Detroit Mercy Writing Style Guide

To keep writing styles consistent across the University, please use the following style rules for writing.

    University of Detroit Mercy

    The University name can only be identified by "University of Detroit Mercy" or (on second reference) "Detroit Mercy" or "the University." Do not use "the" in front of the full name when it is a subject or object. For instance, "Please visit University of Detroit Mercy" is correct, but "The University of Detroit Mercy will host" is wrong. If University of Detroit Mercy is a modifier, "the" may be appropriate, such as "The University of Detroit Mercy professor...," since "the" applies to "professor." When using just "the University" (on second or later reference), always capitalize if referring directly to Detroit Mercy.


    Capitalize "campus" when it follows the campus name, e.g. "McNichols Campus." Campus should not be capitalized on second reference even when it is referring directly to a specific campus. Do not capitalize campus when it is describing more than one campus, e.g. "The McNichols and Corktown campuses have been renovated in recent years." The University has three campuses in Detroit: McNichols Campus, Corktown Campus, and Riverfront Campus.


    The names of Detroit Mercy's colleges and schools are:

    • College of Business Administration
    • College of Engineering & Science (note ampersand)
    • College of Health Professions/McAuley School of Nursing
    • College of Liberal Arts & Education (note ampersand)
    • School of Architecture *
    • School of Dentistry *
    • School of Law *

    Always capitalize "School" or "College" when referring directly to a specific Detroit Mercy school or college, including on second and subsequent reference (with or without the full college/school name). Don't capitalize "school/college" when using them generically, e.g. "Enrollment in the schools and colleges increased."

    The name of the college or school should always be capitalized even if it is not preceded by "school" or "college,"-e.g., "a meeting of Engineering & Science faculty.

    * See more notes below for professional schools.


    Professional schools

    Capitalize the names of the professional schools when using the formal name, e.g. "School of Law" or "School of Architecture." On second reference or when referencing less formally, use Detroit Mercy Law or Detroit Mercy Dental. Avoid using capitalized "Dental School," "Law School," etc., instead of the proper names. As with the schools and colleges, if referring specifically to a professional school as "the School," always capitalize school.

    Note that:

    • the School of Dentistry is located on the Corktown Campus
    • the School of Law is located on the Riverfront Campus

    Program/department/discipline names

    Capitalize the name of a program or department when using the formal name or when referring to a specific program/department. Some examples: "Department of Marketing & Communications," "professor of History," "Architecture students," or "Professor Smith joined the Department in 1992."

    Do not capitalize such names when referring to the discipline in a more general sense, e.g., "She enrolled in the Architecture program because of her lifelong interest in all kinds of architecture," or, "We know that marketing and public affairs are just two of the many functions of the Marketing and Communications Department."

    You may omit "Department" or "Program." For example, "Marketing & Communications" would also be a correct way to refer to the department. Similarly, both "Dental Hygiene program" and "Dental Hygiene" are acceptable. If the words "program" and "department" are not part of the formal name, do not capitalize them.



    Always capitalize "English." Otherwise, subjects should not be capitalized, except when referring specifically to program/department names. For example, "The student excelled in mathematics and the sciences, but she proved less successful in English literature. That's why she was attracted to Detroit Mercy's College of Engineering & Science." For more, see Program/department names.

    Course names

    Capitalize the full name of a course, but if a course is referenced generically, it should not be capitalized.

    Building, location and special room names

    Capitalize "building" when it is used as part of the formal name, e.g. "Warren Loranger Architecture Building." Do not capitalize, if using a generic reference to the building name, e.g. "Architecture building." Do not capitalize "building" when it is used alone, even in direct reference to a University building.

    Below are the formal names of many of the Detroit Mercy buildings:

    McNichols Campus

    When referencing the campus itself, use "the McNichols Campus."

    Buysse Ballpark
    Calihan Hall (Athletics)
    Chemistry Building
    Commerce & Finance Building (Business Administration), contains:
    > Padilla Family Student Lounge and Study Area, or Padilla Lounge
    > St. Ignatius Chapel
    Engineering Building
    Fisher Administration Center
    Ford Life Sciences Building
    Gardella Honors House
    Health Professions Facility
    Holden Hall
    Jane & Walter O. Briggs Building (Liberal Arts & Education)
    Lansing-Reilly Hall (Jesuit residence)
    Lillie B. Kassab Mall (between Student Center and Holden Hall)
    McNichols Campus Library, contains: 
    > Café a La Carte
    Quad Commons - see note below
    Reno Hall
    Sacred Heart Square (between McNichols Campus Library and Briggs Bldg.)
    Shiple Hall

    Student Union, contains:
    > Ballroom
    > Fountain Lounge
    > Grounds Coffeehaus
    > Presidents' Dining Room
    Student Fitness Center
    Titan Athletics Field & Track
    Warren Loranger Architecture Building, contains:
    > Genevieve Fisk Loranger Architecture Center

    Note: Quad Commons refers to the community building in the middle of the four Quadrangle Residence Halls. The four residence halls themselves are East Quad, North Quad, South Quad, and West Quad.

    Corktown Campus

    The School of Dentistry is located on the Corktown Campus.

    Riverfront Campus

    The School of Law is located on the Riverfront Campus.



    When using the formal degree name, capitalize all major words of the degree name, e.g. "Bachelor of Science in Business Administration." Avoid using "Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration."

    On the other hand, if the degree name is referenced more generically, add apostrophe-s and do not capitalize, e.g. "a bachelor's or master's degree in marketing." Note here the subject is not capitalized.

    Another example of proper degree designation is B.S. in Business Administration (see Degree abbreviations below).


    Use apostrophe-s when outside a formal degree name, usually followed by "degree," like "she earned her bachelor's degree at age 67" or "master's degree in mathematics." Do not use apostrophe-s in formal degree names, as above.

    Degree abbreviations

    Always put periods between the letters, e.g. B.S., M.A., Ph.D. One exception to this rule is MBA (Master of Business Administration).


    People's names and titles

    Identification; first and second reference

    Use a person's full name (and title where applicable) on first reference. On second and later references, use the person's last name only, except in the case of religious persons. For religious persons, always use "Fr." or "Sr." before the name on subsequent references.

    Individual's titles

    Capitalize a person's title if it precedes his/her name. If it follows, do not capitalize. Examples:

    • "President Antoine M. Garibaldi, Ph.D., delivered the convocation speech"
    • "Antoine M. Garibaldi, Ph.D., president of the University, delivered the convocation speech."
    • "Associate Professor of History George Washington has written six books."
    • "George Washington, associate professor of History, has written six books."

    Though the individual's title may not be capitalized, his or her department name should be capitalized, e.g. "John Doe, vice president of Information Technology." However, if the person's title contains a description of his/her role rather than a department name, do not capitalize. For example, "Jane Doe, communications manager."

    For University publications, do not use administrative or professional credentials like "John Doe, Ph.D." Only religious designations should follow an individual's name; see Religious references. Also, do not use "Dr." before a name.

    Instead, use the individual's academic title including the department name, e.g. "Professor of English John Doe." For title capitalization rules, see Individual's titles. Also see Identification; first and second reference.

    Administrative or professional credentials may be used for formal or special purposes and for press releases.

    Religious titles/references

    Put periods between S.J., but not RSM. Sister or Father can be abbreviated to Sr. and Fr., unless they are being used in a salutation on a letter or other formal purposes like certificates or awards. When using an individual's name on first reference, use Mary Kelly, RSM or Gerald Cavanagh, S.J.

    On second reference, use Sr. Mary or Fr. Cavanagh. It is unnecessary to duplicate the religious reference by using Fr. Gerald Cavanagh, S.J. or Rev. Gerald Cavanagh, S.J., except in a letter salutation or other formal document. A comma should follow the S.J. or RSM in a sentence. For example, "Mary Kelly, RSM, is a faculty member of the College of Health Professions."


    Attribution (quoting a source)

    When attributing the source of a quote in Detroit Mercy publications, use said. For example: "Enrollment has exceeded our forecasts," said John Smith.

    Titles of things (books, movies, presentations)

    Use "title case" capitalization for titles of things. (Do not use all capitals.)

    Italicize – and do not quote – the names of books, magazines, journals and other publications as well as titles of plays, movies, musical compositions (symphonies, operas), TV series, works of art etc. (If italics are not available, use quotes.)

    Use quote marks around – but no italics on – the names of articles and chapter names, as well as with titles of talks, presentations, etc.


    Headline style

    Headlines should always contain an active verb and be a complete thought.


    "Alumni" should be used for a plural reference; "alumnus" should be used for an individual male or "alumna" for female. Never use the slang, "alum." A generic reference to an individual should be alumnus.


    Class year (alumni)

    In all alumni publications, an alumnus' class year should be included with his/her name with the following style: "Jane Doe '89 was active as a student." Note the apostrophe before the two-digit class year. (We no longer put a comma after the class year in copy, unless it is required by the rest of the sentence's structure.)

    For multiple graduation years, list each year followed by a comma, for example: "David Smith '75, '77 gave a presentation." Class year information is available in Raiser's Edge or from the Alumni Relations Office.


    Cooperative education (co-op)

    When abbreviated, use the hyphenated "co-op."


    Should be one word. Do not capitalize. However, "Web" may be capitalized when referring to the World Wide Web.


    Use as one word in Detroit Mercy publications.


    Do not hyphenate in Detroit Mercy publications. Use lower case.

    Fundraising, fundraiser

    Always use fundraising and fundraiser as single words.


    When providing a specific time, the proper style is 6 p.m. or 6:30 p.m. For 12 p.m./a.m., use "noon" and "midnight." When giving specific times, do not add phrases like "in the morning" or "at night."

    Days and dates

    The following month names are abbreviated when used in dates: Jan., Feb., Aug., Sept., Oct., Nov., Dec. Spell out names of days in most cases (e.g. Monday). When abbreviating days of the week, use the first three letters of the day name, except for Tues. and Thurs.

    Date format is "Tuesday, Feb. 13." For dates occurring in the current year, omit the year unless clarification seems necessary.


    Dates and places (for events)

    When indicating the time and location of an upcoming event, give the information in this order: day, date, time, location. For example: "The president will hold a meeting Tuesday, Feb. 13 at 10 a.m. in the President's Dining Room." When the year is omitted, no second comma is used after the date.

    Phone numbers

    When giving a phone number, use hyphens and no parentheses, e.g. 313-555-1212.


    Normally, whole numbers one through nine should be spelled out. Numbers higher than nine are written in digits, e.g. "All seven students were 20 years old." Use numbers for hundreds and thousands, e.g. "Detroit Mercy's student population hovered around 5,000." Use the words "million" or "billion," e.g. "eight billion people; 11 million dollars."


    Generally, only provide an acronym if you use the acronym later in the same text. On first reference, provide the full name before the acronym in parentheses. For example, "The Homeless Action Network of Detroit (HAND) will team up with Detroit Mercy's Institute for Leadership and Service (ILS). HAND and ILS have cooperated on several previous campaigns."

    For external or mixed audiences (e.g. press releases), always identify University of Detroit Mercy by full name on first reference. When writing only for an internal University audience, Detroit Mercy may be used without explanation.