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Editorial Guide

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The Hunter College Editorial Style Guide is designed to support Hunter College employees and contributors who create and maintain content for the website.

This guide aims to:

  • ensure correctness and consistency in punctuation, spelling and grammar
  • establish standards for clear and consistent writing
  • send a professional message to users/readers
  • ensure a unified brand and web presence

While this guide was created to address the most common questions and copy issues, please refer to the latest edition of the Associated Press Style Book (fees apply) and/or Webster's Collegiate Dictionary for further guidance on more specific issues.

Please note that these guidelines are specific to Hunter College and may vary from other recommended writing styles. Additionally, these guidelines are intended for use with news, marketing and promotional materials only; they should not be referred to when writing academic or scholarly essays.

If you cannot find what you are looking for or if you have any additional questions, comments or suggestions for this guide, please contact the Hunter College Communications Office at


Acronyms and Abbreviations

  • Avoid using abbreviations unless they are universally recognized (e.g., AIDS, GPA, NASA, IBM, SSN, RSVP, ASAP, CEO, SAT).
  • If an abbreviation is not universally recognized, spell out the organization’s name on first use, followed by the abbreviation in parentheses if you intend to use the abbreviation later in the document.

Academic Degrees

  • Abbreviations for degrees should be written without periods and spaces between letters.
  • Degrees offered at Hunter: BA, BFA, BA/MA, BMus, BS, DPT, MA, MFA, MPT, MS, MSEd, MSW, PhD
  • Use an apostrophe in "bachelor's degree" and "master's degree" when spelled out.

Academic Years and Semesters

  • Graduated classes should be referred to as, for example, the “Class of 2002,” where “Class” is capitalized and the year is not abbreviated. Abbreviations like '02 are acceptable where space is limited (such as in article titles and photo captions).
  • Semesters should be referred to as, for example, “fall 2009” or “spring 2010”; the season should not be capitalized and the year should not be abbreviated.

Administrative and Academic Titles

  • See Names for this information.

Dates and Times

Tables and Charts


  • Spell out a state’s name when it is used without the name of a town, county, or other official area. When the name of a state is used with the name of a town, use the standard abbreviation for the state’s name, not the two-character postal code. Do not abbreviate state names if the name is less than six characters long (e.g., Texas or Ohio).
  • “United States” is spelled out when used as a noun, but abbreviated to U.S. when used as an adjective. (Note that U.S. is one of the only abbreviations to use periods after each letter.) The names of other countries should be spelled out on first reference and may be abbreviated thereafter if a standard abbreviation for the country exists (such as “UK” for “United Kingdom”).

Latin Abbreviations

  • i.e. is short for id est and means “that is” or “in other words.”
  • e.g. is short for exempli gratia and means “for example.”
  • etc. is short for et cetera and should be used at the end of a list of items when two or more items have been omitted.
  • et al. is short for et alii and should be used at the end of a list of names when two or more people have been omitted.

Other Abbreviations

  • An ampersand (&) should not be used to replace “and” unless it is part of an official title, place or organization name. On the website, some departments (School of Arts & Sciences) may use an ampersand in the page header, but in the body copy, the "&" will be spelled out as "and" (School of Arts and Sciences).
  • Avoid abbreviating common words such as information (info), page (pg), prerequisite (prereq), number (no) and professor (prof) in running text. Only abbreviate words if they are used in a format with minimal space, such as in a chart or table.




  • The words “alumnus” or “alumna” can refer to anyone who attended Hunter College for at least one semester. A “graduate” is someone who earned a degree from Hunter.
    • Alumni: male, plural or mixed male and female, plural
    • Alumnus: male, singular
    • Alumna: female, singular
    • Alumnae: female, plural
  • Avoid use of the abbreviation “alum” when possible. Never say “an alumni.”
  • When referring to an alumnus or alumna within a body of text, use the format “John Doe (BA ’02)” where BA is the degree earned and ’02 is the graduation year. The person’s major, minor and school should not be included in the parentheses, but can be included following the closing parenthesis if desired.
    • Correct: John Doe (BA ’02)
    • Correct: John Doe (BA ’02), who majored in sociology,…
    • Correct: John Doe (BA ’02, MA ’04) - if both degrees were obtained from Hunter
    • Incorrect: John Doe (BA, ’02)
    • Incorrect: John Doe (BA ’02, Computer Science)




Administrative and Academic Titles

    • See Names for this information

Associations and Government

  • When referring to an organization with the word “Association” in its title, spell out the name of the organization on first reference, and then use “the Association” or the organization’s acronym on second reference, following identification of the acronym parenthetically after the first mention.
  • Congress, the House of Representatives (the House), and the Senate are always capitalized.

Course Names

  • Official names of courses should be capitalized (e.g., Anatomy and Physiology), but never italicized or put in quotation marks.
  • Informal descriptions of courses or academic fields should be lowercase (e.g., “a course in anatomy and physiology” or “She teaches music.”).
  • When referring to a course by number, use this format: Departmental Acronym [space] Course Number.Section (e.g., CSCI 135.01, MATH 150.51).


  • When referring to compass directions, north, south, east and west are usually lowercase.
  • The words referring to a specific region or place name can be capitalized (e.g., Upper West Side).

Headlines and Periodicals

  • Use initial capitals for all major words in a title except articles (a, the) and prepositions (for, in, up, by, etc.), unless an article or preposition appears at the beginning or end of the title. If the title is from another source and uses a different style, that style may be used instead.
  • Titles of all major works, including books, epic poems, plays, court cases, periodicals, newspapers, long musical compositions, albums, operas, in-house publications, paintings and other works of art should be italicized.
    • Tip: Words that are underlined in print should be italicized on the web. Underlining on the web is typically reserved for hyperlinks and should not be used for static text.
  • Titles of all minor works, including shorter poems, quotations, lectures, symposia, conferences, colloquia, presentations and songs should be set in quotation marks.
  • Use this online headline capitalization tool when writing titles for the website to help clarify AP Style title case rules:

Other Capitalization Rules

  • Avoid writing in all capitals on the web, especially in headings and page titles.
  • All references to academic degrees should be lowercase (e.g., bachelor of arts, bachelor’s degree, master’s degree, doctorate, doctoral) unless an abbreviation is used (see Academic Degrees in Acronyms and Abbreviations).
  • Capitalize the names of historical, artistic, literary and geological periods (e.g., the Middle Ages, Classical, Baroque, Proterozoic).
  • Never capitalize "freshman," "sophomore," "junior" or "senior," unless used in a title.
  • Never capitalize "faculty," "staff," "major" or "minor," unless used in a title.
  • Don't capitalize fields of study (e.g. Dr. Smith has a bachelor's degree in communications and a master's degree in engineering).
  • Capitalize the title of a web page or form if the full title is used. Otherwise, the partial title should be written in lowercase.
    • Correct: More information can be found on the Student Activities page.
    • Correct: More information can be found on the activities page.
    • Correct: Fill out and return the Degree Audit Application Form to OASIS.
  • Capitalize the official name of a department, but lowercase a general reference to the department. Do not capitalize the words department, committee, program or office when not part of the official name.
    • Correct: the Department of Economics
    • Correct: Her advisor worked in the economics department.
    • Correct: The Doctorate of Physical Therapy Program…
    • Incorrect: If you are interested in the Program, …
  • Commencement and Convocation are always capitalized when referring to a specific event/ceremony at Hunter, but not when referring to generic events, e.g., “Hunter will hold its 2009 Commencement on June 27; most colleges hold commencement ceremonies in the spring.”
  • For special titles, like Distinguished Professor, use initial caps.
  • Only capitalize the word “the” in a name or title when the name or title officially includes the word “the”; otherwise, “the” is lowercase.
    • Correct: the School of Arts and Sciences
    • Correct: The New York Times
  • “New York City” and “New York State” are correct, but general references to “the city” or “the state” should be lowercase. Proper names of states and countries are always capitalized.
  • Use this online headline capitalization tool when writing titles for the website to help clarify AP Style title case rules:




  • On first reference, refer to a person by his or her full name (John Doe). On subsequent references, you may use only the last name (Doe).
  • A person who prefers to use a middle name may be listed with his or her first initial followed by the full middle name (e.g., R. John Doe). When listing two initials, include a space between the initials (e.g., R. J. Doe).
  • Middle initials should be used in names when provided and/or when the individual prefers it that way (e.g., John J. Doe).
  • If the person prefers a nickname, it may be included in quotation marks between the first and last names (e.g., William “Bill” Doe). In less formal documents, the nickname may be used without the full first name.
  • Do not set off Jr., Sr., II or III with commas (John Doe Jr., not John Doe, Jr.).
  • Name spellings are important. If in doubt, call the office, department or person directly to verify the spelling of a name before publishing it.

Administrative and Academic Titles - Abbreviations

  • The titles Mr., Ms., Mrs. and Miss should only be used in direct quotes, letters and donor lists. Do not use these titles in running text or faculty/staff listings.
  • Do not abbreviate Reverend to “Rev” or Professor to "Prof."
  • When names and academic titles appear in article titles and headlines, AP title case rules apply, which require that all major words in the title, except articles and prepositions, unless an article or preposition appears at the beginning or end of the title, use initial caps.

Administrative and Academic Titles - Capitalization

Generally, capitalize titles when they appear before a person’s name, but lowercase titles if they are informal, appear without a person’s name, follow a person’s name, or are set off before a name by commas.

Note that “Professor of Anthropology” or “Professor of Any Subject” is not a title; only “Professor” is the title, unless the professor holds a named professorship, e.g., the Albert Einstein Professor of Physics. Still, such titles are awkward when placed before a name and should usually be placed after the name.

  • Correct: President Jennifer J. Raab
  • Correct: Jennifer J. Raab, president of Hunter College, ...
  • Correct: The president of Hunter College…
  • Correct: Professor John Doe, of the Department of Anthropology…
  • Incorrect: Professor of Anthropology, John Doe, …
  • Correct: Professor John Doe and President Raab attended the event...
  • Correct: John Doe, professor of anthropology, attended the event with Jennifer Raab, president of Hunter College, ...
  • Correct: Dean Andrew Polsky
  • Correct: Andrew Polsky, dean of the School of Arts and Sciences, ...
  • Correct: Eija Ayravainen, vice president for Student Affairs, ...

When Referring to Hunter College

When referring to Hunter College, use “Hunter College” on first reference, then “the college” or “Hunter” on subsequent references. For internal communications intended only for those already familiar with the college, you may use “Hunter” on first reference. Never refer to Hunter College as HC. When referring to a college in the general sense, “college” is lowercase. Never use the word “university” when referring to Hunter College.

  • Hunter Schools: When referring to the School of Arts and Sciences, School of Education, School of Health Professions, School of Urban Public Health, School of Nursing, or the Lois V. and Samuel J. Silberman School of Social Work, the full name of the school should be written out on first reference. On subsequent references, you may use “the School(s),” with “School(s)” capitalized. When referring to a school in the general sense, “school” is lowercase.
  • City University of New York: When referring to the City University of New York, use “the City University of New York” on first reference, then “CUNY” or “the university” in subsequent mentions. For internal communications intended only for those already familiar with the University, you may use “CUNY” on first reference. When referring to a university in the general sense, “university” is lowercase.
  • Departments: As a general rule within Hunter, the word “department” should only be used to refer to academic departments, not administrative units. Similarly, the word “office” should only be used to refer to administrative offices, not academic units. Always use the official names of Hunter's departments and programs.




  • Spell out cardinal and ordinal numbers zero through nine, except for dates, times, percentages, prices, ages, years, addresses, temperatures, scores, pages, rooms, chapters or GPAs, credits or when the number is included in a table where space is minimal.
    • Correct: One, four, six, nine, first, third, eighth
    • Incorrect: 1, 4, 6, 9, 1st, 3rd, 8th
  • Cardinal and ordinal numbers greater than nine should be written as numerals.
    • Correct: 10, 57, 295, 11th, 55th, 61st
    • Incorrect: ten, fifty-seven, two hundred ninety-five, eleventh, fifty-fifth, sixty-first
  • Include commas in figures greater than 1,000.
  • Generalized numbers (such as a million, a billion, several thousand) should be spelled out, unless space is limited, as in article titles and photo captions.
  • Very large numbers should be written using a combination of numerals and denomination (e.g., 1.5 million, 2.8 billion). When space is limited, use the abbreviation $1.5M.
  • Percentages should be written using the percent symbol (%), as in 4%, 100%.
  • Telephone numbers should be written with the area code included and not in parentheses.
    • Correct: 212-772-4000
    • Incorrect: (212) 772-4000
  • Monetary values should be written as $100 or $59.95. Do not include the decimal point and two zeros if the amount is on the dollar.
  • Write out fractions in text. When the number is greater than one, or when numerals are required, use the decimal equivalent.
    • Correct: two-thirds, three-fourths, 1.75
    • Incorrect: one and three-fourths, 1½
  • When referring to temperature, use the degree symbol (°) if possible. Otherwise, spell out the word “degrees.” Both are acceptable. In tables or charts, the degree symbol (°) is preferred because of the minimal space. Differentiate between Fahrenheit and Celsius only when it is not obvious which temperature scale is being used.
  • Use numerals whenever referring to a measurement. But to avoid confusion, use a combination of numerals and text when referring to multiple measured items.
    • Correct: John is 6 feet 2 inches tall.
    • Correct: John is a 6-foot-2-inch student. (Hyphenate adjectival forms before nouns.)
    • Correct: John weighs 230 pounds.
    • Correct: She bought two 1-inch binders.
    • Incorrect: John is six-feet, two-inches tall and weighs two hundred thirty pounds.
    • Incorrect: She bought 2 1-inch binders.


Dates and Times

These rules apply to all sections of the website, except tables and charts. For information on how to write dates and times on pages where space is tight, visit Tables and Charts.


  • When possible, write out the names of the days of the week. When abbreviation is necessary, use the following: Mon., Tue., Wed., Thu., Fri., Sat. and Sun.
  • Spell out the name of the month when it is used with a date, alone or with a year.
  • Avoid using numerals such as 08/06/19 to indicate dates, as this may be confusing to some, especially international students. (See more guidelines about Dates below.)
  • Times should be written with a space between the number and the am/pm designation. Do not include periods when writing am and pm. And do not include :00 for times that are on the hours. 
    • Correct: 11:40 am - 2:48 pm
    • Correct: 10 am - 1 pm
    • Correct: 1 - 3 pm 
  • On first reference, specific dates should be preceded by the day of the week in running text.
  • When referring to a specific date, use cardinal rather than ordinal numbers. On subsequent references to the same date, ordinal numbers are acceptable.
    • Correct: Monday, March 5, 2009
    • Incorrect: March 5th, 2009
    • Correct (2nd use): On the 5th, …
  • Commas should be used before and after the year designation, unless referring to only the month and year.
    • Correct: March 5, 2009
    • Correct: March 2009,
    • Incorrect: March, 2009,
  • Decades should be expressed in numerals and should include the numerals indicating the century, except when referring to a person’s age or a specific age group.
    • Correct: 1960s, 1990s
    • Incorrect: 1960’s, the ‘60s
    • Correct: Like other seniors in their seventies, she was…
    • Incorrect: She was in her 70s.
  • Spell out the first through the ninth centuries, all lowercase. Use numerals for later centuries.
    • Correct: the fifth century, the 21st century


  • Times should be written with a space between the number and the am/pm designation. Do not include periods when writing am and pm.
    • Correct: 3:35 pm, 8:52 am, 10:15 am
  • For times on the hour, drop the :00.
    • Correct: 2 am
    • Incorrect: 2:00 am
  • 12 am should be referred to as 12 midnight and 12 pm should be referred to as 12 noon to avoid confusion; however, when referring to times not on the hour, you may use “12:30 pm” or “12:30 in the afternoon” to avoid confusion.
  • When discussing a span of time, use a hyphen, “from” and “to,” or “between” and “and.” Do not mix time-span styles.
    • Correct: October 15-17
    • Correct: from 2001 to 2003
    • Correct: between 12 noon and 2 pm
    • Incorrect: between 12 noon to 2 pm
    • Incorrect: from 2002-2003
  • Note that the date comes before the time when discussing an event.
    • Correct: The event will be held on March 5, 2009, from 10:30 am to 3:45 pm.
  • When indicating a range of time using a hyphen, include a space before and after the hyphen (e.g. 10:20 am - 11 pm).  See more guidelines about hyphen usage in Punctuation and Spelling.
  • If a range of time is entirely in the morning or evening, use am or pm only once (e.g. 6 - 10 pm). If it goes from the morning into the evening, or vice versa, include both (e.g. 10 am - 2:30 pm).



Tables and Charts

In tables and charts where space is tight:

  • Days of the week: Use the following abbreviations for days of the week: M, Tu, W, Th, F, Sa and Su.
  • Months: Use the following abbreviations: Jan, Feb, Mar, Apr, May, Jun, Jul, Aug, Sep, Oct, Nov and Dec.
  • Multiple Days: To indicate multiple days in a table or chart, separate the days with a forward slash: M/W/F or Tu/Th. To indicate a range of days, use a hyphen (e.g. M-F).
  • Dates: Use numerical dates such as 5/25/20 and 11/18/20.  For a range a dates, use a hyphen (.e.g. 5/25/20-7/18/20)
  • Times: When posting times in charts, use am/pm with no spaces or periods, and don’t include :00 for times that are on the hour.
    • Correct: 11:40am-2:48pm
    • Correct: 10am-1pm
    • Correct: 1-3pm



Punctuation and Spacing

Bulleted Lists

When one item contains a complete sentence, punctuate all bulleted items as though they were complete sentences. Capitalize the beginning words and use a period at the end of each item.

Spacing After Periods

Sentences should be followed by only one space, not two, as was once the accepted style.


In text that includes a list, do not place commas before the words “and” or “or” unless omitting a comma would lead to confusion.

    • Correct: Apples, bananas, grapes and oranges
    • Correct: Biology, chemistry, and anatomy and physiology


Capitalize the first word after a colon only if it is a proper noun or the start of a complete sentence.


Use a dash (or em-dash) to separate words into parenthetical statements or set off a series within a phrase. There are different ways to insert a dash. For example, in Word, hold down the Alt Key and type in 1051 on the numeric keyboard. When using text editors that don't support dashes, use two hyphens for each dash. Do not put a space on either side of an em dash.

    • Correct: John Doe offered a plan—it was unprecedented—to raise revenues.
    • Incorrect: John Doe offered a plan - it was unprecedented - to raise revenues.


Use a semicolon to separate items in a list only if the elements in the list contain internal punctuation, such as one or more commas.

    • Correct: He has a son, John; a daughter, Jane; and a dog, Spot.


Use hyphens to join two words or parts of words together, or show a time range.

    • Most prefixes (such as co, post, re, pre, semi, anti, sub and non) do not take a hyphen, unless required for clarification.
    • Do not use a hyphen after “vice” (as in vice president).
    • When a hyphen is used to show a time range, include a space before and after the hyphen (e.g. 9:30 am – 10 pm). 
    • Use a hyphen for compound adjectives before the noun: well-known actor, full-time job, 20-year career.
    • Do not use a hyphen when the compound modifier occurs after the verb: The actor was well known. Her job became full time. His career spanned 20 years.
    • Do not use a hyphen to denote an abrupt change in a sentence—use an em dash.


Avoid the informal use of slashes to indicate alternatives (he/she, and/or).


    • Use apostrophes when referring to alumni and grades. Do not use an apostrophe when referring to a graduation class or decade.
      • Correct: John Doe (BA ’02), A’s and B’s, Class of 2002, the 1990s
      • Incorrect:   Class of ’02, the 90’s
    • For additional information on using commas, hyphens, apostrophes, em dashes, en dashes, ellipses, colons and semicolons, consult the latest edition of the Associated Press Stylebook (fees apply).


Confusing and Difficult Words

  • A lot: Two words, not one.
  • A’s and B’s: When referring to grades, use apostrophes.
  • Advisor and adviser are both correct, but since most college and university publications spell the word with an “o,” Hunter publications should do the same for consistency.
  • Audiovisual: One word, no hyphen or spaces.
  • bachelor's degree, master’s degree: Should always be lowercase, unless used in a title. Note the apostrophe before the s.
  • Campus-wide: Hyphenated, not two separate words.
  • For words beginning with co- (e.g., co-chair, co-editor, co-sponsor), consult Webster's Collegiate Dictionary.
  • cum laude, magna cum laude, summa cum laude: Do not capitalize, unless used in a title.
  • Dean’s List, President's List: Both words are capitalized.
  • Emerita: Female, singular.
  • Emeritus: Male, singular.
  • Emeriti: Plural.
  • Faculty: Faculty is a plural noun and takes a plural verb. To avoid confusion, you may use “faculty members” instead.
  • Full-time, part-time: Hyphenated, not two separate words.
  • Grade-point average (or GPA): The first two words are hyphenated. “Average” is separate.
  • Health care: Two words when used as a noun.
  • Healthcare: One word when used as an adjective.
  • Nonprofit: One word, no hyphen.
  • Off-campus, on-campus: Hyphenated when used as an adjective.
  • Off campus, on campus: Two separate words when used as an adverb.
  • OK or okay: Not O.K. or o.k.
  • On vs. at: When referring to a campus location, be sure to use the correct preposition.
    • Correct: The event will take place on the Brookdale campus.
    • Correct: The event will take place at Brookdale.
    • Correct: Her office is located on the 68th Street campus.
  • Pre-med, pre-law: Hyphenated.
  • Rhodes Scholar, Guggenheim Fellow, Muse Scholar: When referring to a distinguished academic scholar, both words are capitalized.
  • RSVP: Do not precede with the word “please,” since RSVP is the abbreviation of a French sentence meaning “please respond”; thus, an additional “please” would be redundant.
  • That vs. which: “That” should be used with essential clauses and is not preceded by a comma. “Which” should be used with nonessential clauses and is preceded by a comma.
  • Theatre vs. Theater: Since the Department of Theatre is Hunter's official name, all references to the art form should be spelled “theatre” for consistency’s sake. “Theater” should only be used when referring to an institution, publication or other entity that spells the word “theater.”

Sources and Citations

  • When citing sources or listing publications in a document, use a consistent format.
  • Publications under an individual’s faculty or staff listing do not need to include the person’s name, as this is understood.
  • When directly quoting another source, do not edit the text according to this style guide.



Technical Terminology

Correct capitalization, spelling, hyphenation and spacing of common technical terms:

    • download
    • e-book
    • e-reader
    • cellphone
    • WordPress
    • cyberspace
    • email
    • hyperlink
    • internet
    • login
    • logon
    • podcast
    • shareware
    • web page
    • database
    • Facebook
    • Google, Googling, Googled
    • hashtag
    • hypertext
    • iPhone, iPad, iPod
    • LinkedIn
    • social media
    • online
    • Twitter, tweet, tweeted, retweet
    • smartphone
    • website
    • webmaster
    • YouTube


Hunter Terminology

Technical Terms

  • AMC (Account Management Centers)
  • Blackboard (one word, only first B capitalized, abbreviated Bb)
  • CUNY+ (CUNY library database)
  • CUNY Portal (accessible via
  • CUNY Portal ID (not the same as the Hunter NetID)
  • DIG (Degree Information for Graduation)
  • ePermit
  • eSIMS
  • Help Desk (or Faculty/Staff Help Desk)
  • Hunter-L (Hunter’s general listserv)
  • Hunternet (campus-wide wireless network)
  • ICIT (Instructional Computing and Information Technology)
  • NetID (Network ID)
  • OneCard (one word, O and C capitalized)
  • PACs (Public Access Computers)
  • PCS Labs (Public Computing Services Labs)
  • SNet (Student Network)
  • Student Help Desk (always referred to as “Student Help Desk”)
  • TRC (Technology Resource Center)
  • WebCMS (Hunter’s Content Management System)
  • CUNYfirst (no space)

Non-technical Terms

  • CPE (CUNY Proficiency Exam)
  • FDR (Faculty Dining Room)
  • GER (General Education Requirements)
  • GSA (Graduate Student Association)
  • USG (Undergraduate Student Government)
  • Hunter Hawk (official mascot)

When Referring to Hunter College

  • See Names for this information.



Writing for the Web

For guidelines on how to write links, email addresses, photo captions, phone numbers and more, visit Editorial Tips and Best Practices.