Style Guide for Merced College Web Content

Use the following guidelines when developing content for the College’s websites,. These guidelines are based on the Associated Press (AP) Stylebook and the Webster’s New World Dictionary. In cases of conflict, the Merced College Style Guide supersedes all. For clarification or assistance writing content, contact the Public Information Office at mcnews@mccd.edu.  These guidelines are available to download: Style Guide for Merced College Content (pdf).

1. College Name

When referring to the name of the college, use “Merced College.”  Third references could use “the College” (note upper case “C”).  Never use “MCCD.”

2. Campus Names

When using campus names, use proper names with abbreviation in parentheses. Thereafter, use only the abbreviation.

Use this terminology for first reference:

  • Merced Main Campus (MC)
  • Los Banos Campus (LB)

Second reference and beyond use:

  • MC
  • LB

3. Active vs. Passive Voice

For conciseness and clarity, present content in an active, not passive, voice. 

Example:

  • Yes Do:                 The bear ate the fish.
  • No Don’t:             The fish was eaten by the bear.  Also:  The fish was eaten.

4. Write in Second Person

Write in the second person (“you, your”) to create a more personalized feel for the student. 

Example:

  • Yes Do: You can get help with online tutoring by visiting Tutor.com
  • No Don’t: Students may receive online tutoring help by visiting Tutor.com.

5. Glossary of Terms

Use key terminology from the Merced College Glossary of Terms where applicable when creating content.

6.  Create Content for Easy Scanning

Break up large paragraphs of text for easy scanning when possible.

  • Use headings for content topics. 
  • Create information “bullets” for each topic.  Bulleted lists should have a maximum of 4-5 bullets and consist of no more than one level.

Example:

  • Yes Do use headings and bullets:

  • No Don’t use large blocks of text:

  • Related Links: 

    If applicable, add a “Related Links” section at the bottom of the page, with a bulleted list of webpages which the user may find useful.

7. Do Not Use “Click Here”

Use descriptive hyperlinks instead of “click here.”  Descriptive hyperlinks help search engines find and rank content, and screen readers communicate with sight-disabled users.  Acceptable hyperlink styles will depend on content.

Example:

8. Succinct Writing Tips

  • Remember to use as few words as possible to convey the idea.
  • Get to the point quickly. Refrain from using flowery or hard to understand verbiage.
  • Use a less formal and more personal tone to the message.

9. Quick Tips: Editorial Guidelines

For questions or comments, contact the Public Information Office at mcnews@mccd.edu.

  • Academic degrees:
    1. In text, spell out general degree terms.
      1. associate degree or associate (note, the associate degree is not possessive)
      2. bachelor's degree or bachelor's
      3. master's degree or master's
      4. doctoral degree or doctorate (do not use doctorate degree)
        Example:
        He has an associate degree in English, a bachelor's degree in English, a master's in translation, and a doctorate in comparative literature.
    2. Formal degree names are capitalized.
      1. Associate in Arts (note the use of “in” and not “of”)
      2. Associate in Science
      3. Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Science
      4. Master of Arts, Master of Science
      5. Doctor of Psychology
    3. Use abbreviations such as B.A., M.A., and Ph.D. only when the need to identify many people on the first reference would make the preferred method cumbersome.
      1. A.A. and A.S. (with periods)
      2. B.A. or B.S. (with periods)
      3. Ph.D. or Ed.D. (with periods)
      4. J.D. and R.N. (with periods)
      5. MBA, MPA, MSN, BSN, MFA, MS-FIN, MS-MKT, BSBA, MABA, etc. (degrees with more than two letters do not take the periods)
  • Dates, days, months, and years:
    1. Use 1, 2, 3, 4, not 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th.
    2. For academic and fiscal years, use 2011-12, not 2011-2012. Only exception: 1999-2000.
    3. Do not abbreviate days of the week in text (excepting use in tabular data).
    4. Do not abbreviate months of the year when they appear by themselves or with a year (December 2010). March, April, May, June and July are never abbreviated in text, but the months of Jan., Feb., Aug., Sept., Oct., Nov., Dec. are correctly abbreviated when followed by a date (Jan. 27).

  • email (no hyphen, lowercase)

  • internet (lowercase)

  • online (no hyphen, lowercase)

  • Phone number treatment:
    1. (209) 555-5555 (use parentheses, not hyphens or periods)
    2. (209) 555-5555, x356 (use a comma after the main number in phone number with extension)

  • Seasons:
    1. Capitalize Fall, Summer or Spring if used in conjunction with the year.
      Example: “The Fall 2012 semester.”
    2. Otherwise, lowercase the seasons.
      Example:  “He studied piano during the fall semester...” or ...The team practiced in summer.”
  • Time treatment:
    1. 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
    2. 8:15 a.m. to noon (noon is not capitalized)
    3. 8 p.m. to midnight (midnight is not capitalized)
  • website, webpage
    1. no hyphen, one word
    2. A collection of webpages which are a part of a larger website should not be referred to as “website.”

  • Wi-Fi (hyphen)