. Style Sheet: Reports to the President

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Style Sheet | Report Preparation Guidelines

Spelling & Punctuation | Numbers | Time & Date | Abbreviations | Capitalization |
Faculty Names | Typography & Style | Titles | Consistency

Spelling and Punctuation

Use American spellings (follow Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary, Eleventh Edition) or use Merriam-Webster's online dictionary.

For clarity and consistency across reports, use serial commas: Tom, Dick, and Harry.


Spell out one to nine in running text, and use digits for 10 and higher
but spell out all numbers that begin a sentence (or rewrite the sentence).

Use a comma in numbers of four or more digits: 1,413
but remember to leave four-digit years unpunctuated: 1949, 2014
and to convert the comma used by Europeans to indicate a decimal point.

Use digits in all measurements: 3 inches, 6 feet, 10 meters.

Use digits to indicate percentages and use the "%" symbol (a 25% increase).

Use all digits in number ranges: 149–167; 2015–2016. Don't use a dash in a number range introduced by "from", e.g., "from 20 to 25" not "from 20-25".

Use a dollar sign to indicate a dollar amount in running text: $35, not 35 dollars.

To indicate large monetary sums, the unit can be spelled out ($35 million) or abbreviated in passages containing numerous sums ($20K, $35M, $4.3B).

In phone numbers, use hyphens rather than periods, parentheses, or dashes: 617-253-1702.

MIT addresses follow this model: Room E28-100; Room 1-131 (not Building 1-131 or Building 1 Room 131).

MIT course numbers are written with Arabic (not Roman) numerals: Course 10, Course 3-C.

MIT subjects are rendered with the subject number first and no punctuation between the subject number and title: 1.01 Introduction to Civil Engineering; HST.960 Creative Writing for Physicians. Take care to reference the subject name and number that was in effect during the reporting period, not the one in effect when you're writing your report. To consult a particular academic year's subject titles, see the online archive of subject descriptions.

Time and Date

8:30 am, 7 pm (not 7:00 pm)

academic year 2016 (or AY2016)

fiscal year 2016 (or FY2016)

fall 2015, fall term; spring 2016, spring term

September 16 (not September 16th)

the 21st century; 21st-century technology


Omit periods in abbreviations of academic degrees: SB, SM, MArch, MBA, MBAn, MEng, MFin, MCP, PhD, ScD.

Omit periods in abbreviations of academic status or Alumni Association designations used at MIT: John Smith G (not John Smith, graduate student) or John Smith G (biology); Jane Smith HM (not Jane Smith, honorary member).

MIT alumni degrees usually omit the course number and are listed as follows:

Undergraduate: Walter Frey '56
Graduate: Martin Tang SM '72
Undergrad & grad: Philip Greenspun '82, SM '93, PhD '99

Omit periods in well-established two-letter acronyms (UK, UN, US) and in all acronyms of three or more letters (MIT).

Omit periods after abreviated units of measurement (6 m, 100 cm, 32 km, 12 sq ft).

When abbreviating the name of a state, use the postal code rather than the traditional abbreviation: MA, not Mass.; CT, not Conn; Washington, DC, not Washington, D.C.

To abbreviate the names of days and months, use the first three letters without a period: Mon, Sat, Feb, Jun, Oct, Dec.

Institutional acronyms should be introduced immediately after the first mention of the full name: OpenCourseWare (OCW) is a large-scale, web-based electronic publishing initiative. But note that acronyms should be kept out of headings and are unnecessary if the subsequent text fails to use them. In long reports, a full name along with its acronym may be repeated when it begins its own section.


In running text, follow the Chicago Manual of Style down style of capitalization: President Reif, the president; the provost; the chancellor; the dean; Department of Physics, the department; the Departments of Biology and Chemistry, the departments; Center for Real Estate, the center.

But note the following exceptions: the Institute, the School (where the context clearly establishes the identity of the school), the Association (i.e., the MIT Alumni Association), the Corporation (i.e., the MIT Corporation), the Faculty (i.e., the voting MIT Faculty), the Libraries (i.e., the MIT Libraries), the Press (i.e., the MIT Press), Institute Professor, and MacVicar Faculty Fellow.

Names of academic fields are capitalized only when they appear as part of a department or program name: he majored in biology; he earned a PhD in biology; he was a student in the Department of Biology; he was a student in Biology (department implied).

Academic and professional titles are capitalized when they immediately precede a name: President Rafael Reif; Professor Taylor; Chancellor Cynthia Barnhart; Professors Chomsky and Flynn; Drs. Glass and Seneff.

When titles are used to indicate position or occupation and are used in apposition to a name, they are lowercased:

Named professorships should be capitalized in their entirety:

Capitalize names of prizes, awards, and honors:

Faculty Names

Upon first naming a faculty member, include his or her full rank and title (as of June 30, 2016) and full name (include the middle name or initial only if regularly used by the faculty member). Thereafter, use the first and last name, last name only, or shortened title and last name. For example, "Associate professor of architecture Robert Smith continued his reseach in the building technology program. Professor Smith also collaborated with colleagues in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering to develop joint subjects for the interdisciplinary minor in energy studies."

Typography and Style

For emphasis, use italics rather than underlining or boldface.

Write ordinal numbers on the line, reserving superscript and subscript for scientific and mathematical expressions: 1st, not 1st; 14th; the greenhouse gas CO2.

Keep headings brief (never longer than one line).

Do not use bulleted lists excessively, but do use bullets rather than numbers or letters (unless you want to indicate a hierarchy). You can also substitute em dashes for bullets when the list items are sentence fragments (frequently, beginning with a verb).

Embed URLs in the running text rather than spelling them out (e.g., "CoLab Radio’s mission is to encourage the open sharing of ideas." not "For more information, see: http://colabradio.mit.edu/about/."

Title Formats

Follow headline-style capitalization for titles.

Italicize (no quotes) "Roman and Quote" Simply Capitalize
(no quotes or italics)
books articles conferences*
exhibits blog entries lecture series
video games chapters manuscripts (work in progress)
long poems lectures newsletters
movies manuscripts (not accepted for publication) projects
musical compositions papers reports
named blogs podcasts symposia
periodicals single episodes of a continuing radio or TV show websites
plays short stories web pages
radio or TV programs theses workshops*
  video blogs  
  workshop or panel presentations  
*A substantive or thematic name given to a conference, workshop, or panel may be quoted.


Consistency List


ad hoc (roman)

African American, Asian American (unhyphenated)

and (not &, except in tables, acronyms, and company names)

the Association (when referring to the MIT Alumni Association)

AY2016, academic year 2016, the 2015–2016 academic year (not AY2015–2016)


bachelor's degree, bachelor of science

brain and cognitive sciences project (lowercase, referring to building project)


catalog (when referring to the MIT Course Catalog)

Class of 2016

co-author, co-chair, co-director, co-sponsor


Communication Requirement

the Corporation (when referring to the MIT Corporation)


data is/are (follow author)

de facto (roman)

doctoral degree, doctorate




e.g., (roman, followed by a comma)



faculty is/are (follow author)

fall term, fall 2015



FY2016, fiscal year 2016


G (when referring to a graduate student, e.g., John Smith G)



HM (when referring to an honorary member of the MIT Alumni Association, e.g., Jane Smith HM)

home page


i.e., (roman, followed by a comma)

Infinite Corridor

the Institute

Institute Professor


IT (not I/T, except in reports produced by Information Systems & Technology)

in vitro (roman)

in vivo (roman)




the Libraries (when referring to the corporate entity the MIT Libraries)


master's degree, master of science

MacVicar Faculty Fellow

Media Lab



MIT 2030


Nobel laureate, Nobel Prize in economics, physics, etc.






The Press (when referring to The MIT Press)

Professor (not Prof.)



reacquaint, readmit, reorder (follow Merriam-Webster's)



spring term, spring break

staff is/are (follow author)


the 21st century; 21st-century technology





web, on the web (not World Wide Web, unless the reference is historical)




Last updated August 2016

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