Editorial Style Guide

This guide is a reference tool to help the Office of Communications and other Dartmouth communicators follow a style that is consistent and appropriate for various audiences, both internal and external. Download a PDF of the editorial style guide.

Last updated February 2017.

The guide follows conventions outlined in:

  • The Associated Press Stylebook 2016 (Associated Press) (Follow AP styles in most, but not all, cases.)
  • Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary 11th Edition (G. & C. Merriam Company)

Academic degrees

Do not use periods in abbreviations of academic degrees.


Lowercase names of degrees.

In addition to his graduate credentials, Jones holds a bachelor’s degree in chemistry from Oxford University. His master’s degree is from Northwestern University. 

Academic year / term

Lowercase season and use full year in formal contexts.

spring term 2017 spring term ’17

Academic disciplines

Capitalize formal titles of departments; use lowercase in informal references. (See also departments, offices, and programs.) 

She is a professor in the Department of Biological Sciences. He is a professor in the physics and astronomy department.


On first use, spell out the full name of an organization or entity unless it is most widely known by its abbreviated name: FBI, NASA, etc. Do not use periods between letters.  

She is a member of the Dartmouth Outing Club. The DOC is a well‐known College organization.

Exception: If the second reference is at some distance from the first mention, follow the initial spelled-­out form with the acronym in parentheses and use the acronym for subsequent references.

Adviser (NOT advisor)


Everyone who matriculates at Dartmouth, whether a graduate or not, becomes an alumna or alumnus of the College. Correct usage is as follows:

alumna (feminine, singular)

alumnae (feminine, plural)

alumnus (masculine, singular)

alumni (masculine, plural, or mixed group)

Board of trustees

Uppercase when referring to the Dartmouth Board of Trustees.

Board and trustees are lowercase when referring to the College’s board of trustees.

The Dartmouth Board of Trustees met Tuesday. The trustees discussed the budget. The board of trustees will meet again next month. The board has two new members.

Centers and institutes

Wherever space permits, spell out the full name of the center or institute on first use. (See a full list of centers and institutes.)

First reference: the Nelson A. Rockefeller Center for Public Policy and the Social Sciences

Second reference: the Rockefeller Center

First reference: the John Sloan Dickey Center for International Understanding

Second reference: the Dickey Center

First reference: the Arthur L. Irving Institute for Energy and Society

Second reference: the Irving Institute

Centuries and decades

Lowercase, spelling out numbers less than 10.

the first century

21st century (not 21st century)

12th century

the 1970s, the ’60s

Class years

Class is capitalized as part of the proper name of a class.

Ellen is a member of the Class of 2005. Ellen Smith ’05 will attend the ceremony.

When abbreviating years to two digits, use an apostrophe, not an opening quotation mark. (Ellen Smith ’99). (Keyboard shortcut on a Mac is SHIFT + OPTION + RIGHT BRACKET; in Word it is CTRL + QUOTE, QUOTE.) If confusion could result from abbreviation of class year, use all four digits, as in, Daniel Webster, Class of 1801.

Graduate school class affiliations are set off from a person’s name with commas.

Tuck ’17

Thayer ’17

Geisel ’17 (prior to 2012, use MED ’xx)

GRAD ’17 (for School of Graduate and Advanced Studies) (but often the year is not known, in which case, no year)

MALS ’17

Example: Tom Smith, Tuck ’17, will be part of the group.

For internal audiences: Abbreviations can be added before class years to indicate the following: A (adopted), P (parent), S (spouse), W (widow/widower). Use only in internally focused communications in which abbreviations will be understood by readers.


Always use upper case when referring to Dartmouth.


Use the serial comma.

She is a dancer, a runner, and a yoga instructor.


Unless it begins a sentence, use lower case “c.”

Composition titles

Names/titles that are italicized:

  • album names
  • books
  • cartoons or comic strips
  • epic poems
  • exhibition catalogs
  • journals
  • movies
  • newspapers
  • newspaper sections
  • operas
  • oratorios
  • pamphlets
  • paintings
  • periodicals
  • plays
  • poems
  • radio programs
  • songs
  • statues
  • soon­‐to­‐be­‐published books (the word “forthcoming” should be set in parentheses following the title)
  • television programs

Names/titles that are set within quotation marks:

  • book manuscript when publication is not forthcoming conferences
  • courses (“Cold War Political Relations”)
  • essays
  • exhibitions
  • journal articles
  • lectures
  • PhD dissertations
  • photographs
  • seminars
  • speeches
  • symposia
  • theses

Names/titles that are capitalized

  • apps
  • blogs
  • broadcast networks channels
  • websites (The story was published on Dartmouth News)
  • website pages (see the Outreach and Arts Education page at hop.dartmouth.edu)


The use of Dartmouth is acceptable on first or second reference. College is always uppercase when referring to Dartmouth.

Dartmouth was founded in 1769. The College is located in Hanover, N.H.

Dartmouth­‐Hitchcock health system

Second reference: D­‐H

Under the umbrella organization D-H are, among other entities, Dartmouth-­Hitchcock Medical Center and the VA Medical Center

Days and dates

Capitalize and spell out days of the week.

Abbreviate names of months when using the day as well as the month: Oct. 11, 2017

Departments, offices, and programs

In most instances, capitalize the proper names of departments, offices, programs, and institutions (the Office of the President). In general, do not capitalize shortened names, with the exception of administrative offices at Dartmouth that are most commonly referred to by their shortened names (the president’s office).

the Office of Communications; the communications office the Office of the Provost; the provost’s office

the Department of Earth Sciences; the earth sciences department

Email (not e-­mail)

Emeritus, emerita

Linda Fowler, a professor of government and the Frank J. Reagan '09 Chair in Policy Studies Emerita

Elmer Pfefferkorn, professor emeritus of microbiology

Ethnicity and nationality

Do not hyphenate the following:

African American, Asian American, Native American

When using the terms “black” and “white,” use lower case.

Events, etc.

Lowercase the names of the following campus events:

commencement, baccalaureate, convocation, homecoming, first‐year trips, inauguration


The word faculty can be used as a plural noun.

The faculty are all in agreement.

Faculty members are co-­chairing the event.

Here’s how to refer to a faculty member:

Cynthia Huntington, the Frederick Sessions Beebe ’35 Professor in the Art of Writing, has a new book of poems. English professor Cynthia Huntington is a poet.

Professor Cynthia Huntington is a member of the English department. Brendan Nyhan is a professor of government.

Professor of Government Brendan Nyhan writes for the New York Times blog The Upshot. Professor Brendan Nyhan writes opinion pieces for the Times.

Fundraising / fundraiser

Graduate and professional schools


First use: the Geisel School of Medicine

Second use: Geisel

School of Graduate and Advanced Studies

First use: School of Graduate and Advanced Studies

Second use: GRAD or the graduate school


First use: Thayer School of Engineering (don’t use “the” in front of Thayer)

Second use: Thayer

Tuck School of Business

First use: the Tuck School of Business Second use: Tuck

Graduate school class affiliations should always be set off from a person’s name with commas. Graduate school affiliations accompanying names should be abbreviated as follows:

Tuck School of Business: Tuck ’12

Thayer School of Engineering: Thayer ’12

Geisel School of Medicine: Geisel ’12

Class affiliation for medical alumni who graduated prior to 2012: MED ’11

Dartmouth Graduate Studies (use appropriate degree abbreviations): MS ’12, MA ’12, or PhD ’12

Master of Arts in Liberal Studies program: MALS ’12 Sarah Smith, Tuck ’06, was featured in an October New York Times article.

Graphic design standards

A guide to using Dartmouth’s visual identity elements and links to download the brand marks are available on the Office of Communications website.


Capitalize all words with the exception of articles (a, an, the) and prepositions of fewer than four letters. Quotes in a headline are set in single quotation marks. Headline words are not italicized. Instead, use single quotes.

Art Students Win ‘Best in Show’ for Project

Health care

Always two words.

Health care in the United States is costly.

Hood Museum of Art

the Hood; NOT the Hood Museum

House communities

Use lower case


As a general use, do not use initials. There are exceptions, however. An example is Erzo F.P. Luttmer, a professor of economics; another example: N. Bruce Duthu, the Samson Occom Professor of Native American Studies.


Lowercase in all uses except, of course, at beginning of sentences.


Capitalize U.S. military branches

U.S. Army, the Army (for other countries' armies, use lowercase)

Nonprofit (not non­‐profit)

Occom Pond; Occom Ridge; Samson Occom


Express as numerals with the word “percent.”

3 percent

100 percent

Photo captions

For photo credits, use “Photo by” or “Photo courtesy of”


President Hanlon

First reference: President Philip J. Hanlon ’77

Second reference: President Hanlon

Third+ reference: Hanlon


Use a single space after a period when beginning a new sentence.

To create apostrophes:

PCs: Shortcut key for apostrophe: hold down control key and hit the apostrophe key twice to get this: ’

Macs: Keystroke is shift/option/close bracket to get this: ’

Be mindful that you don’t use a backward apostrophe, which looks like this: ‘18 (should be ’18)

For more keyboard shortcuts to create quotation marks (should be “smart” or “curly” quotes—“quote marks”—rather than “straight” quotes—"quote marks"):

For Mac users and PC users: http://practicaltypography.com/straight‐and-­curly-­quotes.html

Quotations in headlines: see Headlines


Write 3 p.m. (not 3:00 p.m.)

When including an hour, day, and location, follow this pattern: little time, big time, place.

The event will take place at 3 p.m. on Monday, June 10, at Rollins Chapel.

Titles: see compositions, titles

United States

When abbreviating, use U.S. (not US) in both text and headlines.



Wheelock, Eleazar

The founder (in 1769) and first president of Dartmouth

Office of Communications