The Whitman College Style Guide provides a resource for all employees to ensure consistency across our communications. Whether you are writing for the magazine, web, social media or just writing letters to colleagues, students, alumni or friends, we want all our content to communicate who we are as a college. This style guide offers guidance on spelling, punctuation, capitalization and how we talk about Whitman College. It should be used in conjunction with the Whitman College Visual Identity Guide.

As a general rule, Whitman College follows The Associated Press Stylebook, or AP style. This style is designed to be easily read and understood by people from a wide variety of backgrounds, including those outside academia. This guide includes style examples that are specific to Whitman College and academia. For complete style guidelines, access the AP Stylebook at Exceptions to AP style are indicated as such. For style questions not addressed here, refer to AP style and Webster’s New World Dictionary. Additional style questions can be sent to Director of Content Margie Reece.

academic centers Always use the full name and correct capitalization on first reference. On second reference, preferred use is "the center," or common acronym.

  • The Academic Resource Center (ARC) can help students struggling in classes. The ARC offers tutors and study help.

academic degrees In editorial copy, spell out and capitalize the full degree name on first reference. On second reference, use bachelor’s, master’s, doctorate, etc.

  • Avoid abbreviating degree names in copy: He earned a B.A. in physics. See also Majors.
  • Bachelor of Arts in psychology
  • He earned a bachelor’s in anthropology.
  • Use an apostrophe in bachelor’s, master’s, but not associate degree.
  • When used after a name, an academic degree abbreviation is set off by commas: John Snow, Ph.D.,
  • Academic degrees should only be cited after a name if it is a terminal degree (Ph.D., J.D., etc.) or specialist certification, such as medical or nutritional certifications.
  • Academic degrees should only be listed after a name if it is relevant to the content, or upon request from the subject.
  • The use of “Dr.” as a courtesy title is reserved for medical and veterinarian degrees only. Being specific about the specialization is preferred.
  • A person earns a degree, they do not receive a degree.

academic departments See departments.

academic titles Capitalize and spell out formal titles such as provost, president, professor, chair, etc., when they precede a name. Lowercase when the title is after a name or stands alone.

For instructors, use the correct earned title or rank; do not use “Professor” as a courtesy title. Lowercase modifiers, such as department in department Chair Jerome Wiesner. See also Doctor/Ph.D., Endowed professorship, Professor and Titles.

  • President Kathy Murray
  • Kathy Murray, president
  • The president said …
  • Assistant Professor George Smith
  • George Smith, assistant professor

academic year When indicating an academic year that spans a calendar year, use all four numbers for both years, separated by a hyphen:

  • The 2018-2019 academic year

acronyms In general, always state the full name of the program on first reference, and use a parenthetical to indicate the acronym. If the acronym does not appear later in the content, there is no need to add it as a parenthetical. Do not use periods in an acronym.

Be wary about using multiple acronyms in a single piece. Acronyms can make content hard to read and understand. Only use acronyms when the meaning is clear and it does not hinder understanding or readability. When in doubt, use the full name or a generic name, such as the center, rather than the acronym. Avoid creating new acronyms.

  • The Student Engagement Center (SEC) is hosting …
  • The Center fOr Writing and Speaking (COWS). Note that the “O” in “for” is capitalized.

acting or interim titles Follow capitalization guidelines for academic titles.

addresses Abbreviate the words avenue (Ave.), boulevard (Blvd.) and street (St.) when they include a house or building number and spell out when they do not. Also spell out when in direct quotes.

  • Do not abbreviate road, lane, circle or court even with an address.
  • The college is at 345 Boyer Ave.
  • The college is on Boyer Avenue.
  • “He lives at 772 Alder Street,” Smith said.

administration Never capitalize unless part of a title. If possible, use the name of an administrator.

  • The committee was created by President Kathleen M. Murray.
  • Not: The administration created the committee.

admission Singular. Office of Admission or admission, not admissions.

admitted students Students whose applications are accepted by the college are admitted. If they accept the offer of admission, they enroll. The percentage of applicants who are admitted and then enroll is referred to as yield.

advisor Preferred spelling for one who advises. This is an exception to AP style.

African American See Race, Ethnicity and Protected Class.

afterward, backward, forward, toward These words do not end in s.

alumna, alumnus, alumnae, alumni The forms shown are the feminine singular, masculine singular, feminine plural and masculine plural. When referring to more than one gender, use alumni. Do not shorten to “alum” or “alums” in official communications. Class year is denoted after the name of the alumnus or alumna.

  • He is a Whitman College alumnus.
  • She is an alumna of Whitman College.
  • Jane Doe ’09
  • Whitman welcomed its alumni from the Class of 1961 to campus.

Any individual who has attended the college and completed the required number of credits may be considered an alumnus. Note that students who did not graduate are still considered to be alumni of the college. See Class Year and Non-degree Holders.

alumni association Whitman College Alumni Association on first reference. On second reference, preferred use is the alumni association.

author Resist the temptation to use this word as a verb. Instead: write/wrote.

  • He was the author of the paper. He wrote the paper.
  • Incorrect: She authored the paper.

a.m., p.m. Lowercase, with periods between the letters. Use a colon to separate hours from minutes. When showing a span of time, use a hyphen if it is within a.m. or p.m. If it crosses from morning to afternoon, or vice versa, indicate with “to.”

  • Noon is preferred to 12 p.m.
  • Midnight is preferred to 12 a.m.
  • The center’s hours are 6 a.m. to 7 p.m.
  • The event is 6-8 a.m.
  • The meeting is at 3:30 p.m.

ampersand (&) Avoid using ampersands in editorial copy unless it is part of a trademarked name. It is OK to use the & in display type, such as headlines, logos/wordmarks and invitations.

annual An event cannot be described as annual until it has happened at least two consecutive years. Do not use the term first annual; instead say the organizers intend to host it annually.

area codes Area codes should always be included with all phone numbers. Use dashes to offset the numbers.

  • 509-527-5116
  • Do not surround area codes with parentheses: (509) 527-5116.

athletic teams Lowercase on all references, except on listings, such as for calendars and score reports.

  • The women’s ice hockey team had an outstanding season.
  • He was a star on the Whitman cross country team.
  • Field Hockey vs. Colby, 5 p.m., Monday.

attribution verbs Said is the preferred verb for attributing quotations, both direct and indirect. Avoid exclaimed, shouted, laughed, explained, etc. Asked is acceptable when the quote is a question. Attribution should go in the middle of the quote at the first natural sentence break. If the quotation is only one sentence, the attribution should go at the end. Preferred order for attribution is subject verb, unless a title or explainer needs to be given.

Quotations should nearly always start a new paragraph.

  • “The first sentence of a quotation ends in a comma,” George Peterson said. “It can then continue after an attribution is given.”
  • “Sometimes a long title is given with the identity of the quoted speaker,” said George Peterson, vice president of Whistles and Springs Inc. “In that situation, the attribution verb should be first.”

Baccalaureate Capitalize when referencing the college’s event during Commencement weekend. Lowercase in all other references.

  • The 2019 Baccalaureate ceremony is 5 p.m. Thursday.
  • One of his favorite memories of Whitman was participating in baccalaureate.

Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Science Capitalize when using the full name of the degree. Lowercase bachelor’s when it stands alone. The term bachelor’s degree is acceptable in most references, as Whitman College does not confer a Bachelor of Science. See Academic Degrees.

Black Capitalized as an adjective in racial, ethnic or cultural sense.  Do not use term as a singular noun. For plurals, phrasing such as Black people is often preferable when clearly relevant.  See Race, Ethnicity and Protected Class.

Board of Trustees Uppercase only when used in its entirety, lowercase in other uses. Capitalize trustee or governor only when used before a name as a title, but lowercase after a name. Do not capitalize "board" when it stands alone.

  • The Board of Trustees meets monthly.
  • The trustees guide and support the college.
  • Trustee John Smith
  • John Smith, a trustee
  • The board asked for clarification.

bookstore Uppercase as part of the official name of the bookstore. Lowercase on second reference.

  • The Whitman College Bookstore will hold its annual sale this weekend.
  • The bookstore has many great deals on T-shirts.

boy, girl Never use in association with students. Whitman College students should be referred to as adults, regardless of age. Man/men is preferable to boy. Woman/women is preferable to girl. Do not use “ladies” to refer to people who identify as women. In referring to a collective, gender-inclusive language is always preferred.

breaks Always lowercase, even when referring to specific breaks in the academic calendar year.

  • He worked on campus over winter break.
  • She went to Honduras during spring break.

building names When referring to the official name of the building, capitalize all principal words. When using a generic name, don’t capitalize. Avoid using abbreviations except in reference to room numbers.

  • The Office of the President is in the Memorial Building.
  • I’ll meet you in Memorial.
  • Her office is MEM 321.

campuswide One word, not hyphenated. Also citywide, countywide, statewide, nationwide, worldwide.

Center fOr Writing and Speaking When spelling out the full name, the “O” in "for" is capitalized. Also referred to as the COWS.

chair Use the gender-neutral “chair,” not chairman or chairwoman (exception to AP). Also vice chair, not vice-chair. Capitalize if it precedes the name as a formal title:

  • Committee Chair Bob Jones
  • Bob Jones, committee chair
  • Use primarily as a title or noun, not as a verb. Avoid phrases like “He holds the chair ...” or “She chairs the committee …” say leads or rephrase, “She is the chair of the committee.”

Class Capitalize when referring to a specific class, otherwise lowercase. Lowercase when indicating more than one class:

  • The Class of 2015
  • This year’s Reunion welcomes back the classes of 1985, 1986, 1995 and 1996.
  • I am really enjoying my class.

class years Students and alumni are identified with the last two numbers of their class year after their names. The punctuation placed before the class year is an apostrophe, signifying the omitted two digits of the year. The apostrophe should face away from the remaining two numbers: ’08, not ‘08. See below for examples of handling couples and alumni status. See also Maiden Names.

  • Paul ’98 and Kristi (Marcus) Whitman ’00
  • Paul and Kristi (Marcus) Whitman ’00
  • Paul ’98 and Kristi Whitman

Do not use a comma after a student name and his/her/their class/graduation year. People who attended Whitman but did not graduate are treated as alumni, unless they have requested to be unaffiliated. They are treated as members of the class in which they entered.

  • John Smith ’00 ran the marathon.

co-chair Hyphenated.

coach Capitalize when part of a title before a name, lowercase when used after a name. Lowercase in other uses.

  • Head Basketball Coach Mary Jackson
  • Mary Jackson, head basketball coach
  • The Athletics Department is looking for a new coach.

co-curricular Hyphenated.

coed No hyphen, but this term is not preferred when referring to Whitman students. Whitman College students are men and women. Note: Whitman College does not have coed residence halls; residence halls that accept any gender identity are gender-inclusive. 

coeducational No hyphen.

college Uppercase when part of a proper name: Whitman College. Lowercase when used alone, even when specifically referencing Whitman.

  • She was accepted into Whitman College.
  • The college is pleased to announce …

comma Whitman College does not use the serial or Oxford comma in a simple series, except where needed to clarify meaning.

  • We bought pens, paper and pencils.
  • He enjoys reading, mowing the lawn, and his neighbors. (So as not to imply one would enjoy mowing their neighbors).

In a complex list, semicolons or dashes can be used to avoid confusion.

commencement Lowercase in all references, except as a formal event name.

  • This year’s commencement speaker is Dr. Joe Smith.
  • The 2018 commencement ceremony is on June 1.
  • As part of the 128th Whitman College Commencement Ceremony, ...

committee names Capitalize when the full, formal name is used; lowercase when not using the full name.

  • the Whitman College Strategic Planning Committee
  • the committee for strategic planning

composition titles Put titles of work including lecture names, papers and articles, books, plays, poems, songs, movies and TV shows in quotation marks. For full guidelines on composition titles, see AP Stylebook.

Convocation Always uppercase when referring to the Whitman College academic ceremony that takes place before the beginning of the fall semester.

course names Capitalize when referring to a specific course, but do not put in quotes. Lowercase when referring to general course topics. If including the course title and number, a colon should follow the course number.

  • This year, she is teaching Geology 110: The Physical Earth.
  • This year, he is teaching biology and mathematics.

coursework One word.

courtesy titles Whitman College does not use courtesy titles, such as Dr., Mr., Mrs., Miss, Ms., except in formal, printed letters.

curriculum vitae Spell out on first reference. CV is acceptable on second reference. “Curricula vitae” or “CVs” for plural.

dashes In editorial copy, use a long dash — or em dash — to set off clauses when not using a comma. Use a space on either side of the dash. The use of an em dash over commas to set off hyphens is a stylistic and often visual decision. Either can be correct. Hyphens should be used to show spans of time or dates.

  • George — a junior from Texas — is going to the conference.
  • The conference runs from Jan. 3-6, 2018.
  • The hours are 9-11 a.m.

dates Spell out all months when they stand alone or with a year, such as January 2018. Abbreviate months when paired with a date as shown below. It is OK to leave months spelled out as a design element or treatment.

  • January to Jan. 12 (not 12th)
  • February to Feb. 1 (not 1st)
  • August to Aug. 12
  • September to Sept. 12
  • October to Oct. 12
  • November to Nov. 12
  • December to Dec. 12
  • Do not abbreviate March, April, May, June or July.
  • When using month, date and year, a comma always follows the year.
  • On Dec. 31, 2012, the college will be closed.

days of the week Never abbreviate days of the week in editorial copy, except in the case of a course schedule or list. Use of “MWF” or “T/TH” may be appropriate in tables or lists showing course schedules. For events, use the day of the week and date for clarity.

  • The meeting was Monday, Nov. 2, 2017.

dean Only capitalize before a name when used as a title. Do not capitalize when used as a description or after a name.

  • Dean John Doe
  • Jane Doe, dean
  • The new dean, Mickey Mouse, has a degree in tomfoolery.

decades When referring to a specific decade (as long as the century is clear), use numerals (1960s or ’60s). To specify a timeframe within the decade, only hyphenate when using mid: the mid-1940s, but late ’30s, early ’40s.

degrees See Academic Degrees.

departments The full formal name of the department should be capitalized. You may leave the department name uppercase if referring to the official department name in a commonly accepted way. If referring generally to subject matter, do not capitalize the name.

  • The Office of Communications is sponsoring the event.
  • The English Department will host the lecture series.
  • Staff from admission will be attending.
  • Phil Cook is a history professor at Whitman.

disability A general term used for a physical, mental, developmental or intellectual disability. Do not use mentally retarded. Do not use handicapped. In general, do not describe an individual as disabled unless it is clearly pertinent to a story. When a description must be used, stay focused on the person and be specific. See Race, Ethnicity and Protected Class.

directions Capitalize when they designate widely known regions such as Southern California or regions relevant to our audiences, such as Western Washington, Southeastern Washington, Eastern Oregon.

doctor / Ph.D. Refer to someone as doctor only when he/she/they holds a medical or veterinary degree. If the subject wishes to designate their doctorate, set it off with commas after the name. Only indicate a doctorate if it is relevant to the content or by the request of the subject. When referring to doctorate degrees, only use “Ph.D.” after a name. Do not use it to refer to the degree. When referring to those with medical degrees, it is preferred to refer to their specialty:

  • Professor Jane Doe has a doctorate from the University of Florida.
  • John Smith ’91 is a doctor of internal medicine. Jane Doe ’71 is a cardiologist.

doctorate / doctoral Doctorate is a noun, referring to the degree, title or rank of Ph.D. Doctoral is an adjective, “relating to or designed to achieve a doctorate.”

  • He has a doctorate in physics.
  • Her doctoral dissertation is in physics.

dormitory / dorm Students at Whitman College live in residence halls. Do not use “dorm” or “dormitory” to refer to these spaces. Do not capitalize “residence hall.” Capitalize the name of the hall in all uses.

ellipsis Constructed with three periods (with no spaces between them) and one space before and after as shown here: ( ... )

email No hyphen.

emerita, emeritus, emeritae, emeriti The forms shown are feminine, masculine, feminine plural and masculine plural. When referring to both genders, use emeriti. Title indicates that an individual has retired but retains his or her rank or title, and always follows the title and follows the capitalization rules of titles.

  • Gary Barlow, professor emeritus of English
  • Professor Emeritus Gary Barlow

enroll See Admission, Admitted Students.

entitled / titled Entitled means a right to do or have something. Do not use it in reference to the title of a composition.

  • She was entitled to the promotion.
  • The book was titled “The Great Gatsby.”

endowed professorships Capitalize and use the full title in most uses, both before and after the professor’s name. May use "the" before to clarify professorship.

  • Robert Smith, the John P. Stewart Professor of English
  • John P. Stewart Professor of English Robert Smith

exclamation points Avoid exclamation points in all copy, except in the case of using it as a graphic design element.

faculty A singular collective noun. Add the word “members” to make it plural.

  • John joined the faculty at Whitman College in 2001.
  • All the faculty members agreed.
  • Jane was the only faculty member who disagreed.

FAQ Acceptable on all references for “frequently asked questions.”

fellows Current students who hold fellowships are students first, and fellows second:

  • Marcus Whitman ’22, biology, is this year’s fellow for the SEC.

Fellow is capitalized before a name as part of an official title, or to distinguish the official name of a fellowship:

  • SEC Marketing and Engagement Fellow Marcus Whitman ...
  • Marcus Whitman, the SEC’s marketing and engagement fellow ...

female, woman Woman/women is preferred in place of female whenever possible (exception to AP). Woman/women refers to gender and is inclusive of trans individuals. Female refers to sex and should only be used when needing to refer to biological sex.

fieldwork One word.

first-year student / first year Preferred term for freshman. Hyphenate first-year as a modifier.

former Always lowercase when used with a title.

  • The lecture was by former President George Bridges.

gender-inclusive Hyphenate.

GPA Acceptable in all references for grade-point average. A student’s GPA is protected under FERPA and cannot be released without permission.

graduate Alumna or alumnus of the college is preferred to graduate of the college, except where needed for clarification. Do not use “grad” or “grads” in formal communication.

Greek Life Whitman students can join Greek organizations. Organizations represented at Whitman are:


  • Alpha Phi
  • Delta Gamma
  • Kappa Alpha Theta
  • Kappa Kappa Gamma


  • Beta Theta Pi
  • Phi Delta Theta
  • Sigma Chi
  • Tau Kappa Epsilon

Hispanic See Race, Ethnicity and Protected Class.

homepage One word.

hyphens Hyphens are joiners. Use them to avoid ambiguity or to form a single idea from two or more words. The use of hyphens is optional in most cases, a matter of taste, judgment and style sense. But the fewer hyphens the better; use them only when not using them causes confusion.

Hyphens, or dashes, - are also used to join dates or spans of time. There should not be a space on either side of the dash. See Dashes.

  • The concert is from 6-8 p.m. 
  • I will be on vacation from April 7-14. 

Inauguration Capitalize when referring to the Inauguration of a new Whitman College president.

  • Many college and university presidents were invited to the Inauguration of President Kathleen M. Murray.

Indigenous Capitalize when referring to the original inhabitants of a place.

initials When using two or more initials, use periods without spaces: S.B. Penrose.

interim faculty Follow capitalization rules for academic titles.

internet Lowercase on all references.

intranet Lowercase on all references.

its/it’s Its indicates possession. It’s is a contraction that indicates “it is.” Use “it” as the pronoun for non-living objects, such as departments, offices or programs. Do not refer to organizations as “they” or “their.”

  • The Student Engagement Center will sponsor its third annual forum this week.

Kick off, kickoff, kick-off Kick off is the verb, kickoff the noun and kick-off the adjective. Avoid “kicking off” anything that is not related to athletics.

Latino / Latina / Latinx See Race, Ethnicity and Protected Class.

lectures Capitalize the title. If it is a named lecture, capitalize that as well. Place the lecture title in quotations.

  • Bob Smith will deliver the lecture “Acoustics: The Physics and Math of Sound.”
  • Stephen H. Loomis will deliver this year’s Jean C. Tempel ’65 Professor of Biology Endowed Chair Lecture. His talk is titled “Thirty-five Years in Suspended Animation: Survival of Tough Environmental Challenges.”

LGBTQIA+ Stands for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, transsexual, queer, questioning, Intersex and asexual. LGBTQIA+ is acceptable on all references. It does not need to be defined. The word “queer” is controversial. It has often been used in a derogatory way, but is reclaimed by many members of the LGBTQIA+ community. Be aware that some still find it offensive, and always ask how a person prefers to identify. Only identify a person as LGBTQIA+ if it is relevant to the story and you have received their permission to do so. For more about identities, see Race, Ethnicity and Protected Class.

Login / logon / logoff Use as one word for nouns. For verbs, use two words. Do not hyphenate.

  • The login changes every 30 days.
  • I log in to my email every day.

long term / long-term Hyphenate when using as a modifier.

  • He will win in the long term.
  • He has a long-term assignment.

long time / longtime One word when used as a modifier.

  • They have known each other a long time.
  • They are longtime partners.

maiden name It is helpful to include a maiden name for alumnae who attended school under another name. Ask women if they have a maiden name they would like to include. When indicating a maiden name, it is included in parentheses before the last name.

  • Rebecca (Jones) Smith ’18

majors Lowercase in all instances, unless it is a proper noun. If referring to the formal name of a program, capitalize.

  • She is an economics major.
  • He earned a computer science degree.
  • She is an English major.
  • She is in the Environmental Studies Program.

matriculate Students matriculate when they enroll in the college and begin classes.

Memorial Building When referring to the official name of the building, capitalize all principal words. Refer to as the Memorial Building on first reference; "Memorial" is fine on second reference if meaning is clear. It can be abbreviated MEM when paired with a room number.

  • The Office of the President is in the Memorial Building.
  • I’ll meet you in Memorial.
  • Her office is MEM 321.

monthlong, yearlong One word.

names In editorial copy, always refer to someone by their full name at first reference. On second reference, use only the last name. Do not include courtesy titles (Mr., Mrs., Dr., etc.) with names on second reference. In articles with individuals who share a last name, you may use the full name throughout, or choose to refer to the subjects by their first name. Those under 18 may be referred to by their first name on second reference.

  • Enrollment in the program has risen, according to David Harris. “It has continued to grow throughout the last five years,” Harris said.
  • Use Jr., Sr., III, etc., designations only with full names, and do not precede by a comma: John Jones Jr.
  • Nicknames may be included on first reference after the formal name, and are placed in quotations: Jonathan David “J.D.” Hall ’95.

nationalities  See Race, Ethnicity and Protected Class.

Native American  See Race, Ethnicity and Protected Class.

nondegree holders If someone attended Whitman but did not earn a degree, list the class year in which they would have graduated.

nonmajor One word, no hyphen.

Oxford comma  See entry on commas.

parentheticals / parentheses In editorial writing, parentheses are often used to indicate an acronym or show how something will be referred to throughout an article. For example:

  • The Student Engagement Center (SEC)

Only indicate an acronym with a parenthetical if the acronym is used again somewhere in the article. If the acronym is not repeated, it is not necessary to note it with a parenthetical. See also Acronyms.

Pacific Northwest Capitalize.

percent / % Using the symbol (%) is acceptable when paired with a numeral. No space between the numeral and the symbol.

  • She saw a 5% increase in class attendance.
  • Whitman College has 8% international students. 

perspective / prospective Perspective is noun meaning opinion or viewpoint. Prospective is an adjective meaning potential or future.

  • Her perspective as a parent was important.
  • The prospective student is visiting liberal arts colleges this summer.

phone numbers Always include area code with phone numbers. Format with hyphens: 509-527-1485; 800-XXX-XXXX. Do not include “1” before the area code. Do not use periods in place of hyphens (509.XXX.XXXX). Do not use parentheses around the area code.

president Uppercase when used before the name in the formal sense. Lowercase when used in reference to the position or the individual holding it.

  • President Sarah R. Bolton
  • The president gave a welcome address.

professor Capitalize a faculty member’s professorial title before a name on first reference. Lowercase when following the name. Do not use “professor” as a generic title; it is an earned academic rank. If you are unsure of a person’s official academic rank, use “instructor.” Do not use any “professor” rank as a courtesy title on second reference (Associate Professor Smith ...).

  • Associate Professor Vanessa Smith / Clinical Assistant Professor Joe Collins
  • Vanessa Smith, an associate professor of English / Joe Collins, clinical assistant professor
  • Do not abbreviate professor titles: Ast. Prof. Vanessa Smith.

program The formal official name of a program is capitalized. When referring to generic subject matter in the program or not using the formal name, lowercase. Do not capitalize “program” when it stands alone.

  • She is a student in the Environmental Studies Program.
  • She is majoring in environmental studies.
  • The Outdoor Program is located in the Reid Campus Center. The program has lots of equipment for rent.

pronouns When writing about individuals, best practice is to ask which pronouns they would prefer to use in the content. Transgender or gender nonconforming people, as well as others, may prefer to use the pronoun associated with their identified gender, or use a gender-neutral pronoun. “Their/they/them” is acceptable as a singular gender-neutral pronoun. Do not refer to a person as “it” unless that is their preference. It is acceptable to use “they” as a singular gender-neutral pronoun to avoid awkward constructions.

quotation marks Always use curly quotes, also referred to as typographer’s quotes (‘ ’ “ ”) for written copy. Punctuation goes inside quotation marks.

  • “Whitman is great,” he said. “I love all of my classes — and my professors.”

Quotation marks can be used to introduce an unfamiliar or foreign word or a word used in an ironical sense. Avoid arbitrarily placing words inside quotation marks, as it can unintentionally change the meaning and make it imply something else.

  • Broadcast frequencies are measured in “kilohertz.”
  • The student said they needed to go eat “dinner.”

race / ethnicity / protected class Identifying a person by their race, ethnicity, gender identity or other protected class is a sensitive issue. Always be careful when feeling the need to highlight that someone is “different." These items should only be identified when they are relevant to the content, and with the individual’s permission. Relevancy is determined on a case-by-case basis but may include that their identity played an important role in the story being told.

Whitman follows AP style for identifying race, ethnicity and other protected classes. Overall, it is best to ask an individual how they prefer to identify, and to be specific whenever possible. When necessary, it is best to identify a person’s group membership rather than a generality. For example, identify a student as a member of the Nez Perce tribe rather than saying Native American, or say someone is from El Salvador rather than Latino.

General rules are:

  • Do not hyphenate compound identities, such as African American, Asian American, Native American, etc.
  • African American and Black are both acceptable, but are not interchangeable.  
  • Capitalize Black when referring to race, ethnicity or cultural. When lowercase "black" is a color, not a person.
  • Native American is acceptable for Indigenous people in the U.S. Native is acceptable on second reference. Use Indian only for people from India.
  • Alaska Native is preferred for tribes from Alaska.
  • First Nations is preferred for tribes from Canada.
  • Indigenous people is also acceptable when referring to tribal populations. Capitalize Indigenous when referring to the original inhabitants of a place.
  • It is preferred to identify a person as a member of a specific tribe.
  • Hispanic, Latino (male), Latina (woman) or Latinx (gender-neutral) are all appropriate for individuals from a Spanish-speaking land or culture. Latinx may be seen as controversial for some people but is generally preferred at Whitman College.

residence halls Students at Whitman College live in residence halls. Do not use “dorm” or “dormitory” to refer to these spaces. Do not capitalize “residence hall.” Capitalize the name of the hall in all uses. Residence halls that accept students of all genders are gender-inclusive, not coed.

Whitman’s residence halls are:

  • Anderson Hall
  • College House
  • Douglas Hall
  • Jewett Hall
  • Lyman House
  • Prentiss Hall
  • Stanton Hall

reunion Capitalize only when referring to the Whitman College event.

  • The reunion was widely attended.
  • This year, Reunion is in June.

Sarah R. Bolton In formal documents, invitations, news releases and magazine articles, use the complete “Sarah R. Bolton” when referring to Whitman’s 15th president. For informal documents, invitations and more personal pieces, use “Sarah Bolton.”

SAT Use only the initials in referring to what used to be called the Scholastic Aptitude Test or the Scholastic Assessment Test. The official name is SAT.

scholars Students who receive named scholarships are often referred to as "scholars." Scholar is capitalized before a name as part of the official title.

  • Garrett Sherwood Scholar Marcus Whitman ...
  • Marcus Whitman '22, biology, is a Garrett Sherwood Scholar.
  • Garrett Sherwood scholars meet regularly ...

seasons and semesters The four seasons are lowercase except when used to denote specific academic semester. Do not capitalize the world semester when it stands alone.

  • The campus is beautiful in the fall.
  • This fall, she is enrolled in four courses.
  • She enrolled in four courses for Fall 2007.

Southeastern Washington Capitalize.

spacing Use only one space between sentences and after colons.

staff, staff members Staff is a singular collective noun. Staff members is preferred.

  • All staff is invited to the concert.
  • Staff members are encouraged to not work over the winter break.

scholar-athlete The preferred term for members of Whitman’s athletic teams.

state names State names are spelled out in editorial copy, even when paired with a city name. When pairing a city/state name, follow the name of the state with a comma: The play is set in Spokane, Washington, in the 1920s.

  • Two-letter postal codes should be used only in letter and envelope addresses.
  • Postal code abbreviations are also used in the Class Notes section of Whitman Magazine, due to space constraints.

statewide One word.

study abroad The preferred terms for Whitman College programs is off-campus studies. These international and domestic programs are run through the Office of Off-Campus Studies.

team names Lowercase names of sports teams. An exception is in schedules and listings:

  • The women’s tennis had a winning record.
  • Women’s Tennis vs. Middlebury, at 4 p.m.

tenure, tenure-track Faculty members can earn or be awarded tenure. It is a promotion granted by a committee. It is always lowercase. A faculty member who is working toward tenure is a tenure-track faculty member, which is hyphenated. These terms are not titles and are mostly of interest to internal audiences.

theatre Preferred spelling for the subject, department, buildings, etc., at Whitman College. Only use -er spelling if it is the formal name, and is capitalized.

  • Department of Theatre and Dance
  • Kimball Theatre
  • Harper Joy Theatre
  • We’re going to the movie theatre.

their / they / them Their/them is acceptable as a singular, gender-neutral pronoun when writing he/she or s/he or making the subject plural is cumbersome or hurts the meaning.

Sources may also choose to identify as “their.” Use subject preference. See also Pronouns.

  • When your student comes home for the holidays, ask them about their classes.

time, date, place It is preferred that events be listed in time-date-place format. For clarity, list the day of the week and date with event listings.

  • It will take place at 3 p.m. Friday, March 3, in the Reid Campus Center.
  • The performances are held at 7 p.m. Friday, March 3, through Sunday, March 5.

titles Lowercase when following a name. Uppercase if preceding a name. Never capitalize a title when it stands alone. Always spell out associate, professor, assistant and like titles. Refer to AP Style entries on titles for specific examples.

  • Jack Black, dean
  • Dean Jack Black
  • The dean said classes were canceled.
  • Doctor to Dr. (Only when person is a medical doctor or veterinarian)

trademark names Substitute with generic name unless unavoidable. Capitalize when it is a registered trademark.

  • Do not use the ©, ®, ™ or other symbols in copy. The capitalization is enough to signal a trademark. If the trademark is relevant to the story, spell out the ownership.

transgender Use the pronoun preferred by the individuals who have acquired the physical characteristics of the opposite sex or present themselves in a way that does not correspond with the sex assigned to them at birth. Always allow sources to tell you their preferred pronoun. See also Pronouns and Their / They / Them.

  • Transgender is an adjective, not a noun. Do not use the term “transgendered.”
  • The physical changes made to a transgender person’s body are referred to as “transition,” not “sex change.”

trustee  See Board of Trustees.

URLs, web addresses In printed material, it is acceptable to leave off the http://www. for internal web addresses, such as Only type out http:// when not doing so prevents the link from working.

For web content, it is preferred to hyperlink relevant words rather than type out a URL.

undocumented This term can be viewed as offensive to indicate that someone is in a country without proper legal documentation. Be sensitive in referring to an individual as undocumented unless they self-identify that way. Whitman College protects student records, including immigration status.

voicemail One word.

work-study Hyphenated in all instances:

  • He received work-study.
  • This position is funded by state work-study.
  • We're hiring work-study students.

Whitman College Spell out on first reference. In subsequent references, Whitman or the college is acceptable.

Whitties Alumni and students of Whitman College are called Whitties. However, this term can be easily misread and is best avoided in prospective student communication.

  • All Whitties are invited to come to Reunion in June.
  • Congratulations on becoming a Whittie.

yield The percentage of students who are admitted to the college and then choose to enroll is referred to as yield.

YouTube One word, capital Y and T.