YVC has established the following language guide as a reference for those who create campus publications and materials in both print and digital mediums. It is not designed as a comprehensive tool but rather a guideline to help provide consistency.

Editorial Tone

As important as keeping visual elements consistent we also strive to speak in a common voice. The suggested rules and usage included in this guide address specifics to YVC.

Reference Manual

The Associated Press Stylebook.



At First Use: Explain or spell out an abbreviation. If no subsequent reference, spell out and no abbreviation is needed.

  • Yakima Valley College (YVC) was founded in 1928. YVC has a long tradition of quality in teaching and in its commitment to students.
  • Central Washington University has a learning center in Yakima.

Acronyms: Periods are not necessary after the letters that form an acronym in most cases. Most two-letter abbreviations use periods (e.g., U.S., U.N., U.K., B.C.)

  • YVC

Ampersand: Use the ampersand only when it is part of a company’s formal name or composition title. The ampersand should not be used in place of ‘and’.

  • Proctor & Gamble
  • Scott is enrolled in English and math.


Official Names: Only official names and proper nouns are capitalized. Common nouns and various shortened forms of official names are not capitalized.

  • The Larson Gallery contains more than 100 works of art. The gallery is open Tuesday through Saturday.

Position and Job Titles: Official job titles immediately preceding a name are capitalized; those following a name or set off by commas are not. This rule applies to both academic and administrative titles.

  • The latest report by Vice President Anderson will be presented at the committee meeting.
  • Sally Perkins, instructor of physics, has discovered a new particle.
  • Bob Franklin, vice president of instruction has worked at the college for 17 years.

Political Entities: Various shortened forms of official names are not capitalized.

  • The city of Pasco rarely repairs its streets.
  • The city uses its money for the juvenile justice system.
  • the state of Washington; Washington State; the state

Boards and Committees: Capitalize only the complete and official names of colleges, schools, divisions, departments, offices, and committees. Lowercase informal and shortened versions of all such names.

  • the Board of Trustees of Yakima Valley College; the Board of Trustees; the board
  • the State Board for Community and Technical Colleges; the SBCTC; the community college system
  • the Curriculum Committee; the committee

Do not capitalize

  • classes: freshman, sophomore, junior, senior
  • commencement
  • quarters: spring quarter, fall quarter, winter quarter, summer quarter
  • seasons: spring, summer, fall, winter
  • most computer terms: web; webpage; website


Complex and Compound Sentences: Use a comma before a conjunction (and, but, or) that introduces an independent clause.

  • The band is giving a concert on Friday night, and the chorus is performing on Saturday.
  • The band is giving a concert on Friday night and is performing on Saturday.

Introductory Phrases: Use commas after short introductory phrases, especially if the main clause begins with a date or proper noun.

  • On July 4, Gen. David McKiernan will address a local veterans group.

Lists: Use commas to separate elements in a series, but do not put a comma before the conjunction in a simple series. Put a comma before the concluding conjunction in a series, however, if an integral element of the series requires a conjunction. Use a comma also before the concluding conjunction in a complex series of phrases.

  • Those in attendance included John, Miguel and Carmen.
  • NOT: Those in attendance included John and Miguel, and Carmen.
  • She would nominate Jill, Denise or Gillian.
  • I had orange juice, toast, and ham and eggs for breakfast.
  • The main points to consider are whether the athletes are skillful enough to compete, whether they have the stamina to ensure the training, and whether they have the proper mental attitude.

Names with Suffixes: When a person’s name ends with Jr., Sr., or a Roman numeral such as III, omit the comma before this element unless you know that the person being addressed prefers the use of a comma.

  • Robert Smith Jr. was introduced by Joe Johnson.

Nonrestrictive and Parenthetical Phrases: Use commas to set off nonrestrictive and parenthetical phrases (word groups that are not essential to the meaning of a sentence but provide added information).

  • My alternate route, the one I take when I have time, follows the Greenway.

Place Names: Names of states or countries are enclosed in commas when they are preceded by a city or state. State abbreviations should follow AP style with the exception of postal addresses. The following are AP style abbreviations for some states:
Washington — Wash.
Oregon — Ore.

  • Idaho — Idaho (Idaho is not abbreviated)The conference will be held in Eugene, Ore., but the planning meeting will be held in Portland.


Month and Year: No comma is needed between a month and a year.

  • She began her studies in May 2009.

Month, Date and Year: Commas are required before and after a year when month, date and year are used.

  • She began her studies on January 3, 2008, and completed them on June 1, 2010.

Use nonbreaking space between month and day to keep on the same line. Ordinals: Do not use ordinal numbers in dates.

  • New parking permits go on sale January 8, 2010.
  • NOT: New parking permits go on sale January 8th, 2010.


Compound Adjectives: Use compound adjectives when used before a noun.

  • Students are searching for off-campus housing.
  • The meeting will be held off campus.
  • Jared is a full-time student.
  • Sarah works full time in the Admissions Office.

Do not use a hyphen with compound adverbs or with nouns:

  • Decision making is a responsibility of department chairs. BUT: The decision-making process is not simple.
  • The wait list will close at the end of this week. BUT: The wait-list closing date is at the end of this week.

Suspended Hyphens: When the second part of a hyphenated expression is omitted, the hyphen is retained, followed by a space. This suspended hyphen may be used when a single base word is used with separate hyphenated words connected by “and”, “or” or “to”.

  • She wrote to all the full- and part-time faculty members.

Prefixes/suffixes: In general, do not use a hyphen to set off a prefix at the beginning of a word or a suffix at the end of a word. There are exceptions; when in doubt, refer to the AP stylebook.
Common examples:

  • collocation
  • co-op
  • email
  • postsecondary
  • prerequisite

Compound words common to YVC:

  • coursework
  • fundraising
  • groundbreaking
  • healthcare
  • multicultural

Whenever necessary, use a hyphen to prevent the word from being misread. Common examples:

  • student-athlete
  • work-study


YVC follows the AP Stylebook in its public communications. Refer to individuals by first and last name, without courtesy titles (e.g., Mr., Mrs., Ms. or Miss.), on first reference. Use only last names, without courtesy titles, on the second reference unless a courtesy title is used in a direct quotation. When it is necessary to distinguish between two people who share the same last name, as in married couples or brothers and sisters, use the first and last name. After the first use of an individual’s full name, subsequent references of the individual can use their preferred pronoun (e.g., he, she, they).


YVC follows the AP Stylebook in its public communications. Official job titles immediately preceding a name are capitalized; those following a name or set off by commas are not. This rule applies to both academic and administrative titles.

  • The latest report by Vice President Anderson will be presented at the committee meeting.
  • Sally Perkins, instructor of physics, has discovered a new particle.
  • Bob Franklin, vice president of instruction, has worked at the college for 17 years.

Instructor: Refer to YVC teachers as instructors. Do not use professor.

The following formal titles are capitalized and abbreviated as shown when used before a name both inside and outside quotations: Dr., Gov., Lt. Gov., Rep., Sen. and certain military ranks. All other formal titles are spelled out in all uses.

Use Dr. on first reference as a formal title before the name of an individual who holds a doctor of dental surgery, doctor of medicine, doctor of optometry, doctor of osteopathic medicine or doctor of podiatric medicine degree. If mention of a degree is necessary to establish someone’s credentials, the preferred form is to use a phrase such as “Jane Jones, who has a doctorate in psychology.” Do not continue the use of Dr. in subsequent references unless it is used in a direct quote.

When there is a need to identify multiple individuals by degree on the first reference, such as in an event program, use such abbreviations as Ph.D., LL.D., M.A. and B.A. These abbreviations should only be used after a full name, never after just a last name. When using an academic degree following a person’s name, do not also use such titles as Dr., Ms. or Mr. before the name.

  • Helen Garcia, Ph.D.
  • NOT: Dr. Helen Garcia, Ph.D.


Spell out whole numbers from one through nine; use numerals for 10 or greater. Spell out numbers at the beginning of a sentence or rephrase the sentence to avoid beginning with a number.

  • The book has sold only nine copies. He thought it would sell 500 copies.
  • Forty-nine students received a new degree at commencement.

Exceptions: Numbers in the same category should be treated alike within the same sentence; do not use numerals for some and spell out others.

  • There are nine Running Start students enrolled in SOSCI 101 and twelve in ENGL 101.

Telephone numbers: Use a hyphen or period, not parentheses, for the area code, e.g., 303.735.1079. Periods are preferred, especially for ADA-compatible screen readers.

Years and decades: Do not use an apostrophe in numeric decades.

  • “the 1980s” NOT “the 1980’s”

Verb Tense

Faculty and staff are collective nouns referring to an entire group. They take singular verbs. To refer to an individual who is part of a faculty or staff, “faculty member” or “staff member” is preferred for clarity.

  • The faculty has formed three committees. Ten faculty members serve on each committee.
  • The staff at YVC has volunteered to help with the dance. Three staff members have said they will attend.

Degrees and Programs

Lowercase the degree, including the field, in running text and wherever it is used in a general way.

  • His transcript shows that he has an associate in arts degree.
  • Jason Smith earned his bachelor of arts in history from Central Washington University.
  • Justin Thompson is working toward a master’s degree.
  • Michele received a bachelor’s degree in sociology with a minor in psychology.

Capitalize the name of the degree when in list format.

  • Associate in Arts
  • Associate in Arts DTA, Science Option

Capitalize the name of a degree when it is included with a title, displayed on a resume, business card, diploma, or in a list format.

  • Claire Johnson, Doctor of Philosophy

Capitalize the name of a degree if it is a proper noun or derivate of geographical reference.

  • Faculty members in the English department must have a master’s degree.
  • Harriet earned a bachelor’s degree in American history.

Academic degrees standing alone may be abbreviated except in very formal writing. Academic degrees and professional designations require a period after each element in the abbreviation but no internal space. When used after a name, an academic abbreviation is set off by commas.

  • She received her M.A. last year.
  • She received her master of arts degree last year.
  • John Snow, Ph.D., spoke at the 2015 convocation opening ceremony.

Use commas to set off abbreviations that follow a person’s name.

  • Julie Jackson, Ph.D., announced the grand opening of the new student residence center.

Use apostrophes in bachelor’s degree, a master’s, etc. There is no possessive in bachelor of arts or associate degree.

  • Larry Lopez is working on his bachelor’s degree.
  • Carol Thompson earned her associate degree last spring.
  • YVC offers several associate degrees.

Departments Majors and Programs

Lowercase the names of departments, majors, and programs in running text and wherever it is used in a general way unless they are proper nouns, or derivate of geographical reference.

  • The arts and science division offers courses in biology, mathematics, and English.
  • YVC’s agriculture department offers day, evening, and weekend course offerings.
  • The automotive service technology program offers students the opportunity to gain hands-on experience

Capitalize the name of departments, majors, and programs when in list format.

  • The Dental Hygiene Program
  • The Biology Department

Capitalize the names of specific course titles. However, do not capitalize names of subjects or areas of study (unless they are proper nouns or adjectives in such names.)

  • American History 101 meets on Tuesdays and Thursdays. (course title)
  • Lucy Anderson earned a master’s degree in American history. (area of study)

Abbreviations spell out an abbreviation at first use. College-approved abbreviations may be used for subsequent references.

  • Bachelor of Applied Science in Business Management Program (BASM)
  • Automotive Service Technology (AST)

Commonly Used Words

Preferred spelling and use of some commonly-used words for YVC alumni:

  • alumna: singular, female
  • alumni: plural, men only or men and women
  • alumnus: singular, male
  • alumnae: plural, women only
  • alum: singular, male or female; appropriate only in informal contexts

i.e., and e.g.: The abbreviation “i.e.” means “that is” and is always followed by a comma. The abbreviation “e.g.” means “for example” and is always followed by a comma. Do not use etc. at the end of a phrase that begins with e.g.

  • The college’s administration, i.e., the executive leaders, attended a retreat on Tuesday.
  • Several majors (e.g., business, economics and chemistry) require strong mathematics backgrounds.

etc.: Omit when possible, but if used, don’t say “and etc.,” since et cetera means “and the rest.”

URLs and email addresses: The preference is to use italics to highlight these instead of  underlining. If an address won’t fit on one line, break the address after a forward slash. Do not hyphenate. Use vanity URLs as appropriate. For a complete list of YVC’s vanity URLs contact Community Relations.

login/log in: This is one word when used as a noun or adjective and two words when used as a verb.

  • You must use your login name to log in to the student portal.

Common Examples

  • eLearning
  • English as a Second Language
  • Hispanic-serving Institution
  • email

Locations of campuses: Capitalize only the official names of buildings and formally designated places on campus.

  • Yakima Valley College; YVC; the college
  • Grandview Campus
  • Deccio Higher Education Center; the Deccio building
  • Sherar Gym; the gym
  • Glenn Anthon Hall
  • the clocktower