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Writing in the Bentley Style

The following editorial standards help preserve and further Bentley's reputation for quality and is meant to ensure consistency, clarity and credibility in institutional communications. The Associated Press Stylebook and American Heritage Dictionary are our standard reference tools.

Quick Guide to Bentley Style

Here are a few guidelines to help you avoid the common mistakes that cross our editors’ desks. 

academic degrees

Abbreviate academic degrees without periods: BS, MBA, PhD

Capitalize the names of specific degrees:

Bachelor of Science in Management

Master of Science in Finance

PhD in Accountancy

Do not capitalize degree names in informal use:

bachelor’s degree

master’s degree

doctoral degree or doctorate

In formal use, degrees should be written as:

Bachelor of Arts

Master of Science


Use adviser in general copy; advisor when part of a professional title:

I made an appointment to see my academic adviser.

Have you met Louis Taylor, special advisor to the president?


Not afterwards


Alumnus refers to a male graduate. The plural is alumni. Alumna refers to a female graduate. The plural is alumnae. When referring to a group of both male and female graduates, use alumni.


Not amidst


Use between when referring to two items; use among for more than two.


Use the ampersand (&) only if part of an official name:

Proctor & Gamble


Do not say “first annual.” An event cannot be annual until it has been held more than once.


Not audio-visual


A person writes, not authors.

No: He authored the book.

Yes: He wrote the book.


Not due to


Not prior to

buildings and facilities

Capitalize the official name of campus facilities. On second reference without a proper name, do not capitalize hall, center and building. Do not use hall, center and building interchangeably:

The Hillside Dormitory was renamed Falcone Hall.

The hall is home to 250 undergraduate students.

Business Studies major

On first reference, use Business Studies major (note that major is not capitalized). BSM is acceptable for all subsequent references.


Not catalog

class years

When referring to a bachelor’s degree, the style is name, apostrophe, year of graduation: Judy Worthington ’76.

When referring to a master’s or doctoral degree, the style is name, degree, apostrophe, year of graduation: John Wellington MBA ’94.

When referring to a specific graduation year, “Class” should be capitalized: The Class of 2000

commonwealth of Massachusetts

Though it is legally a commonwealth and not a state, commonwealth should not be capitalized.

composition titles

Capitalize all words except articles, conjunctions and prepositions of three letters or fewer in the titles of books, plays, lectures, television shows and musical compositions. The first word of a title should always be capitalized.

Use quotation marks around the titles.

course load

Not courseload

course titles

Course titles should be capitalized:

She registered for New Product Marketing and Development for the fall semester.

course work

Not coursework


Not data base


Do not use st, th, etc. with a date: Submit applications by October 14.

Spell out months: September, not Sept.

Follow full dates with a comma: The registration deadline is April 1, 1998. If the date is expressed only as a month and year, do not separate with a comma: May 2001.

Always use the first two digits of the year in dates: 2011-2012, not 2011-12.

Avoid all figure dating, such as 6-8-10 or 6/8/10, except in informal writing. While these numbers generally mean June 8, 2010 in the United States, they mean August 6, 2010 in many other countries.

When referring to decades, use the 1920s, not the 1920’s, the ‘20s, or the ‘20’s.


Capitalize the names of academic and administrative departments:

Call the Finance Department for more information.

The Registrar’s Office is down the hall.

directions and regions

Capitalize regions of the country, but not points on the compass:

Pioneers from the East traveled west to settle new towns.


Refer to as residence halls. Do not use dorms.


Not e-mail


Do not use the abbreviation etc. in formal copy. Use substitutes such as “and more” or “and similar topics.”


A business partnership is correctly referred to as a firm: He joined a law firm.

Do not use firm in reference to an incorporated business entity. Use “company” or “corporation” instead.


Not forwards


Not fund-raising or fund raising


Do not capitalize the words government, federal, city or state:

The U.S. government

The federal government

The legislature of the state

The state of Rhode Island

The city of Boston

graduate school

Elkin B. McCallum Graduate School of Business or McCallum Graduate School of Business. Graduate school on second reference

green space

Two words; do not capitalize

health care

Two words, not one


Use gender-neutral language. In cases where pronouns are to include both genders, use the plural if appropriate:

No: The student should do his homework each evening.

Yes: Students should do their homework each evening.

Do not use he/she.

No: He/she should fill out the forms correctly.

Yes: He or she should fill out the forms correctly.

international students

Do not use foreign students

Internet/web terms

email (no hyphen), but e-book, etc. 

the Internet: Capitalize


login or logon (noun), log in or log on (verb) 

online, not on-line

URLs:, Do not use www or http:// unless a URL will not work without it. Do not use subdomains

the web, web page; website, webmaster

lectures and exhibits

Capitalize the titles of lectures and exhibits and place them in quotation marks:

I will be attending the lecture “Understanding the Global Economy” on Friday.

Liberal Studies major

On first reference, use Liberal Studies major (note that major is not capitalized). LSM is acceptable for all subsequent references.


Capitalize the names of academic majors:

Two popular majors at Bentley are Finance and Marketing.

See separate entries for the LSM and BSM.

more than/over

Use “more than” to modify numbers.

No: Over 300 people attended the seminar.

Yes: More than 300 people attended the seminar.

Use “over” to refer to spatial relationships:

The bird flew over the house.


Spell out “zero” through “nine.” Use figures for 10 and up, unless the number is the first word of a sentence. Exception: always use figures for percentages (2 percent, 1.5 percent, etc.)

Use the following form for ranges: $12 million to $14 million, not $12 to $14 million


Use OK, OK’d, OK’ing, OKs. Do not use okay.


Not on-line

outdoor areas

Do not capitalize the names of outdoor spaces: north campus, main campus, south campus, green space, library quad


Do not capitalize earth and sun, unless used in connection with the names of other bodies in the solar system:

The earth’s atmosphere is breaking down.

The planets Venus and Earth are second and third in order from the Sun.


Capitalize but do not abbreviate to Prof. when used before a name.


Capitalize when used to designate a specific area:

Room 313 in Jennison Hall

Seasons Dining Room

Not Seasons Dining Hall

seasons of the year

Names of seasons should not be capitalized: fall semester, spring break


Use sponsored, not co-sponsored, even if more than one group organized an event.

telephone numbers

Use the following format: 781.891.2000.


Not theatre


Times should be in the following format: 11:00 a.m., 3:30 p.m. Do not use 11 a.m., 11:00 AM, 11:00 am, 11:00 A.M.

Use noon and midnight, not 12:00 p.m., 12:00 noon, 12:00 a.m., 12:00 midnight.

Use 4:00 to 5:00 p.m., not 4:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.

Exception: when an event spans morning and afternoon/evening hours, include both: I will be in training from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.

Use “to” when indicating a time span.

No: The class is from 2:00-4:00 p.m.

Yes: The class is from 2:00 to 4:00 p.m.


Do not capitalize the word “the,” even if commonly used in conjunction with a proper noun, unless it is at the start of a sentence.

No: I have an appointment at The Center for Health and Wellness.

Yes: I have an appointment at the Center for Health and Wellness.


Capitalize titles only when they precede a name; do not capitalize when they follow a name or stand alone:

Professor of History John Jones

John Jones, professor of history

There will be a speech by the president.

The word “acting” should not be capitalized when used as part of a formal title:
Have you consulted acting Director of Graduate Admission Sally Smith?

Lecturer uses the preposition in, rather than of:

Lecturer in Marketing Lisa Woods

Vice president uses the preposition for, rather than of:

He is the vice president for business and finance

Use the title Dr. only when referring to a doctor of medicine, dentistry or veterinary medicine.


Use titled, not entitled


Not towards


Do not capitalize the word “university” unless it appears as part of an official title.

No: The University has seven LSM concentrations.

Yes: Bentley University has seven LSM concentrations.

The university has seven LSM concentrations.


Not utilize


Versus is always abbreviated. Use v. in legal writing, vs. otherwise.


One word. Do not capitalize unless at the start of the sentence.

work force

Not workforce


Not work place



Capitalize the first word after a colon if it begins a complete sentence.


In a simple series, do not use a comma before and:

The fruit cart contained apples, oranges and peaches.

Use a comma before the concluding conjunction in a series if an integral element of the series requires a conjunction:

I had orange juice, toast, and ham and eggs for breakfast.

Use a comma before a concluding conjunction in a series of phrases:

The main points to consider are whether the athletes are skilled enough to compete, whether they have the stamina to endure training, and whether they have the proper mental attitude.

Commas are not used next to colons, semicolons, dashes, exclamation points or question marks.

Do not use a comma before Jr., Sr., or a numeral following a proper name:

Nelson Rockefeller Jr.

Nelson Rockefeller II

Do not use a comma between the name of a company and the following abbreviations: Inc., Co., Corp., and LLC:

Proctor & Gamble Co.

Smith Insurance LLC

exclamation marks

Avoid exclamation marks in almost all cases; use only to convey strong emotion or feeling.


Do not hyphenate words beginning with “non,” except those containing a proper noun or beginning with “n”:

Nonprofit, nontechnical, non-Bentley, non-native

Hyphenate part-time and full-time only when used as an adjective:

She attends Bentley full time.

She is a full-time student at Bentley.

Hyphenate on-campus only when used as an adjective:

Students live in on-campus housing.

I will live on campus.

Do not hyphenate the title vice president.


Add an apostrophe and “s” to:

Plural nouns not ending in “s (children’s)

Singular nouns ending in “s” (the hostess’s invitation)

Proper names ending in “s” (Alice Jones’s cards)

Add an apostrophe only to plural nouns ending in “s” (states’ rights)

question marks

Put them inside quotation marks if part of quoted material, outside if not:

He asked, “Have you seen the latest Batman movie?”

Who wrote the play “Uncommon Women”?

quotation marks

Place the period and comma within quotation marks:

“He went to the store.”

“I want to go to the game,” she said.

Place the colon and semicolon outside of quotation marks:

Tom said, “There are 15 people coming to the party”; I thought it was only 13.

“A Tale of Two Cities”: It’s my favorite book.


If clauses are long or punctuated, they are separated with semicolons; the last two clauses are sometimes separated by a comma if they are joined by a conjunction:

The kids were tired and whiny; mom was edgy; dad seemed to be bored, and even the dog was agitated.