Style Guide

Editorial style makes writing easier for writers, editing easier for editors, and reading easier for readers. The goal of this style guide is to provide clear, simple guidelines for you, the writer, on grammar, punctuation, spelling and usage in materials produced by and for Williams College. In most instances, our style is based on the Associated Press (AP) Stylebook online, Strunk and White’s The Elements of Style and Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, 11th ed. This guide was developed by the Office of Communications.

The style guide is organized alphabetically and updated regularly. Search for what you’re looking for in the bar below, or scroll alphabetically. If you have questions or items to be added or updated, contact the Communications Office at 413-597-4277 or by email at [email protected].






























academic courses
Capitalize the names of academic courses: Fundamentals of Modern Literature, including informal names of courses: Psych 101, Intro Psych. See capitalization; course titles; titles of things.
academic degrees
Capitalize abbreviated degrees and use periods (B.A., B.S. and Ph.D.) Lowercase cum laude, magna cum laude and with honors, as well as bachelor’s, master’s and doctorate. See capitalization.
academic majors
Do not capitalize academic majors (i.e., history major, chemistry major) unless a major includes a proper noun (English major, American studies major). See capitalization; titles of things.
academic titles
(including president of the college) Capitalize when used before the name (Professor of English David Smith, President Maud S. Mandel). Lowercase when used after the name, except for endowed chairs (Claire Ting, professor of biology; Soledad Fox, the V-Nee Yeh ’81 Professor of Spanish and Comparative Literature). Do not use Dr. as part of a faculty or staff member’s title unless the person is a physician. See titles of people.
a cappella
Well-known acronyms and common abbreviations of names should be formed without periods: CEO, CIA, FBI, GPA, NATO and SAT. VP is acceptable for vice president in class notes. For organizations and terms not widely known, spell out names the first time you mention them. If you plan to use the acronym later, place it in parentheses after the first mention: She was named chairwoman of the Committee on Educational Policy (CEP). She also leads two CEP working groups. Try to avoid using unfamiliar acronyms when possible: He belonged to the International Organization for Medieval Studies and recently served as the group’s chairman. See addresses; capitalization; CEO/CFO.
In class notes, substitute D.C., L.A. and NYC for Washington, D.C., Los Angeles and New York City, respectively. Use periods for D.C. and L.A.: He moved from NYC to D.C.; She’s an L.A.-based attorney.
Adams Memorial Theatre
The 200-seat facility housed in the ’62 Center for Theatre and Dance. During the summer, Williamstown Theatre Festival uses the facility and calls it the Nikos Stage. Use theater in common usage. See ’62 Center for Theatre and Dance; theater.
Use commas to set off individual elements in addresses and names of geographical places or political divisions (She flew to Burlington, Vt., and continued to New York City by train). There is no comma between a state and the ZIP code in an address listing (Send mail to Williams Magazine at P.O. Box 676, Williamstown, MA 01267-0676). Abbreviate street and avenue only when used with a building number: 21 Main St.; 12 Spring Ave. But: She lives on Spring Street.
Lowercase in all uses: He works for the Biden administration.
admission office
Acceptable for Office of Admission.
Not advisor, unless you are referring to a junior advisor. See JA.
African American
No hyphen. Acceptable for a Black American of African descent. Black (capitalized) is also acceptable. The terms are not necessarily interchangeable. People from Caribbean nations, for example, generally refer to themselves as Caribbean American. Follow a person’s preference. Also see Black, white, brown; race.
Agard House
Student housing for sophomores, juniors and seniors.
Always use numerals; hyphenate if used as an adjective before a noun or as a substitute for a noun: His son is 5; His son is 5 years old; He has a 5-year-old son; He’s a 5-year-old. Set off ages with commas: Her daughter Andrea, 7, takes piano lessons. See numbers.
Use graduate (gender neutral), alumnus (male), alumna (female), alumni (all male or both sexes) and alumnae (all female).
Alumni Center/Faculty House
The Alumni Center is in the lower level of the Faculty House.
Alumni Fund
Do not use Annual Fund.
alumni office
Often used to encompass the offices of alumni relations and development, which sit within the Office of College Relations.
Alumni Travel-Study Program
Also see numbers; time of day.
Spell out in all uses except for the names of firms, colleges, etc.: He saw Barbara and Michael. She works for Coopers & Lybrand.
appear closed (like a comma) for class years: ’99.
Housing for first-year students; located in Mission Park.
Asian American
No hyphen. A person of Asian birth or descent who lives in the U.S. When possible, refer to a person’s country of origin. For example: Filipino American or Indian American. Follow the person’s preference.
Plural in all uses referring to Williams programs.
Use only as a noun, not as a verb: He is a children’s book author; He writes children’s books.
bar exam
Lowercase unless referring to a specific state’s exam: the California Bar.
Baxter Hall
Now the Paresky Center, Williams’ student center.
Bernhard Music Center
Home to the music department; includes Brooks-Rogers Recital Hall and Presser Choral Hall.
Acceptable on second reference for the Williams Bisexual, Gay, Lesbian and Transgender Alumni Network (formerly BiGALA).
Billville/Billsville/Purple Valley/Village Beautiful/Willytown
All acceptable nicknames for Williamstown.
biracial, multiracial, transracial
Biracial and multiracial are acceptable, when clearly relevant, to describe people with more than one racial heritage. They’re usually more useful when describing large, diverse groups of people than individuals. Avoid mixed-race, which can carry negative connotations, unless the individual being written about prefers the term. Do not use the term transracial, which can describe people who have adopted a different racial identity.
Black, white, brown
Do not use Black, white or brown as a singular noun. For plurals, the preferred phrasing is Black people, white people, etc., when clearly relevant. Be mindful of whether using such designations are necessary.
As adjectives, capitalize Black and lowercase white when using in a racial, ethnic or cultural sense: Black literature, Black people. African American is also acceptable for Black American. Follow an individual’s preference if known, and be specific when possible.
Avoid using the adjective brown in reference to race, ethnicity or culture in editorial writing unless it is part of a direct quotation. The term is broad and imprecise, and interpretations of what groups the term includes vary widely.
Also see African American; race.
Black History Month
Black Lives Matter, #Black Lives Matter
Launched after the 2012 killing of Trayvon Martin, a global movement with the goal of eradicating systemic racism and white supremacy and to oppose violence committed against Black people. Either Black Lives Matter as a noun or the Black Lives Matter movement is acceptable. BLM is acceptable on subsequent references. Though there are many groups that use “Black Lives Matter” or “BLM” in their names, only 16 are considered affiliates of the Black Lives Matter Global Network, according to the AP Style Guide (as of December 2020). The Black Lives Matter Global Network Foundation provides organizational infrastructure and funding to the affiliate chapters and was founded in 2014 after what is known as the Ferguson uprising over the August 2014 police shooting death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo. The BLM network is acceptable on second reference. #BlackLivesMatter is the social media hashtag associated with the movement.
Board of Trustees
Acceptable for the Williams College Board of Trustees. Lowercase trustee in informal use: She became a trustee in 2000; He attended the trustees’ meeting.
The Boston Globe/Boston Sunday Globe
Brooks House
Student housing for sophomores, juniors and seniors.
Brooks-Rogers Recital Hall
Frequently utilized concert and event venue, as well as lecture hall; seats 250.
Bryant House
Student housing for sophomores, juniors and seniors.
call letters
(for Radio and TV stations) Capitalize all letters; use a hyphen to separate the radio transmission system from the call letters: WCFM; WNYT; WABC-AM.
No hyphen. Also: collegewide, statewide, nationwide, worldwide.
Cap and Bells
A student-run theater troupe established in 1898 that mounts six to eight productions per year.
capital, capitol
A capital is the city where a seat of government is located; do not capitalize: The capital of Massachusetts is Boston. A capitol is a building; capitalize in all cases: She toured the U.S. Capitol; The meeting was held on Capitol Hill.
Capitalize only formal or specific names. When in doubt, use lower case, especially when a word’s meaning is generic.
He’s a circuit court judge.
Three students received book awards.
The biology department expanded.
She was named president of her class.
Judy Smith, class president, spoke.
They came back for the 25th reunion.
The trustees convened.
She took a history course.
He visited the chapel.
They enjoyed convocation in the fall.
She is a math major.
He’s a judge of the Berkshire County Circuit Court.
The 11th Annual Book Awards were a success.
The Department of Biology expanded.
She was named president of the Class of 1990.
Class President Judy Smith spoke.
They attended Reunion Weekend.
The Williams College Board of Trustees convened.
She took Fundamentals of Western History.
He visited Thompson Memorial Chapel.
They enjoyed the 112th Convocation and Fall Weekend.
The Bicentennial Medalist gave the Convocation Address.
He is an English major. See academic courses; academic degrees; abbreviations/acronyms; chairman/chairwoman; College; directions/regions; names; technology terms; titles of people; titles of things.
capitalization of combined plurals
Lowercase the common noun elements of names in all plural uses: Williams and Amherst colleges; Berkshire and Franklin counties.
Carter House
Student housing for sophomores, juniors and seniors.
Center for Development Economics (CDE)
Located in St. Anthony Hall.
See ’62 Center for Theatre and Dance.
Spell out the word cents and lowercase, using numerals for amounts less than a dollar: 5 cents; 12 cents. See dollars; money.
Do not capitalize or hyphenate; spell out first through ninth: eighth century; 20th century; 19th century literature.
Acceptable for chief executive officer and chief financial officer, respectively. See abbreviations/acronyms.
Chadbourne House
Student co-op housing for seniors.
Chaffee Tennis House
Part of the The Torrence M. Hunt Tennis Center.
Avoid using chair as a title. Instead: She is chairwoman of the committee. It is acceptable to use chair when referring to an endowed professorship or position in an orchestra: She holds the Judy Smith Chair in Physics; He is the first-chair flute in the orchestra. Do not use chair as a verb. He runs the program; She presides over the committee. See capitalization; titles of people.
Chandler Athletic Center
Includes a fitness center, Samuelson-Muir Pool, a basketball and volleyball court, trainer’s room, equipment rooms and coaches’ offices.
Chapin Hall
Performance space for the Music Department and a venue for large-scale campus events.
A term that Mexican Americans in the U.S. Southwest sometimes use to describe their heritage. Use in proper names of programs and organizations; use to identify a person only if it’s their preference.
civil rights movement
The Clark Art Institute
The Clark is acceptable for subsequent references.
Clark Hall
Houses the geosciences department.
Lowercase unless referring to a specific class in this manner: the Class of 1998 had its reunion; the Class of ’37 had its reunion; but: The class had its reunion.
class notes
Acceptable for a single year or the entire section of the magazine.
Class of ’37 House
Contains the Williams Safety and Environmental Compliance staff offices and the Office of Print and Mail Services.
Class of 1960 Scholars and Fellows Program
Funding for noncredit seminars to bring together a select group of outstanding majors with visiting scholars or artists of distinction.
Class of 1966 Environmental Center
Home to the Center for Environmental Studies and the Zilkha Center for Environmental Initiatives. Dedicated in April 2015. Formerly Kellogg House.
class years
Place a space after the full name, followed by a closed apostrophe (facing the same direction as a comma) and the two-digit year: Jane Smith ’80; John Smith Jr. ’80; Judy Smith Ph.D. ’80. In class notes, names are in bold, class years are in plain text. See names.
Cole Field House
Contains locker rooms, equipment rooms, meeting rooms and a trainer’s room for college teams.
Do not capitalize unless used with the word Williams (Williams College).
No hyphen. Also: campuswide, statewide, nationwide, worldwide. See -wide.
Use a comma to set off independent clauses (in which each phrase is a complete sentence):
She took the test, and she passed.Do not use to set off dependent clauses (in which one or more of the phrases is a fragment):
She took the test and passed.Use a comma for clauses beginning with the word which:
He took the course, which met every Tuesday night.Do not use for phrases beginning with the word that:
She took the course that fit her schedule.
See that, which.-and adjectives: Use a comma to separate a series of adjectives equal in rank (meaning you can replace the comma with the word and without changing the adjectives’ meanings):
She was a helpful, thoughtful student. 

Do not use a comma when the last adjective before a noun is an integral element of the noun phrase:
He was a smart high school student; She wore a robin’s egg blue parka.


-and quotations: Use a comma to introduce a complete-sentence quotation within a paragraph:
President Mandel said, “The strategic plan is important to Williams College.”


Use a colon to introduce quotations of more than one sentence:
President Mandel said: “The strategic plan is important to Williams College. The next step is to operationalize it.”


If attribution follows a quotation, use a comma inside the quotation marks unless the quotation is a question:
“This is an important time for Williams,” Mandel said. (but, “Can you send me your address?” she asked. )


-and names: Use a comma when directly addressing a person/people in print:
Classmates, please send me news; No, Ann, I did not get your letter.


When referring to a family member or friend of another person, do not use commas around that family member or friend’s name unless you know the other person has only one such family member or friend:
Bob’s daughter Sarah; Jane’s professor Chris; But: Bob’s eldest daughter, Sara; Jane’s English 101 professor, Chris.


Williams does not use the serial, or Oxford, comma. Adapted from the Associated Press Stylebook: Use commas to separate elements in a series, but do not put a comma before the conjunction in most simple series:
His grandchildren are Vera, Chuck and Dave.
She goes to school, plays league soccer and takes private dance lessons.


Include a final comma in a simple series if omitting it could make the meaning unclear:
Allie invited her best friends, her mom and her Aunt Kiki. (If Allie’s mom and her Aunt Kiki are her best friends, don’t use the final comma.)
Allie invited her best friends, her mom, and her Aunt Kiki. (If Allie invited her mom and her Aunt Kiki in addition to her best friends, the final comma is needed.)


Put a comma before the concluding conjunction in a series if an integral element of the series requires a conjunction:
I had orange juice, toast, and ham and eggs for breakfast.

Lowercase unless in formal usage: She attended commencement; She spoke at Williams College’s 221st Commencement.
Use abbreviation in place of Company or Corporation, respectively, in all proper business names; do not follow with a comma: Pepsi Co.; MetLife Corp. See Inc.
Official names of the co-op residences are Chadbourne, Doughty, Lambert, Milham, Poker Flats, The Rectory, Susie Hopkins and Woodbridge.
course titles
The formal and informal names of courses should be capitalized: Fundamentals of Modern Literature, Psych 101, Intro Psych. See academic courses; titles of things.
course work
Acceptable as the official name for the disease causing the 2019 novel coronavirus outbreak. The disease has also been called the 2019 novel coronavirus or 2019-nCoV. As an exception to AP style and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention style, form with a capital “C,” and lowercase the rest.
Currier Hall
Student housing for sophomores, juniors, and seniors; also includes Currier Ballroom, a performance space.
Use an em dash (—) to set off an abrupt break or interruption, or to announce a long appositive or summary. On a PC, they are created by holding down the CTRL and “shift” keys and hitting the “-” key. On a Mac, they are created by holding down the “option” and “shift” keys and hitting the “-”. Do not set off em dashes with spaces: He explained the skills—research, writing and public speaking—he expected of his students; She took the test—having studied for three days—and left for winter break. See hyphens.
Always use numbers, never use st, nd, rd or th. When referring to a specific date, abbreviate only the months Jan., Feb., Aug., Sept., Oct., Nov. and Dec. Set off the year with commas: The meeting will be Jan. 5, 2001, in the library. Spell out the month when using alone or with a year: He arrives in October; The building will open in November 2008. See numbers.
Davis Center
Formerly called the Multicultural Center, the Davis Center is a part of the Office of Strategic Planning and Institutional Diversity. The center is located in Jenness House and advances broad campus engagement with complex issues of identity, history and cultures as they affect intellectual, creative and social life.
In class notes, an acceptable abbreviation for Washington, D.C.
Denison Gate
The gate at the entrance to the Weston Athletic Complex.
Acceptable to spell out (the eighties, the nineties) or use numbers (the 1980s, the ’80s.) Either way, be consistent within the document. See numbers.
Housing for first-year students; located in Mission Park.
Lowercase when written informally (the biology department); capitalize full name (the Department of Biology). See capitalization.
Lowercase north, south, northwestern, etc., when they indicate a compass direction: They traveled west. Capitalize these words when they designate regions: They traveled to the West Coast; She lives in the Northern Berkshires. See capitalization.
Acceptable for disc jockey.
Dodd House/Dodd Annex
Student housing for sophomores, juniors and seniors.
Use figures and the $ sign in nearly all cases: She spent $3; The project is expected to cost $2 million. See cents; money.
In most cases, it is not necessary to use the formal title Dr. before the name of an individual who holds a medical degree. The context often is enough: James Oswald opened a pediatric practice; Chae Wright is an emergency room doctor. Or use abbreviations: Chae Wright, MD. Do not use Dr. for those holding academic or honorary doctorates. Use the abbreviation of the appropriate degree set off by commas: James Oswald, Ph.D., gave a lecture in Paris.
In class notes, titles such as Dr. and Ph.D. and labels such as MD are in plain text. See names.
Droppers House
Contains the administrative offices for dining services.
dual heritage
No hyphen for terms such as African American, Asian American, Filipino American, Italian American and Mexican American. Used when relevant to refer to an American person’s heritage.
East College
Student housing for sophomores, juniors and seniors.
Use ellipses (…) to indicate where words have been removed from direct quotations. Ellipses within a quotation are set off by spaces: “We took the short cut … and got lost.” Ellipses at the end of a sentence follow the period and are set off by a space on either side: “We took the short cut. … But it didn’t save much time.” Do not use ellipses at the beginning or end of a quotation. See quotations.
No hyphen and lowercase (except at the beginning of a sentence).
emeritus, emerita
Always follows the noun: She is professor emerita of Russian. Capitalize before the name and as part of endowed title: Professor Emeritus Darra Goldstein; or Darra Goldstein, the Willcox B. and Harriet M. Adsit Professor of Russian, Emerita.
English as a second language
Hyphenate as an adjective before the noun, no hyphen after: He joined an English-as-a-second-language class; She teaches English as a second language.
Most often, “entitled” means a right or claim to something. It can also mean to confer a title on a person, but it should not be used before the name of a book, lecture, article, speech, etc. Use titled instead: Stephen Freund will present a lecture titled “Stopping the Software Bug Epidemic.”
Pronounced “eef.” Sports teams are called Ephs, in honor of founder Colonel Ephraim Williams.
The monthly email newsletter for Williams alumni, faculty, staff and families.
Faculty House/Alumni Center
The Alumni Center is in the lower level of the Faculty House.
fall, fall semester
Fall Weekend
farther, further
Farther is a measure of physical distance: She ran farther than he did.
Further is a measure of time or degree: He’ll look further into the matter.
Fayerweather Hall
Student housing for sophomores, juniors and seniors.
Fernald House
Now deconstructed. Was once located where Schapiro and Hollander Hall sit today; housed the economics department and named for Professor Orlando Marcellus Fernald.
Masculine and feminine forms, respectively.
Noun or adjective to describe students in their first year of college: The orientation is for first-years; She is a first-year student. But: She is in the first year of her fellowship.
Fitch House
Student housing for sophomores, juniors and seniors.
Fort Hoosac/Taconic House
foreign words
Foreign words appear in plain text: alma mater, bon voyage, versus, emeritus, i.e., e.g. In general, avoid using foreign words that are not widely known. If you must use them, explain them: We drank a cup of mate (Latin American tea) and headed for the altiplano (high plateau).
Spell out and hyphenate when necessary: Three-quarters of the class attended; A fifth of the class attended.
full time
Hyphenate as an adjective before the noun, do not hypenate when using as an adverb: He is a full-time professor; She teaches full time.
Fundraising begins in the fall; The college planned a fundraising dinner; the college held a fundraiser.
Garfield House
Student housing for sophomores, juniors and seniors.
gay, lesbian
Used to describe people attracted to the same sex, though lesbian is the more common term for women. Preferred over homosexual. Include sexual orientation only when pertinent to the story; and do not use the term sexual preference. Sexual orientation is not synonymous with gender. See sex/gender.
Acceptable in broad references as a term for people who do not conform to gender expectations. When talking about individuals, be specific about how a person describes or expresses gender identity and behavior. Not synonymous with transgender.
Gladden House
Student housing for sophomores, juniors and seniors.
Goodrich Hall
The student center next to Lasell Gymnasium.
Goodrich House
The residence hall. Student housing for sophomores, juniors and seniors.
Acceptable for grade point average.
But great-grandchild; step-grandson.
Griffin Hall
Classroom building; includes Griffin 3, regularly used for lectures and events.
Hardy House
Part of The Davis Center; a meeting place for students and multicultural organizations; houses the Office of Special Academic Programs.
Harper House
Home of the Center for Environmental Studies.
used to mark conversations/content in social media. #williamscollege, #beautephul, #berkshires. Usable on most social media platforms; don’t overdo it. If mentioning a hashtag campaign, no quotes necessary: “the #whyliberalarts campaign aims to …”
health care
Two words, no hyphen: health care costs.
Student Health and Wellness Services
Contains both Thompson Health Center (medical services, located in the Mary Clark Thompson Center for Health Services) and Integrative Wellbeing Services (mental health and wellbeing, located in the Pond House for Wellbeing).
high school
No hyphen, whether a noun or adjective: He runs a high school program; She led a group of high school students on a campus tour.
Homecoming Weekend
But homecoming in all other uses. See capitalization.
Hollander Hall
(formerly known as the North Academic Building)
home page
Hopkins Memorial Forest
A 2,600-acre reserve managed by the Williams College Center for Environmental Studies.
Hopkins Hall
Houses the main administrative offices of the college.
Hopkins Observatory
Academic resource for the astronomy department and astrophysics majors; includes the Milham Planetarium.
Hopper Science Center
Contains labs for biology, chemistry and physics departments; classrooms; study spaces; and the 200-seat Bronfman Auditorium.
Horn Hall
Student housing for sophomores, juniors and seniors. Opened in fall 2016.
Acceptable abbreviation for headquarters in class notes.
Hubbell House
Student housing for sophomores, juniors and seniors.
Use to avoid ambiguity: She re-covered the hole. vs. He recovered from the fall. Use to avoid duplicated vowels or triple consonants: anti-inflammatory, shell-like. Use to create two-thought compounds: socio-economic. See dashes.
-and a compound modifier: Use to link all the words (except the adverb very and all adverbs ending in -ly) preceding a noun: a full-time job, a first-period goal, a very good grade, an easily remembered concept. When using a string of modifiers before a noun, put the modifier in quote marks instead of using hyphens, for clarity: He won the “Best Roommate in East Hall” award at reunion.
-in suspensive form: Suspensive hyphenation takes this form: a 10- to 20-year study; but: a 3-percent to 5-percent chance, a $5 million to $6 million project. See millions, billions; percentages; ranges.
and spelling: Unless the dictionary makes an exception, do not hyphenate: Decision making takes place on many levels; Fundraising is fun.
-and numbers: Use to separate numerals in odds (he has a 5-1 chance), ratios (the student- teacher ratio is 11-1, see ratios), scores and vote tabulations (she won 3-2), fractions that are spelled out (three-fourths). When large numbers are spelled out (like at the beginning of a sentence), use to connect a word ending in -y to the next word: Fifty-five (but three hundred). See numbers; ratios.
Acceptable for identification.
i.e., e.g.
Use i.e. to mean “that is”; use e.g. to mean “for example.” Use periods and set off in commas: The course is difficult, i.e., people who usually get As get Bs; The course covers several topics, e.g., plant and animal biology.
Use abbreviation in place of Incorporated in all proper business names; do not follow with a comma: Houghton-Mifflin Inc.; The Walters Group Inc. See Co./Corp.
Capitalize this adjective used to refer to original inhabitants of a place: Leaders welcomed a new era of Indigenous relations in Australia; Bolivia’s Indigenous peoples represent some 62% of the population.
Use periods in initials in personal names (unless specified): Barbara M. Smith; J.D. Salinger (note there is no space between two initials.
Always use hyphens around “in”: father-in-law; mother-in-law. If you’re talking about more than one, the first word should be plural: brothers-in-law; sisters-in-law.
Acceptable second reference for junior advisor, junior advisors. But use the American spelling adviser in all other cases. See junior advisor.
Jenness House
Home of The Davis Center staff; serves as a learning and resource center.
Jesup Hall
Includes computer classrooms and computer lab space for both Macs and PCs.
Jewish Religious Center
Serves the needs of Williams’ Jewish community; features a sanctuary, meeting hall, library and kitchen.
Joseph Lee Rice III 1954 Center for Teaching
Use Rice Center on second mention.
June 19, the traditional commemoration date of the emancipation of enslaved people in the U.S., also known as Juneteenth Independence Day or Freedom Day. President Abraham Lincoln first issued the Emancipation Proclamation declaring all enslaved people free in Confederate territory on Sept. 22, 1862, but the news took time to travel. June 19, 1865, was the last date when word of the proclamation reached African Americans in Texas.
Jr., Sr., III, IV, etc.
are not preceded by a comma: Cal Ripkin Jr. In class notes, they appear in bold: Douglas Jones Jr. ’74. See names.
Junior Advisor
In class notes, acceptable reference for Los Angeles.
Acceptable for laboratory, except in formal use: Morley Science Laboratories; Thompson Biology Laboratory.
Lambert House
Student co-op housing for seniors.
Lansing Chapman Rink
Ice hockey rink in the winter months and indoor tennis courts during fall and spring.
Lasell Gymnasium
Equipped with an indoor running track, wrestling room, golf nets and two fitness centers.
Latino, Latina, Latinx
Often the preferred noun or adjective for a person from, or whose ancestors were from, a Spanish-speaking land or culture or from Latin America. Latina is the feminine form. Some people prefer the gender-neutral term Latinx, which is acceptable in quotations, formal names of organizations or programs, or descriptions of individuals who request it. For groups of people who identify as women, use the plural Latinas; for groups of people who identify as men or for a mix of genders, use the plural Latinos. Use a more specific identification when possible, such as Cuban, Puerto Rican or Mexican American. Hispanic is acceptable if it’s the individual’s preference, but, again, be more specific when possible.
Lawrence Hall
Houses the Williams College Museum of Art; contains classrooms and the art department’s faculty offices.
Lehman Hall
Student housing for sophomores, juniors and seniors.
Acceptable to use acronym on first reference and thereafter for people who identify as part of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer or questioning (or both), intersex, asexual or ally (or both) community. Preferred when talking about groups of people rather than individuals, and it’s always better to ask the individual how they want to be identified. Note that there are multiple meanings for some of the letters in the acronym, and the term is often evolving and being redefined. A good reference is the Davis Center’s Online Resources page, LGBTQ+ @ Williams: Identities & Terms.
Avoid. AP says “A trademark for a software program for setting up and maintaining discussion groups through email.” Instead, use group email list.
the Log
Located on Spring Street, a restaurant and gathering place for students that is open to the community.
See ’62 Center for Theatre and Dance
Mark Hopkins and the log
Mark Hopkins House
Student housing for sophomores, juniors and seniors.
Mary Thompson Clark Center for Health Services
Home of Thompson Health Center, part of Student Health and Wellness Services.
Acceptable on first and subsequent references when referring to the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art.
Mather House
Maud S. Mandel
President of Williams College. Maud is fine for informal writing; Maud S. Mandel in all other cases.
Mears House/Vogt House
The buildings that house the offices of Alumni Relations, the ’68 Center for Career Exploration, and Development, located at 63 Park St. and 75 Park St.
Me Too movement/#MeToo
Founded in 2006 by survivor and activist Tarana Burke, initially to help bring resources, support and pathways to healing for survivors of sexual violence. In 2017, the #metoo hashtag went viral; what had begun as local, grassroots work became a global movement, seemingly overnight.
Milham House
Student co-op housing for seniors.
Miller House
Contains faculty and staff offices and labs for the psychology department.
Always use figures: More than 2 billion people; $5 million; The project will cost $2 million to $3 million. See numbers; ranges.
Housing for first-year students; located in Mission Park.
No hyphen.
minority, racial minority
Either is acceptable (but not ideal) as an adjective in broad references to multiple races other than white in the U.S. Be sure the term is accurate in each circumstance, since what constitutes a racial minority varies by location. It’s preferable to be specific whenever possible: The poll found that Black and Latino Americans voted overwhelmingly in favor of the initiative.
Do not use minority as a singular noun. The plural minorities is acceptable when necessary for space or sentence construction; but phrasing such as minority students or minority communities is preferable.
Always use figures. For dollars, use the $ sign: A $5 book; $50 million. For cents, spell out the word cents: 10 cents; a 5-cent tax. See cents; dollars.
Morley Science Laboratories
The collective Thompson biology, chemistry and physics laboratories.
Morgan Hall
Student housing for sophomores, juniors and seniors.
Spell out in all cases: Mount Rushmore; Mount Hope Farm.
Acceptable for miles per hour.
Multipurpose Recreation Center
A new Multipurpose Recreation Center (MRC) is expected to open in 2025 and will serve as a replacement for the former Towne Field House. The MRC will be the new home for indoor athletic practices, intramural sports and other recreational activities. The design of the MRC will allow for a variety of future uses should the need arise.
When preparing class notes for Williams People, full names of alumni should be in bold whenever they are mentioned. (Don’t use all caps or underlining.) Class years and any punctuation following a name should not appear in bold: Betsy Assoumou ’09; Theresa Ong, who spent her first year as an assistant professor of environmental studies at Dartmouth teaching remotely. See class years. Refer to this guide on how to style alumni names for more details.
No hyphen. Also: campuswide, collegewide, statewide, worldwide. See -wide.
The New York Times/The New York Times Magazine
Titles should appear in italic type. But, The New York Times “Style” section.
People are nonbinary if their gender identity is not strictly male or female. Not synonymous with transgender.
No hyphen. Use instead of not-for-profit.
In general, spell out one through nine and first through ninth. Spell out or use numerals for decades, being consistent within a document (the ’80s, the 1990s, the seventies); Use numerals for 10, 10th and larger. Always use numerals for street addresses (9 West 57th St.); ages (a 5-year-old girl, she is 5); dates (June 2); millions/billions (2 billion people); money (3 cents; $5; $2.50); percentages (a 4 percent increase. Also see ranges); ratios (10-1. Also see hyphens); and time of day (9:30 a.m., 9 p.m. Also see a.m./p.m.).
Always spell out a number when it begins a sentence, except in the case of years: Four hundred people attended the event. 1973 was a good year. Use commas in numbers larger than 1,000, except when referring to years. In large numbers (millions and billions) do not go beyond two decimal places: $235 million; 1.23 million people. See millions/billions; ranges; ratios.
In class notes only, an acceptable abbreviation for New York City. Note that when referring to any of the five boroughs, there is no need to follow the name with N.Y. So: She is looking for an apartment in New York City. She is looking for an apartment in Staten Island.
Oakley Center
A center where faculty and administrative staff can pursue their intellectual and research interests.
Outing Club
Parents Fund
(no apostrophe)
Paresky Center
Since opening in the spring of 2007, the Paresky Center has served as the hub of student life at Williams. Paresky is acceptable on second reference.
Parsons House
Student housing for sophomores, juniors and seniors.
part time
See full time.
people of color, POC, BIPOC
The terms are acceptable when necessary in broad references to multiple races other than white. Some people of various races object to the terms for various reasons, including that the terms can lump together anyone who isn’t white into one, monolithic group. Be specific whenever possible.
Avoid using POC (people of color), BIPOC (Black, Indigenous and people of color) or BAME (Black, Asian and minority ethnic) in editorial writing, unless it’s part of a direct quote. Exceptions can be made for academic or programmatic writing.
Use the % sign when paired with a numeral, with no space, in most cases (a change in 2019): Average hourly pay rose 3.1% from a year ago; her mortgage rate is 4.75%. See numbers; ranges.
Perry House
Student housing for sophomores, juniors and seniors.
Follow a period with a single space.
Add “s” or “es” (without an apostrophe) in common or formal nouns: The Smiths, the Harrises, 1980s. Exception: Use an apostrophe after single letters or after acronyms ending in “s”: x’s, y’s, SOS’s.
Always spell out: He has worked there for four-plus years. Better: Use more than (but not over): She spent more than four years conducting the research for her book.
political parties and philosophies
Capitalize the name of the party when referring to the entire group or one of its members: the Democratic Party; She is a Republican. Lowercase when referring to a philosophy in noun or adjective form: The liberal senator believes democracy is paramount.
P.O. Box
Poker Flats
Co-op student housing for seniors.
Pond House for Wellbeing
Home of Integrative Wellbeing Services, part of Student Health and Wellness Services.
Guidelines are as follows:
Singular common nouns not ending in s — Add ’s: the president’s speech.
Singular common nouns ending in s — Add ’s: the hostess’s seat, the class’s secretary.
Plural common nouns not ending in s — Add ’s: the children’s reunions.
Plural common nouns ending in s — Add only the apostrophe: the classes’ secretaries.
Proper names not ending in s — Add ’s: Pedro’s classes.
Proper names ending in s — Add only an apostrophe: Williams’ legacy.
Premier is top quality: She went to the premier resort in Antigua.
Premiere is a first performance: He attended the premiere of the new play.
President’s House
Formerly Sloan House.
Do not presume maleness in constructing a sentence by defaulting to he/his/him. Usually it is always possible to reword the sentence to avoid gender; instead of A student should sign his name to the Code of Conduct, try: Students should sign their names to the Code of Conduct (or Students should sign the Code of Conduct). They/them/their is acceptable in limited cases as a gender-neutral pronoun, when alternative wording is overly awkward or clumsy or when the individual prefers it. When they is used in the singular, it takes a plural verb: Taylor said they need to finish their project. (Be sure it’s clear from context that only one person is involved.) See they, them, their.
Prospect House
Student housing for sophomores, juniors and seniors.
Pulitzer Prize
Hyphenate to form the compound adjective: Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist; but: He won the Pulitzer Prize; Pulitzer Prize winner Jane Doe; She was a Pulitzer Prize winner.
Purple with Purpose
The engagement arm of Teach It Forward: The Campaign for Williams. PWP is acceptable on second reference.
Q-and-A format
Periods and commas always go within quotation marks. Dashes, colons, semicolons, question marks and exclamation points go within quotation marks when they apply to the quoted matter. They go outside when they apply to the whole sentence: “Did you take the test yet?” she asked; He thus defined the “crux of the matter”: equal pay for equal work.
Try to avoid quotations that run over several paragraphs. If a full paragraph of quoted material is followed by a paragraph that continues the quotation, do not place close-quote marks at the end of the first paragraph:
“The professor challenged us,” she said. “I didn’t think I’d pass the final.
“But I did better than I expected,” she added.
In most cases, you can run the quoted material in a single paragraph:
“The professor challenged us,” she said. “I didn’t think I’d pass the class. But I did better than I expected.”
If a paragraph ends with a partial quotation or quoted phrase, and the next paragraph continues the quote, place close-quote marks at the end of the first paragraph:
He called the class “the most difficult ever.”
“But in the end,” he said, “it was also the most rewarding.”
If excerpting comments from a quotation, do not put ellipses at the beginning or end of the quotation. Ellipses are only necessary when taking words within a sentence out of a quotation; e.g., if a quotation reads, “The professor challenged us,” Jane said. “I didn’t think I’d pass the class. It was the most difficult ever. But in the end, I have to say, it was the most rewarding,” it can be excerpted thus: “In the end … it was the most rewarding,” Jane said. See ellipses.
Per the Associated Press Style Guide, “Consider carefully when deciding whether to identify people by race. Often it is an irrelevant factor and drawing unnecessary attention to someone’s race or ethnicity can be interpreted as bigotry. … Include racial or ethnic details only when they are clearly relevant and that relevance is explicit in the story.” Race may be pertinent in writing that involves significant, groundbreaking or historic events; race; civil rights; and diversity, equity and inclusion.
Be aware that some words and phrases that may seem innocuous to one group can carry negative connotations or be slurs to another. Do not write in a way that assumes white is default.
Include the measurement after each number for millions, billions, etc.: They plan to raise $1 million to $2 million. It’s not necessary to include percent, though, in ranges: The committee expects costs to decrease by 3 to 5%; There will be an increase of between 10 and 20%. See numbers; percentages.
Always use figures: a 10-1 student-faculty ratio. See hyphens; numbers.
Acceptable for all informal mentions of reunion. Use Reunion Weekend when referring to the entire weekend in a formal way.
Rice House
Part of the Davis Center and home of the Black Student Union.
Rosenburg Center
Located at the eastern entrance to Hopkins Memorial Forest and includes archives, a classroom, computer work stations, exhibit space, field guides, first-aid facilities, two laboratories, an office and public restrooms.
Sage House
Housing for first-year students; located in the Frosh Quad.
OK to abbreviate in all cases: St. Anthony Hall; St. Catherine’s Hospital.
Schapiro Hall
Houses classrooms and faculty offices for American studies, economics, leadership studies, philosophy, political economy, political science, and women’s, gender, and sexuality studies.
Schow Science Library
Acceptable reference for the Nan and Howard B. Schow ’50 Science Library.
Do not capitalize fall, winter, spring or summer unless part of a title.
Sewall House
Student housing for sophomores, juniors and seniors.
Sex is a biological distinction; gender refer’s to a person’s social identity. The words are not synonymous. She took sex education classes; They sorted the mice by sex. He is majoring in women’s, gender and sexuality studies; The employer does not discriminate based on race or gender.
The Science Center
Currently consists of Clark Hall, the Eco Café, Morley Science Labs, Schow Science Laboratory, the South Building and Thompson Labs.
Siskind House
Currently being used for storage.
’62 Center for Theatre and Dance
The name of the facility on Main Street housing the MainStage, CenterStage, Adams Memorial Theatre (Nikos Stage) and dance studio. See Adams Memorial Theatre.
’68 Center for Career Exploration
Located in Mears House, the
slaves, enslaved people
The term slave denotes an inherent identity of a person or people treated as chattel or property. Enslaved person or people underlines that the slave status has been imposed on individuals. Enslaved person/people is preferred by some people, as it separates people’s identity from their circumstances. Other people prefer the term slave as a way to make a point of the circumstances. Try to determine an individual’s preference for usage.
Society of Alumni/Executive Committee of the Society of Alumni
The Williams College Society of Alumni, led by the Executive Committee of the Society of Alumni, was established in 1821 and is the oldest alumni organization in the U.S. The Society of Alumni (SoA) celebrated its bicentennial throughout 2021. The society, lowercased, is preferable in subsequent references to the group when it’s clear that it’s a reference to Williams’ Society of Alumni. (An exception: Williams’ Office of College Relations uses SoA on subsequent references to the society.) Executive committee is lowercased when it stands alone. Capitalize Bicentennial when it is in reference to the specific event (e.g., the Society of Alumni Bicentennial) but lowercase when referring to the bicentennial in general.
Spencer House
Student housing for sophomores, juniors and seniors.
Spencer Studio Art Building
The W.L.S. Spencer Studio Art Building accommodates the studio art needs of the art department, with classrooms, studio and drawing space, faculty offices and the Wilde Gallery.
spring break
spring semester
Spell out the names of all 50 U.S. states when used alone: The meeting was in Wisconsin. Use the abbreviations listed here when a state name is preceded by the name of a city, town, village, or military base. Set off the state name in commas: He moved to Goshen, N.Y., after graduating from Williams. If the city is well known, the state name isn’t necessary: She moved to Chicago. Do not abbreviate Alaska, Hawaii, Idaho, Iowa, Maine, Ohio, Texas or Utah. Use the ZIP code abbreviation for mailing addresses.
No hyphen. Also: campuswide, collegewide, nationwide, worldwide. See -wide.
St. Anthony Hall
Better to use the Center for Development Economics, which is housed there. Or: They visited the Center for Development Economics, housed at the former St. Anthony Hall.
Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute
Former name of The Clark Art Institute, which is acceptable on first reference, followed by the Clark on subsequent mentions. See The Clark Art Institute.
Stetson Hall
Now the main entrance to Sawyer Library. It houses faculty offices, classrooms, a videoconference room and the historic 24-hour Reading Room.
Susan B. Hopkins House
Student co-op housing for seniors.
Teach It Forward: The Campaign for Williams
The most ambitious comprehensive campaign in Williams’ history, with a goal of $650 million and 85% alumni engagement (including serving as volunteers, attending events, making gifts and mentoring students). The campaign ended in 2019 with $707,583,586 raised and 87.6 alumni engaged. Teach It Forward and TIF are acceptable on second reference; add (TIF) after first mention of the campaign.
technology terms
Try to avoid obscure technology references and long email addresses and URLs. (You can use to shrink long Web addresses. Or you can direct readers to the right page: Visit, click on “Alumni,” and then “Golf Tournament.”) For websites, do not include the tag http://. Instead:; If you are printing a document with a URL or email address in it, be sure to remove the hyperlink. See capitalization.
Common technology terms:
email (unless it begins a sentence, then Email is acceptable)
home page
internet (acceptable for Web and World Wide Web)
list server
Web (acceptable for World Wide Web and internet)
Do not use teenaged.
telephone numbers
Do not list 1- before a long-distance number. (In Williams People and Williams Magazine, use periods in telephone numbers instead of hyphens: 413.597.4278.)
Use a numeral in all cases but zero and spell out degree: It was 2 degrees yesterday; They had 80-degree weather; The temperature was easily below zero; The temperature dropped to minus 2 degrees; The temperature never topped 2 below zero.
that, which
That is used to introduce essential clauses and is never preceded by a comma: She took the course that fit her schedule.
Which is used to introduce nonessential clauses and is always preceded by a comma: He took the course, which met every Tuesday night. See commas.
Use this spelling unless the proper name is Theatre: We went to the theater last night; The theater department is offering new courses; The show was in the ’62 Center for Theatre and Dance; He began his career in the Williams Department of Theatre.
Acceptable in certain cases as a gender-neutral pronoun, when alternative wording is overly awkward or clumsy or when the individual prefers it. When they is used in the singular, it takes a plural verb: Taylor said they need to finish their project. (Be sure it’s clear from context that only one person is involved.) See pronouns.
Thompson Biology Laboratory/Thompson Chemistry Laboratory/Thompson Physical Laboratory
When referred to together, these are the Morley Science Laboratories and are part of the Science Center.
Thompson Hall
Student housing for sophomores, juniors and seniors.
Thompson Memorial Chapel
Site of many religious activities and musical events, including major choral concerts and smaller, informal recitals.
time of day
Use numbers except for noon and midnight. Use a colon to separate hours from minutes. Lowercase a.m. and p.m.: 9 a.m.; 9:30 p.m. See a.m./p.m.; numbers. List starting and ending times thus: 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.; 8 to 10:30 a.m. Include the appropriate time zone reference (EST, CDT, PST, etc.) when the time is likely to affect people in more than one location.
titles of people
A formal title is capitalized when it immediately precedes a person’s name: Williams President Maud S. Mandel; Africana Studies Chairman Neil Roberts. In all other cases, lowercase formal titles: Maud S. Mandel, president; Neil Roberts, Africana studies department chairman; she was named chairwoman of the chemistry department.
Use lowercase for terms that are job descriptions rather than formal titles: She talked to attorney Ellis Grey; He took a class with geosciences professor José Constantine. The team honored head coach Micheleyne Pinard. Exception: Titles of endowed chairs and formal emeritus designations are always capitalized: Karen Kwitter, the Ebenezer Fitch Professor of Astronomy; Eugene Johnson, the Amos Lawrence Professor of Art, Emeritus. See capitalization; chairman/chairwoman; names.
titles of things
Italicize and capitalize the titles of full-length works: books, magazines, journals, movies, musicals, newspapers, paintings, operas, plays, recordings, statues, and radio and TV shows. Also italicize the names of airplanes, boats, ships, etc. Capitalize titles of academic courses, but not majors (unless a proper noun is included in the name).
Capitalize and place quotation marks around titles of: art exhibitions, lectures, magazine and newspaper articles, poems, speeches, songs, and episodes of radio and TV shows.
Lowercase articles (a, an, the), conjunctions of three letters or fewer (and, but, for, nor, or) and prepositions, unless they are the first word of the title. See academic courses; academic majors; abbreviations/acronyms; capitalization; course titles.
Towne Field House
The Herbert S. Towne Field House is a doubled-domed structure that formerly housed a track; pole vaulting, long jump and high jump pits; and a shot put and weight throw area. The field house also contains the Nate Lowe ’95 Memorial Climbing Wall. The Towne Field House is scheduled to be demolished in the late fall of 2023 and replaced by the Multipurpose Recreation Center.
Describes people whose gender identity does not match the sex they were identified as having at birth. Does not require what are often known as sex reassignment or gender confirmation procedures. Identify people as transgender only if pertinent, and use the name by which they live publicly. Use the person’s preferred pronouns and only refer to their previous name, sometimes called a deadname, with their permission and if relevant to the story. Generally, avoid references to a transgender person being born a boy or girl. The shorthand trans is acceptable on second reference. Do not use the noun, such as referring to someone as a transgender, or use the term transgendered. Do not use the term transsexual or tranny.
transition, gender transition
The process transgender people go through to match their gender identity, which may include sex reassignment or gender confirmation procedures, but not necessarily.
Acceptable in all uses for television.
Tyler House/Tyler Annex
Student housing for sophomores, juniors and seniors.
Ultimate Frisbee
Acceptable in all references: Tomorrow she returns to the U.S.; She attended a U.S. conference on aging.
U.S. News & World Report
voice mail
In class notes, acceptable for vice president. Spell out in other uses.
Acceptable second reference for the Williams Asian & Asian-American Alumni Network. (Note that Asian-American is hyphenated in the organization’s name, which is an exception to college editorial style.)
Wachenheim Science Center
Home for mathematics and statistics, psychology and geosciences departments.
Acceptable second reference for the Williams Black Alumni Network.
A location on the World Wide Web that maintains one or more pages at a specific address. Also, webcam, webcast and webmaster. But as a short form and in terms with separate words, the Web (though the internet is better), Web feed, and Web page.
West College
Student housing for sophomores, juniors and seniors.
Weston Athletic Complex
Dedicated in the fall of 2014, the complex is home to the football, track and field, lacrosse and field hockey teams and provides practice and game fields for soccer. It consists of Farley-Lamb Field, Williamson Field and the Lee Family Track. It also houses the Weston Team Center, a large sports medicine area, and the Michael M. Reily ’64 Room.
Weston Hall
Home of the Office of Admission and Financial Aid.
who, whom
Use who and whom for references to human beings. Use that and which for inanimate objects and animals without names (See that, which). Who is a subject: Who is the person handling reunion this year? Whom is an object: To whom should I address this question? (As a general rule, a sentence will still make sense if you can replace who with he or she: Who handles reunion? She does. Whom can be replaced by him or her: To whom should I address this question? To her.)
No hyphen with the suffix -wide. So campuswide, collegewide, statewide, worldwide.
In most cases, it’s OK to refer to the college as Williams rather than Williams College.
The Williams Bookstore
The official name of Williams College’s bookstore.
Williams-Exeter Programme at Oxford
Williams-Exeter, Williams-Exeter program, or the program on subsequent references. (Exception: WEPO is acceptable in direct quotes, provided there is context.)
Williams Graduate Program in the History of Art
Grad Art, Grad Art program or the program is fine for subsequent references. When referring to a graduate of the program, the style is Jane Smith MA ’12 or, in the case of someone who also attended Williams as an undergraduate, John Smith ’08, MA ’10. In class notes, names appear in bold, class years are in plain text. See names.
Full name is Williams-Mystic: The Maritime Studies Program of Williams College and Mystic Seaport; Williams-Mystic, Williams-Mystic program or the program on subsequent references.
Williams Hall
Housing for first-year students; located in the Frosh Quad.
Winter Study
Acceptable second reference for the Williams Latino/a Alumni Network.
Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies Major
Formal name. Do not capitalize in informal use: He is interested in taking a women’s studies course.
Wood House
(Hamilton B. Wood House) Student housing for sophomores, juniors and seniors.
Woodbridge House
Student co-op housing for seniors.
No hyphen with the suffix -wide. Also: campuswide, collegewide, statewide, nationwide.