Our Editorial Standards

AP Stylebook Examples

Rice University uses the Associated Press Stylebook guidelines for style, punctuation, grammar and other style points. The Office of Public Affairs offers free one-hour tutorials on the use of AP style guidelines for all Rice departments, schools and centers. Please call 713-348-6763 or email for the latest information. 

Hard copies and digital versions of the AP Stylebook can be purchased online at

Academic Degrees

Put an apostrophe in “bachelor’s degree” and “master’s degree.” Even when shortened to “bachelor’s” and “master’s” with no “degree” afterward, keep the apostrophe. However, the formal names of degrees are capitalized and not possessive: Bachelor of Science and Master of Science. An associate degree is neither plural nor possessive.

He has his bachelor’s. She has a master’s degree in biochemistry.

He got a Bachelor of Science last year. Her Master of Science is from Rice.

This applicant has an associate degree.

Academic Departments and Schools

When the name is the formal name of the department or school, it’s capitalized; when the name refers to the generic discipline or field, it’s lowercased.

The Department of Physics and Astronomy is sponsoring the lecture by Anthony Chan, professor of physics and astronomy.

I’ll give you a tour of the Department of History. BUT: I’ll give you a tour of the history department.

Rice University’s School of Engineering is composed of nine departments.

Information Technology announced its reorganization around newly developed human resources principles.

Human Resources announced that Rice was chosen again as one of Houston’s Best Places to Work.

The chemistry class was extended to include information technology topics.

Academic Titles

Capitalize formal titles before a name and do not separate a title from the name with a comma. Titles that appear after a name or standing alone are almost never capitalized. Lowercase informal titles even when placed before names.

Interim Vice President Jeff Falk or Jeff Falk, interim vice president of Public Affairs.

Marketing director Abby Smith; intern Maria Thompson.

Do not include “Dr.” before the name, except in the first reference to a medical doctor, or “Ph.D.” after the individual’s name. To verify Rice’s academic titles for specific individuals, use the title listed in General Announcements. If a faculty member has an endowed position, capitalize the title whether it appears before or after the name and place “the” before the title. If the faculty member has a secondary appointment that is not endowed, do not capitalize that portion of the title and omit “the.”

Vivian Ho, the James A. Baker III Institute Chair in Health Economics and professor of economics, received a grant from the National Science Foundation.

When used, place “emeritus” after the formal title (e.g., “professor,” “dean,” “minister”). Capitalize only when it precedes the name.

Professor Emeritus John S. Ambler or John S. Ambler, professor emeritus of political science.


Avoid acronyms except when the average reader is likely to recognize them (CIA, TV, HIV, etc.). Provide the full name on first reference; on second reference, it is acceptable to use a shortened version of the name or a generic term such as “the foundation,” “the institute,” etc.

The Smalley-Curl Institute Summer Research Colloquium began in 1986. The purpose of the colloquium is to provide researchers working at Rice with an opportunity to present their most recent work.

The BioScience Research Collaborative features state of the art meeting and event venues. Browse the collaborative’s spaces below.

Addresses (Internal)

Use numerals for room numbers and capitalize “room” when it appears with a number or as part of a name. Mail stops should be formatted as “MS xxx” with an en dash preceding “MS.”

The lecture will be held in Room 102, Rayzor Hall.

Mail your AP style questions to News and Media Relations–MS 300, 200 Allen Center.

Alumna, Alumnus, Alumni, Alum

An “alumna” is a female graduate. An “alumnus” is a male graduate. “Alumni” refers to a group of male graduates or a group of male and female or other graduates. “Alumnae” refers to a group of female graduates. “Alum” (for any gender) is permitted only in casual usage.

For Rice, the last two digits of a graduate’s commencement year, preceded by an apostrophe, should appear after the first reference to the full name. If the alum has more than one degree from Rice, provide both/all years of graduation from Rice, separated by commas.

Rice alumna Jane Doe ’59 was quoted in the story.

Rice alumnus Rob Smith ’67, ’71 was also quoted.

Awards, Prizes, Contests

Capitalize the proper name of awards, prizes and contests, using the full name on first reference. If a shortened version of the name is used on subsequent references, lowercase the name.

John Doe, professor of sociology, won the Joseph H. King Award for Excellence in Teaching. The King award includes a $10,000 stipend.

The Houston Business Journal publishes its annual list, Houston’s Best Places to Work, in June. The journal’s list of Houston’s best places to work is a popular award.

Board of Trustees

When “Rice” or “Rice University” appears in front of “board of trustees,” capitalize it. On second reference or when referring to the board informally, lowercase.

The Rice Board of Trustees announced its support for higher education.

The board of trustees passed a resolution.


Use the full name of a building on first reference. A shortened form of the name is acceptable on second reference if it does not cause confusion. Especially avoid using “Brown” alone, since there are three Brown Halls and one Brown College. 

A reception will be held in the lobby of Anne and Charles Duncan Hall. Duncan Hall is located on the east side of campus just north of Herzstein Hall.

Classes will be held in George R. Brown Hall, followed by lunch in the Brown College Commons and then a concert in Alice Pratt Brown Hall.


When referring to “the university,” do not capitalize “university.”


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