Quick start

Reports are due on Friday, August 13, 2021. Remember that your report covers the period from July 1, 2020 to June 30, 2021. Don’t include information about prior years unless it's pertinent to the present year, and avoid repeating information presented in prior years’ reports. Don’t include descriptions of events occurring on or after July 1, 2021; if you absolutely must mention future events, do so sparingly and be brief.

If you’​ve done this before, you can use last year’s report as a model. Take a look at other DLCs’ reports, too, especially those in areas similar to your own. You might find an idea worth emulating.

If you're new to this exercise or need a refresher, our content guidelines identify the types of information that are considered essential for preserving the continuity of MIT’s historical record. These suggestions have been provided by the staff of the Institute Archives.

Write for a non-MIT audience: spell out acronyms, especially those unique to MIT.

Make sure your story will be understood in the future. Think about what's important to preserve for the Institute’s historical memory. Write your report as if you’re reading it 10 or 20 years from now. Have you concluded the story about the important organizational undertaking or academic changes that you wrote about in prior reports? Don’t leave important, multiyear narratives incomplete. Even if the outcome isn’t entirely positive or didn’t yield the anticipated results, it’s important to include it in the historical record.

Be concise!

Content guidelines

Relevant information in all reports

  • Current goals, objectives, priorities. Have they changed since last year’s report? Also, if relevant, please gauge the impact of Institute-wide policies, recommendations, activities, or events; the impact of social or cultural policies and events—national and international—also may be considered.
  • Accomplishments. Major accomplishments in new or ongoing programs (don’t repeat last year’s accomplishments); significant anniversaries; special projects, including lectures, exhibitions, concerts, and events.
  • Administrative initiatives. New procedures, processes, or policies; new or changing areas of responsibility; collaborative activity with other departments and offices; committee work and its results (include the name of the final report when issued); new equipment, tools, or instruments, or new applications for same; physical movement into and out of particular locations, and its impact on the work or program.
  • Finances and funding. Major donations and bequests; new grants, fellowships, internships; other financial assistance.
  • Personnel information. Appointments, promotions, departures, and retirements (with brief reflections on tenure/stewardship); leaves; awards and honors; significant professional activities and publications, or involvement in special projects or programs.

Additional information from academic units

  • Teaching and curriculum. Changes in the curriculum; current impact of educational trends.
  • Research activities. Review of current projects—their purpose, parameters, participants, and funding sources; important findings, inventions, or product breakthroughs. Please summarize rather than provide extensive details. If a faculty member's section looks a lot like their CV, you've included too much detail.


Report authors are not expected to adopt any particular editorial style. However, if you’re curious about the decisions that editors make and the house style we follow, we invite you to refer to our style sheet.

All reports are copyedited prior to publication. This is usually a routine matter, and we won’t ask you to review the edited report. We'll only contact you if we have questions.

Formatting and other tips


Please use Microsoft Word’s basic styles to format your document. For example, use Heading 1, Heading 2, and so on for headings, and Normal for the body text. Don’t include headers, footers, or page numbers in your document.

Tables, charts, photos, and other graphics

Reference Publications strives to produce reports that comply with MIT’s accessibility guidelines. To help us achieve that goal, please follow these guidelines for preparing graphic materials for your report.

All tables and graphics should have a title and, if appropriate, a source (e.g., photographer). If your graphic has already been published elsewhere, be sure to cite the source and obtain permission to reproduce it, if necessary.

Include only those graphics that complement or expand upon the text. For example, don’t include a table that summarizes all the data outlined in the text: choose one or the other. Consider that your graphic may be so compelling that others will want to use it; make sure that the labels make sense and are legible, and double-check your calculations.


Tables created in Microsoft Word can be submitted in the body of the report. If your report contains more than five tables, number them (e.g., Table 1, Table 2, Table 3, etc.).

Don’t use spaces or empty columns or rows to format your tables. If you’re updating tables used in a prior year’s report, please contact us for an MS Word version of the report with preformatted tables that can be easily updated. If you need assistance in creating or formatting your tables, just let us know.

If you supply your tables in Word, we’ll make sure that they meet accessibility guidelines.

Charts and photos

Charts, especially those created in Microsoft Excel, can be embedded in your MS Word doc. Submit the original MS Excel file along with your report in case we need to edit your chart text.

Please don’t place photos or other graphic images in the MS Word file. Just put a note in the text in parentheses where you’d like them to appear, along with the corresponding names of their source files to be submitted along with your report.

Submission guidelines

Naming files

For easy identification, please use file names that begin with an acronym or a shortened form of your DLC’s name. Use the same name for photos and other graphics accompanying the report and number them in the order in which they appear in the report (e.g., Figure 1, Figure 2, Figure 3). We don’t differentiate between photos and charts or other graphs, so please number them consecutively. For example, the Reference Publications report might include the following files:

  • rpo_2021.doc
  • rpo_fig1_2021.jpg
  • rpo_fig2_2021.jpg
  • rpo_fig3_2021.jpg

Submitting your report

Submitting your report is easy. Just send your Microsoft Word file via email to referencepubs@mit.edu; include any graphics or MS Excel files as separate files (don't embed those files in your MS Word doc). In your message, please identify your report (document title and electronic file name) and other attachments so that we can be sure we have received everything we need. If you have many photos or very large file sizes, please contact us for alternate submission instructions.