Skip to main content

IU Editorial Style Guide, Letter P

part time

Hyphenate as an adjective before the noun; otherwise, leave as two words.

Lisa is a part-time student.
but: Lisa attends classes part time.

Pei, I. M.

I. M. Pei & Partners is the architectural firm that designed the IU Art Museum; note the ampersand (&) in the name and the space between the initials.

See also ampersands.


Write as one word. Spelling out percent is preferred in printed publications although % may be used if space is at a premium, for example, on web pages or in lists. Unless beginning a sentence, always use numerals in front of the word percent.

a 7 percent solution, not 7 per-cent or 7 per cent or seven percent
but: Seven percent of zero is still zero.

phone numbers

Always call phone numbers listed in your publications or on your web pages as part of the proofreading process. For U.S. and Canadian phone numbers, separate the area code with a hyphen. For international numbers, use spaces instead of hyphens.

+44 20 0000 0000

place names

See addresses and capitalization.


Avoid misusing the apostrophe to form plurals. The only nouns that commonly take an ’s in the plural are (1) abbreviations with more than one period, (2) single letters, and (3) acronyms with an S at the end.

M.B.A.’s, R.N.’s

x’s and y’s, A’s and B’s


Otherwise, acronyms, hyphenated coinages, and numbers used as nouns (either spelled out or as numerals) generally take -s (or -es) alone to form the plural.

AIs, W-2s, 747s, FAFSAs, 1980s, hi-fis, follow-ups, at sixes and sevens

Apostrophes are never used to form the plural of any proper noun.

The McRobbies will attend.
not: The McRobbie’s will attend.

Add -s to make most last names plural. Add -es to those that have endings with sounds such as ch (as in Hatch, but not as in Bach), s, sh, x, and z.

The Joneses will tour Hong Kong.

Like most plural nouns, plural proper nouns have a single apostrophe after the plural ending to indicate possession.

The reception will be at the McRobbies’ home.

See also abbreviations and possessives.


Make singular nouns possessive by adding ’s; make regular plural nouns ending in s possessive by adding only an apostrophe. Plurals lacking an s are treated like singular nouns.

a student’s right, students’ duties, women’s lounge

Certain uninflected singular nouns that look like plurals, such as species and series, are treated like plurals to form the possessive.

The lecture series’ costs will be covered by the department.

When a plural noun ending in s is linked with an entity that doesn’t exactly belong to it, but rather is for it or about it, the apostrophe is not used.

Founders Day (day honoring university founders)
Visitors Center (center for visitors)

Many people prefer to add only the apostrophe in spelling (and pronouncing) personal names in which the final s is pronounced like a z (e.g., Dickens’ novels) while others both write and pronounce the additional s (e.g., Dickens’s novels). Since usage varies, just aim for consistency. If a name’s final s is pronounced like an s, add the usual ’s for the possessive (e.g., Ira Glass’s radio show).

When forming the possessive of an italicized noun, do not italicize the apostrophe or the s.

Newsweek’s editors

Note also that possessive adjectives (e.g., his, its) and pronouns (e.g., yours, hers, ours, theirs) never have apostrophes, even though possessive nouns always have them. Watch out especially for the common its (possessive) versus it’s (it is) confusion.

Is that Annie’s new car? No, the gray one is ours; hers is the white one.

The sun is out—and it’s so good to feel its warmth again.

We follow the Webster’s preference for the possessive style in references to diseases.

Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease

The IU School of Medicine uses Alzheimer disease, Parkinson disease, etc., however.


Capitalize only if immediately preceding a person’s name.

President Wylie
Andrew Wylie was the first president of Indiana University.

See also titles of people.


Use the generic term when referring to a faculty member. Check ranks carefully when updating lists. Faculty members are promoted from assistant professor to associate professor and then to professor (sometimes referred to as full professor, but never listed as such). Emeritus or emerita status is granted after retirement to many faculty members.


This title for the top campus official should be treated in the same way as all other titles of people.

See also titles of people.