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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Eliot Society

Use the official title, William Greenleaf Eliot Society, on first reference.

ellipsis ( … )

Add a regular space before and after the ellipsis.

email addresses

Use only lowercase letters in email addresses. Do not italicize.

emerita (feminine singular), emeritae (feminine plural); emeritus (masculine singular), emeriti (masculine plural)

When referring to a group that contains emerita and emeritus individuals, emeriti is used.

Environmental Health & Safety

The department of the university that provides compliance oversight and consulting help in all areas of safety, health and environmental compliance.


Takes a singular verb. But when members is used with faculty, the verb is plural.

faculty of Arts & Sciences

Refer to the dean as the dean of the faculty of Arts & Sciences.

Faculty Practice Plan

Faculty Practice Plan refers to the business unit that runs the School of Medicine’s clinical practice and is acceptable for internal university audiences.

faculty titles

In general, university faculty members are of various departments in or at various schools.

fellow, fellowship

The complete name, or the first reference name, of a fellowship program is capitalized, unless it’s plural.

fewer, less

Use fewer for countables and less for collective quantities.

Field House, the Washington University

Two words. Contests are played in the Washington University Field House, which is at the Athletics Complex.

financial assistance

Preferred to financial aid.


Lowercase floor. Spell out one through nine; use figures for 10 and above.

foreign students

Do not use. Use international students.

foreign words, foreign phrases

Do not italicize or place in quotation marks commonly known foreign words or foreign phrases.

Founders Day

No apostrophe.


Spell out and hyphenate amounts less than one. Use figures for amounts larger than one to avoid cumbersome constructions.


Use first-year for undergraduate and graduate students who are in their first year of studies.

Gender and sexuality language

In general, under AP Style, note that gender is not synonymous with sex. Gender refers to a person’s social identity, while sex refers to biological characteristics.

Gender-neutral language

In general, under AP Style, use terms that can apply to any gender.

gender-nonconforming (adj.)

Per AP Style, acceptable in broad references as a term for people who do not conform to gender expectations.


Capitalize the names of genes; italicize.

Genome Institute, The

On first reference, use The Elizabeth H. and James S. McDonnell III Genome Institute.

genus, species names

On first reference, capitalize and spell out the genus name.


Internet company that runs a search engine and digital advertising network.

Greek letters

The actual Greek letters should be used whenever possible in scientific or medical copy, when appropriate.


One word, no hyphen.

Habif Health and Wellness Center

Formerly known as Student Health Services, provides medical and mental health care for undergraduate and graduate students.


Preferred title for leaders of departments at the School of Medicine.


With newspapers, the first word is capitalized; others are lowercased unless style or grammar calls for capitalization.


A term with origins centrally rooted in the word Hispano (A person from — or whose ancestors were from — a Spanish-speaking land or culture), then adapted by a government committee, which was first used for the 1970 census.

homosexual (adj.), homosexuality (n.)

Per AP Style, refers to the sexual orientations of gay and/or lesbian.

Indigenous (adj.)

Capitalize this term used to refer to original inhabitants of a place.

information, For more

Follow this form: For more information, visit, email Joe Smith at, or call xxx-xxx-xxxx.

Institute for Public Health

On first reference, use the Institute for Public Health at Washington University in St. Louis.


Do not italicize foreign words or phrases.

James McKelvey School of Engineering

Use McKelvey School of Engineering at Washington University in St. Louis on first reference.

John C. Danforth Center on Religion and Politics

Always use the full name of the center on first reference in text, and never use an ampersand in the title.

journal names

Do not italicize.

Kemper Art Museum, Mildred Lane

Officially, the Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum, but Kemper Art Museum is acceptable in all references.

last vs. past

Use past to avoid confusion in time sequences.

Latino, Latina

Per AP Style, Latino is often the preferred noun or adjective for a person from, or whose ancestors were from, a Spanish-speaking land or culture or from Latin America. Latina is the feminine form.

Law, School of

Washington University School of Law or Washington University Law are both OK on first reference, but the school’s official name is Washington University School of Law.


Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design.


For ordinal forms, lowercase level and spell out the number.

Lewis Center

Studio space for graduate art students, located in University City, Missouri.


Per AP Style, acceptable in all references for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender, or lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning and/or queer.


The University Libraries system is comprised of 12 libraries: John M. Olin Library and nine distributed libraries on the Danforth Campus; the Bernard Becker Medical Library at the Medical School campus; and the West Campus Library & Conference Center.

lists (bulleted)

Avoid punctuation unless needed to avoid confusion.

magazine names

Do not italicize.

Mallinckrodt Institute of Radiology

The Mallinckrodt Institute of Radiology is the Department of Radiology for the School of Medicine.

Martin, Andrew D.

The 15th chancellor of Washington University.

McDonnell International Scholars Academy

McDonnell Academy is acceptable on second reference.

Medical Campus

The official name of this campus is Washington University Medical Center.

Medical Center, Washington University

Use Washington University Medical Center when the topic involves medical center affiliated institutions.

Medicine in St. Louis, Washington University School of

Use School of Medicine when the topic involves the school only.

Mini-Medical School

Its course offerings are differentiated by Roman numerals: Mini-Medical School I; Mini-Medical School III, etc.


OK to use MRI or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) on first reference.

Music Center, 560

Use the full 560 Music Center for the property located at 560 Trinity Ave. in University City.

named professorships

Named professorships (also known as endowed professorships or chairs) are in a particular discipline.


Refer to the undergraduate programs bulletin or the School of Medicine bulletin for correct spellings.


Acceptable in all references; no need to spell it out.

national council

Do not capitalize unless used with the full name of a particular entity’s national council.

National Institutes of Health (NIH)

On first reference spell out and include (NIH) in parentheses.


Acceptable in all references for National Collegiate Athletic Association.

newspaper names

Do not italicize or put in quote marks.

Nobel laureate

Not an official title; lowercase laureate.

Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences

The title to be used for the prize awarded to Douglass C. North in 1993.


Per AP Style, people are nonbinary if their gender identity is not strictly male or female. Not synonymous with transgender. Explain in a story if the context doesn’t make it clear.

nondiscrimination statement

The official nondiscrimination statement, amended July 2007, is required in all academic bulletins and recommended in other recruitment materials.

North Campus

700 Rosedale Ave., 63112 — includes Parking and Transportation Services, Sponsored Projects Accounting, Family Learning Center and other offices.

Oak Allée

Never Oak Alley.


The general order of an obituary lead is as follows: name, title, cause of death, day of the week, date, year, place.


Capitalize the word office if it is used as part of an entity’s official name; lowercase otherwise.


Do not use only the word Olin unless it is obvious to what it refers or it is in a direct quote.

Olin Fellowship Program

Officially the Mr. & Mrs. Spencer T. Olin Fellowships for Women in Graduate Study, but the Olin Fellowship Program is acceptable in all references.

Olin Library

Olin Library has levels, not floors.


Spelling varies depending on the audience and usage.

people of color (POC)

According to the AP Stylebook, the term is acceptable when necessary in broad references to multiple races other than white.

Performing Arts Department in Arts & Sciences

NOT Department of Performing Arts in Arts & Sciences. PAD on second reference; no need for a (PAD) after the first reference.


Do not italicize.

Poet Laureate

Capitalize when used as an official title before an individual’s name.