can, may

> See also: may, can


The following rules apply to running text (i.e., promotional copy in paragraph form in brochures, newsletters, magazine articles, flyers, and advertisements). These rules adhere to a "down" style of capitalization (i.e., a predominant practice of lowercasing words), which gives the copy a clean and modern look. Capitalization in other formats featuring lists or freestanding lines of text (e.g., memorandum headings, commencement programs, and invitations) may differ, often tending toward a more extensive use of capital letters.

Capitalize these elements

  1. Job titles that directly precede a proper name
    • Dean Lisa A. Tedesco
    • President Gregory L. Fenves
    • Associate Professor of Spanish Hernán Feldman 

  2. Named academic professorships and fellowships
    • Mary Emerson Professor of Piano William H. Ransom
    • Irwin T. Hyatt Jr. Professor Emeritus
    • Fulbright scholar

  3. Formal names of academic departments or administrative offices
    • Department of Biology, Office of the Provost

  4. Schools and divisions within Emory 
    • Goizueta Business School, School of Law, School of Medicine, Division of Campus Life
    • Lowercase general references to schools and divisions (when reference is ambiguous, use initial capital letters) such as business school, law school, medical school, campus life division
    • For specifics on second references see also: school names (Emory Specifics)

  5. Names of specific courses
    • Biology 101
    • History of Civilization
    • Note: no quotation marks or italics

  6. Names of specific programs
    • MBA Program
    • Emory Parent Giving Program
    • Lowercase second, truncated references to specific programs:
      Students in the business program enjoy its internship component.

  7. Names of past or future graduating classes
    • Class of 2018
    • Class of 2027

  8. Political divisions of the world (e.g., state, county) used as part of a proper name
    • DeKalb County

  9. Nouns designating specific regions of the United States and the world
    • the South, the East Coast, the Midwest, North Georgia
    • Example: The family is moving to western Australia.
      > See also: directions and regions

  10. Titles of awards, prizes, or scholarships, including nouns (e.g., award) if they are part of the title, but not articles, prepositions, or conjunctions within the title
    • Academy Award
    • Pulitzer Prize
    • International Music Scholarship
    • Woman of the Year Award

  11. Names of religious and secular holidays
    • Ash Wednesday
    • Memorial Day

  12. Both elements in hyphenated compounds in headlines
    • Post-Apocalyptic Ruin of Civilizations
    • Medium-Sized Libraries

  13. First elements are always capitalized in headlines or titles; subsequent elements are capped unless they are articles, prepositions, coordinating conjunctions, or such modifiers as flat or sharp following musical key symbols.
    • Out-of-Fashion Initiatives
    • Run-of-the-Mill Responses

  14. Second elements attached to prefixes are not capped unless the element is a proper noun or adjective.
    • Strategies for Re-establishment
    • Sexual Politics in the Post-Kennedy Administration
    • Pre-Raphaelite Paintings Revisited

  15. Full names of committees
    • The Office of Finance Budget Committee meets on the third Monday of each month.
    • The committee adjourned at 3:00 p.m.


The word chair is preferred.

> See also: sexism


No! No! A thousand times no! Other common transgressions: a tradition of excellence, caring professors, a quality education, close proximity.


Retain the hyphen when forming nouns, adjectives and verbs that indicate occupation or status. The goal is to aid the reader. Current practice is to close up the compounds, but where there is any danger of reader misunderstanding, retain the hyphen.

co-chair, co-owner, co-pilot, co-signer, co-sponsor

Use no hyphens in other combinations.

coauthor, coed, coeducation, coequal, coexist, coworker

collective nouns

Nouns that denote a unit—such as class, committee, faculty, family, group, team, and student body—take singular verbs and pronouns:

The faculty is delighted that the team has committed itself to higher academic standards.

In those instances in which the reference is to the individuals who are part of a particular unit, then the reference is plural:

The faculty are eating their slices of key lime pie.

> See also: faculty

Some words that are plural in form become collective nouns and take singular verbs when they represent a unit:

The data he produced is worthless.

Note: If you find yourself confused, rewrite the sentence.

colloquiums, colloquia

Webster’s lists colloquiums before colloquia.

commit, commitment, committed

Please exercise care with these commonly misspelled words.


> See: names of businesses

compare with versus compare to

Compare to is used to show how one item resembles another.

The boy compared his father’s head to an egg.
OR Shall I compare thee to a summer's day?

Compare with is used to show how one item differs from another.

The investigator compared the facts of the Rineman case with those of the Billings incident.

compose, comprise

Compose means “to create or assemble.”

The United States is composed of 50 states.

Comprise means “to embrace or contain.”

The United States comprises 50 states.
A zoo comprises mammals, reptiles, and birds (because it "embraces," or "includes," them).

Never use “comprised of”; use “composed of.”

compound words

Use a hyphen to separate a compound modifier that comes before the noun it modifies.

He was wearing a blue-green shirt.

The Vega Quartet are artists in residence at Emory.

Artist-in-residence Renée Fleming appears in concert next week.

Adverbs ending in -ly do not take a hyphen.

Emory Report is a widely distributed university publication.

computer and internet terms

Term or AbbreviationUsage or Definition
databaseone word
DMdirect message
emailno hyphen
Ethernetcapital "E"
homepageone word
hyphen v. dashan em dash can become garbled online; to avoid this, use hyphens or double hyphens ( -- ) with no space on either side
internetno longer capitalized
ISPinternet service provider
italicsfor visual clarity, minimize the use of italics online, especially in small font sizes
kilobytes512K, no space before capitalized K
laptopone word
listservlist server
login, logon, logoffone word as a noun; two words as a verb
megabytes1.3M, no space before capitalized M
offline, onlineno hyphen
PCpersonal computer (plural: PCs, no apostrophe)
quotation markstry to avoid the use of "smart" or "typeset style" quotes online as they may become garbled online (resulting in an upside-down question mark)
real time (n.); real-time (adj.)no information provided
RSSreally simple syndication OR rich site summary
SEOsearch engine optimization
software namesuse manufacturer's spelling, e.g., Macintosh, Apple iTunes, Microsoft PowerPoint
tweetTwitter entry
URLuniform resource locator
videoconference (n)one word
video conferencing (gerund)two words

Congressman, Congresswoman

Representative or US representative is preferred.

> See also: sexism


Although the word cooperative is written without hyphenation, its abbreviated form is hyphenated to prevent confusion with the word coop.

coursework (noun)

One word


> See: sports terms


Use this word to mean now, as opposed to the word presently, which means soon.

Currently, I am working on my master’s degree; I expect to finish it presently.

curricula, curriculums

Webster’s lists curricula before curriculums.

curriculum vita (singular), curricula vitae (plural)

cutlines (captions)

Whenever possible, use full sentences for captions, followed by a period.