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Bulletin Style and Rules

How to write a description

Ideally, follow this template in the order presented:

  1. Start with restrictions and preferences such as "Preference to graduate students" or "Restricted to majors".

  2. State the main topic or area of the course without repeating the title. Your can state a focus or emphasis using phrases such as "Focus is on" or "Emphasis is on".

  3. Use lists of topics and/or sources introduced by a phrase such as "Topics include" and/or "Sources include" and/or "Readings include" and/or "Authors include," etc.

  4. Only non-standard class activities may be mentioned such as "Field trip to" or "Guest speakers include". We assume that all classes may involve lectures, discussion, reading, studying, exams, and papers, and there is no point in mentioning them in the restricted space of a course description.

  5. Language: if the language is not English, or if a foreign language class is in English, include a statement such as "In German." or "Readings in German." or "In English." if you want to assure non-speakers of the foreign language that they are welcome.

  6. You may include a URL to an active site in this fashion: "See http://www.class.edu." Do not include URLs to CourseWorks or Canvas.

  7. If class size is limited, you may state either "Limited enrollment" or "Enrollment limited to 00."

  8. If a class is repeatable for credit, include "May be repeated for credit."

  9. Prerequisites must be specific and quantifiable; enthusiasm is not a prerequisite. Hence, "Prerequisites: SUBJECT 000 or SUBJECT 001, and SUBJECT 002; or consent of instructor." or "Prerequisite: background in topic."

  10. Recommended preparation is handled in this way: "Recommended: SUBJECT 000 or SUBJECT 001, and SUBJECT 002." or "Recommended: background in topic."

  11. Do not include GERs. These are generated from PeopleSoft by the extract or Axess as the case may be.

Specific Style Points:

  • do not use return carriages or special characters (quotation marks, ampersands, em dashes, etc.) as these may appear strange or may break certain reports

  • do not use repetitive or obvious phrasing such as “students discuss ...” or “this course studies ...”

  • do not repeat the title in the description.

  • use lists that may not form a complete sentence such as "Aquarium fish in their environment, theory of fish choice, and auatic plant issues."

  • do not use "etc." or "and others" to finish up a list. We consider that the words "including" or "includes" imply "etc." or "and others." We avoid phrases such as "from x to y" unless there is an actual logical progression; we turn such spreads into a list using the word "including." So "topics from fish to nuts, etc." becomes "topics including fish and nuts."

  • do not use reduplicated plurals such as "various aquarium designs." This would become "aquarium designs." "Various" or "a variety of" should, and do, terrify any academic editor ... e.g., what defines wideness in "a wide variety"?

  • avoid adjectives of measure or comparison as in phrases like "this important issue" (every course in the catalog approaches an important issue) or "enormous breadth of material" or "critically important" (ouch!).

  • never use the future tense. Thus, "focus is on ..." rather than "focus will be on ..." Bulletin descriptions live forever and the future quickly becomes outdated ;-}.

  • do not use the first person. Thus, "focus is on ..." rather than "we will focus on ..."

  • do not use quotation marks to indicate terms

  • use the most standard spelling of any given term in your field

  • use the following abbreviations: U.S., WW (for World War), UK, EU, UN

  • italicize only foreign words and book titles. We do NOT italicize for emphasis, nor do we use all caps or bold face for emphasis. In fact, we don't really use emphasis at all. PeopleSoft does not have the capacity for italics. The solution is to "tag" the italics with standard html tagging ... italics. This allows us to find and replace italics before we go to print.