Editorial Style Guide

We are the standard-bearer and arbiter of editorial style for Purdue University’s published, nonacademic communications. See our rules relative to spelling, punctuation and word usage.

Editorial Style Resources

Marketing and Communications has established a tiered system of style resources for reference, listed below in order of priority:

  1. Purdue University’s Editorial Style Guide
  2. The Associated Press Stylebook
  3. Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, 11th Edition
  4. The Chicago Manual of Style, 17th Edition

For a style question that is not addressed in the resources mentioned above, please contact Marketing and Communications.

Appendix A — Purdue college/school names

A girl working on a laptop

Campus Landmarks and Public Art

This resource is a supplement to the Purdue University campus map and the Editorial Style Guide, for use by Purdue communicators. It lists commonly referred to campus landmarks and public art, providing proper names when available along with links to background information, notes on copyediting style and preferred second references when applicable.

View Landmarks

Entries (alphabetical)

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


abbreviations. Types of abbreviations include initialisms such as NIH for National Institutes of Health and acronyms (pronounceable as words) such as CLEAR for the Center for Literacy Education and Research.

ABBREVIATIONS IN PARENTHESES AFTER NAME: Within sensible practice, this is acceptable (an exception to AP): Association of American Universities (AAU); Indiana Department of Health (IDOH).
Sensible practice helps all likely members of the audience in question, and thus exercises caution about relying too much on abbreviations. Some factors:
• Don’t use a parenthetical abbreviation if the abbreviation will not appear again in the piece.
• Be sure to show the relationship if the abbreviation doesn’t look like the name (C3Bio).
• Don’t weary the reader with abbreviations. Saying “at the center” works fine too.
• Also good: “… the Military Family Research Institute, or MFRI, ….”
• Also good: “… the Department of Technology Leadership and Innovation. Last year, TLI initiated ….” (Abbreviation used soon after full name.)

ABBREVIATIONS INSTEAD OF NAMES: This is a judgment call based on level of familiarity.
1. Acceptable in all uses: NASA, FBI, LGBTQ. Consult AP for non-Purdue entities.
2. Acceptable for first reference with spelled-out name to follow: STEM. At Purdue West Lafayette, CERIAS, EPICS. For some limited audiences, no full reference may be needed, but the focus is on including all readers.
3. Also, sometimes an abbreviation makes a headline more compact but the name needs to appear very early in the body copy.
(added May 2019)

academic units. Use capitalization when listing an academic unit by its formal name: College of Liberal Arts. Capitalize a shortened form such as Liberal Arts if and only if it refers directly to the unit in the administrative sense versus a field of study: I love the variety of majors offered by Biological Sciences. Purdue has increased the number of computer science graduates.
On first reference, use the actual name, not an inverted name such as the physics department.
Lowercase (no capital) college or school when used alone. Lowercase colleges or schools when referring to more than one: the colleges of Pharmacy and Agriculture. (From “plurals” in AP.) This approach is not mandatory; it is fine to say College of Pharmacy and College of Agriculture, and with some more complex names, that way can be preferable.
Alphabetize by discipline, not by categories or person’s names in the unit’s title. See list for examples. Use the word and. The official names of all academic units at the West Lafayette campus (except quasi-academic Bands & Orchestras) use the word and, not an ampersand (&). By AP, and and & are not interchangeable in official names. A few units have a serial comma in the name, and that is to be retained where possible. (renamed and revised May 2019)
Appendix A: List of colleges/schools and their units at Purdue West Lafayette

addresses. In return addresses and in running text, treat addresses with the style indicated in AP’s “addresses” entry. For mailing addresses for campus buildings, see the campus map at purdue.edu/campus_map.
For addresses for sending a bulk mailing, use U.S. Postal Service style — all capital letters and no punctuation.

advisor. Purdue prefers this spelling.

“All-American” Marching Band. A unit of Purdue Bands & Orchestras.

alumnus, alumna, alumni, alumnae. These Latin forms are still commonly used. Alumnus means one man. Alumna means one woman. Alumni means plural men or plural for a group containing men and women. Alumnae means plural women.
A reference such as Distinguished Alumnus Award may work when it means one man but lead to a wish for a more inclusive term as a category. Use of Alumni as part of the award name is one solution, and Alumnus/Alumnae is another. Avoid Alumnus/a and Alumni/ae (slashes and part word).

animal research. Stories that refer to animals used in research projects must go through a review involving the Strategic Communications unit of Purdue Marketing and Communications and Purdue’s Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee. Contact the senior manager for media strategy in MarCom to begin the process. (added November 2022)


Big Ten Conference. In this phrase, “Ten” is always spelled out. Generally speaking, first reference is “Big Ten Conference.”

The Big Ten, established in January 1895, currently has 14 conference members: University of Illinois, Indiana University, University of Iowa, University of Maryland, University of Michigan, Michigan State University, University of Minnesota, University of Nebraska, Northwestern University, The Ohio State University, The Pennsylvania State University, Purdue University, Rutgers University and University of Wisconsin.

It is acceptable and common to use the forms above, rather than, e.g., “the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign” or “the University of Wisconsin-Madison,” unless there is need to distinguish from other places or to be formal.

B1G — This Big Ten logo is intended mainly for athletic purposes. No one at Purdue outside Intercollegiate Athletics can use B1G without the conference’s permission; consult Purdue’s Trademarks and Licensing group. Also outside Athletics, do not use the B1G logo (or the group of characters) or any similar logo as a word in a sentence or headline. (revised October 2017)

Board of Trustees/board of trustees. Capitalize “Board of Trustees” in reference to the Purdue University Board of Trustees; thereafter, use “the board” or “the trustees” when referring to that specific group. Do not capitalize “board of trustees” or a similar term in conjunction with a company name.

Boilermakers. When including Purdue’s nickname in text, prefer the term “Boilermakers.” Intercollegiate Athletics prefers the use of “Boilermakers” to the shortened form, “Boilers,” but understands that there are exceptions, such as headlines and cheers.

Boilermaker Special. The Boilermaker Special, Purdue’s official mascot, resembles a train locomotive. The latest version, Boilermaker Special VII, was dedicated on Sept. 3, 2011. A smaller version is called Boilermaker Xtra Special and also can be used for indoor events. The latest version, Boilermaker Xtra Special VIII, was dedicated on Oct. 7, 2017. The Purdue Reamer Club has been entrusted by the university to be the caretaker of the Boilermaker Special and Boilermaker Xtra Special. (revised April 2018).


campus. Lowercase the “c” in “campus” whenever referring to particular Purdue locations — e.g., “West Lafayette campus,” “Fort Wayne campus,” etc.

campus buildings, streets, parking, addresses

NAMES AND CODES OF CAMPUS BUILDINGS. Use the printable campus map at https://www.purdue.edu/campus-map/graphics/campusmap.pdf. Context will determine whether to use the full, formal name of a building or location or a shortened or even informal form. When the map’s legend puts first names in parentheses, that is for alphabetizing purposes only; use the first names before the last name. Example:
     Map legend: Beering (Steven C.) Hall of Liberal Arts and Education
     Formal use: Steven C. Beering Hall of Liberal Arts and Education
     Common first use with general public: Beering Hall of Liberal Arts and Education
     Common first use within Purdue community: Beering Hall
     Common second use: Beering Hall
     Do not refer to a building merely as Beering or such except in a quotation.

Retain first name in all uses for Neil Armstrong Hall and Stanley Coulter Hall.

Use this printable map also for names of campus parking garages and lots. Example: R Lot is the form for the lot north of Ross-Ade Stadium.

STREET ADDRESSES OF CAMPUS BUILDINGS. Use the general map at https://www.purdue.edu/campus-map/ and click on the building in question. All buildings in the main geographical campus are in ZIP code 47907. Remember when providing a mailing address to include the ZIP+4 code.

BUILDING CODES. Avoid using building codes in narrative in place of names. If using a building code in any setting, provide a link to the printed campus map. For use within the campus, limit use of codes by themselves to the more familiar buildings.

(added in October 2021)

campus names. The university system is named Purdue University. The full names of its campuses (use hyphens where shown, not en dashes, and without spaces):

  • Purdue University Northwest
    • Purdue University Northwest-Hammond Campus
    • Purdue University Northwest-Westville Campus

On second reference, generally Purdue Northwest or PNW. In all references, do not distinguish between Hammond and Westville unless the distinction is important, as in the location of an event. Second references can be Hammond campus, Westville campus, or simply at Hammond or at Westville.

  • Purdue University Fort Wayne. Second reference is Purdue Fort Wayne; the abbreviation PFW should not be used.

This became an official institution on July 1, 2018, concluding the legal separation of Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne, known as IPFW. Purdue Fort Wayne offers most of the academic and associated programs at Fort Wayne, as well as athletics.

Also becoming official July 1, 2018, was Indiana University Fort Wayne, which operates and manages health sciences programs (nursing, dental education, and medical imaging and radiography) at Fort Wayne. Second reference is IU Fort Wayne.

  Avoid casting the restructuring as a name change. It involved realignment of programs, property and administration. Also, references to the institution, its people and its operations and activities up through June 30, 2018, should call it IPFW and include any needed explanation of that usage. (updated July 2018)

Purdue system

capitalization. In general, avoid unnecessary capitals. See AP Stylebook for guidelines. See also “titles” and “professor” in this guide.

class. When referring to a group of juniors and/or seniors, “upperclassmen” may be used. When referring to a group of first-year students and/or sophomores, “underclassmen” may be used. Do not use “upperclass students,” “lowerclass students” or “underclass students.”

college/school names. Use capitalization when listing a college or school by its formal name: College of Liberal Arts. Capitalize a shortened form (e.g., Liberal Arts) if and only if it refers to the college/school in the administrative sense versus a field of study. Do not capitalize college or school in subsequent or generic references: The college announced two new initiatives.

PLURALS. Do not capitalize the words colleges or schools when referring to more than one individual school or college: the colleges of Science and Agriculture. (From “plurals” in AP.)

ALPHABETICAL ORDER. Alphabetize by discipline, not by categories or person’s names in the unit’s title. See list for examples. The official names of all academic units (except Bands & Orchestras) use the word and, not an ampersand (&). By AP, and and & are not interchangeable in official names. A few units have a serial comma in the name, and that is to be retained where possible.

List of colleges/schools at Purdue West Lafayette; schools and departments by college

colors. Purdue’s colors are old gold and black. It is acceptable in many uses to say “gold and black.” It is not appropriate to reverse the order and say “black and gold.” A school’s colors are an identity, not merely a list. (added October 2017)

course names. A course name without the course number takes title capitalization and no quotation marks: Analytic Geometry and Calculus I. It is acceptable to abbreviate a subject field when followed by the course number in text: ENGL 56000. When listing the whole course name, use the following treatment: ENGL 56000 (Modern American Poetry).




DEGREE TYPES (descriptive). When writing about degrees, use these terms in lowercase: doctoral degree or doctorate, master’s degree, bachelor’s degree, associate degree. NOT: doctorate degree. NOT: associate’s degree.

DEGREE NAMES (official). The actual name of a degree is capitalized: Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Science, Master of Arts, Master of Science.

Most official degree names do not include the subject area, which if mentioned is lowercase unless the word is a proper noun: Bachelor of Arts degree in history; Master of Arts in Spanish literature. But when using the degree type: a bachelor’s in English; a master’s degree in agronomy.

Some degree names include the subject area, which means the subject area is part of what is capitalized; the best clue often is the abbreviation: Bachelor of Science in Nursing, or BSN; Master of Science in Mechanical Engineering, or MSME.

DEGREE ABBREVIATIONS. An exception to AP style: Degree abbreviations do not require periods no matter how many letters in them: BA, MS, PhD, DVM, PharmD

USE OF DEGREE INFORMATION. Most communications will identify a person’s position and should not mention degrees or other qualifications. However, profiles, previews of a coming speaker, alumni identification in alumni publications or university pieces to a university audience — such things may warrant mention of degrees.

Example using parentheses: Goldie Smith (BS communication ’88) says she watches all Boilermaker basketball games. (Make sure the apostrophe faces the right direction.)

Example using nonessential clause: Lou Scannon, who earned her bachelor’s in communication in 1988, went on to earn a law degree at UC Berkeley. (Cf. AP Stylebook “essential clauses, nonessential clauses; especially the examples.)

MULTIPLE DEGREES. When listing multiple degrees, it’s usually most efficient to include them within a parenthesis, separated by comma: Neal Downe (BS biology ’88, MS biology ’90, DVM ’94).

SUPERSEDED DEGREES. When referring to a degree that’s no longer offered at Purdue, make an effort to cite the degree earned by the individual, not the modern form of it. For example, before 1959, students could earn a degree in metallurgical engineering, abbreviated as MetE, from the School of Chemical Engineering. In 1959, the study of metallurgy was incorporated into the newly forged School of Materials Engineering.

Pre-1959: Natalie Klad (BSMetE ’55)
1959-today: Phil S. Stein (BSME ’79)

(updated and renamed May 2019)

disabilities. Preferred use is to speak of an individual with a disability or disabilities. For example, rather than stating “Erin is a Type 1 diabetic,” consider Erin has Type 1 diabetes. Certain members of Purdue’s Disability Rights community consider their condition as central to their identity and may prefer terms such as “disabled students.” Whenever possible, defer to the preferences of the individual in question. In keeping with the AP Stylebook, omit reference to a disability unless relevant to the story. Avoid using the term “special needs” or attributing suffering to the individual’s condition. Do not use “handicap” for a disability or “handicapped” for a person. Consult the AP Stylebook for additional guidance. (updated November 2022)

doctor. Follow the guidelines used in the AP Stylebook with the following exceptions.

It is acceptable to use “Dr.” with the last name in first and subsequent references. However, depending on audiences and use of the piece, the use of the last name alone is preferred.
If an honorific is required, it is preferred (if the person has a PhD and is on the faculty) to use “Professor” rather than “Dr.” on these subsequent references. Dr. is to be used for medical doctors, dentists, optometrists, osteopaths, podiatrists and veterinarians.

Example:John Smith, professor of biology, oversaw the research project. Smith’s previous research on this subject has been published in several scientific journals, and he is considered an expert on the topic. (Preferred, especially in news releases.)

John Smith, professor of biology, oversaw the research project. Professor Smith’s previous research on this subject has been published in several scientific journals, and he is considered an expert on the topic. (Preferred, when honorific is required.)

See also “professor.”

dorm/dormitory. Do not use. The preferred terminology is “residence hall” or “residence.”


em dash. An em dash (—) should be placed in text with a space before and after: The players — not to mention the coaches — were jumping up and down. Note: On an Apple computer, Shift+Option+hyphen. If a system isn’t able to produce an em dash, use a double hyphen instead.

en dash. Use a hyphen instead of an en dash in regular text in accordance with AP’s practice: 2003-09; 6:30-8 p.m. In headline sizes, an en dash may substitute for a em dash.

equal opportunity statements. Every Purdue University print and online publication, including but not limited to websites, magazines, banners, posters, mailers, invitations and billboards, must include an equal opportunity statement. There are two such statements — with the specific parameters of usage explained below.

All pieces that relate to faculty/staff employment and recruitment must use the following statement in full: Purdue is an EOE/AA employer. All individuals, including minorities, women, individuals with disabilities and veterans, are encouraged to apply.

All other Purdue materials — not pertaining to faculty-staff employment and recruitment — must include one of these statements: An equal access/equal opportunity university or EA/EOU.

(updated and renamed April 2019)


First Lady/First Family, Purdue. Capitalize as First Lady YingKei Hui, spouse to Mung Chiang, Purdue’s 13th president. Because First Lady Hui is a medical doctor, it’s also appropriate in some situations to refer to her as Dr. YingKei Hui. Example: Dr. Hui serves as Purdue’s First Lady.

For second reference in a more formal usage, Dr. Hui would be acceptable. For more information, go to the website for the Purdue First Lady here. Related, capitalize First Family when referring to the family of current Purdue President Mung Chiang. (Added May 2023)

freshman. The phrase “first-year student” is preferred; however, “freshman” is still used in cases where a distinction needs to be made between a beginning college student and someone who has just transferred into Purdue. “Freshman” also is acceptable in headlines and in phrases such as “freshman class” (it is not “freshmen class”).


gateway. The word “gateway” is and has been associated with several different structures on the West Lafayette campus. Currently, there are two appropriate uses of the word:

  • Gateway to the Future is the official name for the arch structure near the intersection of Stadium Avenue and University Street. The structure provides a sense of entrance to the central academic campus.
  • Purdue Memorial Union Gateway is the official name for the arch structure in front of Purdue Memorial Union. Located at the corner of Grant Street and Mitch Daniels Boulevard, it is designed to mark the entrance near the east end of campus. (renamed and revised May 2023)

The two buildings previously referred to as the Engineering and Polytechnic Gateway Facility (or at times “Complex”) as a project name have received permanent names not using “gateway.” The buildings are still under construction through late 2022. By Board of Trustees approval, they are Lambertus Hall (approved in June 2020; west of Knoy Hall and east of Potter Center) and Dudley Hall (approved in June 2019; south of Lambertus and Knoy halls). Purdue Campus Map

gender: adjectives/nouns. When you need to specify gender, use “female” or “male” as the adjective and “woman” or “man” when you need a noun.

Greater Lafayette. When referring to the Lafayette-West Lafayette community, use “Greater Lafayette.” (updated December 2017)


HIPAA. This is an acronym for the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (i.e., an acronym because people pronounce it as a word, Hipp-uh). Note that it has two A’s, not two P’s. It is acceptable on any reference, but depending on context, also use the title of the act and/or an explanatory phrase such as health information privacy law or the federal law restricting release of personal medical information. (added July 2018)


Intercollegiate Athletics. Refer to this Purdue entity as “Intercollegiate Athletics,” not as Athletic Department, Department of Intercollegiate Athletics or Athletics. In addition, leave out the words “division of” in references to this area. Neovision is the official eye care provider for Intercollegiate Athletics.

Internet of Things. This widely accepted capitalized form is normally the first reference. Second reference is the same thing or IoT. For a few audiences, “IoT” may be enough, but be careful of assuming familiarity among general readers. An explanatory phrase or sentence might be this: The Internet of Things is the connection of devices of many types, including home and vehicle devices used by most people, via an internet such that devices can signal one another without additional direct human action. (added July 2018)


Krannert School of Management. Because the Krannert School of Management is a named school, do not omit the word Krannert on first reference. On second reference, use the Krannert School, the school or Krannert.


land grant (n.), land-grant (adj.). This rule applies to sea grant/sea-grant and space grant/space-grant also. When using all three together follow this order: Purdue is a land-, sea- and space-grant university.

listserv. Use a lowercase “l” when using this term, as is the practice of Wired Style.


majors. In running text, do not capitalize the names of majors unless the major itself is a proper noun: forestry, English, American studies. However, in tables or bulleted lists at the start of a bulleted line, it’s acceptable to capitalize majors. Sentence use: She is majoring in mathematics education. He is an English major. (updated October 2017)

middle initials. Avoid the use of middle initials unless there is an exception for clarification or in more formal programs.

Mitchell E. Daniels, Jr. School of Business. The Mitchell E. Daniels, Jr. School of Business encompasses all degree programs. It consists of the Bruce White Undergraduate Institute and the Krannert Graduate Institute, which refers to the Daniels School’s graduate programs. The White and Krannert names, however, should not be used without a clear reference to the Daniels School.

The Mitchell E. Daniels, Jr. School of Business should be used on first reference; Daniels School is acceptable on future references. All graduates of Purdue’s business and management graduate and undergraduate programs should be referred to as alumni of the Daniels School of Business.

Trustees announced in February 2023 that the school be renamed the Mitchell E. Daniels, Jr. School of Business in honor of Daniels, Purdue’s 12th president who retired from the university on Dec. 31, 2022. (Added May 2023)


Neil Armstrong Hall of Engineering. When referring to Neil Armstrong Hall of Engineering a second time or in shortened form, use “Neil Armstrong Hall” instead of “Armstrong Hall.” This reminds people, especially outsiders, which Armstrong this is. “Stanley Coulter Hall” is the other building for which Purdue retains a person’s first name in general use. (revised December 2017)

nondiscrimination policy statement. See Purdue’s Nondiscrimination Policy Statement.


October break.

orphans. A single word alone on the last line of a paragraph must have five or more letters.


Polytechnic High School, Purdue. Purdue Polytechnic High School is a charter school. This reinvented high school, with a focus on science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education, opened its doors July 31, 2017, in downtown Indianapolis. It has multiple schools.

• Purdue Polytechnic High Schools — In general use, not referring to one of the schools in particular.
• Purdue Polytechnic High School Schweitzer Center at Englewood (denote somewhere in story that it’s on Indianapolis’ east side).
• Purdue Polytechnic High School North (denote somewhere in the story that it’s in Broad Ripple).
• Purdue Polytechnic High School South Bend.

• PPHS at Englewood
• PPHS North 
• PPHS South Bend

(updated November 2021)

Polytechnic Institute, Purdue. The Purdue Polytechnic Institute, formerly the College of Technology, was renamed by the Board of Trustees in May 2015. On second reference, Purdue Polytechnic. Polytechnic is acceptable if the meaning, which includes the Purdue connection, is clear and the context is suitable. Do not use PPI.

The Polytechnic Institute is one of 10 academic colleges on the West Lafayette campus of Purdue University. Polytechnic also offers select degree programs in nine Indiana communities: Anderson, Columbus, Indianapolis, Kokomo, Lafayette, New Albany, Richmond, South Bend and Vincennes. To refer to a specific program location, use Purdue Polytechnic Anderson, Purdue Polytechnic Vincennes. Refer to them as locations, not campuses.

Polytechnic and its locations are separate from Purdue Fort Wayne’s School of Polytechnic, an academic unit formed in December 2017 by merger of academic units within the College of Engineering, Technology and Computer Science.

(updated July 2018) URL: Purdue Polytechnic Institute.

postscript. When adding a postscript to a letter, use capital letters and place a period after each letter. P.S. Your participation is crucial to our goal of increasing participation in the Krannert Annual Fund by 500 alumni.

presidents, Purdue. The 13th president of Purdue University is typically identified as President Mung Chiang on first reference; thereafter, use Chiang, the president or, in some types of communication, President Chiang. He began his term on Jan. 1, 2023. President Chiang also serves as the Roscoe H. George Distinguished Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering. In addition to his title as Purdue president, include Chiang’s named professorship in your communications. (added Jan. 1, 2023)

Recent presidents have been:

  • President Emeritus Mitch Daniels, Jr. (12th; 2013-22)
  • President Emerita France A. Córdova (11th; 2007-12)
  • President Emeritus Martin C. Jischke (10th; 2000-07)
  • President Emeritus Steven C. Beering (ninth; 1983-2000)

For a summary of Purdue’s past presidents, see Purdue’s official past presidents page. (updated and renamed December 2017)

professor. When referring to Purdue faculty members, use the title or rank given to them by the university. Apply the title professor only before or in reference to the name of a faculty member — professor, associate professor or assistant professor — not before or in reference to the name of a lecturer, teaching assistant or other staff member.

Do not abbreviate assistant or associate or professor.

Typical first reference: Kimberly Kinzig, associate professor of psychological sciences, said …. Name before title. Typical second reference: Kinzig.

Also acceptable: Kimbery Kinzig, associate professor in the Department of Psychological Sciences, ….”

In a quotation or other special usage or where context makes the “of” part entirely clear, Professor Kinzig or Professor Kimberly Kinzig is acceptable; the capitalization in this usage is an exception to the AP Stylebook. In such usages, omit “associate” or “assistant” unless part of the quotation.

DISTINGUISHED AND NAMED PROFESSORS (do not use “endowed” as a term for the whole group). When the title begins with a person’s name, use “the” to avoid the appearance of starting a list:

Mary Wirth, the W. Brooks Fortune Distinguished Professor of Chemistry
Thomas W. Hertel, Distinguished Professor of Agriculture
Tonglei Li, the Allen Chao Chair in Industrial and Physical Pharmacy

EMERITUS/EMERITA. This status is bestowed; it is not equal to “retired” (Office of the Provost has list). Indicate this status on first reference:

Thomas Clark, professor emeritus of physics and astronomy
Margaret Rowe, professor emerita of English

MORE THAN ONE TITLE: Include all titles on first reference if the sentence allows. Otherwise, list all titles in the first few sentences. This includes administrative titles. Start with the most relevant if possible.

Douglass Jacobs, the Fred M. van Eck Chair in Forest Biology and associate head of the Department of Forestry and Natural Resources

Shelley MacDermid Wadsworth, director of the Center for Families. MacDermid Wadsworth is also professor of human development and family studies, as well as director of the Military Family Research Institute and executive director of the Family Impact Institute. (updated October 2017)

pronouns. Growing numbers of people, including some transgender, nonbinary, agender or gender-fluid people, use they/them/their as a gender-neutral singular personal pronoun. In our storytelling, don’t assume a person’s gender identity based on their pronouns, or vice versa. And don’t assume a person’s pronouns based on their first name. 

When using they/them/their as a singular pronoun, explain if it isn’t clear in context: Morales, who uses the pronoun they, said they will retire in June. See the AP Stylebook for additional guidance. (Added November 2022)

Purdue Global. Use Purdue Global all instances. The word University is not to be used with the name. Do not abbreviate as PG.


serial commas. Avoid using a serial comma unless it is part of an official name (Department of Speech, Language, and Hearing Sciences) or is needed to avoid confusion.

spring break/spring vacation. The official term used by the Office of the Registrar is spring vacation; however, spring break may be used also. Lowercase both terms in running text. Capitalization may be used when the terms are used in calendars, tables, etc.


telephone numbers. Use 10-digit numbers with hyphens as separators: 765-494-xxxx, per AP. In lengthy lists, it is permissible to give the area code once for the whole list. (updated and renamed October 2017)

theater/theatre. Because the Patti and Rusty Rueff School of Design, Art, and Performance consistently refers to its academic area of study as theatre and its performance stages as theatres, all Rueff School-related references should use the “re” spelling. However, references to movie or other performing theaters — and other generic usages — should use the “er” spelling unless it involves an “re” proper name.

titles. In general, place identifications after a person’s name and set off by commas with a title in lowercase. Confine capitalization to formal titles used directly before an individual’s name. Titles used apart from a name also are lowercase. See also “professor” in this guide.

For more information, see AP Stylebook under “titles” (note the subsections on long titles and additional guidance) and the cross references at the end, especially academic titles. AP also has entries for courtesy titles and categories of people such as military, religious or legislative; there also is a general entry for composition titles (books, TV, movies, music, art, software, etc.). (revised April 2018)


underclassmen. If you need one word to describe a group of first-year students and/or sophomores, use “underclassmen.” Do not use “lowerclass students” or “underclass students.”

university and college names. Quite a few states give various campuses/universities within a system the basic university name plus a locator name. But that is being done in four different ways:

1. Open. University of Massachusetts Amherst; Purdue University West Lafayette
2. “at”. University of Texas at Austin; University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
3. Hyphen. University of Wisconsin-Madison; University of Nebraska-Lincoln
4. Comma. University of California, Berkeley; University of Maryland, College Park

One good resource for such names is a set of Wikipedia university lists by state. These names would be used for first reference in most cases. For Big Ten schools, the “suffix” may not be necessary.

Unlike with many comma uses, the tendency with California and like university names is not to use an additional comma: My brother applied to the University of California, Davis but the program he wanted was way stronger at UC Santa Barbara and he liked the campus.

(added October 2021)

university. The word university should be lowercase, even in instances where it stands alone for the longer phrase Purdue University. Examples:

Several famous astronauts have graduated from this university.
The worldwide presence of our university alumni helps bring in many students.

(revised October 2022)

upperclassmen. A gender-neutral group of juniors and/or seniors. Do not use “upperclass students.”

URLs. URLs should be set in plain type, not underlined or set in italics, etc. The situation, placement and audience help determine how much of a URL to show. However, whatever is shown must suffice for reaching the website. Thus, for some uses “purdue.edu” or “purduesports.com” is enough. URLs should always be tested.

If a URL can’t be listed on one line, never break it with a hyphen; rather, break the URL after a period, slash or double slash. A sentence including a URL takes end punctuation as a sentence normally does. (updated October 2017)

U.S. Use periods when abbreviating “United States,” both in texts and in headlines. The latter example is an exception to AP.


West Lafayette. Do not abbreviate “West” in “West Lafayette.”

West Lafayette campus. The “c” should be lowercase in running text.

-wide. This suffix normally takes no hyphen: campuswide, systemwide, citywide, statewide, nationwide, worldwide. When referring to Purdue University and using “university,” hyphenate “university-wide.” See also “university.” (updated October 2022)


year in school. See “class” entry.

years. In cases where the century doesn’t change, inclusive years should be formatted as follows (using a hyphen):

But: 1998-2002

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