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DePauw University Condensed Writing Styleguide

The DePauw University Style Guide provides writing style standards for publications created for DePauw’s external audiences. Also included are examples of correct grammar and forms about which people often have questions. It is intended as a guideline for improving the clarity and consistency of university publications, not as a guideline for technical or academic writing. This style guide also is useful in correspondence.

The basic reference for DePauw writing style is The Associated Press Stylebook. Final, authoritative dictionary reference is Random House Webster’s Unabridged Dictionary.

All DePauw publications have one thing in common – the reader/audience. Because of multiple mailings, it is possible for an individual reader to receive more than one DePauw publication in a short time – for example, the DePauw Magazine, an online newsletter and an alumni event brochure all in one week. If the writing style isn’t clear and consistent, the DePauw message is weakened. The style guide offers a basis on which to create university writing, with clarity and consistency as the foundation. If the style guide does not provide the information you need, please consult the Associated Press Stylebook or contact the Office of University Communications.

The use of italics below is used to set out words and highlight examples. Do not italicize these words when you use them unless the entry specifically calls for italics.


DePauw University, in affirmation of its commitment to excellence, endeavors to provide equal opportunity for all individuals in its hiring, promotion, compensation and admission procedures. Institutional decisions regarding hiring, promotion, compensation and admission will be based upon a person’s qualifications and/or performance without regard to race, color, creed, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, disability, age, gender, gender identity or gender expression, except where religion, gender or national origin is a bona fide occupational qualification.

DePauw University’s goals and commitments are best served if the institution reflects the diversity of our society; hence, DePauw seeks diversity in all areas and levels of employment and abides by all local, state, and federal regulations concerning equal employment opportunities. The university admits, hires and promotes individuals upon their qualities and merits.

academic calendar

  • Use lowercase fall semester, spring semester, spring break, fall break, winter term.

academic degrees

  • Use B.A., M.A., Ph.D. MBA does not use periods.
  • Use lowercase for bachelor’s, master’s or doctoral degree.
  • Use lowercase for doctorate or doctoral program.
  • Do not follow a person’s name with his/her degrees.

academic departments

  • Capitalize the official name, such as Department of History.
  • On second reference, use history department or the department. Do not capitalize.

academic majors

  • Do not capitalize major areas of study unless the major includes a word that is normally capitalized. Example: Asian studies.


  • A few universally recognized abbreviations are required in some circumstances. Some others are acceptable depending on the context. But in general, avoid alphabet soup. Do not use abbreviations or acronyms that the reader would not quickly recognize. Do not follow an organization’s full name with an abbreviation or acronym in parentheses or set off by dashes. If an abbreviation or acronym would not be clear on second reference without this arrangement, do not use it.

administrative offices

  • Capitalize formal office names. Example: Office of Alumni Relations.
  • Use lowercase for alumni office and for second reference.


  • Not advisor.


  • Alumnus: male singular reference; alumni: male plural and collective plural reference.
  • Alumna: female singular reference; alumnae: female plural reference.
  • Alumni/ae: Class year indicated by apostrophe and final two numbers in graduation year. Example: George T. Franklin ’68.
  • For alumni who attend DePauw but do not graduate, DePauw assigns a class year four years after their entering year unless they explicitly request to be considered a member of another class. There is no ’xx designation at DePauw as there is at some universities.


  • Use an ampersand – & – only as part of an official name, as in McDermond Center for Management & Entrepreneurship, but not as a substitute for and.

Board of Trustees

  • Use uppercase for DePauw Board of Trustees and formal boards of other entities.
  • Use lowercase for a generic board of trustees. Use board on second reference.

building names

  • Official building names should be capitalized, e.g, East College, but not informal references, the science and math building.
  • Do not abbreviate or shorten names of buildings, except in internal publications, e.g., UB, internally, but Memorial Student Union Building externally.


  • Lowercase words are easier for the reader’s eye to follow. Prefer the lowercase and the generic form. Capitalize a word only when it is a proper noun, a formal name or the first word of a sentence.
  • Words to capitalize:
    • DePauw (D and P always caps – no space between De and Pauw).
    • Alumni Association Board of Directors.
    • Alumni Reunion Weekend.
    • Annual Fund/Annual Giving.
    • Board of Visitors.
    • Board of Trustees.
    • Environmental Fellows Program; a student is an environmental fellow.
    • Greek (fraternities and sororities). However, the phrase fraternity and sorority life is preferred.
    • Honor Scholars Program; a student is an honor scholar.
    • Little 5 bike race.
    • Management Fellows Program; a student is a management fellow.
    • Media Fellows Program; a student is a media fellow.
    • Parents’ Executive Committee.
    • Rector Scholarship; a student recipient is a Rector scholar.
    • Science Research Fellows Program; a student is a science research fellow.
    • the Washington C. DePauw Society. Do not capitalize the.

chairman, chairwoman, chair

  • Prefer the non-gender-specific chair.


  • Capitalize when referring to a class year, e.g., Class of 1975. After a student or an alumnus/ae’s name, use an apostrophe that faces to signify the missing two numerals. Example: Timothy Smith ’77.


  • No hyphen.


  • Lowercase commencement unless it is used as a part of a formal title.


  • Capitalize formal names of committees, e.g., Committee on Student Affairs.
  • Use lowercase for a student affairs committee.

course titles

  • Capitalize formal course titles, Psychology 101, when a number is used. Generic course names, such as psychology or world history, are lowercase.
  • Except in a direct quotation, course names are not enclosed in quotation marks.
  • Do not italicize course titles.

courtesy titles

  • Do not use courtesy titles: Mr., Mrs., Miss, Ms., Dr. in publications. Use them in correspondence.
  • The AP Stylebook allows use of Dr. in first reference to a doctor of dental surgery, medicine, optometry, osteopathic medicine, podiatric medicine or veterinary medicine. Take care to state the individual’s specialty in the first or second reference unless the context leaves no doubt about it. However, it is preferred to describe the person – e.g., a surgeon or a family practitioner – rather than use the title.
  • The use of Dr. to designate holders of the Ph.D. is acceptable in correspondence, but not in published text.


  • Data is a plural noun that takes a plural verb. Data are.

daylight saving time

  • Not daylight savings time.

dean’s list

  • Lowercase.


  • Use Arabic figures to indicate decades: 1960s (Note: no apostrophe before s). An apostrophe replaces the omitted figures in class year or decade. Example: Class of ’68; the ’60s.
  • Use left-facing apostrophes to replace omitted figures in class year or decade, e.g., ’22.


  • On academic degrees in general: If mention of degrees is necessary to establish someone’s credentials, the preferred form is to avoid an abbreviation and use instead a phrase such as “John Jones, who has a doctorate in psychology, . . .”   
    • Note: Use the article a before consonant sounds: a historic eventa 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 MBA, an energy crisisan honorable man (the h is silent), an homage (the h is silent), an NBA record (sounds like it begins with the letter e), an 1890s celebration.

DePauw (the word)

  • The word DePauw is trademarked. Whether used with or without the word university, the word DePauw must be spelled accurately and consistently. When used in printed materials, the word DePauw should be spelled with a capital D and P, with no space between e and P, or it can be shown in all capital letters, e.g., DEPAUW.
  • Use DePauw University in first reference. In subsequent references, use DePauw or lowercase the university.
  • In sports stories and news headlines, DPU is acceptable. Do not use DU as an abbreviation.


  • Lowercase, no hyphen.


  • Entitled means a right to something. A book or other work is titled.

faculty, staff

  • Faculty and staff are collective nouns describing all professors and other instructors at the university and all administrative employees. Those who make up those groups should be referred to as faculty members or staff members.


  • Spell out and hyphenate in text. Example: one-third, one-half. When precision is not required, use a third, a half.
  • For mixed numbers, use 1 1/2, 2 5/8 with a full space between the whole number and the fraction.

grade point average

  • Lowercase in first reference, i.e., grade point average; GPA on second reference.


  • Use italics: cum laudemagna cum laudesumma cum laude.


  • i.e. (id est) means that is and is always followed by a comma.
  • e.g. (exempli gratia) means for example and is always followed by a comma.
  • Consider i.e. and e.g. as parenthetical elements and punctuate accordingly: In evaluating an IQ score, several factors, e.g., socioeconomic level, must be considered.
  • Spelling out that is or for example is preferable in common usage.


  • Lowercase.


  • Abbreviate as Jr. and Sr. only with full names of persons. Do not precede by a comma. Example: John M. Smith Jr. ’74.


  • Use lists and bulleted formats in both publications and correspondence. They break up text and are easy on the eye. Be sure to keep items parallel grammatically: Be consistent in choosing single words, complete sentences or phrases. The first word, in particular, should have a consistent grammatical form, e.g., a verb, a noun or a gerund.
  • If you lead into a list with a colon, the whole list constitutes a sentence, and you should punctuate appropriately. Example: The box contained the following: apples, oranges, plums and bananas.
  • Capitalize the first word following the bullet. Use periods, not semicolons, at the end of each section, whether it is a full sentence or a phrase. Example:

Jones gave the following reasons:

  • He never ordered the package.
  • If he did, it didn't come.
  • If it did, he sent it back.

login/log in

  • When used as a noun, it is one word. When used as a verb, it is two. Example: My login is 12345. I use that to log in to my computer.

maiden names

  • When using the name of a married alumna, include the maiden name that she used while a student. Do not use parentheses. Example: Patricia Smith was a member of the Class of 1985 who married Jack Jones after graduation. Right: Patricia Smith Jones ’85. Wrong: Patricia (Smith ’85) Jones, Patricia (Smith) Jones ’85.

majors and programs

  • Academic majors are lowercase, e.g., mathematics.
  • Capitalize formal names of programs, e.g., Media Fellows Program or Honor Scholar Program. However, a student is a media fellow or an honor scholar.


  • Media is a plural noun that takes a plural verb. The media are.


  • Write out numerals zero through nine.
  • For 10 and greater, use numerals except when they begin a sentence. Write out numbers that begin a sentence although it is less awkward if you recast the sentence so the number isn’t the first word.
  • Use figures for 10 and above and whenever preceding a unit of measure or referring to ages of people, animals, events or things.
  • For thousands, use a comma. Example – 3,000; 250,000.
  • For millions, billions, use figures in all but the most casual uses. Example: I wish I had a billion dollars. Otherwise, e.g., $5 billion, 3 million immigrants.
  • Round numbers based on the level of interest and use of the information by readers.
  • Write whole dollar amounts without .00. Example: $12.
  • Use Arabic figures to indicate decades: 1960s (No apostrophe before s). An apostrophe replaces the omitted figures in class year or decade. Example: Class of ’68; ’60s. Use outward-facing apostrophes to replace omitted figures in class year or decade.


  • Oral means spoken. Verbal pertains to words. Two people speaking to each other make an oral agreement. If they type up and print out a contract, that’s a written agreement. Both involve words and therefore both are verbal agreements.
  • One can be verbally assaulted, which involves an attack in which hateful words are the weapon, as opposed to physically assaulted, which involves some sort of unwelcomed touching.

over/more than

  • Over means above (The plane flew over the stadium). More than means a greater number (More than 200 people attended the lecture).

percent/percentage point

  • Percent changes and percentage point changes are not the same thing. Example: If one raises her score from 50 percent to 80 percent, that is an increase of 30 percentage points (80 - 50 = 30) and an increase of 60 percent (30 ÷ 50 = 0.6 or 60 percent).


  • Use numerals and percent for percentages. Example: 20 percent. Do not use a percentage sign.
  • For fractional percentages, use decimals, not fractions. Example: 2.5 percent.

pronoun/antecedent agreement

  • In most cases, a pronoun should agree in number with the noun to which it refers. Example:  A student plans his or her class schedule. They/them/their is acceptable in limited cases as a singular and/or gender-neutral pronoun, when alternative wording is overly awkward or clumsy. However, rewording usually is possible and always is preferable. Clarity is a top priority; gender-neutral use of a singular they is unfamiliar to many readers.
  • In stories about people who identify as neither male nor female or ask not to be referred to as he/she/him/her: Use the person’s name in place of a pronoun, or otherwise reword the sentence, whenever possible. If they/them/their use is essential, explain in the text that the person prefers a gender-neutral pronoun. Be sure that the phrasing does not imply more than one person.
  • When they is used in the singular, it takes a plural verb: Taylor said they need a new car. (Again, be sure it’s clear from the context that only one person is involved.)


  • The plural of alumnus is alumni. The plural of alumna is alumnae. Formula/formulas is an exception.
  • Add es to proper names that end in s or z. Example: the Jones family might be called the Joneses. The place the family lives is the Joneses’ house, not the Jones’ house.
  • Add s to figures: The custom began in the 1920s. The airline has two 727s.Temperatures will be in the low 20s. There were five size 7s. No apostrophes.
  • However, use an apostrophe with single letters: Mind your p's and q's. He learned the three R's and brought home a report card with four A's and two B's. The Oakland A's won the pennant.


  • Give a professor’s official rank in first reference. Example: Leslie R. Matthews, assistant professor of biological sciences.
  • Do not use Dr. in text for publication. It is acceptable in correspondence.
  • Do not list academic degrees following a professor’s name. 
  • Never abbreviate professor.
  • Lowercase before or after a name.



  • Use an apostrophe to convey possession: Amelia’s cat; the McClures’ dog. An apostrophe does not make a word plural.
  • An apostrophe indicates omitted letters or numbers.
  • An apostrophe replaces the omitted figures in decades. Example: ’60s. 
  • Use an apostrophe to designate a DePauw graduate’s year of graduation. Example: Joan B. Smith ’68.
  • Use an apostrophe in bachelor’s degree and master’s degree.
  • Use curly (not straight) typographer’s apostrophe.


  • Use a comma before a conjunction introducing an independent clause. Example: He left by the front door, and then he opened the garage.
  • Do not use a comma to separate a compound predicate. Example: He left by the front door and then opened the garage.
  • When city and state are used, put a comma between city and state and a comma after the state. Example: He came from Decatur, Ill., to Chicago.
  • Before and in a series, omit the comma. Example: Laurie, Jane and Carol met for coffee. If each part of the series contains a large number of words or thoughts, use semicolons to separate them, including a semicolon before and. The logic is to help the reader understand the meaning of the sentence.
  • Use a comma to separate nonrestrictive clauses from the rest of the sentence. Example: The house, which is located on 17 acres, is 12 miles from town. (The logic is to use commas to separate elements of a sentence that are not essential to its meaning.
  • Do not use a comma to separate restrictive clauses from the rest of the sentence. Example: The house that faced west was warmer in the afternoon.


  • Dashes require a space before and a space after. They are used to set off parenthetical material that deserves emphasis. Example: He had completed his final paper – unlike most of his classmates.

exclamation point

  • Do not use them.

ellipses (...)

  • Use an ellipsis to indicate the deletion of one or more words in quotes, texts and documents. Make sure deletion doesn’t distort the meaning.
  • Treat ellipses as three-letter words, constructed with three periods and one space before and after periods. If the ellipsis takes the place of a sentence, there is a period at the end of the sentence, a space, three periods and another space. If the ellipsis takes the place of words within a sentence, the form is space, three periods, space.


  • Avoid hyphenating the word DePauw; never De-Pauw.
  • Check the dictionary for first reference on whether to hyphenate compound words or not. Generally, hyphenate compound words that aren’t joined when used as adjectives before nouns. On-campus programs, but students on campus this semester; full-time student, but the student is full time.
  • Do not hyphenate compound modifiers that include an -ly word, e.g., nationally known composer.
  • Between two words, a hyphen means and, e.g., work-study; a slash means or, e.g., pass/fail.
  • Do not hyphenate cocurricular or cocurriculum.

italics/quotation marks/underlining

  • Use italics to designate longer publications, such as books, plays, names of newspapers and magazines, and movies and television shows. Generally, quotation marks designate shorter works, such as poems and songs. Avoid underlining in text or letters.

quotation marks

  • Curly quotation marks are preferred.
  • Use italics or quotation marks to set off a word you are discussing or explaining. Avoid setting off an informal expression that the reader will already know.
  • Use quotation marks to surround the exact words of a speaker or writer.
  • If a quotation is followed by a paragraph that continues the quotation, do not use close-quotation marks at the end of the first paragraph. Open the second paragraph with open-quotation marks. Use close-quotation marks only at the end of the full quotation.


  • A speaker said or says. Limited use of reply or replied is acceptable when it is necessary to note the circumstances in which the speaker commented. Do not use explains/explained; exclaims/exclaimed; states/stated.


  • When no city is cited, write out state names.
  • When including city and state, abbreviate the state name, with the exception of eight states’ names, as follows:


  • Use the U.S. Postal Service abbreviations (IN, IL, TX) only for addresses with zip code included. Never use USPS abbreviations in publication text.
  • State abbreviations are not necessary with large cities for which there can be no confusion. AP style does not require the name of the state to accompany the following 30 cities:

Las Vegas
Los Angeles
New Orleans
New York
Oklahoma City
St. Louis
Salt Lake City
San Antonio
San Diego
San Francisco

student classification

  • First-year student, sophomore, etc.


  • Do not use it. Right: 56th. Wrong: 56th.


  • Lowercase a.m. and p.m. with periods and no spaces.
  • When referring to noon or midnight, do not use a 12, i.e., do not use 12 noon.
  • When referring to a time on the hour, no :00 is needed. Example: The seminar will be held from 8-11:30 a.m.


newspaper and magazines:

  • Capitalize the in a newspaper or magazine’s name if that is the way the publication prefers to be known.
  • Lowercase magazine unless it is part of the publication's formal title: DePauw Magazine, Harper's Magazine, Money magazine, Time magazine.
  • Do not place name in quotes.
  • Do not italicize. 

compositions (books, computer and video games, movies, operas, plays, poems, albums and songs, radio and television programs, lectures, speeches and works of art:

  • Capitalize principal words.  Do not capitalize articles, conjunctions or prepositions in a title unless they are the first or last word in the title.
  • Put quotation marks around the names of all such works except the Bible, the Quran and other holy books and books that are primarily catalogs of reference material. In addition to catalogs, this category includes almanacs, directories, dictionaries, encyclopedias, gazetteers, handbooks and similar publications. Do not use quotation marks around such software titles as WordPerfect or Windows.
    • Examples: “The Star-Spangled Banner,” “The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich,” “Of Mice and Men,” “For Whom the Bell Tolls,” the NBC-TV “Today” program, the “CBS Evening News,” “Star Wars,” “Game of Thrones.”
    • Reference work examples: IHS Jane’s All the World’s Aircraft; Encyclopedia Britannica; Webster’s New World Dictionary of the American Language, Second Edition.
    • Names of most websites and apps are capitalized without quotes: Facebook, Foursquare.
      • Exception: “FarmVille” and similar computer game apps are in quotes.

personal titles

  • Titles following a name are lowercase; this is preferred. Example: William J. Jones, professor of sociology.
  • Capitalize titles that precede a person’s name, e.g., Mayor Jones. However, do not capitalize professor when it precedes a name, e.g., sociology professor William Jones.  
  • Use Dr. only for medical doctors, and only rarely. It is preferred that this construction be avoided; it is better to describe the person – e.g., “a surgeon” or “a family practitioner” – rather than using the title.


  • Use DePauw University in first reference. In subsequent references use DePauw or lowercase the university.
  • When referring to universities in general, use the lowercase.
  • In sports stories and news headlines, DPU is acceptable.

United States

  • The abbreviation U.S. is acceptable as a noun on second reference. Use U.S. as an adjective, as in U.S. Marines.

Washington D.C.

  • Use periods but no comma in Washington D.C.

web, website, webcam, webcast, webfeed, webmaster, webpage 

  • One word, lowercase.

web address, web browser

  • Two words, lower case.

World Wide Web 

  • Capitalize.