style guide - Berklee College of Music

style guide - Berklee College of Music
Berklee Communications Office
Berklee Communications Style Guide 2016
Welcome to the Berklee Communications Style Guide. This manual was assembled to
help you with many of your day-to-day questions regarding grammar, spelling, style, and
usage here at the college. We’ve tried to make this guide as user-friendly as possible,
but occasionally the information you’re looking for won’t be found exactly where you first
expect. For example, if you’re wondering how to format movie titles, you’ll find what you
need to know under films. When in doubt, refer to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary (m-w.
org) or the Chicago Manual of Style (
If you have any questions regarding this guide—or grammar, style, and usage in general—
don’t hesitate to contact the editors on the Communications staff. Or if you’re writing a
short piece (400 words or fewer) and would like it proofread quickly (within two business
days), send us an email at
Thanks very much,
The Communications Editorial Team
160 Massachusetts Avenue
Avoid referring to this building as a tower.
Abbreviation for the artists and repertoire division of a record label.
a cappella
In programs, envelopes, or tables, abbreviations for directions, streets, and states are
acceptable. In running text, however, such as a paragraph, or if there could be confusion,
avoid abbreviating.
The party will be held at 167 Massachusetts Avenue.
Bill is originally from Tampa, Florida.
Enter Saint Cecilia Parish through the door on Saint Cecilia Street.
Also, note the change in capitalization when two streets share a word.
Massachusetts and Huntington avenues
Numbers in street names are spelled out according to the usual rules.
Fifth Street but 14th Street
Countries and states should be set off by commas.
Originally from Phoenix, Arizona, Bob Smith now lives in Boston.
The campus in Valencia, Spain, is near the sea.
African American
No hyphen. See ethnicity.
With periods.
Italicize album names.
Is Thriller the best-selling album of all time?
Album is the generally accepted term for any collection of music tracks. CD is also
Berklee often alphabetizes lists in situations where unintended bias might
otherwise be perceived.
The Professional Writing and Music Technology Division offers majors in composition, contemporary writing and production, electronic production and design, film scoring, harmony, jazz composition, music production and engineering,
and songwriting.
Berklee teaches music in a number of styles, including folk, gospel, jazz, Latin,
and rock.
Past honorary doctorate recipients include Anita Baker, David Bowie,
Ron Carter, and Billy Joel.
But use common sense. If you do intend to emphasize something in particular, then there’s
no need to alphabetize.
alumni year
Always be sure to use the apostrophe (’) not a single quote (‘).
Mark Small ’78
Alumni of graduate programs are designated with a G: Luke Dennis ‘15G
Alumni of both undergraduate and graduate programs have both designations,
separated by a comma: Jana Sustersic ‘14, ‘15G
Alumnus is used for a man, and alumna is used for a woman. Alumni is the
plural used when both genders, or men only, are intended. Alumnae is used for an
all-female group.
ampersand (&)
In running text, use and instead of an ampersand. Exception: when it’s an established part
of a band, company, or organization name (e.g., Earth, Wind & Fire).
apostrophe (‘)
The apostrophe is used for two things: to show possession (Fred’s house) and to take the
place of missing characters in contractions (don’t), year references (’76), or phrases
(rock ‘n’ roll).
Generally speaking, in the possessive sense, singular nouns take an apostrophe
and an s.
The parent’s
Williams’s (last name)
Plural nouns ending with an s generally take just an apostrophe to form
the possessive.
The parents’
The Browns’
The Williamses’
In contractions, remember that the apostrophe is only used to indicate missing letters
or numbers.
‘70s not 70’s or 70s’ (the 19 is what’s missing)
CDs not CD’s or CDs’ (nothing is missing; the letter s simply makes CD plural; of course, if you were talking about something possessed by a CD—the CD’s third track—then you would use an apostrophe.)
The computer’s smart quotes really aren’t so smart after all. When typing away, if an
apostrophe comes at the beginning of a word (as in an alumni year ’76), the smart quotes
function treats it not as an apostrophe but as a single quotation mark, like so: ‘. To make the
apostrophe correctly, use: Option + Shift + ]
Also, on the web, there isn’t the distinction between the slanted or curly smart quotes or
apostrophes, and the vertical, straight variety. Only the latter is used.
artist in residence
No hyphens as noun, but hyphenate as an adjective.
I haven’t had the chance to work with an artist in residence, which is a shame because
we have such a great artist-in-residence program.
One word.
band names
Band names are capitalized.
Grand Funk Railroad
Kool and the Gang
If the word the precedes the band name, it is lowercased unless it is at the
beginning of the sentence.
I love the White Stripes.
The White Stripes really rock.
Band names are considered singular unless they contain plural nouns.
Styx is my favorite band in all the universe.
The Rolling Stones have been touring for thousands of years.
Lowercase, no hyphen. See music styles/genres.
Berklee Blogs
Outside of the web address (, it’s two words, no hyphen.
Berklee Card
Berklee Beantown Jazz Festival
Berklee College of Music
Use Berklee where possible. Berklee College of Music is also acceptable.
Not The Berklee College of Music. Never just Berklee College. Never, ever Berklee School
of Music. In second reference, the word college is not capitalized.
I just visited Berklee College of Music after 10 years. The college has changed
quite a bit.
Capital B in running text.
Berklee motto
The motto of Berklee College of Music is Esse quam videri (italics, first word
capitalized). It means “to be, rather than to seem.” (This is not capitalized, as it is merely a
translation of the motto, not the motto itself.)
Berklee Today
Although the title of Berklee’s alumni magazine is rendered with a lowercase t on the cover
and in the masthead, in running text it should be treated as any other publication.
Berklee Today updates me on the latest alumni news.
Berklee on the Road
The city in which the event will take place, not the country, should follow “Berklee on the Road.”
Berklee on the Road: Santo Domingo, not Berklee on the Road: Dominican Republic
big band
Lowercase; do not hyphenate.
I can’t get enough big band music.
Not just BIRN. Spell out the Berklee Internet Radio Network on first reference.
not blow-out
Board of Trustees
Always uppercase. See Titles/Committees.
book titles
bossa nova
See music styles/genres.
Abbreviation for beats per minute.
building names
The buildings on the Boston campus include: 22 Fenway; 1140 Boylston Street; 150
Massachusetts Avenue; 921 Boylston Street, the Genko Uchida Building, the Uchida
building; 270 Commonwealth Avenue; 130 Massachusetts Avenue; 136 Massachusetts
Avenue, the Berklee Performance Center (BPC); 7 Haviland; 160 Massachusetts Avenue; 18
Belvidere Street, Saint Cecilia Parish.
The buildings on the Valencia campus include: the City of Arts and Sciences, the Hemisfèric,
the Príncipe Felipe Science Museum, the Oceanogràfic, Palau de les Arts Reina Sofia, the
Umbracle, and the Àgora.
On first reference, always mention the address of a building if it’s on the Boston campus.
Tours are led from the Genko Uchida building at 921 Boylston Street. Groups should meet at the Uchida building.
Avoid referring to 160 Massachusetts Avenue as a tower.
For a complete list of building names, consult the college bulletin.
caf shows
Student shows in the cafeteria are caf shows, not cafe shows.
Cafe 939
Should be styled the Red Room at Cafe 939.
No accent on Cafe. Do not use @ symbol.
One l.
See albums.
Lowercase, and spell out numbers less than 10.
the fifth century, the 20th century
an eighth-century king, a 19th century composer
Use chair, not chairperson, chairman, or chairwoman.
Capitalize the word city only when it refers to the government.
The City of Boston proclaimed last Tuesday Jason Roeder Day.
The city of Boston has more colleges than any other in the United States.
When mentioning U.S. cities in running text, use the city and state name, with a few
exceptions—such as Los Angeles and New York—that can stand alone. However, if you use
one of these cities in a sentence with a city that requires the state name, use the state name
for both, for consistency.
Jen started gigging in the Los Angeles area.
Paul divided his time between Los Angeles, California, and Cedar Rapids, Iowa.
Foreign cities are written with their countries; of course; once the country is
mentioned, there’s no need to do so again.
Kostos was born in Athens, Greece. He returns to Athens whenever he can.
City Music
The preferred rendering of the college’s outreach program is simply Berklee City Music®
or, on second reference, City Music. If you say Berklee City Music programs, lowercase the
letter p. Other City Music terms:
Berklee City Music Network® (BCMN)
Berklee City Music Boston
Berklee City Music National (this only refers to the office that oversees the network)
Berklee City Music All-Stars
Berklee City Music Preparatory Academy (City Music Prep Academy)
Berklee City Music High School Academy
Berklee City Music Mentoring Program
Berklee City Music Preparatory Academy Summer Workshop (City Music
Prep Academy Summer Workshop, PSW)
Berklee City Music Faculty Outreach Program (CMFO)
Berklee PULSE® Music Method (PULSE)
Berklee City Music Summer Scholarship
Note: No longer SYSTEM 5
Berklee City Music College Scholarship
Note: No longer Continuing Scholarship
Amp Up NYC®
Note that registered trademarks should be used on Berklee City Music ®, Berklee City
Music Network®, PULSE®, and Amp Up NYC®.
class (graduating)
Lowercase the word class.
The class of 2016 is the first to go through the audition and interview process.
classical music
Generic titles—musical forms, such as concerto, overture, symphony, or liturgical works,
such as mass, requiem—are not italicized.
Piano Concerto No. 5
Sixth Symphony
True titles are titles specific to a single work, given by the composer much as an author
would title a novel. True titles are italicized.
From Me Flows What You Call Time
Pelléas et Mélisande
There are a few rare instances where a work has what seems like a generic title, but it is
actually a true title. Generally, if a symphony is referred to by name and not also numbered,
the title is actually a true title given by the composer. These should be in italics as well.
Symphonie Fantastique
Copland’s Dance Symphony
Nicknames follow in parentheses and quotes.
Schubert’s Symphony in B Minor (“Unfinished”)
Symphony No. 9 (“From the New World”)
Most words using this prefix are not hyphenated, unless a hyphen is necessary to prevent
the misreading of two o’s in a row, as in co-opt or co-owner.
coauthor, cochair, coworker, coleader, coproducer
colons and semicolons
Use only one space after a colon. Although this mark has several functions, its
primary use is to introduce elements that amplify what has preceded it (similar to the em
dash [see dashes]).
Bob always said there were three ingredients to a happy life: family, friends, and a bottle of whiskey.
The colon can also introduce a sentence. When it introduces a single sentence, the first
word of that sentence is lowercased. When it introduces multiple sentences, the first letter is
Red Sox fans were furious after the game: many tipped over hot dog carts.
Red Sox fans were furious after the game: Some tipped over hot dog carts. Others cried on barstools.
Semicolons are also followed by a single space and are used in a series where the series
elements contain punctuation or are abnormally long.
In attendance were Kevin, of Salem; Janelle, of Somerville; and Rob, of Jamaica Plain.
Otherwise, use commas to separate series elements.
Commas are used in a series between all elements and before the conjunction. (The
comma before the conjunction is sometimes omitted depending on whose style guide you
reference. We use it.)
A noun is a person, place, or thing.
They are also used in compound sentences, which are usually joined by
conjunctions such as or, and, or but.
I really like Berklee’s classes, and I also appreciate the performance
Lowercase these words.
Berklee’s 55th annual commencement will take place next Saturday.
Berklee awarded two honorary doctorates at this year’s convocation.
A frequently misused word. It means “to be made up of, to include.” The whole comprises
its parts. Compose means “to make up, to form the substance of something.” The parts
compose the whole.
The Berklee International Network comprises 19 schools.
Nineteen schools compose the Berklee International Network.
Avoid the construction “comprised of,” when you mean “composed of.”
The Unites States is composed of 50 states.
Concentration is synonymous with major, but it should be avoided so readers aren’t
confused. Concentrate should just be avoided.
concert names
Capitalize, with no quotation marks. But don’t capitalize welcome concert and
student jam.
Fall Together, Singers Showcase
Capitalize; no quotes.
She attended the International Association for Jazz Education Conference.
course names
The names of courses at Berklee are capitalized according to the rules under headlines.
They are not quoted. The number portion should be hyphenated.
EN-191 Contemporary Fusion Ensemble
IL-177 Walking Bass Line and Chords for Guitars
course work
Two words
cover songs
The covered band should be in parentheses:
Berklee Student, “Like a Rolling Stone” (Bob Dylan cover)
There are two kinds of dashes: em (—) and en (–). The em dash is commonly
created as two hyphens but should be created on the Mac keyboard by:
Option + Shift + Hyphen.
There should be no spaces on either side of the em dash. They are used to
represent a sudden break in thought or a complementary expression to what is being
said already.
Ted loved sports—he had ESPN on 24 hours a day—but his family always came first.
The en dash, which also takes no spaces on either side, is created on the Mac keyboard
by: Option + Hyphen. You’ll primarily use this when connecting a span of numerals: dates,
times, reference numbers.
You’ll find the information on pages 8–27.
We’re expecting some great visiting artists during the 2013–2014 school year.
However, when a preposition introduces the numbers, an en dash is not used.
We will be open from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Also, the en dash has one special grammatical function. It replaces the hyphen
in compound adjectives when a part of that adjective is two words:
award-winning director; Academy Award–winning director
New Deal programs; post–New Deal programs
Also see hyphens.
One word.
Dates should be spelled out with the year set off by commas, if necessary.
Beantown Jazz Festival will be held September 26, 2015, in the South End. Not Sept. 26 or 9/26.
degrees and diplomas
Always lowercase, unless writing out the full title of the degree (i.e., bachelor’s degree or
Bachelor of Music degree).
master’s degree
honorary doctorate
professional diploma
Berklee offers four degrees:
Bachelor of Music (B.M.)
Bachelor of Professional Studies (B.P.S.)
Master of Music (M.M.)
Master of Arts (M.A.)
Acronyms are acceptable on second reference and should not be used in headlines.
A program name or major should never follow the phrase “master in/of” or “bachelor in/of”
Yes: Master of Arts in Music Therapy program
No: Master in Music Therapy
Graduate programs should not be referred to as majors.
Master’s degree programs may also be referred to as graduate programs (but not
master’s programs).
The two graduate performance programs should be styled with parentheses to differentiate
between them:
Master of Music in Contemporary Performance (Production Concentration) program
Master of Music in Contemporary Performance (Global Jazz Concentration) program
Only persons with medical degrees (medical doctors, dentists, etc.) may take Dr. before
their name in first reference. Subsequent references do not take Dr., just the last name.
Honorary doctorate recipients, while accomplished in their own right, are never called Dr.,
nor have they officially earned a Ph.D. Academic degrees are not referenced after a name in
running text; they may be used if the name is in a list, such as on programs or invitations.
departments (abbreviations)
Only abbreviate the Music Business/Management (MB/M), Music Production and
Engineering (MP&E), and Electronic Production and Design (EPD) departments, and only
after first fully writing them out. For more information, see titles.
Note: Ensemble Department may be referred to as Ensembles, and String Department may
be referred to as Strings.
descriptions of musicians
Use a maximum of three descriptions, separated by slashes.
composer/arranger/trombonist Phil Wilson
If a person has more than three descriptions, choose the three most relevant to put before
the name, and work in the others subsequently.
composer/arranger/trombonist Phil Wilson, also a beloved educator…
Two spellings.
compact disc
a computer disk
One word.
The magazine DownBeat is italicized and is a single word with a capital B. Its annual survey
is the Critics Poll, no apostrophe.
drum ‘n’ bass
One word.
drum set
Two words.
Electronic Production and Design
Abbreviated EPD.
These are the three dots on a row ( … ) that represent pauses in speech and deletions of
words. When ellipses appear at the ends of sentences, use the three dots before or after a
punctuation mark depending on where the omitted text occurs:
Original excerpts from John Sykes’s 2000 commencement address:
The big network broadcasters said nobody would watch music on television. They wanted no part of us. The advertisers said there wasn’t enough money to go around. The established record companies—not A&M, of course—wouldn’t even return our phone calls. Who needs TV, we were told, when we’ve got radio? The rock critics said nobody’s going to watch an artist play music.
With ellipses:
The big network broadcasters said nobody would watch music on
television. . . . The advertisers said there wasn’t enough money to go around. The established record companies . . . wouldn’t even return our phone calls. Who needs TV . . . ? The rock critics said nobody’s going to watch an artist play music.
Only capitalize at the beginning of a sentence; no hyphen.
Preferred over MC, except when referencing hip-hop artists. Can also be used as a verb.
Jon Stewart emceed the Academy Awards. He was a better emcee than Billy Crystal.
See MC.
Ensemble Department
Ensemble is singular in this case, but plural when standing alone.
Abbreviation for equalize. For other tenses, use EQ’d and EQing, not EQed,
EQ-ed, or EQ-ing.
Don’t use a hyphen.
African American
Latin American
Try to avoid the word black when describing an African American. But don’t alter it if it’s
quoted that way; lowercase the word.
exclamation point
Restrict use of this overused mark. Remember that exclamation points also denote yelling.
Think how your expression would sound if shouted. And if you must use an exclamation
point, use only one.
Spell out in running text. Avoid ext., xt., and x.
Not FaceBook
A tricky word that can be used in the singular and plural. Generally speaking, consider it
singular when using it to describe the body, the entity, of instructors at an institution. When
using it to describe more than one person belonging to that body, consider it a plural.
The Berklee faculty is one of the country’s most distinguished.
Many faculty were outraged by the vote.
If you’re worried about how faculty sounds with a particular verb tense, you can try faculty
Faculty are advised to turn in their grades on time.
Faculty members are advised to turn in their grades on time.
Italicize, no quotes.
Did you know Howard Shore scored The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of
the Ring?
film composer
Or film score composer; not film scorer.
first-come, first-served
Five-Week Summer Performance Program
Five-Week program is an acceptable second reference.
Flutist is preferred.
foreign words
On first use, a foreign word that does not appear in the dictionary should be italicized. If
it’s used only occasionally subsequently, the word may be italicized throughout; if it’s used
many times, you need not do so.
Francisco first heard the clave in his barrio in San Juan. The clave soon became his instrument of choice.
In casual usage, forms aren’t given special treatment.
You’ll receive your 2004 financial aid form in the spring.
Full, formal names are capitalized.
Be sure to fill out both sides of your 2004 Entering Student Financial Aid Application.
Full-Credit Summer Program
Full-Credit program is an acceptable second reference.
Spell out First-Year Student Advising Program on first reference.
geographic names
East Coast and West Coast are capitalized.
When greater is used with the name of a city to denote a metropolitan area, it
is capitalized.
Greater Boston
Western Hemisphere
Northern Hemisphere
New York
When clarification is necessary to distinguish between the state and city, use New York City
on first reference. Otherwise, use New York.
I was born in New York City. Someday, I might move back to New York.
regions/compass points
Regions that are commonly considered proper names are capitalized. Derivative adjectives
and nouns are not.
Fred spent his childhood in the Northeast and later relocated to the South. There, he married a southerner, and together they headed north.
Drive north for 10 miles, then go west for another seven miles.
gold record
Lowercase. Same with platinum and diamond records. Gold: 500,000 sales. Platinum:
1,000,000 sales. Diamond: 10,000,000 sales.
grade, grader
Spell out grades below 10. Notice the hyphen used with grader.
Billy is in fourth grade. His sister is in second grade, but she can’t wait to be a
third grader.
graduate programs
Either graduate program or master’s degree program is acceptable. Never use master’s
program or simply master’s without degree.
Grammy Award
Do not write Grammy as GRAMMY, as you’ll sometimes see it. Also, you need not indicate
the word’s trademark. The plural is Grammys, not Grammies. Write Grammy Award–winning
artist with an en dash but Grammy-winning artist with a hyphen. See dashes for more
Heads, subheads, titles, or any other special pulled-out statements have certain rules as to
what gets capitalized and lowercased.
All prepositions are lowercased, even the long ones:
The President Walked through the Door
All verbs are capitalized except for the word “to” in infinitives:
The President Is Here. He Asks Everyone to Stay Calm.
All articles (a, an, the) are lowercased except at the beginning of a line:
The President Arrives at the New Facility
All conjunctions (and, or, but) are lowercased:
The President and First Lady Visited Troops
Everything else is capitalized, including the second half of hyphenated words (e.g., OffCampus Student Services).
Lowercase and hyphenate. See music styles/genres.
Specific country references like Puerto Rican or Mexican American are often best. Latino is
generally preferred to Hispanic, but Hispanic may be used if the need is for a more genderneutral term. (Keep in mind that Latino is masculine, Latina is feminine.) Latin can be used in
terms like Latin music and Latin Culture Celebration.
One word.
When listing students’ hometowns, list the town and state for domestic students and town
and country for international students (including Canada).
honorary doctorate
Honorary doctorate recipients are designated with an H: David Bowie ’99H
Hyphens are used between words, with no spaces around them: self-imposed, hand-tohand. They also create temporary adjectives: words put together in front of a noun for a
description that aren’t normally put together.
That’s a well-made desk.
That desk is well made.
There are many rules for various word combinations, but the most important is that -ly words
do not get hyphens after them.
She made a carefully considered decision.
For related information, see dashes.
Lowercase. See web words and email.
Use italics—not bold, underline, or all-capital letters—for emphasis. I simply
cannot stress this enough.
It’s is a contraction meaning “it is”; its is a possessive.
It’s a wise dog that scratches its own fleas.
Lowercase. See music styles/genres.
junior and senior
Don’t use commas to separate Jr., Sr., or Roman numerals from names.
Abraham Laboriel Jr.
Dennis Montgomery III is a respected instructor at Berklee.
Keyboard magazine
Not Keyboard Magazine.
Capitalize in all situations.
lead sheet
Two words.
Lecture series are capitalized; individual lectures are capitalized and quoted.
The most recent lecture in the Zafris Lecture Series was “How to Get Ahead in
Tough Times.”
Be sure that lists have consistent syntax (sentences with sentences or phrases with phrases).
There are three important rules to observe when camping:
• Stay away from bears.
• Bug repellent
• Keep food wrapped tightly.
There are three important rules to observe when camping:
• Stay away from bears.
• Wear bug repellent.
• Keep food wrapped tightly.
Also, see alphabetizing.
See newspapers and magazines.
Lowercase. Also, see titles.
master class
Two words.
Used in reference to hip-hop artists; emcee is a better choice in most other cases. Can also
be used as a verb.
Mos Def is one of the best MCs in the world.
He MC’d at a house party yesterday; he’s MCing at one tomorrow, too.
See also emcee
One word.
Abbreviation for microphone. Plural: mics. Past tense: miked.
All caps. Acronym for Music Instrument Digital Interface.
Mode names are capitalized, but other types of scales are not.
My favorite mode was G Dorian, but now I prefer the G blues scale. Bach liked
B minor.
Use a numeral and a dollar sign (or cents sign). Only use decimal points when there is
change ($25.50, but $25).
The best tickets will cost $32 each; the cheapest seats go for $9 a piece. Personally, I wouldn’t pay 7¢ for one of those.
Millions and greater amounts are written with a combination of numerals and words:
$9.9 million
Mothers Rest
The name of the park near 22 Fenway has no apostrophe.
See films.
Most words with this prefix are not hyphenated, unless a hyphen is necessary before a
capitalized word, as in multi–Grammy winner, or a word that starts with an I, as in multiinstrumentalist.
multitrack, multimedia
music notation
middle C
key of D major
key of B-flat minor
an E string
a dominant seventh chord
played on the sixth string
music styles/genres
Lowercase, unless it’s a regional reference.
Melanie was trained in jazz, but she also liked Latin music.
See a cappella, Afro-Cuban, Afro-pop, bebop, big band, bossa nova, hip-hop, jazz,
neo-soul, new age, pop/rock, R&B, rock ‘n’ roll
Not MySpace
national anthem
These words are not capitalized or set in quotes. But: “The Star-Spangled Banner.”
Donna McElroy sang the national anthem. Everyone loved her rendition of “The Star-
Spangled Banner.”
new age
Lowercase. See music styles/genres.
newspapers and magazines
In running text, newspaper and magazine names are italicized and capitalized. The initial
word the, however, is neither.
I try to read the Boston Globe and the New York Times every day.
In the context of festivals, events, and contests, a publication is not italicized.
We received a press release about the Boston Globe Jazz Festival.
Articles are put in quotes.
Did you read Joan Vennochi’s column “The Value of Immigrants” in the Globe
last week?
no. 1 hit
Not number one or #1
Generally, spell out the numbers from one through nine and use numerals from 10 up.
(Exceptions include 4-track, 24-track, where industry designation takes precedent, and
grade point averages. There is no exception for music terminology in running text, e.g.,
sixth string, seventh chord. Other rules regarding numbers can be found under separate
headings for century; grade, grader; money; page numbers; and percent.)
Spell out numbers at the beginning of a sentence with the exception of calendar years:
Twelve of my friends threw me a surprise party.
1972 was a great year.
See phone numbers.
okay or OK
Not ok or o.k.
Although ombudsman is originally a Swedish term that is interchangeable for men and
women, it is acceptable to use ombuds if you feel the original term isn’t politically correct
enough. Plural, ombudsmen.
When speaking of amounts, use more than.
He has more than 30 years of experience in higher education.
page numbers
Use numerals.
The chapter begins on page 7.
panel discussions
See workshops.
parent words
Berklee Parent Office
Berklee Parents Association
Berklee Parent Fund
play along
Play along with the play-along track. See hyphens.
Always use a numeral. In running text, always spell out the word as opposed to using %. In
charts, use the symbol.
Earnings dropped to 3 percent.
When using periods, use only one space after them. The two-space rule is an old typewriter
style outdated in the age of computers. When using expressions with periods at the end of
a sentence, you do not need a second period to close out the sentence.
The movie starts at 10:00 p.m. I hope I’m not too sleepy.
Expressions like i.e., p.m., and e.g. need to have periods, as they are multiple word
abbreviations. Similarly, Washington, D.C., needs the periods. State abbreviations, such
as NY and NH, do not.
phone numbers
Berklee does not use parentheses around the area code or 800 prefix. Also see extensions.
International numbers should be styled with + before the country code and have no dashes
in between numbers.
Example: +34 963 123 456
photo captions
When writing captions for photos, use complete sentences (including periods) unless you’re
simply identifying a headshot. Captions are written in present tense.
Not pop/rock.
President’s Advisory Council
principal instrument
Not principle instrument.
Pro Arts Consortium
Put a space between Pro and Arts.
Pro Tools
Okay as the shortened version of question-and-answer period.
quotation marks
When using punctuation with quotation marks, the rules are simple: periods
and commas always go inside the quotes; semicolons and colons go outside; exclamation
points and question marks go inside only when they are part of
what is being quoted:
Johnny Cash sings “Folsom Prison Blues.”
He said there were several things we could do to shape up our “tired, neglected bodies”: exercise, drink plenty of fluids, and avoid fried foods.
The woman screamed, “Help! Godzilla!”
What nerve that man had for blandly saying, “I couldn’t care less”!
He gave her a strange look and said, “What are you talking about?”
Who was the president who said, “I am not a crook”?
Uppercase, no spaces. Short for rhythm and blues.
Italicize the names of radio programs (Car Talk, Prairie Home Companion). Call letters are
written as follows (with no numbers): WBCN-FM.
residence halls
Not dormitories.
rhythm and blues
see R&B
rock ’n’ roll
Seasons are capitalized only when they stand in place of a publication’s issue and
volume number.
Enjoy the fall semester.
The class will be held in the fall 2017 semester.
I like the Fall 2015 issue best.
Not singer/songwriter. This is now considered a compound noun, rather than two separate
nouns joined together.
Singers Showcase
No apostrophe.
social media
Facebook, Myspace, YouTube, Twitter, tweets, Instagram, SoundCloud, LinkedIn
Solfège syllables are lowercased and italicized: do.
Use with quotation marks: “Let It Be,” “My Funny Valentine.”
South Korea
Not just Korea.
skill set
Two words.
One word.
Not steel pan.
String Department
String is singular in this case, but plural when standing alone.
Study Abroad
Berklee has two study abroad programs at its Valencia campus: Berklee Study Abroad and
Spain Summer Study Abroad. On second reference, study abroad suffices.
Try to use the full word as opposed to TV. Italicize the names of television
programs (Game of Thrones), and put the names of specific episodes in quotation marks
(“The Target”).
Lowercased, even in band names and publication names.
Not theatre, unless that’s how a theater uses the word in its name. (Theatre is the British
Times are written designating hours and minutes. The abbreviations a.m. and p.m. are
lowercased, with periods.
The meeting will run from 9:00 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.
Also, note that 12:00 p.m. noon and 12:00 a.m. midnight are redundant. Choose one or the
other. Do not mix numerals with words, and keep in mind that many people confuse 12:00
p.m. with midnight and vice versa.
time zones
Lowercase, except when proper nouns are used. Usually, abbreviations will suffice: PST, EST.
The videoconference will take place at 1:00 p.m. Pacific standard time and 4:00 p.m. eastern standard time.
Titles/Academic Departments and Majors
Majors, instrumental concentrations, and subjects are lowercased. Department and program
names are capitalized.
She teaches performance.
Beth is a songwriting major.
Joe is a piano principal.
He is studying music business.
The Piano Department is searching for a new chair.
Over Christmas, everyone in Music Business/Management went on vacation.
She was accepted into the Global Entertainment and Music Business Program.
This also applies to words such as center.
I visited the Learning Center yesterday, and I plan to stop by the center again today.
Titles/Artistic Works and Media
Non-English titles are capitalized as you would English, with articles, conjunctions, and
prepositions lowercased. See albums, band names, book titles, classical music, concert
names, films, headlines, music styles, national anthem, newspapers and magazines,
radio, songs, and television.
Committees are lowercased, except the Board of Trustees and the President’s Advisory
When we’re talking about an actual physical space or workplace entity, offices are
Bring your forms to Human Resources.
Last week, Admissions hired three people.
But as fields/disciplines, these words are lowercased.
Chris is a specialist in human resources.
Matt oversees the college’s communications needs.
As a general rule, titles are placed after a person’s name and lowercased with the exception
of presidents and mayors.
The meeting was attended by J. Curtis Warner, associate vice president for education outreach; Lauren Passarelli, professor of guitar; and Berklee President
Roger H. Brown.
One exception: President Brown is acceptable on second reference.
Don’t. Underlining is a typewriter style that has not gone away. Underlining was done
because typewriters did not have the option of italics or bold.
United Kingdom
Use the name of the British country, not the name of the unitary state, when listing student
Edinburgh, Scotland
London, England
Edinburgh, United Kingdom
London, United Kingdom
United States
Abbreviated U.S., with periods. Same with L.A., D.C., N.Y.C.
For standard URLs, you need not write out the common http:// prefix or www.
Read Berklee news at
If the URL is not just a web location, but also the name of an online business, uppercase
according to the company’s usage.
Online music courses are offered on You can buy your materials on
Don’t set off URLs with < and > (also known as angle brackets). In running text, don’t give
URLs any special typographical treatment (bold, italic, underline, etc.).
If you want to direct someone to a specific web page, try to avoid a lengthy string of
subdirectories such as the following:
Instead, refer the reader to a point earlier on in the sequence from which the intended page
can be accessed:
In running text, use Berklee’s campus in Valencia, Spain. Never use Berklee Valencia, Berklee
in Valencia, or Berklee Valencia Campus.
video games
Italicize video game titles.
Voice Department
Not Vocal Department or Vocals Department.
web words
You will see words such as these spelled differently elsewhere:
The titles of websites and pages are capitalized without quotes. Web links are treated
To get to the Parents page, click on Parents, of course.
See also internet and email.
One word.
Woodwind Department
Woodwind is singular in this case, but plural when standing alone.
words as words
When a word or term isn’t used functionally, but merely referred to as a word, it
is italicized.
I earned my Ph.D. last year.
Where would Ph.D. go in this list?
I’m starving. I would love an apple.
I was starving, and the first word that came to mind was apple.
Capitalize names of workshops; no quotes.
One word.
ZIP code
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