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Academic degrees

When referring to formal academic degrees, uppercase the first letter of the degree. For generic degrees, use the 's. Majors that are proper nouns are uppercase.

Right: Seventy people hold master's degrees.
Right: They all had doctoral degrees in art.
Right: The College at Brockport offers a Bachelor of Science in Accounting.

Academic departments/offices

Capitalize the name of the department and the words department, office and school only when they appear in the form of the official names such as: "Department of Art," "School of Education, Health, & Human Services" or "Division of Enrollment Management and Student Affairs."

Right: Department of Communication, Office of Undergraduate Admissions
Right: The College consists of five academic schools.
Right: The Department of Physics boasts the most professors.
Right: The Office of Alumni Relations is in the Division of Advancement.

Exception: Always capitalize "C" when referring to our College.

Alma mater

When referring to the song, capitalize and italicize. When referring to the College as the school that a person attended, use lowercase, not italicized.

Right: They sang the Alma Mater during the ceremony.
Right: The College at Brockport is my alma mater.

Alumni Association

Always capitalize references to the Association.


Always capitalize: Chancellor's Award, Nobel Prize.

Board of Trustees

Capitalize Board of Trustees and Trustee as a title before a name. Use caps on subsequent references to the Board.

Right: The Board of Trustees will meet in Albany.
Right: Trustee Tom Robbins is a novelist.
Right: She has been a trustee for four years.
Right: The Board sets policy on tuition for the College.

Classes and courses

Use lower case when you refer to courses and classes, unless you use the specific (proper) name of a class or the class uses a proper noun or numeral.

Right: I'm taking a communication and a biology course.
Right: I registered for Introduction to Accounting, Spanish I and Calculus 101.


Capitalize names of specific committees and lower case second references.

Right: The Enrollment Strategies Committee met on Tuesday.
Right: The committee planned to discuss an early admission policy.

General Education

Use capitals for General Education and other specific features of our curriculum at the College.

Right: She completed her General Education requirements.
Right: All students must complete the Contemporary Issues component.

Historical periods

Capitalize the names of historical periods. Spell out first through ninth centuries and use numbers for 10th and above with century in lower case.

Right: the Renaissance
Right: Baroque music
Right: the 20th century


Yes, it is capitalized.

Right: Students are using the Internet more and more as a research tool.

Majors, programs

Lower case for all programs/tracks (specializations or concentrations), majors and minors (exception is the Honors College, which has caps for both words).

Right: The kinesiology program is quite rigorous.
Right: We offer a program in accounting.
Right: The environmental science major is now available.

Regional designations

Use capitals when referring to Finger Lakes Region, Greater Rochester Area or Upstate New York as widely known regions.

Right: The College at Brockport is in Western New York.

School district

Capitalize school district when preceded by a township, city or county name.

Right: Many student teachers are working in the Rochester City School District.


Lowercase spring, summer, fall and winter and all derived words such as springtime. Capitalize only when part of a formal name.

Right: fall semester, summer session
Right: Winter Olympics
Right: We had an especially dry summer.
Right: WinterSession '11 started on January 2.

State and federal

Lowercase state and federal in all references, except as part of corporate or governmental bodies that use the word as part of their formal names. Lowercase state and federal when used as an adjective to distinguish something from state, county, city, town or private entities.

Right: our state college
Right: the federal loans
Right: the state of New York, New York State
Right: Federal Communications Commission

Student classifications

Do not capitalize freshman, sophomore, junior or senior. But do capitalize as a class designation.

Right: The Senior Class sponsored the lecture.
Right: He is a senior communication major.
Right: The Class of 1990 produced many outstanding communication majors.


  • Academic, Courtesy and Formal Titles

Do not put a courtesy title before a person's name if a degree title follows it. Use the abbreviations only after a full name, never after just a last name. Lowercase titles unless they precede a name. Second and subsequent references generally use last names only. On first reference, use earned degree; on second reference, use Dr. and the person's last name only. Vice president has no hyphen. Titles such as CPA and APR should be preceded by a comma and should be written in full caps with no periods. When used after a name, a courtesy title is set off by a comma.The title Dr. may be used when the person holds an earned doctoral degree—either a PhD, EdD, DVM or MD. A Juris Doctorate (JD) is not considered a doctoral degree.

Wrong: Mr. Micawber, PhD
Wrong: Dr. Walter Bray, MD
Right: Julia Witterly, PhD (with comma after Witterly)
Right: Dr. Joseph Spangle
Right: Betsy Trotwood, PhD, will address the committee
Right: Peter Magnus, vice president
Right: Vice President for Enrollment Management and Student Affairs Emma Haredale
Right: Uriah Heep, CPA
Right: Martin Chuzzelwit, director of University Police

Courtesy titles such as Mr. and Ms. are generally not used in either first or subsequent references. Miss and Mrs. are antiquated titles and are not used.

  • Composition Titles

Capitalize the first word of any title. Capitalize all words that are four letters or longer. Do not capitalize the articles "a," "an" and "the." Do not capitalize conjunctions or prepositions, unless they are four letters or longer. Use italics for composition titles including books, plays, symphonies, movies and TV programs. Use quotations for articles, shorter compositions, dance pieces.

Right: The Elements of Style; Gone With the Wind
Right: "People" from Funny Girl; "Moving Midnight" from Danscore 2004
Right: "A Wise Skepticism: An Introduction to Book Reviewing," published in the 2003 American Theological Library Association Summary of Proceedings
Right: "Sport Fandom Influences, Interests and Behaviors Among Norwegian University Students," published in International Sports Journal, Winter 2009


When referring to the World Wide Web or its appropriate shorter form, the Web, capitalize; when referring to a spider's creation or related web (as in Shakespeare's "tangled web"), it's a common noun, so hence no initial capital. Website is one word.

Right: I don't know what I would do without Web access.
Right: She caught her long hair in a spider web in the basement.
Wrong: The College website is a versatile tool.

When using the College's Web address, always use In print materials, remove the hyperlink and underline and replace with bold font. If you are referring to a specific link, such as the Office of Undergraduate Admissions, use the full address without the http://.



Hyphenate this proper noun, the title of a federal student financial aid program, and remember to capitalize it.

Wrong: Five Work-study students work in the Office of Academic Advisement.
Right: Our Work-Study students are essential to office operations.

Last Updated 8/28/17

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