Academic degrees

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

Academic or alumni status

Omit periods in abbreviations of academic status or Alumni Association designations used at MIT:

  • John Smith G not John Smith, graduate student
  • 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 and grad: Philip Greenspun '82, SM '93, PhD '99


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

Institutional acronyms should be introduced immediately after the first mention of the full name. For example: 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, the full name along with its acronym may be repeated after a long stretch without reference to one or the other..

State names

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.

Use a comma after a state abbreviation in running text (e.g., The conference took place in Cambridge, MA, on June 3).

Units of measurement

Omit periods after abbreviated units of measurement: 6 m, 100 cm, 32 km, 12 sq ft.


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 Libraries (i.e., the MIT Libraries)
  • The Press (i.e., The MIT Press)
  • Institute Professor

Academic and professional titles

Academic and professional titles are capitalized when they immediately precede a name:

  • President Rafael Reif
  • Professor Taylor
  • Associate Professor Jerome 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:

  • MIT president Rafael Reif
  • Dennis Freeman, dean for undergraduate education

Named professorships should be capitalized in their entirety:

  • Ford Professor of Engineering
  • Robert T. Haslam Professor of Chemical Engineering
  • Class of 1954 Career Development Professor

*To avoid confusion, do not use Dr. before the names of individuals who do not hold medical degrees (with the exception of the religious title “Rev. Dr.”). 

Academic fields

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 (field of study implied).
  • He was a student in the Department of Biology. He was a student in Biology (department implied).

Prizes, awards, and honors

Capitalize names of prizes, awards, and honors:

  • Infinite Mile Award
  • György Kepes Fellowship Prize
  • Searle Scholar HHMI Investigator
  • AAAS Fellow (but Professor Smith was elected as a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science)

Consistency list


ad hoc (roman)

African American, Asian American (unhyphenated)

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

the Association (when referring to the MIT Alumni Association)

AY2018, academic year 2018, the 2018 academic year (not AY2017–2018 or the 2017–2018 academic year)


bachelor's degree, bachelor of science



the Campaign, the MIT Campaign for a Better World

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)

Course [#], the course, courses (At MIT, course numbers and abbreviations refer to courses of study leading to specific academic degrees and, by extension, to the departments or programs offering those degrees. For example, Course 6 refers to the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science.)


data is/are (follow author)

de facto (roman)

doctoral degree, doctorate




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


The Engine, the Engine Room

ex officio (roman)


faculty is/are (lowercase "faculty," follow author's preference for singular or plural)

fall term, fall 2016


first-year student (not freshman)


FY2018, fiscal year 2018


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)


MacVicar Faculty Fellow


master's degree, master of science

Media Lab


MIT community

MIT xPro

MIT 2030





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






postdoc, postdoctoral

The Press (when referring to The MIT Press)

Professor (not Prof.)


The Quest, the MIT Quest for Intelligence

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


SA+P, School of Architecture and Planning


spring term, spring break

staff is/are (follow author)



subject, subjects (Subjects are what many people typically think of as courses, i.e., a series of classes offered during a given academic period.)


the 21st century; 21st-century technology


underrepresented minorities, URMs



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



Faculty names

Upon first naming a faculty member, include his or her full rank and title (as of June 30, 2017) 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 research 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.


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 in, 6 ft, 10 m.

Use all digits in number ranges: 149–167; 2015–2016. Don't use a hyphen or an en dash in a number range introduced by “from” (e.g., “from 20 to 25” not “from 20-25”).

Use digits and the “%” symbol to indicate percentages: 25%

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

To indicate large monetary sums, the unit may be spelled out (e.g., $35 million) or abbreviated in passages containing numerous sums (e.g., $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 were in effect during the reporting period, not the ones in effect when you're writing your report. To consult a particular academic year's subject titles, see the online archive of subject descriptions.

Spelling and punctuation

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

For clarity, we here in Cambridge prefer the Oxford comma (aka the serial comma): Tom, Dick, and Harry.

Time and date

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

AY2017 or academic year 2016 (not AY2016–2017 or academic year 2016–2017)

fall 2016, fall term

FY2018 or fiscal year 2018 (not FY2017–2018 or fiscal year 2017–2018)

September 16 (not September 16th)

September 16, 2019 (not 16 September 2019)

spring 2018, spring term

the 21st century; 21st-century technology

Titles of works

Follow headline-style capitalization for titles of works.

Italicize (no quotes)

  • books
  • exhibits
  • video games
  • long poems
  • movies
  • musical compositions
  • named blogs
  • periodicals
  • plays
  • radio or TV programs

"Roman and Quote"

  • articles
  • blog entries
  • chapters
  • lectures
  • manuscripts (not accepted for publication)
  • papers
  • podcasts
  • single episodes of a continuing radio or TV show
  • short stories
  • theses
  • video blogs
  • workshop or panel presentations

Simply Capitalize (no quotes or italics)

  • conferences (A substantive or thematic name given to a conference, workshop or panel may be quoted.)
  • lecture series
  • manuscripts (work in progress)
  • newsletters
  • projects
  • reports
  • symposia
  • websites
  • web pages
  • workshops (A substantive or thematic name given to a conference, workshop or panel may be quoted.)

Typography and style

Write ordinal numbers on the line, reserving superscript and subscript for scientific and mathematical expressions: 1st, not 1st; 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 also may substitute em dashes for bullets when the list items are sentence fragments (frequently, beginning with a verb).

Embed URLs in 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:"