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: apply, register, and  enroll
Days, months, dates and times
Courtesy titles
Academic degrees and titles
Common errors

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.

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





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



Use periods (no spaces) after a.m. and p.m. Only use a colon when it is not an even hour.

9 a.m.-10:30 p.m., 9-10 a.m.,

9-10:30 p.m.


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.


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 trade-marks.


Do not capitalize:

Degree or certificates are NOT capitalized (except at the beginning of a sentence)

associate in arts in studio arts for transfer

associate in science degree in sports medicine/athletic training

certificate of achievement in advanced accounting

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 rep

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 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 particularly 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 semi- colon 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 lower- case 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.




Use to form a contraction. 

It is = Its

Use to show possession of nouns.



the cat’s (singular)

the cats’ (plural)

Use to show plural of a single letter or numeral.

Mind your p’s and q’s.

The Oakland A’s won the pennant.

Use to show something has been left out.

He studied from dusk ’til dawn.

No apostrophe

Do not use and apostrophe with numerals or multiple letters.

The custom began in the 1960s.

The airline has two 727s.

Temperatures will be in the low 20s.

Four VIPs were there.



Use to introduce a list (See lists above)

Use to introduce a subtitle.

Use to show time if it’s not an even hour.

11:30 a.m.

Use after an independent clause to make a restatement of it for emphasis.

 Many of the professors held additional jobs: Thirteen of them, for example, doubled as cab drivers.


Use after a long introductory clause or phrase.

Use after words in a series.

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 to separate two independent clauses joined by a common conjunction.

Use to separate modifiers of equal rank.

Use to set off a non-essential clause.

Reporters, who do not read the style guide, should not criticize their editors. (Note that without the comma, the meaning of the sentence changes.)

Use after the attribution to introduce a direct quote.

Use between the city and state.

Use in dates after the day and after the year.

Do not use between month and year,

January 2017

Use to set off transitional words.

Most comma usages make common sense; however, there are some exceptions.

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)


Italics (see also titles)

Italicize foreign words.


Quotation marks

Use to enclose direct quotes or dialogue.

Use around titles of chapters, sections, articles, poems, plays, a coined word or phrase.

Use quotation marks in relationship to other punctuation:

Commas and periods go inside the quotation marks.

Semicolons and colons go outside the quotation marks,

Question marks and exclamation points go inside or outside of the quotation marks, depending on if the question is a part or the quote, or a part of the complete sentence.



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



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





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, ext. 2460