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Graphic Identity Standards :: Writing Guidelines  

These guidelines are based on The Associated Press (AP) Stylebook used by journalists throughout the world and are supported as a secondary source by Webster’s New World College Dictionary, Fourth Edition. They are intended to help DePaul faculty and staff prepare copy for university publications and resolve basic questions about style. They are not inflexible rules, but rather an aid for faculty and staff responsible for publishing university materials. Please share them with outside vendors contracted to produce publications for DePaul to ensure consistency of style.

Copy to be used for newspapers, magazines and newsletters, in general, should follow AP style closely. However, the diverse types of university publications, their divergent audiences and differing purposes may require broader interpretation of the guide. As a general rule, down-styling—using lowercase except in cases where uppercase is clearly called for—is the preferred style. These guidelines are not recommended for use in publication of academic papers, for which the Modern Language Association, American Psychological Association or Chicago Manual of Style may be more appropriate references. Many interpretations in this guide involve the degree of capitalization and abbreviation maintained throughout a publication. Some publications that may require broader interpretation are:

  • Formal and ceremonial special event invitations and programs, which may require greater use of capitalization and, in some cases, no abbreviations.
  • Advertisements and promotional brochures, which need to make quick, favorable impressions to communicate the importance of programs, offices or individuals. In these venues, more frequent use of capitalization and fewer abbreviations may be desired.
  • Forms and applications, which often make greater use of capitalization. The editorial style of such publications often is dictated by their functional requirements.

Abbreviations and Acronyms

Abbreviate these titles when they are used before a name: Gov., Rep., Sen., and the Rev. Use the Rev. before the name of a priest in the first reference: the Rev. Dennis H. Holtschneider, C.M. In subsequent references, abbreviate Father and use his last name: Fr. Holtschneider. The Congregation of the Mission is the religious community that founded DePaul. Vincentian fathers and brothers use the designation C.M. set off by commas following their last names. Use Bro. before the name of a brother. Use Sister before a name and include religious order affiliation on first reference: Sister Agnes Rita Malone, D.C.  On subsequent references, use Sister but follow her preference in using her first or last name after the title: Sister Agnes Rita or Sister Malone.

With dates or numerals, use the following: A.D., B.C., a.m. and p.m. Abbreviate Ave., St. and Blvd., when used with a numbered address: 1150 W. Fullerton Ave. All other designations, such as Drive, Road and Circle, are spelled out. Spell out and capitalize when naming the street with no number: Fullerton Avenue, Jackson Boulevard. Lowercase the words street, avenue, etc., when used alone or with more than one street name: the corner of Fullerton and Sheffield avenues.

Abbreviate the following months: Jan., Feb., Aug., Sept., Oct., Nov. and Dec., when used with a specific date: Jan. 1, 2008. Spell out all other months when used with a specific date or alone.

Abbreviate states when used with the name of a town or city: South Bend, Ind. Do not use the two-letter Postal Service abbreviations except in return addresses. The AP abbreviation for Illinois is Ill. It is not necessary to include the state abbreviation with Chicago. Abbreviate all states except Alaska, Hawaii, Idaho, Iowa, Maine, Ohio, Texas and Utah.

Use the abbreviation or acronym in parentheses after the first reference is spelled out: Chicago Public Schools (CPS), Community-based Service Learning (CbSL), College of Science and Health (CSH).  In succeeding references, use the abbreviation alone without parentheses. Do not use the abbreviation in the first reference without identifying what it represents. Do not put an abbreviation in parentheses after a first reference if the abbreviation is never mentioned again.

Academic Degrees, Departments and Titles

Do not use a title before a name when it is followed by the abbreviation for the degree: Sally Smith, PhD. When the abbreviation follows the name, it should be set off with commas. Do not use Dr., except for those with medical degrees. It is assumed that most professors have a terminal degree, so, generally, it is unnecessary to cite it.

Use abbreviations without periods for degrees and professional designations: BA, BSC, EdD, JD, MBA, MD, MFA, MS, MSW, PhD, CPA. Capitalize degrees when they are spelled out: Bachelor of Science, Master of Arts. The area of study is generally lowercase, unless the area is part of the official degree title: Bachelor of Arts in history, Master of Public Health, Bachelor of Music, Master of Fine Arts. Use the apostrophe and lowercase when using descriptive terms: bachelor's degree, master's degree in sociology. The exception is associate degree (no possessive).

Use lowercase for informal references to academic departments except when they include proper nouns: sociology department, English department. However, use uppercase for formal references to academic departments: Department of Sociology or Department of English.

Capitalize and spell out such titles as Professor, Provost, Dean, Vice President, etc., when they precede a name. Otherwise, spell them out and do not capitalize. Named professorships and chairs are capitalized in all cases: Vincent de Paul Professor, Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz Chair. Do not use courtesy titles, such as Mr., Mrs. or Miss.


Alumnus is male; alumni is plural. Alumna is female; alumnae is plural. Use alumni for mixed-gender groups. In the cases of class notes and other listings, if a graduate has earned only an advanced degree from DePaul, add the college in front of the degree and graduation year (note direction of the apostrophe): CDM MS ’06. If a graduate earned more than one degree from a single college, simply list the years: LAS ’99, ’02. In other copy, such as magazine feature stories, simply identify the college and the year without listing degrees: LAW ’89. A Double Demon refers to an alumnus with two degrees from DePaul.


Bullet points are an effective way of calling attention to important information. They allow readers to quickly access key points. When using them, capitalize the initial letter of each line regardless if it’s a sentence or a fragment; put a period at the end of each list item only if it’s a sentence; and be sure that items in a list are syntactically similar.


Avoid unnecessary capitalization whenever possible. Capitalize proper nouns such as the name of a person, place or thing: Joseph, New York, General Motors. Capitalize common nouns only when they are an integral part of the full name: Socialist Party, Chicago River.

Lowercase common nouns when they are plural: Socialist and Republican parties, Chicago and Mississippi rivers.

Lowercase the word university unless using the full name: DePaul University. However, it is not necessary to use University with DePaul on first and subsequent references in internal documents.

Lowercase the word community: DePaul community.

Lowercase seasons: summer, fall, winter, spring quarter.

Lowercase directions when they refer to the compass: north, east, southwest. Capitalize them when they refer to regions: Midwest, Midwestern, Middle East, Southeast Asia.

Capitalize unofficially designated place names: Near North Side, North Shore, South Side, Wall Street.

Capitalize the names of all university buildings and campuses: Ray Meyer Fitness and Recreation Center, Rolling Meadows Campus. Note that the Merle Reskin Theatre uses the “re” variant spelling for theatre.

Capitalize words derived from proper nouns: Chicagoan, Christian, Marxist.

Capitalize the names of schools, colleges, centers and institutes in the university when used in full phrase: College of Communication, The Theatre School, Center for Latino Research, International Human Rights Law Institute. Lowercase when used in general reference or informally: the school, the college, the university, the institute and the music school.

Capitalize official course names: Modern Poetry, Urban Sociology.

Capitalize division names: Student Affairs, Information Services, and Enrollment Management and Marketing.


Separate items in a series with commas, but do not use a comma before a conjunction and the last item in a simple series: DePaul is a Catholic, Vincentian and urban institution.

Use commas to set off hometowns: Professor John Smith, Chicago, and Professor Jane Jones, South Bend. Ind., attended the conference. The comma isn’t required if the word of is used: Professor John Smith of Chicago and Professor Jane Jones of South Bend, Ind., attended the conference.

Use commas to set off names of states and nations: Professor John Johnson traveled from Peoria, Ill., to Manama, Bahrain.

Use commas with numbers larger than three digits: DePaul enrolled 2,400 freshmen in 2006. Do not use commas in street addresses, room numbers, serial numbers, telephone numbers and years. He studied at 2350 N. Kenmore Ave. in Room 1305 from 2003 to 2007.

Use commas, not parentheses or dashes, to set off appositives: John Smith, professor of English, just published a new book of poetry.

When a phrase lists only a month and year, do not separate the year with commas: February 2006 was a cold month. However, when a phrase refers to a month, day and year, set off the year with commas: March 15, 2009, is the target date of the launch.

Composition Titles

Use quotation marks around the titles of books, plays, poems, songs, television shows, movies, operas, works of art, as well as titles of lectures, speeches, book chapters and magazine or journal articles. Do not use quotation marks or italics with titles of newspapers, journals and magazines: the Chicago Tribune, Newsweek, DePaul Magazine. Do not use quotation marks with descriptive or “generic” titles of musical works: Beethoven’s Violin Concerto, Bach’s Toccata and Fugue in D Minor. However, use quotation marks for non-musical terms in a title or if the work has a special full title: the “Jupiter” Symphony, “Rhapsody in Blue.”

Capitalize the initial letters of such works, including the articles a, an and the, if an article is the first word of the title. Capitalize prepositions and conjunctions of four or more letters in titles.

Computer and Internet Terms

Internet and the Net are capitalized, while intranet is lowercase. World Wide Web is capitalized. Use the Web, Web page and Web feed, but website, webcast, webcam and webmaster. When citing Web addresses, there is no need to include http://, simply begin with or

Names of most websites and apps are capitalized without quotes: Facebook, Foursquare. However, “FarmVille” and similar computer game apps are in quotes.

Online is all one word. DePaul’s Course OnLine uses a capital L. No hyphen is needed for email, but use a hyphen with other e- terms: e-commerce, e-business, e-book, e-shopping. These can be capitalized if used as part of a proper name: The students enrolled in the course Survey of E-commerce Technology in the fall.

The terms login, logon and logoff are one word when used as nouns and adjectives. However, use as two words in verb form: I log in to my computer.


Countries whose names are plural are preceded by the article the in written and verbal use: the Philippines, the Netherlands, the West Indies. Country names that denote a political entity also are preceded by the article the: the Czech Republic, the United States, the Orange Free State, the United Arab Emirates. Countries named after the “patria”—the fatherland or motherland—do not need the article the: America, Britain, France, Russia, New Zealand; contrary to popular usage, Ukraine and Sudan are never preceded by the.

DePaul University

Spell out DePaul as one word, capitalizing the D and P. Do not insert a space. Do not capitalize university except when used in full phrase: DePaul University. Do not print DePaul in all lowercase letters unless you are referring to

Note: Due to advances in typographical options, we no longer insert a space between the “De” and “P” in DePaul when using all caps. Rather, the preferred style is to use a smaller type size for the capital E: DePAUL. However, the spelling of the university’s patron is always St. Vincent de Paul, with a lowercase “de” and a space between the “de” and the “P.” Similarly, it’s St. Vincent de Paul Church.

When referring to a DePaul campus whose location is not in its name, follow the campus name with the municipality’s name on first reference: O’Hare Campus in Chicago. Capitalize the word campus when used with the full campus name, but not when used alone or referring to multiple campuses: Rolling Meadows Campus, the campus, the Naperville and Loop campuses.

DePaul has programs, but not campuses, in Bahrain and Kenya. Bahrain is officially a kingdom, and the city where our program is located is Manama, the capital. The Kellstadt Graduate School of Business offers its MBA and M.S. degrees in finance, human resources and Islamic finance in partnership with the Bahrain Institute of Banking & Finance. The School for New Learning offers a B.A. program in Nairobi, Kenya, in partnership with Tangaza University.

DePaul’s schools are the School of Music, School for New Learning (SNL) and The Theatre School (TTS). Note: The is capitalized in the latter reference, and the school and the Merle Reskin Theatre use the “re” variant spelling for theatre. The full names of the schools should be used on initial reference for both internal and external purposes. The Kellstadt Graduate School of Business (KGSB) and the School of Accountancy and Management Information Systems are part of the Driehaus College of Business. The School of Public Service (SPS) is part of the College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences. The School of Computing (SoC) and the School of Cinema and Interactive Media (CIM) are part of the College of Computing and Digital Media. The School of Nursing is housed in the College of Science and Health.

DePaul’s colleges are the Driehaus College of Business, College of Communication, College of Computing and Digital Media (CDM), College of Education, College of Law, and College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences (LAS) and College of Science and Health (CSH).

Ellipses (...)

Use an ellipsis to show the deletion of one or more words in condensing quotes. In general, treat it as a three-letter word. If the ellipsis occurs at the end of a sentence, place a period at the end of the last word before the ellipsis. Follow it with a regular space and an ellipsis: You are coming of age in unsettling times. ...

Hyphens, Dashes and Parentheses

Hyphens are joiners; dashes are separators; parentheses allow insertion of background or reference material.

Use hyphens to avoid ambiguity or to form a single thought from two or more words: re-create, a know-it-all, tight-lipped person. Common and unambiguous adjectives do not need to be hyphenated: high school student, ice cream cone. Use hyphens to separate numerals in ratios: 10-to-1 ratio, a 2-1 margin, and scores: the Blue Demons won 10-2. Hyphenate expressions of dual heritage: African-American, Mexican-American.

Dashes signal an abrupt change in thought. Do not insert spaces on either side of the em dash: As the largest Catholic university in America—it was an honor we weren’t seeking—DePaul has become a role model for other schools. When a phrase that otherwise would be set off by commas contains a series of words that must be separated by commas, use dashes to set off the full phrase: DePaul’s essential qualities—Catholic, Vincentian and urban—are key to our mission.

Parentheses should be used sparingly because they are jarring to readers. Put the period outside the closing parenthesis if the set-off information is a fragment (like this, for instance). If the material is a complete sentence, but is dependent upon the surrounding information (this is a good example) do not include a period inside the parentheses. However, if the material is a complete sentence that is a separate thought, put a period inside the parentheses. (Now we are ready for the next section.)

The ‘L’

According to the Chicago Transit Authority, the CTA’s train system is called the ‘L’—short for “elevated.” Note capitalization and punctuation.


Lowercase and spell out numbers and their derivatives from one to nine and use the Arabic form for 10 and above: three hours, first anniversary, 21st century, 30 years. Always use the Arabic form when giving a person’s age: Jane Smith, 35, and her son, 5; or when using percent, which is always spelled out: 5 percent. Use Arabic form for millions, billions and trillions: a $5 million budget.

To express the five-digit university telephone extensions, use ext. 2-8000 for publications distributed only within the university, or the full number (312) 362-8000 for publications distributed outside the university. For room numbers, capitalize “room” when used with a figure and with a specially designated room: Room 154, Rare Book Room.


Add ’s for plural nouns not ending in s: the children’s toys. When a plural noun ends in s, add only the apostrophe: the students’ grades, the Joneses’ gift. When a noun is plural in form but singular in meaning, add only the apostrophe: the mumps’ symptoms. Use only the apostrophe with proper names ending in s: Jesus’ life. For singular common nouns ending in s, add ’s unless the next word begins with s: the witness’s answer, the witness’ story.

Quotation Marks (also see composition titles)  

Use double quotation marks (“) to set off direct quotes, and single quotation marks (‘) to set off a quote or a title of a creative work within a quote. All punctuation marks, except the colon, semi-colon, dash and exclamation point, should stand within both double and single quotation marks. The colon, semi-colon, dash and exclamation point stand within the quotation marks when they apply to the quoted material.

If a paragraph ends with a quotation that ends in a complete sentence and is continued in the next paragraph, do not use the quotation marks at the end of the first paragraph. Open succeeding paragraphs with quotation marks until the quote is concluded.

“I saw ‘Othello’ last night,” he said, “and I really enjoyed it. “I was up until 2 a.m., though, because I stayed for the cast party.”

Radio and television

Use call letters in all caps and hyphens to separate the type of station from the base call letters followed by the channel or frequency in parentheses: WBBM-TV (Channel 2), WBBM-AM (780). Use the network name when describing affiliation of network shows: NBC affiliate WMAQ-TV (Channel 5), NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

Put titles of shows and episodes in quotation marks and the word show only if it is part of the formal name: “Good Day DePaul,” the “Today” show, “The Tonight Show,” “Flowers for Your Grave” from ABC’s “Castle.”

Theatre, Theater

Use theatre in all DePaul publications. This is an exception to The Associated Press Stylebook: “Theatre students and alumni gathered on opening night at the Merle Reskin Theatre.” “His storied theatre career started when he was 9 years old.” Use theater when it is part of the proper name of a performing arts company or venue: Chicago Shakespeare Theater.


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