a, an. Use the article a before a word beginning with a consonant sound, including a historical and a historian. Use the article an before a word beginning with a vowel sound, such as an honorable man (the h is silent), an homage (again, the h is silent).

abbreviations. In general prefer spelling out names of organizations and companies on first reference, and then use a shortened form in later references (e.g., the committee or the agency). On first reference, use Goshen College, and then prefer college or Goshen and less often GC. Often there's no need to refer specifically to Goshen College; in the school newspaper, the attachment is understood. Commonly used abbreviations are acceptable on second reference (e.g., MCC for Mennonite Central Committee or SST for Study-Service Term). Use abbreviations sparingly since writing easily turns choppy and, regardless, the reader is liable to get lost.

Academic Affairs Committee. Members of the Academic Affairs Committee include: Ross Peterson-Veatch, Tom Meyers, Phil Mason, Beverly Lapp, Ruth Stotlzfus, Jeanne Liechty, Jo-Ann Brant, Doug Liechty Caskey, Ryan Sensenig, Brenda Srof, Pat Lehman, Duane Stotlzfus, Kathy Meyer Reimer, Suzanne Ehst.

academic courses. Capitalize college or seminary course titles, without quotation marks (e.g., Expository Writing or Chemical World).

academic degrees. When academic degrees are mentioned, the preferred form is to avoid the abbreviation and use a phrase: Shirley Showalter has a doctorate in literature; Jason Samuel has a master's degree in communication. The standard abbreviations include B.A., M.A., LL.D., Ph.D. Degrees are presented in lowercase except for proper nouns: she has a degree in Bible; he has a degree in English education.

academic departments. Use lowercase except for words that are proper nouns or adjectives: the history department, the English department.

Academic Resource and Writing Center.
academic titles. Capitalize and spell out formal titles such as professor and chairman when used before a name: Professor Kathy Meyer Reimer. When a department affiliation is also mentioned, several options are available: Professor Kathy Meyer Reimer of the education department or Kathy Meyer Reimer, professor education. Never abbreviate professor. The position of dean or academic dean should be capitalized only in the shortened form: Dean Ross Peterson-Veatch; Ross Peterson-Veatch, the academic dean; the academic dean for the college.

academic years: see years.

accommodate, accommodation.

accouterment.

acknowledgment.

acronyms. Abbreviations of the initial letters forming a new word. (e.i. Campus Activity Council - CAC) Acronyms typically should not be used in the first reference, the only exception is if it helps avoid complicated leads. If in such situation, place the organization's name as soon as possible, do not use the acronym after first reference, use is at the next possible reference. Unless using a company name, uppercase all letters in the acronym. Example: Geico, NAACP.

addresses. The formal name for streets, avenues and similar designations is capitalized (Main Street, 8th Street, Lincoln Avenue). When used with a specific address abbreviate street, avenue and boulevard (For example: 1700 South Main St.). If not used in a specific address spell them out (For example: We took a drive down Main Street). Exception: court, lane, and road are always spelled out. In a plural reference, the roadway designation is lowercase: The accident took place at the corner of Lincoln and Washington avenues.

admissions. In reference to the formal unit, the Admission Office, use uppercase.

Advent. In the Christian church, a period of expectant waiting in preparation for the celebration of the birth of Jesus. Derived from the Latin word adventus, meaning "coming," Advent begins on the fourth Sunday before Christmas. Advent became part of the official church year around the fourth century, when the Festival of Christmas was established. To look at Goshen College's advent devotions, go to: http://www.goshen.edu/devotions/Advent_Devotions.

adviser. When referring to an expert who gives advice, such as a consultant for a firm or a professor who assists students with course selection, adviser, rather than advisor, is preferred.

affect. Usually, affect is a verb. (Meanwhile, effect is typically a noun). An easy way to remember this: when one affects something, one has an effect on it. For example: Her departure affected the morale of the department. The effect of her departure was a decline in morale.

African-American, black. Try to determine and use the term preferred by the group or person being described. When no preference is known, the writer should choose. Use black when the reference is not only to people of African descent but also to those who have more immediate roots in the Caribbean or South America. Use more specific terms like Jamaican-American as appropriate.

ages. Use figures: 90s, 15, a 5-year-old girl.

all-time. As a modifier applied to records, all-time creates a redundancy. A record is a record. Beyond that, who knows how long any record will last.

Allegheny River. The word Allegheny comes from the Delaware Indian Tribe, the Lenape meaning "fine river" or "beautiful river." The Allegheny River is 325 miles long and flows through downtown Pittsburgh. The David L. Lawrence Convention Center sits near the banks of the Allegheny Front.

alma mater. The designation holds two meanings: a school or college that one attended or from which one graduated; and the song or hymn of the school. In 1911, Menno Ezra Miller of Kalona, Iowa, wrote a poem that was accepted as the official college song; an English teacher, Elsie Byler, polished the wording; and John D. Brunk, head of the music school, set it to music. It is likely the only college song in the nation to be written with 5/4 time signature. At one time, every student knew the song; by the 1970s, most students did not know even the first verse. In recent years, the alma mater has made a comeback, being sung at the opening convo, faculty banquet and other gatherings.

There's a spot in Indiana where the leafy maple grows; Tis our dear and glorious Parkside where the Elkhart River flows, Tis a spot we love most dearly, Tis a spot we'll cherish long, After youth and strength have faded, and this world has heard our song. Goshen College ever singing, to her motto we'll be true, Honor to our Master bringing, Alma Mater we love you.

a lot. Use "a lot" as opposed to "alot" which is a nonword.

alumna (fem.), alumnae (fem. pl.), alumnus (masc.), alumni (masc. pl. and for a mixed group). The term graduate(s) is a nice alternative for general references.
Refer to alumni by their graduation year. For example, say "Duane Stoltzfus, a 1981 graduate, dances very well."

American Sign Language. Refer to an ASL major as "American Sign Language major," not "American Sign Language interpreting major." Start using ASL on second reference.
Amish church.

Anabaptists. Are Christians who led a radical movement of the 16th century reformation that viewed baptism as a central part to a believer's faith, they rejected infant baptism, and believed in the separation of church from state, and in simplicity of life. Most Anabaptist trace their direct descendants, particularly from the Amish, Hutterites and Mennonites.

and/or. Prefer a more conversational "teaching or preaching, or both" to "teaching and/or preaching."

anti(-). Hyphenate only if words would be hard to understand, as when the second element begins with the letter i or when the second element is capitalized (anticlerical, antiwar, anti-European, anti-iconic, anti-Semitic). An exception: Antichrist.

apostles. The Twelve or the Twelve Apostles; the apostles; the apostle Thomas but Thomas the Apostle.

Army. Capitalize in the formal name: United States Army, the Army, Army regulations. Use lowercase for the forces of other nations: the French army. In later references, the United States Army can be referred to as the Army, but the shorthand for foreign armies should be placed in lowercase (In France, the army is being downsized).

Associated Mennonite Biblical Seminary. The seminary, based in Elkhart, can be abbreviated as A.M.B.S. on second or later reference

Associated Press, The. The global news service should be introduced as The Associated Press in news articles; on second and later reference, make it the AP or AP.

attribution.The best verb for attribution, a reliable workhorse, remains said. It's plain, neutral and nearly invisible. Alternatives come with shades of meaning: added, announced, argued, explained, rebuted, refuted. Each can be fine, if the meaning fits. Be careful not to introduce a physical impossibility: "I love playing cards," he smiled. The easy fix calls for adding an unobtrusive attribution: "I love playing cards," he said, smiling. We can't smile words, or laugh them, or weep them.

avenue. See addresses.

awhile; a while. After a preposition, it should be two words (he plans to stay for a while). As an adverb, it is spelled as one word (he rested awhile).