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Following are answers to the most common style questions.

Academic fields, majors, minors and concentrations—Use lowercase (except if the name contains a proper noun, e.g., Jewish studies, English language and literature)

Bulleted lists—Make certain that each item begins with a similar type of word, according to category or function (for instance, begin all items with verbs).

Capitalization—Capitalize the full, formal names of all Smith offices, departments and buildings. Use lowercase for generic descriptions or informal designations (for example: Office of the Registrar, registrar’s office; Neilson Library, the library; Department of Theatre, theatre department).

Commas—When listing a series of items, do not use a comma before the final conjunction. If any of the single elements in the series contain commas, then separate each element by semicolons.

Course number and titles—Use initial capitalization; no need to put in quotation marks or italics. Use spaces between course prefix, number and title (for example CLT 100 Introduction to Comparative Literature).

Degrees—Spell out academic degrees in text; use abbreviations only if listed after an individual’s name.

Diacritical marks—hold down letter keys to see diacritical choices, for example, holding down the letter “a” will allow you to choose from:  à á â ä æ ã å ā.

Numbers—Spell out numbers under 10.  Exceptions: Always use numerals for credits, enrollment limits and in numbered lists.

Periods—Use only one space after a period or end punctuation.

State abbreviations—Use standard abbreviations; avoid using two-letter postal codes in text (use only in mailing addresses). Both the Chicago Manual of Style and the Associated Press Stylebook list state abbreviations; you can also find them at

Titles of people—Capitalize official titles when used before a name, lowercase when used after the name or used alone. (See also “Titles” below.)

More Information

For more detailed explanations or Smith-specific words, refer to the Smith Style Guide.

Proofreading and Fact Checking

Be aware of what information will need to be updated frequently (and avoid it if possible).

Always double check:

  • Names—faculty, staff, students, buildings, organizations
  • Titles—of people, courses, publications, film and media sites
    Faculty and administration—Confirm Smith titles in the Course Catalog by choosing “General Information” and “Directory.”
  • Numbers—phone numbers, dates and years, courses, rooms
  • Claims and percentages—Confirm all facts with the Office of Institutional Research.


Contact Lil Knight (who enjoys a rousing game of “Stump the Editor”)
Communications Editor, Office of College Relations, extension 2061