Office of Public Relations



With many departments producing their own publications and newsletters, it is important for the College to project and maintain an image of quality as well as remain consistent in the use of names, titles and capitalization.  The public relations office has composed a brief "style guide" for campus constituents.  With few exceptions, the College follows the Associated Press (AP) Stylebook and Libel Manual.  When in doubt, please use the AP stylebook or call the public relations office at x3230.  The basic guidelines are available at the public relations link on the College's web site:

The following guidelines may help to clarify some common style misconceptions.

academic degrees If mention of degrees is necessary to establish someone's credentials, the preferred form is to avoid an abbreviation and use instead a phrase such as: John Smith, who has a doctorate in psychology. 

Use an apostrophe in bachelor's degree, a master's, etc. 

Use abbreviations such as B.A., M.A., LL.D., and Ph.D. only when the need to identify many individuals by degree on first reference would make the preferred form cumbersome.  Use the abbreviations only after a full name - never after just a last name.

When used after a name, an academic abbreviation is set off by commas: Jane Doe, Ph.D., spoke.  Do not precede a name with a courtesy title for an academic degree and follow it with the abbreviation for the degree in the same reference: Dr. Jane Doe, a chemistry professor, not Dr. Jane Doe, Ph.D. 

academic departments Use lowercase except for words that are proper nouns or adjectives: the department of history, the history department, the department of English, the English department.

academic titles Capitalize and spell out formal titles such as professor, chancellor, chairman, etc., when they precede a name.  Lowercase elsewhere.  Lowercase modifiers such as history in history Professor John Smith or department in department Chair John Smith.

composition titles Apply the guidelines listed here to book titles, computer game titles (but not software titles), movie titles, opera titles, play titles, poem titles, song titles, television program titles, and the titles of lectures, speeches and works of art.

            --Capitalize the principal words, including prepositions and conjunctions of four or more letters.

            --Capitalize an article - the, a, an - or words of fewer than four letters if it is the first or last word in a title.

            --Put quotation marks around the names of all such words except the Bible and books that are primarily catalogs of reference material (almanacs, catalogs, directories, dictionaries, encyclopedias, gazetteers, handbooks and similar publications).  Do not italicize or underline.

            --Translate a foreign title into English unless the work is known to the American public by its foreign name.

numerals Follow these guidelines in using numerals:

SENTENCE START: Spell out a numeral at the beginning of a sentence.  If necessary, recast the sentence.  There is one exception - a numeral that identifies a calendar year: 1978 was a very good year.

FIGURES OR WORDS? In general, spell out whole numbers below 10, and use figures for 10 and above.  Typical examples: They had three sons and two daughters.  They had a fleet of 10 station wagons and two buses.  In a series, apply the appropriate guidelines: The had 10 dogs, six cats and 97 hamsters.  They had four four-room houses, 10 three-room houses and 12 10-room houses.

For ordinals, spell out first through ninth when they indicate sequence in time or location: first base, the First Amendment, he was first in line.  Starting with 10th use figures.

the College When referring to Muhlenberg College, capitalize the College.  This is an exception to AP style.

magazine titles Capitalize the name but do not place it in quotes and do not italicize.  Lowercase magazine unless it is part of the publication's formal title: Harper's Magazine, Newsweek magazine; Time magazine. Check the masthead if in doubt.

newspaper names Capitalize the in newspaper names if that is the way the publication prefers to be known.  Lowercase the before newspaper names if a story mentions several papers, some of which use the as part of the name and some do not.  Where location is needed but is not part of the official name, use parentheses: The Huntsville (Ala.) Times.  Do not italicize, underline, or place in quotes.

state names Spell out the names of the 50 U.S. states when they stand alone in textual material.  Eight states are never abbreviated in datelines or in text: Alaska, Hawaii, Idaho, Iowa, Maine, Ohio, Texas, and Utah.

The remaining states are abbreviated as follows:

Ala. Conn.  Ind. Mass.  Mont.  N.J.  Okla.    S.D.  Wis
Ariz.   Del. Kan.   Mich. Neb.    N.M. Ore. Tenn.  . W.Va
Ark. Fla. Ky. Minn.  Nev.   N.Y. Pa. Vt.   Wyo
Calif.  Ga.  La. Miss. Nev. N.C. R.I.  Va.  
Colo. Ill.  Md. Mo.  N.H. N.D.  S.C.  Wash.  

titles  In general, confine capitalization to formal titles used directly before an individual's name. 

The basic guidelines are as follows:

LOWERCASE: Lowercase and spell out titles when they are not used with an individual's name: The dean issued a statement.  Lowercase and spell out titles in constructions that set them off from a name by commas: The dean, Jane Doe, issued a statement.  Exception: According to Muhlenberg style, capitalize President when referring to the President of the College: The President, Jim Steffy, delivered a speech.

FORMAL TITLES: Capitalize formal titles when they are used immediately before one or more names: President Steffy, Dean Jane Doe Smith.

LONG TITLES: Lowercase and separate a long title from a name by a construction that requires a comma: John Smith, vice president for public relations, spoke.  Or: The vice president for public relations, John Smith, spoke.