CSI Style Guide
This is the latest version of our evolving style
guide. It is intended to be used as a reference for CSI-specific words
and phrases, not as a substitute for The Chicago Manual of Style (14th
ed.) or The American Heritage Dictionary, the standard style references
used for College publications. It also includes answers to some common
questions about usage and punctuation.
Academic degrees: no periods (e.g., BA, BS, PhD, etc.)
addresses (College): building before room [South Administration Building
administrative board, CSI Administrative Board
admissions office: Office of Admissions and Recruitment
adviser (not advisor), advisory
affirmative action officer
age: 1-10 spell out; 11+, use numerals)
alumnus (singular), alumni (plural), alumna (singular), alumnae (plural)
am (See also: times of day.)
bachelor’s degree, BA, BS
bachelor of arts
B.C.E. (goes after the year: 1260 B.C.E.), instead of B.C.
bias-free language: If you are uncertain about possible bias in your
whether you would want this said about you, or if you would say the same
about someone of another race, sex, age, religion, or socio-economic
If you answer “no” in either case, restate it. (See also: nonsexist
Biology Department: Department of Biology
black (noun, adjective)
building names are capped (South Administration Building)
Campus Security: now Public Safety
CD-ROM (all caps)
C.E. (goes before the year: C.E. 1010), instead of A.D.
century: ninth century, 19th century; spell out numbers less than 11.
adjectival forms (18th-century view).
chair: the nonsexist “chair” and “chairperson” are preferable to
chief financial officer, CFO
college: Lowercase when it is used in general (as noun or adjective).
when it refers to CSI.
College Board examination(s), College Boards
commas: use for words in series of three or more after every item. Use
greater than 999 (see also: numbers).
Committee names are capped if official
computer programming languages: BASIC; FORTRAN; LOGO; Pascal
course names and numbers: Refer to Catalog for official course names and
dates: use comma when including day (January 15, 1988) but not with
year only (January 1988)
decades: 1940s,‘40s (no apostrophe before the s)
degrees (academic): capitalize when paired with a major (e.g., Bachelor
of Arts in
Music), but lower-case when used in general (e.g., She received a
department names: (e.g., Department of Biology [preferred], Biology
Formal and informal names may be used interchangeably, though audience
sensitivity should be exercised.
Doctor of Philosophy
dollar: $10 million drive, $20 (not $20.00 or $20 dollars); use
numerals, not words,
for all dollar amounts
electronic mail, email (email addresses: use lowercase letters: email@example.com)
email addresses: use all lowercase letters (e.g., firstname.lastname@example.org)
Equal Opportunity Employer, EOE
emeritus (male, singular); emeriti (plural); emerita (fem., singular);
extension, campus telephone: use “ext.” but not “x.”
fax (not FAX)
Financial Aid Form (FAF), financial aid applications
first-year students (preferred over freshmen)
floors (in buildings): use first floor, second floor, not Floor 2, etc.
fundraising (verb), fundraising (adjective or noun), fundraiser (noun)
grade point average, GPA (not G.P.A.)
Guaranteed Student Loan Program (now Stafford Loan Program)
handbook, College handbook
handicapped: “persons with disabilities” is more acceptable
hearing-impaired (an adjective, not a noun)
high school (noun, adjective; no hyphen)
historical: takes the article a, not an
Hub, The (not The HUB)
human resources, Office of Human Resources
hyphen: Hyphenate compound adjectives that precede nouns (bone-dry soil,
a well designed car).
Do not use hyphens when adjectives follow nouns (the soil was bone dry,
was well designed).
Do not hyphenate well-established compound modifiers (a high school
Do not hyphenate after an adverb ending in “ly” (He is easily amused).
Suspensive hyphenation: She had a ten-day vacation.
ID, IDs, CSI ID
Inc.: do not use a comma: Fred’s Garage Inc.
international students: better than “foreign” or “non-native”
the Internet, the Net
Internet addressing protocol: www.csi.cuny.edu (not
Do not italicize URLs, set them in bold
italics: Indicate with an underline in typed copy; A Tale of Two Cities,
typeset, becomes A Tale of Two Cities.
italics for foreign terms: Italicize words that have not been
everyday use. When using a foreign term, only the first mention should be
IT: Information Technology
Jr.: do not use a comma: John Smith Jr.
L.A.N.: local area network (computer network)
local area network: L.A.N. (computer network)
majors: Use lowercase for subjects (except in cases with a proper noun,
English language and literature, French language and literature, etc.).
magazine and newspaper titles: Underline (italicize) complete title as
it appears on
publication (The Chicago Tribune, The New York Times, but Time
master of arts; in general; Master of Arts when paired with a subject
degree, MA, MS, MAT, MBA, MFA, MSEd, etc.
midnight (not 12:00pm or 12 midnight)
minority: Use specific reference when possible (African American, Asian
do not hyphenate noun form), or “person of color,” “women of color” when
NCAA divisions use roman numerals, not arabic numerals: Division III (CSI’s
are Division III teams)
the Net (short for the Internet)
nonsexist language: Masculine nouns and pronouns are not generic;
chairman, firemen, he, his, etc., should not be assumed to include
can all be restated to be nonsexist (humankind, chair, firefighters).
Rewrite the sentence to eliminate the pronoun (e.g., instead of “Each
wears his hat,” write “Each firefighter wears a hat.”).
Rewrite the sentence in the plural (if this does not alter the specific
the sentence; [e.g., instead of “Each firefighter wears his hat,” write
wear their hats.”])
Use “he or she,” or “his or her” when possible, but do not overuse them.
Use generic nouns: representatives, not congressmen; nurse, not male
supervisor, not foreman.
Replace titles that stereotype women: student, not coed; architect or
nontraditional students, students of nontraditional college age
noon (not 12:00am, 12 p.m. or 12 noon)
numbers: academic year (2001-2002) repeats the century and takes an en
(which, when typeset, is the width of the letter “n,” slightly wider
than a hyphen).
Other inclusive years are also written in full (e.g., 1936-1942).
Spell out numbers one through ten, use figures for 11 and above even
means mixing words and numerals in one context (e.g., write “11 rubberbands
and five paperclips”).
Use figures for all fractions larger than one; spell out for less than
one (11/4, two-fifths).
Use a comma in numbers of four or more digits (8,254), except in dates,
addresses, and page numbers.
Use cardinal numbers in dates (May 5, not May 5th).
Do not start a sentence with a numeral. Spell out a number, no matter
if it is the first word of the sentence, or rewrite the sentence.
offices: Office of Admissions and Recruitment (preferred) but also
online, online catalog (no hyphen)
pass/fail, pass/fail grading option
Possessives: For singular proper names ending in s, use an apostrophe s: Socrates’s
writings, Lincoln’s address.
Note about possessives: Proper style reserves possessives for ownership
person. However, grammarians still do not consider it proper to use
such as Canada’s Prime Minister (it should be “the Prime Minister of
Presidential search committee
professorships, named: capitalize complete titles, even after name:
Mary Nelson Professor Emeritus of Biology
Registrar’s office, Office of the Registrar
Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT)
security: use Public Safety
sexist language (see nonsexist language)
Sr.: do not use comma: John Jay Sr.
Stafford Loan Program: formerly Guaranteed Student Loan Program
state names: spell out in sentences, except in cases of conjunction with
county, or town (e.g., she was born in New York in 1960; she was born in
Brooklyn, NY in 1960); use two-letter postal abbreviation (NJ, PA, etc.)
street, avenue, road, etc.: abbreviate except in listings/display
Student Activities Fee
student affairs office, Office of Student Affairs
telephone numbers: do not use parentheses with area code or hyphens: use
area code + number separated by periods: 1.718.982.2200
that/which: “That” is the restrictive pronoun; it serves to identify the
preceding it. Example: The house that she bought was blue. “Which” is used
nonrestrictive clauses, which add information rather than define or
limit what has
gone before. Example: The hungry man went to the restaurant, which had
several awards over the years.
theatre (at CSI), use “theater” in generic use, unless the specific
organization uses the “re” spelling (e.g., Williamson Theatre; NeverLand
Third World (noun and adjective)
TIAA-CREF retirement plan
times of day: Use pm and am (lowercase, no periods). In typeset
material, use endash (the width of the letter “n,” slightly wider than a hyphen) with
times. Noon and midnight are lowercased and stand alone (i.e., not 12
Examples: 8:30am–noon, 8:00am–10:00am
Capitalize official titles before names (President Jane Smith, Dean
Joseph Borkowski, Associate Professor Sara Doe).
Use uppercase for titles after names (Jane Smith, President of the
Move titles to follow names whenever possible (Jane Smith, President;
Collins, Assistant Professor of Theater).
Use lowercase for words used as descriptions rather than as formal
Use lowercase for titles standing alone (the president, the dean, the
Exception: Titles in display (mastheads, other listings) or in formal
(programs, announcements) are often capped without regard to the above
Titles (books, films, etc.): Italicize (underline) titles of books,
newspapers, films, full-length plays, paintings, TV shows, and
exhibitions. Put in
quotes titles of short stories, poems, booklets, flyers, and lecture
toward (not towards)
trustees, CUNY Board of Trustees, board of trustees
United States (noun: ... arrived in the United States in 1956), U.S.
(adjective: ...showed her U.S. passport)
URL (Uniform Resource Locator): www.csi.cuny.edu (not http://www.csi.edu).
not italicize URLs, set them in bold.
username (computer user ID)
Washington, DC (set DC off with commas on both sides when used in a
the Web (short for World Wide Web); Website,Webpage
which: See that/which.
white (noun, adjective)
World Wide Web
ZIP code (not zip code, Zip Code or Zip code)
the CSI Style Guide