San Jac Editorial Style Guide

The San Jacinto College external relations department publishes this Editorial Style Guide in an effort to provide consistency among members of our own department, and among the many departments throughout the College who may be writing for publications. It is also intended to advise all College members of the rules applied when editing copy submitted to this office for printing.

As a rule, the San Jacinto College marketing department follows the Associated Press (AP) style guidelines. This style was selected because the AP style aims at a general audience with a tone that is neither too elite nor too common. As with any organization, there are certain language conventions that are specific to San Jacinto College so we have created this single document containing the exceptions to the AP style in an effort to enable every department on every campus to consistently represent the College. In some cases, the exact rule from the AP Stylebook is provided due to usage and is marked with an asterisk (*).

As the guide was developed, it also became clear that many grammatical issues arise every day and that a quick reference to these would be helpful. For answers to other questions of style and spelling, the San Jacinto College marketing, public relations, and government affairs department consults the Associated Press Stylebook and Webster’s New Collegiate Dictionary.

You are encouraged to become familiar with this Editorial Style Guide and to apply its rules to any text you write on behalf of the College. Please contact the vice president for marketing and public relations with your comments or any matters you feel should be addressed in future editions.

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Avoid abbreviations in running text.

professor Smith, not Prof. Smith

Use abbreviations and ampersands (&) when they are included in running text and part of a formal name.

Robbins, Schwartz, Nicholas, Lifton & Taylor, Ltd.
Sears, Roebuck and Co. (NOT Sears, Roebuck & Co.)

Avoid using abbreviations for an organization’s name unless the agency or organization is known by its abbreviation: FBI, CIA, FCC. Do not use abbreviations or acronyms that the reader does not quickly recognize.

academic degrees

If mention of degrees is necessary to establish someone’s credentials, the preferred form is to avoid an abbreviation and use instead a phrase such as: John Jones, who has a doctorate in psychology.

Use an apostrophe in bachelor’s degree, a master’s, etc., but there is no possessive in Bachelor of Arts or Master of Science.
Also: an associate degree (no possessive); Associate of Applied Science in process technology (example of formal degree title) with exception to Bachelor of Science in Nursing.

Use such abbreviations as B.A., M.A., LL.D. and Ph.D. only when the need to identify many individuals by degree on first reference would make the preferred form cumbersome. Use the abbreviations only after a full name – never after just a last name.

When used after a name, an academic abbreviation is set off by commas: Daniel Moynihan, PH.D., spoke.

Do not precede a name with a courtesy title for an academic degree and follow it with the abbreviation for the degree in the same reference:
Wrong: Dr. Pam Jones, Ph.D.
Right: Dr. Pam Jones, a chemist

academic courses (See course titles.)

academic departments

Use lowercase except for words that are proper nouns or adjectives or part of a formal name: the department of history, the history department, the department of English, the English department, or when department is part of the official and formal name: San Jacinto College Department of Theatre and Film. However, always capitalize English when referring to the English department.

Keep departments, offices, and programs lowercased except when preceded by San Jacinto College.

academic titles

Capitalize and spell out formal titles such as chairman, dean, etc., when they precede a name. Exception: The title of Chancellor is capitalized before and after a name. Lowercase all other titles elsewhere.

Chancellor Brenda Hellyer
Brenda Hellyer, Chancellor, spoke. (Used only for the Chancellor)
Joanna Zimmerman, associate vice chancellor for student development, talked to students about...

Lowercase modifiers such as department in department chairman Randy Snyder.

Dr. Allatia Harris, vice chancellor, San Jacinto College Strategic Initiatives, Workforce Development, Community Relations and Diversity; second reference, Dr. Harris.

acronyms (See abbreviations.)


Use only the initials in referring to the previously designated American College Testing.


Use the abbreviations Ave., Blvd., and St. only with a numbered address: 1250 Maple St. Spell them out and capitalize when they are used with a street name but no number: Maple Street. Lowercase and spell out when used with more than one street name and no numbers: Maple and Oak streets. All other words such as alley, drive, road, etc. are spelled out.

Always use figures for an address number: 1200 W. Algonquin Road.

Spell out First through Ninth when used as street names; use figures for 10th and above:
135 First St., 1010 31st Ave.

Abbreviate compass directions in street addresses: 650 E. Fifth Street, 700 N. Palatine Road. Addresses in running copy are separated by commas: San Jacinto College, 4624 Fairmont Parkway, Pasadena, TX 77504. When listing mailing addresses, use the two-letter state postal abbreviation. Use ZIP code-plus 4 digits when possible.

Use official names of offices: Registrar’s Office, Human Resources Department, etc. in mailing addresses.


Use advisor with the –or ending on all references.

affect, effect

Affect (verb), to influence. Do not use affect as a noun.
The game will affect the score.

Effect (verb) means to cause; (noun) means result.
She will effect changes in the company.
The effect was clear.


Acceptable for an American black person of African descent. Also acceptable is black.


Use figures for ages. He is 6 years old. Hyphenate ages when they are used as adjectives before a noun. A 10-year-old girl, but the girl is 10 years old.

all right Never alright.

alumnus, alumni, alumna, alumnae

Use alumnus (alumni in the plural) when referring to a man who has attended a school. Use alumna (alumnae in the plural) for similar references to a woman. Use alumni when referring to a group of men and women.

ampersand (&)

Use only when part of a company’s formal name: Robbins, Schwartz, Nicholas, Lifton & Taylor, Ltd. Do not use in place of and.

Annual Fund

apostrophes (’)

Do not use apostrophes when using plurals for dates and abbreviations: 1990s, 1880s, Ph.D.s, B.A.s, 20s, VIPs, ABCs

Use apostrophes for single letters: He received three A’s on his report card. Do not put quotes around grades. A’s, B’s, C’s.


A person of Asian birth or descent who lives in the U.S. When possible, refer to a person's country of origin. For example: Filipino-Americano or Indian-American.



Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) (See academic degrees.)



Acceptable for a person of the black race. African-American is acceptable for an American black person of African descent. Do not use colored as a synonym.

Board of Trustees

Capitalize when referring to the San Jacinto College Board of Trustees.

Capitalize Board and Trustees when they are used alone or in second reference.

The Board members voted. The Trustees were appointed.

Note: When referring to boards of trustees besides San Jacinto College, lowercase on all references. (However, capitalize if mentioning the full name of another board -- e.g., the Pasadena ISD Board of Trustees.)

 Building names

San Jacinto College building names will be written with “and” rather than an ampersand (&)

The San Jacinto College South Campus Engineering and Technology Center

Note: The only exception is the LyondellBasell Center for Petrochemical, Energy, & Technology.




Capitalize on all references: San Jacinto College North Campus, San Jacinto College Central Campus, San Jacinto College South Campus, the North and South Campuses.


In general, avoid unnecessary capitals. 

Capitalize course titles, except for articles, prepositions and conjunctions. Do not use ampersands in course titles. PSYT 2331 Abnormal Psychology, Professor Smith is teaching Fundamentals of Music Theory in the fall.

Capitalize grade letters. Do not put quotation marks around grades.

A, B, C, D, F

A grade of C or better is required to pass this course.


Use chairman instead of chair.

Mr. Dan Mims is Chairman of the San Jacinto College Board of Trustees.


Capitalize College on second reference, and all references thereafter, when referring to San Jacinto College.
San Jacinto College is in Pasadena. The College offers many programs.

See San Jacinto College.


The following guidelines treat some of the most frequent questions about commas. Additional guidelines on specialized uses are provided in separate entries such as dates and scores

For detailed guidance, consult the punctuation section in the back of Webster's New World College Dictionary.

IN A SERIES: Use commas to separate elements in a series: The flag is red, white, and blue. He would nominate Tom, Dick, or Harry.

In sentences where an integral element of a series requires a conjunction (e.g., ham and eggs), place this item last in the series, if possible, and do not separate this phrase with a comma before the conjunction: I had orange juice, toast, and ham and eggs for breakfast.

Use a comma also before the concluding conjunction in a complex series of phrases: The main points to consider are whether the athletes are skillful enough to compete, whether they have the stamina to endure the training, and whether they have the proper mental attitude.

See dash and semicolon for cases when elements of a series contain internal commas.

WITH EQUAL ADJECTIVES: Use commas to separate a series of adjectives equal in rank. If the commas could be replaced by the word and without changing the sense, the adjectives are equal: a thoughtful, precise manner; a dark, dangerous street.

Use no comma when the last adjective before a noun outranks its predecessors because it is an integral element of a noun phrase, which is the equivalent of a single noun: a cheap fur coat (the noun phrase is fur coat); the old oaken bucket; a new, blue spring bonnet.

WITH NONESSENTIAL CLAUSES: A nonessential clause must be set off by commas. An essential clause must not be set off from the rest of a sentence by commas.

See essential clauses, nonessential clauses in the main section.

WITH NONESSENTIAL PHRASES: A nonessential phrase must be set off by commas. An essential phrase must not be set off from the rest of a sentence by commas.

See essential phrases, nonessential phrases in the main section.

WITH INTRODUCTORY CLAUSES AND PHRASES: A comma is used to separate an introductory clause or phrase from the main clause: When he had tired of the mad pace of New York, he moved to Dubuque.

The comma may be omitted after short introductory phrases if no ambiguity would result: During the night he heard many noises.

But use the comma if its omission would slow comprehension: On the street below, the curious gathered.

WITH CONJUNCTIONS: When a conjunction such as and, but or for links two clauses that could stand alone as separate sentences, use a comma before the conjunction in most cases: She was glad she had looked, for a man was approaching the house.

As a rule of thumb, use a comma if the subject of each clause is expressly stated: We are visiting Washington, and we also plan a side trip to Williamsburg. We visited Washington, and our senator greeted us personally. But no comma when the subject of the two clauses is the same and is not repeated in the second: We are visiting Washington and plan to see the White House.

The comma may be dropped if two clauses with expressly stated subjects are short. In general, however, favor a comma unless a particular literary effect is desired or it would distort the sense of a sentence.

INTRODUCING DIRECT QUOTES: Use a comma to introduce a complete one-sentence quotation within a paragraph: Wallace said, "She spent six months in Argentina and came back speaking English with a Spanish accent." But use a colon to introduce quotations of more than one sentence. See colon.

Do not use a comma at the start of an indirect or partial quotation: He said the victory put him "firmly on the road to a first-ballot nomination."

BEFORE ATTRIBUTION: Use a comma instead of a period at the end of a quote that is followed by attribution: "Turn in your assignment," Miss Cawley said.

Do not use a comma, however, if the quoted statement ends with a question mark or exclamation point: "Why should I?" he asked.

WITH HOMETOWNS AND AGES: Use a comma to set off an individual's hometown when it is placed in apposition to a name (whether of is used or not): Mary Richards, Minneapolis, and Maude Findlay, Tuckahoe, New York, were there.

If an individual's age is used, set it off by commas: Maude Findlay, 48, Tuckahoe, New York, was present.


NAMES OF STATES AND NATIONS USED WITH CITY NAMES: His journey will take him from Dublin, Ireland, to Fargo, North Dakota, and back. The Selma, Alabama, group saw the governor.

Use parentheses, however, if a state name is inserted within a proper name: The Huntsville (Alabama) Times.

WITH YES AND NO: Yes, I will be there.

IN DIRECT ADDRESS: Mother, I will be home late. No, sir, I did not take it.

SEPARATING SIMILAR WORDS: Use a comma to separate duplicated words that otherwise would be confusing: What the problem is, is not clear.

IN LARGE FIGURES: Use a comma for most figures greater than 999. The major exceptions are street addresses (1234 Main St.), broadcast frequencies (1460 kilohertz), room numbers, serial numbers, telephone numbers, and years (1876). See separate entries under these headings.

PLACEMENT WITH QUOTES: Commas always go inside quotation marks.

WITH FULL DATES: When a phrase refers to a month, day, and year, set off the year with a comma: Feb. 14, 1987, is the target date.

See semicolon.

Commencement, commencement

Capitalize when referring to San Jacinto College Commencement. Lowercase on second reference or when referring to formal commencement exercises.

composition titles

Use quotation marks for titles of articles and features in periodicals and newspapers, chapters of book titles, essays, and titles of songs or short compositions.

English faculty member Elizabeth Turner wrote the essay “Teaching Willa Cather in May Sarton’s ‘Faithful Are the Wounds’”

Co-sponsor (hyphen)

Corequisite (no hyphen); also prerequisite (no hyphen)

course titles

Capitalize all words in a title, except lowercase articles (a, an, the), conjunctions (and, but, or, for, nor), and prepositions regardless of length.

See capitalization.

course schedule (two words)

Lowercase and use to refer to continuing and professional development and credit course schedules.

course work (two words)

credit hours

Use numerals to refer to credit hours. (no hyphens)
Three credit hours
BUT She is enrolled in a four-credit-hour course.

current, currently

Avoid use of current and currently because it is redundant.

Incorrect: He currently works at the college.
Correct: He works at the college.



Use em dashes (—) to set off phrases where something more than a comma is needed. Do not
use spaces between the em dashes.

Correct: San Jacinto College—named after the area—is located in East Harris County.
Incorrect: San Jacinto College—named after the area, is located in East Harris County.

Use en dashes (–) for ranges in years, page numbers, times, etc. with no spaces between the
Examples: 2002–2003, 1998–1999 (repeat the full year on second reference for ranges),
pages 125–258, 10 a.m.–3 p.m.

database (one word)


Time, date, and place should always be in the following order:
at 6 p.m. Friday in the theater
at 10 a.m. Tuesday, April 1 in the Interactive Learning Center

Use the year with the month only if the date does not fall in the current year.

Do not use endings -st, -nd, -rd, -th with dates
April 1 event, not April 1st event

Use a comma before and after the year if a month and date appear with it: December 31, 2003.
Do not use a comma between the month and year when it stands alone: December 2003.

Decades may be referred to as: the 1980s, the 1990s, etc. Do not use an apostrophe. Use

days of the week

Do not abbreviate. Capitalize them.

degrees (See academic degrees.)

department names (See academic departments.)

disabled, handicapped, impaired

Do not use disabled or handicapped to describe a person. Avoid mentally challenged and other descriptions that may evoke pity. Instead use people with disabilities.


Always lowercase. Use figures and the dollar sign ($).
Tuition costs $33 per credit hour.
He donated $600,000.
She paid $36.95 for a book.
The building costs $88 million.
Do not use $36.00. Omit the zeros.


ellipsis (…)

Use an ellipsis to show deletion of one or more words in sentences or quotes. Leave one space on both sides of the ellipsis: The car … is on the bridge. If the sentence ends with an ellipsis, leave the period that would have ended the sentence….


Lowercase email. Hyphenate and lowercase e-commerce, e-business, e-shopping.

San Jacinto College email addresses should be lowercase:

Avoid breaking email addresses in a line of text.

Equal Opportunity statement

See our website for the full statement that should be used on all material that will be handed to students.


Fall (See seasons.)

fax (lowercase)

foreign students

International students is preferred.

freshman, freshmen

Freshmen is plural, but use freshman when referring to freshman courses, freshman year, freshman class. Avoid confusion by using first-year students.

full time, full-time

Hyphenate as an adjective before the noun. Otherwise use two words. She works full time. He has a full-time job.

fundraise, fundraising (one word)


grade point average (GPA)


Always capitalize. Do not put quotes around grades.

You must earn a C to complete the course.

See apostrophes and capitalization.

graduation (See commencement.)

Lowercase on all references.



Capitalize Hispanic. Latina (fem.) and Latino (masc.).


Hyphens are joiners. Use them to form a single idea with two or more words.

In general do not hyphenate words that begin with the prefixes, after, anti, bi, by, co, ex, full, in, non, pre, post, re, semi and un unless the prefix ending is a vowel and the other word begins with the same vowel: re-elect, pre-election, co-op.

Always hyphenate self: self-government.
Hyphenate words with prefixes when they are used in front of a formal name: anti-American, post-Renaissance.

When in doubt, look up the word in Webster’s New World College Dictionary to determine if it is hyphenated.

No hyphen - Do not hyphenate the following words:





*****************Internet Guide*******************
Some commonly used internet and computer terms:

cell phone (two words)

database (one word)


download (one word)


Capitalize and use on all references. DVD is an acronym for digital video disk.


Lowercase email. (No hyphen) Hyphenate and lowercase e-commerce, e-business, e-shopping.
Email addresses should be lowercase:
Avoid breaking email addresses in a line of text.


Capitalize and use on all references on the web. Acronym for frequently asked questions. Spell it out in running text.

homepage (one word)

The front page of a website.





Acronym for information technology. Spell it out and lowercase on first reference. On second reference, use IT (capitalized).


Acronym for local area network. Spell it out. Use LAN on second reference.

login, logon, logoff


offline (no hyphen)

online (no hyphen, one word)

screen saver (two words)


The URL is the Internet address. Avoid breaking an Internet address in text. When the address does not fit on a line, then break it into two or more lines without adding a hyphen.



international students

International students is preferred to foreign students.

See bias-free language.

junior, senior

Abbreviate as Jr. and Sr. only with full names. Do not use a comma: Martin Luther King Jr.

Latina, Latino

Latina, Latino is preferred to Hispanic, but either is acceptable.



Do not put 12 in front of either one. When referring to a time, it is preferable to use 12 p.m. or 12 a.m.

See time.


Capitalize the names of months in all uses. When a month is used with a date, spell it out. Spell out months when they stand alone or with a year.

February 14, 2002; January 2, 2001; April 1989

more than, over

Use more than when referring to numerals: More than 50 people came to the party. Their salaries increased more than 2 percent. Use over to refer to spatial relationships: The plane flew over the house.

multicultural (no hyphen, one word)


Native American

American Indian also is acceptable.

noncredit (one word)

nonprofit (one word)


Spell out one through nine. Use numerals for 10 and above.
They have six children. There are 10 people in the family.

Do not start a sentence with a number.
Incorrect: 60 students were in the class.
Correct: There were 60 students in the class.

A sentence may start with a year.
1978 was a great year.

For ordinals, spell out first through ninth when they indicate sequence in time or location: first
base, First Amendment. Use numerals for 10th and above.


on campus, on-campus

Two words. Hyphenate as an adjective before a noun.
I work on campus.
She has an on-campus job.

online (one word)

ordinal numbers

See numbers, addresses


part time, part-time

Hyphenate when used as an adjective before a noun.
I work part time. She has a part-time job.



Pathways Project

San Jacinto College Pathways

San Jacinto College Pathways Project


One word. Spell out percent in all references. Use a numeral before percent except when starting a sentence with a numeral, then spell out the number such as: Twelve percent of the people attended the open house.

10 percent
2.65 percent

2.5 per cent

Phi Theta Kappa

Capitalize. Use when referring to the international honor society of two-year colleges established in 1918.

phone numbers See telephone numbers.

Police Department

San Jacinto College Police Department

The police department

campus police

Bruce Caldwell, chief of police, San Jacinto College

Bruce Caldwell, San Jacinto College chief of police

City of Pasadena Police Department


Do not abbreviate. Lowercase before a name unless starting a sentence with professor.

Use instructor instead of professor according to employee directory.

Use faculty as a collective noun to include professors and instructors.

When in doubt about a person’s title, refer to the employee directory.


room numbers

Capitalize room when used with figures or a specific name of a room: Room 205, Blue Room
San Jacinto College building room numbers should be written as: C45.1119 (no dashes)

See building names.


San Jacinto College

Use San Jacinto College on all first references. Capitalize College on second and subsequent references when referring to San Jacinto College. For official or legal documents, the College must be referred to as San Jacinto Community College District.

Using San Jac in athletics stories, direct quotes, and as second reference in less formal publications (not high-level publications) is permitted.

See College.

San Jacinto College Foundation

Capitalize Foundation on second reference when referring to the San Jacinto College Foundation.


Lowercase spring, summer, fall, and winter when referring to an academic term or calendar season.


Lowercase except at the start of a sentence.
Spring semester, fall semester, and summer session are available for registration.


In writing, especially for news releases and all printed materials, use one space after a period at
the end of a sentence instead of two spaces as in the English grammar style.

spring (See seasons.)

state names

Spell out states when they are used alone in text. Abbreviate states when used with the name of a city, town, village, etc.

Use the following state abbreviations in text. (ZIP code abbreviations are in parentheses and should be used only with complete mailing addresses.) These abbreviations come from the standards used by the AP Stylebook.

Ala. (AL)      Md. (MD)      N.D. (ND)
Ariz. (AZ)    Mass. (MA)    Okla. (OK)
Ark. (AR)     Mich. (MI)     Ore. (OR)
Calif. (CA)   Minn. (MN)    Pa. (PA)
Colo. (CO)   Miss. (MS)     R.I. (RI)
Conn. (CT)  Mo. (MO)      S.C. (SC)
Del. (DE)     Mont. (MT)    S.D. (SD)
Fla. (FL)      Neb. (NE)      Tenn. (TN)
Ga. (GA)     Nev. (NV)       Vt. (VT)
Ill. (IL)        N.H. (NH)       Va. (VA)
Ind. (IN)      N.J. (NJ)          Wash. (WA)
Kan. (KS)     N.M. (NM)      W.Va. (WV)
Ky. (KY)       N.Y. (NY)       Wis. (WI)
La. (LA)      N.C. (NC)        Wyo. (WY)

Eight states are never abbreviated in datelines or text: Alaska (AK), Hawaii (HI), Idaho (ID), Iowa (IA), Maine (ME), Ohio (OH), Texas (TX) and Utah (UT).

See addresses.

summer (See seasons.)


telephone numbers

Many people use periods to separate telephone numbers. According to AP, figures and parentheses around the area code are used to keep a consistency with a format the telephone companies established.

However, the following format is suggested for telephone numbers:


For telephone extensions: 281-998-6150 ext. 6100


Use this spelling with the ending -er for all uses except when referring to a proper name of a Theatre: Theatre San Jacinto, San Jacinto College Central Campus Department of Theatre and Film

For titles of plays, other performance works, and character names, use quotations instead of italics.


Use a colon to separate hours from minutes: 11 a.m., 1 p.m., 3:30 p.m., 9-11 a.m., 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Avoid such redundancies as 10 a.m. this morning, 10 p.m. tonight, or 10 p.m. Monday night

toward (not towards)


website (one word, lowercase)

Omit http:// on all URLs for the College’s website.

winter (See seasons)


web (lowercase)



Use figures without commas: 1995.
Add no apostrophes when plural: 1990s, 1970s, 1950s.

See dates.


ZIP code

ZIP-All caps for Zoning Improvement Plan. Lowercase code.
Do not put a comma between the state name and the ZIP code: Houston, TX 60067.

See addresses.