Johns Hopkins Whiting School of Engineering Style Guide

June 2016

These guidelines were compiled by editors in the Office of Marketing and Communication at the Whiting School of Engineering to encourage consistency and correct usage of terms across the many publications and materials produced. The guidelines draw from current editions of the JHU Style Guide, AP Stylebook, and the Chicago Manual of Style. Written from a Johns Hopkins/WSE point of view, these guidelines are intended to compliment AP and CMOS, and when those sources disagree, to help you choose between them. For points not addressed in the guidelines, AP is the preferred source. For points not listed in AP, use the dictionary it recommends: Webster’s New World College Dictionary. When the dictionary gives two spellings, use the first one; when AP and Webster’s disagree on a spelling, use AP’s. A number of individual JHU publications have their own style sheets, more detailed and directed to handling specialized content.

The guidelines below will supplement those already existing and will contribute to the effort to bring overall consistency to university publications.

abbreviations and acronyms Do not follow an organization’s full name with an acronym in parentheses. If an acronym would not be clear without this arrangement, do not use it. When the full name of an acronym is used, words that are not normally capitalized should be lowercased. (Example: MOOC is an acronym for massive open online course.)

academic and administrative titles In most cases, titles should follow a name and be lowercased (Example: Gregory D. Hager, professor computer science.) The

exception is named professorships and deanships, which stay capped even when they follow a name (Example: Somnath Ghosh, Michael G. Callas Chair Professor).

When a formal title precedes a name, capitalize it. (Example: Kent Gordon Croft Investment Management Faculty Scholar Sharon Gerecht, professor in the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering.)

With lowercase titles that follow names, the capitalization of the discipline or department is determined by the usage:

Example: professor of applied mathematics (lowercase applied mathematics because you are talking about an academic discipline, not a department)

Example: research scientist in the Department of Computer Science (capitalize Computer Science because you are referring to a department, not the discipline in general)

Do not use the title “Professor” preceding a name; instead, the title should follow the name. (Example: Donald Geman, professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering.)

The only exception to this rule is use in formal programs/invitations for events such as graduation, convocation, PhD hooding ceremonies and the like. (Example: Professor Donald Geman, of the Department of Electric and Computer Engineering, will be honored at a reception to be held at the Johns Hopkins Club.)

Do not use the title “Dr.” preceding a name except when listing/referring to those with medical degrees in formal programs/invitations for events and ceremonies. Otherwise, the title should follow the name. (Example: Henry Brem, professor in the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine.)

academic degrees Do not list a person’s degree after his/her/their name, unless referring to a JHU/WSE alumnus. Omit periods (BS, MS, PhD), and avoid abbreviations when possible. (Example: John Jones, who has a doctorate in biomedical engineering). Capitalize the formal name of a degree (Master of Science), but lowercase the discipline (Master of Science in computer science) and the informal name (master’s degree in applied mathematics).

Use this format for referring to alumni and their academic degrees: Zhifei Li PhD ’10; Nicholas Gianaris MSE ’92, PhD ’96.

academic year Should be written as YYYY–YY (ex: 2015–16) with an en dash, not a hyphen. (Example: 2015–2016)

acronyms (See WSE below for a list of acronyms.)

Job titles and names of organizations, centers, buildings, forms, tests, and other objects are generally spelled without periods.


Make acronyms plural without apostrophes, unless the last letter of the acronym is an s, in which case the apostrophe is needed.


adviser Not advisor. (Note: This spelling is subject to change. Johns Hopkins is reviewing the preferred spelling for fall 2016.)

ages Always use figures.

aka No spacing.

alphabetization of hyphenated surnames Alphabetize by first surname. (Example: Lori Graham-Brady.) If names are not hyphenated, alphabetize by final surname. (Example: Susan Brown Smith.)

alumnus, alumni

Alumnus is the singular, masculine form. For references to women, use alumna (singular) or alumnae (plural). Alumni is plural for a group of both men and women.

ampersand Use only when the ampersand is part of the formal name of a department, division, company, etc. (U.S. News & World Report) Do not use an ampersand to avoid the repetition of “and,“ as in “The School of Arts & Sciences and the School of Engineering are based at Homewood.” Use instead “the School of Arts and Sciences and the School of Engineering.” Please note that these should be capitalized even when “Krieger” and “Whiting” are not used.

apostrophes No apostrophe is needed for decades.

1990s, 1980s, 2000s

Make acronyms plural without apostrophes unless the last letter of the acronym is an s, in which case the apostrophe is needed.

CEOs, GEDs, IDs, SPS’s

blogs Titles of named blogs should be italicized. Titles of blog entries should be placed in quotation marks. (Example: “Attack of the Week” was the latest entry in Matthew Green’s A Few Thoughts on Cryptographic Engineering)

Blue Jays Use the plural, even as an adjective: a Blue Jays lacrosse fan, a Blue Jays uniform. But when referring to an individual write “Bob Smith is proud to be a Blue Jay.”

board of trustees/advisory board Lowercase. (Examples: the Johns Hopkins University board of trustees and The Whiting School of Engineering advisory board)

books, journals

Italicize the titles of books and journals. (Example: John Smith has a paper coming out in Nature.) Use quotation marks around the titles of articles/papers appearing in journals. (Example: “The physics of cancer: the role of physical interactions and mechanical forces in metastasis,” appeared in the Nature Reviews of Cancer.)

building names On invitations and in event listings, use an academic building’s full name. (Examples: Hodson Hall; Maryland Hall; Hackerman Hall.) The room number precedes the building name. (Example: 125 Malone Hall.)

ca. Preferred abbreviation for circa, meaning about or approximately.

campus Lowercase: Homewood campus, East Baltimore campus, Mount

Washington campus. Exception: Montgomery County Campus.

canceled, canceling, canceling, cancellation

capitalization On second reference, words such as university, school, hospital, institute, department, center should not be capped. Exceptions: the Laboratory/the Lab (for APL), and the Beach (lawn in front of the Eisenhower Library).

class standing When writing about students currently enrolled at the Whiting School of Engineering, use the designations freshman, sophomore, junior, or senior, rather than their year of graduation.

comma Use a serial comma (i.e., before and in a series). (Example: the schools of Engineering, Medicine, and Public Health.) If a serial comma does not appear in a proper name (Department of Family, Population and Reproductive Health), do not add it.

Commencement Capitalize it when referring to the university’s end-of-year ceremonies. Also capitalize Commencement Day.

contact information It is not necessary to preface telephone numbers and emails being used as contact information in publications and emails with the words “phone number” and “email.” Simply list the phone number and/or the email address. Readers can easily recognize what they are without those labels. In addition, do not include http://www in URLs, unless you are giving an https://address



course titles Do not italicize course titles or use quotation marks around them.

course work

cross-disciplinary, cross section

data The word “data” is plural. Use phrases such as "data were," "data are," "these data."

When the word data refers to separate elements, use plural verbs and pronouns. (Example: Data have been collected from many countries.) When the word functions as a collective noun, use singular verbs and pronouns. (Example: The data you collected is helpful in this project.)


dates, months, years, days of the week (Also see events.)

For dates and years, use numbers. Do not use st, nd, rd, or th with dates. Always capitalize months. Spell out the month unless it is used with a date. (Example: The meeting is set for Thursday, July 7.) When used with a date, abbreviate only the following months: Jan., Feb., Aug., Sept., Oct., Nov. and Dec. (Example: The symposium will be held on Tuesday, Aug. 3.)

Commas are not necessary if only a year and month are given, but commas should be used to set off a year if the date, month and year are given. (Example: Malone Hall was dedicated on October 16, 2014.) Use the letter s but not an apostrophe after the figures when expressing decades or centuries. (Example: The 1800s). Do, however, use an apostrophe before figures expressing a decade if numerals are left out. (Example: The ’90s.)

If you refer to an event that occurred the day prior to when the article will appear, do not use the word yesterday. Instead, use the day of the week. Capitalize days of the week, but never abbreviate.

D.C. Periods should be used to separate D.C. as in Washington, D.C.

degrees Capitalize the main words in the names of degrees when they are spelled out and capitalize abbreviations of degrees. (Note: There are no spaces between elements.)

Bachelor of Arts--BA
Bachelor of Science--BS
Master of Arts--MA
Master of Science--MS
Doctor of Philosophy--PhD

Capitalization of names of degrees should match the registrar's official degree list. If the official degree name contains the words “of Science,” the discipline is capitalized. (Refer to the Bachelor of Science in Biomedical Engineering or the Bachelor’s degree in Biomedical Engineering.) Similar rules apply to references made to master’s and doctoral degrees.

Do not capitalize academic degrees used in a general sense. Note that bachelor's and master's end in 's.

a bachelor's degree
a master's degree
a doctoral degree or a doctorate

In references to degrees, the word “degree” is never capitalized.

(Example: She earned her Master of Science in Engineering degree.)

Make plural abbreviations of degrees with s (no apostrophe).


department Do not capitalize “department” on second reference.

(Example: Tony Dalrymple of the Department of Civil Engineering retired in June. He had been with the department since 1999.)

email In printed works, it is often necessary to break an email address or a uniform resource identifier such as a URL at the end of a line. Such a break should be made between elements if at all possible: after a colon or a double slash; before or after an equals sign or an ampersand; or before a single slash, a period, or any other punctuation or symbols. To avoid confusion, an address that contains a hyphen should never be broken at the hyphen; nor should a hyphen be added to break an email address or URL. If a particularly long element must be broken to avoid a seriously loose line, it should be broken between syllables according to the guidelines offered above (Chicago 7.42).

When listing a person’s email address in a publication or in email correspondence, simply use the address. No need to preface it with the word “email.” People are familiar enough with the format of email addresses to understand.

em dash Em dashes are most often used in pairs in Hopkins publications to set off a phrase: More than 1,000 members of the university community—deans, trustees, faculty, staff, students, and alumni—helped refine the plan. For a fuller discussion, see Chicago 6.82.

emojis Never use emojis in any business writing.

en dash En dashes are used with inclusive numbers (pages 8–10, the years 2012–13) and in place of a hyphen in a compound adjective when one of its elements is compound. (Examples: a Nobel Prize–winning astrophysicist, the Johns Hopkins–led study, University of Wisconsin–Madison.) An abbreviated compound, like U.S., is treated as a single word and therefore uses a hyphen, rather than an en dash, in compounds. A single word or prefix should be joined to a hyphenated compound by another hyphen rather than an en dash; if the result is awkward, reword (Chicago 6.80). (Examples: a two-thirds-full auditorium; better, an auditorium that was two-thirds full.)

exclamation points Avoid the use of exclamation points.

events The correct format is: time of day, day of week, month, location. (Example: The symposium will be held from 2 to 3 p.m. on Wednesday, Dec. 16 in Hodson Hall Auditorium.) There is no need to list the year unless the event is planned far in advance and will be the following year. Exception: the year may be listed in formal invitations.

fall, fall semester Lowercase references to seasons and academic periods.

follow-up (noun, adjective), follow up (verb).

foreign words If foreign words are listed in AP or Webster’s, do not italicize them.

foreign students Use the phrase “international students” instead.

from … to When from introduces a range, the word to must complete it. (Example: The seminar is from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.) Do not use a hyphen between start and end times. Use to.

fundraiser, fundraising

gender neutral language Helpful techniques for achieving gender neutral language are listed in Chicago 5.225 and 5.227. Chairman and chairwoman are acceptable when they refer to specific people; otherwise use chair.

global Use global and not "multinational" (ex: global employers).


headlines Johns Hopkins Magazine and the Gazette use both upper- and lowercase headline styles. For lowercase style, follow AP Stylebook, headlines; for uppercase, see Chicago 8:157. A few points: Capitalize prepositions of four or more letters. Enclose in single quotation marks titles and other words that are normally italicized. Use single instead of double quotation marks in headlines and callouts. Designers have free rein in headlines of features and do not need to follow these rules.

health care Two words unless spelled as one word in the official title of an organization, bill, etc. Do not hyphenate as an adjective. Note: The Malone Center for Engineering in Healthcare is correct as one word.