The Drexel University Editorial Style Guide is a reference tool for campus
communicators to use when preparing copy for
print and electronic distribution. The University's editorial
style generally adheres to The Associated Press Stylebook, except where
exceptions are noted. The purpose of this style guide is to establish
consistency across websites, print materials, social media and more.
Drexel communicators are encouraged to purchase a recent edition of the AP
stylebook or an online account at
apstylebook.com. It is understood
that some communicators working in specific functions may adhere to The
Chicago Manual of Style guidelines as a matter of practicality or because of
established professional standards.
Email questions or proposed updates to Sonja Sherwood, executive director of
publications, University Marketing and Communications at
The official names of Drexel’s colleges and schools and centers are listed below.
College and schools named after a donor should use the donor’s full formal name on first reference in body copy (e.g. Bennett S. LeBow College of Business), and in a number of formal situations such as on building signage, stationery, website lockups, email signatures, business cards, and in college/school “About” sections in print or online.
An abbreviated name (see below) can be used on subsequent reference, in headlines and subdeks, and in situations where there are space, graphic or channel constraints. Communication platforms are always evolving, and naming conventions should adapt to the medium.
On first reference, these names should be linked to the University’s (e.g. Drexel University’s College of Arts and Sciences has created a new academic department). This rule can be relaxed in publications where the connection to Drexel is obvious.
Lowercase “school” or “college” when by itself. (e.g. The school is pleased to announce its new dean).
* Full formal donor name is required on first reference in body copy and in formal communications.
The shortened names may be used, sparingly, on subsequent references in internal documents. Acronyms generally aren’t recommended for external publications.
Drexel is home to numerous research centers, community centers and affiliates
that operate as their own entities within the wider structure of the
University or the schools in which they are housed.
A partial list of these centers can be found below. To keep this guide updated
and accurate, schools are encouraged to submit a complete list of their
centers to Sonja Sherwood,
Drexel University operates five campuses in the Philadelphia area. Here are the official names for each:
The official names of departments and offices, including the word
“department” or “office” are capitalized. It is the
responsibility of individual schools and colleges to ensure that academic
departments and offices are listed consistently on websites.
Exhibit names are italicized.
Drexel will host an opening reception this Friday for the exhibition
A Legacy of Art, Science & Industry: Highlights from the
of Drexel University.
Drexel’s various collections should be capitalized—including
“The” for The Drexel Collection.
- the Academy’s Ornithology Collection
- The Drexel Collection
- Robert and Penny Fox Historic Costume Collection
Use the shortest effective URL (without the www or http://) whenever
- Drexel’s official URL: drexel.edu (not www.drexel.edu).
If the URL must break on two lines, break at a slash. Avoid ending a
sentence with a URL; rewrite to eliminate the period.
Generally, URLs should be in lowercase, but it is acceptable to use
sentence case for clarity or branding (for example: DrexelDragons.com).
Awards, prizes, professorships: Capitalized. Words or phrases not part of
the award’s name are lowercased (e.g. Nobel Prize-winning
- Course titles: Capitalized.
Majors/minors/concentrations: Generally, lowercase unless in official
Colon: Capitalize the first word after a colon if it is a proper noun or
the beginning of a complete sentence (with a subject, noun and verb).
Capitalize when used as a noun referring to the University’s
graduation event, lowercase as an adjective.
Five hundred students attended Commencement in 2012 and two students spoke
at the commencement ceremony.
Use “cooperative education” (no hyphen) and “co-op”
(with hyphen) on second reference or when referring to the act of being on a
co-op. It is acceptable to use “co-op” as a heading for design
pieces where space is limited. When referring to the co-op program as a
brand, use title case, for example: “the Drexel Co-op program.”
The Associated Press recommends avoiding the use of abbreviations of
honorary degrees ‹ unless in a list of honorary degree holders
(including the year the degree was granted is preferable in most cases; e.g.
Bono, HD '92). When abbreviating an honorary degree in a list, use HD,
without periods. Do not refer to an honorary degree holder with the courtesy
title Dr. or Hon. When referring to someone who holds an honorary degree,
make clear that the degree is honorary.
Correct: Bono, who holds a 1992 honorary degree of law from
Drexel University, said...
Incorrect: Bono, HD, said...
Incorrect: Bono, Hon., said...
Identifying degrees, alumni and students
When writing about a Drexel alumnus or alumna, include the
individual’s degree and year of graduation. The preferred style is to
include this information on the first reference, and to use the full program
name with an abbreviated year.
John Smith, BS economics ’13.
Where space is tight, it may be necessary to include only the graduation
year information or only a degree designation plus the graduation year.
John Smith ’13 OR John Smith, BS ’13.
For current students, as with alumni, it is important to note a
student’s major and expected year of graduation. When referring to
students, then, it is preferred that the same format used for alumni be
Troy Johnson, chemical engineering ’24.
Use an apostrophe to substitute the missing numerals, not a single quotation
For mixed gender groups, default to the masculine plural (alumni).
- alumna (f., singular)
- alumnae (f., plural)
- alumnus (m., singular)
- alumni (m., plural)
alum (s., gender neutral) for an individual who self-identifies as gender-neutral.
When writing about Drexel University College of Medicine alumni, note that the college is the successor institution of some older medical colleges that no longer exist. They are Hahnemann University (HU), Medical College of Pennsylvania (MCP), Woman's Medical College (WMC), and for a time, MCP Hahnemann University School of Medicine (MCPHU). Indicate these legacy institutions with an acronym:
John Smith, MD, HU ’86
John Smith, MD, MCP '94
Janet Smith, MD, WMC '69
Janet Smith, MD, MCPHU ’96
Identifying degrees, official degree program names
When writing about official college degree offerings, generally uppercase
official degree names listed with a degree rank (e.g. with Bachelor of
Science/Art or BS/BA before it), but lowercase generic fields of study or
degree subjects without any designating rank.
Correct: The College of Nursing and Health Professions offers a Bachelor of
Science in Behavioral Health Counseling. Also correct: The BS in Geoscience
from the College of Arts & Sciences is available in three
Incorrect: Drexel offers bachelor’s degrees in areas as diverse as
Biomedical Engineering and Film and Video.
Incorrect: The College of Engineering offers a number of Architectural
It’s fine to uppercase the name of an overall program curriculum.
The College of Engineering offers a number of architectural engineering
degrees in its Architectural Engineering program.
Drexel style is to write phone numbers with periods.
Incorrect: (215) 895-2000, 215/895-2000, 215-895-2000
For extensions, Drexel style uses: 215.895.2000, ext. 123
Gender pronouns and language
Effective 2018-2019, students have the option of identifying a first name that is different from their legal name and of indicating their personal pronouns and gender identification on their Personal Information pages. Students who want to indicate a preferred name or their pronouns should initiate this process in DrexelOne.
The University will be developing and implementing a phased approach to the use of personal pronouns and gender identification. All students are welcome to update both information points, with the understanding that Drexel will not start utilizing this information until a later date.
More information about the University's full policy and process can be found on Drexel Central.
Faculty and staff may elect to include their personal pronouns in their Drexel email signatures. Samples can be viewed on the Drexel Identity site.
This guidance for writers differs from the AP Styleguide. Drexel’s policy was drafted with three principles in mind:
- Honor individuals’ pronouns.
- Respect the audience’s need for clarity.
- Refrain from drawing unnecessary attention to anyone’s pronouns, cisgender or otherwise.
The stylebook of the Association of LGBT Journalists advises: Journalists should use their judgment on whether a passage can be recast for clarity, whether use of the pronoun creates more confusion than it solves, and whether it makes sense to explain the pronoun in the story. https://www.nlgja.org/stylebook/
When making decisions about whether to include or reword sentences with pronouns, defer to the person’s wishes as much as possible, within the above framework.
Writers can avoid misgendering people by asking for pronouns while verifying details such as graduation year and field of study, by asking sources to review manuscripts prior to publication, and/or by correcting instances where a third party has misgendered or “deadnamed” someone.
If a person shares a transgender or gender-nonconforming identity on record, ask which pronouns they want published.
Use plural verbs with singular they/them/their/themself pronouns, e.g., Nat is at the store, they are expected home at noon. Stories can usually be smoothly worded to avoid sentence constructions that leave it unclear whether an individual or a group is being discussed.
Examples of gender-neutral sentence construction: https://apastyle.apa.org/blog/singular-they
If a source uses an uncommon pronoun such as xe, ze, or sie, include a brief, appositive explanation (e.g. Nat, who uses xe pronouns…). Instead of referring to anyone’s pronouns as “preferred” or “chosen," write the pronouns they use, whose pronouns are, who uses the pronouns, etc.
Drexel content is distributed to many audiences across many platforms; therefore, make no assumptions about how familiar a “typical” reader is with gender neutral pronouns.
Sex v Gender
Sex A set of biological traits that include reproductive anatomy, chromosomes and the presence or absence of certain hormones. Male, female and intersex are the most common sexes.
Gender Refers to internal and social identity, including behavior and appearance, that may or may not correspond to sex and often exists on a spectrum.
Cisgender (adj.) Cisgender men and women present a gender that matches the sex they were assigned at birth. "Cis-" is a Latin prefix meaning "on the same side as."
Assigned at birth / biological sex It is rarely necessary to identify someone’s sex assigned at birth, but if it is relevant to the story, use the term assigned male/female at birth, not biological man/woman.
Transgender (adj.) Other people might fall into other categories that include transgender, genderfluid, gender-nonconforming or nonbinary. The term “transgendered” is not generally used. Only use terms that the individual uses to explain their gender.
The stylebook of the Association of LGBT Journalists advises: In news coverage, identify people as transgender only when relevant to the subject matter and only if they are widely known or describe themselves as such. Otherwise, describe trans men as men and trans women as women.
For a more complete discussion of terms, visit drexel.edu/hr/resources/overview/gender-transition/ or the AP Stylebook.
Male and female are adjectives, man and woman are nouns.
Incorrect: The male stood before the class of women students.
Correct: The women chose male research subjects for the study.
"His or Her"
Avoid “his or her” sentence constructions in publications, as well as in manuals and official office documents: e.g. Each employee is responsible for securing his or her laptop can be rewritten as Employees are responsible for securing their laptops.
Note that Drexel departs from AP style in how it handles periodicals.
Italicize the titles of all Drexel print publications, as well as all
non-Drexel magazine, newspaper and journal titles. Lowercase the word
“magazine” unless it is part of the publication’s official
title (e.g. Time magazine, Golf Magazine).
The latest issue of Honor Bound Magazine, the official magazine of
the Pennoni Honors College …. EXEL magazine, Drexel’s
See section “Titles, works of composition” for rules on all
other types of published works.
Drexel University publications and online material should print or post the
full names of sources whenever available except cases in which the source
may be subjected to potential personal harm or victimization if identified,
or in cases of confidentiality related to University business interests. The
determination of when a name is withheld should be discussed with Strategic Communications in University Marketing and Communications and/or the Office of the General Counsel.
Titles, academic degrees
In text, the preferred style is to spell out degree names.
Write “bachelor’s degree” rather than “BA” or
“BS,” or “master’s degree” instead of
“MA” or “MS” and “doctoral degree” or
“doctorate” instead of “PhD.” An exception can be
made when using the abbreviated terms to identify a Drexel alumnus (see
section “Alumni and students, designating degree”).
Also acceptable: bachelor of science degree or master of arts degree,
without an apostrophe.
Drexel departs from AP style by not using periods with a degree
abbreviation (correct: BA, PhD, etc).
Drexel also departs from AP style when referring to an individual with a
medical degree as “Dr.” The “Dr.” title is never
used before names of either MDs or PhDs. Instead, include their degree
after their name. Example: Charles Cairns, MD. Associate Professor David
Because of the variety of degrees and certificates that proliferate in an
academic setting, it is acceptable in some contexts to list only the most
common advanced degrees: MD, PhD, EdD and JD.
Capitalize titles when they precede a name.
Senior Vice President of University Marketing and Communications Tracy Powell…
Lowercase titles when they follow a name.
Tracy Powell, senior vice president of University Marketing and Communications,
David S. Brown, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, led a tour of the
Capitalize the actual department unless it is being used casually (i.e. on
Formal: John Smith, assistant professor in the Department of Psychology,
Informal: John Smith has worked in the psychology department for two years.
Always capitalize a named professorship, deanship or chair before or after
an individual’s name.
Eric Zillmer, the Carl R. Pacifico Professor of Neuropsychology, recently
The Christopher and Mary Stratakis Chair in Corporate Governance Ralph
No comma before Jr., Sr. or II, III, etc.
Common Style Guidelines
For style questions not addressed here, refer to the AP Stylebook.
Academic calendar terms
Lowercase names of seasons unless part of a formal event name (e.g. the
Correct: The fall 2020 quarter ends in December.
Incorrect: The Fall 2020 quarter ends in December.
Addresses and states
In 2014, AP Style editors changed a longstanding rule on state
abbreviations. States should now be spelled out (rather than abbreviated) in
the bodies of stories, whether standing alone or in conjunction with a city,
town, military base, etc. Abbreviated state names are still acceptable in
datelines, lists, tabular material, photo captions, credit lines, and in
short-form identification of political party affiliation (e.g. D-Ala.,
Correct: Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, is the state capital; Hartford,
Connecticut. (Note that state names are offset by commas.)
Incorrect: Harrisburg, Pa.; Harrisburg, Pennsylvania is the state capital.
Exception: Use postal code state abbreviations when the address is part of
mailing address with a ZIP code (e.g. directory listings, mailings).
Below are the proper abbreviations for each state, with postal code
abbreviations in parenthesis.
Ala. (AL), Fla. (FL), Md. (MD), Neb. (NE), N.D. (ND), Tenn. (TN)
Ariz. (AZ), Ga. (GA), Mass. (MA), Nev. (NV), Okla. (OK), Vt. (VT)
Ark. (AR), Ill. (IL), Mich. (MI), N.H. (NH), Ore. (OR), Va. (VA)
Calif. (CA), Ind. (IN), Minn. (MN), N.J. (NJ), Pa. (PA), Wash. (WA)
Colo. (CO), Kan. (KS), Miss. (MS), N.M. (NM), R.I. (RI), W.Va. (WV)
Conn. (CT), Ky. (KY), Mo. (MO), N.Y. (NY), S.C. (SC), Wis. (WI)
Del. (DE), La. (LA), Mont. (MT), N.C. (NC), S.D. (SD), Wyo. (WY)
NEVER abbreviate Alaska (AK), Hawaii (HI), Idaho (ID), Iowa (IA), Maine
(ME), Ohio (OH), Utah (UT), Texas (TX). Also: District of Columbia (DC).
Unless used as part of a full mailing address, the following cities can
stand alone (without a state) in a dateline. They may also stand alone in
the body of a story if they are the same as the dateline or as long as no
confusion would result: Atlanta, Baltimore, Boston, Chicago, Cincinatti,
Cleveland, Dallas, Denver, Detroit, Honolulu, Houston, Indianapolis, Las
Vegas, Los Angeles, Miami, Milwaukee, Minneapolis, New Orleans, New York,
Oklahoma City, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Phoenix, St. Louis, Salt Lake City,
San Antonio, San Diego, San Francisco, Seattle, Washington.
Lowercase “s” when naming two streets, as in 32nd and Chestnut
“And” v. ampersand
Use “&” only for official names of organizations and
companies or at the request of a donor. Two notable exceptions at Drexel are
Westphal College of Arts & Design and the College of Computing &
All bulleted items should be styled consistently. If it is a complete
sentence, the bullet should have a period. If one bullet ends with a period,
all bullets in the series should end with a period.
When a month is used with a specific date, abbreviate Jan., Feb., Aug.,
Sept., Oct., Nov. and Dec. but not March, April, May, June and July.
- Spell out the month when using alone, or with a year alone.
When a phrase lists only a month and a year, do not separate the year with
When a phrase refers to a month, day and year, set off the year with
January 1972 was a cold month. Jan. 2 was the coldest day of the month.
His birthday is May 8. Feb. 14, 1987, was the target date. She testified
that it was Friday, Dec. 3, when the accident occurred. The storm arrived
on Saturday, March 5, 1972.
Although the day of the month is actually an ordinal number (and pronounced
that way in speaking), the correct way is to write it as a cardinal number.
Correct: On May 11, we visited Drexel.
Incorrect: On May 11th, we visited Drexel.
Lowercase and spell out the term “fiscal year” in most cases.
It’s acceptable to use an abbreviation, without a space, in graphics,
tight-spaced headlines and financial documents (for example: FY13).
Hyphens, en dashes and em dashes
Key: (for Windows)
Hyphen - The keyboard key located between the 0 and delete.
En dash – Press Ctrl + hyphen.
Em dash — Press Ctrl + Alt + hyphen.
Key: (for Macs)
Hyphen - The keyboard key located between the 0 and delete.
En dash – Press Option + hyphen.
Em dash — Press Shift + Option + hyphen.
Use the hyphen to separate numbers such as social security numbers. The
hyphen is also used for compound words.
Use the en dash to connect continuing or spans of numbers, such as dates and
times. Do not use any spaces between the words or numbers and the dash.
Anthony Drexel (1826–1893)
In narrative text, it is also correct to spell out the meaning of the en
dash in words.
from May 2003 to July 2008
between noon and 3:30 p.m.
There are many uses for the em dash, but just a few of the most common uses
are illustrated below. There should be a space between the words and the
Use an em dash to indicate a sudden break or pause in a sentence.
Going home — that was the only thing the soon-to-be graduates cared
Use an em dash to add an element that defines or expands on an element
mentioned in the sentence.
Anthony Drexel — who started his career as a banker — died
just two short years after the University’s founding.
Use a hyphen for compound adjectives before the noun: a
well-known actor, full-time job, 20-year sentence.
Numbers in text
Whole numbers one through nine are spelled out. For any other numbers, use
The six new classrooms create space for more than 1,000 new students.
More than 30 faculty members have signed up for the workshop.
Use numerals for ages, except when starting a sentence.
The ages of the volunteers are 12, 22, 25 and 65.
Three-year-old Jackie Jones had her photo taken at the dragon statue.
Hyphenate the age when it precedes the name as an adjective or when it
serves as a substitute for a noun.
The 6-year-old girl said she loved Mario the Magnificent.
Drexel’s first-year student body is mostly made up of 18-year-olds.
Use numerals for measurements, and write out the units.
He is 5 feet 6 inches tall. The fossil is 3 inches long.
Hyphenate the measurement when it precedes the noun as an adjective.
The 5-foot-6 [“inch” is understood] man… The 4-inch
bug… 5’6” is only used in very technical examples.
Write out the number if the grade is between first and ninth. For example,
“She is in eighth grade, but her brother is in 10th grade.” Use
a hyphen when using as an adjective: “She is entering her
The word century is lowercase (21st century) unless part of a proper name.
It is hyphenated when used as an adjective (it’s a 21st-century trend
all over the country).
Do not combine spelled-out numbers with abbreviations.
Correct: 23 lbs., 12 ft.
Incorrect: twenty-three lbs., twelve ft.
Commas in numerals
Always include commas in numbers in the thousands.
Numbers used in counting (2, 27, 345, etc.) are called cardinal numbers.
Numbers used to indicate order (first, 10th, 23rd, etc.) are called ordinal
numbers. Spell out one through nine for cardinal numbers and first through
ninth for ordinal numbers. Do not use superscript with ordinal numbers.
Correct: ninth, 10th
Incorrect: 9th, 9th, 10th
Do not use zeros for the cents place in a monetary amount. Use only when the
amount is a number other than $.00.
The Barnes & Noble Bookstore made $320.25 on Tuesday, $199 on
Wednesday and $212.45 on Thursday.
Use numerals when indicating course credits (e.g. 6 credits).
Race identifiers (per AP’s stylebook on “race-related coverage”)
American Indians, Native Americans
Acceptable terms in general references for those in the U.S. when referring
to two or more people of different tribal affiliations. For individuals, use
the name of the tribe; if that information is not immediately available, try
to obtain it. Tribe: Refers to a sovereign political entity, communities sharing a common
ancestry, culture or language, and a social group of linked families who may
be part of an ethnic group. Capitalize the word tribe when part of a formal
name of sovereign political entities, or communities sharing a common
ancestry, culture or language. Identify tribes by the political identity
specified by the tribe, nation or community: the Apache Tribe of Oklahoma,
the Cherokee Nation. The term ethnic group is preferred when referring to
ethnicity or ethnic violence.
Asian is the acceptable term for an inhabitant of East Asian nations and their peoples.
Acceptable, when clearly relevant, to describe people with more than one
racial heritage. Usually more useful when describing large, diverse groups
of people than individuals. Avoid mixed-race, which can carry negative
connotations, unless a story subject prefers the term. Be specific if
possible, and then use biracial for people of two heritages or multiracial
for those of two or more on subsequent references if needed.
Black, white (n.)
Do not use either term as a singular or plural noun. Instead, use phrasing such as Black people.
As of 2019, AP doesn’t use a hyphen in designating dual heritage, e.g. Black
American, Italian American, Mexican American.
A term that Mexican Americans in the U.S. Southwest sometimes use to describe
their heritage. Use only if it is a person's preference.
A person from — or whose ancestors were from — a Spanish-speaking land or
culture. Latino, Latina or Latinx are sometimes preferred. Follow the person's
preference. Use a more specific identification when possible, such as Cuban,
Puerto Rican or Mexican American.
The term is acceptable when necessary in broad references to multiple races other than white: We will hire more people of color. Nine playwrights of color collaborated on the script.
Be aware, however, that many people of various races object to the term for various reasons, including that it lumps together into one monolithic group anyone who isn't white.
In some cases, other wording may be appropriate. Examples: people from various racial and ethnic backgrounds; diverse groups; various heritages; different cultures.
The term “minority” or “racial minority” is acceptable as an adjective in broad references to multiple races other than white in the United States: We will hire more members of minority groups.
Be sure the term is accurate in each circumstance, since what constitutes a racial minority varies by location.
Don't use acronyms to indicate Black, Indigenous and people of color. Instead, refer to guidance under the people of color, racial minority heading.
Use only one space between sentences, everywhere, always.
In general it is recommended that communicators adhere to AP style, which
does not use serial commas, except when separating a series of complex
phrases (see second example below).
If you are designating a range of time that is within the a.m. or p.m.
period, use the a.m. or p.m. just once. If you are designating a range of
time that spans between a.m. and p.m., use both.
Apply AP style by putting quotation marks around the titles of books,
computer games, movies, operas, plays, poems, albums, songs, radio and
television programs, lectures, speeches and works of art. However, Drexel
departs from AP style by italicizing titles of periodicals.
See “Publications” section for magazine, newspaper and
Exceptions: The Bible and books that are primarily reference materials such
as catalogs, almanacs, directories, dictionaries, encyclopedias, gazetteers,
handbooks and similar publications. Do not use quotation marks around
software titles such as Photoshop or Windows.
Capitalize the principal words, including prepositions and conjunctions of
four or more letters.
Capitalize the specific name of an animal or plant only when it begins a
sentence or begins with a proper noun or geographical location. Otherwise,
Likewise, always use lowercase when referring to a general term for an
animal or for the plural use of the general term for an animal or plant.
Always italicize scientific names of plants and animals. Scientific names
can follow commas, or be placed in parentheses. Capitalize ONLY the first
letter of the genus, not the species. Subspecies, if included, is
The family name is capitalized, but not italicized.
Official University stats (e.g. the number of student groups, sports teams and club sports, undergraduate programs, and undergraduate, graduate, online, professional, and international students) are maintained on this About page and updated each November in the Office of Institutional Research, Assessment, and Effectiveness' University Factbook.
Drexel’s current offerings of degrees and programs are regularly
updated on these pages:
The official name of the athletics department is the Drexel Athletics
Department. On second reference, Drexel Athletics.