Editorial Style Guide

Check the official styles for abbreviations, punctuation, citations, titles and more.

The official style manual for Washington University outlines editing, writing and formatting conventions. The guide is maintained by University Marketing & Communications in collaboration WashU Medicine Marketing & Communications.

Communicators across WashU and the School of Medicine follow the style manual to achieve consistency and cohesion at all points of contact with our audiences.

Inclusive language

The AAMC’s Health Equity Guide provides recommendations and ideas for centering equity in communication, as well as a glossary of key terms.

The Inclusivity Style Guide by the American Chemical Society is a handy reference guide for recognizing and respecting diversity in all its forms.

Key excerpts from the WashU Style Guide

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Nomenclature for the university, medical school, departments, centers and institutes

The official names of many centers, institutes and other business units are agreed upon by the university and donors or partner institutions. These official names should be honored in all communications.

  • Spell out the full name of an office, department, center or school on first mention; see the list below for the full names of some centers at the School of Medicine
  • When referencing ” the university,” “the school,” “the department,” “the center,” etc. on its own, do not capitalize
  • Avoid using WUSM unless you are communicating with an internal audience only

Official names of entities at the School of Medicine include:

  • Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis (on websites, the full name of school is particularly important on Home and About pages) Second reference: School of Medicine or the medical school
  • the Alvin J. Siteman Cancer Center at Barnes-Jewish Hospital and Washington University School of Medicine Second reference: Siteman Cancer Center or Siteman
  • Bernard Becker Medical Library Second reference: Becker Medical Library or Becker Library
  • the Elizabeth H. and James S. McDonnell III Genome Institute at Washington University Second reference: McDonnell Genome Institute
  • the Knight Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center Second reference: the Knight ADRC

Please refer to the style guide for a more complete list of official names.

If you are naming a new center or other business unit, please refer to the school’s branding practices and naming conventions.

Phone numbers and email

  • Phone numbers are hyphenated and include the area code: 314-555-5555
  • In digital materials, the email address itself — rather than the person’s name — should be made into an email link
  • “Email” is neither hyphenated nor capitalized (except when, like this, it’s the first word of a sentence!)

Time of day

  • Use a.m. and p.m. with periods
  • Use single-digit times for hours (8 a.m., not 8:00 a.m.)
  • Time ranges are hyphenated (10 a.m.-1 p.m.; 3-5:30 p.m.)

Names, degrees and titles

Full name, degree(s), title
Second reference: Last name only
Example: Marge J. Simpson, MD, PhD, assistant professor of pathology and immunology, is pioneering a new weapon against cancer. Simpson and her team ….


  • Avoid using Dr. (except when part of a specific communications strategy)
  • No periods in degree abbreviations (e.g., MD, PhD, MPH)
  • If a person has multiple degrees, list degrees in the order specified in the Bulletin


  • Do not capitalize academic titles like dean, professor, etc., unless they precede a person’s name (e.g., Dean David H. Perlmutter, MD)
  • Correct titles are:
    • Department: head (preferred over chair)
    • Division: director
    • Section: chief
  • To prevent difficult sentences, a person’s title may be included in a follow-up sentence instead of with the first reference

Health care v. healthcare

Two words in all cases.

  • Noun: health care
  • Adjective: health-care

Scientific citations

Lastname XX, Lastname XX. Title of article. Name of Journal, Month Year; Vol(#):PP-PP. Example: Lourido S, Shuman J, Zhang C, Shokat KM, Hui R, Sibley LD. Calcium-dependent protein kinase 1 is an essential regulator of exocytosis in Toxoplasma. Nature, May 20, 2010; 11(5):421-423.

URLs / web addresses

All URLs should be tested before they are published. A reader should be able to type the URL, as published, into a browser and get to the intended page.

Drop the following from the URL, unless required to access the page:

  • http:// or https://
  • www.
  • final slash (/)
  • .htm or .html

medicine.wustl.edu NOT www.medicine.wustl.edu/

Related: Visit sites.wustl.edu for information about using URLs in your communications.

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