Writing and Spelling Style Guide

Humber Style Guide (Writing and Spelling)

In order to maintain consistency in our Humber communications, please refer to the following list for writing principles and spelling for words commonly used in memos, letters, publications and online. For further reference use The Canadian Press Stylebook, The Canadian Press CAPS and SPELLING, and The Canadian Oxford Dictionary. This list will be updated as required. 

These general principles are followed on the Humber website, in media documents and in corporate publications.

Table of Contents

Writing

Spelling

Writing

Abbreviations

  • U.S.
  • a.m. and p.m.

Acronyms

When using acronyms, please place the acronym in brackets after the full word or phrase, before using the acronym. 

e.g. Silver Linings News was a multi-disciplinary, student-driven project supported by the Office of Applied Research & Innovation and in collaboration with the Faculty of Media & Creative Arts (FMCA) to give the community a daily dose of positivity and provided a paid placement opportunity for students. Check out our FMCA programs at mediaarts.humber.ca.

Capitalization

  • Program/course names are capitalized but not the corresponding credential

e.g. Business Communications certificate of achievement program, Introduction to Counselling course

  • Capitalize formal titles that directly precede a name

e.g. President, Chris Whitaker; Senior Vice-President, Laurie Rancourt

  • Lower-case titles that appear after a name, or are set off from a name by commas

e.g. Gina Antonacci, associate vice-president academic; Andrew Leopold, director of communications

  • Capitalize the name of an office, department or faculty when it appears in full as a formal name; lowercase informal or short forms

e.g. Faculty of Applied Sciences & Technology; the faculty, Office of the Registrar; the registrar’s office, Office of Student Success and Engagement; the student success office

  • Modified down style 

Use a modified down style, i.e., where a reasonable choice exists, use lowercase.

Basic rule: Capitalize all proper names, trade names, government departments and agencies of government, names of associations, companies, clubs, religions, languages, nations, races, places and addresses. Otherwise, lowercase is favoured. 

Commonly Confused Words

  • Less/Fewer

Normally, fewer is used with mulitples e.g. fewer students and less is used with singulars e.g. less tuition.

When the subject of the sentence implies quantity use “Less than”; if the subject implies number, use “fewer than”.

  • Further/Farther

Generally, “farther” refers to physical distance. “Further” may be used to mean “moreover” or “additional”.

  • Toward/Towards

According to Meriam Webster, the words are identical in meaning and can be used based on preference. 

Dates and Time

Write the complete dates wherever possible. Just use the number without st, nd, rd. e.g. January 29, 2021 not January 29th, 2021.

The exception would be if the date appears in a sentence, such as “on May 3rd we will hold a meeting.”.

Use a hyphen to connect dates except when preceded by from or between. e.g. the 1982-83 tax year, but from January to May (not from January-May).

If you are referencing a date in the current year, you do not need to include the year. 

Times should be listed with periods, such as 11 a.m. 

Faculty Names

  • Faculty of Applied Sciences & Technology (FAST)
  • Faculty of Business (FB)
  • Faculty of Health Sciences & Wellness (FHSW)
  • Faculty of Liberal Arts & Sciences (FLAS)
  • Faculty of Media & Creative Arts (FMCA)
  • Faculty of Social & Community Services (FSCS)

Hyphenation

Hyphenation is often used for compound adjectives that appear before a noun, such as “full-time faculty.” Hyphenation is not used when the first word finishes with an ly, as in “highly skilled faculty”.

Here are some common examples: Full-time faculty; faculty who are full time, working full time; full-time staff, on-campus services; services offered on campus.

Numbers

  • Whole numbers: write one to nine as words, 10 and up as numerals 

e.g. The student bought four coffees and 12 bagels for his classmates. It was the fifth week of classes, and the 13th time he had waited in line at the coffee shop. 

  • Use numbers when writing decimals and with uncommon fractions 

e.g. 0.54, 2 ½ days, three-quarters, two-fifths 

Punctuation

  • Commas: most popular error/inconsistency - the varied use of the comma between the elements of a series

In CP Style, use a comma to separate each element but not before the final for, and, nor, but, or, yet and so e.g., apple, pear and plum.

Exceptions apply if the use of the above style causes confusion in the sentence e.g., Breakfast consisted of oatmeal, eggs, and bread and butter.

  • Use one space after period 

Seasons

Seasons should be lowercase (winter, spring, summer and fall).

Terms and Semesters

Terms are defined by season (winter term, summer term and fall term), term is not capitalized unless it is in a title.

Social Media and Web Only

  • Times

    remove “.” in “am” and “pm” or AM & PM

  • Website URLS

    Remove “https://”, "http://", “www” and last forward slash (“/”).

    e.g. humber.ca (not https://www.humber.ca/)

Spelling

Academic

  • bachelor’s degree (BA)
  • B.Comm; B.Sc; M.Sc
  • corequisite
  • full time (working full time); full-time (full-time calendar)
  • inquiry not enquiry
  • master’s degree (MA)
  • part time (working part time); part-time (part-time calendar)
  • per cent; percentage
  • PhD; P.Eng
  • post-secondary (CP Style)
  • prerequisite
  • work-integrated learning (WIL)

General

  • acknowledgment not acknowledgement
  • analyze
  • co-op, co-operate, co-operation
  • co-ordinate, co-ordinator
  • counsellor
  • decision-making
  • defence, defensive
  • enrol, enrolment, enrolling, enrolled
  • esthetic
  • fulfil; fulfilled; fulfilment
  • fundraiser, fundraising; fundraise
  • health care (n.); health-care (v.) (health-care practitioner)
  • Humber Centres of Innovation
    • Barrett Centre for Technology Innovation (Barrett CTI or the Barrett Centre)
    • Centre for Creative Business Innovation
    • Centre of Innovation in Health & Wellness
    • Centre for Entrepreneurship
    • Social Innovation
    • Humber Centre for Trades and Technology
  • Humber Lakeshore Campus
  • Humber North Campus
  • in depth, in-depth (adjective)
  • judgment
  • Lake Shore Blvd. West
  • leading-edge (adjective)
  • licence (noun); license (verb); licensed; licensee; licensing
  • Lifelong
  • log in (verb), login (noun and adjective)
  • practice (noun or adjective); practise (verb) 
  • principal (main, most important) 
  • principle (fundamental belief) 
  • resumé 
  • setup (noun), set up (verb) 
  • startup (noun and adjective)
  • world-class (adjective) 

Web Related/Digital 

  • blog
  • chat room
  • cyberspace
  • email
  • home page
  • hyperlink
  • internet
  • online
  • Twitter, tweet
  • web, web browser, webcam, webcast, web-enabled, webmaster, web page, weblog, web server, website, World Wide Web

General note: Above all else, be consistent! If you need assistance or have questions, please contact Emily Milic, manager of PR and Communications.