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Editorial Style Guide

Our Editorial Style Guide was created to promote a stronger, more unified Raider voice campus-wide. Intended for use by anyone writing on behalf of the college, this style guide ensures consistency and clarity by implementing a standardized usage of grammar and punctuation that is unique to GRCC. We celebrate the multitude of voices on this campus and want to give you the tools to write with accuracy and college identity in mind.

If you have an editorial or style question, please contact the Communications Department.


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Spell out abbreviations on first reference with acronym in parentheses: Students interested in calculating their grade point average (GPA), can use our online calculator.

academic degrees

Academic degrees are generally spelled out when used in a running text: She received her associate degree before completing her bachelor's degree. Note the use of apostrophes and upper- and lowercase titles:


  • associate degree
  • bachelor's degree (note apostrophe)
  • baccalaureate
  • Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Science
  • Master of Arts/Master of Science
  • master's degree

Academic Pathways

Always appears capitalized, and only referred to as pathways, lowercase, on second reference.

A serial comma is used when listing Academic Pathways.

academic titles

Never capitalize academic titles when preceding a name: professor Abraham Lincoln. Professional titles are capitalized, but academic titles are not.

Lowercase when the title is referenced after the name, or when used alone: Abraham Lincoln, associate professor.

"Faculty" refers to a group of academic professionals, and should never be uppercase unless using it to begin a sentence.


Alum is used in informal instances

Alumna refers to a singular female graduate.

Alumnus refers to a singular male graduate.

Alumni is GRCC's preferred language for any group of students, regardless of gender.


Only abbreviate Ave., Blvd., St. in conjunction with a numbered address. In all other references, spell out.

143 Bostwick Ave. NE
Grand Rapids, MI 49503
Turn left onto Bostwick Avenue NE.

Abbreviate cardinal directions in conjunction with an official roadway name: Bostwick Avenue NE is in the heart of downtown Grand Rapids.

Spell out and lowercase cardinal directions when indicating compass directions: I live northeast of the city.

Capitalize cardinal directions when designating a region: Floyd Mayweather Jr. was born in West Michigan.

Addresses used in invitation copy

Street Address
Location on GRCC map


The Heritage
151 Fountain St. NE
Located in the GRCC Wisner-Bottrall Applied Technology Center on the corner of Fountain St. and Ransom Ave. — with parking off Ransom.

Addresses used in digital signage

Exclude the mailing address if the event location is on Main Campus.

GRCC Albert P. Smith Music Center
Linn Maxwell Keller Recital Hall


Never adviser.


Avoid using in both running text and headers. Ampersands are not always compliant with screen readers, and therefore not compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act.


Apostrophes are never used to pluralize (The student received all As, not the student received all A's).

For singular possessive common nouns that end with the letter s, add 's even when the following word begins with s: The hostess's seat.



building names

For whichever building you are referencing, always spell out entire building name on first reference: Student Center, not SCC. Any appropriate abbreviations are included in parentheses next to the official title:

  • Albert P. Smith Music Center (the music center)
  • Calkins Science Center (CSS)
  • Custer Alumni House (Full title to be used on all references)
  • Dr. Juan R. Olivarez Student Plaza (formerly referred to as Bostwick Commons)
  • Ford Fieldhouse (Gerald R. Ford Fieldhouse used in official external communications, Fieldhouse on second reference.)
  • Leslie E. Tassell M-TEC (Tassell M-TEC; never simply "M-TEC")
  • Learning Center
    — When referring to the Library and Learning Commons, located within the Learning Center, use full title on first reference. The library is acceptable on second reference.
  • Meijer Center for Business Studies
  • Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (ODEI on second reference)
  • Patrick A. Thompson M-TEC (Thompson M-TEC is acceptable; never simply "M-TEC")
  • Phyllis Fratzke Early Childhood Learning Laboratory (referred to as Early Childhood Learning Laboratory in print and web materials, ECLL on second reference)
  • Raleigh J. Finkelstein Hall (RJF Hall, formerly Main Building)
  • Student Center (SCC is acceptable as it is still used on students' schedules; never Student Center Building or Student Community Center in print materials)




Hyphenate in all instances.

capitalization, headers

Whether writing for print or online publication, the first word of any title is capitalized and the rest are sentence case. The only exception is for proper nouns. Example: How to apply as a new student.


When multiple words are joined together in URLs or digital communications, the first letter of each word is capitalized:

When acronyms are used, capitalize all letters:

hyphenated modifier

If the first word in a hyphenated modifier is a noun and should be capitalized, then the second word will follow suit.


Preferred title rather than chairman or chairwoman.


We do not capitalize college unless using the official college name: The college is dedicated to students' academic and personal enrichment.

contact information

Link emails and phone numbers so users are able to click to start typing an email, or click the phone number to call directly.

commas, serial

A serial comma (often referred to as an Oxford or Harvard comma) is never used: She wants to learn German, French and Spanish.

The only exceptions include using the comma to provide clarification or listing Academic Pathways.

commas, using geography and time

In running text, set off and spell out geographical names if a larger geographical unit follows a smaller one: Located in the heart of downtown Grand Rapids, Michigan, GRCC is home to an eclectic student body.

Years are always set off with commas if they follow a month and day: She graduated May 1, 2016, at the top of her class.


No hyphen.


Coronaviruses are a family of viruses, some of which cause disease in people and animals. It is acceptable to refer to the coronavirus on first reference in stories about COVID-19; although the phrasing incorrectly implies there is only one coronavirus, it is clear in this context.

The URL would appear:


Stands for coronavirus disease 2019, and is caused by a virus named SARS-CoV-2. When referring to the virus, the COVID-19 virus and the virus that causes COVID-19 are acceptable.

COVID-19 is the name of the disease, not the virus; therefore, it is not accurate to refer to it as a virus called COVID-19. Also incorrect are usages such as he worries about catching COVID-19.

Do not shorten to COVID.

The URL would appear:

credit hours

Numerals are used when referring to credit hours: The English Composition course is 3 credit hours.



Spell out months and days of the week, unless they need to be abbreviated for formatting within a table or graph. If using a day and date together, set the day off with a comma: Thursday, Aug. 3. 

If using a specific date with a month, abbreviate only: Jan., Feb., Aug., Sept., Oct., Nov. and Dec.

Years are always set off with commas if they follow a month and day: She graduated May 1, 2016, at the top of her class.

Years are always expressed in the following range: 2016-17.

When referencing a decade, always use an apostrophe: In the '90s, Bill Clinton was president.

department and program names

Capitalize when referring to a department by its official name: GRCC's Nursing program has a lot to offer to their students.

Lowercase when you are not referring to the official department: Have you ever thought about studying nursing?




An ellipsis is used to indicate an intentional omission from a quoted passage. It can be used in place of a word, sentence or section of text so long as the meaning of the passage remains unchanged. 


never hyphenated (e-mail), and always lowercased unless beginning a sentence.

em dash

An em dash has several functions: It is used to:

  • Denote an abrupt change or emphatic pause:
    The student will go on to graduate — if he doesn't decide to drop out. 

  • Denote a series within a phrase that lists words separated by commas:
    She imagined all of the programs she could study — biology, math, computer sciences, English — if only she could choose just one.

  • Attribute a quote:
    "Be curious, not judgmental." — Walt Whitman

Always include a space before and after the em dash, per AP Style.

Early/Middle College

Preferred wording.




One word.

first-come, first-served

Hyphenated and separated by a comma.

foreign students

Preferred term is international students.


Official names of forms and applications are capitalized: Please do not forget to turn in your Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

full time/full-time

Use full time when it does not precede a compound modifier: I am working full time this semester.

Hyphenate when it precedes a compound modifier: He is a full-time student.



gender-neutral language

Revise copy to eliminate the use of gendered pronouns where possible. They, them and theirs is preferred.


grade point average

Spell out grade point average on first reference and omit initialism.



Heritage Restaurant

If "the" precedes the title in running text, do not capitalize the "T" unless it begins a sentence.

hors d'oeuvres

Correct spelling. Another phrase for finger foods or appetizers in French.



international student

Preferred wording over foreign student.



Introduction to Distance Learning Orientation

Commonly referred to as the orientation for online students, the full name should be used in all instances.


Used only for the titles of books, magazines, journals, epic poems, newspapers, movies, televisions shows, radio programs, musical compositions, paintings and other works of art.

Do not use italics to emphasize text.



Lakeshore Campus

Always capitalize Lakeshore, and Lakeshore Campus.


When writing lists, capitalize the first word of the sentence or phrase and use terminal punctuation: a period, question mark or exclamation point.

Use bullets versus dashes, and use numbers or check boxes if the list is for steps or a series.


Building/center name, Room number

Student Center, Room 25
Main Campus

Administration Building, Room 100
DeVos Campus

log in

As a verb: I am going to log in to the Online Center. 


As a noun: The Online Center login requires a username and password.

log on

As a verb: I am going to log on to Blackboard when I get home.


As a noun: The logon information is written somewhere.



Main Building

Please use "Raleigh J. Finkelstein Hall, formerly Main Building"

majors and minors

Lowercase in every instance except for proper nouns or adjectives: They went on to major in communications, but chose to minor in Spanish.

Middle College

See "Early/Middle College."




Numbers one through nine are spelled out unless it's being used in the case of fractions (2/3), percentages (75 percent), or credit hours (3 credit hours).

If numbers are grouped together and one number has a value higher than nine, use all numerals: They completed 6 out of the 26 required credit hours.




Hyphenate only when the compound precedes a noun.


One word, lowercase.

Online Center

Never Online Student Center.




Preferred spelled out unless the % sign is used for graphs, tables and formatting styles: I am 99 percent sure I will have all As this semester.

phone numbers

Phone numbers should always include area codes within parentheses with correct punctuation: (616) 234-4000.

police, GRCC

Formerly "Campus Police," the title of the department will appear as GRCC Police or GRCC Police Department in all copy.


Avoid the use of profanity in marketing or communications materials. If it must be included in the cases of titles or quotes, please use the first letter only and substitute the rest of the text with dashes: "A student was hoping the event could headline Elizabeth Wurtzel, the author of B----: In Praise of Difficult Women."

president, GRCC

The title of our current president will appear in running copy as Dr. Bill Pink. If being referenced in a list, his name is to appear: Bill Pink, Ph.D.

Former presidents can be referenced as such unless they have been awarded President Emeritus. If they have been awarded this honor, it must be included in their reference: President Emeritus Steven C. Ender, Ed.D.



One word.




Lowercase: She will graduate in the fall of 2018.

Secchia Institute for Culinary Education

Always spelled out, never SICE.


Lowercase: Allen Ginsberg read at GRCC's campus in the winter semester of 1993.


Always hyphenated and never "shoe."

sleight of hand

Never "slight."


Only one space follows any punctuation mark, never two. 

student groups

All student groups are asked to change their name to include "at GRCC" at the end. Example: GRCC Christian Fellowship would now be Christian Fellowship at GRCC.




Preferred spelling.


Always format a.m./p.m., and omit additional zeros: The Diversity Lecture Series begins at 7 p.m., not 7:00 p.m.

Noon always appears: noon, lowercase, not 12 p.m.

titles, capitalization

Formal and professional titles are capitalized only when preceding an individual's name: President Barack Obama called a press conference.

Titles are generally lowercase when they are not used with an individual's name, or when they are set off from a name by commas: The vice president, Joe Biden, stood beside the president at the podium.


TRIO is a set of federally-funded college opportunity programs that the Department of Education refers to with all capital letters.




Offer wording for links rather than using "please click here more information." Example: Visit our Physical Sciences Department for more information. 

Do not include https://www.

Capitalize words using camel case after the domain name Visit

When print copy ends with a URL as a call-to-action, do not end the sentence with a period.




Lowercase, one word.


Lowercase, one word.


Capitalize and hyphenate.