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


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 Paxson will be inaugurated on Oct. 27, 2012.
  • Christina Paxson, Brown’s 19th president, began serving on Monday, July 2, 2012.
  • Andrew G. Campbell, dean of the Graduate School, is the speaker.

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.

  • Elizabeth Hoover, Manning Assistant Professor of American Studies, curated the exhibit.

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.