Editorial Style Guide

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Capitalize "Institute" when referring to MIT

Capitalize the word Institute (even as it stands alone) when it refers to MIT, but not when it refers to institutes/institutions in general.

  • Jack was a beloved crew coach at the Institute for many years.
  • Among MIT’s admirers, it is its graduates that hold this institution in the highest regard.

Capitalize names of people

  • Susan Hockfield
  • Alex d’Arbeloff (note lowercase “d” in this case, however)

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Capitalize names of things

Proper and complete names of things should, in general, be capitalized. In ComDor, we include building names, complete course names and proper names of committees and programs. Department names are capitalized only when written formally as “Department of ___”; otherwise not.

  • Killian Court is framed on three sides by Buildings 3, 4 and 10.
  • The Norbert Weiner exhibit is prominently displayed on a wall in the Infinite Corridor.
  • The report of the Task Force on Student Life and Learning has had far-reaching effects.
  • President Hockfield asked Professor Bras to join him at the podium.
  • Xavier Gabaix is an economics professor.
  • Subra Suresh is head of the materials science and engineering department.
  • Marc Kastner is head of the Department of Physics.
  • Professor Samuels teaches 17.S21 Introduction to Japan.
  • He’s a biology major but his favorite class is Introduction to Western Music.

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Capitalize languages

  • French class, Spanish population, German shepherd
  • She plans to study chemistry if she can just pass her English class.

Capitalize geographic regions but not directions

  • Southwestern Virginia
  • Central Massachusetts
  • the South
  • East Coast, West Coast
  • The wagon train was headed to the wild West.
  • They got lost but found their way by following the setting sun in the west.
  • Turn left at the tree and head north.

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Do not capitalize types of music

  • She loves jazz and blues singers.

Do not capitalize seasons

  • winter, spring, summer, fall
  • summer session, fall term, spring break

Do not capitalize broad racial terms (nationalities); do capitalize more specific terms

  • black, white
  • Caucasian, Filipino
  • She is an advocate for her historically black community.
  • He is an African American.
  • She enjoys studying her African American heritage.
  • Corazon Aquino is a hero to the Filipino community.

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Regarding the capitalization of compound words:

When title or heading contains a “temporary” compound word used as a modifier, both words should be capitalized.

  • Medium-Density Fruitcake Trips Security Alarm at Airport

When title or heading contains a permanently hyphenated compound word (i.e., one found in our American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language), capitalize only the first word in the compound.

  • Co-chair Sought for Upcoming Ferret Show
  • Soft-boiled Entrants Fail Easter Egg Test

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Massachusetts Institute of Technology

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E-mail comdor-editguide@mit.edu