Editorial Style Guide

Editorial Style Guide

Our brand is a reflection of everything we do and say, everything we print and broadcast. The Office of Marketing & Communications provides this style guide to maintain a consistent style of writing across Saint Mary’s College. 


Writing Style

  • Be concise. While details add color, be mindful of length.
  • Be conversational. Write a story.
  • Be aware and sensitive to the mindset of the audience (students, parents, faculty, etc.).
  • When pointing out measures of success, keep it honest and authentic. Avoid usage of superlatives.
  • Use active rather than passive voice to keep content lively and interesting.


General Rules

Use Chicago Manual of Style, with noted exceptions; AP Style for numbers and titles in press releases.

Names and titles at the College

Do not abbreviate “Saint” when referring to Saint Mary’s College.

  • Exception: Address is 1928 St. Marys Road (note: no apostrophe in the name of the road)

In publications for an outside audience, use Saint Mary’s College of California on first reference; in Saint Mary’s magazine, using “of California” is unnecessary.

  • SMC is acceptable on second reference.


President’s title: Use full formal name: Interim President Brother Thomas Jones, FSC.

Christian Brothers: Do not abbreviate “Brother” when referring to a specific Christian Brother.

  • Correct: Brother Michael Murphy; also, Father David.

FSC is not necessary in every reference. For example, it does not need to be used in the body of stories. It may be used in names that stand alone in photo captions or pull quotes

  • Example: Brother Camillus Chavez worked with Fargo on meditation techniques.
  • Photo caption: Brother Ronald Gallagher, FSC
  • Brother/Father who graduated from Saint Mary's: Brother David Caretti, FSC, ’99, EdD
  • Do not use periods with FSC

More on using Brother in combination with other titles: 

A title can combine with "Brother" if it refers to a Brother's congregational or canonical role, i.e. Brother Visitor Donald Johanson, FSC or Brother Superior General Robert Schieler, FSC.  In the case of a title that refers to an organizational or institutional role, the preferred structure is the appositive, i.e. school Principal Brother John Montgomery, FSC or, in this case, former Saint Mary's College President Brother Ronald Gallagher.  The appositive commas are optional, depending on your own style guide. Do not capitalize “s” in Lasallian. [Per SFNO]

Use following capitalization/lower-case scheme:

  • Saint John Baptist de La Salle was the founder of Christian Brothers
  • De La Salle when it stands alone.
  • De La Salle Institute

Capitalize names of campus buildings. Following are some notable names:

  • LeFevre Theatre
  • University Credit Union Pavilion, also UCU Pavilion
  • St. Albert Library
  • St. Catherine of Siena Hall
  • St. Joseph Hall
  • Becket Hall
  • Saint Mary's College Museum of Art (the museum on subsequent references)
  • Filippi Academic Hall (houses Kalmanovitz School of Education)
  • Brousseau Hall
  • Soda Center is acceptable on all references

Capitalize College when referring to SMC, even when it stands alone.
Capitalize Chapel even when it stands alone.
Do not capitalize campus when referring to the Saint Mary’s campus.


Editorial Writing Style Rules

These are style rules for frequently used or misused terms common in this academic institution that should be followed in campus publications. For issues not addressed here, refer to the Chicago Manual of Style for publications, including the web.

Academic Degrees

  • Periods should not be used when abbreviating degree, i.e., BA, PhD — no spaces; when spelled out, proper form is Bachelor of Arts, Master of Science, use apostrophes in constructions such as bachelor’s degree, master’s degree (always lower case in that usage). When plural, do not use apostrophes, i.e. PhDs or MEds
  • Honors: lowercase cum laude, magna cum laude, summa cum laude
  • For multiple degrees, use comma between degrees: John Smith ’97, MA ’99
  • Brother: Brother David Caretti, FSC, ’99, EdD

Alma mater

  • Lower case alma mater

Alumna; alumnae; alumnus; alumni; alum; alums

  • Denotes someone who attended or graduated from a school. Use alumna (singular) and alumnae (plural) for women. Use alumnus (singular) and alumni (plural) for men. Use alum and alums for a gender-neutral term. Alumni is also widely used as a gender-neutral term.  

Board of Trustees; Alumni Association and Regents

  • Capitalize Board of Trustees or Board of Regents in all references, capitalize Trustee and Regent when they appear as a title before a name, lowercase when they stand alone or follow names.
  • Capitalize Alumni Association, Alumni Board of Directors, and Alumni Relations Office.

Book and Other Titles

  • Refer to Chicago Manual of Style. (We usually italicize most titles like books, movies, and plays. Quotation marks for speeches.)


  • Use official name of campus facilities, capitalizing the name, in formal communications. On second reference, “hall” may be dropped, e.g., Dante or Galileo.


  • Collegiate Seminar, Seminar, the Program (for Integral Program second reference. Do not capitalize the)

Classes and Courses

  • Use lower case referring to class, unless you use the specific name. When you do use the name of the course, do not put the title in italics or quotes. Just capitalize the title.
    Examples: He is taking Art 1 and Greek Thought. They met during a psychology class.
  • Capitalize department names and majors:
    Examples: She is in the Politics Department. He is a Biology major. 

Compound Adjectives

  • When a compound modifier—two or more words expressing a single concept—precedes a noun, use hyphens to link the words in the compound except any adverbs ending in –ly.
    Examples: A first-quarter touchdown; a know-it-all attitude. A very good year; easily remembered rule.
  • In most cases, compound adjectives are not hyphenated when they appear after a noun. However, if they follow a to be verb, they do retain a hyphen.
    Examples: She works full time; the team scored in the first quarter.
    He was soft-spoken; she is well-known. 



  • She has a BA in Biology.
  • Alumni with SMC bachelor’s degrees are listed with the year of their graduation, with a backward apostrophe. (Lots of people get the apostrophe wrong! What is below is correct.)
    Example: Mary Martin ’06
  • Alumni with SMC graduate degrees are listed with name, comma, and year of graduation. 
    Example: Jose Nobile, MFA ’24
  • Only include years of graduation for SMC alumni. If someone has a master's or PhD from another institution, don't include the year of grduation.
  • If alum also has a graduate degree from SMC as well as an undergraduate degree, add the graduate degree after undergrad degree.
    Example: Mary Martin ’98, MBA ’06.
  • Brothers’ degrees follow the same rules.
    Example: Brother David Caretti, FSC, ’99, EdD


  • African American, Asian American and Pacific Islander, Black, Caucasian, Hispanic, Indigenous, Latino, are capitalized; white is not.
  • African American and other compounds relating to nationality or geography are not hyphenated, as either proper nouns or adjectives, unless between is implied, as in African-American relations. (Though if you are referring to a continent and a country, it would be more accurate to say Africa–U.S. relations.) 


hyphenate when used as a modifier. E.g., She is a first-generation college student.

Freshman, sophomore, junior, senior, first-year

  • Not capitalized. Try to use first-year student instead of freshman.

Junior, Jr.

  • No comma before Jr.: Martin Luther King Jr.


  • Spell out numbers one through ten, use numerals 11 and above. (Except for ages, which are always numerals: their sons John, 6, and Joe, 2.)
  • Use commas in numbers above 999: 1,000, 100,000, etc.
  • Abbreviate longer numbers, e.g. $1.2 million
  • Percentages always are expressed as numerals, i.e. 3 percent or 56 percent

Offices, Departments and Programs

  • Capitalize full, official name: Alumni Relations Office, Center for Women & Gender Equity

  • Capitalize: President’s Office, Alumni Office
  • Capitalize names of specific programs or schools: Collegiate Seminar, Great Books program, Graduate Liberal Studies Program, etc.

Religious Terms

  • The word Mass is capitalized. But mission is lowercased unless it refers to the Office of Mission and Ministry. 

Saint Mary's magazine

  • Lowercase "m" in magazine except for in footer, which uses boldface for Saint Mary's.


  • Do not capitalize spring, summer, fall, and winter.


  • The word sesquicentennial is not capitalized unless it is part of an event, such as the Sesquicentennial Mass. For instance, in "as we celebrate our sesquicentennial," it is not capitalized.


  • Spell out names of U.S. states when they stand alone. Eight states are never abbreviated: Alaska, Hawaii, Idaho, Iowa, Maine, Ohio, Texas, and Utah. For Gael Glimpse purposes, state names are not necessary with well-known cities such as Chicago, Seattle, etc., or with names of non-obscure cities in California. Obscure cities in California should be followed by a county name.
    Example: Mary Jones is an accountant, and lives in Harris, Humboldt County.
  • Use AP style, not postal abbreviations, in abbreviating the other 42 states when they are used with a city name.
    Example: John Smith ’92 lives in Billings, Mont., with his wife, Julie, and their three children.

Telephone Numbers 

  • Use parentheses around area codes. Abbreviate extensions when providing one.
    Example: (925) 631-4800
    Ext. 4896


  • Use periods in a.m. and p.m. Do not use 00, but do use :30, :15, etc, in listings.
    Examples: 8 a.m., 9:30 p.m.


  • Capitalize titles when they precede a name: “Chief Marketing and Communications Officer Christine Hutchins”
  • Do not capitalize them generally when they follow a name or are stated separately: “Christine Hutchins is chief marketing and communications officer at Saint Mary’s.”
  • Capitalize professor only when it directly precedes a name and when it is part of the full title for an endowed professorship.
    Example with capitalized title: The science course was taught by Professor Carla Bossard.
    Example without capitalized title: Carla Bossard is a professor at Saint Mary's.
  • The title Dr. is used only for those who hold an MD; use professor for teachers, including those who hold a PhD. For doctor, use Jane Smith, MD. No Dr. on second reference.


  • Website is one word, web is lower-case. Chicago Manual of Style now prefers web, website, web page, and so forth—with a lowercase w. Capitalize Internet. Do capitalize World Wide Web when using the full term.
  • Do not italicize URLs.
  • URLs should not contain https: or http: or www.
    Correct example: stmarys-ca.edu
    Incorrect example: www.stmarys-ca.edu.


  • Capitalize varietals, e.g., Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, French Colombard.



Punctuation Style Guide

  • Use commas to separate elements in a series (the serial comma).
    Example: The flag is red, white, and blue. He would nominate Tiffany, Alex, or Maria.
  • A comma should be used in a complex series, for instance when a series of phrases and not words are used.
    Example: The 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.
  • A comma should precede a spouse’s name.
    Example: Mary Smith and her husband, John, live in Seattle.
  • Commas should be dropped from names with suffixes.
    Example: James Madison Jr.


  • Use em-dashes (a long dash) to denote abrupt change in sentence or for emphasis. Do not put a space on either side of the em-dash.
    Example: He recalls taking groups on trips—car camping during spring break, rock climbing in the Sierra, and backpacking in the Trinity Alps.
  • Use en-dash between number series, for instance 1982–1984


  • Use an ellipsis…for deleted text. Do not put a space on either side. 


  • Use a backward apostrophe ’ before a shortened year or era: ’99, ’60s. In Word on a Mac use keyboard shortcut: option shift ] and on a PC press CTRL FN apostrophe all simultaneously, then press apostrophe by itself.
    Example 1: She went to college in the 1990s.
    Example 2: She went to college in the ’90s.


Frequently Mentioned People, Places, and Commonly Used Terms (A–Z)


Mahershala Ali ’96



Brother Chris Brady, FSC, ’75

Brother Thomas Jones, FSC, Interim President

Campaign: cap when referring to Defining the Future: The Campaign for Saint Mary’s (after the : is all ital); the Campaign

Center for Women and Gender Equity

Claeys Lounge (note: there is no apostrophe)



coronavirus (lc)


data mining


Defining the Future: The Campaign for Saint Mary's

De La Salle


Enter to Learn. Leave to Serve.




Julie Ford, DMA


health care

the Honorable

Jan Term

Martin Luther King Jr.

Latinx or Latine

Lasallian, Catholic, and liberal arts College

Lasallian Family

LeFevre Theatre



Patron Saint of Teachers (per Lasalle.org)

policy makers

Saint John Baptist de La Salle; De La Salle when standing alone


Women’s and Gender Studies Program (not Department)


Updated February 23, 2024

Office of Marketing & Communications

Office of Marketing & Communications
Email: marcom@stmarys-ca.edu