Glossary P-S

parentheses – (If an entire sentence exists within parentheses, the period falls inside the final bracket.) If a parenthetic phrase ends a sentence, the period falls outside (like this). A question mark falls within the parentheses only when the question is part of the parenthetic phrase. A comma, semicolon, or colon comes after the parentheses are closed.

Parents Weekend – the former name of the annual fall campus event now called Family Weekend. If the older name is ever referenced note that it is spelled with no apostrophe, before or after the s. This is treated as a distributive noun—a weekend for or about parents. A similar example is Veterans Day. (But, Presidents' Day.)

part-time – hyphenated preceding a noun; otherwise open (She works part time.)

parallel construction – Can help you organize your thoughts and convey them clearly, and it can even add elegance to your writing. There is a good, succinct explanation in Diana Hacker’s Rules for Writers (pages 99-103).

The course examines early and medieval European history, and we also look at economic development in the same periods.

This sentence is grammatically correct, but unless the intent here is to subordinate the topic of economic development, it would be less awkward to write:

The course examines early and medieval European history and explores economic development in the same periods.

period, spaces after – One space, not two, follows punctuation that ends a sentence, whether it be a period, question mark, exclamation point, or quotation mark. The habit of putting two spaces after the sentence-ending punctuation is a leftover from the days of typewriters, and is simply no longer necessary.

photocopy – the generic term for making copies. Xerox is never a verb; it is a trademarked corporate name.

pick up – such phrases as “drop off,” “pick up,” and “sign in,” when used as instructions, are imperative verbs and should not be hyphenated (Drop off your registration card at the Office of the Registrar). Used to describe a location where an activity takes place, the words are hyphenated (There is a drop-off box for Federal Express shipments outside the Copy Center).

please – While we all endeavor to be polite, use “please” sparingly in instructions and requests, simply because they add up quickly and become repetitive. It is preferred to cut the following to include just the first please: “Please fill out section one before mailing. Please contact the office for more information. If you have technical questions, please call 725-3000.” Never say, “Please RSVP”; it is redundant (répondez s’il vous plaît translates to “please reply”).

plurals – in almost all cases, nouns and proper names are made plural by adding a simple s or an es. Abbreviations with periods, lowercase letters used as nouns, and capitalized letters that would be confusing if s were added alone, take an apostrophe and s to form the plural (Ph.D.’s, x’s and y’s, SOS’s).

Proper names are rendered in the plural in the same way—by adding s or es (Martins, Joneses). The few exceptions are French, Spanish, and Greek names that become too unwieldy with the additional s/es (the 16 King Louises; the Velasquezes, Xerxeses) in which case you make no change to the name or rewrite the sentence.

An apostrophe plus s is never added to make the plural of a personal name. 

p.m., PM in time designations, use a.m. and p.m. (lowercase with periods) for running text; use AM and PM (small capital letters, no periods) in other places such as posters, formal programs, and invitations. In some instances (in which the overall design merits it, or if there are issues with a particular font) it is also acceptable to use A.M. and P.M. (uppercase, not small caps, with periods).

podium – in general, a podium is meant to be the platform or rostrum on which a speaker stands. The dictionary also allows it as the lectern behind which the speaker speaks.

Podium derives from a Greek root meaning “foot,” so a podium would be something you can stand on, or at least stand behind (think podiatrist). Lectern comes from the Latin word legere, to read, so a lectern is best understood as a stand that holds your notes (think lecture). Dais comes from Middle English and Old French and meant a high table in a hall—though it in turn was derived from the Latin discus, meaning a table or plate (hence an Olympic event, the discus throw).

policeman – use police officer.

policymaker – one word.

possessives – singular nouns are made possessive with the addition of an apostrophe and the letter s (the child’s mouth). Plural nouns, with a few exceptions, are made possessive by simply adding the apostrophe (the puppies’ tails).

Proper names follow the same rules (Burns’s poems, Berlioz’s opera). Exceptions to the s’s rule are ONLY Jesus’, Moses’, and names of Greek origin that end in es (Euripides’ plays).

pre – as a prefix, does not usually take a hyphen. An en dash links it to a multi-word compound (pre–Civil War)

predicate nominative – People are often confused by the use of pronouns in predicate-nominative constructions, where a second subject in a sentence follows the verb. The second subject should still be treated as a subject, not an object ("It is I," rather than "It is me." "John is taller than I [am]," rather than "John is taller than me").

president – President Barack Obama or Pres. Barack Obama; President Obama; the president; Barack Obama, president of the United States; the Honorable Barack Obama. As a courtesy and in recognition of their high elected offices, former elected officials may still be addressed with their titles: President Bush; Pres. George H. W. Bush; the Honorable George Bush.

professor – When formally identifying a member of the faculty, always use an official title (Professor, Associate Professor, Assistant Professor, etc.). When referencing a faculty member more informally, and using “professor” in place of Mr., Mrs., Ms., Dr., etc., it is generally acceptable to use simply “professor” (I learned a great deal in Professor Smith’s class; The History of Coastal Maine is taught by Assistant Professor Mary Smith).

programs – the following disciplines are programs at Bowdoin, not departments: Africana studies, Asian studies, biochemistry, environmental studies, film studies, gay and lesbian studies, gender and women's studies, Latin American studies, and neuroscience.

All except film studies and gay and lesbian studies offer a major program, although the environmental studies major is a coordinate major with another department. All programs except biochemistry and neuroscience offer a minor.

programs, capitalization – As with departments, program names are capitalized when the official name is used (Environmental  Studies Program, Asian Studies Program), but not when some other form of the name is used (environmental studies group, Asian studies).

pulpit – a raised platform or high lectern from which a member of the clergy preaches. It has a religious connotation only, and should not be used to substitute for the more generic lectern. Secular speeches may be delivered from the pulpit in Bowdoin’s chapel, of course, where the pulpit’s religious character is a function of its location and not the speaker.

public events – Standard wording for admission to public events that have no admission charge is "Open to the public free of charge."

Quad, quadrangle – Quad (uppercase Q, abbreviated from quadrangle) refers specifically to Bowdoin's main quadrangle. Use the full word quadrangle (lowercase) as a generic term, or Quadrangle (uppercase) when referring to another named quadrangle (the Osher Quadrangle, the Coe Quadrangle).

q.v. – another of those handy but confusing Latin abbreviations. Stands for “quod vide,” meaning “which see,” and refers the reader to something discussed elsewhere in a text.

quotations – in any form of writing, quotations are not to be trifled with. With a few almost inconsequential exceptions, they may not be altered in any way, and the writer has a solemn duty to the source of the quote, the reader, and himself or herself to get it right. Allowable alterations include the following: the case of the initial letter may be changed, depending on where the quote occurs in a sentence; the final punctuation may be changed if ellipsis points are used; in a source from a modern work, an obvious typographical error may be corrected; in a very old work, spelling and punctuation can be modernized for the sake of clarity, so long as the reader is informed of the changes.

quotations, formatting – quotations may be formatted in text in one of two ways: in block style without quotation marks, or run in—within the text itself and enclosed in quotation marks. In general, longer quotations (eight or ten lines or more) are set off in blocks. Shorter quotations are run in.

If a quotation is syntactically part of the sentence, it should begin with a lowercase letter, even if it is a complete sentence in its own right (Benjamin Franklin admonishes us to “plough deep while sluggards sleep.”) When the quotation is not dependent on the rest of the sentence, it begins with a capital letter and is set off by punctuation (As Franklin advised, “Plough deep while sluggards sleep.”)

quotation marks – periods, commas, and exclamation marks ending a quoted statement fall within the final quotation mark. Semicolons and colons fall outside. A question mark falls within the quotes only when the question is part of the quotation.

redolent – means fragrant, smelling of, or evocative of, but always with the underlying sense of smell. Should not be used to mean “full of.”

reticent – means shy, quiet, silent, reserved. Should not be used to mean “hesitant” or “reluctant.”

resume – no accents if you’re referring to your CV.

rostrum – any platform or stage used for public speaking.

RSVP – do not precede with "please. RSVP is an abbreviation for the French phrase "repondez, s'il vous plait" ("reply, please"); therefore, adding "please" would be redundant. Bowdoin Style prefers RSVP without periods.


scholar-athlete – hyphenated noun phrase

scholar in residence – no hyphens

senator – Senator Susan Collins or Sen. Susan Collins; Senator Collins; the senator; Susan Collins, senator from Maine; the Honorable Susan Collins. As a courtesy and in recognition of their high elected offices, former elected officials may still be addressed with their titles: Sen. George Mitchell; Senator Mitchell; the Honorable George Mitchell.

Sr. – not preceded by a comma; see listing for Jr.

senior citizens – Don’t refer to the elderly, or just seniors.

she/he – avoid the use of he or him as a generic (sexist) pronoun, but don’t resort to s/he or him/her.  The easiest way to write around he/she issues is to make the subject of the sentence plural, which enables you to use the non-sexist they/their/them when switching to a pronoun (All students who hand in their applications...). It is also perfectly acceptable to refer to he and she/him and her in sentences; it just makes them longer (Each student who hands in his or her application...).

You must be careful never to confuse a singular subject with a plural pronoun, even if your worthy intentions are to avoid being sexist (Never: Each student who hands in their application….).

sign in – such phrases as “drop off,” “pick up,” and “sign in,” when used as instructions, are imperative verbs and should not be hyphenated (Drop off your registration card at the Office of the Registrar). Used to describe a location where an activity takes place, the words are hyphenated (There is a drop-off box for Federal Express shipments outside the Copy Center).

slash, backslash – a short, diagonal line used as a punctuation mark. A backslash (/) is used to separate words (and/or) or numbers in dates (5/31/08) or fractions (1/2). There are no spaces between the word or number and the slash.

Correct: The photograph shows the area surrounding Thorne Hall/Coles Tower.
Incorrect: The photograph shows the area surrounding Thorne Hall / Coles Tower.

smartphone – one word, no hyphen.

Social Code – capitalized as its proper name.

social house – a term frequently, but incorrectly, used to refer to one of the College Houses in Bowdoin's residential life system. Because the term "social house" can have undesirable connotations, it should be avoided. Use the term "College House" instead (or "College House system").

Social Security number – lowercase the n, but capitalize all three when used in an abbreviation (SSN)

south – lowercased as a direction, but capitalized if referring to a specific geographic location (the South). Do not spell it out in a street address (1460 S. Hacker)

spaces after a period – One space, not two, follows punctuation that ends a sentence, whether it be a period, question mark, exclamation point, or quotation mark. One space also follows the colon. The habit of putting two spaces after the sentence-ending punctuation is a leftover from the days of typewriters, and is simply no longer necessary.

spelling – questions about spelling, including compound words, hyphenation with prefixes, formation of plural, tenses, past and past participle forms, etc., are answered in the dictionary. Bowdoin’s preference for the sake of consistency is Webster’s New World College Dictionary, Fourth Edition.

sports divisions/meets – Division III, Region I, regionals, Easterns, nationals

spring – lowercase (spring semester, spring break)

state-of-the-art – hyphenated as an adjective, otherwise not (The facilities are state of the art.). However, this term is frequently used when things are in fact no longer “state of the art,” as a way of avoiding having to specify what makes a particular facility or piece of equipment noteworthy. Good writing avoids it as much as possible.

states – names are always spelled out in text when standing alone and when following the name of a town or city (except in lists, tables, notes, bibliographies, and indexes). Preferred abbreviations are as follows: Ala., Alaska, Ariz., Ark., Calif., Colo., Conn., Del., Fla., Ga., Hawaii, Idaho, Ill., Ind., Iowa, Kan., Kent., La., Maine, Md., Mass., Mich., Minn., Miss., Mo., Mont., Neb., Nev., N.H., N.J., N. Mex., N.Y., N.C., N. Dak., Ohio, Okla., Oreg., Pa., R.I., S.C., S. Dak., Tenn., Texas, Utah, Vt., Vir., Wash., W.Va., Wis, Wyo.

Two-letter, uppercase postal abbreviations are avoided in text. Postal abbreviations are used in return and mailing addresses.

State names, when used as a qualifier for a city/town name, are surrounded by commas: He is a Portland, Maine, native.

stationary/stationery – stationary with an a means “standing still”; stationery with an e is the paper you use to write letters.

subject pronouns – pronouns used as subjects must be in the subject case (I, he, she, it, we, you , they), never the object case (me, him, her, us, them). Never write, Me and Mary went to the store, Mary and me went to the store, or Her and I went to the store.  Correct: She and I went to the store.

subject-verb agreement – making the subject and verb agree when they are close together is generally not a problem. When words (especially other nouns) come between them, however, it can create confusion. You may have to strip away the extra words to determine which is the actual subject. "High levels of water pollution damage the pipes" is correct, because the subject is levels and not pollution.

Compound subjects connected by “and” are treated as plural. (Martin’s skill as a negotiator and tact as a manager won him the promotion.) When compound subjects are connected by “or” or “nor,” make the verb agree with the nearest part of the subject. (A ticket or two coupons are required.)

Most indefinite pronouns are considered singular: “anybody,” “anyone,” “each,” “either,” “everybody,” “everyone,” “everything,” “neither,” “none,” “no one,” “someone,” “something.” In speech and informal writing, some of these may take a plural verb, but in formal communications, they almost always take a singular verb. “None” and “neither” can always take a singular verb. “All,” “any,” and “some” can be either singular or plural depending on the noun or pronoun they refer to.

Collective nouns should be treated as singular, unless the meaning is clearly plural.

summa cum laude Latin title, meaning with highest honors; set lowercase in italics. At Bowdoin, this is referred to as “Latin honors” and is conferred on students whose GPAs are in the top 2 percent of the graduating class.

summer – lowercase (summer study)