Please note that this page is a work in progress and the vocabulary listed here has not been officially approved.

active verbs – Maintain an active voice without using more words than necessary.

  •  NERTCL will host an event.
  • NERTCL will be hosting an event.
  • An event will be hosted by NERTCL.

a.m., p.m. – Numerals are used when exact times are emphasized. Use lowercase and periods. (5:22 a.m., 2:53 p.m.). Do not use AM, PM or am, pm. Numbers should never be used to express noon or midnight. (In other words, do not use 12 p.m. or 12 a.m.) Do not use 12 noon or 12 midnight.

annual conference – Lowercase in all uses.

annual meeting – Lowercase in all uses.

board, board of trustees, executive board – Capitalize only when an integral part of a proper name, or referring to a specific board.

  • The program will feature members of the Springfield Public Library’s Board of Trustees.
  • NELA’s Executive Board discussed changes to the venue.
  • Jane Smith was named to the executive board.

capitalization – Avoid unnecessary capitals. In more formal pieces, such as “the President’s Statement,” exceptions are allowed. Capitalize nouns that name a specific person, place, or thing. See also titles of works and titles of individuals.

chair – Use chair instead of chairman, chairwoman, or chairperson, unless it is another organization’s title for an office. Capitalize the word chair before a name when it designates the chair of a section or committee: Chair John Smith.

city, state – Cities must be accompanied by a state. When used in text, a comma should follow both the city and the state: He lived in Bennington, Vermont, while in graduate school. Spell out the state name when presented alone. It is acceptable to abbreviate a state when used following a city in the body of text. Use US Postal Service abbreviations for states.

committees, programs, or sections – Lowercase unless it is a formal part of a name. Lowercase on second reference. Lowercase when referring to a committee, program, or program at another organization.

currency – Always use numerals when expressing dollar amounts. Do not include cents if the amount is a round number. Spell out the denomination for amounts larger than thousands.

dates – Use Arabic figures without st, nd, rd, or th. Spell out months completely when using alone. If a year is specified, include a comma before and after the year. If presenting a range of dates, use a hyphen or en dash, with no spaces between the number and punctuation: The conference is October 21-23. Use an “s” without an apostrophe to indicate spans of decades or centuries: the 2000s.

days of the week – Do not abbreviate unless used in a tabular form.

email – Do not hyphenate.

en dash – Most often used in place of “to.” However, if “from” precedes the range, then do not use an en dash; instead, use “to.”

  • Join us Friday, 10–11 a.m., to discuss the plan.
  • Join us Friday from 10 to 11 a.m. to discuss the plan.

ending a sentence – Use only one space after a period.

etc. – A comma should follow “etc.” in the instance it does not end a sentence.

initials – Use periods and no spaces when an individual uses initials instead of a first name. For authors who always use initials, full names should not be supplied. A space is added between initials.

Internet – Uppercase.

login, log in – One word as a noun or adjective. Two words when used as a verb.

  • Here is your login information.
  • Click here to log in to your account.

mission statement – Lowercase in all uses.

nonprofit – Do not use a hyphen.

numbers – Spell out numbers from one through nine. Use numerals for numbers 10 or larger. To form a plural, add “s” with no apostrophe – i.e., 60s

one-day conference: – Hyphenate one-day and use lowercase. See also stand alone.

parentheses – If the parentheses are contained within a sentence, do not use a period inside the closing parenthesis, even if it is a complete thought.

president – Lowercase unless it immediately precedes the name of the person who holds the position.

p.m., a.m. – See a.m., p.m.

room numbers – Uppercase room when used with numerals.
The program is in Room 103.

stand alone, stand alone program: – Separate words, each lowercase. See also one-day conference.

suffixes – Do not use a comma between the last name and the suffix.

  • John Smith Jr.
  • John Smith III

telephone numbers – Use periods to separate number phrases. If using an extension number, use a comma after the number followed by ext. and then the number: 413.555.1234, ext. 789.

titles of individuals – Capitalize formal titles used directly before a person’s name and lowercase titles used after a person’s name.

  • President Jane Smith
  • Jane Smith, president of NELA

titles of works – Capitalize the principal words in the names of books, movies, plays, songs, television shows, etc.

trustee – Lowercase in all instances.

vice president – Do not hyphenate. Capitalize or lowercase following the same rules that apply to president.

Web – Uppercase.

Web page – Two words, with a capital “w.”

website – One word, lowercase.