The Office of University Communications has assembled a comprehensive editorial style guide for staff and faculty use. The editorial guide provides standardized grammar and spelling for all University-affiliated communications.
We’ve highlighted some entries that may be of specific interest to our community:
All references to academic degrees should be lowercase unless an abbreviation is used:
- “Johnson earned a master of public health.”
If the word “degree” is used with “bachelor” and “master,” add an apostrophe and “s.”
- “She earned a bachelor’s degree in English and a master’s degree in comparative literature.”
For degrees with only two capitalized letters, place periods before and after the final letter:
- A.M. (master of arts)
- M.D. (doctor of medicine)
- M.D.-Sc.M. (doctor of medicine and master of science in population medicine)
- Ph.D. (doctor of philosophy)
- Sc.M. (master of science)
- Sc.MIME (master of science in innovation management and entrepreneurship)
For degrees of three or more capitalized letters, omit the periods between the letters:
- MAT (master of arts in teaching)
- MFA (master of fine arts)
- MPA (master of public affairs)
- MPH (master of public health)
- MPP (master of public policy)
- EMSTL (executive master in science and technology leadership)
The word “degree” should not follow an abbreviation.
For centers and institutes at Brown, list the full formal name on first reference. On second reference, the key name in the title is acceptable (e.g., Watson, Cogut or Swearer). Do not capitalize “center” or “institute” on subsequent reference when used without the name.
- “The Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs presented a symposium. The institute welcomed speakers from five nations.”
Capitalize the official University ceremony for graduates.
Brown has concentrations, not majors. Names of concentrations should be lowercase unless they contain proper nouns.
Course titles should be capitalized. Do not use quotes or italics.
- “Transpacific Asian American Studies will be offered next semester.”
“Data” is plural; “datum” is singular. “Data set” is two words.
Place a comma between the day and the year and following the year when the date is mentioned.
- On May 24, 2015, Commencement brought together hundreds of people.
Do not place a comma between the month and the year when the date is not mentioned.
- May 2017 will be a busy month.
When referring to the academic year, use a hyphen but do not repeat the four-digit year:
Use a.m. or p.m. after the time of day, except for noon and midnight. When the time is on the hour, do not include “00.” For noon and midnight, do not include “12.”
- The class meets from noon to 2 p.m.
For a span of time, use “to” instead of a hyphen.
- 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Capitalize the formal names of departments and offices. Do not capitalize informal names and incomplete designations:
- Department of Biostatistics vs. the biostatistics department
- Office of College Admission vs. the admission office
Two words, in all cases.
But: Executive Master of Healthcare Leadership (when referencing the program name only)
Express all percentages as figures and use the % sign rather than “percent” in copy. Do not use a space between the number and the %. This style reflects a 2019 update to Associated Press style, which previously called for the word to be spelled out.
- The exam is 60% of the final grade
Use only a single space after a period at the end of a sentence.
Capitalize a title only when it comes before the name. Use lowercase when the title follows the name.
- Brown President Christina H. Paxson will be inaugurated on Oct. 27, 2012.
- Christina H. Paxson, Brown’s 19th president, began serving on Monday, July 2, 2012.
- Andrew G. Campbell, dean of the Graduate School, is the speaker.
Titles may be capitalized when appearing in a list in non-running text, even when they follow the name:
Associate Dean of the College
Senior Associate Dean of the College
Be accurate when using professors’ titles. Do not use “professor” as a generic title — the distinction between academic ranks (assistant, associate, full professor, instructor, et al.) is meaningful in higher education. The best source for Brown academic titles is vivo.brown.edu.
When referencing an endowed or named professorship or chair, capitalize it and place it after the name.
- George Karniadakis, Charles Pitts Robinson and John Palmer Barstow Professor of Applied Mathematics, directed the research team.
Note: Do not use “the” before named professorships. In some cases, there is more than one person with the same title.