Writing Style Guide

LBCC writing style guide

The LBCC Writing Style Guide is intended to help writers and editors communicate clearly and consistently about Long Beach City College (LBCC) in all media, including: the LBCC website, social media, collateral publications, communications releases and materials, advertisements, signage, documents, correspondence, etc. 

This is a living document, so entries may be added or revised on a continuing basis. If you have additions or suggestions, please email them to webmaster@lbcc.edu. We hope this guide is helpful to you, and we welcome your suggestions to make it even more user-friendly. 

This Writing Style Guide is based on the Associated Press Stylebook (2015 edition) with some exceptions that will be covered throughout this section. 

Because the majority of writing for LBCC is digital, this style guide will put emphasis on writing for the Internet, drawing from two sources with similar content: The Microsoft Manual of Style – Your everyday guide to usage, terminology, and style for professional technical communications (Edition 4), and The Yahoo! Style Guide – The ultimate sourcebook for writing, editing, and creating content for the digital world (2010).

For questions about punctuation and spelling, you can also refer to various online dictionaries such as the Merriam-Webster Dictionary or Dictionary.com. 

Cultural Sensitivity 

Avoid all sexual or racial stereotyping and language. Use he or she or they and their, which is correct as both a singular and plural pronoun. Many words now have neutral alternatives that can be used rather than assuming a particular gender. Don’t create words such as s/he, and use skillful writing to avoid putting two words together with slashes: he/she


Firefighter, police officer, chair or chairperson, photographer not cameraman; Representatives not congressmen; supervisor not foreman; student not coed; professor not career woman.  

When writing about people with disabilities, in general, only refer to a disability if it is relevant to the story. In writing about disabilities, stress the person, not the disability. When necessary, refer to disabilities with an active voice, giving the person ownership over their disability. The term disability is always preferable to the term handicap.   


  • Use “persons with disabilities” and avoid using “the disabled”   
  • Say, “He Has Muscular Dystrophy.” Not “He suffers from muscular dystrophy.”   
  • Say, “He has a mental disability.” Not “He is mentally retarded.”   
  • Say, “She uses a wheelchair, and he walks with crutches.” Not, “She is wheelchair-bound, and he is confined to crutches.”  

Ethnic designations generally follow the preference of the group being referred to. As a general rule, identify ethnic groups by recognized ethnic designations. It also is appropriate to use national designations such as Polish American, Cuban American, Irish American, Japanese American, etc. Do not hyphenate these designations, even when using them as adjectives. The generic terms black and white aren’t capitalized, but if you capitalize one to conform to a particular group’s preference, capitalize both.   


Acceptable identifiers: African American, Asian, Pacific Islander, Latina, Latino, Hispanic.