Editorial style guide

Colorado School of Mines uses the Associated Press (AP) Style Guide for all digital and print materials, including all websites. Our goal is to present a consistent and high standard of writing that appropriately reflects Mines’ standard of excellence.

This online guide provides some of the most common style tips as well as Mines-specific information, such as official names of departments and buildings, abbreviations and capitalizations.


Abbreviations should be utilized to enhance comprehension, such as when your copy refers repeatedly to a lengthy name or term that has a commonly accepted abbreviation.

Ampersand (&)

Do not use the ampersand as an abbreviation for “and.” Only use it when it is a part of an official name of department, product or proper noun.


Spell out the full name of states when used in the body of text, whether standing alone or in conjunction with a city or town (e.g., Golden, Colorado).

United States

  • Use periods with the two-letter abbreviation for United States (U.S.)
  • Do not use periods with the three-letter abbreviation for United States of America (USA)


  • Use abbreviations sparingly unless your readership is familiar with them.
  • Always spell out the first occurrence of them on the page and follow with the abbreviation in parenthesis.
  • Additionally, avoid using periods in abbreviations unless confusion may be a result (e.g., write VP rather than V.P.).

Academic Degrees


For a master’s or doctoral degree, use MS or PhD (with no periods) to denote the level of their degree: Smith MS ’64. If multiple degrees have been earned, separate them with a comma and space: Smith ’64, MS ’76, PhD ’82.


When spelling out degrees, lowercase bachelor’s degree, master’s degree and doctorate; but capitalize Bachelor of Arts and Master of Science, etc.


When listing alumni in school publications, indicate their year of graduation and the level of the degree. No comma is necessary between the last name and class year.

Use an open single quote as the apostrophe for omitted figures: Class of ’70; The Spirit of ’76.

For undergraduate degrees, simply use an apostrophe, followed by the two-digit year: Smith ’64.

When including specific information about the type of degree an alumni received, do not insert the degree abbreviation between the name and class year, but rather list separately: Joe Smith ’64, petroleum engineering.

Use an apostrophe in bachelor’s degree, a master’s, etc., but there is no possessive in Bachelor of Arts or Master of Science.

Current Students

For current students, do not use this notation, as it implies that they’ve earned a degree. Instead, refer to the class year or expected graduation year: Smith, Class of 2011; Smith, sophomore. 



Abbreviate avenue, boulevard and street only with a numbered address. Spell them out and capitalize them when part of a formal street name without a number.

1600 Pennsylvania Ave. / Pennsylvania Avenue

Mailing Addresses

Preferred format for campus addresses:

Name of Person
Name of Department/Office
Building Name, Room Number
Colorado School of Mines
Street Address
Golden, CO 80401


Alum, Alumni

“Alum” is the gender-neutral term used to refer to a single Mines graduate, rather than using the gendered terms “alumna” or “alumnus.” “Alumni” is used to refer to a group of Mines graduates.

Use full names and titles on first reference. In formal contexts, on second and subsequent references, use only last names, without courtesy titles, for both men and women regardless of marital status. When referring to alumni in informal contexts, first names can be used on second reference.

When listing alumni in school publications indicate their year of graduation and the level of the degree. No comma is necessary between the last name and class year.

Use an open single quote as the apostrophe for omitted figures: Class of ’70; The Spirit of ’76.

For undergraduate degrees, simply use an apostrophe, followed by the two-digit year: Smith ’64.

When including specific information about the type of degree an alumni received, do not insert the degree abbreviation between the name and class year, but rather list separately: Joe Smith ’64, petroleum engineering.

Use an apostrophe in bachelor’s degree, a master’s, etc., but there is no possessive in Bachelor of Arts or Master of Science.


  • Single degree: Joe Smith ’84
  • Multiple degrees: Joe Smith ’84, MS ’85, PhD ’90 (Note: “PhD” does not include periods)
  • Married couple (one individual with a Mines degree): Joe ’84 and Jane Smith
  • Married couple (both individuals with Mines degrees): Joe ’84 and Jane Smith ’84, MS ’85
  • Married couple (both individuals with Mines degrees and different last names): Joe Smith ’84 and Jane Johnson ’84

Colorado School of Mines Foundation

Use the full, formal name on first reference. When referring to “the Foundation,” do not capitalize. Do not use the acronym CSMF.

Building names

Campus Buildings

  • Alderson Hall
  • Arthur Lakes Library
  • Beck Venture Center (opening Fall 2023)
  • Ben H. Parker Student Center
  • Berthoud Hall
  • Brown Hall
  • Center for Academic Services and Advising (CASA)
  • Center for Technology and Learning Media (CTLM)
  • Chauvenet Hall
  • Coolbaugh Hall
  • Coolbaugh House/Multicultural Engineering Program House
  • CoorsTek Center for Applied Science and Engineering
  • Earth Mechanics Institute/Drilling Lab
  • Elm Hall
  • Engineering Hall
  • Engineering Hall Annex
  • General Research Laboratory (GRL)
  • General Research Laboratory Annex (GRL-A)
  • Green Center
  • Grounds Shop
  • Guggenheim Hall
  • Hill Hall
  • Labriola Innovation Hub (opening Fall 2023)
  • Marquez Hall
  • McNeil Hall
  • Mines Market
  • Mines Museum of Earth Science
  • Mines Veterans Alliance
  • Moly Building
  • Office of Institutional Equity
  • President’s Residence
  • ROTC/Military Science
  • Starzer Welcome Center
  • Stratton Hall
  • Student Outreach and Support (SOS)
  • U.S. Geological Survey
  • The Writing Center
  • W. Lloyd Wright Student Wellness Center
  • Women in Science, Engineering and Mathematics House
  • Alderson Hall
  • Berthoud Hall
  • Brown Hall
  • Chauvenet Hall
  • Coolbaugh Hall
  • CoorsTek Center for Applied Science and Engineering
  • Earth Mechanics Institute
  • Edgar Mine
  • Engineering Hall
  • Engineering Annex
  • General Research Lab
  • General Research Lab Annex
  • Green Center
  • Hill Hall
  • Marquez Hall
  • McBride Honors House
  • Military Science
  • Music at Mines
  • ROTC House
  • Stratton Hall
  • Team-UP House
  • Timberline Trailers 1 and 2
  • Unit Operations Lab
  • Volk Gymnasium


    • Alumni Field at Marv Kay Stadium
    • Clear Creek Athletic Complex
    • Joe Coors, Jr. Softball Field
    • Jim Darden Field
    • Jack Hancock Wrestling Center
    • Harold and Patricia Korell Athletics Center
    • Michael Lee Indoor Golf Center and Bear Creek Golf Club
    • Lockridge Arena
    • Outdoor Recreation Center (ORC)
    • Steinhauer Fieldhouse
    • Stermole Soccer Stadium
    • Stermole Track & Field Complex / Crouch Field Events Complex
    • Student Recreation Center
    • Russell H. Volk Gymnasium

    Greek Life

    • Alpha Phi International Sorority
    • Alpha Tau Omega Fraternity
    • Beta Theta Pi Fraternity
    • Kappa Alpha Theta Sorority
    • Kappa Sigma Fraternity
    • Phi Gamma Delta Fraternity (Fiji)
    • Pi Beta Phi Sorority
    • Sigma Alpha Epsilon Fraternity
    • Sigma Kappa Sorority
    • Sigma Nu Fraternity
    • Sigma Phi Epsilon Fraternity

    Residence Halls

    • 1750 Jackson St. Apartments
    • Bradford Hall
    • Elm Hall
    • Maple Hall
    • Mines Park Apartments
    • Morgan Hall
    • Randall Hall
    • Spruce Hall
    • Thomas Hall
    • Weaver Towers


    In general, official names and proper nouns are capitalized. Shortened forms of official names are lowercased.

    • The Ben H. Parker Student Center is a hub of activity on the Mines campus and provides meeting and event spaces for campus events. The student center is also a great place to meet for lunch or buy apparel at the bookstore.

    The Case for Lowercase

    Avoid unnecessary capitalization whenever possible. When too many words are capitalized, they lose their importance and no longer attract attention.

    Academic and Nonacademic Units and Bodies

    Capitalize only the complete and official names of the university, departments, offices and official bodies (such as Board of Trustees). Lowercase informal and shortened versions of all such names.

    • The Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences Department is dedicated to delivering a program of excellence in the humanities and social sciences designed to prepare students for the complex challenges of professional and private life in the 21st century.

    Academic Degrees

    Capitalize department names and office names, even when using shortened or unofficial names.

    • Julie earned a Bachelor of Science at Colorado School of Mines.
    • Julie earned a master’s degree in mechanical engineering last year.

    Department Names

    Capitalize the official department names and office names. 

    • The Department of Electrical Engineering is nationally known for its research.
    • Faculty members from Mining Engineering are conducting an industry salary survey.

    Jobs and Position Titles

    Capitalize formal titles only when they immediately precede the individual’s name or when they are named positions or honorary titles.

    • It’s common knowledge that President Paul C. Johnson likes to host pizza parties.
    • The president, Paul C. Johnson, often teaches civil and environmental engineering classes.
    • Have you taken a course from Professor Smith?
    • Joan Smith, a professor of physics, conducts a number of research projects.
    • The Board of Trustees meets less frequently during the summer months.
    • The trustees attended fewer official meetings during the summer.

    Titles in Address and Display Format

    When a title appears in an address or other display format (such as a list of administrators in an annual report), as opposed to running text, the title can be capitalized even if it appears after the name.

    • Mary Smith, Director
    • John Smith, Assistant Director

    Seasons and Semesters

    Seasons, semesters and terms should all be lowercase when referring to them generally but uppercase when attached to a date.

    • The new class is offered during the spring semester.
    • You can begin applying for Spring 2023 in the next several months.
    • Meal plans are not available during the Summer 2023 term.
    • The summer session begins in May.
    • Do you have plans for spring break?


    AP Style Guide suggests the formal title of Dr. be used only before the name of an individual who holds a doctorate in medicine, as that is what the public usually identifies the word doctor with.

    • Capitalize “Moon” when referring to the Earth’s moon. All other moons should be referred to by their proper name.
    • Proper spellings of:
      • M Climb
      • E-Days
      • Blastercard

    Composition titles


    Titles of larger publications, such as books, magazines, newspapers, journals, yearbooks, plays, musical albums, etc., are italicized. Capitalize the initial letters of a publication’s name.


    • Mines Magazine
    • Prospector
    • High Grade
    • The Oredigger

    Shorter works or works within a larger body of text, such as chapter titles, articles, poems, songs, conferences, seminars, speeches, etc., are enclosed in quotation marks but not italicized. Capitalize the principal words, including prepositions and conjunctions of four or more letters. Capitalize an article—the, a, an—or words of fewer than four letter if it is the first or last word in a title.


    • The paper, “Ferroelastic twin reorientation mechanisms in shape memory alloys elucidated with 3D X-ray microscopy,” is set to be published in March in the Journal of the Mechanics and Physics of Solids.
    • The poem “Blue” was published in the 2018 edition of High Grade.
    • A workshop titled “The Use of the Library” will be held next week.

    Websites and apps are not italicized or enclosed in quotation marks: (Facebook, Instagram, Google).

    Religious texts are capitalized and are not italicized. Do not use italics or quotation marks around primary catalogs of reference, including the dictionary, directories and handbooks.

    Enclosed in Quotation Marks

    Titles of these should be non-italicized and enclosed in quotation marks (e.g., To learn about a great Fort Collins biking trail, read the blog entry “Blue Sky Trail” on the mountain biking blog Rubber Side Down).

    • Articles
    • Episodes
    • Short stories
    • Webpages
    • Blog entries
    • Book chapters
    • Poems
    • Conference papers
    • Presentations
    • Essays, dissertations, theses

    Dates and times

    Days of the Week

    Always spell out the days of the week, even when preceding a date.

    Months of the Year

    Only abbreviate months when accompanied with a date. Spell the month out if it stands alone or with the year only.

    • The first day of spring classes is Jan. 9.
    • Spring classes start in January.
    • We graduate in May 2023.

    AP Style for Month Abbreviations

    • Jan.
    • Feb.
    • March
    • April
    • May
    • June
    • July
    • Aug.
    • Sept.
    • Oct.
    • Nov.
    • Dec.


    No comma is needed between a month and a year, but commas are required before and after a year when month, date and year are used.

    • She began her studies in August 2014 and completed them in May 2018.
    • She began her studies on Aug. 10, 2014, and completed them on May 17, 2018.
    • She began class Tuesday, Aug. 1, at the CoorsTek Center for Applied Science and Engineering.


    Use figures with a.m. or p.m. (lowercase letters). Use noon or midnight to replace 12 p.m. and 12 a.m. for clarity. Do not include minutes for times on the hour (8 a.m. not 8:00 a.m.).

    • The meeting will begin at 9 a.m.
    • The event is from 7 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.

    Calendar Dates

    Leave out ordinal indicators when presenting dates.

    • YES: July 26, 2023
    • NO: July 26th, 2023
    • YES: Oct. 1, 2023
    • NO: Oct. 1st, 2023

    Span of Years

    Use a dash for continuing or inclusive numbers. Do not use a dash as a substitute for the word to.

    • The 2022–2023 academic year concluded with May graduation.
    • She taught in the geology department from 2001 to 2017.


    These guidelines apply to all Mines writing except for scientific, statistical, technical and mathematical writing.

    Spell Out One to Nine, Use Figures for 10 and Above

    • The Mines Foundation recognized 10 people at the awards ceremony, including two alumni who have demonstrated extraordinary service to Mines.

    Exceptions: Always use figures for headlines, percentages, decimals, credit hours, GPAs, book sections and pages, ages, distances and dimensions, quantities combining whole numbers and fractions, and when symbols rather than abbreviations are used for units of measure.

    Use the percent word in formal running text, but use the percent sign in tables, charts, scientific and statistical copy.

    • Please print the contract on 8.5” x 11” paper.
    • She carried 16 credit hours and earned a 3.2 GPA while spending 30 percent of her time working.
    • He walked 5 miles to campus.
    • He is 7 years old, and his uncle is 42 years old.
    • There are three steps into the building.
    • Spring break begins in four days.

    Large Numbers

    Use a combination of figures and words with numbers in the millions and larger.

    • The overall state population increased by 2.1 million.

    Use a comma for numbers with more than three digits unless they represent SAT scores or years.

    • The book, which was initially published in 1911, has 1,523 pages.
      Her combined SAT score was 1327.

    At the Start of a Sentence

    Spell out a number at the beginning of a sentence or rephrase the sentence to avoid beginning with a number.

    • Eighty-three students graduated in May last year.


    Spell out fractions less than 1, using hyphens between the words. For mixed numbers, use 1 1/2, 2 5/8, etc. with a full space between the whole number and the fraction.

    • One-third of the class arrived early.
    • A four-fifths majority voted to repeal the judge.


    When including a phone number, do not add parenthesis to the area code. The format should be 303-XXX-XXXX.



    Use a single space between sentences.


    When indicating the possessive for names, use and apostrophe followed by an s unless the name ends in s.

    • Kansas’ team
    • Emily’s class
    • Jones’ theorem

    Do not use an apostrophe to indicate plurals, including the plurals of acronyms and abbreviations, unless confusion would result without the apostrophe (the first two examples below).

    • There are five s’s in that word.
    • She received straight A’s.
    • There are five 5s in that number.
    • There were five PhDs in last year’s class.

    Exception—The Possessive of Mines

    While possessive nouns do need an apostrophe, it’s preferred to avoid structures that require it when referring to Mines.

    Possessive nouns always need the apostrophe.
    OK: Mines’ expert faculty members are well known for cutting-edge research initiatives.

    BETTER: The expert faculty members at Mines are well known for cutting-edge research initiatives.

    When “Mines” functions as an adjective that modifies a noun, no apostrophe is needed.
    Ex. Mines students are about to take their finals.
    Ex. The students at Mines are about to take their finals.

    If “Mines” is part of a proper noun, no apostrophe is needed.
    Ex. Mines President Paul C. Johnson joined Golden city officials to celebrate the start of construction on a new residence hall.


    In a Series
    Do not put a comma before the conjunction and the final element in a simple series. Do use a comma before the final conjunction in a complex series of phrases or when needed to avoid ambiguity.

    • Many national flags are red, white and blue.
    • Bachelor’s degrees are offered in chemistry, applied mathematics and statistics, and computer science.

    In Complex and Compound Sentences
    Use a comma before a conjunction that introduces an independent clause.

    • The photography club is having an exhibition at the Student Center this week, and there will be a hands-on demonstration Friday evening.
    • I like to go to football games and watch the marching band.

    Em Dashes

    Em dashes are used to denote a sudden break in thought that causes an abrupt change in sentence structure.

    • The Mines Marching Band wears red and black plaid shirts, jeans, hiking boots and hard hats—a unique tradition at the university.


    Compound adjectives that precede nouns should be hyphenated when necessary to avoid ambiguity.

    • The top-seeded player won the tournament.
    • He had a part-time job, but his roommate worked full time.

    Don’t use a hyphen in a compound that starts with an adverb ending in ly.

    • She ran a highly regarded program.

    Quotation Marks

    Following AP Style Guide, commas and periods go inside quotation marks, and colons and semicolons go outside quotation marks. Other punctuation goes inside the quotation marks if/when it’s part of the quotation.


    Use semicolons to indicate a greater separation of thought and information than a comma can convey or to separate elements.

    • Mines officials at the meeting included Paul C. Johnson, president; Richard C. Holz, provost; and Anne Walker, vice president and general counsel.

    Use exclamation points sparingly, if at all.

    School, center, division names


    Use the full name—Colorado School of Mines—on first reference. After that, Mines is the appropriate abbreviated version.

    • Do not use CSM.
    • Do not put the word “the” in front of the full name—it is Colorado School of Mines

    Centers / Institutes

    Capitalize the full formal names, such as the Trefny Innovative Instruction Center, but lowercase for the shorter form—the center.


    Capitalize the full formal names, such as Applied Mathematics and Statistics Department.

    Academic Departments

    • Applied Mathematics and Statistics
    • Chemical and Biological Engineering
    • Chemistry
    • Civil and Environmental Engineering
    • Colorado Geological Survey
    • Computer Science
    • Economics and Business
    • Electrical Engineering
    • Engineering, Design & Society
    • Geology and Geological Engineering
    • Geophysics
    • Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences
    • Mechanical Engineering
    • Metallurgical and Materials Engineering
    • Mining Engineering
    • Petroleum Engineering
    • Physics

    Interdisciplinary Programs

    • Advanced Energy Systems
    • Advanced Manufacturing
    • Data Science
    • FEA Professional
    • Geochemistry
    • GIS and Geoinformatics
    • Humanitarian Engineering and Science
    • Hydrologic Science and Engineering
    • Materials Science
    • Nuclear Science and Engineering
    • Operations Research with Engineering
    • Quantitative Biosciences and Engineering
    • Quantum Engineering
    • Robotics
    • Space Resources
    • Underground Construction and Tunneling Engineering