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Style Guides: Grammar & Usage

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Carroll generally follows AP (Associated Press) Style for all print and electronic publications. Examples and exceptions are listed below.

Academic Degrees

Uppercase with apostrophe “s” (Associate’s, Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees).

There is no possessive in Associate of Arts, Bachelor of Arts, Master of Science, etc.

Academic/Administrative Departments

Use uppercase for official names of all academic departments and administrative offices (e.g., Department of Biology, Theatre Department, Admissions Office).

Academic Programs and Majors

Use uppercase when referring to an academic area of study or a specific course name (e.g., a Theatre major; a degree in Chemistry; Biology 101; Fundamentals of Biology I). 

Use lowercase if referring to a field in general. (As a child, she loved to read about biology.)

Campus Locations

Spaces can be referred to by their general name (e.g., K Building, Fitness Center, Child Development Center) unless they have been designated a name.

Commonly used named spaces:

Babylon Great Hall
Bollinger Family Conference Center
Canteen Café (or the Café)
Gallery in the Scott Center 
Lynx Athletic Field
Langdon Family Art Gallery
Miller Small Business Resource Center
Pappalardo Nursing and Health Care Education Center (orThe Pappalardo Center)
Penguin Random House Learning Resources Center
PNC Bank Rehearsal Hall
Rotary Amphitheater 
Scott Center for the Fine and Performing Arts (or The Scott Center)
Theater in the Scott Center

Carroll Community College References

Always use the full name “Carroll Community College” on first reference. “Carroll” is acceptable for subsequent references. Never refer to the College as “Carroll CC” or “CCC.” 

Capitalize “College” when referring specifically to Carroll Community College (e.g., The College is located in Westminster, MD). 


Capitalize names of specific committees as well as following references (e.g., Curriculum Development Committee, Program Review Committee).


Avoid using the oxford (serial) comma, the final comma in a list of things, unless needed for clarity (e.g., red, white and blue).

Use a comma between city and state names. Abbreviate and capitalize state. (E.g., He was traveling from Austin, TX to Philadelphia, PA.)

No comma necessary in a name prior to suffix (e.g., Martin Luther King Jr.).

When a phrase lists only a month and year, do not separate with commas. When a phrase refers to a month, day and year, set off the year with commas (e.g., He said Jan. 27, 2001 was the target date; January 2001 was the opening month.).

For numbers larger than 999 use commas to mark off thousands, millions, etc. (e.g., 1,001 reasons to smile; 2,200 students).


Dates should use figures without st, nd, rd or th (e.g., May 3, March 22).

When a month is used with a specific date, abbreviate only Jan., Feb., Aug., Sept., Oct., Nov. and Dec.

Do not abbreviate March, April, May, June or July.

Do not abbreviate when used alone or with a year (e.g., They were married in December 2002).

Grade Point Averages

Always carry out to at least one decimal place (e.g., a 4.0 scale); in most cases, two decimal places is preferred (e.g., a GPA of at least 3.60 is needed).

Hyphen vs. En-Dash vs. Em-Dash

Hyphens (-) should be used to:

Connect compound words.
Write fractions and compound numbers.
Connect all-, ex- and self- prefixes and -elect suffixes.
Divide a word at the end of a line (avoid if possible).

En-dashes (–) should be used to:

Connect numerical ranges (e.g., March 3–27).

Em-dashes (—) should be used to:

Set off parenthetical information requiring emphasis.
Prepare the reader for a dramatic shift in tone or thought.
Restate or define a nearby noun or thought.
Use a hyphen when a compound modifier precedes a noun (except for the adverb “very” and for adverbs ending in “ly”).


Use “online” instead of “on-line.”

Use “email” instead of “e-mail.”

Use “website” instead of “web site.”

In many cases “www” can and should be removed from URLs. (Before removing it, it’s best to test accessing the page without the “www.”)

Always refer to the main website as


Use figures and the dollar sign (e.g., $5.98). 

For whole dollars, remove “.00” (e.g., $4.00 should be $4).

For amounts over the thousands, use the dollar sign, a numeral and the appropriate word (e.g., $100 million, $3.1 trillion).

Names & Titles (People)

After the first reference, refer to an individual by his/her last name. (Exception can be made for students, who can be referred to by their first name in articles and social media posts.) 

Uppercase an individual’s title when it appears before or after his/her name. (e.g., Dr. Kristie Crumley, Associate Provost for Student Affairs and Marketing; Associate Provost for Student Affairs and Marketing Dr. Kristie Crumley). 

Use “Dr.” in first reference as a formal title before the name of an individual who holds a doctor of medicine degree; “Dr.” may also be used for individuals who have earned other types of doctoral degrees.

Courtesy titles such as Mr., Mrs., Miss, or Ms. are generally not used. Formal occasions such as building dedications and graduation may call for courtesy titles.

For names that include “Jr.” or “Sr.” and/or the notation  I, II, etc. at the end, do not precede the suffix with a comma (e.g., John Smith Jr., John Smith IV). 

When an individual lists a two-letter degree/credential after their name, they should include periods, such as B.A. or B.S.; M.A. or M.S.; or R.N. Degrees with more than two letters do not include periods, such as MBA, MSN, BSN, MFA, DNP, etc. (Exception: Ph.D. and Ed.D. should include the periods.)
Note: Associate, Bachelor and Master degrees (A.A., A.S., B.A., B.S., M.A. and M.S) are not generally included as credentials after an individual’s name, unless it is their specific industry standard to do so.

Numbers (for articles and long-form ad copy)

Spell out numbers one through nine; use figures for 10 and above. (Can spell out numbers up to one hundred if desired.)

Use numerals for dimensions, distances, percentages and ages.

Spell out numbers beginning a sentence.

Percentages (for articles and long-form ad copy)

Use “percent” in text and symbol (%) in charts, graphs and tables.

Always use number (6 percent, 50 percent, 8.5 percent).

Phone Numbers

Use dashes to separate phone numbers (410-386-8000). For toll-free numbers, do not include “1” (e.g., 800-555-5555).

Quotation Marks

Periods and commas are always placed inside the marks. Dash, semicolon, question mark and exclamation point are placed within the marks when they apply to the quoted matter only; place them outside when they apply to the entire sentence.

Room Numbers

List room numbers with the building letter and room number, no spaces (e.g., K210).


Use only one space after end punctuation marks, e.g., periods, question marks, etc.


Spell out the name of states when used alone in text (e.g., She was a Pennsylvania native.) Follow the USPS postal code standard for abbreviation of states when used in conjunction with cities, towns, military bases, etc. (e.g., Baltimore, MD).

Term vs. Semester

Carroll courses are scheduled by terms, not semesters. Always refer to terms as follows: Summer Term, Fall Term, Winter Term and Spring Term.


When stating times, use figures except for noon and midnight. Use a colon to separate hours from minutes (e.g., 3:30 p.m.). Do not use a colon/00 when stating a time on the hour (e.g., 1 p.m.). 

Always use lowercase “a.m.” and “p.m.” 

Time ranges only need a.m. or p.m. at the ending time (e.g., 10 – 11 a.m.) except in cases where the starting time is in the morning and ending time is in the afternoon (e.g., 10 a.m. – 1 p.m.) or vice versa.

If necessary, the year only needs to be mentioned once.

Titles (Works)

Use italics (not quotes) for the following full-length works:

The title of books, magazines, newspapers, plays, music albums, movies and TV/radio shows (e.g., One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, Les Misérables, M*A*S*H).

Use quotation marks for the following:

The title of book chapters, conference presentations, articles, speeches, songs and TV/radio show episodes (e.g., the “Made in America” episode of The Sopranos; “All You Need Is Love” from the Beatles’ album Yellow Submarine; Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech).


For decades add an “s” to the end (e.g., 1980s). For abbreviations, use an apostrophe beforehand (e.g., a ’57 Chevy).


In formal writing such as a news article, use “and” instead of “&.” 

“Four-year” as an adjective should be used in formal writing; “4-year” may be used in less formal writing (e.g., an advertisement).

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