Amherst College Style Guide

In general, the Amherst College Office of Communications follows the Associated Press Stylebook for its publications. The style guide below covers points that are of particular concern at Amherst.

Academic Titles  Whenever practical, use a faculty member’s full official title on first reference. Endowed professorships are always capitalized; other titles are capitalized when they appear immediately before a person’s name (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 its 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 spring during which alumni return to campus for celebrations, lectures, tours, etc. We most often refer to it as “Reunion” or “Reunion Weekend.”

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). 

College Police  The offical name of the College’s police department is Amherst College Police.

Class Years 
Leave the word “class” lowercase (e.g., “the class of 1957”; “members of the class of 2003”; “the class of ’91”; “the most recent graduating class”). Also, note the direction of the apostrophe: “the class of ’19,” not “the class of ‘19.”

College / the College
Capitalize the C only within the full name of a specific college (e.g., Hampshire College) or in reference to Amherst College as “the College.” Use a lowercase c when referring to colleges in general (e.g., “She will soon complete her college applications”; “He is the first member of his family to attend college.”).

This is the official name for the ceremony at which students graduate from Amherst. 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.)
  • Aug. 20, 2009 (Note the comma.)
  • 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 do not 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 the Faculty  Make sure to include “the.”

Emeritus / Emerita 
This term denotes that a retired individual has retained a rank or title. Place it within the person’s title (e.g., Professor Emeritus of History Fredric L. Cheyette; Leah Hewitt, professor emerita of French).

first-year students  We generally use the term “first-year students” or “first-years,” rather than “freshman” or “freshmen.”

Five College Consortium / Five Colleges, Inc.  
Spell out the word “Five.” “Five College” is not hyphenated.

Hyperlinks  If you want to insert a link into your online text, there is no need to use 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.”)

Mount Holyoke College  Do not abbreviate “Mount” as “Mt.” (except in the college’s web address,, and its email addresses).

Museum Names
Amherst has numerous museums, galleries, etc. Here are the official names of some of them:

  • 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.

Times  Here are examples 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”).

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.” Use “upperclass student” or “upperclass students” instead of  “upperclassman” or “upperclassmen.”