Editorial Style

Most writing and grammar questions can be answered with the current edition of the Chicago Manual of Style (CMOS). Adhering to this guide as a standard will prevent minor components of writing from becoming glaring inconsistencies. As the CMOS is not readily accessible to the public, some essential standards will be explained below.

Referring to the College

The best practice for the first mention of American International College is to use the full name of the College. In subsequent references, it can be referred to as AIC. When referring to AIC specifically, you can also use “the College,” but only after the full name of the College has been mentioned. If you’re referring to “college” in a general sense, maintain lowercase. Avoid using partial names of the college such as “American,” or “American International.”

  • American International College; AIC; the College
  • I graduated with magna cum laude honors from American International College.


  • I graduated with magna cum laude honors from American International.
  • After visiting the American International College campus, I knew that AIC was right for me.
  • My time at the College was filled with good memories and better friends.
  • Families across the nation are gearing up for college visits in the fall.


Use of the comma: The comma, aside from its technical uses in scientific, bibliographical, and other contexts, indicates the smallest break in sentence structure. It usually denotes a slight pause. In formal prose, however, logical considerations come first. Effective use of the comma involves good judgement, with the goal being ease of reading.

Commas in pairs: Whenever a comma is placed before an element to set it off from the surrounding text (such as “1920” or “Minnesota” in the examples below), a second comma is required if the phrase or sentence continues beyond the element being set off. This principle applies to many of the uses for commas described in this section. An exception is made for commas within the title of a work (third example); such commas are considered to be independent of the surrounding sentence.

  • August 18, 1920, was a good day for American women.
  • Sledding in Duluth, Minnesota, is facilitated by that city’s hills and frigid winters.


  • Look Homeward, Angel was not the working title of Wolfe’s manuscript.

Serial commas: Items in a series are normally separated by commas. When a conjunction joins the last two elements in a series of three or more, a comma—known as the serial or series comma or the Oxford comma—should appear before the conjunction. The Chicago Manual of Style strongly recommends this widely practiced usage since it prevents ambiguity. If the last element consists of a pair joined by and, the pair should still be preceded by a serial comma and the first and (as in the last two examples below). In the rare example where the serial comma does not prevent ambiguity, it may be necessary to reword.

  • She posted pictures of her parents, the president, and the vice president.
  • Before heading out the door, he took note of the typical outlines of sweet gum, gingko, and elm leaves.
  • I want no ifs, ands, or buts.
  • Paul put the kettle on, Don fetched the teapot, and I made tea.
  • Their wartime rations included cabbage, turnips, and bread and butter.
  • Ahmed was configuring updates, Jean was installing a new hardware, and Alan was running errands and furnishing food.

For further clarification, refer to the most recent edition of the Chicago Manual of Style.


Chicago’s general rule—zero through one hundred: In nontechnical contexts, Chicago advises spelling out whole numbers from zero through one hundred and certain round multiples of those numbers.

  • Thirty-two children from eleven families were packed into eight vintage Beetles.
  • Many people think that seventy is too young to retire.
  • The property is held on a ninety-nine year lease.
  • According to a recent appraisal, my house is 103 years old.
  • The three new parking lots will provide space for 540 more cars.
  • The population of our new village now stands at 5,893.

Numbers beginning a sentence: When a number begins a sentence, it is always spelled out. To avoid awkwardness, a sentence can often be recast. In the first example, some writers prefer the term one hundred and ten; Chicago’s preference is to omit the and.

  • One hundred ten candidates were accepted.


  • In all, 110 candidates were accepted.

If a year must begin a sentence, spell it out; it is usually preferable, however, to reword. Avoid and in such expressions as two thousand one, two thousand ten, two thousand fifty, and the like.

  • Nineteen thirty-seven was marked, among other things, by the publication of the eleventh edition of Bartlett’s Familiar Quotations.

or, better

  • The year 1937 . . .

Ordinals: The general rule applies to ordinal as well as cardinal numbers. Note that Chicago prefers, for example, 122nd and 123rd (with an n and an r) over 122d and 123d. The latter are common especially in legal style. The letters in ordinal numbers should not appear as superscripts (e.g., not 122nd but 122nd).

  • Gwen stole second base in the top half of the first inning.
  • The restaurant on the forty-fifth floor has a splendid view of the city.
  • She found herself in 125th position out of 360.
  • The ten thousandth child to be born at Mercy Hospital was named Mercy.

In the expression “nth degree,” Chicago style is to italicize the n.

For further clarification, refer to the most recent edition of the Chicago Manual of Style.


Professional titles are capitalized when they immediately precede a personal name and are thus used as part of the name (traditionally replacing the title holder’s first name). In formal prose and other generic text, titles are normally lowercased when following a name or used in place of a name. Note that once a title has been given, it need not be repeated each time a person’s name is mentioned.

  • Abraham Lincoln, president of the United States (or President Abraham Lincoln of the United States); President Lincoln; the president
  • General Bradley; the general
  • Cardinal Newman; the cardinal
  • Governors Ige and Brown; the governors
  • Elizabeth Warren; senator from Massachusetts (or Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts); Senator Warren; Warren; the senator

Exceptions to the general rule. In promotional or ceremonial contexts such as a displayed list of donors in the front matter of a book or a list of corporate officers in an annual report, titles are usually capitalized even when following a personal name. Exceptions may also be called for in other contexts for reasons of courtesy or diplomacy.

  • Maria Martinez, Director of International Sales

A title used alone, in place of a personal name, is capitalized only in such contexts as a toast or a formal introduction, or when used in direct address.

  • Ladies and gentlemen, the Prime Minister.
  • I would have done it, Captain, but the ship was sinking.
  • Thank you, Mr. President.

Academic Designations

Academic Designations: Terms denoting student status are lower-cased.

Freshman or first-year student           sophomore      junior   senior

Names of degrees, fellowships, and the like are lowercased when referred to generically.

Civic and academic honors

Civic and academic honors: Titles denoting civic or academic honors are capitalized when following a personal name.

Robert Bodnar, Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada; the fellows

Abbreviations for academic degrees

Abbreviations for academic degrees: Chicago recommends omitting periods in abbreviations of academic degrees (BA, DDS, etc.) unless they are required for reasons of tradition or consistency with, for example, a journal’s established style. In the following list of some of the more common degrees, periods are shown only where uncertainty might arise as to their placement. Spelled-out terms, often capitalized in institutional settings (and on business cards and other promotional items) should be lowercased in normal prose.

BA – bachelor of arts

BS – bachelor of science

DDS – doctor of dental surgery

DMD – dentariae medicinae doctor (doctor of dental medicine)

DPT – doctor of physical therapy

EdD – doctor of education

Hon.- honorary degree

JD – juris doctor (doctor of law)

MA – master of arts

MBA – master of business administration

MD – medicinae doctor (doctor of medicine)

MEd – educationis magister (master of education)

MFA – master of fine arts

MPH – master of public health

MS – master of science

MSN – master of science in nursing

MSOT – master of occupational therapy

PhD – philosophiae doctor (doctor of philosophy)

These designations are set off by commas when they follow a personal name.

Ariel Z. Lee, JD, attended the University of Chicago Law School.

Class years in names

Class years in names: When writing a year of when an alumnus graduated from AIC into their name, there are a few key things to keep in mind. If an alumnus earned a bachelor’s degree from the College, their name would have the last two digits of the year they graduated preceded by an apostrophe. The year is not offset by a comma if the subject only has a bachelor’s degree. When an alumnus has an advanced degree, it should be offset by a comma no matter what. The year they earned that degree should follow the abbreviation.

Joseph Berry ’92 has been named interim executive director of the local YMCA.

Mark Roberts, Med ’03, has been named superintendent of Chicago Public Schools.

Gabriella McBride ’12, MBA ’15, PhD ’21, has taken a position at Yale University.

For further clarification, refer to the most recent edition of the Chicago Manual of Style.

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