Editorial Style Guide

The intent of this Editorial Style Guide is to serve as an effective resource for communicators across the Brown campus to establish consistency in editorial style for websites, print publications, social media and more. Learn more about the Editorial Style Guide or download a PDF of the style guide.

abbreviations and acronyms

Abbreviations and acronyms may be used on first reference only if widely recognized.

  • DNA
  • FBI
  • NASA

Otherwise, spell out the complete name or phrase on first reference and follow with the abbreviation in parentheses if and only if the abbreviation will be referenced subsequently.

  • The collaboration includes Brown University and Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH).

In general, abbreviations and acronyms with only two capitalized letters use periods; for those with three or more capitalized letters, omit the periods between the letters.

  • U.S.
  • CIA

When an acronym serves as a proper name and exceeds four letters, capitalize only the first letter.

  • Unesco
  • Unicef

When an abbreviation follows an indefinite article, choose between “a” or “an” as determined by the way the abbreviation would be read aloud.

  • an HMO
  • a UFO

(See: “academic degrees”)

(See: “state names”)

academic degrees

Undergraduate degrees offered by Brown include:

  • bachelor of arts (A.B.)
  • bachelor of science (Sc.B.)
  • bachelor of arts and bachelor of science (combined A.B./Sc.B.)

A.B. and Sc.B. refer to the fact that Brown awards its degrees in Latin. Do not use B.A. or B.S. to abbreviate.

All references to academic degrees should be lowercase unless an abbreviation is used.

  • Johnson earned a master of public health.

The word “degree” should not follow an abbreviation.

  • She has an A.B. in English literature.

If the word “degree” is used with “bachelor” and “master,” add an apostrophe and “s.” Brown does not award associate degrees, but if referencing one from another institution, do not use an apostrophe and “s.”

  • She earned a bachelor’s degree in English and a master’s degree in comparative literature.
  • He received an associate degree from Community College of Rhode Island in 2009.

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)


not “advisor”

affect, effect

“Affect” is almost always used as a verb, meaning “to influence,” “to act on” or “to produce an effect or change in.” (Uses of “affect” as a noun are considered nearly obsolete, with an exception being as a term in psychology, reflecting an emotional response to stimulus.)

  • The news stories affected the election.

“Effect” is almost always used as a noun, meaning “result” or “outcome.” (When used as a verb, “effect” immediately followed by a noun means “to make happen” or “to bring about.”)

  • His test score had a positive effect on his final grade.
  • The best way to effect change is to become an active participant.

African American

Do not use a hyphen, whether as a noun or adjective.

alumni designations

“Alumnus” refers to one male graduate.

“Alumna” refers to one female graduate.

“Alumni” refers to two or more former students, if some or all are male.

“Alumnae” refers to two or more former students, if all are female.

Do not use the informal “alum” or “alums” unless part of a direct quotation.

alumni designations/class affinity

For communications for external audiences, do not use abbreviations or possessive numerals for class year, parent designations or any other Brown affiliations or honors. Instead, include this information in copy as relevant and necessary.

  • Anna Barclay, a 1987 graduate of Brown and parent of two current Brown students, chairs the committee. (Not Anna Barclay ’87…)
  • Anna Barclay of the Class of 1987 chairs the committee.

(See: “class years”)

For communications destined exclusively and solely for internal campus or alumni audiences, use of abbreviations for class year, parent designations or any other Brown affiliations or honors is acceptable. Use a reverse apostrophe (hit the apostrophe key twice) before the year when referring to class years.

  • Lila Blackstone ’16 (Her only degree is a bachelor’s.)
  • Robert Santos ’88, ’90 A.M., ’94 Ph.D. (He has three degrees from Brown.)

In fundraising and Family Weekend contexts, refer to the parent of a Brown student or graduate in this manner:

  • Ana Tran P’12

If the parent also is a Brown graduate, the parent’s class year precedes the child’s year:

  • Ana Tran ’98, P’12

To indicate a parent of more than one Brown student or graduate, include the class years of all children in chronological order, separated by one space:

  • Roger Levine P’19 ’21

For use only in relevant contexts where a person’s role as a grandparent relates to the content (example: a profile about a family in a fundraising brochure to parents), refer to grandparents of Brown students in this manner:

  • Anthony Ferrara GP’18

In this example, a grandparent is an alumnus and a Brown parent:

  • Frank Nelson ’60, P’89, GP’18 ’20


Do not use an ampersand unless it is an official part of a formal name. Otherwise, spell “and”:

  • Women & Infants Hospital of Rhode Island
  • Sock & Buskin presents a number of major productions each year.

art installations on campus

For the correct names of art installations on campus, refer to the Public Art Committee website: 

Asian American

Do not use a hyphen whether as a noun or adjective.

athletics terminology

Lowercase team names:

  • women’s basketball
  • men’s baseball

the Bears

Division I

ECAC (Eastern College Athletic Conference)

Ivy League

NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic Association), NCAA championship, NCAA tournament

pregame, preseason, postgame, postseason


On first reference, use Breakthrough Lab in referring to the summer entrepreneurship program. On subsequent references, use B-Lab.


On first reference, use Division of Biology and Medicine. On subsequent references, BioMed is acceptable. BioMed may also be used in a headline. 


Capitalize when used in a racial, ethnic or cultural sense, conveying an essential and shared sense of history, identity and community among people who identify as Black, including those in the African diaspora and within Africa. The lowercase black is a color, not a person. (AP Style update, June 2020)

the Board of Fellows

Capitalize, even when not preceded by Corporation of Brown University.

the Board of Trustees

Capitalize, even when not preceded by Corporation of Brown University.

Brown Alumni Magazine

on second reference: the BAM

The Brown Promise

The initiative that eliminates loans from all undergraduate financial aid packages awarded by Brown. Always use italics and capitalize "The."   

Brown RISD Hillel

Brown-RISD Dual Degree Program


a mentoring and internship program


The comprehensive fundraising campaign launched in 2015. Italicize in all instances.


a digital learning initiative launched in 2017


the Brown alumni and giving website


An adjective, meaning “Brown-like” or exemplifying Brown qualities; a noun, referring to a Brown student or graduate. Avoid usage in communications for external audiences.

Building on Distinction: A New Plan for Brown

Acceptable to use Building on Distinction in all references. Brown’s strategic plan approved by the Corporation of Brown University in 2013 and launched in 2014. Italicize in all instances.


Treat all items within a bulleted list consistently in terms of capitalization, punctuation and sentence structure. Treat all bulleted lists consistently within a document. Do not use periods after each item in a list if the items are not complete sentences.

The pantry contains:

  • apples
  • bananas
  • oranges

When bullet points contain complete sentences, use a period after each bullet in the list and capitalize the beginning of each sentence.


Lowercase in all uses.

  • the Pembroke campus
  • Brown’s College Hill campus


campus buildings and spaces

Some of the more commonly referenced buildings and spaces are included here, along with others that are frequently misused. For current and historical information on other spaces, the campus map maintained by Brown’s facilities department serves as an effective resource:


Annmary Brown Memorial

The Brown Faculty Club (note new street name: 1 Bannister Street)

the College Green
While often referred to on campus as the main green, the formal name of this space is the College Green; main green, in lowercase, is acceptable for informal usage.)

De Ciccio Family Auditorium

Sarah Doyle Center for Women and Gender

Engineering Research Center

Friedman Hall (formerly Wilson Hall)

Perry and Marty Granoff Center for the Creative Arts
(on second reference: Granoff Center for the Creative Arts, the Granoff Center)

the Front Green
(also known as the Quiet Green; both are acceptable)

List Art Building

Page-Robinson Hall (formerly J. Walter Wilson)

Performing Arts Center (PAC on second reference)

Ruth J. Simmons Quadrangle

(formerly known as Lincoln Field, though this name should no longer be used; on second reference: Simmons Quad)

Salomon Center for Teaching
(on second reference: Salomon Center)

the Sharpe Refectory
(commonly referred to as the Ratty, which is acceptable in informal uses or with brief explanation when writing for external audiences)

Smith-Buonanno Hall

Soldiers Arch (no apostrophe)

 the Stephen Robert ’62 Campus Center
(on second reference: the Campus Center; this is commonly referred to on campus as Faunce in reference to its original name, Faunce House, but the building should be called by its updated name)

T.F. Green Hall

the Walk
(the midblock connection between the main Brown campus and the Pembroke campus)


Do not use periods at the end of captions that are not complete sentences.


The Center for Careers and Life after Brown. Acceptable to use CareerLAB on first reference to an internal audience.

Robert J. and Nancy D. Carney Institute for Brain Science

Use Carney Institute for Brain Science and/or Carney Institute on subsequent references. (Formerly known as the Brown Institute for Brain Science or BIBS.)


not "catalogue"

centers and institutes

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.


Lowercase centuries and spell out the first through ninth. Use a hyphen when the century is used as a modifier.

  • third century
  • 19th-century classical music

civil rights

Lowercase when used generally but uppercase for the Civil Rights Movement.

class affinity

class years

Capitalize alumni classes and current and future classes.

  • Class of 1963
  • Class of 2021
  • Lila Byam, member of the Class of 2017

Do not capitalize class designations: sophomore; junior; senior. The preferred term for an entering student is “first-year student” instead of “freshman.” Do not use the class year preceded by an apostrophe.

  • She is a first-year student. 
  • The undergraduate committee member is sophomore Shetal Shah. 

(See: “alumni designations/class affinity”)

The College

The undergraduate division of the University. Also used to refer to the administrative areas that report to the Dean of the College.

Capitalize “The” when the name of the office stands alone. For example, use “The College” in email signature lines, on stationery and standalone addresses on webpages. Use lowercase to refer to “the College” in running text. Do not use “Office of the Dean of the College.”

College Hill


Capitalize the first word after a colon only if it begins a complete sentence. Otherwise, for lists and single words, the first word should be lowercase (unless it is a proper noun). Use one space only after a colon.

  • The study covered three areas: nuclear waste, industrial waste and cancer cases.
  • The answer to the question was obvious: World War II.
  • He wasn’t sure: Should he go to France or to Spain?


Brown’s style does not call for use of the serial/Oxford/Harvard comma. Therefore, use commas to separate elements in a series, but do not put a comma before “and” or “or” in a simple series.

  • The building is made of brick, steel and iron.

However, include a comma if clarification calls for it, including when an element within a series contains a conjunction: 

  • My three favorite kinds of sandwiches are turkey, peanut butter and jelly, and pastrami.

Use a comma to separate independent clauses joined by a conjunction.

  • The professor unlocked the classroom, and the students hurried inside.

Use a comma to separate multiple modifiers of a noun.

  • It was a long, complicated explanation.
  • She was a well-regarded, world-renowned expert in child development.

Use a comma in numbers higher than 999.

  • 1,250

Use a comma to indicate if the reader understands or is told that the item or clause is the only one of its kind.

  • Emily Bronte’s novel, “Wuthering Heights,” received mixed reviews. (It was her only novel.)
  • Charlotte Bronte’s novel “Jane Eyre” was published under the pseudonym Currer Bell. (She published multiple novels.)
  • His wife, Claire, also was a donor. (The reader understands people have one spouse.)


Capitalize the official University ceremony for graduates.


Brown has concentrations, not majors. Names of concentrations should be lowercase unless they contain proper nouns.


Capitalize the official University ceremony for entering students that opens the start of the academic year every fall.

the Corporation of Brown University, the Corporation

course names

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.

dates and times

Use figures for days of the month, omitting “nd,” “rd,” “st” and “th.” 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.

Abbreviate these months: Jan., Feb., Aug., Sept., Oct., Nov. and Dec. Write out March, April, May, June and July.

Do not abbreviate months when they stand alone or appear with only a year:

  • Orientation will take place in September 2018.

When referring to the academic year, use a hyphen but do not repeat the four-digit year:

  • 2016-17

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.


departments and offices

Capitalize the formal names of departments and offices. Do not capitalize informal names and incomplete designations:

  • Department of Biostatistics, the biostatistics department
  • Office of College Admission, the admission office
  • Office of the Provost, the provost’s office

Do not capitalize the words “offices,” “departments” or “programs” when referring to more than one office or department.

  • She sent the memo to the departments of comparative literature, English and history.


not "dialog"


Use “Pathways to Diversity and Inclusion action plan” or “Brown’s diversity and inclusion action plan” instead when writing for noncampus audiences. Refers to Pathways to Diversity and Inclusion: An Action Plan for Brown University. DIAP and DDIAP (for Departmental Diversity and Inclusion Action Plan) are appropriate for communications intended for internal campus audiences.

directions and regions

Lowercase compass direction. Capitalize words that denote specific regions.

  • He drove west.
  • He moved from the South and went to school in the Midwest.

disabled, disability

In general, use people-first language, such as “students with disabilities” instead of “disabled students.” Do not describe an individual as disabled unless it is clearly pertinent to a story. If a description must be used, refer to a person’s specific condition. Refer to individuals as “using” a wheelchair, not as “confined” to a wheelchair.

  • He has muscular dystrophy.
  • She has used a wheelchair since her accident.


“residence hall” is preferred


Use the title Dr. only when referring to a medical doctor.


An abbreviation meaning “for example.” It is always followed by a comma.


Write email addresses in lowercase and link to the address online, but do not italicize. Do not use hyphens to break email addresses. If at all possible, do not break an email address in a line of text. If an email address must be broken between two lines, break it after the “@.” If an email address falls at the end of a sentence, it should be followed by a period.


Not the same as retired. The title emeritus (for a man) or emerita (for a woman) is awarded to many but not all retired faculty members who keep their rank. The plurals are emeriti (for more than one professor, male or female) and emeritae (for more than one female professor). Place the word “emeritus” after the title.

  • Angela Winston, professor emerita of economics

endowed chairs and endowed professorships


Capitalize the formal names of special events.

  • A Day on College Hill (ADOCH)
  • Alumni Fall Weekend (distinct from Family Weekend)
  • Baccalaureate, Baccalaureate Ceremony, Baccalaureate Service
  • Campus Dance
  • Commencement (See: "Commencement")
  • Commencement and Reunion Weekend
  • Convocation, Opening Convocation (See: "Convocation")
  • Family Weekend (not Parents Weekend)
  • Indigenous Peoples' Day (note the placement of the apostrophe — this is an update to Brown's original style recommendation)
  • Match Day (for medical students)
  • Midyear Completion Celebration
  • Orientation (See: "Orientation​")
  • Reading Period
  • Reunion, Reunion Weekend
  • Spring Recess, Spring Break
  • Spring Weekend
  • Summer@Brown (pre-college program)
  • Wintersession


The word “faculty” takes a singular verb. Use “faculty members” and “staff members” to avoid awkward singular constructions.


Lowercase in most body copy. Capitalize only as a title when immediately preceding the name of a member of the Corporation’s Board of Fellows.

  • She is a fellow of the Corporation.


first-generation students

Refers to students who are the first in their families to attend a four-year college. Avoid the more casual “first-gens.”

fiscal year

Capitalize when used with the year. On second reference, use FY with the two-digit year directly after (no space). Use lowercase when referring in general to the fiscal year.

  • The results were an improvement over Fiscal Year 2016.
  • We are expecting a continuation of the trend in FY17.
  • The fiscal year ended June 30.

foreign students

Use “international students” instead.


Use “first-year student” instead. Avoid the more casual “first-years.”

fundraising, fundraiser

gender-inclusive language

Do not use “he” when referring to an unspecified single person. Instead, rewrite the sentence, using the plural form or avoid the use of pronouns entirely.

  • Instead of:  Each student completed his survey.
  • Try: All students completed the survey.
  • Instead of: If a writer plans ahead, he will save a lot of effort.
  • Try: The writer who plans ahead will save a lot of effort.

Avoid gender-specific language whenever possible.

  • chair rather than chairman/chairwoman/chairperson
  • police officer rather than policeman
  • parenting rather than mothering
  • supervisor instead of foreman
  • humankind instead of mankind

Use the updated guidance from AP style in stories about people who identify as neither male nor female and who ask not to be referred to as he/she/him/her. Use the person’s name in place of a pronoun or otherwise reword the sentence, whenever possible. If the use of they/them/their is essential, explain in the text that the person prefers a gender-neutral pronoun. Be sure that the phrasing does not imply more than one person.

When “they” is used as a singular, it takes a plural verb. Be sure it’s clear from the context that only one person is involved.

  • Taylor said they need a new car.


But: “greyhound”

health care

Two words, in all cases.

But: Executive Master of Healthcare Leadership (when referencing the program name only)

historically underrepresented groups (HUGs)

Spell out on first reference, but subsequent use of the acronym is permitted. Note that an individual person is not a HUG; but a person can be from a HUG. HUG can be used as an adjective:

  • There was a slight decrease of HUG medical students in 2015.

hyphens and dashes

Modifying phrases are hyphenated when used before a noun, but not after — unless the hyphen is needed to prevent confusion:

  • He was a well-known man.
  • He was well known.
  • She has a full-time job at Brown.
  • She works at Brown full time.

Words formed with prefixes (nonprofit, predate, pre-existing) are only hyphenated to avoid duplicate vowels and consonants.

  • anti-inflation
  • shell-like
  • pre-empt

Two or more hyphenated modifiers having a common base are treated in this way:

  • long- and short-term memory
  • two-, three- and 10-minute intervals

Do not use a hyphen after words ending in “ly” followed by a participle or adjective:

  • poorly attired man
  • historically underrepresented group

Use an em dash (—) sparingly to indicate emphasis or explanation, to define a complementary element or to denote a sudden break in thought. Put a space on each side of an em dash.

  • The influence of three impressionists — Monet, Sisley and Degas — can be seen in his work as a painter.

Note: On an Apple keyboard, form an em dash by selecting option+shift+hypen. On a PC select Alt+0151.


An abbreviation for “that is to say.” It is always followed by a comma.


Capitalize when used in reference to original inhabitants of a place. (AP Style update, June 2020)

Indigenous Peoples' Day

Note the placement of the apostrophe —this is an update to Brown's original style recommendation.

internet, intranet


Use italics sparingly to emphasize a word or phrase. Do not use bold, underline or capital letters. Never italicize an entire sentence or paragraph.

  • The damaging evidence was offered by the boy’s own mother.
  • It was Leo!

A small number of Brown’s strategic initiatives are italicized:

  • Building on Distinction
  • BrownTogether
  • Pathways to Diversity and Inclusion

Do not italicize names of newspapers, magazines, journals or other publications.

(See: “publication names” and “titles of works”)

Jewelry District

Use instead of “Knowledge District”


Use instead of Latina or Latino when a gender-neutral term is preferred.


The acronym is acceptable on first reference (stands for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer or Questioning)

  • The LGBTQ community fully supports the initiative.
  • The LGBTQ Center provides comprehensive resources.


One word in all uses, per AP Style.

magna cum laude

Do not capitalize or italicize. This is the only honor Brown grants at Commencement.


Meiklejohn Advising Program

Meiklejohns (individual advisers)

Note: Descriptive, explanatory phrasing should accompany the first reference of this program, given that “Meiklejohn” has no meaning to anyone away from Brown.


#MeToo movement


Use a dollar sign and numerals from $1 through $999,999 and any time a precise amount is required. Use figures and a combination of numerals and words/decimals for numbers greater than $1 million. In body copy, extend decimals to two places, rounding the last decimal (e.g., $3.27 billion).


To be consistent, use a hyphen between the numeral and the word when forming a money-based adjective.

  • James W. Head received an $8.7-million grant from NASA.


Capitalize when referring to Earth’s Moon.


On first reference, refer to a person by his or her full name (Jane Doe). On subsequent references, use only the last name (Doe). 
Do not precede “Jr.” or “Sr.” with a comma.

  • Martin Luther King Jr.
  • the Stephen A. Ogden Jr. ’60 Memorial Lecture on International Affairs

Native American

Native American and Indigenous Studies at Brown

on second reference: NAISAB


Spell out numbers one through nine in narrative text; use figures for 10 and above. Use a comma in numbers higher than 999. Do not use a zero after the decimal point.

  • There were seven people at the meeting.
  • There were 36 students in the class.
  • There were 1,250 incoming students this year.
  • A 2% increase.


Spell out general, nonspecific references to numbers in narrative text:

  • There are a thousand reasons.


When a number is the first word of a sentence, spell it out.

  • Thirty students registered for the class.


the Open Curriculum

Use of “Brown Curriculum” is also appropriate. Do not use “New Curriculum.”


Capitalize the official University event for entering students that precedes the start of the academic year every fall, but lowercase other unrelated orientation activities held by departments and offices throughout the year.

  • He attended the Title IX session at Orientation.
  • She attended an orientation session on the Workday financial tool.

parent designations

Pathways to Diversity and Inclusion: An Action Plan for Brown University

Acceptable to use “Pathways to Diversity and Inclusion action plan” when writing for noncampus audiences. Brown’s plan for realizing its commitment to diversity, released in February 2016. Italicize in all instances.

(See: “DIAP, DDIAP”)

Christina H. Paxson

Always include the president’s middle initial. Reference her parent affiliation only when used for a highly targeted audience such as other Brown parents, Family Weekend communications and/or targeted fundraising materials.

people of color

Historically refers to peoples of ethnic minority groups born in the United States — U.S. born, not of European ancestry — including individuals who are multiracial (not international students or immigrants).


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.

  • 3%
  • 130%
  • The exam is 60% of the final grade.


Use only a single space after a period at the end of a sentence.


phone numbers

Use hyphens to separate phone numbers. Always include area codes to allow readability by mobile devices.

  • Call the Office of College Admission at 401-863-2378.

possessives and apostrophes

In most cases, the possessive is formed by the addition of an apostrophe and an “s” for singular nouns:

  • the library’s staff

To indicate possession by multiple individuals or groups, add the possessive only on the final item in the series:

  • Jane, Sam and David’s apartment

For plural nouns ending in “s,” add only an apostrophe:

  • states’ rights

For plural nouns not ending in “s,” add an apostrophe before the “s”:

  • women’s rights

Singular common nouns ending in “s” are made possessive by adding “’s,” unless the next word begins with “s.”

  • the witness’s answer
  • the witness’ story

Singular proper names ending with “s” are made possessive by adding an apostrophe:

  • Sherlock Holmes’ reasoning abilities did not fail him.
  • Katrina James’ class met yesterday.

Use an “s” without an apostrophe after the year to indicate spans of decades or centuries.

  • The organization was founded in the 1880s.


Used as a noun for a person engaged in postdoctoral research. Use postdoctoral as an adjective.

  • She is a postdoc in neuroscience.
  • They received funding through the postdoctoral fellowship.


presidents of Brown University (past)

Always refer to past presidents with “former” preceding their title on first reference. Use their names as they appear on the website for past presidents:


Program in Liberal Medical Education (PLME)

publication names

Do not italicize publication names or place them in quotes.

  • The findings were published on Feb. 16 in the journal Science.

(See: “titles of works”)

quotation marks

Quotation marks should be placed outside most punctuation. Question marks, dashes, semicolons and exclamation marks go within the quotation marks only when they apply to the quoted matter.

  • Toni Morrison wrote “Beloved.”
  • Who wrote “Little Women”?
  • I borrowed her copy of “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?”


The close quotation mark always is placed before a colon or em dash (—):

  • There are two publication dates for “In Cold Blood”: in 1965 by the New Yorker and in 1966 by Random House.

Use quotes around titles of works contained within other works, such as articles.

  • “Turning Colloidal Gold into Clathrates” was published March 3 in the journal Science.


An abbreviation of the phrase “please reply” in French. Do not use with “please.” Use in invitations but not in running text.


Do not capitalize names of seasons unless part of a formal title.

  • The lecture series launched last fall.
  • The band performed at Spring Weekend.



A semicolon is used to join complete sentences when a period would create too much of a pause in the train of thought.

  • He wanted to give his aunt something special; he wanted to surprise her.

Use the semicolon to set off a series of commas in a long, complex series.

  • The main offices are in Mercer County, New Jersey; Marion County, Indiana; and Broward County, Florida.


state names

Per updated AP style, the names of the 50 U.S. states should be spelled out when used in the body of a story, whether standing alone or in conjunction with a city or town. If using state abbreviations to reduce redundancy (e.g., R.I. for Rhode Island in a story that repeatedly references the state), do not use the ZIP code abbreviations, but rather the abbreviations shows here (the ZIP code abbreviations appear in parentheses, only for use in mailing addresses):

Ala. (AL) Kan. (KS) N.H. (NH) S.C. (SC)
Ariz. (AZ) Ky. (KY) N.J. (NJ) S.D. (SD)
Ark. (AR) La. (LA) N.Y. (NY) Tenn. (TN)
Calif. (CA) Md. (MD) N.M. (NM) Vt. (VT)
Colo. (CO) Mass. (MA) Nev. (NV) Va. (VA)
Conn. (CT) Mich. (MI) N.C. (NC) Wash. (WA)
Del. (DE) Minn. (MN) N.D. (ND) W. Va (WV)
Fla. (FL) Miss. (MS) Okla. (OK) Wis. (WI)
Ga. (GA) Mo. (MO) Ore. (OR) Wyo. (WY)
Ill. (IL) Mont. (MT) Pa. (PA)  
Ind. (IN) Neb. (NE) R.I. (RI)  

Place a comma between the city and the state name and after the state name.

  • He was traveling from Nashville, Tennessee, to Albuquerque, New Mexico.

In formal invitations, always spell out the name of the state.

  • The Hope Club, Providence, Rhode Island


an acronym for science, technology, engineering and math, acceptable to use on first reference. The alternative STEAM is an acronym for science, technology, engineering, arts and math.


Use “that” for essential clauses. If the clause in question can be omitted without changing the meaning of the sentence, use “which.” If the clause cannot be omitted, use “that.” “Which” nearly always follows a comma. “That” does not.

  • The team, which won the championship last year, begins its new season this week.
  • The team that won the championship last year is stronger than ever.


In running copy, do not capitalize “the” even if it is part of a formal title of a publication, a company, division or university.

  • The quote appeared in the New York Times.
  • He attended the Johns Hopkins University.


Use the American spelling for all general references. Use the British spelling “theatre” only when it appears in a formal name. Brown does use the British spelling in many names:

  • Department of Theatre Arts and Performance Studies
  • Leeds Theatre
  • Stuart Theatre
  • Rites and Reason Theatre

But: McCormack Family Theater

titles - academic

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 with they follow the name:

  • Contact:
    Paula Pariss
    Associate Dean of the College
  • Contact:
    Gabriela Simone
    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. It is preferable to also confirm titles with the faculty members you are writing about.

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.

titles of works

Place quotation marks around the names of books, movies, plays, poems, operas, television and radio programs, albums and songs, lecture titles, works of art and computer and video games (not course names or journals). Do not use italics.

  • The Department of Africana Studies presented a performance titled “Eddie’s Perejil.”
  • The class discussed Mozart’s “The Marriage of Figaro.”

Do not use quotation marks for the Bible and books that are primarily catalogs of reference materials.

  • Do you have a copy of Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary?


Lowercase in most body copy. Uppercase only as a title when immediately preceding the name of a member of the Corporation’s Board of Trustees.

  • She is a trustee of the Corporation
  • Trustee Jane Doe has served on the Corporation for 12 years.

Undergraduate Teaching and Research Award

Spell out on first reference. Use UTRA on second reference only.


one word in all uses

Undocumented, First-Generation College and Low-Income Student Center

On subsequent references, use U-FLi Center as appropriate.

United States

To abbreviate, use U.S., with periods. U.S. is acceptable on first reference. Do not use USA, unless in direct quotation.

the University

Capitalize “University” when referring to Brown, except when used as an adjective (university-wide, university-level).

  • The University honored 20 high-school graduates from Providence.
  • The policy will be implemented university-wide.



URLs are all lowercase; it is not necessary to include “http://” or “www” when writing a URL. Only use “www” if it is a necessary part of the web address. (Be sure to test any URL before publishing it.) Do not underline or italicize URLs. If at all possible, do not break a URL in a line of text. If a web address must be broken between two lines, be sure that a hyphen or space is not added inadvertently at the break point. If a URL falls at the end of a sentence, it should be followed by a period.

Use “brown.edu” when referring to the University’s main web address.

Van Wickle Gates

vice president

Use “for,” not “of,” as the preposition in the titles of Brown’s vice presidents.

  • vice president for communications
  • vice president for campus life and student services


the Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University

On second reference: Alpert Medical School, the medical school. The use of “Brown Medical School” or “WAMS” is never acceptable.

web, webcam, webcast, webmaster, webpage, website




Use “who” as the subject of a sentence, clause or phrase.

  • Speak to the staff member who is in charge.

Use “whom” as the object of a verb or preposition.

  • She is the staff member to whom you should address your questions.


Capitalize only when using the official designation: Federal Work-Study Program.