Editorial Style Guidelines

    Northeastern University uses the Associated Press (AP) Stylebook as its primary style reference for all its communications, both print and electronic. The guide below is not intended to be comprehensive; it addresses some of the thornier style issues, and spotlights instances where Northeastern’s editorial style supersedes AP style.

    Should you have questions about editorial style not addressed in this guide, contact Magda Hernandez in Marketing and Communications.

    A

    academic degrees—Use current Northeastern style for degrees (PhD, for example).

    accent marks—Northeastern style is to use accent marks per Webster’s New World College Dictionary. Note that the preferred Northeastern spelling of resumé is with an acute accent on the second e.

    acronym for organizations’ names—Follow AP style. The acronym may be used at the second mention of the organization; it is not necessary to set the acronym in parentheses on first reference.

    adviser—Spell per AP style. The spelling advisor should be reserved for scholarly writing.

    B

    Big Data Capitalize the B and the D.

    Board of Trustees—Capitalize the B and T when referring to Northeastern’s Board of Trustees. Use lowercase letters when discussing a company’s board. 

    C

    capitalization—Follow AP style. For academic titles, do not capitalize unless the title appears as the official title preceding a person’s name. Initial-capped academic titles are acceptable in certain instances of correspondence or formal invitations.

    cellphoneOne word, no space.

    chair—Northeastern style is to use chair not chairman or chairwoman. This includes usage for the Northeastern University Board of Trustees.

    cities—Below is a list of stand-alone U.S. city names, which also appears in the Associated Press Stylebook. For cities not listed below, include the state name.

    Atlanta

    Baltimore

    Boston

    Chicago

    Cincinnati

    Cleveland

    Dallas

    Denver

    Detroit

    Honolulu

    Houston

    Indianapolis

    Las Vegas

    Los Angeles

    Miami

    Milwaukee

    Minneapolis

    New Orleans

    New York

    Oklahoma City

    Philadelphia

    Phoenix

    Pittsburgh

    St. Louis

    Salt Lake City

    San Antonio

    San Diego

    San Francisco

    Seattle

    Washington

    Class ofCapitalize the C when referring to a particular class with the year: The Class of 1992 celebrated its reunion.

    co-opWord is hyphenated; refers to cooperative education.

    cooperative education—Cooperative is never hyphenated.

    course titles—Capitalize course titles following headline style and put them in quotation marks.

    courtesy titles—Do not use courtesy titles in running text (Mr., Ms., etc.), except as requested in formal, event-based content (such as the Commencement program bios). When distinguishing between two people with the same last name—married couples or brothers and sisters—use the first and last name on first reference, and first names only after that.

    Commencement—Capitalize in all instances when referring to Northeastern’s Commencement. Set commencement lowercase if referring to graduation ceremonies at other institutions.

    company names—Follow AP style for external organizations and companies; style company names as the company refers to itself, including ampersands. AP Stylebook contains a list of major company names as a reference. For internal names of Northeastern departments, research centers, and institutes, do not use the ampersand; spell out and, regardless of how the entity styles its name.

    composition titles—Follow Chicago Manual of Style on this point. Use italics for book titles, journal titles, magazine titles, play titles, newspaper names, and TV shows—not quotation marks. Use quotation marks for chapter titles, song titles, and poem titles. Note: Capitalize the in a newspaper’s or organization’s name if that is the way the publication prefers to be known: He is a reporter at The New York Times.

    But lowercase the before all newspaper names that appear in a list of papers, when some use the as part of the name but others do not. He is a reporter at the New York Post, the Boston Globe, the Financial Times, and the Wall Street Journal.

    Convocation—Capitalize in all instances when referring to a Northeastern convocation ceremony (President's Convocation, Academic Honors Convocation). When referring to the event as convocation on second reference, set convocation lower case.

    cyberUse without a hyphen for any word that begins with a consonant (cybersecurity, cyberterrorist).

    D

    daycare—One word, no space.

    decadesUse an apostrophe to indicate numerals omitted. Show plural by adding "s": He attended Northeastern in the '70s. She drives a car from the 1950s.

    departmentsCapitalize the name of the department only when the proper name is used. For instance, use Department of Biology or the biology department, NOT the Biology Department.

    E

    emeritus, emerita, emeritiAn honor earned upon retirement from the faculty or other group (emeritus for a man; emerita for a woman; emeriti for a group). 

    F

    female—Use female as an adjective, NOT woman; for example, She is the first female governor of North Carolina is correct (not …first woman governor…).

    G

    gender bias—Use gender-neutral language, so actor over actress, and anchor over anchorman or anchorwoman. For the Board of Trustees list, chair will be the title, not chairman.

    H

    healthcare—One word, no space for use as a noun or adjective.

    HomecomingCapitalize when referring to the Northeastern event held each fall.

    HuskiesNortheastern’s nickname. Use only when referring to an athletic team.

    I

    Internet—Capitalize the I.

    L

    lecturer, senior lecturer, principal lecturer—Note that these terms are not proper nouns so they do not require capitalization.

    M

    majors—Academic majors should appear in lowercase, except for any proper nouns that are part of the major’s name. Use the term combined major, not dual major. 

    month names—When a month is used with a specific date, abbreviate only Jan., Feb., Aug., Sept., Oct., Nov., and Dec. An exception to this rule may be made when the specific date appears in display type, as in an advertisement. In formal invitations, always spell out the name of the month.

    more than, over, older thanOver refers to spatial relationships: The plane flew over the village. Use more than to discuss quantity or numeric amounts: She donated more than $5,000 this year. When referring to age, use older than: All students older than 18 may attend the event.

    most important—NOT most importantly

    N

    NEU, neu—Do not use this outdated abbreviation. In external communications, including website copy, use Northeastern or Northeastern University. When you must use an abbreviation, use NU instead—and then, only for internal communications. (Exceptions may be made in the case of athletics, e.g., university-authorized athletic wear.) 

    numerals—Spell out numbers one through nine, and use numerals for 10 and above. Formal publications, such as invitations from the Office of the President and the Commencement program, should spell out numerals 10 to 99 (at ten o’clock in the afternoon). See AP stylebook for more detailed rules on numerals.

    numeric range—For the sake of parallel construction, the word to, not an en dash, should be used if the word from precedes the first element in a pair. Likewise, and, not an en dash, should be used if between precedes the first element.

    So this construction is correct: The years 1993–2000 were exciting ones for Northeastern students. Or: She attended Northeastern from 2000 to 2005. (This is incorrect: He worked at Northeastern from 2008–2011.)

    NUReserve for use only in athletics, some Web, and social media, and student organization names. 

    P

    page numbersUse a lowercase p and an Arabic numeral: He turned to the story on page 8.  

    phone numbers—Use periods (not hyphens or parentheses). In address constructions, do not include “(phone)” as an identifier. If multiple phone numbers are offered, include identifiers in parentheses only as needed to improve clarity. Include “(fax)” to distinguish from phone number.

    professor of the practice, distinguished professor of the practice—Note that these are not proper nouns so they do not require capitalization. In addition, a faculty member may be referred to as a professor of the practice of [academic discipline]: She is a professor of the practice of journalism.

    R

    residence hallNot dormitory or dorm. 

    resumé—Use an acute accent on the final e.

    S

    state names–Spell out state names that stand alone: She lives in Ohio.

    Abbreviate when the name is part of an address: a company in Springfield, Mass.

    street names–Spell out street, avenue, etc. when the street name stands alone. Abbreviate the street name when it’s part of an address: students who were looking for 360 Huntington Ave.

    student-athleteHyphenate this term.

    T

    time—Use a.m. and p.m. in copy, except for the most formal presidential invitations where in the morning or in the afternoon should be used: at four o’clock in the afternoon.

    toward—Not towards.

    U

    university—The word university should appear as lowercase when it refers to Northeastern.

    W

    WebUse a capital W when referring to the World Wide Web.

    website—The word website should appear as one word, all lowercase. When referring to the World Wide Web, use capital W (Web).

    www— Note that not all links work without the “www.” prefix. It is important to check all links before you publicize a URL, and to confirm a URL works without the “www.” For ease of readability, use the briefest URL that will work.

     

    Web Style

    email—Spell email without hyphens or initial capital letter.

    em dash—Do not use spaces—before or after—the em dash in either online or printed material.

    neu—Avoid neu.edu construction for university URLs. Do not use neu to refer to Northeastern in any communications.

    phone numbers—Use periods (not hyphens or parentheses). In address constructions, do not include “(phone)” as an identifier. If multiple phone numbers are offered, include identifiers in parentheses only as needed to improve clarity. Include “(fax)” to distinguish from phone number.

    617.373.5000
    617.373.5001 (TTY)
    617.373.5100 (fax)

    URLs—URLs should be broken after the slash or before the period when they don’t fit entirely on one line. Do NOT use a hyphen to indicate a break in a URL: northeastern.edu/example/example/example/example/example.

    website—The word website should appear as one word, all lowercase. When referring to the World Wide Web, use capital W (Web).

    Punctuation 

    ampersand—Do not use the ampersand as part of any internal Northeastern department, major, college, school, or center name; spell out and. Use the ampersand only for external organizations if it is an official part of the company name. 

    em dash—Set closed—do not include space around em dash for online or for printed materials: Do not use spaces—before or after—the em dash in either online or printed material.

    en dash—Use en dash for numeric ranges.

    hyphens—Follow AP style. Use a hyphen following the prefix co when applied to occupation or status.

    phone numbers— Use periods (not hyphens or parentheses). In address constructions, do not include “(phone)” as an identifier. If multiple phone numbers are offered, include identifiers in parentheses only as needed to improve clarity. Include “(fax)” to distinguish from phone number.

    617.373.5000
    617.373.5001 (TTY)
    617.373.5100 (fax)

    serial comma—Use serial comma before the word and when listing a series of items.