Editorial Style Guide
Consistent style and usage are essential to conveying quality and professionalism in our written communications. Click below for a guide to Colby standards on capitalization, punctuation, and more.
Contact the Office of Communications.
1. A, An
Use a before words that start with a consonant sound, an before words that start with vowel sounds. A European vacation; a historical novel; an hourglass; an NBC feature story.
Identify past and current students by their class years with an apostrophe ( ’, not ‘) before the year.
alum—masculine or feminine singular
alums, alumni—masculine or mixed plurals
Right: John W. Smith ’42, Chagrin Falls, Ohio, likes to work in his garden.
Right: Fred ’50 and Mary Smith Jones ’53 were active in the Waterville Colby Club.
Right: Mary (Smith) ’53 and Fred Jones ’50 were active in the Waterville Colby Club.
If a person has more than one degree, place a comma between the class years.
Right: Robert E. Diamond ’73, LL.D. ’08
Avoid using possessives with class year. Find another construction.
Wrong: Robert W. Burke’s ’61 daughter, Kelly
Wrong: Robert W. Burke ’61’s daughter, Kelly Burke Corwen ’83
Right: Kelly Burke Corwen ’83, daughter of Robert W. Burke ’61
Catalogue Rule: Do not list honorary degrees from other institutions. Regarding highest degrees earned at other institutions: if undergraduate, it should precede Colby honorary degree; if advanced, it should follow Colby honorary master’s degree and Colby honorary doctorate.
Right: Susan Boland ’83, M.A. ’12, M.A.
Right: Amy Walter ’91, M.A. ’11, Litt.D. ’17
Right: Robert N. Anthony ’38, M.A. ’59, L.H.D. ’63, M.B.A., D.C.S.
3. And, &
Spell out and. Don’t use the ampersand (&) except in official names, Bill & Joan Alfond Main Street Commons, or company names (Johnson & Johnson, U.S. News & World Report).
4. Collective Nouns
The nouns faculty and staff should be used as collective nouns.
Right: The French faculty meets regularly with the other language faculties.
Wrong: The faculty sometimes disagree among themselves.
Right: Faculty members sometimes disagree among themselves.
5. Jr. and Sr., II and III
Jr. and Sr. and other personal suffixes should not be preceded by a comma. When using II and III, do not use a comma.
Right: John Jones Sr.
Right: Philip J. Carter Jr.
Right: Robert E.L. Strider II
6. Web Addresses (URLs)
When writing web addresses for print, use lowercase and do not use http:// or www.
Wrong: The information can be found online (http://www.colby.edu/news).
Right: The information can be found online (colby.edu/news).
Right: The College launched the microsite islandcampus.colby.edu in 2021.