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San Jac Editorial Style Guide

The San Jacinto College marketing department publishes this Editorial Style Guide in an effort to provide consistency among members of our own department, and among the many departments throughout the College. It is also intended to advise all College members of the rules applied when editing copy submitted to this office for printing.

As a rule, the San Jacinto College marketing department follows the Associated Press (AP) style guidelines. This style was selected because the AP style aims at a general audience with a tone that is neither too elite nor too common. As with any organization, there are certain language conventions that are specific to San Jacinto College so we have created single document containing the exceptions to the AP style in an effort to enable every department on every campus to consistently represent the College. In some cases, the exact rule from the AP Stylebook is provided due to usage and is marked with an asterisk (*).

As the guide was developed, it also became clear that many grammatical issues arise every day and that a quick reference to these would be helpful. For answers to other questions of style and spelling, the San Jacinto College marketing department consults the Associated Press Stylebook and Webster’s New Collegiate Dictionary.

You are encouraged to become familiar with this Editorial Style Guide and to apply its rules to any text you write on behalf of the College. Please contact the marketing department with your comments or any matters you feel should be addressed in future editions.


Avoid abbreviations in running text.

professor Smith, not Prof. Smith

Use abbreviations and ampersands (&) when they are included in running text and part of a formal name.

Robbins, Schwartz, Nicholas, Lifton & Taylor, Ltd.
Sears, Roebuck and Co.

Avoid using abbreviations for an organization’s name unless the agency or organization is known by its abbreviation: FBI, CIA, FCC. Do not use abbreviations or acronyms that the reader does not quickly recognize.

*AP style for academic degrees

If mention of degrees is necessary to establish someone’s credentials, the preferred form is to avoid an abbreviation and use instead a phrase such as: John Jones, who has a doctorate in psychology.

Use an apostrophe in bachelor’s degree, a master’s, etc., but there is no possessive in Bachelor of Arts or Master of Science.
Also: an associate degree (no possessive).

Use such abbreviations as B.A., M.A., LL.D. and Ph.D. only when the need to identify many individuals by degree on first reference would make the preferred form cumbersome. Use the abbreviations only after a full name – never after just a last name.

When used after a name, an academic abbreviation is set off by commas: Daniel Moynihan, PH.D., spoke.

Do not precede a name with a courtesy title for an academic degree and follow it with the abbreviation for the degree in the same reference:
Wrong: Dr. Pam Jones, Ph.D.
Right: Dr. Pam Jones, a chemist

* This section is a direct quote from the AP Stylebook, 2004, published by Basic Books page 5

academic courses See course titles.

* AP Style for academic departments

Use lowercase except for words that are proper nouns or adjectives or part of a formal name: the department of history, the history department, the department of English, the English department, or when department is part of the official and formal name: San Jacinto College Department of Theater and Film. However, always capitalize English when referring to the English department.

* This section is a direct quote from the AP Stylebook, 2004, published by Basic Books page 5

* AP Style for academic titles

Capitalize and spell out formal titles such as chancellor, chairman, president, etc., when they precede a name. Lowercase in all other uses.

Chancellor Bill Lindemann
Bill Lindemann, chancellor, spoke.
Robert Vela, dean of student life, talked.

Lowercase modifiers such as department in department chair Barbara Taplin.

* This section is a direct quote from the AP Stylebook, 2004, published by Basic Books page 5

acronyms See abbreviations.


Formerly American College Testing Program, now referred to as ACT on all references.


Abbreviate Ave., Blvd. and St. when they are used with a numbered address: 1250 Maple St. Spell them out and capitalize when they are used with a street name but no number: Maple Street. Lowercase and spell out when used with more than one street name and no numbers: Maple and Oak streets. All other words such as alley, drive, road, etc. are spelled out.

Always use figures for an address number: 1200 W. Algonquin Road.

Spell out First through Ninth when used as street names; use figures for 10th and above:
135 First St., 1010 31st Ave.

Abbreviate compass directions in street addresses: 650 E. Fifth Street, 700 N. Palatine Road. Addresses in running copy are separated by commas: San Jacinto College, 4624 Fairmont parkway, Pasadena, TX 77504. When listing mailing addresses, use the two letter postal abbreviation. Use ZIP code-plus 4 digits when possible.

Use official names of offices: Registrar’s Office, Human Resources Department, etc. in mailing addresses.

See numbers, state names, commas.


Use advisor with the –or ending on all references.

affect, effect

Affect (verb), to influence; Avoid the usage of affect as a noun.
The game will affect the score.

Effect (verb) means to cause; (noun) means result.
She will effect changes in the company.
The effect was clear.

Equal Employment Opportunity statement

It is the policy of San Jacinto College not to discriminate on the basis of sex, disability, race, religion, color, age, national origin, or veteran status.

African American

There is no hyphen in African American.


Use figures for ages. He is 6 years old. Hyphenate ages when they are used as adjectives before a noun. A 10-year-old girl, but the girl
is 10 years old.

all right Never alright.

alumnus, alumni, alumna, alumnae

Alumnus is the singular form for a man who has attended a school; alumni (plural). Alumna is the singular for a woman who has attended a school; alumnae (plural). Use alumni when referring to group of men and women.


Lowercase, with periods: 3 a.m., 4 p.m. Avoid 2 p.m. this afternoon, 12 noon and 12 midnight.

See time.

American Indian

Native American also is acceptable – no hyphens.

ampersand (&)

Use only when part of a company’s formal name: Robbins, Schwartz, Nicholas, Lifton & Taylor, Ltd. Do not use in place of and.

Annual Fund

apostrophes (’)

Do not use apostrophes when using plurals for dates and abbreviations: 1990s, 1880s, Ph.D.s, B.A.s, 20s, VIPs, ABCs

Use apostrophes for single letters: He received three A’s on his report card. Do not put quotes around grades. A’s, B’s, C’s.

See academic degrees, capitalization and grades.

Asian American (No hyphen)

Asian American students, Asian Americans


bias free language

international student is preferred to foreign student.
first year student instead of freshman

See freshman.


African American is more acceptable.

Board of Trustees

Capitalize when referring to San Jacinto College’s Board of Trustees.

Do not capitalize board or trustees when they are used alone or in second reference.

The board members voted. The trustees were appointed.

Note: When referring to boards of trustees besides San Jacinto College, lowercase on all references.

see room numbers.


Lowercase on all references. Capitalize when used with a formal name. San Jacinto College North, San Jacinto College Central, San Jacinto College South, San Jacinto College District.


In general, capitalize official names; unofficial, informal or general names are not capitalized such as the center, the theater, the building.

Center for Multicultural Learning, the center
Journalism Lab, the lab
Administration Building, the building

Capitalize course titles, except for articles, prepositions and conjunctions. Do not use ampersands in course titles.

PLS 105 Family Law
PED 179 Judo and Self-Defense/Advanced
MUS 101 Fundamentals of Music Theory

Professor Smith is teaching Fundamentals of Music Theory in the fall.

Capitalize grade letters. Do not put quotation marks around grades.

A, B, C, D, F, H, P, W, X

A grade of C or better is required to pass this course.

See academic degrees, academic departments, academic titles, addresses, apostrophes, course titles, seasons.


Use chair instead of chairman, chairwoman or chairperson.

He is the chair of the history department.


Capitalize College on second reference when referring to San Jacinto College.
San Jacinto College is located in Pasadena. The College offers many programs.

See San Jacinto College.


Use commas to separate items in a series, and place a comma before a conjunction: (Yes, this rule changes on a regular basis and we are back to placing commas before the conjunction.) The ball is yellow, red, and green. Do you want pickles, tomatoes, or lettuce on your sandwich?

Commas always go inside quotation marks:
“The dog is over here,” he said. “I am 10 years old,” she said.

Separate names and titles with commas if they follow the name:
John Smith, Ph.D.,
John Smith, professor of mathematics,

Do not use commas to separate Jr. and Sr. from a name.
Martin Luther King Jr.
Bob Smith Sr.

Use commas in figures greater than 999: 1,234. Exceptions are: street addresses: 7500 North Cook St., room numbers, telephone numbers and years: 1998.

See dates, addresses, junior, senior.

Commencement, commencement

Capitalize when referring to San Jacinto College Commencement. Lowercase when referring to formal commencement exercises.

composition titles

Capitalize only the first word in a title regardless of length.

Use italics for titles and subtitles of books, pamphlets, periodicals, newspapers, sections of newspapers, titles of poems, title of plays, movies, television shows and radio programs, musical compositions including titles of operas and long musical compositions, paintings and sculptures.

the Daily Herald
the Chicago Tribune
West Side Story
Arsenic and Old Lace

Use quotation marks for titles of articles and features in periodicals and newspapers, chapters of book titles, essays and titles of songs or short compositions.

English faculty member Elizabeth Turner wrote the essay “Teaching Willa Cather in May Sarton’s Faithful Are the Wounds”

Co-sponsor (Hyphen)

course titles

Capitalize all words in a title, except lowercase articles (a, an, the), conjunctions (and, but, or, for, nor) and prepositions regardless of length.

See capitalization.

course schedule (two words)

Lowercase and use to refer to continuing and professional development and credit course schedules.

course work (two words)

credit hours

Use numerals to refer to credit hours. (no hyphens)
3 credit hours
She is enrolled in a 4 credit hour course.

current, currently

Avoid use of current and currently because it is redundant.

Incorrect: He is currently working at the college.
Correct: He is working at the college.


Use em dashes (—) to set off phrases where something more than a comma is needed. Do not
use spaces between the em dashes.

Correct: San Jacinto College—named after the area—is located in East Harris County.
Incorrect: San Jacinto College—named after the area, is located in East Harris County.

Use en dashes (-) for ranges in years, page numbers, times, etc. with no spaces between the
Examples: 2002-03, 1998-99 (do not repeat the year on second reference for ranges),
pages 125-258, 10 a.m.-3 p.m.

database (one word)


Time, date, place should always be in the following order:
at 6 p.m. Friday in the theater
at 10 a.m. Tuesday, April 1 in the Interactive Learning Center

Use the year with the month only if the date does not fall in the current year.

Do not use endings -st, -nd, -rd, -th with dates
April 1 event, not April 1st event

Use a comma before and after the year if a month and date appear with it: December 31, 2003.
Do not use a comma between the month and year when it stands alone: December 2003.

Decades may be referred to as: the 1980s, the 1990s, etc. Do not use an apostrophe. Use

days of the week

Do not abbreviate. Capitalize them.

degrees See academic degrees.

department names See academic departments.

disabled, handicapped, impaired

Do not use disabled or handicapped to describe a person. Avoid mentally challenged and other descriptions that may evoke pity. Instead use people with disabilities.


Always lowercase. Use figures and the dollar sign ($).
Tuition costs $33 per credit hour.
He donated $600,000.
She paid $36.95 for a book.
The building costs $88 million.
Do not use $36.00. Leave off the zeros.

ellipsis (…)

Use an ellipsis to show deletion of one or more words in sentences or quotes. Leave one space on both sides of the ellipsis: The car … is on the bridge. If the sentence ends with an ellipsis, leave the period that would have ended the sentence….


Lowercase email. Hyphenate and lowercase e-commerce, e-business, e-shopping.

San Jacinto College email addresses should be lowercase:

Avoid breaking email addresses in a line of text.

Fall See seasons.

fax (lowercase)

foreign students

International students is preferred.

freshman, freshmen

Freshmen is plural, but use freshman when referring to freshman courses, freshman year, freshman class. Avoid confusion by using first year students.

full time, full-time

Hyphenate as an adjective before the noun. Otherwise use two words. She works full time. He has a full-time job.

fundraise, fundraising (one word)

grade point average (GPA)


Always capitalize. Do not put quotes around grades.

You must earn a C to complete the course.

See apostrophes and capitalization.


Lowercase on all references.

See Commencement.


Capitalize Hispanic. Latina (fem.) and Latino (masc.).


Hyphens are joiners. Use them to form a single idea with two or more words.

In general do not hyphenate words that begin with the prefixes, after, anti, bi, by, co, ex, full, in, non, pre, post, re, semi and un unless the prefix ending is a vowel and the other word begins with the same vowel: re-elect, pre-election, co-op.

Always hyphenate self: self-government.
Hyphenate words with prefixes when they are used in front of a formal name: anti-American, post-Renaissance.

When in doubt look up the word in Webster’s New World College Dictionary to determine if it is hyphenated.

*****************Internet Guide*******************
Some commonly used Internet, computer and telecommunication terms:


All caps when referring to a compact disc acting as a read-only memory.
CD-ROM disc is redundant.

cell phone (two words)

database (one word)


download (To copy a file from one computer to another.)


Capitalize and use on all references. DVD is an acronym for digital video disk.


Lowercase email. (No hyphen) Hyphenate and lowercase e-commerce, e-business, e-shopping.
Email addresses should be lowercase:
Avoid breaking email addresses in a line of text.


Capitalize and use on all references on the Web. Acronym for frequently asked questions. Spell it out in running text.

home page

The front page of a website.


Capitalize. On second reference, can refer to the Net.



Acronym for information technology. Spell it out and lowercase on first reference. On second reference, use IT (capitalized).


Acronym for local area network. Spell it out. Use LAN on second reference.

login, logon, logoff


offline (no hyphen)

online (no hyphen, one word)

screen saver (two words)


The URL is the Internet address. Avoid breaking an Internet address in text. When the address does not fit on a line, then break it into two or more lines without adding a hyphen.


nternational students

International students is preferred to foreign students.

See bias free language.

junior, senior

Abbreviate as Jr. and Sr. only with full names. Do not use a comma: Martin Luther King Jr.

Latina, Latino

Latina, Latino is preferred to Hispanic, but either is acceptable.


Do not put "12" in front of either one. When referring to a time, it is preferable to use 12 p.m., or 12 a.m.

See time.


Capitalize the names of months in all uses. When a month is used with a date, spell it out. Spell out months when they stand alone or with a year.

February 14, 2002; January 2, 2001; March 17, 2003; April 1989

more than, over

Use more than when referring to numerals: More than 50 people came to the party. Their salaries increased more than 2 percent. Use over to refer to spatial relationships: The plane flew over the house.

multicultural (No hyphen, one word.)

Native American

American Indian also is acceptable.

noncredit (one word)

nonprofit (one word)


Spell out one through nine. Use numerals for 10 and above.
They have six children. There are 10 people in the family.

Do not start a sentence with a number.
Incorrect: 60 students were in the class.
Correct: There were 60 students in the class.

A sentence may start with a year.
1978 was a great year.

For ordinals, spell out first through ninth when they indicate sequence in time or location: first
base, First Amendment. Use numerals for 10th and above.

on campus, on-campus

Two words. Hyphenate as an adjective before a noun.
I work on campus.
She has an on-campus job.

online (one word)

ordinal numbers

See numbers, addresses

part time, part-time

Hyphenate when used as an adjective before a noun.
I work part time. She has a part-time job.


One word. Spell out percent in all references. Use a numeral before percent except when starting a sentence with a numeral, then spell out the number such as: Twelve percent of the people attended the open house.

10 percent
2.65 percent

8 %
2.5 per cent

Phi Theta Kappa

Capitalize. Use when referring to the international honor society of two-year colleges established in 1918.

phone numbers See telephone numbers.


Do not abbreviate. Lowercase before a name unless starting a sentence with professor.

room numbers

Capitalize room when used with figures or a specific name of a room: Room 205, Blue Room
Do not separate the building letter and room number: J137, not J 137.

See building names.

San Jacinto College

Use San Jacinto College on all first references. On second reference use the College. Capitalize College on second reference when referring to San Jacinto College. For official or legal documents, the College must be referred to as San Jacinto Community College District.

See College.

San Jacinto College Foundation

Capitalize Foundation on second reference when referring to the San Jacinto College Foundation.

Omit http:// on all URLs for the College’s website.


Capitalize Spring, Summer, Fall when referring to an academic term. Lowercase when referring to the season fall, spring, summer, winter.


Lowercase except at the start of a sentence.
Spring semester, Fall semester, Summer session


In writing, especially for news releases and all printed materials, use one space after a period at
the end of a sentence instead of two spaces as in the English grammar style.

Spring See seasons.

state names

Spell out states when they are used alone in text. Abbreviate states when used with the name of a city, town, village, etc.

Use the following state abbreviations in text. (ZIP code abbreviations are in parentheses and only should be used with complete addresses.) These abbreviations come from the standards used by the Associated Press Stylebook.

Ala. (AL)      Md. (MD)      N.D. (ND)
Ariz. (AZ)    Mass. (MA)    Okla. (OK)
Ark. (AR)     Mich. (MI)     Ore. (OR)
Calif. (CA)   Minn. (MN)    Pa. (PA)
Colo. (CO)   Miss. (MS)     R.I. (RI)
Conn. (CT)  Mo. (MO)      S.C. (SC)
Del. (DE)     Mont. (MT)    S.D. (SD)
Fla. (FL)      Neb. (NE)      Tenn. (TN)
Ga. (GA)     Nev. (NV)       Vt. (VT)
Ill. (IL)        N.H. (NH)       Va. (VA)
Ind. (IN)      N.J. (NJ)          Wash. (WA)
Kan. (KS)     N.M. (NM)      W.Va. (WV)
Ky. (KY)       N.Y. (NY)       Wis. (WI)
La. (LA)      N.C. (NC)        Wyo. (WY)

Eight states are never abbreviated in datelines or text: Alaska (AK), Hawaii (HI), Idaho (ID), Iowa (IA), Maine (ME), Ohio (OH), Texas (TX) and Utah (UT).

See addresses.

Summer See seasons.

telephone numbers

Many people have a habit of using periods to separate the telephone numbers. According to AP, figures and parentheses around the area code are used to keep a consistency with a format the telephone companies established.

However, the following can be used for telephone numbers:


For telephone extensions: ext. 6000, 847.925.6000, ext. 6100


Use this spelling with the ending -er for all uses except when referring to a proper name of a Theatre: Theatre San Jacinto


Do not use :00 with times: 7 to 8 a.m., 8 to 9 a.m., 6:30 p.m.

Lowercase a.m. and p.m. See a.m. and p.m.

Do not use o’clock with times.

It is preferable to use 12 p.m. and 12 a.m. instead of noon or midnight.

Only use from with to:
Correct: from 9 to 10 a.m.
Incorrect: from 9-10 a.m.

See dates, midnight/noon.

toward Not towards.

website (one word, lowercase)

winter See seasons.


World Wide Web

Three words, no hyphens. On second reference, the Web. Preference is to use website.


Use figures, without commas: 1995.
Add no apostrophes when plural: 1990s, 1970s, 1950s.

See dates.

ZIP code

ZIP-All caps for Zoning Improvement Plan. Lowercase code.
Do not put a comma between the state name and the ZIP code: Houston, TX 60067.

See addresses.