Editorial Style Guide

The College of Liberal Arts follows the Associated Press Stylebook and Merriam-Webster when creating content for our websites, social media and Life & Letters magazine. Our goal is to provide consistency and clarity. The Office of Public Affairs offers the following guidance for some of the most frequent style issues within the college. 

Table of Contents

academic degrees

Use an apostrophe for bachelor’s degree and master’s degree. However, there is no apostrophe in Bachelor of Arts or Master of Science. Abbreviations include B.A., M.A., LL.D. and Ph.D. 

Degree years can be indicated with apostrophes to save space. It is important that the apostrophe points in the correct direction: down and to the left.


  • Renee Zellweger, B.A. English ’92, is a two-time Academy Award winner.

academic titles

Capitalize titles before a name and lowercase after a name or when used alone. Exceptions are names of chaired professorships.


  • Marlone Henderson, an associate professor of psychology at UT Austin, is the lead author.
  • UT Austin College of Liberal Arts Dean Ann Huff Stevens’ research focuses on labor markets.
  • Ann Twinam, who holds the Walter Prescott Webb Chair in History, was inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.


This word construction is taken directly from its Latin origins. Therefore, the noun forms are gender specific: alumna refers to one woman; alumnae refers to women; alumnus refers to one man; alumni refers to men or men and women. Most often the form alumni is used for any group of graduates. It can also be used for those who attended a school, not just graduates.


Do not use & unless it is an official part of a formal name. Otherwise, spell and.


Use the formal name only when the content is specifically about the building or its naming.  For all other instances (events, body copy, invitations), use the shorter name with three-letter abbreviation set in parenthesis. The three-letter abbreviation is particularly relevant to student audiences. Use the shorter name in subsequent references.


  • Formal name: Sherri and Robert L. Patton, Jr. Hall
  • 1st reference: Patton Hall (RLP)
  • 2nd reference: Patton Hall
  • Formal name: Dorothy L. Gebauer Building
  • 1st reference Gebauer Building (GEB)
  • 2nd reference: Gebauer Building
  • Formal name: Susan G. and Edmund W. Gordon & Charles W. and Frances B. White Building
  • 1st reference: Gordon-White Building (GWB)
  • 2nd reference: Gordon-White Building


Use chair rather than chairman/chairwoman/chairperson.

College of Liberal Arts

Spell out the College of Liberal Arts and use the college at second reference. You may capitalize the College for more formal letter correspondence. CoLA or COLA is fine for internal audiences (but should otherwise be reserved for drinking). Do not use the acronym COLA/CoLA with external audiences.


Omit commas for simple lists. Use them for more complex situations when needed for clarity.

composition titles 

Book titles, magazines, movies, plays, television and radio shows should be capitalized and placed in italics. Do not capitalize magazine unless it’s part of the publication’s title or masthead. Capitalize “the” only if it’s part of the title. The title of an academic paper, journal article, exhibition or lecture should be put inside quotation marks. Use italics for the name of the journal. 


  • In her award-winning book, The Invention of Race in the European Middle Ages, Geraldine Heng argues that race did exist even if the language of the time had yet to capture the phenomenon.
  • His paper, “The Rhetoric of Neo-Classic Poets,” was published in Classical Literature Quarterly.

course title

Capitalize the main words in the course title; quotation marks or italics are not necessary.


  • I’m taking Intro to Latin American Government and Politics.


Use figures for days of the month and omit nd, rd, st and th. Place a comma between the day and the year and following the year when the date is mentioned. Do not place a comma between the month and the year when the date is not mentioned. When referring to the academic year, use a hyphen but do not repeat the four-digit year.


  • On July 20, 2020, I wrote an editorial style guide.
  • Orientation sessions begin June 2020.
  • Fall 2020-21


Capitalize the formal names of departments and offices except when used in a person’s title. List the full formal name on first reference. Do not capitalize department, center, institute or program when used without the name.


  • She is a senior in the Department of Psychology. 
  • The Department of Philosophy redesigned its website.
  • The director of admissions is pleased with the applicants.
  • She’s been with the department for three years.

Capitalize the field when it’s used to mean the department. Use lowercase for the field when it’s used in a general sense.


  • She’s a professor in the Department of History.
  • She’s a professor in the Anthropology Department
  • She’s a sociology professor.
  • She majored in government.


Use the title Dr. only when referring to a medical doctor.


Emeritus is awarded to some but not all retired faculty members and is placed after the title. Emeritus refers to one man, emerita refers to one woman, emeriti refers to more than one professor (male or female) and emeritae refers to more than one female professor. 


  • Samuel Wilson, professor emeritus of anthropology

faculty and staff

For plural construction, use faculty members or staff members.


Majors should be lowercase unless they contain proper nouns.


Use the % sign rather than percent in copy. There is no space between the number and the %.


Capitalize Black in a racial, ethnic or cultural sense, conveying an essential and shared sense of history, identity and community. Capitalize Indigenous in reference to original inhabitants of a place. Capitalize racial and ethnic identifiers such as Latino, Asian American and Native American. Additional guidance can be found at AP Stylebook's race-related coverage.

The University of Texas at Austin

Spell out The University of Texas at Austin and use UT Austin or the university in subsequent references. You may capitalize the University for more formal letter correspondence.

Public Affairs