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Writing Style Guide


Office of Communications

2 East South Street

Galesburg, IL 61401



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East entry to Ford Center for the Fine Arts.

Print and online communications represent Knox College to the rest of the world. Written style and graphic standards are a vital part of our image. This style guide has been developed to bring consistency to publications and correspondence written for and about Knox College. It focuses on the words and terms associated with the campus, region, and higher education. It is not a comprehensive style guide. Refer to the Chicago Manual of Style for general questions of style not covered here.

This document will be reviewed and revised periodically as questions of style arise. If you have a question about Knox style that you feel should be addressed in this guide, contact the Office of Communications.

A - B - C - D - E - F - G - H - I - J - K - L - M - N - O - P - Q - R - S - T - U - W


Academic Degrees

  • Spell out and use lower case when writing bachelor's degree, master's degree, doctor's degree, doctorate, or doctoral program. You can receive a doctorate OR your doctor's degree, but NOT your doctoral degree.
    Right: He received a bachelor's degree in art history.
    Right: She received her bachelor of science degree in chemistry.
    Right: They awarded 10 doctor's, 27 master's, and 130 bachelor's degrees.
    Right: He earned a bachelor of arts degree.
    Wrong: He earned a bachelor's of arts degree.
  • Abbreviate degrees when identifying a list of individuals or to conserve space. Use periods after all the letters (with the exception of MBA): B.A., M.S., D.M.A. (doctoral of musical arts), Ph.D., M.D.

Academic Departments

  • Use lower case for the word "department" when it stands alone.
    Right: She's been with the department for three years.

Academic Departments at Knox

  • There are 19 academic departments at Knox. Capitalize the formal names of these departments.
  • See the full list of academic departments at Knox.

Academic Papers

Academic Programs at Knox

  • Academic subjects are not capped unless they form part of a department name, an official course name, or are themselves proper nouns (such as English or Latin.) Exceptions: Always capitalize Gender and Women's Studies, Africana Studies, Asian Studies, Chinese, English Literature, French, German, Japanese, Spanish, Latin American Studies, American Studies.
    Right: The English department organizes the event.
    Right: She's a professor in the Department of Physics.
    Right: She's a classics professor.
    Right: He's an Africana Studies professor.
    Right: She majored in physics.
  • See the full list of academic programs at Knox.
  • See Pre-Professional and Cooperative Programs.

Academic Subjects


  • It's fine to use acronyms if you feel they're commonly recognized or if it helps avoid repetition. But always spell out the full name, title, or phrase the first time you refer to it in text, followed immediately by the acronym in parentheses. For Knox building acronyms, see Building Names.
    Right: She works in the Center for Teaching and Learning (CTL). CTL tutors are also available.
    Wrong: CTL received a $1 million grant.
  • Appropriate Knox-specific acronyms:
    ABCC (Association for Black Culture Centers)
    A.B.L.E. (Allied Blacks for Liberty and Equality)
    CTL (Center for Teaching and Learning)
    D.A.R.E. (Drug Abuse Resistance Education)
    FP (First-Year Preceptorial)
    IVCF (Intervarsity Christian Fellowship)
    KARES (Knox Advocates for Recycling and Environmental Support)
    LARC (Live Action Role Playing Club)
    Model U.N. (United Nations)
    SASS (Students Against Sexism in Society)
    SETA (Students for the Ethical Treatment of Animals)
    TRIO (TRIO Achievement Program)
    WVKC (WVKC FM 90.7)


  • Use "a" before words starting with a consonant sound. Use "an" before words that start with a vowel sound.
    Right: He is in an LSAT exam room.
    Right: She is sitting in a hotel suite.
  • In print, "a historian/a historical event" is grammatically correct.


  • Refrain from using abbreviations for avenue, boulevard, road, drive, and street. Capitalize them in formal street names, but use lower case when more than one formal street name is listed in text or when they stand alone. These rules apply to addresses within body copy, not to addresses on envelopes.
    Right: Meet me at the corner of Academy and South streets.
    Wrong: The parking lot is on Academy and South Streets.
    Right: The avenue is dangerous to cross.
  • For Knox-specific postal addresses, see Postal Boxes.

Administrative Offices

  • Capitalize the names of specific departments, divisions and offices. Use lower case for the words "department," "division," or "office" when used in a general sense.
    Right: She's going to talk with the admission staff.
    Right: She's walking over to the Office of Admissions.
  • Administrative Offices at Knox:
    Office of Admissions
    Office of Advancement
    Alumni Relations (part of the Office of Advancement)
    Business Office
    Office of Communications
    Office of the Dean of the College
    Facilities Services
    Office of Student Financial Services
    Office of Human Resources
    Information Technology Services
    Office of the President
    Office of the Registrar
    Division of Student Development
    Campus Life Office (part of the Division of Student Development)


  • Office of Admissions, not Office of Admission


  • When using advisor (academic, program, etc.) always spell it advisor not adviser.

African American/Black

a.m., p.m.

  • Use lower case and periods for "a.m." and "p.m."
  • See Dates/Years.

alma mater

  • Do not capitalize or italicize.


  • One man is an alumnus; one woman is an alumna; several men, or a group of men and women, are alumni; several women are alumnae. The casual reference to "alum" should be avoided.
  • Alumni who have changed their names since graduating, such as alumnae who assumed the last name of their husbands, will be listed by both the new name and the name by which they were known while attending Knox.
    Right: Anne Zweifel Taylor
  • Be careful to distinguish between "alumni" (indicating any student who has attended Knox) and "graduate" (any student who has received a Knox degree)

Alumni Association

  • Refers to the Knox College Alumni Association. Always capitalize.

Alumni Council

  • Refers to the Knox College Alumni Council, the governing body of the Alumni Association. Always capitalize.

Alumni Relations

  • Capitalize the formal name (Alumni Relations). Do not refer to Alumni Relations as an office; this department is located within the the Office of Advancement.
    Right: Carol Brown works in Alumni Relations.

Alumni class years

Ampersand ("&")

  • The ampersand functions as an abbreviation of the word and. Like most abbreviations, it is not appropriate in running text unless it is part of the formal name of an organization or place (Texas A&M University, the E. & L. Andrew Fitness Center) or part of a title (David Gilbert's novel & Sons, the Richard & Sophia D. Henke Distinguished Chair). 
  • In other instances (headlines, invitations, address labels, etc.), especially where space is limited, ampersands are perfectly acceptable as long as they are used consistently.
  • Always use ampersands in web navigation menus and headings (Cost & Financial Aid, Majors & Minors), because lengthy text strings can negatively affect how information is displayed.

Asian/Asian American

Associated Colleges of the Midwest (ACM)

  • For the most up-to-date list of (ACM) schools, consult the ACM website.

Athletic Achievement

  • The Knox-Lombard Athletic Hall of Fame recognizes the achievements of distinguished athletes and teams. Bronze plaques recognizing all hall of fame recipients hang in T. Fleming Fieldhouse, in a room named in memory of Allan P. Christiansen, an outstanding athlete and long-time administrator at Knox College.


  • Knox faculty may be awarded the Philip Green Wright-Lombard College Award for Distinguished Teaching. The sole criterion for the prizes is distinguished teaching.
    -For the full list of Academic Awards, check the Awards & Prizes section of the Catalog.


Bachelor's Degree

Blogs and Blog Entries

  • Titles of blogs should be italicized. Titles of blog entries should be placed in quotation marks.

Board of Trustees

  • The Board of Trustees should always be capitalized when referring to Knox College's board. "Board" by itself is always capitalized, while "trustees" or "trustee" by itself is not capitalized.
    Right: The Board of Trustees will meet in November.
    Right: The Board will meet in November with most trustees attending.
  • The Knox College Board of Trustees consists of 42 members, excluding Life and Honorary Trustees. General and Alumni Trustees serve four-year terms on the Board. Life and Honorary Trustees serve without a term limit. See a list of the current Knox College Board of Trustees on the Knox College website.



  • All proper names of buildings, such as Old Main, should be capitalized. Special building projects, such as the Alumni Hall Renovation, should be capitalized. If using an acronym, see Acronyms.

Building Names

  • See Greek Organizations for fraternities and sororities.
  • See Residence Halls.
  • Following are formal Knox building names, followed by accepted alternative names and acronyms:
    A.B.L.E. Center for Black Culture (A.B.L.E. Center, A.B.L.E. House)
    Administrative Services Annex
    Administrative Services Center
    Alumni Hall
    Auxiliary Gymnasium (Auxiliary Gym)
    Borzello Hall
    Casa Latina
    Center for Intercultural Life
    Center for Teaching and Learning (CTL)
    Dick and Joan Whitcomb Art Center (Whitcomb Art Center)
    E. & L. Andrew Fitness Center (Fitness Center)
    Eleanor Abbot Ford Center for the Fine Arts (Ford Center for the Fine Arts, Center for the Fine Arts, CFA)
    George Davis Hall (GDH)
    Heating Plant
    HOPE Center (all capital letters, no periods between)
    Howard Wilson House (Wilson House)
    Human Rights Center (HRC)
    International House (I-House)
    Jazz House
    Knox-Lombard Fifty Year Club (The Bungalow)
    Lyman K. Seymour Hall (Seymour Hall if referring to the second and third floors, Seymour Union if referring to the first floor and basement.)
    Memorial Gymnasium (Memorial Gym)
    Old Main
    Henry M. Seymour Library (Seymour Library)
    Sharvy G. Umbeck Science-Mathematics Center (SMC, Science-Mathematics Center, Umbeck Science-Mathematics Center)
    T. Fleming Fieldhouse (Fleming Fieldhouse, Fieldhouse)
    The Old Jail

Bulleted List

  • Introduce a bulleted list with a colon. Capitalize the first letter of the first word of each bulleted item. Bulleted items must be parallel in construction. End bulleted sentences with periods (or semicolons or commas if in series), and do not punctuate the end of fragments. Always follow a bullet with a tab to avoid uneven spacing.



  • Only capitalize job titles if they precede the title holder's name.
    Right: Knox College President Teresa Amott.
    Right: Teresa Amott, president, Knox College
    Wrong: Teresa Amott, Knox College President
  • Knox-specific capitalizations:
    College (Knox College)
    Convocation (Opening Convocation, Homecoming Convocation)
    Commencement (Knox College Commencement)
    Dean's List (Knox College Dean's List)
    Homecoming (Knox College Homecoming)
    Board (Board of Trustees)
    Reunion (Knox College Reunion)


  • The title of the College's student literary magazine should always be in italics. It should be referred to as a literary magazine (not journal).

Centers and Institutes

  • The formal names of centers, such as the Center for Teaching and Learning, should be capitalized, but "center" by itself should be in lower case. The same rules apply to institutes, such as Fall Institute.
    Right: The Eleanor Stellyes Center for Global Studies coordinates off-campus study programs.
    Right: The center welcomes visitors.
    Right: The Mark and Jeannette Kleine Center for Community Service is now open.
    Right: The center has broad expanses of windows.
  • Centers at Knox:
    Bastian Family Career Center
    Center for Intercultural Life
    Center for Teaching and Learning
    Mark and Jeannette Kleine Center for Community Service
    Gerald and Carol Vovis Center for Research and Advanced Studies
    Eleanor Stellyes Center for Global Studies


  • Centuries are spelled out and lowercase.
    Right: Twenty-first century
    Right: Eighth and ninth centuries
    Right: Eighteen hundreds (the nineteenth century)

Chairs, Endowed

  • An endowed chair is the highest honor Knox can bestow upon a faculty member. Chairs provide perpetual support for the base salary of the professor and funding for teaching and research.
  • When referring to an individual who holds an endowed chair, refer to the individual as a (insert chair name) professor.
    Right: Sue Hulett is the Richard & Sophia D. Henke Distinguished Professor.
  • When referring to the position itself, use chair.
    Right: Sue Hulett holds the Richard & Sophia D. Henke Distinguished Chair.
  • For a complete list of Current Endowed Chairs see Titles.

City, State, Country

  • Place a comma between the city and the state name, and another comma after the state name, unless ending a sentence. Always spell out all state and country names. See U.S./United States.
    Right: They moved from Trenton, New Jersey, to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
    Wrong: Kansas City, Mo. is the site of the conference.
    Right: Kansas City, Missouri, is the site of the conference.
    Right: Washington, D.C., was the destination.

Class Year


  • Use an apostrophe and the last two digits of the graduating year. Use a space to separate the class year from the name. The apostrophe is a contraction, so must curl to the left (HTML code ').
    Right: Roger Taylor '63
  • Couples: List the year with each of their names, and be sure the woman -- if she has a maiden name and married name -- is listed last, to avoid repeating the last name.
    Right: Roger '63 and Anne Zweifel Taylor '63
  • Be sensitive to exceptions. If just the man is an alumnus, do not list the woman's maiden name (unless her married name is different).
    Right: John '45 and Jane Smith; Jane and John Smith '45; John Smith '45 and Jane Taylor
  • If just the woman is an alumna, list the couple as follows: John and Jane Taylor Smith '46 or Jane Taylor '46 and John Smith (woman kept her maiden name).
  • To denote alumni of Lombard College, include an "L" before the four-digit class year. Make sure there is a space between the name and the "L." Example: John Doe L1919
  • Use all four digits of the class year when referring to alumni who graduated 100 or more years ago. Include one space between the name and class year, but do not use an apostrophe.
    Example: John Doe 1919
    Lombard College Example: John Doe L1919


  • Students in their first academic year should be referred to as first-year students, not freshmen. "First-year" is always hyphenated when used as a noun or adjective.
    Right: The first-year student is taking First-Year Preceptorial.
    Right: This is the first year Susannah attended Knox.
  • Use "upperclass" (one word, unhyphenated) when referring collectively to students who have completed their first academic year.
    Right: The upperclass wing of Post Hall will continue to be co-ed.
    Right: You will need to provide both your upperclass GPA and your major GPA on your application to the Knox College Honors Program.
  • Do not capitalize first-year, sophomore, junior, senior or post-baccalaureate fellow unless it is used as a class designation or formal title.
    Right: He's a senior creative writing major.
    Right: The Senior Class gift was a clock.


  • To denote a parent of a Knox student or alumna/us, include an "P" before the apostrophe and class year that the student will graduate or the alumna/us graduated. Make sure there is a space between the name and the "P." Example: Teresa Jaffe P'08.
  • If the parent is a Knox alumna/us, add a comma after the alum's class year and then include a P before the apostrophe and class year of the student or alum. Example: Glenn Scott '64, P'96.
  • This notation will be used in specific communications as noted by the Office of Advancement. It will not be included in Knox Magazine's Class Notes or other general communications.

Classes and Courses

  • Use lower case when you refer to classes and courses, unless you use the specific (and complete) title or the name carries a proper noun or numeral; quotation marks or italics are not necessary.
    Right: I had a class in environmental studies.
    Right: I'm taking Drawing I.
    Right: I'm taking biology, Advanced Shakespeare and calculus.

Collective Nouns

  • The collective nouns "faculty" and "staff" are singular nouns. If you wish to use a plural construction, use "members of the faculty and staff" or "faculty and staff members."
    Right: The faculty is represented by the Faculty Committee.
    Wrong: The faculty are represented by the Faculty Committee.
    Right: Members of the faculty are dedicated researchers and teachers.
    Right: Staff members disagree among themselves about the best benefits options.


  • When referring to Knox College, College should be capitalized.
    Right: The College was founded in 1837.


  • When three or more items are listed in a series and the last item is preceded by "and," "or," or "nor," place a comma before the conjunction as well as between the other items.
    Right: The flag of the United States is red, white, and blue.
    Right: The restaurant offered pancakes, French toast, and ham and eggs.
  • Do not use a comma before "Jr." or "Sr." after a person's name.
    Right: John Smith Jr.
  • Use a comma to introduce a complete, one-sentence quotation within a paragraph. A colon should be used to introduce longer quotations.
    Right: She said, "I don't want to go."
    Right: She said: "I don't want to go. I'm tired. The cat's sick, and I have no interest in post-modern art."
  • Do not use a comma at the start of a partial or indirect quotation.
    Right: She said the play "was the finest drama Williams wrote."
    Wrong: She said the play, "was the finest drama Williams wrote."
  • Omit the comma before "of" in writing a person's name and address.
    Right: Robert Redford of Provo, Utah, hosts the annual Sundance Film Festival.
    Wrong: Robert Redford, of Provo, Utah, hosts the annual Sundance Film Festival.
  • Commas should follow all states and countries if they are used mid-sentence. See City, State, Country.
  • Watch for missing commas. If you're using an interruptive clause with a comma at the end, you'd better check and insert the comma at the beginning.
    Right: Roger Taylor, president of Knox College, spoke at the meeting.
    Wrong: Roger Taylor, president of Knox College spoke at the meeting.
    Right: Executives, such as Mr. Brown and Ms. Smith, also attended.
    Wrong: Executives such as Mr. Brown and Ms. Smith, also attended.
    Right: She drove from Cleveland, Ohio, to Pittsburgh.
    Wrong: She drove from Cleveland, Ohio to Pittsburgh.
  • There is no comma between an aluma/us' name and the apostrophe and graduation year. See Alumni.


  • Use upper case "Commencement" when referring to Knox College's Commencement exercises.
    Right: Barack Obama spoke at Commencement.
    Wrong: This year's commencement exercise was on June 4.
  • Do not refer to Knox's June ceremony as graduation. It should always be referred to as Commencement.


  • Capitalize the formal names of groups and committees, such as Faculty Curriculum Committee, Union Board, Student Senate. Use lower case for the words "committee" or "council" when they stand alone.

Community Garden

  • Any references to The Community Garden on the Knox campus must be capitalized, any references to a general community garden should not.

Company Names

  • Use Co. or Cos. or Inc. or Ltd. as it appears in the formal title of the organization. Follow the company's lead in regards to using a comma before Inc. or Ltd. and other punctuation, as well as the use of "&" or "and." This is especially true regarding law firms. Always follow the lead of the firm and follow the firm's style.
    Right: G & M Distributors, Inc.
    Right: Seminary Street, Ltd.
    Right: Barash & Everett LLC; Stoerzbach Morrison P.C.; or Hattery, Simpson & West
  • For possessives: Galesburg Electric Supply Co.'s profits.
  • When referring to a company without its formal title, use the term "company," not "co."
  • Spell out the names of theatrical organizations: Vitalist Theatre. Always spell out the word "company" in theatrical organizations: Steppenwolf Theatre Company.


  • In most non-academic writing, contractions make your text easier to read with a more conversational tone. Unless a more formalized construction helps emphasize the meaning of a sentence or phrase, use contractions and use them consistently.


  • Use the upper case when referring to Opening and/or Homecoming Convocation.
    Right: I will attend Opening Convocation in September.
    Right: Many alumni attend Homecoming Convocation.

Course Titles

Cultural Background

  • African American/Black: It's acceptable to use these interchangeably to describe Black people in the United States. When referring to specific individuals, use the term he or she prefers. African American should only be hyphenated when used as an adjective.
    Right: She is an African American.
    Right: He has questions about his African-American heritage.
  • Native American: Some indigenous people in the United States prefer "American Indian" to "Native American." It's best to use individual preference, if known. When possible, use national affiliations rather "Native American," such as Navajo, Hopi, or Cherokee.
  • Asian, Asian American: Use Asian when referring to anyone from Asia, but use Asian-American when specifically referring to those of Asian ancestry who were born in the United States. It's best to use individual preference, if known.
  • Hispanic/Latino: The terms Hispanic and Latino tend to be used interchangeably in the United States for people with origins in Spanish-speaking countries, like Mexico. Also, Latino, from American Spanish, is used in some cases as an abbreviation for latinoamericano or 'Latin American.' These are guidelines to use, please use the individual's preference, if known.

Cum Laude



  • Dashes showing a range between dates, times, or years should not have spaces around the dash.
    Right: The presentation will be October 8-9 from 6:30-8:00 p.m.
    Wrong: The presentation will be October 8 - 9 from 6:30 p.m. - 8:00 p.m.
  • Use em-dashes to set off distinct thoughts within a sentence. In print, do not separate em dashes from surrounding words with spaces.
    Right: No one disputes that Thom—who spells his name with an 'h'—is a great guy.
  • To make an em dash, use the following key stroke:
    (PC) control + alt + dash on number pad
    (MAC) option + shift + dash
  • Web: Breaking news! You can now use an em dash on the web, too! Use the special characters key (look for the  Ω) in the text formatting section of the CMS to access them. 
    Right: Thom—I think that's how you spell his name—is a great guy.
    Wrong: Thom -- I think that's how you spell his name -- is a great guy.


  • Always spell out the name of the month. When using a month and a year only, do not separate with commas. When a phrase is used with a month, date, and year, set both the date and year off with commas.
    Right: January 2002
    Right: January 13
    Right: January 13, 1990, was a very good day.
  • Do not use the word "on" before a date or day of the week when its absence would not lead to confusion.
    Right: He will be inaugurated February 22.
    Right: The meeting will be held Monday.
  • Do not use suffixes with dates.
    Right: October 14
    Wrong: October 14th
  • Use an "s" without an apostrophe after the year to indicate spans of decades or centuries. Use an apostrophe before the year for class years or abbreviations to indicate the "20" or "19" is omitted. See Class Year.
    Right: The College was formed in the 1830s.
    Right: Shannon will graduate with the Class of '03.
  • An apostrophe after the year is needed for possessives.
    Right: The presidential election was 1980's biggest news story.


  • Place a 0 before decimals less than 1. For example, 0.27. In describing quantities in millions, use one decimal place at most. For example, $2.7 million. In describing billions, use no more than two decimal places, such as $7.68 billion. See Fractions.

Dean's List

  • Always capitalize "Dean's List" when referring to the Knox College Dean's List.


  • When giving a distance in reference to Knox or any of its facilities, always use both the U.S. and international standards. Also, there should not be any dashes used.
    Right: Green Oaks is a 700 acre (280 hectare) preserve located 20 miles (32 kilometers) from the campus.
    Wrong: Green Oaks is a 700-acre (280-hectare) preserve located 20 miles (32 kilometers) from the campus.

Doctor's Degree/Doctorate


  • Abbreviate with a dollar sign ($) when used to describe an amount ($4.50). Spell out only when discussing the type of currency itself (I got paid in Canadian dollars). Do not hyphenate adjectival phrases.
    Right: A $5 million bonus




  • Ellipses points are three spaced periods. They must always appear together on the same line of text.
  • For print or Web, four periods mark the omission of a full sentence or sentences; three periods mark the omission of words within a sentence or indicate a pause in speech or thought.
    Right: "The spirit of American radicalism is destructive and aimless . . . . On the other side, the conservative party . . . is timid, and merely defensive of property . . . . It does not build, nor write, nor cherish the arts, nor foster religion, nor establish schools."

Em Dashes


  • Following a person's name professor emeritus should appear in lower case. Example: Professor Emeritus Robert Whitlach and Robert Whitlach, professor emeritus. When plural, Professors Emeriti is correct: Professors Emeriti Whitlach and Davidson.


  • As of September 2017, the word email is not hyphenated. Email addresses in text should be in italics and not underlined.



Facility Names

  • Following are formal Knox facility names followed by accepted alternative names and acronyms:
    Art Studio
    Audio Visual
    Auxiliary Gymnasium (Auxiliary Gym)
    Bastian Family Career Center
    Blodgett Baseball Field
    Caterpillar Classroom
    Campus Safety
    Choral Library
    Dorothy Johnson '39 and Richard Burkhardt '39 Language Center
    E. & L. Andrew Fitness Center
    Eco House
    Eleanor Stellyes Center for Global Studies
    Finley Room
    Francois Classroom
    Gerald and Carol Vovis Center for Research and Advanced Study
    Gizmo Patio
    Harbach Theatre
    Information Technology Services
    Ingersoll House
    Instrumental Library
    Jay Rehearsal Hall
    Jorge Prats Field
    Knosher Bowl
    Knox Softball Field
    Kresge Recital Hall
    Lay Natatorium
    Lincoln Room
    Luetger Pavilion
    Mark and Jeannette Kleine Center for Community Service
    Memorial Gymnasium (Memorial Gym)
    Merdian Tennis Courts
    Oak Room
    Oberembt Amenities Center
    Porter Wrestling Complex
    Sandburg Lounge
    Scripps Teaching Lab
    Seymour Library
    Skylight Room
    Standish Room
    Stellyes Lab
    Studio Theatre
    Taylor Student Lounge & Game Room
    T. Fleming Fieldhouse
    TKS and Catch Office
    Trevor Field
    Turner Track
    Wallace Stage


  • The suggested way to use this word in a sentence is in lower case. If you're providing a fax number in a listing, it's all right to capitalize.
    Knox College Office of Communications
    Phone: 309-341-7337
    Fax: 309-341-7718


Founders Day

  • Founders Day should be written without the apostrophe, as it is inclusive of all founders.


  • When making reference to a portion such as "one-third of the faculty," always hyphenate and spell out the fraction.


Gender Sensitivities

  • See Pronouns.
  • When making reference to facilities that are specifically available to users of all genders (restrooms, residence halls, dressing rooms, etc.), use the term "all-gender" rather than "gender-neutral" or any other variant, to describe them.
  • Right: There are all-gender restrooms on the first floor of Alumni Hall.

George Washington Gale Scholars Program

  • Refer to as George Washington Gale Scholars Program on first reference. Subsequent references is may use the shortened Gale Scholars Program. Participants are referred to as Gale Scholars.

Giving Clubs

Greek Organizations

Green Oaks

  • The full, proper title of the facility is Green Oaks Biological Field Station. Upon second reference, the title may be shortened to Green Oaks. The correct acreage of the property is 700.

Gender and Women's Studies


Headlines & Subheadlines

  • For Headlines: The first and last words and all nouns, pronouns, adjectives, verbs, adverbs, and subordinating conjunctions (if, because, as, that, etc.) are capitalized. For Web copy headers within body copy should not be larger than the body copy text. To separate headers and body copy text, make the header bold.
  • For Subheadlines: Style varies based upon usage. News releases and athletic news stories use sentence case (first word and proper nouns capitalized.) Informational pages use title case (same as headline). Knox Magazine stories will also use title case.



  • Capitalize "Homecoming," when referring to Knox College's Homecoming event.

Honors Program

  • The Knox Honors Program is the official title of the senior research program. It is also referred to as "College Honors" or "Honors," which should always be capitalized.
    Right: Larry graduated with College Honors.
    Right: Sarah applied to participate in the Knox Honors Program.
    Right: Students complete Honors projects.
  • Titles of College Honors projects are treated the same as academic papers and dissertations and are in quotations: "Houses, Windows and the Greenwood: The Recreation of Boundaries in E.M. Forster's Suburban Novels." Megan Scott '96.
  • There is no apostrophe in Honors.
    Right: Rick completed an Honors project.
    Wrong: Rick completed an Honor's project.


  • Do not hyphenate word combinations in which the first word ends in -ly, such as "newly renovated."
  • Many two-word phrases are two separate words when used as a noun, verb or adverb but take a hyphen when used as an adjective.
    decision maker (noun)
    decision making (verb)
    decision-making (adjective)
  • Check the way the words are being used in your sentence. As a rule, phrases after the verb are not hyphenated. To hyphenate in a series, follow this example: He wrote 10- and 20-page papers.
  • Clarifying common confusions:
    child care
    cooperative (adjective)
    co-op (noun)
    coursework (noun)
    full-time employee (adjective)
    she works full time (adverb)
    Fundraising (fundraiser, fundraise)
    long-range plans (adjective)
    cover a long range (adverb)
    long-term (adjective)
    results are long term (adverb)
    newly renovated
    on-campus movies (adjective)
    movies on campus (preposition and noun)
    part-time job (adjective)
    she works part time (adverb)
    sport-utility vehicle
    start-up (adj.) startup (n.)
    vice president
    vice president
    world-renowned school (adjective)
    the school is world renowned (adverb)



  • Use "i.e." to replace the words "that is." Use "e.g" to replace the words "for example." Always follow with a comma. Avoid the use of i.e. or e.g. in formal communication or correspondence.
    Right: Catch has won many national awards, e.g., the Pacemaker Award and the AWP Award.
    Right: He's not one to follow the rules, i.e., he's a rebel.

Independent Major


Job Titles


Knox Magazine

  • "Magazine" is part of the official title. Do not precede name with "the" when referring to the full title.
    Right: When you read Knox Magazine, tell us what you think.
  • Refer to it as the magazine (lower case) in subsequent references.


Last Names

  • Form plurals of family names that end in "s" by adding "es."
    Right: The Jameses live in Edgewood.
    Right: The James family lives in Edgewood.
  • Form plurals and possessives of proper names that end with "s," "x" and "z" like this:
    Right: Burns' poems
    Right: Marx's theories
    Right: Savitz's holdings
  • Plural possessives combine the above rules:
    Right: the Jones family's reputation
    Right: The Joneses' reputation

Latin Honors

  • Use lower case and italicize cum laude, magna cum laude, and summa cum laude.

Lecture Titles

  • Burkhardt Lecture Series
  • Stellyes Distinguished Lecture in Global Affairs

Letters, Format of

Lincoln-Douglas Debate

  • Capitalize the "d" in debate: Lincoln-Douglas Debate.



Magna Cum Laude


  • Use lower case for majors, programs, specializations, or concentrations with the exception of languages, which are proper nouns. See Academic Departments.
    Right: He received a bachelor of arts degree in history.
    Right: He'll study history.
    Right: He's a history major.
    Right: She's a Spanish major.
    Right: She was awarded a bachelor's (master's) degree.


McNair Program

  • Refer to as Ronald E. McNair Program on first reference, McNair Program in subsequent references. Participants are referred to as McNair Fellows.


  • Do not use " for inches or ' for feet. Spell out inches, feet, square feet, miles, pages, pounds, and yards.
    Right: a 12-inch ruler; a 10-foot pole.


Million, billion

More than/over

  • Use "more than" when you mean in excess of; use "over" when referring to physical placement of an object, an ending, or extent of authority.
    Right: More than 25 professors participated.


  • Italicize the titles of movies, plays, and television shows. Use quotes for episode names.
    Right: Amy Carlson starred in Third Watch and was killed in the episode "Cop Gets Blown Away."

Music Titles

  • Capitalize and italicize, but do not use quotation marks around descriptive titles for orchestral works. If a work has a special title, use quotation marks around it.
    Right: "Oh, What a Beautiful Mornin'" from Oklahoma
    Right: The song "Beat It" is on the album Thriller.


Native American



  • Spell out numbers from one to nine. Use numerals for all numbers 10 and above.
    Right: 16 buildings
    Right: four miles
  • Above 1 million, spell out million, billion, trillion. Do not go more than one decimal place when spelling out the magnitude in millions, and two decimal places for billions.
    Right: The company shipped 1 million units, but only 780,000 arrived intact.
    Right: $5.1 million. $5,104,300 also is acceptable.
  • Exceptions: Use numerals for ages, percentages, equipment specifications, sporting event scores, page numbers, addresses, and sums of money when using the symbol "$."
    Right: She has a 2-year-old daughter and a son who is 8.
    Right: 8 megabytes, 240 RAM
  • Avoid starting a sentence with a number, but, if you must, spell out the number unless it's a year.
    Right: Twenty students registered.
    Right: 1914 was an important year.
  • When describing a range, use the word "to" rather than a dash.
    Right: There will be 20 to 25 people at the party.
  • Always use numerals for measured quantities.
    Right: He was driving 5 mph.

Numbered lists

  • Bullet points are preferred unless the exact order or the exact number of items is significant. See Bulleted Lists.



  • Always one word, no hyphen, lowercase, when used to mean "connected to the Internet."



  • Use a numeral and spell out "percent" for print.
    Right: A 5 percent increase in earnings was anticipated.
  • Use the % symbol when writing for the Web.
    Right: A 5% increase in earnings was anticipated.
  • Do not hyphenate percentages.
    Right: We discovered a 30 percent drop-off.
  • The word percent can be abbreviated in graphs and charts. Drop the first "percent" when providing a range.
    Right: 25 to 35 percent.


Phone numbers

  • Do not put a parentheses around the area code. Use hyphens throughout the number.
    Right: 309-341-7000
    Wrong: 309.341.7000
    Wrong: (309) 341-7000

Postal Boxes

  • Do not use periods between the "P" and "O" when referring to postal boxes.
    Right: PO Box 123
  • Knox boxes should only be used for internal use or for personal or targeted correspondence.
    Right: K-148
  • For external audiences, use the following address with the appropriate department name:
    Knox College Office of Admissions
    2 East South Street
    Galesburg, IL 61401

Postal Abbreviations

  • Do not use postal abbreviations in your text.
    Right: He's from New Castle, Pennsylvania.
    Wrong: Knox College is located in Galesburg, IL.
  • See Addresses.

Plurals and Possessives

  • Form plurals of the following by adding "s" alone:
    Right: CDs
    Right: M.A.s and Ph.D.s
    Right: I got three Bs
    Right: the early 1920s
    Right: in twos and threes
  • Exceptions: Form plurals of the following by adding 's
    Right: S's, A's and I's
    Right: x's and o's
    Right: SOS's
  • For use in names see Last Names.

Prairie Fire

  • When referring to Knox athletics teams, "Prairie Fire" should be understood as a plural noun, like the Chicago Cubs or St. Louis Cardinals or Detroit Red Wings. The Prairie Fire are in the playoffs again this year.

Pre-Professional and Cooperative Programs

  • Pre-professional and cooperative programs are not capped unless they form part of an official program name, an official course name, or are themselves proper nouns (such as English or Latin.) Use lower case for the field when it's used in a general sense. See Academic Programs for greater clarification. See the Knox website for a current listing of programs.

Princeton Review

  • Do not italicize. Princeton Review is an organization, not a publication. See Publication Names.

Preferred Plurals

  • alumni, alumnae (women only)
    appendixes, not appendices
    memoranda, not memorandums
    millennia, not millenniums
    symposia, not symposiums

Professorships, Chaired


  • Construct your sentences so you can avoid having to use gender-specific terms. For example, by using plural pronouns (they, their), you can avoid having to use the awkward but gender-sensitive construction he/she or his/her. But avoid using plural pronouns in sentences with a singular construction.
    Right: Good reporters protect their sources.
    Wrong: A good reporter protects his or her sources.
    Right: If you have a student going to the conference, please send me the titles of your student's papers.
    Wrong: If you have a student going to the conference, please send me the title of their paper.
  • Instead of chairman, use chair. Instead of waiter or waitress, use server. Instead of mailman, use postal carrier. It's also becoming more common to see the term actor used for men and women.

Publication Names

Academic Papers

  • The title of an academic paper or journal article should be put inside quotation marks. Use italics for the journal name.
    Right: His paper, "The Rhetoric of Neo-Classic Poets," was published in Classical Literature Quarterly.


  • Use italics for book titles, journals, magazines, and newspapers. Use quotations for book chapters, individual selections, articles, and poems. Works available online are treated the same as printed matter.
    Right: The Best 345 Colleges, by Princeton Review, is one of the most popular college guidebooks. (Princeton Review is a company, not a book. Never italicize.)
  • In the rare instance that a book title has two subtitles, a colon normally precedes the first and a semicolon the second. The second subtitle also begins with a capital.
    Right: A recent book featured in the ABCC newsletter was titled: Bound for the Promised Land: Harriet Tubman; Portrait of an American Hero by Kate Clifford Larson


  • Capitalize and italicize the name. Do not capitalize "magazine" unless it's part of the publication's title or masthead.
    Right: Time magazine, Newsweek magazine, Knox Magazine, U.S. News and World Report.
  • Capitalize the word "the" only if it's part of the periodical's title.
    Right: The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Knox Student, The Washington Post, the Peoria Journal Star
  • When listing several publications or periodicals, use lower case on "the" or eliminate it.
    Right: We read the New York Times, Post-Gazette, and Wall Street Journal every morning.
  • See Music Titles.
  • See Movies/Theater/TV.



  • The period and the comma always go inside quotation marks.
    Right: He said, "I'm going to the store."
    Wrong: He said, "I'm going to the store".
    Right: She told us "stay in school," which was good advice.
  • The dash, the exclamation point and the question mark go inside the quotation marks when they apply to the quote only. When they apply to the whole sentence, they go outside the marks.
    Right: Knox just got named a "Best Value"!
    Right: Gomer Pyle said, "Golly, Sergeant!" when he heard the news.
    Right: Francis Schaeffer's book asks, "How Shall We Then Live?"
    Right: What did Martin Luther King mean when he said, "I have a dream"?
  • The colon and semicolon should be placed outside quotation marks. When matter ending with one of these punctuation marks is quoted, the colon or semicolon is dropped.
    Right: The president said the plan needed "a few minor adjustments"; however, he did not reject it entirely.
  • When including a quote or "highlighted" word inside another quotation, use single quotes (') instead of double (").
    Right: In his charge to the committee, the chair said, "I have often told you, 'don't give up the ship.' Thanks to your efforts, we've been able to reach our goal."
  • In running quotations, each new paragraph should begin with open quotation marks (no closing marks). Only the final paragraph should contain the closing quotation mark.
    Right: "Welcome, ladies and gentlemen. I have a few points to make today. The first is to thank you for this honor. My accomplishments are noteworthy only in so far as they help to advance this important field of human endeavor.

    "The second is to ask you to continue thinking about this critical issue. Only through continued research and experimental programs such as the one you've recognized today will we advance our cause and improve our society.

    "Finally, let me ask you to do more than turn your mental energies to this important effort. Give your total energies -- in the form of financial support, volunteer time, active advocacy -- for the sake of progress. Then we can all share in this special honor. Thank you."




  • Region names are capitalized when they stand alone and are widely understood to designate a specific geographic and/or cultural area.
    Right: Western Illinois, the West Coast, the Midwest
    Right: the east coast of Florida, the midwestern United States

Religious/Ethnic Holidays

  • To respect the wide variety of religions on our campus, use "holiday party" rather than "Christmas party," and "winter break" rather than "Christmas break."

Residence Halls

  • Do not use the word dorm or dormitory to refer to the buildings on campus where students live. Always use residence hall.
  • Names of residence halls:
    Campbell Hall
    Conger Hall
    Drew Hall
    Elder Hall
    Furrow Hall
    Griffith Hall
    Longden Hall
    Neal Hall
    Neifert Hall
    Post Hall
    Raub Hall
    Sellew Hall
    Sherwin Hall
    Simonds Hall
    International House (I-House)
    Jazz House


  • Always capitalize when referring to Knox College Reunion celebrations.
    Right: I will attend my Reunion at Homecoming.
    Wrong: I gave a reunion gift.


  • Capitalize only when used with a number, letter, or name. In combination with a building name, use the number only.
    Right: We'll be in Room 100.
    Right: We'll be in the training room.
    Right: The movie is in Old Main 311.
  • Room names/numbers should not have hyphens or spaces in them.
    Right: The lecture is in SMC E113.
    Wrong: The lecture is in SMC E-113 or E 113.



  • Capitalize only when used in a title or as part of a formal name. Use lower case when these words stand alone.
    Right: fall term, summer program
    Right: The program started in fall 1989.
    Right: The Spring Fling will be repeated this year. The Fall 2005 issue of Knox Magazine featured articles on community service. The Fall 2003 issue of Catch was a finalist in the Pacemaker Award.

Self-Designed Major & Minor

  • Students may complete a self-designed major or minor, which combines work in several departments.
  • Always treat the "s" and "d" in the same style.
    Right: Self-Designed majors are common at Knox.
    Right: Mark pursued a self-designed minor in Chinese studies.

Sexual Orientation

  • "Gay" is acceptable and preferable as a synonym for homosexuals, primarily males. "Lesbian" is preferred for women. When possible, use "gay and lesbian." It's best to use "gay" as an adjective, not a noun, for example, "gay man," "gay people." Where space is an issue, "gay" is acceptable to include both gay men and lesbians.

Social Security

  • Always capitalize Social Security Number and Social Security Administration. Do not use the acronym "SSN" in formal or public documents.
    Right: Fill in your name and Social Security Number.
    Right: The forms will be forwarded to Social Security.

Spacing at End of Sentence

  • Use a single space at the end of a sentence and after a colon. Double spaces date back to the days of typewriters, when all characters were allotted the same amount of space. Computerized typesetting adjusts the spacing for a good fit. Extra spaces create gaps and look unprofessional.



  • Never abbreviate state name.
  • Use Washington, D.C. Don't abbreviate to D.C. only, or worse, DC.

Stellyes Scholars

  • Students who travel overseas in pursuit of international experiential learning experiences and are assisted with their travels by monies from the Stellyes Fund will be referred to as Stellyes Scholars.

Student Body

  • Do not refer to "student body." Use "student" or "students" instead.

Student Classifications

Student Organizations

Summa Cum Laude


Taylor Student Lounge

  • Taylor Student Lounge & Game Room is named in honor of Knox's 18th President Roger Taylor. Wallace Stage is located in Taylor Student Lounge.


  • Do not capitalize terms in text.
    Right: Flunk Day takes place during spring term; Homecoming occurs in the fall term.


  • Acceptable abbreviations: CEO, CFO, COO, CIO and CTO (chief technology officer). Unacceptable abbreviations: VP.
  • A person's title is capitalized only when used before the name. Do not capitalize occupational designations.
    Right: We met President Amott.
    Right: The president will speak at the dinner.
    Right: Vice President for Academic Affairs Larry Breitborde issued the memo.
    Right: Our speaker will be artist William Cooper.
    Right: Head Coach Chad Eisele led the team in a victory.
  • Titles following a person's name should appear in lower case. Use lower case when a title is used alone.
    Right: Paul Steenis, vice president for enrollment and dean of admission, will host the reception.
    Right: Kim Schrader, head volleyball coach, has been involved in intercollegiate athletics for 14 years.
  • Endowed chairs appear in upper case. When referring to a chaired professor, formal titles should be used whenever possible.
    Right: Robert Seibert, Robert W. Murphy Professor of Political Science, is the co-director of Knox College's Stellyes Center for Global Studies.
  • See the Current Endowed Chairs page for a complete listing of the current chair names and holders.
  • When referring to a Reverend the abbreviation Rev. is used before a name when 'the' does not precede the title. With 'the', such titles should be spelled out.
    Right: Rev. Samuel G. Wright; the Reverend Samuel G. Wright


  • Knox College always uses "theatre," in all College references, i.e. Kresge Theatre, Harbach Theatre, Knox College Department of Theatre, theatre major, or Chair of the Theatre Department Robert Whitlatch.


  • Specify time of day by using a.m. and p.m. For example, 5:15 p.m. Noon is 12:00 p.m.
  • Include the relevant time zone abbreviation when specifying the time of day. Time zone abbreviations are capitalized and placed in parenthesis. For example, 10:54 a.m. (EST).
  • Time Zones:
    EST Eastern Standard Time
    EDT Eastern Daylight Time
    CST Central Standard Time
    CDT Central Daylight Time
    MST Mountain Standard Time
    MDT Mountain Daylight Time
    PST Pacific Standard Time
    PDT Pacific Daylight Time



U.S./United States

  • Use U.S. as an adjective, but not as a noun, for United States.
    Right: He is a U.S. citizen.
    Right: He is a citizen of the United States.
  • Always spell out "United States" when writing to or addressing an international audience.


  • Accepted abbreviation for uniform resource locator. See Web Addresses.

Underground Railroad Freedom Station

  • The official name of the Knox College program is Galesburg Colony Underground Railroad Freedom Station at Knox College. Use full title on first reference; use Underground Railroad Freedom Station on subsequent references.
  • Always capitalize the term Underground Railroad.


Web, World Wide Web

  • Web is an acceptable shorter substitute for World Wide Web; website is one word, and "web" is not capitalized.

Web Addresses

  • When writing out Web addresses, http:// is not necessary. Web addresses should be in italics and not underlined.

Western Illinois

Knox College

Printed on Monday, May 20, 2024