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.
Grammar and Style Guide
In this section
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.
|child’s toy||children||children’s toy|
|boy’s hats||boys||boys’ hats|
|Santa’ 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
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:
- 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.
Plurals of letter grades do not use an apostrophe before the s.
She gave out more As than Bs this semester.
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 century, the 21st century. For proper names, follow the organization’s practice: 20th Century Fox, Twentieth Century Fund, Twentieth 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 1890s, the ’90s, the mid-1930s, the 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:
There is no space on either side of the hyphen in time spans.
7:30 a.m.-9 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.
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.
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
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. (**, ††, ‡‡, §§)
Use the article a before consonant sounds: a historic event, a one-year term (sounds as if it begins with a w), a united stand (sounds like you). Use the article an before vowel sounds: an energy crisis, an honorable man (the h is silent), an NBA record (sounds like it begins with an e), an 1890s celebration.
Do not capitalize. John Jones is a professor in the department of chemistry. See also Capitalization
Accept means to receive: Jack accepted the letter from Tom. Except means to exclude: Everyone except Tom joined in the discussion.
Preferred RIT style is advisor. However, in many news stories, adviser is appropriate AP style.
Affect as a verb means to influence:
The game will affect the standings.
The recession has affected enrollment figures.
Affect as a noun is not used in everyday language.
Effect as a verb means to cause or to bring about:
He will effect many changes in the economy.
Effect as a noun means result:
The effect was overwhelming.
It was a law of little effect.
Of or pertaining to Africa, or any of its peoples or languages. Do not use the word as a synonym for black. See Race, Religion, and Diverse Groups
Acceptable for an American black person of African descent. Black is also acceptable. The terms are not necessarily interchangeable. People from Caribbean nations, for example, generally refer to themselves as Caribbean-American. See Race, Religion, and Diverse Groups
Never alright. Hyphenate only if used colloquially as a compound modifier: He is an all-right guy.
f. or m., singular; use very sparingly and never in formal communications
(f., singular) Sarah is an alumna of Nazareth College.
(f., plural, usually used when referring to women-focused groups) Sarah and Mary are alumnae of Nazareth College.
(m. or group of men and women, plural) The fraternity’s alumni came back to campus for the event. Sarah, Bill, and six other alumni attended the meeting.
(m., singular) Bill is an alumnus of the School of Social Work.
Use only when part of a company’s formal name: Procter & Gamble. The ampersand should not be used in place of and. The ampersand is not to be used in place of and when spelling out names of RIT colleges or in the titles of any major, program, department, division, etc. College of Art and Design (NOT College of Art & Design).
assure, ensure, insure
Assure means to ease someone’s mind:
The doctor assured him the operation would be successful.
Ensure means to make sure of something:
Steps were taken to ensure accuracy.
Insure is used for insurance references:
They were insured in the event of a flood.
awhile, a while
He plans to stay awhile. He plans to stay for a while.
bad vs. badly
Bad should not be used as an adverb. Unless your sense of touch has been damaged, you feel bad. Avoid the good-bad association; instead, use I feel well.
An acronym for Beginner’s All-Purpose Symbolic Instruction Code, a computer programming language. Use of acronym on first reference is acceptable if it is identified as a programming language.
Use because to denote a specific cause-effect relationship: He went because he was told. Since is acceptable in a causal sense when the first event in a sequence led logically to the second but was not its direct cause: They went to the game, since they had been given the tickets.
Beside means at the side of: He stood beside the man. Besides means in addition to: Besides a bachelor’s degree, he will earn a master’s degree as well.
Biannual means twice a year and is a synonym for the word semiannual. Biennial means every two years.
Bimonthly means every other month. Semimonthy means twice a month.
Biweekly means every other week. Semiweekly means twice a week.
board of trustees
The preferred name for this city in India is Mumbai.
The Braille Authority of North America recommends braille when referring to the code developed by Louis Braille, and Braille when referring to the inventor himself.
The preferred name for this city in India is Kolkata.
cancel, canceled, canceling, cancellation
Capital refers to the official city or town that is the official seat of government: Albany is the capital of New York. Also refers to wealth owned or used in a business by an individual, corporation, etc.: He needed capital to start his business. Capitol refers to the building in which the United States Congress meets in Washington, D.C., or the building in which a state legislature meets. The U.S. Capitol is in Washington, D.C. The Virginia Capitol is in Richmond.
Carlson Center for Imaging Science
All RIT centers are capitalized. See Buildings, Centers, and Campus Locations
check-in (n., adj.), check in (v.)
checkout (n., adj.), check out (v.)
Retain the hyphen when forming nouns, adjectives, and verbs that indicate occupation or status: co-author, co-chairman, co-host, co-owner, co-partner, co-pilot, co-signer, co-sponsor, co-worker. Use no hyphen in other combinations: coed, coeducational, coequal, coexist, cooperate, cooperative, coordinate, coordination.
Capitalize when part of a formal name.
Use Co. or Cos. when businesses use the word at the end of their names: Eastman Kodak Co., American Broadcasting Cos.
Compose means to create, constitute, put together, or make up, as in the parts compose the whole. Commonly used in both the active and passive voices: She composed a song. Nine colleges compose RIT. The United States is composed of 50 states. Comprise means to consist of, contain, or to include all, as in the whole comprises the parts. Best used in the active voice, followed by a direct object: RIT comprises nine colleges. The jury comprises five men and seven women.
Co-op is acceptable on second and subsequent references when referring to a student cooperative education experience.
(n., v., and adjective)
days of the week
See Dates and Times
Lowercase in all uses: He is on the dean’s list. She is a dean’s list student.
See Dates and Times
It was a decision-making process. The research will help with diagnostic decision-making.
Capitalize only nonacademic departments: The Office of Undergraduate Admissions is located in the Bausch & Lomb Center. The mechanical engineering department is in Gleason Hall. See Buildings and Campus Locations
Disinterested means impartial. Uninterested means that someone lacks interest.
Use this spelling, not disc, for computer-related references (diskette) and medical references, such as a slipped disk. Use disc for phonograph records and related terms (disc jockey), optical and laser-based devices (Blu-ray Disc, CD, DVD) and for disc brake.
Use hyphen when used as a modifier: He took distance-learning courses.
But email; see below.
end user (n.), end-user (adj.)
The preferred words are inquire, inquiry.
Use ensure to mean guarantee: Steps were taken to ensure accuracy. Use insure for references to insurance: The policy insures his life.
Use farther when speaking of measurable distance: How much farther do we need to drive? Use further when speaking of general distance or progress: That could not be further from the truth.
fax (n. or v.)
Acceptable as short version of facsimile or facsimile machine in all uses.
Use fewer for individual items; things that are identifiable by number. Use less for bulk or quantity. I had less than $50 in my pocket. (An amount.) But I had fewer than 50 $1 bills in my pocket. (Individual items.)
One word in all cases.
Gracie’s, Grace Watson Dining Hall
GPA is acceptable on second and subsequent references. Indicate that the average is on a 4.0 scale, as not all schools use the same scale. A perfect 4.0 average, however, should be referred to as simply that.
Hyphenate only when used as a modifier.
Hale-Andrews Student Life Center
But: He is hard of hearing.
Avoid phrases such as hearing impaired or students with hearing loss. Use instead deaf and hard-of-hearing students.
home-school (v.), home-schooled (adj.), home schooling (n.)
Abbreviation for instant message. Sometimes used as a verb: IM’ing, IM’d. Acceptable on second reference for instant messaging.
Writers or speakers imply in the words they use. A listener or reader infers something from the words.
Use periods and no space when an individual uses initials instead of a first name: H.L. Mencken, J.K. Rowling.
The period between regular academic sessions. Don’t use intercession unless you mean a prayer on behalf of someone else.
A double negative. Regardless is correct.
Used as an abbreviation for information technology. Always spell out information technology on first reference. For degree programs, use abbreviation in headlines.
Its is the possessive form of the neuter pronoun: The company lost its assets. The dog scratched its ear. It’s is a contraction for it is or it has: It’s up to you. It’s been a long time. (Tip: If it has an apostrophe, it always means it is or it has. If it has no apostrophe, it is always possessive.) There is no its’.
A computer programming language trademarked by Sun Microsystems Inc.
Acronyms for Joint Photographic Experts Group.
An acronym for Local Area Network.
Capitalize the proper names of languages and dialects: Aramaic, Cajun, English, French, Spanish, Yiddish.
A speaker stands behind a lectern. See also podium, pulpit, rostrum.
The preferred name for this city in India is Chennai.
Capitalize and italicize. Lowercase the word magazine unless it is part of the publication’s formal title: Harper’s Magazine, Newsweek magazine, Time magazine. See also newspaper.
In general, do not use a hyphen: microcomputer.
No hyphen unless followed by a capitalized word: midyear, mid-America.
In general no hyphen: miniseries, miniskirt, minivan
Acceptable in all references for the acronym formed from modulator and demodulator.
In general no hyphen: multimedia, multifaceted
Use the full name of a person on first reference, last name only on second reference: Mark Smith will attend the meeting. Smith will speak on economics. For academic departments on the RIT campus, spell out full name on first reference, and use abbreviation (if it has one) on second and subsequent references: University Creative Services produces the University Magazine and the college viewbooks. UCS is located in Brown Hall.
Place in italics and capitalize the in the newspaper name if that is the way the publication prefers to be known: The New York Times. Do not place the name in quotes: Democrat and Chronicle.
Use New York state (lowercase s) when a distinction must be made between the state and the city.
In general no hyphen except before proper nouns or awkward combinations, such as non-nuclear.
Capitalize office when part of an agency or department’s name:
Offices of Graduate Part-Time Enrollment
Office of Undergraduate Admissions.
Lowercase all other uses:
the office of the attorney general
the U.S. Attorney’s office, the dean’s office.
Academic department are not capitalized.
Dr. Smith works in the department of mechanical engineering.
Use figures, and capitalize page when followed by a figure. When a letter is appended to the figure, capitalize it, but do not hyphenate:
You can refer to Page 1 for more information. The list is on Page 10. Please see Page 20A in the contract.
One word. Always spell out: The teacher said only 50 percent of the class passed the exam.
A speaker stands on a podium. See also lectern, pulpit, rostrum.
This prefix usually combines to form one word: prearrange, prehistoric, prenatal, prewar. When the word that follows begins with the same vowel (e) that the prefix ends in, use a hyphen: pre-election, pre-eminent, pre-empt, pre-establish, pre-exist.
Premier can be an adjective meaning first in rank or importance, or a noun denoting a prime minister. Premiere is the first public performance or show of something, and can be a noun or a verb.
Principal is a noun and adjective meaning someone or something first in rank, authority, importance, or degree. She is the school principal. He was the principal player in the trade. Principle is a noun meaning fundamental truth, law, or doctrine. They fought for the principle of self-determination.
A speaker stands in the pulpit. See also lectern, podium, rostrum.
Acronym for Random Access Memory.
Means seldom. Rarely ever is redundant, but rarely if ever is correct.
Use uppercase when referring to regions of the country, but lowercase for direction.
She is from the East Coast.
RIT is one of the top eastern technical universities. (“Eastern” is a direction, not a region.)
RIT is ranked by U.S. News & World Report as an outstanding institution in the North for academic reputation. (Here, “North” is a part of the nation.)
Drive east to find the campus.
Reluctant means unwilling to act: He is reluctant to enter the building. Reticent means unwilling to speak: The candidate’s husband is reticent.
Cable program produced at RIT Production Services.
Also known as RITskeller. Food area in the Student Alumni Union.
Acronym for Read-Only Memory.
A speaker stands on a rostrum. See also lecturn, podium, pulpit.
Use only the initials in referring to the previously designated Scholastic Aptitude Test
Do not capitalize seasons. The fall semester begins in September.
Use semester when referring to fall and spring semesters.
One word (n. and adj.) to describe a new business venture.
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)
Abbreviate streets when the specific address is given (50 W. Main St.; 55 Lomb Memorial Dr.). Do not abbreviate when no address is given (on Main Street; on Lomb Memorial Drive).
Use lowercase for freshman, sophomore, junior, senior, first-year student, etc. Remember, freshmen is the plural: Bill and Anne are freshmen at RIT. But the adjective is always singular. Jack is a member of the freshman class.
On first reference, use State University of New York at _____ for all university centers that are graduate-degree-granting institutions, these include the campuses at Albany, Binghamton, Buffalo, and Stony Brook. Second reference can be SUNY at _____. For all university colleges, use State University College at _____. Do not use “of New York” for university colleges. Second reference, though, can be SUNY _____. (Some, but not all, university colleges: Brockport, Cortland, Fredonia, Geneseo, New Paltz, Oneonta, Oswego, Plattsburgh, Potsdam, Purchase.)
Use that for essential clauses, without commas. I remember the day that we met. The report that the committee submitted was well documented. Use which for nonessential clauses, offset by commas: The team, which finished last a year ago, is in first place. The report, which was well documented, was discussed with considerable emotion. (Tip: if you can drop the clause and not lose the meaning of the sentence, use which. Otherwise use that.)
their, there, they're
Their is a possessive pronoun: They went to their house. There is an adverb indicating direction: They went there for dinner. There also is used with the force of a pronoun for impersonal constructions in which the real subject follows the verb: There is no food on the table. They’re is a contraction for they are: They’re going to dinner tonight.
Use figures, except for noon and midnight. Use a colon to separate hours from minutes: 11 a.m., 1 p.m., 3:20 p.m.
travel, traveled, traveling, traveler
Refers to something that is one of a kind. Do not refer to something as very unique or most unique.
Uniform Resource Locator, an internet address.
Used as an adjective, but not as a noun, for United States.
Two words in all uses
One word, always lowercase.
One word, always lowercase.
Who’s is the contraction for who is or who has, not a possessive: Who’s there? Whose is the possessive: I do not know whose coat this is.
Who is the pronoun used for references to human beings and to animals with a name. It is grammatically the subject (never the object) of a sentence, clause, or phrase: The woman who entered the room left the window open. Who is there? Whom is used when someone is the object of a verb or preposition: The woman to whom the room was rented left the window open. Whom do you wish to see?
See Dates and Times
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.
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.
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.).
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 Center, 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–Phi Kappa Tau, GHA, 604
- Greek House B–Delta Phi Epsilon, GHB, 608
- Greek House C–Alpha Epsilon Pi, GHC, 612
- Green House D–Phi Kappa Psi, GHD, 616
- Greek House E–Alpha Xi Delta, GHE, 620
- Greek House F–Triangle, GHF, 624
Divisions, Departments, and Offices
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 Community and Government Affairs
- 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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
|chairman / chairwoman / chairperson||chair|
|mankind||humankind or humanity|
* First-year student is preferred unless it changes the meaning of the text or makes it ambiguous. For example, in saying that “housing is guaranteed to all first-year students,” there is the possibility that readers may consider an upper-level transfer student to be a first-year student, when, in fact, housing is guaranteed only to freshmen.
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, visit rit.edu/qcenter.
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.