Our editorial style rules are based largely on The Associated Press Stylebook, with some notable exceptions. For issues not addressed in the full guide, please refer to AP and Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary.
For questions about editorial style, contact [email protected].
View the Full Editorial Style Guide
The answers to frequently asked questions about our style may be found below. You can also email us.
- In general, uppercase abbreviations have no periods. Exceptions include U.S., U.N., and most academic degrees. Use J.D., LL.M., and J.S.D. Leave periods out of MBA.
- Avoid abbreviations such as CAA for Clean Air Act. Well-known abbreviations like EPA and ACLU may be used on the second reference if they will appear at least two times in a single article or web page. Enclose the abbreviation in parentheses after spelling it out the first time.
- Follow AP capitalization rules. In headlines, capitalize all principal words including It and Is. Only capitalize prepositions of four letters or more, and lowercase conjunctions (i.e., With, Over, Through, Above, but not if, and, or, but).
- Semesters (fall, spring) are lowercase.
- On first reference of alumni, use a backward apostrophe and two-digit graduation year one space after name: Michael Porter ’68 and Stacey Ericsson ’99 LL.M.
To signify a graduation year more than 97 years past, use the four-digit number. This avoids using the same abbreviated year for current students and alumni a century apart: The scholarship, established by Dorothy Goebel and Julius Goebel Jr. 1923, will benefit Jane Smith ’23.)
Be sure to use a curly rather than straight vertical quotation mark.
Refer to classes with the full year and capitalize “Class”: The Class of 1958 celebrated its 50th reunion in May.
On first mention, refer to the Dean by her complete title: Gillian Lester, Dean and Lucy G. Moses Professor of Law. For subsequent mentions, refer to her as Dean Lester.
With few exceptions, Law School centers and programs do not begin with the word “The.” On subsequent references, do not capitalize center or program when they stand alone.
The Law School and Columbia Law are the preferred shortened versions of Columbia Law School. CLS is only acceptable in limited cases, in informal, brief communications such as social media posts.
Capitalize courses, clinics, and externships only when used as proper nouns. Do not use quotation marks.
- Endowed titles are capitalized after the individual’s name.
- On subsequent references, refer to professors by last name only.
- The abbreviation Prof. is used in headlines and social media posts where space is at a premium.
- Lecturer in Law is not hyphenated.
When quoting an individual, use “says” for a brochure and similar communications where the date of speech isn’t relevant. This construction contributes to a fresh, timeless feeling. Use said for announcements, events coverage, and other quotes where the date is relevant.
- Do not use www or http before a web address.
- Do not use “click” or “click here” before a link. Simply embed the link.
- Lowercase internet, web, and website.
- “homepage” and “website” are one word, lowercase.
We use the serial comma today, tomorrow, and always.