Editorial Style Guide

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(Laurie Smith-Frailey)

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data (n.)

Data is the plural form of the Latin datum. However, it is not generally treated as a plural noun in popular English usage. Think of data as a singular mass entity—like information—and use it with a singular verb and pronoun. See also media.

  • Once the data is in, we can analyze it.
  • So far, we have very little data on the long-term benefit of that therapy.

data mining

Means “extracting knowledge from information.” Two words.

data processing


day care

No hyphen, whether used as adjective or as noun.

days of the week

See Date and time terminology.


See Courtesy titles in Titles (of people).

  • Robert Silbey is dean of the School of Science.
  • He spoke with Dean Silbey last week.


See Academic degrees.

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Uppercase the formal, proper name of a department or office; lowercase the name otherwise. In most cases, the formal name of MIT departments is in this format: Department of Whatever. If you turn it around, which is usually better in running text, it would read: the whatever department. Of course, some departments will always have at least one capitalized word in their names (e.g., Department of English and English department).

  • She was asked to report to the Office of the Dean for Student Life.
  • She reported to the dean’s office.
  • He was a professor in MIT’s Department of Chemistry.
  • She works in the mathematics department.

Depression, the (Great)

Note the capitalization rule.


desperate, disparate

See Troublesome pairs.

disburse, disperse

See Troublesome pairs.

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disc, disk

Disc is used for read-only media, e.g., a compact disc.

Disk is used for media that one can both read and write to, such as a 3 1/2” floppy disk.

discreet, discrete

See Troublesome pairs.

doctoral degree, doctorate

See Ph.D. See also Academic degrees.

Doing. Learning. Leading. The MIT Student Experience.

This was a sometimes-used slogan for MIT’s student life and learning initiative. If you use it, italicize it, but do not also put it in quotes. If the slogan is used in running text, omit the period following “Experience.”

dorm, dormitory

Use residence hall instead—a more inclusive term. (Avoid dorm or dormitory since this word implies a place where students go only to sleep.)

Dreyfoos, Alexander W., Building

This is a case where the donor has explicitly stated his preference for how this building should be known. Use Alexander W. Dreyfoos Building, notably without the “Jr.” On the campus map, the Alexander W. Dreyfoos Building is Building 32D, and is not to be confused with the Dreyfus Chemistry Building (Building 18).


DSpace is the electronic archive that captures, stores, indexes, preserves, and distributes the intellectual output of MIT’s faculty and researchers. Please note (and be careful to use) the capital S.

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