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Style Guide header image

Many Parts. One Body

When we speak and look like a unified institution, everything we do in the name of The Catholic University of America broadens and deepens our impact and confirms our strong identity to all our audiences. To that end, The Catholic University of America Style Guide is designed to help everyone be effective, cogent ambassadors of the University’s image, reputation, and mission.

This guide is based on three recognized style guides: primarily The Associated Press Stylebook; secondarily, the CNS (Catholic News Service) Stylebook on Religion and The Chicago Manual of Style. In addition, the University’s primary reference book regarding spelling is Webster’s New Collegiate Dictionary. This guide is intended for offices in the University only; it is not an academic style guide for students writing papers, theses, or dissertations. The guide is updated periodically for its own purposes and on behalf of other University entities.

The Division of University Communications adheres to this style guide for all the printed and online publications it produces, including magazines, reports, newsletters, brochures, fliers, ads, web stories, and press releases, and all the communications it disseminates. We urge all schools, departments, and offices to follow it as well so that together we can maintain the integrity of our University’s visual and editorial brand.

For questions not answered here, please consult AP, Chicago, or CNS, or call the Division of University Communications at 202-319-5600.

Style Guidelines

Abbreviations and Acronyms

  • Spell out the abbreviation or acronym on the first use and immediately follow with the abbreviation in parentheses to prepare readers for your subsequent use of the abbreviation. If the acronym doesn’t appear in subsequent text, do not use it at all. Acronyms are only to be used for multiple references. Note: It is acceptable to use initials, not the full name of that which is being abbreviated, on first reference when they are widely recognized (periods are not generally used). Examples: FBI, NCAA, SAT, GPA, CEO, AIDS, NASA

 Abbreviations: Decades, Time 

  • Use A.D., B.C., a.m., p.m.

 Academic Degrees 

  • Avoid abbreviations in text, but if space is an issue, use B.A., M.A., M.S., etc. Capitalize full and formal names of specific degrees: Bachelor of Science, Bachelor of Arts, Doctor of Philosophy

  • When referring to academic degrees in general or in an informal way, lowercase the first letter of the degree and use an apostrophe: bachelor’s and master’s degrees, bachelor’s degree in nursing, master’s in nursing

  • When academic degrees follow a person’s name in the middle of a sentence, the degree is set off by commas: Mary Williams, Ph.D., was the featured speaker.

  • Do not use the courtesy title “Dr.” unless the person referred to holds a medical degree and then only if a medical degree is integral to the text. An exception to this rule is reserved for direct quotes, e.g.:
    According to Dean Richards, “Dr. Williams is a prolific author and gifted teacher.” 
  • Abbreviations for degrees use periods.
    B.A., B.S., M.A., M.S., J.C.L., J.D., Ph.D., S.T.D., S.T.L., J.C.D.

Academic Departments

  • Capitalize the first letter in proper names of departments. On first reference, the official name (“Department of History”) should be used.
    Department of History, Department of English 

Academic Titles 

  • Capitalize and spell out formal titles such as professor, dean, or chairman when they precede a name. Instructors and other part-time faculty are not to be referred to as “professors” on second reference. Do not use the term “adjunct.” Use part-time or lecturer.
    Dean Albert Smith
    Professor of Philosophy Marion Smoot teaches the philosophy of science.

  • Lowercase elsewhere.
    Albert Smith, dean

Address, Catholic University

  • The official mailing address for all schools, departments, and offices is 620 Michigan Ave., N.E., Washington, DC 20064. No building or room numbers.
    EXCEPTION: If an office regularly receives visitors, list room numbers in printed matter, on websites, etc., to guide them to the proper building and room.

Addresses, Washington, D.C.

  • Street addresses in Washington are typed with periods and set off by commas: N.E., N.W., S.W., S.E.
    134 K St., N.W., Washington, DC 20017 


  • Identify former students by the Catholic University degrees and class years as follows.
    Frank Pierce, B.A. 1960; Jane Adams, B.A. 2005, came to Cardinal Weekend.

    If the degree is part of text that appears in columns and thus requires concision, it is acceptable to type B.A. ’68. However, dropping the century requires that the typist use an apostrophe, ’, — not an opening single quote, ‘, or a straight footmark, to denote that the two digits are missing. 

Alumnus, Alumni, Alumna, Alumnae, Alum

  • “Alumnus” (“alumni” in plural) is a man who graduated from Catholic University. “Alumna” (“alumnae” in plural) refers to a female graduate. “Alumni” can refer to a mixed group of men and women graduates. “Alum” should be used sparingly, and usually only in informal writing.


  • Do not use the ampersand (&) as a replacement for “and.” Use the ampersand only when it is part of an official name of a company, product, or other proper noun, or as part of a headline for space reasons. (Morgan Stanley & Co.)

Archbishop, Bishop

  • Use “Most Rev.” as a substitute to avoid awkward formulations:
    Most Rev. Matthew Shepherd is the fourth archbishop of the Archdiocese of Hopeville.

Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception

  • Use the full name for first reference; second reference, the Basilica.

  • Note: The Basilica is adjacent to the campus; it is not a part of the campus and should never be referred to that way.

Board of Trustees

  • Capitalize the Board of Trustees when referring to this Catholic University body. Also capitalize trustee before a name, lowercase after a name.
    Trustee John Carroll
    John Carroll, trustee

Buildings and Named Rooms

  • Give the full name of building or named room on first reference; on second and subsequent references use less formal name, as follows:

    Full Formal Name Informal Reference
    Edward M. Crough Center for Architectural Studies Crough Center
    John K. Mullen of Denver Memorial Library* Mullen Library*
    Raymond A. DuFour Athletic Center DuFour Center, the athletic center
    Eugene I. Kane Student Health and Fitness Center Kane Center
    Edward J. Pryzbyla University Center Pryzbyla Center
    Monsignor Stephen P. Happel Room Happel Room
    Vincent P. Walter Jr. Boardroom Vincent Walter Room

 *When referring to the library system rather than the Mullen Library, use University Libraries.


  • Avoid unnecessary capitals. Capitalize formal titles when used before a name.
    Dean Peter Smythe

  • Lowercase titles after a name or when used alone:
    Walter Mitty, professor
    The professor was a genius.

    EXCEPTION: For the University President
    President John Garvey
    John Garvey, President
    Bishop David M. O’Connell, C.M., is the former President of Catholic University.

  • Course names are capitalized. Majors, subjects, and disciplines are lower case unless they are proper nouns.
    Rhonda decided to major in French as well as philosophy.
    In the spring semester, Felix, a physics major, took Form and Value in Poetry.

Cardinal (religious title)

On first reference place “Cardinal” before a given name, not after. Use “His Eminence” only under the most formal circumstances to refer to a Catholic cardinal. Capitalize only when it is part of a formal name such as College of Cardinals.
Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan
The cardinals met in Rome to choose a new pope.
The meeting of the College of Cardinals is called a “consistory.”

Cardinal Card 

Cardinal Cards as opposed to Cardinal cards.

Cardinals Tribute Dinner

No apostrophe.

The Catholic University of America 

  • This is the official name of the University and should be used on the first reference. Note the capital “T” in The. 
  • On the second reference, the preferred usage is Catholic University. CatholicU (with no space) also is an acceptable second reference, especially for online and social media.
  • NEVER write “CUA” or “Catholic” when The Catholic University of America is meant. Also, “The Catholic University” is not acceptable usage. 

  • If referring specifically to Catholic University in writing, uppercase “University.” If making a general statement about a university (not ours), lowercase university.
    The University was founded in 1887.
    The university experience is one that many young people benefit from.

The Catholic University of America Campus

  • Three of the green spaces on campus have specific names, as follows:
    Area in front of McMahon Hall, bordered by the Basilica and Shahan and McGivney halls: University Mall
    Area between the Pryzbyla Center and the law school: University Lawn
    Grassy area west of Pryzbyla Center facing McMahon Hall: Pryzbyla Lawn 


  • Preferred usage for head of a department.
    Ted Williams is the chair of the Department of Anthropology.
    Marie Conant chairs the Department of Physics.


  • Catholic University has a total of six chapels on campus, two of which are inside residence halls. Following are the formal (first reference) and informal (second reference) chapel names.
Full Formal Name Informal Reference
St. Vincent de Paul Chapel  St. Vincent’s Chapel
St. Paul’s Chapel or Caldwell Chapel  Caldwell Chapel
Mary, Mirror of Justice Chapel Law School Chapel
Sacred Heart Chapel  Flather Chapel
Eucharistic Adoration Chapel Opus Chapel 
St. Michael the Archangel Chapel  St. Michael Chapel


  • Capitalize when referring to the Catholic Church.
    Courses on Church history can be found in both the School of Theology and Religious Studies and the Department of History.
    The church on Millersville Road was built in 1998.

Commencement/ Commencement Exercises

  • Always use initial capitalization when referring to the University graduation.
    The Commencement speaker received an honorary Doctor of Theology degree.

Class of

  • Capitalize
    The plaque was a gift of the Class of 2010.

Course Names 

Use initial caps. 


One word. 


In order to best build on the University's name recognition and brand strength, the acronym “CUA” is no longer an approved use for any print or electronic materials that are targeted to external audiences. "The Catholic University of America" or "Catholic University" should be used in all print and electronic references; "CatholicU" is appropriate for usage in social media (#CatholicU). “CUA” should not be used as the “handle” for any official Catholic University social media accounts. The Office of Marketing and Communications will assist with any changes to existing accounts.


May 1, June 2, Jan. 3 . . . not May 1st, June 2nd, Jan. 3rd . . . etc. When a month, date, and year are given, a comma must be used before the year as well as after it. See Months.
The team was working toward a Jan. 24, 2019, deadline.

Days of the Week

  • Capitalize and do not abbreviate.

Departments and Offices 

  • Use the full name of the department or office on first reference.
    Department of Biomedical Engineering, Office of the Dean, Office of Housing Services, Department of Public Safety, Office of Residence Life, Center for Academic and Career Success, Department of Athletics.

  • On second reference lower case, with the following exceptions:
    Housing Services, Residence Life, Campus Ministry, Public Safety, Career Services, Athletics
    But biomedical engineering, chemistry, dean’s office

Disability Disclaimer 

  • Use one of the following two disability accommodations disclaimers on any materials (e.g., fliers, posters, ads, postcards, invitations) inviting the public to Catholic University-sponsored, on-campus events such as conferences, open houses, lectures, performances, etc. University-sponsored off-campus events at venues over which Catholic University has no facilities control do not require the disclaimer.
    To request accommodations for individuals with disabilities, call 000-000-0000.
    To request accommodations for individuals with disabilities, contact us at the number above. (or below . . . )


Education Abroad

  • Use the term education abroad instead of “study abroad.”

EEO Statement

Any recruiting or admissions-related materials must carry the following short statement.
The Catholic University of America admits students of any race, color, national or ethnic origin, sex, age, religion, or disability.


  • Emeritus is the singular, masculine form. For references to women, use emerita (singular) or emeritae (plural). Emeriti may serve as the plural for a group that is composed of men only or both men and women. Emeritus/emerita is lowercase unless it is used before a name as a formal title.
    Professors emeriti, faculty emeriti
    Madelyn McCarthy, professor emerita of art, has a retrospective show at the National Gallery.
    Professor Emeritus Moses Jade

Endowed Chairs

See Named Chairs.


  • Catholic University style considers “faculty” a plural noun.
    The architecture and planning faculty take studio critiques to a professional level.

Faculty Handbook

  • Use italics when referring to this document.

First-Year Experience

  • Note hyphen. FYE is acceptable on second reference.

First-Year Student(s)

  • Use "first-year student" to refer to an individual or "first-year students" as a plural reference. Do not use "freshman" or "freshmen." 
    First-year students and sophomores are required to leave their cars at home.
    Citing their identification as a distinct culture, the first-year class set up a booth during Multicultural Day.

Founders Day

  • Signifies the date of Catholic University’s establishment on April 10, 1887. Never refer to it as Founder’s Day or Founders’ Day. 


  • Note the absence of a hyphen.
    He was a fundraising genius.
    Fundraising is an art.

Garvey, John 

  • Not John H. Garvey

Great Room 

  • The Great Room in the Edward J. Pryzbyla University Center is a single room with three subdivisions, not multiple rooms. It is always singular.
    The event will be held in the Great Room.
    The event will be held in Great Room A and B.

Honors Program

  • Capitalize its official name, which is University Honors Program; Honors Program.
    We are all justifiably proud of the University Honors Program.
    Fourteen students from the Honors Program presented their findings at the conference.


  • The preferred Catholic University style is to spell out first names; however if initials must be used, do not put a space between them.
    A.R. Gurney wandered onto campus in 2001 and never left.

Invitations, Formal

  • Spell out titles, months, etc., in formal invitations. Use RSVP should a response be requested.

John Paul II

  • St. John Paul II or John Paul II

Jr., III, etc.

  • No commas between name and Jr., Sr., etc.
    Bob Smith Jr. (B.A. 1989), father of freshman Bob Smith III and son of Bob Smith Sr. (B.A. 1967), is sponsoring four students on a trip to Malawi.


  • Capitalize the first letter of rooms and other specific campus locations.
    The lecture will be held in Caldwell Hall, Room 113.
    Cardinals vs. Greyhounds, Raymond A. DuFour Athletic Center, Soccer Field
    Pick up tickets in the Edward J. Pryzbyla University Center, Lobby.
    The knitting club meets as follows: Noon, Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, Pryzbyla Center, Atrium


  • In narrative, abbreviate seven months of the year as follows when they are part of a specific date. Spell out in formal invitations, programs, etc. Always spell out months when followed by only a year.
    This year the University will close on Dec. 20 for the Christmas holiday.
    In December 2014 the University will be closed for 10 days.
Abbreviation Spelled Out
Jan. January
Feb. February
March March
April April
May May
June June
July July
Aug. August
Sept. September
Oct. October
Nov. November
Dec. December

Murphy’s Grill 

The restaurant and lounge in the Pryzbyla Center gets an apostrophe. Use the full name on first mention.

Named Chairs 

  • Named chairs are always capitalized no matter where they appear in a sentence.
    Edward Molyneux, John T. and Mary S. Francophone Professor of French, spoke briefly about obscurity.
    John T. and Mary S. Francophone Professor of French Edward Molyneux spoke briefly about obscurity.


  • Spell out whole numbers one through nine. Use figures for 10 and above. Use figures for dimensions, percentages, ages, distance, time, and computer storage capacities.
    We have nine professors and 42 buildings.
    She teaches ninth grade.
    He has a daughter, 2.
    My computer has 6 gigabytes.
    That was the 90s; this is the 21st century!
    We walked 3 miles, then ran 20 more.
    The new piano is 9 feet long.


  • Always capitalize when referring to Orientation for new students.
    This year’s Orientation featured five new activities.


  • Percentages are expressed in numerals. Use the symbol %. Spell out only when the percentage begins a sentence.
    The Great Upper Church was more than 90% full for the University Mass.
    Of patients wearing the robotic exoskeleton 70% could move within the range of normal by the end of the treatment versus 45% in the control group.
    But Ninety percent of recent graduates went on to full-time employment. 

Photo Captions

  • Keep captions as simple as possible, writing them so that names can be simply listed left to right. For two rows, use “Standing” and “Seated” or “Top” and “Bottom” and list the names left to right.
    Standing, from left: Joseph Alberto, Ed Franklin, Philip Grecko. Seated: Monica Peters, Philomena Sustini, Marilyn Weber, Paula Deptula.
    Top, from left: Joseph Alberto, Ed Franklin, Philip Grecko. Bottom: Monica Peters, Philomena Sustini, Marilyn Weber, Paula Deptula.


  • When the title is used before or referring to a specific pontiff, capitalize. When the word is used in the context of describing the office, lower case.
    Pope Francis met with Catholic University alumni visiting Rome. The Pope was especially welcoming to older alumni.
    The pope has held daily audiences for hundreds of years.

Possessive nouns

  • Do not add an "s" after the apostrophe for nouns ending in "s."
    Mary McCarthy Hines' office is in Father O'Connell Hall. 


  • But post-master’s study — “postmaster” is the name of the head of the United States Postal Service.

Professional Affiliations and Certifications

  • RN, LCSW, FAAN, AIA; no periods 


Caps, no spaces.

Rathskellar (the “Rat”) 

Note the second a.

Religious in Residence 

No hyphens.

Residence Halls

  • Most campus buildings that house students should be referred to as halls. Buildings in Centennial Village are called houses. Never refer to any student residences as dorms.
    The newest residence hall on campus is Opus Hall.
    The residents of Magner House won the “Most Engaged House” award in 2014.


  • Preferred abbreviation for Respondez s’il vous plait. Note caps and absence of periods.


  • There are two ways to list schools of the University, in alphabetical order or in the order of their founding. Order of founding is appropriate for Commencement and at ceremonies such as a dedication, inauguration, or academic convocation.

Order of Founding

  • School of Theology and Religious Studies (1889)
  • School of Philosophy (1895)
  • Columbus School of Law (1897)
  • School of Arts and Sciences (1906)
  • School of Canon Law (1923)
  • School of Engineering (1930)
  • National Catholic School of Social Service (1934)
  • Conway School of Nursing (1935)
  • Benjamin T. Rome School of Music, Drama, and Art (1965)
  • Metropolitan School of Professional Studies (1980)
  • School of Architecture and Planning (1992)
  • Tim and Steph Busch School of Business (2013)


  • School of Architecture and Planning; architecture and planning school
  • School of Arts and Sciences; arts and sciences school
  • Tim and Steph Busch School of Business; Busch School of Business; business school
    In second reference, it is acceptable to use "the Busch School."
  • School of Canon Law; canon law school
  • School of Engineering; engineering school
  • Columbus School of Law; law school
  • Benjamin T. Rome School of Music, Drama, and Art; Rome School of Music, Drama, and Art
    In second reference, it is acceptable to use "the Rome School."
  • Conway School of Nursing; nursing school
  • School of Philosophy; philosophy school
  • Metropolitan School of Professional Studies; professional studies school; MSPS
  • National Catholic School of Social Service; social service school; NCSSS
  • School of Theology and Religious Studies; theology and religious studies school; STRS


  • Lowercase spring, fall, summer, and winter except when used in a formal name such as Winterfest. When a season defines a semester, it is not a formal name.
    We decorated our room with autumn colors in the fall. In the spring, we changed the color scheme.

Second Reference

  • Identify people (except members of the clergy and religious) by last name only on second reference, with the exception of members of the clergy and religious.
  • On first reference the preferred title for ordained priests is Reverend; Rev. is also acceptable. On second reference, use Father. Brothers are referred to as Brother and women religious as Sister; do not abbreviate either.
  • When noting religious affiliation, either precede the title and name with spelled-out religious affiliation or follow the name with the abbreviation, including periods.
    Rev. Rafael Brown, O.F.M. Conv., leads Catholic University’s Office of Campus Ministry.
    The outreach coordinator is Religious Sisters of Mercy Sister Mary Joseph Roundtree.

Senators Club

  • No apostrophe.

States, Cities

  • Use Associated Press abbreviations/spellings shown below when mentioning cities and states without a postal code. Use the postal abbreviation with ZIP codes. Spell out state names when they appear alone. Note: No periods with ZIP code.
    Chicago, Ill./Chicago, IL 00000
    Washington, D.C./Washington, DC 20064

  • When using city and state in text, set off with commas:
    Our train dropped us off in New Haven, Conn., then went on to Vermont.
Postal AP Postal AP
(with ZIP) (without ZIP) (with ZIP) (without ZIP)
AK Alaska MT Mont.
AL Ala. NC N.C.
AR Ark. ND N.D.
AS American Samoa NE Neb.
AZ Ariz. NH N.H.
CA Calif. NJ N.J.
CO Colo. NM N.M.
CT Conn. NV Nev.
DE Del. OH Ohio
FL Fla. OK Okla.
GA Ga. OR Ore.
GU Guam PA Pa.
HI Hawaii PR P.R. or Puerto Rico
IA Iowa RI R.I.
ID Idaho SC S.C.
IL Ill. SD S.D.
IN Ind. TN Tenn.
KS Kan. TX Texas
KY Ky. UT Utah
LA La. VA Va.
MA Mass. VI V.I. or Virgin Islands
MD Md. VT Vt.
ME Maine WA Wash.
MI Mich. WI Wis.
MN Minn. WV W.Va.
MO Mo. WY Wyo.
MS Miss.


  • The President of The Catholic University of America determines the University's tagline. At this time, the University name serves as the tagline. Schools, programs, centers, and departments are not permitted to have their own taglines because they would dilute the University's identity.

Telephone Numbers

  • Use dashes, not parentheses, to set off area codes such as 202-319-5600. Use dashes and not periods between units: 410-330-7792. “800” numbers appear without a 1.
    The main number is 445-980-6599.
    To buy the Ginza knife at this special price, call 800-123-4567.


  • Use spelling preferred by the discipline; at Catholic University, the Department of Drama uses “theatre.” Otherwise use “theater” in general references; but Hartke Theatre
    and Callan Theatre. Also the music school has the Musical Theatre Program.


  • In normal text, lowercase a.m. and p.m. and use periods. Use noon and midnight, not 12 p.m. or 12 a.m. Times on the hour are listed without colons and zeros, as follows.
    The dance begins at 6 p.m. and continues until midnight.
    Monday, Nov. 6, 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m.  AND Tuesday, Nov. 7, 2 to 5:30 p.m.


  • Confine capitalization to formal titles before a person’s name. Lowercase in constructions that set titles off from a name by commas or when not used with the person’s name.
    Pope Francis
    Vice President of Enrollment Adelaide McGillicutty spoke at the dedication.
    The vice president of enrollment, Adelaide McGillicutty, spoke at the dedication.
    The professor called the class to order.
    EXCEPTION: University President: President John Garvey; John Garvey, President
    Avoid double titles
    Correct: Bishop David M. O’Connell, C.M., former University President
    Incorrect: Former University President Bishop David M. O’Connell, C.M.

Titles: Italics and Quotation Marks (See also: Academic Titles)

  • Italicize titles of books, journals, plays, operas, movies, TV shows, newspapers, magazines, paintings, comic strips, and other freestanding works.
    Eureka was cancelled mid-season.
    Don Giovanni is a passionate indictment of selfishness.

    Use quotation marks (“The Raven”) for titles of articles, chapters, individual poems, photographs, speeches, lectures, and shorter works.
    Professor Johnson’s article, “Solar-Generated Electricity,” was published last year.

    Use upper and lower case (no quotation marks, not italics) for titles of courses.
    Freshmen are required to take History of American Civilization.

    Conference titles are upper and lower case; presentations are in quotes:
    Professor William Preston presented “How Rock-and-Roll Changed Poetry” at the 190th Annual MLA Conference on Rock Lyrics, Keats, and John Clare.

Titles, Religious 

  • Spell out cardinal, bishop, sister, brother, father, and monsignor. Capitalize titles only when they appear before a name.
    Father Rafael takes Campus Ministry’s mission to heart.
    The cardinal spoke to first-year students in their philosophy class.

    The following titles can be abbreviated:
    Reverend; Rev. — Very Reverend; Very Rev.  — Most Reverend; Most Rev.

  • No “the” appears before Reverend spelled out.
    Reverend Bob Smith addressed the congregation.
    Not The Reverend Bob Smith addressed the congregation.

  • Do not use the formulation “Rev. Monsignor” or “Reverend Monsignor.”
    Monsignor Franklin devoted his last years to prayer. 
  • Religious affiliations, when noted, precedes or follow the first reference of the name.
    Rev. Martin Likovich, S.J., dean of the School of Liturgy.
    Vincentian Father James Dooley will teach patristics this semester.

University Mall

Note initial caps.