The following guidelines for Searchlight submissions have been adopted by the UUCC Publicity Team to promote clarity and consistency throughout the newsletter. They should also be used for website submissions. The usage guidelines are based on the Associated Press Stylebook, the writing style authority used in the majority of U.S. newsrooms. Examples are italicized.
You can download a printable PDF version of the guidelines or use the contents links below to quickly go to and view the various topics. Except for the first entry, the contents are in alphabetical order.
- Submitting Articles, Deadline, Article Length and Editing Permission
- ALL CAPS
- Article Content
- Exclamation Points
- Photographs and Graphics
- Quotation Marks
- Sentence-End Spacing
- State Names
- Telephone Numbers
- UUCC Organizational References
- Vertical Spacing
Submitting Articles, Deadline, Article Length and Editing Permission
It is preferred that articles for The Searchlight be submitted to Church Administrator Suzanne Clark by email. If submitted by email, your text can either be attached as a Microsoft Word document (the preferred method) or set out in the body of the email.
If you are unable to submit an article by email, you may mail or deliver your article to:
Suzanne Clark, Church Administrator
Unitarian Universalist Church of Columbia
2615 Shepard Blvd.
Columbia, MO 65201-6132
To minimize reformatting in the desktop publishing program used to produce The Searchlight:
- Single-space your article, single-space between paragraphs, and start each paragraph with a tab indent – see Vertical Spacing.
- At the end of each sentence, use only one space after the period before the next sentence – see Sentence-End Spacing.
- Use Times Roman or Times New Roman for the font – see Fonts.
Articles are due by the third Monday of each month for the following month’s issue of The Searchlight.
Articles should be as short as possible consistent with conveying the necessary information.
A general guideline is that articles should be no longer than 75 to 200 words (use the word count feature in Microsoft Word to determine how long your article is).
If you believe you need more space, please consult with Suzanne Clark before submitting an article longer than 200 words.
The minister’s and president’s columns are exceptions to this guideline.
When you submit an article, you agree to allow editing for clarity and conformity with these guidelines, as well as shortening if necessary to fit the space available.
The Searchlight is read by some people who are not yet familiar with all of our Unitarian Universalist shorthand language. To help them understand our writings, try to make as few assumptions as possible.
The first time each of the many abbreviations used in our community comes up in an article, the full words should be used (followed by the abbreviation in parentheses): Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA), Unitarian Universalist Service Committee (UUSC), Director of Religious Education (DRE)
Exception: UUCC is readily understood to refer to our church and does not have to be preceded by the full name of the church.
The same principle applies to non-UU organizations mentioned in articles: Organization of American States (OAS)
Punctuation of abbreviations:
- If an abbreviation is two letters, use periods: General Assembly (G.A.), Religious Education (R.E.)
- If an abbreviation is three or more letters, do not use periods: Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA)
Use numerals for specific addresses (instead of words, even if less than 10 – see Numbers): 9 Westwood Ave.
When used with a numbered address, abbreviate only Ave., Blvd., Rd. and St.: 2615 Shepard Blvd.
Spell out all other street designations even if used with a numbered address, for example: Circle, Terrace
Spell out and capitalize Avenue, Boulevard, Road and Street used without a numbered address: Westwood Avenue
Lowercase and spell out street designations used to denote an intersection: The corner of Hitt and Elm streets
Spell out and capitalize First through Ninth when used as street names; use figures for 10th and above: 11 N. Seventh St., 15 S. 10th St.
Abbreviate directions only as a part of a complete address: 11 N. Seventh St. but North Seventh Street, South 10th Street
Exception: “West Boulevard” is the official name of a Columbia street – never abbreviate “West” when referring to it. North and south designations on the street follow the street name: 809 West Blvd. N.; West Boulevard South
Use periods in the abbreviation for post office box numbers: P.O. Box 81
Only use postal codes for state names in text when setting out a complete address including zip code: 809 West Blvd. N., Columbia, MO 65203; P.O. Box 218, Columbia, MO 65205. (For all other references to states, see the State Names guidelines.) Postal codes are:
AK, AL, AZ, AR, CA, CO, CT, DE, FL, GA, HI, ID, IL, IN, IA, KS, KY, LA, OH, ME, MD, MA, MI, MN, MS, MO, MT, NE, NV, NH, NJ, NM, NY, NC, ND, OK, OR, PA, RI, SC, SD, TN, TX, UT, VT, VA, WA. WV, WI and WY. Also: DC for District of Columbia.
Do not use ALL CAPITAL LETTERS for emphasis. They are harder to read, take up too much space, and, most important, cause formatting problems in the desktop publishing program used to produce The Searchlight.
Think carefully about what you are writing – then, if you decide emphasis is truly necessary, use bold face or italics (but not underline).
Articles should include who, what, when, where, why and how (as applicable). Try to write articles focused on the readers – tell them how your information affects or benefits them.
Write all submissions using complete sentences. Do not use sentence fragments.
Stories naming individuals involved in events that have happened or will happen do not require explicit permission. Otherwise, mention of any non-public individual, such as another member of the congregation, should be made only with the consent of the individual.
Material sent in should be written by you – not cut and pasted from another source.
As noted under Commas, use a colon instead of a comma to introduce a quotation of more than one sentence.
The most common use of the colon is to introduce lists, tabulations, texts, etc.
Capitalize the first word after a colon only if it is a proper noun or the beginning of a complete sentence: He promised this: The class will double in size this year.
Do not capitalize the first word after a colon if it does not start a complete sentence or is not a proper noun: Bring these items to the craft session: paper, pencils, crayons and paste.
Colons go outside of quotation marks unless they are part of the quotation.
Use commas to separate elements in a series, but do not put a comma before the conjunction in a simple series: The country’s flag is green, white and blue.
However, put a comma before the conjunction if an element of the series requires it for clarity: He had orange juice, toast, and ham and eggs for breakfast.
Also use a comma before the conjunction in a complex series consisting of longer clauses: The points to consider are whether the speaker is familiar with the material, whether he has adequately prepared, and whether he has the proper attitude.
Use a comma to introduce a one-sentence quote: She said, “He is a wonderful speaker.”
But use a colon to introduce quotations of more than one sentence: She said: “He was a fantastic speaker. I hope that he returns soon to speak to our group again.”
Use a comma instead of a period at the end of a quote followed by the attribution: “He is a wonderful speaker,” she said.
Use a comma to separate city and state names: Columbia, Mo.
Use Arabic numbers without st, nd, rd or th: Feb. 7, 2012 (not Feb. 7th, 2012).
Capitalize the names of months in all uses.
When a month is used with a specific date, abbreviate Jan., Feb., Aug., Sept., Oct. Nov. and Dec., but spell out March, April, May, June, and July: Jan. 29, March 18
An easy way to remember this rule is to spell out months that have five or fewer letters, but abbreviate months that have more than five letters.
When a month is used without a specific date, always spell out the name of the month: The event will be scheduled in February.
When referring to only a month and year, do not separate them with a comma: March 2013
When a phrase includes a month, day and/or year, set them off with commas: March 10, 2013; Saturday, March 10
Do not overuse exclamation points. They should be reserved to give emphasis to only one or two points in an article.
Please use only Times Roman or Times New Roman as the font when you submit an article because this is the base font used in The Searchlight. Following this guideline will minimize the amount of reformatting necessary to include your article in the newsletter.
If you have some very special reason for wanting to use another font, please consult with Suzanne Clark before doing so.
Under no circumstances should more than two fonts be used in an article.
Do not use Roman numerals unless they are part of an official title.
General Guideline: Spell out numbers from one through nine and use Arabic numerals for 10 and more: one, five, 10, 15
Exceptions to General Guideline:
Start of a Sentence: Spell out a numeral which begins a sentence unless the numeral represents a year: Eighteen members signed up but 1976 was a very good year.
Casual usage: Spell out casual expressions: Thanks a million. A thousand times no.
Use Arabic numerals for:
Addresses: 5 Danforth Dr.
Ages: 5 years old
Chapters: Chapter 4
Clothing and other sizes: size 7
Decimal units: 1.2
Dimensions: 3 feet by 5 feet
Distance: 5 miles
Money: 8 cents, $5
Page numbers: page 2
Ratios and proportions: 5:1
Recipes: 4 tablespoons
Room numbers: Room 4
Route numbers: Interstate 70, Highway 63
Speeds: 5 m.p.h.
Weights: 3 pounds
Photographs and Graphics
Photographs and graphics to accompany your article must be submitted in electronic format by email or on a CD. Space constraints may prevent the use of submitted photographs and graphics.
If an adult individual participated in an event which is pictured, explicit permission from the individual is not required to use the photo. However, photos of any non-public adult individual, such as another member of the congregation, should be published only with the consent of the pictured individual if the photo does not depict participation in an event.
Photos of minor children may be published only with the consent of their parents or guardians. Director of Religious Education Lisa Fritsche maintains a file of photo consents granted by parents and guardians.
The period and comma always go inside the closing quotation mark: She said, “He is a wonderful speaker.” “He is a wonderful speaker,” she said.
The dash, semicolon, question mark and exclamation point go inside the closing quotation mark if part of the quotation; otherwise, they go outside.
When there is a quotation within a quotation, start and end the main quotation with double quotation marks and set off the interior quotation with single quotation marks: She said, “I quote from his sermon, ‘God is love,’ but I’m not sure what that means.”
Use only one space (rather than two) between sentences. There are two reasons:
- The old practice of using two spaces between sentences was appropriate for typewriters using mono-spaced fonts to provide visual separation, but is inappropriate and unnecessary with modern proportional-spaced fonts.
- More important, using two spaces between sentences creates formatting problems in the desktop publishing program used to produce The Searchlight.
If you cannot remember to forego using two spaces between sentences while you are typing your article, please do a search-and-replace operation to replace all occurrences of two spaces with one space before submitting your article.
Spell out state names in text when not immediately preceded by a city or other locale: Columbia is in the center of Missouri.
Abbreviate most state names in text when immediately preceded by a city or other locale, and put one comma between the city and state name and another comma after the state name unless the state name ends the sentence: Columbia, Mo., is the home of the main campus of the University of Missouri.
Abbreviate the following states (and District of Columbia) as shown:
Ala., Ariz., Ark., Calif., Colo., Conn., Del., D.C., Fla., Ga., Ill., Kan., Ky., La., Md., Mass., Mich., Minn., Miss., Mo., Mont., Neb., Nev., N.H., N.J., N.M., N.Y., N.C., N.D., Okla., Ore., Pa., R.I., S.C., S.D., Tenn., Vt., Va., Wash., W.Va., Wis., Wyo.
But, do not abbreviate these states (the two states not part of the contiguous United States and the continental states that have five or fewer letters):
Alaska, Hawaii, Idaho, Iowa, Maine, Ohio, Texas, Utah
Do not use postal codes for states in text except in complete addresses including zip codes – see Addresses.
Use New York state if necessary to distinguish from New York City. Use state of Washington or Washington state if necessary to distinguish from Washington, D.C. (but note Washington State is a university in Washington state).
Use numerals for telephone numbers.
Include the area code even if it is 573: 573-442-5764
Do not set off the area code with parentheses – instead, use a hyphen as shown in the example.
If an extension number is needed, use a comma to separate the main number from the extension: 573-442-1865, ext. 2; 660-228-1866, ext. 17
Use numerals except for noon and midnight.
Do not use 12 a.m. or 12 p.m. because these can be confusing.
Do not use “o’clock.”
Use these forms: a.m., p.m. (preceded by a space)
Do not use: am, pm, A.M., P.M., AM, PM
Use a colon to separate hours from minutes: 3:30 p.m.
Do not use a colon followed by “00” for even-hour times: 3 p.m.
Avoid redundancies such as: 9 a.m. in the morning; 3 p.m. in the afternoon
When expressing a time range, use a from-to construction instead of a from-hyphen construction: from 7:30 to 9 p.m. (not from 7:30-9 p.m.)
However: If “from” is not used, a hyphen construction is acceptable: The event will be held 7:30-9 p.m.
If a time range is entirely in the a.m. or p.m., only one a.m. or p.m. designation is needed: 7:30-9 p.m. but 11 a.m.-2:30 p.m.
Generally, do not capitalize titles unless they are used directly before a person’s name.
Lowercase and spell out titles when not used with a person’s name: The president called the meeting to order.
Lowercase and spell out titles when used in a sentence construction that sets them off from a name by a comma: The president-elect, James Smith, declined to serve as president.
Capitalize formal titles when used directly before the person’s name: President Barbara Rupp
Capitalize and abbreviate formal titles when used directly before the person’s name and there is a well recognized abbreviation: Sen. Kurt Schafer, Rep. Steven Webber, Gov. Jay Nixon, Rev. Molly Housh Gordon
Do not capitalize informal titles that denote occupation: astronaut John Glenn, movie star Nicole Kidman
UUCC Organizational References
On first reference in an article to a committee, team or other body within the church, use the full name and capitalize it: Board of Trustees; Welcoming Team
On subsequent references, lowercase and shorten the term used: The board will meet next Wednesday. The team organized a training session.
Start each paragraph with a tab indent, and single-space your article.
Start each new paragraph on the line immediately below the previous paragraph (that is, do not double-space between paragraphs).
Following this guideline will minimize the amount of reformatting necessary to include your article in The Searchlight.