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.

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z | Clear

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 Paxson

Do not include the president’s middle initial. Only include her parent affiliation when used for a highly targeted audience (e.g., other Brown parents, Family Weekend, 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. Spell out “percent” except in tabular matter and always use numerals.

  • 3 percent
  • 130 percent
  • The exam is 60 percent 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”)