Editorial Guidelines

Correct grammar, punctuation, and “style” may seem old-fashioned these days, but their absence in any communication from a university or other reputable and highly visible entity is frowned on, even by those who may not ordinarily pay much attention.

Because RIT owes its public and its students the best—in its use of the language as well as in programs, facilities, teaching, and service—the Division of Marketing and Communications provides this glossary and reference to grammatical rules, academic terminology, punctuation, etc. We rely on the Associated Press Stylebook, with additional references from the Chicago Manual of Style, in addition to rules for usage that may be preferred by RIT.


Course Titles

Official names of courses are capitalized, without quotation marks or italics; course number should be listed in parenthesis after the course title:
Ex: Students should register for Advanced Accounting (ACCT-707) for the fall semester.


School names are always capitalized. Lowercase the word school on second reference.
Ex: The School of Mathematical Sciences will arrange speakers for the event. The school will accept reservations.


Department names are never capitalized.
Ex: The department of computer science will hold a seminar on Friday.

Majors, Minors, Immersions

With the obvious exception of proper nouns (e.g., English, German area studies), majors, minors, and immersions are lowercase.


There is no alternative to correct punctuation. Incorrect punctuation can change the meaning of a sentence with the result being an ill-informed reader. Even if the meaning of a sentence is not altered by poor punctuation, it can cause a reader to lose track of what is being said, leading to confusion.


“It’s” vs. “Its,” “Its” vs. “Their,” and Other Possessives

If you are talking about a contraction of the phrase “it is,” use “it’s.” If you are talking about a possessive situation—“the thing belonging to it”—use “its.”

It’s no secret that the university encourages diversity.

Use “it” and “its” when referring to possessive situations involving groups, schools, corporations, etc.; they are entities. Do not use “their.”

The College of Science has increased the number of its (not “their”) faculty. Xerox follows the progress of its (not “their”) co-op students carefully.

Singular possessives and plural possessives confuse a lot of folks. Here are some examples of words in singular possessive, plural, and plural possessive forms.

Possessive Plural Plural Possessive
child’s toy children children’s toy
boy’s hats boys boys’ hats
Santa’s nose many Santas many Santas’ noses
its own their own their own


Never, absolutely never, use apostrophes to pluralize (“raining cat’s and dog’s,” etc.). Not even for proper names ending in “s.” In that case, either end the name in “es” or leave it singular as appropriate to the name; usually it’s “es.” (“The Myerses say they love teaching.”) For acronyms, don’t use an apostrophe unless the acronym ends in “S.” (CODs, IOUs, but MS’s, BS’s). When in doubt, consult the Associated Press Stylebook.


Use commas or semicolons to separate items in a series. Which to use? Here’s how to tell: If you have a series of three or more elements that are simple and similar, use commas.

apples, peaches, and pumpkin pie
Joe Smith, Mary Jones, and Susan Stacy received scholarships.

If you are listing many different elements to describe something, and the descriptions are wordy (especially if they also contain internal commas), separate with semicolons.

He is a 2016 graduate of RIT; a renowned illustrator for Vanity Fair, The New Yorker, and The Atlantic; and a talented tenor.

If you need to set off individual elements in a long list (such as a series of students’ names and their colleges), use a combination of the two, with a comma following the last item in the series.

Joe Smith, College of Science; Mary Jones, NTID; and Susan Stacy, College of Engineering, received scholarships.

Use an internal comma after the date and year when a specific date is given. Do not use internal commas when a specific date is not given.

On Sept. 28, 2018, we went to Toronto.
In September 2018 we went on vacation.
At 3 p.m., Sept. 28, we will hold a meeting.

Also use commas to separate the elements in addresses and places:

Colleen Clarke is originally from Ithaca, N.Y., but now lives in Hilton.

And use them to set off appositive (nonrestrictive) clauses:

John Doe, senior vice president of Enrollment Management, came to RIT from Eisenhower College.

Ditto for appositive words:

Neil’s wife, Barbara, is a teacher. (Her name is not essential; Neil has only one wife, so the reader knows who is the teacher.)

But restrictive words and phrases do not use commas:

Karen’s son Scott is excited about the Lions this year. (There could be more than one son, and the name is necessary to identify which one is a Lions fan.)

Use commas between the clauses in a compound sentence unless they are very short and closely related. Do not use commas with a compound predicate.

The client asked if the job could be delivered the next day, and the printer jumped out the window.
The student studied all night and took the test in the morning.

Use a comma before “including” and “such as” when followed by a nonrestrictive, nonessential phrase or clause.

The new policy applies to everyone, including faculty.
Some students make silly excuses, such as “My dog ate my homework.”

Do not use a comma when using a phrase like “as well as,” in which the clause is essential and restrictive.

The new policy applies to faculty as well as staff.

Do not use commas after a man’s name if he is a “Jr.,” “Sr.” “II,” “III,” etc.

Wrong: Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Right: Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Wrong: The Mod Squad featured Clarence Williams, III.
Right: The Mod Squad featured Clarence Williams III.

Dashes and Hyphens

Em Dashes (Double Hyphens or Long Dashes)

These often are used to expand or highlight a part of a sentence that appears to be a break in thought or to introduce a clause or insert.

“What you or I need is the right word—fat or thin, brisk or lazy.” Willard Espy

En Dashes

Use the en dash, not the hyphen, for events that continue for a given length of time in calendar listings. In text, use the words “from” and “to.”


Hyphens are used to separate parts of a compound adjective, except those with an “-ly” ending. (Refer to the Chicago Manual of Style for the use of hyphenations with “-ly” endings.)

The course is for hard-of-hearing students. But: He is hard of hearing.
It was a shoot-’em-up Western.
Frank Lloyd Wright was a highly regarded architect.

In suspended compounds, hyphens serve as placeholders for the omitted part of the compound:

The course is for full- and part-time students.
CIMS assists small- and medium-sized manufacturers.

Don’t hyphenate compound adjectives when they appear after or apart from the noun they modify or are used as adverbs:

part-time student Julie Jackson
Julie attends RIT part time
Frank Lloyd Wright, the well-known architect
well known as an architect

In words beginning with “co,” retain the hyphen when forming nouns, adjectives, and verbs that indicate occupation or status: co-author, co-chairman, co-owner, co-partner. Use no hyphen in other combinations: coed, coeducation, coequal, coexist, cooperate, cooperative, coordinate. For cooperative education, co-op is acceptable on second reference.

Do not hyphenate Student Alumni Union.

For telephone numbers, See Telephone, Fax, and Email.


Use a single space after a period at the end of a sentence. Don’t use periods at the end of incomplete sentences or lists:

Courses include:
  • Microelectronic Feats
  • Hydroelectricity and Sound
  • Transformer Conversions

Use an ellipsis (…) to indicate omitted words within a sentence or quote. In general, treat an ellipsis as a three-letter word, constructed with three periods and two spaces (that is, leave one regular space on both sides of an ellipsis).

“I’m sure the aftereffects will … be with people for a while,” he said.

If the words that precede an ellipsis constitute a grammatically complete sentence in the original (or if quote is condensed), place a period at the end of the last word before the ellipsis. Follow it with a regular space and an ellipsis:

Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address speaks of the need to preserve “… government of the people, by the people and for the people. …”

Quotation Marks and Italics

Use quotation marks for titles of articles; chapters in books; academic papers; radio and TV programs that are not part of a regularly scheduled series; songs; seminars for which the name is descriptive; and workshops. Also use them for comments made by interviewed people, of course.

She thought, “The MTV Video Music Awards” wasn’t as good this year as last.
Snow White sang “Someday My Prince Will Come.”
Don’t you want to go to the “Learning the Internet” seminar?
They hadn’t heard of the “Getting Along with Your Adult Kids” workshop.

Remember to put single quotes inside double quotes when quoting a person quoting someone else or quoting a title of the above:

"Everyone in Belgrade is singing ‘We Live Again,’” he reported.
“My article, ‘The Reproductive Cycle of Female Brown Shrimp in the North Sea,’ will be published soon,” she said.

Use italics (not underlines) for titles of books, magazines, newspapers, TV series, plays, and movies.

Titanic was as over-rated as the ship itself but stayed afloat nevertheless.
Al Pacino was featured in The Insider.
He wants to be published in The New York Times.
Everyone knows that appearing on the cover of Sports Illustrated is a jinx.
The line was so long, I could have finished reading War and Peace before I got service.

Punctuation should always appear inside quotation marks, except when using semicolons and colons, and in the case of question marks and exclamation points that apply to the entire sentence, not just the quoted material:

Have you heard the song “Steamroller”?
“I can’t believe they actually sang ‘Why Don’t We Do It in the Road?’!”


When URLs must be broken at the end of a line of type, break the URL at a slash.



Letter Grades

Plurals of letter grades do not use an apostrophe before the s.

She gave out more As than Bs this semester.

Quotation Marks

Do not use quotations around letter grades.

He earned a B in Introduction to Chemistry.


Parallel structure (also called parallelism) is the repetition of a chosen grammatical form within a sentence. By making each compared item or idea in your sentence follow the same grammatical pattern, you create a parallel construction.


“She likes cooking, jogging, and to read.”


“She likes cooking, jogging, and reading.”

Dates, Times, and Numbers


Lowercase, spelling out numbers less than 10: the first centurythe 21st century. For proper names, follow the organization’s practice: 20th Century FoxTwentieth Century FundTwentieth Century Limited.


Use Arabic figures to indicate decades of history. Use an apostrophe to indicate numerals that are left out. Show plural by adding the letter s: the 1890sthe ’90sthe mid-1930sthe 2000s. See also years.

Days of the Week

Capitalize them, but do not abbreviate except when needed in a tabular format: Sun, Mon, Tue, Wed, Thu, Fri, Sat (three letters, no periods).


Use numerals to show fractions.

5 1/2, not “five and one-half”
75 3/4, not “75 and three-fourths”


Capitalize the names of months in all uses. When a month is used with a specific date, abbreviate only Jan., Feb., Aug., Sept., Oct., Nov., Dec. Spell out when using alone, or with a year alone.

Fall semester classes will start on Aug. 22, 2016.
December is the busiest month for shopping.
The photo was taken in July 2013.


Spell out numbers one through nine and any number that begins a sentence.

John took six courses during fall semester.
Seventy people showed up for the seminar.
There are 12 months in the year.

Numerals of 1,000 and above use commas in the appropriate places, except for temperatures and years.

RIT has more than 18,000 students.
The boiling point of uranium is 3818°C.
She plans to retire in 2018.


One word. Use numerals when referring to percentages, unless the number is the first word of the sentence; then spell out the number. Repeat percent with each individual figure.

There will be a 7 percent increase in tuition this year.
Seventy-five percent of RIT’s students live on campus.
He said 10 percent to 30 percent of the electorate may not vote.


Use figures except for noon and midnight. Use a colon to separate hours from minutes:

11 a.m.
1 p.m.
3:30 p.m.

There is no space on either side of the hyphen in time spans.

7:30 a.m.-9 p.m.
1-3:30 p.m.

When using a.m. or p.m., always lowercase, with periods.

Avoid such redundancies as 10 a.m. this morning, 10 p.m. tonight, or 10 p.m. Monday night. Use 10 a.m. today, 10 p.m. today, or 10 p.m. Monday. The construction 4 o’clock is acceptable, but time listings with a.m. or p.m. are preferred.

Time Sequences

Spell out: 50 hours, 23 minutes, 14 seconds. When using the abbreviated form, as in sports statistics or similar agate use, or subsequent references, the form is 2:30:21.65 [hours, minutes, seconds, tenths, hundredths].


Use figures, without commas: 2017. Use commas only with a month and day: Oct. 11, 2015, was a special day. Years are the lone exception to the rule against using numerals to start a sentence. When denoting class years, it is acceptable to use an apostrophe in place of the numerals denoting century: Joe Smith ’16; John Doe ’09. Make sure the apostrophe is facing the correct way.

Telephone, Fax, and Email


Acceptable in all references for electronic mail. But use a hyphen with other e- terms: e-book, e-business, e-commerce. Capitalize the e and the first letter of the word following the hyphen in only two instances: when the word is used as a headline (or part of a headline), or in a name of a course title. Saunders College of Business offers Introduction to E-Commerce.

Telephone numbers

Use figures. Use hyphens between sections of the number, not periods. Do not use parentheses around the area codes. The form is 212-621-1500. For international numbers use 011 (from the United States), the country code, the city code, and the telephone number: 011-44-20-7535-1515. The form for toll-free numbers is 800-111-1000. If extension numbers are needed, use a comma to separate the main number from the extension: 212-621-1500, ext. 2.

Proofreader's Marks and Editing Guidelines

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Guidelines on footnotes are for those times when notations must appear to aid in understanding a chart, table, or illustration. (Note: These guidelines are not to be used as an example of how footnotes are used in an academic paper.)

When using footnotes, use these symbols and in the following order: *, †, ‡, §

If additional footnotes are required, double the symbols in the order of usage. (**, ††, ‡‡, §§)


Spell out all 50 states when they stand alone in text, and always spell out Alaska, Hawaii, Idaho, Iowa, Maine, Ohio, Texas, and Utah. Other states should be abbreviated when accompanied by the name of a city. For a mailing address, use the standard postal abbreviations for all states (shown in parentheses). Postal abbreviations do not get periods.

  • Alabama: Ala. (AL)
  • Alaska: Alaska (AK)
  • Arizona: Ariz. (AZ)
  • Arkansas: Ark. (AR)
  • California: Calif. (CA)
  • Colorado: Colo. (CO)
  • Connecticut: Conn. (CT)
  • Delaware: Del. (DE)
  • District of Columbia: D.C. (DC)
  • Florida: Fla. (FL)
  • Georgia: Ga. (GA)
  • Hawaii: Hawaii (HI)
  • Idaho: Idaho (ID)
  • Illinois: Ill. (IL)
  • Indiana: Ind. (IN)
  • Iowa: Iowa (IA)
  • Kansas: Kan. (KS)
  • Kentucky: Ky. (KY)
  • Louisiana: La. (LA)
  • Maine: Maine (ME)
  • Maryland: Md. (MD)
  • Massachusetts: Mass. (MA)
  • Michigan: Mich. (MI)
  • Minnesota: Minn. (MN)
  • Mississippi: Miss. (MS)
  • Missouri: Mo. (MO)
  • Montana: Mont. (MT)
  • Nebraska: Neb. (NE)
  • Nevada: Nev. (NV)
  • New Hampshire: N.H. (NH)
  • New Jersey: N.J. (NJ)
  • New Mexico: N.M. (NM)
  • New York: N.Y. (NY)
  • North Carolina: N.C. (NC)
  • North Dakota: N.D. (ND)
  • Ohio: Ohio (OH)
  • Oklahoma: Okla. (OK)
  • Oregon: Ore., not “Oreg.” (OR)
  • Pennsylvania: Pa., not “Penn.” (PA)
  • Rhode Island: R.I. (RI)
  • South Carolina: S.C. (SC)
  • South Dakota: S.D. (SD)
  • Tennessee: Tenn. (TN)
  • Texas: Texas (TX)
  • Utah: Utah (UT)
  • Vermont: Vt. (VT)
  • Virginia: Va. (VA)
  • Washington: Wash. (WA)
  • West Virginia: W.Va. (WV)
  • Wisconsin: Wis. (WI)
  • Wyoming: Wyo. (WY)

RIT Terminology

Rochester Institute of Technology, RIT, The University

Rochester Institute of Technology is the proper name of the university. RIT is acceptable for use. Do not capitalize the word university, even if it refers to RIT. The preferred descriptive when referring to RIT is university, not institute.

RIT comprises 11 colleges and degree-granting units. Golisano Institute for Sustainability and School of Individualized Study are degree-granting units, not colleges.

Use of RIT acronym

The letters “RIT” may not be called out in words in which they appear consecutively or called out within a word to highlight RIT. This applies to the use of the letter RIT in signage, names of locations on campus, logos, etc.

ex: RITchie, spiRIT, favoRITe, integRITy, wRITing, aRtIsTs, etc.

The nine colleges are:

  • College of Art and Design
  • Saunders College of Business
  • Golisano College of Computing and Information Sciences
  • Kate Gleason College of Engineering
  • College of Engineering Technology
  • College of Health Sciences and Technology
  • College of Liberal Arts
  • National Technical Institute for the Deaf
  • College of Science

RIT has four global campuses

  • RIT China (with campuses in Beijing and Weihai)
  • RIT Croatia (with campuses in Dubrovnik and Zagreb)
  • RIT Dubai (Dubai, United Arab Emirates)
  • RIT Kosovo (Pristina)

Capitalize when it's part of a proper name: Dartmouth College, Kate Gleason College of Engineering, College of Liberal Arts. Names of all nine RIT colleges and degree-granting entities are spelled out on first reference. Do not refer to colleges or schools by abbreviations on first reference. When alphabetizing RIT’s colleges, use the discipline of the college. This is the same for listing multiple schools within a college.  Acronyms are not used with colleges. 

Research Centers and Laboratories

  • Analog Devices Integrated Microsystems Laboratory 
  • Astrophysics Science and Technology 
  • Biomedical Imaging/MRI 
  • Biomedical Imaging/Ultrasound 
  • Center for Advanced Device Research 
  • Center for Advancing the Study of Cyberinfrastructure 
  • Center for Advancing STEM Teaching, Learning, and Evaluation
  • Center for Applied and Computational Math 
  • Center for Biosciences Education and Technology 
  • Center for Computational Relativity and Gravitation 
  • Center for Detectors
  • Center for Education Research Partnerships 
  • Center for Electronic Manufacturing and Assembly 
  • Center for Excellence in Lean Enterprise 
  • Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship 
  • Center for Integrated Manufacturing Studies 
  • Center for Nanolithography Research 
  • Center for Quality and Applied Statistics 
  • Center on Access Technology 
  • Chester F. Carlson Center for Imaging Science 
  • Digital Imaging and Remote Sensing Laboratory 
  • Image Permanence Institute 
  • Imaging Products Laboratory 
  • International Center for Hearing and Speech Research 
  • IT Collaboratory 
  • Laboratory for Advanced Communication Technology 
  • Laboratory for Computer-Human Interaction 
  • Laboratory for Digital Image Restoration 
  • Laboratory for Environmental Computing and Decision Making 
  • Laboratory for Graphical Simulation, Visualization and Virtual Worlds 
  • Laboratory for Intelligent Systems 
  • Laboratory for Multiwavelength Astrophysics
  • Laboratory for Printing Materials and Process 
  • Laboratory for Social Computing 
  • Laboratory for Wireless Networks and Security 
  • Manufacturing Technologies Program
  • Multidisciplinary Vision Research Laboratory
  • Munsell Color Science Laboratory 
  • NanoPower Research Laboratory 
  • National Center for Remanufacturing and Resource Recovery 
  • Print Research and Imaging Systems Modeling Laboratory 
  • Printing Applications Laboratory 
  • Printing Industry Education Program 
  • Research and Teacher Education Center 
  • RF/Analog Mixed Signal Laboratory 
  • RIT Venture Creations Incubator 
  • Semiconductor and Microsystems Fabrication Laboratory 
  • Sloan Printing Industry Center 
  • Sustainable Systems Research Center 
  • Systems Modernization and Sustainment Center 
  • Thermal Analysis and Microfluidics Laboratory 

Buildings and Campus Locations


Never abbreviate. Capitalize the proper names of buildings, including the word building if it is an integral part of the proper name: the Empire State Building. The words “building,” “gallery,” “auditorium,” etc., should be lowercase when referring to more than one at a time, if the term is not part of the facility’s official name, or if the entire name is not used on a second reference. Eliminate the word “Memorial” from the title of all buildings on the RIT campus for all purposes. Most buildings on the RIT campus are halls (Eastman Hall, Brown Hall, etc.).

building names

Official RIT building names are as follows. The full name is followed by the shortened name (if applicable) that is acceptable upon second reference, its abbreviation, and building number.

  • George Eastman Hall, EAS, 01
  • Frank Ritter Ice Arena, RIA, 02
  • George H. Clark Gymnasium, CLK, 03
  • Campus Center, CPC, 03
  • Student Alumni Union (SAU, 04), SAU is acceptable upon second reference
  • The Wallace Library, WAL, 05
  • Liberal Arts Hall, LBR, 06
  • James E. Booth Hall, BOO, 07A
  • Sand Family Studios, SAN, 07A
  • Vignelli Center for Design Studies, VIG, 07A
  • University Gallery, UNI, 07A
  • Frank E. Gannett Hall, GAN, 07B
  • Thomas Gosnell Hall, GOS, 08
  • James E. Gleason Hall, GLE, 09
  • Lewis P. Ross Hall, ROS, 10
  • Welcome Center, WEL, 11
  • Max Lowenthal Hall, LOW, 12
  • Orange Hall, ORN, 13
  • Hugh L. Carey Hall, HLC, 14
  • Monroe Hall, MON, 15
  • Kilian J. and Caroline F. Schmitt Interfaith Center (SMT, 16), Interfaith Center is acceptable upon second reference
  • Engineering Hall, ENG, 17
  • Munsell Color Science Laboratory, COL, 18
  • Riverknoll Apartments, RKA, 20
  • Observatory Structures, OBS, 21
  • Gene Polisseni Center, POL, 22
  • Hale-Andrews Student Life Center (HAC, 23), Student Life Center is acceptable upon second reference
  • August Center, AUG, 23A
  • Gordon Field House and Activities Center, GOR, 24, Gordon Field House is acceptable upon second reference
  • Grace Watson Hall (GWH, 25)
  • Grace Watson Dining Hall (GWH, 25), Gracie’s is acceptable upon second reference
  • Frances Baker Hall (A&B), BHA, 27
  • Residence Hall A, RHA, 28
  • Frances Baker Hall, (C&D), BHC, 29
  • Residence Hall B, RHB, 32
  • Eugene Colby Hall, (C, D, E), CHC, 33
  • Kate Gleason Hall, KGH, 35
  • Eugene Colby Hall, (F&G), CHF, 37
  • Helen Fish Hall (C&D), FHC, 41
  • Nathaniel Rochester Hall, NRH, 43
  • Sol Heumann Hall, SHH, 47
  • Carleton Gibson Hall, CGH, 49
  • Mark Ellingson Hall, MEH, 50A
  • Peter Peterson Hall, PTH, 50B
  • Residence Hall D, RHD, 50C
  • CSD Student Development Center, CSD, 55
  • Lyndon Baines Johnson Hall, LBJ, 60
  • Golisano Hall, GOL, 71
  • Institute Hall–Academic, INA, 73A
  • Institute Hall–Research, INB, 73B
  • Laboratory for Applied Computing, LAC, 74
  • Center for Bioscience Education and Technology, CBT, 75
  • Chester F. Carlson Center for Imaging Science (CAR, 76), Carlson Center is acceptable on second reference
  • Bausch & Lomb Center, BLC, 77
  • Louise Slaughter Hall, SLA, 78
  • Red Barn, RED, 80
  • Sustainability Institute, SUS, 81
  • Engineering Technology Hall, ENT, 82
  • Brown Hall, BRN, 86
  • University Services Center, USC, 87
  • Center for Student Innovation, CSI, 87
  • Annex, ANX, 88
  • Crossroads Building, CRS, 89
  • Perkins Green Apartments, PGA, 90
  • Observatory House, OBH, 93
  • Colony Manor Apartments, CMA, 97
  • Facilities Management Building, FMS, 99
  • Liberty Hill, 100
  • Racquet Club Apartments, RCA, 121
  • Gosnell Boathouse, GOB, 125
  • Venture Creations Incubator, VCI, 150
  • Alumni House, ALM, 231
  • University Commons Suites, UCS, 300-330
  • Global Village Plaza, GVP, 400
  • Global Village Way C, GVC, 403
  • Global Village Way D, GVD, 404
  • RIT Inn & Conference Center, ICC, 500
  • Greek House A–Zeta Tau Alpha, GHA, 604
  • Greek House B–Delta Phi Epsilon, GHB, 608
  • Greek House C–Alpha Sigma Alpha, GHC, 612
  • Green House D–Phi Kappa Psi, GHD, 616
  • Greek House E–Alpha Xi Delta, GHE, 620
  • Greek House F–Pi Kappa Phi, GHF, 624

Divisions, Departments, and Offices

academic departments

Capitalize only nonacademic departments. The Office of Career Services and Cooperative Education is located in the Bausch & Lomb Center. The mechanical engineering department is in Gleason Hall.

  • Division of Academic Affairs
  • Division of Government and Community Relations
  • Division of Development and Alumni Relations
  • Division of Diversity and Inclusion
  • Division of Enrollment Management
  • Division of Finance and Administration
  • Division of Student Affairs

Degrees, Majors, Programs, and Courses

academic degrees

Use lowercase when spelling out degrees: associate, bachelor of science, master of business administration, doctorate.

John Jones has a doctorate in chemistry.
Mary has a bachelor’s degree from Harvard.

Use uppercase without periods for most abbreviated degrees: AA, AAS, BA, BS, BFA, MS, MFA, MST, etc. (Exceptions are Ph.D., Ed.D., M.Arch., and some medical degrees. Note: MD no longer uses periods.) Do not use B.Sc. or M.Sc. as abbreviations for a BS or MS degree.

Remember, it’s associate degree, not associate’s degree, but bachelor’s degree, master’s degree, doctorate, and doctoral degree.

Ph.D., Ph.D.s

The preferred style is that a person holds a doctorate and the name of the individual’s area of specialty is listed. Note that doctoral is an adjective and must modify a noun; doctorate is a noun.

Matthew holds a doctorate in education.

Mary earned her doctoral degree in neuroscience.

course titles

Use upper and lower case for language and specific course titles. Do not capitalize general subjects of study or areas in which degrees are earned.

Ellen teaches English, German, and Spanish.
He has a degree in mechanical engineering.
Dr. Lewis teaches Introduction to Quality and some statistics courses.


Use when referring to academic programs in instances such as these:

She is in the public policy major.
The game design and development major requires cooperative education.


Do not capitalize academic programs. Use major when referring to academic programs in instances such as these: She is in the public policy major. The game design and development major requires cooperative education.

Honorifics and Professional Titles


Use lowercase unless directly preceding the name. When people have long titles, use them after the name, not before.

David C. Munson Jr., president of RIT, will give an address.
President Munson said the new building will be ready by the fall.


Never abbreviate. Uppercase when the title precedes a name. Lowercase elsewhere. The Modern History course is taught by Professor Smith. Harry Smith is a professor of history.

professional titles

Following Associated Press Stylebook standards, professional titles are capitalized only when immediately preceding a person’s name. In all other instances, they are lowercased.

President Joe Smith
Joe Smith, president of ABC Corp.

for faculty

Provide a proper academic title whenever possible (assistant professor, associate professor, professor, lecturer). If a faculty member has other titles—the formal name of the title should be used.

Amit Batabyal, the Arthur J. Gosnell Professor in Economics, is a graduate of Cornell University.

board of trustees

For RIT’s Board of Trustees, uppercase. Board of Trustees, Trustee John Smith, but He is a trustee. In referencing non-RIT boards, use lowercase: board of trustees.

Race, Religion, and Diverse Groups

Gender-Neutral Language

No Yes
chairman / chairwoman / chairperson chair
mankind humankind or humanity
policeman police officer
freshman first-year student

LGBTQA+ Language

Use the term LGBTQIA+ when referring to individuals who identify themselves as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, questioning, intersex, agender, or asexual. Using the initialism alone on first reference is acceptable if the audience is an informed audience. If the audience may not know what it means, then write it this way on first reference: LGBTQIA (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, questioning, intersex, agender, asexual, and other sexual and gender minorities).

Pronouns usage: Writers should be sensitive to the fact that some individuals have a particular preference for the pronouns used to refer to them and should take this into consideration.

Gay, lesbian, bisexsual, transgender

  • A person’s sexual orientation should not be mentioned unless relevant.
  • Gay and lesbian are the preferred terms to describe people attracted to the same sex; homosexual is considered offensive by some.
  • Use sexual orientation, not sexual preference.
  • Gay, lesbian, bisexual, and pansexual people in long-term relationships may choose husband, wife, spouse, partner, or other term to describe the person they are in a relationship with.
  • Polyamorous people may or may not have multiple long-term partners or spouses. Don’t refer to a gay lifestyle or sexual preference and avoid admitted homosexual; use openly gay or openly lesbian, but only if necessary for clarity.
  • Transgender describes people whose sexual identity is different from the sex they were assigned at birth, even if they have not socially or medically transitioned. Some people who fit this definition do not identity as transgender. Transsexual and transvestite are considered highly offensive; use with research and care.
  • For much more information, contact the Women, Gender, and Sexuality Resource Center


Capitalize the proper names of nationalities, peoples, races, and tribes: Arab, Arabic, African, American, Caucasian, Cherokee, Chinese, Eskimo, French Canadian, Japanese, Jew, Jewish, Latin, etc.


American Indian or Native American is acceptable for those in the U.S. Follow the person’s preference. Where possible, be precise and use the name of the tribe: He is a Navajo commissioner. In Alaska, the indigenous groups include Aleuts, Eskimos, and Indians.


Acceptable for a person of the black race. African-American is acceptable for an American black person of African descent. Do not use colored as a synonym.


The preferred term to describe adherents of Islam.


A seven-day celebration based on African festivals, occurring from Dec. 26 through Jan. 1.


A Christian holiday occurring annually on Dec. 25.