Skip to main content
Communications and Marketing

Bloomberg School Editorial Style Guide

Updated January 2022



As communicators, we make a range of decisions as we work to create clear, engaging content. Some of these decisions are constrained by rules about grammar and punctuation. Others—which spelling to use, whether to use acronyms or capitalize certain terms—are a matter of style. This guide aims to clarify our style choices in order to ensure consistency among all publications, print and digital, across the Bloomberg School.

These guidelines draw from current editions of the AP Stylebook and from guidelines compiled by editors in the Office of Communications at Johns Hopkins University. For topics not listed below, please consult the most recent AP guidelines. For points not addressed by AP, consult Webster’s New World College Dictionary.

If you require access to the AP Stylebook for your work at the Bloomberg School, have questions about topics not addressed here, or have a suggestion about clearer usage, please contact Melissa Hartman at

Names: The Bloomberg School and Johns Hopkins University


In first reference in running copy, use the School’s official name: Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. For second references, internal publications, or informal usage, use the Bloomberg School or the School.

Effective January 2022, the School’s official acronym is BSPH, which may be used in captions and graphics. In running text, spell out the School’s name.


Note that “North” is abbreviated and “Street” is spelled out:

615 N. Wolfe Street, W1600
Baltimore, MD 21205

The building at this address is called the Wolfe Street Building.


Here is the proper style for the School’s vision in stand-alone form (not part of a sentence):

Protecting Health, Saving Lives—Millions at a Time

When using the vision in running copy (part of a sentence), lowercase all words.

The Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health is dedicated to protecting health and saving lives—millions at a time.

Note that “millions at a time” is separated from the rest of the sentence by an em dash with no spaces before or after, and is always italicized.


From the JHU Style Guide: The preferred shortened name for Johns Hopkins University is Johns Hopkins, not Hopkins.

Capitalize “The” only when the name stands alone, as in a program or invitation. In running copy, do not capitalize “the”; either lowercase it or leave it out.

Ronald J. Daniels is president of the Johns Hopkins University (or of Johns Hopkins University).


Except for the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, the names of all the University’s divisions are preceded by Johns Hopkins University, e.g., the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, the Johns Hopkins University Zanvyl Krieger School of Arts and Sciences. As a shortened form, it is correct to leave out University in this usage: Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. University is always omitted with the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

Johns Hopkins University comprises nine degree-granting, or academic, divisions and the Applied Physics Laboratory. See the JHU Style Guide for a list of formal names of all divisions and acceptable shortened forms.

Note that we deviate from the JHU Style Guide on this point: We capitalize University, School, Hospital, and Department, if these are used as shortened forms of the Johns Hopkins University, the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, the Department of International Health, etc.

Style and punctuation


In general, do not use periods in abbreviations.


  • the U.S. government
  • Washington, D.C.
  • a.m. and p.m.
  • a.k.a., when used for also known as
  • e.g., (no italics, followed by a comma) 
  • i.e., (no italics, followed by a comma) 

State names 

In running text, spell out state names. When publishing an entire address that includes a zip code, use the two-letter postal abbreviation for states, in all-caps. (Example: Baltimore, MD 21205.) 

United States, U.S. 

Do not spell out United States, ever. Use U.S. 


Order of degrees

The Bloomberg School’s standard for order of degrees after a person’s name is as follows: Medical degree, doctoral degree(s), MPH or equivalent, JD, other master’s degree(s)


Commas and abbreviations of degrees

When they follow a person’s name, qualifiers such as PhD and MD are preceded by a comma. A second comma follows the qualifier in running copy.

John Smith, MD, DrPH ’11, addressed the group.

Note: Include dates for Bloomberg School degrees only, not for SOM, SON, JHU, etc.

Bachelor’s degree


Capitalize the formal names of degrees. Note the use of the apostrophe in the informal name of the degree:

  • a Bachelor of Arts in philosophy
  • a Bachelor of Science in biochemistry
  • a bachelor’s degree in nursing
  • I have a bachelor’s degree.

Multiple Bachelor of Arts degrees

Use the plural form as follows. Note that it is degree, not Bachelor or bachelor’s, that is made plural.

  • I have Bachelor of Arts degrees in English and history.
  • I have bachelor’s degrees in English and history.
  • The college now offers bachelor’s programs in sustainability and ecological economics.

Master’s degree


Capitalize the formal names of degrees. Note the use of the apostrophe in the informal name of the degree:

  • a Master of Arts in philosophy
  • a Master of Science degree in biochemistry
  • a master’s degree in nursing
  • I have a master’s degree.

Multiple Master of Arts (or Master of Science) degrees

Use the plural form as follows. Note that it is degree, not Master or master’s, that is made plural.

  • I have Master of Arts degrees in English and history.
  • I have master’s degrees in English and history.
  • The School offers master’s programs in public health, health science, and health administration.

Doctoral degree or doctorate

PhD, ScD, DrPH

  • Doctoral: adjective
    • a doctoral degree in biochemistry
    • Graduate students pursuing doctoral study should …
  • Doctorate: noun
    • He earned his doctorate in English literature.

Multiple doctoral degrees

Use the plural form as follows:

  • I have doctoral degrees in microbiology and immunology.
  • I have doctorates in microbiology and immunology.


Per JHU style: Do not follow an organization’s full name with an acronym in parentheses. Using the acronym soon after the full name will usually make the connection clear. For example: Use massive open online course on first reference and MOOC shortly thereafter. An alternative is to use or: The School of Public Health offers a variety of massive open online courses, or MOOCs.

If the connection between the acronym and the full name is not immediately clear, we may follow the full name with an acronym in parentheses:

Sex Workers Promoting Action, Risk Reduction, and Community Mobilization (SPARC)

Acronyms that we use regularly at the School do not need to be spelled out, even in a first mention. These include:

  • AIDS
  • CDC
  • NIH
  • UN
  • WHO

Plural form of acronyms

For acronyms, add s (or es) to form the plural. Only acronyms ending in the letter s take an apostrophe.

  • HMOs
  • SOS’s


Addiction is a chronic, treatable health condition. Substance use disorder is a form of addiction, as are opioid use disorder and methamphetamine use disorder. People with addictions should never be referred to as “addicts,” “drug abusers,” or “substance abusers.”

See also Inclusive Language.


Use figures for people’s ages.

  • She is 7 years old.
  • He is a 9-year-old child.

Avoid using “aged” to describe someone. Use “age” or “ages,” as follows:

  • Globally, youth ages 15 to 24 make up half of the world’s population.
  • Preschool-age and school-age children suffer most from poor nutrition.


When including the graduation years of alumni, place commas after the person’s name and after the year. A closing apostrophe (’), not an opening apostrophe (‘), appears in front of the date.

Jane Smith, MPH ’75, associate professor, Epidemiology, said ...
John Smith, PhD ’75, MPH ’72, ...

Note: Include dates for Bloomberg School degrees only, not for SOM, SON, JHU, etc.


To avoid discriminatory language, use North America and North American, not American and America


Use this symbol only if it is part of an official title or company name (e.g., Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation); otherwise, spell out the word and.


To indicate possession

Per JHU and AP Stylebook, omit the possessive s when following a sibilant in a proper noun.


  • Dickens’ novels
  • Laos’ health care infrastructure
  • Congress’ resolution
  • Bill Gates’ funding
  • Johns Hopkins’ influence on Maryland’s economy...


    When referring to a particular bacterium or bacteria, the genus name is italicized and initial-capped, and the species name is italicized (but not capitalized), as follows:

    • Chlamydia trachomatis (the bacterium that causes chlamydia)
    • Vibrio cholerae (the bacterium that causes cholera)
    • Mycobacterium tuberculosis (the bacterium that causes tuberculosis)
    • Borrelia burgdorferi (the bacterium that causes Lyme disease)

    In second references, abridge as follows:

    • C. trachomatis
    • V. cholerae
    • M. tuberculosis
    • B. burgdorferi


    It usually suffices to refer to the city simply as Baltimore. When Baltimore City must be used to refer to the city government, City should be capitalized.


    These terms have come to mean either twice a year, month or week; or every other year, month, week. To avoid confusion, use either twice a or every other.


    Spell out on first reference; use the Initiative on second reference. Do not abbreviate as BAHI.


    Spell out on first reference; BDP is acceptable on second reference.


    Unless referring to the name of a specific organization, use Mumbai instead of Bombay.


    Wherever possible, use refer to this nation as Burma (Myanmar). If we must, as in the case of recognizing a funding source, we will consider using the name Myanmar. 



    In most cases, do not capitalize campus.

    • the Homewood campus
    • the East Baltimore campus

    Department names

    Capitalize names of departments and offices even when the terms are reversed.

    • Department of Health Policy and Management
    • Office of Student Affairs, Student Affairs Office

    Do not capitalize department when it is preceded or followed by two or more proper nouns.

    • the departments of French and English
    • the Computer Science and Cognitive Science departments 

    Note: This rule applies generally, e.g., Harvard and Princeton universities, Wolman and McCoy halls, the Harvey and Nelson buildings

    Academic disciplines

    Use lowercase when the discipline, not the department, is intended:

    John Smith is studying epidemiology and international health.

    Named professorships

    Capitalize named professorships both preceding and following a name, whether the name of the holder is attached or the full or abbreviated form is used.

    • Xiaobin Wang, MD, ScD ’91, MPH, Zanvyl Krieger Professor of Children’s Health
    • the Zanvyl Krieger Professor of Children’s Health
    • the Zanvyl Krieger Professorship in Children’s Health
    • the Krieger Professor of Children’s Health

    For a complete list of named professorships and chairs, consult the University’s official directory.


    Identify people in photos using the following guidelines: If the photo shows only a few people, insert (left), (center), (right) into the sentence, using parentheses. If many people, use (from left) or (front row, from left), thereby establishing the direction for subsequent rows. 


    Capitalization after a colon

    Capitalize the first letter after a colon only if the clause it begins forms a complete sentence. 

    Where colons fall within titles of papers, articles, chapters, and books, the first word after a colon will always be capitalized. Colons will usually go outside of quotation marks.

    The lecture’s title was “Whither Neurology: A worthwhile question?”

    Space after a colon

    Colons are followed by only a single space.

    To introduce a list

    When an independent clause introduces a list, use a colon. Otherwise, no colon is needed. 

    • The following people attended the conference: Jane Smith, Mary White, and Marsha Green.
    • Conference attendees included Jane Smith, Mary White, and Marsha Green.


    Per JHU style: Use a serial comma (i.e., before andbut, and or in a series): the schools of Medicine, Nursing, and Public Health. If a serial comma does not appear in a proper name (as in Department of Family, Population and Reproductive Health), do not add it. 

    With Jr., Sr., III

    Do not use a comma before Jr., Sr., and III in people’s names, or before Inc., Ltd., and so forth, unless specified by the company.

    • William E. Snow Jr. is the treasurer of the university.
    • Stuart S. Janney III is a member of the board of trustees.
    • Gladco Inc. has gone under.

    With quotation marks

    Commas go inside both single and double quotation marks.


    Em dash

    Em dashes (—) are used when indicating an abrupt change in thought, or where a period is too strong and a comma is too weak. Em dashes are also used for attribution following a quotation:

    “We begin with discovery. Then we change the world.” —Arturo Casadevall, MD, PhD

    We deviate from AP on this point: Do not put a space on either side of the em dash. 

    The gift—$100 million—came from an anonymous donor.

    En dash

    We deviate from AP, which does not use en dashes.

    The en dash (–) is longer than a hyphen (-) but shorter than an em dash (—). It, and not the hyphen, is used as a substitute for the word to in ranges of numbers and years. 

    • There were 100–125 students in the program.
    • The chapter is on pages 65–67.
    • 1994–96
    • 8 a.m.–5 p.m.
    • 7–10 p.m.

    When a noun phrase is part of a compound modifier, use an en dash, as follows.

    • The Gates Institute–funded scholar ...
    • The Baltimore City Health Department–initiated program …
    • Lasker Prize–winner Alfred Sommer


    Per JHU style: When the word data refers to separate elements, use plural verbs and pronouns:

    Data have been collected from many countries.

    When the word functions as a collective noun, use singular verbs and pronouns:

    The data you collected is helpful in this project.



    Use numerals, according to AP style: spell out first through ninth and use figures for 10th and over.

    • Those rollerblades are straight out of the 20th century.
    • The display included artifacts from the seventh century.

    Hyphenate when century is used in a compound adjective.

    He has a weakness for 19th-century poetry.


    Use the numeric form without an apostrophe. 

    He grew up in the postwar 1950s.

    Use an apostrophe before the decade when eliminating the century.

    My grandmother loved the ’50s.

    Month-Day-Year citations

    The year should be set off by commas. (Note the comma following the year.)

    The January 24, 2022, press release is in your mailbox.

    Month-Year citations

    When referring to a month and year but not a specific day, do not use commas.

    The January 2022 press release is in your inbox.


    Use the day-date-time sequence for events. Spell out the names of days and months.

    The committee will meet Monday, September 23, at 3 p.m. (Note: not 3:00 and not 23rd)

    Hours and minutes

    Use a colon to separate the hour from the minutes. The colon and minutes are not necessary for even-hour times.

    • 11 a.m. 
    • 3:30 p.m., 5:30–8:30 p.m.
    • from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. (NOT from 5:30–8:30 p.m. If you use “from,” you must also use “to,” not a dash.)

    EST, EDT

    The abbreviations for Eastern Standard Time and Eastern Daylight Time should be in all caps without periods and should not be preceded by a comma.

    • 3 p.m. EST


    Acceptable terms:

    • developed
    • developing
    • low- and middle-income countries (may be abbreviated as LMICs on second reference)
    • industrialized
    • resource-limited
    • resource-poor

    Do not use:

    • First world
    • Third world


    As a rule of thumb, diseases are neither capitalized nor italicized. However, in the case of diseases that contain a proper noun, that noun is capitalized.

    • syphilis
    • cholera
    • dengue fever
    • malaria
    • West Nile virus
    • Lyme disease


    Acceptable terms: 

    • e-cigarette(s)
    • electronic cigarette(s)
    • heated tobacco product(s)
    • HTP(s)
    • e-cigarette liquid(s)

    Do not use: 

    • heat-not-burn product(s)
    • additional adjectives (particularly those such as “novel”, “emerging,” and “alternative”)
    • e-liquid (or “juice”) 

    When referring to multiple non-combustible or smokeless tobacco products (such as e-cigarettes, heated tobacco products, and nicotine products) as a single group, use non-combustible nicotine and tobacco products.

    When referring to an even wider variety of product types (including combustible and non-combustible products both), use nicotine and tobacco products. 


    Just as we capitalize the names of other planets (Mars, Venus), we capitalize the name of our planet.

    Not every person on Earth has access to clean water.

    When referring to soil or land, we do not capitalize the term.

    No one can be truly happy without a little earth under her fingernails.


    In running copy

    Ellipsis points are separated from text by spaces, with no space between the periods.

    “Seeing practicing surgeons reaching out to public health students was … one of the first times I saw that those two worlds could come together,” she said.

    In quotations

    Do not use an ellipsis (1) before the first word of a quotation, even if the beginning of the original sentence has been omitted; or (2) after the last word of a quotation, even if the end of the original sentence has been omitted, unless the sentence as quoted is deliberately incomplete.


    Female genital mutilation is the preferred term for the School’s publications, as it is for the UN and UN agencies.

    Depending on the context, however, we may use the terms female genital cutting or female circumcision: The terms FGM and FGC may be alienating to certain audiences, and we try to exercise sensitivity when publishing articles on this subject.


    Fractions, such as two-thirds, should be spelled out. If paired with a whole number, place a space between the whole number and the fraction: 3 1/2.


    Capitalization in headlines

    Capitalize major words, e.g., nouns, pronouns, and verbs, as well as prepositions of four or more letters. Always capitalize the first word after a colon.

    Off-Campus Housing to Be Expanded

    Capitalize only the initial segment if the compound word consists of a stem plus a prefix or suffix.

    • Non-degree Students Enthusiastic
    • Post-baccalaureate Unclassified Students Revolt

    Numerals in headlines

    Use Arabic numbers in headlines, even for numbers 1–9.

    Police Say 6 Stores Robbed


    Two words. Notable exceptions:

    • HBS often uses the spelling healthcare (one word).
    • We will preserve the spelling in organization names, e.g., Healthcare Financial Management Association.


    Per AP, use the HIV/AIDS construction carefully. People can be infected with the virus and not have AIDS. 


    The term human rights is considered singular, in the same vein as the term politics. Be sure to use appropriate subject-verb agreement.

    • Human rights is important in the study of refugee populations.
    • Human rights plays a role in public health.
    • Politics is a dog-eat-dog business.


    When used as a common noun, use lowercase:

    The odds of a hurricane striking Maryland ...

    When used as a proper noun, initial-capped:

    After Hurricane Ike spun off Cuba ...

    However, when used to refer to more than one proper noun, lowercase:

    In the aftermath of hurricanes Katrina and Rita ...


    Compound modifiers and hyphens

    Hyphenate compound modifiers when they precede the noun or verb they modify:

    • a 5-year-old child (BUT: The child was 5 years old.)
    • the first-year student
    • a general-education requirement
    • a heavy-ion physicist
    • a well-known author

    A hyphen is not necessary in a compound adjective that includes Arabic numerals to represent dollars.

    an $18 million building

    Exceptions: Do not use hyphens when the compound modifier includes very or an adverb ending in -ly.

    • frequently asked questions
    • easily adapted questionnaire

    Especially familiar modifier-noun pairs are often unhyphenated when used to modify another noun.

    • high school students (not high-school students)
    • public health strategies

    Suspended hyphen

    Use a suspended hyphen when a base word, such as year in the example below, or a suffix or prefix such as self, is doing double duty.

    • second- and third-year law students
    • self-initiated and -implemented projects

    Use this construction even when the complete words, standing alone, would be closed up.

    macro- and microeconomics



    The following terms are acceptable:

    • addiction
    • substance use
    • substance use disorder
    • substance misuse, but only when referring specifically to underage alcohol consumption, use of illegal substances, or use other than directed of medication

    To avoid stigmatizing language, do not use these terms:

    • addict
    • junkie
    • drug abuse(r)
    • substance abuse(r)
    • clean (whether describing a person or a drug test result)

    Use person-first language:

    • She has a substance use disorder.
    • He has an opioid addiction.

    Read more guidance on this topic at and in AP.


    Do not use the elderly. Instead use elderly peopleolder adults, or senior citizens (usually those over age 65). Avoid using seniors, which may be confused with fourth-year students. AP has further guidance on this topic.


    Consult AP’s section on disability and the National Center of Disability & Journalism Style Guide for topics not listed here.

    Instead of        

    • afflicted with
    • is a victim of
    • suffers from


    • He has muscular dystrophy.
    • She has a substance use disorder.

    Instead of

    • wheelchair-bound 
    • confined to a wheelchair


    • She uses a wheelchair.
    • He walks with crutches.

    In general, unless the subject of the article or reference prefers an identity-first reference (e.g., an autistic woman), refer to the person first, followed by the description of the disability:

    • people with disabilities
    • adults with diabetes (vs. diabetics)
    • people with AIDS (vs. AIDS patients)
    • children with autism (vs. autistic children)

    Do not use handicapped to describe people or accommodations:

    • accessible bathroom 
    • accessible entrance
    • accessible parking


    Chair, chairman, chairwoman

    Use chair whenever possible.

    • The chair of the board showed off his new shoes.
    • The department chair introduced her assistant.

    He, him, his

    Avoid using hehim, and his to refer to people in general. Recast the sentence so that theythem, and their can be used. 

    He or she, him or her, his or hers; he/she, him/her, his/hers

    Replace he or she, him or her, his or hers and he/she, him/her, his/hers with the gender-neutral they, them, their, theirs.

    The AP Stylebook allows the use of they, them, and their as singular, gender-neutral pronouns for people who identify as as a gender outside a male and female binary. They, them, their may also be used as singular, gender-neutral pronouns when a person’s gender is unknown or when referring to a role that could be filled by a person of any gender. 

    The chair of the department will make final budgetary decisions. They will also be responsible for approving new spending.

    See AP’s sections on gender and sexuality and they, them, their for further guidance.

    Nicotine and tobacco product use

     The following terms are acceptable: 

    • tobacco use
    • e-cigarette [or other acceptable product term] use
    • tobacco product use

    To avoid stigmatizing language, do not use these terms: 

    • smoker(s)
    • tobacco [or other acceptable product term] user(s)
    • non-smoker(s)
    • never smoker(s)
    • vaper(s)
    • user(s)

    Use person-first language:

    • person who smokes/people who smoke
    • person who uses tobacco/people who use tobacco [or other acceptable product term]
    • people who report no current smoking
    • people who use heated tobacco products
    • He has never smoked.
    • She uses e-cigarettes.

    Read more guidance on this topic at


    Italics versus quotation marks

    Italicize titles of books, newspapers, magazines, scientific journals, TV shows, record albums, movies, plays, works of art, very long poems, operas and other long musical works, ships, aircraft, spacecraft, and satellites.

    The names of poems, articles, and book chapters are set off by quotation marks.

    Words used as words

    Italicize words used as words.

    The term ozone refers to an atmospheric gas.

    Non-English words

    When using non-English words and expressions, italicize and insert accents and other diacritical marks whenever possible.

    Italicize only those non-English words/expressions that are unfamiliar to the intended audience. Words now accepted as part of the English language include:

    • alma mater
    • rendezvous
    • spiel
    • pastiche


    Avoid using last to signify the immediate past, as in "Last June, we went berry picking." If a past-tense verb is used—"This June, we picked berries" or "This summer, we went fishing"—the meaning is clear.


    Bulleted versus numbered lists

    Introduce items in a vertical list with numbers only if the order of the items matters. Otherwise, use bullets or another typographical symbol.

    To make a cake:

    1. Turn on oven.
    2. Assemble ingredients.
    3. Bake.

    Please order the following supplies:

    • Notebooks
    • No. 2 pencils
    • Legal pads

    Lists in running text

    In running text, use parentheses to enclose numbers marking a division. No period is needed after the numeral.

    You will qualify for admission if you are (1) over age 18, (2) meet our health requirements, and (3) have completed the training.



    Use numerals for all money amounts, with a dollar sign. Omit ciphers (.00) in whole-dollar amounts.

    •  7 cents
    •  $3
    •  $300
    •  $9.50
    •  $0.98 (use the zero)

    For money values in the millions and up, use the numeral plus the word million, billion, and so forth.

    He contributed $100 million to the University.

    Use ciphers (.00) in whole dollar amounts if the sentence includes a dollar-and-fraction amount.  

    • A fishing license in this state costs $15.
    • A fishing license is $15.00 if you are going to fish in this state, but $24.50 in the neighboring state.


    When referring to the city of New York, write New York, not New York City.

    • He chairs the board of the Children’s Health Fund in New York.
    • She is a partner at New York–based law firm Baer Marks & Upham.


    An abbreviation for nongovernmental organizationNGO usually refers to a nonprofit, humanitarian organization. Spell out on first use, then use acronym without parentheses. Per AP, use the abbreviation NGO sparingly.


    Collective nouns

    Collective nouns such as committee, faculty, and staff designate a group; if the group is functioning as a unit, treat the noun as singular; if the members of the group are functioning individually, treat the noun as plural.

    • At its last meeting, the committee decided to endorse the proposal.
    • The committee put their signatures on the document.

    Hyphenated nouns

    Add s to the principal noun to form the plural. When there is no obviously principal noun, add s to the term as a whole:

    • mothers-in-law
    • forget-me-nots


    Plurals of nouns should not contain apostrophes.

    • Keeping up with the Joneses
    • Thousands of apples

    To indicate possession of a plural form:

    • I envy the Joneses’ well-behaved children.
    • The hungry thousands’ need for food ...

    Numbers used as nouns (either spelled out or as numerals)

    Add s (or es) to form the plural.

    • W-2s, 747s
    • 1980s
    • at sixes and sevens

    Single letters

    One exception is plurals of single letters, which may require an apostrophe to avoid misinterpretation.

    • She earned all A’s.
    • x’s and y’s


    Use No. for number when referring to a position or rank.

    That university was his No. 3 choice.

    Exception: We use #1 to refer to the School’s U.S. News & World Report ranking.

    The Bloomberg School was again ranked the #1 school of public health in the nation.


    In general, spell out zero through nine and use numerals for 10 and above (unless a number begins a sentence). Per AP style, use figures for ages, events, percentages, money, units of measure, very large numbers (i.e., a million or larger), dimensions, formulas and speeds, and in headlines.

    • a $100 million contribution
    • 17 years old
    • a 39-year-old patient
    • $5, $15.80, $150 million
    • wage increase of 3%
    • 5 feet 6 inches tall
    • a distance of 4 miles

    BUT: Do not begin a sentence with a numeral.

    Ninety-nine degrees is a hot day in my book.

    Plural forms

    To form plurals of figures, add s with no apostrophe.

    • 1980s
    • She earned all 5s on her evaluation.

    Ranges of numbers

    The en dash (–), and not the hyphen, is used as a substitute for the word to in ranges of numbers.

    • There were 100–125 students in the program.
    • 7–10 p.m.


    Numbers used to indicate order (first, second, 10th, 25th, etc.) are called ordinal numbers. Spell out first through ninth; use figures starting with 10th. Do not use th, rd, or nd with dates.

        the September 23 meeting


    We use this term instead of the following terms:

    • safe consumption site
    • safe injection site
    • supervised consumption site
    • supervised injection site


    Per AP, use the percent symbol (%) when paired with a numeral. In a range of percentages, use % after each number.

    • an increase of 4%
    • Anywhere from 20% to 40% were injured.


    One space after a period

    Put only one space after a period (or a colon)—two spaces is a holdover from typewriter days.

    Periods and quotation marks

    Periods go inside both single and double quotation marks.

    Periods and initials in a name

    When using a person’s initials, use periods. Do not put spaces between the initials.

    • B.F. Skinner
    • D.A. Henderson


    When referring to Republic of the Philippines in copy, use the Philippines ...

    Manila is the capital of the Philippines.

    ... unless it is modified, as follows:

    The culture of modern Philippines is derived from Spain and the Americas.

    When referring to the citizens of the Philippines, use the terms Filipino, Filipina, or Filipinx.

    • Filipino (a man or woman)
    • Filipinos (a group of men, or a group of men and women)
    • Filipina (a woman)
    • Filipinas (a group of women)
    • Filipinx (gender-neutral term for an individual or group)

    The language of the Philippines is Filipino.


    Wherever possible, eliminate hyphens when using the following prefixes: ante, anti, bi, bio, co, counter, extra, infra, inter, intra, life, macro, meta, micro, mid, mini, multi, neo, non, over, post, pre, pro, proto, pseudo, re, semi, socio, sub, super, supra, trans, ultra, un, under.

    With a proper noun

    • anti-Semitic
    • pre-Raphaelite
    • non-English

    With some words beginning with a vowel

    • anti-intellectual
    • co-op 
    • co-investigator
    • multi-institutional

    With compound adjectives and words that already have a prefix

    • pre-20th-century poet
    • sub-subcategory

    Refer to AP and Webster’s if you are uncertain.


    It is OK to end a sentence with a preposition. 


    When referring to a department within the Bloomberg School, we use professor in.

    • Elizabeth Platz, ScD, MPH, a professor in Epidemiology ...
    • Conor McMeniman, PhD, an assistant professor in Molecular Microbiology and Immunology …

    When referring to someone elsewhere, we use professor of subject … at XYZ University

    Ron Brookmeyer, PhD, a professor of biostatistics at UCLA Fielding School of Public Health ...


    Use quotation marks when quoting someone, or for titles of articles, poems, book chapters, short stories, songs, and lectures.

    Italicize titles of blogs, books, newspapers, magazines, scientific journals, TV series, record albums, movies, plays, works of art, very long poems, operas and other long musical works, ships, aircraft, spacecraft, and satellites.


    Commas and periods are kept within end quotation marks; semicolons and colons are placed outside. Question marks and exclamation marks may go inside or outside, depending on whether the punctuation is part of the quote.

    • He yelled “fire!”
    • Why did you say “nuts”?

    Smart quotes

    In most cases, use curly quotation marks (“ ”) (also known as smart quotes) in your publications. Straight hash marks (') and ("), called prime and double prime, are used to denote inches and feet.

    The book was 11" x 13". (Note that all punctuation goes outside prime symbols.)

    Block quotations

    Quoted material that runs four lines or longer is usually set as an indented extract (block quotation), and is not set off by quotation marks.


    Do not hyphenate terms describing dual heritage, whether used as nouns or adjectives. The following are some of the more common terms related to ethnic groups:

    • African American.  See Black.
    • Alaska Natives. Indigenous peoples native to the U.S. state of Alaska. They include Inuit, Inupiat, Yup’ik, Aleut, and several Native American peoples, including Tlingit, Haida, Tsimshian, Eyak, and a number of Northern Athabaskan peoples. Do not use the pejorative and outdated Eskimo. See also Native American and Inuit.
    • American Indian. Native American is preferred. Exception: Center for America Indian Health. See Native American and Inuit.
    • Asian American. A broad term for people of Asian descent. A few notes:
      • It may be appropriate to refer to specific communities within the very broad Asian American population, e.g., Vietnamese American, Japanese American, or Chinese American.
      • The term Asian American often implies those who have Asian ancestry who were born or naturalized citizens in the Americas or immigrated long ago. 
      • Often, people from Middle Eastern ancestry are also included in the Asian American category when referring to demographic information, but may not self-identify as Asian American
    • Black. Avoid using the term African American as a blanket term for Black people. A few points:
      • Some Black people prefer to be referred to more specifically, e.g., Jamaican Americans or West Indians.
      • The term African American could apply to any person who was born and raised in Africa and then migrated to the U.S.
      • It may be important to distinguish between groups of Black people who are descended from African slaves, and those who are recent, voluntary immigrants to the U.S.
      • Use the term preferred by the subjects of the article or reference.
      • Do not use Black as a singular noun.
      • For plurals, use Black as an adjective, such as Black patients or Black people.
    • Desi. A term for people with ancestry from South Asia (also referred to as the Indian subcontinent), e.g., Pakistan, India, or Bangladesh.
    • European American 
    • Hispanic American. A term for Americans with ancestors from Spain, Portugal, Mexico, Puerto Rico, Cuba, and South and Central America.
    • Mexican American. ChicanoChicana, Chicanx, and Chicane refer specifically to those of Mexican descent.
    • Native American. Refers to any indigenous peoples of the Americas (American continents). We recommend using more specific terms (e.g., Inuit, Apache, Mohican) whenever possible. Some other, broader terms might include
      • Alaska Natives
      • Canada Natives
      • Native Hawaiians
      • First Nations
      • Metis
    • Caucasian. Commonly used to refer to people of European ancestry who have light skin. Note that there are Latinx, Black, and Indigenous peoples who have light skin but would not be classified as Caucasian.
    • Latino/Latina/Latinx/Latine. Terms for people of Latin American descent; less broad than Hispanic. The gender-neutral Latinx or Latine can be used for broad groups with Latin American heritage; Latino(s) and Latina(s) can be used for gender-specific individuals/groups.
    • Filipino/Filipina/Filipinx. Term for people of Filipino descent. The gender-neutral Filipinx can be used for broad groups with Filipino heritage; Filipino(s) and Filipina(s) can be used for gender-specific individuals/groups.
    • Middle Eastern and North African. A broad term for people of Middle Eastern and North African descent, sometimes using the acronym MENA. This group may also be referred to as West Asian and North African people, or WANA; and Southwest Asian and North African, or SWANA.
    • People of color (or POC); or Black people, Indigenous people, and People of color (or BIPOC) (for any persons with non-European ancestry)

    Exceptions may be made for people with dual citizenship and to align with the preference of the person or people you're writing about.

    Black and white 

    If a more specific racial and ethnic identification would seem stilted, the terms Black (note capitalization) and white may be used to refer to individuals of African and European ancestry, respectively. 

    Underrepresented groups 

    Underrepresented groups or URG are any identity groups that are underrepresented in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics or within institutions of higher education (e.g., women, BIPOC, people with disabilities, LGBTQ+ people, people from minority religious groups, immigrants, veterans, people of lower socioeconomic status, and first generation college students and graduates). Use URG when referring to an inclusive set of underrepresented groups. If discussing a specific underrepresented population, add a reference to the specific population, e.g., underrepresented racial and ethnic groups.

    Underrepresented minorities 

    Underrepresented minorities or URM typically refers to people from racial and ethnic groups that the NIH classifies as having low representation in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, specifically people who come from the Black, Latinx, American Indian or Alaska Native, Native Hawaiian, and other Pacific Islander communities. People from Southeast Asian communities (e.g., Laotian, Hmong, Vietnamese, and Filipinx) also may be included. Check with any funding agency or grant-making organization to ascertain their definition of URM.


    Capitalize place names and regional terms when referring to specific locations, or place names specific to a period of history:

    • When we visited my family in the South, I developed a taste for anything fried in lard.
    • The avian flu outbreak in Southeast Asia precipitated the grisly slaughter of millions of chickens.
    • Del Rio is where the feel of the border changes from South Texas to West Texas.
    • He runs an STI clinic in East Baltimore.
    • Assateague Island, on the Eastern Shore, is rife with mosquitoes and small, malnourished, feral horses.
    • In Northwest Maryland you’ll find the spectacular Cunningham Falls.
    • Thankfully, the Northerners prevailed against the Southerners in the Civil War.
    • During the Cold War, we rode our bicycles through Eastern Europe because there was so little gasoline.

    Do not capitalize the points of the compass when used nonspecifically:

    • We borrowed a car, drove west for 72 hours, and arrived in California delirious.
    • The northwestern region of Maryland is known for its for hog farms and manure lagoons.
    • Baltimore is famous for its northern hospitality and southern efficiency.
    • A north wind’s a’ gonna blow.
    • Beware of fast-talking northerners.
    • The herb can be found in many mountainous regions of eastern Europe.


    Capitalize the names of the seasons only when directly preceding a year.

    • Fall 2019 
    • the fall of 2019

    Scientific names and terms


    Several species of the Aedes mosquito are vectors of several types of diseases, including dengue. We always initial-cap and italicize Aedes; if a species name follows, that word is italicized as well, but not initial-capped.

    • The Aedes mosquito causes misery in tropical regions.
    • Aedes aegypti transmits dengue and yellow fever. 


    Several species of the Anopheles mosquito are malaria vectors. We always initial-cap and italicize Anopheles; if a species name follows, that word is italicized as well, but not initial-capped.

    • The Anopheles mosquito is a nasty creature.
    • Anopheles gambiae transmits a particularly brutal form of the malaria parasite.

    Sometimes we use the word “anophelene” (no cap, roman) as a noun.

    The pesky anophelenes were deterred by the bed nets.

    Fungus, fungi

    When referring to a particular fungus, the genus name is italicized and initial-capped, and the species name is italicized (but not capitalized), as follows:

    • Candida albicans (the fungus that causes candidiasis)
    • Aspergillus fumigatus (the causative agent of pulmonary aspergillosis, among other infections)

    On second references, abridge as follows:

    • C. albicans
    • A. fumigatus


    Helminths are parasitic worms, categorized into groups of cestodes (tapeworms), nematodes (roundworms, whipworms, hookworms, pinworms), and trematodes (flukes).

    When referring to a particular helminth, the genus name is italicized and initial-capped, and the species name is italicized (but not capitalized), as follows:

    • Trichinella spiralis (the helminth that causes trichinosis)
    • Taenia solium (the helminth that causes cyticercosis)
    • Trichuris spp. (the hookworms that cause trichuriasis)

    On second references, abridge as follows:

    • T. solium
    • T. corporis

    Protozoan, protozoa

    Singular: protozoan

    Plural: protozoa

    Adjective: protozoan

    • The protozoan Plasmodium falciparum, which causes malaria ... .
    • Protozoa are unicellular, hermaphroditic organisms.
    • Protozoan sex spans the gamut, from asexual to sexual to a combination.

    When referring to a particular protozoan, the genus name is italicized and initial-capped, and the species name is italicized (but not capitalized), as follows:

    • Cryptosporidium parvum 
    • Giardia lamblia 
    • Leishmania spp.
    • Plasmodium spp.

    When abridging the name of a protozoan:

    • C. parvum
    • G. lamblia   


    We use STI (sexually transmitted infection).

    Please note, however, that some faculty still use the term/acronym STD. For some, it’s a matter of habit; for others, it’s a decision.


    Usually the 1- prefix is dropped from phone numbers where the area code is included; include the 1- only in publications intended for an international audience. For telephone extensions, use ext. or x, followed by a space and the five-digit number.

    Do not use parentheses for area codes. Use hyphens. For example, 410-955-6878.


    When title precedes name

    Capitalize a title preceding a name if a person is addressed by that title; otherwise do not capitalize.

    • Dean MacKenzie
    • Professor John Baldwin
    • Professor Emerita Kay Dickersin
    • treasurer William Snow Jr.
    • associate research professor Jones

    Titles used alone or following a name

    Do not capitalize titles used alone, following a name, or modified.

    • The dean said ...
    • Ron Daniels, president of the University, ...

    First mention and subsequent mentions

    On first mention of a faculty member, use the full academic title (assistant professor, associate professor, professor, visiting professor), along with the person’s name. Subsequent references should use the last name only.

    Vadim Zippunikov, PhD, MS, associate professor in Biostatistics, gave the lecture. After his presentation, Zippunikov stayed for an informal Q&A session.

    Note: The School does not make use of courtesy titles (Dr., Prof., etc.) except in programs for special events, news releases, and obituaries.


    In running copy, italicize URLs and eliminate http:// if the URL begins with www.

    The prospective student was referred to


    When referring to viruses, we do not use initial-caps, except when a proper name is involved.

    • Commonly spread in preschools, coxsackie virus brings hand, foot and mouth disease to unfortunate children and their parents.
    • The Aedes mosquito can spread dengue virus, which causes dengue fever.
    • When considering insect repellent, weigh the perils of DEET against the perils of West Nile virus.


    No hyphen is necessary.

    • universitywide (or, in the case of Johns Hopkins, Universitywide)
    • campuswide
    • statewide
    • worldwide
    • schoolwide (or, in the case of the Bloomberg School, Schoolwide)

    Quick-Reference Word List

    Below are some commonly used and searched terms. Please refer to AP first and then Webster’s (first spelling) for terms not listed here.

    • adviser 
    • antenatal
    • antimalarial
    • antiretroviral
    • anti-smoking
    • bed net
    • birth weight
    • breastfed, breastfeed, breastfeeding
    • bushmeat
    • canceled, canceling
    • capacity building
    • casework
    • catalog
    • cleanup (noun) / clean up (verb)
    • classwork
    • counseled, counseling
    • coursework
    • data set
    • daycare
    • decision maker(s), decision making (noun), decision-making (adj.)
    • dialogue
    • e-newsletter
    • email
    • emergency department (not room)
    • field trip
    • fieldwork
    • follow up (verb), follow-up (noun, adj.)
    • foodborne
    • fundraising
    • ground water
    • health care
    • historic (when preceded by an article, use a: a historic day)
    • homepage
    • internet
    • life cycle
    • lifelong
    • lifesaving
    • lifestyle
    • life-threatening
    • login
    • logon
    • long-standing
    • longtime
    • Lyme disease
    • malaria (not capitalized)
    • MSM (acronym for the term men who have sex with men)
    • noncommunicable
    • non-degree
    • onsite
    • policymaker(s)
    • post-conception
    • postdoctoral
    • postoperative
    • posttraumatic
    • predoctoral
    • preeclampsia
    • preschool
    • principal investigator (abbreviated as PI)
    • resumé
    • Quran (unless other spelling requested by an organization)
    • Schoolwide
    • secondhand smoke
    • smartphone
    • startup (noun), start up (verb)
    • team building
    • time frame
    • toward (not towards)
    • traveled, traveling
    • universitywide
    • vector-borne
    • Washington, D.C.
    • wastewater
    • waterborne
    • web, webcast, website
    • web page
    • well-being
    • ZIP code

    Plural Forms



    alumna (woman) alumnae
    alumnus (man) alumni (also used for a group of men and women)
    bacterium bacteria
    criterion criteria
    curriculum curricula
    curriculum vitae curricula vitae
    datum data
    emerita (woman) emeritae
    emeritus (male) emeriti (also used for a group of men and women)
    forum forums
    fungus fungi
    medium media
    millennium millennia
    mosquito mosquitoes
    phenomenon phenomena
    practicum practica
    prospectus prospectuses
    protozoan protozoa
    symposium symposia

     The editors of this updated guide are grateful to Rod Graham for the significant time and effort he contributed to the original style guide during his tenure at the School.