Print  Style Guidelines

The Chicago Manual of Style, the Associated Press Stylebook and Webster’s New World Collegiate Dictionary are the basis for style decisions in DVC publications both in print and on the web. Consistency in all college products is important.

All publications, plans, reports, web pages, etc. should include a date, preferably by month, day, and year, July 1, 2017, or month and year, July 2017. In some cases, term references, fall 2017, are appropriate.

What's in this guide:

Terminology consistency

When referring to the process of completing an application and “getting” classes, use the following in our communications, specifically in reference to the words register and enroll.

Apply, register and enroll 

  • Apply to college: this relates to the act of completing the application for admission to college, and submitting it to one of the colleges via hard copy or online.” (While in the past the term “register” was also associated with completing the application, to avoid confusion it will no longer be acceptable to use it in this way.)
  • Register or enroll in classes: the process of signing up for classes.

Example: After you have applied for admission and met with a counselor, it is time to register for classes.

Classes vs. courses

  • A class is a physical construct, with a teacher, students and a schedule.
  • A course refers to the curriculum as described in the catalog that meets the requirements necessary to prepare students for the next step.

Terms vs. semesters

  • Terms is preferred over semesters
  • Fall, spring and summer are NOT capitalized (except at the beginning of a sentence.)
    • fall term
    • spring term
    • full-term
    • term-length
    • short-term

Cancelled vs. canceled

  • Canceled is preferred over cancelled. American English favors using one "l": canceled, while cancelled (two "l"s) is preferred in British English.
  • There is only one correct spelling of the word cancellation (two "l"s).


Use periods for most one-or-two-letter abbreviations. Note there are some exceptions:

  • DVC (no periods, no spaces) ESL (no periods, no spaces) DSS (no periods, no spaces)
  • CSU East Bay or Cal State East Bay (not Hayward State or East Bay State)
  • UC Berkeley
  • the UF (United Faculty) (no periods)
  • U.S. when used as an adjective
  • United States (spell out when used as a noun)
  • Ave. (1600 Pennsylvania Ave.)
  • Avenue is spelled out when a street number is not included.
  • Saint Mary’s (not St. Mary’s)
  • Avoid using the abbreviation etc. whenever possible in college publications.
  • ext. for extension (not Ext. or x.)


  • Do not use &, %, @ or ¢
  • Instead spell out and, percent, at and cents.
  • @ is okay only in an email address.


  • Use $ before the figure for dollar amounts.
  • $1 - $999,000; $1 million (not $1,000,000); and $1 billion, etc. Use $30, not $30.00.
  • Only use decimal when it is not an even dollar amount. $30.78

Days, months, dates and  times

Don't abbreviate the days of the week.

Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, etc.

Don't abbreviate the month unless it is within a date.

  • The party was in January.
  • Jan. 1, 2017
  • Do not use 1/1/17 or 1.1.17 or 1-1-17
  • The months March, April, May, June and July are never abbreviated.

Indicate a series of years with the full first year and last two numerals of the second year.

Academic year 2017-18


  • Do not use periods for am and pm
  • Leave a space between the numeral and am or pm
  • Do not use colons or 00's when the time is on the hour
    11 am -1:30 pm
    9-10 am
    9-10:30 pm
  • No not use the word "noon"
    11 am -12 pm (not 11 pm - noon)
    12-3 pm (not noon-3 pm)

Courtesy titles

Mr., Mrs., Miss, and Ms. are to be avoided and should only be used in quotations. Do not use them in news articles.


The names of organizations are written out at first reference with the initials in parenthesis after the name. Later references use the initials or acronym.


Common American English spellings are preferred,

Example: theater, color, catalog (not theatre, colour, catalogue).

Academic degrees and titles

Titles, when used, should follow the name, be set off by commas and not capitalized. It is preferable to avoid abbreviating the degree, i.e. M.A., and use the phrase instead. Use lower case for all degree designations and academic titles unless using a proper noun.

  • A.A. (associate in arts is preferred; associate degree is acceptable; do not use associate’s degree)
  • A.S. (associate in science is preferred; associate degree is acceptable; do not use associate’s degree)
  • B.A. (bachelor of arts is preferred, bachelor’s degree is acceptable)
  • B.S. (bachelor of science is preferred, bachelor’s degree is acceptable)
  • M.A. (master of arts is preferred, master’s degree is acceptable)
  • M.S. (master of science is preferred, master’s degree is acceptable) Ph.D. (doctorate is preferred)
  • Ed.D. (doctorate is preferred)


Capitalize the following:

Department names  (except in generic usage)

  • The Math Department (preferred)
  • Dave Johnson teaches mathematics
  • The Curriculum Committee (upper case for standing committees)
  • Instruction Office
  • Counseling Center
  • DSS Office or Disability Support Services Office
  • Admissions and Records Office 
  • The memo was from admissions.

Division names

  • The Library and Learning Resources Division
  • The Social Science Division

Official course titles (lower case for generic use)

  • Sociology 101, Marriage and the Family
  • DVC offers courses in sociology.

Official program titles

  • the Administration of Justice Certificate Program
  • the London Study Abroad Program
  • the Dental Hygiene Program

Proper names of people or groups

  • the Classified Senate
  • the Board of Governors
  • DVC Academic Senate Council
  • DVC Classified Senate
  • Public Employees Union Local 1 (or Local 1)
  • the Legislature
  • DVC President Peter Garcia
  • the President when referring to United States president only
  • the United Faculty (UF - no periods)

Proper names of buildings or locations

  • the Counseling Center
  • the Administration Building
  • the DVC Library Building
  • DVC Book Center
  • CCCC District Office
  • Office of the President
  • Academic Senate Office

Also capitalize religions, races, languages, and trademarks.

Note: The Associated Press changed its writing style guide June 19, 2020 to capitalize the “b” in the term Black when referring to people in a racial, ethnic or cultural context. Also newly added: capitalize Indigenous in reference to original inhabitants of a place.

Do not capitalize:

Fall, spring and summer are NOT capitalized (except at the beginning of a sentence)

Forms and reports unless using the specific title of a form

  • admission form
  • prerequisite form
  • Free Application for Federal Student Aid ( FAFSA)
  • the accreditation report

Job titles, generic or ad hoc names or groups, etc.

  • the president
  • vice president (no hyphen, no caps)
  • director of marketing
  • college president
  • the accreditation team
  • the governing board
  • governing board members (do not use trustees or board of trustees)
  • the senate
  • senate council
  • the catalog task force

Generic usage for buildings and locations

  • the library
  • the bookstore
  • the district's board room
  • in room BE-210
  • the cafeteria
  • president's office
  • the district office
  • the district
  • the senate office

Sentence case vs title case:

  • Titles and major headings are Title Case (all words are capitalized except the, in, a, of, etc.)
  • Subheads and divisions within reports are sentence case (only the first word is capitalized)


Book, movie, newspaper, magazine, and report titles are italicized (when referenced)

  • Gone with the Wind
  • the CBS Evening News
  • the NBC-TV Today Show
  • Jessica Inclan's novel, Her Daughter's Eyes

Song titles are not italicized, unless in a foreign language

  • The Star-Spangled Banner

Reference works - no italics, no quotations

  • Jane's All the World's Aircraft
  • Webster's New World Dictionary of the American Language

Foreign works - Italicize foreign words or initials. Do not italicize English words, and substitute English title when appropriate.

  • Rousseau's War
  • Die Walkuere from Wagner's The Ring of the Nibelungen


Lists, and vertical lists in particular, often cause confusion. The following are several examples of the preferred style:

Single items

It is preferred to write the items out in sentence form:

  • Contact the DVC Police Services Office with any questions or problems regarding security, first aid, fire, lost and found items, thefts, or other crimes.

Listed items in phrases

A vertical, bulleted list is easier for the reader to follow than sentence form, especially for long phrases, and particulary on the web.

Items to include on your webpage:

  • Frequent, bulleted lists for easy reading
  • Frequent links to help visitor find additional information
  • Contact information to ask additional questions

Listed phrases that complete the sentence begun in the introductory element

Separate each item by a comma (or semicolon when complex phrases are used) and use a period after the final item. A colon is used to introduce the vertical list or a series.

The outcomes of DVC's associate in arts degree are:

  • the development of college-level skills;
  • the acquisition of basic principles in the major disciplines, and methods of discovery and problem solving used by these disciplines;
  • the formation of insights from several disciplines in order to make better-informed decisions;
  • an appreciation of our multicultural heritage;
  • an understanding of the values we hold so that we may use them to examine and guide our life Note that each item begins with a lowercase letter.

Use capitals and periods in a vertical list only when each item is a complete sentence.

The Haas School of Business is a highly impacted program and transfer students must have satisfied the following requirements:

  • Students must complete all approved, letter graded prerequisite courses.
  • Students must complete at least seven or more of nine required breadth courses in subjects related to behavioral sciences, international studies, natural sciences, and social
  • Students must participate in extracurricular activities or work experience and demonstrate good writing skills.
  • Students are expected to maintain full-time enrollment in each of two semesters at some time prior to transfer.

Although the preceding example is acceptable, it is preferable to avoid using complete sentences for vertical lists.

Bulleted lists are preferred over enumerated lists. Use numbers only when there is significance to the sequence of the items listed.




No serial comma for simple series:

  • The colors are red, white and blue.
  • Tom, Dick and Harry are available.

Serial comma for complex series:

  • Tom had orange juice, toast, and ham and eggs for breakfast.
  • 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.


Use in dates after the day and after the year.

Do not use between month and year.


Compounds and hyphenation

Hyphenate any set of words that you want understood as one unit.

  • Part-time faculty (part time when not an adjective) Adjective use is preferred.
  • She is a part-time employee Not: She works part time.

Hyphenate after a prefix if the first word ends in a vowel and the next word begins with a vowel.

Hyphenate if the prefix ends in the same letter that the next word begins with or if the next word is capitalized.

  • Re-entry student
  • Co-op education

Prefixes that generally take a hyphen include all-, anti-, ex-, and pro- Check the dictionary for exceptions.

Avoid redundancies like "college-wide" or "district-wide." Use "college" or "district" instead.

Additional examples and exceptions:

  • email (lowercase, no hyphen)
  • website (one word, no hyphen, lowercase)
  • postsecondary (one word, no hyphen,)
  • online (one word, no hyphen, lowercase)
  • bylaws (one word, no hyphen)
  • bilingual (one word, no hyphen)
  • AB 1725 (government bills, no hyphen, no periods)
  • BE-210 (DVC room numbers have hyphens, no spaces)
  • prerequisite (one word, no hyphen, lowercase)
  • co-requisite (hyphen, lowercase)




In written text, spell out the numbers one through nine.

Use numerals for 10 and above.

  • They had 10 dogs, six cats and 97 hamsters.
  • They had four six-room houses, 10 three-room houses and 12 10-room houses.

Use numerals in addresses, ages, clothes sizes, dates, dimensions, highway numbers, money, percentages, recipes, speeds, sports, temperatures, time, weights, years, and academic units.

Spell out numbers at the beginning of a sentence, in casual reference, and in fractions of less than one.

  • About a hundred
  • One-fifth

Common errors

assure means to convince someone or to make certain:

  • The instructor assured the class that no late assignments would be accepted.

ensure means to guarantee:

  • Steps were taken to ensure accuracy.

insure refers to insurance:

  • The policy insures her life.

cancel - use canceled; not cancelled with two l’s

commit - commitment, committed, committing


Use two spaces after a colon.

Use one space between sentences, not two.

That and which

Use that to introduce clauses that refer to an inanimate object or an animal without a name.

Use which (preceded by a comma) to introduce a non-essential clause that refers to an inanimate object or an animal.

  • The biology course, which is held in the science building, is very challenging.
  • The biology course that is held in the science building is very challenging.
  • Note that the meaning of the two sentences is very different.


No space before and after slash



Addition of non-discrimination statement

The following statement should be included on all printed materials (space permitting):

NON-DISCRIMINATION STATEMENT The district shall not discriminate based on ethnic group identification, race, color, age, citizenship, ancestry, religion, marital status, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, mental or physical disability, medical condition, veteran status, parental status, or because a student is perceived to have one or more of these characteristics.

Campus information listings

DVC’s URL is, not

Include it on as many publications as possible. URLs are bold whenever possible. 

Phone numbers

Use dashes throughout (not parentheses or dots) and use ext. for the abbreviation of extension.

  • 925-685-1230
  • 925-685-1230, ext. 2460