Editorial Style Guide

Body

This guide is a resource to assist the Office of Communications and other Dartmouth communicators in following a style that is consistent and appropriate for internal and external audiences. The following reflects updates made as of January 2023.

If you have questions or comments about the style guide, please feel free to write us at office.of.communications@dartmouth.edu.

The guide follows conventions outlined in:

  • The Associated Press Stylebook; follow AP style in most, but not all, cases.
  • Merriam-Webster Collegiate Dictionary

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

 A

Academic degrees

Do not use periods in abbreviations of academic degrees.

  • AB, BE, BS, MA, MBA, MD, PhD, MD-MBA, MD-PhD

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.

Do not list terminal degrees, such as PhD or MD, after a person’s name (Bob Smith, not Bob Smith, PhD).

If it is necessary to mention the degree, please reference within the sentence context:

  • Bob Smith, Thayer ’13, who earned his doctorate in engineering sciences from Dartmouth, will be the keynote speaker.

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.

Academic term and year

Lowercase season and use full year in formal contexts.

  • spring term 2022

Acronyms

Acronyms can be a big help, but not if the result sounds like an Army memo. As AP notes, “in general, avoid alphabet soup. Do not use abbreviations or acronyms that the reader would not quickly recognize.”

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 after the letters.

  • She is a member of the Dartmouth Outing Club.
  • The DOC is a well-known Dartmouth organization.

In general, do not introduce an acronym by putting it in parentheses.

  • She received a grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF).

Addresses

Abbreviate words like “avenue” and “street” when there is a street number.

  • The White House is at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. I grew up on that street. Send inquiries to 7 Lebanon St. in Hanover.

Although we generally don’t use postal code abbreviations for states in the body of stories, when a complete address accompanies the state, use the postal code abbreviation.

  • The address of Thayer School of Engineering at Dartmouth is 14 Engineering Drive, Hanover, NH 03755.

Adviser (not advisor)

But use “advisor” if it is part of a formal name, title, or committee.

  • Jake Sullivan has been the national security advisor to President Joe Biden since 2021.

Ages

Use figures (eg. 1, 2, 3), except when beginning a sentence, and only when relevant to a story:

  • At 21, he was the youngest elected member of the New Hampshire House.

Alma mater

Lowercase generic term; capitalize the name of Dartmouth’s alma mater: Alma Mater.

Alumni

Individuals who matriculate at Dartmouth, whether a graduate or not, become an alumna, alumnus, or alum of Dartmouth.

Correct usage is as follows:

  • alumna (feminine, singular)
  • alumnae (feminine, plural)
  • alumnus (masculine, singular)
  • alumni (masculine, plural, or mixed group)
  • alum or alums, gender neutral.

Ampersands

Avoid them as much as possible, but it’s OK to use an ampersand if it is in the formal name of a company or group.

  • Faculty of Arts and Sciences (not Arts & Sciences).

Attribution

Attribution of sources is essential in all quotations, ideally placed after the quotes with “said” or “says” preferred. Avoid implying emotion or opinion with words such as “exclaimed” or “cried.”

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 B

Bema

The amphitheater in College Park. Bema is not an acronym.

Board of Trustees

While the formal name is the Dartmouth Board of Trustees, capitalize Board of Trustees in reference to the group.

“Board” and “trustees” are lowercase when used alone.

  • The Board of Trustees met Tuesday. The trustees discussed the budget. The board has two new members. Trustee Connie Britton has been on the board for a few years.

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 C

Campus

The West End, the North End, and the Arts District are all capitalized.

Campuswide

No hyphen.

Centers and institutes

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

  • 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
  • the 21st century (not 21st century)
  • the 12th century
  • the 1970s or the ’70s

Class years

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

  • Ellen is a member of the Class of 2005. She graduated later than her class, in 2006.
  • Ellen Smith ’05 will attend the ceremony.

When abbreviating years to two digits, use an apostrophe or a straight single quote (Ellen Smith ’99). If confusion could result from abbreviation of class year, use all four digits.

  • Daniel Webster, Class of 1801.

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

  • Tuck ’21
  • Thayer ’21
  • MED ’17 (no longer Geisel ’21)
  • Guarini ’21 (for the Guarini School of Graduate and Advanced Studies)

Example: Tom Smith, Tuck ’21, will be part of the group.

We do not use these for Dartmouth News stories:

  • a (adopted; and the a is lowercase),
  • P (parent),
  • GP (grandparent),
  • W (widow/widower),
  • H (honorary degree recipient).

Examples: John Dillon ’87P; John Dennis ’87a

College

Always capitalize when referring to Dartmouth.

Comma

Use the serial comma.

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

Compass points

In general, lowercase north, south, northeast, northern, and the like when they indicate compass direction. But capitalize these words when they designate regions:

  • He lives on the West Coast but comes east regularly.

Content Warnings and Referrals for Help

Notes to readers when the content could be an emotional trigger, such as stories about sexual assault or suicide, are OK on a case-by-case basis.

When discussing suicides, include a paragraph about mental health resources at the bottom of the story.

One such example is:

If you or someone you know is in crisis, call or text the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 988 or use the online chat at 988.lifeline.org.

Mental health support is available through Dartmouth 24/7 for students, faculty, and staff. Any Dartmouth student experiencing a mental health crisis can call the Counseling Center at 603-646-9442.

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D

Dartmouth

The use of Dartmouth is acceptable on first and second reference. “College” is always capitalized when referring to Dartmouth.

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

Dartmouth Health

(previously the Dartmouth-Hitchcock health system)

Dartmouth Health no longer uses D-H on second reference.

Under the umbrella Dartmouth Health organization are:

  • Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center
  • Dartmouth Hitchcock Clinics (the ambulatory clinics in southern N.H.)
  • Alice Peck Day Memorial Hospital
  • Cheshire Medical Center
  • Mt. Ascutney Hospital and Health Center
  • New London Hospital
  • Visiting Nurse and Hospice for Vermont and New Hampshire

Note that there is no longer a hyphen for Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center, though it can still be called DHMC on second reference.

Also, it is now the Dartmouth Cancer Center, not Norris Cotton Cancer Center.

Dartmouth Engineering

The official external moniker for Thayer School of Engineering at Dartmouth. Dartmouth Engineering is acceptable for first reference for website news, press releases, magazine, and other publications.

When referring to professors in the context of their institution, capitalize the “E.”

  • Dartmouth Engineering professor Ian Baker conducted the study.

In the context of what they teach, use lowercase “e.”

  • Dartmouth’s chemistry department will collaborate with engineering professor Ian Baker.

Thayer is acceptable for internal communications, for use within and across Dartmouth. Thayer is preferable to Thayer School.

Days and dates

Capitalize and spell out days of the week.

When there is a date, abbreviate the long-word months but always spell out March, April, May, June, and July. Do not use ordinals with dates.

  • He was born on Oct. 11, 2017. John Adams died on July 4, 1826.
  • The meeting will take place on Oct. 2. (Not Oct. 2nd)

As a general rule, use BCE (Before Common Era) and CE (Common Era),  not B.C. and A.D. However, most dates in the Common Era don’t need the CE.

  • Cleopatra was born in 69 BCE.
  • Chaucer was born around 1342.
  • Augustus, the first Roman emperor, ruled from 27 BCE until his death in 14 CE.

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.

  • 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

Diversity, equity, and inclusion

DEI is acceptable on second reference.

Also, DEIB when “belonging” is included.

D-Plan

Abbreviation of the Dartmouth Plan. Acceptable for first reference when used in a Dartmouth story.

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E

Email 
(not e-mail)

  • They get a lot of email at work.

Emeritus, emerita, emerit

  • Thomas Cormen, professor emeritus of computer science
  • Kathleen Wine, an associate professor emerita of French
  • Orvil Dryfoos Professor of Public Affairs Emeritus Richard Wright

If a professor wants to be known as professor emerit, use that.

Ethnicity and nationality

Do not hyphenate the following:

  • African American, Asian American, Native American
  • Black is uppercase; white is lowercase.
  • Native
  • Indigenous
  • BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and people of color)
  • BIPOC does not need to be spelled out as long as accompanying text gives some indication of why it is relevant to the story.
  • Latino, Latina, Latinx

Use Latino and Latina. Latinx is also acceptable if a department or program uses it or an individual prefers it.

Events on campus

Use uppercase for such major annual events as Commencement, Homecoming, Winter Carnival, Green Key Weekend, Powwow, Dartmouth Night, and Twilight.

Lowercase first-year trips.

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F

Faculty

The word faculty can be used as a plural noun.

  • The faculty are all in agreement.
  • Faculty members are co-chairing the event.

First-year student

Not freshman. Sophomore, junior, and senior are acceptable usages. Do not use upperclassmen.

Fundraising / fundraiser

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G

Gender and sexual identity references

A person’s gender or gender identity should be mentioned only when relevant to a story to provide necessary context. Gender and sex are not synonymous and should not be used interchangeably. In the simplest terms, gender refers to how a person identifies, while sex refers to assignments at birth based on biological characteristics. Not all people fall under one of two binary categories for sex, and many identify along a broad spectrum of gender and gender identities. 

In general, use language that can apply to any gender and aim for language that is inclusive of people whose identities are not strictly male or female. Avoid phrases such as “opposite sex” or “both genders” to refer to all people; use alternative phrasing such as “entire community” or “all students.”

When clarity is necessary, in particular for scientific studies that require a specific reference to sex or gender, use specific phrases like “men and women” or “boys and girls.”

Avoid gender-based qualifiers with occupations. For example:

  • chair instead of chairman, councilor or council member rather than councilman.

Familiar terms such as mother, father, son, daughter, husband, wife are generally acceptable, but parent, child, sibling, spouse should be used when preferred by an individual.

Balance these aims with respect for grammar, with an understanding that gender-neutral or gender-inclusive language is evolving.

  • Pronouns
    • Use someone’s pronouns, such as she, he, or they, and indicate when a person uses pronouns such as “they” or “zie” to avoid any potential confusion for readers.
      • “An award like this makes me feel like what I’m doing is resonating,” said Alvarez, who uses they/them pronouns.
  • LGBTQIA+ is the standard, but it’s acceptable to use similar acronyms if that’s what a group is using or a person refers to.

Graduate and professional schools

Geisel:

  • First use: the Geisel School of Medicine
  • Second use: Geisel

Guarini School of Graduate and Advanced Studies

  • First use: Guarini School of Graduate and Advanced Studies
  • Second use: Guarini

Thayer:

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

Tuck School of Business

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

See Class Years for information on class affiliations.

Graphic design standards

See the Dartmouth visual identity guidelines.

the Green

Capitalize when referring to the large patch of grass at the center of Dartmouth’s campus, between Baker Tower and the Hanover Inn.

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H

Headlines

Capitalize all words with the exception of articles (a, an, the) and prepositions and conjunctions of fewer than four letters (unless, of course, they start the headline).

Quotes in a headline are set in single quotation marks. Words in headlines are not italicized. Instead, use single quotes.

  • Art Students Win ‘Best in Show’ for Project

Health care

Always two words.

Hood Museum of Art

Second reference: the Hood; not the Hood Museum.

Hopkins Center for the Arts

Second reference: the Hop.

House communities

Use lowercase (though use uppercase, of course, when referring to a specific house, such as South House).

Hyperlinks

Use them for faculty and staff who have them on the Dartmouth site.

Include the title in the link if it precedes the name, such as:

Long titles should go after the name and not be linked:

  • Mary Lou Aleskie, the Howard Gilman ’44 Executive Director, has signed on for a second term at the Hop.

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I

Italics, capitalization, and quotation marks for titles of works

Italicize:

  • album names
  • books
  • movies
  • plays, operas, and oratorios
  • poems
  • songs
  • television or radio shows

Capitalize, but don’t use italics or quotation marks, for:

  • apps
  • blogs
  • book manuscript when publication is not forthcoming
  • broadcast networks
  • cartoons or comic strips
  • channels
  • conferences
  • courses (now Cold War Political Relations, not “Cold War Political Relations”)
  • essays
  • exhibitions
  • exhibition catalogs
  • journals and magazines
  • journal articles
  • lectures
  • newspapers
  • newspaper sections
  • oratorios
  • paintings
  • pamphlets
  • periodicals
  • PhD dissertations
  • Photographs
  • podcasts
  • seminars
  • speeches
  • statues
  • symposia
  • theses
  • websites (The story was published on Dartmouth News.)

Remember that the use of links can also help an item that might previously have had quote marks stand out.

Initials

As a general rule, do not use initials in people’s names unless specifically requested.

Some exceptions:

  • President Philip J. Hanlon ’77
  • Dean Elizabeth F. Smith

Internet

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

  • Wi-Fi

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J

Jr., Sr.

Capitalize; do not precede by a comma. The notation “II” may be used if it is the individual’s preference, but note that it is not necessarily the equivalent of “junior.”

  • Martin Luther King Jr.

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M

Military

Capitalize U.S. military branches

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

More than, less than

Use when referring to numerals. Use “over” and “under” only in spatial relationships.

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N

Nonprofit (Not non-profit)

Numerals

In general, spell out one through nine. Use numerals for 10 or above and whenever preceding a unit of measure or referring to ages

  • She learned French when she was 6 years old.

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O

OK

Not “okay”

Samson Occom; Occom Pond; Occom Ridge

Not Occum

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P

Percentages

Express with the symbol % in text and in headlines and captions.

  • 3%
  • 100%

Remember that an increase from 52% to 55% is not a 3% increase. It is an increase of 3 percentage points.

Photo captions

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

Podcast

Postdoctoral

Do not hyphenate. Postdoc is acceptable when space is an issue.

Powwow

One word.

  • The first Dartmouth Powwow was held in 1972, during the Kemeny administration.

President

  • President Hanlon
    • First reference: President Philip J. Hanlon ’77
    • Second reference: President Hanlon
    • Third reference: Hanlon
  • President-elect Beilock
    • First reference: President-elect Sian Leah Beilock
    • Second reference: President-elect Beilock
    • Third reference: Beilock

It’s OK to use “Sian Beilock” in a headline where space is tight, but first reference in text should include her middle name.

Pronouns

See Gender and sexual identity references. For use of singular “they,” see They.

Punctuation

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

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S

Second College Grant

Dartmouth’s holdings in northern New Hampshire; capitalize. Also, the Grant.

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T

That, which, who, whom

Use “who” and “whom” in referring to people and to animals with a name: John Jones is the person who helped me.

Use “that” and “which” in referring to inanimate objects and to animals without a name.

Omit “that” after a verb when possible—He said the sky was blue—unless use is needed for clarity.

“Which” should be used in nonrestrictive clauses, set off by a comma: The dog, which was barking, bared its teeth.

They

The singular “they” is preferable to the clunky “he or she” terminology.

  • The driver of that SUV parked too close to my Prius, and they have blocked me in.

Time

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. (3 p.m. is the little time; June 10 is the big time, and Rollins Chapel is the place.)

Noon is sufficient for 12 p.m. during the day; 12 noon is redundant.

Titles

“Professor” and “Dean” are capitalized in front of a name when used as titles. However, they should be lowercase when used as a descriptor.

  • Professor Brendan Nyhan writes opinion pieces for the Times.
  • Professor of Government Brendan Nyhan writes columns for the New York Times.
  • He went to school with government professor Brendan Nyhan.
  • Professor is generally lowercase when appearing after the name, unless it is part of an endowed chair.
  • Brendan Nyhan is a professor of government.
  • They audited a course taught by Brendan Nyhan, the James O. Freedman Presidential Professor.

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U

United States

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

Alaska, Hawaii, Idaho, Iowa, Maine, Ohio, Texas, and Utah are always spelled out.

Don’t use postal abbreviations, except when giving a mailing address. Mass., not MA.

URLs

Use sparingly in text, and don’t capitalize. 

  • dartmouth.edu

Other than VOX and a few other exceptions, URLs should be hyperlinked.

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W

Websites:

Instead of using the word “website” or “webpage,” hyperlink text as much as possible.

Well-being

Not wellbeing

Eleazar Wheelock: the founder (in 1769) and first president of Dartmouth

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Z

Zoom, Zooming

May be used as a noun or a verb.