Class Notes Format Style | St. Lawrence University Alumni

Class Notes Format Style

In the Class Notes we follow the Associated Press (AP) style, with one or two exceptions, noted below. A holdover from the days before computers, when newspaper type was set by hand and copy-fitting capability was quite limited relative to today, this puts a premium on space conservation. The AP Stylebook is 470 pages long; the following are drawn from it and are most pertinent to the Class Notes.

People's names:

-Member of class being reported on: Boldface, do not indicate class year: Bill Daly.
-If person is from a different class from the one being reported on, no boldface, class year at end of name, no parentheses: Bill Daly '70.
-Maiden name of woman in class being reported on: bold, no parentheses: Marcia Kessler Daly.
-If married woman is from different class: no bold, class year after full name: Marcia Kessler Daly '72.
-When couple are both named and one is from different class: For HIS class: Bill and Marcia Kessler Daly ’72. For HER class: Bill '70 and Marcia Kessler Daly. (note that “and” is NOT boldfaced)
-Subsequent references w/in same report are NOT boldfaced.
-Nicknames: Commonly used nicknames, such as Bill, Tom, Sue, Betty, need no quotation marks. Weird ones--in quotation marks, no parens: "Midge" Longley '47. If both true first name and nickname are used, place in quotation marks between first name and maiden name and/or surname: Marjorie "Midge" Watters Longley '47. In subsequent references nickname alone, without quotes, is acceptable. Note: With commonly used nicknames, is it not necessary to give the formal name also: Bill Wiese suffices.
Note: Nicknames used in college days may no longer be appropriate.
-Commas around name when it is restrictive (i.e. there is only one person in the category): His wife, Sue, is... [lack of commas would mean he has more than one wife]. Their son Tom is... [they have more than one son]. Their 18-year-old son, Tom, is...[they may or may not have more than one son, but only one is 18 years old]. When this info can't be determined, ask alumni office; if they can't help, leave as submitted to you.
-No comma between a name and Jr., Sr., III, etc.
-No comma between person's name and modifiers: long-time teacher Horace Mann, NOT long-time teacher, Horace Mann (when in doubt, consider this modifier/name construction: President Bill Fox--there's no comma).

Some Other People Stuff
-Professional titles are NOT boldfaced: Dr., the Rev., M.D.
-When there is no restricting pronoun and "wife," "husband," "daughter," etc. thus functions as a title, do NOT use commas: Wife Sue is working at..., son David is in college.
-Hyphenate age designation when used as a compound adjective: Their 18-year-old son... If the age designation follows the name, set off with commas: Their son Tom, 18, is... NOTE: Always use digits for ages; this is an exception to the "spell out one through nine" rule.
-Class year designation: apostrophe and last two digits: '70. Exception: for classes before 1900, use all four digits. (’00 = Class of 2000, not 1900) Note: '29er, '76er (no apostrophe before "er"). Best to avoid where it reads awkwardly: '54er, '77er. Note: As part of a possessive: John Brown '73's wedding, not John Brown's '73 wedding. Better, though, to rewrite--e.g., the wedding of John Brown '73. Note: for master's degree holders, M'83 Note: for non-graduates, '55n
-Person's phone number: CUT. Email and snail mail addresses are OK if person has agreed, or volunteered, to have them appear.
-Graduate degrees: caps if written out in full (Master of Fine Arts, Juris Doctor), lower case if not (master's degree, law degree). Exception: do not spell out Ph.D. Note: "master's" has an apostrophe. Note: doctorate or doctoral degree, but not doctorate degree
-Job titles: always lowercase unless complete formal title immediately precedes name: Vice President for Operations John Doe, but John Doe, vice president for operations. Note: John Doe was elected president of the firm. (lower-case president) Note: the casual "VP" for vice president is OK, upper-case. Note: vice president does NOT have a hyphen.

Include state/province or country with place name. Exception: For major cities, state or country not necessary: San Francisco, Dallas, Toronto, Paris. Note that it will probably be necessary to insert "N.Y." after many NYS place names.
Commas both before and after state when used thus: They moved to Springfield, Mass., last spring. See separate sheet for state abbreviations. Do NOT use post office abbreviations—those are meant for mail, not text.
Exceptions: when full address, including ZIP, is given, use USPS two-letter initial; when state alone is given ("they moved to Illinois"), spell out the state.

No "th" after digit(s) in dates: May 15, not May 15th.
Comma between date and year: May 15, 1998.
Comma before and after year: On May 15, 1998, they…
No commas when only month and year are given: In the May 1990 issue of. . .
No commas if "of" is used: In May of 1990 we. . .
No apostrophe to designate a group of years: the 1930s, not the 1930's [it's plural, not possessive].
Mid-1930s is preferable to mid-'30s. NOTE location of apostrophe: the '30s, the '50s, etc.—before digits, not before the “s” “1975-80” is a single unit of time, made so by the hyphen. Thus, to say “from 1975-80 she…” is nonsense, comparable to clapping with one hand. Repair: “from 1975 to 1980”

Other Stuff
Commonly used college and university abbreviations are acceptable: UCLA, UVM, RPI, UConn, Umass, etc., without periods. Note: SUNY 4-year colleges: SUNY College at Potsdam. SUNY universities: SUNY Binghamton.

All caps and no period for most initials: SUNY, CEO, MBA, NYC Exceptions: Ph.D., Ed.D., others with a small letter within them.

Lowercase when using generically such nouns as college, university, company Exception: “the University” in reference to St. Lawrence Note: lower-case law school, business school, etc., unless full formal name is given.

Companies and offices, divisions, etc.: caps for company name, lower-case office or department name: division of budgeting, Allstate Insurance Co. When in doubt about company name idiosyncracies, check a directory such as Standard & Poor's, or company website. Note: Procter & Gamble (not Proctor) Manufacturers Hanover Trust (no apostrophe) AETNA (all caps)

Write out one through nine, digits 10 and up
Use commas in four-digit (and higher) numbers (1,000 etc.)
-people's ages, always use digits (“their 1-year-old son…”).
-percentages, always use digits and the word "percent" spelled out, not % -times, always use digits (Note: 9 a.m., without the ":00", lower-case, periods)

A few e-terms:
World Wide Web (caps)
the Internet (cap I)
email (one word)

About those confounded Latin words:
alumnus = male singular
alumna = female singular
alumnae = female plural
alumni = male, male and female, or indeterminate plural ["alumni" is the most common in Class Notes]

Italicize names of newspapers, magazines, books, full-length plays, feature films, etc., following standard practice. Short works (short story, one-act play, poem) get quotation marks.
Note: ship's names are not italicized or placed in quotation marks. Observe caps: SS Fishgut

Place TV show names in quotation marks.

No comma before "and" in a series: football, basketball and hockey.

Periods and commas go inside closing quotation mark; all other forms of punctuation outside unless they are part of the quote or a word or phrase taken out of context.

The editor detests split infinitives ("to boldly go" is wrong; "to go boldly" is right and sounds better besides).

Regarding that vs. which: the two are not synonymous. “Which” is not restrictive; it either implies a choice or does not affect the meaning of the sentence (i.e. it can be left out). “That” is restrictive; it defines or limits. Thus, "It is the one that..." A crutch: usually, if a comma does not seem called for immediately before the word, the right choice is "that," whereas if a comma does seem necessary the choice is "which." When in doubt--"that" is the high-percentage choice, even though "which" is more commonly used (usually incorrectly). Note: if the subject is a person, use who or whom: She is the one who...

“As well as” is not synonymous with “and”.

Be conscious of time: events that haven't happened when column was written but will have happened by the time magazine comes out must be in past tense.

Eliminate sexist and gender-exclusive language (not including "Each of us had their...," which mixes a singular and a plural).

There are no "Larries." There are only "Laurentians."

One-sentence paragraphs are not desirable. They are in fact oxymorons. On rare occasions, however, they are unavoidable or good for effect.

Think succinctness:
-This past summer = Last summer
-He serves as = he is (note: people in jobs are not "serving”--they're getting paid, and that's not service)
-She is currently working as a… = She is a…
-utilize = use
-will have an opportunity to = can
-In her new position she will be = She is (Hint: corporate promotion announcements provide wonderful opportunities for practicing this form of editing.)

Special "cases":
-lower-case "reunion" as in "our reunion is this spring." Upper-case only in Alumni Reunion Weekend or Reunion Weekend, or in reference to a specific reunion: Our 50th Reunion is this spring.”
-Upper-case seasons of the year only when referring to an issue of our magazine: the Winter 1991 issue (or when personified in poetry, which we aren't likely to encounter).
-Upper-case "class" when referring to a specific SLU graduating class: The Class of ’70 is...
-Upper-case Commencement, Honor Guard, Alumni Parade, Class Notes, Homecoming, Alumni Council (but "the council"), the Board of Trustees (but “the board”), the Quad, and branches of the military, but not military rank unless it immediately precedes name, as in a job title.
-Lower-case first-year, sophomore, etc. -Observe caps and hyphen: First-Year Program.
-St. Lawrence course names are capitalized and not placed in quotation marks or italicized. General rule re. capitalizing and commas: When in doubt, leave it out.

General rule re. arcane verbiage: If you don’t know the woid, rewrite to avoid.

General rule re. anything else: the preferred reference is the latest Associated Press (AP) style guide.

General rule re. editing: Rules are made to be broken. Be flexible; be sensitive to unusual situations.