Editorial Style Guide

How to Use This Guide

The Office of Marketing and Media (M&M) is directed by the University to be the standard-bearer and arbiter of editorial style for the University's published, nonacademic written communications. The term "style," in this context, refers to editorial rules and Purdue-specific conventions relative to spelling, punctuation and word usage. (Brand voice is defined separately; for guidance on it, visit here.)

M&M has established a tiered system of style resources for your reference, listed below in order of priority:

  • The Purdue University Style Guide (see below): This resource answers questions specific to Purdue that other style resources do not address. It also lists Purdue-specific exceptions to the rules in the resources below, where applicable.
  • The Associated Press Stylebook, 2014: More than just a collection of rules, the AP Stylebook is part dictionary, part encyclopedia and part textbook. It is an eclectic source of information for writers and editors of all publications. Unless an exception is listed in the Purdue Style Guide, the AP Stylebook should be followed. The paid-membership online version is available at https://www.apstylebook.com; print copies are also available for purchase.
  • The Chicago Manual of Style, 16th Edition: This is your third resource, mainly for dealing with questions not addressed in the Purdue Style Guide or the AP Stylebook. The Chicago Manual deals with aspects of editorial practice from American English grammar and usage to document preparation. For Purdue users, this document is available online via the Purdue Libraries database at https://www.lib.purdue.edu.
  • Merriam Webster's Collegiate Dictionary, 11th Edition.

Note: If you have a style question that is not addressed in the resources mentioned above, please contact marketing@purdue.edu.

You may also print this guide.

Purdue University Style Entries (Listed Alphabetically)



In return addresses and in running text, treat addresses with the style indicated in the "addresses" entry of The Associated Press Stylebook (hereafter referred to as AP Stylebook). For mailing addresses for campus buildings, see the campus map at www.purdue.edu/campus_map.

Note: When addressing an envelope to someone for a bulk mailing, use U.S. Postal Service style — all capital letters and no punctuation.


Affirmative Action Statement

An equal access/equal opportunity/affirmative action university

EA/EO/AAU in capital letters

"All-American" Marching Band

alumnus, alumni, alumna, alumnae

Use alumnus (alumni in the plural) when referring to a man who has attended a school. Use alumna (alumnae in the plural) for similar references to a woman. Use alumni when referring to a group of men and women.


Big Ten

In this phrase, "Ten" is always spelled out.

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.

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" in conjunction with a company name.


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 VII

The Boilermaker Special VII, Purdue's official mascot, resembles a train locomotive. The latest version of the Boilermaker Special was returned to campus July 2011.

building names

See the campus map at www.purdue.edu/campus_map for building names, abbreviations and mailing addresses.

In mailing addresses and running text, it is acceptable to use short forms of building names, e.g., "Beering Hall" instead of "Steven C. Beering Hall of Liberal Arts and Education." If your client voices a preference for listing the whole name or using an alternate short form such as "Beering Hall of Liberal Arts and Education," defer to the client and be consistent in this usage across the client's publications.



Lowercase the "c" in "campus" whenever referring to particular Purdue locations — e.g., "West Lafayette campus," "North Central campus," etc.

campus names

The following are the full names of the University and its campuses:

  • Purdue University
  • Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne
  • Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis
  • Purdue University Calumet
  • Purdue University North Central
  • Purdue University West Lafayette

Note: The punctuation mark used in the IPFW and IUPUI references above is a hyphen, not an en dash. In addition, try to avoid using the word "regional" when referring to campuses outside of West Lafayette, as some think the word diminishes the stature of the campuses. Rather, favor verbiage that emphasizes the Purdue identity of these institutions.


This term should be hyphenated in all uses to avoid misreading.


In general, avoid unnecessary capitals. See AP Stylebook for guidelines.


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 (e.g., College of Liberal Arts) or when using a shortened form (e.g., Liberal Arts) to make clear you are referring to the college/school versus a field of study. Do not capitalize "college" or "school" in generic, subsequent references such as "the college" or "the school."

Do not capitalize the words "colleges" or "schools" when referring to more than one individual school or college, e.g., "the colleges of Science and Agriculture."

When referring (generically) to all the colleges and schools at Purdue, list "colleges" first then "schools," e.g. colleges/schools, colleges and/or schools.

When alphabetizing college and school names, organize them by their discipline and not by the "College of" or "School of" part of the name. The following are the colleges and schools on the West Lafayette campus:

  • College of Agriculture
  • College of Education
  • College of Engineering
    • School of Aeronautics and Astronautics
    • Weldon School of Biomedical Engineering
    • Davidson School of Chemical Engineering
    • Lyles School of Civil Engineering
    • School of Electrical and Computer Engineering
    • School of Engineering Education
    • School of Industrial Engineering
    • School of Materials Engineering
    • School of Mechanical Engineering
    • School of Nuclear Engineering
  • The Graduate School (use an uppercase "t" for the article)
  • College of Health and Human Sciences
    • School of Health Sciences
    • School of Hospitality and Tourism Management
    • School of Nursing
  • College of Liberal Arts
    • Brian Lamb School of Communication
    • School of Languages and Cultures
    • Patti and Rusty Rueff School of Visual and Performing Arts
  • Krannert School of Management
  • College of Pharmacy
  • Purdue Polytechnic Institute
    • School of Construction Management Technology
    • School of Engineering Technology
  • College of Science
  • College of Veterinary Medicine

Córdova, President Emerita France A.

The former president of Purdue University is officially President Emerita France A. Córdova. On a Macintosh platform, create the diacritical mark in "Córdova" by holding down the option key and striking the "e" keys then the letter "o."

course names

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)



Daniels, Mitch

The 12th president of Purdue University is typically identified as "President Mitch Daniels" on first reference; thereafter, use "Daniels" or "the president" or, in some types of communication, "President Daniels."

In formal or official capacities, the president's full name of "Mitchell E. Daniels, Jr." is often appropriate. (The comma before "Jr." is the president's preference and is an exception to Associated Press style.)

President Daniels is married to Cheri Daniels. An example of the style for addressing them together in the same sentence is:

President Mitch Daniels and First Lady Cheri Daniels attended the event in Elliott Hall of Music.


See below for examples of preferred usage:

"Sean Smith (BS '88, communication), a third-generation Boilermaker, says ..."
"Chris Jones (BSEE '74) came to Purdue from Klamath Falls, Ore."

Also permissible to say: "Pat Splat, a 1955 graduate with a BS in biology, forged a career ...".

department names

Use capitalization when listing a department by its formal name (e.g., Department of Physics) or when using a shortened form (e.g., Physics) to make clear you are referring to the department versus a field of study. On successive references, use "the department." Avoid using phrases such as "the physics department" so that you don't appear inconsistent. That said, though, try to lowercase as much as possible.


The wording is "students with disabilities," which places emphasis on the person, not the disability. In certain contexts, "students with special needs" might be the best verbiage.

distinguished professor

See "professor" entry.


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.


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."


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. Note: To create an em dash in Microsoft Word (on a Macintosh platform), hold down the shift and option keys, then press the hyphen (-) key. If your computer isn't able to produce an em dash, use a double hyphen instead.

emeritus/a professor

See "professor" entry.

en dash

Use hyphen instead of en dash, which appears to be AP's practice.

equal access statement

The statement is "An equal access/equal opportunity university". It should be spelled out whenever possible, not abbreviated, unless absolutely necessary due to space or design limitations.

  • The statement should be on its own line unless absolutely unavoidable in the design. If the statement must be on the same line as the "Produced by Purdue Marketing and Media" or other similar line, the only correct way to do it is: "An equal access/equal opportunity university • Produced by Purdue Marketing and Media xxxxxxx" Note that the two are separated with a bullet.
  • Preferably, the EA/EOU statement should be large enough to be noticed. The PMM statement can be smaller and should not be as noticeable as the EA/EOU statement.
  • When abbreviated, it should appear as: EA/EOU



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 transferred but is in his/her first year at Purdue. "Freshman" also is acceptable in headlines and in phrases such as "freshman class."


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 local community, use "Greater Lafayette."


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.


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."


Lafayette-West Lafayette community

When referring to the local community, use "Greater Lafayette."

land-grant/land grant

Requires a hyphen when used as an adjective. No hyphen is needed when used as a noun. 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.


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



In running text, do not capitalize the names of majors unless the major itself is a proper noun, e.g., English, American history, etc. However, in tables or bulleted lists, it's acceptable to capitalize majors.

She is majoring in apparel design and technology.
He is an English major.

master's degrees

Generic references to these degrees are lowercase and include an apostrophe followed by an "s." Formal references use initial capital letters and no possessives.

Master of Arts
master's degree

middle initials

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


named professor

See "professor" entry.

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." "Stanley Coulter Hall" is the precedent.

nondiscrimination policy statement

See Purdue's Nondiscrimination Policy Statement.


October Break


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


phone numbers

Format phone numbers as follows:

  • 49-48745 for on-campus publications
  • 765-494-8745 for publications going off campus
  • 800-555-1212 for toll-free numbers


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.

Produced by Purdue Marketing and Media

This credit and the job number (with periods instead of hyphens) are required on every print project and website PMM creates unless the director or an assistant director of Creative Services grants an exception. Typically, neither the PMM credit nor the job number is included on such items as displays or banners; or buttons, magnets, lapel pins or other novelties.


When referring to Purdue staff members, use the title or rank given to them by the University. Apply the title "professor" only before the name of a staff member of professorial rank: professor, associate professor or assistant professor — not before the name of an instructor, teaching assistant or staff member.

Do not lowercase the word "professor" before a name. This is an exception to the AP Stylebook.

Do not qualify the title professor with "associate" or "assistant" before a person's name, but do qualify it after the name.

Professor Samuel Brown, Professor Brown
Samuel Brown, associate professor of biology

Do not abbreviate "associate" and "assistant" when used in a title.

assistant professor of bacteriology

After referring to an individual by full name, use the spelled-out title and last name: e.g., Professor Smith, only if the person has a professional title.

For distinguished and named professors, capitalize full title on first use.

Wilbur G. Lewellen, the Herman C. Krannert Distinguished Professor of Management
Randy W. Roberts, Distinguished Professor of History

Subsequent usage follows the rules for professor.

For emeritus/a professors, indicate status following the name on first use.

Janice Lauer, professor emerita of English
Professor Emerita Mary Fuqua

Subsequent usage follows the rules for professor.

For faculty members with more than one title, include all titles on first reference if the sentence allows. Otherwise, list all titles in the first few sentences.

Connie Weaver, head and distinguished professor, Department of Nutrition Science

Purdue Alumni Association/Purdue Alumni

In written correspondence, such as press releases, magazines and newsletters, refer to the organization as the "Purdue Alumni Association" on first reference. All other mentions in the publication should simply be "Purdue Alumni."

For formal letters and invitations the signature name should be "Purdue Alumni Association."

The abbreviation "PAA" should not be used.

Purdue Polytechnic Institute

The Purdue Polytechnic Institute, renamed from the College of Technology in May 2015, offers degree programs on the West Lafayette campus and in eight cities around the state of Indiana: Anderson, Columbus, Kokomo, Lafayette, New Albany, Richmond, South Bend and Vincennes. The collective name for this statewide component, also as of May 2015, is Purdue Polytechnic Statewide.

Second reference for the entirety is "Purdue Polytechnic." Using "the Polytechnic" (lowercase "t") also is acceptable when the meaning (including the Purdue connection) is clear and the context suitable. The preference is to avoid using "PPI." The Purdue Polytechnic Institute is one of Purdue West Lafayette's major academic units and belongs on lists of the "colleges" at the campus.

For any of the eight statewide program locations, use "Purdue Polytechnic <location>" or "Purdue Polytechnic Anderson", for example, on first reference. Do not use the word "campus" when referring to these eight locations.

Purdue Polytechnic Statewide locations differ from Purdue regional campuses. Purdue Polytechnic locations across the state are administratively a part of the West Lafayette campus and offer only courses and degrees from Purdue Polytechnic.


school/college names

See "college/school names" entry.

serial commas

Avoid serial commas unless it is part of an official name (Department of Speech, Language, and Hearing Sciences) or if 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.

Student Transition, Advising and Registration (STAR)

This is the full name and exact punctuation of the program formerly known as Day on Campus. The program is most often referred to by its acronym.


This term is perhaps the best adjective/adverb to use when talking about things that span all Purdue campuses/locations.


Technology, College of

See "Purdue Polytechnic Institute" for matters related to this former college or the former Statewide Technology Program. The Purdue Board of Trustees renamed the College of Technology to the Purdue Polytechnic Institute in May 2015.

theater vs. theatre

Because the Patti and Rusty Rueff School of Visual and Performing Arts consistently refers to its academic area of study as "theatre" and its performance stages as "theatres," all VPA-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 referring to a proper name.

Title IX/EO Statement

An equal access/equal opportunity university
EA/EOU in capital letters


In general, confine capitalization to formal titles used directly before an individual's name. Lowercase and spell out titles in constructions that set them off from a name by commas. See AP Stylebook for more information.



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."


The word "University" should be capitalized in instances where it stands for the longer phrase "Purdue University." Note that such references to "University" are always preceded by the word "the."

Several famous astronauts have graduated from the University.
But: Purdue is a land-grant university.


When referring to Purdue University, capitalize "University-wide" and hyphenate it in all uses.


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


URLs should be set in plain type, not underlined or set in italics, etc.

Don't print the "http://" portion of a URL unless the URL won't work without it. This is an exception to AP.

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.


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.


year in school

See "class" entry.


In cases where the century doesn't change, inclusive years should be formatted as follows:

But: 1998-2002
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