Style and Punctuation Guide
These styles and guidelines apply to both print and web publications unless otherwise noted.
Please use the spell-check function on Spinternet when entering any text on the website. If you're unsure of a spelling and would like a second source, please use the Merriam Webster Dictionary.
For other questions not addressed here, please contact our office or refer to the Gregg Reference Manual, 10th edition.
A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Y | Z
a vs. an: use "a" when the following word sounds like it begins with a consonant. Use "an" when the following word sounds like it begins with a vowel.
an historic event
an 8-hour day
a youthful spirit
a euphoric feeling
a European trip
an 80 year old man
a one-week delay
a 60-day note
an 11:00am meeting
abbreviations and acronyms: avoid abbreviations and acronyms the user will not recognize. Spell out an organization's title or building's name. Use common abbreviations such as St., Ave. and Blvd. with addresses, otherwise spell out. Also see states.
academic courses: see course names
academic degrees: if mentioning a degree is helpful to establish credentials, use abbreviations set off by commas: John Jones, M.A., addressed the audience. Jane Jones, Ph.D., spoke to the faculty. There is no need to use Dr. before a name if you follow the name with Ph.D.
Writing out the degree is also acceptable. Do not capitalize the degree or area of study. Bachelor's and master's are possessive; associate and doctorate are not possessive. John Jones, who has a master's degree in psychology, addressed the audience. John Jones, who has an associate degree in nursing, addressed the audience.
Capitalize the degree and area of study if using the full degree name. Jane Jones earned her Bachelor of Arts in Education. John Jones has his Associate in Applied Arts in Graphic Communications.
Degrees awarded by Hawkeye include:
academic departments: see department.
academic programs: capitalize the program name, do not capitalize the word program. There are 13 students in the Graphic Communications program this semester. See Programs of Study for program names.
accented letters: see special characters.
addresses: abbreviate directions with an address (N, S, E, W). Post office box is abbreviated P.O. Write out state name if the address does not have a zip code. Class will be held at the Cedar Falls Center, 5330 Nordic Dr., Cedar Falls, Iowa. Use state postal abbreviations when listing zip code. Mail your payment to Hawkeye Community College, P.O. Box 8015, Waterloo, IA 50704. Also see states.
advisor: advisor, not adviser.
aid, aide: use “aid” for providing assistance. Use “aide” for the person who provides the assistance. Nurse Aide. First Aid.
alumni: one male Hawkeye graduate is an alumnus. Two or more male graduates are alumni. One female graduate is an alumna. Two or more female graduates are alumnae. Several people of mixed or indeterminate sexes are alumni.
A student who attended Hawkeye but didn’t graduate is a former student.
a lot: two words.
am, pm: web only: lowercase, without space or periods. The movie starts at 7:00pm at the Brock Student Center.
Print: lowercase with space and periods. The movie starts at 7:00 p.m. at the Brock Student Center. Also see times.
among vs. between - use “among” when referring to more than two persons or items. We will divide the prize money among the three contestants. Use “between” when referring to two persons or items. We will divide the prize money between the two contestants.
amount vs. number: use “amount” for items, not individuals. Use “number” for people, not items.
and: web only: can use the ampersand (&) in headers, left navigation, or right column. Spell out “and” in the page copy.
annual: an event cannot be described as annual until it has been held in at least two successive years. Do not use the term first annual. Instead, note that sponsors plan to hold an event annually.
apostrophes (‘): see possessives.
between: see among.
Board of Trustees: Board of Trustees is always capitalized. District is capitalized and identified by roman numerals. Hawkeye Community College Board of Trustees chair, Casey McLaughlin, District VI, represented Hawkeye at the event. Also see chair. Also see website.
BodyViz: one word.
buildings: use approved names as listed below. Do not use acronyms. Do not include Hawkeye Community College or Hawkeye before the name. Centers and main campus buildings of Hawkeye include:
- Cedar Falls Center (not Cedar Falls Center for Business and Industry, not CBI)
- Farm Lab
- Independence Center
- IowaWORKS or IowaWORKS - Cedar Valley
- Metro Center (not Metro Campus)
- Martin Luther King Jr. Center (not MLK Center)
- Regional Transportation Training Center (not RTTC)
- Western Outreach Center
- Waverly Outreach Center
- Main Campus
- Hawkeye Center
- Black Hawk Hall
- Bremer Hall
- Career Services Center (not CSC)
- Center for Learning and Academic Success (not CLAS)
- Student Tutoring and Computer Lab (not STC Lab)
- Buchanan Hall
- Physical Plant
- Butler Hall
- Tama Hall
- Brobst Center for Teaching and Learning Services (also Teaching and Learning Services. Not Brobst Center)
- Hawse Auditorium (also Hawse Auditorium in Tama Hall, not Tama Hall Auditorium)
- Grundy Hall
- Chickasaw Hall
- Fayette Hall
- Library and Classroom Building
- Brock Student Center (not Student Center or BCS, must use full name)
- Health and Education Services Center (not HESC)
- Student Health Clinic (not Student Health Center)
- Child Development Center
Also see locations.
cancel: also cancelled, cancelling, cancellation.
cannot or can’t: not can not.
capitalization: avoid unnecessary capitalization, but always capitalize proper nouns. Academic departments, specific classes, and college offices are considered proper nouns: Department of Mathematics, a mathematics class, Mathematics 201, Counseling and Career Services.
cell phone: cell phone is two words.
chair: use chair instead of chairman or chairperson.
child care: child care is two words.
class standing: students are first-year or second-year: the first-year class, three second-year students.
colon (:): use a colon between two independent clauses when the second clause explains or illustrates the first clause and there is no coordinating conjunction linking the two clauses. There more information to follow the colon. Courses in the Fine Arts department include: painting, ceramics, and drawing. Also see semi-colon.
comma (,): use commas to separate parts of a series. You have your choice of strawberry, chocolate, and vanilla ice cream. If you take the last comma out, you might not be sure if there are three or four flavors: cherry nut, strawberry, chocolate, and vanilla; or cherry nut, strawberry, and chocolate and vanilla twist.
compound modifiers: compound modifiers are two or more words that express a single concept. When a compound modifier comes before a noun, use hyphens between the words: a full-time student, a two-hour class. Don’t hyphenate compound modifiers that include the word very or adverbs ending in -ly: a very happy professor, an easily remembered name. Many compound modifiers after nouns don’t need to be hyphenated: He goes to school full time.
contact information: web only: in the copy use job titles instead of a person’s name. Don’t put contact information in the web page copy. Contact information will be in the right column of the web page. Also see addresses, department, email, office, phone numbers, times, titles.
copyright symbol (©): see special characters.
could have, should have, would have: not could of, should of, would of.
course names: if it’s an actual course name, capitalize the course name. George is taking Fundamentals of Oral Communications. If it’s a reference to the course subject, do not capitalize unless the subject is a proper noun. English, French, etc. George is taking three communications classes.
course work: two words. Not coursework.
dashes (-): see special characters.
dates: avoid abbreviations. If a date is in the middle of the sentence, use a comma after the year. The event was Tuesday, February 22, 2010, at the Brock Student Center. Do not use ordinals such as “st”, “rd”, "th", and "nd" with dates. The event was held on September 4. Do not use a comma between the month and year alone. Please return your application by the February 2010 deadline.
days: spell out days of the week, do not abbreviate them. When a range of days is needed, the preferred format is: Monday-Friday, Monday to Wednesday, or Monday and Wednesday. Use M, T, W, R, F, S, N when referring to a legend.
definitions: web only: use a colon (:) after word to be defined.
Dean's List: capitalize Dean’s List. Mary Pat is on the Dean’s List.
department - use with academic departments. Do not capitalize department unless it is a part of the official name. The Health department is located in Grundy Hall. Programs in the department of Agriculture and Natural Resources include: Agricultural Business Management, Animal Science, Horticulture Science, and Natural Resources Management. For department names, see Programs of Study. Also see office.
doctorate: Dr. Linda Allen or Linda Allen, Ph.D., not Dr. Linda Allen, Ph.D. Also see titles.
double-click: hyphenate double-click. She double-clicked on the icon.
ellipses ( … ): space, three periods, space. Treat as a three letter word. 1, 2, 3, …, 100. Use when omitting words or a trail off sentence.
email: email is one word and lowercase unless it’s the first word of a sentence.
Web only: when linking to someone’s email address, use the person’s name, email us, or email me as the link text instead of the email address.
faculty: see titles.
first-year: not freshman. See class standing.
firefighter: one word. Also firefighting, firemen, fireman. If referring to a woman, use firefighter.
flier: paper handouts. Not flyer.
Food Court: Food Court located in the Brock Student Center. Use Food Court, not café, cafeteria, food service.
fundraising: one word. Also fundraiser. Use raise funds, not fundraise.
GPA: grade point average. Use GPA, not G.P.A. Use cumulative GPA not cGPA.
Hawkeye Community College: use Hawkeye Community College or Hawkeye. Do not use the college, HCC, Hawkeye College, Hawkeye CC, or Hawkeye Tech. HCC can refer to many colleges and businesses; it doesn’t clearly identify Hawkeye Community College.
headings: web only: use title case for the page heading and left hand navigation links. Can use either title or sentence case for h3 and h4 headings within the body of the page. Header size shows hierarchy. Use the styles provided in Spinternet. Headings cannot be links. Also see and.
Title case: Being Successful in Your Online Course
Sentence case: Being successful in your online course
healthcare: one word. Not health care.
home page: two words.
hyphens: hyphens are joiners. To create a list of points, use the bullets button in Spinternet’s formatting toolbar. Do not use hyphens. Also see compound modifiers.
ID: no periods: Please show your student ID, she lost her ID.
Internet: Internet is a proper noun and is capitalized.
its vs it’s: its is a possessive. It’s is a contraction for it is.
left hand navigation: web only: see headings. See and.
lie, lay: I am going to lie down in bed. I laid down in bed. Please lay the book on the table. I layed the book on the table.
links: web only: if linking to a site outside of hawkeyecollege.edu or a PDF, click on the Target tab in the Link editor and select "New Window (_blank)". This will open a new window. This is important so users can easily return to our site and navigation.
log-in: log-in, log-on, log-out, log-off. Also logging in, logging on, logging out, logging off. Use as two words in verb form: I log-in to my computer. When logging in to your computer, make sure caps lock is off.
Minimesters: one word, capitalize. Not mini-mester or minimester. Minimesters are offered in May, August, and December. If referring to one class use Minimester. She took a Minimester class. If referring the group of classes being offered, use Minimesters. Hawkeye is offering the following Minimesters in May:
money: for amounts under a dollar, use numerals and the word cents: 5 cents, 50 cents. Not 5¢. Use numerals for any amount over a dollar and don’t use unnecessary zeros: Her phone bill was $11.58, I owe him $5. For amounts more than $1 million, use the dollar sign ($) and up to two decimal places: It is worth $2.25 million.
months: see dates.
names: the first reference to a person should use his or her full name and title: Frank Colella, professor of economics, or Professor Frank Colella. After that, his or her last name only may be used. Also see titles.
numbers: spell out one through nine, but use figures for 10 and above. Spell out first through ninth, but use figures for 10th and above. Spell out any number if it’s the first word in a sentence or rewrite the sentence so another word is first. When a large number must be spelled out: thirty-four; two hundred ninety-seven. Also see money, dates, and amount.
office: use with administration offices. Do not capitalize the word office unless it is a part of the official name. The Financial Aid office is located in Hawkeye Center. The office of Public Relations and Marketing sent the press release. See locations for office names. Also see department.
online: also offline. Not on-line or off-line.
over: when referencing over a number, use more than. Hawkeye has more than 45 programs.
PDF: web only: if indicating a link is a PDF use [pdf] after the linked text. Winter Newsletter [pdf]. If PDF is within a sentence, capitalize all letters. Please complete the PDF form and return to our office. Also see links.
periods (.): periods should always go inside the closing quotation mark. Sally said, ”Let’s go to lunch.”
phone: phone not telephone.
phone numbers: always use a 10-digit phone number, even if the number is on campus. Include the area code, no parentheses: 319-296-2329. If the extension begins with the number four, write 319-296-4444 (extensions that begin with four are direct dial numbers).With phone extensions use Hawkeye number 319-296-2329 and extension.
Web only: write ext.5555 with no spaces: 319-296-2329 ext.5555.
Print: write ext. 5555 with a space between the period and the extension: 319-296-2329 ext. 5555.
possessives: usually shown with an apostrophe. For singular and plural nouns not ending in s, add an apostrophe and s: woman’s books, women’s rights. For singular and plural nouns ending in s, just add an apostrophe: Kansas’ schools, students’ rooms.
prepositions: write sentences so they do not end in prepositions. Prepositions include: of, in, at, off, on, which, to, with, about, go, and for. Incorrect: Where did the book go? Correct: Where is the book?
president: capitalize president only as a formal title before one or more names. President Linda Allen, Ph.D, spoke to the students today. Lowercase in all other uses. Dr. Linda Allen, president of Hawkeye Community College, spoke about the success of a Hawkeye education. Also see titles.
President’s Cabinet: always capitalize. President’s is possessive.
regard: use “in regard to” not “in regards to”. Also “with regard to” or “regarding.”
registered trademarks (®): see special characters.
seasons: seasons are not capitalized unless they are referring to the proper name of a semester or term. Fall Semester classes begin August 21. I will start classes in the fall.
semesters: Fall Semester, Spring Semester, Summer Term. Minimesters, eight-week classes, and four-week classes are a length of class and are part of a semester or term. See Minimester.
semi-colon (;): use a semicolon when you link two independent clauses with no connecting words. I am going home; I intend to stay there. It rained heavily during the afternoon; we managed to have our picnic anyway. Also see colon.
should have: see could have.
Skid Monster: two words. Not SkidMonster.
spaces: web only: use only one space at the end of sentences, not two.
special characters: web only: certain special characters don’t translate well in on a web page and can result in strange characters appearing on your page. To use these characters, click on the Special Characters button in the formatting toolbar. Some special characters are accented letters (é) , copyright symbols (©), dashes (-), trademarks (™), and registered trademarks ®.
states: always spell out state name unless providing full postal address. Mail your payment to Hawkeye Community College, P.O. Box 8015, Waterloo, IA 50704. Joe Smith is from Minneapolis, Minnesota. State names and postal abbreviations. Also see address.
telephone: see phone and phone numbers.
times: web only: use a colon to separate hours and minutes. No space between am/pm and no periods with am/pm: 8:00am, 11:15am, 5:30pm, 9:00pm. For time ranges, use a hyphen without spaces: We'll be there from 8:00-10:00am. He worked 10:00am-1:30pm. Use numerals for times except noon and midnight: He worked until midnight on his final paper. Capitalize Noon and Midnight when not in sentence format: Monday-Thursday, Noon-4:00pm.
print: 8:00 a.m., 11:15 a.m., 5:30 p.m., 9:00 p.m. For time ranges, use a hyphen with a space on each side: We'll be there from 8:00 - 10:00 a.m. He worked 10:00 a.m. - 1:30 p.m. Use numerals for times except noon and midnight: He worked until midnight on his final paper. Capitalize Noon and Midnight when not in sentence format: Monday - Thursday, Noon - 4:00 p.m.
Also see am/pm.
titles: professional titles are not capitalized. I am taking a class from professor Pat Singer. Pat Singer, professor of biology, is teaching class. President is the exception to this rule. See president and doctorate.
Titles such as Mr., Miss, Ms., or Mrs. should not be used. Use “the” before Reverend to denote a member of the clergy: the Reverend Chris Waddle.
Legislative and governmental titles should be written as: Senator Charles Grassley or U.S. Senator Tom Harkin, Representative Leonard Boswell or U.S. Representative Leonard Boswell, or Governor Terry Branstad.
Do not assume a member of the faculty is a professor. At Hawkeye there are five titles for faculty:
- associate professor
- assistant professor
- adjunct instructor: a description for teaching employees who are not full-time faculty members at Hawkeye.
Refer to the Employee Directory for official titles.
Also see class standing and names.
than, then: use “than” in comparisons. Hawkeye has more than 45 programs. Use “then” for a sequence. Turn left, then right.
that, which, who: use “that” or “which” when referring to places, objects, and animals. The report that I sent you last week should be of some help. Use “who” when referring to a person or an individual. She is the only one who can speak Spanish.
their, there, they’re: use “their” for possessive. This is their dog. Use “there” for direction or location. The books are over there. Use “they’re” for the contraction of they are. They’re going to class.
to, too, two: “to” is a preposition, “too” is also or to a greater extent, and “two” is a number.
trademarks (™), registered trademarks (®): see special characters.
web: web is not capitalized.
website: website as one word, also web page, web design, web search.
which: see that.
who, whom: use who when referring to the subject of the sentence or whenever you could use he, she, they, I, or we in place of the subject.
- Mr. Smith is the one who is going. (Mr. Smith is the subject).
- Who threw the ball? (He threw the ball.)
Use whom when referring to the object or whenever you could use him, her, them, me, or us in place of the object.
- The question of whom we should charge is at issue. (We should charge her.)
- Whom did I call last night? (I called him.)
Also see that.
whose, who’s: “whose” is a possessive. “Who’s” is a contraction for who is.
workforce: one word
workplace: one word
would have: see could have.