Style Guide and Reference Manual

A / B / C / D / E / F / G / H / I / J / K / L / M / N / O / P / Q / R / S / T / U / V / W / X / Y / Z / #


abbreviations — include an unfamiliar abbreviation in parenthesis after a proper noun before using it on second reference: Board of Zoning Adjustment (BZA).

Academic Center
— the primary academic building on campus that consists of three halls: Phillips Hall, Rome Hall, and Smith Hall of Art. If possible, identify the specific hall when referring to events: Academic Center, Rome Hall 310.

Adams House — townhouses where central development offices are located.

Admissions, Office of — formal (capped), or admissions office (lowercase).

adopt, approve, enact, pass — amendments, ordinances, resolutions, and rules are adopted or approved. Bills are passed. Laws are enacted.

advancement, vice president for — leads the University Development Office.

adviser — not advisor; advisory, advisory councils are acceptable.

ages — always use figures; ages expressed as adjectives before a noun or as substitutes for a noun use hyphens: a 28-year-old man, but the man is 28 years old.

all time, all-time — an all-time high, but the greatest runner of all time.

Alma Mater, GW — lowercase when referring to other alma mater’s.

Alumni House — home of the Office of Alumni Relations (alumni relations for informal cases); built in the 1850s and is one of 10 GW buildings listed on the National Register of Historic Buildings.

Alumni Weekend — previously held in September, the weekend was combined with Family Weekend and is now known as Colonials Weekend.

alumnus, alumni, alumna, alumnae — use alumnus when meaning a man who has graduated, alumna for a woman. Use alumni for an entire group of graduates and a group of graduated men; use alumnae for a group of women who have graduated.

am, pm — when referring to time. See time.

Ambulatory Care Center

another — not a synonym for additional; means a duplication of a previously stated quantity: three faculty members attended Tuesday; another three attended Wednesday.


Archives, University — Archives is acceptable on second reference when meaning the University’s collection.

Aston, The — residence hall.

Athletics, Department of — Athletics Department is also acceptable on first reference.

athletics director

Atlantic 10 — use A-10 on second reference when referring to the athletic conference the Colonials belong to. The other institutions include: Dayton (Flyers), Duquesne (Dukes), Fordham (Rams), La Salle (Explorers), Massachusetts (Minutemen), Rhode Island (Rams), Richmond (Spiders), St. Bonaventure (Bonnies), St. Joseph’s (Hawks), Temple (Owls), and Xavier (Musketeers).

author — a noun; do not use it as a verb.


Bell Hall — academic building that faces the University Yard.

Board of Chaplains

Board of Trustees — capitalize when referring to GW’s Board of Trustees; the Board and the Trustees are acceptable on subsequent references. Capitalize before an individual’s name: The Chair of the Board of Trustees Charles T. Manatt.

Board of Zoning Adjustment
— spell out on first reference; BZA acceptable in subsequent references. The District of Columbia’s government arm that approves university 10-year campus plans, as well as other matters.

Bookstore, University — the University Bookstore is located in the Marvin Center. Lowercase on subsequent reference: the bookstore.

buildings — use street addresses for those buildings without names instead of the former identifiers: 812 20th St. instead of Building YY.

Burns Law Library
— acceptable on first reference. Named for Jacob Burns.

business school — see School of Business and Public Management.

ByGeorge! — the official name of the University’s bi-weekly faculty/staff newspaper. Italicize on all references.


Campus Plan — refers to GW’s formal plan submitted to the DC government.


cancel, canceled, canceling, cancellation

Capitol, US

Capitol Hill — use both words on first reference; the Hill is acceptable on subsequent references.

Career Center

Cashier’s Office — capitalize on all references.


centers/institutes — capitalize proper names: Center for History in the Media. The center or the institute are acceptable on subsequent references if it is clear there is only one.

Centuries Campaign — on second reference: the campaign.

— not chairman, chairwoman, or chairperson.

Charles E. Smith Center — Smith Center acceptable on first reference. Hosts GW’s intercollegiate athletics programs including basketball, volleyball, swimming & diving, water polo, and gymnastics. Athletic administration and coach offices are located in the Smith Center, as are the AD’s Club and varsity sports weight rooms. Used for other events such as concerts and school graduation ceremonies. Named for famed DC developer Charles E. Smith.

Cherry Tree — italicize the name of the yearbook.

City Hall — residence hall.

Club, University — the University Club is located at 1918 F St.

collective nouns — Many words (including faculty, committee, board, team, class, public, group, and data) can be both singular and plural. The choice of a singular or plural verb depends upon whether the intent is to refer to the group as a whole or to the members of the group. For clarity, it helps to add “members of:” The faculty of our department is highly respected in international professional circles. OR The faculty in our department are highly respected. (It depends on whether you want to emphasize the group as a whole or the individuals in the group. Sometimes it matters; sometimes it doesn't.)

College of Professional Studies — use on first reference. CPS acceptable on second reference. The newest of the nine degree-granting colleges, it is the entity that houses all professional degree programs taught at area businesses and government agencies. The for-profit arm is called GW Solutions.

Colonial Inauguration
— CI is acceptable on subsequent references.

Colonials — nickname for all GW’s NCAA athletic teams. Do not use “Colonial” because it is not the official name. If you are describing a player, use: “Mark Lund is a consistent Colonials player,” instead of “Mark Lund is a consistent Colonial.” In terms of apostrophes and possessives, if it works without the apostrophe, don’t use it: “Colonials men’s basketball coach Karl Hobbs.” If you can substitute “George Washington” (minus the “The”) or “GW,” then it’s usually an adjective and does not need an apostrophe. Usually the word “the” is a tipoff that a possessive is called for: “The Colonials’ soccer program.” Also, never use “lady Colonials” or “women Colonials.”

Colonnade Gallery
— located on the third floor of the Marvin Center.

Columbian College of Arts and Sciences — use on first reference. Columbian College or CCAS on second reference. The largest of the nine degree-granting colleges, it houses the traditional arts and sciences, as well as the School of Media and Public Affairs and the Graduate School of Political Management. Founded in 1821 as the original college of liberal arts and sciences.

commas — use serial commas (before the final element in a list): deans, professors, and students.

Commencement — capitalize only when referring to a specific one: Participants in the May 1999 Commencement enjoyed sunny skies.

Community Living and Learning Center — use on first reference. CLLC is acceptable on second reference.

compose, comprise, constitute — compose means to create or put together. Comprise means to be made up of. "Comprised of" is redundant. Constitute means to be the elements of and may work best when neither compose nor comprise seem to fit.

Congress — capitalize when referring to the US Senate and House of Representatives.

congressional, congressman, congresswoman

Corcoran Hall — academic building. One of 10 GW buildings listed on the National Register of Historic Buildings.

Council of Deans

couple of — “of” is necessary: a couple of days (instead of “a couple days”).

course names — place quotes around a formal course name: “Qualitative Media Research Methods.”

Crawford Hall — residence hall.

“Crossfire” — on first reference, use CNN in the same sentence to indicate the network’s television program that airs from the Jack Morton Auditorium.


Dakota — residence hall.

data — a plural noun: the data have been carefully collected.

dates — use an en dash for continuing or inclusive numbers: The 2001-02 academic year begins Aug. 27. Do not use a hyphen as a substitute for the word to: She taught in the chemistry department from 1995 to 1999. NOT: She taught in the chemistry department from 1995–1999.

Davis-Hodgkins House

DC, the District

DC Metropolitan Police Department — Metropolitan Police Department acceptable on subsequent references; use DC Police sparingly to avoid repetition.

Dean — capitalize when used before a name, lowercase in all other references: Law School Dean Michael Young, SBPM Dean Susan Phillips, Mary Futrell, GSEHD dean.

Dean of Students — capitalize when used before a name, lowercase in all other references.

degrees — do not use periods when abbreviated: BA, MA, BS, MS, MBA, PhD, etc.; lowercase when spelled out: bachelor’s/master’s degree, bachelor/master of arts degree, doctoral degree, associate's degree. When referring to someone, identify the degree followed by school and year: Suzann Vogel (BA, SMPA ’01) will reside in Philadelphia.

departments — capitalize formal name: Department of History, Department of East Asian Studies, Department of American Studies; lowercase informal reference: history department. Capitalize language and country-related departments on informal references: English department, East Asian studies, American studies department, etc.

Dimock Gallery

Disabled Student Services



Ellipse, the — the historic park located between the White House and the Washington Monument where GW has held commencement since 1992.

Elliott School of International Affairs — Elliott School is acceptable on second reference, as is ESIA. One of GW’s nine degree-granting programs, it was founded in 1898. Named in 1988 for the University’s 14th president, Lloyd Elliott (1965-1988).

E-mail — italicize all addresses: his E-mail address is

emeritus/emerita/emeriti — honorary title for retired professor: emeritus for male professors, emerita for female professors, emeriti for plural. GW professors belong the the Society of the Emeriti.

engineering school — see School of Engineering and Applied Science.

Eye Street — not I Street (to avoid confusion with Roman numerals).


faculty — a collective noun referring to an institution’s entire teaching staff. It takes a singular verb. Do not use to mean professors. To refer to the individuals who are part of a faculty, faculty members is preferred: The faculty voted to develop a mentoring program. Ten faculty members volunteered to serve as mentors.

Faculty Senate — use on first reference, Senate acceptable on second reference.

Fight Song, GW

Financial Assistance, Office of — acceptable on first reference. Use financial assistance office on subsequent references; do not use financial aid.

Foggy Bottom — the historic neighborhood GW is a part of. The Foggy Bottom Association is the neighborhood group.

Fulbright Hall
— residence hall named after GW alum and former senator William Fulbright.

full time, full-time — hyphenate when used as a compound modifier: She works full time. She works as a full-time professor.

fund raising, fund-raising, fund-raiser

Funger Hall — academic building.


GW — acceptable on all references.

GWorld Card

GW Graphic Design

GW Magazine
— italicize on all references.

Gelman Library — the University’s primary library. Named for Melvin Gelman.

George Washington University, The — preferred style on first reference for the University (note the capital “The”).

George Washington University Inn, The

Government, Hall of — Hall of Government on first reference; academic building.

government, international, and corporate affairs, vice president for

graduate assistants — GA’s acceptable on subsequent references.

Graduate School of Education and Human Development — use on first reference. GSEHD is acceptable on second reference. Do not use education school since the program provides classes and degrees for human resource specialists, museum educators, etc., with a total of 20 fields from which to study.

gray — not grey (except greyhound).

Great Hall — located in the Marvin Center; opening May 2002.

grounds department — lowercase when standing by itself, GW Grounds Department in other cases.

GPA — acceptable on first reference for grade point average.

Guthridge Hall — residence hall.



Hall on Virginia Avenue — residence hall located across from the Watergate. Use HOVA on subsequent references.

Hatchet, The GW — always italicize the name of the student newspaper.

Health and Wellness Center, Lerner Family — use on first reference. Health and Wellness Center acceptable on subsequent references. This is the University fitness center that opened in summer 2001.

Himmelfarb Library
— acceptable on first reference for the medical school library. Named for Paul Himmelfarb.

Honors Program, University — the University Honors Program on first reference, the honors program on second reference. GW’s Honors Program is also acceptable.

Hospital, University — University Hospital or GW Hospital on first reference for the existing building. Use replacement hospital for the new building being constructed across the street.

Human Resource Services — acceptable on first reference. Use GW Human Resources, HRS, or human resources on subsequent references.



Information Systems and Services — use on first reference, ISS on subsequent references.

institutes — see centers/institutes.

Interactive Multimedia Applications Group — use on first reference, IMAG on subsequent ones, when referring to the office that coordinates the University’s Web site and other computer applications.

International House — residence hall, formerly known as Riverside Towers Hall.

International Monetary Fund — IMF is acceptable on subsequent references.

International Services Office



J Street — food court located in the Marvin Center; named because DC does not have a J Street.

Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis Hall — residence hall; JBKO Hall acceptable on subsequent references.


“Kalb Report” — use quotes around name of public affairs program sponsored, in part, by GW.

Kennedy Center, the — acceptable on first reference. Identify specific stages, halls, etc., by using the following style: the Kennedy Center’s Millennium Stage.

Key Hall — residence hall.

Kogan Plaza — located in the middle of campus, acts as a gathering area for community members. Named after Barton Kogan.


Lafayette Hall — residence hall.

Law School — use GW Law School or Law School on first and subsequent references. LAW is the school abbreviation. One of the nine degree-granting schools at the University, it was established in 1865 and is the oldest law school in DC.

Lenthall Houses — built in 1800, they are used to house visiting faculty. One of 10 GW buildings listed on the National Register of Historic Buildings.

Lerner Hall — academic building; one of four buildings that comprise the Law School.

libraries — five libraries comprise GW’s library system: Gelman Library, Burns Law Library, Himmelfarb Library, Eckles Library, and the Virginia Campus Library. See Burns Law Library, Gelman Library, Himmelfarb Library.

Lincoln Memorial

Lisner Auditorium — hosts performing arts and other events in the 1,490-seat facility. One of 10 GW buildings listed on the National Register of Historic Buildings.

Lisner Hall — academic building that faces the University Yard.


Madison Hall — residence hall.

Marvin Center — the student union building that includes J Street food court, theaters, ballrooms, conference centers, Hippodrome, bookstore, lounges, administrative, and student offices. Named for Cloyd Heck Marvin, the University’s 12th president (1927-1959).

Marvin Theatre — use on first reference. Official name is Dorothy Betts Marvin Theatre. Use theater for the common noun.

media — a plural noun: The media have begun to cover educational issues more frequently.

Media and Public Affairs Building — MPA Building is acceptable on second reference. Opened in 2001, the building houses the School of Media and Public Affairs, the Graduate School of Political Management, public policy and public administration programs, GW Television, the University Art Gallery, and a 258-seat auditorium, which hosts CNN’s “Crossfire” every night.

medical school — see School of Medicine and Health Sciences and School of Public Health and Health Services.

Metro — capitalize when referring to the mass transit system. GW is located at the Foggy Bottom Metro Station on the Blue/Orange lines.

Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools — regional accrediting agency that GW is accredited by. Middle States is acceptable on subsequent references.


Mitchell Hall — residence hall.

months — (follow Associated Press Style) capitalize the names of months in all uses. When a month is used with a specific date, abbreviate only Jan., Feb., Aug., Sept., Oct., Nov., and Dec. Spell out when using alone, or with a year alone.

Monroe Hall — academic building.

Mount Vernon Campus — use on first reference. Subsequent references include Mount Vernon Campus or MVC. In 1997, GW became affiliated with the former women’s college located on Foxhall Road in Northwest DC. The 26-acre campus includes: Eckles Memorial Library, Somers Hall, Ames Hall, Clark Hall, Hensley Hall, Pellham Hall, Merriweather Hall, Post Hall, Cole Hall, Florence Hollis Hand Chapel.

Mount Vernon Athletic Field — the home for NCAA soccer and lacrosse.

Multicultural Student Services Center

Munson Hall — residence hall.


National Press Club, The

NCAA — acceptable on all references. Stands for the National Collegiate Athletic Association, which GW is a member of.

New Hall — residence hall; most recently constructed residence hall on campus (1997).

Newman Catholic Student Center
— Newman Center is acceptable on subsequent references.

newspapers, magazines — italicize in all references. Capitalize and include “The” if it is part of the publication’s name: The Washington Post, Los Angeles Times.

noncredit, nondegree, nonmajor


numbers — follow AP Style: spell out numbers one through nine (except in the case of ages and percentages, always use numbers); use numerals for anything 10 or higher. Spell out all numbers at the beginning of a sentence or rephrase the sentence to avoid beginning with a number.


off campus — (preposition + noun): The meeting will be held off campus.

off-campus — (adjective; hyphenated when it immediately precedes a noun): Students are searching for off-campus housing.

OK — not “okay.”

on campus — (preposition + noun): The meeting will be held on campus.

on-campus — (adjective; hyphenated when it immediately precedes a noun): First-year students are assigned on-campus housing.


Parking Services

Pennsylvania House — residence hall.

percent — always use numbers: 3 percent, 87 percent, etc. Do not use the percent sign.

Phillips Hall — one of the three buildings that comprise the Academic Center.

phone numbers — for DC numbers, do not use area code; for other numbers, use area code with a forward slash: 703/555-1212. For GW numbers, always use 994.

professor titles — capitalize before names: Professor of Law Jack Friedenthal. Lowercase when used after a name: Jack Friedenthal, professor of law. In cases that are not clear as to what school the professor comes from, add the appropriate school abbreviation: Aseem Prakash, assistant professor of strategic management and public policy and international affairs, SBPM. Capitalize endowed professorships: Gustavo Hormiga, Weintraub Professor of Biology.

Professors, University — the highest professorial status at GW. The preference is to use the capitalized title before a name so as to avoid confusion if used after a name.

Prometheus — GW’s course-based software that students and faculty members use to supplement and enhance the classroom experience. Developed at GW, but now owned by Blackboard.


Quigley’s — now the department of geography, but formerly a pharmacy.


— capitalize Office of the University Registrar; registrar’s office is lowercase on subsequent references.

Rice Hall — main administration building on campus which houses the University President, vice president for academic affairs, vice president for student and academic support, Office of University Relations, etc.

Riverside Towers Hall — do not use: now known as International House.

Rome Hall — one of the three buildings that comprise the Academic Center.

Ross Hall — academic (medical) building.


Samson Hall — academic building.

Schenley Hall — residence hall.

School of Business and Public Management — spell out on first reference; SBPM acceptable on subsequent references and headlines. Use business school sparingly. One of the nine degree-granting schools at the University, it was established in 1899. Main offices located in the Hall of Government. In the planning stages of a new building.

School of Engineering and Applied Science — spell out on first reference; SEAS acceptable on subsequent references and headlines. Use engineering school as a third option. One of the nine degree-granting schools at the University, it was established in 1884. Located in Tompkins Engineering Hall and at the Virginia Campus.

School of Media and Public Affairs — spell out on first reference; SMPA acceptable on subsequent references and headlines. The school is a division of the Columbian College of Arts and Sciences and is lead by a director. All offices located in the Media and Public Affairs Building.

School of Medicine and Health Sciences — spell out on first reference; GW’s Medical School acceptable on subsequent references as is the Medical School. One of the nine degree-granting schools at the University, it was established in 1825 and is the 11th oldest medical school in the country.

School of Public Health and Health Services — spell out on first reference; SPHHS acceptable on subsequent references. One of the nine degree-granting schools at the University, it was established in 1997 as the first school in the nation to formally combine public health and health services.

School Without Walls

seasons — no caps: fall 1994, not fall of 1994. Capitalize if part of a formal name.

semesters — no caps: fall semester

Sept. 11

Singers, University

Smith Hall of Art — one of the three buildings that comprise the Academic Center.

Smith Center — see Charles E. Smith Center.

Smithsonian Institution — Smithsonian is acceptable on first reference. Add the name of the museum if necessary: the Smithsonian’s American History Museum.

spokesman, spokeswoman — not spokesperson; use representative if unsure of a person’s gender.

square 43, 57 — properties planned for future residence halls.

state abbreviations — use postal codes, not Associated Press style: DC, MD, VA, NY, etc.

Staughton Hall — residence hall.

Stockton Hall — academic building; one of four buildings that comprise the Law School.

Strong Hall — residence hall.

Stuart Hall — academic building that faces the University Yard.

Student and Academic Support Services — SASS is acceptable on subsequent references.

Student Health Services

Students First

Support Building — the headquarters of facilities management.

Symphonic Band, University

Symphony Orchestra, University


Thurston Hall — residence hall.

TicketMaster — an office is located in the Marvin Center.

time — use numerals with lowercase am and pm. Use noon and midnight instead of 12 pm and 12 am, respectively. Use 10–11 am, etc.

today, tonight — use only in direct quotations, otherwise, use the day of the week if it’s within seven days of publication and the day plus the date in all other cases (do not use the current year): June 19th publication: use Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday, Monday to represent June 19-25; day plus date on all other examples.

Tompkins Hall of Engineering — Tompkins Hall is acceptable on first reference, as well.

Trachtenberg, Stephen Joel — the University president. Capitalize titles before his name, lowercase after his name: President Trachtenberg, Stephen Joel Trachtenberg, University president.



United States, US, USA — Abbreviate the United States only when used as an adjective. Spell it out whenever it is used as a noun: The US State Department is located two blocks from campus; The government of the United States is one of the nation's largest employers.

University — capitalize on all references to The George Washington University, GW, etc. Lowercase when referring to other universities.

University Club

University Garage

University Police Department — UPD is acceptable on second reference. Do not use the phrase “security department,” etc.

University Relations, Office of

University Seal


vice president — capitalize when placed before a name: Vice President for Academic Affairs Donald Lehman. Use in lowercase for all other references. Vice presidents, including assistant vice presidents, are “for” an area, not “of” an area.

Virginia Campus
— use on first reference. Located in Ashburn, VA, the campus occupies 90 acres in the heart of University Center, a 576-acre corporate, research, and technology park. Opened in 1991, the Virginia Campus has programs and partnerships with local technology companies, government agencies, and businesses among other academic pursuits. It is led by an executive dean, in conjunction with the degree-granting school deans.


Washington — when referring to the city, do not add DC after. Washington can stand alone and it will be recognizable. When referring to the state, use the state of Washington or Washington state to avoid confusion.

Washington Monument

Web site — italicize all Web site addresses. The University’s home page is

West End Citizens Association

White House

Wind Ensemble

Woodhull House — headquarters of the University Police Department.

World Bank — use World Bank/IMF meetings when referring to the meetings held in DC that the institutions hold at the same time.

World Wide Web — always italicize Web addresses.



Yard, the University



2000 Penn — acceptable on first reference for one of the University’s commercial properties located at 2000 Pennsylvania Ave.




This site was last updated April 10, 2002

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