Editorial Style Guide

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(Laurie Smith-Frailey)

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MA/MI—Institute jargon referring to major/minor area of affiliation or identification—is a shorthand code assigned to all MIT alumni and alumnae that designates the department and the year of graduation with which that alumnus or alumna is associated. The order of elements within that code is key. For undergraduate alumni, the MA (major) affiliation, which appears first in the code, is the year of graduation; the MI (minor) portion, which appears second, is the academic department. This ordering (graduation year first, department second) is also applied to those who have received advanced degrees from MIT in addition to an undergraduate degree. However, for alumni who have received only advanced degrees from the Institute, the order is reversed: their department becomes the major (MA) affiliation, the year of graduation becomes minor (MI).

Standard two-letter department codes are used to specify department within the MA/MI. See APPENDIX: MIT department codes. See also parents of MIT students, alumni, and alumnae.

  • John Paul Isaacson ’60 EC majored in economics as an undergraduate at MIT.
  • After earning his bachelor’s degree in applied mathematics at Johns Hopkins University, Abhay Parekh GM ’86 came to MIT for both a master’s degree in operations research and, later, a doctorate in electrical engineering and computer science.
  • What did you say her MA/MI is?

Macintosh computer

magna cum laude

In roman type, not italicized, not capitalized. Magna cum laude means “with high honors.” See cum laude. (Please note that MIT does not confer academic honors of this sort.)

mailing list

An e-mail discussion group comprised of people with common interests.


There is no need to capitalize majors (except where proper nouns—like “American”—are involved). Do capitalize names of programs, however.

  • She’s an American history major. He’s majoring in physics.
  • They attended a Technology and Culture Program event last spring.

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Note the single word, with capital C.

master’s degree, master’s degrees

See also Academic degrees.

may, can

See Troublesome pairs.

M.B.A., M.B.A. student (singular); M.B.A.s (plural); M.B.A.’s (singular possessive); M.B.A.s’ (plural possessive)

See also Academic degrees.

media (n.)

Like data, media is not generally treated as a plural noun in popular English usage. Think of media as a singular mass entity—like information—and use it with a singular verb and pronoun. See data.

  • The media has been showing a great deal of interest in OCW.
  • Many call the Internet the most exciting new media since television.


One million bytes of computer data storage capacity or memory. See bit(s) and byte(s).


Not momento. Here’s a memory aid: Think if "remembrance."

Mens et Manus

MIT’s motto. Mens et Manus translates from the Latin to Mind and Hand. Note the use of italics. See foreign words and phrases.

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middle age (n.), middle-aged (adj.)

Middle East; the Mideast

See The New York Public Library Writer’s Guide to Style and Usage, pp. 211–215 (Names of Places).

midlife, midsemester, midterm

Midwest, Midwestern(er)

minorities, minority background

Okay to use. Preferred over people of color.


It is not necessary to spell out Massachusetts Institute of Technology on first use in any document. MIT (no periods) is an acceptable abbreviation on first and all subsequent references. MIT may also be referred to as “the Institute”; however, note that Institute must always be capitalized when used in this manner.

MIT Alumni Association

Not MIT Alumni/ae Association.

MIT OpenCourseWare, MIT OCW

Use in place of OpenCourseWare or OCW. Further, use MIT OpenCourseWare on first reference, MIT OCW on subsequent reference. See OpenCourseWare, OCW.

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MIT Sloan, MIT Sloan School (of Management)

Use in place of Sloan School (of Management). See Sloan School (of Management).

MIT Tech Talk

MIT Tech Talk (three separate words, all in italics) is produced weekly by the MIT News Office during the academic year. Note that MIT Tech Talk—not Tech Talk—is the publication’s formal name.

MIT World

The “free and open site that provides on-demand video of significant public events at MIT.” Two words, not one.


Do not abbreviate months in regular text. However, months may be abbreviated in tables. Accepted abbreviations are: Jan., Feb., Mar., Apr., May, June, July, Aug., Sept., Oct., Nov., Dec.

Likewise, days of the week should not be abbreviated in regular text. See Date and time terminology.

more than, over

See Troublesome pairs.

multicultural, multidisciplinary, multimedia, etc.

No hyphens. For spellings of other “multi” words, consult The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition.


Not myriads; also avoid using a myriad of.

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