Writing Style

Voice and Tone

See below for the transcript of this video.

Throughout our history, generations of Boilermakers have left their mark. In small steps and giant leaps.

And today, we continue in those footsteps. Because the world still faces tough challenges. The adventure still lies ahead. So, we keep learning. We keep going.

We keep going with every tiny epiphany that comes from the thrill of discovery. We keep going with each unexpected realization that uncovers new knowledge and possibility. We keep going because it’s what keeps us going.

Persistent in our pursuit of innovation, again and again and again. We leave nothing untried, nothing untested and nothing undone.

It’s why we work harder here. Why we strive to be our best so we can become the best. Because we are the instigators of progress. It’s what we live for. And it’s what we’re here for.

Always, always, taking the next step, together. Because every giant leap starts with one small step.



Our voice is how we bring the key messages of our brand to life. It’s how we express the Purdue personality and give all our communications a human spirit. While our message is what we say, our voice is how we say it. The following voice guidelines serve as the core of our creative platform, and the filter we should use for every communication. 

This is the beating heart that’s behind the surface of everything: Who we are, what we do and why it all matters. 

Brand Narrative

It’s inspiring, and it sets the tone for our writing and brand language. But the creative platform is more than a set of poetic phrases: It encompasses our entire messaging strategy and sparks it to life. Although it shouldn’t be used word for word when communicating externally, use it as inspiration for sharing our story.

Throughout our history, generations of Boilermakers have left their mark. In small steps and giant leaps.

And today, we continue in those footsteps. Because the world still faces tough challenges. The adventure still lies ahead. So we keep learning. We keep going.

We keep going with every tiny epiphany that comes from the thrill of discovery. We keep going with each unexpected realization that uncovers new knowledge and possibility. We keep going because it’s what keeps us going — persistent in our pursuit of innovation, again and again and again.

We leave nothing untried, nothing untested and nothing undone. It’s why we work harder here. Why we strive to be our best so we can become the best. Because we are the instigators of progress. It’s what we live for. And it’s what we’re here for.

Always, always, taking the next step, together. Because every giant leap starts with one small step.

Here we break down why the brand narrative is written the way it is and detail some of the different ideas and techniques you can pull from it as you’re writing. You don’t have to — and likely can’t — capture all of these ideas in one piece, but this will give you a framework to refer to as you’re working.

Drivers of Our Voice

Persistence, Pursuit, Innovation and Community. These four components form the basis of our language. The specific vocabulary you use will vary, but you should always ensure that the Purdue voice is driven by these essential ideas:


Speak to the way that people at Purdue are relentless in everything they do. We never give up, we never slow down, and we never stop in our attempts to do something big.


At Purdue, every pursuit, in every discipline, is equally important. In STEM, in the arts and humanities, in athletics, in campus life, and in every facet of our work, we are always chasing something momentous.


Innovation isn’t owned solely in our research efforts or the STEM disciplines. Each of us is always exploring new ways to approach problems, and attempting new methods to create something the world has never seen before.


Purdue is more than an exceptional institution. It is a collection of exceptional people, coming together every day to work together, support one another and build a community united by a common pursuit. Whenever possible (and it should just about always be possible), our story is a story of people.

Filters for Storytelling

Every story that we tell about Purdue University should support the larger messages behind it. To do so, it’s important that each story has a singular focus. As you consider all the elements of your story and the themes it’s conveying, use one of the following storytelling filters to tether your facts to one, higher-level truth about Purdue. 

A Story of PEOPLE

Use your story to illustrate the kind of people we are.


“We are the kind of people who ____________.” 

Whenever possible, make a Purdue student the hero of your story, showing them as the proof of all that we do as an institution. Purdue should be cast as the mentor, or as the environment that makes each student’s work possible. Give students credit for the work that they do and put them at the heart of all that we do. 

A Story of PLACE

Use your story to highlight the uniqueness of this place. 


“This is the kind of place where ___________.”

Part of the reason we’re able to do all that we do is because of our location. We’re Indiana proud, we have a Midwestern work ethic, and we have a personality and values that could come from nowhere else. Our stories are believable because they could only come from right here at Purdue. 

A Story of PROCESS

Use your story to show our specific way of doing things. 


“We’re able to do all these things because we do them our own way.”

“Persistent pursuit” speaks to process, and when we talk about the achievements of our students (and others at Purdue), we should illustrate all the hard work and perseverance it took to reach their goals. People come to Purdue because they’re willing to put in the time and effort. It’s how we do things. 

Core Brand Language

On the following pages, you’ll find useful language constructions that serve as the highest-level expression of our brand voice. Designed to speak to the core essence of the Purdue brand, this language is appropriate for all audiences, particularly when speaking to the entirety of the University. 


The Language We Use


This is the key narrative thread that runs through everything we say and do. “The Next Giant Leap” represents the energy that propels all that we do. Inspired by Purdue alum Neil Armstrong’s historic moon landing, the Next Giant Leap is our way of communicating the importance of what’s happening here, every day — no matter how big or small — at Purdue University.


IT’S INNOVATIVE. It’s what’s “next.” Always looking forward to where we’re going as an institution and where we can go as a society. 

IT’S COLLABORATIVE. No one takes a giant leap all alone. We are a community of people who always have one another’s backs, and bring together our unique talents and skills in the service of something big. 

IT’S PERSONAL. Each of us defines our own giant leaps. Whatever work we’re doing is the giant leap we’re taking in our own lives and careers. 

IT’S STEM, PLUS MORE. We use this language to speak to the totality of Purdue’s efforts. 

IT’S RELENTLESS. We speak to the many small steps we take, day in and day out, again and again and again, to push thinking forward and make bold strides toward something new. 




Useful Language Constructions


We’re making strides toward giant leaps in a wide range of fields and disciplines. Our language can follow. Use powerful and specific verbs to illustrate this, pairing them with unexpected or surprising work: 

Use language like:

  1. Growing the next giant leap. 
  2. Building the next giant leap.
  3. Inspiring the next giant leap. 
  4. Developing the next giant leap. 
  5. Dreaming up the next giant leap. 
  6. Tackling the next giant leap. 
  7. Inventing the next giant leap. 

Effective Use of Gerunds

In this construction, we can turn verbs into nouns to make a bold, declarative statement. Although there are many instances where more active language is useful, here we use “_____ing the next giant leap” to describe the way that this activity is a way of life here at Purdue. Paired with an evocative photo, it makes a powerful impact.


At Purdue, a giant leap doesn’t need to feel like a huge, difficult undertaking. It’s the logical result of all the work we take on every day and every challenge we face in our pursuit of it. Use language that illustrates the small steps each of us takes — day in and day out — as we work toward our bigger goals. 

Use language like:

  1. Every giant leap starts with one small step.
  2. Changing the world, one small step at a time. 
  3. Earth-shaking possibilities. Mind-opening realizations. They all start with one small step.
  4. The innovation that will move the world forward. It starts with one small step.
  5. The new understanding that will connect us all. It starts with one small step.
  6. From creative spark to sparking a creative revolution. And every small step in between.


Use this language to highlight the work we put in every day to drive the next innovation and the next giant leap. With its alliterative construction, and words that subtly evoke the sound of our institution’s name (PERsistent, PURsuit, PURdue), it’s language that speaks to our spirit and drive while sounding uniquely Purdue. 


Not only does this language subtly evoke the Purdue name (through the sounds of the words), but it’s a simple way to speak to the importance of the work that we’re doing, elevating it to it’s proper level. 

  1. The persistent pursuit of smarter business models.
  2. The persistent pursuit of the truth. 
  3. The persistent pursuit of healthier communities. 
  4. The persistent pursuit of more meaningful connections. 
  5. The persistent pursuit of smarter solutions. 
  6. The persistent pursuit of my true voice. 


Use this to tell human stories of persistent pursuit. It speaks to the purpose behind each person’s individual efforts. You can use it to either speak to the process (From … to …) or to the outcome.


A “giant leap” doesn’t need to be a massive, world-changing accomplishment. Sometimes it’s just an accomplishment that changes the world of the person making it.

Use language like:

  1. The small steps that take us from earth to the world beyond. That’s my giant leap.
  2. From risk-taker to Boilermaker. That’s my giant leap.
  3. From “I wonder” to “I will.” That’s my giant leap.
  4. Engineering new ways to bring fresh, healthy food to all who seek it. That’s my giant leap.
  5. Raising my voice to shed new light on those who face injustice. That’s my giant leap.
  6. From what could be to what will become. That’s my giant leap.


Here, no one stands alone and nobody takes a step without the support of every Boilermaker, standing behind them. Use language that speaks to this community of Purdue students, faculty, staff and alumni, coming together in the pursuit of a common goal:

Use language like:

  1. Here, thousands of Boilermakers stand together to make giant leaps of their own. Where will yours take you?
  2. You’re here to take a big step. We’re here so you don’t have to go it alone.
  3. Always, always taking the next step together. 
  4. One Boilermaker. One community. And one small step at a time.
  5. We stand up for each other. Stand behind one another. And always stand together.


See “We Keep Going” language (slide 29) for more examples of constructions that speak to community. 

Secondary Brand Language

These pages contain some additional, second-level voice constructions. Use them deeper in a document, or for audiences who are more familiar with our brand and its elements, or when speaking to specific, detailed offerings of the University (rather than on behalf of the entire University). 


Use language that suggests the tireless, never-ending work that each of us commits ourselves to at Purdue. A giant leap isn’t always about the colossal achievement or the accolades — it’s about the work that we do every day to get us one step closer to the thing we’re working toward. 


For example:

  1. Attempting to write one perfect sentence. Again and again and again.
  2. Working to unlock the roots of Alzheimer’s disease. Again and again and again.
  3. Trying to fit all the right pieces into place. Again and again and again.


It speaks to the drive behind all our efforts. 

  1. We’re here to to accomplish something big. And we keep going to show the world what’s possible.
  2. We keep going because it’s what keeps us going.
  3. In the lab, in the field, in the studio and on the stage. We keep going.

Elevator Speeches

Pulling together multiple elements of our brand message, personality and voice, these examples of Purdue elevator speeches work to describe who we are and what we do quickly and succinctly

In 30 Seconds

At Purdue University, we never stop in our persistent pursuit of the next giant leap. Together, in this community, we are dedicated to providing an education built on respect that fosters learning. We engage in world-changing research, to deliver innovation. And we create an environment of inclusion and a culture of hard work that helps build balance and growth. We are here to develop practical solutions to the toughest challenges we face today, so we can build a better world together.

In 15 Seconds

At Purdue University, we never stop in our persistent pursuit of the next giant leap. Through world-changing research and education in a culture of inclusion and hard work, we are developing practical solutions to the toughest challenges, building a better world, together.

In 240 Characters

At Purdue University, we never stop in our persistent pursuit of the next giant leap. We are here to develop practical solutions to the toughest challenges, building a better world, together.

Crafting Content

Every time we communicate on behalf of Purdue University, we have an opportunity to delight our audiences and further build affinity for this institution, creating something permanent and lasting in the hearts and minds of our audiences.

When we craft content, we must bring together all the elements in our brand’s toolbox — bringing together our voice and tone, personality, key messages, an understanding of our audiences, and the structures that denote who we are and what we stand for — to go beyond a simple reporting of the facts and tell a compelling story.

In the section that follows, you’ll find a variety of tactics, suggestions and things to keep in mind when writing about Purdue. While it’s impossible to employ every brand element in every communication, the more we can connect our messages to these fundamental ideas, the more effective our storytelling can become.

Tips for Writing

Good writing feels purposeful, intentional and — above all — believable. Here are several principles to keep in mind when crafting your next communication.

3 Things You Always Have to Do

Give your audience something to be interested in.

Give your audience something to care about.

Give your audience a way to connect to the work that we’re doing.

Some Ways to Try to Get There

Start with a hook. Give them a reason to care right away. Lead with a benefit.

Find an angle. A story should be about one thing. Place, process, purpose, people.

Find the hero. People are at the heart of everything we do. Put them there.

Reveal our character. You don’t always have to say “The Next Giant Leap.” But you should always show the way we’re persistently pursuing it. Demonstrate what Purdue is doing to create possibilities for our students, our state and our world.

Breathe life into every word. Our voice is personal — we write like we talk. Read it out loud to test.

Avoid jargon and hyperbole. Even if it’s what everybody says. Especially if it’s what everybody says.

Cut out excess. Say only what you need to say. Get to the point without using unnecessary words.

Say one thing well. Don’t overwhelm your audience with information or tiresome lists of information.

Use inclusive pronouns. “We” speak to “you” whenever possible. Our voice is a conversational one.

Show the impact of our work. Every story should reveal why we do the things we do.

Make an emotional connection. Decide how you want your audience to feel, and write accordingly.

Draft a plot. Rather than state the benefit, dramatize it. Show our brand promise at work.

Find the voice. As a rule of thumb, start with a compelling message and an understanding of our personality. By following these guidelines, we will all begin to craft an identifiable and consistent brand voice. 

Bringing It Together

What Are We Talking About Here?

How does this story show how we’re persistently pursuing the next giant leap? 

How does this story represent the way we’re delivering practical solutions to today’s toughest challenges? 

How does this story illustrate the ways that people bring their best and learn to build a better world together?

How are we doing this in a way that’s different from other institutions?

How does this embody and celebrate the spirit of who we are at Purdue? 

Who Are We Talking to Here?

List all possible audiences for your story.

Prioritize them.

Determine what they care about. 

Use your understanding of them to influence the casualness or formality of our voice.

What Larger Truth Is This Story Revealing About Purdue University?

If you think of the specifics of your story as proof points, what point are they proving?

Find ways to connect the details with the larger benefits and attributes of the institution.

Use the message map from our brand strategy as your guide.

Choose just one big message and go with it.

Tips When Writing Shorter Copy

When space is limited (social media, banners, billboards, etc.), it’s still important to incorporate as much of our brand voice as possible. Try to keep all the preceding tips in mind and use them as you can. But when you’re keeping a close eye on your word count, and you only have 10 or so words to convey hundreds of words of content, consider the following: 

1. Craft a Narrative, but Quick

How quickly can you tell your reader: 

  1. Who we are
  2. Why we matter
  3. Why people should care (Don’t waste a word.)

2. At the Highest Level, Brand Language Carries a Lot of Weight.

When you only have a couple of words, it’s often the best time to use our most-used ones. 

Building the next giant leap. The persistent pursuit of the next giant leap. Innovation, with every small step.

Use words that already say a lot about Purdue. 

3. Speak Directly to Your Reader.

Particularly in social media, this is where we can get up close and personal with our audiences. Get right to it and get right at them. 

4. Say Just One Thing.

Nowhere is this advice more important. When you can’t say much, just say one thing well. This isn’t the time to confuse your reader with lots of messages. 

5. Give a Clear Call to Action.

In addition to the one thing we want them to know, there should be one thing we want them to do. If possible, give your reader actionable next steps. 

Purdue Voice Checklist

When writing any communication, ask yourself:

  • Does this relate to our positioning statement?
  • Does it lead with audience benefits?
  • Are they paid off with our attributes?
  • Does it sound like something a person with our brand’s personality traits would say?
  • Is at least one of our key messages included?
  • Is this appropriate for the intended audience, and conveys the relevant aspects of our personality?
  • Does it get to the point, or is the key message buried?
  • Do the headlines convey our voice, or are they simply labeling the content?
  • Does it move beyond a simple statement of the facts to reveal something bigger about Purdue? 

Social Media Tips


How to use it

Many of our audiences communicate through one or more of the four main social media channels. It’s important to keep in mind how various users interact with these different channels, and how this behavior translates to engagement with our brand. Below are high-level practices to consider so that the appropriate content, crafted in the right manner, is effectively received.

Tweet live-event updates, engage one on one with the campus community, and seek out and engage with the academic community. 

Users and Successful Content

Current Students: Answering questions about facility issues, when things are open, upcoming events

Campus Leaders: University news

Peers and Experts: University news

Prospective Students: Retweeted acceptance letters, info about student and academic life

Supporters: University news and big achievements

Copy Approach
Image Production Value


How to use it 

Share news, updates, photos and videos that highlight Purdue’s academic community. 

Users and Successful Content

Current Students

Prospective Graduate Students: Student success stories with visual content, student life, and big University events and traditions

Parents: Student success stories with visual content (videos are best) and fun traditions

Copy Approach
Image Production Value


How to use it 

Post visually striking, “in the moment” photos and videos that give a sense of student life across all programs.

Users and Successful Content

Prospective Students: Student and academic life, student takeovers, quizzes about student life, beautiful pictures, fun videos, student success stories 

Current Students: Student and academic life, student takeovers, quizzes about student life, beautiful pictures, fun videos, student success stories, campus events

Copy Approach
Image Production Value

IG Stories

How to use it 

Post in-the-moment or behind-the-scenes photos and videos that give a sense of student life across all programs.

Users and Successful Content

Prospective and Current Students: Student and academic life, student takeovers, fun videos, University events

Copy Approach
Image Production Value

Editorial Guide

M&M has established a tiered system of style resources for reference, listed below in order of priority:

  • Purdue University’s Editorial Style Guide (see below): This resource answers questions specific to Purdue that other style resources do not address. It also lists Purdue-specific exceptions to the rules in the resources named directly below.
  • The Associated Press Stylebook: More than just a collection of rules, the AP Stylebook is part dictionary, part encyclopedia and part textbook. It is an eclectic source of information for writers and editors of all publications. Unless an exception is listed in the Purdue style guide, the AP Stylebook should be followed. The paid-membership online version is available at apstylebook.com; print copies are also available for purchase.

Note: If you have a style question that is not addressed in the resources mentioned above, please contact marketing@purdue.edu.

Entries (alphabetical)

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ABBREVIATIONS IN PARENTHESES AFTER NAME: Within sensible practice, this is acceptable (an exception to AP). This applies to various kinds of abbreviations such as:
• Initialisms: “… grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH).”
• Acronyms (pronounceable as a word): “… Indiana Department of Transportation (INDOT) ….”
Sensible practice helps all likely members of the audience in question, and thus exercises caution about relying too much on abbreviations. Some factors:
• Don’t use a parenthetical abbreviation if the abbreviation will not appear again in the piece.
• Be sure to show the relationship if the abbreviation doesn’t look like the name (C3Bio).
• Don’t weary the reader with abbreviations. Saying “at the center” works fine too.
• Also good: “… the Military Family Research Institute, or MFRI, ….”
• Also good: “… the Department of Technology Leadership and Innovation. Last year, TLI initiated ….”
ABBREVIATIONS INSTEAD OF NAMES: This is a judgment call based on level of familiarity:
1. Acceptable in all uses: NASA, FBI, LGBTQ. Consult AP for non-Purdue entities.
2. Acceptable for first reference with spelled-out name to follow: STEM. At Purdue West Lafayette, CERIAS, EPICS. For some limited audiences, no full reference may be needed, but be wary of leaving any readers confused. Also, sometimes an abbreviation makes a headline more compact but the name needs to appear very early in the body copy.
(added May 2019)
academic units
Use capitalization when listing an academic unit by its formal name (e.g., College of Liberal Arts). Capitalize a shortened form (e.g., Liberal Arts) if and only if it refers to the unit in the administrative sense versus a field of study. Example: “…. There are seven departments in Science. Job options are especially plentiful for computer science graduates.” On first reference, use the actual name, not an inverted name such as “the physics department.”
Do not capitalize “college” or “school” in subsequent or generic references such as “the college” or “the school.” Do not capitalize the words “colleges” or “schools” when referring to more than one individual school or college, e.g., “the colleges of Pharmacy and Agriculture.” (From “plurals” in AP.)
Alphabetize by discipline, not by categories or person’s names in the unit’s title. See list for examples. Use the word “and.” The official names of all academic units at the West Lafayette campus (except Bands & Orchestras) use the word “and,” not an ampersand (&). By AP, “and” and “&” are not interchangeable in official names. A few units have a serial comma in the name, and that is to be retained where possible. (renamed and revised May 2019)
List of colleges/schools at Purdue West Lafayette and their schools, departments and divisions
In return addresses and in running text, treat addresses with the style indicated in the “addresses” entry of The Associated Press Stylebook (hereafter referred to as AP Stylebook). For mailing addresses for campus buildings, see the campus map at purdue.edu/campus_map.
Note: When addressing an envelope to someone for a bulk mailing, use U.S. Postal Service style — all capital letters and no punctuation.
“All-American” Marching Band
Alumni Association, Purdue
The full name is Purdue Alumni Association, which is chartered separately and is not a unit of Purdue University. That full name should be used in formal letters, invitations and first reference in running text. Second reference can be the alumni association, the association or Purdue Alumni, as suits the kind of publication. The abbreviation “PAA” should not be used. (updated October 2017)
alumnus, alumni, alumna, alumnae
Use alumnus (alumni in the plural) when referring to a man who has attended a school. Use alumna (alumnae in the plural) for similar references to a woman. Use alumni when referring to a group of men and women.


Big Ten Conference
In this phrase, “Ten” is always spelled out. Generally speaking, first reference is “Big Ten Conference.”
The Big Ten, established in January 1895, currently has 14 conference members: University of Illinois, Indiana University, University of Iowa, University of Maryland, University of Michigan, Michigan State University, University of Minnesota, University of Nebraska, Northwestern University, The Ohio State University, The Pennsylvania State University, Purdue University, Rutgers University and University of Wisconsin.
It is acceptable and common to use the forms above, rather than, e.g., “the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign” or “the University of Wisconsin-Madison,” unless there is need to distinguish from other places or to be formal.
B1G — This Big Ten logo is intended mainly for athletic purposes. No one at Purdue outside Intercollegiate Athletics can use B1G without the conference’s permission; consult Purdue’s Trademarks and Licensing group. Also outside Athletics, do not use the B1G logo (or the group of characters) or any similar logo as a word in a sentence or headline. (revised October 2017)
Board of Trustees/board of trustees
Capitalize “Board of Trustees” in reference to the Purdue University Board of Trustees; thereafter, use “the board” or “the trustees” when referring to that specific group. Do not capitalize “board of trustees” in conjunction with a company name.
When including Purdue’s nickname in text, prefer the term “Boilermakers.” Intercollegiate Athletics prefers the use of “Boilermakers” to the shortened form, “Boilers,” but understands that there are exceptions, such as headlines and cheers.
Boilermaker Special
The Boilermaker Special, Purdue’s official mascot, resembles a train locomotive. The latest version, Boilermaker Special VII, was dedicated on Sept. 3, 2011. A smaller version is called Boilermaker Xtra Special and also can be used for indoor events. The latest version, Boilermaker Xtra Special VIII, was dedicated on Oct. 7, 2017. The Purdue Reamer Club has been entrusted by the University to be the caretaker of the Boilermaker Special and Boilermaker Xtra Special. (revised April 2018).
building names
See the campus map for building names, abbreviations and mailing addresses.
In mailing addresses and running text, it is acceptable to use short forms of building names, e.g., “Beering Hall” instead of “Steven C. Beering Hall of Liberal Arts and Education.” If your client voices a preference for listing the whole name or using an alternate short form such as “Beering Hall of Liberal Arts and Education,” defer to the client and be consistent in this usage across the client’s publications.


Lowercase the “c” in “campus” whenever referring to particular Purdue locations — e.g., “West Lafayette campus,” “Fort Wayne campus,” etc.
campus names
The university system is named Purdue University. The full names of its campuses (use hyphens where shown, not en dashes, and without spaces):
  • Purdue University West Lafayette. In appropriate contexts, when no confusion should arise, it is acceptable to follow the general public perception that this is Purdue University, or Purdue.
  • Purdue University Northwest
    • Purdue University Northwest-Hammond Campus
    • Purdue University Northwest-Westville Campus
On second reference, generally Purdue Northwest or PNW. In all references, do not distinguish between Hammond and Westville unless the distinction is important, as in the location of an event. Second references can be Hammond campus, Westville campus, or simply at Hammond or at Westville.
    Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis. Abbreviation is IUPUI. Purdue operates and manages certain programs.
  • Purdue University Fort Wayne. Second reference is Purdue Fort Wayne; the abbreviation “PFW” should not be used.
This became an official institution on July 1, 2018, concluding the legal separation of Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne, known as IPFW. Purdue Fort Wayne offers most of the academic and associated programs at Fort Wayne, as well as athletics.
   Also becoming official July 1, 2018, was Indiana University Fort Wayne, which operates and manages health sciences programs (nursing, dental education, and medical imaging and radiography) at Fort Wayne. Second reference is IU Fort Wayne.
   Avoid casting the restructuring as a name change. It involved realignment of programs, property and administration. Also, references to the institution, its people and its operations and activities up through June 30, 2018, should call it IPFW and include any needed explanation of that usage.
(updated July 2018) Purdue system
This term should be hyphenated in all uses to avoid misreading.
In general, avoid unnecessary capitals. See AP Stylebook for guidelines. See also “titles” and “professor” in this guide.
When referring to a group of juniors and/or seniors, “upperclassmen” may be used. When referring to a group of first-year students and/or sophomores, “underclassmen” may be used. Do not use “upperclass students,” “lowerclass students” or “underclass students.”
Purdue’s colors are old gold and black. It is acceptable in many uses to say “gold and black.” It is not appropriate to reverse the order and say “black and gold.” A school’s colors are an identity, not merely a list. (added October 2017)
course names
It is acceptable to abbreviate a subject field when followed by the course number in text: ENGL 56000
When listing the whole course name, use the following treatment: ENGL 56000 (Modern American Poetry)


DEGREE TYPES. When writing about degrees, use these terms in lowercase: doctoral degree or doctorate, master’s degree, bachelor’s degree, associate degree. NOT: doctorate degree. NOT: associate’s degree.
DEGREE NAMES. The actual name of a degree is capitalized: Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Science, Master of Arts, Master of Science.
Most degree names do not include the subject area, which if mentioned is lowercase unless the word is a proper noun. Examples: Bachelor of Arts degree in history; Master of Arts in Spanish literature. But when using the generic degree type: a bachelor’s in English; a master’s degree in agronomy.
Some degree names include the subject area, which means the subject area is part of what is capitalized; the best clue often is the abbreviation: Bachelor of Science in Nursing, or BSN; Master of Science in Mechanical Engineering, or MSME.
DEGREE ABBREVIATIONS. An exception to AP style: Degree abbreviations do not require periods no matter how many letters in them: BA, MS, PhD, DVM, PharmD
USE OF DEGREE INFORMATION. Most communications will identify a person’s position and should not mention degrees or other qualifications. However, profiles, previews of a coming speaker, alumni identification in alumni publications or University pieces to a University audience — such things may warrant mention of degrees.
Example using parentheses: Goldie Smith (BS communication ’88) says she watches all Boilermaker basketball games.
Example using nonessential clause: Lou Scannon, who earned her bachelor’s in communication in 1988, went on to earn a law degree at UC Berkeley. (Cf. AP Stylebook “essential clauses, nonessential clauses; especially the examples.)
MULTIPLE DEGREES. When listing multiple degrees, it’s usually most efficient to include them within a parenthesis, separated by comma. Thus: Neal Downe (BS biology ’88, MS biology ’90, DVM ’94)
SUPERSEDED DEGREES. When referring to a degree that’s no longer offered at Purdue, make an effort to cite the degree earned by the individual, not the modern form of it. For example, before 1959, students could earn a degree in metallurgical engineering, abbreviated as MetE, from the School of Chemical Engineering. In 1959, the study of metallurgy was incorporated into the newly forged School of Materials Engineering.
Pre-1959: Natalie Klad (BSMetE ’55)
1959-today: Phil S. Stein (BSME ’79)
(updated and renamed May 2019)
The wording is “students with disabilities,” which places emphasis on the person, not the disability. In certain contexts, “students with special needs” might be the best phrasing.
Follow the guidelines used in the AP Stylebook with the following exceptions.
It is acceptable to use “Dr.” with the last name in first and subsequent references. However, depending on audiences and use of the piece, the use of the last name alone is preferred.
If an honorific is required, it is preferred (if the person has a PhD and is on the faculty) to use “Professor” rather than “Dr.” on these subsequent references. Dr. is to be used for medical doctors, dentists, optometrists, osteopaths, podiatrists and veterinarians.
Example:John Smith, professor of biology, oversaw the research project. Smith’s previous research on this subject has been published in several scientific journals, and he is considered an expert on the topic. (Preferred, especially in news releases.)
John Smith, professor of biology, oversaw the research project. Professor Smith’s previous research on this subject has been published in several scientific journals, and he is considered an expert on the topic. (Preferred, when honorific is required.)
See also “professor.”
Do not use. The preferred terminology is “residence hall” or “residence.”


em dash
An em dash (—) should be placed in text with a space before and after. Note: To create an em dash in Microsoft Word (on a Macintosh platform), hold down the shift and option keys, then press the hyphen (-) key. If the computer or output system isn’t able to produce an em dash, use a double hyphen instead.
en dash
Use a hyphen instead of an en dash in accordance with AP’s practice.
equal opportunity statements
Every Purdue University print and online publication, including but not limited to websites, magazines, banners, posters, mailers, invitations and billboards, must include an equal opportunity statement. There are two such statements — with the specific parameters of usage explained below.
All pieces that relate to faculty/staff employment and recruitment must use the following statement in full: Purdue is an EOE/AA employer. All individuals, including minorities, women, individuals with disabilities and veterans, are encouraged to apply.
All other Purdue materials — not pertaining to faculty-staff employment and recruitment — must include one of these statements: An equal access/equal opportunity university or EA/EOU
(updated and renamed April 2019)


The phrase “first-year student” is preferred; however, “freshman” is still used in cases where a distinction needs to be made between a beginning college student and someone who has transferred but is in his/her first year at Purdue. “Freshman” also is acceptable in headlines and in phrases such as “freshman class” (it is not “freshmen class”).


gender: adjectives/nouns
When you need to specify gender, use “female” or “male” as the adjective and “woman” or “man” when you need a noun.
Greater Lafayette
When referring to the Lafayette-West Lafayette community, use “Greater Lafayette.” (updated December 2017)


This is an acronym for the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (i.e., people pronounce it as a word, Hipp-uh). It is acceptable on any reference, but depending on context, also use the title of the act and/or an explanatory phrase such as health information privacy law or the federal law restricting release of personal medical information. (added July 2018)


Intercollegiate Athletics
Refer to this Purdue entity as “Intercollegiate Athletics,” not as Athletic Department, Department of Intercollegiate Athletics or Athletics. In addition, leave out the words “division of” in references to this area.
Neovision is the official eye care provider for Intercollegiate Athletics.
Internet of Things
This widely accepted capitalized form is normally the first reference. Second reference is the same thing or IoT. For a few audiences, “IoT” may be enough, but be careful of assuming familiarity among general readers. An explanatory phrase or sentence might be this: “The Internet of Things is the connection of devices of many types, including home and vehicle devices used by most people, via an internet such that devices can signal one another without additional direct human action.” (added July 2018)


Krannert School of Management
Because the Krannert School of Management is a named school, do not omit the word “Krannert” on first reference. On second reference, use “the Krannert School,” “the school” or “Krannert.”


land-grant/land grant
Requires a hyphen when used as an adjective. No hyphen is needed when used as a noun. This rule applies to “sea-grant/sea grant” and “space-grant/space grant” also.
When using all three together follow this order:
Purdue is a land-, sea- and space-grant university.
Use a lowercase “l” when using this term, as is the practice of Wired Style.


In running text, do not capitalize the names of majors unless the major itself is a proper noun, e.g., forestry, English, American studies. However, in tables or bulleted lists at the start of a bulleted line, it’s acceptable to capitalize majors.
She is majoring in mathematics education.
He is an English major. (updated October 2017)
master’s degrees
Generic references to these degrees are lowercase and include an apostrophe followed by an “s.” Formal references use initial capital letters and no possessives.
Master of Arts
master’s degree
middle initials
Avoid the use of middle initials unless there is an exception for clarification or in more formal programs.


Neil Armstrong Hall of Engineering
When referring to Neil Armstrong Hall of Engineering a second time or in shortened form, use “Neil Armstrong Hall” instead of “Armstrong Hall.” This reminds people, especially outsiders, which Armstrong this is. “Stanley Coulter Hall” is the other building for which Purdue retains a person’s first name in general use. (revised December 2017)
nondiscrimination policy statement
See Purdue’s Nondiscrimination Policy Statement


October break
A single word alone on the last line of a paragraph must have five or more letters.


Polytechnic High School, Purdue
Purdue Polytechnic High School is a charter school in downtown Indianapolis. This reinvented high school, with a focus on science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education, opened its doors July 31, 2017. The first reference can include its location in nearby text: “in downtown Indianapolis “and should include “Indiana” when necessary.
Preferred second reference is “the high school.” It is acceptable also to call it Purdue Polytechnic High School Indianapolis.
(added July 2018) URL: Purdue Polytechnic High School
Polytechnic Institute, Purdue
The Purdue Polytechnic Institute, formerly the College of Technology, was renamed by the Board of Trustees in May 2015. On second reference, Purdue Polytechnic. Polytechnic is acceptable if the meaning, which includes the Purdue connection, is clear and the context is suitable. Do not use PPI.
The Polytechnic Institute is one of 10 academic colleges on the West Lafayette campus of Purdue University. Polytechnic also offers select degree programs in nine Indiana communities: Anderson, Columbus, Indianapolis, Kokomo, Lafayette, New Albany, Richmond, South Bend and Vincennes. To refer to a specific program location, it is Purdue Polytechnic , e.g., Purdue Polytechnic Anderson, Purdue Polytechnic Vincennes. Refer to them as locations, not campuses.
Polytechnic and its locations are separate from Purdue Fort Wayne’s School of Polytechnic, an academic unit formed in December 2017 by merger of academic units within PFW’s College of Engineering, Technology and Computer Science.
(updated July 2018) URL: Purdue Polytechnic Institute. See also Polytechnic High School, Purdue.
When adding a postscript to a letter, use capital letters and place a period after each letter.
P.S. Your participation is crucial to our goal of increasing participation in the Krannert Annual Fund by 500 alumni.
preeminent, preeminence
A spelling exception to AP (“pre-“) based on ongoing usage at Purdue. (added October 2017)
presidents, Purdue
The 12th president of Purdue University is typically identified as “President Mitch Daniels” on first reference; thereafter, use “Daniels” or “the president” or, in some types of communication, “President Daniels.” He began his term on Jan. 14, 2013.
In formal or official capacities, the president’s full name of “Mitchell E. Daniels, Jr.” is often appropriate. (The comma before “Jr.” is the president’s preference and is an exception to Associated Press style.)
President Daniels is married to Cheri Daniels. An example of the style for addressing them together in the same sentence is “President Mitch Daniels and first lady Cheri Daniels attended the event in Elliott Hall of Music.”
Recent presidents have been:
President Emerita France A. Córdova (11th; 2007-12)
President Emeritus Martin C. Jischke (10th; 2000-07)
President Emeritus Steven C. Beering (ninth; 1983-2000)
For a summary of Purdue’s past presidents, please see Purdue’s official past presidents page. (updated and renamed December 2017)
When referring to Purdue faculty members, use the title or rank given to them by the University. Apply the title “professor” only before or in reference to the name of a faculty member of professorial rank: professor, associate professor or assistant professor — not before or in reference to the name of a lecturer, teaching assistant or other staff member.
Do not abbreviate “assistant” or “associate” or “professor.”
Typical first reference: Kimberly Kinzig, associate professor of psychological sciences. Typical second reference: Kinzig.
In a quotation or other special usage or where context makes the “of” part entirely clear, “Professor Kinzig” or “Professor Kimberly Kinzig” is acceptable; the capitalization in this usage is an exception to the AP Stylebook. In such usages, omit “associate” or “assistant” unless part of the quotation.
DISTINGUISHED AND NAMED PROFESSORS (do not use “endowed” as a term for the whole group). When the title begins with a person’s name, use “the” to avoid the appearance of starting a list:
Mary Wirth, the W. Brooks Fortune Distinguished Professor of Chemistry
Thomas W. Hertel, Distinguished Professor of Agriculture
Tonglei Li, the Allen Chao Chair in Industrial and Physical Pharmacy
EMERITUS/EMERITA. This status is bestowed; it is not equal to “retired” (Office of the Provost has list). Indicate this status on first reference:
Thomas Clark, professor emeritus of physics and astronomy
Margaret Rowe, professor emerita of English
MORE THAN ONE TITLE: Include all titles on first reference if the sentence allows. Otherwise, list all titles in the first few sentences. This includes administrative titles. Start with the most relevant if possible.
Douglass Jacobs, the Fred M. van Eck Chair in Forest Biology and associate head of the Department of Forestry and Natural Resources.
Shelley MacDermid Wadsworth, director of the Center for Families. MacDermid Wadsworth is also professor of human development and family studies, as well as director of the Military Family Research Institute and executive director of the Family Impact Institute. (updated October 2017)


school/college names
See “academic units” entry.
serial commas
Avoid serial commas unless it is part of an official name (Department of Speech, Language, and Hearing Sciences) or is needed to avoid confusion.
spring break/spring vacation
The official term used by the Office of the Registrar is “spring vacation”; however, “spring break” may be used also. Lowercase both terms in running text. Capitalization may be used when the terms are used in calendars, tables, etc.
Student Transition, Advising and Registration (STAR)
This is the full name and exact punctuation of the program formerly known as Day on Campus. The program is most often referred to by its acronym.
This term is perhaps the best adjective/adverb to use when talking about things that span all Purdue campuses/locations.


telephone numbers
Use 10-digit numbers with hyphens as separators: 765-494-xxxx per AP. In lengthy lists, it is permissible to give the area code once for the whole list. (updated and renamed October 2017)
Because the Patti and Rusty Rueff School of Design, Art, and Performance consistently refers to its academic area of study as “theatre” and its performance stages as “theatres,” all Rueff School-related references should use the “re” spelling. However, references to movie or other performing theaters — and other generic usages — should use the “er” spelling unless it involves an “re” proper name.
In general, place identifications after a person’s name and set off by commas with a title in lowercase. Confine capitalization to formal titles used directly before an individual’s name. Titles used apart from a name also are lowercase. See also “professor” in this guide.
For more information, see AP Stylebook under “titles” (note subsections on long titles and additional guidance) and the cross references at the end, especially academic titles. AP also has entries for courtesy titles and categories of people such as military, religious or legislative; there also is a general entry for composition titles (books, TV, movies, music, art, software, etc.). (revised April 2018)


If you need one word to describe a group of first-year students and/or sophomores, use “underclassmen.” Do not use “lowerclass students” or “underclass students.”
The word “University” should be capitalized in instances where it stands for the longer phrase “Purdue University.” Examples: the University, our University, your University, this University.
Several famous astronauts have graduated from this University.
The worldwide presence of our University alumni helps bring in many students.
But: Purdue is a land-grant university. Purdue is Indiana’s land-grant university.
She said she always wanted to teach at a flagship university.
(revised May 2019)
When referring to Purdue University, capitalize “University-wide” and hyphenate it in all uses.
A gender-neutral group of juniors and/or seniors. Do not use “upperclass students.”
URLs should be set in plain type, not underlined or set in italics, etc. The situation, placement and audience help determine how much of a URL to show. However, whatever is shown must suffice for reaching the website. Thus, for some uses “purdue.edu” or “purduesports.com” is enough. URLs should always be tested.
If a URL can’t be listed on one line, never break it with a hyphen; rather, break the URL after a period, slash or double slash. A sentence including a URL takes end punctuation as a sentence normally does. (updated October 2017)
Use periods when abbreviating “United States,” both in texts and in headlines. The latter example is an exception to AP.


West Lafayette
Do not abbreviate “West” in “West Lafayette.”
West Lafayette campus
The “c” should be lowercase in running text.


year in school
See “class” entry.
In cases where the century doesn’t change, inclusive years should be formatted as follows:
But: 1998-2002