Five College Editorial Style Guide

Below is the style guide that we use at Five Colleges for all of our writing, both online and in print. Please follow this style when writing about your Five College programs and events. The executive summary covers the major editorial issues. You can download the full guide, which also includes examples, here.

In general, spell-check uses an inferior dictionary. By all means use it to detect typos, but Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, 11th edition, is the industry bible.

Executive Summary


  • On first reference, use the full name of the organization: Five College Consortium. On second reference, use Five Colleges. We now only use Five Colleges, Incorporated for official business references, such as in contracts.
  • Drop the s when using the name of the organization as an adjective.
  • To reduce confusion, use Five Colleges only when referring to the consortium; avoid referring to the institutions of the consortium as the five colleges. Use campuses and institutions.


  • Insert only one space after a period, question mark, colon or exclamation point.
  • Do not use the serial (or Oxford) comma, unless it is necessary for clarity.
  • Use a semicolon to separate a compound sentence without and, but, or.
  • Use a semicolon in a series when any component contains a comma.


  • Abbreviate names of schools (no periods) if they’ll be readily recognized.
  • In a headline or a title, capitalize any verbs and pronouns no matter how small.
  • No comma before the campus of a multicampus university.
  • Lowercase and spell out titles when they stand alone or follow a name.
  • Capitalize and spell out a title preceding a name.
  • Lowercase major or concentration.
  • Do not capitalize western in western Massachusetts.
  • Capitalize department and office names only when referring to a specific place.
  • Capitalize the official names of organizations and programs; lowercase the generic name.
  • Use the full name of the university on first reference with audiences beyond the consortium (press releases), UMass thereafter.
  • Academic degrees may be abbreviated (with no periods) or spelled out.
  • Use italics for books, magazines, journals, newspapers, movies, TV shows and foreign words.
  • Use quotation marks for episodes of a TV show, poems, songs and for newspaper, magazine and journal articles.


  • Spell out numbers one through nine and ordinals first through ninth; use figures for 10 and above and ordinals for 10th and above.
  • For dates, use figures without st, nd, rd or th (e.g., June 1).
  • For times, use figures except for noon and midnight. Lower case a.m. and p.m and use periods.

For examples and the remainder of the style rules we adhere to, please refer to the full Editorial Style Guide.