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IU Editorial Style Guide, Letter A


Avoid abbreviations in running text.

Professor Shin, not Prof. Shin

Note, though, that you can use abbreviations (including the ampersand [&]) in running text when they are part of official names.

The art museum was designed by I. M. Pei & Partners.
Oberle & Associates, Inc., constructed Mikesell Plaza.

If the name represented by an abbreviation may be unknown to some of your readers, spell it out the first time you refer to it.

The Indiana Memorial Union (IMU) is one of the nation’s largest student unions. The IMU contains restaurants, a computer center, a bookstore, a bowling alley, and more than 180 hotel rooms.

Abbreviations of degrees, time expressions, and countries’ names have periods. Note that there are no spaces between their elements.

B.A., B.S., M.B.A., Ph.D., Ed.D., A.D., R.N., C.P.A., p.m., U.S.A.

Multiple initials of personal names, however, are separated by a space or spaces. So are abbreviations of multiword personal titles. Abbreviations in both categories end in periods.

Kenneth R. R. Gros Louis

Rev. Dr. M. L. King Jr.

Initials that do not stand for longer names, though, are usually not followed by periods.

Herman B Wells

Acronyms for job titles and names of organizations, centers, buildings, forms, tests, and assorted other objects are generally spelled without periods.


Pluralize such terms without apostrophes unless the last letter of the acronym is an S, in which case an apostrophe is needed. This is one of the rare cases where a plural requires an apostrophe.

AIs, GREs, IDs, EKGs, LANs, W-2s, SOS’s

Abbreviations that contain more than one period generally have an ’s to indicate the plural (another rare case of apostrophe use in a plural).

M.A.’s, B.G.S.’s

In a list of names that are followed by degree abbreviations and other initialized credentials, select an ordering principle and apply it consistently throughout your publication. For example, the list below places professional credentials first and academic credentials after them.

Kiel, Judith L., O.T.R., M.S.
Koss, Joseph A., R.R.T., M.S.
LaReau, Janice G., M.T., M.S.

See also addresses, commas, and times

academic and administrative titles

See titles of people.

academic degrees

See degrees.


Use official names of offices and departments in university addresses.

Office of the Bursar, not Bursar’s Office

Spell out names of buildings. In many cases, it is acceptable to leave off the first name of a person for whom a building, center, etc., was named. For instance, use Franklin Hall rather than J. A. Franklin Hall. However, use the full names for Ernie Pyle Hall and Henry Radford Hope School of Fine Arts.

When listing mailing addresses, use the two-letter postal abbreviation for the state, unless the context is formal (such as in an invitation), in which case spell out the state name. (It’s also okay to spell out state names in running copy.) Use the full nine-digit zip code whenever possible. Abbreviate compass designations (N., S., E., W.), but spell out Street, Avenue, Road, etc.

IU addresses should follow this format:

person or office
institution name
building and room
street address
city, state zip code

Kelley School of Business
Business/SPEA Building 3024
801 W. Michigan Street
Indianapolis, IN 46202-5151

Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences
Indiana University
Psychology Building 419
1101 E. Tenth Street
Bloomington, IN 47408-7007

For addresses in running copy, use commas to separate elements, including U.S.A.

Direct inquiries to Office of International Services,
Indiana University, Poplars 221, 400 E. Seventh Street,
Bloomington, Indiana 47405-7700, U.S.A.

See also numbers.


Two correct spellings exist for this word: adviser and advisor. The Office of Creative Services previously used the -er spelling because it has long been the preferred spelling in most of our recommended reference works. Advisor, however, appears to be the preferred version for everyday use. Advisor is also widely used inside IU to refer to academic counselors and to officials who advise some of the campuses. For these reasons we now recommend the -or spelling.

Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity statements

Indiana University is committed to a policy of equal opportunity in its admission and employment programs. An Affirmative Action statement must be used in all recruitment publications, bulletins, and employment materials.

African American

No hyphen is used for either the noun or the adjective. African American and Black are acceptable but not always interchangeable.

African American students, African Americans, Department of African American and African Diaspora Studies

See also Black, Brown, white.

alumna, alumnae, alumni, alumnus

Note that alumnus is the singular, masculine form; for references to women, use alumna (singular) or alumnae (plural). Alumni serves as the plural for a group that is composed of men only or of men and women together.

Anyone who has attended Indiana University is an alumnus or an alumna, even if he or she left without earning a degree.

Matt is an IUPUI alumnus. Lawanda is an IPFW alumna. Matt, Scott, and Pam are alumni, and Lawanda and Melissa are alumnae.

Use the abbreviation alum advisedly. It may be too casual for some contexts.

American Indian

Currently, American Indian is the most commonly used term, but Native American also may be acceptable in certain contexts. In many cases, the tribal affiliation is the most appropriate term. Generally, use whatever term is preferred by the person or people you’re referencing.

See also Native American.

Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)

To comply with the ADA, printed and electronic publications should be considerate of and accessible to persons with disabilities. For advice on how to make your printed and electronic publications compliant, contact the disability services office on your campus or visit IU’s accessibility site.


In printed publications, do not substitute an ampersand (&) for the word and unless referring to an official name that contains an ampersand.

School of Public and Environmental Affairs
but: I. M. Pei & Partners

Ampersands are used more freely on the web.


See abbreviations, plurals, and possessives.

Asian American

No hyphen is used for either the noun or the adjective.

Asian American students, Asian Americans