Style Guide



These guidelines have been assembled using the Associated Press Stylebook as a primary authority because so much of our writing is intended for external audiences. As matters of style and usage continue to evolve, we will review and update the guide as needed.

A

academic advisor

Academic Career & Transfer Center
Capitalize the name of this center and use an ampersand (&). ACT Center is OK on second reference.

Academic Catalog
Capitalize the name of this college publication

academic counselor

academic degrees
associate degree (singular) or associate degrees (plural). No apostrophes.

  • Associate in Arts, AA
  • Associate in Science, AS

bachelor's degree or bachelor's (singular), bachelor's degrees (plural)

  • Bachelor of Arts, BA
  • Bachelor of Business Administration, BBA
  • Bachelor of Education, BEd
  • Bachelor of Fine Arts, BFA
  • Bachelor of Science, BS

master's degree or master's (singular), master's degrees (plural)

  • Master of Accounting, MAcc
  • Master of Architecture, MArch
  • Master of Arts, MA
  • Master of Business Administration, MBA
  • Master of Education, MEd
  • Master of Fine Arts, MFA
  • Master of Public Administration, MPA
  • Master of Public Health, MPH
  • Master of Science, MS
  • Master of Social Work, MSW

Ph.D. and Ed.D.
When used after a name, an academic abbreviation is set off by commas. John Jones, Ph.D., spoke.

academic departments
Capitalize the formal names of academic departments: Department of Chemistry, Department of English.

Do not capitalize names of academic departments that begin with the subject (except language departments): chemistry department, English department.

academic titles
Capitalize and spell out formal titles such as chancellor, chairman, etc., when they precede a name. Lowercase elsewhere. 

Lowercase modifiers such as department in department Chairwoman Jane Wiesner.

Note: MCC uses Dr. as a courtesy title for a person holding a doctorate degree.

acronyms
Acronyms are acceptable on first reference only when they are easily recognizable, such as FBI.

Spell out names on first reference (with acronym in parentheses); use acronym on second reference:

He received a grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The NIH is one of the worlds foremost research centers.

acting, former
Don't capitalize in a formal name.

She said acting Dean John Doe would be there. He introduced former MCC President Jane Doe.

Advising Schedule(s)
Capitalize the name of this college publication (formerly known as the Semester Schedule)

advisory boards
lowercase; capitalize proper name of college advisory body:
Graphic Design Advisory Board; Dental Programs Advisory Board; but: Mary Smith serves on several advisory boards.

age
Always use numerals. Hyphenate only when the age is used as an adjective before a noun or as a replacement for a noun:
The 3-year-old girl. The competition is for 10-year-olds.
Sally Smith, 41, lives in Bedford. That book is 4 years old.

alma mater
Use lowercase when describing the college one attended.

alumna, alumnae, alumni, alumnus
alumna - singular, female
alumnae - plural, women only
alumni - plural, men only or men and women
alumnus - singular, male
alum - singular, male or female; appropriate only in informal  contexts

a.m., p.m.
Lowercase with periods. Try to avoid being redundant:
3 p.m. in the afternoon.

among, between
Use "among" when referring to more than two people or things. Use "between" to refer to only two people or things.

ampersand (&)
Avoid unless part of an official name.

annual
Do not use unless it refers to an event that has happened at least two years in a row. Never use the term "first annual."

Assembly Room
The community meeting room in MCC's Federal Building. In a sentence:
The event will be held in MCC's Federal Building Assembly Room.

award, fellowship, scholarship
Capitalize when used with a formal name. Lowercase when referring to more than one formally named award, scholarship or fellowship.

B

baccalaureate

bachelor's degree, Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Science
See academic degrees for guidelines.

backward
Not backwards.

Bedford campus
Do not capitalize "campus"
Address: 591 Springs Road, Bedford, MA 01730

Bedford Campus Café East
Use caps, it's the name of a room.

Bedford Campus Cafeteria

Bedford Campus Center
Use caps, it's a building on the Bedford campus.

Bedford Campus Library
Located in Academic Resources (Building 1)

Bedford Campus Student Lounge
Located in Campus Center, first floor

Bedford Campus Quad

between, among
See among, between.

biannual
Refers to twice each year; "semiannual" may also be used.

biennial
Refers to once every two years.

Board of Trustees
Capitalize, use "board" after first reference.

book-signing
hyphenate: A book-signing will follow the presentation.

building names and building codes
Always uppercase

Lowell Campus

  • City Building (LC)
  • Derby Building (LD)
  • Federal Building (LF)
  • Howe Building (LH)
  • Lowell Middlesex Academy Charter School (LMACS)
  • Merrimack Building (LM)
  • Pollard Building (LP)
  • Talbot Building (LT)

Bedford Campus

  • Academic Resources (AR) (Building 1)
  • Bedford House (BH) (Building 5)
  • Campus Center (CC) (Building 8)
  • Cataldo Administration Building (CA) (Building 10)
  • Enrollment Center (EC) (Building 9)
  • Facilities Management (FM) (Building 11)
  • Farm House (FH) (Building 2)
  • Henderson Hall (HH) (Building 3)
  • North Academic (NA) (Building 6)
  • South Academic (SA) (Building 7)
  • Trustees' House (TH) (Building 4)

C

CAD
OK for Computer Aided Design on second reference

campus
MCC has a Bedford campus and a Lowell campus.
(Note: Do NOT use "City Campus" for the Lowell campus.)

campus-wide
An exception to the general rule of omitting the hyphen in "-wide" constructions.

capitalization rules
Names of programs of study - capitalize name of program of study when referring to specific MCC programs:
Computer Science certificate program, Criminal Justice degree program, Nursing degree program; Nursing classes; Dental Hygiene coursework; but: She is providing nursing care to clients.

Campus buildings, rooms -- capitalize proper names
North Academic Hall, Federal Building, Henderson Hall Gallery, Lowell Campus Library; Bedford Campus Center Café East; City Building Fifth Floor, etc.

In Bedford: Use name of building and follow with number in parenthesis:
Academic Resources (Building 1); Bedford House (Building 5); North Academic Hall  (Building 6)

CD-ROM
An abbreviation for "Compact Disc Read-Only Memory"

chair, chairperson
Do NOT use these as a leadership title. Use instead, "chairman" or "chairwoman"

childcare
One word

City Building
Don't capitalize "the" before it, unless at start of a sentence:
Classes will be held in the City Building on the Lowell campus. The City Building is located on Kearney Square.
Address: 33 Kearney Square, Lowell, MA 01852

class identification of graduates
Follow the examples:
John Doe AA-'71, BS-'73
Jane Doe AS-'94

commas (use in a series)
Use commas to separate elements in a series, but do not put a comma before the conjunction in a simple series:
The flag is red, white and blue. He would nominate Tom, Dick or Harry.
However, do use a comma at the end if an integral element of the series that requires a conjunction:
I had orange juice, toast, and ham and eggs, for breakfast.

college placement test

college-wide
An exception to the general rule of omitting the hyphen in "-wide" constructions.

commonwealth
Lowercase; commonwealth of Massachusetts (see state)

coursework
One word

Court Room
MCC Federal Building (Room 310)
(See "Assembly Room" entry)

 

D

dates
Use commas to set off the year when using full dates:
She was born on September 15, 1985, in Los Angeles.

Do not use commas when using only month and year constructions:
Planning began in September 1985.

Use the year only if not the current calendar year:
If publishing in May 1998:
John and Joan Jones had a baby in December 1997; or The Smiths had a baby in January.
(See also months)

Day option
Capital "D" designates this is a special program offered during the day.

Dean's List
Uppercase when used as part of MCC's Dean's List; Lowercase in all general uses:
He made MCC's Dean's List.
She is on the dean's list.

decades
Use Arabic figures to indicate decades of history. Use an apostrophe to indicate numerals that are left out; show plural by adding the letter s
'90s, 1980s

degrees
See academic degrees

department
See academic departments.

Derby Building
Address: 88 Middle St., Lowell, MA 01852

distance education

distance learning

doctorate
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. Example: Pam Jones, Ed.D.

do-it-yourselfer

download
One word

drop out (v.)
dropout (n.)

Dual Enrollment Academy

E

e-book
Abbreviated term for electronic book.

email
(no hyphen) Abbreviated term for electronic mail.

Enrollment Center
Capitalize the name of this campus building/department

events
Capitalize MCC events: Celebrity Forum, One World Series, Civility Day, etc.

Evening option
Capital "E" designates this is a special program offered during the evening

F

faculty
Takes singular verbs and pronouns:
The faculty has approved the measure.
Faculty members have been invited.
See group.

Faculty Staff Association (FSA)

fall
See seasons

fall semester
See semester

fax
Lowercase. Used for facsimile.

Federal Building
Don't capitalize "the" before it, unless at the start of a sentence:
Classes will be held in the Federal Building on the Lowell campus. The Federal Building is located on Merrimack Street.
Address: 50 Kearney Square, Lowell, MA 01852

fellowship
See award, fellowship, scholarship

field trip

first responder
Two words; hyphenate when used as a modifier
The program is designed for first responders. The first-responder community was devastated.

First-Year Experience Program

flier
Preferred for handbills

Flexible Studies
Formerly "Self-Paced Studies"

former, acting
See acting, former

full time, full-time
Hyphenate when used as a compound modifier:
She is a full-time student.
Otherwise no hyphen:
She attends school full time.

fundraising, fundraiser
One word in all cases.

G

GEAR UP: Massachusetts Program
Precollegiate TRIO student-support program; "GEAR UP" OK on second reference

gift card(s)
Two words

giveaways
One word

GPA
Acceptable in all references for "grade point average"

GPS
Acceptable in all references for "Global Positioning System"

grades
Use a letter grade with quotation marks; no apostrophes when referring to more than one letter grade:
He received a "B" in history.
She received two "As" and three "Bs" on her report card.

grade, grader
Hyphenate in combining forms: a fourth-grade pupil, a 12th-grade student, first-grader, 10th-grader

group
Takes singular verbs and pronouns:
The group is reviewing its position.

H

Health Careers Division

Health Careers Programs

Health, Science & Technology Center
Located in the Talbot and Derby buildings on the Lowell campus.
Address: 88 Middle St.

high school diploma
No hyphen

high school teacher

homepage

home school
Hyphenate only when used as a modifier:
I am home schooling my children. She is a home-schooled student. The college has a special home-school program.

Honors Program, Commonwealth Honors Program

humanities
Lowercase, unless used in a title.
All students enrolled in the humanities are eligible. Professor John Doe, Humanities Division; Humanities Professor Jane Doe.

I

ID
Informal for identification (see user ID).

initials
Use periods after each initial, but no space: A.E. Burdick

interim
Lowercase in all cases. An interim job title in academia is a position to which a person is appointed between the times an incumbent of a position steps down until a new person is hired to fill that position permanently.

Internet

Internet access

intranet

it's, its
"It's" is only a contraction for "it is" or "it has."
"Its" is a possessive form of the pronoun it:
The university raised its enrollment requirements.

L

laptop
One word, no hyphen

Liberal Arts and Sciences

lifelong
One word

login, logon, logoff (n.)
But use as two words in verb form: I log in to my computer.

Lowell campus
Lowercase "C" (Note: Please do NOT use "City Campus" for the Lowell campus.) Address: 33 Kearney Square, Lowell, MA 01852

Lowell Campus Cafeteria
Use caps, it's the name of a place on campus.

Lowell Campus, Lower Cafeteria
Do not use "Lower Cafe"

Lowell Campus Library
Located in the Federal Building

Lowell Campus Student Lounge
Located at 45 Middle St.

Lowell National Historical Park
LNHP is OK on second reference

 

M

majors
MCC students do NOT major in an academic subject; they enroll in a "major program of study" or simply a "program of study"

master's degree
See academic degrees for guidelines.

MCC
Spell out on first reference; abbreviate on second reference, and Middlesex also can be used:            
Students who begin their Middlesex experience
Middlesex staff and faculty have one aim.

MCC Concert Hall
Located in North Academic Hall (Building 6) on the Bedford campus.

MCC Foundation
Two words; OK on second reference for Middlesex Community College Foundation

MiddleNet
One word, two caps

Middlesex Community College Foundation
See MCC Foundation

Middlesex Interactive
Two words, with caps

Middlesex Meetinghouse
Supported by the MCC Foundation
Address: 294 Concord Road, Billerica, MA  01821 - (near MCC's Bedford campus)

midnight
Do not put a 12 in front of it (and do not use "12 a.m."). It is part of the day that is ending, not the one that is beginning.

millennium

Minute Man National Historical Park
MMNHP is OK on second reference -- situated within the towns of Lexington, Lincoln and Concord, MA

months
Names of months are spelled out in text when they are not accompanied by a specific date. They are spelled out when accompanied only by a year.
The fall semester begins in August.
In December 2000 Arkansas had a terrible ice storm.

The following months are abbreviated in text when preceded by a day of the week in the date: Jan., Feb., Aug., Sept., Oct., Nov. and Dec.
The next club meeting is Monday, Nov. 12, 2001. Graduation will be held on May 18, 2012.

more than, over
Use "more than" to discuss numbers: The United Way raised more than $50,000.
Use "over" to discuss spatial relationships: A plane flew over the building.

multicultural
An exception to the general rule of using a hyphen in "multi-" constructions.

Multicultural Center
City Building, Ground Floor
Address: 33 Kearney Square, Lowell MA 01852

my mcc
Lowercase, two words, referring to the Middlesex web portal.

N

Nesmith House
The John Nesmith House; owned by the MCC Foundation and gift-leased to the college. Address: 229 Andover St., Lowell, MA 01852 - (near MCC's Lowell campus).

non
In general, no hyphen when forming a compound that does not have special meaning and can be understood if "not" is used before the base word: noncredit

However, use a hyphen before proper nouns and in awkward combinations: non-nuclear

noncredit
No hyphen needed

nonprofit
May also use "not-for-profit"

noon
Do not put a 12 in front of it (and do not use "12 p.m.") 

numerals
Spell out zero through nine.
Use numerals for 10 and greater.
Use a comma with numerals of 1,000 and above (except dates): 5,000, 42,000.
Exceptions to the rules:
• Use numerals when referring to academic credit:
The student earned 3 hours of credit.
• Use numerals when referring to a page number:
The quotation begins on page 5.

O

off-campus (adj.), off campus (adv.)
Hyphenate when used as an adjective:
The university is looking at off-campus housing as an option.

Write two words, without hyphenation when used as an adverb:
The student moved off campus.
Guidelines are the same for "on-campus" and "on campus"

office
Capitalize when part of an official name:
She submitted her story to the Office of Marketing Communications.
Use lowercase in all other uses:
He visited the dean's office.

offline
One word when discussing computer connections.

on-campus (adj.), on campus (adv.)
Same as "off-campus"

ongoing
One word

online
One word when referring to computer communications.

online learning
No hyphen needed

over, more than
See "more than, over"

P

paperwork
One word

part time, part-time
Hyphenate only when used as a compound modifier: She works part time.
He has a part-time job.

Patriots Day

percent
One word, always spelled out. Do not use symbol (%) in written copy.

percentages
Always use numerals, but spell out the word percent.
The  university saw a 4 percent increase in enrollment.
She received a 90 percent on her test.

Performing Arts Concentration

phone numbers
See telephone numbers.

p.m., a.m.
See a.m., p.m.

prerequisite
One word, no hyphen

presenter
Not presentor.

president
Capitalize president only as a formal title before a name:
President Carole A. Cowan
Use lowercase in all other cases:
There will be a reception in the president's office.

Presidents' Day

printout
One word

professional development
Lower case, unless referring to MCC's Office of Professional Development, which is a proper name.

professor
Capitalize these titles as a formal title before a name:
Assistant Professor Joe Smith is teaching that class.
Lowercase in all other cases:
Jane Doe is a professor of art.

program
Capital "P" if it's a formal name:
Nursing Program, Computer Forensics Certificate Program, Service-Learning Program, Summer Sprint Program, Links Program; but: program of study.

Q

Quad
Bedford Campus Quad; "quad" OK on second reference

quotation marks
The period and the comma always go inside quotation marks.
The dash, the semicolon, the question mark and the exclamation point go within the quotation marks when they apply to the quoted matter only.
They go outside when they apply to the whole sentence.

R

returning-adult student

rooms and room numbers
Use the room number, after the building name:
City Building, Room G1
For named rooms, use:
Federal Building Assembly Room

S

seasons
Lowercase, unless part of a formal name:
summer, spring, Winter Olympics, UCA Fall Festival

semesters
Lowercase: spring semester, fall semester
Program begins fall semester 2006.

Service-Learning
Hyphenate, with caps, when referring to MCC's Service-Learning Program

smartphone

space-available basis
Hyphenate this compound modifier

spring
See seasons

spring semester
See semesters

staff
Takes singular verbs and pronouns:
The staff has reviewed the document.Staff members are encouraged to arrive early.
See group.

state
Lowercase; the state of New York; (see commonwealth)

state abbreviations
State names that are fewer than five letters long and states that are not a part of the contiguous United States (Alaska and Hawaii) are not abbreviated. ZIP code abbreviations in parentheses.

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

not abbreviated:
Alaska (AK)
Hawaii (HI)
Idaho (ID)
Iowa (IA)
Maine (ME)
Ohio (OH)
Texas (TX)
Utah (UT)

STEM (science, technology, engineering and math)
Use full entry on first reference; "STEM" alone is OK on second reference

student body

student ID card
No caps when referring to a generic ID card.

Student Information Center
Always capitalized.

Student Lounge
One on each campus
Bedford Campus Student Lounge: Bedford Campus Center, first floor
Lowell Campus Student Lounge: 45 Middle St.

Student Union Government Association
Always capitalized. May use abbreviation, SUGA, after first reference.

summer
See seasons

summer semester
See semesters

Summer Sprint Program

T

Talbot Building
Address: 44 Middle St., Lowell, MA 01852

telephone numbers
Include the "1" when writing a "1-800" number.
When including an area code, separate the area code with a hyphen (no space) between the area code and the phone number:
555-555-5555
Bedford campus numbers begin 781-280-(ext.)
Lowell campus numbers begin 978-565-(ext.)

textbook
One word

theater, theatre
Use "er" spelling unless "re" form is part of a proper name:
Students will learn about the history of the theater.
But: MCC Theatre; American Ballet Theatre.

Theater Concentration/Theater classes
Upper case references to MCC's degree program of study:
Students my take elective Theater classes.

three-D and two-D
3-D is preferred. 2-D is preferred.

time
Use figures except for noon and midnight. Never write 12 noon or 12 midnight  -- this is redundant.
Only use a colon when separating hours from minutes: 3 p.m., 7:30 a.m. Never write 3:00 p.m.
Always include a.m. or p.m. with the time.
Avoid using o'clock when referring to time.

titles
Capitalize all college titles. For all other titles, follow AP style. 

titles of events
Put quotation marks around the names of all full, formal titles of workshops, conferences, seminars, speeches, art exhibitions, and similar events:
A workshop, titled "Technology in the Classroom," will be held on Wednesday.

Do not capitalize articles "a, an, the" or words fewer than four letters unless it is the first or last word in the title.

Trustees' House
Plural possessive
Location: Building 4 on the Bedford campus

U

UML Inn and Conference Center
Address: 50 Warren St., Lowell, MA - "adjacent to MCC's Lowell campus"

University of Massachusetts
University of Massachusetts Lowell. No comma, no "at"
UMass Amherst, UMass Boston, UMass Dartmouth, UMass Lowell

upload

user ID
Two words

usergroup
One word

V

Veterans Day

video conference
Two words

video game

voice mail
Two words, no hyphen

W

Web
An abbreviated name for the World Wide Web, which is a global system of linking documents, images, sounds and other files across the Internet.

webcam

webcast

webpage
deviates from AP

website
One word, no capital.

Work Study Program
Capitalize when referring to the federal financial aid program.

World Wide Web

worldwide
One word.

Last Modified: 4/10/14