with no space between the numeral and the symbol (15%).
  • When a quantity is less than 1.00, a zero appears before the decimal point (a mean of 0.85), except in reference to a baseball batting average or firearm caliber.
  • Numbers referring to pages, chapters, parts, volumes, and other divisions of a book, as well as numbers referring to illustrations or tables, are set as numerals (pages 1–35, chapters 8 and 10). References to volumes, issues, and pages of a periodical also appear as numerals.
  • If an abbreviation or a symbol is used for a unit of measure, the quantity is always expressed by a numeral. For two or more quantities, the abbreviation or symbol is repeated if it is closed up to the number, but not repeated if it is separated (35%–50%, but 2 x 5 cm).
  • In general, use an en dash with no spaces for inclusive spans of numbers when using numerals. Inclusive spelled-out numbers should be joined with the word to.
  • Numerals should be used in all mathematical, statistical, technical, or scientific texts as well as tables and charts, and to enumerate vertical lists.
  • All numbers should be spelled out in names of places of worship.
  • For consistency of style, spell out numbers zero through nine when designating military units and political and judicial divisions.

Note: Exceptions may occasionally be made when necessary to avoid awkward inconsistencies.

O

observance, observation

Observance means obedience to a rule or custom. Observation means either a study of something or a remark based on such a study.

obtuse, abstruse

Obtuse describes a person who can’t understand (dull-witted). Abstruse describes an idea that is hard to understand (incomprehensible or nearly so).

occur, take place

Occur refers to an accidental or unscheduled event. Take place refers to a planned event.

October study days

(lowercase except for October)

odius, odorous, malodorous

Odious means hateful. Odorous means detectable by smell (good or bad). Malodorous means smelling quite bad.

off campus, off-campus

Hyphenate only as an adjective:

  • He lives off campus in a beautiful Victorian house.
  • She participates in a number of off-campus theatre organizations.

off (of)

Eliminate the unnecessary of.

officious

Officious means aggressively nosy and meddlesome. The word has nothing to do with an officer and should not be confused with official.

OK

(acceptable for lists, tables, etc.; no periods)

okay

(preferred)

on campus, on-campus

Hyphenate only as an adjective:

  • She enjoys having dinner with friends who live on campus.
  • He gets to know classmates through on-campus social events.

on-Broadway, off-Broadway

Hyphenate in all uses.

One Mead Way

When spelled out, One Mead Way is the name of the online alumni community, and it is italicized to set it apart from Sarah Lawrence’s address. Use a numeral for the College’s street address (1 Mead Way).

one on one / one-on-one / one-to-one

Use one on one when referring to interaction. (The soloist stayed after rehearsal to practice with the voice coach one on one.) Hyphenate one-on-one only when using the expression as a modifier. (Many prospective students are attracted to our one-on-one conference system.) Spell out and hyphenate one-to-one when referring to a ratio in text. (The ideal student-to-teacher ratio is one-to-one.)

oneself

(one word; not one’s self)

onetime, one-time

Onetime (one word) means former, or at some time in the past. One-time (hyphenated) means just once.

ongoing

(not on-going)

online, <strong>on line, in line</strong>

Use the single word online (no hyphen) in all computer-related references. Otherwise, use two words. (She stood on line all day to buy concert tickets.) Generally, waiting in line is preferred.

only

For clarity, place only next to the word it modifies. (Only she tasted the sushi … means that no one else did. She tasted only the sushi … means that she tasted nothing else. She only tasted the sushi … means that she did not devour the sushi; she merely nibbled at it.)

on-site

(hyphenated as an adjective only)

onstage, on-screen

(note difference in hyphenation)

onto, on to

Onto implies a movement. (The gymnast jumped onto the balance beam.) Otherwise, the two words serve as adverb and preposition. (The gymnast held on to the rings.)

oppress, repress

Oppress means to persecute or tyrannize and is the more negative word. Repress means to restrain or subordinate.

orient

Do not use orientate unless used in the sense to face or turn to the east.

orientation

Lowercase unless used as part of a formal title (Orientation 2010).

"others"

Use lowercase with quotation marks for any reference to a group meaning alien, exotic, threatening, or inferior (“other,” “others,” “otherness”).

-over, over-

Most compound words that have over as a prefix or suffix are not hyphenated. Consult Webster’s to confirm.

overly

Avoid using overly. Use over or unduly instead.

P

pair, pairs

Pair is singular. The plural is pairs (three pairs of shoes).

parentheses (or brackets)

  • When the material inside the parentheses is not a complete sentence, put the period outside:
    • She teaches yoga three days a week (Monday, Wednesday, Friday).
  • When the material inside the parenthesis is a complete sentence, put the period inside:
    • The concert will take place on Wednesday. (Please contact College Events for details.)
  • When the material inside the parentheses is included within another sentence, even when it is a grammatically complete sentence, put the period outside:
    • John had left a note for Jane on the mirror (she noticed it while combing her hair).

Parents Advisory Council

(no apostrophe, PAC or the council lowercased on second reference)

part time, part-time

Hyphenate only when used as a compound modifier. (She works part time. He is a part-time student.)

partake in, partake of

To partake in is to participate in something. To partake of is to get a part of something.

partly, partially

Both words convey the sense to some extent; in part. Partly is preferred in that sense. But partially has the additional sense of incomplete and unfairly (showing bias toward one side).

peacable, peaceful

A peaceable person or nation is inclined to avoid strife. A peaceful person, place, or event is serene, tranquil, and calm.

peak, peek, pique

A peak is an apex. A peek is a quick or illicit glance. To pique is to annoy or arouse. (The article piques my interest.)

penultimate

This word means the next to last. It is not the equivalent of ultimate.

percent

Percent takes a singular verb when standing alone or when a singular word follows an of construction. (The teacher said 60 percent was a failing grade. The club president said 50 percent of the membership was there.) Percent takes a plural verb when a plural word follows an of construction. (He said 50 percent of the members were there.) Note that percent and percentage are not interchangeable words (1 percent is a very small percentage).

percentage

Always use numerals with percentages and spell out the word percent in text (50 percent, 2.5 percent). In scientific and statistical copy or in charts and tables, use the symbol % with no space between the numeral and the symbol (15%). Note that percent and percentage are not interchangeable words (1 percent is a very small percentage).

period

When an expression or abbreviation that takes a period ends a sentence, no additional period follows; i.e. no double period. (The event was funded by Jones Co. Ltd.)

period of time, time period

Avoid these phrases. Try to use just period or just time.

perpetuate, perpetrate

To perpetuate something is to sustain it or prolong it indefinitely. To perpetrate is to commit or perform an act.

personally

Use this word only when an actor does something that would normally be done through an agent or to limit other considerations. (The president personally signed the invitation. She was affected by the decision but was not personally involved in it.)

perspective, prospective

Perspective relates to vision and/or viewpoint. Prospective means apt to occur, become, or be.

persuade, convince

Persuade is associated with actions. (He persuaded her to jump.) Convince is associated with beliefs or understandings. (He convinced her that it was safe.)

phone numbers

In essay copy and other general contexts, the area code should be enclosed in parentheses, followed by a space. [ (914) 395-2220 ] Alternate formatting is acceptable for ads, posters, invitations, mailers, lists, etc. when appropriate to the overall design or layout styling (914-395-2220 or 914.395.2220, for example). But the style choice should be consistent throughout the piece as well as any related pieces.

photo identification

Use (from left) or (left to right) or (l to r) to identify people in photographs when needed. When appropriate, class years, terminal degrees, and titles should be included in photo captions.

pitiable, pitiful

To be pitiable is to be worthy of pity. To be pitiful is to be contemptible.

pleaded, pled

Use pleaded; avoid pled.

pledges

Formal oaths and pledges are usually lowercased (the presidential oath of office), except for the Pledge of Allegiance.

plurals

  • Do not use an apostrophe with plural numbers (temperatures in the low 20s, size 7s, styles of the 1930s, 747s); multiple capital letters (ABCs, IOUs, VIPs, URLs); or words (ifs, ands, buts, dos and don’ts, thank-yous), except for maybe’s, yes’s, and no’s. Also do not use an apostrophe for plurals of names or other capitalized nouns (the reunited Germanys, rainy Sundays, keeping up with the Joneses, admiring the Kennedys).
  • When abbreviations contain periods or are both upper and lowercase, use an apostrophe (PhD’s). As an exception to Chicago’s style, use an apostrophe for single letters, whether capital or lowercase (the three R’s, mind your p’s and q’s, report card with A’s and B’s).
  • If italicized terms, such as names of newspapers and titles of books, are used in the plural, the s is normally set in roman. A title already in plural form, however, is left unchanged. (Piled on his coffee table were three Chicago Tribunes, four New York Times, and two Madame Bovarys.) This same principle applies to possessives (Atlantic Monthly’s editor).
  • Generic plural terms are capitalized when they appear before two or more formal names, but lowercased when they appear after. For example:
    • Lakes Michigan and Erie
    • Interstates 80, 95, and 78
    • the Tappan Zee and George Washington bridges
    • Westchester and Duchess counties
    • the Guggenheim and Metropolitan museums

policies

Capitalize only full, formal names or titles of College policies (Sexual Assault and Harassment Policy). Lowercase in generic usage. (What’s the alcohol policy here?) For current policy information, refer to the student handbook and the faculty handbook.

pore

To pore over something written is to read it intently.

possessives

Following Chicago’s simpler alternative practice, omit the added possessive s on all nouns and proper names ending in s. Use an apostrophe only. Otherwise, add ’s for all possessives.

  • the business’ profits
  • the princess’ servant
  • Achilles’ heel
  • Dickens’ novels

This practice also applies to the specific cases noted below.

  • Words plural in form, but singular in meaning:
    • the United States’ reputation
  • Words or names ending in an unpronounced s:
    • the marquis’ mother
    • Descartes’ three dreams

For special expressions ending in an s sound, followed by a word that begins with s, use only an apostrophe:

  • for appearance’ sake

For joint ownership, use the possessive form after the last word only:

  • Batman and Robin’s adventures

For objects that are individually owned, however, use the possessive form for both:

  • Timmy’s and Lassie’s toys

For compound words, use the possessive form for the word closest to the object possessed:

  • the attorney general’s request
  • John F. Kennedy Jr.’s career
  • my daughter-in-law’s birthday

For phrases with the possessive form, use an apostrophe:

  • a day’s pay
  • two weeks’ vacation
  • your money’s worth

For possessives serving as adjectives, add an apostrophe unless the proper name does not:

  • consumers’ group
  • citizens’ association
  • Diners Club

Note: When an italicized term appears in roman text and an s is added to make the term possessive, the added s should be set in roman, not italics (Atlantic Monthly’s editor).

post-

Most compounds formed with the prefix post- are not hyphenated unless the following word begins with the letter t or is capitalized (postgraduate, postdoctoral, postconsumer, postmodernism, postdate, post script, post time, post-Columbian, post-Vietnam, etc.). Consult Webster’s to confirm.

practicable, possible, practical

What is practicable is capable of being done, feasible. What is possible might be capable of happening or being done, but there is some doubt. What is practical is fit for actual use.

pre-

Most compound words formed with the prefix pre- are not hyphenated unless the second element begins with the letter e or is capitalized (preconcert, precondition, predate, predecease, predetermined, preflight, pregame, prehistoric, premarital, prenatal, prenuptial, preregistration, preschool, pretax, pretrial, prewar, etc., but pre-med, pre-health, pre-Columbian, pre-Roman, pre-election, pre-eminent, pre-empt, pre-emptive, and so on).

precede, proceed

Precede means to come before in time, rank, order, or position. Proceed means to advance, especially after an interruption.

precipitate, precipitous

What is precipitate occurs suddenly or rashly and describes demands, actions, or movements. What is precipitous is dangerously steep (such as a cliff).

precondition

Try condition or prerequisite instead.

prefixes

Hyphenate all co- and anti- prefixes (co-editor, anti-war), but in general, close up most others. See specific entries in this style guide or refer to Webster’s for confirmation as needed.

preregister, preregistration

(one word, no hyphen)

preschool, preschooler

(one word, no hyphen)

prescribe, proscribe

To prescribe is to specify a medical remedy or to appoint or dictate a rule or course of action. (The king prescribed the order of succession to include two of his children.) To proscribe something is to prohibit it. (The law proscribes drinking while driving.)

presently

Because this word can be ambiguous, try at present, now, or soon instead.

president

Capitalize president only as a formal title before a name and in stand alone text. Lowercase in all other uses.

President’s House

When referring to the home of Sarah Lawrence’s president, capitalize and use an apostrophe in all cases.

press releases, media advisories

  • When writing press releases, use the approved press release/media advisory template. Headlines in press releases and media advisories need not necessarily contain Sarah Lawrence College because it is made clear through the use of College letterhead. Press releases and media advisories related to a specific program should contain the name of that particular program. Leads in press releases and media advisories should include Sarah Lawrence College and the location.
  • In press releases names of books, operas, television series, movies, recordings, magazines, works of art, newspaper or magazine columns, uncommon phrases in foreign languages, and titles of poems, songs, articles, chapters, television episodes, dissertations, and theses are put in quotation marks, rather than italics.

preventive

(not preventative)

previous to, prior to

Use before or until instead.

priest

A vocational description, not a formal title. Do not capitalize.

principal, principle

Principal means someone or something first in rank, authority, or importance. Principle means a fundamental truth, law, doctrine, or motivating force.

pro-

Use a hyphen to create a word denoting support for something (pro-business, pro-choice, pro-life, pro-Israeli, pro-Arab). Most other compounds including the prefix pro- are single words with no hyphen (proactive, prorated, etc.) Latin terms are always two separate words (pro bono, pro forma, pro rata, pro tem).

problem solving, problem-solving

Use problem solving (two words) as a noun. Use problem-solving (hyphenated) as an adjective.

problematic

The word problematic has two different meanings:

  1. posing a problem
  2. questionable, debatable, doubtful

To prevent confusion, avoid using problematic entirely.

program titles

  • Official graduate program names are capitalized, while paraphrased graduate program references and undergraduate curriculum areas are not, except for proper words within them:
    • the Graduate Program in Writing
    • the graduate writing program
    • writing students, writing faculty, writing program
    • Latin American and Latino/a studies, computer science, modern languages and literatures, etc.
  • Use all lowercase for internal SLC titles following the individual’s name, including the academic program or administrative office (John Q. Doe, human genetics faculty).
  • Whenever possible, use full formal program names on first reference, especially when named:
    • The Joan H. Marks Graduate Program in Human Genetics
    • The Anita L. Stafford Community Partnerships and Service Learning Program
  • Graduate programs at Sarah Lawrence include:
    • the Art of Teaching Program
    • the Child Development Program
    • the Health Advocacy Program
    • the Human Genetics Program (also see full name above)
    • the Graduate Program in Dance
    • the Graduate Program in Theatre
    • the Graduate Program in Writing
    • the Women’s History Program
    • the Mediation in Health Care Certificate Program

propaganda

(singular)

proper names

Lowercase the common noun elements of names in all plural uses:

  • Westchester and Duchess counties
  • Center and Main streets

prophesy, prophecy

Prophesy is a verb. Prophecy is a noun. Do not use prophesize.

Prospective Students Day(s)

(capitalized, plural students, no apostrophe)

proved, proven

Use proven only as an adjective. (The product is a proven success. The company’s success is proven.)

pseudo-

Most compounds formed with pseudo are single words (pseudoscience), but to avoid awkward construction, use a hyphen between vowels (pseudo-intellectual, pseudo-official) or before a capitalized word (pseudo-Tudor).

pulldown menu

(no hyphen)

purposely, purposefully

What is done purposely is done intentionally (on purpose). What is done purposefully is done with a certain goal in mind. Something may be done purposely, while not purposefully.

Q

question as to whether

(avoid)

question of whether

(acceptable)

question whether

(best)

questions and question marks

  • A question mark should be placed inside quotation marks, parentheses, or brackets only when it is part of the quoted or parenthetical matter. Neither a period (aside from an abbreviation period) nor a comma ever accompanies a question mark. The question mark takes precedence. If an exclamation point and a question mark are both called for, only the more appropriate to the context should be used.
  • A question mark is used within a sentence at the end of a direct question. If the question does not begin the sentence, it need not start with a capital letter. A direct question included within another sentence is usually preceded by a comma, and it need not begin with a capital letter unless the question is long or has internal punctuation.
    • The concern, how can the two be reconciled? was on everyone’s mind.
    • Legislators had to confront the issue, Can the fund be used for the current emergency, or must it remain dedicated to its original purpose?
  • When a question within a sentence consists of a single word, a question mark may be omitted, and the word can be italicized.
    • She asked herself why.
    • The question was no longer how but when.
  • A request presented as a question does not require a question mark.
    • Will the audience please rise.

quotation marks

  • Always place periods and commas inside quotation marks, whether single or double. Do not confuse an apostrophe at the end of a word with a closing single quotation mark; punctuation always follows the apostrophe.
  • Semicolons and colons are placed outside quotation marks.
  • Question marks and exclamation points go inside or outside, depending on the meaning.
    • Who wrote the song “Blue Moon”?
    • He asked, “How long will it take?”
    • I can’t believe he said “It’s not my problem”!
    • The crowd shouted, “Long live the king!”
  • Use quotation marks around the titles of photographs, poems, songs, articles, short stories, essays, chapters, television episodes, speeches, lectures, readings, and the names of computer games (but not standard software names), as well as full course titles, seminar titles, conference work titles, dissertations, and theses.
  • However, a very long poetic work, especially one constituting a book, is italicized and not enclosed in quotation marks. And where many poems are mentioned, it is usually better to set all their titles in italics.
  • In press releases, names of books, operas, television series, movies, recordings, magazines, works of art, newspaper or magazine columns, uncommon phrases in foreign languages are also put in quotation marks (rather than risk losing the style formatting in transmission/translation.)
  • If a full paragraph of quoted material is followed by a paragraph that continues the quotation, do not put closing quotation marks at the end of the first paragraph. Do, however, put opening quotation marks at the start of the second paragraph.
  • Quoted material, if brief, is usually introduced by a comma. Longer or more formal quoted material is introduced by a colon. If a quotation is introduced by that, whether, or a similar conjunction, no comma is needed, and the quote does not begin with a capital letter.
  • When a word or phrase is not used functionally but is referred to as the word or term itself, it should be italicized or enclosed in quotation marks. (What is meant by neurobotics? The term "critical mass" is more often used metaphorically than literally.)

quote, quotation

Traditionally, quote is a verb, and quotation is a noun. Today, however, writers tend to think of quotes as contemporary remarks and quotations as being wisdom of the ages.

R

résumé

Use the proper accent marks whenever possible.

rack, wrack

To rack is to torture by stretching with an instrument or to stretch beyond capacity (to rack one’s brain). To wrack is to severely or completely destroy (a storm-wracked ship).

raise, rise

As a verb, raise requires an object. Raise is something you do to something or someone else. As a verb, rise does not take an object. Rise is something you do, an object does, or someone else does. (I always raise the blinds when I get my children out of bed. He finds it a challenge to raise four active boys. I rise at 6 a.m. The sun will rise at 7 a.m. He will rise before I do.)

ratios

In general, use figures and hyphens (9-to-1). However, spell out one-to-one and hyphenate in all uses. Also see one-on-one entry.

ravage, ravish

To ravage is to destroy or ruin. To ravish is to carry away forcibly or to rape.

re-

Compounds formed with the prefix re- are usually single words unless the second element begins with the letter e or is capitalized (realign, reappear, reappraise, rebroadcast, reconstruct, refinance, regroup, remake, reopen, reorder, rerun, resale, and reusable, but re-educate, re-elect, re-enter, etc.) Also hyphenate as needed for clarity when two words with different meanings are spelled identically, for example: recover/re-cover, reform/re-form, recreation/re-creation, redress/re-dress, relay/re-lay, release/re-lease, repose/re-pose, repress/re-press, resent/re-sent, reserve/re-serve, resign/re-sign, resort/re-sort, resound/re-sound, restore/re-store, restrain/re-strain … but always recreate (not re-create).

rebut, refute

Rebut means to contradict or deny. Refute means to conclusively prove that you are correct.

refrain, restrain

To refrain is to restrain yourself or hold back from doing something (typically an act of self-discipline.) Other people restrain you.

regardless

(not irregardless)

registrar

(not capitalized)

registration

(not capitalized)

regrettable, regretful

What is regrettable is unfortunate or deplorable. A person who is regretful feels regret or sorrow for something done or lost. The adverb regrettably, not regretfully, is the synonym of unfortunately.

religious terms and titles

  • Names of deities or revered persons are capitalized (Allah, Buddha, God, Jehovah, Muhammad, the Virgin Mary, etc.), as are alternative or descriptive names for God or Jesus (the Almighty, the Good Shepherd, the Holy Spirit, the Lord, Providence, the Son of Man, the Supreme Being, and so on).
  • Pronouns referring to deities are not capitalized (Jesus and his disciples).
  • Names of religious groups are capitalized, as are terms derived from them (Amish, Buddhism, Christendom, Hasidic, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Jewry, Muslim, the Orthodox Church, Taoist, Zen, etc.), but atheism and agnosticism are lowercased.
  • In general, church, mosque, synagogue, and temple are lowercased, except as part of a formal name.
  • Names of scriptures and other highly revered works are capitalized but not italicized (Bhagavad Gita, Book of Common Prayer, Dead Sea Scrolls, Holy Bible, Talmud, Upanishads, etc.). Lowercase bible, biblical, and scripture(s) in generic usage.
  • Names of specific major religious events and concepts are also often capitalized (the Creation, the Exodus, the Fall, etc.), while doctrines are usually lowercased (atonement), as are terms for divine places or states (heaven, hell, nirvana, purgatory).
  • Services and rites are usually lowercased (baptism, bas mitzvah, the seder), although many prefer to capitalize the Eucharist, Holy Communion, and Mass. Religious objects are also usually lowercased (altar, mandala, rosary, sacred pipe, etc.).
  • Religious titles that appear after a clergy member’s name are capitalized, rather than lowercased as other titles would be (Very Reverend Theodore E. McCarrick, Archbishop of Newark).

Note: For more detailed guidance on religious terms and titles, consult The Chicago Manual of Style.

reluctant, reticent

Reluctant means hesitant or unwilling to do something. Reticent means uncommonly reserved, resistant to speaking.

repellent, repulsive

Both denote the character of driving others away. But repulsive has strong negative connotations of being truly disgusting.

repetitive, repetitious

Both mean occurring over and over, however repetitious has taken on a connotation of tediousness.

residence hall

Do not refer to any residence hall as a dorm or dormitory except within a direct quotation. On campus maps and signage, do not identify residence halls (for security reasons).

resident adviser

(not residence; not assistant) Spell out on first reference and follow with abbreviation (RA). The abbreviation is acceptable on second reference and thereafter.

restive, restful

Restive means impatient, stubborn or means restless, agitated. Restful means conducive to rest.

reticent

Reticent means inclined to be silent, reserved, taciturn and should not be used as a synonym for reluctant.

reunion

Capitalize only when used as part of the formal title including the year. (Alumni Reunion 2010, Reunion 2010, or 50th Reunion).

room numbers

Use figures and capitalize room when used with a figure (Room 222). Abbreviate in calendars, graphs, etc., as necessary where space is limited (Rm. 222).

round table, round-table

Use round table (two words) as a noun. Use round-table (hyphenated) as an adjective.

RSVP

In general, no periods. Periods are acceptable for formal materials, however.

S

Sabbath

Capitalize in religious references.

sabbatical

A sabbatical is a leave from employment duties, so sabbatical leave is redundant.

sacraments

Capitalize proper names of sacraments (The Lord’s Supper, Holy Communion). Lowercase the names of other sacraments (baptism, confirmation, matrimony, etc.).

Sarah Lawrence College

Use the full name on first reference. For subsequent references, either Sarah Lawrence or the College (capitalized) is acceptable. SLC is also acceptable, but should generally be avoided in legal or very formal documents. 

says, said

In general, use present tense (says) when attributing quoted material.

school names

Refer to the Peterson’s Guide to Four-Year Colleges for formal names of colleges and universities. On first reference, use proper names and locations when necessary. On casual second reference, use colloquialisms such as Pitt, UConn, and BC. In sports stories, team nicknames and mascots may be used on first reference.

scientific terms

The names of laws, theories, and the like are lowercased, except for proper names within them (the big bang theory, Newton’s first law). Names of chemical elements and compounds are lowercased when written out (sodium chloride). Terms for electromagnetic radiations are lowercased (ultraviolet rays). Metric units are also lowercase (meter/metre, liter/litre, etc.). None of these terms need be italicized or enclosed in quotation marks.

seasonal, seasonable

Seasonal means either dependent on a season or relating to the seasons or a season. Seasonable means timely or fitting the season.

seasons

Lowercase spring, summer, fall, winter, autumn, and derivatives unless part of a formal name or title. Also lowercase spring semester and fall semester.

self-

Always hyphenate unless followed by a suffix or preceded by un- (self-assured, self-conscious, self-destructive, self-determination, self-esteem, self-restraint, self-sustaining … but selfless, unselfconscious).

semester-long, semester long

Hyphenate when used as an adjective. Otherwise, do not. (He waited all semester long …)

semi-

In general, no hyphen unless the second word begins with i.

semicolon

  • Place semicolons outside of quotation marks.
  • Use a semicolon to separate elements of a series when individual segments contain material that also must be set off by commas. (Note that a semicolon is also used before the final element in such a series.)
    • The donor has a son, John Smith of Chicago; three daughters, Jane Smith of Wichita, Mary Smith of Denver, and Susan, wife of William Kingsbury of Boston; and a sister, Martha, wife of Robert Warren of Omaha.
  • A semicolon is most commonly used between two independent clauses (a.k.a. complete sentences) not joined by a conjunction.
    • The portrait was removed from the entrance hall; in its place was a landscape.
  • A semicolon also may be used before an independent clause introduced by a conjunction when a stronger pause is desired, or when the clause has internal punctuation.
  • Many adverbs should be preceded by a semicolon when used transitionally between independent clauses, including: then, however, thus, hence, indeed, accordingly, besides, and therefore. Note that a comma often follows after the transitional adverb.
    • Jane intends to go to Europe next semester; however, she has made no plans.
    • John forgot his reeds; therefore he could not play his clarinet solo.
  • A semicolon may also be used before expressions such as that is or namely.

seminar titles

Capitalize key words in seminar and conference titles and enclose the titles in quotation marks.

Senior Seminar

Capitalize when referring specifically to a Sarah Lawrence Third in the final undergraduate year.

sensual, sensuous

What is sensual involves indulgence of the senses, especially sexual gratification. What is sensuous usually applies to aesthetic enjoyment.

September 11, 2001

The format 9/11 is preferred to 9-11 when referring to the attacks on the World Trade Center.

serial comma

A comma is used before the conjunction in a series. (She took a commencement photo of her parents, her roommate, and her best friend. Her parents were embracing, her roommate was crying, and her best friend was beaming.) Note: In a series whose elements are all joined by conjunctions, no commas are needed unless the elements are long and pauses are helpful. (Was the book written by Hemingway or Steinbeck or Twain?)

set, sit

Normally, the verb set requires an object. (Please set the flowers on the table.) Sit, however, never takes an object. (Won’t you please sit down with us?) When people and things are set, they receive the action. (Well, he certainly set me straight on that subject.)

s/he

Do not use this contraction for she/he or he/she.

sic

Meaning so, thus, or in this manner, and traditionally set in italics, [sic] may be inserted in brackets following a word misspelled or wrongly used in the original. This device should be used only where it is relevant or where paraphrase or silent correction is inappropriate—and not used repeatedly. When original material containing multiple errors and variant spellings is used as written (such as a collection of informal letters or diary entries), a comment or note to that effect is recommended instead.

side by side, side-by-side

Hyphenate only when used as an adjective. (They walked side by side. She polished the side-by-side cabinets.)

sight, site

A sight may be something worth seeing (the sights of London) or a device to aid the eye (the sight of a gun), among other things. A site is a place, whether physical or electronic (Web site). The figurative expression meaning to focus on a goal is to set one’s sights.

since, because

Since is best used to refer to a period of time. Because gives a reason or cause.

sizable

(not sizeable)

slash (forward slash / )

Do not place spaces before or after a forward slash in general usage (he/she, his/her, and/or). However, spaces are needed when separating terms that include one or more open compounds (World War I / First World War). Spaces are also used to indicate line breaks when poetry is quoted in regular text. (“Thou hast not missed one thought that could not be fit. / And all that was improper dost omit.”)

so

Contrary to popular belief, this conjunction may be used to begin a sentence.

so-called

A word or phrase preceded by so-called should not be enclosed in quotation marks, because the expression itself indicates irony or doubt.

species names

Latin species names of plants and animals are italicized, and the genus name is capitalized, while the specific epithet is lowercased. (The common grass snake, Natrix natrix, lives 10 years in captivity.) Subspecies and varieties are treated in the same manner. However, divisions higher than genus—phylum, class, order, and family—are capitalized but not italicized.

Common names of plants and animals are generally lowercase except for proper nouns and adjectives within the name (jack-in-the-pulpit, Dutchman’s-breeches, rhesus monkey, Rocky Mountain sheep). Cultivated plant names are enclosed in single quotation marks (a ‘Queen of the Market’ aster). Consult Webster’s for specific references.

speeds

Use figures. (He drove 15 miles per hour through campus. He was afraid of the 40-mile-per-hour winds.)

split infinitives

Grammarians now acknowledge that adverbs sometimes justifiably separate to from the principal verb. Split infinitives are acceptable when necessary for added emphasis or a more natural sounding sentence.

spring break

Lowercase unless used as part of a longer, full title or used in a headline, list, table, etc.

spring semester, fall semester

Lowercase, in keeping with Sarah Lawrence’s less formal style, unless used as part of a formal title.

staff

Per more progressive usage, staff may now be either singular or plural.

states

Spell out state names in running text, except in press releases. Otherwise, use postal code abbreviations (two capital letters, no periods) in lists and tabular material, address blocks, forms, etc. Use a comma between city and state, and after state in essay text.

The name of a city should be followed by the full state name in running text and state abbreviation in press releases. A comma is used between city and state, and after state. In a press release dateline, use postal codes rather than state abbreviation.

See the entry cities and towns for additional guidelines.

stationary, stationery

Stationary means still, staying in one place. Stationery is writing paper.

staunch, stanch

Staunch is an adjective that means ardent and faithful. Stanch is a verb that means to stop the flow (usually of blood).

stepbrother, stepdaughter, stepfather, stepmother, stepsister, stepson

(note spellings)

Student Conduct Review Board

The abbreviation SCRB is acceptable on second reference.

student handbook

Capitalize only when used as part of the formal title including the year (Student Handbook 2008-2009); lowercase otherwise.

Students for Students Scholarship Fund (SSSF)

Note that students is plural in both uses. The abbreviation SSSF is acceptable on second and subsequent references.

sub-

In general, no hyphen (subculture, subdivision, subcommittee, substandard, subtext, subtitle, subtotal, subzero, etc.) unless followed by a capitalized word (sub-Saharan desert).

subsequent to

(try after)

subsequently

(try later)

substantial/substantive

While both of these words are derived from substance and mean "real; not imaginary," select the one more appropriate to the meaning intended. If something is substantial, it is considerable or sizeable. (The College has seen a substantial increase in applications; the number of students choosing Sarah Lawrence has grown significantly.) If something is substantive, it is essential or actual. (We have seen a substantive change in the applicant pool; the ethnic and economic diversity of student applicants has expanded.)

such as, like

Both are acceptable.

super-

In general, compounds formed with super- are single words, except when the second element is a capitalized word (superhighway, superhuman, supermarket, supernatural, superpowers, supersonic, superstar, etc., but super-Republican).

superscript

In general, use superscript with numerals for easier readability: 20th / 2nd / 43rd (including hyphenated usage with the word century, such as 19th-century literature.

systematic, systemic

Systematic means according to a plan or system, methodical. Systemic refers to physiological systems (systemic diseases) or other systems that can be likened to the body (systemic problems within the corporation).

T

tantalizing, titillating

Something tantalizing torments us because we want it badly and it is always just out of reach. Something titillating tickles us pleasantly, either literally or figuratively.

task force

(two words, no hyphen) Capitalize only when part of a full, formal name or title.

teenage, teenager

(one word, no hyphen)

telephone numbers

In essay copy and other general contexts, the area code should be enclosed in parentheses, followed by a space. [ (914) 395-2220 ] Alternate formatting is acceptable for ads, posters, invitations, mailers, lists, etc. when appropriate to the overall design or layout styling (914-395-2220 or 914.395.2220, for example). But the style choice should be consistent throughout the piece as well as any related pieces.

temperature

Spell out degrees except in tables or charts. When abbreviating, use an en dash to indicate minus. Use numerals for all readings, including those below 10. (The temperature was only 9 degrees at midnight.) Do not use an apostrophe when referring to "decades" (predicted highs in the upper 90s).

tense

Use present tense for headlines, quoted material, and captions unless a date or other reference in the content requires use of past tense.

than, then

Than is used as a conjunction of comparison. (The assistant was more efficient than the photographer.) Then is an adverb denoting time, and carries the sense of soon afterward. (He introduced the artist, then revealed her new sculpture.)

thankfully

Thankfully means appreciatively, gratefully. It should not be used as a substitute for thank goodness or fortunately.

Thanksgiving break

Lowercase break unless used in a headline, list, table, etc.

that

In general, delete when not essential for clarity. After a verb like said, disclosed, or announced, it is often possible to omit that for conciseness. However, when a time element follows the verb, that is needed to make clear whether the time element applies to the material before or after it. (The mayor announced today that he will organize a victory celebration.)

that, which, who, whom

  • Use who and whom when referring to persons and to animals with a name. Use that and which when referring to inanimate objects and to animals without a name.
  • Use that to introduce an essential clause. (I like to read books that have an exotic setting.)
  • Use which to introduce a nonessential clause, preceded by a comma. (The concert series, which was introduced last year, was very popular with students.)

The Fund for Sarah Lawrence

On first reference, use the full name followed by (FSL), and italicize The Fund for Sarah Lawrence (FSL) in body text. FSL or the Fund may then be used for second reference. Capitalize and italicize Fund on second reference only when referring to The Fund for Sarah Lawrence. Use lowercase roman on second reference for all other named funds.

the Sadie Lou Project

The Sadie Lou Project is a virtual magazine, blog, and student space that encourages creative collaboration among current students, prospective students, and alumni. It’s located online at SadieLou.net.

The Sadie Lou Standard

The Sadie Lou Standard is a weekly student newspaper.

the, The

Regarding names of buildings, funds, groups, outside organizations, etc., do not capitalize the unless it is already included and capitalized at the beginning of a full, formal name. (Prospective students inquired about the Blue Room, the Black Squirrel, the Alice Stone Ilchman Science Center, and The Anita L. Stafford Community Partnerships and Service Learning Program.) See appendices for confirmation.

the Writing Institute

(Lowercase the except at the beginning of a sentence or heading.)

theatre

(not theater)

their, there, they’re

Their is the possessive form of the pronoun they. (Jack and Sue considered their options.) There means at or in that place or time. (Stop there before things get out of hand.) They’re is a contraction meaning they are. (They’re thinking of going back where everything started.)

there’s, theirs

There’s means there is or there has. Theirs is possessive.

Third

Capitalize when used specifically in reference to a Sarah Lawrence Language Third or a Sarah Lawrence Science and Mathematics Third.

till

(not ’til)

timbre, timber

Timbre is a musical term that means tonal quality. Timber is the correct spelling in all other uses.

times

  • Use numerals with a.m. and p.m. in nearly all cases. Small caps with no periods are an acceptable alternative in formal invitations. Do not use :00 for even hours unless exact times are necessary, such as those in a train schedule. Do not use 12 or 12:00 in reference to noon or midnight, and do not use a.m. or p.m. Lowercase noon and midnight unless they occur at the beginning of a sentence or they must be capitalized in a list or table for consistency. For spans of time, separate with an en dash with no spaces, not a hyphen. A few examples:
    • 9 a.m. and 9 p.m. (not 9:00 a.m. and 9:00 p.m.)
    • noon and midnight (not 12 p.m. or 12 noon, not 12 a.m. or 12 midnight)
    • 7–9 a.m. (not 7 a.m.–9 a.m.)
  • For casual references in regular text or for very formal invitations, times may be spelled out instead. (Her day begins at five in the morning. Please join us for dinner at the President’s House at eight o’clock in the evening.) Do not use a.m. or p.m. when using morning, evening, or night.
  • When spelled out, time zones and similar terms are lowercased except for the proper nouns within them (eastern standard time, Pacific daylight time, Greenwich mean time, daylight saving time).

titles of works and events / headlines

Capitalization:

  • When referencing a published work, defer to the capitalization style used by the author.
  • Otherwise, there are two capitalization style options:
    • In sentence style, only the first word and proper names are capitalized, and no period is used at the end.
    • In headline style, always capitalize the first and last words in titles and subtitles and all other major words. Also capitalize all verbs, regardless of length. In general, lowercase prepositions of less than six letters (as, at, by, for, from, in, of, on, to, up, with, etc.) and the articles the, a, and an, as well as conjunctions and, but, for, or, nor. Capitalize these words only if they serve a key function and should be stressed, or serve as the first or last word (including the first word after a period or colon in a lengthy title). Lowercase to and as in all functions, unless they are the first or last word in the title.
  • In either style, the first word of a Latin species name is capitalized, but the rest are lowercased.
  • When a quoted sentence is included in a title, retain sentence-style capitalization inside the quotation marks, even if using the headline style otherwise.
  • Follow these same guidelines for titles and heads that include hyphenation. For example:
    • Sarah Lawrence Graduate Introduces Cutting-Edge Technique
    • Olympic Cycling Team on Fire: Leader Sets Record-Breaking Pace

Italics:

  • Titles of books, anthologies, journals, magazines, poetry chapbooks, plays, operas, movies, television series, radio programs, recordings, works of art (except photographs), newspaper or magazine columns, and other freestanding works are italicized in running text or in a bibliography. Limited exceptions may be made in lists, ads, etc. as necessary.
  • While poems are normally enclosed in quotation marks, a very long poetic work, especially one constituting a book, is italicized instead. And where many poems are mentioned, it is usually better to set all their titles in italics.
  • If italicized terms are used in the plural, the s is normally set in roman. A title already in plural form, however, is left unchanged. (Piled on his coffee table were three Chicago Tribunes, four New York Times, and two Madame Bovarys.) This same principle applies to possessives (Atlantic Monthly’s editor).
  • However, in press releases, names of books, operas, television series, movies, recordings, magazines, works of art, and newspaper or magazine columns are put in quotation marks (rather than risk losing the style formatting in transmission/translation).

Quotation Marks:

  • Use quotation marks around the titles of photographs, poems, songs, articles, short stories, essays, chapters, television episodes, speeches, lectures, readings, and the names of computer games (but not standard software names), as well as full course titles, seminar titles, conference work titles, dissertations, and theses.
  • However, a very long poetic work, especially one constituting a book, is italicized and not enclosed in quotation marks. And where many poems are mentioned, it is usually better to set all their titles in italics.
  • In press releases, names of books, operas, television series, movies, recordings, magazines, works of art, newspaper or magazine columns, and uncommon phrases in foreign languages are also put in quotation marks (rather than risk losing the style formatting in transmission/translation).

Periodicals:

  • As an exception to Chicago's style, when newspaper and periodical titles in English are mentioned in text, the initial the is capitalized and italicized if it is part of the official title. (She reads both the Chicago Tribune and The New York Times every day.) Descriptive terms are lowercased and set in roman unless part of the official name. (He subscribes to both Time magazine and The New York Times Magazine.) When the name of a newspaper or periodical is part of the name of a building, organization, prize, or the like, it is not italicized (Los Angeles Times Book Award).

Musical Works:

  • Operas, oratorios, tone poems, and other long musical compositions are italicized. Titles of songs are enclosed in quotations marks. However, instrumental works known by their generic names are not italicized or enclosed in quotation marks (Bach’s Mass in B Minor, Piano Sonata no. 2, etc.). The name of a recording (album) is italicized, while individual songs are enclosed in quotation marks.

Art Works:

  • Titles of art works are italicized (the Mona Lisa), while names of works of antiquity are usually set in roman (the Venus de Milo). Titles of photographs are enclosed in quotation marks. Titles of regularly appearing cartoons are italicized. Titles of exhibitions, fairs, and museum and gallery shows are capitalized but not italicized or enclosed in quotation marks. However, catalog titles are capitalized and italicized.

Electronic Sources:

  • The title of any work available on the Internet or as a CD-ROM, whether or not it also exists in print form, is treated the same way as the print works previously addressed. Complete works are italicized, while sections of works are set in roman and enclosed in quotation marks.

Software:

  • Capitalize the principal words in program names, and do not use italics. If the name is simple and descriptive, do not use quotation marks (Microsoft Word). But use quotation marks for computer games (“Where in the World Is Carmen Sandiego?”).

Signs and Mottoes:

  • Specific wording of common short signs or mottoes is capitalized headline style in running text (no italics or quotation marks). A longer notice is better treated as a quotation, especially when it is in the form of a complete sentence.

Quoting a Title:

  • When quoting a title, its original spelling, hyphenation, and punctuation should be preserved, regardless of the style used in the surrounding text. Capitalization should also be preserved, although all cap titles may be reset in upper and lower case. An ampersand may be changed to and, and vice versa, if needed for consistency. Also, numerals may be spelled out, and spelled out numbers may be changed to numerals, for consistent style.

Book Series and Editions:

  • Quoted titles of book series and editions are capitalized but not italicized. The words series and edition are capitalized only if they are a part of the formal title (the Crime and Justice series, a Modern Library edition).

Terms and Titles within Italicized Titles:

  • A term within an italicized title that is itself normally italicized (such as a foreign word) is set off in roman type. A regular title within a title, however, should remain in italics and be enclosed in quotation marks.

Events:

  • These guidelines apply to names of events in text (not ads, posters, flyers, calendars, or other promotional materials). Titles of lectures, speeches, and readings are capitalized and enclosed in quotation marks. Titles of conferences (events) are capitalized only. Titles of panels are capitalized and enclosed in quotation marks, but the word panel is lowercased. (She moderated the panel "Grace Paley: Speaking Truth to Power" at Barnard College. He participated in a panel on "The State of Violence in Pakistan.") Titles of exhibitions, fairs, and museum and gallery shows are capitalized, but not italicized or enclosed in quotation marks. (However, printed exhibition catalog titles are capitalized and italicized, because they are published books.) Titles of concerts and theatre prodictions are italicized. General descriptors of events are not capitalized. (The writer in residency at Sarah Lawrence offered a craft talk and workshop for graduate students on Monday. She presented a lecture Thursday on character development, titled, "Who Do They Think They Are?")

Exceptions:

  • Limited exceptions to the use of italics vs. quotation marks may be made in ads, invitations, and similar materials as needed for maximum readability. Also, in heads, subheads, ads, brochures, invitations, and other similar contexts, commas may be omitted from the ends of lines for easier and simpler readability at a glance.

Note: A title always takes a singular verb. (Beaches is a sentimental story.)


Accepted Student Day(s)
(capitalized, plural students, no apostrophe)

Child Development Institute
Use the full name on first reference, followed by (CDI). Either CDI or the Institute may be used for second and subsequent references. Capitalize Institute when referring to CDI, not when referring to other institutes outside the College or in general usage.

Community Adventure Play Experience
Use the full name on first reference, followed by (CAPE). The acronym CAPE may be used on second reference. An alternate reference, adventure play, may also be used.  This program is offered by the Child Development Institute.

dean of the college
Lowercase college in titles following a name or titles used in place of a name.

Diversity and Activism Programming Sub-Committee
The acronym DAPS is acceptable on second reference.

Fall Open House
(capitalized)

Gryphon
(capitalized)

Gryphon Athletics
(not Gryphons)

hip-hop
(hyphenated, not capitalized)

Lunchbox Theatre Program
(note spelling and capitalization)

phonathon
(one word, no hyphens)

pre-med, pre-health
(note hyphenation)

student-athlete
Hyphenate in all cases, whether used as a noun or adjective.

Sarah Lawrence Activities Council
The abbreviation SLAC is acceptable on second reference.

Sarah Lawrence College Center for the Urban River at Beczak
On first reference, use the full name for the Sarah Lawrence College Center for the Urban River at Beczak. On second reference, use the Center for the Urban River. On subsequent references, use the Center. Note that the is not part of the formal name and is not capitalized. The acronym SLC CURB may be used internally only and should not be used for external communications.

The William & Sarah Lawrence Society
Capitalize The; use an ampersand rather than the word and.

titles (people)

  • Capitalize formal titles when they appear in a list or as “stand-alone” text:
    • “Everyone had a great time at the gala.”
      —John Q. Doe, Vice President of College Resources
  • In regular text, capitalize the entire title when the title precedes the name:
    • President Karen Lawrence …
    • Vice President of College Advancement John Q. Doe …
    • Dean of the College Joan R. Doe ...
  • If a title is lengthy, avoid placing it before the name.
  • When a title preceding a name is primarily descriptive, it is lowercase:
    • the globe-trotting pope John Paul II
    • former presidents Clinton and Bush
  • When a title follows a name, it is set off with commas.
  • Capitalize only the formal name of a company or organization when it follows the name, not the person's title itself:
    • Karen R. Lawrence, president of Sarah Lawrence College, spoke …
    • John Q. Doe, vice president of American Financial Inc., commended …
    • Jane M. Doe, deputy mayor of Chicago, addressed …
  • Do not capitalize the title when it is used without a name, except in the context of a toast, formal introduction, or when used in direct address:
    • The president addressed the graduating class.
    • The vice president thanked the donors.
    • Ladies and Gentlemen, the Prime Minister.
    • Thank you, Mr. President.
  • Use all lowercase for internal SLC titles following the individual’s name, including the academic program or administrative office, for example:
    • John Q. Doe, human genetics faculty
    • Jane M. Doe, dean of student affairs
    • Jack W. Doe, director of public safety
    • Joan R. Doe, dean of the college
  • Also use all lowercase for titles in primarily internal publications (such as the student handbook), where the titles are used repeatedly and in place of individuals’ names, for example:
    • director of health services
    • dean of studies and student life
    • director of career services
    • dean of the college
  • In regular text, an exception is made for appointed College professorships, fellowships, and chairs:
    • John Q. Doe, Marjorie Leff Miller Faculty Scholar in Music
    • Jane M. Doe, Noble Foundation Chair in Art and Cultural History
  • Emeritus designations (selectively given as an honor upon retirement) follow the gender of the designee and follow all other rules of title capitalization:
    • Michele Tolela Myers, president emerita
    • John Q. Doe, emeritus faculty member, writing
    • Faculty emeriti were invited to a lunch in their honor.
    • Two faculty emeritae, Jane Doe (German/literature) and Peggy Doe (music), were chosen.
  • Sarah Lawrence does not use hierarchical designations for faculty. We have no professors, associate professors, adjuncts, lecturers, etc.:
    • Jane Doe, a member of the literature faculty, explained …
    • The speaker for the seminar was art history faculty member Jack Doe.
  • Titles denoting civic or academic honors are capitalized even when following the person’s name:
    • John Q. Doe, Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada, presented …
  • A civil or military title preceding a full name may be abbreviated. (Rep. John Q. Doe). But the title is spelled out when preceding a surname alone (Representative Doe). Spell out senator in all cases.
  • Do not separate an abbreviated title (Dr., Ms., etc.) or abbreviated junior or senior (Jr., Sr., III, etc.) from a person’s name at a line break. Use Jr., Sr., IV, and the like only with the person’s full name. Do not use Dr. before a name when using PhD or MD after the name.

Note: For additional guidance on names, titles, and offices, consult The Chicago Manual of Style.

tolerance, toleration

Tolerance is the habitual quality of being tolerant. Toleration is a particular instance of being tolerant.

topographical names

  • Names of mountains, rivers, oceans, islands, and so forth are capitalized (the Continental Divide). The generic term (such as lake) is also capitalized when used as part of a single name (Walden Pond, the Bering Strait, the Great Barrier Reef).
  • In the plural, the generic term is capitalized when it precedes both names (Lakes Michigan and Erie), but lowercased when it comes after (the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, the Illinois and Chicago rivers).
  • When a generic term is used descriptively or alone, rather than as part of a name, it is lowercased (the Amazon basin, the California desert, driving along the scenic Pacific coast). But it is capitalized in references to region (the Pacific Coast).

tortuous, torturous

What is tortuous is full of twists and turns (a tortuous path through the woods). What is torturous involves torture (torturous rush hour traffic).

toward

(not towards)

trans-

In general, do not hyphenate unless trans- precedes a capitalized word (transcontinental, transoceanic, transsexual … but trans-Atlantic, trans-Pacific, trans-Siberian, etc.).

transcript, transcription

A transcript is a written record. Transcription is the act or process of creating a transcript.

transportation

(names)

  • Makes and classes of planes, trains, and automobiles are capitalized but not italicized (Boeing 747, Dodge Caravan, Metroliner).
  • Names of specific ships and other vessels are capitalized and italicized. When USS or HMS precedes the name (not italicized), the word ship should not be included. The gender neutral pronouns it and its are preferred when referring to ships and other vessels, rather than the traditional female pronouns she and her. A few examples:
    • USS Enterprise
    • the British ship Frolic
    • the space shuttle Discovery
    • SS United States

triumphal, triumphant

Things are triumphal (a triumphal arch), but only people feel triumphant.

trustee

Capitalize Board of Trustees when using the formal name of the group, especially on first reference. Lowercase board and trustee(s) in subsequent references. Capitalize Trustee when the title precedes a board member’s name (Trustee John Q. Doe III), but lowercase when used after (John Q. Doe III, trustee and parent of Suzie Q. Doe ’11). Lowercase board of directors or board of advisers when referring to other organizations. Also lowercase board member, editorial board, advisory board, etc.

try to

(not try and)

turbid, turgid, torpid

Turbid means unclear, confused, or disturbed. Turgid means swollen as well as pompous and bombastic. Torpid means idle and lazy.

typographic styling

  • Following Chicago’s primary system (the simpler option), all punctuation marks should appear in the same font (roman, italic, bold) as the main or surrounding text, except for punctuation that belongs to a title or an exclamation in a different font.
    • Murphy recently played the title role in Hamlet; he announced his retirement after.
    • Many designers subscribe to PRINT: it is both contemporary and insightful.
    • Are they saying the gunshot was self-inflicted?
    • She is the author of What Next?
    • For light entertainment he reads Ulysses!
    • The manual Online! is always on her desk.
    • Note: This is a first draft; the article has not been approved by the editor yet.
    • Danger!
    • Take only as directed.
  • Parentheses and brackets should appear in the same font as the surrounding text, not in that of the material they enclose. However, when a phrase in parentheses or brackets appears on a line by itself, they are usually in the same font as the phrase. For example:
    • (Continued from page 7)
  • A single space, not two, is used between sentences.
  • Commas may sometimes be omitted for aesthetic reasons at the ends of lines set in large display type (heads, subheads, etc.), as long as no confusion results. Commas may also be omitted selectively in formal invitations, formal programs, advertisements, signage, and other displays.

U

ultra-

Generally, do not hyphenate compounds formed with ultra- unless the prefix directly precedes a word beginning with the letter a or a capitalized word (ultramodern, ultrasonic, ultraviolet, etc., but ultra-American, ultra-French, and so on).

un-

Nearly all compounds formed with the prefix un- are one word, except when the second element is a capitalized word (unaffected, unbiased, unfunded, unselfish, unsolved, untraveled, unused, unwed, etc. … but un-American).

under-

Generally, do not hyphenate compounds formed with the prefix under- (underachiever, underbid, underbrush, undercharge, underclothes, underdeveloped, underdog, underestimate, undergraduate, underground, underhand, underrated, understudy, underworld, underwrite, etc.).

under cover, undercover

Use under cover (two words) as an adverb. Use undercover (one word) as an adjective.

under way

(not underway)

unique

Reserve unique to mean one of a kind. Avoid using it to mean special or unusual. Do not modify (very unique, somewhat unique, etc.). Unique is unique. Other examples of “uncomparable adjectives” include entire, impossible, perfect, and pregnant.

United States

Spell out when used as a noun. Use US (no space) as an adjective or on second reference.

-up

Follow Webster’s Dictionary, but hyphenate if not listed there. Some frequently used nouns and adjectives include the following. Use two words, no hyphen, when any of these occurs as a verb.

  • breakup
  • call-up
  • change-up
  • checkup
  • cleanup
  • close-up
  • cover-up
  • crackup
  • follow-up
  • frame-up
  • grown-up
  • holdup
  • letup
  • lineup
  • makeup
  • mix-up
  • mock-up
  • pileup
  • push-up
  • roundup
  • runner-up (and runners-up)
  • setup
  • shake-up
  • smashup
  • speedup
  • tie-up
  • walk-up
  • windup

upload

(one word, no hyphen)

upon

Use upon to introduce an event or condition. (You’ll be paid upon completion of the project.) Otherwise, use on.

upward

(not upwards)

URL

URL is an acronym for Uniform Resource Locator. The URL is an address on the Internet. See Web-Related Guidelines for more information on formatting.

utilize, utilization

Try use instead.

V

verbal, oral

If something is put into words, it is verbal, spoken or written. To specify that something was spoken, use oral.

verbiage

The word verbiage, which means either wordiness or diction, is often misused. To prevent confusion or unintended offense, verbiage should be avoided altogether.

vice

Treat as a separate word, no hyphen (vice president, vice chair) unless used as part of a compound modifier (vice-presidential duties).

vita, vitae

The word vita is singular; vitae is plural.

voicemail

(one word, lowercase)

W

Web page, Web site, Web browser

(capitalize Web)

webcam, webcast, webinar, webmaster

(lowercase)

well-

Hyphenate as part of a compound modifier (a well-educated student).

well-being

(note spelling)

well-known

(hyphenated as an adjective)

Westlands Desk

(Capitalize Desk)

whether

Generally, use whether alone, not with the words or not tacked on. Whether or not is necessary only to mean regardless of whether. Whether is also preferred to if.

while

Using while as a substitute for although or whereas can sometimes be ambiguous, because while can denote either time or contrast.

who’s, whose

Who’s means who is or who has. Whose is possessive.

whoever, whomever

In general, whoever is the safer bet if you are unsure of the grammar.

whosever, whoever’s

The first is correct in formal writing, and the second is acceptable in casual usage.

-wide

No hyphen is necessary (statewide, nationwide, worldwide).

word processing

(two words, lowercase)

words derived from proper names

Adjectives derived from personal names are normally capitalized (Shakespearean). However, personal, national, or geographical names, and words derived from such names are often lowercased when used with a nonliteral meaning. A Swiss gruyère refers to a cheese made in Switzerland, whereas swiss cheese is an American cheese with holes in it. A few other examples include:

  • anglicize
  • arabic numerals
  • bohemian
  • brussels sprouts
  • dutch oven
  • french fries
  • french dressing
  • herculean
  • homeric
  • india ink
  • morocco leather
  • pasteurize
  • philistine
  • platonic
  • quixotic
  • roman numerals
  • scotch whisky
  • stilton cheese
  • venetian blinds

work study

(two words, no hyphen)

workday, workforce, workweek, workload, workplace, workstation

(one word, no hyphen)

workforce

(one word, no hyphen)

World Wide Web

Use Web (capitalized) on second reference.

worldwide

(one word, no hyphen for general usage)

www.

In text or lists where the Web context is clearly understood, the prefix www. may be omitted. Otherwise, retain the prefix www. for clarity and immediate recognition, especially in single or stand-alone Web addresses (such as those appearing in advertisements).

Y

yearlong

(one word, no hyphen)

years

(multiyear spans, inclusive years, abbreviations) When indicating a multiyear span, use an en dash and no spaces between the years. Follow the format 1952–56, not 1952–1956, except when spanning the millennium (1952–2002) or in formal materials, such as a memorial service program. If the span is introduced with from, join with to (from 1952 to 1956). If introduced with between, join with and (between 1952 and 1956). Where inclusive dates occur in book titles, it is customary to repeat all four digits in both references (1934–1984). The abbreviated form (1934–84) is used in chapter titles, subheads, table titles, and figure captions. In informal contexts and when indicating a graduation year, the first two digits of the year are replaced with an apostrophe (tail pointing left).

you’re, your

You’re is the contraction of you are. Your is possessive.

Z

zero

Spell out when used alone.

Web-Related Terms & Guidelines

CD

(no periods, acceptable on first reference to a compact disc)

desktop

(one word, no hyphen for noun or adjective)

dial up, dialup

Use dial up (two words) as a verb. Use dialup (one word) as an adjective.

download

(one word, no hyphen)

DVD

(no periods, acceptable on first reference to a digital videodisc)

e-mail

E-mail may be used as a verb as well as a noun and an adjective. Hyphenate e-mail in all uses. Lowercase mail in all cases, and lowercase e except when used in a headline, on a form, or at the beginning of a sentence (E-mail). Do not italicize e-mail addresses in essay text. Treat e-commerce, e-marketing, e-zine, and other similar words in the same manner.

log in, log on, log off

(verb)

login, logon, logoff

(noun or adjective)

online, on line, in line

Use the single word online (no hyphen) in all computer-related references. Otherwise, use two words. (She stood on line all day to buy concert tickets.) Generally, waiting in line is preferred.

pulldown menu

(no hyphen)

upload

(one word, no hyphen)

URL and e-mail address line breaks

  • Where it is necessary to break a URL or e-mail address, no hyphen should be used. The break should be made between elements, after a colon, a slash, a double slash, or the symbol @ but before a period or any other punctuation or symbols. To avoid confusion, a URL that contains a hyphen should never be broken at the hyphen. If a particularly long element must be broken, it should be broken between words or syllables. For example:
    • http://
      www.metromagazine.com
    • http://www
      .metromagazine.com
    • http://www.metro
      magazine.com
  • When an address is at the close of a sentence, use the normal ending punctuation, but try to reconfigure when possible to avoid this construction. When the address is on its own line, even if it completes a sentence, do not use end punctuation. For example:
    • To learn more about Sarah Lawrence, visit:
      www.slc.edu

URL and e-mail address punctuation

No space follows a period (a.k.a. dot) or other punctuation (underscore, hyphen, slash, colon, etc.) in URL or e-mail addresses. Home page and other directory-level URLs end with a forward slash.

Web page, Web site, Web browser

(capitalize Web)

webcam, webcast, webinar, webmaster

(lowercase)

word processing

(two words, lowercase)

World Wide Web

Use Web (capitalized) on second reference.

www.

In text or lists where the Web context is clearly understood, the prefix www. may be omitted. Otherwise, retain the prefix www. for clarity and immediate recognition, especially in single or stand-alone Web addresses (such as those appearing in advertisements).

What's New in the Style Guide?

The Sarah Lawrence College Editorial Style Guide is constantly updated to reflect changes in style and usage. To see what might have changed or been added since your last visit, see the Latest Updates page!