To help make all College communications coherent and effective, the staff in the Office of Communications & Marketing has produced this brief style guide.
On matters not addressed here, we defer to the Chicago Manual of Style for general writing, editing, and publishing guidelines, and to the Associated Press Stylebook for common practices in journalistic writing.
For assistance with spelling proper names of prominent individuals, corporations, or trademarks, the web can be a valuable resource. Always be careful, however, when consulting web sources and choose sites most likely to provide reliably accurate and authoritative information. For example, when seeking proper spelling and usage of names of Microsoft products, the Microsoft website is the most reliable resource.
If you have specific questions about style or usage not covered in this guide, please contact Carina Sitkus, Director of Communications & Content Strategy, 717-337-6803.
a before h
Use a before a pronounced h: a historian, a horse, a hysterical joke. Use an before an aspirated h: an hour, an honest man.
When speaking generally, use doctorate, bachelor's degree, master's degree (note use of apostrophes). Specific academic degrees should be capitalized (ex: Bachelor of Arts degree); when abbreviated, eliminate periods: BA degree, BS degree, MA degree, MS degree, MD degree, or PhD degree, as per Chicago 15: 15.21.
For lesser-known degrees, such as Master of Fine Arts, Master of Public Administration, Juris Doctor, etc., spell out the entire title, using capitalization on all words except degree. Subsequent references to these degrees should eliminate periods (ex.: MBA degree, MFA degree).
addresses, telephone numbers, website, campus
(Department or office)
300 N. Washington St.
Gettysburg, PA 17325
717-337-6000 (campus information)
Merriam-Webster's first spelling—adviser—is preferred at Gettysburg College.
Capitalize the formal name (Office of Admissions) and the casual (Admissions Office). The senior staff member for student admission is the vice president for enrollment and educational services. The recruitment officers are admissions (note plural) counselors.
No caps and no italics; considered an English word by now.
Alumnus, alumni, alumna, alumnae
Alumnus (alumni as plural) refers to man who has attended a school. Alumna (alumnae as plural) is a woman who has attended a school. Alumni refers to a group of men and women. It is also permissible to speak of an alum and alums.
Refers to the Gettysburg College Alumni Association.
Alumni Association Board of Directors
Alumni Association Executive Board
Capitalize the formal name (Office of Alumni Affairs) and the more casual reference (Alumni Office).
alumni class years
- regular use: John Smith '65; Jane (Doe) Smith '65. (Maiden names are placed in parentheses.) Note the direction of the single smart quote (’18 not ‘18).
- Classes in another century, or to avoid confusion: John Smith, Class of 1865
a. both alumni: John '65 and Jane (Doe) '66 Smith
b. not both alumni: John and Jane (Doe) '66 Smith; or John '65 and Jane Smith. (Do not list the maiden name of non-alumni.)
- John Doe’s ’18 not John Doe ’18’s
- Use a comma and space to separate multiples (John Smith '00, P'29, '36)
"Said" is preferred to "says."
Service that occurs on the eve of Commencement; capitalize when referring to Gettysburg College's service.
Generally no hyphen: bimonthly, bilateral, bilingual.
Biannual is twice a year or semiannual. Biennial is every two years.
board of trustees
In prose, use lower case. For more formal and promotional text, capitalization may be considered (The Gettysburg College Board of Trustees, for example). Individual trustees may be referred to using the rules under "titles": Trustee John Smith or John Smith, a trustee of the College.
branding (See also logo and seal.)
In 2005 the College adopted a consistent and coherent way to verbally and visually present itself to the public. For details, see the Brand Standards Guide online. All uses of the College logo and seal are overseen by the College Brand Review Committee.
Name of the College's sports teams. Always plural. You may say, however, "The fastest Bullet in history."
Bullets Marching Band
Capitalize when referring to the full and proper title of a major fundraising drive, such as the Sesquicentennial Campaign; use "the campaign" (lower case) in subsequent references.
canceled, not cancelled.
Campus Activities Board (CAB)
The College's courses are listed in the Course Catalog.
Gettysburg College's board of trustees and academic departments have a chair, not a chairman. Use chair to avoid gender bias.
Chair and professorship are generally interchangeable; chair and professor are not. A professor who holds the chair in a discipline should be referred to as the professor of the discipline, keeping the name of the chair capitalized, even in shortened, casual references: Ralph Cavaliere, Charles H. Graff Professor of Biology.
Use Hanukkah instead
Capitalize only when using its proper name: Gettysburg College Christ Chapel
Use instead of extracurricular when talking about campus living and learning activities. (No hyphen.)
Capitalize in isolation only when referring specifically to Gettysburg College. (Example: The College has excellent science programs.) For news releases, however, use college lower case.
Orange and blue
Materials for Gettysburg College audiences should follow the academic and other style guidelines below. Commas (and periods) always go inside quotation marks.
- items in a series: Use a comma before the last item in a series. For press releases, however, the rule is to avoid commas before "and" in a series.
- Dates: When using more than one identifier for a date, use commas to separate days, dates, and years. Note that a month alone (no date) does not need a comma between it and the year. (Examples: His presentation on Saturday, Jan. 14, was most informative. The event was held in January 1997. We set the next meeting for July 14, 1997, in Tampa.)
- City/state: Use pairs of commas to separate cities from states. (Examples: John Smith of St. Paul, Minn., won the award. The award winners include Bea Baylor, Beloit, Wis.; Jenny Jones, Fort Smith, Ark.; Sam Smith, Rockford, Ill. The Minnesota band is here. The St. Paul, Minn., band is here.)
- Numbers: Use a comma for most four-digit figures that reflect an actual count of things such as money and people (1,345 applicants). Exceptions include street addresses, broadcast frequencies, room numbers, serial numbers, and calendar years.
Capitalize when referring specifically to Gettysburg College's graduation ceremony; otherwise it is lowercase.
Example: the 1970s; the '70s (no apostrophe before "s").
Department of Psychology, but psychology department. Department of English, but English department.
departments, non-academic (a.k.a. offices)
Office of College Life, but College Life office. Office of Annual Giving, but Annual Giving office.
Please note that media prefer lower case in almost every instance.
Do great work
The College's signature line. Use only as prescribed in the Graphic Standards Guide. No punctuation is used.
No hyphen, small "e"; capital "e" used to start a sentence.
Use —, not --. Hyphens, en, em dashes, and ellipsis should be closed up with text, no extra spaces except four-period ellipses get one space at the end.
An honor earned (not automatic), usually upon retirement. Conforming to the rules of Latin, use this descriptor after the title. (Examples: Single person, by gender and placement: Professor Emeritus John Doe; President Emerita Martha Peterson; Jane Doe, professor emerita) Multiples by gender: professors emeriti (for all men or mixed group); professors emeritae (for all women. Reference to all the faculty and staff who hold emeritus status is, simply, "the emeriti."
Capitalize. No longer uses the word Parents to describe this weekend.
Use lower-case letters (or capitalize the first letter if
starting a sentence or line of formatted text with it). Do not use all caps.
Firsthand, not first hand or first-hand.
Use instead of freshman. Note hyphen.
Note hyphen. Interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary courses during fall semester that acclimate new students to college life.
Note hyphen. Special seminar classes for first-year students.
Use first-year student(s) instead.
Mainly for use in the College's magazine; use sparingly. G'burg, not G-burg.
The acronym stands for geographic information systems. The GIS Lab is in the Science Center.
GPA/grade point average
Gettysburg Recreational Adventure Board. A part of the Office of Experiential Education; offers outdoor trips throughout the academic year.
This spelling is preferred over Chanukah.
Use correct subject-verb agreement when possible, but the singular "they" can be used in service to the reader for the sake of concision. When referring to people in stories, Gettysburg College respects the identities and pronouns the people themselves use.
Capitalize the first word in a headline.
A person whose ancestors come from Spain. See Latino.
Do not use periods when referring to identification. (plural: IDs)
Use a descriptor, such as North American, unless referring to someone from India. Native American is also suggested.
Jr., III, etc.
Abbreviate and capitalize when part of someone's name. Do not separate by a comma. John Doe Jr. or John Doe III.
Midwinter African-American celebration.
Refers to a person (based on gender) whose ancestors come from Latin America. Latino-American is the common reference (regardless of gender) to U.S. citizens from Latin America.
Use lower case in generic use and when speaking of
In writing for the web, links should be included to relevant Gettysburg College pages (e.g., when linking to department, office, or program pages). Links to external pages can be omitted, unless required in the context of a story.
Gettysburg College logotype must be represented on all Gettysburg College materials.
Official colors: Blue: PMS 294; Orange: PMS 158
College seal: Use when requested to achieve an official or academic look.
Bullets logo: For use on athletic materials.
Consult the Brand Standards Guide for proper usage.
capitalize department names as per rule (see departments, academic), not majors. (Examples: Jane Done, a psychology and political science double major; Department of Political Science, but political science department).
No hyphen when used as prefix, unless it precedes a capital letter or numerical figure.
Use numerals. When forming a compound adjective, use a hyphen. (Examples: He gave $50. His gift was $1 million (simple nouns). He presented a $1-million gift (compound adjective). The year-end total was nearly $1.5 million.) The decimal system (taken out 1, 2, or 3 places) is usually preferred for numbers above $1 million. (Examples: $1.123 million, or better yet: more than $1.1 million, nearly $1.2 million) (Symbols: ¢ = option-4; £ = option-3; ¥ = option-y)
Capitalize names of months in all uses. When a month is used with a specific date, abbreviate only Jan., Feb., Aug., Sept., Oct., Nov., Dec.
The cap worn at Commencement.
No hyphen; refers to three or more disciplines.
List nicknames, surrounded by quotation marks, only when the formal and preferred names are unexpectedly different. (OK: John "Buzz" Jones; AVOID: William "Bill" Smith)
Use this capitalized abbreviation for number when referring to a position or rank. (Examples: No. 1 city in America; No. 3 choice)
Generally, no hyphen: nonfiction, nonprofit, etc.
Use this rather than 12 p.m.
(See also No.) In general, spell out zero through nine (and first through ninth) and give numerals for 10 and above (10th, etc.). Fractions, such as two-thirds, should be spelled out. If paired with a whole number, use the decimal system: 2.25. Percentages, measurements, GPAs, and ages should always be represented by numerals. Headlines: Use numerals, even for 1-9.
When rounding large numbers, spell out (nearly one thousand people). Use cardinal numbers in dates (August 7, not August 7th). Do not start a sentence with a numeral. Spell out number of any magnitude if it is the first word of the sentence, or recast the sentence.
One word; no hyphen.
Orange & Blue Club
With ampersand. Fund-raising group that fosters and supports excellence in intercollegiate athletics at
Owl & Nightingale Club
With ampersand. Student organization for the theatre arts program. It is the oldest non-Greek organization
Parents Advisory Board
The Parents Advisory Board serves as a bridge of communication between Gettysburg College parents and the administration, faculty, student body, alumni and friends. Members of the Parents Advisory Board serve as representatives of the entire parent constituency and as such are parent leaders in advising and financially supporting the College.
Spell out the word in text. The % sign may be used in numerical charts and headlines. Percentages should always be represented by a numeral. (Examples: an increase of 4 percent, but a 4-percent increase; HEADLINE: Board grants 4% raise)
Always place a period inside quotation marks. Use only one space after a period, not two.
Phi Beta Kappa
National honorary scholastic society for top students in the senior class.
Use a hyphen (not parentheses or a slash) between the area code and the number; do not include "1" with toll-free number. For campus extensions, use "ext." followed by space and four-digit number.
Use periods and lower-case letters. (Examples: 8 a.m.;
"Prof." is used in place of "Dr." Do not abbreviate "prof." when used without a name. When introducing a faculty member, name the department and “Prof.” as needed, along with the person's name.—Long titles are more easily read after the name and surrounded by commas. (Psychology Prof. John Smith OR John Smith, professor of history and the director of the Civil War Institute at Gettysburg College.— Subsequent references to faculty are by last name, except in captions, where the title Prof. and the name may be used. Capitalization follows titles rules.
Acronym for resident assistant; no periods; plural is RAs,
or resident assistants.
No hyphen, except those needing clarity, such as
Use instead of dorms.
Spring, summer, fall, winter are never capitalized in prose, except when starting a sentence.
Capitalize and abbreviate when part of someone's name; do not separate by a comma. (John Doe Sr.)
Used in conjunction with quotation marks, it is usually placed outside quotation marks.
Sculpture by Martin Puryear located to the west of Penn Hall. It was erected in 1982 to commemorate the College's sesquicentennial anniversary.
study abroad/study-abroad programs
When referring to Gettysburg College's major or department, use "theatre" as in "Theatre Arts." Majestic Theater. Theater can be used in the general sense.
Use the proper format for time—5 a.m. not 5:00 a.m.; noon not 12 p.m.
- Titles before names are generally capitalized. (President Will, Gov. Rendell, Rabbi Levin, Queen Elizabeth, Trustee Bruce Gordon, etc.) Other less formal titles that are strictly occupational descriptions (class agent, reporter, etc.) are not capitalized even when they precede a name.
- Before a name: Capitalize a title when it precedes a person's name and is not set off by commas. (College Dean Julie Ramsey, Assistant Professor Nathalie Lebon, Associate Professor of History Timothy Shannon, President Katherine Will.) an exception: It was a speech by history professor John Jones. Here, "history professor" is simply an occupational descriptor, not a formal title; it is also vague as to academic status. When separated by a comma, do not capitalize the job title: The group presented it to the provost, Dan DeNicola.)
- After a name: Do not capitalize titles that are used as descriptive phrases and set off by commas (Victoria Dowling, vice president for development and alumni, spoke; Katherine Will, president of Gettysburg
- College, spoke). Exception: named professorships. (Laurence Marschall, W. K. T. Sahm Professor in Physics, spoke.)
- Used in isolation: Without names attached, these words become generic nouns and should not be capitalized. (The president gave a speech.)
- Invitations/special publications: Short, formal blocks of copy may call for total disregard of the above stated rules.
- Composition titles: Capitalize the principal words, including prepositions and conjunctions of four or more letters, and capitalize articles and words of fewer than four letters if they are the first or last word in the title. Italicize titles of newspapers, magazines and books (excluding reference works and the Bible), movies, TV programs, plays, epic poems, operas, albums, exhibit titles, and individual works of art. Use quotation marks around the titles of articles, chapters, lectures, movements, and dance pieces.
- Official course titles: When talking about a specific class, capitalize it, but do not italicize it or place quotation marks around it. (Greek 203: Plato; Chemistry 216: Introduction to Forensic Science).
(See board of trustees.)
Spell out except when using as a descriptor (U.S. companies; U.S. Department of Education).
No hyphen with "upperclass." The word "upper-class" implies wealth, not college standing.
visiting professors and visiting instructors
Temporary hires for sabbatical replacements or occasional courses. This non-tenure-track designation can be combined with any rank (instructor, assistant professor, etc.).
International scholars who may be here to teach or to conduct research, often as part of an exchange program.
Do not capitalize.
One word; no capitalization.
Because this is a trademark name, use photocopy instead.
1970s or the '70s (no possessive apostrophe). 2018-19 is acceptable (no need to list 2018-2019).
Its acronym stands for Zoning Improvement Plan.