The purpose of this guide is to serve as a reference for Texas A&M University College of Engineering communicators, administrators, staff and researchers to help ensure our branding is cohesive and our messaging is clear.
It is intended for use with print and web articles providing news and information for internal and external audiences — not for scholarly manuscripts or academic materials. This guide is not exhaustive; however, it is meant to provide a solid base for your written communications. Writing consistency within the agency helps build credibility of our brand and aids in conveying a cohesive, professional image.
This guide is a supplement to the Associated Press (AP) Stylebook and Libel Manual and Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary (11th edition or later), which are the official style and spelling references for The Texas A&M University System and Texas A&M University. When a choice of spelling is given, use the first option. The listings in this guide include the most frequently used rules as well as several departures from the AP Stylebook, where noted.
Note: The AP Stylebook and College of Engineering Editorial Style Guide may be updated periodically. For additional guidance, contact the Office of Engineering Communications.
Referencing the university, college, departments, system, agencies
- “Texas A&M University” on first reference, “Texas A&M” after
- Do not use TAMU (exceptions — @tamu on Twitter or TAMUmobile)
- No space between letters and ampersand.
- “Texas A&M University College of Engineering” on first reference, or “College of Engineering” after
- TAMU Engineering is incorrect.
- For departments, capitalize only the full and correct name:
- “Artie McFerrin Department of Chemical Engineering” or “chemical engineering department”
- “Department of Computer Science and Engineering” or “computer science and engineering department”
- Use “The Texas A&M University System” on first reference (with “The” capitalized) and “Texas A&M System” on second reference (if used, “the” is lowercase on second reference). Do not put a space between the letters and ampersand (e.g., A & M).
- TAMUS or TAMU System are incorrect.
- “Texas A&M Engineering Experiment Station” on first reference, “TEES” thereafter.
Texas A&M University System members
- All Texas A&M System universities, agencies and health science center institutions should be referred to as “members” of the system, not parts or components.
- When referencing Texas A&M System universities and agencies, always use the institution’s complete name on first reference and its preferred acronym or abbreviation on second reference. Texas A&M’s two branch campuses use “at” in their names, and the other universities use an en dash.
Lowercase “university,” “college,” “department,” “system” or “agency” unless using the full and correct name of the university, college, system or agency.
For more on how to reference the university, system, agencies, Board of Regents or other A&M System universities, see A&M System Written Style Guidelines.
In general, use the Associated Press Stylebook. For materials for formal occasions or smaller, more targeted audiences (such as invitations, digital signage, holiday cards or event programs), contact Engineering Communications for clarification and exceptions.
Abbreviated titles: Abbreviate certain titles when used before a full name: Dr., Lt. Gov., Gov., Rep., Sen. and certain military designations. (See AP entry for titles for more details).
Junior, senior – Abbreviate junior or senior after an individual’s name and do not precede by a comma.
Company names – Abbreviate company, corporation, incorporated and limited when used after the name of a corporate entity. Do not use a comma before Inc. or Ltd., even if it is included in the formal name.
Readers may not be familiar with academic degrees. Use a phrase instead of an abbreviation.
- John Jones, who has a doctorate in psychology, said the study was flawed.
Use an apostrophe: bachelor’s degree, master’s degree, and so on (exception: associate degree)
Uppercase: Bachelor of Arts, Master of Arts, Doctor of Philosophy, and so on.
But lowercase majors unless they are proper names. Master of Science in engineering, Bachelor of Arts in English.
Use abbreviations such as B.A., B.S., M.A., M.S. and Ph.D. (with no spaces between letters) only when needed to identify many individuals by degree on first reference or if usage would make the preferred form cumbersome. Spell out all others. Use these only after the person’s full name, and set the abbreviation off by commas.
- John Wimberly, Ph.D., is president of the National Skydiving Association.
For internal documents and/or publications targeted to engineering faculty, peers, former students and/or students, acronyms can be used — but try to avoid “alphabet soup.”
Generally, omit periods in acronyms unless the result would spell an unrelated word. But use periods in two-letter abbreviations: U.S., U.N., U.K., B.A., B.C. (Exceptions are AP, GI and EU.)
Lowercase and spell out titles when not used with an individual’s name.
- The dean provided a list of students.
- The graduate assistant taught a class.
- The chancellor will speak today at noon.
Capitalize and spell out when a title precedes a name.
- Vice Chancellor and Dean M. Katherine Banks met with Chancellor John Sharp yesterday.
Very long titles are more readable when placed after a name. When placed after a name, titles are not capitalized in a story.
- Cindy Lawley, assistant agency director for workforce development and assistant vice chancellor for academic and outreach programs, nominated the student for a national award.
Adjunct refers to a temporary faculty appointment; lowercase.
Use advisor (not adviser) when referencing faculty or staff who advise students. This is a departure from AP style.
Always use figures.
- The 19-year-old student took graduate-level courses.
- The student, who switched his major 11 times, is 24 years old.
- The dean is in his 50s. (No apostrophe)
alumnus, alumna, alumni, alumnae
Alumnus (alumni in the plural) refers to a man who has graduated from a school. Alumna (alumnae in the plural, but rarely used) refers to a woman who has graduated from a school. Alumni refers to a group of men and women.
- Although she was an alumna of Texas Southern University, she gave $1 million to Prairie View A&M University.
- He joined a service organization for alumni of certain universities.
and vs. ampersand (&)
Generally avoid unless part of an official name (Texas A&M). The ampersand can be used in print materials where space is tight. Do not use in web headlines and body copy.
In most cases, the less formal bachelor’s degree is preferred.
Capitalize official names; do not capitalize unofficial, informal, shortened or generic names. Do not capitalize phrases such as the center, the institute or the recently renovated museum.
- The Texas A&M University College of Engineering, but the college
- Texas A&M Task Force 1, but the task force
- American Chemical Society Fellow, but fellow of the American Chemical Society
Capitalize names of celebrations, such as Founders Day. Do not capitalize seasons or semesters (Spring Break is an exception).
- Dr. John Ballard will teach the Philosophy and History of Adult Education class next semester. He will teach advanced geology in the spring semester.
- She enrolled in fall 2005 but decided to postpone graduate school after she won the lottery.
Capitalize Aggie, but lowercase ring, engineer, network, alumni, spirit, etc. Exception, Aggie Band, per Texas A&M University Brand Guide. Lowercase former student.
- He earned his Aggie ring in 1990.
- Aggie engineers are some of the most sought after graduates in the country.
Capital refers to the city; capitol refers to the building where the seat of government is housed. Capitalize when referring to the building. Capitol building is redundant.
- The Capitol is in Austin, which is the capital city of Texas.
When referring to an alumnus in text, include the last two digits of his or her class year after the name with an apostrophe. When referring to an alumnus with multiple degrees, list the degrees in the order in which they were received. When referring to a couple who are both alumni of the same university, include the last two digits of the class year with an apostrophe after each person’s name.
- Mays Business School is the namesake of Lowry Mays ’57.
- “The campus has changed since I was a student,” said John O’Reilly ’44, ’46 (MBA).
- Marvin ’70 and Marlene ’70 Finkelstein Smith
Apply these guidelines to the titles of books, movies, plays, poems, albums, songs, operas, radio and television programs, lectures, speeches and works of art:
— Capitalize all words in a title except articles (a, an, the); prepositions of three or fewer letters (for, of, on, up, etc.); and conjunctions of three or fewer letters (and, but, for, nor, or, so, yet, etc.) unless any of those start or end the title. Use italics for journal titles, (note, this is departure from AP style).
Use “Dr.” on first reference when referring to those with Ph.D. or M.D. degrees. Use last name only on later reference. For those without terminal degrees, use first and last name, not Mr., Mrs. or Ms.
cybersecurity, cyber attack, cyber-aware (used as an adjective), cyber manufacturing
Do not use years with dates in articles unless the event is more than a week away. 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. Do not use 1st, 2nd, etc. when referencing dates (e.g., Feb. 1st is incorrect. Use Feb. 1).
- Feb. 14, 2019, was the target date.
Em dashes are longer than hyphens and have several uses, including signalling an abrupt change, after datelines and starting lists. Use a space before and after the dash. For more guidance, see Associated Press entry on dashes.
- She shouted — excitedly, of course — when she saw Reveille at the game.
Singular when used as a collective noun
- The faculty was protesting the requirement to end each class with “Thanks, and Gig ’em!”
Lowercase when used alone. Capitalize only when part of official name.
- He was recently name an IEEE Fellow.
- Three faculty members were recently named fellows.
Do not capitalize when spelled out. When abbreviated, capitalize and put a space between FY and the year. Use the full year.
- Research expenditures increased last fiscal year.
- The FY 2021 budget is being discussed. (exception: when using PowerPoint, FY 21 is acceptable).
Freshman is a singular noun or adjective; freshmen is a plural noun.
- The freshman class is the largest in the college.
- The freshmen attended Midnight Yell.
One word in all cases
Two words. Capitalize and use an inverted apostrophe.
This phrase is preferred over foreign students.
Associated Press style no longer requires capitalization.
Internet of Things
General term used to describe devices, appliances, sensors and anything else with an internet connection, apart from traditional gadgets such as PCs and phones. Abbreviate as IoT on second reference. It’s a technical term that should be avoided in stories for general readers. Instead, use internet-connected or smart, such as internet-connected thermostat or smart light bulb.
land-grant university (same applies to land-, sea-, and space-grant)
Hyphenate when used as an adjective.
Refer to bills as House Bill 1 or Senate Bill 1, or as H.B. 1 or S.B. 1 (periods but no space between the letters, with a space between the letters and number).
Do not capitalize unless it begins a sentence.
- That is a legislative matter, not a judicial one.
legislative special item
Do not capitalize.
Capitalize when referencing a particular legislative body. Do not capitalize when used as a generic term.
- The law-making body in a democracy is called a legislature.
- The Legislature meets every other year in Austin.
National Science Foundation Engineering Research Center
Spell out on first reference when referring to National Science Foundation Engineering Research Centers (NSF ERC). NSF ERC acceptable on subsequent references.
Use % instead of spelling out, with no space, in most cases (not for casual uses or the beginning of a sentence. For amounts less than 1%, precede the decimal with a zero: The cost of living rose 0.6%.
- Average hourly pay rose 3.1% from a year ago.
- She said he has a zero percent chance of winning.
Phone numbers should be written with hyphens, not decimals (e.g., 979-555-1212).
Not principle investigator
State names should be spelled out in the body of a story, whether used alone or in conjunction with a city or town. Place one comma between the city and the state name, and another comma after the state name, unless ending a sentence or indicating a dateline.
- He was traveling from Nashville, Tennessee, to Austin, Texas, en route to his home in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
The two-letter Postal Service state abbreviations should only be used in conjunction with full addresses, including ZIP code.
Capitalize when referring to a governmental entity, but not when referring to geographical areas or systems/theories of government.
- The current State of Texas budget is the largest in history.
- The student is from the state of Texas.
- The city is seeking federal aid to help with rebuilding costs.
This phrase is preferred over student worker.
Lowercase in news articles or on websites.
- The Texas A&M University College of Engineering hired a new tenure-track faculty member.
- Dr. John Doe is a tenured professor
In a flyer, or when it is displayed as a header or graphical element, it can be capitalized
- Tenured/Tenure-Track Faculty: 2019
Use figures except for noon and midnight. Lowercase “a.m.” and “p.m.” Use periods but no space between letters and periods, and a space between the time and the “a.m./p.m.” Do not use a colon and zeros to indicate times happening on the hour.
- 4 p.m., not: 4:00 p.m., 4 PM, 4:00 PM, 4 pm, 4pm or 4:00pm (Exceptions: For formal invitations or programs, 4:00 p.m. is acceptable).
Capitalize when used before a name (but not after), and for the full names of offices.
- President Michael Young
- John Sharp, chancellor of The Texas A&M University System
- Gov. Greg Abbott
- Office of Admissions
Lowercase and spell out titles in constructions that set them off from a name by commas: M. Katherine Banks, dean of the Texas A&M University College of Engineering, spoke at the event.
For the first mention of any trademarked brand, use the trade name followed by ® or ™. After the first mention, use the trade name without the ® or ™.
Spell out as a noun; abbreviate (with no space between the letters) as an adjective.
- The United States is a popular destination for students from China.
- The official U.S. policy has not changed.
One word, lowercase
Do not hyphenate when referring to The Texas A&M University System (systemwide), or in statewide or nationwide. Hyphenate if the word preceding wide is capitalized (Texas-wide).
Lowercase and hyphenated
In most cases, except to indicate a graduating class year, use the full four digits. Do not use an apostrophe to indicate spans of decades or centuries.
- Enrollment for fall 2016 rose sharply.
- He graduated in the 1990s.
- Her research topic was French literature from 1650 to 1700.
- Robert Jones ’09 visited campus last week.
Style tips to remember
- Punctuation marks go inside quotes (exception is colons).
- Do not use 1st, 2nd, etc. when referencing dates (e.g., Feb. 1st is incorrect. Use Feb. 1).
- When referring to ages and percentages, always use figures (e.g., 5-year-old, 4%), unless at the beginning of a sentence.
- Do not use a hyphen when combining the use of “nano” in front of a word, if the following word starts with a consonant (e.g., nanocoatings, nanoparticle).
- Capitalize Earth when referring to the planet. Do not capitalize moon or sun.
- More than and over are both now acceptable to note great value.
- Do not capitalize seasons unless part of event name.
- 3D, 2D
- When referencing money, do not use letters to represent thousands, millions or billions — K, M, B (for examples: $2 million not $2M; $50,000 not $50K). However, it is acceptable in headlines.
Commonly confused words
Affect is a verb. Effect can be used as a verb and a noun.
- College Station was greatly affected by last week’s storm.
- This amount of rain will have a lasting effect on the land.
- The only way to effect change is to move into action.
Use fewer when referencing countable items. Rule of thumb, according dictionary.com: “If you can count it, go for fewer. If you can’t, opt for less.”
College of Engineering/Texas A&M Engineering Experiment Station photos
Photos should be credited as the following:
- Photos/video produced by Texas A&M Engineering:
Photographer Name/Texas A&M Engineering
- Photos/video provided by a source other than Engineering Communications (including engineering professors and students):
Courtesy of NAME
- Photos and video provided to external sources:
Texas A&M Engineering
- Composited images created using stock photos with Texas A&M Engineering branding overlay:
Texas A&M Engineering
Photographer Name/Collection Name/Getty Images
Use the full name of the people in the header photos. If the same person/people appear in additional photos within an article, last names are acceptable. Do not use acronyms on first reference.
About the Texas A&M University College of Engineering
With more than 690 tenured/tenure-track faculty members and more than 20,000 students, the Texas A&M University College of Engineering is the second-largest engineering school in the country. The college is ranked eighth in both graduate studies and undergraduate programs among public institutions by U.S. News & World Report.
About Texas A&M University
Texas A&M University, established in 1876 as the first public university in Texas, is one of the nation’s largest universities with more than 66,000 students and more than 440,000 living alumni residing in over 150 countries around the world. A tier-one university, Texas A&M holds the rare triple land-, sea- and space-grant designation. Research conducted at Texas A&M represented annual expenditures of more than $905.4 million in fiscal year 2017. Texas A&M’s research creates new knowledge that provides basic, fundamental and applied contributions resulting, in many cases, in economic benefits to the state, nation and world. The school’s Lead by Example campaign is a comprehensive effort to raise $4 billion by the year 2020, making it the largest higher education campaign in Texas history and the second largest conducted nationally by a public university. Aggies are known for their deep commitment to the success of each other and their strong desire to serve.
About the Engineering Program of The Texas A&M University System
The Texas A&M System Engineering Program is comprised of the Texas A&M University College of Engineering and three state engineering agencies: the Texas A&M Engineering Experiment Station, which conducts research to provide practical answers to critical state and national needs; the Texas A&M Engineering Extension Service, which offers hands-on, customized, first-responder training, homeland security exercises, technical assistance, and technology transfer services that have an impact in Texas and beyond; and the Texas A&M Transportation Institute, which addresses major issues in all transportation modes (including surface, air, pipeline, water and rail), as well as policy, economic, finance, environmental, safety and security concerns.
About the Texas A&M Engineering Experiment Station (TEES)
As an engineering research agency of Texas, TEES performs quality research driven by world problems; strengthens and expands the state’s workforce through educational partnerships and training; and develops and transfers technology to industry. TEES partners with academic institutions, governmental agencies, industries and communities to solve problems to help improve the quality of life, promote economic development and enhance educational systems.
About The Texas A&M University System
The Texas A&M University System is one of the largest systems of higher education in the nation with a budget of $6.3 billion. The System is a statewide network of 11 universities, a comprehensive health science center, eight state agencies including the Texas Division of Emergency Management and the RELLIS Campus. The Texas A&M System educates more than 151,000 students and makes more than 22 million additional educational contacts through service and outreach programs each year. Systemwide, research and development expenditures exceeded $1 billion in FY 2019 and helped drive the state’s economy.
About the RELLIS Campus
Founded in 2016 by The Texas A&M University System, the RELLIS Campus in Bryan, Texas, fosters cutting-edge research, technology development, workforce training, and two- and four-year college degrees by tapping the A&M System’s state agencies and multiple universities, along with academic, corporate and government partners outside the A&M System.
The following outlines the way writers should refer to the agencies, centers, institutes, initiatives and offices that make up the The Texas A&M University System and the Texas A&M Engineering Experiment Station.
- The Texas A&M University System (with a capital “T” in “the”)
Subsequent Reference: Texas A&M System or the A&M System
Do not use TAMUS or TAMU System
For more information, visit The Texas A&M University System’s Written Style Guidelines
- Texas A&M Engineering Experiment Station
Subsequent Reference: TEES
- Texas A&M University
Subsequent Reference: Texas A&M
Do not use TAMU.
For more information, visit Texas A&M University’s style guidelines.
- Texas A&M University College of Engineering
Subsequent Reference: College of Engineering.
Do not use TAMU Engineering.
- Texas A&M Transportation Institute
Subsequent Reference: TTI
- Texas A&M Engineering Extension Service
Subsequent Reference: TEEX
- Texas A&M RELLIS Education and Research Campus
Subsequent Reference: RELLIS or RELLIS Campus
- TEES Research Centers and Institutes
When writing about a center or institute that involves both the university and TEES (or outside partnerships), add a reference to the collaborating institutions, either in combination with the official name or as an explanation next to it, to establish the relationship.
Example: The Nuclear Security Science and Policy Institute (NSSPI) at Texas A&M University conducted the 2013 Nuclear Facilities Experience in Japan.
List of Texas A&M Engineering Experiment Centers
- Advanced Scientific Computing Center
Subsequent Reference: the “center” (lowercase)
- Center for Autonomous Vehicles and Sensor Systems
Subsequent Reference: CANVASS or the “center” (lowercase)
- Center for Bioinformatics and Genomic Systems Engineering
Subsequent Reference: CBGSE or the “center” (lowercase)
- Center for Infrastructure Renewal
Subsequent Reference: CIR or the “center” (lowercase)
- Center for Innovation in Mechanics for Design and Manufacturing
Subsequent Reference: CiMDM or the “center” (lowercase)
- Center for Intelligent Multifunctional Materials and Structures
Subsequent Reference: CiMMs or the “center” (lowercase)
- Center for Large-scale Scientific Simulations
Subsequent Reference: CLASS or the “center” (lowercase)
- Center for Nuclear Security Science and Policy Initiatives
Subsequent Reference: NSSPI or the “center” (lowercase)
- Center for Remote Health Technologies and Systems
Subsequent Reference: CRHTS or the “center” (lowercase)
- Crisman Institute for Petroleum Research
Subsequent Reference: Crisman or the “institute” (lowercase)
Energy Systems Laboratory
Subsequent Reference: Avoid acronym ESL in external communications to avoid confusion with the more commonly known usage, “English as a Second Language”
- Gas and Fuels Research Center
Subsequent Reference: GFRC or the “center” (lowercase)
- Institute for Engineering Education and Innovation
Subsequent Reference: IEEI or the “institute” (lowercase)
- Institute for Manufacturing Systems
Subsequent Reference: IMS or the “institute” (lowercase)
- Lone Star Unmanned Aircraft Systems Center of Excellence and Innovation
Subsequent Reference: Lone Star UAS or the “center” (lowercase)
- Mary Kay O’Connor Process Safety Center
Subsequent Reference: MKOPSC or the “center” (lowercase)
- National Center for Therapeutics Manufacturing
Subsequent Reference: NCTM or the “center” (lowercase)
- Nuclear Engineering and Science Center
Subsequent Reference: NESC or the “center” (lowercase)
- Nuclear Power Institute
Subsequent Reference: NPI or the “institute” (lowercase)
- Offshore Technology Research Center
Subsequent Reference: OTRC or the “center” (lowercase)
- Smart Grid Center
Subsequent Reference: SGC or the “center” (lowercase)
- Texas A&M Cybersecurity Center
Subsequent Reference: Cybersecurity Center or the “center” (lowercase)
- Texas A&M Energy Institute
Subsequent Reference: Energy Institute or the “institute” (lowercase)
- Texas A&M Institute of Data Science
Subsequent Reference: TAMIDS or the “center” (lowercase)
- Texas A&M Center for Applied Technology
Subsequent Reference: TCAT or the “center” (lowercase)
- Thomas and Joan Read Center for Distribution Research and Education
Subsequent Reference: Read Center or the “center” (lowercase)
- Turbomachinery Laboratory
Subsequent Reference: Turbo Lab
Certificates and Programs
- Spark!: PK-12 Engineering Education Outreach
Subsequent Reference: Spark!
- TEES EDGE: Professional and Continuing Education
Subsequent Reference: TEES EDGE
Texas A&M Engineering Academies (when writing about both the Texas A&M-Chevron Engineering Academies, Texas A&M-Concho Engineering Academy and the engineering academies at Blinn College District)
Subsequent Reference for all academies: engineering academies or academies
List of Texas A&M Engineering Academies
- Texas A&M Engineering Academy at Blinn – Bryan
- Texas A&M Engineering Academy at Blinn – Brenham
- Texas A&M-Chevron Engineering Academies
- Texas A&M-Chevron Engineering Academy at Alamo Colleges District
- Texas A&M-Chevron Engineering Academy at Austin Community College
- Texas A&M-Chevron Engineering Academy at Dallas County Community College District
- Texas A&M-Chevron Engineering Academy at Houston Community College
- Texas A&M-Chevron Engineering Academy at Texas Southmost College
- Texas A&M-Concho Engineering Academy at Midland College