MPCE Style Guidelines

Museum of the Peace Corps Experience follows current editions of Chicago Manual of Style  and Webster’s dictionary. CMOS is available online at


  • Include http:// or in a web address only if required.
  • Avoid gender restrictions. (Ex. use “chair” instead of “chairman”)
  • Spacing:
    • Use a single space after a period, question mark, or exclamation point (avoid these!)
    • Use a space to separate points in an ellipsis. (Ex. “Park the car . . . in the garage.”)
  • Commas:
    • Use a comma before “and” in a list of items. (Ex. red, white, and blue)
    • No comma before Jr., Sr., III, Inc., Ltd., etc. (Ex. John Smith Jr.)
  • EN and EM dashes:
    • EN dash separates range of dates, times, pages, or items. (Ex. 1976–78, May–July)
    • No space before or after EN or EM dashes.
  • “The” in newspaper or journal title is roman and lowercased.

(Ex. the New York Times, the Washington Post, the New Yorker)

  • Hyphenation:
    • Don’t hyphenate closed compounds, except where meaning is ambiguous.
    • (Ex. “health care legislation,” “real estate agent. But “old-school method”)
    • Don’t hyphenate African American
  • Single and double quotes:
    • Use curly, not straight style (Ex. “this” vs. “this”—and “quote’s” vs. “quote’s”)
    • Only periods and commas go inside double quotes.
  • Possessives with names ending in “s”:

Add apostrophe and “s” after name. (Ex. Peace Corps’s, James’s, United States’s)

  • Capitalization:
    • Capitalize Black, White, Brown when used to describe skin color.
    • Cap a title before a person’s name only when it’s used as part of the name and not modified. (Ex. President Joe Biden, but US president Joe Biden)
    • Lower-case a title that follows a name (Ex. Joe Biden, president of the United States, . . . )
    • Lower-case a stand-alone title. (Ex. The president spoke.)
    • Lower-case “former” or “then” before a title and don’t hyphenate.
    • (Ex. “former president Barack Obama,” “then vice president Joe Biden”)
  • Courtesy titles

Don’t use Mr., Ms., Miss, Mrs., or Dr. (unless an MD) For first reference, use person’s first and last name; use last name only for subsequent references.

  • Titles of works
    • Italicize titles of books, plays, films, newspapers, exhibits, and art works; no quote marks.
    • Song titles should be roman with quote marks.
  • Lists
    • Use bullets except when the sequence or hierarchy of items matters.
    • Use bullets for list of two or more items; don’t use a bullet for one item.
    • Use a colon after lead-in to a list only if it is a complete sentence. (Ex. “Register using the following steps:”); if it’s not a sentence, don’t use any punctuation. (Ex. “To register”)
    • Items in a list should be all sentences or all fragments; don’t mix.  
    • If bulleted items are sentences, capitalize the first word and use a period. If items are fragments, don’t cap the first word or use a period or other punctuation.
  • Numbers
    • Spell out whole numbers one through nine. (Ex. “one” and “first”)
    • Large numbers: (Ex. 9,000 people, but five million people)
    • Use “122nd” and “123rd,” not superscript 122nd  or 123rd.
  • Dates and times
    • April 4, 2018, not April 4th, 2018
  • Centuries and decades
    • Spell out the century. (Ex. twenty-first century)
    • Use digits for decades. (Ex. 1900s, 1920s, the ’20s)
    • Use “1590–1610” or “from 1590 to 1610,” not from 1590–1610
  • States
    • Spell out state names.
    • No periods in (Washington), DC.
    • When a state name follows a city name or DC, use a comma after each. (Ex. “Washington, DC, is the nation’s capital.” Or, “Annapolis, Maryland, is the state capital.”)