Editorial Style Guide

Stacey Himmelberger

A - C


academic degrees
Preferred style is to avoid abbreviations: Susan Smith earned her bachelor’s degree at Colby College and her master’s degree at New York University. John Jones has a doctorate in psychology. (Do not use “doctorate degree”).

Use abbreviations (with periods) — B.A., M.A., M.B.A., LL.D., J.D. and Ph.D. — only when the need to identify many individuals by degree on first reference would make the preferred form cumbersome. When used after a name, set off by commas: John Smith, Ph.D., spoke at the conference.

Reserve Dr. for medical professionals, not people with doctorates; use before the name: Dr. Bob Jones performed the surgery. When mentioning that someone has a doctor of medicine or doctor of dental surgery degree, use M.D. degree and D.D.S. degree.

Use an apostrophe in bachelor’s degree, master’s degree, etc. However, there is no apostrophe in bachelor of arts or master of science.  Also: an associate degree (no possessive).

When referring to a member of the Hamilton faculty, do not use Ph.D. or Dr.; instead, use Professor of Classics Barbara Gold or Barbara Gold, professor of classics. See also “titles” and “endowed chairs.”

academic departments, programs
Capitalize names of academic departments and programs. List the area name first: Philosophy Department, not Department of Philosophy; Africana Studies Program, not Program in Africana Studies.

Lowercase “department” or “program” on second reference when it stands alone: He is a professor in the Chemistry Department and next year will be department chair.

Lowercase academic disciplines when not referring to a department or program: The grant will support students interested in biology, psychology and physics. (Exceptions, of course, are areas such as English, Asian studies, French, etc.)

Below is the listing of Hamilton academic departments and programs. For a listing of areas of study, see “concentrations and minors.”

Departments Programs
Africana Studies American Studies
Anthropology  Asian Studies
Art Biochemistry/Molecular Biology
Art History Chemical Physics
Biology Cinema and New Media Studies
Chemistry Digital Arts
Classics Education Studies
Communication Environmental Studies
Comparative Literature Geoarchaeology
Computer Science Jurisprudence, Law and Justice Studies
Dance and Movement Studies Latin American Studies
East Asian Languages and Literatures Medieval and Renaissance Studies
Economics Middle East and Islamic World Studies
English and Creative Writing Neuroscience
French Public Policy
Geosciences Russian Studies
German and Russian Languages and Literatures  
Hispanic Studies  
Physical Education  
Religious Studies  
Women’s Studies  

academic honors
See “honors.”

academic support services
Capitalize the full name of Hamilton academic support services and programs such as Diversity and Social Justice Project; Burke Library; Information Technology Services; Digital Humanities Initiative; Language Center; Arthur Levitt Public Affairs Center; Maurice Horowitch Career Center; Nesbitt-Johnston Writing Center; Oral Communication Center; Quantitative and Symbolic Reasoning Center; Peer Tutoring Program.

Use the complete name on first reference whenever possible. In many cases, abbreviated names are also capitalized since they contain proper nouns or are used so commonly on first reference: Levitt Center, Writing Center, Career Center. Lowercase on second reference more generic names such as library.

academic titles
See “titles,” “endowed chairs” and “chairs, departments.”

academic year
2013-14, not 2013-2014.

Avoid unfamiliar acronyms on first reference, and do not use them at all unless there are multiple references. When possible, substitute a clear synonym such as “the organization,” “the foundation,” “the consortium,” etc.

Use abbreviations (Ave., Blvd., St.) only with a numbered address: He lived at 301 Elm St., Clinton. He lived on Elm Street in Clinton. 

The following are always spelled out: Alley, Road, Drive, Terrace.

Adirondack Adventure
Hamilton pre-orientation program. Capitalize.

Admission, Admission Office
Not Admissions with an “s.” Capitalize. See also “departments and offices.”

Not adviser.

affect, effect
Affect is a verb meaning “to influence”: His score on the history final will affect his grade. (Avoid use of “affect” as a noun.)

Effect, as a verb, means “to cause”: The new president will effect many changes in the company. Effect, as a noun, means “result”: Her research measures the effects of global warming on Oneida Lake.

Hyphenate (same for other ethnic groups, such as Asian-American); however, no hyphen in Native American.

Not afterwards.

Always use figures when referring to people: The student is 19 years old. Otherwise spell out one through nine: The policy is four years old. He worked at Hamilton for 11 years.

Ages used as a noun or as an adjective before a noun require hyphens: The 19-year-old student won the prize. An age range does not require an apostrophe: The professor was in his 50s.

ages of history, periods of time
Capitalize widely recognized epochs in history as well as popular names for periods and events: the Bronze Ages, the Middle Ages, the Atomic Age, the Boston Tea Party. Capitalize only the proper nouns or adjectives in general descriptions: ancient Greece.

Lowercase: He studied poetry from the 18th century. Hyphenate when used as a compound modifier: She studied 18th-century art.

Lowercase “all” as both an adjective and noun unless part of the official name: GTE All-America Team. But GTE academic all-American.

alma mater
Lowercase; no italics.

Follow these general rules for creating lists:

Names are alphabetized by the order of letters in the full last name: Macdonald would be alphabetized with “MAC”; McDonald would be “MCD.” Both Saint Thomas and St. Thomas would be “SAI.” Disregard any punctuation or spacing: O’Malley (“OMA”) and d’Amico (“DAM”).

Company names and foundations should be alphabetized by last name if it is clearly a person’s name (Matilda Wilson Foundation would be under “W”); otherwise, alphabetize by the first major word (Dr. Scholl Foundation would be under “D”; Fillmore Thomas Co. under “F”; Lyford Cay Foundation under “L”).

Alternative Spring Break

Singular vs. plural: One man is an alumnus; one woman is an alumna; several men — or a group of men and women — are alumni; several women are alumnae. Casual references to “alums” should be avoided.

Alumni Association

Alumni Council

alumni names, class years
To designate an individual as an alumnus/a of Hamilton, use the name followed by the last two digits of the graduation year: Robert Brown ’82.

If the alumna is married, include her maiden name (name used as a student) followed by her married name: Susan Jones Brown ’82.

If the individual is a graduate of Kirkland College, designate with a “K” (no space between “K” and class year): Elizabeth Parker Smith K’76.

When referring to a couple, only one of whom is an alumnus/a, place the class year next to the name of the alumnus/a to avoid confusion. In this case, Doug Smith is the alumnus and his wife is not: Susan and Doug ’88 Smith. This is preferable to Doug ’88 and Susan Smith where the alumnus’ first and last names are quite separated. It is equally acceptable in prose to use: Doug Smith ’88 and his wife, Susan, attended the event.

When referring to a couple, both of whom are alumni, the common last name should be repeated: Doug Smith ’88 and Susan Jones Smith ’88. Repeating the last name is preferable to Doug ’88 and Susan Jones Smith ’88 since the husband’s first and last names become quite separated.

When referring to an alumnus/a who is also a parent, use the following: Doug Smith ’88, P’01.

When referring to a couple who are parents, but only one is an alumnus/a, place the class year next to the name of the alumnus/a, and place the parent designation at the end: Carol Smith Reed ’82 and Matt Reed P’01. For clarification it is equally acceptable in prose to use: Carol Smith Reed ’82 and her husband, Matt Reed, are the parents of Josh Smith ’01.

When referring to a couple, both of whom are alumni and parents, the common last name should be repeated and the parent designation placed at the end. Carol Smith Reed ’82 and Matt Reed ’82, P’01.

Alumni Relations, Office of
Not Alumni Programs or Alumni Affairs. Capitalize. See “departments and offices.”

Alumni Review
Hamilton’s magazine is the Hamilton Alumni Review. Use Alumni Review or Review on second reference. Italicize. See “composition titles.”

a.m. and p.m.
Use periods. Lowercase. See “dates, months and times.”

Do not use together. Reword sentence.

Do not use “first annual.” An event cannot be annual unless it has occurred two or more times.

Annual Fund
Capitalize when referring to the Hamilton Annual Fund: Your gift to the Annual Fund supports current students.

Note that the tail of the apostrophe points to the left when used to indicate omitted characters: I’ve, it’s, Class of ’82, styles of the ’50s. Do not use a straight foot mark (') or (‘).

area code
See “phone numbers.”

areas of study
See “concentrations and minors.”

article titles
Use quotation marks. See “composition titles.”

athletic, athletics
Traditionally, athletic is an adjective meaning “physically active,” and athletics is a noun meaning “sports, exercises and games that require physical skill.” Hamilton style follows common usage that allows athletic to serve also as an adjective: Jon Hind is Hamilton’s athletic director. However: Jon Hind is director of athletics.

athletic teams
Names of Hamilton athletic teams are generally lowercase — the Hamilton men’s basketball team, the women’s tennis team. Exceptions are team and club names unique to Hamilton such as the Bicycle Cooperative and the Ski and Snowboard Guild.



Capitalize when referring to the event held during Commencement Weekend.

bachelor of arts, bachelor of science
See “academic degrees.”

Not “backwards.”

because, since
Since is often used to mean because: “Since you asked, I’ll tell you.” Its primary meaning, however, relates to time: “I’ve been waiting since Tuesday for the letter.” 

Most people now accept since in place of because; however, when since is ambiguous and may also refer to time (“Since she went to college, he found another girlfriend”), it is better to use because or after, depending on which you mean: “Because you are intelligent and careful, your writing has improved since the beginning of this course.”

Bell Ringer Award
Award traditionally presented during Reunion Weekend. Capitalize.

between, among
Between refers to two items; among refers to more than two: “A debate ensued between the student and his professor.” “A debate ensued among students in the class.”

No hyphen: bilingual, bimonthly, bipartisan.

biannually, semiannually
Use semiannually instead of biannually to mean twice a year. This avoids confusion since biennially means every other year.

Every two years or every other year.

Often the use of black (lowercase) is appropriate to describe individuals of African, Caribbean or South American descent. Try to determine the preference of the person or group being described.

Board of Trustees
Capitalize as a formal noun when referring specifically to Hamilton’s Board of Trustees, otherwise lowercase: The Board of Trustees voted to approve the budget. Lowercase “board” on second reference: The board will meet in Buttrick Hall. Note that board requires a singular verb.

When using “trustee” alone, follow the rules under “titles”: Trustee Jeff Little ’71 or Jeff Little ’71, a trustee of Hamilton.

alumni trustees, nominated by the Alumni Council, are elected to the board by the general membership of the Alumni Association and serve for a single four-year term.

charter trustees are elected by the board to serve six-year renewable terms. Although there are no term limits, trustees must retire from the board at age 70.

life trustees are elected by the board if a trustee has served at least seven years. Life trustees may attend meetings of the board but do not hold voting privileges.

book titles
Italicize. See “composition titles.”

Bon Appétit
The College’s food service provider. Note spelling and accent.

buildings and facilities
See Campus Buildings and Facilities for a list of formal and second-reference names.



Note: canceled, canceling, cancellation.

Identify people in photos using these guidelines: With few people, insert (left), (right), (center) into sentence, using parentheses. With many people, use (from left) or (front row, from left). Subsequent rows need not indicate direction since a pattern has been established.

No periods. Acceptable on first reference for compact disc.

Central New York, Upstate New York
Capitalize since the region should be widely known to most readers.

chair, chairman, chairwoman
“Chair” is preferred for simplification and to avoid gender bias; however, chairman or chairwoman is also acceptable — especially in cases where it is part of a person’s official title: Steve Sadove ’73, chairman of the Board of Trustees, wrote a letter to alumni. Susan Smith ’06 serves as reunion gift chair. For capitalization guidelines, see “titles.”

chairs, department
Faculty members serving as chair of a department may often be recognized as such on first reference. The chair designation is in addition to the full title: Elaine Heekin, professor of dance and chair of the Dance and Movement Studies Department, directed the performance. Shelley Haley, professor of classics and chair of the Africana Studies Program, spoke at the conference.

Note that departments have chairs and programs have directors. See “academic departments, programs.” Consult the Red Book for current department and program chairs.

The AP Stylebook lists cities that stand alone in prose without state affiliation: Atlanta, Baltimore, Boston, Chicago, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Dallas, Denver, Detroit, Honolulu, Houston, Indianapolis, Los Angeles, Miami, Milwaukee, Minneapolis, New Orleans, New York, Oklahoma City, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, St. Louis, Salt Lake City, San Diego, San Francisco, Seattle, Washington.

In publications for alumni, add the following New York towns and cities to that list: Clinton, Utica, Syracuse, Albany, Rochester, Buffalo.

class agent
Lowercase: He served as an Annual Fund class agent.

class annalist
See “half-century annalist, half-century annalist’s letter”

Class of
Capitalize the “C” when referring to a particular class with the year: The Class of 1999 celebrated its reunion.

Class & Charter Day
Awards convocation traditionally marking the end of the academic year. Capitalize and use ampersand.

class years
See “alumni names, class years.”

clubs and organizations
Full names of student clubs and organizations are generally capitalized when using the group’s full name, especially on first reference: Hamilton College Debate Society, the Wine-Tasting Club, the Study Buddy Club. Lowercase abbreviated forms of a name on second reference — such as the debate team, the wine-tasters’ group, the study buddies — when it is clear that the reference is to the Hamilton organization.

See the complete list of Hamilton organizations

club sports
See “sports teams.”

Use a hyphen when forming nouns, adjectives and verbs that show occupation status: co-author, co-chair, co-worker. Omit the hyphen in other combinations: coeducation, coexist, cooperative.

collective nouns
Nouns that denote a unit take singular verbs and pronouns: The class graduates in May. The group makes its recommendation. The committee is meeting to set its agenda. Note that team names take plural verbs: The Continentals are playing at Sage Rink.

Exceptions to this rule are “couple,” when used to refer to two people, and “family,” when used to refer to a group. Both of these take plural verbs and pronouns: The couple were visiting campus to see their daughter on Family Weekend. They plan to see her again at Thanksgiving. When referring to a single unit, use a singular verb: Each couple was asked to contribute $10.

See also “faculty.”

On first reference with external audiences, use Hamilton College. It is not necessary to use the word “College” on second reference; the word “Hamilton” can stand alone. When referring to Hamilton as “the College” on second reference, use a capital “C.”

College colors, logo, seal
See “Hamilton graphic identity.”

College Hill
Capitalize when using as a synonym for Hamilton, usually in communications to alumni or the campus community. Also acceptable, the Hill.

College Key Award
Presented to recognize individuals who perform a service or activity that directly benefits a specific volunteer program or the College in a tangible way. Capitalize.

The Communications Office does not use the serial comma in its materials. 

• Omit the comma before a conjunction in a simple series: The professor’s areas of expertise are world politics, economics and the Middle East.

• Include the comma when an item in a simple series contains “and”: He taught music theory, jazz history, and voice and piano lessons.

• Include a comma when connecting two or more independent clauses: Susie had planned to study at the library all night, but she came home early to get some sleep.

• In sentences that contain a series of words with other commans, use a semicolon to separate them: The committee included Monica Inzer, dean of admission and financial aid; Pat Reynolds, dean of the College; and Dick Tantillo, vice president for Communications & Development.

Capitalize when referring specifically to Hamilton College’s graduation ceremony. Also Commencement Weekend.

Capitalize major standing committees. Examples include committees of the Board of Trustees (i.e., Committee on Instruction, Committee on Buildings, Grounds and Equipment, Committee on Honorary Degrees) and committees of the faculty (i.e., Academic Council, Committee on Admission and Financial Aid, Committee on Athletics).  Other standing committees include the Alumni Council, the Honor Court, the Judicial Board, Health Professions Advisory Committee and others listed in the Faculty Handbook.

Lowercase other committees that are more informal or that change members often such as reunion gift committee, senior gift committee, FebFest planning committee, etc.

communication, concentration in
Hamilton offers a concentration in communication (not communications with an “s”). Also Oral Communication Center.

complement, compliment
Complement means “to supplement”: The graphs complement his research paper. Compliment is an expression of courtesy: The professor complimented students on their hard work in her class.

compose, comprise
Compose means “to create or put together”: She composed a song. The United States is composed of 50 states. Comprise means “to contain” and is best used only in the active voice: The United States comprises 50 states. The class comprises six men and seven women. Avoid “is comprised of.”

composition titles
Italicize major and stand-alone works such as books, movies, periodicals or journals, newspapers, plays, television shows, paintings, CDs, symphonies. Smaller works and those contained within larger collections go in quotation marks, such as book chapters, article titles, poems and song titles.

concentrations and minors
The specific disciplines and programs in which a Hamilton student may concentrate or minor — also known as areas of study — are listed below.  Those with an (*) are minors only:

Africana Studies French
American Studies Geoarchaeology
Anthropology  Geosciences
Archaeology German Studies
Art Government
Art History Hispanic Studies
Asian Studies History
Astronomy* Interdisciplinary Concentration
Biochemistry/Molecular Biology Japanese*
Biology Jurisprudence, Law and Justice Studies*
Chemical Physics Latin American Studies*
Chemistry Mathematics
Chinese Medieval and Renaissance Studies*
Cinema and New Media Studies* Middle East and Islamic World Studies*
Classical Languages Music
Classical Studies Neuroscience
Communication Philosophy
Comparative Literature Physics
Computer Science Psychology
Creative Writing Public Policy
Dance and Movement Studies Religious Studies
Digital Arts* Russian Studies
Economics Sociology
Education* Spanish
English Theatre
Environmental Studies Women's Studies
Foreign Language World Politics

Use lowercase in prose: He earned a degree in geology. Exceptions, of course, are English, Asian studies, French, etc. Use of uppercase is acceptable in list form. It is also acceptable to refer to a concentration as a “major,” especially in admission materials.

Capitalize when referring to the event that opens Hamilton’s academic year. Other events in which the faculty processes in academic regalia, such as Commencement and Class & Charter Day, are also considered convocations.

Hamilton’s nickname, referring to a Continental soldier. Use only when referring to an athletic team.

Acronym for Community Outreach and Opportunity Project, the umbrella organization that oversees community service opportunities for students. Within COOP are such efforts as Alternative Spring Break, HAVOC and Outreach Adventure. For an internal audience, COOP is acceptable on first reference, otherwise use full name.

course load
Two words.

course titles
Full names of courses are capitalized but not set off in italics or with quotation marks: He took Professor Smith’s course The Social Psychological Study of Self. Lowercase when not referring to proper name of course: He first met Professor Smith while taking his course on social development.

course work
Two words.

courtesy titles
In prose, refer to individuals by their first and last name on first reference. Reserve use of Mr., Mrs., Miss, etc. for salutations in letters or in direct quotes.