MECA Institutional Style Guide for Marketing and Communications
The Maine College of Art Style Guide was developed in order to simplify decision-making when writing on behalf of the College for College publications and other materials. Writers, editors, alumni and administrators who write for the web as well as those who develop print material are asked to abide by these guidelines to:
- ensure consistency and correctness in punctuation, spelling, and grammar
- establish standards for clear and consistent writing
- convey a professional message to readers
- ensure a unified brand, web, and printed presence
The goal of this guide is to serve as a useful reference for employees who are preparing College-published materials. It is not intended for student use. All students should consult with their instructors regarding the formatting and style of their writing assignments.
This guide was created to ensure a consistent and communicative message and includes some of the most common issues encountered when writing materials for MECA. For further guidance, please refer to The Chicago Manual of Style. For spelling and hyphenation, please consult Merriam-Webster dictionary, online at merriam-webster.com.
There may be occasional exceptions to this guide, according to graphic design considerations; for example, that a time may be represented as “2PM,” rather than the recommended “2:00pm.”
These guidelines are specific to MECA and may vary from other style guides. They are intended for use with marketing, news, and promotional materials. This guide will be revised and updated as needed; feedback is encouraged. Questions or comments should be sent to Annie Wadleigh (firstname.lastname@example.org) on behalf of MECA’s Editorial Board which operates through the Advancement Marketing and Communications office.
Academic Program Titles
Academic Studies Program
liberal arts courses or course of study
art history courses or course of study
Animation & Game Art
Art History Minor
Bob Crewe Program in Art & Music (BCPAM)
Feed Your Soul Program
FY-In (stands for First Year Initiative) Program
Graphic Design Program
MAT (stands for Master of Arts in Teaching) Program
MFA (stands for Master of Fine Arts in Studio Art) Program
Metalsmithing & Jewelry Program
Digital Media Program
Public Engagement Minor
Textile & Fashion Design Program
The Salt Graduate Certificate in Documentary Studies Program
Woodworking & Furniture Design Program
Aside from “U.S.,” avoid using periods with all-capitalized acronyms (e.g., “ASAP,” “MECA, BFA,” “UK”).
Unless an acronym is particularly complicated or inventive—e.g., “MECA CARE (Celebrating All Realms of Ethnicity) diversity group”—a parenthetical definition is unnecessary.
For MECA acronyms, generally spell out for first usage, then, in subsequent references, use the acronym alone -- e.g., “Institute of Contemporary Art at Maine College of Art (ICA at MECA),” followed by “ICA at MECA” or “First-Year Initiative” followed by “FY-In.”
addresses, place names
Use the “one through nine” rule when writing numbered street or avenue names. Room and floor numbers, however, are always written as numerals (e.g., “Room 1,” not “Room One”). Add “-nd,” “-rd,” “-st,” or “-th” to avenue and street numbers (e.g., “Sixth Avenue,” “133/141 West 21st Street”).
Spell out words such as “Street” and “Avenue,” if space allows.
Spell out words such as “Mount” and “Saint,” if space allows.
In running text, spell out state names (e.g., “Connecticut,” not “CT”), if space allows.
If space does not allow, or for specific sections of the MECA Magazine, such as Alumni Classnotes, abbreviate as needed i.e.: “Bethel, ME or “Worcester, MA” etc.
When naming multiple streets, buildings or geographical features, use lowercase for the plural noun (e.g., “between Sixth and Seventh avenues,” “the Mississippi and Ohio rivers”).
When referring to widely known or capital cities (e.g., Buenos Aires, Detroit, Shanghai, San Francisco), it is not necessary to specify the state or country.
When writing an on-campus address, capitalize “Room” and “Floor” (e.g, “Room 501,” and Second Floor”).
There are no hyphens between numbers and letters in room designations (e.g., “Room 601C,” not “Room 601-C”).
Capitalize “City” or “County” only when writing a city or county’s full name (e.g., “New York City,” “Kings County”).
Artists at Work
Continuing Studies (CS)
Counseling and Wellness
Institute of Contemporary Art at MECA (ICA at MECA)
Joanne Waxman Library
Office of the President
Residential Education and Housing
When listing departments, speaker names, exhibition venues, etc., order the list alphabetically unless there is a reason to do otherwise.
When alphabetizing, go by last names for people and the first element for business names. For example, gallery owner Paula Cooper would be alphabetized under “C.” Her business, Paula Cooper Gallery, would be alphabetized under “P.”
For last names beginning with lowercase particles (e.g., “de,” “van,” “von”) alphabetize according to the capitalized name that follows (e.g., “Willem de Kooning” would fall under “K”). When the two words have been joined or the particle is capitalized, alphabetize according to the particle (e.g., “De Angelo” and “DiMartino” would both fall under “D”).
Singular reference is “alum” and plural reference is “alumni”or “alums.” All alumni references should include class year as follows, with a space between the name and the apostrophe and the apostrophe facing left:
BFA graduate: Jonathan Rice ’94
BFA non-graduate: Karen McQueen (attended) ’05
MFA graduate: Simon Witherall MFA ’10
MFA non-graduate: Marisa Stephenson (attended) MFA ’06
MAT graduate: Lisa Bouchard MAT ’15
MAT non-graduate: Anne Brown (attended) MAT ’14
Salt at MECA graduate: Karen Smith Salt '17
Post Bac Certificate graduate: Emily Bridges Art Ed ’07
Post Bac Certificate non-graduate: Mark Gould (attended) Art Ed ’07
Two degrees from MECA: Caitlin Alger ’12, MAT ’13
Honorary Degree: Roxanne Quimby, Hon. DFA ’14
When listing a number of alumni, list first by year chronologically. If there are two names with the same years, list alphabetically. Example:
“Rebecca Bennett Duke ’95, Gina Adams ’02, Hannah Barnes ’02, Jenny Dougherty ’05, Shirah Neumann MFA ’12”
Unless it is part of an official title or organization name (e.g., “Dusty Film & Animation Festival,” “Woodworking & Furniture Department”), avoid using “&” in running text. Internally we use ampersands for programs; the NASAD-approved title contain "and."
At MECA, when not referring to the Art History Minor, refer to as "art history courses" or "art history course of study." It is not a program so do not use "Art History Program."
Consult Merriam-Webster’s to determine whether an art movement/period/style should be capitalized. Some examples include:
- abstract impressionism
- appropriation art movement
- art deco
- art nouveau
- classical, classicism
- Gothic/gothic—capitalize when referring to medieval architecture and art, lowercase when referring to literature with desolate settings or themes or the modern fashion or music trends.
- Hudson River school
- neoclassical, neoclassicism
- New Criticism
- op art
- outsider art
- pop art
- Romantic/romantic—capitalize when referring to the 19th-century movement, lowercase when using in the sense of “adventurous/imaginary/mysterious.”
Hyphenate artist-in-residence and similar titles (e.g., “writer-in-residence” or “playwright-in-residence.”) when used generically. Capitalize and do not use hyphens when part of a specific program or title (e.g., “a two-time National Park Artist in Residence, she continued to achieve her goals” vs. “when she served as an artist-in-residence at NYU” ).
Board of Trustees
Capitalize “Board of Trustees” or “the Board” only when referring to the MECA Board of Trustees.
In MECA Magazine, boldface all student names, faculty names, staff names, and alumni names.
We capitalize Black, and not white, when referring to groups in racial, ethnic, or cultural terms. For many people, Black reflects a shared sense of identity and community. White carries a different set of meanings; capitalizing the word in this context risks following the lead of white supremacists. We do not capitalize "people of color."
black and white/black-and-white
Hyphenate this term only when it precedes a noun (e.g., “black-and-white film” vs. “the film was in black and white”).
Use the following style for captions for all images:
Artist (with year if MECA alum), Title in italics, media, dimensions (w” x h” x l”), year.
Hannah Barnes ’02, Black Rope, watercolor on paper, 11” x 10,” 2011
Stacey Vallerie ’03, Dan, carbon and pastel, 4” x 7,” 2013
The head of an academic department at MECA is referred to as a “chair,” rather than “chairman,” “chairperson,” or “chairwoman.” It should be capitalized when part of a specific title e.g., “Anne Emlein is Chair of the Textiles & Fashion Design Program.”
Use “C-print” instead of “chromogenic color print.”
Hyphenate “co-” words, such as “co-author,” “co-chair” or “co-founder.”
Capitalize when referring to MECA (e.g., “the College was founded in 1882”). Do not refer to MECA as a “school” or “university.”
Colons should be used sparingly in titles and headings. Colons within colons should always be avoided. When a colon is part of a title or heading, words that would normally be lowercased in headline-style capitalization—such as “a,” “an,” and “the”—are capitalized if they follow the colon (e.g., Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope).
MECA’s publications / media style is to use a serial (also known as the Oxford) comma placed immediately before the coordinating conjunction (usually and, or, or nor) in a series of three or more items.
Continuing Studies (CS)
This is referred to as the Continuing Studies Department rather than
Continuing Studies Program.
Not “crowd-funding,” “crowd-sourcing.”
Em dashes, without spaces preceding or following them, are used to set off a piece of text within a sentence (e.g., “The important thing—the most important thing—is your health.”) Use an em dash sparingly in formal writing. DO NOT USE hyphens as em dashes.
En dashes, preceded and followed by a space, are used when indicating numerical ranges (e.g., “$8 – 10,” “February 4 – March 8,” “1:30 – 5:00pm”).
In running text, avoid using en dashes in “from __ to __” or “between __ and __” constructions. Use “from February 4 to March 8,” not “from February 4 – March 8”; and “between $8 and $10”, not “between $8 – 10.”
When writing dates, avoid suffixes on numbers. For example, “Monday, June 8,” instead of “Monday, June 8th”; “May 1 – June 3,” instead of “May 1st – June 3rd.”
Use “1990s” or “’90s,” with no apostrophe between the “0” and the “s.”
When referring generally to a degree type, use lowercase:
- associate’s degree
- bachelor’s degree
- master’s degree
- doctoral degree
Capitalize the specific names and acronyms of academic degrees:
- Bachelor of Fine Arts degree (BFA)
- Master of Fine Arts degree (MFA)
- Master of Arts in Teaching degree (MAT)
Some degree abbreviations use lowercase letters, such as “B.Arch.,” “Ph.D.” or “M.Ed.” For questions on these, consult the Chicago Manual.
When referred to specifically, MECA degree names are capitalized (e.g., “She earned her degree in Painting at MECA”). When referred to generically, or when referring to a degree awarded by another institution, degree fields are typically lowercased (e.g., “She earned her degree in painting at SVA”).
Capitalize words like “Department” or “Office” only when they are part of a unit’s name (e.g., “Advancement Office,” or “the office of the Academic Dean”) and when used with an academic program, i.e. "The Painting Program," but it would be "the Painting department."
When naming more than one department, division,or office together, use lowercase for the plural noun (e.g., “the Printmaking and Illustration departments,” “the Academic Affairs and Student Life offices”).
With the exception of “email,” all Internet-related terms with an “e-” prefix should be hyphenated (e.g., “e-commerce,” “e-vite”).
editor in chief
This title and others like it (e.g., “editor at large”) are not hyphenated.
events, programs, series
Capitalize the names of commonly held college events (e.g., Commencement, Open House, Orientation) only when the event is occurring at MECA.
Examples of other MECA events, programs, and series include:
- Visiting Artist Lecture Series
- Artists at Work
- MECA Alert
- Admissions Open House
An ellipsis (“ . . . ”) is used to indicate omitted text or a pause. Whenever possible, it should be typed as three spaced-apart periods, with a space on either end of the symbol (e.g., “I fear . . . we will have to change.”
If an ellipsis follows the end of a sentence, place it after that sentence’s period (e.g., “The fire was very hot. . . . Later, I noticed the bear”).
Do not capitalize “email.”
Do not hyphenate terms such as African American, French Canadian, Native American, etc.
everyday vs. every day
This is one word when used as an adjective (e.g., “her everyday clothes”), and otherwise it is two words (e.g., “I make art every day”).
Exclamation points should be used sparingly, if at all.
Use the word “exhibit” or “exhibition” for displays of student, faculty, or other artists’ work, rather than “show.”
Bob Crewe Gallery
ICA (includes the Lunder Gallery, Evans Hunt Gallery,
and the William Slone Jelin Gallery)
Joanne Waxman Library
Edward M. and Carole J. Friedman Gallery
Karu Media Center
Miles Standish Residence Hall
Oak Street Residence Hall
Osher Lecture Hall
Porteous Lower Level
Shepley Street Residence Hall
Charles C. Thomas Gallery
Zand Head Gallery
Reference all BFA, MFA and MAT faculty with their full titles (e.g., “Assistant Professor of Illustration Scott Nash” or “Adjunct Instructor of Liberal Arts John Robinson”). See faculty biographies on meca.edu for correct titles. For Continuing Studies, use “faculty” rather than “instructor” (e.g., “Judy Labrasca is a member of the CS faculty”). Remember, faculty is a plural noun.
filmgoer, filmmaker, filmmaking
Not “film-goer,” “film-maker,” “film-making.”
foreign language words
Use italics for words in a language other than English, unless the word or phrase is commonly used by English speakers (e.g., plain air). (If the word or phrase is in Merriam-Webster’s, consider it commonly used.)
Not “fund-raiser,” “fund-raising.”
gelatin silver print
Not “silver gelatin print.”
Hyphens should always be used to connect two words. In all other cases of design, use the Em dash).
Consult Merriam-Webster’s on questions of whether a compound term is hyphenated or not (e.g., “firsthand”). Often hyphens are used to clarify meanings and modify nouns (e.g., “I believed the teacher-to-student ratio would allow for more hands-on education”).
When preceding a noun, modifiers involving speed, distance, quantity, and numbers (e.g., “fast-moving train,” “long-term history,” “high-frequency recording,” “19th-century building”) are usually hyphenated.
Modifiers involving “-ly” words (e.g., “neatly combed hair”) are not hyphenated.
When capitalizing hyphenated compounds or words in a headline or title:
- always capitalize the first element (e.g., “Un-American”)
- capitalize all elements of temporary compounds (e.g., “Time-Consuming Tasks”)
- only capitalize the first element of an always hyphenated compound (e.g., “Fathers-in-law”)
See “artist-in-residence” for hyphenation of this and similar phrases.
i.e. and e.g.
The term i.e. is an abbreviation for the Latin expression id est, or “that is.” The term e.g. is an abbreviation of the Latin expression exempli gratia, meaning “for example.” These terms are typically separated by commas or parenthesis:
“I like citrus fruits, e.g., oranges, lemons, and limes.”
“I’m going to the place where I work best, i.e., the coffee shop.”
“Our backup drives (i.e., drives F and G) are new.”
JPEG, MP3, MPEG, PDF, TIFF, etc.
File formats should be written in all capitals because they are acryonyms.
Credit all images on the right or left side of the image (e.g., “Photo: Will Robinson '87” or “Photo: Maine Historical Society”). Also see "captions" above.
“Internet” is capitalized.
Use italics sparingly to emphasize a particular word; for foreign words or phrases not part of the general vocabulary; and for titles of specific works (see “titles” below).
Use "liberal arts courses" or "liberal arts course of study." Liberal arts is not a program at MECA, so do not use "Liberal Arts Program."
Maine College of Art / MECA
Use Maine College of Art, not “the Maine College of Art.” Abbreviate as MECA, not Meca, MecA or M.E.C.A.
Master of Arts in Teaching
Master of Fine Arts
Use numerals and currency symbols when referring to sums of money (e.g., “$8,” not “eight dollars”).
Do not use “.00” for even-dollar amounts (e.g., “$1,” not “$1.00”).
Place nicknames or preferred names within quotation marks—e.g., “Qui ‘Cindy’ Zhang,” “Edward ‘Ted’ Kennedy.”
Generally, spell out all numbers between one and nine and use numerals for 10 and higher (and non-whole numbers, such as “3.14”), except when a number begins a sentence, in which case it should be spelled out.
Always use numerals for percentages, scores, page numbers, when referring to course credits, and when the thing being referred to is designated by a number (e.g., “chapter 6,” “size 8,” “3rd floor”).
Spell out indefinite amounts (e.g., “in the thousands”).
When using figures in the millions or higher, use numerals (e.g., “2 million,” “$7 billion”).
For publications, page numbers typically start on the page opposite the inside front cover with page one.
Parents of MECA alumni or students can be indicated in a list as:
Edith Ouellette P ’90
Timothy and Judith Radcliff P ’16
pen and ink/pen-and-ink
Hyphenate this term only when it precedes a noun (e.g., “pen-and-ink drawing” vs. “the drawing was done with pen and ink”).
people of color
We do not capitalize when referring to people of color.
If a text contains many references to percentages or gives percentages in tables, use the “%” symbol. Otherwise, write out “percent.”
Correct style is one period after a sentence, not two.
plurals of numbers and letters
For plurals of numbers and uppercase letters, an apostrophe is unnecessary (e.g., “the 1980s,” “the ABCs”).
For plurals of lowercase letters, use an apostrophe (e.g., “mind your p’s and q’s”).
“Podcast” is one word.
In general usage use “President Laura Freid.” In official correspondence, use “Laura Freid, President” (see professional titles).
Professional titles of MECA staff and faculty are always capitalized (e.g., “Executive Vice President Beth Elicker, Director of Artists at Work Jessica Tomlinson, Chair of Illustration Mary Ann Lloyd”).
In mailing addresses, professional titles are capitalized. When used as signatures or in lists of acknowledgments or contributors, professional titles are also usually capitalized.
Capitalize only when it is part of the name of a specific scholarship (e.g., “Fulbright Scholarship” or the “Edward M. and Carole J. Friedman Endowed Merit Scholarship”) or refers to MECA’s Student Scholarship Fund or MECA’s Scholarship Fund.
screen print, screen printing
“Screen print” is not hyphenated.
Do not capitalize seasons (e.g., “fall,” “winter,” “spring,” or “summer”) unless part of an event title (e.g., MECA Fall Art Sale).
Do not capitalize specific semesters (e.g., “fall 2013 semester,” “spring 2014 semester”).
Semicolons are used instead of commas in series when one or more elements contain a comma: The train makes only three stops: Richmond, Virginia; Raleigh, North Carolina; and Jacksonville, Florida.
Semicolons may also be used to merge two sentences together. The second sentence is usually short and closely connected to the first (e.g., “In matters of style, swim with the current; in matters of principle, stand like a rock”). Semicolons may be used for the sake of clarity (e.g., “I buy cheese, milk, and eggs at my neighborhood market; apples, oranges, and grapes from the farmers’ market; and aspirin and shaving cream from the pharmacy”). Do not overuse semicolons
Use "The Salt Graduate Certificate in Documentary Studies Program" when referring to this program at MECA. It is part of The Salt Institute for Documentary Studies. It is never written in all caps.
Not Space Gallery
With the exception of State Theatre and similarly spelled proper names, use the American spelling of “theater.”
“Stop-motion” is hyphenated.
Student names should always be accompanied by their expected graduation year (e.g., Stuart Pratt ’17).
Use “freshman,” “sophomore,” “junior,” or “senior” to indicate class level, rather than “first-year,” “second-year,” “third-year,” or “fourth-year.”
Separate a telephone number’s digits with periods, rather than hyphens, unless design considerations dictate otherwise (e.g., “212.592.2010”).
Avoid writing “1” before area codes or “800” numbers.
“Extension” should not be spelled out, but abbreviated as “ext.”
With the exception of State Theatre and similarly spelled proper names, use the American spelling of “theater.”
Use “three-dimensional” or “3D,” but not “3-D.”
time of day
In running text, use “:00” when giving a time (e.g., “2:00pm,” not “2pm”), and lowercase letters for “am” and “pm,” with no space between the hour and the “am” or “pm” (e.g., “2:00pm,” not “2:00 pm”).
When a time range takes place entirely within the morning or the afternoon/evening, add the “am” or “pm” to the concluding time only (e.g., “2:00 – 5:00pm,” not “2:00pm – 5:00pm”).
When space allows, use “noon” and “midnight,” or “12:00 noon” and “12:00 midnight,” instead of “12:00pm” or “12:00am.”
Use “T-shirts” not “t-shirts.”
Use italics for titles of:
- comic books or comic strips
- exhibition catalogs
- exhibitions, one-of-a-kind (see also “exhibitions, recurring” below)
- films (animated or live-action, short- or long-form)
- magazines (but do not italicize or capitalize magazine, or the unless it is part of the publication’s name, like The New York Times Magazine); common examples of publication formatting include:
The Boston Globe
Down East Magazine
Los Angeles Times (or the LA Times)
Maine Sunday Telegram
Portland Press Herald
The Washington Post
- performances (one-of-a-kind / live)
- television programs and series
- video games
Use quotes for titles of:
- articles in magazines, newspapers, etc.
- episodes or segments of a television program or series
- music videos
- panel discussions
- sections within articles, books, or reports
- short stories
Do not italicize or use quotes for titles of:
- advertising or promotional campaigns
- board games
- conferences and conventions
- courses or workshops
- exhibitions, recurring (e.g., Documenta, Whitney Biennial)
- event series
- fairs and festivals
- informational/promotional publications (e.g., Continuing Studies Catalog, BFA Catalog, MECA Magazine).
- musical bands or groups
- regular columns, departments, or sections in periodicals (e.g., Visual Arts Journal’s What’s in Store section)
- software programs
- sports events
- trade shows
- unpublished papers or academic studies
spell out or use “U.S.,” never “US.”
Do not capitalize “web.”
Do not include “http://” when writing out web addresses. Unless a website will not load without it, also avoid using “www.”
When possible, keep web addresses confined to one line of text. If the address is too long and needs to carry over to a second line, place the line break at a slash or period:
For more information, visit meca.edu/info-for/
When placing a line break at a period in a web address, move the period to the second line, to avoid confusion:
For more information, visit meca
Not “web-cast,” “web-casting.”
World Wide Web
The phrase “World Wide Web” is capitalized.