Office of Public Affairs

Amherst College Style Guide

In general, the Amherst College Public Affairs Office follows the Associated Press Stylebook for its publications, including Amherst magazine. Here are the answers to a few style questions that are of particular concern at Amherst College.

academic titles / titles / professor  In most cases, we give a faculty member's full official title on first reference. Consult the most recent Amherst College course catalog for faculty names and titles. Endowed professorships are always capitalized; other titles are capitalized if and only if they come immediately before a person's name, not after (e.g., "Julian H. Gibbs '46 Professor of Mathematics Daniel J. Velleman"; "Daniel J. Velleman, the Julian H. Gibbs '46 Professor of Mathematics"; "Professor of Music Jenny Kallick"; "Jenny Kallick, professor of music"; "Tong Shen, senior lecturer in Asian languages and civilizations"; "Christian Rogowski, professor of German"). 

alumna / alumnae / alumnus /alumni /  alum   "Alumna" is the term for one woman who has attended a school; "alumnae" is plural, meaning multiple women who have attended a school. An "alumnus" is one man. "Alumni" is plural, used for multiple men or for a mixed-gender group. (Do not refer to someone as "an alumni.") The shortened, unisex forms "alum" and "alums" can be used in less formal contexts. There's no such thing as a "former alumnus"; use simply "alumnus" or "former student."

Alumni Holiday and Reunion  
This is the official full name of the long weekend in late May and/or early June each year during which alumni return to campus for celebrations, lectures, tours, etc.We most often refer to it as "Reunion" or "Reunion Weekend."

Amherst, Lord Jeffery 
Notice the unusual spelling of "Jeffery."

Amherst magazine  Amherst is the full title of the college's magazine and should therefore be italicized. Do not capitalize or italicize "magazine," because it is not part of the title. Avoid referring to Amherst as the "alumni magazine," as its audience and subjects are not just alumni but also current students, prospective students, parents, faculty, etc.

Art and the History of Art  What used to be called the Department of Fine Arts, and then the Department of Art and Art History, is now known as the Department of Art and the History of Art.  

artist-in-residence / playwright-in-residence 
So hyphenated.

and / &  
In general, spell out the word "and" rather than using "&" (e.g., "Department of Theater and Dance"; "Archives and Special Collections"; "peanut butter and jelly"). The exception is when the official title of an organization, product, business, book, film, etc. includes "&" (e.g., Procter & Gamble; Roger & Me). When in doubt, refer to a direct source, such as the website of the organization itself or the book's cover.

Campus Police  Do not refer to the Amherst College Campus Police as "campus security."

class years 
Capitalize "Class" only in the format "Class of [complete year]"; otherwise, leave it lowercase (e.g., "the Class of 1957"; "members of the Class of 2003"; "the class of '91"; "the most recent graduating class")

college 
Capitalize the C only within the full name of a specific college (e.g., Amherst College). Do not capitalize the word "college" by itself, even in reference to Amherst College.

Commencement
This is the official name for the ceremony at which students graduate from Amherst; it is not officially called "Graduation." Commencement Weekend is the long weekend of events on campus leading up to and including each year's Commencement ceremony.

course titles 
Place quotation marks around course titles (e.g., "Philosophy of Science"; "Chaucer: The Canterbury Tales").

dates  Here are examples of the various formats we use for dates:

  • Thursday, Aug. 20 (Note the comma separating the day of the week from the date.)
  • Aug. 20, 2009 (Note the comma between the day and the year.)
  • The deadline of Aug. 20, 2009, is strictly enforced. (Note the commas setting off the year from the rest of the sentence.)
  • August 2009 (Note that we do not abbreviate the month or use a comma when there is only the month and the year.)
  • Aug. 20 (in contexts where the year is understood)
  • March 20 (Note that we never abbreviate the names of months that have five or fewer letters.)
  • summer 2009 (Note that we do not capitalize the names of seasons.)

Dean of Students / Dean of Students’ Office  So punctuated.

Dean of the Faculty  Make sure to include "the."

emeritus 
This term denotes that a retired individual has retained a rank or title. Place it immediately after the person's title (e.g., Professor Emeritus of History Fredric L. Cheyette; Fredric L. Cheyette, professor emeritus of history).

first-year students  Do not use the terms "freshman"or "freshmen," which readers might interpret as sexist.

Five College Consortium / Five Colleges, Inc. 
Always spell out the word "Five"; do not use the numeral 5. Never hyphenate "Five College."

Hampshire College

hyperlinks  If you want to insert a link into your online text, don't insert it in a separate phrase such as "Click here" or "Follow this link." Instead, insert it directly into the phrase that best describes the linked page (e.g., "The Mead Art Museum will be open this week.")

magazine
(See Amherst magazine.)

Mount Holyoke College  Never abbreviate "Mount" as "Mt.," except in the college's Web page address (www.mtholyoke.edu) and email addresses.

museum names
The following are the official names of the museums and similar attractions owned by or associated with Amherst College:

  • the Amherst Center for Russian Culture
  • Amherst College Archives and Special Collections
  • the Beneski Museum of Natural History
  • Bassett Planetarium
  • the Eli Marsh Gallery
  • the Emily Dickinson Museum (which comprises The Homestead and The Evergreens)
  • the Folger Shakespeare Library
  • the Mead Art Museum

names of people  In general, after first reference, refer to a person by his or her last name only (e.g., Jane Doe '12 becomes Doe; Professor of Economics Daniel Barbezat becomes Barbezat). In some cases—such as when multiple people in an article have the same last name or the tone of an article is casual or personal—it might be best to use first names. In any case, be consistent within an article or publication; do not, for example, refer to faculty members by last names and students by first names.

Reunion  See Alumni Holiday and Reunion.

Smith College

times  Hereareexamples of the formats we use for times of day:

  • 3:30 a.m.; 3:30 p.m.(Note that "a.m." and "p.m." are lowercase, with periods.)
  • 3 a.m.; 3 p.m.(Note that when a time is exactly on the hour, we don't include the colon and minutes.)
  • 1:15 to 3:15 a.m.; 1:15 to 3:15 p.m.(Note that when both times are a.m. or both times are p.m., we write "a.m." or "p.m." only after the second time.)
  • 9:15 a.m. to 3:15 p.m.; 9:15 p.m. to 3:15 a.m.(Note that when one time is a.m. and the other is p.m., we make this clear.)
  • 3:30 in the morning; 3:30 in the afternoon (Note that including "a.m." or "p.m." would be redundant here.)
  • noon; midnight(Note that, to avoid confusion, we do not refer to these as "12 p.m." and "12 a.m." Also note that "12 noon" and "12 midnight" would be redundant.)

Town of Amherst  Use this phrase to distinguish the town from the college, and capitalize "Town." Ordinarily, a reference to a small town would include the state (e.g., "the Sugar Loaf, N.Y., resident"), but in college publications, it is understood that Amherst College and the Town of Amherst are in Massachusetts, so the state need not be listed.

University of Massachusetts Amherst / UMass 
Though many universities use hyphens or commas between the names of the universities and their cities, notice that in this case, there is neither a hyphen nor a comma between "Massachusetts" and "Amherst." The abbreviation "UMass" can be used after first reference, if the tone of the article is not especially formal. Do not put the abbreviation entirely in capital letters ("UMASS"), as this would imply that each letter stands for a separate word.

upperclass students 
This term refers to students in the sophomore, junior and senior classes (but be aware that, in some contexts, it could be erroneously interpreted as referring to students from higher socioeconomic classes). Do not hyphenate "upperclass," and do not use the terms "upperclassman" or "upperclassmen," as readers might consider this sexist. (See first-year students.)

the (World Wide) Web / Web page / Web feed / website / webcam / webcast / webmaster  Note the capitalization (or lack thereof) and spacing (or lack thereof) for each of these phrases. Also, note that "the Web" is not synonymous with "the Internet"; the Internet includes more than just the Web.