College Editorial Style Guide

The Bunker Hill Community College editorial style guide is based on The Associated Press Stylebook with modifications that reflect BHCC traditional usage. For items not covered in The Associated Press Stylebook, refer to The Chicago Manual of Style or Webster’s New World Dictionary.  Please send questions or comments to Karen Norton, Executive Director of Integrated Marketing & Communications at or Leslie Ouellette, Associate Director of Integrated Marketing & Communications at

Academic Degrees

Degrees are capitalized only when using the full formal name:

  • Bachelor of Arts degree, but bachelor's degree.
  • Master of Arts degree, but master’s degree.
  • Associate of Arts degree, but associate degree. 

Unlike the bachelor’s and master’s degrees, the associate degree is not written as a possessive:

  • Right: associate degree
  • Wrong: associate’s degree

Do not precede a name with a title and follow it with the abbreviation for the degree in the same reference: 

  • Right: Dr. Pam Jones, a chemist.
  • Wrong: Dr. Pam Jones, Ph.D.

Plurals of academic degrees do not take an apostrophe:

  • B.A.s, B.S.s, Ph.D.s

Common abbreviations of academic degrees:

  • Associate of Arts A.A.
  • Associate of Science A.S.
  • Bachelor of Arts B.A. or A.B.
  • Bachelor of Divinity B.D.
  • Bachelor of Laws LL.B.
  • Bachelor of Music B.M.
  • Bachelor of Science B.S.
  • Master of Arts M.A.
  • Master of Arts in Teaching M.A.T.
  • Master of Business Administration M.B.A.
  • Master of Law LL.M.
  • Master of Music M.M.
  • Master of Public Health M.P.H.
  • Master of Public Policy M.P.P.
  • Master of Science M.S.
  • Master of Science in Nursing M.S.N.
  • Medical Doctor M.D.
  • Doctor of Dental Surgery D.D.S.
  • Doctor of Law J.D.
  • Doctor of Laws LL.D.
  • Doctor of Musical Arts D.M.A.
  • Doctor of Education Ed.D.
  • Doctor of Pharmacy Pharm.D.
  • Doctor of Philosophy Ph.D.
  • Doctor of the Science of Law S.J.D.

BHCC denotes only terminal degrees in college publications.

Academic Titles

Academic titles such as professor, chair and dean should be spelled out.  Capitalize and spell out formal titles such as professor, chancellor, chair, etc., when they precede a name:

  • "Professor John Smith’s book was awarded a Pulitzer Prize."
  • Lowercase elsewhere: "John Smith is a professor at Northeastern University".
  • Lowercase modifiers such as department: "department Chair John Smith".

adviser, advisor

Adviser is BHCC preferred usage.

a.m., p.m. See Time

Lowercase, use periods: "The meeting is scheduled to begin on Tuesday at 10 a.m."

Ampersand (&) or "and"

Generally avoid the use of ampersands. Use ‘and’ instead, unless the & is part of a formal title. See Adult Education & Transition Programs.


  • Use the full title with acronym in parentheses on first reference: Bunker Hill Community College (BHCC).
  • On second and later references use either Bunker Hill Community College, BHCC (no periods) or the College (uppercase).
  • Do not capitalize college on second reference when referring to colleges other than BHCC.

BHCC Art Gallery

  • Always capitalize, even without BHCC preceding, when referring to the BHCC Art Gallery.
  • The official name of the gallery is now The Mary L. Fifield Art Gallery.


BHCConline is now Academic Innovation & Distance Education (AIDE).

BHCC Library & Learning Commons

The formal title is BHCC Library & Learning Commons.  Always capitalize, even without BHCC preceding when referring to BHCC Library specifically: 

  • "The BHCC Library & Learning Commons is located on the third floor of the E-Building".
  • "Students can find computers at the Library and Learning Commons".


  • One word, no intercapping: "Access your grades in BHCCselfservice".
  • Also acceptable: SelfService

blog, blogger

Do not capitalize when referring in general to an online journal or political site.


  • Refer to BHCC as the College.
  • Capitalize College ONLY when it refers to BHCC specifically.
  • Lowercase campus offices: admissions office, dean of students’ office, development office.
  • Capitalize formal names: The International Center, the Office of the President.

Center for Self-Directed Learning

Always capitalize


  • Do not use chairman, chairwoman or chairperson.
  • Capitalize before a name:  "Chair Richard Boulware".
  • Lower case elsewhere: "Richard Boulware is chair of the Criminal Justice Department".

Charlestown Campus

Always capitalize.

Chelsea Campus

Always capitalize.

Course Numbers

Use hyphens in all references to courses, such as MAT-102, ENG-200. 


One word, no hyphen

Courtesy Titles

  • Abbreviate the following titles when they precede a name: Dr., Mr., Mrs., Gov., Lt. Gov., Rep., Sen. and all military titles.
  • The plural use of these titles is also abbreviated when used before more than one name, such as Drs., Reps., Sens, and Govs. 
  • The title Professor is never abbreviated


Always use cardinal numbers without st, nd, rd, or th

  • May 1, not May 1st
  • June 2, not June 2nd
  • April 3, not April 3rd
  • July 4, not July 4th

Set off years with commas when used with dates:

  • "He was born on October 1, 1940, and died on May 1, 2001, in his home town". [Be sure to include the comma after the year.]
  • "He launched the company in 2001 and it was an immediate success".

Spell out numbers but not years at the beginning of a sentence.

  • Right: "1961 was a very good year". 
  • Wrong: "12 days passed before he left".
  • Right: "Twelve days passed before he left".


  • Capitalize when used as a formal title before a name: Dean John Jones, Deans John Jones and Susan Smith.
  • Lowercase in other uses: John Jones, dean of the department; the dean

dean’s list

Lowercase, singular form, in all uses: "He is on the dean’s list". "She is a dean’s list student".


see Academic Degrees

distance-learning (adj.)

Hyphenate when used as an adjective.

  • "Bunker Hill Community College offers many distance-learning opportunities". (adj.)
  • "Distance learning is becoming the preferred option for many of today’s students". (noun)

Eddinger, Pam

  • Her official title is BHCC President Pam Y. Eddinger or Pam Y. Eddinger, President of Bunker Hill Community College.  
  • This is a BHCC traditional exception to the rule that titles following names are lower case.


  • Short form of electronic mail. Lowercase, no hyphen.
  • But use hyphen in e-commerce, e-business and e-portfolio.


Small e with hyphen; but capitalize the e at the beginning of a sentence: "E-portfolios are a good way to showcase your work".


Use small e and d and capital X, except when beginning a sentence.

  • "EdX is a non-profit created by Harvard and MIT to expand the use of Massive Open Online Courses or MOOCs".
  • "BHCC is participating in the edX initiative".

Faculty or Staff

  • Both are collective nouns that take singular verbs: "The faculty is in agreement on the latest curriculum proposals".
  • To make faculty plural, use ‘faculty members’: "Some faculty members expressed concern over the changes". 
  • The same is true for staff: "Staff members are getting ready for the celebration".


See Seasons.

fewer, less

  • Use ‘fewer’ for individual items or items that can be counted: "I have fewer than five courses left to take".
  • Use ‘less’ for quantities that cannot be individually counted:  "If I hadn’t earned an associate degree, I would be earning less money than I do now".

first-come, first-served (adj.)

"All students will be seen on a first-come, first-served basis".

full-time, part-time (adj.)

Hyphenate when used as an adjective:

  • "She is a full-time student". 
  • "We need more full-time faculty".

full time, part time (noun)

No hyphen when used in constructions like these:

  • "I go to school full time".
  • "He works full time".
  • Full-time employees work full time.
  • Part-time employees work part time.


All capitals, no periods.

homeschool, homeschooled, homeschooling

One word, no hyphen.

in-state, out-of-state (adj.)

  • Hyphenate when used as an adjective:  "If you are classified as a Massachusetts resident, you will pay in-state tuition".
  • However. use in state, no hyphen, in usages like this: "I have always lived in state". "I took a job in state".
  • The same rules apply for out of state: "I have an out-of-state job for the summer".  "I hope to work out of state next summer".


One word, no hyphen.

its, it’s

  • It’s is a contraction for it is or it has, as in: 'It’s up to you". "It’s been a long time".
  • Its is a possessive form of the neuter pronoun. "The company lost its assets".

Memory hint:  His, hers and its are possessive forms that, unlike most possessives, do not take apostrophes: John’s hat; his hat.  The novel’s conclusion; its conclusion.

jump start, jump-start (also kick start, kick-start)

  • Two words, no hyphen, when used as a noun: "Give your career a jump start."
  • Use a hyphen for the verb: "Jump-start your career."

Learning Communities

  • Capitalize Learning Communities and Learning Community Clusters. 
  • Lowercase when referencing without spelling it out: this Learning Communities course; this cluster course.


One word, intercapped. Also LifeMap Commons.

log on, log in, log off

  • Two words, no hyphen, when used as a verb: "Bill was not able to log on to the network."
  • One word when used as an adjective or noun: "Follow the correct login procedure." "Log in to SelfService using your BHCC login."

Note: “log in to”; not “log into”

make up, makeup

  • make up (verb): "I will have to make up the work that I missed".
  • makeup (adj.): "Some instructors give makeup tests".
  • makeup (noun): "His daring attitude toward risks is a major part of his makeup".


One word, intercapped.


One word, no hyphen.

Rooms and Locations

  • Building names take hyphens: A-Building, B-Building, C-Building, D-Building, E-Building, N-Building, and G-Building.
  • Room names also take hyphens: N-211G, B-321
  • Capitalize lobby in A-300 Lobby.
  • Do not use hyphen for D Lounge, C Corridor, etc.
  • Use figures and capitalize room when used with a figure: Room E-175, C-202, and A-300.


  • Lowercase spring, summer, fall and winter when referring to seasons of the year, unless they are part of a title.
  • Capitalize season names when referring to a semester, as in Fall Semester, Spring Semester, Summer Session, etc.


  • Register now for Fall Semester.
  • She is taking that course in the spring.

Social Media

  • Do not capitalize the term "social media" in reference to a suite of online sites and tools.
  • However, do capitalize Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and other specific Web sites.


See Seasons.

State Names

In body of text, use formal abbreviations for states, not mailing codes.

  • Right: He comes from Cambridge, Mass., or Cambridge, Massachusetts
  • Wrong: He comes from Cambridge, MA. 

Use postal abbreviations for ALL states when listing an address:

  • Right: "Send your resume to 85 High St., Boston MA 02106".

Student Government Association

  • Capitalize on first reference.
  • On second reference or later, use abbreviation SGA (no periods).

Student Emergency Assistance Fund

The official title of the fund is the Mary L. Fifield Endowed Student Emergency Fund.


See Seasons.

Telephone Numbers

  • Use hyphens: 617-228-2000.  We no longer use parentheses as in (203) 555-1212.
  • When referring to internal phone extensions, use ext. prior to the four digit number: ext. 2000.

their, there, they’re

  • Their is a possessive form: "They went to their home".
  • There is an adverb indicating direction or used in impersonal constructions: "We went there for dinner". "There is no food in the house".
  • They’re is a contraction for they are. "They’re all our students".


Use a.m. and p.m. with periods and no caps.  Use a colon when the time is at the half, quarter or three-quarters hour.

  • Right: The class will be held from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
  • Wrong: The class will be held from 9AM to 5PM
  • Right: The class will begin at 5 p.m.
  • Wrong: The class will begin at 5:00 p.m.
  • Right: The class will begin at 5:30 p.m.

Do not use o’clock or other phrases.

  • Wrong: "James will speak at 5 o’clock".
  • Wrong: "James will speak at 5 in the morning".

Use hyphens to designate time periods in listings:

  • Right: Lunch: 1-5 p.m.
  • Be careful about the use of 12 p.m. and 12 a.m. Use noon for 12 p.m. when possible and midnight for 12 a.m.

For periods of time, use either a hyphen or from/to, but do not combine them:

  • Tuesday, 2-4 p.m.
  • Tuesday, from 2 to 4 p.m.
  • January 5-June 5.
  • From January 5 to June 5.

Titles, Works

  • Use italics for book titles, magazine titles, computer game titles, movie titles, opera titles, television program titles, and the titles of lectures, speeches and works of art.  
  • Capitalize every word in a title except for conjunctions or prepositions having three of fewer letters.
    Gone With the Wind, Time After Time
  • Capitalize an article – the, a, an – or words of fewer than four letters if it is the first or last word in a title. 
    Of Mice and Men, For Whom the Bell Tolls, The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich
  • Use quotes (“”) when referring to the title of an article from a magazine, webzine or newspaper.
    Example:  “Charlestown to Get New Grocery Store”
  • Use quotes to refer to song titles: “The Star-Spangled Banner,” “Dirty Water,” “Can’t Buy Me Love” 
  • When you refer to the proper title of a website, not its url, use the preferred spelling by the site. For example: Yahoo! and; eBay and; edX and Do not put website titles in italic or quotes.

Titles, Special

  • "Senator Edward M. Kennedy (not Sen.) spoke at Bunker Hill Community College".
  • "General Colin Powell (not Gen.) was Secretary of State in the first administration of George W. Bush".


No “s” at the end


  • Preposition used to express relationships of space: "The train tracks passed under the bridge."
  • Not to be used for numbers or amounts. Instead, use “fewer than” or “less than.” See entry for fewer,less.

United States

Spell out when used as a noun: "The United States is still committed to the six-party talks."


Uppercase, no space, always use periods.  Used as an adjective only: "All U.S. citizens were asked to report to the embassy". Otherwise, spell out United States.


One word, no hyphen.


One word, no hyphen.

University of Massachusetts

Spell out the name of schools in the University of Massachusetts system such as University of Massachusetts Lowell or University of Massachusetts Boston.

  • Wrong: UMass. Lowell; UMass-Lowell.


  • Lowercase, one word. 
  • When referring a reader to a website, use “visit” or “go to”:
  • Right: For more information, visit
  • Wrong: For more information, click
  • Wrong: For more information, click here.


See Seasons.


One word, no hyphen.


One word, no hyphen.

you’re, your

  • Your is the second person possessive: "Your home is your castle".
  • You’re is a contraction of “you are,” as in: "You’re going to lose that girl".