Editorial Style Guide

The Graduate Center generally follows the standards set by the Associated Press Stylebook and Merriam Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, with a few exceptions that are noted below, including the use of the serial or “Oxford” comma (e.g., apples, bananas, and oranges NOT apples, bananas and oranges). When in doubt or not specified below, please consult the AP Style Book.

In specific entries, we note differences between print and digital style.

This style guide includes some items that frequently come into question. In addition, we have listed some Graduate Center–specific terms and style choices. This guide is intended to evolve, as language does, to reflect current usage and to embrace new terms as they come into common use. We have noted inclusive language throughout this guide.

The guide will be reviewed and updated on a regular basis to ensure current and relevant rules. Please follow these guidelines when writing for The Graduate Center, whether for print materials, emails, or website content.

Please feel free to email comms@gc.cuny.edu with questions or for clarifications regarding Graduate Center style and usage.

If you are looking for a specific term, please use your browser's Find function (usually Ctrl+F on PC, Ctrl+F or Command+F on MAC), the index on the right, or the alphabetical page jumps below.


address of The Graduate Center
The Graduate Center, CUNY
365 Fifth Avenue
New York, NY 10016
212.817.7000 (use periods in phone numbers)
academic degrees
Ph.D.; doctoral; M.A.; masters; D.M.A.

Use an apostrophe in bachelor's degree, a master's, etc., but there is no possessive in Bachelor of Arts, Master of Science, or associate degree.

When used after a name, an academic abbreviation is set off by commas: Hermione Granger, Ph.D., spoke.

A doctoral student is a student who is completing work up to the dissertation. A doctoral candidate has completed all but the dissertation.

Note: for the plural form of degrees, do not use apostrophes: M.A.s, Ph.D.s, M.B.A.s
er in general, but Gotham Center’s board of “advisors,” and elsewhere where the term is part of an effective title.
African American, Asian American, national origin
Do not hyphenate. See race and national origins.
alumni class names
Use the following format when identifying Graduate Center alumni: Name (Degree and Year, Department). See examples below:

LeRonn P. Brooks (Ph.D. ’09, Art History)
Andrew Bast (M.A. ’09, Political Science)
ASRC or Advanced Science Research Center
These nomenclature guidelines specify how to refer to the Advanced Science Research Center.
One word.
awards and prizes names
Capitalize initial letters:  Excellence in Teaching Award, Pulitzer Prize


capitalize the term when referring to racial or ethnic groups that identify as Black. See race and national origins.
blog titles
See titles of works.
book titles
See titles of works.


Photo captions should be used if there is a person, place, or situation that is necessary to identify. Captions should be placed to clearly associate them with their images. Use (left), or (from left) if there might be confusion about who is in a photo.

When captions are grouped instead of appearing by their respective images, start with clockwise from top, from left, or the like, or use top left, bottom, or the like for each image.

Do not use a period in a caption unless it is a complete sentence.
Keep the hyphen when forming nouns, adjectives, and verbs that indicate occupation or status: Co-author, co-pilot, co-chair, co-host, co-owner, co-worker.
Capitalize the first word following a colon only if it is a proper noun or the beginning of a sentence. She offered this advice: Be on your guard when walking at night. But The school has three advantages: location, size, and prestige.

A colon can be used at the end of a sentence or phrase to introduce lists. They can buy three things: pencils, pens, and staplers.
Use comma before “and” in a series: The Graduate Center uses the “Oxford” (or serial) comma, even though AP Style does not. In a list of three or more items, use a comma after the penultimate item: a renowned scholar, writer, and teacher.
conference titles
Capitalize initial letters: Community College and the Future of Humanities.
Follow Associated Press Style:
coronaviruses: family of viruses that can cause the common cold, SARS, MERS, and COVID-19.
It is acceptable to use the coronavirus when referring to the current disease.

COVID-19, which stands for coronavirus disease 2019, is the disease caused by the coronavirus. It is not the name of the virus.
One word.
course names
Capitalized and never in quotation marks or italics: HIST 84900 – Seminar in American History I
CUNY colleges and schools
The Graduate Center is one of 25 schools within The City University of New York.

Senior Colleges
Baruch College
Brooklyn College
College of Staten Island
Hunter College
John Jay College of Criminal Justice
Lehman College
Medgar Evers College
New York City College of Technology (City Tech)
Queens College
The City College of New York
York College

Community Colleges
Borough of Manhattan Community College
Bronx Community College
Guttman Community College
Hostos Community College
Kingsborough Community College
LaGuardia Community College
Queensborough Community College

Graduate, Honors, and Professional Schools
Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism
CUNY Graduate School of Public Health & Health Policy
CUNY School of Labor and Urban Studies
CUNY School of Law
CUNY School of Professional Studies
Macaulay Honors College

On first reference, use the full name of the school.

On second reference and for faculty titles, name can be shortened, but avoid acronyms whenever possible. An exception is BMCC for Borough of Manhattan Community College.

For second references to senior colleges, you may drop college for most; exceptions noted in the list below
- The City College of New York (City College)
- New York City College of Technology (City Tech)

 For second reference to community colleges, use the full name with exception of Borough of Manhattan Community College (BMCC).

For joint faculty appointments, you may shorten names, but avoid acronyms, except for BMCC. Example: Professor Ismael García Colón (GC/College of Staten Island), not (GC/CSI).


em dash or long dash: Use an em dash ( — ) when emphasizing a separate clause in a sentence. Use em dashes to enclose a word or word group that interrupts the main structure. The projects — all three of them — are due this afternoon.

In print, no spaces around an em dash. In digital media, add a space on either side:

PRINT: The kids—all eight of them—washed their hands.

DIGITAL: The kids — all eight of them — washed their hands.
Note: In MS Word, the em-dash can be inserted as a special symbol. The keyboard shortcut is CTRL-ALT-“minus sign” (“-“ sign in upper part of number keypad, on a full keyboard).
en-dash or short dash (-) is used to show duration. He brought between 12–14 apples, 10–11 a.m., 2015–2019, Pulitzer Prize–winning author but Pulitzer Prize winner (no dash). Use no spaces around an en dash.
See numbers.
departments, offices, and programs
Use capitals for the full name of offices and departments. Otherwise, use lower case, except language departments.

All formal offices are capitalized:

Office of the President, president’s office
Ph.D. Program in History, M.A. Program in Biography and Memoir, art history doctoral program


Use an ellipsis to indicate the deletion of one or more words in condensing quotes, texts, and documents. Be especially careful to avoid deletions that would distort the meaning.

In general, treat an ellipsis as a three-letter word, constructed with three periods and two spaces, as shown here: The Graduate Center is located in the heart of Manhattan. The Graduate Center is located  …  in Manhattan.

Per AP: An ellipsis also may be used to indicate a thought that the speaker or writer does not complete. Substitute a dash for this purpose, however, if the context uses ellipses to indicate that words actually spoken or written have been deleted.
Only capitalize email if it starts a sentence; otherwise it is always lowercase. Email addresses and URLs are mostly lowercase and always bold in print publications. Do not bold on web pages. Please note that email addresses and URLs are not case sensitive: hpotter@gc.cuny.edu.

Avoid breaking email addresses and URLs. If the address will not fit on a line, do not add a hyphen or other punctuation. Break it before existing punctuation, such as periods, hyphens, slashes, double slashes, etc.


faculty titles and ranks
When referring to Graduate Center faculty members, follow the following formats.

For faculty members with primary appointments at The Graduate Center:

Professor Carla Shedd (Sociology, Urban Education)

Professor Joseph Straus (Music)

Distinguished Professor Lev Manovich (Computer Science)

For faculty members with primary appointments at other CUNY campuses:

Distinguished Professor of History Joshua B. Freeman (Graduate Center/Queens/CUNY
School of Labor and Urban Studies, History)

Professor Manu Bhagavan (GC/Hunter, History)

Distinguished Professor Emerita Leith Mullings (Anthropology)

Professor Paul Feinstein (GC/Hunter; Biochemistry, Biology, Psychology/Biological Sciences)

Note: When identifying faculty members, use only Professor or Distinguished Professor. Don’t use Associate Professor or Assistant Professor. For social media, it is acceptable to abbreviate Professor to Prof.
Capitals for initial letters (Gilleece Fellow, Digital Fellow) for civic or academic honors, but not in generic use: which serves as a training center for pre- and postdoctoral psychology fellows.
fellowship names (curricular)
Capitals for initial letters: The Miranda Fellowship for the Study of Puerto Rican Migration to and Communities in the United State.


The abbreviation for grade point average is always capitalized and never with periods.
Graduate Center entities/centers and institutes
The Graduate Center is home to nearly 40 centers and institutes. Find the full list online. 
The Graduate Center is the administrative home of six University Center schools and one program.
Graduate Center
The official name of our school is The Graduate School and University Center of The City University of New York, but our commonly accepted and preferred nomenclature is The Graduate Center, CUNY. After the center is properly identified, on second reference, it can be referred to as The Graduate Center. It can also be identified as The Graduate Center on internal materials and articles on our website. The acronym GC is acceptable on second reference, but generally less preferable in running copy. Avoid CUNY Graduate Center.


All words in headlines are capitalized, except for articles: a, an, the, etc. Prepositions of four letters or more are capitalized. Is and other forms of the verb to be should be capitalized in headlines. Use single quote for titles of works in headlines, as below:

The Latest Book by Professor Branko Milanovic Was Lauded by ‘The New Yorker.’

Robert Caro, Author of ‘The Powerbroker,’ Will Speak at The Graduate Center.
health care (noun)
Always two words.
Hispanic / Latino/a / Latinx
Hispanic refers to people from Spanish-speaking countries. Latino/a/Latinx is a person of Latin American descent who can be of any background or language. Therefore, people from Chile, Guatemala, or Cuba who speak Spanish are both Hispanic and Latino/a/Latinx. Brazilians who speak Portuguese are Latino/a/Latinx, not Hispanic, and Spanish-speaking people in Spain and outside Latin America are Hispanic but not Latino/a/Latinx. See also race and national origins.


The term, undocumented is preferred to describe immigrants residing in a country without authorization. Do not use the terms alien, an illegal, illegals, unless quoting people or government documents that use these terms.
Use lowercase.


lectures, projects, speeches, and series (names of)
Use quotation marks and capital letters for the full titles of lectures, events, and series:

 “Autoethnographies of CUNY: The Power of Storytelling”

“The Promise and Perils of Democracy”

“The CUNY Center for Digital Scholarship and Data Visualization”
Acceptable in all references for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender, or lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning and/or queer.
no capitals except at the start of a sentence.
login, logon
One word when used as a noun. Please enter the correct login.

Two words when used as a verb. He couldn’t log in to his computer.


See people of color.


names (people)
A middle initial is acceptable if the person prefers it and in names of buildings: William P. Kelly Skylight Conference Room.

Jr., II, 3rd, etc., are used only with the person’s complete name. Do not use a comma between the name and Jr.

Do not use periods when people are referred to by initials: JFK, FDR.

Ph.D. student Seth Powers (Theatre).
Seth Powers, a Ph.D. candidate in theater; doctoral candidate in theater.

When to use doctoral student or doctoral candidate: See titles: professional.
Native American, American Indian
Native American is preferred unless the individual or group specifies otherwise. Use the term Indian to refer to people from India.
New York
New York state; New York City
In general, spell out whole numbers from one through nine and round multiples of those numbers (see examples below). Where exceptions are warranted, maintain consistency in the immediate context.

Use numerals for round numbers in the millions and billions: 20 billion stars; 15 million people.

Use decimals when numbers are not round: 4.2 million years. Use figures for 10 and above and whenever preceding a unit of measure or referring to ages of people, animals, events, course credits, grade-point averages, or things. Also in all tabular matter, and in statistical and sequential forms.

Centuries: Use figures for numbers 10 or higher: 21st century. Spell out for numbers nine and lower: fifth century. (Note lowercase.) For proper names, follow the organization's usage: 20th Century Fox, Twentieth Century Fund.

Dates, years, decades: Feb. 8, 2007, Class of '66, the 1950s. For the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, 9/11 is acceptable in all references. (Note comma to set off the year when the phrase refers to a month, date, and year.)

Decimals, percentages, and fractions with numbers larger than 1: 7.2 magnitude quake, 3 1/2 laps, 3.7% interest, 4 percentage points. Decimalization should not exceed two places in most text material. Spell out fractions less than 1, using hyphens between the words: two-thirds, four-fifths.

Ages and hours of the day are always numerals. Exception is the use of noon or midnight if necessary or helpful to clarify.  A 3-year-old boy. Sam is 7 years old. The meeting is at 6 p.m.


See departments, offices, programs.


Ph.D.; doctoral; M.A.; master’s; D.M.A.
Use an apostrophe in bachelor's degreea master's, etc., but there is no possessive in Bachelor of ArtsMaster of Science, or associate degree.

When used after a name, an academic abbreviation is set off by commas: Hermione Granger, Ph.D., spoke.

doctoral student is a student who is completing work up to the dissertation. A doctoral candidate has completed all but the dissertation.

Note: for the plural form of degrees, do not use apostrophes: M.A.sPh.D.sMBAs
For abbreviations of degrees, use periods, except MBA.
D.M.A. (Doctor of Musical Arts)
M.A. (Master of Arts)
MBA (Master of Business Administration) (
note: no periods used)
M.D. (Doctor of Medicine)
M.S. (Master of Science)
Ph.D. (Doctor of Philosophy)
people of color
It is acceptable to use people of color and racial minority/minorities to describe people of races other than white in the United States. Do not use the term minority. Refer instead to people of colorstudents of color, etc., or underserved or underrepresented populations. See also race and national origins.
Follow Associated Press style: Use figures followed by the % sign with no preceding space. For amounts less than 1%, precede the decimal with a zero:

Test scores rose 3%; she earned 60% more; they won 53.5% of the vote; GDP rose by 0.6%.

In direct quotes, use the word percent instead of the % sign. Example: “The number of people watching YouTube has grown by 200 percent in just the past month.”
One word, no hyphen.
professors (titles and ranks)
See faculty (titles and ranks).


race and national origins
Associated Press guidelines state, “Reporting and writing about issues involving race calls for thoughtful consideration, precise language, and an openness to discussions with others of diverse backgrounds about how to frame coverage or what language is most appropriate, accurate and fair.”
The Graduate Center differs from the Associated Press and capitalizes Black, recognizing that the term refers to a diverse ethnic group. For more background on this approach, we recommend reading this piece from the Columbia Journalism Review. CJR explains its decision to use Black and to keep lowercase for white.It also cites the Diversity Style Guide, which note “There are various historical, social and political reasons why one might prefer to identify as Black. The term has historically connected people of African descent around the world and was revived during the Black Power Movement. … Black and then African American replaced older terms such as Colored and Negro imposed by others. Self-identification might reflect feelings about origin, affiliation, colonialism, enslavement and cultural dispossession.”

African American is acceptable for an American Black person of African descent, but it is important to note that not all Black people identify as African American.
people of color, racial minority It is acceptable to use people of color and racial minority/minorities to describe people of races other than white in the United States. When talking about just one group, be specific: Chinese Americans or members of the Seminole Indian Tribe of Florida, for example. Be mindful that some Native Americans say the terms people of color and racial minority fall short by not encompassing their sovereign status. Avoid referring to an individual as a minority unless in a quotation.
Asian American is acceptable for an American person of Asian descent. When feasible, refer to a person’s country of origin or follow the person’s preference. For example: Filipino American or Indian American.
Hispanic / Latino/a / Latinx
Hispanic refers to people from Spanish-speaking countries. Latino/a/Latinx is a person of Latin American descent who can be of any background or language. Therefore, people from Chile, Guatemala, or Cuba who speak Spanish are both Hispanic and Latino/a/Latinx. Brazilians who speak Portuguese are Latino/a/Latinx, not Hispanic, and Spanish-speaking people in or from Spain are Hispanic but not Latino/a/Latinx.
American Indians, Native Americans Both may be used in general references for those in the U.S. when referring to two or more people of different tribal affiliations. For individuals, use the name of the tribe. He is a Cherokee chief. She is a member of the Arapahoe Indian Tribe. Some tribes and tribal nations use member; others use citizen. If in doubt, use citizen. In Alaska, the indigenous groups are collectively known as Alaska Natives.
First Nation is the preferred term for native tribes in Canada.
Indian is used to describe the peoples and cultures of the South Asian nation of India. Do not use the term as a shorthand for American Indians.
Do not use periods. Do not use please as it is redundant.


In scientific or biological names, capitalize the first/Latin name and use lowercase for the following name(s). Use plain text, not italics. Examples: Homo sapiens, Tyrannosaurus rex.
students (The Graduate Center)
Use the following formats when identifying Graduate Center students:
Ph.D. student Nora Carr (Comparative Literature)

Ph.D. student Kristofer Eckelhoff (Music).

Kasey Zapatka, a Ph.D. student in sociology.

Michelle Fisher, a Ph.D. student in art history.

Seth Powers, a Ph.D. candidate in theater; doctoral candidate in theater.

Doctoral student/candidate: See titles: professional.

A doctoral student is a student who is completing work up to the dissertation. A doctoral candidate has completed all but the dissertation.


Always ends in ‘er.’ Do not use theatre, unless in proper names, such as:
Ph.D. Program in Theatre
The Martin E. Segal Theatre Center
times of day
See numbers.
titles of works
All words are capitalized in titles except articles (a, an, the) and conjunctions (and, but, for, nor, or, so, yet) and prepositions (at, by, in, to, etc.) of less than four letters, except when they come at the beginning or end of a title. Always capitalize the principal words, including prepositions and conjunctions of four or more letters.

Italicize the following:
titles of books, long works and compositions, works of art and art exhibitions, legal cases, magazines, pamphlets, plays, movies, television programs, symphonies, concerts and operas, album titles, and video games are always italicized. (Note: If the text is already in italics, the above should be in roman type to differentiate.)

Note: For social media posts, use quotation marks for these titles.

Put in quotation marks the following:
titles of short poems, stories, speeches, lectures, presentations, chapters of books, TV show episodes, digital media, and short works.

Set in roman (plain) type, lowercase:
parts of books: part III, page ix, chapter 19.
His favorite episode of Seinfeld was “The Boyfriend.”
The Beatles’ “Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds” is on the album Yellow Submarine.
He reads “Slate” every morning.

Blog titles:
We follow the AP. For blog names, use the name as spelled by the writer, capitalizing the first letter and other main words. Do not enclose the name in quotation marks unless it is an unusual spelling that might otherwise be unclear. An update to a blog is a blog post or blog entry.
Hyphens in titles:
Capitalize both parts of a hyphenated compound in headlines if both are actual words: Cease-Fire, Able-Bodied, Sit-In, Make-Believe.
titles: professional
Capitalize professional titles that come before an individual’s name, but not ones that come after a name:

Interim Provost Julia Wrigley; Julia Wrigley, interim provost and vice president for academic affairs
Subsequent references to individuals in running copy: Use last names only, no titles:

First reference: President Barack Obama;
Second reference: Obama was born


underserved, underrepresented
See people of color.
United Kingdom/U.K.
The abbreviation is U.K.
United Nations/U.N.
Use periods in U.N., for consistency with U.S. within texts. In headlines, it's UN (no periods).
United States/U.S.
Use periods in the abbreviation, U.S. within texts. In headlines, use US (no periods).
URL addresses
Never use http://. It is not necessary. Avoid breaking email addresses and URLs. If the address will not fit on a line, do not add a hyphen or other punctuation. Break it before existing punctuation, such as periods, hyphens, slashes, double slashes, etc.


venues (The Graduate Center)
Following are the names of Graduate Center venues:

Advanced Science Research Center at The Graduate Center, CUNY

Dining Commons

Elebash Recital Hall

Harold M. Proshansky Auditorium


James Gallery

Martin E. Segal Theatre

Mina Rees Library

William P. Kelly Skylight Room


Use state of Washington or Washington state when it is necessary to differentiate the state name from the U.S. capital, Washington.

Washington, D.C., with the added abbreviation only if the city might be confused with the state.
lowercase, unless it begins a sentence.
One word, lowercase.
One word, lowercase.