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Grammar Preferences

Dallas Theological Seminary publications follow the Chicago Manual of Style in almost all instances. Below are some of the common spelling and grammatical rules specific to the seminary.

Style Preferences

  • Always use an Oxford (serial) comma
    • incorrect: He thanked his parents, Julie and God.
    • correct: He thanked his parents, Julie, and God.
  • Use only one space after a period between sentences
    • incorrect: God is good.  God is great.
    • correct: God is good. God is great.
  • Pronouns referring to God are lowercase (as per Chicago, KJV, NIV, NET, and ESV. Note: NASB and NKJV use capitalized pronouns)
    • incorrect: Seek first His kingdom and His righteousness.
    • correct: Seek first his kingdom and his righteousness.
  • Years or decades end in s without an apostrophe
    • incorrect: 1970’s
    • correct: 1970s
    • correct: ’60s
  • For time, use lowercase with periods (a.m.) in running text and use small caps (am) in schedules and invitation
    • incorrect: 8:30 am
    • incorrect 8:30 AM
    • incorrect 8:30 A.M.
    • correct: 8:30 a.m. (in running text)
    • correct: 8:30 am (small caps—in a schedule or invitation)
  • Use an en-dash (–) for number ranges (Mac: Option+hyphen; PC: ALT 0150)
    • incorrect: January 2-5
    • correct: January 2–5
    • incorrect: 8-9:00 a.m.
    • correct: 8–9:00 a.m.
  • Use em-dashes (—)  without spaces to set off ideas  (Mac: Shift+Option+hyphen; PC: ALT 0151)
    • incorrect: DTS teaches the whole Bible – all 66 books – in its core curriculum.
    • correct: DTS teaches the whole Bible—all 66 books—in its core curriculum.

Common Grammatical Issues

  • Plural words and names end in s without an apostrophe.
    • incorrect: The Smith’s are wonderful.
    • correct: The Smiths are wonderful.
  • Always use an apostrophe s for possessive names (even if a word ends in “s”). For plural possessives, add the apostrophe after the s.
    • incorrect: Jesus’ prayer
    • correct: Jesus’s prayer
    • incorrect: DTS’ degrees are heavily weighted toward Bible and theology.
    • correct: DTS’s degrees are heavily weighted toward Bible and theology.
    • incorrect: The Smith’s dog had six puppies.
    • correct: The Smiths’ dog had six puppies.
  • its/it’s: Use “its” when showing possession. Use “it’s” only when you mean “it is.”
    • incorrect: The dog was chasing it’s tail.
    • correct: The dog was chasing its tail.
    • correct: It’s going to be hot again today!
  • there/their/they’re: “There” shows where. “Their” shows whose. “They’re” is a contraction for “they are.”
    • correct: I wish they’d put their clothes there when they’re done wearing them.
  • your/you’re: “Your” shows whose. “You’re” is a contraction for “you are.”
    • incorrect: Your coming with us, aren’t you?
    • correct: You’re coming with us and bringing your brother, right?
  • and me/and I: Use “and I” when it is the subject (doing the action). Use “and me” when it is the object (something is being done to the individuals). (When unsure, omit the other name or names and replace it with only the “me” or “I” and see if it sounds right.)
    • incorrect: Would you like to like to go biking with Ryan, Mona, and I?
    • correct: Ryan, Mona, and I spent the day exploring bike trails in Dallas.
    • correct: Would you like to like to go biking with Ryan, Mona, and me?
  • whose/who’s: Whose is possessive. “Who’s” is a contraction for “who is.”
    • incorrect: Who’s socks are those?
    • correct: Whose socks are those, and who’s going to wash them?
  • alumnus/alumni/alumna/alumnae
    • incorrect: He’s an alumni of DTS.
    • correct: He’s an alumnus of DTS. She’s an alumna of DTS.
    • correct: Most of our female professor are alumnae of DTS.
    • correct: DTS alumni can partner with Placement to find jobs.



Use a comma between two adjectives that describe the same noun when you could switch their order or use “and” between them.

Use a comma before the final item in a series of three or more.

Use a comma to offset a person’s name when it is not necessary for clarification.

  • incorrect: His wife Marian is in the hospital. (If he only has one wife, her name to not necessary to clarify which wife is in the hospital.)
  • correct: His wife, Marian, is in the hospital.
  • incorrect: His oldest daughter Susan has three children. (He only has one oldest daughter.)
  • correct: His oldest daughter, Susan, has three children.
  • correct: His daughter Susan has three children. (If he has more than one daughter, her name is necessary, so no commas. If he only has one daughter, offset her name with commas.)


When two or more words appear before a noun and combine to form one adjectival phrase to describe it, hyphenate the words in the phrase, unless the first word ends in “ly” or the phrase is composed of proper nouns.

  • incorrect: The awkwardly-worded memo was sent out before being approved.
  • correct: The awkwardly worded memo was caught before it was distributed.
  • correct: The well-known author was at the book signing.
  • correct: The author at the book signing was well known.
  • correct: The 1910 United States census records

Hyphenate numbers and fractions.

  • correct: twenty-six, forty-fifth, two-thirds. (Spell out all numbers up to one hundred in running text.)

Titles, Names, and Terms


  • Capitalize the first and last words in titles and all other major words (nouns, pronouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs, and most conjunctions except the ones listed below.
  • Lowercase these words: a, an, and, as, but, for, or, nor, the, and to.
  • Lowercase prepositions, regardless of length, except when they are used adverbially or adjectivally (up in Look Updown in Turn Down, etc.) or when they compose part of a Latin expression used adjectivally or adverbially (De Facto, In Vitro, etc.).
  • Lowercase the part of a proper name that would be lowercased in text, such as de or von.


  • Use italics for book titles, blog titles, book-length poems and musical works (such as an opera), movies, radio and television programs, and regularly appearing comic strips.
  • Use roman type and quotation marks for titles of articles, chapters, short literary works, poems, unpublished works such as theses and dissertations, individual blog entries, and individual episodes of a televison or radio program.
  • Use roman type without quotation marks for titles of book seriesand website names (but if the website corresponds with an normally italicized title, such as a book, the website name would also be italicized)


  • A person’s occupation is not capitalized unless it preceeds his name and is used as part of his title.
    • incorrect: Mark Bailey is President of DTS.
    • incorrect: Our President, Dr. Mark Bailey, spoke at the event.
    • incorrect: Our President, Mark Bailey, spoke at the event
    • correct: Our president, Dr. Mark Bailey, spoke at the event.
    • correct: President Mark Bailey spoke at the event.
    • correct: Dr. Mark Bailey is president of DTS.

Bible References

  • Spell out the name of a biblical book when it is referred to in its entirety or in running text.
    • incorrect: Paul begins Rom 12 with “therefore” indicating a transition.
    • correct: Paul begins Romans 12 with “therefore” indicating a transition.
  • When citing a biblical passage in parenthesis, use the following abbreviations without periods.
    • incorrect: Eze 1:1–5; I Tim 1:5
    • correct: Ezek 1:1–5; 1 Tim 1:5
    • incorrect: Gen. 1:1–5
    • correct: Gen 1:1–5
  • Use a colon (:) between chapter and verse, a semicolon (;) between references, and an en-dash (–) between ranges
    • incorrect: Gen 15.6
    • correct: Gen 16:6
    • incorrect: Gen 15:6, John 1:10-14
    • correct: Gen 15:6; John 1:10–14

List of Biblical Abbreviations


Professional and Departmental Titles

  • Departments at DTS follow the format of “Department of Capitalized Words”
    • incorrect: the Theological Studies Department
    • correct: the Department of Theological Studies
  • A job description used as a title preceding a name should be capitalized. All other uses should not be.
    • incorrect: Professor Dr. Mary Doe
    • correct: Professor Mary Doe
    • incorrect: Dr. Mary Doe is a Professor of Educational Ministries.
    • correct: Professor of Educational Ministries Mary Doe
    • correct: My favorite professor, Dr. Mary Doe, is teaching two required classes this semester.

List of frequently used theological terms