General principles: Do not make single words out of commonly paired words, e.g., workstation, shuttlebus, etc., until they are listed in the Canadian Oxford Dictionary or CP Style that way.

aesthetics, not esthetics

accommodate, Two c's, two m's

Most of the time "affect" is the appropriate verb, but "effect" does occasionally operate as a verb meaning "to bring about."
Most of the time "effect" is the appropriate noun.

We were not affected by the strike. (v)
The strike affects everyone. (v)
The postal strike could effect major changes in union/government relations. (v)
Beer and wine have the same effect on blood-alcohol levels. (n)
The effect of under-funding is under-education. (n)

advisor (not -er) Note: this is a different spelling than CP’s

The apostrophe indicates missing letters. Letters are missing in contractions or in possessives. Therefore, the
apostrophe is used with possession, not plurals:

Andrea Farquhar’s pen
Visiting the Farquhars
Feeding the Farquhars’ dog
The 1920s
The MP’s speech
The MPs were assassinated

The most common possessives that do not have apostrophes are the pronouns: his, hers, its, ours, whose, theirs,
etc. No letters are missing, therefore, no apostrophe. Frozen possessives, such as McMaster Students Union or
Teachers College do not have an apostrophe because the possession is continuous and understood.


'62 (for 1962)
it's (for it is)
o'clock (for of the clock)
who's (for who is)
ma'am (for madam)

archeology, not archaeology

Bourns (no e) after former McMaster President Arthur Bourns

catalogue, not catalog

cheque, not check

Keep the hyphen in words beginning with "co," such as co-operate, co-ordinate, co-educational, co-chair, etc., for ease of reading.

coliseum, not colliseum

day care (CP)
Note, however, day-care center; day-care legislation (see Hyphens)

doubling the final consonant
Words of one syllable and a short vowel double the final consonant with inflectional suffixes: batted the ball,
banned the mini-skirt, barred the windows, bussed the children, etc. Words of more than one syllable also
double the final consonant if the accent falls on the final syllable: regretted, coquettish, etc. Words of more
than one syllable which do not take the accent on the final syllable do not double the consonant: benefited,
balloting, ticketed, etc. All words ending in -l double the consonant with the inflectional endings, e.g., labelled,

Spell enroll and its various forms with “commit” as the model, that is: enroll, enrolment, enrolled, enrolling.
Note: this is not the same as CP spelling.

For electronic mail, not e'mail or email.

genealogy, not geneology

high school
Two words; therefore, hyphenate when the phrase is modifying:

Student Liaison has a high-school liaison program.

Hyphenate co- words and any words with a prefix that creates a double vowel, such as pre-eminent.

Hyphenate vice- with any of the compounds, such as Vice-Chancellor, vice-president, vice-chair, etc.

When two or more words serve together as a single modifier before a noun, the hyphen forms the modifying words clearly into a unit.

Well-known actor
Out-of-date statistics
40-year-old volunteers
There is a fine-paper drive Monday.

When the same compound adjectives follow the noun, hyphens are unnecessary and are usually left out.

The actor is well known.
The statistics are out of date.
We need volunteers who are 40 years old.
There are collecting fine paper for recycling.

Hyphens are unnecessary in compound modifiers containing a -ly adverb, even when these fall before the noun. The -ly adverb's function as a part of speech is to modify other adverbs, adjectives and nouns.

She gave us clearly defined terms.
They are a happily married couple.
They will establish a broadly based research centre.

When the main part of a compound adjective appears only once in a pair or a series of parallel compound adjectives, hyphens indicate which words the reader should mentally join with the main part.

Healthy eight- to 10-year-old volunteers are needed.

Hyphens join the numerator and denominator of fractions: three-fourths, one-half, etc.

fundraising (no hyphen)

Hedden (not -on)

knowledgeable (with the e before able)

The past tense of the verb lead is led.

Dr. George led the group in prayer.

master's degree
Always has an apostrophe.

He has a master's degree in science.
She's graduating with her master's in the fall.

-our/-or endings
Always use "Canadian" spellings (labour, behaviour, flavour, etc. but honorary not honourary)

per cent (not percent) (CP) but percentage

post-doctoral (use the hyphen)


Procter & Gamble (er not or; ampersand)

program (not programme) (CP)

Rathskeller (not -ar)

Noun: Refers to the items at a work station, like paper and pens; compare cutlery (items at the dinner table) and jewellery (items needed to accessorize).
Adjective: Stationary describes something that is not moving; compare "complimentary" or "fiduciary."

theatre, not theater

Wilfrid Laurier University (not Wilfred)