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.

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“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.