Writing Style Guide

This is a quick-reference guide to Washington University in St. Louis style. The full official style guide for the university is available for download (PDF).

When writing and editing text for your website, you should be guided by the hierarchy:

  1. Washington University style
  2. Associated Press (AP) style
  3. Webster’s New World College Dictionary

Washington University in Web Text

  • “Washington University in St. Louis” is the first reference to the institution on every page of a site.
  • University is not capitalized when used on its own to refer to Washington University.

Departments and People

  • Capitalize university titles when directly preceding the individual’s name, but use lowercase in other usages. (e.g., Here is Chancellor Mark Wrighton. Mark S. Wrighton is Washington University in St. Louis’ chancellor.)
  • In general, university faculty members are of various departments in various schools.
  • Spell out the full name of your office or department as the first reference on every page of the site.
  • The official title of the majority of university departments takes a “Department of” construction. When making first reference on a page to any of the departments, programs, centers or units in Arts & Sciences, “in Arts & Sciences” is to be included.
  • People earn a degree; they do not receive a degree — unless it is an honorary degree.
  • In general, when academic degree abbreviations are used, do not include periods.
  • “Adviser” is used, not “advisor” (with the exception of resident advisors in the Office of Residential Life).

Contact and Time Details

  • Recommended phone number format is xxx-xxx-xxxx, never xxx.xxx.xxxx.
  • Use a.m. and p.m., single digit times for hours (8, not 8:00).
  • For ranges of time, use a hyphen: 10 a.m.-1 p.m.; 3-5 p.m.

School Names

Use the full school name, as listed below, as the first reference to the school on each Web page.

  • Arts & Sciences
    • College of Arts & Sciences
    • Graduate School of Arts & Sciences
    • University College in Arts & Sciences
  • John M. Olin School of Business (Olin Business School is acceptable)
  • Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts
    • College of Art
    • College of Architecture
    • Graduate School of Art
    • Graduate School of Architecture & Urban Design
  • School of Engineering & Applied Science
  • Washington University School of Law
  • Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis
  • Brown School at Washington University in St. Louis (The Brown School or Brown is acceptable in all subsequent references. Never use GWB, Brown School of Social Work or School of Social Work.)


  • Commas: See AP style for instructions on the use of commas in a series. Briefly, use commas to separate elements in a series, but do not put a comma before the conjunction in a simple series.
  • Email or email