A to Z Guide
Created by the Office of Communications, this guide provides the College’s preferred standards for official correspondence, reports, and messages to the community. Based on The Associated Press Stylebooknew window, this guide includes some terms and treatments that are unique to Montgomery College. For additional guidance, please refer to Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionarynew window.
Click on the + symbol next to each sets of letters to see the full guide.
Abbreviations and Acronyms
In general, use abbreviations and acronyms only in contexts where they are clear to readers. On first use, spell out a term, as a courtesy to readers who might not easily recognize it, with the abbreviation or acronym immediately following in parentheses, if the reference will be used more than once. Generally, omit periods in acronyms unless the result would spell an unrelated word.
- Workforce Development and Continuing Education (WDCE)
- JFK, FDR, LBJ
- President U. S. Grant (note spacing)
Academic Affairs Division
Capitalize specific titles of Montgomery College courses.
- Right: ACCT 201, Principles of Accounting
- Wrong: an Accounting major, Accounting Program
When using the abbreviation, use capital letters and omit the word “degree.”
- A.A., A.A.S., A.S. or associate’s degree, associate of applied science, associate of science
- B.A., B.S. or bachelor’s degree, bachelor’s
- M.A., M.S. or master of arts, master of science, master’s degree, master’s
- Ed.D., Ph.D. or doctoral degree, doctorate
- M.B.A., M.F.A. or master of business administration, master of fine arts
- Right: Professor Smith has a Ph.D. in history.
- Wrong: He also has a BA degree in history.
- (Plural) masters of arts, bachelors of science, M.A.s and Ph.D.s
- Exception: Periods in degrees are not used in MC website copy.
Academic Regulations and Standards
Section name in College Policies and Procedures, available online.
Use lowercase for an academic subject unless it is the name of a language.
- He took biology and English.
When including an academic degree or credential with a person's name, omit the courtesy title (also called social title) in the same reference
- Either Sanjay Rai, Ph.D. or Dr. Sanjay Rai
- Dr. DeRionne P. Pollard or President Pollard
Exception: President DeRionne P. Pollard, Ph.D. (both, often used in formal correspondence with a signature line).
ACES, Achieving Collegiate Excellence and Success
Achieving the Dream, ATD
Achieving the Promise Academy, ATPA
For campus addresses, no comma is needed between building name and room number and/or the word “room.” (See samples below). Spell out Building, Center, Campus, Route in text; abbreviations are acceptable in lists, tables, and letters. Single-letter compass points accompanying street names are normally followed by a period; two-letter abbreviations are not. Campus maps (available online and in the MC Catalog) show appropriate abbreviations for campus buildings.
Addresses on Campus:
- Macklin Tower 123 (no comma needed, or “room”), MT 123
- Humanities Building 216 or HU 216
- The Commons 211
- N. Campus Drive
- Wrong: Room 123, Macklin Tower or 123 Macklin Tower
abbreviations: Use the abbreviations Ave., Blvd., St. only with a numbered address: 51 Mannakee St. All similar words (e.g., alley, drive,
road, etc.) always are spelled out.
compass points: N., S., E., W.; NE, NW, SE, SW (Note: No periods in quadrant abbreviations.)
Administrative and Fiscal Services Division
Admissions and Enrollment Management (the entire unit)
Admissions and Records Office
Advancement and Community Engagement Division
advisor (formerly, adviser)
Alphabetize names, abbreviations, and acronyms by last name (surname) literally, not according to what they stand for. Alphabetize hyphenated names by the last word (or hyphenated word) in the name.
- CCJS—Criminal Justice; CMSC—Computer Science and Technologies; COMM—Communications
- Communications Studies (COMM); Computer Science and Technologies (CMSC); Criminal Justice (CCJS)
- Allison Bell-Smith Rinehart (alphabetize under R)
- Allison Rinehart Bell-Smith (alphabetize under B)
- Allison Bell Smith (alphabetize under S)
- MacSorley, Ian; McRae, Gordon; Saint Laurent, Yves; St. Denis, Ruth
alumna (singular, female)
alumna (singular, female)
alumni (plural), former students who have attended or graduated from the College
alumnus (singular, male) a person who attended or graduated from MC
Black Box Theatre
Bioscience Education Center, BE
board (only capitalize when used as a proper name, e.g., Montgomery College Board of Trustees; otherwise, "The board will consider the proposal.")
board of directors (in reference to the governing bodies of the Montgomery College Foundation and the Pinkney Innovation Complex for Science and Technology)
board of governors (MC Alumni Association volunteer leadership)
Board of Trustees (BOT) (in reference to Montgomery College volunteer leadership)
For a current board member list, visit our Leadership page.
books and periodicals
Italicize titles of books and periodicals.
- For Whom the Bell Tolls, Newsweek, The Washington Post
Capitalize only when it is part of a proper name..
- Artwalk takes place at the Rockville Campus each spring.
- Students at all three campuses ride the shuttle for free.
Campus buildings, departments, divisions, and offices
On first reference, capitalize the name of the academic building, department, division, or office when it is used as the official name and is followed by the word “building,” “department,” “division,” or “office.” On second reference, without the full title, use lowercase.
- Humanities Building
- Learning Center; the center (on second reference)
- Media Arts and Technologies Department; the department (on second reference)
- Office of Student Life; the office (on second reference)
Career and Technology Education (CTE) Programs of Study
Designator for “credit by examination; CE–G indicates the exam is given at the Germantown Campus; CE–R indicates the exam is given at the Rockville Campus; CE–T indicates the exam is given at the Takoma Park/Silver Spring Campus.
Center for Early Education (CEE)
Center for Teaching and Learning, CTL, the CTL
centuries, decades, years
Spell out in lowercase letters. Decades may be spelled out or expressed in numerals. No apostrophe is needed between the year and the s. Use numerals if decades are identified by their century. Informally, the full number of a particular year is sometimes abbreviated. Note direction of the apostrophe.
- the 19th century; the sixties and seventies
- the ’80s, the 1920s; the class of ’90;
- He was in the class of ’57.
Use lowercase for generic references.
- He received a certificate in technical writing.
chair (not chairman, chairwoman)
Charlene R. Nunley Student Services Center, (ST)
Denotes services provided at the College’s Center for Early Education (not childcare). Also, respite care.
co-chair (not co-chairperson)
Collective nouns and their verbs (e.g., faculty, committee)
When the subject is a collective noun conveying the idea of unity or multitude (e.g., faculty, committee), the verb and pronouns are singular. When the subject is a collective noun conveying the idea of plurality, the verb is plural.
- The committee is meeting on April 1. (unity, singular verb)
- The faculty are attending a conference. (plurality, plural verb)
Capitalize “college” only when referring to Montgomery College. This is an exception to the rule on using lowercase for second and other subsequent references. The term collegewide remains lowercase, one word, in text (no hyphen), except in a headline or title.
- The College opened in September 1946.
- The president will send a collegewide memo.
College-Level Examination Program, CLEP
In text, use a serial comma (Oxford comma) between the last item in a list (three or more items), before “and” or “or.”
- Right: A, B, and C
- Wrong: students, faculty and staff
Communication Arts Technologies
Community Engagement, Office of
Community Engagement Center
When a compound modifier—two or more words that express a single concept—precedes a noun, use hyphens to link all the words
in the compound except the adverb very and all adverbs that end in -ly. In titles, generally, capitalize both parts of the compound in titles or headlines. Do not capitalize articles, prepositions, or coordinating conjunctions (and, but, for, or, nor). In text, when a compound modifier starts a sentence, only the first word in the compound is capitalized.
- Medium-Sized T-shirts
- A Two-Thirds Reduction
- Anti-intellectual Activities (exception because the first element is merely a prefix or combining form that could not stand by itself as a word (anti, pre, etc.)
Compose means to create or put together. Comprise means to contain, to include all (not comprised of). Constitute means form or make up.
- Right: A zoo comprises mammals, reptiles, and birds.
- Right: Montgomery College is composed of students, faculty, and staff at three campuses and satellite locations.
- Right: A collection of professors constitute the faculty.
- Wrong: The committee is comprised of faculty, students, and staff.
Use only in reference to members of the U.S. House of Representatives. Use Representative or Senator followed by a last name (when applicable) as an introduction.
- Congressman Jamie Raskin or Rep. Raskin (D-Md.)
- U.S. Senator Chris Van Hollen Jr. (D); U.S. Senator Ben Cardin (Maryland senators)
- The Honorable Larry Hogan (Maryland governor)
Cooperative Education and Internship Program (Co-Op)
corequisite (per Webster’s 11th)
councilmember, council member
The Montgomery County Council uses the term councilmember (one word, and not councilman or councilwoman). In general, follow the style that the organization uses, and if it is not indicated use council member (two words). In the case of the Montgomery County Council:
- The announcement was made by Councilmember Craig Rice.
- The announcement was made by Craig Rice, council member.
countywide (no hyphen)
Cultural Arts Center, CAC, (CU)
Currency (see numbers)
Use lower case, except in a heading or title.
- Right: The landscape technology program is offered on the Germantown Campus.
- Right: Many nursing courses have prerequisites.
- Wrong: He is a Theatre major.
Avoid use of superscript. For formal invitations, write out the numeric date.
- Right: August 23 or the twenty-third of August
- Wrong: August 23rd, August 23rd
degree (see academic degrees)
Department of Veterans Affairs, VA
Spell out the official department name on first reference. Capitalize both terms when used in combination.
- Right: Biology Department
- Wrong: The Biology professor attended the conference in March.
This refers to General Education distribution requirements noted in the College Catalog. Use lower case.
- behavioral and social sciences distribution
doctoral degree (or PhD), doctorate (see also Abbreviations)
Dual Enrollment (select MCPS students admitted to MC and enrolled in college courses while still attending high school)
Early College Program, (MC-MCPS partnership; students can earn a high school diploma and an associate’s degree concurrently)
E-Learning, Innovation, and Teaching Excellence, ELITE (formerly CPOD)
e.g., exempli gratia (literally, “for example”)
In text, always follow with a comma. (see also, i.e.)
- the professor emerita
- Professor Emeritus Davis, Professors Emeriti Davis and Day, Trustees Emeriti
English as a Second Language, ESL
English Language for Academic Purposes, ELAP
English to Speakers of Other Languages, ESOL
email (no hyphen) but e-book, e-reader, e-newsletter
Enrollment Services, Office of
equivalent semester hours, ESH
Use lowercase, except when used in a heading or title.
Federal Direct Loan Program
Federal Pell Grant
Federal Perkins Loan
Federal Work-Study Program (FWS)
Use less for amounts or mass nouns (e.g., less water). Use fewer for countable things (e.g., fewer students, miles, ideas). Also: use less with singular nouns (e.g., less money) and fewer with plural nouns (e.g., fewer dollars).
- Fewer accidents (a smaller number) were reported than was expected.
- fewer than 60 people
- Less effort (a smaller degree) was put forth by the organizers, and thus fewer people (a smaller number) attended.
- less than five years ago
Fire Science and Emergency Services
First Year Experience (no hyphen), FYE
Spell out amounts less than one in text, using hyphens between the words. Use figures for precise amounts larger than one, converting to decimals whenever practical.
- one-third, three-fifths, six-tenths
Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)
full-time (adj.), full time (adv.)
- a full-time worker, working full time
fundraiser, fundraising (n.)
- We attended the fundraiser for student scholarships.
- Fundraising is an Alumni Association effort.
FY19, FY20 (no spaces)
When abbreviating fiscal years, FY00 is correct in official written publications. FY2020 is acceptable only in informal correspondence.
GED, General Equivalency Diploma
General Education program (official program), general education program/requirement (lowercase, when used as a modifier and not an official program name)
Germantown Innovation Center, GIC
Global Humanities Institute, GHI
Gudelsky Institute for Technical Education, GITE, Homer S. Gudelsky Institute for
Technical Education, GU
GPA, grade point average, grade points
Headlines and Subtitles
Capitalize the first and last words, all nouns, pronouns, adjectives, verbs (including "is"), adverbs, and subordinate conjunctions. Do not capitalize articles (the, a, an), coordinate conjunctions (and, but, for, or, nor), or prepositions (regardless of length)—unless they are the first or last words of the title or subtitle. Use lowercase for the “to” in infinitives.
- Luncheon Honors, Introduces Scholarship Donors and Recipients
- Macklin Business Institute Students Earn Regional Honors in Business Competition
- MC Is Ranked Top Engineering Transfer Institution
health care (not healthcare)
Health Enhancement, Exercise Science, and Physical Education
Health Information Management
Health Sciences Institute
Hillman Entrepreneurs Program, Hillman Program
Hispanic Business and Training Institute
Holy Cross Germantown Hospital
Spell out when used with “the.” Abbreviate to Hon. when it appears without “the.” This alternate form of social address may be used for all government officials except cabinet officers.
ID (no periods)
id est (“that is”). Always follow with a comma. (See also, e.g.)
Innovation Fund (formerly Innovation Works)
Inside MC Online
institute (only capitalize when used as a proper noun, e.g., the Macklin Business Institute)
Institute for Part-Time Faculty Engagement and Support
international students on student visas (also referred to as F-1/M-1)
Learning Communities Faculty Fellowship Program
LGBT, LGBTQ (no periods)
Lifelong Learning Institute
For generic locations that precede a name or stand alone, use lowercase (when the full campus name is not required). For specific locations, generally use capitalization.
- cafeteria, bookstore, library, county, commonwealth of Virginia
M number Montgomery College ID number
- Right: state of Maryland
- Wrong: State of Maryland
Macklin Business Institute, MBI, Gordon and Marilyn Macklin Business Institute Honors Program
MATLAB (all caps, not MatLab or Matlab)
MC Campus Store
MC Library, Montgomery College Library, the library, the ________ Campus library (e.g., Germantown Campus library, Rockville Campus library, Takoma Park/Silver Spring Campus library)
MCTV, Montgomery College Television
MDJUCO Athletic Conference, Maryland Junior College Athletic Conference
Media Arts and Technologies
Media Arts Gallery
Middle College Program, MC2
An MC-MCPS partnership where MCPS students can transition into MC coursework at their high school and end their senior year fully on an MC campus.
Montgomery College, the College
Morris and Gwendolyn Cafritz Foundation Arts Center, The, (CF)
multicultural (no hyphen)
MyMC (no space)
noncredit (no hyphen)
Numbers (currency, fractions, phone numbers)
In text, spell out numbers one through nine; use numerals for 10 and above. But, spell out a number at the beginning of a sentence, or recast the sentence. Letters used in ordinal numbers should not appear in superscript. Hyphenate all fractions. Use hyphens (not parentheses) in phone numbers. Ages are always numbers.
- Two students completed the exam early.
- 80 percent, 80 percent increase (no hyphen)
- one million; about 50 thousand; exactly 50,218
- 18-year-olds; a 6-year-old girl (age)
- 35mm camera, 16mm film
- 123rd (not 123rd) (ordinal numbers)
- 50th anniversary or fiftieth anniversary
- $5 (not $5.00); $1 million
Office of Enrollment Services (formerly Office of Admissions and Records)
Office of Public Safety and Emergency Management
Open Educational Resources (OERs)
off-site (compound modifier), on-site (compound modifier)
part-time (adj.), part time (adv.)
- part-time student
- She attends college part time.
Include a political figure’s party affiliation if the person’s actions could reasonably be seen as having an effect on policy or debate, or if readers need it for understanding. But reference to party affiliation is not necessary when a story has no link to politics.
Paul Peck Academic and Innovation Building, (PK)
Paul Peck Humanities Institute
Phi Theta Kappa International Honor Society
Use hyphens throughout (not parentheses or periods).
Pinkney Innovation Complex for Science and Technology at Montgomery College (PIC MC) (not PIC-MC)
Plays (see Quotes, Italics, or Nothing?)
Capital letters used as words, abbreviations that contain no interior periods, and numerals used as nouns form the plural by adding s. An apostrophe is never used to form the plural of a family name.
- masters of arts, bachelors of science
- M.A.s and Ph.D.s, URLs (abbreviation with no interior periods)
- Afghans and Pakistanis
- the Joneses
- threes and fours (no apostrophe needed)
- thank-yous, dos and don’ts
- ifs and buts, maybes, the three Rs
- the 1900s (numeral used as a noun)
Poems (see also, Quotes, Italics, or Nothing?)
Enclose poem titles (short, not epic) in quotation marks, roman type. For long poetic works, use italics.
- “Casey at the Bat” (short, roman)
- Paradise Lost (long, italics)
Policies and Procedures
The College's official policies are available online. P&P is acceptable in informal written correspondence.
Add an apostrophe and an s to most singular nouns to form the possessive, and only an apostrophe for plural nouns (except for a few irregular plurals that do not end in s).
- The Rockville Campus’s buildings (singular proper noun ending in s)
- the campus’s parking garages (common singular noun ending in s)
- The Williamses’ new house
- FDR’s legacy, 2010’s heaviest snowstorm
- the United States’ mission
Do not hyphenate prefixes, generally, but hyphenate when the adjacent letters are duplicated, or the prefix stands alone, and when necessary to avoid confusion with other words. When in doubt, it is never wrong to keep a hyphen to avoid misleading or puzzling forms (e.g., re-cover versus recover, un-ionized versus unionized).
Note: When the second element consists of more than one word, use an en dash, not a hyphen:
- pre–World War I
preregistration (no hyphen)
prerequisite (no hyphen)
president of the College, College president
In text, use lowercase president when the phrase follows the president’s name—but capitalize when title directly precedes the name.
- Dr. DeRionne P. Pollard, president, introduced the keynote speaker.
- Montgomery College President DeRionne P. Pollard spoke at the conference.
Raptor (mascot), Montgomery C. Raptor, Monty
Raptors (athletic teams)
Records and Registration Office
Renaissance Scholars Honors Program
readmission (no hyphen)
No hyphen; this is an exception to the guidance for other prefixes.
Ride On Bus
Robert E. Parilla Performing Arts Center (PA)
No periods. Omit “please.” Please is inherent in the literal translation.
Scholars Circle, The
School of Art and Design
Occasionally, School of Art + Design (SA + D), when name is used as a logo.
The four seasons are lowercased.
Smithsonian Institution (not Institute)
South Campus Instruction Building
start-up (noun and adjective)
A fledgling business enterprise.
Capitalize state names, but lowercase state if it precedes the proper noun. In running text, AP style prefers state names always be spelled out when standing alone. In lists and mailing addresses, state abbreviations are preferred.
(postal code abbreviations in parentheses)
W. Va. (WV)
Eight states that are not abbreviated in text: Alaska (AK), Hawaii (HI), Idaho (ID), Iowa (IA), Maine (ME), Ohio (OH), Texas (TX), Utah (UT)
Use the two-letter U.S. Postal Service abbreviations only with full addresses, including the ZIP code.
Place one comma between the city and the state name, and another coma after the state name, unless ending a sentence.
- He was traveling from Johnson City, Tennessee, to Katy, Texas, en route to his home in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
statewide (no hyphen)
Student Affairs Division
Student Code of Conduct, the code
Student Insider’s Guide
student with learning disabilities (not learning disabled student)
Study Abroad and International Education Program, STBR
summer session (not summer term)
Do not use superscripts for letters in ordinal numbers (e.g., 122nd not 122nd).
Takoma Park/Silver Spring Campus
that (restrictive, use without commas) (versus, which)
- Snow that falls in the early spring is rare. (see also, which)
Use this spelling unless the proper name is Theatre (e.g., Black Box Theatre).
In cases of gender-neutral pronoun use, the College follows AP Style, excerpted here.
AP: “In most cases, a plural noun should agree in number with the antecedent: The children love the books their uncle gave them. They/them/there is acceptable in limited cases as a singular and/or gender-neutral pronoun, when alternative wording is overly awkward or clumsy. However, rewording usually is possible and always preferable. Clarity is a top priority; gender-neutral use of a singular they is unfamiliar to many readers. We do not use other gender-neutral pronouns such as xe or ze. … In stories about people who identify as neither male nor female or ask not to be referred to as he/she/him/her: use the person’s name in place of a pronoun, or otherwise reword the sentence, whenever possible. If they/them/their use is essential, explain in the text that the person prefers a gender-neutral pronoun. Be sure that the phrasing does not imply more than one person. … When they is used in the singular, it takes a plural verb: Taylor said they need a new car. Do not use themself.
a.m. and p.m. (with periods) with one space between the numeral and the abbreviation. Use an en-dash for time ranges (not a dash); in text, use “from” and “to,” instead of dashes.
- 2 p.m.
- 3–5 p.m.
- 9 a.m.–noon (not 12 p.m. or 12 noon)
- 9:30 a.m.–4:30 p.m.
- Office hours are 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday through Friday.
Capitalize a person’s professional title when it precedes the name; use lowercase when it follows the name, regardless of rank or executive level.
- Montgomery College President DeRionne P. Pollard will be the keynote speaker.
- President and CEO John Smith will attend the conference.
- DeRionne P. Pollard, president, will visit the campus on Tuesday.
Exception: In promotional or other formal contexts (e.g., a displayed list of donors
in an annual report or honored guests at commencement), titles can be capitalized
when following a personal name.
Preferable in American English, not towards, the British English preference. The simpler form (without s) is also preferred for other direction terms: upward, downward, forward, backward, and afterward.
transfer, transferred, transferring, but transferable
TV channels and broadcast networks
Set broadcast networks and TV channels in roman type.
- the Discovery Channel
- MCTV Channel 10
United States, U.S.
When used as a noun, spell out; when using as an adjective, abbreviate U.S.
University of Maryland (excerpted from the UM Branding Guidelinesnew window)
The full, formal name is University of Maryland, College Park (note the comma). In most cases, use simply the University of Maryland. On subsequent references, use Maryland, UMD, or the university, or Terrapins or Terps in athletic references. Prohibited: U-MD, UM, and U of M.
University of Maryland, Baltimore (UMB) (from the UMB Print Style Guidenew window)
Proper first reference for the university followed by (UMB) if UMB is used in second reference. School names are preceded by University of Maryland without Baltimore: University of Maryland School of Medicine.
University of Maryland, Baltimore County, UMBC
University of Maryland Global Campus, UMGC
Universities at Shady Grove, The, USG
“The” is now part of the official name. Use the capital “T” when The Universities at Shady Grove is in a headline or the start of a sentence. Use lowercase “t” when the name appears within a body of text.
University System of Maryland (first reference)
On subsequent references, either University System, USM, or the System.
(Note: “The” is not part of the official name.) See also the UM Editorial Style Guidenew window.
veterans affairs See Combat2College.
veterans benefits (no apostrophe)
vice president and provost (see also, president)
visa (passport endorsement), VISA (credit card trademark)
Visual, Performing, and Media Arts
For additional examples of state abbreviations, see state names.
web address (two words)
The http://, https://, and www. are no longer used.
web, webpage, website (one word, lowercase)
websites, URLs, and email addresses (formatting)
Set websites in roman. With Internet addresses (URLs), no space follows the period (also known as a dot). If it is necessary to break a URL or an email address at the end of a printed line, the period should appear on the new line, never at the end of the line above. No hyphen should be added to denote a line break. The break should be made between elements, after a colon, a slash (/), or the symbol @ but before a period or any other punctuation or symbols. To avoid confusion, a URL that contains a hyphen should never be broken at the hyphen.
Who is the pronoun used for reference to human beings and to an animal with a name. Write the person who is in charge, not the person that is in charge. Who is grammatically the subject (never the object) of a sentence, clause, or phrase: The students who attend the lecture must sign in to receive extra credit. Whom is used when someone is the object of a verb or preposition: The professor to whom the students were handing their essays nodded as they filed past.
(nonrestrictive) Use which with commas.
- Snow, which normally falls in the winter, is pretty at first. (see also, that)
Women’s and Gender Studies Program, WGSP
Workforce Development and Continuing Education, WDCE
Writing, Reading, and Language Center, WRL Center
Creative Services9221 Corporate Boulevard, Rockville, MD 20850