Editorial Style Guide

Referencing the university, college, departments, system, agencies

  • “Texas A&M University” on first reference, “Texas A&M” after
    • Do not use TAMU (exceptions — TAMUtimes, @tamu on Twitter or TAMUmobile)
    • No space between letters and ampersand.
  • “Texas A&M University College of Engineering” on first reference, “Texas A&M Engineering” or “College of Engineering” after
    • TAMU Engineering is incorrect.
  • For departments, capitalize only the full and correct name:
    • “Artie McFerrin Department of Chemical Engineering” or “chemical engineering department”
    • “Department of Computer Science and Engineering” or “computer science and engineering department”
  • “The Texas A&M University System” on first reference, with capital “T” in “The.” On second reference, use “the Texas A&M System” or “A&M System.”
    • TAMUS or TAMU System are incorrect.
  • “Texas A&M Engineering Experiment Station” on first reference, “TEES” thereafter.

Lowercase “university,” “college of engineering,” “college,” “department,” “system” or “agency” unless using the full and correct name of the university, college, system or agency.

All A&M system universities, agencies and health science center institutions should be referred to as "members" of the system, not parts or components.

When writing about something that involves both college/university and TEES, please indicate all relevant affiliations somewhere in the story.

  • Example: The Nuclear Security Science and Policy Institute (NSSPI) at Texas A&M University conducted the 2013 Nuclear Facilities Experience in Japan.
  • Better: Faculty from the Department of Nuclear Engineering at Texas A&M University and the Nuclear Security Science and Policy Institute (NSSPI) conducted the 2013 Nuclear Facilities Experience in Japan. … NSSPI is part of the Texas A&M Engineering Experiment Station, an engineering research agency of the State of Texas and a member of The Texas A&M University System.

When referring to TEES researchers (even if they are faculty members in the college), use TEES titles — assistant research engineer, associate research engineer and research engineer.

For more on how to reference the university, system, agencies, Board of Regents or other A&M System universities, see A&M System Written Style Guidelines.

Boilerplate for press releases

About the Texas A&M University College of Engineering

With more than 500 tenured/tenure-track faculty members and more than 19,000 students, the Texas A&M University College of Engineering is the second-largest engineering school in the country. The college is ranked seventh in both graduate studies and undergraduate programs, and third in research expenditures among public institutions by U.S. News & World Report, with seven of the college's 14 departments ranked in the Top 10.

About Texas A&M University

Texas A&M has more than 49,000 students and is one of the top universities in enrollment of new National Merit Scholars. Texas A&M conducts research valued at more than $582 million annually, placing it among the top 20 universities nationally and consistently ranking in the top tier of research institutions by the National Science Foundation. With an endowment valued at more than $5 billion, the university ranks fourth among U.S. public universities. Texas A&M is a member of the prestigious Association of American Universities and is home to one of the largest chapters of Phi Beta Kappa.

About the Engineering Program of The Texas A&M University System

The A&M System Engineering Program comprises the Texas A&M University College of Engineering and three state engineering agencies: the Texas A&M Engineering Experiment Station, which conducts research to provide practical answers to critical state and national needs; the Texas A&M Engineering Extension Service, which offers hands-on, customized, first-responder training, homeland security exercises, technical assistance, and technology transfer services that have an impact in Texas and beyond; and the Texas A&M Transportation Institute, which addresses major issues in all transportation modes (including surface, air, pipeline, water and rail), as well as policy, economic, finance, environmental, safety and security concerns.

About the Texas A&M Engineering Experiment Station (TEES)

As an engineering research agency of Texas, TEES performs quality research driven by world problems; strengthens and expands the state’s workforce through educational partnerships and training; and develops and transfers technology to industry. TEES partners with academic institutions, governmental agencies, industries, and communities to solve problems to help improve the quality of life, promote economic development and enhance educational systems. TEES, a member of The Texas A&M University System is in its 100th year of engineering solutions.

About The Texas A&M University System

The A&M System is one of the largest systems of higher education in the nation, with a budget of $4.2 billion. Through a statewide network of 11 universities, seven state agencies, two service units and a comprehensive health science center, the A&M System educates more than 137,000 students and makes more than 22 million additional educational contacts through service and outreach programs each year. Systemwide, externally funded research expenditures exceed $932 million and help drive the state’s economy.

Selected AP styles used in academic writing

Abbreviations

Abbreviate titles when used before a full name: Lt. Gov., Rep., Sen. and certain military designations.

Abbreviate junior or senior after an individual’s name. Abbreviate company, corporation, incorporated and limited when used after the name of a corporate entity.

Generally, omit periods in acronyms unless the result would spell an unrelated word. But use periods in two-letter abbreviations: U.S., U.N., U.K., B.A., B.C. (Exceptions are AP, GI and EU.)

Academic degrees

Readers may not be familiar with academic degrees. Use a phrase instead of an abbreviation.

  • John Jones, who has a doctorate in psychology, said the study was flawed.

Use an apostrophe: bachelor's degree, master's degree, and so on.

Uppercase: Bachelor of Arts, Master of Arts, Doctor of Philosophy, and so on.

Use abbreviations such as B.A., B.S., M.A., M.S. and Ph.D. (with no spaces between letters) only when needed to identify many individuals by degree on first reference or if usage would make the preferred form cumbersome. Spell out all others. Use these only after the person's full name, and set the abbreviation off by commas.

  • John Wimberly, Ph.D., is president of the National Skydiving Association.

Academic titles

Lowercase and spell out titles when not used with an individual's name.

  • The dean provided a list of students.
  • The graduate assistant taught a class.
  • The chancellor will speak today at noon.

Capitalize and spell out when a title precedes a name.

  • Vice Chancellor and Dean Kathy Banks met with Senior Associate Dean for Academics Valerie Taylor yesterday.

Very long titles are more readable when placed after a name.

  • Cindy Lawley, assistant agency director for workforce development and assistant vice chancellor for academic and outreach programs,  nominated the student for a national award.

Adjunct

Adjunct refers to a temporary faculty appointment; lowercase.

Advisor/adviser

Use advisor (not adviser) when referencing faculty or staff who advise students. This is a departure from AP style.

Ages

Always use figures.

  • The 19-year-old student took graduate-level courses.
  • The student, who switched his major 11 times, is 24 years old.
  • The dean is in his 50s. (No apostrophe)

Alumnus, alumna, alumni, alumnae

Alumnus (alumni in the plural) refers to a man who has graduated from a school. Alumna (alumnae in the plural, but rarely used) refers to a woman who has graduated from a school. Alumni refers to a group of men and women.

  • Although she was an alumna of Texas Southern University, she gave $1 million to Prairie View A&M University.
  • She joined a dating service for alumni of certain universities.

Baccalaureate

In most cases, the less formal bachelor's degree is preferred.

Capitalization

Capitalize official names; do not capitalize unofficial, informal, shortened or generic names. Do not capitalize in phrases such as the center, the institute or the recently renovated museum. Do not capitalize seasons or semesters (Spring Break is an exception).

  • The Texas A&M University College of Engineering, but the engineering school
  • Texas Task Force 1, but the task force

Capitalize names of celebrations, such as Founders Day. Do not capitalize seasons, semesters or academic periods. (The exception is Spring Break.)

  • Dr. Ballard will teach the Philosophy and History of Adult Education class next semester. He will teach advanced geology.
  • She enrolled in fall 2005 but decided to postpone graduate school after she won the lottery.

Capital/capitol

Capital refers to the city; capitol refers to the building where the seat of government is housed. Capitalize when referring to the building. Capitol building is redundant.

  • The Capitol is in Austin, which is the capital city of Texas.

Class year

When referring to an alumnus in text, include the last two digits of his or her class year after the name with an apostrophe. When referring to an alumnus with multiple degrees, list the degrees in the order in which they were received. When referring to a couple who are both alumni of the same university, include the last two digits of the class year with an apostrophe after each person's name.

  • Mays Business School is the namesake of Lowry Mays '57.
  • "The campus has changed since I was a student," said John O'Reilly '44, '46 (MBA).
  • Marvin '70 and Marlene Finkelstein Smith '70

Dates

Do not use years with dates unless the event is more than a week away. When a month is used with a specific date, abbreviate only Jan., Feb., Aug., Sept., Oct., Nov. and Dec. Spell out when using alone or with a year. Always use Arabic figures, without –st, -nd, -rd or –th.

State abbreviations

State names should be spelled out in the body of a story, whether used alone or in conjunction with a city or town. If an abbreviation needs to be used, use AP state abbreviations, not U.S. Postal Service (ZIP) abbreviations. Never abbreviate Alaska, Hawaii, Idaho, Iowa, Maine, Ohio, Texas and Utah.

  • Ala., Ariz., Ark., Calif., Colo., Conn., Del., Fla., Ga., Ill., Ind., Kan., Ky., La., Md., Mass., Mich., Minn., Miss., Mo., Mont., Neb., Nev., N.H., N.J., N.M., N.Y., N.C., N.D., Okla., Ore., Pa., R.I., S.C., S.D., Tenn., Vt., Va., Wash., W.Va., Wis., Wyo.

Times

Use figures except for noon and midnight. Lowercase “a.m.” and “p.m.” Use periods but no space between letters and periods, and a space between the time and the “a.m./p.m.” Do not use a colon and zeros to indicate times happening on the hour.

  • 4 p.m., not 4:00 p.m. or 4 PM or 4:00 PM or 4 pm or 4pm or 4:00pm

AP style tips to remember

  • Periods and commas always go inside quotation marks.
  • Use “more than” and “fewer/less than” rather than “over” and “under.”
  • Internet is capitalized and website is one word, lowercase.

Preferred style for Engineering Communicators

For headlines, capitalize only the first word and proper names.

Always spell out acronyms on first reference, with the acronym listed in parentheses following the complete name.

You may use “Dr.” on first reference. Use last name only on later reference.

  • Dr. Prasad Enjeti has been appointed associate dean for undergraduate programs. In his role as associate dean, Enjeti will oversee the undergraduate engineering program in the Texas A&M University College of Engineering.

When in doubt, defer to the Associated Press (AP) Style Guide.

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