Style Guideline

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Style Guideline


Abbreviations and Acronyms 

The general trend is away from using periods in abbreviations, unless confusion might result.

Do not use the ampersand (&) as a replacement for and. Use the ampersand only when it is part of an official company or product name of a company or on headlines at the discretion of a designer.

Do not italicize acronyms or abbreviations even if they are the official title of a printed piece: e.g., CATECS (Center for Advanced Training in Engineering and Computer Science).

The BFA group will meet next Tuesday to discuss the selection of a new chancellor.

Use “the” before acronyms, such as BFA above, when it is pronounced as individual letters rather than as a word.)

Acronyms That Stand Alone

GPA and SAT are not spelled out. In fact, SAT no longer is an acronym; it's just what it is.
GPA and SAT are not spelled out. In fact, SAT no longer is an acronym; it's just what it is.

Articles (a, an, and the) with Abbreviations and Acronyms

Use the appropriate article (a, an, or the) with abbreviations/acronyms when you would use that article in speech. In general, if an acronym (like NASA or NATO) is pronounced as a word rather than as a series of letters (the AFL-CIO), you do not need an article when the acronym is used as a noun. The choice between using a or an with an acronym or abbreviation is governed by how the acronym or abbreviation is typically spoken. Following these guidelines, we get the following:

A NASA scientist was honored at last night’s dinner.
What we need is an HTML writer.


Because the general trend is to omit periods from abbreviations, Anoka-Ramsey style omits them from degrees.

When the abbreviation of a degree may be unfamiliar to those who didn't earn that particular degree, we recommend using the familiar generic degree (such as BA, BS, MA, PhD, MBA) along with the subcategory spelled out or spelling out the entire degree. When it's clear from the context that the degree is a bachelor's, master's, or doctorate, you may omit the level of degree and just provide the field abbreviation in parentheses, as is common in various alumni publications (see first example).

Memila Jones (Anoka-Ramsey '99) returned to Anoka-Ramsey Community College in 1997 to work on her bachelor's degree in Special Education.
For an alumni publication:
LuLu Lies (Anoka-Ramsey '83) performs regularly as a guest pianist with symphony orchestras around the country.
For a general readership:
LuLu Lies ('83), who holds a AFA in Music from Anoka-Ramsey Community College, performs regularly as a guest pianist with a number of symphony orchestras around the country.

Graduation Year with Degree

When including a graduation or expected graduation year with a degree, abbreviate the year, add an apostrophe, and include a space between the year and the degree.

Gerald Koller (AS, AFA '95) has already made his first million and is planning to establish an Anoka-Ramsey scholarship in his name for a student concentrating in both science and the fine arts.

i.e. and e.g.

These two abbreviations can be confusing, and should be used sparingly. The abbreviation "i.e." means "that is." Use it to restate something in different words, explain the meaning of a term or phrase or give a complete list.

The abbreviation "e.g." means "for example" and is like using the phrase “such as.” Use it to give an example or an incomplete list of examples.

Both "i.e." and "e.g." should have periods after each letter and be followed by a comma.

The system administration, i.e., the president and vice presidents, attended a retreat on Tuesday.
Several majors (e.g., business administration, economics, and chemistry) require strong mathematics backgrounds.

State Abbreviations

In running text, unless the copy is a lengthy, list of place names, it's preferable to spell out the state name, especially if the audience might include international readers.

United States
The two-letter abbreviation for the United States of America uses periods (U.S.). The three-letter abbreviation (and other abbreviations of more than two letters) does not use periods (USA).


Cambridge Campus:
300 Spirit River Dr. S.
Cambridge, MN 55008
Coon Rapids Campus:
11200 Mississippi Blvd NW
Coon Rapids, MN 55433

Abbreviate Ave, Blvd, and St only with a numbered address. Spell them out and capitalize when part of a formal street name without a number.

Address Order

Campus addresses should begin with the name of the office or department, or Anoka-Ramsey Community College if there is no office or department name.

Sentence form:
Applications may be requested from the Office of Admissions, Anoka-Ramsey Community College, 300 Spirit River Dr. S. Cambridge, MN 55008 or 11200 Mississippi Blvd NW, Coon Rapids, MN 55433

Stacked address:
Office of Admission
Anoka-Ramsey Community College
300 Spirit River Dr. S
Cambridge, MN 55008

Building Names

In addresses, do not include the building name and room number unless the information requested will be hand delivered to campus offices.

Return your Application for Admission to Anoka-Ramsey Community College, Office of Admissions, 300 Spirit River Dr. S. Cambridge, MN 55008


Committee, Center, Group, Program, and Initiative Names

Unless a committee, center, group, program or initiative is officially recognized and formally named, avoid capitalizing. An ad hoc committee's name, for example, would not typically be capitalized. Do capitalize the official, proper names of long-standing committees and groups and formally developed programs and initiatives.

The Honors Program has been a huge success.

The college's presidential search committee met in closed executive session Tuesday at the Cambridge Campus.

Course Titles

Official course titles should appear with initial capitals but without quotation marks, italics or any other formatting.

Environmental Anthropology
Introduction to the American Economy
Public Speaking

Department Names 

Capitalize official department names and office names in running text. References using shortened or unofficial names should be lowercase.

Geographical and Related Terms 

Geographical terms commonly accepted as proper names are capitalized. Other descriptive or identifying geographical terms that either do not apply to only one geographical entity or are not regarded as proper names for these entities are not capitalized. Cultural or climatic terms derived from geographical proper names are generally lowercased.

the Metro region, the Iron Range, the Middle East, the Midwest (U.S.), the South, southern, southwestern (direction), the Southwest (U.S.), the West, western Europe, the West Coast, west, western, the western suburbs, westerner


Capitalize and italicize grade letters and use two numerals after the period in GPAs.

She got an F in Energy Issues and Solutions, which brought her overall GPA down to 3.20.

Job and Position Titles

Capitalize job titles only when they immediately precede the individual's name or when they are named positions or honorary titles (as in the last two examples).

It's common knowledge that President John Smith is from Minneapolis.
The president, Dr. Janis Smith, visited MnSCU yesterday.
The president of Anoka-Ramsey Community College can serve an unlimited term in office.
Have you taken a course from Professor Perkins?
Perkins, a music professor, does not teach in the summer.
Jim Morris in the Business Department has been promoted to associate professor.
Left Winkler was the Distinguished Practitioner-in-Residence this summer.

Long Titles

When a person has a very long title, put the title after the name to avoid clumsy syntax and too much capitalization.

Fred Fryes, special assistant to the president and director of special college projects, is moving his office to the new Fine Arts Center.

Descriptive Job Titles

Note that descriptive job titles, as opposed to formal, academic or administrative titles, are not capitalized:

Features photographer Outta Focus Shot and writer Sly Syntax presented the proposal to Public Affairs Director Noah Clue.

Occupational Descriptions

Do not capitalize occupational descriptions either before or after a name.

When baker Ima Rise met with writer Sly Syntax, they decided to create an Anoka-Ramsey Community College cookbook.

Titles in Addresses

When a title is part of an address or headline (or other display type), capitalize the title even if it appears after the name.

Joe Smith, Director of Public Relations and Marketing
Anoka-Ramsey Community College
11200 Mississippi Blvd. NW
Coon Rapids, MN 55433

Publication and Other Titles

When writing for general readerships, use italics for book, journal, brochure, pamphlet, long poems, TV series, operas, long musical compositions, artwork, and movie titles; set chapter and article titles in roman and enclose them in quotation marks; set names of forms in roman.

Capitalize the following in titles:

the first word
the last word
the first word after a colon
all nouns, verbs (including short verbs, such as is, are, be), pronouns, adjectives, adverbs, subordinating conjunctions (if, because, as, that)

College is for Losers, by Knoit All and Notta Clue, has had a large cult following since its publication in 2005.
The library recently received three copies of Success Full’s latest book, Gaining Education for Purpose’s Sake.
Students must return their Application for Admission by the published deadline to be considered for admission to Anoka-Ramsey Community College.
In special cases, where you know that an author officially uses lowercase letters (ex: e e cummings), use the preferred capitalization.

Do not capitalize the following in titles (unless they fall into one of the previously listed categories):

articles (a, an, the), unless they are part of a proper noun
coordinating conjunctions (and, but, or, for, nor)
prepositions (on, between, because of, to, so, yet, by, before, over, under, through, etc.)



Do not capitalize freshman, sophomore or first-year student, unless they appear at the beginning of a sentence or in a headline. First-year is the preferred adjective for students instead of freshman.



Many words and names are legally trademarked and should appear with initial capitals to acknowledge that fact. Also owners of such trademarks have a legal right to restrict the use of those trademarked terms to their specific product.

Avoid using trademarked names, such as Kleenex and Xerox, as generic terms. Instead, use facial tissue and photocopier, unless intending to refer to the trademarked brand name.



Graduation Dates

In running text, when referring to a graduation year, use all four digits. When you need to abbreviate the year, use the final two digits of the graduation year, or expected graduation year, preceded by an apostrophe, and enclose the year in parentheses. Be sure that the apostrophe is headed in the correct direction.

Starr Powwer, who graduated in 1987 with an AFA in Theater, was the guest performer.
Art Galley (`07) won the department's award for most creative project.

Inclusive Dates

Use an en dash (or a hyphen, if an en dash is unavailable – see Dashes for more information) for continuing or inclusive numbers, but do not use a hyphen as a substitute for the word to.

She taught in the Chemistry Department from 1995 to 1999.
NOT She taught in the Chemistry Department from 1995–1999.
The 1999–2000 academic year concluded with fair-weather graduation ceremonies.


Punctuation with Dates

No comma is needed between a month and a year. Commas are required before and after a year when month, date and year are used.

She began her studies in August 1988 and completed them in May 1990.
She began her studies August 15, 1988, and completed them May 12, 1990.


Inclusive Writing

Anoka-Ramsey Community College Diversity and Equity Statement:

Anoka-Ramsey Community College is an equal opportunity employer and educator.

In General

Try to communicate in a manner that does not exclude particular individuals or groups and avoid euphemisms and preferences of various "politically correct" factions. Instead use this guide to appropriate references to members of distinctive groups.

Sex and Gender

Avoid the awkward s/he and his/her. Write copy that applies equally to men and women is to use plurals. If the singular must be used, use both pronouns, joined by a conjunction. (For guidelines on when to use sex and when to use gender, see the Word List Guideline.)

To be academically successful, students need to attend classes regularly, practice good study skills, take advantage of faculty assistance and get sufficient sleep.
If a student is ill, she or he should notify the appropriate faculty members immediately.

Another alternative, when its use is appropriate, is the second person:

You will need to purchase your campus parking permit during the first week of the new semester.

It is recommended to use their only as a plural pronoun until common, published usage changes.


In written materials intended for a general audience, avoid references that make assumptions about age-related abilities or that assume all college and college students are between the ages of 18 and 24.


When writing about individuals with disabilities, use "person first" language; i.e., person who uses a wheelchair. Similarly, blind students would be preferable to the blind. Do not cap blind, deaf or any other term relating to people with disabilities.

Special arrangements may be made for students with hearing, vision, learning or physical disabilities.

Parking for persons with disabilities should be referred to as disability parking, not handicap parking.

Race and Ethnicity

Current practice and preference is to style the names of non-European Americans without hyphens. Although there are many more distinct ethnicities within each category, these are the most common:

African American (Americans of African descent)
Asian American (Americans of Asian descent)
European American (Americans of European descent)
Hispanic American (Americans with ancestors from Spain, Mexico, Puerto Rico, Cuba, South and Central America)
Native American

Other preferred terms include:

American Indian (descendants of the original North, South, and Central Americans)
Caucasian (commonly used to refer to anyone with light skin)
Latino/Latina (people of Latin American descent; less broad than Hispanic and preferred by some to Chicano/Chicana)
people of color (for any non-European Americans and their descendants)

NOTE: For purposes of the college’s enrollment reporting, the college uses the following ethnicities:

African American
Asian/Pacific Islander
Foreign National
American Indian

In informal writing, where specific racial and ethnic identification would seem stilted, the terms black and white are sometimes preferred in reference to individuals of African American and European American ancestry. These terms are used both as nouns and adjectives. In both cases, they represent distinct groups of people. However, the terms are not proper nouns and are not capitalized.

Whether you're black or white, there's no question that we all notice skin color—especially when it's different from our own.

Although style books agree that black and white should not be capitalized, there may be times when, in attempting to conform to a particular group's preference for capitalization, you capitalize one adjective. In such cases, be consistent and capitalize all similar terms:

Whether you're Black or White, there's no question that we all notice skin color—especially when it's different from our own.


Sexual Orientation
To avoid the appearance of bias based on sexual orientation, avoid acknowledged, admitted or avowed as adjectives preceding the words homosexual, lesbian, bisexual, gay or heterosexual. Preferred phrasings include openly gay or gay. Use transgender, not transgendered. Note that most individuals with a same-sex orientation prefer lesbian or gay over homosexual.

Letter Format

Although no formal graphic standards have existed for printing letters on Anoka-Ramsey letterhead, we recommend adopting the style illustrated in the following example.


June 12, 2007

<3 blank lines here>

Mary Main
1234 Mississippi Street
Hometown, MN 55000

<2 blank lines here>

Dear Ms. Main:

When typing formal letters on Anoka-Ramsey letterhead, leave at least one inch of white space below the letterhead and use one-inch margins on the left, right and bottom sides. Align all type full-justified with no paragraph indentations. Double space or hard return to begin new paragraphs.

As for other spacing, it's traditional to triple space between the date and the address block, double space between the address block and the salutation, double space after the salutation, and leave four lines for the signature. It’s okay however to double space after the date, particularly if it will save the letter from running on to a second page.

Do not use two spaces after a period (.) before beginning a new sentence.

Block style is the current business letter writing style standard and has been approved by efficiency experts because it saves keystrokes. To readers, this flush left style looks more contemporary than the indented paragraph style. Finally, adopting this style will help convey a consistent image for all Anoka-Ramsey correspondence.


<4 blank lines here>

the team
Office of Public Relations and Marketing



In general: Use a line space or partial line space before and after all stacked lists.

Lists within Sentences
Within a sentence, separate items in a list with commas (see the Punctuation section concerning commas in lists) or with semicolons if the items in the list include commas.

The students came from River Falls, Wisconsin; Coon Rapids, Minnesota; Buffalo, Sioux Falls, South Dakota; and Vancouver, British Columbia.

Vertical Lists 

Introduce items in a vertical list with numbers only when the order matters. Otherwise, use bullets or another typographical symbol.

If you are the first to arrive at the office:
Unlock the main office door.
Turn off the silent alarm.
Turn on the lights in the main reception area.

If any or all of the items in a vertical list are complete sentences (as above), punctuate all items in the list with periods. If no items are sentences, follow each with a comma and end the list with a period if the list completes a sentence or omit punctuation at the end of each item, including the last one.

(Be consistent within a document in how you treat similar types of lists.)

The course has several graded projects:
a midterm test
a final exam
a team project
a research paper
a weekly log for analyzing your field work

If the sentence introducing the list is a complete sentence, it can end in a period or a colon, whichever seems appropriate (following, and as follows require a colon). If the introductory material is not a complete sentence, use the punctuation mark that's appropriate for the context, whether that's a comma, semicolon, dash, or nothing at all.

Before you begin college for the first time, you usually
visit the admissions office,
make sure your official transcripts are transferred,
study an academic catalog for course selections, and
realize this will be the best time of your life.

Names and Titles

 See also Capitalization

Degrees with Names

Use a comma between a person's name and degree.

John Teacher, MA

Government Programs

Following the general rules of capitalization, full formal or accepted titles of plans, policies, laws and similar documents or agreements, as well as the names of programs resulting from them, are usually capitalized. Incomplete names are lowercased.

In accordance with the Federal Privacy Act of 1974, Section 7 (b), the disclosure of a student’s social security number is strictly prohibited.

Names for Racial and Ethnic Origins

See the Inclusive Writing section.

Names with Initials

Use a space between two initials. Style three initials without spaces between letters.

Papers were presented by A. M. Day, L.T.O. Gettling, and C. Beam.
Names with Job Titles

Capitalize titles only when they immediately precede the individual's name. For examples, see the Capitalization section. Do not use courtesy or academic degree titles when referring to academic personnel.

Professor Rick Roe, biology OR Rick Roe, professor of biology;
NOT Mr. Rick Roe or Professor Dr. Rick Roe

Names with Suffixes

Omit commas before and after Jr., Sr. and the designations I, II, III, and IV. (unless the person insists a comma is used).

Tony Toneen Jr. was introduced by Theodore Rothchild III.

Publications, Presentations, and Reports

Titles of books, journals, movies, TV and radio programs, and campus publications are styled italic with initial caps (see the Capitalization section for more information). Titles of articles, episodes, short stories, book chapters, poems, conference papers, and essays are styled Roman nonitalicized and enclosed in quotation marks. Titles of forms, reports, workshops and conferences are also set in Roman text and contain initial caps only.

Strategic Messages, available through the Marketing & Public Relations Office, contains a wealth of facts, statistics and information about Anoka-Ramsey Community College.
The Federal Application for Student Aid should be turned in as early as possible.


In general: The following guidelines apply to the majority of Anoka-Ramsey writing except for scientific, statistical, technical and mathematical writing. Spell out one to nine. Use numerals for 10 and above.


Use numerals for percentages,* decimals, credit hours, GPAs, book sections and pages, quantities combining whole numbers and fractions, and when symbols rather than abbreviations are used for units of measure.

*Use the word percent in formal running text. Use the percent sign in tables, charts, scientific and statistical copy and some informal and promotional copy. Whichever you choose, be consistent throughout a document.

In her third semester, when she carried 12 credit hours, she earned a 3.95 GPA while spending 50 percent of her time on a work-study job.

Spelling out large round numbers is preferred.

She gave the museum more than a hundred thousand artifacts.

Use a combination of numerals and words with numbers in the millions and larger.

The population increased by 6.9 million.

Use a comma for numbers with more than three digits unless they represent SAT scores or years.

Estimated in-state tuition for 2001-02 was $2,505.
The book, which was published in 2005, has 4,987 pages.
Her combined SAT score was 1115.

Spell out numbers at the beginning of a sentence or rephrase the sentence to avoid beginning with a number.

Fifteen students received the new degree at the May commencement.

Hyphenate fractions when they are spelled out:

A four-fifths majority voted in favor of the amendment.

Adjacent Numbers

When a sentence has two numbers adjacent to each other, using a combination of numerals and spelled-out numbers can help avoid confusion and may be required. If one of the numbers is a unit of measurement, leave that number a numeral. In other cases, spell out the shorter of the two numbers.

The play's set included 10 six-foot plaster columns.
They distributed 235,000 sixteen-page newsletters.


Dates should appear month, day, and year, without the ordinal letters. Do not include the word on prior to the month.

New parking permits go on sale January 2, 2007.
NOT New parking permits go on sale January 7th, 2007.
NOT New parking permits go on sale 7 January 2007.

Footnote Numbers

Asterisks and superscripts follow punctuation marks (except a dash) in running text and are placed outside a closing parenthesis.

Be sure to enter your social security number,1 your phone numbers (daytime and evening)2 with area code, and your mother's maiden name.3

Inclusive Numbers

When dealing with ranges of numbers (such as page numbers and years), carry over all the digits that change and include at least two digits for the second number. Such inclusive numbers use an en dash rather than a hyphen.

pages 1,004–05

Metric Measures

Generally, metric measurements are not used at Anoka-Ramsey Community College. If you are writing for an international audience include metric measurements.



In general: When a relation between two or more similar amounts is expressed, the dollar symbol may or may not be repeated, but use a hyphen to denote range. If fractional amounts over one dollar are used in any reference, be consistent and use them throughout, even if it's a zero amount.

She invested $1-2 million in the Funds For Education Campaign at Anoka-Ramsey Community College.
Sweatshirts are available from $30.99 to $85.00.

Multiple Numbers in a Sentence

When numbers in a single sentence refer to more than one class of items, follow general AP Guidelines (spell out the number nine and under) and try to avoid making all numbers numerals.

Candidates for student government offices included 12 biology students, nine political science students, eight music students and seven students from five other majors.

Ordinal Numbers

Spell out ordinal numbers from first to ninth.

She placed fourth out of 525 competitors.
The 21st century has been fodder for many imaginative novelists and entrepreneurial visionaries during the latter half of the 20th century.

Room Numbers

 Campus room numbers should be referred to with the name of the building and the room number, in that order. Do not use the words "room" or "hall."

The GIS information session is being held in B214.


Telephone Numbers

Now that all local numbers require use of the area code, do not put the area code in parentheses. Instead, simply use a hyphen: 763-433-1100. Do not use periods: 763.433.1100.


 Use numerals with a.m. and p.m. (small caps or lowercase letters) to indicate specific times. Use noon and midnight in place of 12 p.m. and 12 a.m., respectively, for clarity. Do not use colon and zeros in times with two zeros. 2:00 p.m. appears as 2 p.m., 4:00 a.m. appears as 4 p.m., etc. Colon should be used for actual minutes: 2:11 p.m., 4:30 a.m., etc.

The lecture will begin at 2:30 p.m.
I'll extend office hours this week until about 5 p.m.

If the time appears anywhere other than in running text, such as in a postcard, poster or flyer, omit the periods so the time of day appears as am or pm.

Years and Decades

There are multiple formats for referring to decades. In running text, spelling out the decade (first example) or using the full numeric decade (second example) is preferable. Use the abbreviated numeric decade format in very informal copy or in lists where space is limited. Do not use an abbreviated format if there could be any confusion about the century. Do not use an 's in numeric decades (1880s or '80s, not 1880's or '80's).

Use the correct placement for A.D. and B.C. (small caps).

Hannibal died in 183 B.C.
King George IV died in A.D. 1830.

Unless the century changes, inclusive years should be styled with only the last two digits of the second number (1899–1900, but 2001–02). Inclusive years on publication covers, however, can be styled with all four digits of the second number (2001–2002 versus 2001–02) at the designer's discretion.

Note that in running text, the en dash or hyphen is not an acceptable substitute for the word to unless the numbers are in parentheses.

She taught anthropology from 1983 to 1992.
She taught anthropology at Anoka-Ramsey (1952–1960).


 In general: Use only one space after end punctuation (periods, exclamation points, question marks) and after colons and semicolons.


When indicating the possessive for names, use an apostrophe followed by an s even when the person's name ends in s or another sibilant. The two traditional exceptions are Jesus' and Moses'.

Kansas's team
Jones's theorem
Marx's ideas

With a few exceptions, the possessive of a singular common noun is formed by the addition of an apostrophe and s, and the possessive of a plural common noun by the addition of an apostrophe only.

The horse’s mouth
The puppies’ tails
The children’s desk

Do not use an apostrophe to indicate plurals, including the plurals of acronyms and abbreviations, unless confusion would result without the apostrophe (as in the first example).

There are five s's in that word.
There are five 5s in that number.
There were five PhDs in last year's class.

Apostrophes are required for associate’s degree, bachelor's degree and master's degree.

The following list includes names of offices and organizations on campus that commonly contain errors in apostrophe use. These are correctly punctuated. Note absence or presence of apostrophes.

Veterans Services
Women’s Basketball
Men’s Soccer


Use colons to introduce a series or a list, especially a list preceded by as follows or the following. Capitalize material after a colon if it constitutes a complete sentence. Use a colon to introduce an explanatory phrase or sentence.

Conference participants should bring the following items: alarm clock, laptop computer, eye drops, coffee maker, and pillow.

The implication of the chancellor's concern was clear: students must be able to purchase the books required for their courses without cost causing them to reconsider the course or even a college education.


Commas Between Proper Nouns Use a comma between two proper nouns (or a year and a proper noun) to aid reading.

When he gave his invited paper at the conference in June, Roy attracted a huge crowd.
In 2006, CECT received a MSJP grant for $222,000.

In Complex and Compound Sentences Use a comma before a conjunction that introduces an independent clause. Note that you do not need a comma before every and, but, because, and or. If what follows the conjunction is not a complete clause, you don't need a comma (see second example ).

The Lake Wobegon Band is giving a concert in Performing Arts Center Sunday afternoon, and the college choir is performing in the cafeteria Saturday night.
When the Lake Wobegon Band performs and the basketball team has a game on the same day parking is a nightmare.

To Avoid Confusion In general, don't add commas just because you might pause when speaking a sentence, but do add them if they fall into any of the categories mentioned in this guide or if the meaning might be misconstrued without them, as in the following example:

Karla and Tom came; so did Gary and Sam and Zoey. (Was the second couple Gary and Sam or Sam and Zoey? You can't tell.)
Karla and Tom came; so did Gary, and Sam and Zoey. (Sam and Zoey were the couple.)
Karla and Tom came; so did Gary, Sam, and Zoey. (Gary, Sam, and Zoey came independently.)

With Appositives Use commas with appositives.

Justin Time, director of parking services, hired two additional students to monitor parking facilities during the conference.

With Dates No comma is needed between a month and a year. Do use a comma before and after the year if month, date, and year are used.

The deadline is April 1, 2007 for on-campus applicants and April 2, 2007 for off-campus applicants. A hiring decision will be made in May 2008.

With Introductory Phrases Omit commas after short introductory phrases, except if confusion might result or if the introductory phrase ends with a date or proper noun and the main clause begins with a date or proper noun.

On July 4, Chancellor Smith will address a local veterans group.
When it's windy the kinetic sculpture on the north side of the building is fascinating to watch.

In Lists Do not use a comma before the conjunction and the final element in a list.

Those in attendance included students, faculty, staff and donors.
NOT Those in attendance included students, faculty, staff, and donors.

With Nonrestrictive and Parenthetical Phrases Use commas to set off nonrestrictive and parenthetical phrases.

That bike, which is a racing model, cost more than my used car.
My alternate route, the one I take when I have time, follows Mississippi Blvd.

With Place Names Names of states (or countries) are enclosed in commas when they are preceded by a city or state.

The conference will be held in Genius, Kentucky, but the planning meeting will be held in Paris, France. The guest speaker is from Washington, DC.


 Observe the distinction between hyphens, en dashes and em dashes.

En Dashes (short) Use en dashes between inclusive numbers and with compound adjectives when one element consists of more than one word. (On the Macintosh, en dashes are created by hitting the option and hyphen keys. In Microsoft, insert a space before and after two hyphens between the words. For example, type: this is -- a test.)

You'll find examples on pages 27–51 in your book.
He's taking the earliest Minneapolis–Boston flight.

Em Dashes (long) Em dashes are used to denote a sudden break in thought that causes an abrupt change in sentence structure.

Traditionally, in all uses except most newspapers (and in some display typography, such as headlines), a dash is set without a space on either side. Especially in certain formats and type sizes, adding a space before and after a dash can make the text look "gappy." (On the Macintosh, em dashes are created by hitting the option, shift, and hyphen keys. In Microsoft, do not enter a space between the words, simply type two hyphens. For example, type: this is--a test.)

Professor Rose—who had driven over a skunk earlier that morning—gave his lecture on the importance of the olfactory sense in mammals.


Use ellipsis points to indicate that material has been omitted from the middle of a quotation. Do not use ellipses at the beginning or end of a quotation even if you start or stop in the middle of the quoted sentence. Ellipses are created with three period characters, with one space on either side of each character:

. . . not ...

Frank's speech began with a request that audience members "leave all video cameras, tape recorders, and still cameras with the
staff . . . at the entrance."

When the omitted material includes a period, use a period plus ellipses:

The professor's announcement was unexpected: "Because everyone did so poorly on last Friday's quiz, I will be giving another quiz tomorrow. . . . Furthermore, I will hold an extra study session in my office today."


Most questions about whether to hyphenate or not can be readily answered by consulting your dictionary. We prefer to follow the example of The Chicago Manual of Style: omit hyphens from adjectival compounds where there is little or no risk of ambiguity.

Common uses for hyphens:

abbreviations of Anoka-Ramsey campuses: Anoka-Ramsey Community College
compound adjectives such as well-prepared and self-sufficient

Do not use a hyphen between a compound that begins with an adverb ending in ly:

The Confusion Clearinghouse is an aptly named office.


Use periods in the following situations:

at the end of a declarative sentence
at the end of a quoted passage that also ends a sentence, even if it is not the end of the sentence in the original passage (rather than using ellipses)
with abbreviations (See the Abbreviations section; do not add an extra period if the abbreviation ends the sentence)
at the end of items in a vertical list if some or all of the list items are complete sentences (these are not—and wouldn't be even if the first word were capitalized)
at the end of a vertical list that is punctuated (as this one is not) with commas at the end of each item (see the Lists section for more detail)

A sentence can have only one terminal punctuation mark. When you've reached the terminal, you've reached the end.

Quotation Marks

Commas and periods go inside quotation marks. Colons and semicolons go outside quotation marks. With question marks and exclamation points, it depends: If the punctuation is part of the quotation, put it inside the quotation marks; if it's not part of the quotation, put it outside.

Make sure you are using true single and double quotation marks by setting your computer for "smart quotes" rather than for inch and foot symbols, as we are using for this Web version of the guide. (for the Mac under Tools and Preferences on the Mac; for Microsoft go to Options->Proofing->Auto Correct Options->Auto Format As you Type)

Use quotation marks

to indicate the exact words that someone spoke or published
the first time you refer to a nickname
the first time you use a term or phrase ironically or sarcastically (don't overuse)

Do not use quotation marks to set off clichés. Just don't use the clichés.


Use semicolons in lists whose items include commas (see the Lists section). Use semicolons to separate closely related clauses.

Anoka-Ramsey officials at the meeting included: Jose’ Stewart, president; Mary Smith, vice-president; and Mike Johnson, director of public relations and marketing.



11.2011 Adopted



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