Web Writing: Style and Appearance

Writing Styles and Standards


Spelling in College publications must conform to Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary. Copies of the dictionary are available in the Marketing and Communications Office and College libraries. Note: when there is a conflict, the AP Stylebook is used as the primary source.

AP Style

The College uses the most current version of the Associated Press (AP) Stylebook as its main style guide and standard across all platforms for printed and online content. Copies of the AP Stylebook are available in the Marketing and Communications Office.

TMCC Style

TMCC periodically updates its in-house style guide as needed, with certain variations from AP Style. To ensure accuracy, please include the Marketing and Communications Office in the design process at the beginning of your project.

The following items are common style occurrences at TMCC, and include variations to strict AP style. If you have any questions about how to format a particular piece of content, please feel free to contact us.

Academic Degrees

TMCC does not abbreviate degrees (so: use AAS not A.A.S.). Otherwise, follow AP Stylebook.

Use lowercase (such as associate degree, bachelor's degree or master's degree), except when used as a title.

  • associate degree, bachelor's degree
  • Associate of Arts Degree, Bachelor of Arts Degree

For bachelor's degree: note the use of the apostrophe when "of" is not present. The plural is "bachelor's degrees".

There is no possessive in associate degree.

  • Example: "After earning an associate degree, Laura went on to earn her Bachelor's Degree in Biology."

When giving the title of a degree with an emphasis, use a comma.

  • Example: Associate of Arts Degree, Philosophy Emphasis
  • Alternatively: Associate of Arts Degree in Philosophy


TMCC Fire and Police Academies are approved for use.

  • Northern Nevada Fire and Rescue Academy
  • Northern Nevada Law Enforcement Academy


Not adviser.

And, Ampersand (&)

Follow AP Stylebook. In text, spell out the word "and". The ampersand (&) is used in a limited number of department names.

Arabic Numerals

Follow the AP Stylebook. The numerical figures are: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, and 0. In general, these figures are spelled out in text.

Arabic numbers ten and greater are used in numerical form (for example: 24, 69 or 2,437) except at the beginning of a sentence.

Board of Regents

Capitalize of the name of this governing body for the Nevada System of Higher Education.

  • The Board of Regents
  • The NSHE Board of Regents


Note: room abbreviations are used after the full campus site/location name and before a room number. Example: William N. Pennington Applied Technology Center, EDSN 270 or TMCC Dandini Campus, RDMT 203.

Building Name Room Abbreviations
E.L. Cord Child Care Center CCC
William N. Pennington Applied Technology Center EDSN
Meadowood Center MDWS (for south building)
MDWN (for north building)
Red Mountain Building RDMT
Sierra Building SIER
William N. Pennington Health Science Center HSC
Nell J. Redfield Foundation Performing Arts Center RPAC
V. James Eardley Student Services Center Student Center after first use
Vista Building VSTA

Button Names (Web)

Use proper case.

  • Example: When you go to the home page, select the Class Schedule button.


Dandini Campus (not "main campus"). This is the College's only campus. Other locations are "sites" or "centers".

See Also: Educational Centers/Sites entry.


Generally, follow AP Stylebook, unless noted in this directory. For example, do not capitalize "room" after the name for a building. However, contrary to AP, TMCC department and committee names are in proper case. Position titles are proper cased only when accompanied by the name of the person the title is referring to.

  • Example: The seminar will be held in the Red Mountain Building, room 314.
  • Example: the English Department; Admissions and Records Office
  • Example: Professor Cardoza; President Hilgersom; John Smith, Instructor; Jane Doe, Director; Sue Smith, Business Division Dean; etc.
  • Example: "...a meeting that included the dean..."; "...a letter to the department's instructor..."; "...directors and administrators met to discuss..."; "...the dean asked if the meeting could..."; etc.

When using the word 'department' (or 'program', 'committee', and the like) as part of a recognized name it should be capitalized:

  • Betty is now working in the Biology Department.
  • Susan joined the Nursing Program.
  • Nicole is part of the Activities Committee.

If using 'department', etc. not as part of a specific name, it should be lower case:

  • We had a party to welcome Betty to the department.
  • Susan enjoys being part of the program.
  • Nicole puts in a lot of hours for the committee.

But if using 'biology', etc. not as the name of a specific department, but rather as a field of expertise, you would write:

  • Betty works in biology.
  • Susan works in nursing.
  • Nicole enjoys being part of a committee.

Catalog (College Catalog)

Use "College Catalog" (note capitalization) to refer to the document outlining the College's programs and other information. Note: Course catalog refers to the College's inventory of course descriptions in the student information system (MyTMCC).

Clip Art

Clip art is generally not allowed in TMCC publications, except for instruction to small children. Advanced approval is required. The Marketing and Communications Office offers photographic services to the College, and subscribes to an online stock photography service.


Use "College" when referring to all TMCC instructional sites, centers and other locations where instruction is offered.

After a first reference of the full name of the College (Truckee Meadows Community College), "College" may be used to refer to TMCC (note capitalization).

See also: Educational Centers/Sites

Comma in a Series

Follow AP Stylebook. In a series of three, use only one comma.

  • Example: There are nursing, automotive and computer students in the hallway.

Committee Names

College committee names are capitalized.

  • Example: Curriculum Committee; Academic Standards Committee

For more than one committee, capitalize the committee name, but lowercase the word "committees".

  • Example: the Curriculum and Academic Standards committees

Copyright Symbol

Use of the copyright symbol should generally contain three elements together, or in close proximity to each other.

  1. The symbol © (letter C in a circle); the word "Copyright"; or the abbreviation "Copr."
  2. The year of first publication.
  3. The name of the copyright owner.

Below are a few examples of how some major companies use the copyright symbol for their website copyright notice.

  • © 2015 Twitter
  • © 2015 Instagram
  • © 2012 Google Inc. All rights reserved.
  • © 1997-2015 Netflix, Inc.
  • Copyright © 2015 The President and Fellows of Harvard College
  • LinkedIn Corp. © 2015
  • Copyright © 2015 Apple Inc. All rights reserved.
  • Facebook © 2015

The majority of these companies use the copyright symbol in the front, then the current year and name of the company. But this can vary without impacting protection of the copyright. Some add "All Rights Reserved" as well. The copyright symbol is generally not necessary, but the function of the symbol remains the same: to give notice that the identified work is protected by copyright.


Follow AP Stylebook. For example, always use lower case and the $ sign in all except casual references or amounts without a figure. Do not add space between the $ sign and the numeral.

  • Example: The book costs $4.
  • For dollar amounts without cents, do not add the ".00" ($4 not $4.00)

For amounts more than $1 million, use the $ and numerals up to two decimal places.

  • Example: It is worth $4.35 million.


Dates should be formatted as Nov. 9, 2014. Do not use "th" after the day (e.g., November 9th or the 9th of November).

  • When publicizing an upcoming event, use the day of the week and no year. Do not use the letter suffixes such as 1st, 2nd, 3rd.
    • Example: Commencement will be held on Friday, May 22.
  • If your event is over a date range, please skip the day of the week, such as: TMCC will be closed Jan. 1–2 for the New Year's Eve holiday.
  • If you are writing about a past event, you may skip the day of the week and include the year: Last year's commencement ceremony was held on May 23, 2014.
  • For an annual event, you may use arabic numerals in the title of the event (e.g., 3rd Annual, 6th Annual).
  • Abbreviating days of the week: use three letter abbreviations and a period: Mon., Tue., Wed., Thu., Fri., Sat., Sun.

See Also: Entry for formatting Time.


  • For all TMCC departments, programs, centers, offices and divisions, "office, department or division" appear after the specific title.
    • Examples: Business Division; Equity and Inclusion Office; Emergency Medical Services Department
  • College department names are in proper case.
    • Example: the English Department; Admissions and Records Office
  • Lowercase the word "offices" when more than one department is noted.
    • Example: the Admissions and Records and Academic Advising offices

Doctor (Dr.)

"Dr." may be used to signify a person has earned a doctoral level degree (PhD, Ed.D.) in the context of college information. Do not use "Dr." for honorary degrees.

Educational Centers/Sites

  • William N. Pennington Health Science Center (after first use, can be shortened to "Pennington Health Science Center")
  • William N. Pennington Applied Technology Center (after first use, can be shortened to "Pennington Applied Technology Center")
  • Meadowood Center
  • Nell J. Redfield Foundation Performing Arts Center
    • Use "TMCC Performing Arts Center" as a shorter reference, if necessary.
    • If clarification of location is needed use: TMCC Nell J. Redfield Foundation Performing Arts Center, 505 Keystone Ave. (Keystone Square)

See Also: Buildings


Not hyphenated or capitalized.

He/She/His/Her and They/Them/Their

Follow AP guidelines: in most cases, a plural pronoun should agree in number with the antecedent; however, "they/them/their" is acceptable as a singular and-or gender-neutral pronoun. Clarity is a top priority and note that gender-neutral use of a singular "they" may still be unfamiliar to many readers. Note that use of other gender-neutral pronouns, such as "xe" or "ze", is not approved by this style guide.

Hyphens/En Dashes/Em Dashes

An en-dash is used to connect values in a range or that are related. A good rule is to use it when you're expressing a "to" relationship.

Examples where an en-dash should be used:

  •     in years 1939–1945
  •     pages 31–32 may be relevant
  •     New York beat Los Angeles 98–95

A hyphen is used to join words in a compound construction, or separate syllables of a word, like during a line break, or (self-evidently) a hyphenated name.

  •     pro-American
  •     cruelty-free eggs
  •     em-dash

An em-dash is typically used as a stand-in for a comma or parenthesis to separate out phrases—or even just a word—in a sentence for various reasons (i.e., an appositive).

Examples where an em-dash should be used:

  •     School is based on the three R’s—reading, writing, and ’rithmetic.
  •     Against all odds, Pete—the unluckiest man alive—won the lottery.
  •     I sense something; a presence I've not felt since—

Finally, a minus sign is distinct from all three of the above.

  •     4 − 2 = 2

(Examples above from English Language & Usage Stack Exchange - When should I use an em-dash, an en-dash, and a hyphen?)


Follow AP Stylebook. Not capitalized.

Instructor (Community College)

An instructor is a college teacher who does not have tenure. See also: Capitalization (for position titles)


As written, no spaces.

Numbers (in Parentheses)

Putting a number in parentheses after a word (Example: "She was required to submit one (1) essay ...") is unnecessary and is not part of TMCC's style guide. It is generally not even required in legal writing anymore. Garner's Modern American Usage says it was originally done in legal writing to prevent fraudulent alterations; it is now a relic of legal writing.

Professor (Community College)

A professor is a college teacher who has tenure. See also: Capitalization (for position titles)


Differs from AP style.

Capitalized when referring to TMCC school sessions:

  • Fall Semester
  • Spring Semester
  • Summer Session I, Summer Session II
  • Winter Session

Also capitalized if the word "semester" is understood to be referenced. Example:

  • In Fall (the word "Semester" is understood here, versus the generic season) we will hold our annual staff orientation.
  • Our department will have special hours when we re-open in Spring (the word "Semester" is understood here, versus the generic season).

Not capitalized when referring only to the season and not specifically to the College semester.

  • The fall leaves are beautiful.
  • We take our family vacation in early fall.

Note also that the word "semester" on its own, without referencing the specific school session, is not capitalized.

  • This semester will be busy.
  • Last semester the Dean gave her annual address to the faculty.


As written.


Follow AP style: lower case, insert periods and a space before the abbreviation. Use "Noon" (not 12 p.m.) and "midnight" (not 12 a.m.). Omit ":00" when the time is on the hour.


  • 8 a.m.
  • 8:30 p.m.
  • 8–10 a.m.
  • 8:30–10 a.m.
  • 8–10:30 a.m.
  • 8 a.m.–Noon

Trademark and Registered Trademark Symbol

Use of the trademark/registered trademark symbols (™ or ®) are not required each time the mark appears in a single document or on a web page.

It is only necessary to use a symbol with the first instance of the mark, or with the most prominent placement of the mark.

It is a common misconception that each and every instance of the mark should bear a trademark symbol. Overuse creates visual clutter and may detract from the aesthetic appeal of the piece. Provided there is at least one conspicuous use of the ™ or ® on the face of the writing, eliminate superfluous markings.


Follow AP Stylebook. Not capitalized in any form: web page, website, web-based.

See Also: Brand, Logos and Colors

Additional Style Information for Online Content

Consistent look, feel and function improves usability and presents TMCC as a unified organization.

  • You may use italics to indicate book titles and magazine titles, but use them sparingly.
  • Do not use underlines; Web users may think that they are links.
  • Use bold only sparingly to emphasize points or bring attention to key phrases.
  • Do not colorize text. You don’t need to make things red and flashy to grab attention. A clean page and layout does that for you automatically.
  • Do not manually adjust font size.
  • Do not use UPPERCASE for anything (except abbreviations or acronyms).
  • Use header styles (H2s, H3s and H4s) for headings as provided in the CMS editor. Do not create your own headings in the HTML.
  • Don’t try to override or change the page style that is already present. Focus on content.


The TMCC Business Plan Competition seeks to teach students at ALL high school, college and university levels the IMPORTANCE of developing high quality business ideas and plans. The competition also seeks to provide them with the resources, not only to write comprehensive, complete and concise business strategies, but to also see those plans come to be realized. Participants of TMCC Business Plan Competition are strongly encouraged to participate in the spring Donald W. Reynold's Governor's Cup Business Plan Competition and the subsequent Tri-State Competition to compete for a share of the more than $250,000 in CASH prizes offered.


The TMCC Business Plan Competition seeks to teach students at all high school, college and university levels the importance of developing high quality business ideas and plans.

The competition also seeks to provide them with the resources, not only to write comprehensive, complete and concise business strategies, but to also see those plans come to be realized.

To compete for a share of the more than $250,000 in cash prizes, we strongly encourage participation in the Governor's Cup Business Plan Competition and the Tri-State Competition

Accuracy and Timeless Content

Make sure that all information presented is correct. Incorrect or outdated information is unacceptable and should be updated immediately. Try to avoid posting absolute dates and years in your content if you can. Making your content timeless will lessen how often it might become outdated.


The Handbook of Guidelines for students for 2007 (including information from TMCC President Philip Ringle) is a required resource for all students.

COMING SOON: The Updated Handbook of Guidelines. We are working on it and should have it ready in the very near future!!!


The TMCC Handbook of Guidelines for Students is a required resource for all students and includes important information from the TMCC President. An updated/revised version will be available on November 5, 2014.

Spelling, Grammar and Abbreviations

All Web pages must be free of spelling errors. Carefully proofread material and review the CMS spell-checker results that appear after you submit a page. Text on the TMCC website should follow the grammar, punctuation and spelling rules outlined in the Associated Press Stylebook.

Use of abbreviations should follow the TMCC style guide and the AP Stylebook.

Relevant Content (no "Coming Soon")

All content should be interesting and relevant to the target audience. Include all necessary information about a subject. If some important information is undetermined or unknown, state all known facts and provide a timeframe during which the other information will be added.

Do not create placeholders that say "Coming Soon". Better to wait until you have content and post it later to avoid user frustration.

No Duplicity - Be Unique

Do not try to recreate content that already exists on another department's Web page or especially in the TMCC College Catalog; instead, link to the relevant page. This will help avoid conflicting and outdated information.

We can also “mirror” content on more than one page in our CMS so that it’s not duplicated but can display on another page. See Web Services about this if needed.

Examples of Content and/or Writing Style Issues:

Wrong Corrected
Things needed for graduating Graduation Requirements
SU Policies Student Conduct Policies
VSS Veteran Student Services
“Suit”-ability Proper Interview Dress
CONTACT AN ADVISOR! Contact an Advisor
The “Write” Way Tips for Effective Writing

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