Skip to content

Key Terms & Style

Northeastern’s editorial style adheres to The Associated Press Stylebook. Consult Webster’s New World College Dictionary and The Chicago Manual of Style for any spelling and grammar points that don’t appear in AP.

The following key terms cover items that don’t appear in the stylebook, items you’ll encounter frequently, or our exceptions  to AP style.



academic degrees

If mention of degrees is necessary to establish someone’s credentials, the preferred form is to avoid an abbreviation and instead to spell out the degree, major, and/or year of graduation: John Jones, who has a doctorate in psychology. Clare Smith, ’93, College of Art, Media and Design or Clare Smith, ’93, holds a bachelor’s [or graphic design] degree from the College of Art, Media and Design.

Make sure to use an apostrophe in bachelor’s degree, master’s degree, etc., but do not use the possessive in Bachelor of Arts or Master of Science. Also: an associate degree (no possessive).

Use degree abbreviations only when you need to identify several individuals by degree on first reference and when using the preferred form would be cumbersome. Use these abbreviations only after a full name—never after just a last name. When used after a name, an academic abbreviation is set off by commas: Jane Smith, PhD, spoke.

Use Dr. only for people who are physicians.

If you include both college/school affiliation and year of graduation for students or alumni, use Northeastern style for degrees (DMSB, for example). Use these college designations only for internal audiences who will understand what they are; otherwise, identify the college narratively.

accent marks

Northeastern style is to use accent marks per Webster’s New World College Dictionary. Note that the preferred Northeastern spelling of resumé is with an acute accent on the second e.

acronyms for organizations’ names

Follow AP style. The acronym may be used for the second mention of the organization; it’s not necessary to set the acronym in parentheses on first reference.


Spell with an -or.

African American

Don’t hyphenate compound ethnic terms such as African AmericanAsian AmericanLatin American, and Native American.

alumnus, alumni, alumna, alumnae, alum 

When referring to a graduate of the university, it’s acceptable to use alumnus for a man and alumna for a woman. Use alumni to refer to all-male or mixed-gender groups, alumnae for all-female groups. If a gender-neutral term is preferred, alum or alums is acceptable.


Hostility or prejudice against Jews. Note that the spelling has changed to antisemitism and antisemitic (not anti-Semitism and anti-Semitic).

Asian American

Don’t hyphenate compound ethnic terms such as African AmericanAsian AmericanLatin American, and Native American.


Big Data

Capitalize the B and the D.

Board of Trustees

Capitalize the B and T when referring to Northeastern’s Board of Trustees. Use lowercase letters when discussing a company’s board.



Follow AP style. For academic titles, do not capitalize unless the title appears as the official title preceding a person’s name. Use capital letters for named professorships (e.g., Matthews Distinguished University Professor of Psychology) and for University Distinguished Professors and Distinguished Professors (e.g., Distinguished Professor of International Business and StrategyUniversity Distinguished Professor of Pharmaceutical Sciences).


One word, no space.


Northeastern style is to use chair, not chairman or chairwoman.


Use Charlotte by itself in display type when referring to our global university system. Otherwise, follow AP style and include the state.


Below is a list of stand-alone U.S. and international city names, which also appears in The Associated Press Stylebook. For cities not listed below, include the state or country name. Spell out state names in running copy.

U.S. Cities

Las Vegas
Los Angeles
New Orleans
New York
Oklahoma City
St. Louis
Salt Lake City
San Antonio
San Diego
San Francisco

International Cities

Guatemala City
Hong Kong
Kuwait City
Mexico City
New Delhi
Panama City
Quebec City
Rio de Janeiro
San Marino
Sao Paolo
Vatican City

Class of

Capitalize the C when referring to a particular class with the year: The Class of 1992 celebrated its reunion.


To see a full listing of the formal names of colleges at Northeastern, as well as departments and programs, visit the Office of the Provost page.


Capitalize in all instances when referring to Northeastern’s Commencement. Use lowercase commencement if referring to graduation ceremonies at other institutions.

company names

Follow Associated Press style for external organizations and companies; style company names as the company refers to itself, including ampersands. The Associated Press Stylebook contains a list of major company names as a reference. For internal names of Northeastern departments, research centers, and institutes, do not use the ampersand; spell out and, regardless of how the entity styles its name.

composition titles

Follow The Chicago Manual of Style on this point. Use italics for book titles, journal titles, magazine titles, movie titles, play titles, newspaper names, and TV shows—not quotation marks. Use quotation marks for chapter titles, song titles, and poem titles. Note: Capitalize The in a newspaper’s or organization’s name if that’s the way the publication prefers to be known: She is a reporter at The New York Times. But use lowercase the before all newspaper names that appear in a list of papers, when some use the as part of the name but others do not. He is a reporter at the New York Post, the Boston Globe, the Financial Times, and the Wall Street Journal.


A term that has different meanings in different contexts. In Canada, this term is used for the formal ceremony where degree conferral takes place, so we use the term Convocation, instead of Commencement, when referring to a graduation ceremony at our Canadian campuses. At our undergraduate campuses in the U.S. and London, we use Convocation to refer to our first-year student welcome ceremony. Capitalize in all instances.  


This word is hyphenated and refers to cooperative education. Co-op, Northeastern’s signature learning program, integrates classroom study with professional work experience, usually related to a student’s major or field of interest. Northeastern undergraduates can take as many as three co-ops of up to six months duration each; more than nine out of 10 take at least one.

Co-op is also commonly used to refer to the work experience itself. Jane did a chemistry co-op at Amgen in California. Many of Northeastern’s professional master’s programs—and increasingly, PhDs—include co-op-like experiences, but these should not be referred to as co-ops. See experiential learning for more.

cooperative education

Cooperative is never hyphenated.

course titles

Capitalize course titles following headline style and put them in quotation marks: “Principles of Macroeconomics.”

courtesy titles

Do not use courtesy titles in running text (Mr.Ms., etc.), except as requested in formal, event-based content. When distinguishing between two people with the same last name—married couples or siblings—use the first and last name on first reference, and first names only after that.


Use without a hyphen for any word that begins with a consonant (cybersecuritycyberterrorist).


D’Amore-McKim School of Business

Write out the full name D’Amore-McKim School of Business the first time the school is mentioned. On second reference, it’s acceptable to use D’Amore-McKim, instead of writing out the entire name again. The alumni read about the new D’Amore-McKim program on entrepreneurship. Jane Smith is a second-year D’Amore-McKim student.


One word, no space.

degree codes

Use degree or college codes of alumni only in internally facing communications. For externally facing communications, spell out the college, major, degree, and/or year of graduation in a manner that supports the narrative.

For an internal audience: Jane Smith, L’13, was just named a partner of the law firm. 

For an external audience: Jane Smith, who graduated from Northeastern’s School of Law in 2013, was just named a partner of the law firm.


Capitalize the name of the department only when the proper name is used. For instance, use the Department of Biology or the biology department, not the Biology Department.


The terms disabilities and disabled include a range of physical and mental conditions, both visible and invisible. Use care and precision when writing about disabilities and people with disabilities, taking into accout the impact of specific terms and the preferences of the people you are writing about.

Avoid wording that suggests ableism, which is the belief that typical abilities—those of people who aren’t disabled —are superior. Ableism is similar to racism, sexism, and ageism; it includes stereotypes, generalizations, and demeaning views and language. Ableism is a form of discrimination or prejudice against people with disabilities.

In describing groups of people, or when individual preferences can’t be determined, use person-first language, such as a student with autism or a student who has autism

When possible, ask people how they prefer to be described. Some people view their disability as central to their identity and use identity-first language, such as an autistic woman or an autistic. Others prefer person-first language. 

In general, refer to a disability only if it’s relevant to the content, and if the person uses the term or if a medical diagnosis has been made. 

Avoid the term handicap for a disability or handicapped for a person.

doctoral student

Use doctoral student for a student in a doctoral program. Do not use doctoral candidate without confirmation from our university registrar.

double degree

Students at Northeastern University London who pursue this undergraduate option earn two degrees. The first is the Northeastern University London degree in the U.K., awarded after the successful completion of three years. The second is the Northeastern University degree in the U.S., awarded after the successful completion of the fourth year at either Northeastern’s Boston or Oakland campuses. Always use double degree, never dual degree.

double Husky

Use a lowercase d and uppercase H for this term, which applies to alumni who hold two degrees from Northeastern.


emerita, emeriti, emeritus

An honor earned upon retirement from the faculty or other group (use emeritus for a man; emerita for a woman; emeritae for a group of women; emeriti for a group of men or men and women).


The British spelling of enroll. Use this spelling in our Canadian and London locations.


Northeastern’s distinctive approach to learning for undergraduate and graduate students alike, and always styled lowercase. Co-op is the flagship experiential program, but by no means the only one. Research, community service, and study abroad are other ways that Northeastern students learn through experience. Students in many professional graduate programs, including some in online or hybrid formats, have opportunities for project-based experiences or corporate residencies. The university is also pushing students to be more aware of what they are learning in their extracurricular activities on campus and defining that as a component of experiential learning.

Part of Northeastern 2025, the university’s 10-year academic plan, is focused on expanding experiential learning beyond undergraduate programs. Below are our other signature experiential programs and initiatives.

It’s important to be able to communicate fluidly about what these programs are and why they’re different from traditional internships.

Undergraduate research is experiential. It can be pursued as a formal co-op placement at a research organization; through an externally funded initiative such as the NSF-sponsored Research Experiences for Undergraduates program; or by working as a member of a Northeastern faculty lab for a summer, a semester, or an academic year.

Community service is experiential and can be done through a co-op placement in the U.S. or abroad. But it also can be pursued through Northeastern’s service-learning courses, where professors assign students to real-world projects with partner community-based partners as part of the curriculum.

The Experiential Network, or XN, provides students in many professional graduate programs, including some in online or hybrid formats, with opportunities for corporate residencies or project-based experiences that can be done remotely in the evenings and on weekends.

Northeastern offers study-abroad opportunities similar to those at many universities. Students study at one of Northeastern’s partner academic institutions during their fall, spring, or summer session.

Bachelor of Science in International Business at Northeastern is a hybrid of study-abroad and global co-op offered through the D’Amore-McKim School of Business for international business majors. Students study abroad in one of nine locations for one semester, and then do a six-month-long co-op at a multinational company.

 Dialogue of Civilizations is Northeastern’s short-term summer study-abroad program (typically one month). These are faculty-led and center on specific topics and academic projects ranging from research to producing a body of artwork.

experiential PhD

The university’s approach to research-based doctoral studies, formally introduced in 2018. Students embed with a partnering company or organization on a project aligned with their own doctoral research.



Use female as an adjective, not woman.

Correct: She is the first female governor of North Carolina. 

Incorrect: She is the first woman governor.



Respect a person’s chosen personal pronoun. Some transgender and gender-expansive people identify as heshe, or ze, but some may identify as both male and female or neither. When writing about people who identify as neither male nor female or ask not to be referred to as he/him or she/her, use the person’s name in place of a pronoun, or otherwise reword the sentence whenever possible. If the person prefers to use the pronouns they/them/their, then explain in the text that the person prefers a gender-neutral pronoun (For example: Jordan prefers a gender-neutral pronoun). Be sure that your phrasing does not imply more than one person. 

For gender-specific terms and titles, use the gender-neutral version. For example, use chair instead of chairmanmail carrier instead of mailman, and firefighter instead of fireman.

When referring to Northeastern graduates, we recommend using the word alumni because it’s nonbinary. If your audience particularly prefers a more expansive use of gender-neutral language, you may use alumnx instead.

gender bias

Use gender-neutral language: actor, not actressAnchor, not anchorman or anchorwoman. For the Board of Trustees list, use chair, not chairman or chairwoman.

global university system

This term describes Northeastern’s expansion of its research and education enterprise around the world. The system comprises the university’s locations in Boston; Arlington, Virginia; Burlington, Massachusetts; Charlotte, North Carolina; London; Miami; Nahant, Massachusetts; Oakland, California; Portland, Maine; Seattle; Silicon Valley; Toronto; and Vancouver. It also includes our 300,000-plus alumni around the world, more than 3,500 employer partners, corporate learning partners, and research collaborators. The term  global university system  is not a brand and should be lowercase when used. When discussing one of our locations, use  Northeastern in rather than a hyphen or other punctuation: He earned a degree at Northeastern in Seattle. He earned his degree at Northeastern’s Seattle campus. Note that the exception to this rule is Northeastern University London.



One word, no space for use as a noun or adjective.


Capitalize when referring to the Northeastern event held each fall.

Honors Living Learning Community

Capitalize the name of Northeastern’s Honors Living Learning Community.

honors student

Use a lowercase h unless you’re using the full name of the University Honors Program.


This innovative curriculum serves as a cornerstone of Northeastern’s academic programs. It integrates three literacies—technology, data, and human—to help students understand and apply knowledge in today’s tech-driven economy and build capacity for creativity and mental agility. The term humanics is academic and should be avoided in external advertising and most marketing materials. 

Below are three options for describing the curriculum while avoiding the term:

Northeastern is pioneering a unique curriculum designed to prepare students to thrive in an age of increasingly intelligent machines. We integrate three areas of learning: human literacies, such as teamwork, creativity, and empathy; data literacies, the ability to make meaning out of the sea of information being generated by the digital world; and technological literacies, to understand the possibilities and limitations of new technologies.

Northeastern’s unique curriculum integrates human literacies—such as teamwork and creativity—with knowledge of data and emerging technologies, empowering students to thrive in an age of computing and artificial intelligence.

Our innovative curriculum integrates learning in technological, data, and human literacies, empowering students in an age of artificial intelligence.


Northeastern’s nickname. Its main use is for referring to a Northeastern athletic team. But it can also be used in certain additional contexts within Northeastern, such as campus recreation and to inspire school spirit.

hyphenated compounds in headlines

Use these guidelines for capitalizing hyphenated terms in a title or heading:

Always capitalize the first word in the heading.

Capitalize subsequent words except for articles, prepositions, or conjunctions (such as andbutforornor).

If the first element is a prefix or combining form that could not stand by itself as a word (anti-, pre-, etc.), do not capitalize the second element unless it’s a proper noun or proper adjective.

Capitalize the second element in a hyphenated simple fraction (two-thirds in two-thirds majority).

Examples: What It Takes to Write a Best-SellerSelf-Fulfilling PropheciesAnti-intellectualism in Modern Life


Impact Engines

Our faculty and partners organize and collaborate in teams we call Impact Engines that bridge disciplines, organizations, and sectors. These flexible teams approach problems holistically, translating new knowledge into actionable solutions to advance humankind. As teams generate solutions, some disband and reassemble to focus on a new set of challenges. Others form permanent research centers and institutes with longer-term goals and agendas.  

institute names

It’s preferable to use the full name of the research center or institute on first reference, and the institute on subsequent references. If you have a limited word count or you’re writing about several institutes repeatedly, then acronyms may be used on subsequent reference. The recommended acronyms for our interdisciplinary institutes are as follows:

Institute for Chemical Imaging of Living Systems—CILS

Coastal Sustainability Institute—CSI

Cybersecurity and Privacy Institute—CPI

Institute for Experiential Robotics—IER 

Global Resilience Institute—GRI 

Institute for Experiential AI—EAI

Kostas Research Institute LLC—Kostas Institute (Note that if you’re writing about Northeastern labs—such as ALERT or the STReSS Lab—at the Kostas Institute, then LLC need not be included in the name. If you’re writing about Department of Defense programs at the Kostas Institute, then the name should include LLC.)

Network Science Institute—NSI 

Roux Institute at Northeastern University—Roux Institute (See complete entry under R.)

Institute for the Wireless Internet of Things—WIOT



Often the preferred noun or adjective for someone from, or whose ancestors were from, a Spanish-speaking land or culture or from Latin America. Use Latina when referring to a girl or woman. Some prefer the recently coined gender-neutral term Latinx, which should be confined to quotations, names of organizations or descriptions of individuals who request it and should be accompanied by a short explanation. Hernandez prefers the gender-neutral term Latinx. For groups of females, use the plural Latinas; for groups of males or of mixed gender, use the plural Latinos. Hispanic is also generally acceptable for those in the U.S. Use a more specific identification when possible, such as CubanPuerto RicanBrazilian or Mexican American.

lecturer, senior lecturer, principal lecturer

Note that these terms are not proper nouns, so they do not require capitalization.


Acceptable in all references for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender, or lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer, and/or questioning, plus other sexual and gender minorities. In quotations and the formal names of organizations and events, other forms such as LGBTQIA and other variations are also acceptable with the other letters explained. Use of LGBT or LGBTQ+ is best as an adjective and an umbrella term, not to describe individuals. Smith joined the LGBTQ+ student group. 

Avoid using the word queer, unless a person or organization self-identifies using the term. The word queer is not universally accepted among LGBTQ+ people.

lifelong learning

Use lowercase for this term, which refers to professional master’s degrees, certificates, badges, and other learning credentials.



Academic majors should appear in lowercase, except for any proper nouns that are part of the major’s name. Use combined major, not dual majorNortheastern has specific combined majors.


Use lowercase for this term.


When a month is coupled with a specific date, abbreviate only these months of the year: Jan.Feb.Aug.Sept., Oct.Nov., and Dec. Exceptions to this rule may be made when the specific date appears in display type, as in a poster or advertisement. In formal invitations, always spell out the name of the month.

more than, over, older than

Over refers to spatial relationships: The plane flew over the village. Use more than to discuss quantity or numeric amounts: She donated more than $5,000 this year. When referring to age, use older thanAll students older than 18 may attend the event.

most important

Not most importantly.


Native American

Don’t hyphenate compound ethnic terms such as African AmericanAsian AmericanLatin American, and Native American.

Northeastern vs. Northeastern University

In narrative copy, use Northeastern University on first reference for external audiences, and Northeastern on subsequent references. For internal audiences, including alumni, Northeastern may be used on first reference.


Use only in the following contexts: social media icons, student groups, and informal correspondence. Never use NEU, which is an outdated abbreviation.


Spell out numbers one through nine; use numerals for 10 and above. Formal publications, such as invitations from the Office of the President and the Commencement program, should spell out numerals 10 to 99 (at ten o’clock in the morning). See The Associated Press Stylebook for detailed rules on numerals.

numeric range

For the sake of parallel construction, the word to, not an en dash, should be used if the word from precedes the first element in a pair. Likewise, the word and, not an en dash, should be used if between precedes the first element.

These constructions are correct: The years 1993–2000 were exciting ones for Northeastern students. She attended Northeastern from 2000 to 2005.

This construction is incorrect: He worked at Northeastern from 2008–2011.


page numbers

Use a lowercase p and an Arabic numeral: He turned to the story on page 8.


Northeastern’s mascot. Just add an apostrophe to form the possessive: Paws’ (no additional s).

phone numbers

For phone numbers in the U.S. and Canada, use periods (not hyphens or parentheses): 617.373.500

For phone numbers in the U.K., use spaces (and hyphens as necessary). Landline numbers require space after the initial zero of the area code: 020 7637 4550

In address constructions, do not include (phone) as an identifier. If multiple phone numbers are listed, include identifiers in parentheses only as needed to improve clarity. Include (fax) to distinguish from phone number. 

617.373.5001 (mobile)
617.373.5100 (fax)


One word, no hyphen.

professor of the practice, distinguished professor of the practice

Note that these are not proper nouns, so they do not require capitalization. In addition, a faculty member may be referred to as a professor of the practice of [academic discipline]: She is a professor of the practice of journalism.

Public Art Initiative

Use title case when referring to Northeastern’s presidential initiative, launched in 2014, to bring more art to public spaces campuswide.


ampersand—Do not use the ampersand as part of any internal Northeastern department, major, college, school, or center name; instead, spell out and. Use the ampersand only for external organizations if it’s an official part of the company name.

em dash—Do not use spaces—before or after—the em dash in either online or printed material: Richard’s first boat—a 10-foot sailboat—fueled his lifelong interest in being at sea.

en dash—Use en dash for numeric ranges: 5–10 samples.

hyphens—Follow AP style. Use a hyphen following the prefix co– when applied to occupation or status: co-author.

periods in phone numbers—Use periods (not hyphens or parentheses) for U.S. and Canadian phone numbers. In address constructions, do not include (phone) as an identifier. If multiple phone numbers are offered, include identifiers in parentheses only as needed to improve clarity. Include (fax) to distinguish from phone number.
617.373.5001 (TTY)
617.373.5100 (fax)

serial comma—Use a serial comma before the word and when listing a series of items. Example: scallops, oysters, and clams.



May be used as an abbreviation for research and development.

race-related terms

Use these guidelines when writing about race and ethnicity.

Black (adj.)—Use the capitalized term as an adjective in a racial, ethnic, or cultural sense: Black peopleBlack cultureBlack literatureBlack colleges. Use of the capitalized Black recognizes that language has evolved, along with the common understanding that especially in the United States, the term reflects a shared identity and culture rather than a skin color alone. Note that African American is also acceptable for those in the U.S. The terms Black and African American are not necessarily interchangeable; Americans of Caribbean heritage, for example, generally refer to themselves as Caribbean American.

Indigenous (adj.)—Capitalize this term used to refer to original inhabitants of a place. Bolivia’s Indigenous peoples constitute a majority of the population.

brown (adj.)—Avoid this broad and imprecise term in racial, ethnic, or cultural references unless it’s part of a direct quotation. Interpretations of what the term includes vary widely.

white (adj.)—Use lowercase.

Black(s), white(s) (n.)—Do NOT use either term as a singular noun. For plurals, use phrasing such as Black peoplewhite peopleBlack teacherswhite students is often preferable when clearly relevant. The plural nouns Blacks and whites are generally acceptable when clearly relevant and needed for reasons of space or sentence construction: The policy helps integrate neighborhoods among Blacks, whites, Latinos, and Asian Americans.

BIPOC—Avoid using this abbreviation, except for direct quotations; explain the term if it’s used.

residence hall

Not dormitory or dorm.


Use an acute accent over the final e.

The Roux Institute

Use a capital T for headlines or at the beginning of a sentence. In narrative text, lowercase theWhen you enroll at the Roux Institute, you’ll have opportunities to complete co-ops and special projects with our employer partners. On second reference, both the institute and the Roux are acceptable: Generous need-based scholarships of up to 80% of tuition are available from the Roux. Parking is available at the institute’s new facility in downtown Portland.



Lowercase springsummerfall, and winter, unless usage is part of a formal name: Winter Olympics. Use lowercase when referring to academic terms: fall semester, spring quarter.


One word, no hyphen.

state names

Spell out state names that follow the name of a city or town; do not abbreviate state names in running text. Example: He works at Northeastern’s Marine Science Center in Nahant, Massachusetts (not Nahant, Mass.) Certain major city names should continue to stand alone in running text. Example: Following graduation, she continued to live in Boston. Refer to the cities entry above for a list of these stand-alone city names.

street names

Spell out streetavenue, etc., when the street name stands alone. Abbreviate the street name when it’s part of an address: The group of students was looking for 360 Huntington Ave.


Hyphenate this term.



Use a.m. and p.m. in copy, except for the most formal presidential invitations where in the morning or in the afternoon should be used: at four o’clock in the afternoon.


Not towards.



The word university should appear as lowercase when it refers to Northeastern.


Do not hyphenate this word.

University Honors Program

Capitalize the name of Northeastern’s honors program, but use lowercase for honors student.

use-inspired research 

The intent and purpose behind all research at Northeastern. Even when our faculty researchers seek to solve a fundamental problem within their discipline—or “basic” research—their goal is to yield a discovery that unlocks the solution to a societal problem.



Use a lowercase w when referring to the World Wide Web.


The word website should appear as one word, all lowercase.


Do not use a hyphen (campuswidenationwidestatewideuniversitywide).


Note that not all links work without the www prefix. It is important to check all links before you publicize a URL, and to confirm a URL works without the www. For ease of readability, use the briefest URL that will work.

By working together, our brand is stronger. The university has a strict Brand Governance policy for review and approval of all media plans and creative assets before they go into market.

We use cookies to improve your experience on our sites. By continuing to use our sites, you agree to our Privacy Statement.