Style Guide at College of San Mateo - Writing Style Guide
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Style Guide
Writing Style Guide
  1. The first reference to College of San Mateo on each section/page of a site is spelled out. Subsequent references would be CSM.
  2. It's College of San Mateo and not the College of San Mateo whenever possible.
  3. It's College with a capital C when referring to CSM.
  4. It's website and not Web site; it's email and not e-mail. It's Internet with a capital I, not internet.
  5. Please only one space after a period, colon, etc., at the end of a sentence.
  6. It's always Summer with a capital S, Fall with a capital F and Spring with a capital S when referring to a semester. Otherwise, it's lower case. For example, Fall Semester Schedule of Classes, or the event will take place this Fall semester or will take place this Fall if you mean this Fall semester.
  7. Spell numbers 1 through 9 (e.g., two) and then use number 10 or more. Use numbers 1-9 when it looks better, however. For example: English 101: 3 units.
  8. Faculty and Staff-singular or plural. Technically, it's singular. So, it's the faculty wants, the staff needs. Many times what we mean is faculty members want but we leave off the members and treat the noun as plural. We're undecided on how to go on this; we'd like to consult with Sandra Comerford. Here's some guidance I found: The collective nouns "faculty" and "staff " can take singular or plural verbs, depending on whether group members are acting individually or as a group.
    (Ex: "The English department faculty meets regularly with the History department faculty." or "The staff sometimes disagree among themselves.")
  9. Place apostrophes after names that end with an s (e.g., James' or James's). I say let's go with what looks better.
  10. When using the colon and bullet method of listing items, there is no need for punctuation of the bulleted items. For example, I am taking the following items on vacation:
    • a toothbrush
    • my golf clubs
    • a lot of after shave lotion
  11. Capitalize titles when they precede a name, lower case them if they proceed a name.
    (e.g., CSM President Michael Claire/Michael Claire, CSM president.)
  12. A phone number should be written as (650) 574-6165 and not 650-574-6165 or 650.574.6165.
  13. Time: Don't use periods when writing am or pm. And don't use the :00 as in 5:00 pm. Just write 5 pm.
  14. Date: When referring to a month and date, try not to use the th as in October 16th. Let it be October 16.
  15. When writing out available hours, please do not abbreviate the day of the week (Write Monday instead of Mon.)
  16. When referring to the San Mateo County Community College District after the first reference, write the District.
  17. It's bachelor's degree, associate's degree, B.A., B.S., A.A. or A.S.
  18. Use either % or percent but stay consistent
  19. Publications: Please italicize names of publications, movies, songs, and plays (San Francisco Chronicle,
    Catcher in  the Rye, Vertigo, Brown Eyed Girl, and The Wizard of Oz)
  20. It's theatre and not theater.
  21. Always spell and style check.
  22. Our default guide is "The Elements of Style" by Strunk and White.
  23. Please contact Valerie Tyler at or (650) 574-6488 with any questions.