A-to-Z Writing Style Guide

Last updated 05/22/24 View Change Log

A

Abbreviations

Never begin a sentence with a lowercase abbreviation.

Use common abbreviations such as etc., e.g., and i.e. in parentheses in written text.

  • for example (e.g.)
  • and so forth (etc.)
  • that is (i.e.)
Spell out the name or phrase to be abbreviated followed by the acronym in parentheses. Thereafter, just the acronym is used.
  • The College of Southern Maryland (CSM) is a public, regional community college. CSM has four campuses.

Academic Associations and Agencies

Academic Honors

The college awards academic honors upon the completion of degrees and certificates at three different levels.

Define the honor's grade point average in the first reference; for subsequent references use honor level. When using a column or tabular format, list the honor level achieved after each recipient's name but the honor level definitions should be provided somewhere on the document.

CSM Honor Level

Highest Honors Cumulative
High Honors Cumulative
Honors Cumulative

Grade Point Average

3.9-4.0
3.75-3.89
3.5-3.74

Academic Standards and Policies

Available online: www.csmd.edu/about/policies.

Academic Subjects

Use lowercase for academic subjects - "biology" "cybersecurity"
Use uppercase for languages – "English"

Academic Titles

Capitalize academic titles when they immediately precede a personal name, but lowercase when the title follows a personal name in text. In text, when used as an appositive (enclosed in commas), titles following a person's name, or standing alone in place of a name, should be not be capitalized.

  • Vice President Joseph Jones
  • Joseph Jones, vice president of the college...

  • Dean Sharon Smith
  • Sharon Smith, dean of...

  • Professor Judith Becker
  • Judith Becker, professor of...

Accessibility

Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)

The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) is a wide-ranging civil rights law that prohibits, under certain circumstances, discrimination based on disability.

To meet the requirements of the ADA, certain college promotions and publications must include one of the following official statements. Any questions regarding meeting the needs of people with disabilities at CSM should be directed to the CSM ADA Coordinator at 301-934-7614.

Official CSM Statements

  • For use on CSM Fine Arts promotional or informative material:The Fine Arts Center is accessible to patrons with disabilities. Audio description for the visually impaired and sign language interpretation for the hearing impaired are available with a minimum of two weeks advanced notice. Please contact the Box Office staff if you are interested in these services.
  • For use on all college event promotional or informative material:CSM campuses are accessible to patrons with disabilities. Audio description for the visually impaired and sign language interpretation for the hearing impaired are available with a minimum of two weeks advanced notice. If you are interested in these services, please contact the academic support/ADA coordinator at 301-934-7614.
  • For use on all instructional program promotional or informative material:Individuals with disabilities who require special accommodations in order to participate in the college's instructional programs should notify the academic support/ADA coordinator at 301-934-7614 at least one month before the class begins. Requests made after this deadline will be considered on an individual basis and addressed whenever possible.

See Inclusive Language and Nondiscrimination Policy entries


Acronyms

  • Avoid beginning a sentence with an acronym.
  • If an acronym is commonly used as a word, it does not require explanation (IQ, NASA, FBI).
  • For most acronyms, use the full name on the first reference and the acronym thereafter.
    • College of Southern Maryland (CSM)
  • Write the plural form of an acronym without an apostrophe (e.g. some MBAs command high salaries).


Addresses

Campus addresses appear in publications and on web pages in sentence or stacked form:

La Plata Campus
College of Southern Maryland
8730 Mitchell Road
PO Box 910
La Plata, MD 20646-0910

Leonardtown Campus
College of Southern Maryland
22950 Hollywood Road
Leonardtown, MD 20650-4700

Prince Frederick Campus
College of Southern Maryland
115 J.W. Williams Road
Prince Frederick, MD 20678

Regional Hughesville Campus
College of Southern Maryland
6105 Foster Place
Hughesville, MD 20637

Center for Transportation Training
5825 Radio Station Road
La Plata, MD 20646

Velocity Center at Indian Head
4465 Indian Head Highway
Indian Head, MD 20640


See Mail - Addressing Mail entry for information on usage when addressing mail.


Advisor

Advisor not adviser


Alumna / Alumnus / Alumni

Any individual who attended CSM is considered an alumna/us. Alumnus refers to an individual male; alumna refers to a female. Alumni generally refers to a group of males, (alumnae for females) but can be used to refer to a group of men and women. Alum or alums is acceptable for all.

  • alumna (singular), female former student
  • alumni (plural), former students
  • alumnus (singular), male former student
  • alum (singular) and alums (plural), gender-neutral


Ampersands / &

Always use "and" as a coordinating conjunction. Use "&" if it is part of a proper name in all references.

  • Kids’ & Teen College


Apostrophes

An apostrophe is not necessary to form the plural of years or the abbreviated plural. Use this apostrophe - ’

  • the 1980s or the ’80s
  • USPs
  • SAT score in the 1200s
  • The class of ’19


Athletics

CSM offers intercollegiate athletics programs for men and women. The college is a charter member of the Maryland Junior College Athletic Conference (JUCO), Region XX, and the National Junior College Athletic Association.

REFERENCES TO TEAM NAME

All teams regardless of sport are referred to as "the Hawks." When referencing women's sports, the term "the Lady Hawks" can be used.

MASCOT

The Hawk is the college's official mascot.


Awards and Scholarships

The first reference to any college award should be spelled out in full. In subsequent references, use the terms "scholarship" or "award."

  • The Walter E. Grove, Jr. Scholarship was awarded to Jane Smith. The scholarship was ...

B

Board of Directors

CSM Foundation Board of Directors

 

Board of Trustees

College of Southern Maryland Board of Trustees

List the members in order of terms of service (not in alphabetical order). List as of May 22, 2024:

Shawn B Coates, Chair
Sonja M Cox, Vice Chair
Yolanda Wilson, Ed. D, Secretary-Treasurer
Christy Lombardi ‘05
Cordelia S Postell
Jose M Gonzalez
Kenneth W Abell
Cathy Allen
Pamela Cousins
Celeste Alexander-Frye

 

Building Names

EXTERNAL COMMUNICATION

Building Reference

First Reference: Use the official title of the building with building abbreviation in parentheses if there will be subsequent references throughout the text.

Subsequent References: Use building abbreviation with the word "Building" following.

  • Classes will be held in the Business Classroom (BU) Building. The new signage in the BU Building will direct students to their classes.

Exception: If the official name of a building includes the word "center" in subsequent references the location should be referred to as "the center" verses the abbreviation followed by the word "Building."

  • Classes will be held in the Francis P. Chiaramonte, M.D. Center for Science and Technology (ST Building). New signage in the center will direct students to their classes.

Room Number Reference

Capitalize the "R" in the word "Room" and the "S" in "Suite" when referring to room numbers. Use the college campus location, official building name, and room number.

Location Reference

Use the college campus location, the official title of the building with building abbreviation in parentheses if there will be subsequent references throughout the text, and room number.
  • Located on the La Plata Campus in the Center for Business and Industry (BI Building), Chaney Enterprises Conference Room (Room 113)

INTERNAL COMMUNICATION

Building Reference

Use building abbreviation with the word "Building" following.

Room Number Reference

Capitalize the "R" in the word "Room" and the "S" in "Suite" when referring to room numbers.

Location Reference

Use the college campus location, building abbreviation with the word "Building" following, and room number.
  • La Plata Campus, BI Building, Room 203


OFFICIAL NAME AND ABBREVIATION

Official List of Named Facilities


La Plata Campus
Administration Building AD Building
Center for Business and Industry BI Building
        Francis Leo Middleton Computer Lab Room 102
        Dr. John M. Sine Conference Room Room 103/104
        Chaney Enterprises Conference Room Room 113
        Besche Oil Conference Room Room 124
        Southern Maryland Oil Boardroom Room 201
        SMECO Executive Conference Room Room 202
        McDonough Charity School of Charles County Suite Room 205
        BGE - Workforce Development Suite Room 206
        Charles County Chamber of Commerce Conference Room Room 211
        John D. Mitchell Classroom Room 214
Bookstore Building BK Building
Business Building BU Building
        Community Bank of the Chesapeake Conference Room Room 202
Campus Center CC Building
        Greater Waldorf Jaycees Student Lounge Student Lounge
Campus Services Building CS Building
Community Education Building CE Building
        Reuben and Ethelmae Lilly Conference Room Room 102
        Neale Chaney Slater Lecture Hall Lecture Hall
        Joel Thomas Lilly Lobby Lobby
        Proctor Wing Wing
        Lilly Wing Wing
Hank Willoughby Foundation Center for the Arts FA Building
        Brad and Linda Gottfried Theater Theater
        Larry Chappelear Memorial Art Gallery Atrium/Lobby
        Tony Hungerford Memorial Art Gallery Art Gallery
        Walter Grove II Memorial Student Art Gallery Hallway Gallery
James C. Mitchell Student Resource Center
SR Building
Learning Resource Center LR Building
        Dr. Elaine Ryan Library Library
Maintenance Building MT Building
Physical Education Center PE Building
Francis P. Chiaramonte, M.D. Center for Science and Technology ST Building
        Chesapeake-Potomac Healthcare Atrium Atrium
        Community Bank of the Chesapeake/Physiology Lab Room 138
        Greg and Beckey Cockerham Conference Room Room 145
        SMECO Engineering Lab Room 158
        PNC Biology Lab Room 223
Facilities Management Building
FM Building
Friendship House Friendship House
Leonardtown Campus
Building A Building A
Building B Building B
        Community Bank of the Chesapeake Student Lounge Room 102
Building C Building C
        Burch Oil Company Foyer
        Besche Oil Conference Room Room 216
        Tom and Katie Watts Computer Lab Room 314
Wellness and Aquatics Center Building D
        St. Mary's Hospital-MedStar Health Fitness Studio
Prince Frederick Campus
John E. Harms Academic Center (Building A) Building A
        Pax (anonymous donor) Atrium
        Revelation (anonymous donor) Library
        Zaca's Lounge (anonymous donor) Student Lounge
        Dominion Computer Lab Room 115
        Vernon W. Hughes Physics Lab Room 207-207c
        Verizon Advanced Technology Lab Room 221-221a
        Wyvill Social Science Classroom Room 225
        Community Bank of the Chesapeake Nursing Lab Room 223
Building B Building B
        Exelon Nuclear Engineering Technology Lab Room 118
Regional Hughesville Campus  
Center for Health Sciences HS Building
Center for Trades and Energy Training CT Building
        Community Bank of the Chesapeake Lobby Lobby
        Marrick Homes Carpentry Lab Room 123
        Exelon Generation Welding Lab Room 125

Bursar’s Office

No longer in use; called Student Account Services

C

CAMpus Association

Formerly known as the Student Association, now called Campus Association. Specifically, La Plata Campus Association, Leonardtown Campus Association, and Prince Frederick Campus Association.


Campuses, Centers, and Other Locations

CSM CAMPUSES
La Plata Campus LAPL
Leonardtown Campus LEON
Prince Frederick Campus PRIN
Regional Hughesville REGI
CSM CENTERS
Center for Trades and Energy Training CTET
Center for Transportation Training CTRA
Velocity Center at Indian Head INHD

The abbreviations of LAPL, LEON, PRIN, REGI, CTET, CTRA, WALD, and INHD are standard abbreviations for Colleague usage, but should not be used in sentence structure as a way to reference a college campus or training location. These abbreviations should never be used as abbreviations in external communications.

The term "campus" can be used in subsequent references when referring to the La Plata, Leonardtown, Prince Frederick, or Regional Hughesville Campus.

  • The event will take place at the Prince Frederick Campus. The campus will host a variety of events.
  • The CSM Center for Trades and Energy Training opened in September. The center provides...

Exception: Campus abbreviations are used in the schedule of classes and within schedules at a glance found in certain publications. In all instances, a key is always included.

OTHER LOCATIONS

  • La Plata Campus Larry Chappalear Memorial Art Gallery (Use the official name when referring to the gallery for the first time and "the gallery" in subsequent references.)
  • La Plata Campus Tony Hungerford Memorial Art Gallery (Use the official name when referring to the gallery for the first time and "the gallery" in subsequent references.)
  • Walter Grove II Memorial Art Gallery (Use the official name when referring to the gallery for the first time and "the gallery" in subsequent references.)
  • TheWorkForceCenter at the College of Southern Maryland (Use the official name when referring to the center for the first time and "the center" in subsequent references.)

Certificates

Spell out and capitalize the name of a certificate if it is the official name.

  • Tom Davis received his Accounting-Basic Certificate at CSM.
  • Tom Davis received a certificate in accounting.

Charles County Community Mediation Center

The Charles County Community Mediation Center is housed at the La Plata Campus. There are community mediation centers in every county in the state of Maryland. The centers in Calvert and St. Mary’s counties are not housed at CSM.

child care

Two words; no hyphen; lowercase unless part of a formal program or degree name

College Name

Official Institutional Name: College of Southern Maryland
Abbreviation:
CSM

The first reference to the institution should be spelled out followed by the acronym. The CSM acronym should be used in subsequent references in the text. If referencing the college on a subsequent reference, college is lowercase.

  • The College of Southern Maryland (CSM) began its fall semester last week. CSM plans to provide students with laptops. The college will also...

Colons

Use colons to introduce a long series or list, especially in course description information.

  • Topics covered will be: healthcare, child care, day care, and geriatric care.

Only capitalize the topics if the given list of items is of an official nature. Semicolons are then needed for separation.

  • Discussions will take place on the following course titles: How to Provide Healthcare; Child Care 101; When Adults Require Day Care; and Geriatric Care for Alzheimer's Patients

Commas

Use a comma in a series.

  • red, white, and blue
  • faculty, students, or parents

Use a comma after introductory words, phrases, or subordinate clauses.

  • Because of the location of the building, parking may be limited.

Use a comma to set off an appositive.

  • Dr. Smith, our new dean, advocates changes in tenure policies.

Use a comma in names before Esq.

  • George Anderson, Esq.

Do not use a comma in names before Jr., Sr., or Roman numerals.

  • John Adams, Jr.
  • Allan Hicks III

Exception: While the CSM Writing Style Guide follows AP Style, there are exceptions. AP Style does not use a comma in a series but CSM style does. Note that the CSM Community Relations Department strictly follows AP Style and does not use a comma in a series so it can better align with media industry standards.


Commencement

Capitalize the C in Commencement when discussing the formal ceremony; lowercase in generic usage

  • The College of Southern Maryland's 50th Spring Commencement will occur in the Physical Education Center (PE Building). The college holds commencements twice a year.

Continuing Education and Workforce Development (CWD)

Course Disciplines

Use the designated abbreviations for course disciplines as noted in the college catalog or schedule of classes.

When disciplines are used to reflect credit or continuing education course titles, use the discipline and then the number, with a hyphen dividing the two.

  • ACC-1020

Capitalize all complete and official names of college courses. No italicization or quotations needed. Use the discipline abbreviations when referring to the course title.

  • Introduction to Biology OR BIO-1010

When referencing a discipline generically, use lowercase.

  • He majored in biology. He took two history classes.

coursework

One word; no hyphen

CSM Foundation

Capitalize in formal titles. Use lowercase for general references.

  • The Foundation Board of Directors will meet on Tuesday.
  • The foundation seeks volunteers for its annual golf outing.

CSMREADY

CSMReady - Capitalize "CSM" and place "Ready" in italics


Cybersecurity

One word; no hyphen; lowercase unless part of a formal program, course, or degree name



D

Dashes

Parenthetical elements can be enclosed in parentheses or set off by commas or long dashes (em dash) with no space before or after the long dash. The use of dashes or parentheses is preferable if the parenthetical element contains commas.Dashes emphasize the parenthetical element.

  • Three types of reports—feasibility studies, proposals, and progress reports—will be studied in the next month.

Use a dash to add an explanation or illustrate a point after an independent clause.

  • The candidate had all the necessary qualifications—adequate training, relevant experience, and excellent recommendations.

Dates

Spell out the names of months when using alone or with a year. No comma is needed between the month and the year but use commas when using a month, day, and year format:

  • February was a cold month.
  • February 2020 was a rainy month.
  • March 23, 2020, was a rainy day.

In running text (including body, subject, and pre-header of marketing emails), the following months should be abbreviated when using a month with a specific date:
Jan., Feb., Aug., Sept., Oct., Nov., Dec.

  • Her birthday is Aug. 2.
  • His birthday is Feb. 2.
  • Sept. 23, 2020, was a rainy day.

Postcards, billboards, and displays should always spell out the name of the month.
Use Arabic figures without "st," "nd," "rd," or "th."

day care

Two words; no hyphen; lowercase unless part of a formal program or degree name.

Degrees

Do not use an apostrophe or an "s" in associate degree; use an apostrophe and an "s" in bachelor’s degree and master’s degree. Use lowercase when referring to the informal degree name.
  • Joe Smith received his associate degree from CSM. He received a bachelor's degree in history from UMD.
Use the first letter uppercase when the formal name of the degree is included.
  • Joe Smith earned an Associate of Arts in Arts and Humanities. He earned a Bachelor of Arts in History at UMD.

Use periods in abbreviations of academic degrees:

  • A.A., B.A., B.S., M.A., Ph.D., Ed.D., J.D. (all with periods); degrees with more than two letters do not take the periodsuch as MBA, MSN, BSN, MFA, DNP, etc.

When listing academic credentials, list the person's legal name, the highest degree attained, the name of the institution, and the year of degree attained (not necessary; more preference). Always include the year for CSM alums.

  • John Faculty, Ph.D., Stanford University '67
  • Denise Faculty, A.A., CSM '06


INFORMAL DEGREE NAME AND ABBREVIATION

associate of arts A.A.
associate of applied science AAS
associate of arts in teaching AAT
associate of science A.S.
associate of science in engineering ASE
bachelor of arts B.A.
bachelor of science B.S.
master of arts M.A.
doctor of medicine M.D.
doctor of philosophy Ph.D.


Departments and Offices

EXTERNAL COMMUNICATION

Capitalize "department" and "office" only when used as part of an official title. Note the Box Office is the official name of a CSM office and should have a capital "B" and "O".

  • The Technology Department has many professors.
  • Inquiries should be made to the Office of the President.
  • You can buy tickets at the College of Southern Maryland (CSM) Box Office for today's concert.

Exception:Not all CSM departments and offices use "department" or "office" as part of their official name. See the example below:

  • Please stop by the Library to speak with the supervisor.

INTERNAL COMMUNICATION

First Reference: Use the official title of the division, department, or office with the abbreviation in parentheses if there will be subsequent references throughout the text. Abbreviations can be used alone, but a key needs to be provided.

Subsequent References:
Use division, department, or office abbreviation.

Please note that the official abbreviation for a department or office may not be the same as the official Mail Code. For official Mail Codes please see the telephone directory or Mail, Shipping, and Receiving's intranet page.

OFFICIAL NAME AND ABBREVIATION

Adult and Community Education CED
Adult Education AED
Personal Enrichment Programs PEP
Wellness and Fitness WFA
Auxiliary Services AUX
Food Services FSV
College Store STO
Budget Department BUD
Campus Operations OPS
Scheduling and Conference Services SCH
Charles County Mediation Center MED
Continuing Education and Workforce Development Operations CEO
Controller, Financial Service FIS
Student Account Services (formerly Bursar's Office) BUR
Development
DEV
Diversity and Inclusion
DIV
General Counsel Office GCO
Government Relations and Public Information Office COM

People, Culture, and Equity

Human Resources and Payroll

PCE

HRD

Information Management Team IMT
Marketing and Communications MAR
Creative Services CRE
Web Services WEB
Mail, Shipping, and Receiving MSR
Maryland Center for Environmental Training CET
Nonprofit Institute NPI
Physical Plant FCL
Planning, Institutional Effectiveness, and Research PIR
Procurement/Contracts
PRO
Public Safety and Preparedness
PSD
Risk Management and Compliance RMC
Small Business Development Center SBD
Student Access STR
Admissions AOD
Student Affairs STA
Student Engagement STE
Student Life and Athletics
STL
Student Success STS
Advising, Career, and Transfer Services ACS
Financial Assistance FAD

Registrar's Office

Veterans Affairs

REG

VET

Workforce Development
WFD
Allied Careers AED
Business and Information Technology BIT
WorkForce Center CCT
Healthcare HTH
Center for Trades and Energy Training TET
Center for Transportation Training TRA
Velocity Center at Indian Head VEL


Divisions

EXTERNAL COMMUNICATION

Capitalize the official name of the division. Note the word "division" is only capitalized when it is part of the official title.

  • Sharon Smith, dean of the Division of Learning, will...
  • The academic department of nursing is responsible for ...

INTERNAL COMMUNICATION

First Reference: Use the official title of the division, department, or office with the abbreviation in parentheses if there will be subsequent references throughout the text. Abbreviations can be used alone, but a key needs to be provided.

Subsequent References:
Use division, department, or office abbreviation.

OFFICIAL NAME AND ABBREVIATION

Office of the President PRE
ADMINISTRATIVE DIVISIONS
Division of Continuing Education and Workforce Development CWD
Division of Learning DOL
Division of Financial Services DFS
Division of People, Culture, and Equity PCE/HRO
Division of Operations and Planning OPP
Division of Student Equity and Success SES
ACADEMIC DEPARTMENTS
Academic Affairs DAA
Learning Support Services (Testing Center, Learning Support Coordinators) LSS
Business BIS
English, Communication, and Language ECL
Health HEA
Humanities and Social Science HSS
Learning, Technology, and Resources LTR
Distance Learning and Faculty Development DLF
Library LIB

Nursing

Mathematics

NUR

MTH

Sciences

Technology

Visual and Performing Arts

SCI

TCH

VPA

Dual Enrollment Program

Formal name; no hyphen; capitalized: Dual Enrollment

Dual Enrollment allows high school students to take classes at CSM for college credit while satisfying high school graduation requirements.


E

Email

One word; no hyphen. All email should be composed as if it is an official correspondence from the college, regardless of your audience.The proper style for email addresses should be all lowercase.

  • wendyc@csmd.edu

Tips for email:

  • Always include a "signature block" including at least your name, CSM title, email address, and telephone number.
  • Subject lines: Use a call to action statement.
  • Avoid words or phrases that are considered SPAM: "free," "special," "limited time offer," "check this out," etc.
  • Avoid using all capital letters.
  • Use "High Priority" red flag status only when appropriate.

Emerita, emeritae, emeritus, emeriti

An honorary designation bestowed upon members of the college community in special recognition of service to the college.

emerita (feminine); emeritae (plural, feminine); emeritus (masculine); emeriti (plural, masc., or both sexes)

English as a Second Language (ESL)

English Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL)

F

Face-to-Face Courses

Courses that are held in person, at a physical location on a CSM campus, according to a fixed schedule. The building, room, time of day, and day of the week will be posted in the schedule.

Federal Direct Loan Program

Federal Pell Grant

Federal Perkins Loan

Federal Work-Study Program (FWS)

First Year Experience (FYE)

Formal Letter

When writing a letter to an elected official, the inside address should begin with "The Honorable," which is capitalized:

  • The Honorable John Q. Smith
President of the Senate

The salutation should include the legislator's proper title:

  • Dear Sen. Smith

Templates are available on the Marketing Department website on the Intranet.

Fractions

In text, spell out with hyphens:
  • two-thirds

Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)

full time | full-time

Two words; use a hyphen when used as an adjective or adverb before a noun

  • He is a full-time employee.
  • She is working full time.

G

General Equivalency Diploma (GED®)

Use the registered trademark in all instances: ®

H

HawkTalk

HawkTalk is CSM's weekly student newsletter. One word; "H" and "T" are capitalized; no "the"


healthcare

One word; no hyphen; lowercase unless part of a formal program or degree name


Homeschool

One word; no hyphen

Honor Society

Students earning honors are eligible for membership in the Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society, the official honor society for two-year colleges.

  • Spell out Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society on the first reference; for subsequent references use Phi Theta Kappa or PTK.

Hybrid

Courses that combine the virtual environment with in-person instruction on campus. Hybrid courses have physical campus locations for the on-campus component and have specific meeting days and times.

Hy-Flex

Hy-Flex; capitalize the H and the F. Courses that combine the virtual environment with in-person instruction. Hy-Flex courses meet according to a set schedule, and students can choose to attend class virtually or on campus.

Hyphens

Some words are always hyphenated. However, some words are only hyphenated when they precede a noun and are used as an adjective.

  • Joe Davis lives on campus.
  • Joe Davis is looking for on-campus housing.
  • Susan Smith takes classes full time.
  • Susan Smith is a full-time student.

There is no need for a hyphen after a word that ends in "ly."

  • The college is a highly respected institution.

Many tend to use the following words in a hyphenated manner, especially the word online. Online is always to be used as one word.

The following words are generally used as two words:
  • home page
  • log off
  • log in (verb); login (noun)
The following words are generally used as one word:
  • bookstore
  • cybersecurity
  • database
  • fundraising
  • healthcare
  • interoffice
  • lowercase
  • microcomputer
  • multicampus
  • multicultural
  • nonprofit
  • nonresident
  • online
  • voicemail
  • webmaster
  • webpage
  • website
  • workforce

Some words are used as one word when used as a noun, but two words when used as a verb.

  • Log in to my.CSMD to register for classes.
  • Use your login ID for all registrations.


Use a hyphen to link words such as compound words and adjectives.

  • full-time faculty

Omit the hyphen if the compound adjective follows the noun.

  • They work full time.

I

Inclusive Language

Every attempt should be made to use inclusive language when writing text representing the college's business, programs, and services. Inclusive language does not make assumptions regarding age, gender, race, or ethnicity. Inclusive text avoids stereotyping people and is sensitive to issues.


AGE

Avoid making assumptions about age-related abilities and career goals. Remember that our students can be 5 years old or over age 70.


DISABILITY

Use "person-first" language. Use the terms accessible parking and accessible elevator, not handicap parking and handicap elevator.

  • She uses a wheelchair; students who are blind; individuals with a disability.

DIVERSITY

Diversity is not just about ethnicity; it includes sex, gender, age, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity, and stereotypes. As a college that values and encourages diversity, it is important to communicate in a manner that is inclusive and treats all individuals and groups as equals.

Avoid euphemisms and avoid "politically incorrect" terminology.


RACE AND ETHNICITY

Do not assume ethnicity. Hyphens are not necessary. Common race and ethnic terms found on the college's admissions application and registration forms are white, Black or African American, Hispanic, Latino, Asian, American Indian or Alaska Native, Native Hawaiian, or other Pacific Islander.


SEX AND GENDER

Use plurals whenever possible to ensure the inclusivity of all gender identities. If a third-person singular pronoun must be used, use the singular, gender-neutral pronoun they/their/them, or rewrite the sentence to make the pronoun unnecessary.

The singular, they, is preferable in situations in which the gender identity and/or pronouns of the person being referred to are unknown, unspecified, or immaterial to the matter at hand. (The singular, gender-neutral they was Merriam-Webster’s 2019 Word of the Year.)

Avoid using the once-customary he or she which is both cumbersome and exclusionary of individuals whose pronouns do not conform to the masculine/feminine gender binary. If you’re concerned about confusion between singular and plural, reword or rephrase your sentence to make it clear, just as you would clarify between the singular and plural you.

  • If a student will be late, they need to inform their professor immediately.
  • A student who anticipates being late needs to inform the class professor immediately.

SEXUAL ORIENTATION AND GENDER IDENTITY

Gender identity and expression are different than sexual orientation. The external appearance of gender may or may not differ from a person's biological gender and sexual orientation.


STEREOTYPES

Avoid assumptions when writing about a person or a group. Not every engineer is a man, nor is every nurse a woman.

in person / in-person

Two words; use a hyphen when used as an adjective or adverb before a noun

  • Classes are held in person.
  • They attended in-person classes.

internet / intranet

The terms internet and intranet are lowercase and not capitalized.

The web is a part of the internet. The two terms should not be used interchangeably.

See World Wide Web entry.

Italics

Italics are used to emphasize a keyword or phrase the first time it appears in your text. The next time the term or phrase is used it should be in plain text.

For words and letters that are referred to as words or letters.
  • The term American Indian is inclusive of more than 500 federally recognized ethnic communities.

For non-English words or terms used in your text. This practice excludes those words that have become incorporated in the English language, such as laissez-faire, or arroyo.


K

Kids’ & Teen College

Use an ampersand (&) instead of and in all references.

L

Logo

Read the CSM logo use guidelines.

For logo downloads, visit the toolkit page.

M

Magazine Names

Capitalize the initial letters of the name but do not place the name of the publication in quotes or italics. Lowercase magazine unless it is part of the publication’s official title.

  • Discover College of Southern Maryland Magazine (or Discover Magazine)
  • The Friday Report
  • HawkTalk
  • Connections Literary Magazine (or Connections)

Mail

Addressing Mail

Use complete delivery address.
Use complete CSM return address including the college's PO Box.
The PO Box should always follow the street address.
Do not use punctuation - except for the hyphen in the zip code.
Use all capital letters.

Regardless of campus, for mailing purposes the La Plata Campus address is the official address of the college:

COLLEGE OF SOUTHERN MARYLAND
<DIVISION/DEPARTMENT OR OFFICE>
8730 MITCHELL ROAD
PO BOX 910
LA PLATA MD 20646-0910


All other addresses are "physical addresses" and should only be provided to help visitors and guests find the campus and should not be used as a mailing address for postal mail.

Be sure to always included a departmentalabbreviation in the return address, so that undeliverable mail may be returned to the appropriate area of the college. For more information contact the Mail, Shipping, and Receiving Coordinator, at ext. 7634 or visit the MSR intranet page.

Notes: La Plata is two words therefore it should always contain a space between La and Plata.


MarTIN Luther King Jr. Day

MLK Day is acceptable on the second and ensuing references

Maryland Center for Environmental Training (MCET)

Maryland Center for Environmental Training

Meeting Minutes

The minutes of a meeting are the official record of all important matters discussed at the meeting. Templates are available on the Marketing Department website on the Intranet.

micro-pantries

Use a hyphen

multicultural

One word; no hyphen

my.CSMD

For the college portal, my.CSMD, "my" is always lowercase and italicized. "CSMD" is always capitalized.
Always use a period between "my" and "CSMD."

Avoid using the term "my.CSMD" as the first word in a sentence.

myLearning

For the college course portal, myLearning, "my" is always lowercase and not italicized. The "L" is always capitalized.
Do not use a period between "my" and "Learning."
Avoid using the term "myLearning" as the first word in a sentence.

N

Names and Titles

Use a person’s first and last (or full) name on the first reference; use the last name on the second and ensuing references. An exception is for testimonials where the use of the first name on the second reference is preferred. Do not use courtesy titles such as Mr., Mrs., Miss, or Ms. unless part of a direct quote.

  • Joe Smith is a professor at CSM. Smith teaches English.

Capitalize academic, civil, religious, and professional titles when they immediately precede a personal name, but lowercase when the title follows a personal name in text. When used as an appositive (enclosed in commas), titles following a person's name, or standing alone in place of a name, should not be capitalized.

  • Vice President Joseph Jones
  • Joseph Jones, vice president of operations, is retiring in June.
  • The vice president is retiring in June.

Capitalize the name of the division, department, or office referenced, though, if it is the official name of the department.

  • Joseph Jones, president of the college, will be...
  • Sharon Smith, dean of the Division of Academic Affairs, won't...
  • Jack Rhodes, Human Resources and Payroll director, is...

Capitalize titles following a person's name when used in a list or in addresses.

  • The following people have contributed:
    • Joseph Jones, President of Ventura College
    • Sharon Smith, Dean of Arts and Sciences

See Titles entry

noncredit

One word; no hyphen

Nondiscrimination Policy

The following nondiscrimination policy is to be used in all documentation pertaining to the promotion of CSM's academic or continuing education programs or course offerings. The most current information can be found on the college's policies and procedures webpage.

Official CSM Statement

The College of Southern Maryland does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, gender, disability, age, sexual orientation, religion, or marital status in its programs or activities. The associate director of Disability Services—La Plata Campus, Learning Resource Center (LR Building), Room 123, 301-934-7614—has been designated to handle inquiries regarding discrimination on the basis of disabilities. The executive director of Student Affairs—La Plata Campus, Administration (AD) Building, Room 220A, 301-539-4746—should be contacted for student discrimination inquiries. Human Resources—La Plata Campus, Campus Center (CC Building), Room 212, 301-934-7700—should be contacted to handle all other discrimination inquiries.

Individuals with disabilities who require special accommodations in order to participate in the college’s instructional programs should notify the academic support/ADA coordinator at 301-934-7614 at least one month before the class begins. Requests made after this deadline will be considered on an individual basis and addressed whenever possible.

nonpayment

One word; no hyphen

nonprofit

One word; no hyphen

Nonprofit Institute at CSM

Nonprofit Institute at CSM

Numbers

In general, spell out zero - nine.

  • There are six students in the class.

When starting a sentence with a number or a date, spell it out:

  • Five girls and 125 boys tried out for the varsity soccer team.

Use numerals for 10 or above and whenever preceding a unit of measurement or referring to ages of people, animals, events, or things.

Always use numerals for:
  • Academic course numbers (COM 1010)
  • Addresses (201 Main St.)
  • Ages (a 6-year-old girl; a 12-year-old boy)
  • with symbols and abbreviations (25%, $25, 50 lbs., 3rd ed.)

 

Inclusive Range of Numbers

When writing numbers through 99, give the full digits.

  • 42 - 48, not 42 - 8.

Page numbers above 99 require only the last two digits of the second number as long as the result is unambiguous. Leading zeros are not dropped.

  • Pages 1123 - 24 not 1123 - 1124
  • Pages 2000 - 04 not 2000 - 4 nor 2000 - 2004
  • Pages 112 - 35
  • Pages 102 - 08 not 102 - 8 nor 102 - 108

When expressing a range of numerals in text do not use a hyphen unless the numbers reflect an inclusive range of dates, write "to" instead.

  • The IQ range of the first group was 86 to 112.
  • The years of the Great Depression, 1930 - 40, tested America severely.


Phone Numbers

EXTERNAL COMMUNICATION

Telephone numbers should be written with a hyphen. No parentheses or "." should be used.
  • 301-934-2251

Use direct dial numbers for external publications when an individual is the contact. For a department or program contact, provide the direct dial number and the automated attendant number for each county along with the appropriate extension.

  • CSM Foundation
    Calvert County | 443-550-6199, ext. 7649
    Charles County | 301-934-7649 or 301-870-2309, ext. 7649
    St. Mary's County | 240-725-5499, ext. 7649

Use "ext." rather than "Ext.", "x," or "extension."

Publications for persons who may be contacting the college from the Washington, DC area should use 301-870-3008.

The college's 800 number, 1-800-933-9177, is for individuals who may be contacting the college from outside of Southern Maryland, but is not widely used, distributed, or placed routinely in published matter.
Be sure to confirm phone numbers (including extensions) prior to publication.


INTERNAL COMMUNICATION

Use extension designations rather than the entire phone number. Use "ext." Do not capitalize the "e." Be sure to confirm extensions prior to publication.


Time

Use numerals for time of day when using "a.m." or "p.m." (such as calendar listings). Always use lowercase "a.m." or "p.m."; it is preferred that the ":00" be removed when referring to times of day. Also, remove the first "a.m." or "p.m." when giving an event or class time frame, if the beginning and ending time both fall in either the "a.m." or "p.m." of the day.

The event will take place 5 - 6:30 p.m.

Exception: Within a formal invitation it is acceptable to include the ":00" when referring to the event time. For formal invitations the above rules for "a.m." and "p.m." usage still apply.

 

O

off campus | off-campus

Two words; use a hyphen when used as an adjective or adverb before a noun

  • Classes are sometimes held off campus.
  • He attended off-campus classes.

off-site

Two words; hyphenated

on campus | on-campus

Two words; use a hyphen when used as an adjective or adverb before a noun

  • Classes are held on campus.
  • He attended on-campus classes.

On-site

Two words; hyphenated

  • They had on-site classes.
  • They hope to hold the event on-site.

online

One word; no hyphen

 

oPT-In Opt In / Opt-out opt-out

opt-in (noun, adjective); opt in (verb)
opt-out (noun; adjective); opt out (verb)

Hyphenated as a noun or an adjective. Two words as a verb.

“The opt-in is disabled.”
“Read our opt-in terms and conditions.”
“To receive electronic statements, you must opt in.”

P

Phi Theta Kappa

Students earning honors are eligible for membership in the Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society, the official honor society for two-year colleges.

  • Spell out Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society on the first reference; for subsequent references use Phi Theta Kappa or PTK.

Phone Numbers

See Numbers entry

Plagiarism

Whether it is committed by a student or a member of the faculty or staff, plagiarism is one of the biggest challenges we face as an academic institution. Plagiarism is the submission of someone else's ideas or words as your own. When you use someone else's words, phrases, or sentences without acknowledging the author, you are committing plagiarism. Plagiarism undermines your work and credibility.

To avoid plagiarism, it is important to follow citation and fair use guidelines and copyright laws. For more information, visit www.copyright.gov.

Publication Titles

For books, movies, plays,* poems, albums, songs, operas, radio and television programs, lectures, speeches, and works of art: Capitalize words in the title except for articles (a, an, the); prepositions of three or fewer letters (for, of, on, up, etc.); and conjunctions of three or fewer letters (and, but, for, nor, or so yet, etc) unless any of those begin or end the title.

Put quotation marks around the names of all such works except magazines, newspapers, the Bible, the Quran, and other holy books, and books that are primarily catalogs of reference material including almanacs, directories, dictionaries, encyclopedias, gazetteers, handbooks, and similar publications.

  • He read "Tuesdays with Morrie."
  • "The Star-Spangled Banner"
  • The Washington Post broke the story.
  • He reads the Bible every morning.
*Exceptions for titles of plays may exist due to licensing agreements.

Punctuation

See Apostrophes, Colons, Commas, Dashes, Hyphens, and Quotation Marks entries

Q

QUOTATION MARKS

For publication titles of books, movies, plays,* poems, albums/CDs, songs, operas, radio and television programs, podcasts, lectures, speeches, and works of art, use single quotation marks when used in headlines and titles of sections; use double quotation marks in the body of copy.

Put quotation marks around the names of all such works except magazines, newspapers, the Bible, the Quran, and other holy books, and books that are primarily catalogs of reference material including almanacs, directories, dictionaries, encyclopedias, gazetteers, handbooks, and similar publications.

*Exceptions for titles of plays may exist due to licensing agreements.

See Publication Titles entry

R

Real-Time Technology (RTT)

Courses that take place completely in a virtual environment, with scheduled meeting days and times for live lectures and class activities.

rEGISTERED TRADEMARKS

Use ® for LEGO, ROBLOX, and GED.

Also see Trademarks entry

 

S

Seasons

Lowercase unless part of a proper name.

  • Spring Break
  • Spring Term 2025
  • summer classes

Semesters

As of Nov. 1, 2023, CSM uses the following terminology for credit classes (no longer use the word "sessions"): 

Fall 15-Week Term
Fall 7-Week Term I
Fall 7-Week Term II
Winter Term
Spring 15-Week Term
Spring 7-Week Term I
Spring 7-Week Term II
Summer 12-Week Term
Summer 6-Week Term I
Summer 6-Week Term II

This terminology can be nested under the word "semester."

Fall Semester

Fall 15-Week Term
Fall 7-Week Term I
Fall 7-Week Term II

 

Do not capitalize seasons of the year when used to indicate an academic period, i.e., fall term, spring semester, or summer term.
  • He will attend classes during the fall semester.
Capitalize seasons only when used in a heading or when it is part of a formal program name.
  • Spring Term 2025
  • Fall Semester 2024

 

small Business Development Center (SBDC)

Small Business Development Center

Southern Maryland

Southern Maryland should be capitalized and written in full. Do not use SoMD, somd, or other abbreviations in external or internal publications.

States, Countries, and Other Locations

Spell out state names within a sentence format whether standing alone or in conjunction with a city, town, or military base.

  • The La Plata Campus is located in La Plata, Maryland.
  • He moved from Pennsylvania to Maryland when he was a child.

Use the following abbreviations in lists, tabular material,credit lines, and political party affiliation:

State Abbreviations
Ala. Neb.
Ariz. Nev.
Ark. N.H.
Calif. N.J.
Colo. N.M.
Conn. N.Y.
Del. N.C.
Fla. N.D.
Ga. Okla.
Ill. Ore.
Ind. Pa.
Kan. R.I.
Ky. S.C.
La. S.D.
Md. Tenn.
Mass. Vt.
Mich. Va.
Minn. Wash.
Miss. W.Va.
Mo. Wis.
Mont. Wyo.

Exception: Alaska, Hawaii, Idaho, Iowa, Maine, Ohio, Texas and Utah are never abbreviated.

  • Sen. Joe Smith, D-Md.
  • Sen. Lucille Jones, R-Utah

For addressing mail, use the two-letter, capitalized, abbreviation approved by the U.S. Postal Service, with no periods. Visit https://pe.usps.com/text/pub28/28apb.htm for a complete listing.

U.S. is always capitalized with periods except in headlines/titles of sections.

USA is always capitalized and does not have periods.

Spell out the names of countries, states, counties, provinces, territories, bodies of water, and mountains in the text.

Student Account Services

Formerly known as the Bursar’s Office

T

TERM (See entry on 'semester')

As of Nov. 1, 2023, CSM uses the following terminology for credit classes (no longer use the word "sessions"): 

Fall 15-Week Term
Fall 7-Week Term I
Fall 7-Week Term II
Winter Term
Spring 15-Week Term
Spring 7-Week Term I
Spring 7-Week Term II
Summer 12-Week Term
Summer 6-Week Term I
Summer 6-Week Term II

This terminology can be nested under the word "semester."

Fall Semester

Fall 15-Week Term
Fall 7-Week Term I
Fall 7-Week Term II

 

Do not capitalize seasons of the year when used to indicate an academic period, i.e., fall term, spring semester, or summer term.
  • He will attend classes during the fall semester.
Capitalize seasons only when used in a heading or when it is part of a formal program name.
  • Spring Term 2025
  • Fall Semester 2024

 

theater

Use theatre if part of a formal name.

they/them/their

See Inclusive Language entry

Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr. Center for Leadership

Thomas V. Mike Miller, Jr. Center for Leadership

Time

See Numbers entry

Titles

Do not use honorifics or courtesy titles such as Mr., Mrs., and Ms. except when addressing mail.

When writing initials, the traditional format is still preferred to put a period and a single space after each.

  • J. S. Bach, C. S. Lewis
Abbreviate the following titles when preceding personal names: Dr., Rev., Hon.,
  • the Rev. Henry L. Brown or the Reverend Henry L. Brown
  • the Hon. Frank R. Hawkins or the Honorable Frank R. Hawkins


Abbreviate Esq., Sr., and Jr., following the name.

When writing to the home address, use the title in front of the name

Office Address
Susan Williams, Ph.D.
Thomas Johnson, MD
Mr. John Smith, Attorney at Law
John Smith, Esq.
Home Address
Dr. Susan Williams
Dr. Thomas Johnson
Mr. John Smith

Use a comma in names before Jr., Sr., Esq. but not before Roman numerals.

  • George Anderson, Esq.
  • John Adams, Jr.
  • Allan Hicks III

See Names and Titles entry

Titles of Organizations and Offices

Always remember to research if the word The is part of the official title of organizations.

  • The conference was held at The Center for Business and Industry (BI Building).


Capitalize words such as association, center, college, department, division, foundation, office, etc., when used as part of the official title. Do not capitalize these words when they stand alone:

  • The College of Southern Maryland offers many programs. The college offers many opportunities.
  • The College of Southern Maryland Foundation is awesome. The foundation provides scholarship opportunities to...
  • The CSM Board of Trustees held a meeting. The board recommended...

Capitalize words such as division, department, association, office, etc., only when used in a formal name:

  • The English and Communication Department has many offices.

Use lowercase o in the word office if not an official name of one of CSM's offices:

  • Inquiries should be made to the Office of the President.
  • Please visit the Financial Assistance office.

Capitalize the R in the word Room and the S in Suite when referring to CSM room numbers.

Trademarks

Capitalize trademarked names. In most writing situations, you do not need to use the symbols ® and ™. Always check the organization's website to determine the guidelines for its trademark.

  • Coca-Cola
  • Kleenex
  • SHRM™
  • SMART Board™

CSM uses ® for LEGO, ROBLOX, and GED.

Training Centers

See Mail entry

U

University OF MARYLAND

UMD is the acronym for the University of Maryland, College Park. 

UMCP is allowed only when referring also to the University of Maryland, Baltimore campus, per UMD Editorial Style Guidelines (https://brand.umd.edu/editorial-style-guidelines).

 

University system of Maryland at southern Maryland

USMSM

USM is the acronym for the University System of Maryland.

 

URLs

Care should be taken when incorporating college URLs as some include capital letters, underscores, spaces, etc. CSM-specific guidelines specify that at the end of the URL, when referring to the specific landing page site, capitalize the first letter of each word even if there are no spaces between the words.

  • www.csmd.edu/CareerServices

As a general rule, "https://" is not required as it is implied and most browsers will automatically insert it. Always test the URL, though, when removing the "http://." Do not add punctuation to the web address as web addresses are not allowed to end with a period or comma. If the URL is at the end of a sentence, however, a period should be used (but not linked).

If a web address will not fit on a single line, either move the address to the following line of text or break the address after a forward slash.

V

Veteran

veteran: lowercase


VeteranS Affairs

Veterans Affairs (VET) is the name of the office within the Division of Student Equity and Success

W

Web-based Courses

Courses that take place completely in a virtual environment, with no set or required meeting days or times—although they do have fixed start and end dates that correspond to the academic session.

Web-hybrid

Always use two words separated by a hyphen; hybrid is lowercase.
  • Web-hybrid

Website

website: one word; lowercase

Work-Based Learning (WBL)

Work-Based: hyphenate and capitalize W and B and L when referring to the formal program, else lowercase all letters when referring to the concept

Work-Based Learning

WorkForce Center at CSM

WorkForce: capitalize W and F

WorkForce Center at CSM

World Wide Web (WWW)

The web is a part of the internet. The two terms should not be used interchangeably.

When using a term such as the web, web is not capitalized and stands alone as one word. The terms website and webpage are one word.

The terms internet and intranet should always be lowercase and not capitalized.

Z

Zoom

Zoom: capital "Z;" lowercase "oom."


05/22/2024 - Added entry on order of appearance for Board of Trustees; added entry on University of Maryland; expanded entry on University System of Maryland 

01/29/24 - Under Administrative Divisions, changed Division of Human Resources and Organizational Development to Division of People, Culture, and Equity (PCE/HRD). Under Departments and Offices/Internal Communication, added People, Culture, and Equity (PCE).

01/19/24 - Added entry on Registered Trademarks and updated cross-referenced Trademarks entry.

11/27/23 - Clarified no comma usage in names before Jr. or Sr.

11/13/23 - Added opt-in, opt in, opt-out, opt out

11/03/23 - Updated building names to remove "PFA" and "PFB" which should not be used in external communications.

11/01/23 - Updated entry on Semester and term to reflect new credit schedule language beginning Nov. 1, 2023.

10/26/23 - Updated entry on Semester and added entry on Term to reflect new credit schedule language beginning in fall 2024.

10/17/23 - Updated entry on FA Building

10/03/23 - Added Veterans Affairs (VET)

9/23/23 - Clarified use of periods in degrees; added Alum; removed Honors Curriculum; expanded entry on honorifics; added CSMReady

9/22/23 - Updated building names for FA, FM, and SR buildings

8/21/23 - Added the two-letter building names to the Regional Hughesville Campus building listings

7/12/23 - Clarified which apostrophe to use for years; updated Regional Hughesville Campus address

2/24/23 - Added University System of Maryland at Southern Maryland (USMSM)

1/14/23 - Added registered trademark to GED entry

1/12/23 - Added HawkTalk

1/08/23 - Added Martin Luther King Jr. Day

10/23/22 - Added Quotation Marks entry as they pertain to publication titles (including language indicating the use of double/single quotation marks may not always apply to titles of plays; also added to Publication Titles entry).

8/4/22 - Added Campus Association

7/6/22 - Removed Entrepreneur and Innovation Institute and edited for accessibility and quality assurance

5/27/22 - Changed academic department names and acronyms

4/27/22 - Added exception for testimonials to the Names and Titles entry.

/7/22 - Removed "Mini-Session' and added new terminology to Semester entry 

3/10/22 - Added "homeschool" 

9/16/21 - Date entry updated to clarify the use of abbreviated month names

9/01/21 - Clarified Publication entry to reflect the use of quotation marks around most titles

7/08/21 - Added term "Work-Based Learning"

/21 - Added term "nonpayment"

/21 - Revised extensively to apply AP Style rules and update/clarify multiple sections

CMS Page Edit