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IU Editorial Style Guide, Letter D


The two dashes most commonly used by typesetters are the em dash and the en dash. The em dash is what is usually meant by the word dash—a long mark with no space on either side. The en dash is shorter than an em dash; it is simply a specialized, slightly elongated hyphen that looks like this: –.

Dashes separate; hyphens join. The distinction usually holds true for em versus en dashes, too.

Em dashes are frequently used to set off parenthetical phrases, especially long or complex ones where something stronger than a comma is called for. If the parenthetical phrase comes at the end of a sentence, only one dash is needed to set it off—like this. If it is inserted into the middle of the sentence—like this—you need dashes on both sides.

The building—one of our oldest—will be reroofed.

not: The building—one of our oldest, will be reroofed.

Em dashes are occasionally used to join elements in certain institutional titles.

Sarah studied at Brigham Young University—Hawaii.

Do not substitute a hyphen with a space on each side of it or an en dash with a space on each side of it for an em dash.

En dashes are often used in place of hyphens to join two elements when at least one element contains two or more unjoined words.

a non–English speaker, post–high school, the Pre–Dental Hygiene Program

Inclusive dates and other number sequences may be printed with en dashes, rather than with hyphens.

2007–08, chapters 12–17, pages 3–10, 8 a.m.–5 p.m.

An en dash is also used to indicate the minus sign in a grade.

A grade of C–

Note: Word processing programs can create dashes. In Microsoft Word, for example, you can use the “Insert” menu or a keyboard shortcut to add dashes to your documents.

See also hyphens.


Spell out months and days of the week; use numerals for years. Use no punctuation if listing just the month (or the season) and the year, but set the year off with commas if using the day of the month as well.

May 2016; spring 2015; a February 5, 2017, deadline

Join us on Thursday, April 28, for a celebration.

In consideration of your readers, it is important to include publication dates on all your printed and electronic materials.


Decades can be referred to with any of the following styles:

the 1990s, the ’90s, the nineties


All official degree names, including the discipline, are capitalized:

Associate of Science in Radiography, Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Science in Physics, Master of Arts, Master of Science in Anatomy, Doctor of Philosophy, Doctor of Education, Bachelor of Arts in Computer Science, Doctor of Philosophy in Mass Communications, Master of Arts in Applied Linguistics, Bachelor of Arts in English, Master of Arts in Germanic Studies

Unofficial names of degrees are not capitalized:

associate’s degree in radiography, bachelor’s degree in computer science, applied linguistics master’s degree

For official and ceremonial works such as Commencement programs, capitalization in names of degrees conferred at Indiana University should match the IU registrar’s official degree list. Consult the registrar for verification.

Note: The word bachelor’s is preferred over baccalaureate. When referring to degrees in a general way, do not capitalize them. Note that while bachelor’s and master’s end in ’s, the other generic words for degrees do not.

an associate degree, a bachelor’s degree, a master’s degree, a doctoral degree or a doctorate

In references to degrees, the word degree is never capitalized.

Caryn earned her Master of Music degree last spring.

Use periods when abbreviating degrees.

A.S., B.A., B.A.J., B.S., B.F.A., B.S.N., M.A., M.B.A., Ph.D., Ed.D.

Pluralize abbreviations of degrees with ’s.

Ph.D.’s, J.D.’s

Degrees conferred at institutions other than Indiana University may not conform to IU style. For example, some universities abbreviate bachelor of arts as A.B. (from the Latin Artium Baccalaurens). You should verify these degree names in order to preserve the correct capitalization, abbreviation, and punctuation style.

IU grants the following honorary degrees:

  • D.F.A., Doctor of Fine Arts
D.Mus., Doctor of Music

  • D.Sc., Doctor of Science
L.H.D., Doctor of Humane Letters
LL.D., Doctor of Laws

See also abbreviations.

department names

See addresses and capitalization.

disability statement

See Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

display type versus running copy

Display type refers to elements of a printed or electronic publication such as headlines, photo captions, text on an invitation or a poster, and other messages that often are not composed of complete sentences.

Running copy or running text refers to the sentences and paragraphs that form the “body” of a book chapter, a magazine article, a brochure, etc.

Style decisions applied to display type often differ from those applied to running copy. For example, headlines usually lack end punctuation; sentences within running copy never do.


Avoid use of the honorific title Dr. in reference to an academic who has earned a doctorate, unless it’s in a direct quote. Dr. may be used in reference to a medical doctor.


Lowercase references to the drop/add procedure.