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CoE supplementary style guidelines

The College of Engineering follows UW style guidelines. The main references for UW style and communications are the current editions of The Associated Press Stylebook and Webster’s New World College Dictionary. The College follows UW’s Equitable Language Guide for inclusive language usage.

This list of recommendations calls out style issues that come up regularly in College of Engineering communications or are specific to the College of Engineering.

Abbreviations and acronyms  Academic and professional titles  Academic quarters  Centers, institutes, labs, programs  Course titles Dates and times    Degrees and degree titles  Departments  First names vs. last names  Freshman / freshmen / first-year student(s)  Headers and titles  Legislature  Majors / minors  Oxford / serial comma  Photo / image captions  Point-of-view  State of Washington Common terms  Accessing the AP Stylebook  

Abbreviations and acronyms

Consider your audience and the text readability and use your best judgment when deciding whether or not to use abbreviations and acronyms. If you choose to use them, spell out the full title/name on first use and include the abbreviation in parentheses; after first use it's OK to use the abbreviation.

  • Spell out “College of Engineering” on first reference. The College is an acceptable second reference. Capitalize it when using it as a shortened version of the proper name but not when referring to college informally:

“It is a social justice issue that economically and educationally disadvantaged students be given every opportunity to pursue high-value UW degrees, such as those offered by the College of Engineering,” said Eve Riskin, the College’s associate dean for diversity and access.

BUT The college deans meet quarterly.

“UW Engineering” may be used in place of the “College of Engineering” when it fits the overall tone and message. “COE” or “CoE” may be OK for internal communications but should not appear in external communications.

  • Common departmental abbreviations
    • A&A: William E. Boeing Department of Aeronautics & Astronautics
    • BioE: Bioengineering
    • ChemE: Chemical Engineering
    • CEE: Civil & Environmental Engineering
    • Allen School / CSE: The Paul G. Allen School of Computer Science & Engineering on first reference; Paul G. Allen School or Allen School is preferred for subsequent references. NOTE: Paul G. Allen School or Allen School should be used for external communications, but CSE may be OK for internal communication
    • ECE: Electrical & Computer Engineering
    • HCDE: Human Centered Design & Engineering
    • ISE: Industrial & Systems Engineering
    • ME: Mechanical Engineering
    • MSE: Materials Science & Engineering
  • Headers / titles: Acronyms and abbreviations can appear in headers and titles to shorten length as long as the full name appears in the introductory copy.

Academic and professional titles

Capitalize and spell out formal titles such as professor, professor emeritus, chair, dean or provost when they precede a name. Lowercase elsewhere. Examples:

Nancy Allbritton, dean of the College of Engineering, will open the meeting. After the meeting, Dean Allbritton will take questions.

A seminar was held in honor of Albert Kobayashi, professor emeritus of mechanical engineering. Professor Emeritus Albert Kobayashi thanked the seminar’s organizers.

Avoid degree abbreviations if possible. If degree information is essential to the story, try to embed more descriptive language in the text:

UW clinician Jane Husky addressed the group instead of Jane Husky, M.D., addressed the group.

  • Professor
    • Do not abbreviate.
    • Do not use on second reference unless part of a quotation.
    • For faculty with multiple titles, such as professors who are also chairs, list them as such: CEE Professor and Chair Laura Lowes delivered the keynote address. But if space is tight or if it would be awkward to list both, then simply list them as chair (as it’s implied they’re also faculty): CEE Chair Laura Lowes delivered the keynote address.
    • For professors with joint appointments, list both departments:Ashis Banerjee is an assistant professor of mechanical engineering and of industrial and systems engineering.
    • Unless it’s directly relevant to the content, do not list a faculty member’s adjunct or affiliate appointments.
    • Capitalize endowed professorships since they’re proper nouns: Jihui Yang is the Kyocera Professor in Materials Science & Engineering. (The endowed professorship is named “Kyocera Professorship in Materials Science & Engineering” so in this case “Materials Science & Engineering” is capitalized.)
    • Do not use “Dr.” unless referring to a faculty member who is a medical doctor: Shyam Gollakota, a UW associate professor in the Paul G. Allen School of Computer Science & Engineering, partnered with Dr. Arun Sridhar, assistant professor of cardiology at the UW School of Medicine.

Academic quarters

Lowercase: autumn quarter or winter quarter 2021

Centers, institutes, labs, programs

Capitalize only if it is part of the formal name: The student worked in A&A Associate Professor Jinkyu Yang’s Laboratory for Engineered Materials & Structures. In the lab, he applied fluid dynamics to biological systems research.

Course titles

Capitalize formal names of academic courses per standard capitalization rules for composition titles (do not enclose in quotation marks): Web Programming; Data Science Methods for Clean Energy Research; Software Engineering for Molecular Data Scientists.

Dates and times

Per UW style, use an en dash for number ranges, such as dates and times (NOTE: this differs from AP style, which uses a hyphen). Do not include spaces before or after the en dash: Nov. 15–17, 2–3 p.m.

  • For short event copy where it’s helpful to be concise and skimmable (such as invitations and calendar entries), it can be best to use the en dash. In paragraph text, it’s better to use “from/to” in place of the en dash for readability: The reception runs from 2 to 3 p.m., and the exhibition will be on view from Nov. 15 to Dec. 15, 2021.

Additional considerations

  • Use “a.m.” and “p.m.” (lowercase with periods) to denote times of day, and include a space between the numeral and a.m. or p.m.: 10 a.m.
  • AP style does not use “12” for noon or midnight because there’s not global agreement on which is a.m. and which is p.m. So use “noon” or “midnight” instead:Party on Red Square, noon–3 p.m.
  • When listing dates, use cardinal (not ordinal) numbers: April 1 (not April 1st); July 4 (not July 4th)
  • AP style does not abbreviate days of the week in body copy, but it does abbreviate longer month names when used with a specific date: Monday, Sept. 6. That said, it is also acceptable to spell out the entire month in text when space permits.
  • Use a comma before and after the year if placing a full date (month + day + year) within a sentence: The board met on September 25, 2021, to review the report.
  • Do not use a comma if only listing the month and year: The board will meet again in January 2022. 

Degrees and degree titles

If it’s necessary to identify which engineering degree an alumna holds, list it after her name: Jane Husky, B.S. MSE ’17, or Jane Husky (B.S. MSE ’17).

If she holds multiple degrees, list only the most recent one or the one that’s most relevant in context (for example, if the alumna’s bachelor’s degree is from A&A and she holds a master’s degree from ME, a writer for A&A would likely highlight her bachelor’s degree, while a ME writer may prefer to highlight her master’s degree). In some cases (for example, Diamond Awards announcements), it may be necessary and more appropriate to list multiple degrees. Another exception is for an alumna who holds a Ph.D. and an M.D. —  in that case, list both. Bottom line: consider your audience and the text readability and use your best judgment.

Another option is to consider writing around the degree: Jane Husky, who received her bachelor’s degree in materials science and engineering in 2017 and a master’s degree in mechanical engineering two years later...

Additional considerations:

  • Capitalize when formally referring to a degree (She received her Bachelor of Science in 2015.) but use lower case when referring to informally (Two years later, she applied to a professional master’s degree program.)
  • Use an apostrophe in “bachelor’s degree,” “master’s degree,” etc. This less formal usage is preferred over Bachelor of Science in X, Master of Science in X, etc. 
  • Use periods when abbreviating: B.A., B.S., M.A., M.S., M.D., Ph.D. (Note: no periods in MBA.) 
  • Use abbreviations only after a full name and set the abbreviation off by commas: Jane Husky, Ph.D., spoke at the conference.
  • Do not use both professional and courtesy titles. Incorrect: Dr. Jane Husky, Ph.D. Correct: Jane Husky, Ph.D., or Dr. Jane Husky. 
  • Do not use “Dr.” unless referring to a medical doctor: Shyam Gollakota, a UW associate professor in the Paul G. Allen School of Computer Science & Engineering, partnered with Dr. Arun Sridhar, assistant professor of cardiology at the UW School of Medicine.


Capitalize the formal name of an academic department (the UW Department of Civil & Environmental Engineering); lowercase the informal name except for words that are proper nouns or adjectives (The lab is housed in the civil and environmental engineering department). Ampersands are OK in formal names but should not be used in informal names.

  • Capitalization, department names and professional titles: Striking the right balance can seem tricky; when stumped, fall back on the  capitalization guidelines related to department names and to academic and professional titles noted above. All of the following examples are correct (Note: AP style prefers attributions at the end of quoted material so the last one would be least likely to be used, even though it involves fewer characters than the others):
    • “ME is a leading department at the UW for patents and innovations,” said Per Reinhall, a professor of mechanical engineering.
    • “ME is a leading department at the UW for patents and innovations,” said Per Reinhall, a professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering.
    • “ME is a leading department at the UW for patents and innovations," said Per Reinhall, a professor in the mechanical engineering department.
    • Mechanical engineering Professor Per Reinhall said, ”ME is a leading department at the UW for patents and innovations.”

First names vs. last names

In general, after an individual has been introduced in writing, refer to them by their last name in future references. This helps maintain consistent style and avoids creating unintentional hierarchies and/or seeming disrespectful. One exception is when writing about a couple or family where multiple people have the same last name; in this case first names help for clarity.

Freshman / freshmen / first-year student(s)

All are OK; just keep your audience in mind. Some may read “freshman” as gendered. “First-year students” can be ambiguous as it includes transfer students as well as first-year college students. 

  • ENGRUD and DTC: Remember that these acronyms are unfamiliar to many people — especially external audiences like potential students and parents —  so spell out on first use and include the acronym in parentheses after it. 

Headers and titles

Capitalize only the first word and any proper nouns (also referred to as sentence case). If there is a colon, capitalize the first word after the colon.


Capitalize when preceded by the name of a state: the Washington Legislature. Capitalize in subsequent specific references and in constructions: the 100th Legislature, the state Legislature. Lowercase when it is used generically: No legislature has approved the amendment.

Majors / minors

Lowercase except for proper nouns or adjectives: The award recipient majored in mechanical engineering and minored in mathematics.

Oxford / serial comma

UW style does not use the Oxford (also known as serial) comma in a simple series of nouns or phrases: red, white and blue (no comma before and). But it’s okay to use the serial comma before the terminal conjunction in a complex series or in other cases where the serial comma will provide clarity and improve readability: UW Medicine provides primary and specialty care to patients throughout the Pacific Northwest, trains medical professionals and scientists, and conducts biomedical and health services research. (Use comma before “...and conducts...”.)

Photo / image captions

Use present tense. If the caption is a complete sentence, include a period at the end. If it’s an incomplete sentence, such as a person’s name under their headshot, no period is needed.

  • Identify people in relation to each other in photos: Hank Levy, left, Paul G. Allen, center, and Ed Lazowska, right, celebrate the naming of the Paul G. Allen School of Computer Science & Engineering in 2017. 
  • Include a photo credit line when possible. No period is needed. Examples:

Photo by University of Washington
Photo by Mark Stone / University of Washington
Photo by Matt Hagen
Courtesy of Engineering Innovation in Health
Image courtesy of McGranahan Architects


Point-of-view depends on context. Most of the College’s writing is presented in third person point-of-view, but sometimes first person point-of-view may be a better fit (for example, in emails, blog posts or a “from the chair” message). When using first person, it’s important to make sure readers have a clear understanding of who the first person voice represents. Second person point-of-view may be appropriate when writing content for prospective students. 

State of Washington

Lowercase “state” when referencing “the state of Washington” or “Washington state” (in the case of the latter, so as not to confuse with “Washington State University”) 

Common terms

  • Adviser / advisor: Adviser is the more common and preferred spelling (undergraduate adviser, academic adviser, thesis adviser, Ph.D. adviser).  Advisor, though not incorrect, is much less common.
  • Alumna, alumnae, alumni, alumnus: Traditionally, alumnus (alumni in the plural) is used when referring to a man who has attended a school; alumna (alumnae in the plural) is used for a woman; and "alumni" is used when referring to a group of men and women. Alum (singular) or alums (plural) can be used informally (and for any gender), but make sure it’s appropriate for the context since it’s more casual and conversational. Keep your audience in mind and use your best judgment.
  • Campuswide (one word) but University-wide, college-wide and department-wide are hyphenated.
  • Cross-disciplinary (hyphenated), but interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary are each one word (keep in mind that these words have slightly different definitions but are often mistakenly used interchangeably)
  • Full-time / part-time: Hyphenate as an adjective; no hyphen as an adverb: While a full-time student, Jane Husky worked part time at a coffee shop on the Ave.
  • Health care: Two words when used as a noun; hyphenate when used as an adjective: According to health-care researchers, access to equitable health care is essential.
  • Nonprofit (one word)
  • On-campus / off-campus: Hyphenate as an adjective; no hyphen as an adverb: On-campus activities will resume in next quarter, which is great because I will be living on campus then.
  • Real-world: Hyphenate as an adjective (real-world applications); no hyphen as a noun (when I get a job in the real world
  • Research and development / R&D: spell it out on first reference, then use the abbreviation on following references. It’s OK to abbreviate in a headline if you think it’ll be clear to the audience.
  • Residence hall: Use instead of “dorm” 
  • Spinoff, spinout, startup (one word each)
  • Student-athlete (hyphenate)
  • Underrepresented (one word)
  • Yearlong (one word)
  • 3D print / 3D printing (no hyphen when used as a noun), 3D-printed (include a hyphen when used as a verb), 3D-printed (include a hyphen when used as an adjective)  

Accessing the AP Stylebook

The online Associated Press (AP) Stylebook can be accessed through the UW Libraries institutional account. To do so,

  • Use this link or search the UW Libraries online catalog for AP Stylebook.
  • Navigate to the “View online” option. (Note: you may be prompted to login with your NetID.) Once you click the link you will be taken to the AP website’s UW portal.
  • On the AP website, there’s a link to the online stylebook.