Style and editorial guides

Editorial guide

The College of Science and Engineering's Editorial Style Guide covers elements of editorial usage, such as spelling, capitalization, and punctuation. It is based on the Associated Press Stylebook and the University of Minnesota style practices, with minor alterations for CSE-specific usage. For access to the online Associated Press Stylebook, visit the University Libraries website and search "AP Stylebook." 

Here are some essentials to remember.


  • Capitalize University when it refers to the University of Minnesota. Use University for subsequent references.
  • Spell out College of Science and Engineering the first time it is
    used, and use CSE for subsequent references.
  • Italicize titles and subtitles of books, journals, newspapers, and magazines.
  • Use quotation marks around titles of articles in periodicals and newspapers, radio and television programs, and substantive titles of conferences.
  • Avoid the use of all caps in headlines, subheads, or listings. Use boldface for emphasis instead.
  • Abbreviate College of Science and Engineering departments
    without periods, spaces, hyphens, or prepositions after an initial spelled-out use (followed by the short form in parentheses). Ex. The Department of Aerospace Engineering and Mechanics (AEM) was one of the first 10 aerospace engineering programs accredited nationwide. AEM alumni include two former astronauts.
  • Use abbreviated academic degrees with majors for CSE alumni. Ex. Jeannette Brown (Chem M.S. ‘58).
  • Capitalize names of departments, research centers, and programs when using the official name (Ex. Department of Mechanical Engineering), but lowercase words when representing a shortened version of a proper name or office (Ex. mechanical engineering department).
  • Capitalize formal title before name. Ex. Associate Professor Peter Kang or President Joe Biden.
    Lowercase if it is after the name. Ex. Peter Kang, an associate professor — or if it is used in a general sense. Ex. The associate professors are tenured.
    Also, lowercase if it's a general occupational title. Ex. lab scientist John Doe, astronaut John Glen
  • Use the Oxford comma, or serial comma, in a series of three or more words. (Note: This is different from traditional AP style)

List of Department/Degree Abbreviations

CSE Undergraduate

AEM - Bachelor of Aerospace Engineering and Mechanics
Astro - Bachelor of Science in Astrophysics
BME - Bachelor of Biomedical Engineering
BBE - Bachelor of Bioproducts and Biosystems Engineering
ChE - Bachelor of Chemical Engineering
Chem - Bachelor of Science in Chemistry
CivE - Bachelor of Civil Engineering
CompE - Bachelor of Computer Engineering
CSci - Bachelor of Science in Computer Science
DSci - Bachelor of Science in Data Science
ESci - Bachelor of Science in Earth Sciences
EE - Bachelor of Electrical Engineering
EnvE - Bachelor of Environmental Engineering
EnvG - Bachelor of Science in Environmental Geosciences
GeoE - Bachelor of Geoengineering
ISyE - Bachelor of Industrial and Systems Engineering
MSE - Bachelor of Materials Science and Engineering
Math - Bachelor of Science in Mathematics
ME - Bachelor of Mechanical Engineering
Physics - Bachelor of Science in Physics
Stat - Bachelor of Science in Statistics

Tone and voice:

  • Use language that is active and concise.
  • Keep it simple. Avoid jargon or cliches.
  • Use “you” or “we” language that includes the reader. Ex. If you're on social media, like us or follow us. 
  • Use language that is positive and upbeat. Invite the reader to interact with you and to take action.

AP Style and grammar basics:

  • Spell out one through nine; use figures for 10 or more. Exception: Use numerals only in reference to age or height. 
  • Spell out numbers when it is the first word of a sentence. If possible, rephrase the sentence to avoid beginning with a number.
  • Do not use ciphers after whole dollar amounts. Ex. $10, not $10.00.
  • Use figures and cents for amounts less than $1. Ex. 60 cents.
  • Spell out percentages in text. Ex. 10 percent. 
  • Avoid "st" and "th" after dates. Ex. June 21, not June 21st. 
  • Spell out months. If space is limited, use these Jan., Feb., Aug., Sept., Oct., Nov., and Dec. Do not abbreviate March, April, May, June, July.
  • Lowercase a.m. and p.m. with periods. Use noon and midnight, not 12 p.m. or 12 a.m. 
  • Do not use ciphers (double zeros) with whole hours. Ex. 8 a.m., not 8:00 a.m.
  • Use a second comma in a date when there is a year, or when providing options. Ex. Registreation deadline: Friday, June 15, 2018.
  • Periods and commas are always placed inside of quotation marks
  • Question marks and exclamation points go inside the quotation marks when they apply to the quoted matter only. Place them outside when they apply to the whole sentence.

Gender-neutral language:

  • Gender biases are built into traditional usage of the English language. Dozens of generic terms (chairman, statesman, fellowship) contain masculine markers. When such terms are used generically, misinterpretation can result and females are unintentionally excluded from consideration. In most cases, you can eliminate the bias by rewording the sentence.
  • Do not use nouns that reflect gender (businessman, chairman). Instead use substitutions (business person, chairperson). Exception: Freshman and freshmen, used to describe first-year students at the University of Minnesota or the College of Science and Engineering. Use first-year student when applicable. 

Examples of gender-neutral language:

Biased: A student can submit his application early.
Recast: Students can submit their applications early.

Biased: Each instructor will provide his reading list at the first class session.
Recast: Each instructor will provide a reading list at the first class session.

Biased: The group is committed to saving Mother Nature and her trees.
Recast: The group is committed to saving the environment and its trees.