AAC&U Style Guide
Using This Guide
II. Names and Terms
AAC&U and Other Organizations
Programs, Initiatives, and Projects
Meetings and Institutes
Schools, Boards, Departments, and Courses
Racial and Ethnic Groups
Words or Figures?
IV. Punctuation and Formatting
Commas and Semicolons
Hyphens and Dashes
Footnotes and Endnotes
VI. Word Lists
Troublesome Words and Expressions
The Chicago Manual of Style (16th edition) is used for all AAC&U publications. Copies of the Chicago Manual of Style are available in the Office of Communications and Public Affairs. You can search the manual's contents online at http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/16/contents.html.
AAC&U uses Webster's Eleventh New Collegiate Dictionary, available online at www.m-w.com, as a guide for spelling, hyphenation, word breaks, etc. When in doubt, check the dictionary. Print and CD-ROM versions of the dictionary are available in the Office of Communications and Public Affairs.
Bartleby.com's usage page, online at www.bartleby.com/usage, is a good resource for questions about grammar and usage that Chicago does not cover.
The style guide you are reading now is based upon Chicago Manual of Style and Webster's Eleventh New Collegiate Dictionary. This guide is not meant to be complete in itself; rather, it is designed to address common style questions and to clarify policy matters that are not resolved in those books. The guide is keyed throughout to Chicago (abbreviated CMS).
This guide should be adhered to in the running text of all major AAC&U publications, but may be judiciously adapted for marketing and meetings publications and elsewhere for graphic purposes. In such contexts, communications staff may choose to occasionally depart from Chicago style—for example, by spelling "twenty-first century" as "21st century."
II. Names and Terms
In the first reference to the association, the is put before the name in full, followed by the acronym in parentheses:
the Association of American Colleges and Universities (AAC&U)
Subsequent references use the acronym (with ampersand):
AAC&U (not "the AAC&U" or "AACU")
When used on their own—even when used to replace proper names—"association" and like terms are lowercased (CMS 8.67, 8.69).
The association was founded in 1915.
The Association of American Colleges and Universities was known as the Association of American Colleges (AAC) until 1995. Use the old name when referring specifically to work done by the association prior to the name change. (For information about citing works published before the name change, see Reference Lists, below.)
For organizations, institutions, and companies, "a the preceding a name, even when part of the official title, is lowercased in running text" (CMS 8.69).
The meeting was cosponsored by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching.
References to programs, initiatives, and projects use initial capitalization and do not use quotation marks.
The AAC&U initiative Shared Futures: Global Learning and Social Responsibility was launched in 2002.
For clarity, it is sometimes helpful to rewrite such sentences so that the name can be set off by commas.
AAC&U's initiative on global issues, Shared Futures: Global Learning and Social Responsibility, was launched in 2002.
Subsequent references can be shortened.
The Shared Futures initiative is run by AAC&U's Office of Diversity, Equity, and Global Initiatives.
Program, initiative, project, and similar terms are always lowercased—even when they are used to stand in the place of a program name (CMS 8.74).
References to meetings, conferences, and institutes are set in quotation marks when the full title of a single, unique event is given (CMS 8.69).
"Diversity and Learning: Democracy's Compelling Interest" was held in 2004.
Use initial capitalization but no quotation marks when referring to a named series of meetings or institutes.
The next Diversity and Learning conference will be held in 2006.
They sent a team to the Institute on General Education last year.
She has attended several Network for Academic Renewal conferences.
Note that AAC&U officially refers to Network for Academic Renewal events as conferences, not meetings.
Generic references to meetings are neither capitalized nor set in quotation marks (CMS 8.69).
AAC&U's 2005 annual meeting was held in San Francisco.
The institute is highly selective.
References to periodical titles are italicized, as are book titles (CMS 8.166):
Liberal Education, Diversity Digest, AAC&U News, the Greater Expectations report
AAC&U treats published papers as books (italicizing the titles) rather than as essays (the titles of which, like article titles, are usually set in quotation marks). Names of book series are capitalized but not italicized (CMS 8.174).
Integrative Learning: Mapping the Terrain is the latest title in the Academy in Transition series.
"When newspapers and periodicals are mentioned in text, an initial the, even if part of the official title, is lowercased (unless it begins a sentence) and not italicized" (CMS 8.168):
the Washington Post, the New York Times Magazine
See also Italics.
When referring to institution names, AAC&U style defaults to the current edition of the Higher Education Directory (available at the front desk and in many AAC&U offices).
Institutions that do not have unique names—King's College, Westminster College, Central College, Trinity College/University, and Wheaton College—should be identified by state (in parentheses) at first reference:
Westminster College (Utah)
Note that, for organizations, institutions, and companies, "a the preceding a name, even when part of the official title, is lowercased in running text" (CMS 8.69).
Schools, divisions, and departments are lowercased except where the official title is used (CMS 8.84).
The chemistry department is offering a new course this semester.
The Department of English, in coordination with the Division of Liberal Arts, oversaw the project.
Boards are generally lowercased (CMS 8.67):
the state board of regents, AAC&U's board of directors, the board of trustees
But should be capitalized when the official title precedes the full title of the institution to which they are attached:
the Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia, the Board of Directors of the Association of American Colleges and Universities
Names of specific courses are capitalized but not set in quotation marks; generic course references are not capitalized (CMS 8.85).
Professor Jones taught Twentieth-Century African History again this fall.
On many campuses, composition is a required course.
When a title follows a name or is used in place of a name in running text, it is generally lowercased.
Nancy Dye, president of Oberlin College, served on AAC&U's board.
But "titles are capitalized when they immediately precede a personal name" (CMS 8.18):
President Nancy Dye, Professor John Ramsay, Board Chair Ronald A. Crutcher
But exceptions may be made for "promotional or ceremonial contexts such as a displayed list of donors in the front matter of a book" (CMS 8.19)
Named professorships are capitalized regardless of whether they follow or precede the name (CMS 8.27).
Mary F. Smith is the Ronald McDonald Professor of Nutrition.
AAC&U does not use "Dr." or "PhD" in bylines or in running text when identifying individuals by title.
"Names of ethnic and national groups are capitalized" (CMS 8.37):
Arab, Arabian, Arab American
When these terms take the form of compounds, they are never hyphenated—not even when used as adjectives (see also Open Compounds):
African American professor, Native American culture
Do not capitalize "black" or "white" (CMS 8.39).
In most nontechnical contexts, whole numbers from one through one hundred, larger round numbers, and any number beginning a sentence should be spelled out (CMS 9.2).
The strategic plan includes five priority areas.
More than three thousand people attended the meeting.
For other numbers, figures are used. Use commas with figures over 999 (except for years).
The membership in the association numbers more than 1,250.
For percentages given in running text, use figures and the word "percent" rather than the % symbol (CMS 9.18).
Almost 90 percent of the students understood the economic advantages of a college education.
To date something by referring to a decade, use the full four-digit date with no apostrophe (CMS 9.34).
The 1980s saw a focus on revising curricula.
Centuries are spelled out (CMS 9.33):
the twenty-first century
"When specific dates are expressed, cardinal numbers are used" (CMS 9.32).
The conference will begin on March 8.
En dashes and figures are usually used for inclusive number ranges (CMS 9.58).
The conference will be held March 8–11.
Number ranges beginning at 101 or higher should be abbreviated according to the table at CMS 9.60. These same rules apply to year ranges (CMS 9.63):
the 1998–99 academic year, the events of 2002–4, the winter of 2000–2001, the 2009-10 board of directors.
Note that "if from or between is used before the first of a pair of numbers, the en dash should not be used; instead, from should be followed by to or through, between by and" (CMS 9.59).
The conference will be held from March 8 to 11.
Use one space, not two, between sentences and after colons (CMS 6.7).
Initials used in names should be separated by a single space "except when initials are used alone" (CMS 8.4):
E. M. Forster, MLK
In a series of more than two, use a comma before the and that ends the series (CMS 6.18).
The provost, the dean, and the president attended.
But, "when items in a series themselves contain internal punctuation, separating the items with semicolons can aid clarity" (CMS 6.58).
The meeting was attended by James Green, a professor of biology; Anne Smith, a professor of chemistry; and Susan Wong, the dean of arts and sciences.
Note that, in all other uses, the segments of text connected by semicolons must be able to stand on their own as grammatically complete sentences.
Other rules for using commas and semicolons are in CMS 6.16–58.
When two or more sentences follow a colon, capitalize the first word after the colon (CMS 6.61–63).
The article left several questions unanswered: Who would be responsible for designing the new course? How would the course address global issues? And how did the college plan to assess the course's effectiveness?
Otherwise, lowercase follows the colon.
It was decided: the college would add a capstone class.
Quotations are generally preceded by a comma unless they are "introduced by that, whether, or a similar conjunction" (CMS 6.50).
It was Emerson who wrote, "Blessed are those who have no talent."
Was it Stevenson who said that "the cruelest lies are often told in silence"?
"When a quotation introduced midsentence forms a syntactical part of the sentence, it begins with a lowercase letter even if the original begins with a capital" (CMS 13.14).
Benjamin Franklin admonishes us to "plough deep while sluggards sleep."
But, "when the quotation has a more remote syntactic relation to the rest of the sentence, the initial letter remains capitalized."
As Franklin advised, "Plough deep while sluggards sleep."
Quotes within quotes are enclosed in single quotation marks (CMS 13.28).
Quotation marks are omitted in epigraphs (CMS 13.34).
When material is omitted within a quote, three spaced dots are used to indicate that the ellipsis occurs within a sentence, four to indicate that one or more sentences have been omitted (CMS 13.51) Ellipses are not, however, used at the beginning or end of quotations (CMS 13.50). Interpolations are set in brackets (CMS 13.57–58).
He said that "the college [would] participate . . . if it could raise ample funds."
Colons, semicolons, question marks, and exclamation points, unlike periods and commas, "follow closing quotation marks unless a question mark or an exclamation point belongs within the quoted matter" (CMS 6.10).
"What facilities will be needed for the meeting?" she asked.
She stressed the importance of "teaching about other cultures"; indeed, the promotion of global learning was a central goal of her tenure as dean.
Decisions about whether to run in or set off (block) quotes are made by the editor and the designer based upon column width and appearance. Generally speaking, quotes spanning four lines or more are set off.
Hyphens are used in compound words and to separate characters (CMS 6.76–77). Note that many compounds that are not hyphenated when used as nouns or after nouns are hyphenated when used before nouns.
The program stresses service learning; the program has a service-learning requirement.
My neighborhood is middle class; I live in a middle-class neighborhood.
Terms like "policy making," "decision making" and "capacity building" are hyphenated only when used as adjectives ("the decision-making process").
A note about hyphens and readability (CMS 7.80): "A hyphen can make for easier reading by showing structure and, often, pronunciation. Words that might otherwise be misread, such as re-creation or co-op, should be hyphenated. Hyphens can also eliminate ambiguity. For example, the hyphen in much-needed clothing shows that the clothing is greatly needed rather than abundant and needed. When no ambiguity could result, as in public welfare administration or graduate student housing, hyphenation is unnecessary."
See CMS 7.77 for further details about hyphenating compounds; a chart detailing many examples can be found in CMS 7.85. See Open Compounds for a list of compounds that AAC&U never hyphenates.
En dashes are used primarily in ranges to designate to (see CMS 6.78; see also Number Ranges).
The conference will be held March 10–12.
She took the Boston–New York train.
En-dashes also are used "in place of a hyphen in a compound adjective when one of its elements is an open compound or when two or more of its elements are open compounds or hyphenated compounds" (CMS 6.80).
a New Hampshire–based business, a high school–community dialogue
Note that using a hyphen in the above examples would create ambiguity.
Em dashes are the most common dashes. They are used to set off text and frequently take the place of other punctuation (CMS 6.82–89).
The article—which focuses on diversity programs—challenges several widely held assumptions.
"To avoid confusion, the em dash should never be used within or immediately following another element set off by an em dash (or pair of em dashes). Use parentheses or commas instead" (CMS 6.82).
Using dashes: To create an en dash in Microsoft Word, type Ctrl + Num- (the control key and the minus key on the number keypad). To create an em dash in Microsoft Word, type Ctrl + Alt + Num- (the control key and the alt key and the minus key on the number keypad).
Run-in lists (CMS 6.123) frequently use numerals or letters enclosed in parentheses to mark divisions. Chicago style specifies (1) that "no punctuation precedes the first parenthesis if the last word of the introductory material is a verb or a preposition"; (2) that "if the introductory material forms a grammatically complete sentence, a colon should precede the first parenthesis"; and (3) that "items are separated by commas unless any of the items require internal commas, in which case all the items should be separated by semicolons."
A vertical list introduced by a sentence (CMS 6.124) uses a colon and follows these rules:
- Listed items that follow after the colon do not begin with a capital letter and do not have closing punctuation unless they are complete sentences.
- If the listed items are numbered, a period follows the number and each listed item begins with a capital letter.
- If a listed item runs beyond one line, the second line aligns with the
first word in the first line after the number or bullet.
In a vertical list that completes a sentence (CMS 6.125)
- no colon is used after the introductory material;
- the first words of the listed items do not begin with capital letters;
- semicolons are used at the end of each item;
- and is optional at the end of the penultimate listing;
- a period should follow the final item.
Titles of articles and books, as well as names of programs, initiatives, projects, and meetings, follow the style recommended in CMS 8.157:
- Always capitalize the first and last words both in titles and subtitles (but see rule 7), and capitalize all other major words (nouns, pronouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs, and some conjunctions—but see rule 4).
- Lowercase the articles the, a, and an.
- Lowercase prepositions, regardless of length, except when they are stressed (through in A River Runs Through It), are used adverbially or adjectivally (up in Look Up, down in Turn Down, on in The On Button, etc.), are used as conjunctions (before in Look Before You Leap, etc.), or are part of a Latin expression used adjectivally or adverbially (De Facto, In Vitro, etc.).
- Lowercase the conjunctions and, but, for, or, nor.
- Lowercase to not only as a preposition (rule 3) but also as a part of an infinitive (to Run, to Hide, etc.) and lowercase as in any grammatical function.
- Lowercase the second part of a proper name that would be lowercased in text, such as de or von.
- Lowercase the second part of a species name, such as fulvescens in Acipenser fulvescens, even if it is the last word in a title or subtitle.
Capitalization of hyphenated terms within titles follows the rules spelled out at CMS 8.159. These rules specify that the first hyphenated word is always capitalized and that subsequent elements are capitalized unless they are articles, prepositions, or coordinating conjunctions:
Service-Learning Programs in the Twenty-First Century
There is, however, an exception to these hyphenation rules: (1) if the first element is a prefix or combining form that could not stand by itself as a word (anti, pre, etc.), the second element is not capitalized unless it is a proper noun or a proper adjective ("Anti-intellectual Pursuits"). Many examples are listed in CMS 8.159.
Within text, use italics sparingly. Foreign words or terms should be italicized unless they have become part of standard English and appear in Webster (CMS 7.49–52).
See Publications, above, for information about italicizing the titles of works.
Use "reverse italics"—regular, roman font—for text that would normally be italicized but appears within italicized text (CMS 8.171).
Diversity Digest is published by the Association of American Colleges and Universities.
CMS 14.11 details the style for URLs:
"The 'trailing slash' (/), the last character in a URL pointing to a directory, is part of the URL. Other punctuation marks that follow a URL or other such identifier will readily be perceived as belonging to the surrounding text."
If it is necessary to break a URL or an e-mail address at the end of a printed line, the break should occur after a colon, slash, or the symbol @ or before a period or other punctuation. Hyphens should never be added to a URL at the line break (CMS 7.42).
AAC&U usually uses the author-date system for references. In this system, "sources are cited in the text, usually in parentheses, by the author's last (family) name, the publication date of the work cited, and a page number if needed" (CMS 15.5). No comma is used between the name and the date, but a comma does separate date and page number. Et al. is used for text citations of works with more than three authors.
Text citations "are usually placed just before a mark of punctuation" (CMS 15.24)—often in the middle of the sentence, following the author's name or a description of the work. Text citations for block quotes follow after the closing punctuation.
Citations need only include reference information that is not already included in the sentence.
The Court's decision is summarized in Perspectives on Justice (Jordan et al. 1979).
Rosenberg (1962) wrote about three epidemics in The Cholera Years.
As Peter Ewell points out (2004, 5), "it is often claimed that the ends of general education . . . are excruciatingly difficult to describe and assess."
Full citation details appear in the reference list, which is titled "References" (not "Works Cited"). Author-date reference lists are alphabetized and, when more than one work by the same author is cited, ordered chronologically (CMS 15.17). In reference lists, use forms of authors' names as they appear on the title page or at the head of an article or chapter (CMS 15.12). To assist alphabetization, middle initials should be given whenever known (CMS 14.72)
Following are a few examples of proper style for citing commonly encountered kinds of sources.
Books: covered in CMS 14.68–166 and 15.32–42
Association of American Colleges and Universities. 2002.
Greater Expectations: A New Vision for Learning as a Nation
Goes to College. Washington, DC: Association of American
Colleges and Universities.
Here, the association's name is given in full twice, once as author and once as publisher (CMS 14.92, 15.36).
Note that the Association of American Colleges and Universities was formerly known as the Association of American Colleges. When referring to works published by the association before the name change, use "the name at the time of publication" (CMS 14.139).
Following is another example of a book reference:
Walker, Janice R., and Todd W. Taylor. 1998. The Columbia
Guide to Online Style. New York: Columbia
In this example, note that the first author's name is followed by a comma, and that only the first author's name is inverted (CMS 15.16). As is the case here, no state needs to be indicated after the city of publication when the state is widely known and unlikely to be confused with another city of the same name (CMS 14.136).
Contributions to multiauthor books: covered in CMS 14.112 and 15.9
Schultheiss, Katrin. 2001. "Integrating Science into Gender and
Women's Studies Programs." In Gender, Science, and the
Undergraduate Curriculum: Building Two-Way Streets,
edited by Caryn McTighe Musil, 47–54. Washington, DC:
Association of American Colleges and Universities.
Note that the ampersand in the title is spelled out as and (CMS 8.163).
Journals: covered in CMS 14.175–198 and 15.43–47
Smith, Paul. 2004. "Exploring Reality: Cultural Studies and Critical
Thinking." Liberal Education 90 (3): 26–31.
The volume number follows after the journal title without punctuation, and the issue number or season is set in parentheses (CMS 15.46). (Note that AAC&U uses numbers instead of seasons in citations of journals that have both an issue number and a season.)
References to an entire issue of a journal that is devoted to a special theme use the editor's name in place of the author's ( use ed., and use eds. for more than one editor, CMS 15.9) and the theme in place of the article title (CMS 14.187):
Carey, Shelley, ed. 2005. "Science and Engaged Learning."
Special issue, Peer Review 7, no. 2.
Electronic journals: covered in CMS 14.4–13, 15.4
O'Connor, Noreen. 2004. "Finding a Way: Parenting in Graduate
School and Beyond." On Campus with Women 33 (2),
The URLs for electronic citations follow after the regular journal reference. Because the example above does not exist in a print edition, no page numbers are given. For print journals that also exist online, a colon followed by the page numbers of the article and a period should precede the URL (CMS 1.76).
Lectures and presentations: covered in CMS 14.226–228
Shulman, Lee. 2005. "Pedagogies of Uncertainty." Paper
presented at the annual meeting of the Association
of American Colleges and Universities, San Francisco.
The author, date, and title are handled like an article, with information about the paper's occasion—sponsorship and location—following.
Blogs: covered in CMS 14.246
Humphreys, Debra. 2010. "Raising the Bar on College
Completion and Quality: Can We Focus on Both Goals
at Once?" Liberal Education Nation (blog).
Manuscripts that use the author-date reference style should include footnotes and endnotes solely for the purpose of explanation or elaboration—never for citation. Decisions about using notes are left to the discretion of the editor. For additional information about footnotes and endnotes, see CMS 14.38–43.
VI. Word Lists
See CMS 5.220 for a larger list.
9/11: our standard usage, although lengthier phrases ("the events of September 11, 2001") can be used according to the editor's discretion (see CMS 9.36)
advisor: not adviser
African American, Arab American, Asian American, etc.: never hyphenated (see Open Compounds)
alumni: in common usage, refers to both men and women, but some authors may prefer to use alumni and alumnae (since the Latin terms are inflected for gender) to avoid potential bias; decisions about the use of this term may be left to the author's discretion
a.m., p.m.: with periods; using small capitals without periods is also acceptable (see CMS 9.38)
black: lowercased, even when referring to African Americans
blog: preferred over the more formal Web log
Centennial: always capitalize when referring to AAC&U's hundredth anniversary.
cocurricular: not hyphenated; similarly, extracurricular
college-ready: always hyphenated
communication/communications: communications refers to media and public relations fields and should only be used in that context
comprise/compose: from CMS 5.220: "To comprise is 'to be made up of, to include' ('the whole comprises the parts'). To compose is 'to make up, to form the substance of something' ('the parts compose the whole'). The phrase comprised of . . . is poor usage."
coursework: one word
curriculum/curricula: curriculum is singular, curricula plural
curricular: is an adjective, while "curriculum" is the noun. "Curricular (not curriculum) redesign efforts may be stymied by the additional approval layer of a central bureaucracy."
data: data is plural—"the data show," not "the data shows"
diverse: frequently misused to designate racial and ethnic minorities; note that only an entity that consists of different elements can really be "diverse" (a student population or a faculty group can be diverse, but not individual students or faculty members)
eBooks , e-books: "eBooks" is the spelling of AAC&U's line of electronic publications, and that spelling should be used when referring to these titles; when referring to electronic publications in general, the spelling "e-books" is preferred.
e-portfolio: do not used stylized spellings (such as ePortfolio) except when the term occurs in the title of a specific program
Essential Learning Outcomes: note initial capitals
faculty: can be used as shorthand for faculty members but not for a faculty member
historically black colleges and universities, traditionally white colleges and universities, etc.: lowercased
historic, historical, etc.: preceded by a, not an
Internet: note initial capital
Liberal Education and America's Promise (LEAP) initiative: should be referred to as an initiative, not as a campaign.
lifelong: one word, not hyphenated
Lumina Foundation: no "the" preceding the title of the organization
Caryn McTighe Musil: always use full middle name on first reference
metarubric: one word, not hyphenated
Network for Academic Renewal conference: use conference, not meeting, when formally referring to the conference series (whenever the term is preceded by Network or Network for Academic Renewal)
New Academy: capitalized (when used in the context of Greater Expectations)
nonprofit: not hyphenated
nontenured: not hyphenated; but a hyphen is used when "non" modifies a compound—non-tenure-eligible, non-tenure-track
online: not hyphenated
percent: do not use % in running, nontechnical text
PhD, MA, etc.: do not use periods in degree abbreviations (CMS 10.20)
podcast: one word, lowercased
policy maker: two words
postsecondary: not hyphenated
preprofessional: not hyphenated
professoriate: not professoriat
Carol Geary Schneider: always use full middle name on first reference
service learning: open (not hyphenated) except before a noun (service-learning experience)
that/which: from CMS 5.220: "That is used restrictively to narrow a category or identify a particular item being talked about ('any building that is taller must be outside the state'); which is used nonrestrictively—not to narrow a class or identify a particular item but to add something about an item already identified ('alongside the officer trotted a toy poodle, which is hardly a typical police dog'). Which should be used restrictively only when it is preceded by a preposition ('the situation in which we find ourselves'). Otherwise it is almost always preceded by a comma, a parenthesis, or a dash."
theater: standard American spelling is theater, not theatre; but, the British spelling should be retained when it appears in a formal name (such as the name of a specific theater)
toward, backward, etc.: not towards or backwards (standard American usage omits the final s)
US: no space; also do not use periods in USA. Use US only as an adjective, as in "the US education system." As a noun, spell out "United States" (CMS 10.33)
VALUE rubrics: References to the VALUE rubrics collectively, or to rubrics generically, should be lowercased; however, capitalize the titles of specific rubrics (e.g.. the Critical Thinking VALUE Rubric).
webcast: one word
web page: two words (CMS 7.76)
website: one word (CMS 7.76). Use web page or web pages instead of website when referring to a single page or a part of a website (AAC&U has a website, but the annual meeting has web pages).
white: lower case, even when used as a racial signifier
who/whom: from CMS 5.202: "Who is a nominative pronoun used as 1) the subject of a finite verb ('it was Jim who brought the coffee today'), or 2) a predicate nominative when it follows a linking verb ('that's who'). Whom is an objective pronoun that may appear as 1) the object of a verb ('I learned nothing about the man whom I saw'), or 2) the object of a preposition ('the woman to whom I owe my life')."
World Wide Web: note initial capitals
AAC&U generally follows CMS guidelines (7.85) for hyphenating compounds when they precede nouns (see Hyphens and Dashes). However, we opt never to hyphenate some of the compounds with which our audience is particularly familiar—the names of disciplines, educational terms, etc.—because there is little risk of confusion. Following is a partial list of compounds that should always be left open.
Split infinitives ought to be avoided if possible.
An infinitive is the tenseless form of a verb preceded by to, such as to dismiss or to modify. Splitting the infinitive is placing one or more words between to and the verb, such as to summarily dismiss or to unwisely modify.
If a split is easily fixed by putting the adverb at the end of the phrase and the meaning remains the same, then avoiding the split is the best course. If, however, the adverb bears the emphasis in a phrase (to boldly go or to strongly favor), then leave the split infinitive alone.
Recasting a sentence just to eliminate a split infinitive or avoid splitting the infinitive can alter its nuance or meaning—for instance, it's best to always get up early (always modifies get up) is not quite the same as it's always best to get up early (always modifies best). Moreover, sometimes "fixing" a split infinitive makes the sentence sound unnatural, as in it's best to get up early always.