This is the official style guide for the Washington University in St. Louis University Marketing & Communications. Recently revised with a nod toward inclusive language, it is intended as a guideline for communicators across the university, and written on the theory that consistency and excellence represent the very best of our institution.

When writing and editing for MarComm, the hierarchy of style to conform to is as follows:

  1. MarComm style
  2. Associated Press style
  3. Webster’s New World College Dictionary

Final determination on style matters rests with the MarComm editing staff, with consultation from the Vice Chancellor for Marketing and Communications.

Style may vary across communications, including news releases, magazine stories, individual print publications and websites, with common sense, overall strategy and the mission of the university considered first and foremost. Please note that guidelines in this stylebook do not necessarily apply to “University Events” listings in the Record — i.e., the calendar section — or to the class notes sections in Washington magazine and Outlook.

Finally, keep in mind that our language is constantly evolving and changing, and both our style and the Associated Press evolves regularly. Please be aware of changes to long-adhered norms of style at For more information and help with specific questions regarding language and style, please refer to the links below.

University Marketing & Communications
WashU Medicine Marketing & Communications
Center for Diversity & Inclusion
Office of the Vice Provost for Faculty Affairs and Diversity
Center for the Study of Race, Ethnicity & Equity
The Buder Center for American Indian Studies
Pronouns information for students 
Glossary of Bias Terms

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Hyphenate phrases that incorporate -winning: award-winning.

2nd Century Award

2nd Century Award is preferred usage in titles. Second Century Award is preferred in body copy.

academic degrees

As a general rule, do not list degrees after a person’s name with the exception of a medical degree, MD, or combined medical/doctoral degree, MD/PhD.

academic titles

For faculty members with more than one academic appointment, the primary appointment or the appointment most pertinent to the story is listed first.

Academy for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

The academy supports university faculty and staff with programming, training, events and other resources that aim to improve the campus climate of diversity and inclusion.


Use acronyms only for entities that frequently shorten their names on second reference. Do not create acronyms solely to save a few words.


Americans with Disabilities Act. Spell out in first reference.


In summer 2021, Washington University’s Mail Services replaced Campus Box (CB) with Mail Stop Codes (MSC). Each business unit has a unique mail stop code made up of the campus box number, building number and floor or suite number.

ADIS codes

Do not use ADIS (Alumni and Development Information System) codes to identify the schools from which alumni graduated, except in Washington magazine’s ClassNotes section and in the Washington University Annual Report.

admissions, undergraduate

The official title is Office of Undergraduate Admissions. The admissions office is acceptable on second reference.

adviser; advisor

Rarely is it part of an official title. But if Advisor comes before a person’s name as part of the person’s official title, recast the sentence if possible and change Advisor to adviser.

African American

No hyphen. Acceptable for an American Black person of African descent.

American Indians, Native Americans

Both are acceptable terms in general references for those in the U.S. when referring to two or more people of different tribal affiliations.

Annual Fund

Use caps.

Architecture & Urban Design, Graduate School of

Use the full name, Graduate School of Architecture & Urban Design in the Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts, on first reference.

Architecture, College of

Use the full name, College of Architecture in the Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts, on first reference.

area codes

Use area codes offset by hyphens.

Art, College of

Use the full name, College of Art in the Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts, on first reference.

Art, Graduate School of

Use the full name, Graduate School of Art in the Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts, on first reference.

Arts & Sciences

When making first reference in body text and cutlines to any of the departments, programs, centers or units in Arts & Sciences, in Arts & Sciences is to be included.

Asian American

No hyphen. Acceptable for an American of Asian descent.

Athletic Complex

Contests are played at the Athletic Complex.

athletics director

Not athletic director.


The preferred attribution is said, but says is acceptable in Washington magazine.


Retain capitalization on the official names of awards in both their singular and plural uses.

Barnes-Jewish Hospital

Use Barnes-Jewish Hospital on first reference and Barnes-Jewish​ ​or BJH or subsequent references.

Barnes-Jewish West County Hospital

On second reference, use Barnes-Jewish West County.

BioMed 21

A universitywide initiative to facilitate multidisciplinary, collaborative research aimed at speeding the translation of laboratory discoveries into improved medical treatments.

biracial, multiracial

Acceptable, when clearly relevant, to describe people with more than one racial heritage.

BJC HealthCare

It is the ​nonprofit health-care organization based in St. Louis that includes nationally recognized academic hospitals Barnes-Jewish Hospital and St. Louis Children’s Hospital, both affiliated with the School of Medicine.

Black (adj.)

Use the capitalized term as an adjective in a racial, ethnic or cultural sense.

Black Lives Matter, #BlackLivesMatter

Per the AP Stylebook, the global movement launched after the 2012 killing of Trayvon Martin with a goal to eradicate systemic racism and white supremacy and to oppose violence committed against Black people.

Black(s), white(s) (n.)

Do not use either term as a singular noun.

Board of Trustees

When referring to Washington University in St. Louis, use Washington University’s Board of Trustees on first reference; lowercase the board on second reference.


On the Danforth Campus, the Campus Store is located in Mallinckrodt Center. The Washington University in St. Louis School of Medicine Bookstore is located on the Medical Campus in the Mid Campus Center.


Lowercase break and its modifier, unless the modifier is a proper noun: spring break, winter break; but Thanksgiving break.

Brookings Quadrangle

Use Brookings Quadrangle on first reference; the Quad is acceptable on second reference.

brown (adj.)

Avoid this broad and imprecise term in racial, ethnic or cultural references unless as part of a direct quotation. Interpretations of what the term includes vary widely.

Brown School at Washington University in St. Louis

Use the Brown School at Washington University in St. Louis on first reference.

building names

Always use the proper designation of what a building is.


Here is the list of capital campaigns at Washington University.


Washington University has five campuses, including the Danforth Campus, Medical Campus, North Campus, South Campus and West Campus.


Capitalize titles of academic courses, lectures and symposia; however, lowercase articles, conjunctions and prepositions that are three or fewer letters, unless they appear at the beginning of the title.


Abbreviation for the School of Continuing & Professional Studies. Formerly known as University College. Use School of Continuing & Professional Studies (with the ampersand) on the first reference. On second and subsequent references: CAPS.

Career Center

The universitywide Career Center is located in Danforth University Center.


Avoid as a synonym for white, unless in a quotation.

Center for Advanced Medicine

On first reference, use the Center for Advanced Medicine at Washington University School of Medicine and Barnes-Jewish Hospital.

Center for American Indian Studies, Kathryn M. Buder

Do not refer to this center as the American Indian Center as an organization with that name (the American Indian Center of Mid-America already exists).

Center for the Study of Race, Ethnicity & Equity

Transdisciplinary center brings synergy to research underway in areas of race, ethnicity and equity throughout the university and drives scholarship and collaboration on both campuses.


Do not use chairman or chairwoman unless referring to named professorships that use those words. Instead, use chair.


Capitalize when directly preceding name, but lowercase in other usages.


Describes people whose gender identity matches the one they were assigned at birth; that is, not transgender.

citations, scientific

Format: Last name XX, Last name XX. Title goes here. Name of Journal, Month Year; Vol(#):PP-PP.


Follow AP style. Cities and counties within Missouri should be identified with Mo.


The preferred term is course.

Class of

Uppercase Class and use the full year in all Class of constructions.

clinical service lines

In publications targeted to the general public or patient audiences, avoid referring to individual clinical service lines as “Division of …” or “Department of …”.

Collegiate Gothic

Capitalize when referring to the architectural style.


Do not use before Jr. or Sr.

comma, in a series

Use commas to separate elements in a series, but do not put a comma before the conjunction in a simple series.


Capitalize when referring to Washington University’s Commencement.

compared to vs. compared with

Compared to asserts comparing similarities between two or more things; compared with asserts comparing differences.

compose, comprise, constitute

When the sentence starts with the larger item, use comprise. When the sentence starts with the smaller or individual items, use compose, constitute, or make up.


Never repeat an error.

course load

Two words.

course master

Two words.

course titles

Use capital letters and quotation marks only for official course titles.

course work

Two words.


Written in the present tense. As early as possible, the cutline should describe the action in the photo.

Danforth Campus

Do not use Main Campus or Undergraduate Campus.

Danforth University Center

The student center on the Danforth Campus. Can use the DUC on second reference.


Add a regular space before and after the em-dash.


A plural noun, this word normally takes plural verbs and pronouns.


Use only the month and day number (use days of the week, too, for upcoming events within a reasonable period of time); follow AP style for months.

David H. Perlmutter, MD

School of Medicine dean since 2015, Perlmutter is the George and Carol Bauer Dean of the School of Medicine, the Spencer T. and Ann W. Olin Distinguished Professor, and executive vice chancellor for medical affairs.


Capitalize only directly before the name.

Dental Medicine, School of

Do not use School of Dentistry or Dental School as proper nouns.

department names

The official title of the majority of university departments takes a Department of construction.

Design & Visual Arts, Sam Fox School of

Use Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts on first reference; Sam Fox School is acceptable on second reference.

disabilities language

In general, follow AP Style.

division names

Uppercase full formal name of the division: the Division of Oncology.

Division of Biology & Biomedical Sciences

Use full name on first reference. DBBS is acceptable on subsequent references.


Acceptable in all references.

Doctors’ Access Line

Note placement of apostrophe.

Donald Danforth Plant Science Center

The Donald Danforth Plant Science Center is a partnership joining several public and private institutions, including Washington University in St. Louis, the Missouri Botanical Garden, Purdue University, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, the University of Missouri-Columbia, and Monsanto Company.


Avoid use, except in quotations or in formal names of professorships and chair titles.

Dual heritage

No hyphen for terms such as African American, Asian American and Filipino American, used when relevant to refer to an American person’s heritage.


Use earned when writing about someone’s degree.


Capitalize when used as the proper name of the planet. Lowercase in other uses.

East end project

The construction project that resulted in the new buildings on the east end of the Danforth Campus.

Edison Theatre

No need to write Edison Theatre in Mallinckrodt Center in any reference.