Close Menu

Editorial Style Guide

At Illinois Tech, we always do it with style!

The Illinois Tech Editorial Style Guide (ITESG) helps answer those questions that even the best copywriters ask.  For example, do I use 10 or ten?  A.M. or am?  Square-feet or square feet? Use the guide as just that—a guide to help make your copy consistent and to get your messages across in the most effective way.

  • The ITESG is by no means a complete list of all editorial style rules.  So when you want or need more information, we suggest you check the detailed explanations found in (1) The Chicago Manual of Style (University of Chicago); (2) The Associated Press Style Book; or (3) The Elements of Style (William Strunk Jr. and E. B. White).
  • For spelling, rely on any major dictionary and your computer’s spelling and grammar checker.  When using the latter, remember that computer-based checkers can help as much as they can lead you astray.
  • For fun, read Eats, Shoots & Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation by Lynne Truss.
  • In the guide, you will also find Illinois Tech “preferences”—ways we reference the university.  So don’t put the The in front of Illinois Institute of Technology—and remember that our student newspaper is one word (TechNews).

Our Top Five List:  Questions We Get Asked Most Often

  1. 6 am/8 pm or 6:00 a.m./8:00 p.m.?
    • 6 a.m.-8 p.m.
  2. The Illinois Institute of Technology or Illinois Institute of Technology?
    • Skip the “the.”  Just go right to the name.
  3. First, Second, and Third References?
    • Illinois Institute of Technology.  Illinois Tech.  The university.
  4. Is Illinois Tech a university, University, an Institute, or an institute?
    • Illinois Institute of Technology is a university, or an institution, but never an institute.
  5. When do I use serial commas?
    • For maximum clarity.  We ate toast, cereal, and bacon for breakfast; She packed her green, yellow, red and white, and blue dresses.

WHEN AT ILLINOIS TECH…

Important

  • Illinois Institute of Technology is a university, not an institute or college. In second or subsequent references, use the university or, alternatively, the institution, not the University.
  • The Illinois Institute of Technology is incorrect; Illinois Institute of Technology is correct.
  • First reference is Illinois Institute of Technology; second reference is Illinois Tech; third reference is the university.
  • Restrict the use of IIT to college identifiers, e.g. IIT Stuart School of Business.  Alternatively, identify the college as the Stuart School of Business at Illinois Tech or Illinois Institute of Technology.
  • Always identify the academic unit with the university.  Use one of these three options:
    • Armour College of Engineering at Illinois Institute of Technology
    • College of Architecture at Illinois Tech
    • IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law                 
  • Illinois Tech has eight major academic units:
    • Armour College of Engineering
    • Chicago-Kent College of Law
    • College of Architecture
    • College of Science
    • Institute of Design
    • Lewis College of Human Sciences
    • School of Applied Technology
    • Stuart School of Business

Centers

Capitalize the exact names of Illinois Tech centers, as in the Center for Financial Markets. Note: The McCormick Tribune Campus Center. In subsequent references, use lowercase for the center. For the Career Development Center, the abbreviation is CDC (no periods). Use lowercase center for subsequent references.

Commencement

  • Capitalize the word commencement when referring to the Illinois Tech Commencement.

Chicago-Kent College of Law at Illinois Tech

  • Never Kent or C-K. Use Chicago-Kent or the law school in subsequent references. The use of the College of Law is prohibited.

IIT Research Institute

  • Not Illinois Institute of Technology Research Institute. In first reference use IIT Research Institute (IITRI) and IITRI thereafter. The name of the main IITRI facility is The Tower, not IITRI Tower, as it was previously called.

Institutes

  • Capitalize the exact names of Illinois Tech Institutes, as in the Institute for Food Safety and Health. In subsequent references, use lowercase for the institute.

Institute of Design

  • Use IIT Institute of Design as the first reference, and ID thereafter.

ALL THINGS ACADEMIC

Academic Degrees

  • Capitalize formal names of degrees, e.g., Master of Science in Chemical Engineering. Do not capitalize general categories of degrees, e.g., master’s degree or doctorate.
  • Use an apostrophe in bachelor’s degree, master’s thesis, or the like.
  • Abbreviations are offset with periods, e.g., M.B.A., M.S., B.S., M.Des.
  • Honorary doctoral degrees should be noted in running text for individuals who received such degrees from Illinois Tech and placed in parentheses following the recipient’s name, per Illinois Tech style. The proper abbreviation is Hon. Ph.D. If a specific discipline or major/degree area follows this abbreviation it should be abbreviated according to Illinois Tech major abbreviation standards, e.g., Robert Pritzker (IE ’46, Hon. Ph.D. ENG ’84).

Academic Titles

  • Capitalize and spell out formal titles such as professor or dean when they precede a name. Lowercase when the title follows the name, e.g., President John Anderson; John Anderson, president of Illinois Institute of Technology. However, generic titles are lowercase, e.g., Bob Smith, dean of libraries or dean of libraries Bob Smith.
  • Preliminary titles, as in Dean Jones or Professor Smith, should be reserved for very formal documents.
  • Do not use the abbreviation Dr. when referring to faculty; its usage is reserved for medical doctors.
  • Use of courtesy titles such as Mr. or Ms. is discouraged except in very formal documents.
  • For endowed professorships, capitalize the formal name in all uses whether before or following a person’s name, e.g., Bob Smith is Max McGraw Professor of Energy and Power Engineering and Management.
  • Generally, Ph.D. is only used when designating a degree as part of alumni affiliation. When used, however, commas should precede both M.D. and Ph.D., e.g., Fred Smith, Ph.D. is the department chair. Plural is Ph.D.s.
  • Capitalize professor when used as a formal title before a full name. Lowercase when used after a name. Do not abbreviate. Avoid using the title on second references. Note the importance of using the accurate professorial rank, e.g., associate professor should be used over the more general reference to professor, which also is a higher rank.

Academic Units

  • Capitalize when using the formal name of a unit (Department of Civil and Architectural Engineering). Do not capitalize when approximating the name or using it informally, as in the architectural engineering department.
  • Acronyms may be used in running text as secondary references to names or organizations, e.g., Wanger Institute for Sustainable Energy Research conducts studies that join together WISER researchers from throughout campus. Because many organizations at Illinois Tech are known by their acronyms, it is not necessary to place acronyms in parentheses after the first reference to these organizations, for visual clarity and conventional style. Exceptions would be Interprofessional Projects (IPRO) Program, in which case the acronym is part of the official name, or instances in which the acronym is not intuitive or appears much later in body copy after its first reference.

Classes

  • Freshman, sophomore, junior, and senior all are acceptable, although it is preferred to use the gender-neutral and more flexible first-year, second-year, etc. Freshmen may be described as the incoming class of XX [year]. Because students in the College of Architecture follow a five-year course of study, they should be described as first-year, second-year, etc. Also, it is not unusual for students to take more than four years to finish an undergraduate degree.
  • Student classes should be hyphenated and spelled out, e.g., All first-year students live on campus.

Course Names

  • Capitalize the names of courses. Do not italicize or place in quotes. Do not use the term class when referring to an academic course.

Degree/Graduation Years

  • Degree and graduation years should follow the names of alumni whenever possible, e.g., Bob Smith (CHE ’55). Note the use of parentheses, the space after the major abbreviation, and the direction of the apostrophe. There is no need to use B.S. to note a bachelor’s degree because it is assumed, although Illinois Tech post-graduate degrees should be noted: alumni with more that one degree in the same major, e.g., Tom Smith (CHE ’65, M.S. ’68); with more than one degree in different majors, e.g., Fred Jackson (ARCH ’85, M.S. PSYC ’90). For clarity, do not abbreviate the graduation years of alumni who graduated in the 1800s and early 1900s (preceding the current century), e.g. Weymouth Kirkland (LAW 1901).

IPRO

  • First reference is Interprofessional Projects (IPRO) Program; IPRO on second reference. Note that IPROs are required academic courses and not independent student-research projects.

(PUNCTUATION) SIGNS OF CONFUSION

Ampersand (&)

  • Use only when part of an official name, e.g., Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Apostrophe

  • End-quote apostrophes are used in alumni graduation years and other instances to indicate missing text, e.g., ’50s, grab ’n go, ’til. Take caution to make sure apostrophes face the correct direction (toward the missing characters).

Colons

  • Keystroke one space after a colon. Capitalize the first word after a colon only when it is a proper noun, or the start of a formal quote or complete sentence. Also, use colons only at the end of independent clauses, never after a linking verb, e.g., The winners are: Jonathan, faculty, and students Marisa, Mark, and Emily. (Note: There should be a noun following the linking verb; therefore, you may correctly write it this way: There were four winners: Jonathan, Marisa, Mark, and Emily.) Colons may also be used with introductory phrases, such as To Whom It May Concern: etc. Colons should be placed outside quotation marks; when quoting text that ends in a colon, replace the colon with an ellipsis.

Dash

  • There are no spaces around dashes: Illinois Institute of Technology—a university with a national reputation. Typists often use two hyphens to represent a dash, but this should be avoided especially in the age of computers. Note the difference between an en dash and an em dash. En dashes are used in place of the word “through” or “to” to illustrate passage of time or absence within a sequence of numbers, e.g., 1942–43, 1–4 p.m. Em dashes are used between words in place of commas and must be used in pairs for middle-position modifiers, e.g., Chemistry 101—a requirement for all students—is best taken during the first year. Note: To insert an en or em dash in Word for PC, go to Insert-Symbol-Special Characters. For Mac, use apple+num-hyphen to insert an en dash; use apple+option+num-hyphen to insert an em dash.   

Ellipsis

  • Use spaces between the periods that precede and follow the ellipsis. Use four periods to note an ellipsis at the end of a sentence, with no space before the first point, e.g., It was a three-month course....

Hyphen

  • Do not use hyphens with adverbs that take an -ly form. It was an extremely hard test. In headlines, the second word in a hyphenated phrase should not be capitalized unless it is a proper noun, although this is discretionary; note that this rule does not apply to cover lines. Consult a dictionary or The Chicago Manual of Style when determining whether to spell a compound word as two words or one hyphenated word; many commonly appearing examples do not use hyphens but rather combine words (e.g., online). The movement in editorial style nationwide is toward less hyphenation in favor of compound words.

Possessives

  • Use the possessive ’s for words ending in s, e.g., James’s, not James’. (Exception: Mies’)

Quotation Marks

  • Closing double and single quotation marks always follow a comma and period (even though this may defy conventional wisdom). They precede a colon and semicolon. Do not confuse a single quote with a final apostrophe, which always precedes the period or comma. Television and radio shows are capitalized and placed in quotations, as are book chapters, individual lecture titles, journal articles, papers, dissertations, and theses. Make sure that the quotation marks are in fact quotations and not the symbol for inches.

Smart/“curly” Quotes

  • Oftentimes text copied from an email message or from a website and pasted into another document will not include quotation marks or apostrophes (“ ‘, ’ ”) but rather the symbols for feet and inches (', ''). These should be corrected manually.
  • For Web content, use straight quotes and apostrophes (feet and inches ', ") as some Web browsers convert "curly" quotes and apostrophes into undesired symbols.

Spaces After a Sentence

  • For print, web, and mass emails, use only ONE space at the end of a sentence, not two as in traditional typing/word processing. (It is especially important the Vice President for Marketing & Communications Jeanne Hartig learns to observe this rule :-). Yes, our department has a sense of humor and we actually use this guide.)

PLACES TO REMEMBER

Bedford Park/Bedford Park, Ill.

  • The name of the town where IIT’s Moffett Campus and Institute for Food Safety and Health are located. Do not use Summit-Argo.

Bronzeville

  • Capitalize in all uses. Bronzeville is a neighborhood community that is generally described as between 26th and 51st streets and between the Dan Ryan Expressway and Cottage Grove Avenue. 

Campus

  • Capitalize Main Campus, Downtown Campus, River North Campus, Daniel F. and Ada L. Rice Campus (also known as Rice Campus), and Moffett Campus. Never use the expression Downtown Center. Lowercase general references to a campus, as in IIT’s campus in Wheaton.

Chicagoland

  • Do not use this antiquated term. Instead, use Chicago area (noun) or Chicago-area (adjective), e.g. Chicago-area transit system.

Downtown Campus

  • Always capitalize.

Engineering 1 Building

  • E1 is also acceptable. Not Engineering One Building.

Hermann Hall

  • Not Hermann Union Building or HUB.

Main Campus

  • Always capitalize. Not the Main Campus.

McCormick Tribune Campus Center, The

  • Capitalize the formal name. Lowercase general references to the campus center, as in Rem Koolhaas designed IIT’s campus center. Note the use of “The” with a capital in the formal title. Do not use “The” when the formal name is preceded by an adjective, e.g., the new McCormick Tribune Campus Center. MTCC on subsequent references is acceptable.

Moffett Campus

  • Always capitalize. Moffett Campus is located in Bedford Park, Ill. (not Summit-Argo).

Rice Campus

  • Daniel F. and Ada L. Rice Campus in formal references, Rice Campus in casual and subsequent references.

S. R. Crown Hall

  • Use S. R. Crown Hall in first reference to avoid confusion. Note the space between S. and R., which appears as such because S. R. is an abbreviation of beginning and middle names. Crown Hall is acceptable for subsequent references.

South Side

  • Capitalize in all uses.

State Names

  • Spell out state names when they stand alone or appear in a formal invitation. Special abbreviations are used when state names are paired with most cities or towns. Use two-letter postal abbreviations only in addresses in correspondence. A number of recognizable United States and international cities do not need to be identified by their state or country names in body copy, e.g., Chicago, Philadelphia, Moscow, Paris, etc.

State Name Abbreviations

  • Use the below abbreviations, per the AP Style Guide, for states that accompany their cities in body copy, e.g., He lives in Springfield, Ill.
  • Do not confuse these abbreviations with postal abbreviations, which are used only in address lines in correspondence. Do not abbreviate state names that stand alone in copy or that appear in formal invitations; in those cases, state names should be spelled out.

Ala.

Md.

N.D.

Ariz.

Mass.

Okla.

Ark.

Mich.

Ore.

Calif.

Minn.

Pa.

Colo.

Miss.

R.I.

Conn.

Mo.

S.C.

Del.

Mont.

S.D.

Fla.

Neb.

Tenn.

Ga.

Nev.

Vt.

Ill.

N.H.

Va.

Ind.

N.J.

Wash.

Kan.

N.M.

W.Va.

Ky.

N.Y.

Wis.

La.

N.C.

Wyo.

Alaska, Hawaii, Idaho, Iowa, Maine, Ohio, Texas, and Utah are never abbreviated in copy.

United States

  • Spell out when used as a noun. Use U.S. only as an adjective. The abbreviation is acceptable on second references.

 

THE NAME GAME

Names

  • Use a person’s first and last name in the first use. In subsequent uses, use last name only, e.g., Martin Jischke is president emeritus of Purdue University; Jischke is an Illinois Tech alumnus.
  • When two individuals with the same last name appear in articles of most publications, use the first names on second references or as needed for clarity.
  • For individuals whose last names begin with a lowercase van (e.g., van der Meer), capitalize the v on the second reference unless the individual specifies otherwise; capitalize when the last name begins a sentence.
  • Nicknames appear in quotations within the birth name, e.g., Alan “Bud” Wendorf. In rare cases, primarily in lists of names, parentheses can be used in place of quotations for visual clarity.

Board of Trustees

  • Capitalize in all references to IIT’s governing body. Capitalize trustee when it precedes a name, e.g., Trustee Bob Smith. Lowercase otherwise. Always lowercase board or trustee when used alone or in a general reference (exception: formal documents such as the Board of Trustees Bio Book).
  • Do not capitalize when used generally in conjunction with a person, e.g., Bob Smith, an IIT trustee, has been one of the most active supporters of the university. In general, do not capitalize titles that follow the name of a person, but capitalize trustee and titles that precede names.

Camras

  • This is the full, formal name of the scholarship. Less formally, it is known as the Camras Scholarship. Recipients are known as Camras scholars (note lowercase). Camras is capitalized because this scholarship is named after a man—Marvin Camras.

Jr. and Sr.

  • Do not use a comma to offset this suffix, e.g., Bob Smith Jr. The same rule applies to II, III, etc., but not to M.D. or Ph.D., though the use of the latter is discouraged.

Mies van der Rohe

  • Ludwig Mies van der Rohe is the full and preferred name in a first reference, though Mies van der Rohe is also acceptable. Use Mies for subsequent references. Possessive is Mies’.

President of Illinois Tech

  • Formal title and name is President John L. Anderson, however, by request, he would like to be referred to as President John Anderson (note omission of middle initial) except in more formal publications or letters.
  • On second references, use Anderson or, less formally, the president.

ONE WORD, TWO WORDS, OR USE-THE-HYPHEN?

  • African-American
  • ages
    • Hyphenate when used as an adjective and spell out when nine years old or younger, e.g., He is nine years old. He is a nine-year-old student. She is 11 years old. She is an 11-year-old actress.
  • Asian-American
  • cell phone
  • co-op
    • a co-op experience
  • coursework
  • database
  • email
    • Lowercase unless at the beginning of a sentence; email addresses in copy should not be broken between two lines.
  • ex officio
    • Hyphenate when used as an adjective, e.g., the ex-officio member.
  • full-time, part-time
    • Hyphenate when used as an adjective.
  • fundraising
  • health care
  • high school
    • No hyphen is needed when used as an adjective.
  • Hispanic-American
  • home page
  • marketplace
  • Native-American
  • online
  • smart phone
  • Web
  • website
  • workforce
  • workplace

IN THE CASE OF…

Capitalization

  • In general, capitalize official names; use lowercase for unofficial, informal, shortened titles, or generic names. Therefore, phrases such as the university, the center, the institute, or the college are not capitalized.
  • Capitalize the word commencement when referring to the Illinois Tech Commencement.
  • Always capitalize the words Internet, World Wide Web, and the Web.
  • Note: www in website addresses is always lowercase.

SO MANY NUMBERS.  SO LITTLE “TIME”.

Ages

  • Spell out when nine years old or younger, e.g., He is nine years old. She is 11 years old.

Dates

  • Write dates as Arabic figures, without the ordinals such as st, rd, etc. Do not place commas between months and years, e.g., October 1997; but October 12, 1997. Use commas after years that appear mid-sentence, e.g., He had a test on     October 12, 1997, during his freshman year.
  • Spell out both the number and century when used as a noun and an adjective, e.g., twentieth century, twentieth-century discovery, twenty-first-century innovation.

Dollars

  • Use the $ sign with figures; do not spell out the word dollar, which would be redundant, e.g., Bagels cost $2. For amounts of $1 million or more, do not link

Midnight

  • Do not put a 12 in front of it or use 12 a.m.

Noon

  • Do not put a 12 in front of it or use 12 p.m.

Numerals

  • Spell out whole numbers below 10. Use figures for 10 and above. Place a comma in four-digit numbers such as 1,243 (exception: SAT scores). Use numerals but not zeroes for large numbers, e.g., 4 trillion. In a series containing numbers of 10 or above, use numerals for all amounts, e.g., There were 4 students, 10 faculty, and 3 staff. Use numerals with percent for all numbers, e.g., 8 percent, unless the figure is technical data, in which case the % symbol should be used, e.g., 8%.
  • The same rules apply to ordinals, e.g., eighth or 124th.

Percent

  • Spell out in copy. In charts, graphs, and tables, and when referring to scientific data, the % sign is acceptable.

Phone numbers

  • Preferred IIT style for phone numbers follows the example 312.567.3104.

Time of day

  • 8 p.m., not 8:00 p.m. Use noon and midnight and not 12 p.m. or 12 a.m.

Times of day

  • Follow this order in the notice of events: day of the week, date, time, and, place, e.g., Friday, October 13, 1988, 7:30 a.m., Perlstein Hall Auditorium.
  • Do not repeat the daypart in a range of times: 8-9:30 a.m., not 8 a.m.-9:30 a.m.

Years

  • Use the plural “s” without an apostrophe to indicate spans of decades or centuries, e.g., the 1980s, the 1900s. Also ’70s, ’80s, and ’90s (note direction and use of closed apostrophe).

KNIT ONE.  URL TWO.

Web addresses

  • Avoid allowing Web addresses (URLs) to break at the end of a line or placing punctuation immediately after them (except for URLs that end a complete sentence). To avoid bad line breaks, editors and writers may wish to refer to the websites in copy without giving the address; an accompanying sidebar or chart can list addresses for any sites mentioned in the story or document. You may omit the http:// for brevity but not the www. But use the full URL form (http://islat.iit.edu) when the Web address does not begin with www.

THE “THIS DOESN’T FIT INTO ANY CATEGORY STUFF”

“L”

  • The Chicago Transit Authority’s elevated train line. "L", not "el".

That or Which

  • That does not require punctuation; it is used where there is more that one possibility, e.g., Choose an option that meets your needs. A comma should precede which; which is used to add information on to something that has already been identified, e.g., He completed the survey, which was sent to him via email.

Directions

  • Lowercase north, northeast, etc., when referring to compass directions.
  • Capitalize these words when they refer to regions: the Midwest, the South Side.

Seasons

  • Lowercase unless part of a formal name, e.g., They went to the Spring Fling dance. But spring semester. Note: No comma when used with a year—spring 2000. Prefer spring 2000 as opposed to spring of 2000.

Superscripts

  • Be careful to avoid superscripts, as many document programs will automatically convert text to numerical superscripts, e.g., 15th, not 15th.
  • Be especially careful to avoid superscripts in Web content, as they create uneven line spacing.

Last updated Spring 2014.