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Cornell Engineering Style Guide

When developing Cornell Engineering content for online and print, all materials should follow the Associated Press (AP) style guidelines. This is the preferred style of the university and most print publications, and will help keep your writing clean, consistent and professional.

Below you will find a quick guide to AP style rules commonly associated with Cornell Engineering and higher education in general.

A searchable database of all AP style rules is available on the Cornell Library website. You can also contact Syl Kacapyr, content manager for Cornell Engineering, with your editorial style questions.

Academic Titles and Degrees

Courses and Semesters

Publications

Acronyms

Dates and Times

University, College, School and Department Names

Technology

Punctuation

Cities and States

 

ACADEMIC TITLES AND DEGREES

Lowercase all professional titles unless they are formally endowed or being used as a prefix.

Jane Doe, assistant professor of biomedical engineering

Jane Doe, professor emerita of biomedical engineering

Jane Doe, professor of practice

Jane Doe, postdoctoral student

Jane Doe, director of the Meinig School

Jane Doe, president of Cornell University

Jane Doe, the John H. Smith Professor of Biomedical Engineering

Professor Jane Doe

President Doe

 

Lowercase generic references to degrees. Capitalize official diploma titles, but not the programs or concentrations.

She received a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering.

She received a Bachelor of Science in chemical engineering.

She received a B.S. in chemical engineering.

 

Abbreviations:

B.S.

M.S.

Ph.D.

M.D.

MBA

M.Eng.

 

Designate alumni with an undergraduate degree using only the year and no comma. For alumni with graduate degrees, use the abbreviated degree, year and comma.

Jane Doe ’15 will return to campus to give a talk.

Jane Doe, Ph.D. ’15, will return to campus to give a talk.

Jane Doe ’15, M.Eng. ’16, will return to campus to give a talk.

 

COURSES AND SEMESTERS

Lowercase seasons and semesters.

The class will be offered in the spring.

The class will be offered in the fall 2018 semester.

 

Capitalize formal names of courses, but lowercase general references to courses.

She will be taking Structural Dynamics and Earthquake Engineering.

She will be taking CEE 4780 - Structural Dynamics and Earthquake Engineering.

She will be taking a course in structural dynamics.

 

PUBLICATIONS

Book titles, journal papers, lectures, speeches, movies and poems are capitalized and placed in quotations. Do not use italics.

He will be giving the talk, “How to Engineer,” which will cover topics published in his book “Engineering for Dummies.”

His paper, “Optical Signaling and Tactile Sensing,” is published in the journal Science.

Journal titles, newspapers, magazines and websites are capitalized. Cornell Engineering’s local style breaks with AP style and places them in italics.

She was quoted by the New York Times, Scientific American and IFL Science.

Her work was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

 

ACRONYMS

Spell out a phrase and place its acronym in parentheses if you wish to use the acronym on second reference. Do not unnecessarily list the acronym if there is no second reference.

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DOE) is awarding grants. Cornell has received many grants from the DOE.

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation is awarding grants. There are a number of other agencies awarding grants as well.

In general, it is best to avoid using acronyms that aren’t universally recognized outside of Cornell.

The Cornell Center for Materials Research is located on Cornell’s campus. If you need to conduct polymer analysis, the center can help.

The Cornell Center for Materials Research is located on Cornell’s campus. If you need to conduct polymer analysis, the Cornell Center for Materials Research can help.

Some popular abbreviations and acronyms can be used on first reference without their corresponding phrase. Refer to the AP Stylebook when in doubt.

The U.S. is home to such Ivy League schools as Cornell University and Dartmouth College.

The research is being funded by NASA.

 

DATES AND TIMES

Use lowercase a.m. and p.m. Events starting on the hour do not need extra zeroes. Use “noon” and “midnight” instead of 12 a.m. and 12 p.m.

Graduation will be held at 2 p.m. on Saturday.

The lecture will begin at 9:15 a.m.

The class goes from noon to 2 p.m.

 

Capitalize the names of months in all uses, and abbreviate when used with a specific date. Separate days and dates with commas. Omit rd, th, st and nd after numbers.

Students will graduate on June 5.

Students will graduate on Dec. 5.

Students will graduate on Thursday, Dec. 5., 2018.

Students will graduate in December.

 

Abbreviations:

Jan.
Feb.
March
April
May
June
July
Aug.
Sep.
Oct.
Nov.
Dec.

 

Do not use an apostrophe when referring to a decade.

She was born in the 1960s.

The photo was taken sometime in the 1990s.

 

UNIVERSITY, COLLEGE, SCHOOL AND DEPARTMENT NAMES

Capitalize formal names, including universally accepted abbreviations. Lowercase generalized references.

The Robert Frederick Smith School of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering

The Smith School

Cornell’s chemical engineering school

The student studies chemical and biomolecular engineering.

 

Do not capitalize the words university, college, school or department when they are used without the unit’s formal name.

I received my degree from Cornell. The university is located in Ithaca, New York.

The Smith School has a good reputation. The school is nationally ranked.

 

TECHNOLOGY

Do not hyphenate 3D, even when used as a compound modifier. Always use the numeral, even when beginning a sentence.

She engineered a 3D model for research.

3D printers were used to produce the parts.

Smartphone, smartwatch, email, webpage, website and startup are all one word.

His email address is available on the startup company’s website.

 

Do not capitalize web, internet and internet of things unless they begin a sentence.

The internet of things is transforming the way we live and work.

You can find the information on the web.

Web development is one of her job skills.

 

Capitalize Bluetooth, Blu-ray and Wi-Fi.

The prototype utilizes Bluetooth technology.

The room has free Wi-Fi.

He is using a Wi-Fi-enabled device.

 

Hyphenate the word X-ray and use a capital X.

The image was obtained using X-rays.

 

PUNCTUATION

Do not use the serial, or Oxford, comma unless omitting is could lead to confusion or misinterpretation.

The flag is red, white and blue.

He studies biology, chemistry and physics.

He studies biology, chemistry, and electrical and computer engineering.

I love cooking, my dogs, and my family.

 

Punctuation always goes within quotation marks, except for rare instances in which the punctuation does not apply to the quoted matter.

“Engineering is fun,” she said.

“Is Engineering fun?” she asked.

The paper, “Optical Signaling and Tactile Sensing,” is published in the journal Science.

Was the homework assignment based on the first chapter of “Engineering For Dummies”?

 

Use a single space when beginning a new sentence.

Today is Monday. Tomorrow is Tuesday.

 

Use an en dash to indicate number ranges and compound modifiers. Do not use spaces.

10 a.m.-5 p.m.

Pages 38-45

It was a high-resolution photo.

Can you make me a 3D-printed version?

 

Use an em dash to denote a sudden break in thought or a series within a phrase. Cornell Engineering’s local style breaks with AP style and does not use spaces before or after.

The experiment required careful attention—the chemicals being used could burn one’s skin—and each engineer had a role to play.

Her engineering background—B.S. in civil engineering, M.S. in  mechanical engineering, Ph.D. in systems—served her well in her role as director.
 

CITIES AND STATES

When listing a city, follow it with the state or country it resides in unless it is an exceptionally large city. States should be spelled out when used in the body of a story, whether standing alone or in conjunction with a city. Place commas after the city and the state if it does not end a sentence.

Cornell has campuses in Ithaca, New York, and New York City.

Cornell has government relations offices in Washington, D.C., and in Albany, New York.

Cornell’s medical campus is located near Doha, Qatar.

 

Abbreviate states in lists and tabular material. Cornell Engineering’s local style breaks with AP style and uses the same abbreviations as the current postal system.

Ithaca, NY

Boulder, CO

San Diego, CA

 

Lowercase state and upstate when used with New York.

Cornell is located in New York state.

Cornell is located in upstate New York.